A couple of weeks ago I put out a request on Twitter for the best late-night coffee shop in Southern California. Someone replied with 212 Pier, a cool-sounding joint in Santa Monica. So, that night, I told the wife, “I’m gonna spend all day tomorrow at this place, 212Pier.”
“But that’s, like, two hours away,” she replied.
“Yeah,” I said, “but it looks great.”
“You go there,” she said, “you’re crazy.”
I almost went. Really, I almost did. But I didn’t. I stayed local, found an amazing spot in Laguna Beach, worked happily, happily, happily for hours while sipping delicious beverages.
This morning I had a meeting in Santa Monica.
I came to 212 Pier.
I am sitting here now.
It is fucking nasty.
Admittedly, I have high standards for coffee shops. But this place, well, um, ew.
Where to begin?
I’m stationed at a corner table. The walls looks like it last served as an active cell piece in Alcatraz. There are mysterious, disconcerting stains. Probably coffee. Possibly snot. At my feet is an enormous rock. Not sure why. The music, blaring from a small speaker above my head, is playing something called Cepia. I looked the word up, and found this: “Cepia (pronounced “SEP-ee-uh”) is the sound of industry meeting with the vague memories that rest somewhere in the back of everyone’s mind.” I’d add: “And really, really sucks.”
There are randomly scattered tables, most scratched up, stained, wobbly. The chairs are uncomfortable wicker. The shelves are lined with books, which is sorta cool. But I’m not entirely sure why they’re there. Decoration? Sales?
If you judge a place by a bathroom, 212 Pier is a D-. Huge puddle of piss beneath the toilet. Like, Pacific-sized. The coffee is good, but overpriced. It’s a mixed crowd. Young writers. Old people reading Bibles. A couple of dirty folks with dirty Santa beards. I like a place where I don’t have to carry my laptop to the bathroom. This isn’t that spot.
Do I have this right to complain? Not really. I can go elsewhere. I guess, really, I’m going through the coffee shop blues. I miss Mahopac’s Freight House. I miss Swirl in New Rochelle. I miss Sunburst in Manhattan. Those were my joints. My spots.
Now I’m writing at 212 Pier.
Hoping I don’t catch Herpes.