Coffee houses


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“The child’s naive dream of life is the only one worth having.” Marty Rubin

I was standing in the coffee line when the girl from Ipanema’s son gave me a cheerful, “Hi”. He was big, so we can call him, Big John. He was about six feet tall, but there seemed to be a quality of outgoing innocence about him. A refreshing innocence that put a smile on my face. It brought a smile to those around me too, I noticed.

We were in the new Gentle Brew coffee shop on the boardwalk and Big John and his mom, whom we’ll call, “Lucy” were on line in front of me.

We chatted a bit as boardwalk strollers lined up behind me at the new coffee offerings. They were eager to try a cuppa Joe from Mark, one of the partners of Gentle Brew. New vendors, added to the new post-Sandy boardwalk are very welcome additions for residents and visitors of Long Beach.

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Lots of ladies line up for a cuppa at Gentle Brew

Gentle Brew is one of the three coffee shops on Park Ave. in Long Beach, NY that I wrote about not long ago: But this Gentle Brew shop is right on the boardwalk. Business buzzes, both here and at their Park Ave. location.

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Mark, one of the partners at Gentle Brew coffee house

Lucy, Big John and I went outside to do the sit-and-sip on the bench where the air was salty and summery. Lucy is visiting from Brazil and is staying with her daughter, a Long Beach resident. When I heard, Brazil I said, “Hey, I have a bit of a blog following in Brazil. They’ll be glad to hear of my conversation with a homey.”

I asked Lucy about Rio and the olympics. She said,“Why would you want to go there? It’s dangerous. The Federal Police hold up a banner at the airport, ‘Welcome to Hell’”. She added, “The Federal Police aren’t getting paid. The army has to sleep on the floor. Drug dealers burned three buses near the airport. They don’t want the olympics, they don’t want the army there.” “Really”, I thought, “Why would anyone want to go there.”

Lucy said I could use her real name, “Everybody there says the same thing.” But I chose not to.

I’ve wondered why Rio was chosen in the first place. I learned that the drama unfolded in 2009 when Chicago trailed the contenders, Tokyo, Brazil and Madrid. There are varying views on why Chicago lost out, but it trailed badly, getting only 18 of the 94 votes available. Rio was able to demonstrate to the olympic committee the justice in choosing them with a map that showed South America had never held an olympics: //

I asked Lucy about the pollution of the waters and surrounding areas of Rio. She said, “It’s corruption. We got so much money from Japan. Where did it all go?” Brazil has the largest concentration of ethnic Japanese outside of Japan. And Japan has been a big investor in Brazil, second only to China:

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A mom, Charlotte, pauses in her boardwalk stroll with her little one…for a tall one.

“People in Brazil are struggling all the time”, Lucy told me. “No opportunity” she said. She lives in Ipanema. She said it’s “a more sophisticated area. But all classes are struggling, the middle class is dying. The beaches of Rio used to be so great but now the unemployed are on the beach, You’re unemployed, why not go on the beach?”

Big John, her son, wants to go back to Rio. Lucy said, “Every day he asks me, ‘Are we leaving today?’ He wants to go home, he’s very attached to home.” Her son didn’t like his tea but Lucy loved her coffee. She said, “A Brazilian Columbian coffee mixed for me is the best. It’s delicious. It’s like I’m home with that very good quality.” I guess Gentle Brew got it goin’ on with Lucy and she’s from the largest coffee exporter in the world, and has been for the last 150 years.

Lucy didn’t have her husband with her, he’s back in Brazil attending to his mom, 95 and dad, 105. Brazilian coffee anyone?

There was the sound of sirens and lights flashed off the sides of the nearby Allegria hotel. Big John was excited, he looked down the ramp and saw trucks, flags, lights. It was the Waterfront Warriors welcoming our wounded war troops for their annual Long Beach vacation. They were being brunched at the Allegria hotel right in front of us.

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Flags to be raised…heroes to be praised.

I told Lucy about the hospitality program in which the Waterfront Warriors host the troops for a week taking them to Manhattan, feasting them with a Barbecue and giving them a heroes parade down Beech St. at the West End of Long Beach. Lucy was just awed by our city’s  demonstration of love to our Wounded Warriors. Here’s my video from a past Warriors’s parade:

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A canvas of love and innocence.

Lucy herself was demonstrably loving with her son whom she said has Fragile X syndrome. When I mentioned her love she smiled and said, “Yes, I’m a Yiddishe momma.” She spoke of how innocent her son is, “That’s how I handle things. There’s too much reality and hatred in the world. The beauty of innocence, if you don’t understand what’s going on around you, you are happy.”

We were all innocently happy once, the treasure of early existence, the treasure never realized…till it was gone…as are most treasures of life.

Crib innocence: The blank slate. Light and dark. A window curtain billowing in a breeze, light, dark, light, dark, without a label, without meaning, without a reason, without analysis. Then, in the light, a mother’s eyes, a mothers smile, innate love. Sustenance. Sleep.

In later years, perhaps a return to innocence. Pablo Picasso, “It takes a very long time to become young.”

I said to Lucy, “I look to meditation, the blank-slate-of-mind, the bliss. I look to it on the beach. I surrender to the simplicity of life, the waves, the birds, the clouds. I think I had a good day if I have just one minute of it. To have it every day is a blessing. Yes, your son is blessed with innocence…and profoundly blessed with having you as his mom.”

Be well,


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