There are a few dreams I have in life… one is to live in a log cabin with a big front porch and huge kitchen, on a lake in the woods somewhere in southern New England (in other words, the perfect 1980s slasher movie setting). My other dream is to own the kind of business that I would love to visit on a daily basis: a record shop/diner/tea room/movie theatre.

Picture it… you walk in the front door and to your right there’s a small, diner-type area set up. At the counter there are seven or eight stools, and in the remainder of the space there are three or four booths. The smells from the diner are overwhelming, but not from the odors of steak or chicken, but from the aromas of falafel, curried chickpeas, and veggie burgers. This diner serves up strictly vegetarian fare, and the menu specifies which dishes are vegan. All the ingredients are organic and purchased from local growers. There’s a variety of ethnic fare, including ital Jamaican dishes and traditional Southeast Asian dishes. And yeah, that’s me you see behind the counter, cooking.

In addition, the drink menu offers a wide variety of loose teas for the connoisseurs, served in one of many authentic Yixing teapots. Gong fu brewing is available on request. There are green teas, white teas (all available varieties), Assams, oolongs, and Jasmines in addition to some of the more common black teas. The tea will be decaffienated by request.

An artist's rendering of my business.

An artist’s rendering of my business.

The diner’s hopping with music, but it’s not the typical rotation of country & western and oldies. A little further back in the shop is a live DJ, spinning classic jazz in the morning, downtempo breakbeats and electronica during the day, and hip-hop and reggae during the evenings. Think Fat Beats. Local DJs are given a chance to do their thing and monthly DJ competitions are held for turntablists that come up from New York City to battle in this unique environment. At the end of each workweek is “Old School Friday” where pre-1990 hip-hop is spun, exclusively. If someone in the group didn’t have a high-top fade, an African pendant, a fat gold chain, or a four-finger ring, chances are it won’t be played.

Beginning where the DJ is set up and stretching to the visible end of the shop are records and CDs, mainly of the underground, independent variety, but also offering up some of the more palatable mainstream selections. There is a large section for mixtapes by local DJs and DJs from around the country spinning music of regional interest. Of course, there is a long table set up with three sets of turntables and mixers so vinyl shoppers can test out a pair of vinyl before buying it. There are also two CD and cassette listening stations available to preview anything in the store. There is no security system in place. We trust our customers.

The counter of the record shop has fliers advertising local cultural events as well as activist meetings and rallies. The walls of this part of the shop are decorated by young grafitti artists.

As you get to the further back of the store, where all the obscure, out-of-print spoken word records are (DJs come from far and wide to see what’s in stock each week), is a door that says, “NOW SHOWING…” Behind the door is a small movie theatre. The screen’s not huge, but it’s more than big enough to project films on for the 15 seats. There is a quality Dolby 6.1 surround system installed, even though most of the movies shown will never make use of all the channels. The movies in rotation are all cult and horror films dating back to the silent era and running through the current times. Today there’s a Alexander Jodorwosky festival, running Holy Mountain, El Topo, and Santa Sangre back-to-back-to-back. Fulci’s Zombie runs every night at 10pm. And there’s an automated hot-air popper providing free popcorn to anyone that sits down to watch a movie.

The clientele varies wildly. Some nights, Rastas will come in while there’s roots reggae is spinning. They’ll order some ital food, burn a little incense, and reason. Other nights, hip-hop heads show up and impromptu freestyle ciphers break out at the counter. Families come in on the weekends for breakfast and horror movie freaks swing by occasionally to see the “coming soon” marquee outside the mini-theatre. Lots of DJs show up to pick up new vinyl before their Friday night gig and old Asian women stop by on their lunch hour to have the finest Silver Needle White Tea and an order of fresh spring rolls.

Of course, the store has a strong web presence. In addition to streaming audio from the live DJs, the listening stations are also be connected to the Net, so web site visitors can listen to what the customers are previewing. A full menu is available (delivery is not, though—come to the store for the full experience) and real-time inventory (including all the mix tapes) makes online ordering easy and accurate.

Store hours? 7am (for those early breakfasts) until midnight, every day. All night on New Year’s.

Jobs available? Diner waitresses (must call people “hon” yet be able to learn the ways of Yixing and Gong fu tea preparation), record shop attendants (can never have worked at Best Buy and must “know their shit,” as deemed by me), projectionist (must actually like the movies being shown), and custodial staff (who will be paid more than any other custodial staff in town… No English? No problem.). And if you think you have a talent I could use, talk to me and we’ll see what we can do.

So… who’s coming? And who’ll fund me?