Monday, June 8, 2009

landgrabs and downswings

thompson grocery store, mississippi. photograph by bill steber.

"A woman sits on a pool table listening to California blues man Robert Walker perform in his hometown of Bobo, MS, at Thompson Grocery. Until it burned in December of 1996, Thompson grocery was something of an anomaly in modern-day Mississippi. White-owned in a mostly black small town, the business served as a general store, pool hall, juke joint and gathering place for both blacks and whites in the community, not unlike similar establishments in the antebellum south before segregation forced blacks and whites to socialize in separate clubs."

- bill steber, 2000.

bassoon, large woodwind instrument.
bajón = falling-off, slump, downswing.

The cinema is all but gone. They have been picking at it with metal claws for over a week now, and all that remains is the facade looming over Pollokshaws Road; a bed of red brick spilling out behind.

All traffic has been diverted along Gorbals Street and Norfolk Street. We are awash with buses trundling angrily through red lights, weaving left and right where they have no business.

An Irish neighbour in his seventies tells me that Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer" premiered there back in 1927. I have no reason to doubt him.

I purchased a bar of some really beautiful Turkish soap from a shop just around the corner on Saturday evening. The Turks who own it are embroiled in a war with the Pakistanis who own a licensed outlet straight across the road; the Indian dude who runs the neswagents two doors along has been all but squeezed dry of passing trade. Long ago, he says, his father elbowed aside a step up from the same big financial backers who now operate as his rivals. He drew the line at selling alcohol for a variety of reasons. Profit margins not withstanding. My Indian peer suspects his father may have been an idiot. I cross the road habitually - paper sack in hand - to buy my cigarettes from his store.

That Turkish soap is gorgeous. All weekend I have been amazed by its clean lathered smell.

I am glad I have had the chance to finally indulge in it, though the vendor tells me there is no market for it at all.

TULLIO DE PISCOPO: STOP BAJÓN (PRIMAVERA) from 12" (blanco y negro/ZYX) 1984 (Spain)




Löst Jimmy said...

What a tapestry of local shops!

So what is the secret of the soap's appeal? What ingredients, one wonders, provides it with the aromatic luxury?

ib said...

Interesting question, Löst Jimmy!

The shop - "Star", to noise up the Spar opposite - carries two Turkish brands: a perfume one, which, naturally, I steared clear of; and a traditional variety mildly redolent of our indigenous coal tar soaps of old, but far nicer.

Stupidly I threw away the packet on opening it, and I've been so enamoured with it that the embossed name has rather quickly faded off the bar. I have no idea what its main ingredient is but it honestly is quite wonderful.

Denier said...

Good piece! I find it interesting that here in Queens, NY, all the local convenience stores and bargain shops are owned by either Pakistanis or Indians -- which seems to be the case where you are as well. The chain stores are a different matter, but the small retail businessmen of this era are almost exclusively Middle Eastern or Central Asian.

ib said...

I was playing some pitch and putt with my son earlier this afternoon over in Queens Park on the south side of Glasgow.

Many of the convenience shops there - as elsewhere - are asian owned. Not the bars, though, of which there are vast numbers. The bigger supermarket chains are all either in decline or receivership. The new focus is on bigger markets with the accent on a smaller budget; Lidl and Aldi, for example. While the brands may be unfamiliar, invariably the quality and range of product is as good if not better. And much, much healthier on the pocket.

As a result, the inflated prices charged by the better known supermarket chains begins to appear wholly unjustified.

Customer loyalty is increasingly a sign of times past.

sunnydustmote said...

Ah, Tullio De Piscopo, I remember that 12" well. Who would have thought me as a wee sister had such good taste! hahahah.

ib said...

An old chestnut. But one you never weary of, nonetheless.