July 28, 2009
Listen, if you think Le Faubourg’s lookin’ good, you can just skip this story, ‘cause you’re fucked.
It is fucked.
I’m an open-minded guy, but this is one subject I don’t care to discuss.
It’s the Green Monster of retail, alright?
And we both know it didn’t have to be this way.
Yeah. Sure. It had problems from the start. Pre-fab old world markets always do. At the height of its grandeur, the first European word it conjured was ersatz. But at least where there’s imitation, there’s something flattering going on. Ces jours-ci, Le Faubourg is an oppressive slab of nothing.
So who took out the contract on its sliver of life? Can’t The Man even be trusted to take the Eurotrash in? Someone stumbled onto a good thing there. Why’d they have to trip it up?
I can’t answer these questions. I’m not an intrepid reporter or a real estate pundit. I’ve just spent a lot of time in the food court, whenever the escalators are working. I’m sitting there now—next to the Bangkok—with a plate of Phad Thai and a sightline congestion headache.
I turn to my fellow consumers for relief. I counted five of them on my way to the restaurant. I can’t see them now, of course, but I’ve learned to store up these nutrients like a dromedary of the imagination. Every visit to Le Faubourg is a leap into the backwash of life, shod with concrete galoshes. Somewhere behind these Cask of Amontillado renovations, the good times are screaming. I’ve done enough searching for mine. These days, I’m more partial to the rest of the choir.
There’s a middle-aged lady near the tea shop that I see here a lot. She’s just the type to wax nostalgic over carpet stores past. There was a good one on that bizarre mezzanine, back in 1994. An old classmate of mine used to own it. Cedric. Twenty years old and rolling in fabric. Meeting him there had been quite a surprise. He’d spent most of his teen years in rehab. Then fate pulled those rugs out from under him. This was long before the work crews invaded. Businesses did fail even then. In the end, Cedric gave smack another shot. He’ll write a memoir someday, you’ll see—Needles and Threads. It’ll help a lot of folks to make sense of their lives. Upon finishing it, the tea lady will glance up at her Punjabi tapestry and smile.
There’s a studious-looking man diggin’ in, on the building’s western front. This guy—I know—has got serious problems: back when there were bins full of candy at the heart of the market, he threw himself at me in the kosher gummi aisle. I had been reaching for the worms—and there weren’t many left. He made a decision and snapped. There was room to run in those days, and I got trampled but good. That kind of thing could never happen now. The store’s been swept into a dusty corner of ground zero, and half the time there’s a tarp over its face. Who wants gummies under those conditions? Certainly not my friend, sitting there with his books and a few tins of Dollarama canned meat.
There’s a twelvish-looking girl doing things with her cell phone at the Nutri-Pasta counter. No way is she old enough to linger here long. My guess is: she’s already pushed on to some less pathetic destination, like a hospital cafeteria. She won’t be back—unless she sparks up a career documenting ennui, some day.
There’s a couple laughing together by that weird shafted elevator. It’s a Miramax romcom tableau. The kind they showed in the sous-sol, before Sharx took it over. A charmed detour—that little theatre—on the road between monarchist venues and cinemausoleums. Now it’s swimmin’ with the neons.