I'm off to LA tomorrow to surf the 'Bu for a few days, and then it's up and away to Kauai for some shaved ice and day-long Hanalei Bay sessions.  So I probably won't be in the cafe for a while, unless any of you have special requests.  Been focusing the creative vibes in other directions lately, and haven't made my way to this lovely street as much as I would have wanted.

much love,

le proprietarie

'Antique Wave', by Rick Piper

Hello again, I'm sorry it's been so long since we last met... I was lost, you see, wandering among these twisted, jumbled streets... I must have spent a full week trying to navigate away from wikipedia.org, which is nothing to say about the hardships I endured on cnn.com, espn.com, people.com, nbc.com, imdb.com, 2ndlight.com, along with some of the more obscure, dangerous areas of this jungle they call the internet, places I won't mention here for fear of losing myself down those back roads again...

But all's well that ends well, I suppose, and here we are again, in the quiet serenity of the cafe, among friends and good folks.   How could I have forgotten this place?

Now that we're here, let's at least enjoy some of the old reliable fare, shall we?

un cafe au lait
un sandwiche mixte

So I've all but quit listening to AM radio... it's rotten with commercials anyway and the only one of those fools worth a lick is Michael Savage... yes, I've moved back to listening to audio books on CD as I drive my filthy truck back and forth across the state... Presently I'm listening to Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, a wholly unreadable book which just so happens to be a delight to listen to when it is read aloud... I find that you can drop in and out of the thick prose, like slipping between the dream state and the dim blueness of morning, opening and closing your eyes without losing anything important, and knowing that the alarm clock still has fifteen minutes before it beeps... Some of the language is so heart-wrenchingly evocative, so terrifyingly true in its imagery, that I can't help but feel like a fattened, ruined sop as I listen to it, a weak-minded fool who has taken too much from this world and who thinks too little of the things that are truly important in life... as I slouch down in the driver's seat, I am reminded of my younger days, around the turn of the century in Paris, wandering the Rue Vaugirard along the outskirts of the Luxembourg Gardens, my collar turned up against the snow, my eyes turned down to the concrete, delinquent dreams of greatness swirling through my sleep-deprived head... as I sift through the dried-out leaves of time, I think about the juice and the pain and desire of youth, rubbed smooth by the slow erosion caused by financial success... I wonder if it is true what Hemingway said about hunger, how it makes you think more clearly, sharpens all your senses... it's a rational concept, when you consider the native state of man, who needed to hunt and scavenge for his food to survive... wouldn't hunger necessitate creativity?

Sometimes one can't help but feel guilty for having so much... maybe it's true that you can't be a great artist if you are too comfortable... goddamn if it doesn't makes me think of some of these jackass authors like John Irving, John Updike, or this smiling dolt, Carl Hiaasen, as portrayed in this sweetly idiotic picture from the back of one of his book jackets...


Look at this happy wretch... it isn't hot blood that flows through his veins, but apple juice... in fact, he looks like he belongs on the back of a cereal box... if I had more time, I'd paste him onto one...

So I've gone back to starving myself now and again, trying to recapture that sharpened state of wakefulness... after all, how can you write from the gut when you're living high on the hog?  In fact, I'm not even going to eat this sandwiche mixte.  You can have it if you want.  My friend Jay, a brilliant mind to be sure, says he can't think of anything but food when he's starving, that he can't write or think or anything else until he's had something in his stomach.  Ah, but he's probably just bragging, isn't he?   No, I never thought I'd become one of those people who raises his kids in a cozy little neighborhood, plays tennis at the racquet club, and says, sort of casually, as he wipes his hands on his starchy blue jeans, how hard it is to keep such a big house clean... sometimes it repulses me... sometimes I want to go back and live in a hovel somewhere, go back to flicking roaches off my pillow, eating week-old rice, wondering where the next check is coming from, and content to know that world can simply fuck off... it is a pure of spirit who understands that there is no one who wants or needs anything from him... ah to see the world clearly again, in cold, monochromatic outline...

Wasn't it the Buddhists who said that the natural state of man was suffering?

