Saturday, April 07, 2018

Café Society

Come on down to the Mermaid Café
And I will buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh and toast to nothing and
Smash our empty glasses down
Let's have a round for these freaks and these soldiers
A round for these friends of mine
Let's have another round for the bright red devil, who
Keeps me in this tourist town. - Joni Mitchell "Carey"

Bluestone Lane UES Manhattan
To quote Big Bird, "One of these things is not like the others".

Little Collins, Brunswick, St Kilda, Fort Green, Flinders Lane, Northern Territory.

But they all have something in common - they are all Australian cafés, and all but one is in New York City.

Australian cafés are big in New York, especially in Brooklyn, though the trend trendiness is spreading.

Not all go by street or suburb names. There's Banter, Laughing Man,  Two Hands, Tony's Estate and Saltwater Coffee.

Fort Green of course is the odd man out. It's in Northcote - a suburb of Melbourne that has been in the process of being gentrified for the last twenty plus years.

A friend of mine tells me that it is nothing like the Brooklyn neighborhood after which it is named. Unlike the darkly-lit Vienna style hipster  hangouts,  Green Point Northcote is for healthy millenials Customers sit on stools at high tables, drinking smoothies surrounded by light and potted palms. So Northcote. So getting-it-wrong.

But I shouldn't be mean - I lived in Northcote for many years. At the even more trying-to-be-trendy Westgath end. No doubt this sub-suburb is now called WeGa after the New York City naming convention that became a model for the names of emerging and re-purposed neighborhoods in New York,  such as TriBeCa for "Triangle Below Canal Street", DUMBO ("Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass"), NoHo ("North of Houston Street"), NoLIta ("North of Little Italy").

Perk on Second - Great Coffee
I remember my parents - when they weren't throwing things at each other and burying each others' vinyls (or the fifties equivalent of) in the backyard out of spite, going to a coffee shop in Melbourne's CBD - Pelllegrinis. Melbourne has always been one step ahead of New York in coffee drinking.

Last week I went to the Australian-owned  Bluestone Lane on the Upper East Side. It is beautifully situated in the nave of an old church. The Church of Eternal Rest. My kind of place.

The food was excellent and lived up to the high standards of Australian cuisine. I had maple roasted heirloom carrots, spinach, lentils, pickled beets, feta, poached egg and avocado with turmeric ginger yogurt dressing.

But the coffee has been Americanized. It looks like real Aussie coffee but tastes like it is watered down. American as. Pod coffee.

Apart from the coffee and the compulsory tipping - the place is "cashless" and you pay on an iPad where the lowest tip is 14%, the place really is Australian.

The staff all spoke Australian when I was there and there was just that touch of Australian ageism.  Case in point -

When I went there it was busy and so there was a line (queue),  and you had to have the greeter person put your name down and wait till you were called. I noticed that I had not been asked my name and  when she walked past ten minutes later I saw a list of names with no "Kate" among them.

"How will you know when it is my turn?" I asked.  "Oh we will, she said. Don't worry my dear." Am I paranoid, or had she noted me down in her head as "old person".


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Listen to the Kids

And you of tender years
Can't know the fears
That your elders grew by
And so please help
Them with your youth
They seek the truth
Before they can die. - "Teach Your Children", Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970
Listen to the Kids

I took the photo "Listen to the Kids" because it seemed so apt -  with its verbiage, "YOU CORRUPT OLD ASSHOLES". And with some kids on the left and Central Park as a backdrop, it is so March for Our Lives and so New York.

The "kids" have inspired the generations that came before them, the jaded baby-boomers especially. But also the alphabet generations who comprise their parents.  Many of us now have hope for the future for the first time in years.

I couldn't march for health reasons. But I was determined to show up to make a stand. So I hung out on Central Park West near 82nd Street  while  single block by single block the cops released yet another wave of demonstrators into the throng. And I took photos.

Here are some of my favorites.

Like the children in most of the photos I took of kids, this child protester gave a big smile and was proud of her banner.

I like this photo of millenials taking a break from the March. They were handing out stickers, and seeing I am a hundred years old and must have looked exhausted, they asked me if I needed any help. One of them offered to, and took, a photo of me with the march as background. I am not posting it anywhere however as I really do look several decades older than I am.

This gutsy teenager was dressed to kill. Loved her summery dress and detachable winter sleeves. And of course her "FCK NRA" with the sight-in  target.

No truer words ...

Humorous banners were out in force. As were the chants. "Little hands, little feet". And the macabre "America Land of the Dead",  as well as the more serious "This is what democracy looks like", and "NRA! NRA! How many kids did you kill today?"

This multi-tasking boomer caught my eye. He wore his heart on his lapel. The headline of the newspaper he was reading was about our mayor Bill de Blasio's who is being accused of corruption - "Straw man spills beans on Blaz".

The Smiling Music Lover

Vote AND March for Our Lives

This protester told me that his sign was "a sign you have when you aren't having a sign",  and that he'd never made a sign before in his entire life. His protest button reads "GRAB 'EM BY THE MIDTERMS" and shows the Capitol building wearing a pink pussy hat.

Waiting their turn. Police released people into the march block by block, starting at 86th Street.

Like most pre-teen, this little girl was accompanied by her mother. Like the other little kids she was happy to smile for the camera.


Although some children had had help with their signs, many had colored in the lettering or added pictures or designs to them.

Lining u at the 82nd Street barricades, waiting to be let through. Crowd control. The police and organizers did an excellent job.

No words

The pensive boy

This little one made her own poster. "I March for MY To Life" with a drawing of a gunman firing at a "skool, with a "no" line through it". Ten out of ten!

A minimalist millennial. Man, wtf all lower case, on a piece of letter-size printer paper.

Standing with #EmmaGonzalez. As we all should.

I took about a hundred photos. A few of my favorites are on Instagram @kate_juliff

"Teach Your Children" is on YouTube HERE.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Invalid - Three Poems

This blog post is dedicated to Laurel and Jai Ap - two millennials 
who, along with the Parkland students,
give me hope for the generation
who will hopefully have a world left to manage.

A Thousand Autumn Leaves
I haven't been my normal blogger self lately, having spent a couple of months in hospital. But I managed to escape, and amongst ghastly things like blood transfusions, morphine, and getting some of my internal organs rearranged, I am still in the land of the living. Just.

While there I wrote a few poems.

Here are three of them.

Life on Land - An Evolution

Ghost-like they creep
Ascending through the stages
Of walker, shuffle-stick and cane
Till complete independence is achieved.
Here in the half-life-hell of the intensive ward
where failure is success and
where "sans everything”
is the name of the game.

A Fragile Autumn Leaf from China

Peaceful and serene she lies there.
A fragile autumn leaf
past its prime.
In her hospital bed.

She hails from a village
near Beijing where she was born
the year that Tolstoy died, 1910.
She speaks only her local dialect.

On evenings she offers  food
to anyone who passes
and speaks to me gently
as if to wish me well.

Tonight I saw her sleeping.
dreaming, clasping a tissue
as if it were a fan
and she was shyly greeting
her lover in nineteen twenty six.

Social Integration
(Before you can leave rehabilitation, you have to show you can walk on the sidewalks of Manhattan. It is called "Social Integration"!)

My first day under the sky
tentatively treading
on the uneven streets of New York.
They make me use a cane.
They set milestones every few meters.
I used to walk a mile
in these shoes.
Such is the winter of my discontent.

That's all folks!