Last night I went to the Night of the Living Wedge Halloween Pub Crawl with a single question. Of what place, district, street, city, part of city or scene is the South Wedge like? As the event was packed with revelers dressed from Mad Max men and women to a rabbi and a giant human fish, I had a colorful, captive and captivating focus group with which to work.
The event was organized by the Business Association of South Wedge (BASWA). Volunteer Shannon Davis, a Caverly’s Irish Pub bartender, shepherded crawlers along the way and took the photos.
Inquiring from Swiftwater, Solera Wine Bar, LUX, Beale Street, Tap & Mallet, ButaPub, ORBS and Caverly’s Irish Pub, the answers were varied and unexpected, ranging from the Pacific Northwest to South Africa.
The first response was Ballard, a Seattle neighborhood. Not quite in the old Grunge District, Downtown Ballard still contains the spirit of Kurt Cobain. A progressive, coffee house and music atmosphere the respondent feels also in the Wedge.
One bearded gentleman said downtown Jamestown, NY because both are “wild.” Looking like he had survived the 60s and 70s barely, I sensed his answer was founded on deep experience. I picture haunts like Lux in off-the-grid Jamestown where weird and wild things happen.
A strong case was made for old Louisville, Kentucky and its “piss bars” and funky music scene. Beer not bourbon. He kept pronouncing it “Loo-uh-vuhl” or was it “Loo-a-vul?” Definitely not my Yankee “Loo-ee-ville.”
The south side of Pittsburgh received three votes. A mixture of August Wilson’s old Pittsburgh Hill District and the vibrancy of Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne.
Several Buffalonians said Allen Street or Allen Town. Better clarified: East/Alexander is Chippewa St. in Buffalo, while the much cooler Allen is the Wedge.
Beale Street in Memphis was chosen, fittingly given the 4th stop on the crawl.
Sixth Street in Austin drew strong support. I only wish we were Sixth Street in Austin.
Burlington, Vermont with its emphasis on quirky locally owned businesses and progressive politics was paralleled. Any town that elects Bernie Sanders as its Mayor is ok with me.
The Ithaca Commons made sense. A strong University presence mixed in with southern Tier artists who left NYC.
Rockville, Maryland Town Center was unexpected. I always thought suburban Maryland was uninspiring. But was convinced Rockville–nowhere near as pretentious as Foggy Bottom across the Potomac–shares the eclecticism of the Wedge.
The Wedge has some of the urban feel of Staten Island, NY .
Fremont Street in Las Vegas was a different choice. The respondent emphasized Fremont’s charm was exactly that it was not the Strip. Instead, Freemont has a real Nevada feel. A genuineness she sees in the Wedge.
One woman said the main street from the movie Pleasantville because both have cute shops.
Kyri mentioned Downtown Annapolis, Maryland with its row house neighborhoods on the Severn River (the equivalent of our Genesee). Not as big a scene as Baltimore, Annapolis still attracts creative, young professionals who like its livability. A compelling comparison.
Pockets of Brooklyn came up again and again. The Wedge mimicking Carroll Gardens and Crown Heights. I’ll take the comparison any day. But its a little wishful thinking to imagine the corner of South and Gregory as Williamsburg.
A South Wedge lifer tautologically, or is it ontologically, said the South Wedge is like the South Wedge.
My own choice is the Armory District in Providence, Rhode Island. The architecture and population size is similar. Brown and RISD match up with the University of Rochester and RIT. And the Stephen Decatur Bar where I spent many a crawl when not watching Brady’s “Tuck” and the Red Sox beat the Yankees in ’04 and is a dead ringer for Lux.
Perhaps the most important gain from my inquiry was two new contributors. And we need more.
At Lux, I met Grace Ravines. Her choice was the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, South African. Maboneng has historically been a run down section now being rejuvenated by artists and other locals building a community from the ground up.
Grace teaches Sociology at Monroe Community College and Genesee Community College. She is a strong advocate for the many adjunct college instructors in our area. On their behalf, Grace wants to add her voice to our blog. Welcome aboard.
At Tap & Mallet, I met Alison Cawley who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Deaf Education at RIT. Alison’s scholarship explores the rich history of the Rochester deaf community beginning in the 1880s. She wants to raise our awareness on the vibrancy of the deaf community and its unique contributions. Welcome.
ALSO ON THE SOUTH WEDGE