Thursday, May 24, 2007

Please Pack Up Your Rainbow Flags....

I was away recently for a couple of weeks but when I returned, I immediately asked my sources on the street and perused the South End News to see what I had missed while I was away. It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of what appears to be the very LAST gay-themed business in the South End, The Movie Place. Now the very special residents of Atelier 450 (almost one-half of whom are able to actually pronounce the name of their residence) will no longer be forced to look out (with or without binoculars) over this antithesis to "family values."

The owner, lending an air of credence to this very blog, stated that they were leaving "because the neighborhood has changed..[i]f you go up and down Tremont Street, you'll find very few businesses that are catering to a gay clientele...[t]here's really nothing left except the Eagle." He added that the primary demographic had changed to "suburban transplants" and "young couples with children." Rumors are flying that an interior design firm will be taking over the space (presumably offering "Crate and Barrel looks at Versailles prices").

Alarmingly, he also remarked that he had heard through the grapevine that some neighbors were not pleased with the business. I had witnessed that first-hand one evening, when I saw two suburban couples, sweaters tied around the necks of the men, stop and pause in front of the window of the Movie Place, presumably while they waited for a table at one of the neighborhood's more insipid dining establishments. They shook their heads in disbelief and disgust at the magazine covers bearing photos of shirtless (not pantsless) men. I would imagine that Biff and Muffy had quite alot to discuss on the way back to Wellesley!!

Its just plain sad that some people want this neighborhood to be whitewashed into a homogenous (yet homo-free) image of suburbia, just like where they came from. Having spent a large portion of my life in the New York City area, I remember when people were just happy that their next door neighbor wasn't a methadone clinic or a shooting gallery. People there would have breathed a collective sigh of relief if a gay video rental business had moved in. But not here in the S. of End, of course, where everyone apparently should be straight, white, look exactly the same as their neighbors and drive a Range Rover.

R.I.P. The Movie Place, Mildred's, Rave, We Think the World of You. Metropolitan Health Club, The South End Geoffrey's, etc.

26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

why are you homos complaining?

you've already reaped the benefit
of huge real estate appreciation.

Now go find another dump to decorate. May I suggest Eastie?

May 24, 2007 at 5:55:00 PM PDT  
Blogger thesouthender said...

We homos are complaining because you took what was once an interesting part of town filled with creative types (straight and gay alike) and stores and restaurants and filled it with entitled dullards looking for the next hot new place. It was the only place we could seek refuge from the meatheads of the world such as yourself and it was a place where we weren't confronted with the Stepford mentality that you het's are so fond of. One more pony-tailed, capri-panted, make-up-less, Frappucino-drinking blonde bland and boring stroller pusher yacking into her cell phone and I'm gonna vomit.

May 25, 2007 at 5:46:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the stroller jockeys and empty nesters just weren't interested in renting Dawson's 50 Load Weekend. (Maybe they download now.)

May 25, 2007 at 7:25:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Emily said...

I'm a straight female who has recently moved the to the neighborhood. I will also mourn the loss of the Movie Place - I quite enjoyed the sites of shirtless men on my way down Tremont.

May 25, 2007 at 12:04:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Only been here six years said...

Yeah, many aspects of gentrification suck. The cool people are fleeing, can't afford it anymore. But walking down the street at night with less fear of being mugged is good, right?

I wonder whether the closing of this place is another symptom of blandification, or if more a reflection of the changes in how "adult entertainment" is consumed. I don't expect Mike's Movies to last much longer, either, and not because there's less demand for their product. It's being killed by Internet-downloadable entertainment, cable on-demand, satellite TV, and Netflix.

My broader observation about this entire blog is that it seems to be flogging a long-dead horse. Who didn't see these changes coming? Isn't this gentrification story as old as the hills (especially to a former New Yorker)? My longer-tenured neighbors have been privately moaning about the funkiness being drained out of the neighborhood for at least six years. Many of them cashed out, got out, started building a new nucleus of coolness elsewhere.

