Coffee Part II

St. Lepus In The Gardens Of Paradise

Find St. Lepus Here

Coffee Part II:
In this entry I will not regale you with tales of my life, but perhaps the roots of modern coffee culture, and the links it has to economics/capitalism in the modern world. It is not a direct path, but one of those side journeys that I quite enjoy. I made a couple of pilgrimages whilst living in London to the locations of some of the earlier coffee dens, a couple were still functioning back in the mid 80’s when I was there last. Coffee shops didn’t only generate economic changes of course, but social ones, which is what I am primarily interested in. So, enjoy this article, it is quite a gem.

We are now swinging into the holidaze… Here is to holding ones equilibrium in the upheaval at the end of the calendar year. Looking forward to the next year, this one has been a real challenge for so many people.

Pax,
Gwyllm
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On The Menu:
Commercial Break!
The Links
Music: Sarabeth Tucek
The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse
Zen Poetry
Music: Hush Arbors
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Commercial Break!
Nothing Says Special like:
Blotter Art!
One of my favourite pieces. Get it inscribed with a personal message for the collector in your life!

The Chemist – Homage to Sasha Shulgin

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The Links:
Tim Scully Turns On The World!
Egyptian Neolithic Ritual Art
New Physics?
Early Images of Domesticated Dogs Found in Arabia
A Chip For The Old Brain? What Could Go Wrong?
Happy Gentrification!
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Nice take on this song. The video component not so much…
Sarabeth Tucek:

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The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse

In contrast to today’s rather mundane spawn of coffeehouse chains, the London of the 17th and 18th century was home to an eclectic and thriving coffee drinking scene. Dr Matthew Green explores the halcyon days of the London coffeehouse, a haven for caffeine-fueled debate and innovation which helped to shape the modern world.

From the tar-caked wharves of Wapping to the gorgeous lamp-lit squares of St James’s and Mayfair, visitors to eighteenth-century London were amazed by an efflorescence of coffeehouses. “In London, there are a great number of coffeehouses”, wrote the Swiss noble César de Saussure in 1726, “…workmen habitually begin the day by going to coffee-rooms to read the latest news.” Nothing was funnier, he smirked, than seeing shoeblacks and other riffraff poring over papers and discussing the latest political affairs. Scottish spy turned travel writer John Macky was similarly captivated in 1714. Sauntering into some of London’s most prestigious establishments in St James’s, Covent Garden and Cornhill, he marvelled at how strangers, whatever their social background or political allegiances, were always welcomed into lively convivial company. They were right to be amazed: early eighteenth-century London boasted more coffeehouses than any other city in the western world, save Constantinople.

London’s coffee craze began in 1652 when Pasqua Rosée, the Greek servant of a coffee-loving British Levant merchant, opened London’s first coffeehouse (or rather, coffee shack) against the stone wall of St Michael’s churchyard in a labyrinth of alleys off Cornhill. Coffee was a smash hit; within a couple of years, Pasqua was selling over 600 dishes of coffee a day to the horror of the local tavern keepers. For anyone who’s ever tried seventeenth-century style coffee, this can come as something of a shock — unless, that is, you like your brew “black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love”, as an old Turkish proverb recommends, and shot through with grit.

It’s not just that our tastebuds have grown more discerning accustomed as we are to silky-smooth Flat Whites; contemporaries found it disgusting too. One early sampler likened it to a “syrup of soot and the essence of old shoes” while others were reminded of oil, ink, soot, mud, damp and shit. Nonetheless, people loved how the “bitter Mohammedan gruel”, as The London Spy described it in 1701, kindled conversations, fired debates, sparked ideas and, as Pasqua himself pointed out in his handbill The Virtue of the Coffee Drink (1652), made one “fit for business” — his stall was a stone’s throw from that great entrepôt of international commerce, the Royal Exchange.

A handbill published in 1652 to promote the launch of Pasqua Rosée’s coffeehouse telling people how to drink coffee and hailing it as the miracle cure for just about every ailment under the sun including dropsy, scurvy, gout, scrofula and even “mis-carryings in childbearing women”.

Remember — until the mid-seventeenth century, most people in England were either slightly — or very — drunk all of the time. Drink London’s fetid river water at your own peril; most people wisely favoured watered-down ale or beer (“small beer”). The arrival of coffee, then, triggered a dawn of sobriety that laid the foundations for truly spectacular economic growth in the decades that followed as people thought clearly for the first time. The stock exchange, insurance industry, and auctioneering: all burst into life in 17th-century coffeehouses — in Jonathan’s, Lloyd’s, and Garraway’s — spawning the credit, security, and markets that facilitated the dramatic expansion of Britain’s network of global trade in Asia, Africa and America.

The meteoric success of Pasqua’s shack triggered a coffeehouse boom. By 1656, there was a second coffeehouse at the sign of the rainbow on Fleet Street; by 1663, 82 had sprung up within the crumbling Roman walls, and a cluster further west like Will’s in Covent Garden, a fashionable literary resort where Samuel Pepys found his old college chum John Dryden presiding over “very pleasant and witty discourse” in 1664 and wished he could stay longer — but he had to pick up his wife, who most certainly would not have been welcome.

