The Matrix Coffeehouse
Click for the lastest! 10-27-06
Click here to read the 'Matrix Chronicles'
    Welcome to the what's new page. Being as I just uploaded it, there's not much here yet.  This is where we get a chance to tell you what we're currently excited about here at the coffeehouse and will include things from web page update notifications to Matrix interior redecorations.
    Uploaded Booking info for performers page and updated menu page as well.  And you can now request to be on our events emailer here, or on the default opening page or the concerts and events page.
   New Page, New look, Download Posters, Woohoo!
  Apparently I'm not great at the weblog thing.  Holly wants to do this portion of the website soon-- She'll be better. Now that the school year is over she is working on tea service and a puppet show-- to premiere on Saturday, June 29th and continue every Saturday.  Call us or email for more information about that.  We're also now open on Wednesday nights, 5PM-10PM, for relaxed dinner, informal music happenings, games and of course some tasty food.
I also updated Flyer page and July events today.
Tickets on sale now for our "Higer Profile" fall performances
Find tickets at Rainy Day Records in Olympia or Matrix Coffeehouse, Hands on Guitars and Book & Brush in Chehalis,
Cash or Check only or purchase online here:

Halloween Party with Baby Gramps on Saturday, October 26th, 2002: $12.00 advance $15.00 door

Alex DeGrassi Concert on Saturday, November 2nd, 2002: $15.00 advanced $17.50 door

Mike Dowling Concert on Saturday, November 9th, 2002: $15.00 advanced $17.50 door

Linda Waterfall Concert on Saturday, December 7th, 2002: $12.00 advanced $15.00 door

Tickets at the door will be:
Baby Gramps Halloween- $15.00
Alex DeGrassi- $17.50
Mike Dowling- $17.50
Linda Waterfall- $15.00

Contact Eric Miller at Hands on Guitars for information about workshops with Alex DeGrassi, Mike Dowling, & Linda Waterfall-- 360.740.9158 .

Uploaded 09/28/02
8/07/02 I have been wanting to write in this space-opportunity-meme-holder since Moon set it up quite some time ago. But, you know busyness, and all that--no I do not mean b-u-s-i-n-e-ss, I mean just being busy. In fact, it is my aversion to the concept of business that I want to write about. One of the unfortunate side effects of owning your own "business" is that people actually think you are a business person. I am not a business person, but I guess I am a busyness person, or at least sometimes I am. I am not a business person because I prefer to be a Real person, to the best of my ability, anyway. And besides, business is not exactly what we wanted to do when we started the Matrix Coffeehouse. It was much more like having a baby, or temporary schizophrenia, or boredom that led us to create the coffeehouse. Now I must admit that sometimes we appear to be trying to play as if we are business people, mostly out of sheer desparation to pay for this thing we have created here. We sincerely hope our play-acting has not chased anyone away, because actually we really like company and meeting people. I suppose not being business people has more often chased people away. Oh well. I have imagined that in this writing space I could at least start to write about our adventure here at the Matrix Coffeehouse in Chehalis, WA.--the Matrix Chronicles so to speak. So I shall begin with the name Matrix. It has been a good name so far, we probably have gotten a lot of hits to our website because of the movie, but as a matter of fact we chose the name Matrix way before the movie. Here's part of  what we had in mind at the time:

"Matrix" from the dictionary:
1. Something(as a surrounding or pervading substance or element) within which something else originates, takes form or develops {an atmosphere of understanding and friendliness that is the "matrix" of peace} 2. A place or point of origin or growth.
~To promote the appreciation of art and the expression of individual creativity. ~Gallery, studio space
~To create a vital environment in which families can appreciate the arts and sciences ~Music, film festivals, classes and educations exhibits.
~To help young people find mentors who will inspire them and instill hope for the future. ~Drop-in art school, individual tutoring.
~To provide space for diverse cultural groups to meet, interact and learn from each other. ~Cafe, poetry readings, events calendar
~To create a sanctuary for the arts which encourages inner peace and self-reflection  nurtures the soul. ~An energetic  "meditation" room decor

    Other Possibilities:
A health foods cooperative, a nature store, art impofts, computer classes...


