March 23, 2009 – 12:25 am


the thing about the free condom giveaway at izzy’s coffee den is that it’s all day, every day. set in grungy asheville, n.c., with troubadors and pandhandlers just out the door, it hardly seems abnormal, those condoms in the condiment dispenser. it is of the place. it is not a stunt.

this blog would not be surprised if some of the chipping, fog-colored concrete cafe floor paint occasionally ended up in a strange and food-grade place — every once in awhile. you can order a beer and espresso in the same glass. a thick-grained bagel. a coarse and aerated cappuccino. this cappuccino, even, is a study in asheville contrasts. on the one hand, it’s made with counter culture coffee. on the other hand, you might have to explain to the barista what a “traditional” should look like.

the exposed conduits and copper piping are of a piece with the artwork, and the mallarme you were just reading, and, come to think of it, the rocky cappuccino itself — all rough and vivid, also somewhat mystical.

izzy’s will make you sit at the dented bar and write this riff in your notebook, and maybe nod off a little, and then leave in a slightly wobbly fashion.