I believe everyone has some fantasy job, some experience that is not only impractical but absent some dramatic and improbable twist of fate will only live in your imagination.
Mine has been Jerry’s Juice Bar and Cozmic Cafe.
In this fantasy I’m living in sandals and a t-shirt running a juice bar and coffee shop that brings the traditional and non-traditional together. A friendly place where you could sit and read papers on long wooden library sticks. A place where you’d sit with friends … or strangers … and talk politics, the arts, religion, music. A place where you could share ideas — both crazy and serious. A place where you could be alone. A place where you can get together. A place where you could just hang out. Nothing fancy. But a place that brought together people who looked, thought, and behaved very differently.
Jerry’s Juice Bar was inspired by a lot of places I’ve known over the years.
One was the1980s version of KramersBooks, a bookstore and cafe just north of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. It was 1981 to be exact. I was in graduate school, living in the Circle on Hilliar Place in the basement of an elegant row house owned by two Ecuadorian women, Julia and Panchita. At the end of a night of either studying or graduate school outings I often ended up at the coffee counter of KramerBooks. Back then it was open 24-hours-a-day. Now you just say 24/7. Back then you’d say 24-hours-a-day. They’d get the morning paper at 2 am. By the time I was asleep I’d had read the next day’s news. KramerBooks and Food for Thought (now closed) were the last vestiges of Dupont Circle counter-culture. Of course that is not saying much. Washington DC doesn’t know what to do with counter-culture. That is why these places don’t last. But back then they attracted all forms of political, sexual, philosophical, and dietary lifestyles. There was this communist guy, a member of the CWA, who used to hang out and insist that the Marxian American revolution was right around the corner. A tall, goofy, homosexual guy who looked a lot like Lurch. Rarely spoke. Always seemed to be a couple same sex, different sex, it didn’t matter, making out at a corner table. And of course there were books. Lots of books. And with books lots of rants. Rants on politics most of which were entertaining, if not interesting.
Another inspiration was the American Bar in Amsterdam. At least I think it was called that. Maybe the American Hotel. In any case it wasn’t very American. Actually it was very, very Dutch. A glorious bar that came right out of the eighteen hundreds with reddish brown wood everywhere. The ceilings were tall. 15 feet? 20 feet? Cavernous. And there were all the papers of Europe. The Times, The Guardian, The Volkskrant, Die Welt, Le Monde, Le Figaro, Corriere del Serra, Handlesblatt, and, of course, the International Herald Tribune ¦ the staple of the American college student. My then girlfriend, now wife, Sanderijn introduced me to the place. There were ashtrays with self-rolled Drum butts and a great mixture of aromas (fresh coffee and stale beer) and sounds (all languages spoken here). It was a cross between a library, a bar, and a train station. At that stage in my life I could’ve lived there.
There was the Texas Chili Parlor in Austin. I don’t know if that is still around or not, but it was, along with the Armadillo World Headquarters, a favorite hang out of mine. It was 1976. At the time it was to the Texas Capitol what the Tune Inn was then (or fast becoming) to the nation’s Capitol. Over the door hung a sign that went sorta like this: “Don’t you feel more now than before you came in.” Something like that. We thought it very profound at the time. I remember there was a bathtub at one end that served as home to ficus trees and some scraggely cactus. You could have your own cubby, one cube amidst a set of dozens of wooden cubes that once housed room keys in an old hotel that they took down decades ago. Give someone the Texas Chili Parlor number and the bartender would take a message and leave it in your box. Chili was good. Not great, but good. It was less than one hundred paces from the Capitol building. At least it seemed to be at the time. There were UT students, staffers, the occasional Representative and /or Senator, and barflys â€¦ they all seemed to be having fun with each other.
So when it came to name a blog, I named mine Jerry’s Juice Bar.
Because I figured that the Internet had become, in part, the crazy, bizarre, polyglot venue that I’d once dreamed of creating around conversation, coffee and juice.
Or maybe it was because I figured that launching a blog was a lot easier to launch than a real juice bar.
I hope you enjoy.