Many of you have been talking for a long time about the need for a community space like the one we hope to facilitate.  As we look forward to a performing arts center on a grander scale, we feel the need to have a place to meet and celebrate right now.  Rick, Holly and Moon have been discussing the project in earnest for over two years.  When we met Pravine who has actually facilitated the creation of a similar space in San Jose, CA., we knew the dream was approaching fruition.  Now we have found the space and we need your energy to brainstorm and create a beautiful, friendly place.

 Our first work and brainstorming party will be:
    Sunday, May 7th at 1:00pm(1995)
    434 NW Prindle, Chehalis
    (Off Chehalis Ave. around the corner from Paradise Teriyaki)

           Wear comfortable clothing and RSVP if you plan to attend and/or to be placed on our mailing list call 740-0492   Facilitators: Rick Straw is an artisan and emergency room RN for Providence Hospital; Pravine Agarwal has a PHD in East/West Studies and is a therapist for Steck Clinic; Holly St. Clair has a Masters in Education, is an ESL instructor for Centralia College and teaches gifted children in Pe Ell.  Moon St. Clair, is currently attending Evergreen State College interested in philosophy/drama and received a scholarship from the Performing Arts Center in 1992. 


    Now all that sounds pretty hi falutin' and though there was sincerity in it, it ended up probably just offending the local arts groups who had already had it up to here with trying to get people to consistently support the arts in our small town where most people are hardworking and don't necessarily have the time to go out nights. And I guess we have to just admit that it was just a fancy way of saying we were bored and wanted to try something. The sincere part of it is that I sincerely DO have kind of a problem with CRAVING community--ever since I was a child actually--in fact it kind of runs in the family. A brief digression here: I recently finished writing a book that my mother started entitled How to Chaperone at the Beach and Other Recipes--a co-autobiographical, intergeneraional adventure cookbook. WARNING: Advertisement ahead, beware of turns. No, not I said, I'm not a business person, or a published author for that matter, but I am a meme spreader. I wrote my first preface to mom's book when I was eighteen years old---that was many, many years ago. Like Water for Chocolate and many other books with recipes included have come and gone , but I have to say that Mom started her book in the early fifties, and I just finished it, so it does encompass a lot of changes. Mom always said, don't give away the recipes--make 'em wait for the book. So, anyway, the book is ready now so if you want to order one, contact me and just like Carla Emery  or any number of previously unpublished writers I will run out, make a copy for you and send it to you when I receive your check for $25.  I do read from the book sometimes here at the coffeehouse on Open Mic nights. end of digression/advertisement
    Back to the Matrix Chronicles ...actually back to the book BECAUSE, the last chapter of the book (which I am still dissatisfied with) actually has something about the Matrix in it. Maybe if I take it OUT of my book and put it INTO the Matrix Chronicles here I will write a different ending for the book. Every good writer probably realizes that sometimes the most difficult part is writing a decent ending. Both my mother and I thought that we could just ramble on forever. In fact, I think we just didn't believe in endings. Mom was always curious about reincarnation. She used to say that so many children she had known would say "when I was here before" and then would talk about such things as "You were my brother before or I was your mother, etc." So I grew up comfortable with the idea of reincarnation though it wasn't part of my culture.  Besides death, then, what else in our experience seems to have a definite ending? Nothing that I can think of. But then, maybe this is all just a clever rationalization for why it took my mother and myself half a century to write one book. As sort of a preview to the book I will tell you it is peppered with many prefaces. We do believe in beginnings. More than that we believe in what comes before beginnings. We believe in that above all else. Consequently, it was fun to grow up in my house. So now I will succumb to a bout of busyness and leave you with a bit of my book which belongs here(with apologies to those who have already heard or read it) and with these thoughts--we should begin to have peace in the world, we should begin to take care of the planet. We should begin to be ourselves and get to know eachother better. 