But then again, there are too many moments of sweet bliss, of rich, wondrous color in this little utopian world... when I look into the eyes of these pretty little girls of mine... no, no you have to keep humble, to understand that the whole world can come crashing down at any moment... and then all this.... this big old house, this roaring truck, these stainless steel appliances... they all become a some sort of big joke, and the truth is revealed yet again...

Yes, it is important to keep moving, to always keep moving, and to keep a sense of humor about such things, especially things of this world, things that will never, can never last...

But it's fine to ruminate on Paris now and again, to remember those days of sad, wild beauty... I think the guy reading Henry Miller on the recording said something like, "Paris attracts the tortured, the hallucinated, the great maniacs of love..." Damn, that was a fine little bit of truth, there.

Tut, tut.  I leave you with a public service announcement:  I hope you all turned your lights out the other night for Earth Hour.  Mine were off for a half-hour; I told Trixie that since our house was so big, we saved as much energy in 30 minutes as most people saved in an hour.   She said I was a dummy, that my mind had twisted itself into a bizarre form of backwards logic, but I saw that the Eiffel Tower only turned its lights out for five minutes, and so I must be right in my thinking (or at the very least, French.)

Aubrey, for her part, didn't have to turn the lights out in her house, as it is completely green.

... or at least I thought it was, before I was invited inside (notice the good Doctor in the background)...

 I guess it's like they say...  things aren't always as they seem.

Another birthday... interesting to consider that each birthday is statistically less important than the one before... that is, the passing year as a percentage of one's total life... on the bright side, although birthdays become less significant with each year, the difference becomes more minimal as you go...

Take that as you will.  But come in, please.   So sorry to have kept you waiting.   I've been traveling, you see, to the most bizarre places... Cartagena, Disneyworld...   Yes, yes, the corner table, of course.  Please, sit down.   What can I get you to drink?  Absinthe, you say?   Well, well.  We must be looking for trouble today.

As some of you know, I've been doing a series of articles for the Beachside Resident.   Last month I decided to write about dolphins, who I've been studying over the past few years... a pod of them live in my backyard.  I've noticed they always arrive at the most opportune times, and they seem to be communicating with me, silently, almost telepathically.

So it was something of a piece d'amour for me.  I was quite proud of it, actually... although when I read it on the website, I got a bit itchy because some of the phrases were changed by the editor (some for the better, some for the worse), but I was mostly pleased with the whole thing. Then I read the comment on the page.

Apparently, one of the foremost experts on the study of dolphin intelligence (Dr. Lori Marino... no relation to Dan), was 'compelled' to write a response to my story.   It was a scathing rebuttal, a bit of high-grounded bolt throwing if you ask me, but some of the points were relevant, I suppose.  Nonetheless, I was honored to receive such a comment, and I responded in kind.

Here's the article (and comments) if you're interested: Dolphins

Oh, and here comes the little one with the menu.

la carte du jour

chilled oysters on the half shell
pinot grigio - Ca'Montini L'aristocratico, Trentino-Alto Adige, 2006

Doctor Truth says that we are 'celebrating imagination' tonight, so you can't eat too much.  I might have added a main course, but I suppose the oysters and pinot will be crisp and cold and fine enough indeed.

Doctor Truth also wishes to add that 'science fiction is taking over science.'   It's the idea that these so-called expert scientists are at a loss when pitted against those with more imagination.  Dr. Truth also would like to mention that in 1943, Arthur C. Clarke invented the satellite.

The rest, he says, is just technical stuff.

My first thought was that science is the lifeblood of science fiction... but I suppose this is like saying that Christ is the lifeblood of the Catholic Church... which reminds me of a picture I took at my friend Juan's wedding, which, I must say was a grand and glorious, hot-blooded, swirling, pounding, drumming, Columbian sweating jounce of a time, with much beauty and flowing energy and peace all around...

As you can see, the podium is at the bottom of the picture, then the Christ figure above that, propped up against a blazing sun, and above him you will see someone who appears to be an archbishop, or maybe the Pope.   If you were actually in the church, you could continue the upward progression and look above this figure, where you would see heavy wooden rafters, and upon the beams in the ceiling directly overhead, small white shields emblazoned with the word, D I U S.

