photos by smdlr
Keith turns the questions. “I’m so intrigued by his lines of questioning,” Chérmelle told me, which was her of saying that he answered questions about himself with questions about her. Whether it comes from curiosity, self-preservation or, most likely, a combination of both, Keith is hesitant to give of himself. “I want an equal exchange of dialogue,” he tells me, something he finds rare to come by.
Yet for all of his reserve, Keith enjoyed the photo-shoot. The designer in him took an active role in setting up the scene, tinkering and adjusting to get things just right. Give him the spotlight and he shrinks. Give him an activity, a team, and he’s there.
Like many of us, Keith is new to this city. A graphic designer (he’s done all the design work for Pushcart and Cowboy Pizza) and musician, he moved from Chicago with his girlfriend last fall. The transition has been a bit tough. He’s still trying to figure this city out, puzzled by the 19 million people who for one reason or another, call this place home. His conversation with Chérmelle, Keith said, “was a good reminder of why I moved here, of my creative aspirations.” In addition to music and graphic design, he also dabbles in photography, turning his inquisitive eye on the overlooked quirks and understated beauty of the streets around him.
But don’t try to pin Keith down—he’ll quickly slip from your grasp. He’s still deciding what he wants to do when he grows up. While he doesn’t think of himself as much of a reader, he’s always got a book with him—George Orwell, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Somerset Maugham…He reads with the same curious detachment with which he approaches people, always wondering, probing, searching, without expectation.
You’ll see him behind the bar, curly hair, dimples, newsboy hat, owning the space. When it comes to coffee, he’s one of our most skilled baristas. But this job, perhaps even this city, is just a way station while he figures it all out. If you want to get to know him, you’ll have to sit down for a conversation of equal exchange.
When asked how well he feels his Pushcart coworkers know him, he answers, “I mean, how well does anybody know anybody, you know?”
See how well Chérmelle knows Keith over at smdlr.