A microcosm of my neighborhood

July 22, 2010


It would be easy to answer the question ???what do you use every day???? with the obvious answer of ???eyeglasses??? or ???computer??? or ???toilet.??? But a more un-obvious answer is this crosswalk at Cedar Avenue and what would be 5th Street if 5th Street went all the way through. And on either side of the crossing are bars that represent the diversity of the neighborhood.

You will recall from my post a couple of days ago I mentioned that the majority in the neighborhood is African immigrants. There are also some southeast Asians. But in this case by diversity, I???m talking about the white Americans in the area, which borders two different university campuses. We whites range from 20-something college students to aging nuts-and-love hippies. I fall in the middle of that spectrum. I spent many years in college but I am no longer 20-something or even close to it, and neither my parents nor I were ever hippies, though I do remember making daisy crowns as a child.

In the morning when I use the crosswalk, I get a minute or two to study the hippy and drunk neighborhood institution, Palmer???s Bar. Palmer???s is referred to, at times even lovingly, as a dive. I???ve never actually been inside. When I pass it in the morning on my way to work, I do occasionally see people making a beeline for the door. Whether they are employees or patrons, I couldn???t say, other than to note that I never seem to same people twice. Other than that one woman. But she did not appear to be on her way to work.

In the afternoon, I pass by Nomad World Pub. This place I have spent a few dollars in. They have a good beer list and, as I now recall, this is where I first saw Romantica, as they were the band-in-residence for a few Thursdays a couple of summers ago. This is where the college kids hang out and play bocci ball. This is the bar that hired in a giant screen tv to their parking lot for the important (read: USA and finals) World Cup matches. On summer nights when I have my windows open, I am quite able to hear the live music, because they leave their back door open. Also, they use to have an animated rabbit graphic on their web page. Unlike Palmer???s, I often see the same man hanging around the Nomad and I take him to be the owner.

Recently, the crosswalk was upgraded. It always had the lights and the button to trigger the right-of-way. But now it speaks. It says, ???Wait ??? ??? ??? wait ??? ??? ??? wait ??? ??? ?????? When you push the button for the walk light???which seems like it takes FOREVER to change???it then says in a reassuring male voice, ???Cedar Avenue. Walk light is on to cross . . . . . Cedar Avenue. Walk light is on to cross . . . . . ?????

Unless it is before 8:30am when traffic is heavier, I don???t usually push the button, I just jaywalk, or jaybike as it were. In the afternoon I???m on the side of the road I need, so I don???t use the right-of way (the Nomad-looking photo of the crossing was staged, I confess), though I do use the wheelchair ramp to the sidewalk, being on wheels myself. About?? half the time I have to excuse a pedestrian out of my way.

Yep, you never knew a crosswalk could be so interesting, did you?

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