The wife and I had some old friends over for dinner the other night who now live out of state, and the conversation quickly turned -- as it frequently does in our house -- to the physical erosion of culture (for lack of a better description) caused by the jackbooted march of technology. By this, of course, I'm talking about how the alluring ease and accessibility of purchasing goods and services on the internet has virtually wiped clean the chances of long-term survival for independent, brick n' mortar mom n' pop establishments that sell stuff like, say, music and literature. In other words, record & disc shops and bookstores are all going bye-bye.
The predictable retorts about the "brilliant user-friendliness" of Kindles and the convenience (the dreaded "c" word) of Amazon ensued, but I'm far too stubborn and pig-headed to cop to those arguments. It probably sounds ridiculous, but I still feel pointedly guilty anytime I order something from friggin' Amazon, and usually only resort to that after I've vainly combed the city's comparatively dwindling network of stores for whatever item it is I'm searching for and come up (predictably) empty-handed.
Anyway, blah blah blah, moan moan moan, gripe gripe gripe. To drive my point home, I started citing a laundry list of formerly beloved book and record shops that have since gone the way of the wooly mammoth. The Pageant Book & Print Shop, formerly at 109 East 9th Street, was near the top of my list, which reminded me that I'd "favorited" the shot below on Flickr by one Kccnola. Ideally, they won't mind me re-producing that photograph below.
A longtime neighborhood fixture (when the neighborhood had more bookstores than banks, coffee shops and pharmaceutical chains), Pageant was a lovely shop, staffed by intimidatingly literate albeit entirely friendly folks. I believe it made the odd cameo in a Woody Allen flick or two. In any event, the shop shuttered in 1994 and was replaced a couple of years later, if memory serves, by a bar who kept the name Pageant. That decision must have been bad karma, as the venture flopped. Sometime in the early 2000's, I want to say, the place re-opened as The Central Bar, a perfectly decent -- if strikingly indistinctive -- Irish Bar choked to the rafters with widescreen televisions that play sports at you around the clock. I've certainly put away a few pints there in my day, but it's never my first choice.
Anyway, here's my inevitable Then & Now entry...
The Pageant Book & Print Shop at 109 East 9th Street circa the early 1990s (courtesy of Kccnola)
The Central Bar at 109 East 9th Street in 2012.