Like all vibrant economic communities, Northampton is subject to periodic change according to the economic version of the Darwinian law of survival of the fittest. While I was away in rehab this new shop The Green Bean appeared. I haven't been there, and I'm not even sure what kind of food they serve, but it has to be better than the hot dog joint that preceded it. No wonder that went out of business, the service was lousy and the prices were outrageous!
Before the hot dog joint there was something at that location called The JavaNet Cybercafe. Here is a picture of it by E.H. Kramer.
The cyber-cafe was a concept that swept the Valley and the nation in the 1990's. The basic business model was that you would drink expensive coffee while you paid by the hour to surf the net on computers attached to the coffee tables. The cost to surf was sometimes as high as eight dollars per hour!
It was a business that exploited the scarcity of computer access in the early years of the internet revolution. But when people started to get personal computers and then portable ones and virtually everyone had internet access either at home or at work (or both) then who the hell was gonna pay eight dollars an hour to check their e-mail?
The shame is that aside from the computers the JavaNet Cybercafe was a great coffeehouse in its own right. It had a really nice atmosphere that was cozy and intellectual while the downstairs lounge was a hot gay pick-up spot. I'm sorry it went out of business and frankly I miss it.
JavaNet Cybercafe may be out of business but its website still exists - click here.
In the window near The Green Bean is this testimonial to the fact that Northampon is a good and caring community. (Click photo to enlarge)
One of the weird things about the Massachusetts bottle bill is that it doesn't include water or juice bottles. To its credit, Northampton has put up these special trash barrels to bring those containers into the recycling stream.
Like a ghostly vision from the past, this ancient hairdresser sign still faces modern passerby on Main Street. Nearly everyone fails to notice it.
Here is the former location of the infamous Rahars. For many years it was Northampton's Party Central.
In certain years I spent a lot of time there, and if I told you all that went down it would burn out the both of your ears.
This is the current Northampton PeterPan Bus Station.
Years ago it was located across the street where the big parking garage is now located. The bus station then was this little white shack where I was once stranded for hours during the blizzard of '78 while waiting for a bus to Springfield.
The building next door seems to have been made into expensive condos, but it was once a real dump of a dive where some of my friends and I lived in the '80's. It was during a time when we were getting into pharmaceuticals like Valium, quaaludes, darvons and codeine-based stuff and for a while we called ourselves The Drugstore Cowboys. My friend Chuck even drew a big cowboy hat on the board that covered one of the broken upstairs windows. It remained there for years and became something of a landmark even after my friends and I had moved on.
People used to wonder, "What on Earth is that drawing of a cowboy hat doing on that building?"
In Amherst on the UMass campus pond this sign warning of thin ice does not seem to alarm these wayward Cape Cod seagulls.
Everyday this week this giant crane has been putting stuff on the roof of the UMass Fine Arts Center. I have no idea what they're doing.
On my way to UMass this morning I passed this sign urging people to participate in a futile impeachment march.
Speaking of politics, isn't it exciting to see John McCain making a comeback! But let's not take these early contests too seriously. Remember, it is the final vote at the nominating conventions this summer that will determine the winner. This is where the delegate count for those conventions stand as of today, illustrating how early we are in the process:
Republican Delegates (1,191 needed to win nomination)
Rudy Giuliani 0
Mike Huckabee 31
Duncan Hunter 1
John McCain 7
Ron Paul 0
Mitt Romney 29
Fred Thompson 3
Democratic Delegates (2,026 needed to win nomination)
Hillary Clinton 24
John Edwards 18
Mike Gravel 0
Dennis Kucinich 0
Barack Obama 25
Bill Richardson 0
The Quebec piece by Ben Duffy (above right with writer David Horowitz) has received some unexpected amount of attention, including a link from the Wall Street Journal. Read all about it by clicking here.
People send me the damnedest stuff. Fearful that I may go looking for love in internet chat rooms, someone sends these words of caution, which homophobes won't find funny. (click picture to enlarge). Another person sent a poem.
I love the laundromat.
Just a jury of washing
machines and dryers
and I love them because
theyre never crude
for a lifetime friendship
The washing machines
have no need to attend
A.A. meetings because
those angels have been
sober all their lives
austere and dignified
They never stumble
in the door late at
night and make everyone
I choose to worship
and pray with them
and no others.
Finally, a stupid but funny battle of wits.