Happy Birthday, America!

This moment on this South Side front yard perfectly editorializes my feelings about our country: deflated hopes and nostalgia for democracy.

It’s full steam ahead into Coporatocracy, with both Republicans and Democrats serving only the 1% by flagrantly ignoring indisputable evidence of criminal actions in the financial sector that now runs America into the ground. It makes me feel angry, hopeless, scared and sad. Every firecracker that goes off sounds like the American Dream blowing up in our faces.

But then in the course of 24-hours during this Independence weekend, 3 glimmers of hope emerged from the ever-present fireworks smoke that blankets my South Side neighborhood.

Bates & Ulena
Mr. Yummy’s has been quietly for sale for quite a while. Read more about it here. Over the past couple of weeks, folks have been scraping and painting and cleaning the interior, which was a good sign. And then this weekend, the signs above appeared on the building. Mr. Yummy’s (and they’ve kept the sign!) has been re-purposed as a drive-thru laundry service!

I love that they took a look at the layout of this building on its lot at a busy corner and saw a new way to use it without altering the basic fabric. I love that its a rather unique type of business for this area. Personally, I love that I won’t be able to forget to pick up my dry cleaning because there will be a visual reminder twice a day, every day!

Kingshighway & Eichelberger
Less than a mile away, this old gas station that became an American Legion Post is now becoming something else: an ice cream parlor & deli!

The new owners have been remodeling the inside for a 1950s feel, plan to have both indoor and outdoor seating, and be open for pickles and ice cream by the end of July. And much like Yummy’s, they’re making do with re-purposing a small building, but on an even busier intersection. No need to demolish something – let’s recycle. And it feels like the return of modesty as a virtue.

Bates & Grand
The 2 storefronts that were El Burrito Loco are in the final stretches of opening as a Turkish restaurant, which adds a great new note to the international symphony that this immediate area has become. It’s great that those storefronts were vacant for such a short period of time.

Actually, it’s great that all 3 of these buildings in my immediate neighborhood were vacant for a short period of time – that they were deemed desirable and usable by 3 sets of brave entrepreneurs willing to take a chance during this Not So Great Depression. Statistically, the odds are stacked against them. Then again, our entire economy has shifted, and maybe you need to be real tiny so the mega-corporations that run the country don’t even notice you. It’s like the sneaky, backdoor way of upholding the American Dream, and I am grateful for the presence – and timing – of these 3 new businesses that fully represent Independence. Happy 4th of July!

‘Bout Sums It Up

Bates & Ulena
South St. Louis, MO

Art imitates life on a storage shed in the parking lot of Mr. Yummy’s.

This is brand new graffiti that’s sprung up in my neighborhood. Typically, my neighbor’s deal with this in a quick manner by painting over it, so it probably won’t last long.

The Mr. Yummy’s proprietor has been on vacation for awhile, so this may be an editorial comment about the lack of his wares. Personally, it sums up how I was feeling while first laying eyes on it, which in turn made me smile… the transformative power of art.

It’s simple, expressive and uses no curse words. I give it an A!