Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sweet things go sour. But not all sweet things do. I learned that on Monday too, while music was threatening to drive me batty

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."

14 comments:

Bryan said...

bummer. everything that shouldn't be expensive is getting expensive here too. and this just ashland, oregon. (i blame it on the double-income-no-kid yuppies who LIKE to pay extra for things)

birdmonster said...

Bryan: Hmmm. I went to Ashland once. I had an Eggplant Parmesian sandwich which I proceeded to drop all over my shirt and jeans, earning me the nickname "Eggpants Armesian." I find that hilarious.

Anonymous said...

i went to ashland once, and went to the music coop. interesting place. the guy offfered me a job because i was so obsessivley coveting some album or another and couldn't afford it.

Cherry said...

Yes, sometimes progress isn't such a good thing. There is a great Thai restaurant in St. Catharines, Ontario. There are never enough tables, but people are willing to wait because the food is so good. Soon they will be relocating to a bigger venue. I don't think that it will have the same cozy feel. But I guess that as long as the food is great, it won't matter.

girlfriend in a coma said...

Dear anonymous: Why won't you leave a name? You would be far more interesting with a name. Even if it's a fake one...

It's true, you never know when they're going to jack up the prices at your favorite neighborhood art house, ruin the food at your favorite neighborhood restaurant...or discontinue your favorite candy! That's why I recommend stockpiling...

birdmonster said...

Anon: Ah, but can you remember the album. I too enjoy covetting things I can't get. Like theramins. Or unicorns.

Cherry: Exactly my point. Which is why books & music are so wonderful. They can't be spoiled---well, not as easily. I mean, if I saw Bruce Springsteen whoring himself out for, say, Hummer, I'd be pissy. His albums would always rule though.

As an aside: Michael Richard's racist invective is sort of killing Seinfeld re-runs for me. Suck my ass Kramer.

GoC: Stockpiling is indeed the answer. Which means we need a bunker. Which is awesome. I always thought the coolest thing about the 50s was bomb shelters. We need to get that back.

Sabrina said...

I've always wondered how Ethiopians could have cuisine? I thought this was a starving country. However you go to Telegraph in Berkeley and the strip is loaded with Ethiopian restaurants. What kind of food do they serve?

I remember when the pay phone was a dime! Talk about inflation!
I can't even take the girls to the movies anymore for under $80. Afterall you have to buy the popcorn and this is about $9 a bucket and you have to give them the evil eye when they skimp on the butter.

katarina esperante said...

oh, i can remember the album as he wound up giving it to me as i wanted it so desperately, had no money, and was hitting the road again in about an hour so couldn't work it off. It was, actually a bob dylan. sorry man. Bringing it All Back Home. lovely album.
girlfriend in a coma, i give you my name.

katarina esperante said...

oh, i can remember the album as he wound up giving it to me as i wanted it so desperately, had no money, and was hitting the road again in about an hour so couldn't work it off. It was, actually a bob dylan. sorry man. Bringing it All Back Home. lovely album.
girlfriend in a coma, i give you my name.

Bryan said...

the music coop is cool. i don't go in there very often because i can't afford it. every time i go in there i spend $30+

katarina esperante said...

hence why i can't afford it

Katie said...

Each time I go back to my hometown in Virginia, there's a new store or housing development and something that once was is no longer.

I live in the ghetto right now and I can't help but wonder....when is this area going to be completely re-done and turned into a college student haven? I know it's coming. Temple hospital and part of the medical school is just 6 residential blocks down the road and it's growing. There's a whole block that's been dug up and is now hiding behind a fence. We're talkin' big-ass holes and cranes and shit. There's a fancy-pants picture of a computer-generated building on a sign attached to the fence. It's weird to think about because whe I first moved here in August, that block was an empty lot.

Right now I live in an all black neighborhood mainly consisting of families. This neighborhood was given life by railroad and factory workers. When cars became popular, the railroad industry suffered and after World War 2, most of the factories shut down (the only remaining factory in this area is the Tasty Kake factory which is about 10 blocks or so west). To this day, the neighborhood has a high unemployment rate which is probably a direct result of not too many businesses being in the area. The other blow to the neighborhood took place in the late 50's, I believe; more than 200 houses were torn down to make way for the Roosevelt Expressway. I read old newspaper clippings about it and it seemed to affect the sense of community. Year by year, the population in the area actually decreases. I looked at census information, too; more Hispanics and Asians are coming in. I am an uber minority.

That university is gonna change this place. People already come up to me and ask what I'm studying all the time and when I tell them I'm not a student they look shocked and say, "Then why the hell do you live here?!"

Things can't get much worse; bring on the change.

elvette said...

sabrina: It's all about making the popcorn at home and bringing an extra-large purse (for the beer).

Sabrina said...

That's funny! My parents used to get a paper grocery bag and pop a whole pot full of kernals, add butter and take the equivelant of 20 microwave bags of popcorn to the drive in. We'd play on the merry go round and swings at the front just under the screen while we waited for the sun to go down. Those were the good ole days!

Good idea on the extra large ourse for the beer! right now it's filled with diapers & wipes! oh and a Birdmonster sticker.