Washing dishes in a restaurant is among the least glamorous of occupations. But not once does Mimi Pond complain or delve into the requisite diatribe on scraping and scrubbing in a perpetual cloud of greasy mist. Time can add a rose colored tint to things, sure, but Pond knew then that she was part of a story worth telling. Thirty years later, here it is, Over Easy.
Tapped out on financial aid, and just shy of graduating from California College of the Arts (& Crafts, as it was called then), young Mimi lands a dishwashing job at Oakland’s Imperial Cafe. She wanders in one day by happenstance expecting typical diner fare – watery coffee and “styrofoam toast” fit to pair with a big swig of Victory gin – but soon discovers that this place is different. The food is real. Home made. And the coffee is strong. With its unapologetically uninhibited proletariat population, the Imperial has that vibe, that “if you’re here, you know something” vibe. And young Mimi has a lot to learn. Light years away from art school, this is the real world. All humdrum, nitty gritty, and smeared with egg yolk.
This was, after all, the 1970’s. The sixties‘ hangover. Pond gives the decade due character treatment. In its wake, the sixtes had left little of its virtue, much of its vice, and a generation of lost souls still waving their freak flags. Ever the outsider, Mimi navigates this cultural limbo, keeping her own objective beat and picking up morsels of wisdom along the way.
Pond’s drawings, impulsive and expressive, evoke the D.I.Y. spirit of the punk rockers with whom she identified. The characters, the usual countercultural suspects, are dead on. But it’s her writing chops that really impress. Subtle and delicate metaphor, and never snarky social commentary paint a vivid and reverent picture of a decade that had to make do. And that’s what Over Easy is… a little love letter to that time and place – that personal and cultural limbo that would prove to be so formative.