Sunday, May 9, 2010

Proofreading mission

My mission, as I chose to interpret it: Proofread two books this weekend. I couldn't really accomplish this at home, because I tend to doze off or use the internet or something. Instead, I prefer a café. I am always in search (and rarely in receipt—why did you close, 7th Avenue Tea Lounge? Whyyyy?) of the Platonic ideal one. And now, after a 48-hour not-even-slightly-exhaustive test run, in case you should ever need to know, I bring you:

Places to proofread a manuscript, on a scale of 1–5*:

IC: Located on a tiny, charming street near the water, IC's a lovely quiet little place with tables. Their mocha's a little bitterer than I would like, but overall the experience is satisfying and peaceful—and conducive to reading many pages. Cons: Closes at 6 (burn that midnight oil, why don't you); MADLY OVERCROWDED on weekends (luckily not the case on Friday early evening).

T: Always feels a little overpriced. But they've got pear-prosciutto-parmesan panini (4 p's of awesome)! Can't go wrong with that, especially while sitting outside and watching dusk gradually descend over the Heights. Patrons at other tables give me funny looks, no doubt wondering why I'm holding a book in one hand and flipping over manuscript pages with the other. (Answer: checking reprints against previously published texts. You don't want to say the air was cold and camp when you mean damp, do you now.)

GS: I really want to like this place. But I have to conclude that it would be easier to like it if I also liked a) patronizing, holier-than-thou baristas; b) table hogs; c) apparently café-provided newspapers (nice in theory, I'll grant) strewn about haphazardly; d) people with their dogs inside, sitting at tables (admonishing "stay" in a way that is not encouraging); e) extremely bitter chocolate. (I put part of a pack of sweetener in my mocha. Forgive me; I have sinned) Once I did get a table, it was a nice one; points also for playing the entirety of "Graceland."

CT: A bit off the beaten track for me, this one's in Queens. The semi-spaced-out counterguy gets my order wrong, but the drink he gives me is cheaper and, while not what I wanted (a coffee- instead of tea-based beverage), it's not bad. Lots of windows, open door—very nice for someone who feels the call to be outside while it's light out. Less nice since yesterday's windstormorama and I get a bit tired of the flecks of grit of suspect provenance flitting over my pages, my computer, my water glass...

C4: Hit this one early in the morning: probably wise, since it's tiny. Coffee cups likewise tiny, but not a bad thing if you're roaming the café wilderness for a change of scene while proofing ~350 pages in 48 hours. Comfy couch, a corner table...all well and good until the stereotypical, ubiquitous Slope-type couple with requisite child in tow descends. Said child's pretty well-mannered...but I find it difficult to proof effectively while her parents animatedly discuss the travails of the...kindergarten, is it?...admissions process. 'S what I get for trying to do this job in public, I suppose.

B: Don't actually eat my baked good (a grasshopper bar) here—that's for dessert tomorrow!—but do find an out-of-the-way bench to sneak in yet a few more pages. Unfortunately, as in so much of Brooklyn, its Sunday early-afternoon proves a mob scene; also, the bar is delicious, but I'm not feeling the place's vibe somehow. All those wooden benches in a row does not a cozy café make.

Tired out from walking to and from all these places and a brief stint of tutoring (to say nothing of proofing all those pages), I get home in a bit of a mood. Solution? Time for some good old-fashioned home cooking. Cheers you right up and then you have enough leftovers to eat for, like, the next five days. Mission accomplished.

*Names obfuscated because I am just that wary about the internet sometimes, particularly when I am casting aspersions upon some things. If you want to go to any of these places, drop me a line and I will supply you with full details.


  1. Hmm, I will have to get details on some of these the next time we meet. I share your search for the Platonic cafe...
    I've usually had good luck with Postmark in Park Slope.