stomping grounds

The Diedrich coffeehouse with the patio will close down. The building is collapsing. The thing hasn’t made money in forever. It’s big and relaxed and welcoming, and that’s over in this part of the world, killed by high land prices and spreadsheets. There’s a new one a block away that’s small and Starbucksy and all spreadsheet-optimized for profit. Push push push the yuppies through the revolving door. The big wide patio is a relic. I assume that they’ll announce that it’s going to be remodeled, close it, and never reopen it.

This makes me sad, because I’m the kind of person who attaches to places far too strongly. I get terribly emotional about places I’ve been, and not just the pretty ones or the ones where I was happy. I get sort of misty thinking about Kansas City and I only lived there for 9 months on a contract job, fer chrissakes. I imagine myself returning to the site after it’s torn down and morosely standing around looking at the Junta Juice or Yiffy Lube or whatever goes there in a couple years.

Five years ago I knew this guy D., friend of Greg’s. D. was a really nice, smart guy. He was that Alternative Pierced Guy with the weird beard: tall and thin, soft-spoken, deferentially pleasant. He was really into Greg’s band so I saw him a lot, and we’d talk a little about music or art, both of which he knew a lot about. D.’s particular interest was clothing, and he opened a vintage clothing store. He didn’t just have good taste; he was hard-working, understood how to run a store, and totally committed to doing this right. I believe it was in Silverlake; I never went there. He had an eye for that stuff and girls loved his taste, and he was doing well.

Then came the surprise. This scary guy started hanging around the store all the time, and he didn’t fit. He was a hardcore criminal recently released from prison for the latest in a series of violent crimes. He was covered in nonironic tattoos of dire significance and almost always drunk. He’d just show up, 40 in hand, and talk to D. in what was intended as a friendly manner, and scare the shit out of him. The guy was foul-mouthed, racist, misogynist, usually angry, and always in search of money. He scared the girls away. Business went to hell. Any suggestion that he might find somewhere else to hang out enraged him, and threats were made. Even if he left the store itself, he’d always be around within about a block, ready to come back. The last I heard, D. had finally closed the store, almost entirely because of this crappy Cape Fear remake he’d been pushed into.

And why was Mr. Ex Con there at all? Because before D. got that space it had been a crappy liquor store, bars in the cash window and all, where Sideshow Bob here had spent many a happy day in the years before he got that big sentence. When he got out it was time to go back and have him some fun again! There was a new business there, but it was still the same corner. This wasn’t Cape Fear; Poor D. had wandered into the retail version of the hotel in The Shining.

I’ve heard a possibly apocryphal story that in rural Kenya, the trick played on new people in town is to sell them cheap land for their new houses. People are enthused; they get acreage with water access and good soil, and it’s so cheap! A year later they find out they’re on the track of an elephant migration. The elephants come through the same places each year, and they don’t let anything get in their way. There are a lot of them. Things get… …flat.

I wish I was an elephant.

40 thoughts on “stomping grounds

      1. Well, dad’s got a station wagon,
        Sally Mae can make the costumes,
        I say we dress up the barn all fancy-like and put on a big show
        to save Town Hall !!!!
        who’s wid me???

      2. Well, dad’s got a station wagon,
        Sally Mae can make the costumes,
        I say we dress up the barn all fancy-like and put on a big show
        to save Town Hall !!!!
        who’s wid me???

  1. well i don’t know how soon they will close it down, but you’re right.
    and i will sob like a little girl when it happens.
    i will sob worse than when they tore down the coco’s on irvine. way worse.
    i want to be an elephant too.

  2. well i don’t know how soon they will close it down, but you’re right.
    and i will sob like a little girl when it happens.
    i will sob worse than when they tore down the coco’s on irvine. way worse.
    i want to be an elephant too.

  3. that patio is the only source of relief from “the outside world” left in costa mesa.
    Maybe alta has wireless and will buy more chairs. :/
    still, I hate the thought of things I have grown familiar with fading away, dying.
    Makes me so damn nervous.

    1. re: farfetched but possible solution
      well, who has a patio at home, and who wants to turn it into an “underground” coffee house? invite only, special times open, and definately a haven from the outside (corporate) world. eh? it is possible.
      i only mention this because i have more than one friend up here who has turned their basement/patio/concrete slab into a tiki bar/hang out spot and are enjoying reasonable success as an underground point-of-interest.
      places to hang out in so cal are so scarce, it’s sad. i am very sad for ya’ll that your favorite coffee place is closing. sounds like the sad end of a great era, but are there any forseeable alternatives?