excerpt from How to Chaperone at the Beach, copyright 1999 THIS TOWN NEEDS A RESTAURANT(Take 1)
    That magical moment has arrived...the beginning of a new chapter! After weeks of anticipation, doubt, and confusion, the chain of events finally brings focus upon the next chapter title which I wrote down several years ago and I realize what I am supposed to write about, or if I have known all along at least I now know how to write about it. Of course, the beginning of a new chapter does not necessarily coincide with the completion of the last chapter, but that is how I expect many writers approach writing, we terminally right brain lot do it that way anyway, and I guess it might be related to fractals, or chaos theory. For me, it's perhaps genetic. On the other hand, my inspiration could be linked to drinking coffee tonight, something I almost never do. And my family has abandoned me to my mania by falling soundly asleep.
 Last night we booked the opening performer for our new coffeehouse-gallery-event space. She is a wonderful folk singer whom we became involved with almost twenty years ago. Syncronistically, today I sat in front of the metaphysical book store in our small community, doing a rain forest art project as part of the jazz and music festival which has replaced the Crazy Days event that used to be the merchants ploy to attract willing victims to consumerism in our town. In the past, Crazy days was highlighted by a parade of logging trucks competing by toting the largest old growth trees cut down in the previous year. This year the chamber of commerce decided to jazz up the event to reflect a more cosmopolitan image, and forego the log trucks, perhaps unwittingly paying homage to the few environmentalists who have lived for some time now in the county.
    I decided to participate only a day before the festival. I had just finished presenting a model city of the future and a futures fair with my elementary students on the last day of the school year, and what with getting out the flyers for my summer art classes, my spirit was reeling. It is only now, in these quiet late night hours that mom and I love, that I can reflect upon the significance of where I was sitting today. I told the story several times to friends passing by my little table about how, almost twenty years ago, I stood very close to this very spot, across from the Security State bank drive-up window and watched Linda Allen start the Sunnyside Folk Art Center with an open mic, right there in the drive through! I remember weeping with relief that music was coming to this town, tears streaming down my face. It didn't matter that we didn't have electricity in our meager abode located in a less than gregarious town. There was music here now.  Somehow Linda and I got together and I decided to do the restaurant part of the Sunnyside Folk Art Center, calling myself Sunnyside Over. Linda, the perennial optimist had suggested that I call it Sunnyside Up, but I was feeling cynical that day, somewhat discouraged about the lack of volunteer help that was supposed to participate in the transformation of the old 24 flavors building into a music hall and kitchen. In the end, it was primarily old Mr. Flory and I who accomplished the task, working steadily for hours every day. Two-year-old Moon padded about the place, "helping" whereever he could. Our perseverance was rewarded one day by discovering a huge old metal Coca-Cola sign face down under the flooring we were replacing. It hangs on the well house now.
    While it lasted, the Folk Center, thanks to Linda and to Larry Hanks who later replaced her as director provided exactly what Linda has always promoted--community.  Malvina Reynolds(who gave the world many wonderful songs) played at the Sunnyside, complimenting my quiche, by the way. On the afternoon of her performance, Malvina walked into the Center and, seeing that I was obviously disgruntled while cleaning the rug with a carpet sweeper because the vacuum had broken, she offered to take over the job so that I could get back to baking bread. I accepted her offer.
    Elizabeth Cotton (the legendary African-American songwriter who wrote the song Freight Train) came to play when she was in her nineties. There were many great performers like Larry Hanks, Linda Waterfall, Brian Bower, Utah Phillips and local open-micers like Steve Wahl who introduced us to the song Acres of Clams; a local piano teacher and her friend who always sang Danny Boy with such sweetness, only occasionally off key. And there was the man with the cowboy hat, who, playing chords we may not have recognized and singing with words we couldn't understand, was a regular open micer.  Linda made it clear from the very start that music was for everyone, and anyone who wanted to sing was always welcome at open mic. Music, the muse.
    A young woman named Kathy Hamilton did Tole art next door, and I focused on the culinary arts--creating a truly wonderful carob cake one night from scratch after unsuccessfully attempting to do so for young Moon's birthdays on numerous occasions. I baked homemade bread every Saturday for weekly reserved dinners. I used many of Mom's best recipes for the menus, which were published in the Folk Center newsletter. For a while lots of people came and enjoyed the relaxed, homey atmosphere we were able to create. We launched the Sunnyside Over Restaurant venture using a couple thousand dollars that Rick earned at the chicken ranch. I bought dishes from Salvation Army, decorated each table differently with different materials for tablecloths and served family style meals, which were passed around the table in ample containers. Hallie, a folk center volunteer made good on her promise to provide handmade patchwork cloth napkins. People seemed to like the communal atmosphere, with coffeepots at each table. And there was no waitperson, no dishwasher, no other help except our friend Stan, who spent much of the time trying to convince me to use the steady supply of vegomatics and other exotic widgets he was accumulating from yard sales.   