Apr 01 2006

Public Cans of Austin: The Green Coffeeshop

In St. Louis, Missouri, where I was exiled for half a century, Clementine’s is the name of a leather bar where I once nearly fainted from the violent stench of bursting male groins. In Austin, Clementine’s is the name of the green coffeeshop on Manor Rd. where I sometimes meet Stingray for a medium iced and an oatmeal cookie. I always refer to it as The Green Coffeeshop because, all these years later, the word “Clementine” still makes me think of clots of writhing mustachioed homos in buttless black chaps. Which mental tableau doesn’t exactly get the spinster aunt’s motor running.

The Green Coffeeshop, I am happy to report, is crisp and serene. If there are desperate engorged members slouched upon their orange IKEA couches, their owners have the good taste to keep’em corralled inside perfectly frayed jeans.

The avocado/pea/olive green with which the green coffeeshop is painted is a very popular color for small, clean, with-it, non-ejaculatory Austin buildings. It announces that somebody within knows from Design, and that her message is “We are in our 30’s now; crustypunkism is dead.”

The Green Coffeeshop vibe, in fact, is anti-leather. It is possibly Anti-Human-Interaction. Let’s face it, it’s a goddam Anglo-Saxon library in there. Everybody is white. Everybody is quiet. Everybody wears something between Urban Outfitters and Banana Republic. Everybody is alone. Everybody stares transfixedly into a laptop, segregated by operating system (Windows on the left. Macs on the right). Apart from the XM radio playing French hip-hop, the only sound, at least when I’m in residence, is my own hearty guffawing, usually over my own jokes. Nobody actually glares at me, but my boisterosity has the effect of making the quiet seem even more resilient.

This atmosphere has no effect whatsoever on Stingray. She is a low-talker herself.

The Green Coffeeshop has the best oatmeal cookies in all of Austin.


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  1. members.cox.net/thevixen/Cayenne/1.html

    Safety orange and poison green do not do it for me.

    I am now old.

    I Blame the Patriarchy and time.

  2. Snazzy.

    I feel your pain on the leather bar thing :/ I’m on the board of directors of an anti-discrimination scholarship that one of my friends started after winning a lawsuit, and the Mr. Leather Ottawa group decided to donate some of the proceeds from the event to us, which is great, except that I actually had to go to the event. I never, ever, ever want to see another ass again. Ever.

  3. the pictures bring to mind a 50’s era neon sign that hung outside of a motel that I used to drive by. It said, simply and invitingly: “Chilled Air”

  4. Gal’darnit Twister, now you and Amanda and my taciturn Swedish lesbian neighbor have me wanting to board a bus or plane with my nifty new folding bike as soon as my damn dissertation is complete, and tour these things at the speed of human.

    That and real tacos only recently made it to the Boston area, and there is progress to be made.

  5. norbizness.com

    I think virulent WASPism is reaching pandemic levels at Austin coffeehouses, if Flightpath on 51st and Duval is any indication. Play with your gummi bear-filled laptops somewhere else, poseurs!

  6. mycrust.livejournal.com

    Meh. I blame the patriarchy for everyone being down on hairy male asses.

  7. The number of double entendres in this entry is going up. And that should read ‘cringe inducing pun’.

  8. I want an oatmeal cookie.

  9. There is something similar to this in Manchester, an old working class mill town that is attempting to shed its old working class history. My partner and I were asked by owners to give a price on doing some final touches; hanging a wine rack up, making a shelf for the coffee flavorings and remodeling the computer area. They were two columbians were went around with $500 Hewlett-Packard handhelds and Armani suits. One of them took my contract and perused it for an entire week.

    THen we met, flanked by 20 somethings in store bought roughed up hip hugger jeans and fashionably retro sixties knitted caps and business types in pressed suits and sensible but fashionable shoes. My partner and I sat there in carpenter jeans worn at the knees and dusty, dirty shirts from a day’s work. They wanted this added on and that little thing added on to the point where I pulled out the yet undeposited check for the deposit on the contract and handed it back to them and told them to call us when they decided what they really wanted done.

    They lamented that although during the opening the mayor would stop in for a latte, he doesn’t anymore, no one in the town gets it, no one was good enough for their fine establishment. I suggested that probably they might want to get a liquor license or at least stay open past 6 pm to get the hangers from the bar crowd. Bah! To have such plebians in their place! Rather die!

    They went out of business three months later. Now an Italian man runs the place and left the orange, dark blue and olive green contrasting paint on the duct work and walls and the retro seating but added roosters, a liquor license and a new sandwich menu. Why roosters? Patriarchy bar?

    I don’t go there because I can’t bring myself to pay 6 bucks or more for a sandwich, I don’t give a damn what’s on it. I’ll buy the ingredients and make it at home without the shamefaced anglophiles sipping quietly out of paper cups or having roosters staring at me from the wainscotting.

  10. There’s an autistic guy in my town who takes pictures of tile patterns. Our tattoo shop was a frequent stop because we have tile everywhere (walls, floor, ceiling). He also knew the names for different types of tiles, grout, patterns, etc. He did not do this as a job, mind you, I always got the impression he did it for fun.

