Fifteen years of Groceteria

647irving3 was born fifteen years ago today with this post on Planet SOMA. It eventually eclipsed its parent site in traffic and attention and (I like to think) contributed to the growth of retail history studies online. It’s been fun despite the fact that the site was not as active over the past few years. I’m rectifying that situation, though.

So happy birthday to me. Sort of.

In which I nag about Greensboro history

This is a really great post and I love anything that will push locals to know more about the history of there they live. That’s always been important to me wherever I’ve lived. But there are a couple of factual issues I must address because I’m OCD that way. I’m posting this here where a maximum of twelve people will ever read it because there doesn’t seem to be a comments option on the article (EDIT: There actually is a comments option but it doesn’t show up in the mobile version and also involves Facebook platform apps).

It’s kind of a stretch to suggest that Glenwood was ever the “center” of high-end shopping and social activity in Greensboro and to compare it to Friendly Center. Glenwood was, at best, a nice streetcar suburb with a small neighborhood shopping area, most of which still stands (albeit in some disrepair) along Grove Street. Similar districts still exist on Tate Street by UNCG, at Walker and Elam Avenues, and other areas. It was more analogous to today’s small shopping center with a grocery store and a drug store (think Golden Gate, for example) than to a major shopping area like Friendly Center. There was, I believe, a popular recreational area in Glenwood as well.

Screen shot 2014-07-04 at 11.19.52 AM

Also, the downtown bypass was not really a precursor to the Greensboro beltway; they were both planned around the same time and were to have coexisted. The one downtown just got funded and constructed several decades earlier. If I’m not mistaken, most of it was built more or less as planned, with Murrow Boulevard feeding into paired one-way streets (Fisher and Smith, then Edgeworth and Spring) to create a surface-level “loop” bypass. The part that was not constructed (and it’s probably a good thing) was the southern leg that was to be built as a major expressway, running parallel to Lee Street all the way to the Coliseum area. This part was scrapped for lack of demand and funds in the 1970s. The big mound of dirt and awkward traffic pattern at Lee Street and Murrow Boulevard live on as a reminder of the interchange that would have been there.

Last but not least, it’s “O. Henry”, not “O’Henry”.

So ends my unsolicited history lesson for the day…

More new photos

So while I’m at it, after posting the Richmond photos, I figured it was time I started catching up on some older photo posts. I’m about a year behind.

When I got started this afternoon, I realized that my flickr plugins on both sites had stopped working. Apparently, the flickr API switched to SSL-only just a couple of days ago, breaking lots of people’s plugins and apps. After panicking, I decided to be bold and try something stupid–changing all the “http://” references in the PHP files for my plugin to “https://”–and damned if it didn’t work!

So here are some more pretty pictures. Even more to come, including more DC, maybe more NYC, Virginia Beach, and (of course) lovely Florence SC:

Richmond photos

From this past weekend:

A crisis of content, Volume 5725

Eighteen-plus years in, I’m even less sure what this website is all about than I was in 1996. I’m also even more sure that I won’t stop updating anytime soon.

But with what? And who’s reading it?

Turns out I’ve embraced Twitter a little more easily than I expected. It works nicely when one wishes to quip, which is something I do pretty often…much more often than I post anything substantial that requires an actual attention span to write. Twitter hasn’t exactly been an audience generator, although I did pick up a couple of batshit crazy teabaggers, both of whom got scared and ran away pretty quickly.

I feel like I used to be a content creator but that I’m starting to be just like everyone else online, just sort of recycling other content in my own way, via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, while contributing very little of my own voice. Maybe after all these years I’ve done enough creating and it’s OK that I’m not doing much now. Besides, my lack of attention span for writing the stuff pales in comparison to the average person’s lack of attention span for reading any of it.

More navel gazing. Sigh. At least my navel is less prominent since I lost all that weight.

I’m still here and some of you still are too, so let’s just things as they are for now.

But does anyone care about the music videos?

Situational asexuality

Interesting (it a bit smarmy) piece on the strange twilight world of the asexual amid all this week’s stories about World Pride–which is what they’re calling it in Canada this year and may be calling it everywhere else too, for all I know or care.

I’ve been “asexual” for quite some time now, not because it’s my natural orientation but through a series of circumstances that have made it the easiest option for a variety of reasons. Initially, it was about the depression thing combined with the fact that I’d more or less just been dumped…and as a result wasn’t exactly overflowing with self esteem at the time. In my younger days, I would probably have reacted to this by becoming more sex-obsessed, but the middle-aged version of me recognized his limitations. And frankly, I just wasn’t that interested at the time. I most certainly didn’t want another relationship, and I’d sort of gotten out of the habit of casual sex too.

I’m pretty much past all that now and might be inclined toward debauchery if it weren’t so much fucking work–or of it weren’t so much work fucking. (Sorry, it was too obvious not to go there.) Given my age and size, I’m not an unattractive man, really, but I’m not the sort who turns a lot of heads when he walks into a room either. Sad as it may seem, pudgy librarians approaching fifty are just not a really hot commodity around here. Fifteen years ago, I may have a certain sexual presence that attracted attention, but nine years of marriage and even more years of reduced testosterone production have tempered that considerably. They’ve also made me much more nervous about STDs and allowing strange men into my house.

So while I probably could get laid, it would involve a great deal of effort than it used to. And that’s more effort, it turns out, than I seem to want to put into the process. I’m still not interested in a relationship; my identity does not depend on that. I was single most of my adult life, so I know how.  And hookups just sort of work differently now than they did before the turn of the century (I was dying for an excuse to say “before the turn of the century”). I don’t want to cruise using an app. I’m pretty tech-savvy–I work in the IT department ferchrissakes–but that’s just not how I do it.

Then there’s that whole issue of the fact that someone who is interested in me is very often someone in whom I have no interest at all. It’s much harder to feign interest at my age too…both from a physical perspective and from the “I don’t need to be bothered with this bullshit” perspective.

So I call my current condition “situational asexuality” mainly because it sounds better than “celibate due to lack of initiative”, which is how I described it last week.

If it changes soon, I’ll let you know. Maybe with pictures.