Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand
Every now and then I think about Charlotte, NC. It’s been a while since I’ve been there. For a couple years, it seemed like the edge of the world.
Today, specifically, I thought about the arts district. I used to go there with an ex-girlfriend. And sometimes I’d check out shows at the open mic my friend hosts. I’m sure it’s changed, but nine years ago it seemed like a place that was always a few feet ahead of itself. The people there were moving in all different directions, not stopping to figure out where they were going.
I thought: ‘This is how I want to be.’
But I look back and just see gentrification.
Progress happens faster than it used to. The speed of building, moving, renovating is a thousand times what it was. Generations get to see the world change around them in ways much of human history wasn’t used to. It’s modern, it’s progress, but it’s rather disorienting.
The flip-side of progress is what gets pushed out of its way. You build a place up until it’s booming, until the people who used to struggle there can’t afford to stay. Where do they go? What margins do they get pushed to? Homelessness is rampant in America, but even if you have a home, it’s likely you live in one of many faceless, forgotten communities, waiting for the next round of renovation to kick you further down the road.
Nowadays, I can’t look at pretty places without wondering who had to move on to make them happen. It’s sucked a bit of color from the world, but put some back in my soul.
Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
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Bennie’s corner of Brooklyn looked different every time Sierra passed through it. She stopped at the corner of Washington Avenue and St. John’s Place to take in the changing scenery. A half block from where she stood, she’d skinned her knee playing hopscotch while juiced up on iceys and sugar drinks. Bennie’s brother, Vincent, had been killed by the cops on the adjacent corner, just a few steps from his own front door. Now her best friend’s neighborhood felt like another planet. The place Sierra and Bennie used to get their hair done had turned into a fancy bakery of some kind, and yes, the coffee was good, but you couldn’t get a cup for less than three dollars.Danile Jose Older, Shadowshaper