That strikes me as far happier and more productive response than pissing vainly, bitterly into the wind, the way this blog seems to be doing. We get it: straight white ex-suburbanites and empty nesters suck; they're not as cool or fun or neighorhood-conscious as the old guard here. How exactly will whining about it on a blog make things any better?

May 26, 2007 at 9:51:00 AM PDT  
Blogger thesouthender said...

You mean to say its actually safer here to walk done a street at night now since we've experienced gentrification? Crime statistics for the S.E. have gotten worse in the last year or so. Multiple muggings on Waltham Street, more and more car break-ins.

It proves my point that the clueless suburbanites residing here have no idea what is going on around them. When some drunk Uggs-wearing gal stumbles down Waltham Street at 2:15 a.m. ALONE and laughing into her cellphone after drinks at the Franklin, it makes me cringe because she has no clue how dangerous a city can be at that hour.

As for my reasons for writing this blog - maybe I am flogging a dead horse, but its cathartic for me and for my friends - without it, we might otherwise just start flogging yuppies as they walk out of various heirloom tomato emporiums or driving their BMW's the wrong way down one way streets because they are entitled and deserve a good parking space at any cost.

May 26, 2007 at 10:11:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Only been here six years said...

Sure, there's been a recent uptick in crime, but overall the South End is still far safer than it was even a few years ago.

As far as drunken idiots stumbling about when they shouldn't, I've been a habitue of The Franklin far longer than I've been a neighbor, and that kind of behavior preceded the Biff & Muffy invasion by years.

Same goes for idiots driving the wrong way down one-way streets: the transgressions of Boston drivers of all stripes against common courtesy, common sense, and public safety could fill a hundred blogs. That's not a recent import from the 'burbs, either.

I guess I'm glad you have a place to vent, but I guess I wish it were cleverer and less bitter-sounding. And yuppie-battering jokes from a member of a community long victimized by bashing seem desperately unfunny to me.

May 26, 2007 at 1:16:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all opinion, as with most blogs if you totally find it negative or offensive or flogging a dead or inevitable fact, you always have the option to un-bookmark it.

I share some common sensabilities with the author of this blog so I more enjoy than dislike its content.

I am neighborhood shopping, heck even city shopping.

6 years seems to me a good benchmark for people to see many changes here as well as the average time my friends moved in and moved out of the SE.

On the subject of Eastie, see that area in 6 years, it will look very different given the influx of money and middle incomed people.

Keep your blog, own it, others who dislike it- argue, voice disdain, or stop reading it! Included please-self loathing "homos".

May 27, 2007 at 9:29:00 AM PDT  
Blogger John Keith - radically.DiFFerenT said...

Self-loathing homos?

The Movie Place was frequented by suburban-closeted-married men, who would drive in to pick up a couple gay-porn videos while their wives and kids were away for the weekend.

Last time I was in there, I asked, why do you have so many movies on VHS, where are your DVDs?

"Oh we don't have them, most of our clientèle don't own DVD players ..."

That should give you an idea of who went there.

The store outlived its usefulness, that's all. I mean, really.

I realize you are complaining about the trend, but in this case, the facts are that the store wasn't bringing in enough revenue to make it worthwhile.

I won't miss it.

May 28, 2007 at 9:40:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would look forward to the owner to refute your "radically different" view of his business.
I rented DVD's there over the years,live in the city,am gay, etc.

The fact my be closer to inflated per square foot price of commercial property.

Self loathing, I suspect, is speaking to some of the prev,postings.

I like that we can agree to dissagree-peace!

btw can the last hardware store,bike shop be far behind?

I miss the bookstore most, we needed another bank?

May 30, 2007 at 3:30:00 PM PDT  
Blogger camby35n2 said...

As for crime going up- crime is up all over Boston and I think, the nation. Uggs may indeed be stupid, but stupid drunken Ugg-wearers are not moving the crime stats.

