Thursday, July 07, 2011

The space between buildings

So I’m walking down Broadway from downtown – not exactly sure what I’m looking for, except I know there are some gay bars around here somewhere but I’m not looking for gay bars, am I? I mean I guess I’m looking for gay people, some kind of neighborhood, just to see, but Broadway seems pretty abandoned. There are the first two gay bars – they look abandoned too. I wonder if that’s the old LGBT Center across the street – I mean it says The Center, which could mean anything, but I know the other one is new so maybe this is the previous gay neighborhood, and I wonder if anyone maps these changes across the country, the way one neighborhood starts as the gay neighborhood, but then another takes over, and sometimes both coexist so that one is more down-and-out and the other more gentrified, like with the Tenderloin and the Castro in San Francisco, or sometimes there is a leather-specific neighborhood like South of Market or whatever, but at the moment I’m just walking down Broadway, past some condoish building, what’s that doing there?

But I have to stop here for a moment – not on Broadway, but with the writing, because I need to talk about this headache, on the sides of my temples, where is it coming from? And why am I so exhausted all of a sudden – I guess I woke up too early, started getting wired before I ate of course, delusional ideas of all sorts of things I wanted to do while I’m in Denver, people to meet, maybe plan a reading. Then I went outside, and crashed. But now I’m crashing below that crash, I guess, headache in my sinuses too now, so I’ll have to take a break from writing about Broadway I guess. Does every city have a Broadway?

No, I sort of still feel like writing. So this Broadway is crazy – there’s nothing around except tons of cars, empty parking lots, fast food restaurants, maybe a car repair shop or two, but then all of a sudden there are these enormous condos. I mean enormous—30 stories or something, with maybe 10 stories of parking at the bottom. It doesn’t make any sense, because there’s nothing else around – I guess these people drive there, and drive away, but what is the appeal exactly? You’re close to downtown, but it’s not like these people are walking anywhere around here – I mean these condos are posh, one of them is aiming for the French château style and they’ve even managed to tarnish the roofs, metal turning green. I guess you get a view, but really – this is insane.

Now I’m crossing something like a highway – not sure why I keep walking, except I guess I’m still looking for a gay neighborhood or something, more bars down low on Broadway and some guy’s walking his dog, I say hi – do you have anything, he says? No thanks, I say, before I realize he’s looking not selling. He says anything?

It’s funny how this type of white guy looks the same as the uber-white types around town from the distance, but then you get up close and his face is all need and hopelessness, the kind of whiteness that only fails to mask failure. I’m getting tired – I mean you already know I’m tired while writing this, but I’m tired on Broadway too, although I keep walking anyway and wait, what’s that up ahead – if the Mayan Theater—one of those Landmark theaters so it’s nothing to get excited about, but I figure it means there will be something else around, right? Did I already pass the enormous porn theater—Kittie’s South, even bigger than Kittie’s East over on Colfax, if I had more energy maybe I would investigate the differences, or just investigate, but for now I’m investigating Broadway.

Okay, now there are stores – a lot of used bookstores actually, all closed because it’s almost 9. Two branches of The Crypt for some reason, not sure what the difference is exactly. A Pride Resource store modeling rainbow flags on mannequins. There are the gay bars, but I’m not curious enough to go inside. The only people around are the ones in this ice cream store – actually it’s packed with young affluent straight couples licking ice cream cones, just who are looking for. Okay, now I’m at the end of the commercial strip – I guess I succeeded at my goal, sort of, so I’ll ask this person if he knows which way I go to get the bus back, okay that way.

So then I’m sitting on the corner of Lincoln and Alameda, what an ugly intersection, waiting with the usual people for the bus. This old white guy starts yelling about all the fat women he saw on the bus on July 4, and this drunk Native guy tells him he likes fat women, fat women are happy, and then they go back and forth about this for a while, getting more and more graphic until finally the bus arrives and I realize I miss my beautiful walks in Santa Fe. All I get here is urban blight, pollution, tourists, and condos – and yes it’s interesting in a way but my feet hurt from all this asphalt.

Did I mention that I was wondering how much people pay for these hideous condos, and then I saw a sign saying starting in the 500s. What? In Denver! Another sign starting in the 300s, and later a few in the 200s, but still. On the bus we drive right in front of the French château, so I can see what’s on this side too: Spicy Pickle Sub Shop. Somehow I’m pretty sure that predates the condos.

New day, new walk: this time I’m back on Colfax, because now I have a tip about 17th Street. The tip was really about a hair salon and I’m going there tomorrow, but when I asked where the salon was, Israel said it’s in Uptown. Uptown – where’s that? On 17th Street where those bourgie gay bars are – JR’s and Hamburger Mary’s – and I did see that JR’s and Hamburger Mary’s were on the list in the gay paper, but I didn’t think much of it – who knew that those were the bourgie gay bars? I mean I didn’t know.

But now my investigation continues – it’s drizzling out, and I love it. I also love the grass on the curb, something besides asphalt and cement to walk on, right? Okay, so turning this direction off Colfax, north instead of south like the other time the houses get fancy too—these ones are Victorian, and super-renovated, could be a sign of the gays, right, or some kind of dramatic gentrification, anyway. First thing I see on 17th Street in some kind of hip children’s boutique, not a good sign, but the buildings are interesting to look at and it kind of looks like if you just walk a few more blocks in either direction it’s back to urban blight, can’t see for sure but anyway I turn down 17th, oh it’s really bourgie, the bourgiest place I’ve seen in Denver actually, some straight couple walked by, tall overly tan woman with bleached and straightened hair who says I love this neighborhood, there’s a restaurant on every corner, and she’s right – there is a restaurant on every corner. Some of them are all done up in contemporary urban dining chic like LA or something, and of course there are more condos, which here seem even weirder because the buildings that were there before must have been kind of gorgeous, but they tore them all down.

Okay, there’s JR’s – lots of people sitting outside, but they’re all straight – maybe that one guy is gay, I can’t tell. There’s Hamburger Mary’s across the street, it’s a whole complex – there are gay people eating there, and an older straight couple, none of them bourgie but it’s early. I mean not early for dinner, but early for the bar. There’s the most over-the-top trendy restaurant – mostly straight yuppies outside, but also some understated high-fashion gays at two different tables who all look over at me in that snotty but slightly curious way that somehow feels comforting, is that what I was looking for? I can’t explain it at all, but somehow I feel validated – what on earth? I’ll have to think about that more, but here’s the Wrangler, two guys are actually kissing outside, and I forgot about the young couple with black-rimmed fashion glasses from earlier, maybe not a couple just friends in front of another restaurant, they were cute in a silly way, and here’s downtown again – oh, before I was wondering where the hill was in Capitol Hill because it totally seems flat to me, but now I see there is maybe like a 4-degree grade for a block as you head into downtown and it’s that time of day just after sunset when even these buildings look gorgeous. Or at least the space between buildings.


chamblee54 said...

Atlanta does not have a Broadway. Maybe a developer will build one for us.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Chamblee, oh my -- this is our chance, our ticket to the big time -- we must build a Broadway in Atlanta! Start spreading the news...

Love --