Caffe Pergolesi
418 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Caffe Pergolesi is a coffee house in Santa Cruz, California - More literally than most. Previously a dentist's office (One Dr. Miller), this victorian dwelling-cum-coffeehouse is the best coffee house scene in Santa Cruz in my opinion, and it has won awards to that effect - Metro Santa Cruz gave them the Gold for the same in 2000. It is home to a number of distinct social scenes, including the Santa Cruz Vampires Motorcycle and Scooter club, a number of high school students from Santa Cruz High, and several made up of UC Santa Cruz students.

Pergolesi has a relaxed atmosphere and several separate spaces. The front room (which contains the counter) and the two rooms to the left are open to one another, but there are a couple of quieter rooms off towards the right; Through them one can reach the small back patio. The front and left side of the establishment are surrounded by a large patio. The wooden section of the patio to the right is a non-smoking area, and toward the left, the larger stone patio allows cigarette smoking.

The Cafe sells local brands whenever possible, from the coffee (From the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company) to the pies and cakes, and even the chai. They also sell a handful of beers (Including Sierra Nevada IPA, Red Hook, and Guinness) and a hard apple cider. They also have a small selection of vegan cookies and foods, as Santa Cruz is a city of much Political Correctness.

On warm summer nights, it is not unusual to be able to catch a small band playing, or a DJ spinning in a front room. The Vampires' annual Santa Cruz (Motorcycle) Rally starts here, usually accompanied by great clouds of smoke from excessive but traditional burn-outs.

But let's face it, if you want coffee, you have a lot of places to go, and most of them are less expensive than spending an evening at Caffe Pergolesi - "the Perg" to its regulars. So why it such an alluring place? First of all, it's mellow. It's the kind of place you can go while intoxicated, or tired, or in pain, and reasonably expect to not be made to feel any worse. You can smoke there, which is a source of irritation to some (who are welcome to use the non-smoking patio, and of course there is no smoking allowed indoors) and pleasure to others. Next, the coffee is decent, and so is the service - So long as you're not making trouble, in which case they will afford you very little tolerance. Thus, the extremely annoying are generally evicted without unnecessary delay.

Of course, that doesn't extend to the people they are on a first-name basis with. If you're a regular, you can generally shout and cuss and make a nuisance of yourself, as long as you're not being inappropriate. So like so many other social scenes, once you've put in your time you can be a little obnoxious on occasion. This is just one of the many reasons why the Perg can be an addiction. Of course, there's also the alcohol I've mentioned. Pergolesi is only one block off of Pacific Ave., the main drag in downtown Santa Cruz. It's a block away from a Streetlight Records (and across the street, the metro bus station (which contains a rather good pizzeria called Storti's)and the Greyhound bus station, a block away from a large parking lot in which parking costs one dollar per day, and The Bagelry, one of Santa Cruz's most beloved eating establishments. Directly across the street from Perg in two differerent directions you can even enter two different hot tub and massage businesses.

All of this ensures steady foot traffic, and of course, being a popular cafe, it draws a certain number of people itself. While there are other coffeeshops in town, and even other coffeeshop scenes, if coffee is a life style for you, and not just a hobby, then the Perg is the place to see and be seen, or just grab a cup of coffee and a bagel. Don't like coffee? Have tea, or a beer, or a Nevada City Iced Cappucino. Don't even feel like having a beverage? As long as you're not taking up undue space or being a nuisance, you're unlikely to be kicked out even if you're not buying anything, though your mileage may vary. But unless you're a complete pauper you'll surely run into something there you want. Which might be a beverage, or perhaps the clientele.

It's also worth noting that rooms above the cafe are rented out to young college hipsters from time to time. I've never known anyone who lived up there, so I can't really tell you much about that. However, if you have to ask what it takes to get one of those rooms, you can safely assume that you are not going to make it onto the waiting list.

There are, of course, a few things you should know before you go to this cafe and attempt to blend in. First of all, people will be smoking in the doorway. It's just a fact of life, one you will have to accept for what it is - The status quo. Complaining about smoking anywhere it is not explicitly prohibited, in fact, will probably get you into conversations you would have been just as happy skipping. Do not say anything bad about Budweiser in the presence of the staff - And they have a tendency to blend in with the populace, so watch out. And finally, never assume anyone wants to talk to you. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, if you don't try to talk to people you will not succeed. If you attempt to communicate with someone and are rebuffed, don't go away mad - just go away. People tend to more or less ignore people they haven't seen around before.

