Thursday, September 04, 2008

Rage Against the (Wine) Machine

For years here in Venice, we've had a disappointing mini-mall at the corner of Rose and Lincoln Avenues. Lincoln is the big north/south thoroughfare that is officially Highway 1 in places, Rose is one of Venice's main streets that goes west to the beach.

Years ago, we had an actual supermarket there, along with a drug store. The supermarket went under and a succession of discount stores followed: Pic 'N Saves and Big Lots and 99 Cents. As a shopping destination, it was a great place to buy crack. I will never forget the very sad encounter I had with a young woman in that parking lot, when I first moved up here. Actually, I don't remember most of the conversation, just how sad she was, how desperate, living in her car, addicted, abused. I was young myself, and naive, and sort of stunned by the drama of it all - I hadn't had that many encounters with homeless crack addicts up till then.

A few years in Venice, and that became pretty mundane.

Well, crack addicts and people living in their cars will have to find a new place to hang out, because Whole Foods is here, on Lincoln and Rose. With Taqueria, Wine Bar, gelato counter, and "Community Artisans Corner."

Wait, stop. Did you say, "Wine Bar"?

Why yes, I did!

In the middle of this huge yupscale market - and it is huge, taking over what used to be two full store spaces - is a little counter with bar stools and artisanal cheese plates, where you can sit and sip wine from an Enomatic wine dispenser and eat "tapas." And have political discussions, about Obama and Sarah Palin. Which strikes me as deeply ironic on a level that I can't even begin to articulate.

Well, you know, Venice has been gentrifying for years. I used to say that I gentrified along with it, working my way up from being a salesclerk to the exalted position of Mid-Level Film Studio Bureaucrat Shack-By-the-Sea Homeowner. Now that I'm unemployed, I'm not sure where I stand in the scale of yuppie striver/homeless crack addict. I do know that I will be doing some shopping at Whole Foods, after I get my little old lady wheeled cart so I never have to drive my car there and compete with the hordes of Prius for parking. Or would that be "Priuii"? They've got some good food, good deals, and hey, that taqueria is really tempting.

But I will continue to buy my wine at Lincoln Fine Wines, whose prices and selections are much superior.

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