The earliest known image of a coffeehouse dated to 1674, showing the kind of coffeehouse familiar to Samuel Pepys  

No respectable women would have been seen dead in a coffeehouse. It wasn’t long before wives became frustrated at the amount of time their husbands were idling away “deposing princes, settling the bounds of kingdoms, and balancing the power of Europe with great justice and impartiality”, as Richard Steele put it in the Tatler, all from the comfort of a fireside bench. In 1674, years of simmering resentment erupted into the volcano of fury that was the Women’s Petition Against Coffee. The fair sex lambasted the “Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE” which, as they saw it, had reduced their virile industrious men into effeminate, babbling, French layabouts. Retaliation was swift and acerbic in the form of the vulgar Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee, which claimed it was “base adulterate wine” and “muddy ale” that made men impotent. Coffee, in fact, was the Viagra of the day, making “the erection more vigorous, the ejaculation more full, add[ing] a spiritual ascendency to the sperm”.

There were no more Women’s Petitions after that but the coffeehouses found themselves in more dangerous waters when Charles II, a longtime critic, tried to torpedo them by royal proclamation in 1675. Traditionally, informed political debate had been the preserve of the social elite. But in the coffeehouse it was anyone’s business — that is, anyone who could afford the measly one-penny entrance fee. For the poor and those living on subsistence wages, they were out of reach. But they were affordable for anyone with surplus wealth — the 35 to 40 per cent of London’s 287,500-strong male population who qualified as ‘middle class’ in 1700 — and sometimes reckless or extravagant spenders further down the social pyramid. Charles suspected the coffeehouses were hotbeds of sedition and scandal but in the face of widespread opposition — articulated most forcefully in the coffeehouses themselves — the King was forced to cave in and recognise that as much as he disliked them, coffeehouses were now an intrinsic feature of urban life.

A map of Exchange Alley after it was razed to the ground in 1748, showing the sites of some of London’s most famous coffeehouses including Garraway’s and Jonathan’s 

By the dawn of the eighteenth century, contemporaries were counting between 1,000 and 8,000 coffeehouses in the capital even if a street survey conducted in 1734 (which excluded unlicensed premises) counted only 551. Even so, Europe had never seen anything like it. Protestant Amsterdam, a rival hub of international trade, could only muster 32 coffeehouses by 1700 and the cluster of coffeehouses in St Mark’s Square in Venice were forbidden from seating more than five customers (presumably to stifle the coalescence of public opinion) whereas North’s, in Cheapside, could happily seat 90 people.

The character of a coffeehouse was influenced by its location within the hotchpotch of villages, cities, squares, and suburbs that comprised eighteenth-century London, which in turn determined the type of person you’d meet inside. “Some coffee-houses are a resort for learned scholars and for wits,” wrote César de Saussure, “others are the resort of dandies or of politicians, or again of professional newsmongers; and many others are temples of Venus.” Flick through any of the old coffeehouse histories in the public domain and you’ll soon get a flavour of the kaleidoscopic diversity of London’s early coffeehouses.

The walls of Don Saltero’s Chelsea coffeehouse were festooned with taxidermy monsters including crocodiles, turtles and rattlesnakes, which local gentlemen scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Hans Sloane liked to discuss over coffee; at White’s on St James’s Street, famously depicted by Hogarth, rakes would gamble away entire estates and place bets on how long customers had to live, a practice that would eventually grow into the life insurance industry; at Lunt’s in Clerkenwell Green, patrons could sip coffee, have a haircut and enjoy a fiery lecture on the abolition of slavery given by its barber-proprietor John Gale Jones; at John Hogarth’s Latin Coffeehouse, also in Clerkenwell, patrons were encouraged to converse in the Latin tongue at all times (it didn’t last long); at Moll King’s brothel-coffeehouse, depicted by Hogarth, libertines could sober up and peruse a directory of harlots, before being led to the requisite brothel nearby. There was even a floating coffeehouse, the Folly of the Thames, moored outside Somerset House where fops and rakes danced the night away on her rain-spattered deck.

Hogarth’s depiction of Moll and Tom King’s coffee-shack from The Four Times of Day (1736). Though it is early morning, the night has only just begun for the drunken rakes and prostitutes spilling out of the coffeehouse 

Despite this colourful diversity, early coffeehouses all followed the same blueprint, maximising the interaction between customers and forging a creative, convivial environment. They emerged as smoky candlelit forums for commercial transactions, spirited debate, and the exchange of information, ideas, and lies. This small body-colour drawing shows an anonymous (and so, it’s safe to assume, fairly typical) coffeehouse from around 1700.