      1. Re: farfetched but possible solution
        Yeah, I’ll probably just sit on my own patio and leave the gate open all afternoon for whichever friend wants a cuppa coffee and some wireless.

      2. Re: farfetched but possible solution
        That could work, you could have a Conrad home patio status on an Aim account.
        Losing places like the d’s patio is just another example of why people in southern ca do not have a place or community in the where they live vs. the rest of the country.
        Maybe Les, you and I should take it over. The location is excellent.

      3. Re: farfetched but possible solution
        We have a while to figure this out, probably. And I could be wrong, I could be wrong.

      4. Re: farfetched but possible solution
        We have a while to figure this out, probably. And I could be wrong, I could be wrong.

      5. Re: farfetched but possible solution
        That could work, you could have a Conrad home patio status on an Aim account.
        Losing places like the d’s patio is just another example of why people in southern ca do not have a place or community in the where they live vs. the rest of the country.
        Maybe Les, you and I should take it over. The location is excellent.

      6. Re: farfetched but possible solution
        Yeah, I’ll probably just sit on my own patio and leave the gate open all afternoon for whichever friend wants a cuppa coffee and some wireless.

    2. re: farfetched but possible solution
      well, who has a patio at home, and who wants to turn it into an “underground” coffee house? invite only, special times open, and definately a haven from the outside (corporate) world. eh? it is possible.
      i only mention this because i have more than one friend up here who has turned their basement/patio/concrete slab into a tiki bar/hang out spot and are enjoying reasonable success as an underground point-of-interest.
      places to hang out in so cal are so scarce, it’s sad. i am very sad for ya’ll that your favorite coffee place is closing. sounds like the sad end of a great era, but are there any forseeable alternatives?

  4. that patio is the only source of relief from “the outside world” left in costa mesa.
    Maybe alta has wireless and will buy more chairs. :/
    still, I hate the thought of things I have grown familiar with fading away, dying.
    Makes me so damn nervous.

  5. tears…form on the inside near my heart…
    WOW…that really depresses me. the patio is my Cheers. i know i can go there whenever i need to “get away” yet still be amongst friends. it is a sanctuary a home away from home and an over all fun place.
    i hope its not true…

  6. tears…form on the inside near my heart…
    WOW…that really depresses me. the patio is my Cheers. i know i can go there whenever i need to “get away” yet still be amongst friends. it is a sanctuary a home away from home and an over all fun place.
    i hope its not true…

  7. Wow. One less reason to come back to Southern California.
    I’m so sorry. I went through this is 1998 or so, and it was really painful.
    I also want to be an elephant.

  8. Wow. One less reason to come back to Southern California.
    I’m so sorry. I went through this is 1998 or so, and it was really painful.
    I also want to be an elephant.

  9. NO!
    NOOOOOOooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooOOOOOOOO!!!!
    IT’S NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!!!!!!
    I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE!!!!
    LALALALALALALLLALALALALALAL I’M NOT LISTENING!!!!
    ::snif::

  10. NO!
    NOOOOOOooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooOOOOOOOO!!!!
    IT’S NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!!!!!!
    I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE!!!!
    LALALALALALALLLALALALALALAL I’M NOT LISTENING!!!!
    ::snif::

  11. Why didn’t D. just get a security guard?
    The ex-con may have been scary, but he was just one guy. If he had scary friends, he’d be hanging out with them, not doing Liquor Store Revisited.
    Still, it sounds like a fascinating start for a story. I just think the ending sucked.

    1. I left that part of the story out because it was really long and boring and not germane to the story. Long story short it’s harder to get someone to stop hanging around your business than you’d like.

      1. Ok.
        By the way, maybe I was unclear — I wasn’t commenting on your telling of the story, but the events themselves. I meant that the story intrigued me but the ending was sad.

      2. Ok.
        By the way, maybe I was unclear — I wasn’t commenting on your telling of the story, but the events themselves. I meant that the story intrigued me but the ending was sad.

    2. I left that part of the story out because it was really long and boring and not germane to the story. Long story short it’s harder to get someone to stop hanging around your business than you’d like.

  12. Why didn’t D. just get a security guard?
    The ex-con may have been scary, but he was just one guy. If he had scary friends, he’d be hanging out with them, not doing Liquor Store Revisited.
    Still, it sounds like a fascinating start for a story. I just think the ending sucked.

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