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|KC Eats and Greets Shawn Edwards @ Plaza Starbucks|
I’m a stereotype, just sometimes.
I get up in the morning in the South Plaza, at 4908 Brookside. I have zero e-cigarette liquid, so I literally run––a morning run, wearing all black, sporty––to the Quik Trip on Main Street, where I pick up American Spirit cigarettes. Cigarettes are at this point in time my only remaining vice and therefore a necessity.
I put the cigarettes in my pocket and continue my workout. Did I just say that? Yeah, I did, and such is the life of this blogger. I cut through Mill Creek Park and through the Plaza, ending my sprint at Starbucks where I purchase a mango smoothie, veggie artisan sandwich and a New York Times. I’m doing this, while wearing an NPR T-shirt from nearby Urban Outfitters. No, if you’re asking... I’m not an urban elitist, with my digital and terrestrial gigs, my “liberal” paper, my veggies and my artistic poser cigarettes. I’m not I tell you!
But Starbucks in the Plaza conveys this archetype of the urban elitist. This is where I come to trade barbs and stories with local celebs and perfect strangers, some of them passerby business people who, I can tell by demeanor and sense of purpose, have net worths triple or quadruple my own. Most of the well-to-do in this Starbucks come across as unassuming and friendly. In my experience, the big cheeses are almost always the coolest.
This is most often where I come, to this international chain––the guilty pleasure when I'm too lazy to cook my own breakfast. This is the place where I eat the zesty, peppery veggie sandwiches and thick vein-popping smoothies, and I people watch. The people watching is the fun part as I wait for my guest.
On this day, I sit down with Shawn Edwards, from Fox 4 and the founder of iloveblackmovies.com. He’s a local film critic in wire rim glasses like myself––a lot like myself, in fact. Neither are prescription glasses, I should point out. It’s about style. He’s tall and slender, taller than me at least. Kinda jazzy, it looks like he’s been in LA way too much, like me.
His frustration is palpable as he checks his iPad, talking about deals he wants to do. “There ain’t no money, there ain’t no support,” he sniffs. Yet and still, Kansas City is in a unique position to be the center for urban-theme movies and Shawn’s Kansas City Urban Film festival, which I sometimes co-host, is proof of that. But marketing is always an issue.
The mocha that I hold, warm to the touch, is kinda salty right now. It's almost as much as the sandwich, always good when warm, packed with peppers and spinach. The cheese drips, the artisan ciabatta bread like a doughy cloud. The mango smoothie gives a quick brain freeze as Shawn’s mind seems to lock on his iPad.
For him, schedules are always hectic for a film critic doing junkets on the West coast and then spots back here in the so-called Paris of the Plains. He says the lack of enthusiasm for “true film” and especially budgetary constraints in a down economy make his pursuits that much more frustrating.
Does Kansas City get it?
It’s a question that hangs over the papers, and the coffee, the bread and the smoothie. He likes his coffee black, Americana black, like Tyler Perry and Spike Lee––film moguls that we both agree don’t get along and maybe that’s the issue in urban film.
Perry, he says, has a built-in audience, and so does Spike. But there is a Spike set and a Perry set, which fragments urban audience. Such is the case in Kansas City’s film-going community, according to Edwards, one of the few, if not most well-known black film critics in the metro. No surprise that coffee is all he’s having, and he has to go.
When I step outside for a smoke, I see one of the greatest relief pitchers in the history of baseball. The Yanks, my team of choice, are in town. And Mariano Rivera, in the flesh, staying at the nearby Intercontinental, strolls by. I say, “What up, papa?” It's a New York Spanish thing (pah-pa). We chat in Spanish for a little while about the Bronx and how the season is going. Then he's off... I watch him deny a kid an autograph and walk away.
It’s a wild world and Kansas City is in the center of it, literally, figuratively, sports, geology, geography, entertainment and historic intrigue. We’ll see if Kansas City gets it, whatever “it” is.