I passed every health inspection only losing a point or two, but there are stories almost too preposterous to tell from those days. I recall my turquoise green Ford truck running out of gas twice in one day. The day before opening, I sprained my ankle and so delivered the plates of food with the help of a crutch. That night I forevermore banned the use of whole-wheat spaghetti, because I had left the calculations of how much water to use to Stan and Rick, because of my ankle. After they put 20 pounds of whole-wheat spaghetti into a canner size pot of boiling water we had a good amount of glue, and had to run down to the store to buy regular spaghetti to cook while bemused patrons awaited their meal and the start of the show. Fortunately, there was always a wealth of local talent to hop on stage and keep things rolling.
    The next week I lost my voice and interacted with my customers in whispers. They must have thought we were pretty amusing if not crazy but they tolerated us every week-- perhaps because we would sing along, and Linda was a warm and gracious impresario. The Sunnyside Folk Arts Center only lasted a couple of years, as it became more and more difficult to lure people away from their TV sets.
    I didn't go to my thirtieth high school reunion so that I would be forced to finish this book and send out a copy to everyone in the class.  That's a moment's revelation which may never manifest, but the truth is I didn't go because I couldn't make the decision three weeks in advance, which is what a cheap ticket from the airlines requires. How can anyone do that?  I can barely think an hour ahead, much to the disgruntlement of friends and acquaintances. McKenna was surprised when I was thinking about staying to do a six week work study at Esalen Institute at Big Sur, CA. "You've got such freedom," he said as he was scurrying by me to meet an interviewer from Rolling Stone magazine. "It's freedom of the mind," I said, as I remembered the beginning of the school year was in two weeks, and I probably should get back to teach.
    On Thursday I thought about going to my reunion on the Green Tortoise--a counter culture  bus line, but I was sick that day. Besides I had to be here, I thought, to be hostess for the many people who were coming to our work party for the REAL restaurant, the Matrix Coffeehouse.
    No one showed up for the work party and the next week Rick and I found ourselves shoveling a literal ton of concrete for the bathrooms the building inspectors had in mind. The real work, of course, came the week before when the concrete people delivered an extra yard so Rick and tile maker friend John had to shovel it into the truck and take it down to the land to became part of the driveway before it forever turned hard.  Meanwhile, I am sailing through the yards of the people of my county getting cups, spoons, old chairs and tables, kitchen widgets and material for the building. At yard sales, I have found many glass plate sets, the ones with a place to hold small coffee cups--the kind of dishes one would use to entertain their most cherished guests. 'Why do I find so many of these sets at yard sales? Is it because people are no longer having people come into their homes?' I have thought. 'If that is the case then I shall invite many people to the coffeehouse which will be like a home for everybody.'
    Let me tell you about the warehouse we found. The building that Don Burbee bought has 5000sq.ft, red brick walls and brand new skylights. Soon it will have bathrooms with three women's stalls and two men's stalls, a dubious tribute to the women's movement. Remember, every time anybody bitches about something it gives some bureaucrat a license to put it into the regulations. I guess we'll go ahead and build the bathrooms, and a "platform"(can't call it a stage or we have to put in sprinklers) and see if anybody comes."Who's going to be your target audience?" everyone keeps saying. Target-- I hate the way that sounds. As if I am taking aim with capitalistic zeal just looking for weakened members of the consumer herd straggling on the edges of post modernity, looking for a place to go.  When people ask who's your target audience now I just say, shaking my finger at them but with a smile on my face, "Everyone, and I'm gonna make 'em get along". Most people seem to understand what I mean right away and for a moment they and I are lifted out of the oppressive shells we build around ourselves as we narrow our associations because of competition, belief system or just plain paranoia.  Who's my target? I consider more deeply rushing from place to place with my flyers, accumulating speeding tickets in this frenzied pre-opening state. I guess it's just everybody I meet and interact with as usual, the building inspector whose gruff exterior put me off at first but later sat down to have a glass of juice with us, and with a wistful eye talked about his brother from Montana who likes to sing. And also young people who are tired of having nowhere to go in the evening to be together; old friends-- I'll see more of them by being in town. And my friend Diana Pomeroy--the greatest potato print artist on the planet could sell her cards and art here. But the real target is perhaps myself, and I'm aiming for the chip on my own shoulder. 

