Archive for the ‘coffee’ Category

Chess Tipping

April 28, 2008

My friend Chris sent me this photo of the tip jars in the coffee shop below his office. Judging by the distribution of money, it seems that the shop is frequented by more woodpushers than masters. Or could it be that there are more (self-identified) good players than weak ones but the latter are better tippers?


“Rich Bitch”

August 29, 2007

At lunch at Oriole9, which serves the best cup of coffee north of Brooklyn and south of Ithaca (it’s only $1.50 and you get a mini-pot of freshly steamed milk), I noticed that the tabloid headline wars have flared up over Leona Helmsley. Today’s clear winner was the New York Post.

“LEONA’S DOG GETS 12M!” the Daily News headline screamed. “But she leaves two grandkids NOTHING in will,” added the subline.

The Post ran the dishy headline “RICH BITCH” next to a large photo of Leona Helmsley clutching a froufrou snow-white pooch. The subhead offered a clarification: “No, not Leona–her dog just inherited $12M”

On Excreted Toothpaste and Genies

June 19, 2007

While reading The New York Times over coffee this morning at Bread Alone, I came across a wonderful expression I had somehow never heard before: “The toothpaste is already out of the tube.” (It was used by a Middle East expert in describing the Bush administration’s unfreezing of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority–a last ditch effort by Washington to bolster Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, in the face of Hamas’s success at the ballot box and now in the streets.)

I love the expression because it seems a bit stronger–and fresher, to my ears–than the more familiar “the cat is already out of the bag.” After all, the feline could presumably be put back in the bag, whereas that would be difficult, if not impossible, with the toothpaste.

Even the proverbial horse that has already left the stable could be returned to the barn more easily than excreted toothpaste could be returned to the tube. In this, the toothpaste is more akin to the genie that is already out of the bottle: I wouldn’t know where to begin in trying to coax it back in.

Can anyone think of additional expressions that mean the train has already left the station?

Man Can Live by

June 18, 2007

Today I had coffee at Bread Alone in Woodstock, NY. I always feel good when I visit this coffee shop because it was here, at the choice front-window table, that I banged out much of my book King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game.

And when the writing was going slow, I could always eavesdrop on the conversations at Bread Alone. Once I overheard a woman behind me explaining that only Italians could become pope. Was it worth turning around and telling her that the current pope was German and the one before him, Polish? I decided not to: I’m fond of Woodstock, the town in which I was conceived, but it would be a full-time job to try to correct all the misinformation I hear. Better just to go with the chi.

Overheard on Lorimer St.

June 6, 2007

Time Out New York has an appealing cover story called “The Hipster Must Die!” 


As someone who spends time in Williamsburgground zero of cultural-zombie trendsettersI found Time Out’s sentiment to be appealing.  Williamsburg has many things going for it, but a surfeit of vapid hipsters certrainly isn’t one of them. 

When I emerged from Gimme! the other day with my mid-morning cup of aromatic, full-bodied coffee, I was greeted by a wasted young woman and two strung-out, runny-nosed dudes.  The more vapid looking of the two was standing on a skateboard and wearing a faded Dunkin Donuts T-shirt from the days before the donut chain merged with Baskin-Robbins.  (Full confession: Ever since I saw the 1965 Oscar-nominated short “Skater Dater,” I’ve had fanstasies of being a champion skateboarderand giving it all up for the right girl). 

The dude in front of Gimme! interrupted some minor trick he was doing on his skateboard, spun around, and bellowed in my direction: “Fuck this place!  The coffee costs $1.30.” 

An outrageous price indeed for the very best coffee in the entire borough!  He stood there as if he expected me to hand him my coffee.  Instead I sent him and his two cronies down the street to an old world bakery known for its pastriesthough most sell for more than $1.30and a nondescript cup of coffee that costs 75 cents.