    But now I’m thinking maybe he has a blog.

  11. suffragettecity.org

    The green walls and pink soap in the bathroom shot make me think of the cover of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Maybe it’s supposed to make me think of Lilly Pulitzer prints; I’m not sure.

    MoKaBe’s, my neighborhood coffeehouse (and your old hangout, during your lengthy exile), is great, and there’s probably a good reason other than proximity that I go there at least once a week for my Blue Mac fix, but it’s never gonna win a prize from Dwell magazine. I love the anti-George Bush propaganda and the menu that my Catholic neighbor insists is pornographic, and I love Mo and her daughter and her granddaughter and her life partner and all her employees, but it’s just not beautiful. Almost inevitably there is some crappy-ass art on the walls, or some misguided dyke-power poet trying to raise my consciousness in the courtyard, or a flock of pissed-off chain-smokers playing their solitary computer games. Still, I guess I feel more comfortable there than I would at some elegant little Asian-themed hotspot of the hipoisie. There I can just park my unfashionable ass on a stool, read my newspaper, and rest assured that no one is going to look askance at my wrinkled freelancer garb and my dirty spectacles and my habit of scoffing audibly whenever I read an editorial by Jonah Goldberg.

  12. mocklog.typepad.com

    As a native, I am concerned that Saint Louis has such anti-gay reputation that right now, someone is out there exclaiming “What? There are gay nightclubs in Saint Louis?” Thank you for giving us credit for even a horrid, grotty nightclub filled with wide Midwestern asses. Progress marches on!

  13. it isn’t just every blog that can give you bathroom photos, midwestern leather bars, dinner, AND patriarchy-blaming. with bonus bert news and art criticism, airstream plans, chemo cheerleaders, and the odd small-purse discussion.

    doesn’t texas have a better claim to the name clementine? just askin’. obviously, bad karma associated with the official name calls for the green coffeeshop to be renamed.

  14. kathy a sums up why I´love your blog: so much rowdy & rude diverse uplifting educational information.
    My personal photo collection of public toilets started with a (continuing) colection of those female/male toilet pictograph signs which tickle my fantasy (artistic or otherwise). At one point I started to expand my photo range to include the inside of toilets. This venture was (at least for now)crushed at it´s inception. I was at a tacky natural cave park in northern thailand and when I used the urinal I was struck by the use of lime halves instead of chemical cakes in the urinals. The whole effect was actually pretty striking in a “Piss Jesus” kind of way. so I whipped out my camera and started taking some pictures.
    Just as I finished and was raising my self from my crouch over the urinal (and finally exhaling) I heard some sounds behind me. Turning I caught the collected horrified and puzzled looks of a just entering German tourist group. Mumbling something about “never having seen limes used like that before ” I hastely fled the toilet.
    Most of my friends and family would claim that I`m not particulary sensitive to public opinion or expectations (or tactful) in my daily conduct. But somehow the feeling that a group of GERMANS probably found my behaviour to be strikingly and notably peverse has traumatically quashed (for now) any further inside toilet documentation.

  15. Ms. Kate, where in the Boston area does one find the real tacos? I have been sulking ever since visiting a friend in Tucson. Partly because she moved out of Tucson and into Iowa, an area less known for tasty food.

  16. Ledasmom, take yourself up to Union Square in Somerville. There you will find, if not a real taco, an excellent Salvadoran interpretation of said for very small money.

    There are also the lunch carts on Washington Street and Summer Street downtown Boston. Their operator now has an actual store around the corner by Windsor Button Shop on Temple St. and downstairs from all the ecogreenie headquarters.

    Failing that, there is a Taqueria belt running from East Cambridge up Somerville Ave to Davis Square. Favorites are Anna’s Taqueria (Porter near Porter exchange – same buiding as Pizzeria Uno and Davis Square on Elm St.); Boca Grande(my savior, as they have been around for 15 years) in Brookline Coolidge Corner, Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter, and East Cambridge; Salvadoran fare at Tacos Lupita where Elm hits Somerville Ave. There are a bunch more in JP, names I do not know.

    I keep smelling something good biking through Lowell, but it doesn’t square with all the Southeast Asian restaraunts I see – I think it must be somebody’s grandmother in one of the houses in the area.

  17. “The avocado/pea/olive green with which the green coffeeshop is painted is a very popular color for small, clean, with-it, non-ejaculatory Austin buildings…”


    “Nobody actually glares at me, but my boisterosity has the effect of making the quiet seem even more resilient.”

    I know what you mean, I have the same problem at times. It’s why I had to get out of the library business.

  18. saraarts.com

    Twisty, “desperate engorged members slouched upon…orange IKEA couches” is an image it’s going to take awhile to scrub out of my brain. It’s almost — not, but almost — as bad as that image of Britney/Ashley/Charlize torturing that poor dead bear and our sensibilities. Frankly, I’m not sure whether it’s the members themselves or the orange Ikea couches.

