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Dojo Closed, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

"No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, ''That used to be Munsey's'' or ''That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge.'' That before the Internet cafe plugged itself in, you got your shoes resoled in the mom-and-pop operation that used to be there. You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now."

-Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York

I went down to St. Mark's Place during lunch last week. It was surreal. The place was unrecognizable.

Getting off the train at Astor Place, I wasn't surprised by the more egregious changes: the giant shiny condominium across from the cube, the Walgreens sign where Astor Wines used to be. Then in the corner of my eye, I saw a hole in the ground just down 3rd Ave. I don't remember what was there, but the absence was jarring.

I spent a lot of time on and around St. Mark's when I was a teenager. I ate veggie burgers(!) at Dojo with friends. I saw a graphical web browser for the first time at a place called the @ Café, which has been closed for easily 10 years.

In 2000, I went to the Black August concert at New Age Cabaret. The event moved at the last minute from Irving Plaza after venues around the city were intimidated by Giuliani's NYPD. They had a particular beef with Dead Prez and were more than willing to threaten anyone willing to allow them to perform. The owners of New Age Cabaret volunteered to host as a statement against the defacto censorship.

Now, there's a Super Cuts there. And a Chipotle and a CBGB's gift shop.
I was slightly reassured to find that the video game shop I went down there to visit is now a sex shop.

Change in New York is inevitable. We see it walk by it every day, but every now and again you step back and actually see it.

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