Finally, if you find yourself at Caffe Pergolesi and at a loss for what to do nearby; Proceeding Northwards (go down the front steps and turn right) you'll come upon the back entrance of Logos bookstore, the town's best place to buy used books, and not a bad place to buy new ones. Of course, there's the aforementioned record store, pizza place, and massage parlors - Not the naughty kind, I should point out. Many times I've gone down to Logos with a couple of dollars, come back with some science-fiction gem, and spent a few hours reading. Generally speaking, though, I'm eventually interrupted by a friend - And that's what keeps me going back.

Some rememberings of Perg's during the mid '80s and '90s. A coffeehouse with a porch and cobbled-stone outside seating and back porch. Inside is four rooms for sitting, Two Tardis phone booths (which only cost a nickel or dime for phone calls), a below stairs cubby. There is an apartment upstairs, as mentioned in the above article, and i'd been up there a few times, almost went in on renting it for a brief moment; it's pretty nice, comfy, a round window in the living room area over the front bit, the rest all puzzle boxed with sugar cube sized bedrooms. The back porch was my favored spot, jasmine bush canopy overhead, porch surrounded by honeysuckle bushes. small wooden tables and one big round wooden table perfect for hiding and spreading books and notebooks and tobacco and coffee and water and a couple more people around. Spring and summer back there is astounding. Front area was a good spot too, the tall palm... Have spent much time there, and have had many long conversations, animated and rich, meeting a myriad of people from all walks. It was where I developed into a personality.

I had very rarely traveled, but via that cafe learned, heard, envisioned a hundred countries. After the summer tourist season came the travellers, those who had the time to tarry. The Arabian, Asian, Aussie, European, spending time in my town, and mornings through evenings waystationing at the cafe. There's been two times when i've attended the ceremony of people marrying someone they'd met at Perg's for citizenship.

At first the cafe was a place to waste time reading and writing, and basically, over time, just by being there, i met all sorts of people, many becoming friends, many changing my life and soul, many inexplicably bending my ear with tales, problems, outrageousness, creatisms... i became a 'scratching post', and also wailed out my inner turmoils a number of times to whatever unfortunate acquaintance asked me how i was. I always drank tea, until two other regulars there and an employee and i got a house together; then every employee there -- already plying me with tea, cider, italian sodas -- also tested new coffee experiments on me, and since then i can't get away from coffee...

Ok, i'm scittering, as memories start pouring in. Click and thwam. If i start with one person, i feel i could go on a thousand tangents, with people and events sparking across the varying crossroads i've mentally paused at. I'll just write about two people below.

Eventually, i was the guy in black clothes who always had something to read or write on, an extra smoke, and who blew smoke bubbles. A friend reminded me once that the first time i met her on the back porch i gilded her third eye with gold dust and read willam carlos williams to her. Most people there that i was introduced to would comment that they'd always seen me around, but that i always looked too focused reading or writing.

sometimes, i could sit there and spew out yards of words in notebooks. i'd scribble down bits and pieces, journal sporadically (mostly my dreams), bleed a poem or sneeze a pome onto a page, start and stop novels, and constantly fiddle with short stories over and over. More often, i would sit and scratch my head and read some newspapers and smoke another cigarette, order another coffee, eavesdrop on conversations, have another smoke, doodle a little flower, get in a conversation with someone about tofu scrambles or the act of writing, read more of my book and closing time arrives and i look down and all i've written is 'enuff bits of your soul to make a cat' and 'ice cream has no bones'. My hair grew three feet long, and a beret attached itself on top. procrastination and atmosphere are nine tenths of my style.

When i moved to oregon, although i never realized it then, i surely left a strong identity behind. A ghost remains, however: There was a time when i made piles of arty postcards and bookmarks and stickers during a Copyshop job and often passed many to employees there, a few still adorning a back wall, and succinct corners. New regulars, i've found when revisiting, have continued the bubble tradition...

Honeysuckle and Jasmine

My first clear memory of Perg's involves fortunetelling! They used to sell their tea loose, in hottles, from which you'd pour into a cup. Oh, that was delicious tea! Unfurled jasmine blossoms or leathery Earl Grey.

