Wednesday 7 December 2011: May The Gods Torment
On Baltimore Avenue, one block from my door. This first corner store is where the new Subway sandwich shop will materialize, probably within a few months. I'll go through the rest of the row and then come back to it.
Caspar's Food Market has been closed for over ten years, and when I remember it still opening, the man was just operating the store a few days a week because he couldn't think of what else to do with himself. The Dr. Pepper sign in front dates from a later period of the store's life. But I never chatted with caspar, as he was not conversational. Nor have I ever heard anything about him or his store that I did not observe myself.
Tony's Barber Shop has been there for over fifteen years, but because there was another, much more ancient barber nearby who I frequented, I have never had my hair cut there. Once they installed a small park bench at the curb outside, but after a few years it wore out from weather, not used much. Straw men would sit on it for Halloween.
Desi Village is a family-run Indian restaurant that's been going for about three years, enjoying a good reputation. Before it opened, the space was occupied by a West African eatery at some point, but I'm forgetting most of the storefront's past.
Davis Pharmacy is absolutely unique in this part of Philadelphia, and perhaps the whole city, in that its name is not CVS, Rite-Aid, or Walgreens. There is also another, smaller chain that has a store not far away, but Davis is a family-run business with one location only. Unlike any other pharmacy I know, they do not sell cigarettes. The store long pre-dates my first walk along this street, over 22 years ago.
Now let's go back to the patch of moral quicksand, the vacuum, the black hole. The corner store in the forefront was, earliest I can clearly recall, a West African-owned food store where I used to buy goat meat. After that it opened for about two days as a Halal butcher, perhaps without selling a single chicken. I was intending to stop in but it was gone before I had the chance. Lastly, a grocery store called Pickles & Pies opened for a few months. It floated terms like organic and all-natural, which was amusing when I stopped in and found that almost everything in the shop contained high fructose corn sweetener, indicating that it was the usual garbage. It's been an empty store since about a year ago, but now it's where the creeping slime of cultural destruction has landed on the avenue.
Subway, a venue for culinary pig slop with over 29,000 stores worldwaide, has surpassed McDonald's in terms of presence, just this past summer. Being a franchise, it's not so simple to examine or criticize its practices (as it would be if every store were corporate-owned) --but I'm gathering information as fast as I can. My simple statement is that this is not a shopping mall. Every single visitor here is pleased to find that there is a place free of Subway, Taco Bell, Quiznos, Sbarro, and all of those identical zomby-food outlets as are found in every mall, airport, train station, college, downtown strip, Wall-Mart, and for all I know, half the kindergartens in the country.
I'm late with this blip and I need my rest, but this is disgusting news for us. It's the first of the big chains on Baltimore between 42nd & 52nd Streets, and I mean any of them --not just in the fast food business.
The dream is over. The toilet bowl has flushed. The cadaver has begun to stink. Baltimore Avenue is dead --may the gods torment its murderers.