"It proves my point that the clueless suburbanites residing here have no idea what is going on around them. When some drunk Uggs-wearing gal stumbles down Waltham Street at 2:15 a.m... "

(I've also been here 6 years. I miss the funkiness and prefer the gays, or cheap eats, to another bank myself, but any blame is a result of the area's success. Straight/Male)

May 30, 2007 at 6:01:00 PM PDT  
Blogger James Henry Bailey said...

R.I.P. The Movie Place, Mildred's, Rave, We Think the World of You. Metropolitan Health Club, The South End Geoffrey's, etc

Huh? You can't seriously tell me that these establishments were better than what has replaced them?

-The Movie Palace: Dirty, seedy, out of date. You can get tons of porn on-line for free.

-Mildreds: Dreary. Bad food.

-Rave: Really bad food, Dirty, and drugs!

-We Think the world of you: Curiously limited selection. Borders and B&N always had a larger and much more interesting selection of gay literature. I don't think the owners really wanted to stay in business.

-Metropolitan Health Club: I say this with love in my heart, cuz I have been a member there for 5 years now. It SUCKS! always did. It has always been the most dreary dark disgusting hole. I have only stayed through the recent changes because it's so quiet now and rarely crowded.

-The South End Geoffrey's: Owned by a mental case who HATED straight people. Absolute nutcase. I watched him push a man down who had been waiting for a table for a while- he complained and the owner pushed him down, right in front of his wife and child. I never returned. Of course, that probably makes people like you happy.

All of these places could have stayed in business and been successful if they behaved the way other REAL businesses do: COMPETE! Better food, better selection, etc. But they didn't want that. They felt entitled to their place in the neighborhood and hoped things would magically change for them. It's their fault. Other equally bad places, such as 647 or Sister Sorrel stay in business because they advertise, and stay competitive. Although I can't imagine why anyone would frequent either place.

June 6, 2007 at 7:46:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do so hope all those other little shops close down soon.
Mayhap a mini-mall will open!
I miss Outback Streakhouse/Pizzarina Unos and more banks. Please knock down some brick buildings-dreary and old things.

You prove the point of this blog,and I don't think you get that.

I hope some flavor can remain in the SE. Mediocrity and blanding down is regretable in people and in the area.

You've levied some venom towards the author of this blog over some postings, why bother reading it? or contributing to a vastly different point of view than you share?

Could you not just start your own
blog "The South End, its Just So Great"?

Ironic, we celebrate diversity with Pride this weekend in a place where it exists LESS now.

June 6, 2007 at 3:50:00 PM PDT  
Blogger James Henry Bailey said...

RE: we celebrate diversity with Pride this weekend in a place where it exists LESS now.

No. YOUR idea of diversity exists less now. Diversity is not exclusive to who YOU deem acceptable. Diversity includes people from ALL walks of life. In my mind, and in the mind of many of my friends, the South End IS a more diverse place, and better off. Why? because I like seeing children around. I like the increased safety. I enjoy the writer, the landscaper and the investment banker who are my neighbors. They are good neighhbors. I like it. You don't, apparently. Nor does Mr. Ender.

why bother reading it? or contributing to a vastly different point of view than you share?

This statement illustrates your limited view of diversity. You don't wish to hear ideas and values that you don't share. I, on the other hand, do. I disagree with much of what this blogger says. But I still enjoy reading the blog. Funny how that works, huh?

You prove the point of this blog.

I couldn't possibly agree more!

June 6, 2007 at 4:45:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the day we stop answering
your pompous/prosaic comments is the day you stop writting your disdain for people who find this blog in some way accurate or interesting.

Maybe the blogs owner is starting a debating society or a forum for conflicting ideas.

The premise I thought,HERE, was his musings and cathartic release of a changing South End.Did I misconstrued the venue?

_Speaking only for myself, Myopic and ill-conceived dullard that I simply must be.

Happy Pride to you BOTH, however you broadly conceive it..

June 6, 2007 at 5:25:00 PM PDT  
Blogger James Henry Bailey said...

Anonymous said ...stop writting (sic) your disdain for people who find this blog in some way accurate or interesting.

