The coordination between hues of orange of about 24 vintage Polyside Chairs arranged around square plastic tables, four oversized umbrellas advertising SION KÖLSCH and the swooping letterforms so tastefully deployed to the menu headers of Café Hallmackenreuther is ever so slightly off, and thus achieves a kind of perfection any Pantone folder would ruin. The palette is positively exciting, reframing the scenery as an episode of quintessential 1973ish West-Germanness.
A table over, one of the quarter’s apparent doyens is holding court. With white-bearded smiles, patrons, strangers and acquaintances passing the square are waved over – while multiple magazines, tiny glasses of white wine and an eager young labrador keep being miraculously juggled. „Flat white, in a cup“ is the order, which is swiftly downed upon arrival.
Beyond the leafy courtyard, the café itself has opened its glass front, providing ample space to bustle about for a pair of stewards that tends to the crowd reclined in polyethylene. One is green-eyed, lanky and bumbling, a shoddy bowler hat hiding strands of streaky blonde hair and yesterday’s night out. His partner – all sagging thrashed denim and big-haired, nose-pierced, crop-topped street cred – is doing a considerably more professional job, inserting some urban eroticism into an otherwise almost pastoral scene. French, Italian and Kölsch are spoken among maple trees, all softly blending in the most pleasant summer air.
Hallmackenreuther, Belgisches Viertel, Cologne.
The mezzanine level of Sightglass is bustling at this time of the day, making the fact that the lower floor is designed to hold a maximum of ten patrons at full capacity all the more commendable.
Along the bar, a free as in coffee startup consultation is taking place, the vocal fry soothing over whatever deep domain experience, human ressources and management background is relayed to two young trucker-jackeded entrepreneurs. The phrase fermented time is uttered and followed by a pause for added effect.
Despite the amount of business conducted in the former warehouse, the overall mood remains calm and Californian. It’s friday after all. Down below, the barista adjusts the small red comb in his sizeable afro after pulling what is presumeably the four hundred twenty second espresso shot of the day. He wipes a hand on his Queen shirt, skull motif. It has been a long day. Outside, the clouds lay heavy and low on the sightlines to downtown and Telegraph Hill. A single slim figure disappears into the haze. The dogs keep barking and a week proceeds to wind down.
Sightglass Coffee, SoMa, San Francisco.
The thing is, everybody wears very good sneakers: With tight fitting sweatpants, peaking below striped djellabas and dashikis, combined with dresses, tracksuits and leggings are the chunky, the limited and the collaborative, gleaming white or radiating volt, pink and, sometimes, a multitude of iridescent. Intermediate-level Vapormaxes (Utility, Flyknit, Plus) seem to be stakes to play dans la rue, one-upped by 720s, Kiko Kostadinov’s Gel-Delvas and the bulbous sculptural offerings Han Kjøbenhavn and Puma have been putting out lately. The general selection slants soccer and running, mediterranean street kid and La Haine. Athletic footwear choices speak of discernment and respect for the urban space: look good when stepping outside, you owe the streets of Marseille.
Marseille is an impressive, varied assembly of architecture. Both the elevated and the mundane are housed in thoughtful (or at least, deceisive) structures that weave into a gritty, dense fabric that presents its scars as proudly as its triumphs.
A young man passes, his architecturally sculpted upper body squaring Rue d’Aubagne. Grey technical fabric spans voluminius chest muscles, disproportionally slim legs stick out from boxer’s shorts in shiny leggings, their panelling suggesting a martial future for everybody. His hair is cropped into a precise fade. Above the left ear, a succession of shaven vertical lines combine with a longer horizontal one: a thick barbell, the straightest possible, most elegant commitment to his sport, to be renewed daily, during morning routine.
Marseille: a landscape overrun by infrastructure, flowing, abruptly ending on geologic barriers. Inhabited caves and machines, steep cliffs of built limestone, a sea of lives lived extending into the horizon, up and under bridges, weaving foot traffic through houses and below kitchens and gardens. A drawn city, a pastiche on paper, all colorful dust and complex views. A decidedly non-urban urban space, a grown stone organism, a Moebian landscape, a Cité Obscure.
Everything at Winsome, Los Angeles, radiates comfort. Woods and leathers are light, the space is airy and, at this time of day, mostly empty. Everything about layout, menu and personnel suggests American diner, albeit re-colored, re-tooled and re-cast to fit the Silver Lake set. A backdrop against which meaningful glances may be exchanged, plans made, and, most importantly, intents are declared as loudly and clearly as possible.
Two tables over, masculine drawls discuss cast and casting for an upcoming project. It is repeatedly referred to as a „feel good movie“, a group of words that seem purposefully assembled to enable maximum vocal fry. The granola is served with strawberrys, and it is excellent, as every granola in California tends to be. Ice teas are ordered before, after and with everything.
„Martinis are better in daylight“, another declaration, made over the faint clinks of clear ice cubes in thin-walled glasses, as another day, and another power brunch passes on the patio, in bright sunlight and stark shadow.
Winsome, Silver Lake, Los Angeles.