San Pab Diaries: Borderlands and liquor stores
on March 10, 2009
The other day I was rollin up San Pab from the Goodwill through the southwestern Berks-Eville border. I’d been looking for some workout pants now that I’m on a piyo (pilates yoga) kick, proof again that the East Bay hippie is seepin into my bloodstream. (Didn’t find the pants, did find a night light.) And speaking of hippies, most people who don’t know Berks –includin myself before I roamed West– hear the name and prolly some mental image pops up of an unsanitary, granola eatin, anti-war tree hugger, right?
What most folks don’t know is that Berkeley is a red hot comal of yummy contradictions. And just like happens with countries, the best place to spot contradictions is in the borderlands. In the Mexico-US border, it’s TJ whorehouses and maquiladoras, corrupt government agents and noble human traffickers, an electrified razor wire armored fence that disappears into the ocean.
On San Pab, it’s the liquor stores.
Yes folks, the trademark institution that is the neighborhood liquor store, which, for some reason, seems to require a very high concentration of black and brown in order to survive. Why is this? Do liquor stores get tax incentives to invest in communities of color? Why don’t supermarkets? Do white folks simply not drink malt liquor or eat stale powdered donuts or know what to do with a Philly? Why is it harder to find healthy food in this little edge of hippie haven? I had a Dominican friend in NYC who was convinced that the CIA laced Goya beans with some kinda slow-killing poison to kill off all the dominicans and boricuas so the US could recolonize the caribe. Far-fetched, but I think he was onto something.
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