A small body-colour drawing of the interior of a London coffeehouse from c. 1705. Everything about this oozes warmth and welcome from the bubbling coffee cauldron right down to the flickering candles and kind eyes of the coffee drinkers 

Looking at the cartoonish image, decorated in the same innocent style as contemporary decorated fans, it’s hard to reconcile it with Voltaire’s rebuke of a City coffeehouse in the 1720s as “dirty, ill-furnished, ill-served, and ill-lighted” nor particularly London Spy author Ned Ward’s (admittedly scurrilous) evocation of a soot-coated den of iniquity with jagged floorboards and papered-over windows populated by “a parcel of muddling muck-worms…some going, some coming, some scribbling, some talking, some drinking, others jangling, and the whole room stinking of tobacco.” But, the establishments in the West End and Exchange Alley excepted, coffeehouses were generally spartan, wooden and no-nonsense.

As the image shows, customers sat around long communal tables strewn with every type of media imaginable listening in to each other’s conversations, interjecting whenever they pleased, and reflecting upon the newspapers. Talking to strangers, an alien concept in most coffee shops today, was actively encouraged. Dudley Ryder, a young law student from Hackney and shameless social climber, kept a diary in 1715-16, in which he routinely recalled marching into a coffeehouse, sitting down next to a stranger, and discussing the latest news. Private boxes and booths did begin to appear from the late 1740s but before that it was nigh-on impossible to hold a genuinely private conversation in a coffeehouse (and still pretty tricky afterwards, as attested to by the later coffeehouse print below). To the left, we see a little Cupid-like boy in a flowing periwig pouring a dish of coffee à la mode — that is, from a great height — which would fuel some coffeehouse discussion or other.

Much of the conversation centred upon news:

There’s nothing done in all the world

From Monarch to the Mouse,

But every day or night ‘tis hurled

Into the Coffee-House

chirped a pamphlet from 1672. As each new customer went in, they’d be assailed by cries of “What news have you?” or more formally, “Your servant, sir, what news from Tripoli?” or, if you were in the Latin Coffeehouse, “Quid Novi!” That coffeehouses functioned as post-boxes for many customers reinforced this news-gathering function. Unexpectedly wide-ranging discussions could be twined from a single conversational thread as when, at John’s coffeehouse in 1715, news about the execution of a rebel Jacobite Lord (as recorded by Dudley Ryder) transmogrified into a discourse on “the ease of death by beheading” with one participant telling of an experiment he’d conducted slicing a viper in two and watching in amazement as both ends slithered off in different directions. Was this, as some of the company conjectured, proof of the existence of two consciousnesses?

A Mad Dog in a Coffeehouse by the English caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson, c. 1800. Note the reference to Cerberus on the notice on the wall and the absence of long communal tables by the later 18th century

If the vast corpus of 17th-century pamphlet literature is anything to go by then early coffeehouses were socially inclusive spaces where lords sat cheek-by-jowl with fishmongers and where butchers trumped baronets in philosophical debates. “Pre-eminence of place none here should mind,” proclaimed the Rules and Orders of the Coffee-House (1674), “but take the next fit seat he can find” — which would seem to chime with John Macky’s description of noblemen and “private gentlemen” mingling together in the Covent Garden coffeehouses “and talking with the same Freedom, as if they had left their Quality and Degrees of Distance at Home.”

Perhaps. But propagandist apologias and wondrous claims of travel-writers aside, more compelling evidence suggests that far from co-existing in perfect harmony on the fireside bench, people in coffeehouses sat in relentless judgement of one another. At the Bedford Coffeehouse in Covent Garden hung a “theatrical thermometer” with temperatures ranging from “excellent” to “execrable”, registering the company’s verdicts on the latest plays and performances, tormenting playwrights and actors on a weekly basis; at Waghorn’s and the Parliament Coffee House in Westminster, politicians were shamed for making tedious or ineffectual speeches and at the Grecian, scientists were judged for the experiments they performed (including, on one occasion, dissecting a dolphin). If some of these verdicts were grounded in rational judgement, others were forged in naked class prejudice. Visiting Young Slaughter’s coffeehouse in 1767, rake William Hickey was horrified by the presence of “half a dozen respectable old men”, pronouncing them “a set of stupid, formal, ancient prigs, horrid periwig bores, every way unfit to herd with such bloods as us”.

But the coffeehouse’s formula of maximised sociability, critical judgement, and relative sobriety proved a catalyst for creativity and innovation. Coffeehouses encouraged political debate, which paved the way for the expansion of the electorate in the 19th century. The City coffeehouses spawned capitalist innovations that shaped the modern world. Other coffeehouses sparked journalistic innovation. Nowhere was this more apparent than at Button’s coffeehouse, a stone’s throw from Covent Garden piazza on Russell Street.

The figure in the cloak is Count Viviani; of the figures facing the reader the draughts player is Dr Arbuthnot, and the figure standing is assumed to be Pope 

It was opened in 1712 by the essayist and playwright Joseph Addison, partly as a refuge from his quarrelsome marriage, but it soon grew into a forum for literary debate where the stars of literary London — Addison, Steele, Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot and others — would assemble each evening, casting their superb literary judgements on new plays, poems, novels, and manuscripts, making and breaking literary reputations in the process. Planted on the western side of the coffeehouse was a marble lion’s head with a gaping mouth, razor-sharp jaws, and “whiskers admired by all that see them”. Probably the world’s most surreal medium of literary communication, he was a playful British slant on a chilling Venetian tradition.

