Monday, April 24, 2006

Essentials for a decent city neighborhood.

These things should be accessible to you, even if you have to show a little effort to access them. If they aren’t, you need to move. Your town might suck.

*Well stocked Indie-record shops with scowling clerks who act like Russian border guards, if they aren’t know-it-all loud mouth pricks. On the stereo: Big Star. And you had to ask? You suck and are a bad person.

*Cheap tempura shacks that smell amazing, but the food never tastes as good as it smells, but it’s still pretty good.

*Expensive sushi bars with sadistic sushi technicians who smirk knowingly as they serve you. Everything taste like a cloud of tits, so you don’t mind.

*Burrito sheds where the guy preparing your taco/burrito/torta holds up a squirt bottle with a fiendish green liquid and lifts an eyebrow questioningly, like “You’re sure? Because you know what this shit is going to do to your lower GI tract, right?”

*Old man bars were no one talks and everyone stares at you through rheumy eyes when you walk in. You only order beer and they serve it in a short glass.

*Empty hotel bars that look like the bar at the Overlook Hotel in the Shining. The bartenders are even wearing those white tunics. The bar MUST have some ridiculous specialty drink, like an Irish Coffee or a Pisco Sour that you order once on your first visit and never order again. One bartender must have an intricate knowledge of the city you are in and he MUST have a good mustache.

*Microbrew place that serves expensive, lousy food. Although the potato bar is usually pretty good.

*A Bookstore staffed by
1.) skulky mime-quiet middle-aged clerks with thick glasses. Men have ponytails. Women have thinning hair.
2.) a chunky sensitive tough guy with ironic thick glasses and facial hair. Wears t-shirts for an obscure roots music label or for some alternative circus. Is usually reading a William S. Burroughs anthology.
3.) Pretty, skinny woman is moderately more friendly than the rest of the staff, but not by much.
The selection is merely pretty good, but the magazine section rocks, even though it’s heavy on yoga publications.

* Toy store that sells big Corgis, expensive toy soldiers, kites, Playmobiles, Lego and lots of weird junky Chinese stuff.

*Hobby shops/Gaming Shops/Magic Shops/Tobacconists/Sci Fi bookstores/Comic Book shop. All creepy. But you manage to poke your head in from time to time. You get skeeved out pretty quick though, especially if the clerks are arguing about something.
(Tobacconists don’t argue, as there is usually only one, and he has a pulsing knobby growth on his forehead. He merely stares at you as you check out the Greek fishermen’s caps, the Meershaum pipes, the Toby Mugs, and the sword canes. You buy your rolling paper and fucking SPRINT out of there.)

*A park with a sandbox where neighbors donate their old shovels and pails, so the kids can dump sand on each other while their Dads can blather on and on about redwood decks and skiing Banff.

*A store where proper cheese is sold. Runny cheese, stinky cheese, farty cheese. Good cheese. Not cheddar. Not Monterey Jack (shiver). CHEESE. I mean Stilton, motherfucker.

*Some sort of shop that sells authenticish delicacies from other parts of the country. Cheese steaks. Montechristo sandwiches. Cuban sandwiches. King cakes. Jambalaya. LA style Vietnamese sandwiches. San Diego style fish tacos. Barbeque (preferably the thinner vinegar style rather than the gloppy Kansas City variety). Rueben sandwiches. Etc.

*A creepy store that sells dead things. I have one on my block that sells freeze-dried cats and dried dung beetles. It comforts me that it’s there.

*Strange storefronts that are never open, or at open apparently at the owners whim. They usually sell office supplies or do sewing machine repairs.

*Decent ice cream place that does not sell coffee or cell phones.

*Decent coffee place that is not Starbucks. Peet’s is okay because they put crack in their coffee.

*A wine shop whose clerks swear when describing various wines. Also, a discount liquor superstore for parties.

*A travel agent with a sun faded poster of Tahiti. There is one woman staffing the place and she is either playing computer solitaire or staring out the window.

*Movie rental place staffed by pale teens with sunken chests. They must be enthusiastic and overly articulate in their opinion about the movie your renting, even though you know it’s probably stupid and there’s a good possibility you’ll never watch it. Extra points it’s Hayao Miyazaki movie, in which case you’ll spend a polite ten minutes wondering if one of the tiny rubber bands that secure the clerk’s dental appliance will come flying off as he raves about the master of Japanese yadayadayada. Never do you point out that you’re renting it for your five year old.

*A hippy sandwich shop. Not a hairnet in sight, but the homemade bread makes up for the general hirsuteness. Too reliant on avocado, though. Like that fools anyone anymore. Try the soup. It's usually lentil.

*An Italian deli/sandwich shop with excellent cold-cuts and homemade ravioli in the cold case. Giant jars of pickled pepper and pimentos, and giant bottles of Chianti shaped like muskets or boots. No one ever buys these items, and when you ask about them, the old lady merely shrugs. They put salad dressing on their sandwiches.

*Strange Chinese produce market that smells like ginger. You can buy all the regular stuff, as well as some weird ass pears and breadfruit. Occasionally, you bring home some alien melon that just sits on the counter mocking you until you throw it in the outside garbage can.

*A bus stop where you are invariably joined by an older woman who has a Byzantine knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the 43 Line. She drops science on you vis-à-vis the local bus routes until the bus finally comes about like 45 minutes. You walk to the back of the bus and feign interest in the classifieds section you find stashed in the crack of the seat.

*A mail box on the corner by your house. It has been repainted a gazillion times. Nice.

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3 Comments:

Blogger G. said...

Shit Greg, have you been to Halifax?

We're missing the burrito stand (sadly) but...

4:27 PM  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

No BURRITO stand?!?!? So much for NAFTA.

I have not been to Halifax. The closest I've been to Halifax was St. John's, which, from what I understand, is not actually Halifax.

4:40 PM  
Blogger G. said...

No, but it shares a similarly incomprehensible language, and the same affection for beer.

10:21 AM  

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