I find the blog very interesting, otherwise I would not visit it. I wish he would blog more often. I certainly have no disdain for anyone simply because they disagree with me. Nor am I the only one who disagrees with the blogger. I assume he welcomes the dissent- he defends himself just fine. He is welcome to block me from commenting, but I don't see how that would would aid the call of diversity.

Any venom that I have sputtered towards the South Ender and some of his fans, is completely in-line with the spirit of the blog. Many of his posts have been quite hateful toward others.

Speaking only for myself, Myopic and ill-conceived dullard that I simply must be.

I'm sorry you feel that way. I did not accuse you of any of those things. I simply suggested that perhaps you could examine your definition of diversity a bit.

And a happy Pride to you as well.

June 7, 2007 at 8:27:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous JA2 said...

J H Bailey says "facts are facts" - but he comments on the intention of the owner of "We Think The World of You" as if he knows the facts. He does not. He knows nothing about the ridiculous lease terms for space on Tremont Street, he knows nothing about the reading habits of gay south enders, and apparently he's never heard of Amazon or Border.com. There were forces beyond anyone's control that caused the bookstore to close - not the intent or the drive or the focus of the owner. That bookstore was one of the best things that ever happened to the SOuth End, and Bailey's uninfomrmed dismissal of it speaks volumes about how the world works these days - you can have an opinion, even if has no basis in fact, and spread it around on a blog like so much manure.

June 7, 2007 at 9:16:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James Henry Bailey claims that Barnes and Noble and Borders always had a larger and more interesting gay selection than We Think the World of You? Who is he kidding? Most chain stores only have a shelf or two of lgbt books if you can find any at all.

While We Think the World of You was not perfect -- it catered to gay men and not the entire lgbt community, the staff was always helpful and polite.

When I once complained that bookshelf after bookshelf was filled with gay male literature while they had only a small lesbian section, the owner was very nice and explained that he wasn't trying to compete with Glad Day, New Words or Crone's Harvest, all of which did a better job promoting works by women.

After those stores went out of business, I had hoped he would expand more into lesbian titles and queer studies, but the owner said that with rising rents and competition from the internet, he had to focus on books and other items that would sell the best.

So while We Think the World of You wasn't perfect, or even that useful to me as a lesbian except for their cards and pride items, my brother and his friends were very sad to see it close.

June 7, 2007 at 9:19:00 AM PDT  
Blogger James Henry Bailey said...

ja2 says:he comments on the intention of the owner of "We Think The World of You" as if he knows the facts.

I did not present my assessment of the intention of the owners as a fact. I said "I don't think the owners really wanted to stay in business." I shopped there enough to know the owners well enough to know that they loved the store. They recommended several books to me, most of which I bought and read. I supported them whenever I could- I would daresay that I was one of their best customers (I buy a lot of books).

Still, I found that they had a very limited selection compared to other bookstores.

They could have stayed in business by competing. They could have moved to another location to stay competitive. They didn't. I have to assume that they decided to go out of business.

He knows nothing about the ridiculous lease terms for space on Tremont Street
In fact I do. I know exactly how much those spaces lease for and how much they sell for and how much the property tax is. I also know that there are plenty of stores that stay in business despite the real estate pricing. I also know that the real estate is inflated due to strict zoning and regulation that keeps out businesses like WTTWOY. I did not mean to be dismissive about their closing. But I still maintain that they did little to stay competitive. Even if they did, the FACT in this case is that it was unsuccessful.

Anonymous- I totally agree with your assessment of the bookstore. I probably visited the store every weekend and was disappointed when it left. I will even concede that it doesn't belong in the same list of "has-beens" as the others. Your comments make me miss it.

June 7, 2007 at 12:36:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous ja2 said...

JH Bailey admits: "I have to assume that they decided to go out of business."

