Smooth jazz interlude with a coffee house finish seizes me from my noctural state. My mind is a bit fuzzy. I’ve a penchant for red wine and it dosent always bode well for a decent nights rest. Be that as it may, I get up and saunter, more often than not clothes free ( too much info?) and turn on the coffee perk. Another dollar awaits. As the best 8 dollar coffee Trader Joes can produce bubbles to life, and the little Italian perk produces a silky steam. I bask my face in it and it aids in my waking. I pour. I stand. I listen to music. Little tricks to loosen the sandman’s grip .
5:45 clothes on, hair brushed, food packed, I walk to the bus station. My walk takes me through the heart of this part of Las Vegas I call home, less by design, more by sheer absorption and naked loyalty. Few humans are about. Every once in a while, you’ll see a stray street walker-all sequins and sin, as though she lept from the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog and in front of Bastille, a popular gay bar with a somewhat contrived Parisian theme. I pass Raw Remedies , an ethnic hair parlor that I seldom see anyone at, save for a once a month open mic I once sporadically frequented-more on that another day. I pass the 18 block, right up from the transit center. It’s here I board the HDX straight into the rather dull berg of Henderson and right to my job’s front door. The sheer convenience is worth the early wake up call, and since I don’t always have cash for a lyft and don’t drive – it’s the best game in town. I don’t ind. This is my time to think. A new revelation with every foot fall, every stride.
Anyway, as I walk the avenues, the sun barely rising in the distance, neon still beaming, I make a sudden realization. I know every inch of this area. Every sector and section contains a memory of sorts. Some good, some mortifying, some exhilarating. All unique. Here surrounded by friends with colored hair and inked limbs, have I screamed and shouted. Nary a foot of this place isnt isnt speckled with some peak experiance of my life. Here, among graffittied alleys and karaoke bars, have I written, walked, danced, tipped dollar Corona like fine champagne, thought and fretted and all in between. Every inch of this place has been such an intrinsic part of my being for the past few years. I feel safe here. In this strange hybrid place between the higher tawdriness of Las Vegas Blvd and the lesser tawdriness of Downtown, I can walk free.
I am abundantly aware of the stigma placed on Las Vegas. And in complete honesty I can see where it has its truths. However in this little in-between place I feel I can breathe easy. My life punctuated with occasional coffee house visits bars, and a stray overpriced taco.
I know just about all the business owners here. I can saunter past cafe Vesta, where americanos black as sin are a welcome sight and mexican burlap bags are mine for the asking. The theater where I’ve done my duties and preformed night after night. The countless open mic spaces where young wordsmiths and trobadors shout their lungs out. The Arts Factory, a former crematorium made artists loft where I sometimes venture through it on my free days. A dolls house where every twist and turn reveals some new altruistic treasure, punctuated by myrrh lavander oils and patchouli or copious amounts of grass, depending on the time of day.
As the city grows ever forward, I approach this with a mixture of positivity and amused indifference. I hate the fact that Prosperity has come at the price of once great cafes where I would watch my friends grow with every week. The displacement of iconography seemingly tawdry yet still significant. The elimination of grit but it’s hardly a local phenomenon.
The sad truth is often Prosperity comes at the price of character and true color.
This Art District is small and may strike an outsider as subpar, especially coming from a city as grand as New York or LA, Seattle, Portland..etc. One can nitpick all they wish and I can only go off my own experiences. Yet fine things oft come in small packages. When I’m here, walking these streets, past oddity shops, divey bars and walls painted by the hands of men I’ve known, I can’t help but tread with a certain sort of pride. I won’t live here forever. I’ve a long life ahead of me, however, I know that the Art’s District, sketched a permanent home in my psyche.