In the early 80s I hung out at a little cafe across the street from where I lived on Hyde Street in San Francisco. Since I was in law school and worked full time it was perfect. I could have company at my convenience without having to make a commitment for the evening, and study if so inclined. I had a boyfriend and he was not much on cafe society so it was really "my" home.
Then a new cafe opened in the neighborhood, Cafe Cine Monde. My friends and I wanted to be loyal to our old cafe, but it was Sunday night and our usual was closed. So we went for the first time. So it started, the usual cafe in the morning and Cafe Cine Monde at night, where they showed films, "what's not to love?" My friends and I had a table, we saw that there were regulars but we did not interact with each other.
Then a burglar was in my friend Jane's apartment, when she came running down the hill to Cine Monde, Peter, coke bottle in his hand (a New Jersey transplant) ran up the hill to chase the burglar, who was of course long gone. But that was the first interactions between the grownups and us under 30s. From that day forward Cine Monde was THE place.
We hung out, became friends, had parties, spent holidays together, occasionaly went to premieres (Jose the owner was a film critic), but mainly just hung at the the Cafe, and if it closed in my very tiny apartment. Since it was before cell phones I even got phone calls there. They were my neighborhood family for the next 5 years at least. The owners, the customers, the waitresses, I have never experienced anything like it. It was our Cheers, where everybody knew your name. I was a magical time in my life.
The photo above is us going river rafting, I don't even know how that happened, and the other photo is of my friend Jose and I on that day.
People came and went from the neighborhood, both the cafe's closed and I have never known my neighbors in the same way. 15 years ago I moved around the corner, across the street from where Jose lived and have seen him now and then thru the years, but we were never close after that time, a drink now and then...
Jose died this month. Thanks Jose for being the nexus of a group of people as diverse as we all were and creating a community.
Here is something our friend Dawn wrote this week about Jose.
My Friend Jose
September 21, 2008
SHARE – that’s a key word when I think about Jose.
From the time I met Jose, while working as a waitress at his Café Cine Monde back in the early 80’s, to our ebay venture selling films and beyond, Jose has always shared his love of food, wine, films and friends.
At Café Cine Monde, Jose created a wonderful gathering place, to hang out, watch and talk about movies with interesting people, some of whom were in the business. There were many colorful characters who frequented the Café, and Jose welcomed any and all to be a part of the “Café Family”.
Café Cine Monde was a place where a group of friends would often stay well past closing to view rare or off-the-beaten path films, good wine and Mama Rose’s wonderful Filipino cuisine. Into the wee hours, Jose would share these films along with some good stories. Lively wine-fueled film discussions would often ensue! What fun we had!
At the Café, I made many friends, several of whom I still have more than 25 years later. The walls of my home are covered with the exquisite art of movie posters I obtained from Jose. Thanks to Jose, my knowledge of not only film, but food and wine expanded, and I credit him with paving the way for me becoming a professional fine-dining chef years later.
Jose always had wild true stories to share, that often bordered on Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not. Last year he told me a long twisty story about some shoes and a belt he once had made in London. He said they were very expensive because the leather for those items, came from a centuries-old sunken ship off the coast, that could only be reached by free-diving. AND, the one family that did the diving, retired. Well I believed him, but I laughed so hard when he told me, I was blinded by the tears that streamed from my eyes.
Jose shared his sense of culinary adventure, inviting friends to join him for unusual dining experiences. I remember our excursion to a restaurant in Marin County that served exotic fare, such as lion and giraffe. I also remember our group feeling sorry for the poor exotic beasts that sacrificed their lives, only to end up in a mediocre
We had a plan in October to meet for dinner in Boston, on his way from Maine to San Francisco, as we have done every year – dinner on his way to Maine in the spring and from Maine in the fall. We’d always try to go to the most unique or cutting edge restaurant we could find. Jose would order up many dishes to share, just for the experience of trying new or different food preparations.
Jose was generous to a fault, so much so, that he was taken advantage of a few times, but it didn’t change him. He continued to be a warm, open, trusting person.
I feel so lucky and honored that Jose Carpio, an amazing person, shared his friendship with me.
I miss Jose so very much!