As Addison explained in the Guardian, several marble lions “with mouths gaping in a most enormous manner” defended the doge’s palace in Venice. But whereas those lions swallowed accusations of treason that “cut off heads, hang, draw, and quarter, or end in the ruin of the person who becomes his prey”, Mr Addison’s was as harmless as a pussycat and a servant of the public. The public was invited to feed him with letters, limericks, and stories. The very best of the lion’s digest was published in a special weekly edition of the original Guardian, then a single-sheet journal costing one-and-a-half pence, edited inside the coffeehouse by Addison. When the lion “roared so loud as to be heard all over the British nation” via the Guardian, writing by unknown authors was beamed far beyond the confines of Button’s making the public — rather than a narrow clique of wits — the ultimate arbiters of literary merit. Public responses were sometimes posted back to the lion in a loop of feedback and amplification, mimicking the function of blogs and newspaper websites today (but much more civil).

“An excellent piece of workmanship, designed by a great hand in imitation of the antique Egyptian lion, the face of it being compounded out of a lion and a wizard.” — Joseph Addison, the Guardian, 9 July 1713 

If you’re thinking of visiting Button’s today, brace yourself: it’s a Starbucks, one of over 300 clones across the city. The lion has been replaced by the “Starbucks community notice board” and there is no trace of the literary, convivial atmosphere of Button’s. Addison would be appalled.


Dr Matthew Green graduated from Oxford University in 2011 with a PhD in the impact of the mass media in 18th-century London. He works as a writer, broadcaster, freelance journalist, and lecturer. He is the co-founder of Unreal City Audio, which produces immersive, critically-acclaimed tours of London as live events and audio downloads. His limited edition hand-sewn pamphlet, The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse, published by Idler Books, is on sale now:
http://unrealcityaudio.co.uk/shop/

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Buddha – Gwyllm 2011

Zen Poetry:

My daily activities are not unusual,
I’m just naturally in harmony with them.
Grasping nothing, discarding nothing…
Supernatural power and marvelous activity –
Drawing water and carrying firewood.
– Layman Pang-yun (740-808)
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The mind of the past is ungraspable;
the mind of the future is ungraspable;
the mind of the present is ungraspable.
– Diamond Sutra
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Unfettered at last, a traveling monk,
I pass the old Zen barrier.
Mine is a traceless stream-and-cloud life,
Of these mountains, which shall be my home?
– Manan (1591-1654)
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My legacy –
What will it be?
Flowers in spring,
The cuckoo in summer,
And the crimson maples
Of autumn …
– Ryokan
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It is too clear and so it is hard to see.
A dunce once searched for a fire with a
lighted lantern.
Had he known what fire was,
He could have cooked his rice much sooner.
– Joshu Washes the Bowl, The Gateless Gate #7
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This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.

– The Buddha’s Words on Kindness (Metta Sutta)

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Hush Arbors:

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On Rotation Now For The Weekend!

Coffee… Part 1

Ah… Coffee.  More on this after a few other items…

It has been a good week here at Caer Llwydd in that Rowan has settled in with Suzanne from their European adventure, and that Mary is working with me on publishing projects.  The 9th edition of The Invisible College Magazine is getting there, and there will be two new books soon to be released on Invisible College Publications.  Heady times.

I have been watching what moves, and what doesn’t on this site.  It’s interesting that the visual blog gets more hits than say, The Hare’s Tale, or the archives.  I guess this has to do with immediacy, or as I post the dopamine rush with the visual. Just to say, you’ll find gems here, and in the archives, as rough as they are.  Check them out if you get a chance.

More art, music and poetry coming soon.

On The Menu:
The Links
Commercial Break
Brendan Perry: Cresent
Coffee, Part 1
Poetry: Gerard de Nerval
Brendan Perry: Song To The Siren
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The Links:
The Video Game Example
Political Gridlock Over The Gravy
Paul Stamets on Joe Rogan (Long!)
Stars From The Dreamtime
The Trojan Boat?
Playing Both Sides…
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Commercial Break:
So… as I update my Gwyllm-Art.com site, I will just put these here for now


Society6.com!

Weird set up for a site, but you can find 12 of my art pieces now available as canvas prints, wall hangings, pillows, coffee cups and much more! I have held off doing this, but these are fun, and functional items that can enliven ones home with. Check it out!

They’re Back! The Gwyllm Art Desk CalendarS!
Now for 2018!

I so enjoy getting them out there to people who enjoy my art.  The desk size and the wall size share the same images this year, so you can’t go wrong! If you enjoy them, please spread the word!
Desk Calendar Link!

Wall Calendar Link!

