Meanwhile : Articles written by Simon Jones

I’m sitting here in the Atomic Cafe in Beverly, Massachusetts, a town North of Boston. It’s nearly five o’clock in the evening the day before New Year’s Eve. Outside the trees that line the street are lit with white fairy lights and though it’s not yet dark, it’s not light either.

The Atomic Cafe is a uniquely decorated little coffeehouse frequented by local college students, moppy-haired book readers and people who wear hats that somehow look cool on them but would not look out of place upon the head of a little old lady. It’s a place where the aroma of coffee mingles in the air with the driftwood of quiet conversations drowned out by the noise of cappuccino makers and music by artists you may never have heard of.

My friend Karen and I stand and briefly survey the menu.
“Hey does that have AirPort?” asks the guy behind the counter as he points at my laptop.
“Yeah.”
“Well hey, we’ve got an access point here, you could test it out. You’d be the first person to do so in fact. Some guy saw it on some thing, so I guess it must work. I don’t really know too much about it though,” he said vaguely.

As he speaks, my PowerBook makes its usual little sound to alert me to the fact it has indeed logged into the AOL instant messenger network. A few thousand miles away a couple of my friends’ computers announce, “Simon is now available.” Sure enough, I now have wireless internet access.

Karen and I sit by the window and watch the world go by while we take occasional sips of our drinks and eat our overpacked sandwiches, replenishment after what seems like an age spent at the North Shore Mall. Like all such shopping meccas it was bursting with wannabe clones of manufactured teen idols and people on post-Christmas shopping missions hell bent on finding whatever it was that Santa didn’t bring.

I am not a shopping mall kind of person and I wouldn’t imagine many of the folk who come here are, either. If they were then they may very well be Abercrombie and Fitch type people—if they could afford it, but who can? That shop is so over-priced. It seems like a lot of money to look slightly disheveled, but then I suppose it’s an expensive disheveled look. Actually, when I think about it… [Click here to continue reading this article at ‘Meanwhile’]