Signs of the times at Cayucos Coffee

July 25, 2019

Pete Schuler and Nick Guillen

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted weekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin.


Cayucos Coffee is ensconced right in the middle of our one-block-long downtown beside Cafe Della Via. On beehive busy weekday mornings it is a different, more esoteric kind of headquarters for who’s who than what one might find in the Schooner’s Wharf (which is also next door) during Happy Hour.

I pass by this institution just about every morning after walking Wilbur on the beach, so he can lap up some water from a pan left out by employees. Usually there is a super friendly, utterly calm Australian Shepard belonging to the owner sprawled outside. He and Wilbur offer no more to each other than a brief, disinterested sniff before going their own ways.

Greg Betancourt, a politically connected man who has run campaigns and raised money for county democrats, almost always parks his very, very old bare-bones rusted bike out front and either sits at the window inside or at a table outside studying the county Tribune or the Estero Bay News.


My guess is Greg, looking for a laugh, likes to read the loony Morro Bay police reports in the Estero Bay rag. A 73-year-old whom I’ve never seen in shoes, he is consistently cheerful despite his loathing of the political situation in America.

Like myself, he relieves himself of stress by refraining from watching the news or staged political debates on cable stations and is content to read his local paper. Among his eccentricities is his keeping of a yellowed, frayed newspaper, possibly 20 years old, on the rack of his bike in case he’s stranded without reading material.

Two other institutions of the morning who’s who groups are very big dudes, Pete Schuler and Nick Guillen, former athletes who can be quietly the smartest guys in any room until you rile them with misinformation, factual inadequacy, ignorance of subjects discussed, or an arrogance of talking authoritatively about which you are deficient in knowledge. Both these physically imposing men are never aggressive, yet secretly intellectual, highly educated, well-read, and quick to remind you gently that you’re wrong when you stray from the facts or the truth.

When I approach Cayucos Coffee after walking around the pier area and pass the barbershop, I know these two are present by the sight of Boomer, Pete’s 13-year-old dog, a mixture of Rottweiler, Beagle and possibly Pit Bull, whom he describes as a “Squatty Rotty.” He and Wilbur offer no more to each other than a brief, uninterested sniff before going their own ways.

Nick is usually seated on a chair facing the street, extra large coffee mug beside him, while he reads. The other day he was reading a section from the NY Times on Sweden. Why was he reading this? Because Nick is a world traveler and will be in Poland in three weeks where he will meet for dinner with a Swedish financial man, and he wants to know what he’s talking about when they engage. I never ask Nick how he makes money to travel literally all over the globe—and I mean just about everywhere—but I suspect it is financial, and I suspect he knows what he’s doing.

Nick is steeped in all cultures and we often discuss our experiences in travel. As a younger person, I took time off from work and, after saving small nest eggs, traveled. Like Nick, I wanted to see the world and seek adventure while my body was young and strong and bulletproof, instead of when I was old and had to be led around on tours. I hitchhiked and sometimes hoofed it and took trains in Europe and the British isles.

Meeting new people on the road and in pubs, and drinking and talking with all kinds of people in these countries was not only great fun, but an education, an illumination of how others in different parts of the globe lived, felt, thought, and viewed America and Americans. Nick, Pete, and I have both exchanged stories about conversations with people in pubs in Ireland whom, with less education and far less money than us, can talk intelligently and often amusingly about boxing, music, literature, movies, politics, history and just about any subject, while, in America, this is not always true.

Nick can talk about damn near any subject, as can Pete. But of late, Nick has been hanging out in Poland, in Krakow. He loves it, and he has a sense of the political climate there and on that continent.

“There is a trend toward populism and dictators in Europe,” he said. “In Hungary. In Turkey. Even in Poland. It’s been going on all over Europe, but there’s also been a backlash against it.”

When we discussed America, he said, “This administration is going right through the checklist of the Communist manifesto that leads to a dictatorship. Point by point. All you have to do is pick it up and study it.”

Dell Franklin and Wilbur

Somebody who talks like this in our country is immediately accused of “hating America.” But people like Nick and I do not hate America, we hate what it’s doing to itself and feel we have the constitutional right to criticize it. As an army veteran, I especially feel this way.

I told Nick I felt we have over the years devolved into an “infantile society” through TV and the new technology and the fact education has been devalued and in a sense we’ve become an anti-intellectual country, and that intellectualism is a symbol of weakness, of so-called pussies. I added my fear that capitalistic materialism and consumerism has trampled democracy and left us with a less humane oligarchy.

Nick nodded. That’s as far as we went into it.

Earlier we discussed how well-behaved European children are (“Most speak five languages by high school,” Nick said.), and especially in the northern countries. Nick related how when he was at the LAX terminal, where Americans came and went, it was deafeningly noisy and chaotic, because of the kids; where at the European terminals it was calm. There is always something to be learned when spending a few minutes with Nick, who believes in actually “thinking” about things.

Once, while we were discussing the political climate here in America, six older men in full bicycle regalia, on beautiful hi-tech bikes, rolled up. I’d seen them pull up many times before at this hour. They’re all at least in their sixties and they haul ass respectfully long distances, and sport the muscular legs to prove it.

Immediately, Nick was up off his chair, bunching two tables together so they could partake in their ritual coffee stop bull sessions. One of them glanced at me and muttered, a little derisively, “Hating on Trump, huh?”

“That’s right,” I said, staring at him as he helped Nick arrange the tables and chairs. “Hating on Trump.”

He went a little rigid and clammed up. These men all seem enlightened and are obviously financially well-off to own such expensive bikes and garb. They’re probably educated and were professionals at some occupation—law, medicine, academia, business, etc. I could smell it. One after another they clack-clacked into Cayucos Coffee on their cleated bicycle shoes to fetch their snacks and java. Nick smiled and said he was going inside, and I left, wanting to go back and start something with the man who loves Trump and with whom I exchanged stony looks.