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Brendan Perry – Crescent

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This wee article on coffee was spurred a couple of weeks ago by our retrieving from storage a small krupps espresso machine that we bought when we moved to the US from the UK in 1986-87.  Although with yers truly being very rusty with the technique I managed to turn out a very decent cappuccino on the first run.  This experience and the experiences with making espresso or cappuccinos in the morning for everyone at Caer Llwydd sent me down a pathway of memories intimately tied up with the magick bean… 

Coffee, Part 1:

My experiences with coffee occured when I was, perhaps 4, or 4.5 years old.  It is indeed the gateway drug of my life.  Not sugar (that would come later), not alcohol (I would have to wait until I was 13) or any of the other myriad plants and compounds I have explored over the years.  It is a tale that is tied to family history, and to perhaps what has shaped me into the person I am.

I was introduced to coffee by my mother.  Yes, she was my dealer.  At that tender young age, she started to make me toast, with a soft boiled egg laid on top, and then coffee with milk poured over it.  Yes, I know, strange.  I have tried to figure this concoction out over the years.

Who thought this up?  Was it someone in the railroad that my grandfather worked for, and he brought it home?  Was this strange recipe something that had came down from the family in Northern Ireland?

Was it perhaps served with tea at one time and then coffee was substituted along the way?  Was it by accident, somewhere in the hoary past a family member spilled their coffee over their egg and toast and decided “Hey, this rocks.  Let’s give it to the kids!?!”  Haven’t a clue.  Such a mystery.  It is lost now in the dust that is time’s remnants.  I remember still though sitting in the kitchen in NewFoundland, on a bright sunny morning and being transported by the flavour and the caffeine to this day.

I enjoyed this concoction for years.  I graduated to drinking coffee a few years later, but to get someone really hooked, ya gotta make sure they have a foundation of use. There I was, around 7 or 8 having half a cup of coffee before I sped down the street to school, and usually crashing just after lunch.  A pattern really developed with those early forays in consciousness expansion.  Super focused in the morning, a complete loss for the rest of the day until I got home and had a coca cola, which where sugar started to come into this caffeine mix.

As it occurs, life carried on through my youth.  Graduated to a cup a day, then two a day on the weekend.  A pattern emerged in my life with stimulants.  You might catch my drift here. I was becoming acclimated to being altered chemically.

Life had grown progressively weird in that mid 60’s way, when my parents generation found out that they could get divorced finally without moving to Nevada or going to Mexico.  My parents were not the happiest of souls together after moving to the States. Their divorce had the effect of confusing and grieving me as well as opening the doors of doubt and introspection that turned into the beginnings of self awareness and self observation. Still gettings one’s footing as a young person then was challenging.  (This of course is through my eyes and thoughts. More than likely it is no different for anyone, born anytime.)

My youth was strange enough without those added little bits, and as I was already on a path of my own having bounced around from the different parents homes… I decided finally that I could probably do better on my own. So, slowly I would be gone for a weekend, and then a week, until I left home, and started living on the streets, sleeping in the budding communes emerging, and started to migrate back and forth to the West Coast for the first time via Freight Trains. (I have written about this elsewhere.)

My first job of any import as a young adult was as a barista in an old beat coffee house turned folk club “The Green Spider” on 17th and Pearl 2 or 3 doors down from The Folk Lore Center in Denver back in the summer of 1966. It was a very exciting time for me… such freedom!

Anyway, the Green Spider.  I hung out enough and drank enough espresso that somehow I got hired on to work in what passed for a kitchen.  I started out with cleanup, and prep.  This included coming in an hour or two before the Spider opened and turning on the old italian machine so that the steam would build up enough.  Those early hours before customers came in were pure magic.

I first learned to make fruit and cheese plates (exotic!) and slowly learned how to make espresso on that grand old Italian machine.  There were some 12 different coffee drinks, I mastered a few, cappuccinos, espresso obviously, and some of the layered drinks.

As The Green Spider had transitioned to a degree into a folk club, there was an eclectic mix. College kids of course, some older teenagers but a lot of the regulars were old Beats who still came in out of habit.  When I mean old, I mean people in their late 20’s to early 40’s.  To me the were the venerable old wise ones.  You could come in and nurse a cup of coffee all night if you liked, and pay no more than a quarter if I recall.  People came and went all night, but the regulars would hang out to all hours as the music played.

When the music stopped, i.e. whoever had gotten up on stage and did their numbers (numerous Bob Dylan & Joan Baez, Judy Collins clones, with some real talented people as well) I had to leave the kitchen, coffee maker and go up on stage and perform.  I can be fairly spontaneous, but who really wanted a 14/15 year old kid with a harmonica or jew’s harp warbling away?  I would be quickly replaced by someone who had a bit more talent and the night would carry on.  Being in close proximity to the FolkLore Center gave the old place a bit of local cache for talent.  Sometimes Harry Tufts would come down from the FLC and play.  I understand he is still playing shows after all of these years.  He must be in his mid 80’s now.  What a talented and kind person.

I didn’t work for money.  I worked for room and board, meaning all of the coffee I could consume, and the fruit and cheese plates with backed bread.  For room, I slept on the stage after we closed at night, sometimes midnight, or as late as 4-5 in the morning.  It was an interesting place.