    Ms. Kate, I love the phrase “Taqueria belt.” It’s hilarious because it’s more of a tenuous thread which wends its way back and forth from collegiate and “working-class” housing through college grounds and million-dollar yuppie housing. We wish it were a belt. Fortunately, it’s a swelling thread, but slowly, slowly, and quality is really quite diverse throughout.

    I second your recommendations of Boca Grande and Anna’s, especially Anna’s for an immediate and portable burrito fix (but NOT Felipe’s in Harvard Square, which I’m told is owned by the same people). Also, as you noted, La Taqueria Mexicana in Union Square isn’t bad, though I like it for of its version of dishes like chile rellenos and carne asada. I don’t think I ever tried its tacos, and I don’t remember its rice or beans being particularly nice. It’s also worth noting, though, that La Taq is (or was; it’s been awhile since we ventured that way) a mere dot of Mexican-ish in a sea of small Brazilian restaurants, mostly of the hole-in-the-wall take-out variety.

    Out here in the ‘burbs, though, things are pretty desperate. There’s a small restaurant in either West Concord or Acton that a guy who fell in love with Mexico on vacation started, but, well, no. Sorry. Well, actually, I don’t know; maybe two and a half stars. Th next closest imitation of a taco can be found at Chili’s in Burlington. Actually, I’m not even sure they have tacos, what with the “southwestern egg rolls” and the fajitas and all. And then there’s a Taco Bell somewhere in Billerica.

    It’s pretty sad. My half-Mexican true love and I have posited that Yankees fear seasoning. Fortunately, we have great Indian and Thai, but it’s not the same. Sometimes you just want a taco you don’t have to make yourself.

  19. http/:www.glenda0909.blogspot.com

    Well, didn’t know this little gem existed right here in Austin. i have been going to the Flightpath Cafe and tripping over Powerbook cords without knowing about this place. Thanks.

  20. redneckmother.blogspot.com

    Clementines are the citrus of choice at my house. I need to launder my brain before snack time.

  21. Ms.Kate!! what you have been smellin’ in Lowell is the restaurant Life Alive – SO GOOD. I’ve also been to Anna’s Taqueria, excellente!!! yee yeah massachusettsians

  22. Ms. Kate, I love the phrase “Taqueria belt.” It’s hilarious because it’s more of a tenuous thread which wends its way back and forth from collegiate and “working-class” housing through college grounds and million-dollar yuppie housing.

    Well, hey, it is more like Orion’s Belt in that sense. I might have a warped idea since the best bike commuter routes from my neck of the woods (1.5 miles from Tufts University) snake their way through those areas.

    I used to live in Littleton when I first married and had honeymooned in the Bay Area – so passing four to six tacqueria en route home via bike is improvement most vast. Forgive me if I overrate it. Then Boca Grande opened, and the taco carts downtown showed up shortly after.

    Of course it is all the nicer that Anna’s is a fifteen minute bike ride away. I can live with that.

    Thanks for the tip, Roozen. I’m only working in Lowell for a month more, so I’ll check it out. If I take the train that gets in around 11am, the smells in that city are amazing.

  23. As for those southeast Asian restaurants in Lowell… give Southeast Asian Restaurant on Market St. a try – they have fantastic Thai food. Also – The Red Rose on Middlesex – yummy Cambodian food.

    Man, I miss Massachusetts… moved to NY two years ago and it still doesn’t feel like home here.

  24. The men’s room at the HiPointe in StL is actually probably a lo pointe for toilets everywhere, though the graffiti is, shall we say, robust.

    I’ll attempt a photo mission there and share, should the results warrant.


  25. thaliatook.com

    Sara, yes, I think he’s right that Yankees fear seasoning. I mean what is New England known for? That’s right, boiled dinner and clam chowder. Which isn’t allowed to have anything even so colorful as a tomato near it and where you’re supposed to use white pepper because the black is too much!

    I had a friend from New Orleans make jambalaya for a bunch of us once. I remember her saying, “I didn’t put hardly any spices in it”. It took an act of will of almost religious proportions to keep my head from exploding. Somewhere in the history of New England the locals have lost the gene for spice-tolerance.

    On another note, sure are a lot of Bostonites here today. I used to live up there, but country mouse me couldn’t take it for too long and I had to get back down here to the somewhat-more-rural southern Mass.

  26. thaliatook.com

    That said, I really miss Pho Pasteur.

  27. nomorenuts.org


    I stumbled onto this post of yours,and for some reason it made me start thinking of M.F.K. Fisher,one of my favorite foodies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.F.K._Fisher

    There’s a wonderful essay titled, “Borderland,” that can be found in her books, The Art of Eating and Serve It Forth. It mercifully short for those of us long on attention for tinkering with digi-pics and short on attention for readings recommended by others. Unfortunately, I have never found the essay published online, but the books are wonderfully nostaglic, and Fisher wrote lovingly about food. Anyway, there was something about the way you ultimately expressed your pleasure in the oatmeal cookies that made me think you’d like Fisher’s essay if you took it for a spin.

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