Hey, I finally built Eric Miller's Hands On Guitars website:
More to come on that site soon.
I'm getting better at uploading flyers, finally redid the front page(as you might have noticed), and am putting music samples--when available--on our events page.
Radim Zenkl & Leo Chern tickets for 8PM Friday, March 28th are now available at Rainy Day Records in Olympia, Hands On Guitars, Book & Brush, Great Music Company and The Matrix Coffeehouse in Chehalis/Centralia or(online will-call buyers get a beverage at the show):
These next two events are officially part of the One World Beat Global Music festival 2003. Check that out at
--Fri., March 21st: Open Jam Session, a blues focus, 8PM, jammers free $3 for others 
--Sat. March 22nd: Victory Music Benefit- Tree Root, Mark Goldberg, Kat Terran & Derek Hollinsworth, Will
Nelson, Betsy Wellings with Eric Miller, Cat Kinsey, 6PM, $10 suggested donation (pay what you can)


Tickets now on Sale for Alice Stuart, Bill Mize & Alex de Grassi! Check Front.


             I am happy tonight.  I just heard that James, the drummer for Content to Drown, a band that used to play at our coffeehouse just got his dream job.  He has been hired on to NASA where he will help to build the next space shuttle.  This is a very big deal in our small community and it has given me the particle of hope I’ve needed.

            Last week was difficult. I’ve been on the down-swing and most of my thoughts and attitudes towards self and others have been disparaging and recriminating.  This is not an appropriate attitude and does not bode well for a substitute teacher and owner of a coffeehouse where youth often gather.

            Some of the young people I have encountered recently seem more aggressive, discouraged, rude even. It’s not surprising, considering the state of the world: the violence, the lies, global warming, orcas dying from PCB contamination, ocean dead zones. And kids continue to kill each other—innocent Christian children are going to summer camps to be turned into warriors for Christ, young Muslim children jihadists.

            In our town there seem to be more high school dropouts and graduates who are either out of work or doing inane jobs for which they are ill-suited.  The other day I was talking with an alternative-styled drop-out with lots of piercings who got a job telemarketing for a guns rights organization. He gets a commission every time he gets someone to sign a petition. 

            “Are you sure you want the karma associated with enabling people to shoot at each other?” I said to him.

            “Hey, it’s the only job I could find,” he responded morosely.

