July 25, 2011

MORE SIGNS: Java Jive to Puccini

 "I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, boy."
       —the first stanza of the song Java Jive (Milton Drake and Ben Oakland, 1940)
          as performed by the Ink Spots.

Java N Jazz, Union Sq.

Open 24 Hours, Neon sign, 42nd Street.

Ferrara's, Café, Neon sign, Times Sq.

Ferrara's Bakery and Cafe opened in 1892 on Grand St. off Mott, in Little Italy.
It's still there, and a popular tourist attraction—this branch was, briefly, on Times Sq.

Eight O'Clock Coffee sign, Times Sq., 1993-4?

This original Eight O'Clock sign debuted on Times Sq. in 1933. It was a 25ft tall cup that
gave off real steam, and one of the first, 'spectacular' billboards to light up Broadway.

Cracked White Cup, East 20s, NYC.

This shabby old cup hung outside an equally odd but charming little café that I wandered into one day—it was filled with
young Japanese students—it disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

SAN FRANCISCO/North Beach (North Beach is San Francisco's equivalent of New York's Little Italy.)

Bohemian Cigar Store, awning, North Beach, San Francisco.

No coffee? No wine?

Nothing! Oh, what it is to be poor!  
            —From the Opera ‘La Bohème’ (1896), Giacomo Puccini. 

Caffé Puccini, street placard, North Beach, San Francisco.

July 19, 2011


“We would take something old and tired and common—coffee—and weave a sense of romance and community around it. We would rediscover the mystique and charm that had swirled around coffee throughout the centuries.”   
                                 – Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, 1997

Hot coffee, Best in Town, 1993.

Hot Coffee, Best in Town is the title taken from the photo (above) and the image that kicked-off a quest to uncover graphic depictions of the coffee-cup, whenever and wherever I might happen upon them. 

I photographed this window one summer, on a strip of run-down and boarded up store fronts near the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC—it stood out like the wonderful, over-sized and naive work of art it was. I took the photo with a NikonSLR film camera. All the photographs that followed, the ones in this and the following entry, were taken in the 90s to early 2000, using film, and have since been scanned to a digital format. My intention at the time was simply to record and compile these images in some sort of graphic narrative. Little did I know that within a short period of time not only would the field of photography entirely change, but a simple 'cup of coffee' would turn into an artisanal industry and a national pastime. I switched from film to a digital camera and changed my intention as well to publishing a book, a small compendium on the graphic art of coffee cups. While I still intend to publish, my photographs have once again changed to encompass a broader view of all things coffee as that prospect became more and more apparent to me. But I leave that to later entries... 

and, begin at the beginning, with early graphic images of coffee cups. Thank you for you interest, and please, feel free to add your thoughts, your visuals—whatever. 
OPEN, South Hampton.

Payard Patisserie, Upper Eastside, NYC.

With Coffee, Midtown Lexington Ave.

Veselka, wall mural, 2nd Ave. East Village.

Good Afternoon!, Bryant Park.