I seem to be spending a lot of time at 16th and Valencia lately. When I was there last weekend, though, I didn't look around much. it was all Roxie all the time. I hurried to the theatre (I always seemed to be arriving breathless and a bit late) got in line, shuffled into the movie darkness and didn't emerge for hours.
Last night, though, I had been to see some solo performance at Stagewerx (a worthwhile thing to do, in case you were thinking, "hmmm. Should I be seeing solo performance?") and as I was walking back to my car, I noticed that the corner store of very long standing has boarded its windows. Beside it, the beloved Breton crêperie that was there for about twenty years has morphed into some sports-centric something or other with many, many large televisions and the smaller bit, which had been a crêperie addition iis now a cookie purveyor with incongruously bright light. Light that you could perform surgery by. Indeed, the whole cookie store aesthetic is not unlike a fun! whimsical! operating room--slick surfaces easily sanitized, but all in primary colors. It is a strange addition to a street where every other new establishment tries to reclaim as much wood as possible before opening to the public. Next, I passed a pretty bar (no doubt fashioned of reclaimed wood) possibly in the former site of a bookstore, but the typography of their logo is so stylized that I have no idea what the place is actually called. I stood there for several minutes trying to decode it, but reached no definite conclusion. Something with some a's and some v's I think.
Just as i was sinking into a "oh how everything has changed" reverie combined with a bit of "how will I ever remember to drink here if I can't read the name of the bar?" (participating in gentrification while decrying it is a something of a hobby for people of my ilk), I passed a group of men outside a closed mechanic's shop where they had assembled some dubious wares for sale on the dark sidewalk. They were in mid-conversation as I passed. One man was excitedly trying to rise above the general chatter, "Do you know who the first rapper was? But do you know who the first rapper was?" he paused. "Mohammed Ali! Mohammed Ali was the first rapper!"
It cheered me up immediately.