Doctor Truth couldn't help but notice the irony... a mere word being the highest visual point in the church.  I told him that above the word there were pigeon nests, and he felt somewhat more comfortable about that.

No time to discuss politics today... suffice to say we've got high hopes over here...

You'll notice the sun is setting later now, and we've got plenty of time to sit here this afternoon.  In fact, I might stay open late tonight.  I can even pour you another absinthe...

Nothing to eat today...
 Only a small glass of whiskey.

Ardbeg Single Islay Malt Scotch Whiskey

Cheers, mate.
To new beginnings.


Well it looks like we've gotten ourselves into a little spot, here, bit of a mess.  No worries, chaps.  Buck up!  Come right in, kick up your feet, let me take your coat...  It's cold out there.

Cafés au laits all around, please, Trixie.  Thanks, dear.

I received a message via carrier pigeon the other night, from Pascual, a good friend of mine living in the hills of the Dominican Republic.  It read as follows:

My friend, why does your blog avoid the subject of the current global catastrophe?  If you want to get more hits, you must write about Obama!  May your sheep die painlessly, and may you always walk in sunlight!

Captain W____

What struck me as odd about the message was the discord between the Captain's method of delivery and his presumed internet savvy.  I scribbled my reply on a torn piece of paper, caught the bird, and tied the message to its leg with a shoelace.  After much fussing and flapping, I managed to push the animal out the window, but I think the message was not tied on properly, because I found it under my desk last night.

But the Captain does have a point.  The President is on everyone's mind nowadays... I was trying to discuss it with Silvia the other day... her English has as many holes in it as the ice caps, (the only thing worse than her English might be my Spanish)... but I did my best to explain...  'El mejor Presidente es el Presidente quien hace nada, solamente hablar, solo hablar, hablar.  La gente, Silvia!  La gente es importante!'

Silvia smiled and continued polishing the mirrors.  She couldn't put it all together, but she thought it was funny anyway.

I must confess to something here, although it's probably a good idea to go back and pull out a few bottles of wine first.  Excuse me, please...

This is the Château Latour Martillac Pessac Léognan 2000, something from the Bordeaux region, recommended by Joe.  It was difficult to get my hands on these bottles, so I hope it's good...

Ah.  I'll go ahead and confess quickly.  I listen to AM radio.  There, it's done.  I suppose I don't listen nearly as much as I did before the election.  It's losing its appeal nowadays...  it's far too easy to criticize the government, to relax back into the role of attack dog.  Anyone can criticize the government.  But what these guys, Rush, Hannity, Beck were doing during the Bush years required a certain level of artistry, a sadistic, brilliant and complete ability to twist emotion and irony into a dazzling, warped reflection of the truth as according to Exxon-Mobil.  They could sometimes make it sound like such plain sense.  It was a dance that I could appreciate, if only for the grace with which they waved the feather over the elephant man's face.

It's getting late, and I thought we could dine in the courtyard today.  Please, come this way... the tables are already set.

La Carte du jour

Une apéritif
Steak Tartare de la maison
Château Latour-Martillac Pessac-Léognan, 2000
Une assiette de fromage
Un café au lait

It's good to be home.  Last week, I took a solo jaunt to Boston (breezing through the airport) to visit my friend Scott.  It was a fine time, and traveling alone I was able to watch some TV on the flights, which is a true extravagance for me, as I don't prescribe to cable or satellite at home.  After a quick scan of the channels, I was satisfied that watching television for a minute every six months was quite sufficient to see everything I needed.  Unfortunately, two hours later (and more than twenty-four full passes over the 46 channels) I had once again become a true believer... was that really a transvestite on the Real World?  I would have to come back to see this after the commercial, but in the meantime, on Rock of Love there was a showdown between the final two girls, Jon Stewart was cracking jokes about Bush, sportscenter was showing Lakers highlights, the Discovery Channel was exploring the Sahara, here was a cooking program with a nice old queen baking chocolate truffle torts, oh, it was a wild, insane melange of 'need-to-know' programming, let me tell you!

But forget all that.  I'm home now, very sorry about the whole business, and I must say this is one the best wines I've ever tasted.

