Monday, May 28, 2007

Let's Do the Time Warp

42nd Street Station
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Rumor has it that a giant corporate-ass Whole Foods is going to be built in Portland’s Hollywood District. And if that happens, I fear it will be the death knell for the strange bedfellows that inhabit Hollywood’s 42nd Street Station, my favorite time-warpy, throwbacky place in Portland. Where else can you do one-stop shopping for a hearing aid, a single Bic pen, curly-toe slippers from the Himalayas, a $15.99 perm, and a pint of Mirror Pond Pale Ale?

Aunt Tillie

Aunt Tillie stands cheerfully out front in all weathers, occasionally being bopped in the head by one of her Mylar balloons. It is her job to inform all passersby of the daily half-sandwich special. Note: There are never any whole sandwich specials—who can eat that much?

Upon entering 42nd Street Station, I always try to dissect its peculiar smell. Key components include dustiness and mustiness (courtesy of the antique stalls in the basement); nag champa and patchouli (courtesy of Himalayan Gifts and Candies' full range of joss sticks); and egg salad (courtesy of Aunt Tillie’s Deli, although this component depends on the daily half-sandwich rotation).

I usually make a beeline for the old-timey post office in 42nd Street Station. (I have little need of $15.99 perms, but I do have need of postage stamps.) It’s not a real post office but some sort of franchise post office. There’s a few post officey things that you can’t do at the 42nd Street Station (like send packages to APO addresses), but most of the time it suits my needs, and it is quite a bit less harrowing than visiting one of the bona fide post offices. Although never ever never ever ever go there in December or you will die while waiting in line.

Waiting in line at other times of the year, however, is not such a bad thing, because it gives you time to peruse the fascinating merchandise they have for sale. They’re all things I might have found in the drawer of my grandfather’s desk—things like moistening pads and moistening bottles (so that you don’t have to wear out your tongue licking envelopes) and an insane variety of sticky labels including the rare and coveted permanent reinforcement labels (in four different colors!). I believe they also sell mucilage.

But by far the best thing about the not-quite-real post office is its selection of greeting cards. What normal post office has greeting cards? None of them! And even if they did, would they have greeting cards that have been sitting in the racks since the Nixon Administration? I think not!

Seventies Dude

I'm Fabulous and I Wear Purple Eyeshadow

Mr. Right with Malibu Tan

The last one is my absolute favorite! The guy has been closeted in a tanning booth since the Summer of Love, wouldn’t you say? The inside of the card reads: “From Your Mrs. Always Right.” Cheesy! And how about that sparkle glinting off of his teeth?

I’m not sure if Whole Foods is really coming to Hollywood. I hope not. We don’t need Whole Foods anywhere in Portland (even though it’s been foisted upon us in the Pearl District, for example). We have New Seasons, a locally owned natural/gourmet foods market that beats the shiitake out of Whole Foods. And we certainly don’t need a Whole Foods in Hollywood of all places. Developers are putting the finishing touches on the enlarged Trader Joe’s in Hollywood, and I think that’s more than sufficient. But I fear, I fear. If Whole Foods goes in, Aunt Tillie and the other businesses in the Station will be out on their arses. At least I took some pictures before it’s too late.

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