Friday, June 29, 2007

False History

A while ago I mentioned that a movie was being shot in my neighborhood, and that the movie people had converted an empty store into a very convincing hardware store for the shooting. Well, the movie folks are long gone, but the hardware store isn't--or rather, the contents of the store are gone but the storefront is still there.

This bothers me. Not just that the signs are still there, but that they're deliberately designed to look old--one of them even since "est. 1957." I don't feel any particular nostalgia for the actual old store. It was a liquor store with these ridiculous, semi-phallic bottles painted over the front glass. But still, it was really there; I'd been to that liquor store, it was real. This 1950s hardware store never existed. And yet the sign still hangs over the sidewalk, and the plate-glass window announces a totally fictional sale.

It's just not...real. It creates a false sense of what this neighborhood was, and has been; even if it's creating the image of a nicer, more charming and homey neighborhood than this actually is, it still isn't what existed, what was. And I've started to resent it. And to resent the Bigshot Hollywood People who didn't see fit to remove the sign they'd put up in my own neighborhood.

Okay, that last sentence was overstated, but after all hyperbole is a rhetorical tool. Effects are created. Just like 1950s hardware stores can evidently come into being ex nihilo in 2007.

Why is this bugging me?

(It's not bugging me a lot, or anything. It just feels weird to walk past this manufactured bit of "history." Someone moving into the neighborhood would believe that Hal's Hardware, A Good Place For Tools, had in fact been there in the 1950s and had maybe only recently closed. It's easy to imagine that story eventually coming to replace the real, if totally uninteresting, story of that particular shop.)

4 comments:

Sisyphus said...

Hee --- welcome to California! Where everything gets treated like this, and was even before the film industry came here (Indians? Russians? What, where? I don't see any of them 'round here, nosirree!)

Of course, if your standard of old for your town is 1950, you can't quite wrap your head around history very well ---- I went to England once and just couldn't get over the fact that people were living and working in buildings a hundred years old or more. Whaaaaa? I thought you're supposed to bulldoze all that stuff to make room for new subdivisions!

PS thanks for the lovely cheese blogging. Now I want some to nosh on.

jb said...

Actually, my town has quite a bit of oldish stuff (by US standards)--historical houses from the early 1800s and the like. But the 1957 est date just makes the lie more significant, you know?

You're welcome for the cheese blogging! In answer to your question on that post, I don't know what you're supposed to eat it with, but I like it with strawberries. And/or a nice Hefeweissen. Yum!

(Oh, and I like the hard cheeses too, never fear!)

medieval woman said...

Why did that liquor store go under?? God, I bought so much beer there for so many years!

This is a great post, jb!

jb said...

Hey MW, thanks! I don't know why it went under. It disappeared during the year that I lived in the City to the North; I was surprised to notice its absence when I moved into the Apartment of Joyful Solitude.

(In a titling mood today, I guess.)