The American Caliban (substitute) wrote,
The American Caliban

stomping grounds

The Diedrich coffeehouse with the patio will close down. The building is collapsing. The thing hasn't made money in forever. It's big and relaxed and welcoming, and that's over in this part of the world, killed by high land prices and spreadsheets. There's a new one a block away that's small and Starbucksy and all spreadsheet-optimized for profit. Push push push the yuppies through the revolving door. The big wide patio is a relic. I assume that they'll announce that it's going to be remodeled, close it, and never reopen it.

This makes me sad, because I'm the kind of person who attaches to places far too strongly. I get terribly emotional about places I've been, and not just the pretty ones or the ones where I was happy. I get sort of misty thinking about Kansas City and I only lived there for 9 months on a contract job, fer chrissakes. I imagine myself returning to the site after it's torn down and morosely standing around looking at the Junta Juice or Yiffy Lube or whatever goes there in a couple years.

Five years ago I knew this guy D., friend of Greg's. D. was a really nice, smart guy. He was that Alternative Pierced Guy with the weird beard: tall and thin, soft-spoken, deferentially pleasant. He was really into Greg's band so I saw him a lot, and we'd talk a little about music or art, both of which he knew a lot about. D.'s particular interest was clothing, and he opened a vintage clothing store. He didn't just have good taste; he was hard-working, understood how to run a store, and totally committed to doing this right. I believe it was in Silverlake; I never went there. He had an eye for that stuff and girls loved his taste, and he was doing well.

Then came the surprise. This scary guy started hanging around the store all the time, and he didn't fit. He was a hardcore criminal recently released from prison for the latest in a series of violent crimes. He was covered in nonironic tattoos of dire significance and almost always drunk. He'd just show up, 40 in hand, and talk to D. in what was intended as a friendly manner, and scare the shit out of him. The guy was foul-mouthed, racist, misogynist, usually angry, and always in search of money. He scared the girls away. Business went to hell. Any suggestion that he might find somewhere else to hang out enraged him, and threats were made. Even if he left the store itself, he'd always be around within about a block, ready to come back. The last I heard, D. had finally closed the store, almost entirely because of this crappy Cape Fear remake he'd been pushed into.

And why was Mr. Ex Con there at all? Because before D. got that space it had been a crappy liquor store, bars in the cash window and all, where Sideshow Bob here had spent many a happy day in the years before he got that big sentence. When he got out it was time to go back and have him some fun again! There was a new business there, but it was still the same corner. This wasn't Cape Fear; Poor D. had wandered into the retail version of the hotel in The Shining.

I've heard a possibly apocryphal story that in rural Kenya, the trick played on new people in town is to sell them cheap land for their new houses. People are enthused; they get acreage with water access and good soil, and it's so cheap! A year later they find out they're on the track of an elephant migration. The elephants come through the same places each year, and they don't let anything get in their way. There are a lot of them. Things get... ...flat.

I wish I was an elephant.
Tags: diedrich, me, patio, personal narrative, place, self-indulgent, tag
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