What else?  Oh yes, my friend Mike's been reading Karl Marx on his lunch breaks.  He sent me the following quote:

"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of
expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism"

Apparently that's from Das Kapital, 1867.  Anyway, I think that's enough politics for another six months, don't you?  What I was trying to tell Silvia was only this -- that we should all go out and do our best, to do our best and try to be better than before, and that the President's job was just to encourage us to 'keep on keepin' on'... or something like that.

For dessert I've got a sweet, sweet video entitled 'Winter Wonderland'... here are some examples of the fine waves we've been getting here in Cocoa Beach over the past three months.

Ciao, bella.

Just the other evening, the Good Doctor reminded me of a conversation we once had on 'the speed of enjoyment.'  As some of you may have had the good fortune to witness firsthand, Doctor Truth can spend up to three hours drinking a single cup of coffee, while in the same period of time, over casual conversation, I might consume four slices of pizza, two very large cherry cokes, five garlic rolls, a glass and a half of red wine, a cannoli, another slice of pizza (as an afterthought) with onions and crushed red pepper, two cappuccinos, a biscuit, three chocolate mints, and a wooden toothpick.  I might add (a somewhat curious fact) that the Doctor's coffee will not grow cold during this shameful display of gluttony, whilst the wispy steam plays over his cup the whole time, as if to taunt me.  I insist that, should the same cup be set in front of me, it would surely grow cold within five minutes.   Why?   I am, simply put, unable to enjoy things at their proper speed.  Perhaps one day I will learn this intricate art.

Someone was asking me if the physical location of our cafe was in Norwich, England.  No... despite the title of the picture in the previous post, we are not in Norwich, nor in England for that matter.  For those of you familiar with Paris, you can visit us (in the afternoon only, please) by walking down the Boulevard Montparnasse until you see this place...

... then, turn left on the following street, Rue Notre Dame des Champs.  You will find us six blocks down, on the left-hand side.   And please, any more vitriolic telephone messages about standing out in the cold and waiting for a drink will be cause for a temporary local verboten.  We are open when the wind is suitable, and only then.

The first winds of Spring have necessitated a soiree in April... two cosmic weeks of surfing, first in Malibu, then at Hanalei Bay, Kauai.  Every time I go out west, it seems like another of my friends has made a name for himself in the film industry.  One of them, Kyle Newman, a young director and friend from my New York days, debuted his first major motion picture this Friday.  The Doctor and I are quite proud of Kyle, and anxious to see Fanboys when it first opens at the Cinema Montparnasse.  Another friend and surfing buddy, Chad Callner, won a 2008 primetime Emmy for editing Justin Timberlake's HBO special,  and faithful Truth Compatriate Victor Kubicek has worked his way up the production ladder, becoming one of Hollywood's 'mint elite' with his film, Terminator: Salvation (yes, Trixie, the one where Christian Bale explodes into a thousand f-bombs at the D.P.) due for release this summer (which might well prove the grandest coup of all...)

For those of you interested in the more ancient art of fiction writing, I've finally edited my first draft of Love in Armageddon (an apocalyptic sci-fi satire) and I'm floating in that comfortable phase after one task is complete and before the next one begins.  Meantime, I've been writing short stories for literary journals and local color pieces (under an alias) for The Beachside Resident.  I've also been pondering something Mark Twain wrote, which strikes me as relevant enough to mention here.  He said, "it is easier to manufacture seven facts than one emotion."  This is as valid a description of the goal of fiction as I've ever heard.

And for those of you more inclined to financial worries, or political musings on how the government plans to prop up the country, you can skim over this article about the three legs of the "economic stool."  To be honest, I haven't read it myself, but I do appreciate the term "stool," as it relates to the state of the economy... quite appropriate, I think.

Thanks for offering your comments, both the insightful ones as well as the pitifully dull.  I encourage more of you to 'lay it on the line' by clicking on the 'comments' link below this post and grasping for truth straws with me.  Suggestions for future menu items or topics of conversation are also much appreciated.

