Thursday, October 2, 2008

Horse of a Different Crater

This has been a week of implosions. Had my car window smashed in on Saturday; saw the deepest lake in the country; learned of the collapse of a business that was my home and my family for many years, if not my whole life; and now I get to hear the national marketplace squeak and slither to a halt on the TV that blares constantly from the living room while I am in the kitchen experimenting with glutinous rice balls wrapped around sweet bean paste; they look like fried eggs from a charred chicken.

It's a lake that fills the carcass of the volcano called Mount Mazana, and it's so deep you could stack the Sears tower twice at its deepest point and, because of the water displaced, it probably would not stick above the surface. The water is, indeed, bluer and clearer than the sky, which happened to be quite hazy from forest fires burning a few miles off. Liz and I met Tony there on Sunday. The story of how we got there is exciting: My passenger window was smashed in sometime Friday night/Saturday morning, and we temporarily cancelled the trip because nobody could replace the window on Saturday. Oh, and nothing was stolen. So my housemate Trey suggested I go to the junkyard and pull a window; we first opened up the door's guts and extracted the bits and chunks, figured out how it all works. The junk yard happened to have the exact window I needed sitting on their shelves, so for $50 I got a new window and put it in myself (total savings: $110). So we uncancelled our trip to Crater Lake, which was fortuitous becuase Sunday night was the last night the campsites were open for the rest of the season. What luck!

It was a good trip; two good hikes, good beer, great jam around the campfire. Yep. So we got back on Monday. The beer seemed to have stopped fermenting after transfer to the secondary, but it had actually lowered four points gravity (a good thing; means alcohol is being produced) and tastes like... well, to put it mildly, it's DAMN HOPPY. I mean geez.

I can't say that it was a big surprise to hear of Olsson's closing. That said, I was in shock for most of yesterday after receiving links to the two Washington Post articles that gave brief praise and condolences to the passing of a former D.C. icon. So it went; the way of the Pony Express. You can't put wheels and an engine on a horse, and you can't make digital that which relies on physical space and material to exist; that is the Achilles heel of book and record stores that still rely on expensive retail space and an ambulatory customer base. And what could have been done? To compete with Amazon and iTunes is like... well, you understand all that. Monolith.

For Olsson's to not last through the spending season, though, seems to me a harbinger, a real live harbinger. This spending season will probably be deflated by media attention to the stumbling drunk economy and the "black guy or white woman" question (why it's even a question is beyond me; that person, that human being named Sarah Palin is an idiot, while that other human being named Barack Obama can form many complex sentences without tripping over his tongue). My expert prognosis is "not good," possibly "hunker down" in regards to the coming months as we watch Capitol Hill: The Reality Show Where Everybody Loses When One Person Fucks Up on TV.

As a person with EDS (Employment Deficiency Syndrome), I am sarcastically enthusiastic, gleeful to have moved to a place where jobs were already scarce and at a time when my interest lies in an area (making things out of wood, primarily) that requires oodles of money to start up. That's my whine.

I would like to say, to have said, "I have the perfect solution! This bookstore will no longer flounder at the whim of dispassionate corpo-nazis!" And to have had a new direction, some old-world method pulled out of an attic that would actually freshen the business, would force people to get off of the internet and walk, actually walk with their feet and legs and swinging arms, blinking eyes, sweating foreheads, into the store that they know is the best because it's been around longer than any other, because they know a bunch of people who worked there and see them on the street and at concerts, or who met their lovers there, or because it smells like paper acid dust that turns the music in the air into a blanket that feels so good you just have to bring the music home. Isn't that how it's supposed to be? The answer is "YES."

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