Thursday, March 10, 2005

An Open Letter to People in NYC who Bring Laptops to My Favorite Coffee Shops

Dear People who Bring Laptops to My Favorite Coffee Shops,

You add a lot of atmosphere! It’s amazing how, in your great numbers, you have made all the nice cafes in the city seem exactly like serving detention in my Jr. High School study hall -- and yet you are too old to be students! I am impressed by how you sit there for ages, taking up a whole table after only buying one coffee and maybe a biscotti.

Personally I would be embarrassed, but you have cahones!

I also think it’s cool how you all seem really into and passionate about your work. Like when I go to a cafĂ© with a friend, and we start laughing about something, you always look over to scowl at us for disturbing your work. That never fails to make us feel bad -- and make you look like a tortured genius!

But I also like it when y'all form a ring around me at the cafe looking miserable, yet chic, as you use both your laptops and your iPods at once. Nothing says, "I will go to any length to have humanity leave me the fuck alone, so piss off and die" better. Sometimes I imagine the iPod ear buds are actually earmuffs just to have a little taste of what it'd be like being married to Jonathan Franzen!

Anyway, I know that if you ever decided to stop working on your laptop and actually talk to me, you’d tell me all about your screenplay. Then you’d find out that in the world of small-time artists, I’m actually way more successful and connected than you. Then, while you were trying to pump me for information, I’d be nice but make you feel really small for being a desperate, unpublished, unproduced, socially retarded aspiring artist. I’m actually a nice person, but I think this proves the theory that those who are abused (by people with laptops in cafes) become abusers themselves…

Actually, did you know I really like artists? Some of my best friends are artists. Specifically, all of them. And I like places that artists frequent. But as writing, designing, philosphizin' and all that are usually very solitary pursuits, I would think that cafe culture would be a great place for like-minded people to exchange ideas, sing bawdy songs and get jacked up on coffee and/or get shitfaced. Is it that you are not solitary people? Are you performing artists? If so, why do you have laptops? To my mind an actor needs a laptop as much as a fish needs a 401k. But I digress...

I am so perplexed by your taking up every seat in the cafes all day long and leaving no room for others, that I wondered... could it be that you are all homeless? It seemed absurd, especially because you all dress so much better than I do. But then I thought, perhaps you poor things have spent all your rent money on clothes. If so, please forgive me!

Or is it simply that you hate our consumer culture and so you get your kicks by ensuring that each capitalist business will be forced to fold due to your sit-in protests that are silent save for the tapping of your fingers on the computer keys? If this is the case, fine. But would you change your mind if you knew that these cafes are independently owned and operated?

For example, when you go to Jack's, that tall, dark and handsome guy behind the counter? He is named Jack and no, it's not a coincidence. Jack is a former actor who has invested his life savings in a place that seats about 20 people on a good day. He provides you with fresh baked organic excellentness that's either locally bought or from fair trade. He also hangs your art and puts on a variety of entertainment at night, to give artists a venue.

So, if you want to stick it to The Man, why not take your agression out on a chain? Why not join your cheap-ass brothers and sisters who are currently doing the good work by sitting for hours on end and buying nothing at Barnes & Noble?

In any case, I do want to thank you as well, for never going to the beautiful library we have in the nabe. At Jefferson Market I love how, when I want to do work somewhere other than my apartment (BTW did you know them laptops work at home as well? For real!), the sun is streaming through the stained glass windows, there are large tables and there are comfy chairs. And there's usually absolutely no one in the joint other than one or two retired dudes and a librarian.

I'll admit I was worried that this urban oasis would become overrun because it would seem like a natural for you people since it's free, completely peaceful and you don't have to buy that one measly cup of coffee to set up for as long as you want. But no, for the past six years, the library has not occured to you as an option.

Anyway, I was thinking... maybe if you didn’t take your laptop with you every time you went out, you might just meet someone and then you'd have a friend you could laugh with over cup after cup of coffee? Just a crazy thought…

See you at Doma, Jack's, Joe's, etc.!