            A sweet young woman who I have had numerous dialogues with about psychology and world religions reported to me that she finally found a job selling knives. The next week she came in with a hefty bandage on her hand.  We set up a time for her to give us her sales pitch and found a few friends who would do the same.  It’s not that we have enough money to buy any knives, but at least she will get a little money for making presentations.           I’m sad to think of all the kids whose potential and creativity are lost by years of boring classes and more boring jobs.

            Another reason I have been depressed is that my car is falling apart and I don’t really want another one, considering the irrefutable reality of global warming. To those who think the question is still refutable, I’m sorry, but you’re just not keeping up.  I’ve considered trying to find a car that only uses biodiesel but someone told me it isn’t really much better for the environment. Yesterday I slipped into a nostalgic trance and looked up old Volvos on craigslist. I know these cars were safer and more reliable, but they are not less polluting.

             Despite all these issues, I have a little faith tonight because James, who used to beat the hell out of his drums, just got a job at NASA doing something which may be of use.  Maybe if NASA survives budget cuts we can eventually move some people off the planet, skip Armageddon altogether and leave this paradise to the whales, dolphins and other fun-loving creatures.

            Thinking about James, I remember a night I had almost forgotten. I am delighted by the retrieval of this memory.  Years ago, Content to Drown was playing when I heard a loud pop coming from backstage. Suddenly at least half of the 3000 square feet of our coffeehouse was filled with teensy scraps of colored paper.  I hurried backstage to discover James, the future employee of NASA, setting off a potato-powered confetti rocket. Seeing the concern in my expression, he quickly reassured me that he knew what he was doing, so I put aside my worry. How could I resist his confidence, the fun, the joy I saw in the audience.  Soon I was ecstatic. Punk rock with hyper speed drumming and bits of rainbow floating in the air—what more could I ask for? I remember an adult who was there that night asking me why I would put up with such shenanigans. But for months we had confetti in the nooks and crannies of the building and every time I swept up a tiny bright missive I was uplifted. 

It is now the week following the news flash about James’s new job, and the fall leaves are escort for a complete return of my joie de vivre.  I have even decided early this year what I want to be for Halloween

            I called the parents of a nine year old who is being home-schooled with my supervision. Samuel, who is currently emerged in astronomy, asked me so many questions yesterday about the cosmos, questions like: “How far away is the sun? And will it blow up? Is this the actual size of an asteroid? Is this a real photo of an asteroid? “

            I responded “No, Samuel. This is an artist’s portrayal of an asteroid.” He smiled knowingly. Samuel is an artist, too.

            Tonight I saw a Nova special on neutrinos and thought maybe Samuel is ready for neutrinos. So I called and told his dad about the show.

            “He asked about forty questions on the way home,” his Dad informed me.  I remember Mike, a 5th grade student I had years ago who was obsessed with neutrinos. He taught me everything I knew about them until watching the TV program earlier tonight. I remember that when Mike was in middle school he wrote a paper about his theory on neutrinos which was stolen from his booth at a science fair.  Where is he now, I wonder? The last time I saw him he had graduated from high school and I think he said he was playing music. I saw another show on TV recently about research that indicated that music makes you smarter.

            So here I am, at the coffeehouse again, the end of a better week in school.  The music is loud; the kids are grooving and I know what I’m going to be for Halloween. So even though I know it will require some research and it will definitely be difficult to portray, I plan to be a neutrino. After all, when I was nine, I was a Sputnik for Halloween—thanks to an abundance of aluminum foil and a bipolar mother. As of this moment, all I know is that a neutrino is a mysterious particle with no positive or negative charge and very little mass. Could we say it is light-hearted? Neutrinos come in different “colors” and cause the sun to shine. We could say that we are descended from neutrinos.

            I think I will stay afloat all weekend. A band I really like will be playing. I laugh, remembering the band’s name. It is Bipolar Star.

- Holly

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