Photo courtesy Flickr
The other morning my best friend from first grade called to chat. The conversation fit the same template as every other since we discovered the telephone in fourth grade, spending half an hour each day after school debriefing.
We went to the same sock hops and threw our first parties together. Corrine now lives “twenty minutes from everywhere”, but nearly within sight across the bay. From the front porch, I can toss a beer can downtown. Thirty-five years ago, she lived two doors south sweating out a divorce, grad school, and the care of two pre-school daughters. I lived up the street in an old building New Yorkers told me had to have come from Brooklyn, sweating out a divorce of my own and trying to make sense of art school after a short lifetime in literature.
In the early Seventies, our neighborhood could have been lifted straight from a blacksploitation flick. The buildings resonated with soul and Motown, Safeway carried chitterlings and masa, my relatives stood on the sidelines wringing their hands that I should choose to live here, and the ghost of Jimi Hendrix walked up and down Pike Street. Churches had handmade names like Zion Full Gospel Holiness and House of Prayer for All Nations.
There are now ten five hundred thousand dollar town houses under construction across the street, and a Seattle producer has issued a compilation of the local music that made the early Seventies so rewarding. Bronze Jimi, frequently decorated with votive offerings, hangs out near Broadway and Pine.
This year, the Pride parade outgrew Broadway, but the neighborhood celebrates even more noisily than it did in the beginning. A violin-maker puts up a marquee in his parking lot, and it rains men. A revived park two blocks away is crowded with young families, old people, and live music that just shows up. A roving gang of Balkan dancers blows through now and then.
When things heat up on Saturday, we’ll get a fire going in the backyard and slow-smoke meat for next week over green apple sticks and rosemary. It won’t be the incense of the Sixties, but it’s what we were shooting for at the time.
-30- More after the jump.