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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon


(from Levon)

May 8 is sort of a big day for me.  It is the day in 2004 that I graduated college, and the day that I quit chain smoking. It was again May 8 and I awaiting interview #4 at Starbucks with the district manager.  Not only was May 8 my day of victory, the interview was on Lexington Ave, and Lexington was my home for four years (where I worked at a coffee shop that would be put out of business by Starbucks). The song that was playing over the sound of grinding coffee was the same Nora Jones song we heard Lynsey (my roommate) sing at Melba’s a few weeks ago.  When you’re sitting in the hot seat you’ll try to pull peace of mind from almost anything.  

Lexington Ave is a long avenue and Nora Jones gets played in a lot of coffee shops.  Do the stars align in my favor on May 8 or not?  If I could go back to my 22 year old barista self, I would say to “be proud because five years later you will be sitting across from a Starbucks district manager in Manhattan and the circumstances of your life will make it one of your most important opportunities”. 

He shook my hand and gave me the job.  

I walked from Lex and 87th to Broadway and 10th to tell Ashley.  She was with Tez, an NYU student and her high school friend.  The hike was around 100 blocks, but it didn’t matter at this point.  Time I had, subway fares I did’t.  


Tez and Ashley

Tez and Ashley


Later that day, Ashley would be trying to find a drug store while I waited in a salon for Tez to get his hair cut.  She would walk by Grey Dog Coffee (, the ultra hip coffee shop that John, my Kentucky friend, had picked from his favorites to meet us on our first trip to the city.  There was a hiring sign on the door.  She would go in, impress in the shift manager, and be asked to come back Monday to meet the main guy.  

Will I be jealous if she gets the job?  I thought about it.  But, since neither of us came to New York to work in coffee shops, its not a matter of who’s is the coolest.  Starbucks gives benefits, so as the breadwinner of the family (ha), I’ll be bringing home that.  


hey is that from Seinfield? Google says yes.

hey is that from Seinfield? Google says yes.


Last night was songwriter’s open mic night at Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar on 29th and 2nd.  Over 250 years old, it was the first all-draft Guiness bar in the world.  I was informed by the website that a keyboard was available and saw a Korg Triton in a picture.  

On my groundbreaking NYC open mic debut, here was the scene:

48 note yamaha psr on bar table, sitting on amp.  call before you show up.

48 note yamaha psr on bar table, me sitting on an amp. call before you show up.


When I first saw the set up, I turned around to walk out the door.  But I’ve come a long way to do this, haven’t I?  Besides, where is the pressure when you sit behind the keyboard that you expect to find in a 6 year olds bedroom?  I’ve made it clear how I feel about keyboard X stands anyway; why not just sit the keyboard on a bar table?  Its so easy.  Also, why not adjust your monitor by sitting on it and reaching between your legs?  I mean, its right there.

For the first time in my life I wasn’t frozen with nerves.  The keyboard sounded terrible so I turned it way down and just sang with a grin on my face.  The audience was gracious toward my circumstance and requested a third song, which given my limitations was the best feedback I could have hoped to get.  “You mean you want to hear more of this?

With the pressure gone, I was able to learn something that I have a hard time grasping.  If you have done your job and come prepared, an amazing scenario presents itself when you get out of the way of yourself – there is nothing in the way.  I also learned to bring my own keyboard.  Or at least call ahead to determine if our definitions of “keyboard” are the same.  



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