Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Urban Sprawl

The tragically hip are creeping out of Asheville. Slowly. Incipiently. Almost so you wouldn’t notice them, but they’re creeping out, and they’re coming this way. Marshall is downright happening. A typical evening can include African drumming, improvisational dance or perhaps a foreign film. Espresso is available. Art and politics are favorite topics of conversation. Industrial buildings are being turned into creative spaces. Yes, that’s right. There’s renovation. The New York Times is not yet available, as far as I know, so hip denizens must content themselves by tucking a token Mountain Xpress under one arm.
This was all unbeknownst to me until a few short days ago when I found myself in a very happening club in Asheville listening to a punk band covering Johnny Cash. I found that being from (sort of) near Marshall carried with it a certain cache, which I was quick to exploit. I immediately began to speak of things that I thought of as being in, like beheadings and the Oscars. I dropped names. I made it clear that I am, in fact, known as something of a boulevardier in Marshall, and am frequently seen with croissant in hand, speaking of art and politics. That quickly won me an invitation to a bar off Hilliard, a back alley sort of place that was packed in the wee small hours.
The place troubled me, though the ale flowed freely and the conversation was lively. Then it dawned on me, though it was still many hours before dawn. I was bending elbows in an unmistakenly hip place. The back alley anonymity of the location made it the place to be, and I realized I was surrounded by people who were in that bar so that they could be in that bar. Some of them had even been lucky enough to recommend the place to uninformed friends. We talked of art and politics.
This sort of garbage is fun in Ashevegas, because, well, it’s supposed to happen in Ashevegas. It’s a bit troubling as it encroaches Marshall, but it appears to be too late. One wonders at the fate of Hot Water. I’ve always felt it to have a sort of low rent granola feel to it, but that seems to be on the way out. Money is coming in, and the money isn’t hip. The money builds overbearing bed & breakfasts and prissy Mediterranean restaurants and whatever monstrosity the Ponder Building is turning into. Not a gallery in the whole town, and loft space isn’t sought after. Even the bikers are rich scumbags.
They’re not like the bikers I used to know in Colorado Springs, another incurably hip place where I used to hang out. The bikers there would stomp the shit out of you if you looked at them the wrong way. They’d hang out in pool halls over west of the Burlington tracks, and we’d hear ‘em late at night, unwinding the Harleys and roaring up the road to Manitou. They left me alone after a while. They knew I camped near the tracks and went out to Garden of the Gods when the labor office was closed. I got to be friends with one called Buzz. I’d see him in Poor Richard’s. That was a bookstore/bakery. We’d eat strawberry shortcake and make fun of all the hip people on the sidewalks. He was cool. He introduced me to Andre Gide, buying me a used copy of The Vatican Cellars for like fifty cents. I was young and impressionable, and that was the start of my education. It enabled me to talk about art and politics.

2 Comments:

  • At March 06, 2005 3:27 PM, Blogger amy said…

    this is exactly why i am moving next door to you (well, that, and some great land happened to go up for sale there). i don't know what's to become of hot water, but it's not looking hopeful. marshall
    is a little too hip for its own good...i predict spring creek will be where the real hipsters are to be found. obviously.

     
  • At March 07, 2005 10:18 PM, Blogger spiral said…

    Interesting . . . Marshall as the new "it" town. It makes me tired to think of the people who will circle there from the other Circuit o' Hip cities. It also makes me think it will be harder to enjoy a good carnival there, as carnivals aren't very hip. Ah, well. Try where I live; no one's ever likely to call it hip--it's a bit too rust belt urban and, um, midwest, for that. There's some good organic farmin' round here, too, I hear. :.)

     

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