When I didn’t sleep on stage, I would sleep in a broken down 1951 Hudson Hornet out back.  I shared it with my friend Roberto Apodaca, a Mayan who had gone to school I believe up in Boulder or DU.  He had a beautiful German girlfriend that he quarreled a bit with, hence his sleeping rough in the Hornet.  He spoke several languages fluently, and was an incredibly charismatic and handsome person, kind and sharing.

Espresso with a lemon peel. The correct way…

Coffee House life suited me.  I met all types of people. One that sticks out was a biker who had just gotten out of prison and who was hanging around.  He would come in and talk, always looking over his shoulder, tense.  One evening he came in, jumpier than ever.  I was whacking away at a loaf of  bread  with a knife when he asked very quietly, “Please put down the knife”.  I looked at him and explained, I had to prep the bread boards. He had a pen out waving it in my general direction.. “Please put the knife down, you are making me nervous” he said even more strained than before.  I looked at the pen and realized it wasn’t a pen as there was rifling going down inside the rather open end that he was pointing at me. This was my first introduction to the dark side of gun culture…  I froze, the supervisor froze, and the Biker put the pen gun away. He started to converse again as if nothing had occurred.  I walked away slowly to the toilet, and composed myself. When I came back, our nervous friend had gone and the supervisor turned to me and  said “Damn speed freaks”, and we continued into the night working away.  Our Biker came back frequently as if nothing had gone down.  He did get more and more paranoid until one night he just disappeared into the streets not to be seen at the coffee house again.  I expect he hit high weirdness and had to follow it to its conclusion.

The Green Spider served as a base for me whenever I was in and out of Colorado over the next couple of years.  I always had a place to stay, an espresso to drink and friends to meet.  My first real intellectual conversations took place there.  I was by far the youngest person around, but I was treated with respect, and looking back now with they all provided me a certain type of love and protection.

The Life I first found in Coffee Houses were as revolutionary to me as they were in England in the 1700’s.  Then they were a bustling scene with poets, singers, songsters and revolutionaries.  I found my intellectual footing there, a certain aesthetic that would lend itself to my endeavours over the years. I don’t hang out at coffee houses now days.  The one thing you notice now days is everyone is ensconced with a laptop, or a smart phone.  Conversation is at a minimum.  The spark seems to have fled (at least locally, but there is hope yet!).  No more a hot bed of discourse and music, with over stuffed chairs in the corner with magazines and newspapers from around the world.  No more cats wandering around.  An icon of dissent, discourse, and social change defanged, at least for the present time.  Coffee Houses have waxed and waned over the years, and there is still a chance for them to revive I think.

Next installment will cover coffee in my life later on…
Berkeley/North Beach/Venice/Amsterdam/London & Back Again
I hope you have enjoyed this part.
G

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Gerard de Nerval Poems:


Myrto

It is of you, divine enchantress, I am thinking, Myrto,
Burning with a thousand fires at haughty Posilipo,
Of your forehead flowing with an Oriental glare,
Of the black grapes mixed with the gold of your hair.

From your cup also I drank to intoxication,
And from the furtive lightning of your smiling eyes,
While I was seen praying at the feet of Iacchus,
For the Muse has made me one of Greece’s sons.

Over there the volcano has re-opened, and I know
It is because yesterday you touched it with your nimble toe,
And suddenly the horizon was covered with ashes.

Since a Norman Duke shattered your gods of clay,
Evermore beneath the branches of Virgil’s laurel,
The pale hydrangea mingles with the green myrtle!

(Myrtho a shining mask of Venus Murcia to whom myrtle was sacred, is the counterpart to the dark prince of El Desdichado. Alchemically she is De Nerval’s feminine principle to be fused with the masculine. Iacchus was an epithet of the god Dionysus (Bacchus) and the name of the torch-bearer at the Eleusinian mysteries, herald of the child born of the underworld.)
___
An Old Tune

There is an air for which I would disown
Mozart’s, Rossini’s, Weber’s melodies, –
A sweet sad air that languishes and sighs,
And keeps its secret charm for me alone.

Whene’er I hear that music vague and old,
Two hundred years are mist that rolls away;
The thirteenth Louis reigns, and I behold
A green land golden in the dying day.

An old red castle, strong with stony towers,
The windows gay with many coloured glass;
Wide plains, and rivers flowing among flowers,
That bathe the castle basement as they pass.

In antique weed, with dark eyes and gold hair,
A lady looks forth from her window high;
It may be that I knew and found her fair,
In some forgotten life, long time gone by.
___
Well, then! All is sentient!

Pythagoras
Free-thinker, Man, do you think you alone
Think, while life explodes everywhere?
Your freedom employs the powers you own,
But world is absent from all your affairs.
Respect an active spirit in the creature:
Each flower is a soul open to Nature;
In metal a mystery of love is sleeping;
‘All is sentient!’ Has power over your being.

