Livin’ La Vida Loca
Diesel, when it first opened, was the enemy.
I was in the Someday Cafe camp. You probably don’t remember, but Someday Cafe was a grungy cafe in the current location of the creperie with a very, um, lived-in vibe. The menu was Star-Trek themed. Seating consisted of uncomfortable plastic chairs in the shape of human hands. Phish was playing in the background. But that was where I had planted my flag, and there was no way I was going to hang out in that new, shiny coffee shop with a motorcycle in the window, cool-looking employees, and beautiful garage doors that were thrown open on nice days.
I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but slowly I made the transition. Maybe one day I couldn’t find a seat at the Someday. More likely, I couldn’t take the music. And I haven’t looked back.
Since then, I have written and/or illustrated at least part of EVERY one of my 13 picture books at Diesel cafe. There is a creative energy here (I’m typing this in Diesel right now!) that I don’t find anywhere else. The music is just the right amount of loud (currently playing, ahem: “Livin’ La Vida Loca”), I can always find a seat (I shall not my reveal my advanced techniques for obtaining a window seat), and I get way more done here than I do at home.
The conversations I overhear have changed. I used to hear people talking about friends’ bands and art shows, about parties, about who hooked up with whom (I’ve overheard several couples break up before 9 in the morning). Now the conversations are business meetings, words like “angel investor,” “forward-facing,” “scalable,” and “circle back” are thrown around, and there are many untucked button-down shirts and expensive-looking sneakers.
But the spirit of Diesel lives on. What I’ve admired about Tucker and Parky, from the beginning, is how they just get shit done. They have been unabashedly LGBTQ+ friendly, long before, it was “fashionable” to do so. They have been environmentally-conscious long before it was expected to be so (one day the trash cans just disappeared!). They have supported countless artists, locally sourced their food, and donated a portion of sales to many charities. All without drawing attention to the fact that were doing these community-building things. And they have played way better music.
Some days, I sit by the open garage doors, looking across at Starbucks while stealing their internet, and wondering about the people who would choose to go there. And I know that we’re all having a much better time across the street.