I’m doing something different. I don’t normally write out in public. I prefer to write in the early morning with a hot pot of coffee, in my super comfy flannel furry pants, and a dog curled up next to me. To me the joys of writing in the morning come from the silence of the city. The absence of other people going about their lives creates a space for me to be creative.
But I’ve been told I should get out more, that I should go hang out at a jazz club, or coffee house and see what happens. So I found myself yesterday driving around town trying to find a place to write.
There are the obvious places for me. The Loews Hotel lobby is one, but I know too many people there. Also Michael D’s coffee shop at the bowling alley, but it is too familiar to me as I eat there at least once a week.
I couldn’t do a corporate coffee shop. It just seems wrong to be in a Denny’s trying to be creative. I wanted a place with flavor, style and a unique feel. I wanted Wednesday’s House — the cool coffee house that used to be on Main Street. I loved that place. It had a wall covered in hip 1970s lunchboxes and lots of kitschy decorations. It went out years ago. I don’t know why. I think the owner Robin decided to be a yogi in India or something.
There’s a coffee house on Urban Street across from Trader Joe’s that is close to what Wednesday’s House was like, but I was already Downtown and had a lunch meeting to get to, so I didn’t want to drive all the way there and back.
Which is how I found myself on Main Street, looking at the Starbucks, and then the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and growing more disillusioned by the minute.
Then I saw it. And knew I was home. It wasn’t like what I wanted, it was what I needed. A lending library, a surf school, a coffee house and an art gallery, all in one place. It’s The Novel Café on Main Street. The public billboard is like a New Age smorgasbord where you can find everything from someone to help you finish your great American novel to cleansing the psychic garbage from your living space.
Honestly, the Aqua Surf school and store is not part of the Novel Café, but it’s in the same space, and that adds a coolness factor to the entire experience. The surfboards stacked up against a wall are like some pop art sculpture.
The gallery is showing art by the artist known as Blue Sky, a bi-coastal artist whose current exhibit is called “Car Face.” The paintings are of cool cars in funky locations, in various states of disrepair.
As I sit in the cafe, listening to cool jazz that’s being piped in, and I take in the artwork on display, there is a writer who’s alternating from being on the phone, chatting into his Bluetooth, then furiously typing away as some new inspiration hits. I realize that this is the crossroads of my community.
In the back of the café is a wall of books, from travel guides for Indonesia to biographies of people you’ve never heard of. There is a selection of the world’s literary genius. Should you need to check out the who’s who of 1973, it’s here. Which is not really useful to me, but it does add flavor and I like the fact that there is a wide selection of free books to borrow as one sips on a latte. It’s not a “Happy Days” lunchbox with the Fonz and a thermos built in, but it’s funky enough for me.
On a gorgeous December day like yesterday, one can sit outside on the patio and see the parade of people go by, walking their dogs and chatting on their phones. You can enjoy a light lunch of a chicken apple walnut salad or tuck into a fettucini carbonara if the weather turns a bit chilly.
It’s what makes Santa Monica so special. I have a new place to hang out, observe the city life around me, soak in some great art, get a new perspective for writing, and enjoy a good meal — all in one place. And who knows, I may even sign up for surfing lessons.
David Pisarra is a divorce attorney who specializes in father’s rights and men’s issues with the firm of Pisarra & Grist in Santa Monica. He is the author of the upcoming, “A Man’s Guide To Child Custody.” You can pre-order the book by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.