My point exaclty. Assumptions are not facts. I know a good deal about the facts in this matter and if the owner (not "owners") of the bookstore could have figured out how to keep it going in a reasonably profitable manner, he would have done so. Here was someone who put his heart and soul into a venture that offered many people a comfortable, inviting place - that helped make the neighborhood the kind of place people like living in. Including WTTWOY in the pantheon of Rave, Mildreds, Movie Place etc. was a true disservice to the bookstore and all it meant to people and what it stood for.

A bank/credit union is now in the bookstore space. Why? Because an independent business would have to be selling bars of gold in order to afford the rent and make a profit. A bank/credit union can afford it. A restuaraunt that can mark up liquor can probably afford it. But an independent bookstore in today's marketplace cannot. That is not an asusmption. That is a fact.

June 7, 2007 at 1:41:00 PM PDT  
Blogger James Henry Bailey said...

ja2,

Ok. Agreed. As I ALREADY ADMITTED, I was wrong to place it in the same realm with the other businesses.

I frequented the bookstore often. I valued it. I spent a lot of money there. Ok?

However, I truly don't think my humble comments were such a grave disservice to the owner or to the people who frequented the place. My opinion can't possibly matter that much.

Agape.

June 7, 2007 at 2:54:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss Tony's on Shawmut Avenue. It was the best place for produce. No cash register-Tony figured the bill on your paper bag with a pencil.

We're fortunate that Ramon is still in business at the Lebanese market. He sells so many different, hard-to find groceries like phyllo and hazelnuts.

And do you remember Nadia's?

Someone's gotta explain Michelle Willey's vase store on Washington Street. There are never any customers. How does she stay in business?

June 8, 2007 at 7:38:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous SouthEndRefusenik said...

Hmmm - in defense of Michelle Willey and her partner with the pottery...I live nearby, for about another month, before moving to a cooler place with a lot more potential, like this place used to be...in any case, I've gone in a lot of times, and bought both a wedding present which was very well received, and a carpet-pillow for myself that I really love. The stuff is very fairly priced for what it is/the quality of design, and both women have a good eye. Pottery's typically not my thing AT ALL - too earth-mothery - but "Vessels" has some incredibly delicate, elegant pieces, again, at what seem like marketable prices. I've encouraged other friends to have a look, and they've liked, also. Now, the reality is that the place may not survive, but I'm delighted to see someone LOCAL selling high-end/high-design goods at MODERATE (for what they are; if you doubt me, check out the prices at the little botique next to SE Buttery...cool stuff, but prices to induce a nosebleed for what the stuff is...)prices. This is the kind of shop that's all but disappeared from Boston in general - remember when Newbury St. had such things instead of being an international-chain minimall for Euro/Asiatrash?!

So, I'm all for the good ladies at Michelle Willey/Vessels (and, no, I don't know them other than as a happy customer) - long may they survive, though I fear for them like all the other great little local businesses I once enjoyed...definitely RIP "We Think The World of You." I know, from talking to one of the owners as they were closing, that, given a bookstore's margins, a single grotesque rent-hike did them in...all the better to sell $50/lb. produce and dubious homeloans to yuppie scum, to be sure...sigh.

June 14, 2007 at 10:37:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous artistinsouthend said...

Hi guys/gals from a heretofore not expressed opinionator: I am glad there is a voice against blandness and blind allegiance to status seeking here. As an artist and designer, I love the good life and the SE and have lived here and in JP for the last 13 years but I miss cheap, good eats and a certain amount of edge. I love kids (and even het families) and think they do add to the diversity, but I do not enjoy the overentitled attitudes of some residents and visitors. Thanks for your banter and discussion.

June 14, 2007 at 1:26:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Liam said...

Just catching up on this blog after having discovered it.

There was quite a controversy about WTTWOY and whether or not the owners intended to go out of business. I was a regular shopper there and knew they were closing about six months before the actual date. At the time, the owner expressed mild interest in relocating down below Washington St., but then later admitted that he might just get out altogether and do something different.

So, while he was being priced out of his location, he did decide to not keep the business going elsewhere... at least based on what he told me at the time.

December 4, 2007 at 11:15:00 AM PST  
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