Note: This is the third entry in an ongoing series that honors bloggers who have really made a difference, raising the bar for quality and productivity on the cultural front.
by Sam Juliano
While blogging means a number of different things to its often tireless players, and it’s more often than not a running archive of reviews, trailers, and industry information that covers film, theatre and music among those with cultural interests, it’s a rare treat to encounter a true renaissance man with just the right world view and effervescent demeanor. Michael Harford, who presently resides in Indiana with his wife, is known in the blogosphere as the ‘Coffee Messiah‘ and this disarming title not only defines his passion for our national beverage, but in the spirit of ‘coffee table’ discussions, he brings way more to the table than most. Michael is a seasoned veteran with endless creativity and an astonishing appreciation for anything from history to the arts, to politics, to nature and to philosophy. The ‘Coffee Messiah’ blog is unlike any other place in the blogosphere, combining song ditties with graphic art, collage, montage, philosophical quotes, sage advice, and a free-spirited approach to whatever message, value or appreciation one can derive from any aspect of the multi-faceted presentation on display.
Michael was born in San Francisco, and lived there for 44 years, where he won a scholarship to the Academy of Art in 1971. He and his wife opened a coffeehouse, which he ran for four years, and even spent a little time at Starbucks, giving him an acute understanding of various blends and how to brew a peerless cup of java. If ever an online pen name fit its protagonist to a tee, Michael Harford is such a case. But coffee is only a small part of the equation, and anyone whose interests aren’t rigidly etched in a singular focus, there’s a wealth of enlightenments and challenges that await those who click on Michael’s blogsite, where invariably they will always see a healthy number of regular commenters, who have always connected with the Coffee Messiah’s special brew of positive thinking and a deep appreciation of beauty and creativity, nurtured over years spent on the west coast in all kinds of educational interests. I knew from the very first time I clicked on Michael Harford’s blogsite that I was in for something special, as his free-wheeling approach and affable demeanor matched his special appreciation of the subjects he broached on at least three new posts per week. Michael isn’t like some of the rest of us with our severe obsessive-compulsive disorders and stringent approaches to blogging, and his interests have a healty diversity and a seeming appreciation of life and all that it offers. Another great thing about the ‘Coffee Messiah’ blog is that it’s a veritable treasure chest of unexpected jewels from all directions. The grab bag approach gives the place a freshness and vitality that’s maintained from day to day, week to week, and month to month.
Michael admits his original aim was to discuss politics after a short stint as an audio sharing blog (which began in 2006), but he slowly segued his blog into a more generalized approach, where he would post “whatever I felt like putting out there.” This allowed him to unearth various tidbits and priceless anecdotes, which always illustrate there is nothing to match experience and travel. I’ve had the great pleasure myself (as others have) to speak to Michael by e mail, and he’s one prince of a guy, as genuine and as real as the guy next door. He’s probably among the brightest guys online, but he’s not here to impress or to embrace snobbery. Rather, Michael Harford reveres the continuity of community more than anything else in the blogging experience and friendship online or otherwise is what he treasures before all else. Not surprisingly, my first contact with the effervescent Coffee Messiah was through our own dear Dee Dee, who had been a long-time commenter at his site. It took a while -far longer than it should have – to become a regular, but it’s truly one of my own blogging joys to visit his divine abode, a place that combines the beauties and wonderments of art, music, history and philosophy all in one place, and encourages you to adrress any one or all of these concerns, whatever suits you mood or interests. Hence, you never feel like you need to “perform” at Michael’s place, or to keep pace with the intellectuality of your fellow bloggers, but rather to just be yourself, and say whatever comes into your mind, or relate an experience you’ve never forgotten.
It’s his cognizance of the overriding worth of his fellow blogger, and a sustained humanistic outlook that makes Michael Harford and his ‘Coffee Messiah’ blogsite regular destinations in the often hectic blogging experience. When you meet Michael Harford, you know you have a friend for life.
Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.