In every place I’ve lived there has been a street in a small town nearby that seems stuck in the fifties. Usually called something simple like Main St or Maple Ave, the architecture is grey and a little dingy, there’s usually a barber-shop or a shoe repair place, sometimes a newspaper box on the street corner. Even the glass and cement are old. What is it with these places? On the east coast, or maybe just in smaller cities, these streets are less desolate and ominous and non-descript than the ones here in LA. I think people fit in better, the pace is a little slower, there doesn’t seem to be a sort of glaring imbalance. But here, these streets always make me feel uneasy, and my interior battle between wanting to fit in and hoping to stand out goes into a tailspin. I’ll need to buy a button or find an old pharmacy that sells Borax and end up on Eldridge Ave or 2nd Street. I’ll park my car in between a Bonneville and white rusted van, I’ll put nickles and dimes in the meter, and walk into a shop that has a bell on the door. Of course no one’s in the place but some guy with thinning greasy hair that has comb-tooth marks; he wouldn’t look out of place at a gas station or a mortuary, and in fact it would surprise me less to see a dead body slumped in one of the aisles than to see him tweeting on an iphone.
I remember going to these same streets with my grandmother when I was little. She would get her hair done every Friday and while she baked her head under a dryer, I used to go to this store called Mapes that sold mops, hulahoops, head and shoulders shampoo and penny candy. I loved that place.