The sign above the doorway to Living Planet reads, "No Smoking Please," and when you enter the Long Beach cafe you might feel as if you've boarded the Biosphere. The air, aided by lush foliage and discreet incense burners, smells so fresh it's almost suspect.
Although a smoke-free coffeehouse is normally a contradiction in terms, this place still manages to feel stuffy. Beavis and Butt-head would have a field day making fun of its consciously PC atmosphere--complete with generous "Practice Nonviolence" signage and books offering composting tips. The Sunday night "Drum Circle"--bring your own congas--cements the image.
A recent performance by L.A.-based singer-songwriter Jason Luckett (who performs at Living Planet every other Saturday, with the next date set for April 24) brought a real burst of energy to the surrealistically lethargic venue. Backed by the impromptu chirping of Living Planet's caged button quails, Luckett's literate love songs and hypnotic essays on growing up multiracial can make a visit to the Living Planet well worthwhile. Luckett, who performed barefoot, also may have inadvertently inspired a future sign for Living Planet's walls.
"We're gonna make a rule," said one of the proprietors after Luckett's set. "No shoes allowed." Don't assume that he was kidding.
* Living Planet, 340 East 4th St., Long Beach, (310) 495-0276.