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Ping A Gong, Get It On — Cyber Cafe West In Binghamton, NY

October 28th, 2011 · Tags:Cities · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi

“I’m not the owner, I just act like it,” said the ponytailed guy in the tie-dyed shirt behind the counter of Binghamton, New York’s Cyber Cafe West.

So what if he wasn’t? He introduced himself and shook my hand, as if he owned the place. Nice guy. I hope he doesn’t mind if I refer to him as The Grateful Chuck … it just seems like a natural with the ambiance of this place that he may or may not own.

He let me take a photo too, after some comment about no longer being in a witness protection plan.

I like this place and Chuck is my kind of ambassador.

Then the host really got my attention. As I walked away, I heard Chuck explaining to his camera-shy baristas that a “ping” is an electronic pulse, used to test a circuit, or relay, or network or whatever. (In my case, it is a test of the cool, cool Wi-Fi joints across the land …) If only the U.S. Trademark office had conferred with this grateful barkeep before they ruled against my trademark application. Oh well …

I digress …

On my current Dirty Gig in Binghamton, my commute has taken me by the Cyber every day for two weeks. Frankly, from the outside, it looks funky enough but looks misleadingly small. It not. It is multifaceted and multi-roomed, with a decent-sized stage at the back. They tell me the house band, Monkeys Typing, is also key to the success of the place … music ranging from Dylan to yes … The Grateful Dead. Why didn’t they just call themselves bloggers?

On this rainy, soon-to-be-snowy evening, when I finally pulled over, the Cyber greeted me at the door with interesting music. It was the discerning work of Pandora … playing a mixture of folky rock and bluegrass … the first selection was a bluegrass version of a Tom Petty hit. Later … Captain Beefheart … pretty darned eclectic. I believe I detected The Black Keys as well.

How’s the Wi-Fi? Well, it’s got to be good if the place has cyber in the name. Correct-a-mundo! Very nice. The network is password protected, and although it has enough digits for ample security, the password was something even I could remember as I walked 20 paces from the bar. They have food … pastries … and like I was saying a variety of seating areas. Most are a combination of coffee shop cool and vintage furniture menagerie.

The crowd? I spy some local wavy gravies like myself, guys who wear grey sweats for a night out on the town, artistic types, college profs and the younger generation they mentor … a man of girth in a beret …

Why haven’t I stopped here sooner!?! More adamantly … Why haven’t any of the locals raved about this place!?! Maybe I need to find me some new locals!

You know before I say it that a place like this is going to have lots and lots of funky paintings all over the walls. Bingo.

Ha … behind the bar is a small gong, which gets hammered whenever a greenback finds its way into the tip jar.

Ping gots gong!

Later in the evening, Chuck tells me, a cellist who has been nominated for a Grammy will be on stage. Rats … The cellist will be playing second fiddle in my world, as I head back to the hotel for the final game of The World Series and hopefully the first world championship for The Texas Rangers.

I digress …

The libations? They seem to have it all … coffee, teas, hot chocolate and a host of brews on tap. Myself, I deviated from my recent chai latte addiction and tried the banana hot chocolate … because … well … I had never heard of such a thing although it seems like a natural. Yum.

Let’s add up the points …

Cyber Cafe West = so very funky, hip, eclectic. The drink is delicious and my main focus — the Wi-Fi network — is perfect from my green and purple pixeled Lazy Boy recliner, not unlike your great aunt might call “the good chair” — 7 grateful pings … a perfect score and right here under my nose all this time!

Know what I sayin?