Well, it's off to Mougin tomorrow, to purchase some more Egyptian Chamomile (there is a small tea shop there that supplies me with the finest chamomile and peppermint teas known to mankind.)

 which leads me to the menu of the day:

Fruit crepes with fresh cherries, peaches, pears, and lemon
Inniskillin Icewine, Riesling, 2006
Egyptian Chamomile tea

Enjoy... at the proper speed, of course.

Ah, you've come early today!

What's that?  Two weeks, you say?  Well, it seems like you were just here.  But of course... I've just set up the last of the tables and the coffee is brewing.  Please, come inside.

Good, right over to the corner table.  Marcus will be coming in later to play the piano.  The last time I saw Marcus was ten years ago - 1999 - I was still a ballistic youth in those days, full of 'the juice and the wonder', as they say...  wild, smiling eyes and all my belongings slung in a satchel over my shoulder, carousing through various train stations and port towns...  Many of you may remember those free, traveling times and marvel at the transformation... your faithful proprietaire is 31 years old now... un vrai homme, entering the most productive years of a man's life, with the taste of invincibility still on his tongue, but intermingled now with the bitter spices of death and of fear, and a coconut sauce to cut the fear of death... a sweet concoction indeed, and one which brings me to the menu of the day.

(A tapping on your knee...  a tiny girl, no more than two years old, hands you 'la carte du jour')

La Carte:

Almond-encrusted red snapper with coconut and macadamia, served atop mint cous-cous
Summers Vineyard Chardonnay, 2005
Bananas foster
Cafe creme

Here, let me pour some of this fine buttery chardonnay for you...  it's aged it in French oak... speaking of which,  I saw an amazing old movie last night - All About Eve (you want to talk about acting?) - which led me to contemplate the notion that all the Great Ones started acting the part of Great One long before they earned the title.  As I watched into the lean hours of the night, with Peanut by my side, Brittany and Aubrey slept soundly in their beds, and the unborn baby slept soundly inside Brittany, most likely contemplating the cosmos.  Doesn't it almost seems silly now to be bringing more people into this world, an act of foolishness, perhaps (or faith, what's the difference) especially when you look back on those 'running around' days of youth...

The difference in a family man and a single man might best be illustrated in the setting of an airport...  traveling used to be so easy... as a twenty-year-old kid, I would breeze through airports, hardly breaking stride from the parking garage to the window seat.  A white T-shirt, jeans, and juice balls (which you didn't even have to take off at security) were all you needed to jet from city to city.   Imagine what I would have thought if I saw my future self, en famille...  traveling home from Las Vegas last Wednesday, trapped beneath a pile of fourteen carry-on items, a baby backpack, two diaper bags, a purse, four plastic sacks with various crayons, notebooks, stickers, three water bottles, two milk bottles, a slice of airport pizza in one hand, a sandwich in the other, hair shooting out the front, back and sides of a torn baseball cap, shoes untied, carrying a two-year old child, sweating, shuffling, and wishing I were home!  The young me probably would have checked out Brittany's ass, maybe even tried to lustily lock eyes with her while the poor, ragged husband struggled with the kid and the bags... but then again, I would have been cruising too fast to make any connection, moving right along...

The occasion for the Vegas jaunt was my sister, Jodi's, 30th birthday.  She is an acrobat in a spectacle called "Le Reve," a show at the Wynn Hotel.  (I might add that the Wynn is the best place to stay if you find it necessary to trek to that desert mound of kitsch-trashiness.)  Franco Dragone, the creator of the show, is also the man behind Cirque du Soleil's "O", which, along with this one, are the most breathtaking, beautiful stage productions in the United States, and some might say, even in Las Vegas.

The birthday party was a refreshing departure from the whorish Strip... a melange of Polish tumblers, Midwestern gymnasts-turned showgirls, French trapeze artists, writers, art dealers, and two of the most truthful men I have ever laid eyes upon... Senegalese musicians, one playing the kora, the other playing the djembe... gave it the feeling of a backstage, post-performance gathering...

The fellow playing the gourd-like instrument is Toumany Kouyate, a soloist in "O." The kora has a transcendental sound, something otherworldly.  Listen to Toumany here, and relax into the wine.

