Found Rant

"Shopping Cart" / © Neo Serafimidis 2009

Here’s a funny idea: what if took my ranty responses to stories and reader comments on albany.patch that I wrote and never posted, and instead posted them as out-of-any-context blog entries?

“Come on. I don’t believe for a freaking second we have a “unique 50’s street ambiance” on San Pablo. The “main street ambiance,” such as it is, is dingy and uninteresting–a retarded mess of new and old architecture, endless hair and nail salons, mediocre restaurants that last a few months, car repair shops, some old storefront buildings too small and moldy to hold a sustainable business of any kind, and a couple bars that we seem to be trying to drive out of business. And shockingly few actual pedestrians. From Livermore to Santa Rosa, other cities have much, much nicer and more vibrant “1950’s” main streets, including Solano. If you think this shit is special, I feel sorry for you. You need to get out of town more.

If one is so deluded about how precious Albany’s commercial street-scape is, I suppose it is easy to put down Bay Street as being a grotesquely inferior fake. I thought of it as corporate and fake too. But quite honestly, I was at Bay Street a couple times recently and had a realization. Each time, there was a band playing in the courtyard area, lots of people sitting around listening and enjoying the sun, eating ice cream or food, children running around playing, shoppers shopping. It was like a community of people congregated and enjoying the public square. Is it fake? What’s fake about it? IT WORKS.

And then we came home to Albany through the Solano-San Pablo intersection. There was a boarded up cafe on the corner, no one really hanging around except the angry homeless guy with the dog, a big ugly billboard peeling off, and a bunch of passing-through traffic. I had to admit to myself that the corporate fake was actually infinitely more attractive and functioning far better as a gathering place for people than anything in Albany. I’d trade a couple blocks of San Pablo for a couple blocks of Bay Street in a heartbeat. I’ll bet the City budget would, too.

Three years spent balancing quality of life with attracting development? What development has occurred? Another doomed restaurant went in next to Ivy Room? How many businesses have closed and not been replaced in that time?

I don’t blame the Adams/Kains neighbors one bit for opposing rezoning. I did too at the time. But if every proposal is successfully put down by those who don’t want it in their backyard, then we will have what we have now, family-oriented stagnation.”

Do I hold to all this? Maybe not all. But it does suggest a photo essay on Albany’s commercial street-scape. I’ll get right on that.

  • Your found rant idea is excellent. And as a former Albany resident I found this rant particularly spot-on. I look forward to your photo essay on the commercial street-scape.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for reading and the feedback! The more I think about it, the more I like the street-scape photo essay idea. I’m gonna start working on it.