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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Perfect Little Escape

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“You go home, you don’t live in the city,” a young man wearing grey sweats, faded tan moccasins, and a black hoodie topped with a black leather jacket yelled across the coffee shop. The man across the coffee shop rolls his eyes, “I’m four miles away.” The punk rock man turned hipster responds, “Still not in the city,” and the men laugh at their inside joke, while I awkwardly sink into the comfy brown couch thinking Crap, I am not from here either. This feeling quickly fades as the friendly barista taps my right shoulder to hand me my white mocha. Oops.  I must have missed my name while eavesdropping on these two loudmouths.

I am sitting in Sierra Madre’s busiest hotspot: Bean Town. Where is Sierra Madre you may ask? The cozy city with a population of 11,000 lies in the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. If that means nothing to you, Sierra Madre hugs Pasadena, the home of the Rose Parade. You may have come across this 2.9 square miles of land when embarking on that 14 mile stair master people call a hike, Mt. Wilson, or maybe you caught a glimpse of downtown in the background of the movies “The Wedding Singer,” “The Princess Diaries,” or “Kicking and Screaming.” If you are a plant lover, you will know that Sierra Madre is home to the world’s largest Wistaria vine, which is why Sierra Madre holds the Wistaria Festival every year. Other than that, you may not have heard of Sierra Madre, but you might soon if the rumors are true. I heard from a personal trainer at Sierra Madre fitness who heard from his boss, who heard from a local, who heard from a realtor at Podley Properties that Katy Perry and John Mayer are looking for a home together in town. Yes, it is that kind of town, the kind of town where secrets are a lot more like PSAs than small talk. 

Bean Town is filled with modest, mismatched furniture, rustic wooden tables that look like they once had paint on them, and brick walls colored with vintage signs and local artists’ artwork. The turquoise faded bookshelf houses several board games with missing pieces and coffee-stained paperback books. Despite the high wooden rafter ceiling and brown concrete floor, you are filled with warmth from the coffee aroma and friendliness when you walk through the door. The older folk are full of stories and ready to burst, while the young adults here all appear to be artists of some sort, or hipsters. No, not the hipsters who tie a flannel around their waist, rock brand new Doc Martens, and claim to have known all the Coachella artists before they went mainstream. These Bean Towners are the kind of hipsters who are not originally from Southern California. They are from San Francisco, Portland, or maybe Seattle. Their clothes don’t match, their hair is greasy and they discuss progressive politics, foreign films, or Allen Ginsberg in a witty, sarcastic tone. 

I have been coming to this coffee shop for over ten years now. Whether my siblings and I were racing in for the famous Fosselman’s ice cream or I was meeting up with friends to “study,” I have always loved the atmosphere of Bean Town. It wasn’t until after I moved to college that I realized what a strong sense of community there was amongst customers, locals, and regulars.  Steve Hardy, 55, has been a regular of Bean Town for over a decade. The 6-foot-2 artist with sand-colored hair spends every night from seven to close at his second home. “Bean Town has a mixture of every kind of personality in the world. This is the crossroads of the world. I’ve heard all kinds of languages: Spanish, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese,” Hardy explains excitedly. “The interesting thing is it is not just different peoples’ backgrounds, it is different experiences.” Not everyone that comes here is from Sierra Madre; in fact, most of the customers are from different parts of Los Angeles. 

Hardy attributes the environment to the fact that Bean Town "allows more stuff to happen here and it is not a big deal." If Hardy feels like dancing, Hardy dances. If Hardy raises his voice and acts out, management will not call the police. "I say this proudly, I am weird, quirky, I am who I am, but it is easier to be an unusual person and fit in here." I think what makes Bean Town so special to the out-of-town customers is it is an unpretentious coffee shop near LA that is a perfect little escape. 

-Alexandria Rousset

For more information on Sierra Madre visit: http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/

For more information on Steve Hardy visit: http://www.sgvtribune.com/lifestyle/20131213/artist-likes-coffee-house-buzz

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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April 26, 2016 at 4:22 AM  
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May 9, 2016 at 12:46 AM  

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