Fear the gaze in the blind wall that watches:
There is a verb attached to matter itself…
Do not let it serve some impious purpose!
Often a hidden god inhabits obscure being;
And like an eye, born, covered by its eyelids,
Pure spirit grows beneath the surface of stones!
___
Horus

Trembling Kneph, the god, shook the starry ways:
Isis, the mother, then raised herself from her bed,
Made, to her savage spouse, a sign of hatred,
In her green eyes shone the passion of elder days.
‘Do you see him, she cried, the old lecher dies;
Through his mouth the frosts of earth take flight;
Bind his lame feet, destroy his squinting sight,
He’s the god of craters, king of the winter’s ice!
The new spirit summons, the eagle is done,
Cybele’s robe for him do I now put on…
The beloved son of Hermes and Osiris!’
The goddess fled away on her golden shell,
Her adored image returning to us on the swell,
And the sky shone beneath the scarf of Iris.

Note: This poem is a consequence of the two previous poems. Kneph, is Amon-Ra the great god of Egypt. Isis was the Egyptian mother goddess (Cybele was her equivalent in Asia Minor): consort of Osiris she bore the child Horus-Harpocrates, the new sun (De Nerval’s image here for the Christ-Child). This is the alchemical fusion of male and female principles which produces gold, a process sacred to Hermes Trismegistus. Iris’ scarf is the rainbow, she being sky-messenger for Hera (the Greek great-goddess). Isis returns as Venus from the waves but fused with Mary, the Stella Maris.

Brendan Perry Cover of Tim Buckley

Wild Mind…

So, I am pretty much devoting this entry of The Hares’ Tale to my friends Dale & Laura Pendell, who live not far from Nevada City up in the Sierra foothills.  We go back a ways, about 18 years. I first met them at the Salvia Divinorum Conference at Breitenbush out in the Cascades.  They were always laughing, riffing off of each other.  It has been a great joy in Mary & my life to share time with them.

They have visited us a couple of times over the years, and we visited with them a few years back at their place. We had a running monologue on poetry, magick, incantation.  Some of this can be picked up in “Salting The Boundaries” one of Dale’s books. It is on my table by the side of the bed, I read from it often, before I drift off.  I believe that poetry is a necessity of life, oh, I do.

I will provide a link at the end for said book.

There is nothing so fine as friendship.

Much Love,
G
_____________

Dale & Laura @ Caer Llwydd 2011

Psychedelics, Deep Ecology, and Wild Mind
Dale Pendell

In 1969, in an essay in Earth House Hold, Gary Snyder wrote that “Peyote and acid have a curious way of tuning some people in to the local soil.” While exceptions abound, some of the more salient characteristics of the psychedelic revolution that blossomed in the 1960s and continue to this day are an embracing of things “natural,” including natural foods, natural childbirth (and breast-feeding), an easy acceptance of nudity and the human body, and, for many, a return to earth-centered living. Many favored the outdoors as a place to open their minds in the new way, and interest in vision quest and traditional nature-based lifestyles followed.

In traditional cultures less shielded from the natural seasons and the cycles of birth and death, the powers of the wild are everyday occurrences. People lay offerings at springs, or perform dances to acknowledge these powers and to maintain an exchange. For the industrial culture of the twentieth century, it took the tremendous power of visionary plants and chemicals to open many minds to what had been obvious to most human cultures for millennia.

Hard-headed rationalists and cynical materialists often found themselves humbled by a looming mountain, a stream flowing on bedrock, or by a wild animal that stepped out of its camouflage to say hello. Many hold these liberating experiences as the most important in their lives and have never returned to the old paradigm. In seeking to understand such soul-moving events, people have rediscovered what human societies for thousands of years have acknowledged: that we are a part of a great living fabric, and that certain wild plants, animals, or places are endowed with something that we might call presence, or energy, or resonance. This feeling of special resonance or presence is usually glossed as “the sacred” by Western intellectuals, though no one is certain what that actually means. Such recognition has led many beyond the resource management ethos of conservation to what has been called “deep ecology.”

Being tuned in to the local soil means being at home—the root of “eco.” As trivial an example as orange peels highlights the difference between the tourist and someone who can feel that he is standing on the bones of his mother. Anyone who has spent much time in the back country has seen orange peels thoughtlessly tossed along the trail or at the base of a rock. People who would otherwise be careful about packing out their trash leave orange peels because they are not “trash” (though they wouldn’t do the same in their own living rooms). But “presence” has to do with what was there before we came—call it power, or beauty, or suchness—it has nothing to do with our ideas of what is trash and what is not-trash.

Encounters with the wild always have an awe-inspiring quality—that is their nature–but most of us are conditioned from birth to block out these experiences. One of the great gifts of visionary plants and substances is that these cultural filters are temporarily suspended, so that the wild has free access to mind. The downside, of course, is that everyday mind, with filters back in place, may dismiss the experiences as hallucinatory, forgetting that the filtered interpretation is also hallucinatory. That is, the very special and extraordinary quality of the visionary experience itself tends to allow us to relegate the profound insights of that experience to the visionary realm only, as if it were separate and not a part of “reality.”