Sign of the times in tiny Cayucos.

Vigilant Citizen

This article was a textbook example of why we have such ideological division right now. It bothered me that most of the article was self worship at the altar of academia. Please don’t misunderstand, a broad education is commendable, but, you cannot learn about what you don’t understand if you don’t study it. So kudos to you for attempting conversation outside the echo chamber. Thomas Sowell’s book Vision of the Anointed provides illumination on the subject. In short, half of America is as interesting and dynamic as the other half. Don’t cheat yourself out of understanding the success of our synergy by steeping yourself in your own “fragrance.” This observation is given in love and only due to a sadness brought on by the continued self sequestering of bright people with false pretenses.


I guess you again forgot about your series title, gentrification of Cayucos, an went back to the twisted political view of Dell and his brethren of other trustafarians!!!


Where does this ‘Boldguy’ get off calling himself ‘bold’? How can you be bold if you’re using an anonymous name? Anyway, I digress. All Dell did was mention the hairstyles of these people. Everyone’s into the Mike Pence doo these days, and the Nancy swirl-bun is definitely on the comeback. I was one of the FINEST, maybe even THE finest liberal in SLO County until I got run out by gentrification and if Trump did one thing, he forced me to vote for the first time in 24 years. I’ll give him that, but the freaking pig forced me to vote for HILLARY FREAKING CLINTON! I can’t forgive him for that and now I live in MISSOURI where there’s a freaking flood or tornado once a week and the humidity is 511%. Thanks Trump, and thanks Notsoboldguy. And thanks to gentrification for ruining my life.


Great column, again! You’re gonna piss off the Party of Trump The Pervert though, real bad!

What he, Trump The Pervert, is doing to this country is a textbook attempt at fascism:

“The use of ethnic stereotypes and exploitation of fear of foreigners is directly out of a fascist’s recipe book. “Making the country great again” sounds exactly like the fascist movements. Concern about national decline, that was one of the most prominent emotional states evoked in fascist discourse, and Trump is using that full-blast, quite illegitimately, because the country isn’t in serious decline, but he’s able to persuade them that it is. That is a fascist stroke. An aggressive foreign policy to arrest the supposed decline. That’s another one. Then, there’s a second level, which is a level of style and technique. He even looks like Mussolini in the way he sticks his lower jaw out, and also the bluster, the skill at sensing the mood of the crowd, the skillful use of media.” Robert Paxton, author and a leading authority on the history of fascism.

If this pervert wins reelection I believe this country is in for some very difficult times; it will empower this pervert to become even more authoritarian, to further distance it, the U.S,, from the Constitution and Bill of Rights and further corporate rule over the population.

True Republicans should revolt and taker back their party from this perverted criminal and his minions…


Odds are very good that Dell treads safe ground knocking Trump, I speak as a loyal Republican for 40 years. There is NOTHING to take back.

I dropped out of the party when Trump was nominated, the third of three consecutive progressively garbage presidential candidates. The party and ultimately every conservative of note hysterically raged at me to vote across the ticket for increasingly rotten lemons “against” the other supposedly worse candidate, either way you’re voting for more, bigger government and more tyranny.

MOST American voters by far rejected BOTH candidates at the ballot box. That is just a mathematical fact separate from the Electoral College (critical for liberty — if the left succeeds in dismantling it, kiss the Constitution goodbye). Anyone can do the math and observe what happened — of the minority on the left and right who cast votes for either party’s candidate, about a third of them hated doing it, hated Trump/Hillary but voted for him/her “against” the other one. The numbers are shouting loud and clear: MOST Americans thought both of them stunk. Pee yew.

The Republican party is dead and so is the conservative movement. It is probably true of the Democrat party and liberal movement as well. They are all four like soft drinks and imitation sweeteners, no choice for those who just want simple real stuff, the Constitution.

Liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, have become hyper-divisive terms, false beacons. The Constitution and founding documents are our best beacons now.

In a free country, the price of liberty is that consumers are responsible for what they consume, and how they consume it. That includes the media. Blaming the media for this mess is like blaming a gun for a shooting.


Trump is doing what the GOP have promised to do going back 40 years…he has the guts to do the right thing…I know its unrecognizable for a politician to do what he said he would but that is long over due in my mind…

Trump is actually not a hard core republican and if the democrats were smart and not so bundled with anger they would use that to their advantage…you Trump haters had better chill because you are going to have another 6 years of him in the white house…that’s a long time to beat your heads against the wall….


I would have to agree with every thing but the words “right thing”….. Trump does “his own thing”. He was able to win the Presidency of the United States and now is reaping his rewards of the victor and the world is currently his playground.


Today, folks who dispute ANY politician are labeled “haters.” That is very convenient because that politician’s supporters can then attribute disagreements to “hate” rather than reason and put 100 percent of the responsibility for conflict on the other side. “Hate” is such a handy manipulative term!! Little kids use it all the time!

Accusations that one’s political opponents are solely motivated by “hate” is the harbor of the weak-minded, no matter WHICH side of the political aisle they call home. “Hater” is the term third-graders use for teachers and classmates who disagree with them. What in the world is such a mindset doing being embraced by adults while VOTING????

I hate tyranny and slavery, whether it is inflicted by Democrat Hillary or Republican Trump. So why am I called a “Trump hater”?



I know. They been trying to get the Russians to interfere in our elections for 40 years and they finally did it, and I am stuck in MISSOURI which is a living HELL because of Retrumplican gentrification. I was one of the finest liberals ever in the history of SLO County but now no one cares anymore.


Amen, Dell. Another great column.