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Portlandia is a Feeling.

February 26, 2013

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in Jenner, California, a tiny, picturesque town along the Sonoma Coast. It’s the kind of place far enough away from the city, but still close enough to where hippie meets hick and tourist meets tweaker. I imagine it would be a very odd place to grow up, but on a sunny day, driving the curvy cliffside road that drops straight down into the Pacific is true Northern California perfection.

We stopped to get a cup of coffee on the way home at a random roadside cafe, and that’s where things got weird. The place was essentially a bungalow perched on a small hill right above the last part of the Russian River just before it feeds into the ocean. The decor gave off a  “space age mermaid” vibe, shells and fishing nets hung from the ceiling, broken surf boards jutted out randomly along the wall and a beverage fridge stood empty in the corner save for a few organic sodas, three different types of coconut water and someone’s leftover lunch.

The funky vibe inside was intensely funkified by the bearded and dreadlocked middle-aged dude-duo “jammin'” on drums and electric-acoustic guitar on a makeshift porch/stage behind the cafe. A random assortment of burnt out locals, European tourists and day-trippers with their babies and dogs were spread out, eating breakfast and drinking coffee at the picnic tables on the grassy knoll. People who had presumably been strangers moments ago were making pleasant conversation with one another, the vibes were taking over! Life long connections were being formed! A scraggly grey-haired man in Teva’s and socks rode up on his bike, started snapping pictures of the band, and broke out into an improptu seizure/flailing type of dance.

Me and Catie, my travel buddy that day, stood in complete awestruck silence taking it all in, we didn’t even mind that the two flamboyantly gay proprietors with modern euro-mullets and flawless tans were too busy engaging in the most benign yet somehow completely compelling conversations with the other customers in the shop to notice that we were waiting our turn for an individually poured, slow-dripped, micro-roasted cup of organically sustained java. Catie and I didn’t even have to say anything to know exactly what the other was thinking: we had just stepped into an episode of Portlandia. WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF ALTERNATE UNIVERSE WAS THIS PLACE?!

Gay Proprietor #1 to Loitering Customer at counter: Ya, we just got this new roaster, we gotta keep that thing going all day and all night.

Loitering Customer: Yea, I bet that thing works over time, right on.

Gay Proprietor #2: Oh ya! One time a popcorn kernel ended up in there, and we were just like; “how did that get in there?”

Loitering Customer: *Laughs*

Gay Proprietor #1: [pouring hot water over slow drip coffee, completely ignoring us]: Must be some sort of practical joke within the micro-coffee roaster world, right?!

Loitering Customer: Hey, do you guys have like, potatoes to go with that breakfast sandwich?

Gay Proprietor #1: No man, I wish, we gotta keep it simple. Trust me, I love potatoes as much as the next guy, but that homemade pesto foccacia is gonna blow your mind.

Loitering Customer: Right on, right on.

Angsty Teen Cook: [peeks around from behind the wall holding half a bagel in a gloved hand. She looks like Daria from the MTV show, completely uninterested and unaware of the real life version of Hair, the musical she’s living in] Jay, we’re out of crab.

Gay Proprieter #1 (apparently named Jay): [turns dramatically, nods frantically with raised eyebrows at Angsty Teen Cook.]

Loitering Customer: [Mindlessly playing with the hideous $40-dollar handmade felt hats for sale at the counter.]

Gay Proprieter #1 (apparently named Jay): [turns to Gay Proprieter #2 (who is still describing the coffee roaster to an older couple who had been standing off to the side) with a drastic look of concern on his face] TIM. I THINK WE’RE OUT OF CRAB.

Gay Proprieter #2 (apparently named Tim): [continues to ponder how a popcorn kernal ended up in coffee roaster.]

Finally, having had his world shaken up by the crab incident, we are acknowledged by Jay. He asks us if he’s gotten our “Java” started for us. When we say no, he looks surprised, as if he thought he had already made it, and begins the slow-drip process over again.

The only photo evidence we managed to capture.

The only photo evidence we managed to capture.





3 Comments leave one →
  1. Arthur Vibert permalink
    February 26, 2013 2:31 pm

    I know this place. You nailed it.

  2. February 26, 2013 2:40 pm

    i got insanely sick from eating their once. Not fun going up 1.

  3. Jessica permalink
    February 26, 2013 5:59 pm

    LERV THIS… SO MUCH! What a fantastic weekend!!

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