There's this movie theatre by my house called the Red Vic. It's in the infamous Haight-Ashbury district (which once meant stinky, drug-addled hippie land and now means stinky, drug-addled bum land) a block away from the best record store on the planet. When I moved nearby, they used to charge you $5.50 for great second-run films and quirky little documentaries and classics both cultish and accepted. It was a great place to end up for a night. Sure the screen was small and the sound was AM-alarm-clock-radio-y, but it was charming, affordable, and within walking distance. I saw the Salton Sea movie there. I saw City of Lost Children there. I would've seen Harold & Maude there, but I had the flu. Or the whooping cough. Or consumption. Something that involved soggy lungs, no doubt.
But that was two years ago. Now, suddenly, it costs $8.50 and it's infested with vermin and blood-sucking insect life. In another couple years, there's going to be two fat guys watching some Jim Jarmusch film at $25 a ticket while getting devoured by sewer rats. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sad, sad thing.
Not unlike when Bruce Springsteen released "Human Touch" or when Tom Robbins released that book about the tanuki with big ol' nut sack*, the Red Vic has taken a shocking turn. When something or someplace that was once adorable or perfect or at least downright enjoyable becomes less so, you can't help but feel robbed, right? You expect those special artists or restaurants or bands to remain phenomenal forever, which, let's face it, is unfair---but that doesn't make it less dissapointing. There's this Ethopian restaurant by my house that went through the same unfortunate devolution. It was delicious, cheap, hideously decorated, with a juke box full of Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder and a wait staff of two, who also happened to own the place, and who moved about as quickly as turtle in a coma.** Now? What was once a "I've got ten bucks, let's go get Ethopian" is now a "hold on, lemme go to an ATM" sort of place with worse food and a full bar, in case, you know, you want hard liquor with your chicken.
I guess it all comes down to taking things for granted. If it's not static it's going to change and if you love it, it's probably going to get worse. So go on. Give your favorite person a hug, eat at your favorite restaurant, go to that park down the street before they turn it into a Bev Mo. And do it all while you're listening to your favorite CD. Because, even when the Ethopian place a few blocks away starts jacking up their prices and skimping on their portions, "Astral Weeks" will always be "Astral Weeks." And that's weirdly comforting.
* I know, I know. It's serious.
** "I knoow, I knooow. It's seriooous."