In his book A Zen Wave, Robert Aitken presents two haiku of the Zen poet Basho. The first goes:

Wake up! Wake up!
Be my friend
sleeping butterfly.

Basho is not on psychedelics, but he is intimate with the butterfly. There is a joy and playfulness that form a shared reality—the oneness is the reality. The other poem goes:

The morning glory!
This too cannot be
My friend.

Aitken’s point is that Basho also recognized the absolute independence and separateness of the other being. That’s deep ecology! The many beings, the many rocks and crevices and waterfalls and streams, all exist in and of themselves, entirely without reference to the human world and human uses. At the same time, all of it is linked together in an indissoluble web.

The true mythologies of a culture are the stories that everyone accepts as true, without question. While the cosmological systems of other cultures are easily dismissed as myth, one’s own never are. For us, that myth includes the belief that there is an “objective” physical world that exists wholly independently from the self—from mind or consciousness. It’s even called “the Reality Principle,” as theistic an appellation as one could come up with. To free the mind, to recover that wildness that is equally jaguar and peony, leaf rustle and dew on a spider web, requires both insight and training.

On psychedelics, even “ordinary” experiences can be hair-raising. That is a clue for us to the true nature of the wild—that the wild doesn’t end or begin at a fence, and that wild mind is something that we know about from our own experience. If psychedelics can help with that realization, they are truly, in the best and most ancient sense of the word, sacred. Mind is wild by nature. Presenting wild mind, sharing wild mind, is benevolence.
______________

Laura Pendell Poetry:

Cry of the Coyote

have I died?

first you pierce the water
the shock of the cold
the shock of the wet
making you gasp

except
you’re holding
your breath
and then there’s

that next moment
when you turn
toward the sunlight
when you turn

toward the surface
toward the air
when time stops
for an eternity

or what feels
like an eternity
except really
it’s just a second

except
in that eternity
that’s really a second
time stops just long enough

and you wonder
will the surface never come
will I always be suspended
will it always be this cold

here in this body
of water
that’s when
you break through

back out & up & into
the air
the cry of the coyote
coming from you
&
laughter

(Gwyllm – sadly will not reproduce on wordpress as she wrote it, visually )
___
PLANETARY FORCES

1.
she set the house on fire the night she left,
a hunter by nature, not used to being denied
anything, overwrought,
both mad and maddened

2.
good thing the woman who remained behind
was watery, deep, able to hold
both the birthing and the dying,
transforming the fires the first one left—
healing and bringing back the earth,
dampening the fires that threatened all they held dear

3.
and what of the man
who had awakened the light in both women,
enthusiastic, spontaneous, original,
blinded by what he could not control
now torn apart, pulled, paralyzed
by circumstances beyond anyone’s control

4.
in that time, each of them went beyond
the boundaries of everyday existence
those planetary forces so strong,
with the five planets aligned,
willing them to risk
(everything)
for this vision of something larger

5.
they had hoped only for joy and healing
not this agony, this arena of tears
everywhere they trod
each of them crying out
and still holding
that vision of love—how close once?
now lost to the fire’s lashing tongue
tendrils of dying embers
crisscrossing the meadow
________________

________________

Dale Pendell Poems:

The Divine Spark: Hard AI and the Poet.

Laura and I had stopped at a café connected to a small casino in Nevada. We were headed east—maybe it was Elko.

I’d been thinking about hard AI—about Ray Kurzweil:

little machines loosely called “life-forms,”
“consciousness” having little to do with anything.

Little semantic sleight-of-hands:
computability equals intelligence,
brain equals mind,
logic equals thinking,
brain equals computer.

The whole scene is thick with earth denial: we don’t need food, we don’t need bodies.

Mountebank, slipping highly abstract nouns between the shells:
intelligence, consciousness, brain, mind, “smarter,” “more powerful,” —
once you buy the basic con, that it is all measureable by teraflops, no, who would need a body?

Cyborgs: dream on. Or do they?

One of the other booths was filled with a Mexican family: Papa and Mama, four or five kids from eight or ten to fifteen or sixteen. Some one had said something really funny, because they were all laughing as hard as they could—eyes wet, minute after minute:

It began with the laughter of children.
–Arthur Rimbaud

And went on, minute after minute, faces red, the whole family, a good ten minutes:
delicious, out-of-control, unstoppable laughter.
_____
In a Circle Staring at the Fire

The wind turned cold and the river froze,
so we built a hut,
set stones
in the center
to hold the coals
we burned mammoth dung-
there wasn’t much wood–
good place
to invent language:
suddenly flamed and we all said “ah!”
at the same time, then laughed.
One Woman blew
through a hollowed crane bone
to rekindle the embers
then blew across the top.

________
For Dale & Laura

How quickly it goes
It seems but a moment ago,
you were at our house
just a bit of heaven
good conversation, Absinthe,
and what seemed
like a moment
in infinite time.

G
____

Mary & Laura


Dale & Yers Truly
_________
Said Link: