Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Best Cup of Coffee in Texas.

I've been known to use a little hyperbole from time to time. This is not one of those times.

Fort Worth has a new coffee shop and it's in the Meadowbrook area. I mention the location because we Eastsiders have grown accustomed to driving miles to get a decent cup of fresh coffee. No mas.

Not hyperbole: This is the best cappuccino I've had this side of the Mississippi.

Coffee Folk opened last weekend serving coffee from a beautifully renovated trailer just outside the Firehouse Pottery. Coffee Folk's roaster is Spella Cafe from Portland, Oregon. Of Spella the New York Times wrote, "the best espresso in Portland." I mention that because the Coffee Folk folk are serious about procuring good coffee.

My first visit was today, Saturday, their second weekend open. My wife and daughter had been and reported to me that the coffee was very good, my expectations were high.

I liked it so much I returned an hour later for a second cup.

I'm not a coffee snob but I do appreciate when coffee's done right. For me, the high watermark is a cappuccino from La Colombe in Philadelphia. Every time I order a macchiato, espresso, or cappuccino, it's compared to La Colombe's. If La Colombe is a 10 on a good day everything else in these United States has been less, until today. The Coffee Folk cappuccino was as good and maybe a little bit better than La Colombe's. Although the tipping point may be because it's a bicycle ride from my house and I get to enjoy of coffee with family, neighbors, and friends.

There is a secondary enjoyment to this coffee bar for those of us in Meadowbrook who have endured less than stellar food and restaurant availability, and that is seeing and conversing with dozens of neighbors who are enjoying good coffee as well.

But the coffee is the centerpiece of this table and the coffee is good.

Thank you Coffee Folk.

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Coffee Folk is just outside at the Fireside Pottery at the corner of Meadowbrook and Oakland Boulevards, Fort Worth, Texas. For now they're open Friday and Saturday only. Coffee Folk also serves a small selection of fresh pastries from Rooster Bakery in Fort Worth and a selection of teas.

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Photo credits
Top: Rebecca Smith
Bottom: Jaime Brabander / The Plumbing Place

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Rambling about the Beatles & When I'm 64 . . .



Paul McCartney composed this whimsical love song when he was sixteen years old. Eight years later "64" would become an unexpected hit and take its place in the most significant album in the history of 60's rock and roll.

I refer, of course, to the song, "When I'm 64," and the album, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. "When I'm 64" was released in 1966 as the B-side of the juke-box single, featuring "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. In 1967 it was placed on the Sergeant Peppers album.

Everyone back then loved the Beatles. They were a sensation that even they couldn't explain. At first it was all fun, a fusion of Buddy Holly, Elvis, Carl Perkins, The Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry and Little Richard by a British guitar-playing quartet and hits like "Twist and Shout."

Then something happened and art imitated and abetted the changing world.*

In 1965, the Beatles produced the transitional album Rubber Soul, the first album where John, Paul, George and Ringo had complete control of the music, and, where the Beatles produced songs like "Norwegian Wood." "Twist and Shout" it wasn't. A year or so later, the Beatles went "all in" with Sergeant Peppers. Everything about it was different from the iconic album cover, to the full orchestra, to songs like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and with it rock and roll had the permanent imprint of the psychedelic age. Fifteen million albums were sold worldwide. It was a tidal wave.

The White Album followed in 1968, a double album set, and so also the beginning of the end of that short-lived musical era. The despair of John Lennon, and to a lesser degree the other members, permeates the album in songs like "I'm So Tired," "Revolution 1," and "Revolution 9." Notwithstanding, some of their best music is found in the White Album: Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and McCartney's "Blackbird."  (Sidebar: Now,  fifty years later,  the Musak version of "You Say You Want a Revolution" plays in continuous loop on elevators across America, leading me to think that Lennon's despair was not so misguided.)

Abbey Road and Let it Be, released in 1969 and my favorite albums, were the final albums for the Beatles and with few exceptions for 60's music in general. By the time you get to Led Zeppelin and "Stairway to Heaven" in 1971 it's over. Indeed, many of its luminaries were gone: Hendrix, Morrison, and Joplin come to mind, and the Beatles as a band were no more.

Many of us who came of age in 60's were formed in some way by the music of the Beatles. I was 15 when the song "When I'm 64" was released on Sergeant Peppers.

I'm 64 today.

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*Sorry for the gross simplification but you try to explain the 60's in a sentence or two.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

More Summer Talk: 50 years of the Cape May - Lewes Ferry

Yesterday

Today

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry celebrates 50 years of service this year; fifty years moving passengers and vehicles across the Delaware Bay from Cape May, New Jersey  to Lewes, Delaware. By my calculation that puts the start date at 1964. I started riding the ferry in 1965. I was thirteen.

I recall the 1964 ferry as a big boat; thick sheet metal, half-dollar sized rivets, layer upon layer of paint, rust, and a loud diesel engine that you felt in your toes and that shot a plume of black smoke into the summer sky (top picture). I loved it.

The highlight of a ferry ride back then besides the joy of being at almost-open sea was docking because I loved to watch the ship bump the telephone pole pilings, bend them back, and creeeeaaaak as the ship's metal bumper ground along the wood. Today, ferry-goers ride in tonier ships (color photo) and docking is smooth as silk since the old telephone poles have been replaced with neatly fitted pilings with plasticized cushions. And I'd guess ship docking is assisted by computers these days.

My most vivid memory of Cape May-Lewes ferry travel was a summer day in 1965 when my buddy Billy Velvel and I hitchhiked the five or so miles from our home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to Lewes, boarded the Ferry for a quarter, and then hitchhiked from Cape May up the Jersey coast to Wildwood or Atlantic City or Ocean City, wherever the ride took us. On this particular adventure the hitchhiking failed us on our return to Cape May and that last ferry ride home. So we ran and ran, hitch-hiked and ran, all the while hoping and praying that we were not too late. There would be hell to pay with mom if we missed that ferry because a). mom didn't know we were in New Jersey, and b). she or dad would have to make the four hour drive around the bay to pick us up.  Failure to make the return was certain death or worse. But we made it, barely, and I have never forgotten.

I get to the beach these days once or twice a year to visit family and to enjoy all that is enjoyable about the eastern shore. And more often than not, I stop by and visit the ferry and every couple of years I take the trip from Lewes to Cape May and back. I'm never, ever disappointed.

Except at the end because the trip is over, and because I still want to see and hear the old ship crash against the telephone pole pilings the way it used to.
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Summer



A few days ago was the first day of summer, the solstice, or sun standing still.

Its beginning brings to mind a time when summer unofficially began on the last day of school. A time when summer meant endless play for what seemed like endless days. As a young boy we'd play baseball at the park down the street until it got so dark one could hear the ball but not see it, and at the older but still youthful age of seventeen we'd play basketball in the parking lot of the local high school long past sunset.

The last day of school was like standing on a cliff overlooking an ocean that went on forever. We knew the ocean ended in September but for now land was out of site... and mind. Thankfully, I still see and hear that hopefulness in my grandchildren and I cringe at the utilitarian notions of year-round schools, whatever that utility may be.

Back then there were no electronics to keep a child inside and television was a black and white, three-channel medium whose day time broadcasts consisted of soaps, game shows, and westerns. Air-conditioning, that which keeps any sensible person inside these summer days, was still a few years away, so to escape the house-held heat we children sat outside in the shade, and for the fortunate near a lake, the ocean, or a swimming pool.

Most of the time cooling off was done with the hose and a sprinkler. I recall lying on the sidewalk after getting doused and listening to the water sizzle on the hot concrete right under my ear. There were activities but almost none generated by mom and dad who had an easy solution for lying around the house causing trouble which was "find something to do or I'll find something for you" which meant work.

Boredom was a part of summer life and accepted. It seems children aren't allowed to be bored today, every moment of their lives filled with some constructive activity to make them a better person, or athlete, or artist, or scientist. I recall summer days riding our bikes as far as we could from home trying to get lost. The only purpose was the adventure of finding our way home. Now to be fair, my mother's disengagement probably had more to do with the fact that we were allowed to roam the neighborhood, she knowing that we would be gone all day and home for dinner. Mothers don't have that luxury today. When all the bike riding and ball playing were done we'd sit with a friend on a step or a swing, not saying much or doing much but altogether happy knowing we weren't in school. That was summer for us. And the beach. There was always the beach.

It is nostalgia, I know, and romantic, I know, but on these first days of summer it does recall the memory of waiting for that last bell to ring on that last class on that last day of school . . . and jumping into summer.