The title refers to Side Street Espresso, a small espresso café in downtown Anchorage owned and operated by Deb Seaton, my wife, and me for twenty-six years. “Flutters” is from the Chaos theory catchphrase “the flutter of butterfly wings in China causes hurricanes in Florida.” I envision cultural, social, and political change to happen in a similar fashion: from an “imperceptible” idea in one, then more persons’ minds, until there are millions intersecting, forming a colossal wave of change.
Each day at Side Street we offer a drink special highlighted on a dry erase board. Starting in the mid-1990s, I’ve drawn images, often with commentary, on the boards. Starting out, I hoped the drawings would add moments of interest to patrons’ visits. Soon, the drawings and commentaries became a voice: my flutters from Side Street.
Since September, 1997, I have photocopied the drawings. Volume One consists of a timeline, from late 1997 through 2014, of two hundred and twenty-five drawings and ten pages of text at the end. The drawings with commentaries are my observations of events as they occurred, there are drawings of world, national, and local personalities, a few drawings with vignettes of interest, and some with personal stories.
FROM THE DUST COVER:
“Long before opening the café, he sits down in front of a small white board and ponders what to draw and write. In theory, the white board is used to announce the daily drink specials. In reality, it is a vehicle for George’s art and poetic and philosophical musings.”
“While it is the sketches that catch our eyes, half of George’s political and historical brilliance and philosophical compassionate genius would be missed by those who opt not to read his writings that accompany the drawings.”
Dahr Jamail, Investigative Journalist and Author
“Flutters from Side Street is an apt name for these elements of who my friend George is. What Side Street is. Who we all are to Side Street. Take your time with this book. Savor the words, the art, the meaning. Look for common threads. Find the unique, the indecipherable, the past, the present, and sometimes a prescient look into the future.”
Tom Begich, Singer, Songwriter, Author, Alaska State Senator
“I met George and Deb in 1994, when I first discovered Side Street and adopted it as my writing home-away-from-home. Every Saturday I come in with my laptop, a thirst for coffee, and anticipation of whatever George will have drawn and written on the white board to go with the day’s latte special. Walking through these pages is like walking with George through the early morning Anchorage streets, before anyone else is up, asking questions of the world, sometimes finding answers, however tentative, sometimes finding simply the marvel of the workaday. I love this place. I love this book.”
Melissa S. Green (“Mel”), Anchorage Writer
“If you’re in Anchorage, Alaska, just go to Side Street Espresso. If you’re somewhere else, grab a really good cup of coffee and settle back with Flutters from Side Street. You won’t want to put down this treasure of drawings and vignettes uniquely relevant to our times. Historical and current heroes and villains, philosophers, activists, and everyday people who make a difference will give you moments of joy, laughter, compassion, sorrow, hope, pride, and remembrance – all triggered by George Gee’s thought provoking drawings, quotes, and reflections. He has given us the ticket for a very special journey.”
Tony Knowles Former Governor of Alaska
In his poem “Freedom,” William Stafford wrote:
If you are oppressed, wake up about
Four in the morning: most places
You can actually be free some of the time
If you wake up before other people.
The artwork and writings contained in Flutters From Side Street—all of them the result of George Gee rising early and walking to work—are proof that Stafford was correct. George’s drawings and insights suggest that if we all awoke earlier and took time to think about what we wanted to say each day, we might better understand ourselves and each other, and perhaps be a little more free.
While nothing can replace a visit with George and Deb at Side Street Espresso, Flutters From Side Street is the ideal proxy for those who do not get to visit that Anchorage institution often enough. For the uninitiated, this book serves as an invitation to come see how special a coffee shop--and its proprietors—can be.
Marcel Jolley, Author