Tonight I set out with the sole purpose of attending an open mic after dropping off Monkey with his dad. Thankfully a "bay area open mic" Google search led me to this helpful site, which breaks it down by area and day of the week. By consulting this site I could attend one every night if I wanted to and know a little ahead of time about the norms and sign-up times, etc. I wasn't looking to share anything tonight....I just wanted to be around creative people who were out there on that limb, expressing themselves.
Today's New Activity: Barefoot Coffee Open Mic
I know Barefoot Coffee has a sizable cult following and that it enjoys rave reviews, but I have to say I was underwhelmed by the coffee part of the experience. This is only the second time I've been here, and the first time was so long ago I don't remember much about the visit. What I do remember and what's still nice about the place is that they showcase local artists' work. The good stuff, at least after this visit, kind of ends there.
First of all, the baristas had more than what seemed like their fair share of attitude. I don't understand servers and baristas with attitude...the kind of attitude that says, "hey idiot, I don't care if you come here or don't. Our coffee is THAT good." My response to that is: "Ok, I won't. Your coffee is not that good." Furthermore, I went with the barista's recommendation on which of the four roasts to try, and the thing (a simple 12 ounce cup of black coffee) cost $5.
That's five dollars!
I wouldn't mind paying $5 for an amazing, transporting coffee experience, but this wasn't that. I mean it was good coffee, but not $5 good. I know there must be insane overheads for a place that roasts its own coffee, and I can appreciate that. I can even appreciate it in the form of happily paying $5 if I'm not treated as though I'm lucky they let me come there. Just sayin'.
Anyway, I was there for the open mic. I love that there are people out there just doing their thing. The musicians (and they were all musicians...one singer shared a little bit of spoken word, but other than that it was all singers, and mostly guitars players with only two exceptions coming in the form of keyboardists) were fairly homogeneous in style...kinda folky, sharing mostly covers.
I think I was spoiled by the experience of Cafecito's open mic, which I used to attend back in the day. What the performers there shared ranged from free-style hip hop to jazz/latin jazz to folk to spoken word to literary pieces to rock. It felt like a free concert (that I would have actually paid for) twice a week. I have to say that no other open mic in the bay area I've ever attended has come close, but I haven't done this sort of thing in years. I'm kind of on a quest now to find something comparable, so I may just discover one (and by all means, I'll share it if I do!).
The real gem of the night was having been seated next to some friendly young men who were there to tell folks about some upcoming events in San Jose. The events were listed on a flyer whose cover sported the words "San Jose is Lame Because You're Lame." The idea they were sharing was that people often say San Jose sucks without realizing how many great things are going on there all the time, and furthermore, every city IS what its inhabitants and visitors make it...so if it's lame, it's up to all of us to make it better. Amen! I love that attitude. And I love people who are looking to make things--any/everything--better.
They were part of a collective called Outpost Sj, which basically seeks to promote local artists and events and thereby lift the consciousness around San Jose's artistic community. Check out their Wordpress site...it's still under construction but the main page seems to be updated pretty frequently.
One thing I shared as I sat talking with these blokes is that I'm just so thrilled to meet people who are doing stuff. I know how incredibly generic that sounds, but it's true. Whatever it is, if they're passionate about it, I find it inspiring. I also love that there are people thoroughly committed to the act of promoting the talents of others. I knew there was a reason I'd found myself wandering all the way down to Santa Clara tonight for an open mic.
And if it wasn't that chance encounter, which reminded me of youthful exuberance and basic good will, it was the fact that upon entering the coffee shop I saw an ex I dated briefly long ago with whom things had ended somewhat strangely. I was surprised to see he was still in the area (because I thought he'd moved away), but not at all bothered or made nervous by the experience. I didn't end up talking with him because I don't believe he even saw me, but it was really nice to have the chance to sort of check in with myself and find that I was totally comfortable with who I am in the moment: where I'm at in my life, what I look like physically, my current state of mind. If I'd had the opportunity to share a life update with this ex, I would have done so without a hint of self-consciousness.
That's a nice place to be.
Oh, and one afterthought...I'm thinking that, in the spirit of bringing about more positivity through positivity, I hope to see a future flyer for Outpost Sj called "San Jose is Awesome Because You're Awesome."
And you are. ;)