Posted by Sarah Diaz, GD editor for 3.1
The town of Geneseo is pretty much what any flatlander imagines when thinking of a small college town in rural New York: a quaint Main street decorated with a fountain, a couple of bars, pizza joints, a book shop and music store, even a bike shop. It used to have the classic college coffee house, Muddy Waters, where one might sink into a worn couch and enjoy a latte and a book or catch up and laugh with good company. Muddy’s was filled to capacity during their weekly open mics and on gloomy Saturday afternoons. Different from the Starbucks in the College Union, it existed as a place for off- and on-campus students to collide. Muddy’s often played the college’s local radio station WGSU as background coffeehouse tunes. The ambiance provided a stress-free atmosphere in which to do schoolwork but also allowed people to mingle and chat without having to yell or show up at seven a.m. just to snag a table.
As a writer, the loss of Muddy Waters hit me hard. Not only was it the locale for weekly and monthly open mics where I got up in front of smiling folks and shared my love of poetry but it also served as a place of inspiration. I often sat pretending to do homework while scribbling lines and people-watching. Although the owners of Muddy Waters sometimes failed to pay their employees and there was often a paltry selection of baked goods, there was something comforting about walking in on a chilly afternoon, recognizing noses tucked into novels or voices telling elaborate stories.
This could, however, be a blessing in disguise, as the closing of Muddy’s forces us, the students and inhabitants of the town, to seek out new places to share our poetry, play our music and hold caffeinated hang-outs. Hopefully it will encourage the people in this town to congregate elsewhere, expanding their experience and interaction with the town. Some things to do would be check out the Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, go the Open Mic at Kelley’s on Tuesdays, stay current on the Genesee Valley Cooperative’s frequent events and community dinners.
For writers like myself, the most exciting new addition to Geneseo is the renovation of the Riveria Theatre on Center street. It is rumored to be open during the Spring 2015 semester will provide a space for live theatre, music, poetry and other stage events. Hopefully, the atmosphere of this new open performance space will be as cozy and welcoming as the lumpy, worn couches of Muddy Waters. It’s exciting that the town is working to revitalize a place that can be a cultural hub for the students and the community to realize and connect with one another. Who knows, maybe the Riveria will one day host a Gandy Dancer launch party….