Aha, look who's come in!  Hello, hello, come sit over by us.  We have plenty of food for everybody.  You were watching the Superbowl?  I see.  I skipped it myself.  Instead, I took the opportunity to have a solo surf session... with only the clouds to keep me company, tumbling and folding in the sunset like something from a Dutch landscape painting.  Anyway, I don't properly care about the Steelers and Cardinals.

But excuse me for a moment while I make the rounds with the wine...  what else are people talking about today?  What's that you say?  Jessica Simpson is fat now?   No, I hadn't heard that.   It's just a publicity stunt, is it?  You're not drinking anymore?  Shame.  Can I get you a cranberry juice?  Good, good.  The stimulus package?   Yes, I suppose we're all tired of hearing about politics in the media.  Yesterday, Jim Woodhull, a prominent Cocoa Beach attorney and ex-city-councilman, and a great supporter of the cafe, asked if I were a Democrat or a Republican.  I told him that I was Canadian, which is worse, I suppose, to the conservative faction.  But I do carry a handgun with me wherever I go, so that's got to be worth something for the Neo-cons, right?  Even if the gun isn't loaded, or even functional for that matter (it's a replica of the 'Peacekeeper' .45, purchased at Wall Drug store in South Dakota.)

Did I mention that I bought another Rick Piper painting to go with the new bookshelves in the office?  I love what this guy does with water...

If everyone is finished the snapper, we can move onto dessert.  I thought the Bananas Foster might go well with the last of the chardonnay.

I suppose some of you are wondering why I keep showing you pictures of my office, when I should be showing pictures of the cafe?  Well, I believe a good proprieteur should do his best to adhere to the cafe's rules, and as there is no photography inside (many of these pieces are too delicate for flash bulbs), you'll just have to keep it in your head, won't you?

Remember, it's not the End, but the Way that's important...


Today's menu:

chateubriand, medium rare
Robert Young Cabernet, 1998
un cafe espress

Cool, Floride days of winter... working on a mythos piece about Cocoa Beach for the Beachside Resident... hinges on the idea of an energy 'beneath the sand,' a sort of fire which burns Legend into existence.  I'll link the website when it comes out next month.

I've also been building a new set of bookshelves (a favorite hobby of mine) for the office.  The Doctor has been staying with me for the past few days, acting as 'sandman' for the poplar.  In keeping with tradition, we burned a fire to honor the coming of the New King, who is creating quite a stir in these strange times.

Also, please note the soaring price of gold...

Welcome, friends, to our first teatime together.  I hope you find it comfortable here.  Please, have a seat, and allow me to present the menu for this Thursday:

cafe au lait
sandwiche mixte
creme brulee
a bottle of Chateau Simone, Cotes-de-Provence, Rose 2005

You may smoke if you wish.  We welcome dogs, so the smokers might want to use the ashtrays instead of the floorboards.  Fine, fine.

It is... as always... early afternoon here, and while most of the other cafes are 'en siesta' before the dinner hour, you can assume that we will be open for tea, for talk, and for truth, in whatever clothes it may choose to wear.

Please, come in...

Ah, now that we are all here, the coats are up, and the doors closed... I suppose I can speak freely.   As for myself, I spent the morning strolling the St. Michel.  It was dismally cold, and I couldn't stop thinking about the birds I saw on Christmas morning, with Aubrey opening her presents under the tree, the sky the color of polished steel in the background, and all of us still rubbing our eyes and yawning, when suddenly a thousand white pelicans descend upon the bay behind the house, falling like snow onto the water.  I was, in fact, lucky enough to get some video of this marvelous event, but I don't know how to upload it... maybe someone can enlighten me.

I see you are smiling.  It is good creme brulee.  Enjoy it, my friend.  These are hard times, as you well know.  I almost feel guilty opening this bottle of wine.  Then again...

There were moments of Greatness in this Presidential campaign.  And now, what Great Moment will Obama seize next?  Or would you rather discuss the latest celebrity gossip?  Then again, are you more interested in the economy, and if it might be time to invest in gold?  Or, perhaps we should simply sit here this afternoon, just sit for a bit with nowhere to go and nothing else that needs saying, only to let the food and wine sink in gently, and watch all the strange faces pass us by.

A toute l'heure.