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#RoamingReggie

The Morning Brooklyn Was On Fire

Reggie Leonard II

It felt like the day was yawning. Not the sleepy type of yawning, but the yawning that comes from waking up refreshed, albeit a bit disoriented, slightly blurry vision and all. The kind that finds you wrapped in your favorite sweater or blanket, ambling down the hallway for your morning brew, and eagerly anticipating the slow morning that awaits you. Last weekend, I woke up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with an hour to spare; with an hour to breathe it all in. 

No bikers, no pedestrians, just a piercing silence. 

No bikers, no pedestrians, just a piercing silence. 

Coffee was an inevitable part of this morning, so I knew that I needed some nourishment to stave off the otherwise certain jitters that accompany caffeine on an empty stomach. Since I'm a sucker for good branding, I stopped in my tracks when I noticed Gotan along my route. I opted for an almond croissant, my favorite breakfast on slow Saturday mornings. This time, I ate it on the go. 

Loved my almond croissant from here. I need to try their Ginger Turmeric Golden Chai next time. 

Loved my almond croissant from here. I need to try their Ginger Turmeric Golden Chai next time. 

I kept it moving, strolling down Wythe Ave to the sounds of "Kids" by OneRepublic.  I was met with typical city sights of art juxtaposed with decaying buildings.

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Looking forward to my cup of coffee, I broke the monotony in my stride when something caught my attention. In searching for quotes to describe what I saw, I came across a simple, adequate sentiment.

Dawn was breaking, like the light from another world.
— Alfred Jarry - The Supermale

It felt like the city was on fire. It was perfect. I "cheesed" (smiled) the entire rest of the way to the coffee shop. The light was revelatory.

After marveling for a few minutes at several storefronts along Wythe Ave, I finally rounded the corner to Grand Street, where I arrived at my destination: Devoción. 

What I love most about Devoción, aside from the obviously lively and exceptionally well manicured aesthetic, is what I love most about the product of coffee: culture.

Every one of the coffees at Devoción come solely from Colombia. In the era of "third wave" coffee where every shop is clamoring to source single-origin beans from around the globe, they take an incredibly bold, and focused approach to coffee. The most amazing part is that each of their coffees taste incredibly distinct, and I find myself inspired by that diversity whenever I visit this shop. 

Unfortunately, with my time being limited, my empty mug meant that it was my time to leave. 

I ended up buying this guy's (Zack Orion) EP for $10. I love it. He reminded me of Glen Hansard in "Once." So much fire and conviction in his voice, and in his sound.

I ended up buying this guy's (Zack Orion) EP for $10. I love it. He reminded me of Glen Hansard in "Once." So much fire and conviction in his voice, and in his sound.

After walking to the Charlottesville train station, catching a train to DC, missing my bus then catching another from DC to NYC, and making it to the Mercury Lounge at 7:30pm on the dot to see Tom Misch (and Carmody) perform his (their) first show in the U.S. on Friday, this Saturday morning in Williamsburg was the eye in the "perfect storm" of a weekend. What an hour. 

A Day With the Queen (City)

Reggie Leonard II

Friend: I feel like your life is such an adventure do you blog?

Me: Ha, I don't :-/

Friend: You should!!! 

Me: I appreciate the encouragement, and I'll consider it. Honestly.

An hour later, armed with only my iPhone, I was in my car, quite literally on my way to create my first post. Instead of relegating my passion for exploring cities to the disappearing mediums of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, perhaps it is time for me to make a more permanent record of those experiences.

Uptown

Uptown

To no surprise to those who know me, my mission began with coffee. Whenever I visit Charlotte, Not Just Coffee is a must. Before heading out, I checked their Instagram for any notable news, and found out they were doing free pour-overs at a pop-up gallery. Art, and coffee? It was a no-brainer as to which location I would be visiting.  

Upon arrival, I realized that I had completely underestimated what I was walking into.  

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James, the Founder of Not Just Coffee

James, the Founder of Not Just Coffee

I ended up chatting with the Barista about how I drove 30+ minutes just for their coffee. That Barista turned out to be James, the Founder of the joint. It was inspiring to see such a humble Founder willing to serve his customers directly.  

After coffee, I headed into Tabor, a pop-up menswear shop. Thinking that I was just going to browse anonymously, I was greated by Eric. He and I spoke fountain pens and journals (both of which I purchased), leather boots, selvedge denim, and Charlottesville (VA). We even found out that we have a friend in common in Charlotte. 

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Eric from Tabor. Great guy.  

Eric from Tabor. Great guy.  

Next was the Soco Gallery; a standing gallery with rotating exhibits and occasional pop-ups. This week, they had high-fashion portraits, along with a pop-up that sold bike frames. I left with a coffee table book about the fashion of cyclists. 

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This was legitimately one of the coolest experiences I've had in Charlotte. Great coffee, great art, and great conversations. Having such a full morning left me wanting to find a (free) place to sit and process what I had just experienced. So, I headed to the central public library. 

Sign outside of the library. I agree.  

Sign outside of the library. I agree.  

The library was a sanctuary.  

The library was a sanctuary.  

After spending some time thinking and writing, it was time for more coffee. I wanted to try a new shop, but also wanted to visit Not Just Coffee's Packard Place location. I grabbed some beans from NJC, then spent some time reading "Till We Have Faces" at Coco and the Director.  

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Wall quote inside NJC's Packard Place loc.  

Wall quote inside NJC's Packard Place loc.  

Aside from having a super cool name, Coco and the Director had an incredible vibe. It's a craft coffee joint for the masses, done well, and made accessible. It doubles as a creative workspace (you can reserve tables in the back), and sells local artisan goods (that are exceptionally well curated).  

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As if that wasn't enough, the best part of my day arrived in the form of a text message from my brother, asking if I could take my 10-year old nephew shopping for clothes for his new school. We spent 3 hours going from shop to shop in the mall, and ended our time with a "home cooked" (cooked at home) BBQ Chicken pizza from the freezer section of Publix. 

Cheers to my friend for asking me the right question at the right time. And cheers to the Queen City, who earned her crown.