This is more a memory of who i was with rather than what happened. Namely, Kelley and her sister, whose name I've forgotten. Kelley was subtly encouraging the two of us together and i was ignorantly ignoring this, but blame it on mutual shyness. This was probably ten years ago, and i'd known Kelley for a few already. She'd just turned thirty, and i'd attended the party, her sister and i the youngest. We all wrote lines adding to poems on the wall under the subjects childhood, adventure, adulthood, etc.. We made masks for ourselves (mine was Cubist) and outside, wearing the masks, read the poems and then burned them, appreciating the vanilla smoke scent as they sparked into the sky.

A couple of years earlier, Kelley had given me my first leather jacket, grunged and falling apart and smelling of cat pee (i stitched it back together and adorned it with a myriad of catholic insignia and skeletons, wore it day in and day out until it frayed apart... some of it now adorning a mannequin in a garden, the rest as wrapping for planted pepper tree), throwing it at me during a concert on my birthday, the last vestiges of her punk rock life as Red, going around the world in it with lifelong lover twice.

I knew kelley from the college newspaper, where she was trying to reforge a career, and exploring creative talent while transforming into someone very wise and 'down to earth.' and this late afternoon, as she read my fortune in the tea leaves, as she remembered her grandmother had done it, telling me of events in my future, she didn't see that soon we would fall out of touch, as she went off to Africa for a few years to teach English... Pergs was one of those crossroads places, the ex in the twisted circle we walk on.

Two more things about Kelley: she taught me how to roll cigs, and had this awesome white bulldog i had the pleasure of sitting for a few weeks, daily strolling him, er, him strolling me, down to the beach a block away and playing tug of war over driftwood.

no longer watching

It's a Spring afternoon and I'm on the front porch at Perg's zonking through comics. had been up all night pounding up and down the beach all aggro about my coked-out girlfriend and knowing it was all over and i'd have to do something. Returning home that morning, i skipped school, collapsing on the couch and dreaming of sitting in an amphitheater watching metallic large creatures (humanoid Caterpillar like in Aliens, lobster clawed hermit crabs all orange and loomingclacking) creak and clank on the stage. On waking, i showered, changed clothes, and headed to the cafe. I wasn't there for more than a half hour when a tall thin brown-leather-hatted man clomped up the stairs and into the cafe, then out and over to me.

"excuse me," he said politely, "but i wonder if you can help me remember a name." I'm actually one of the worst with names, but i decided to humor him, switching into my eversohelpful frame. "it depends." He began to tell me of a girl he'd met earlier that day at the community college, and he had forgotten her name and --well, i interupted him, for i hadn't been at school that day. "but you were sitting right in front of us!" he insisted. "watching the gamelan music in the amphitheater!"

i blinked, then asked him what i was wearing. he described the clothes i'd fallen asleep in. i hmmed and told him about not being in school that day, and where i had been and what i had been doing. So he sat down, and that was the beginning of a acquaintance through which sprang into many astounding adventures the following summer. This was Joop, a Dutch artist, rather loopy, with ideas about a way of living i hadn't really explored: following stepping stones into a real life of majick. i really only knew him for a few months, but it seemed like forever. that late afternoon we jumped into a deep conversation about the number eight as a twisted sphere and the crossroads on it, how the X of eternity is a portentious snapshot.

it is something i've lost hold of, that path, the encountering, the ease into wonder and forever moments. too much crash and burn, it is apparent, has made me wary. instead there are brief forays.

i should reiterate why i mention meeting this person: it changed my life in very bad and good ways. half of me is still the shelled chick, not attempting to peck out into life. the other half is an emerged, open, honest participant in a world of great interest. Joop slammed me into interaction with the manic whacked fuckedup and /alive/ world. After a summer of adventure with beauty, and meeting a lover who entered my life the following year, he introduced me to a young man who he thought was possessed by some shadow that haunted him, and my acquaintance with this man led to some very fucked in the head folk. I don't regret any of it (I do regret some of my choices later on); I learned a few lessons, gained some stories, lived and breathed instead of sitting and waiting. I just didn't ask for it.

all i wanted that spring afternoon was to read my comics, drink my coffee, and figure out what to do.

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