The Hard Times Gentry

The Hard Times Cafe on Riverside Avenue has long been my favorite place to observe TC's diversity. I'm there the other day and for some reason I start talking to the barkeep/barista(o) guy behind the coffee bar. He's always there and I usually stick to my $1 (it's french press) coffee purchasing script but yesterday I asked him how he was doing and he opened up --

"I'm getting outa here. This neighborhood is getting ruined by those people."

At that he pointed in the general direction of these three people sitting at a table near me. He started talking about the city council's plan for security cameras, and the new condo going up somewhere nearby. He was pretty worked up about it, and you could tell that something had pushed him

"Those people," I asked, incredulous at the thought that he meant the three people sitting right there in the HTC, gathered around a table strewn with notebooks.

"Yeah, those people right there?"

"Do you still give them coffee?"

"Yeah, man. I just don't like their opinion."

So I took their picture.

For my two sense, I think the West Bank is being ruined by the two ajacently encroaching Universities more than anything else. There just isn't a lot left of the old counter-cultural punk beatnik scene left on the West Bank, probably becasue a lot of rental housing has been torn down and replaced with dorms, condos and a Chipolte. In fact, I'm told (though I find this hard to believe) that Augsburg is putting in a new dorm that will have a Barnes & Noble in the first floor retail space.

Just for nostaligia's sake, here's the Wikipedia article on the West Bank.

Later that day, I was biking past the Skyscape condo going up in Eliot Park and I saw a group of yuppies being led on a tour of some of the demonstration condos. A shaved-head construction-type guy in a white T-shirt was leading this group of a dozen or so couples in various types of suit. These are the kind of people that were living in the suburbs ten years ago. Now they're shopping for space in Eliot Park, one of the most rought & tumble neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

In the end, the HTC barkeep will probably leave, and the times at the HArd Times will get a little softer. But that doesn't mean the bohemian scene will dissapear... it'll probably just move a few miles away. Meanwhile, the downtown will be filling up with well-dressed taxpayers.


Jesse said...

To bring together your Art observation with the Hard Times comment . . .

Several years ago, two friends and I saw a man enter the Hard Times hesitantly. Then, standing a few feet from our table, he took out a small handful of pennies from his pocket and proceeded to swallow them.

I often wrote this off as impossible, though my friends also could recall it. Then, in 2004 I read this story:


Anonymous said...

I was once standing waiting for the bus in the Hard Times entryway. This was in about 1993. I started chatting with a nice ethiopian man. He was very well educated, funny, spoke great english.

Then another ethiopian man walked past us, leaving the cafe. When he saw my companion, he began to run in fear. The man I'd been chatting with chased him out into the street and began roundkicking him in the leg. They ran off, my erstwhile chatting friend kicking the other guy.

I saw him later. I asked him what the deal was. "Oh, just trouble from the old country," he said, and walked into the cafe.

Adelynn said...

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brian said...

let me clarify the three people pictured are part of the neighborhood group that voted unanimously, minus one (me), to put cameras that beam to the top of one of the towers and then down to the police substation downtown. they are up on cedar and on riverside.(now they are talking about putting lots more) at the time i said it's only going to push crime back into the residental part of the neighborhood. this year there have been three murders in the west bank. none of them were on them were caught on the $250,000's worth of cameras in the neighborhood. One happened behind my old apartment and one happened in front of the house next door to the house i lived in before that. I was being a little over dramatic about leaving. the hardtimes will be there for a long long time

by the way the augsburg student housing, complete with a small barnes and noble is open but the condo project behind the towers hasn't even broke ground and with economic hard times probably won't any time soon.