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Café Puccini - Vocabulary

Ok. Welcome to vocabulary lesson for the Café Puccini article. Let’s get started. First word, immigrants. I mentioned that North Beach was a neighborhood for Italian immigrants, in the past and still a little bit today. Immigrants are people who come to a new country to live, so if Italians come to America and they want to live in America, then they are immigrants. If Mexicans come to America and they want to live here, they are immigrants. All right, next we see the word “literary”. Literary, I mentioned that North Beach served as the center; it was the center of San Francisco’s literary renaissance. Literary means about writing and books. Having to do with writing and books. So, writing and books is literary. So back in the 1950s and 60s, San Francisco had a lot of good writers and famous writers. So, the literary movement, the literary scene, the literary situation here was very good.

And the next word, renaissance. I said San Francisco’s literary renaissance, a renaissance is a time, a time period when there is a lot of art and science. So the art improves a lot, or there is a lot of great art coming from one city or one country or one area. For example, in history we talk about the Italian renaissance back in 1500 s and 1600s, so suddenly in Italy there was a lot of great art, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, so that time period we call the renaissance. The Italian renaissance. So you can also have a literary renaissance or writing renaissance. And San Francisco had one of 50s and 60s. All right. And then I mentioned that those writers at the time, the Beat writers, challenged the conservative society of America. So we have two words here, in this paragraph actually, conservative and liberal.

They are usually seen as opposites. And they have a political meaning. Conservative means someone who does not like change. Someone who wants to keep things as they are or maybe even return to the past. And liberal usually has the idea of someone who wants to change, who wants to improve. And usually we are talking about society. So a conservative wants to keep society the same as it is or as it was, and a liberal wants to change society, make it better. Ok. So at the time, American society in the 50s was very conservative. People didn’t like change. They wanted everyone to be normal and the same. And the Beat writers, this group called the Beats, they challenged that. They went against it. So in this case, to challenge means to disagree with, or to fight against.

So the beats fought against, disagree with the conservative society of America in the 50s. They were very liberal and they helped create San Francisco’s liberal culture. All right, Next paragraph you’ll see the word, actually it’s a phrase, the movement. I say the focal point means the center, the focal point, the center of the movement, the Beat movement was City-Light Bookstore owned by the anarchist poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. When we talk about, when we have “the”, the movement, the movement, it usually means some kind of change in society. A big change in society or it’s a group of people trying to change society. So we talk about the Beat movement, it means they had these writers, but there are a lot of people join these writers, and they all were trying, working together to change American society. We call that, a movement. When a large group of people joins together to change something maybe in art, maybe in society then we call it a movement or the movement. Ok, the Beat movement was very strong in San Francisco and the owner of City-Light Bookstore, was anarchist, was an anarchist poet. He was an anarchist. Anarchist is a kind of political philosophy, you know like communism or I don’t know capitalism, I guess it’s economic.

But anyway an anarchist is against authority and control. Anarchists believe that people should not control other people. People should basically be free and interact, communicate equally, as equals. It’s more complicated than, that’s a simple version. All right, and then I said that Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the anarchist poet, he made history and his book store, City-Light made history. To make history means to do something famous, do something people will remember.

So, they did something famous when they published Allen Ginsberg’s controversial poem called “Howl”. So this is a very big poem at the time in the 50s and shocked a lot of people, surprised them, made them angry. It was very different. It was controversial. Something that is controversial causes disagreement, it makes people disagree. It sometimes creates a conflict, it creates arguments. For example, abortion is controversial. Many people are for abortion, for choice, very strong. Many people are against abortion, very strong. It’s a controversial topic. It creates a lot of argument and conflict. All right, next paragraph, last paragraph of the first page, we see the word wealthy, wealthier residents. It says north beach used to be home to artists, but now it has a lot of wealthier residents. Wealthier means richer, more rich, more money. And a resident is someone who lives somewhere. So now north beach has a lot of rich people who live here.

All right, the next sentence I say even though the literary scene is not what it uses to be, north beach still has many family owned cafes. OK, a literary scene, a scene is a, it usually means a situation, or a group of people. We talk about the art scene in New York. It means all of the art happening in New York right now, the art scene. We might say the art scene in New York is not very good right now. It means all the artists in New York, they’re not creating very good art or we might say the writing scene, the literary scene in San Francisco is great right now. It means there are a lot of great writers at this time. So it’s a situation in a certain place. OK, in the next sentence, I mention a list of people you’ll find in the cafes, you’ll find artists, writers, poets, entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is a business person but it’s someone who owns their own business. They start their own business.

Bill Gates is an entrepreneur. He started Microsoft. But an employee at Microsoft, someone who works there, is not an entrepreneur. So an entrepreneur does not have a boss. They are the boss. They own the company. All right, the next page, I say my favorite cafe is Café Puccini that is named after the Italian opera composer. If you are named after someone, it means you are given the same name as someone else or another place. In this case, the owner likes opera, so he named his café the same name as an opera composer, Café Puccini. All right, a composer is someone who writes music. In the end of that sentence, in that paragraph you see the sentence: They hold long animated conversations in Italian. Hold in this case means have or do. We sometimes use the verb hold, to hold a conversation, for example. To hold a conversation means to have a conversation.

And animated, an animated conversation, animated means a lot of movement, a lot of emotion, a lot of gestures. So it’s not a calm conversation. It’s an emotional conversation. They’re using their hands, they’re talking loudly. They have a lot of emotion. That’s an animated conversation, so animated means emotional with a lot of energy, with a lot of movement. All right, the next paragraph, you’ll see the sentence: the staff never seems to mind that I stay a long time. In this case, the verb to mind means to be bothered by something or to care about something, or to be upset by something. So the staff never seems to mind that I stay a long time. They never care that I stay a long time. It doesn’t bother them. It’s ok. Finally the last paragraph you’ll see the word intersection, most of you probably knows this word. An intersection is where two streets across each other or meet or maybe more than two. So Café Puccini is at the intersection, it’s where Columbus and Vallejo street cross each other.

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