For all this city’s charming Jewish hoboes and cheap fruit stands, New York’s coffee shop culture doesn’t hold a candle to Austin’s. The coffee is a lot better here, sure, and sometimes they give you a piece of chocolate with your coffee which is a really nice touch. But most places are truly oppressive. Finding free Wi-Fi is one thing — after that it’s a struggle for survival. I stumbled into one franchise today that put metal covers over all their power outlets so one could not conceivably ferment in the shop for more than his or her computer’s battery life. I thought this was America!! The land of the home and the decaying people in coffee shops.
To circumvent the cruel regime of anti-laptop coffee shop purveyors on the Upper West Side, I’ve started reading, partly for pleasure and partly as an act of subversion. I was really into Dave Cullen’s comprehensive account of Columbine before I left it at Hannah’s last week; since then I’ve made way through a few Jhumpa Lahiris and Kathryn Harrison’s “The Kiss.” If you like incest, I highly recommend the latter. Really good.