Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Phoneless, boothless

By default, people tend to think that State is the best street in Santa Barbara. It is actually the street with the most novelty t-shirt stores. If you want to see the city at its most interesting, you go Haley Street — or, as an eccentric resident we recently met called it, "skid row" — every time. Needless to say, you'll want to keep an eye on its tag.

I can think of no better image than the above with which to celebrate this real best street in Santa Barbara. It's no secret that cellphones have pretty much killed the payphonic star; even UCSB is dismantling its wall of pay phones, which in happier days positively teemed with foreign students. But there's something so distinctively sad about this pair of phoneless shells that I hope it never occurs to anybody to pull them up. These twins stand, Shining-like, in front of Haley's similarly hobbled Mac's Grog & Groc. Mac (or whomever) doesn't even bother trying to mask the fact that the place was clearly designed to be a gas station. Something must have gone terribly wrong along the way, since instead of gas pumps, there is usually just a fat Indian dude.

This is what I love to see in a city: the anachronistic, the unwelcome, the decayed, the partially removed and ignored. There's a lot of that on Haley.

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