The Mill Ave Coaches
These carriages ride up and down the Ave, giving visitors the experience of riding a horse-drawn buggy. They are elegant, white painted buggies with green and black velveteen upholstery, smiling cowboy coachmen (and women) who treat their fares like high class taxi riders. The horses are beautiful, huge dusty brown and white creatures with chests larger than kegs and flaring nostrils—Clydesdales with their huge hooves and scratchy manes.
A ride costs about $20 for twenty minutes.
The Clydesdales sound different from the mounted police; the clop of their hooves echoes a more pastoral, polite sort of canter as they draw the carriages rattling past. Snorting gently against the patting of passersby and interested parties. During my observation more people seemed interested in touching the horses and getting pictures than slaking their curiosity in the business. I hope that they can keep it up.
Mill Ave Trivia
I met a middle-aged man tonight who paused to talk to me as I sat and wrote in my book. He had some things to say about how much Mill Ave has changed in the past twenty-five years or so. Including that there once was a car dealership down at the end of Mill, near Mill’s End, in fact. Possibly where the hotel is right now.
Dana Brothers Dodge.
I’ve never seen it, so I am hoping to find old pictures of the property.
Envy & Cole
It’s been a long while since I last saw Envy. Early last year in fact. She is one of the more lively and talkative street rats, and is still hooked up with Cole. We spent a while speaking, standing aloof of the crowds whispering by on the red bricks; I leaning on my cane and she straight-backed, Christopher Paolini’s new book, Brisingr, in the crook of her arm.
She just got back from visiting California and will probably not be seen on the Ave for a few months—an understatement from her—as she’s pregnant and already having back pains. I made sure that she and Cole received a copy of Volume 9.
Of course, he came out with his amazing colored contacts—white against his olive complexioned face. I’m still waiting for the day that he puts together his horror troupe and starts making amazing movies al a Troma.
Even without the drum circle present it’s still possible to collect street rats around the bronze-man. As Ben and I sat and chatted about the recent changes to Mill Ave (mostly on my side the sudden proliferation of eateries—which makes me wonder how that has affected Monti’s business)—and the different stores that have come and gone from the Andre Building and other locations across the street.
We were drawn into a surreal, confusing conversation with a street rat so drunk that we could smell him like a perfume of alcohol from feet away. He wanted to know if the “government” said “F-you” and told us we had to fend for ourselves would we fight? Could we trust our family? …very, very drunk.
The Street Preachers
The night began with the discovery of street preachers in front of Urban Outfitters. They came with a large, tall sign depicting their god, Jesus, being whipped and insulted by Roman soldiers. Among their crew were Tom (a grey-blonde haired man of some celebrity) and Ed, an older man who I’ve known for some time as I’ve been coming to the Ave.
There were also some people set up in front of the Post Office—the same two that we met on Halloween. While they did come over and visit with the preachers in front of Urban Outfitters I am not sure if they’re connected. I believe it was thought that they were with The Door, but right now I’m not quite sure.
The elder with the trumpet and his semi-charismatic partner, a man who looks like he was taken directly out of a 40s Humphrey Bogart film, probably The Big Sleep. He has a raw boned, handsome look and his eyes simply look through people or past them.
Further observations and narrative at my Better than Faith Mill Avenue Resistance Column
Pretty much we concluded the night by gathering a small cadre of street rats around the bronze man. We caught up on the passage of time. A few have come in from California and one other from Nebraska. I got to make the acquaintance of Evil Chuck—a punk/metal rocker type who wore ragged clothing, carried a CD with the new Slayer album, and a vibrant personality. And Shawn, a black-clad who mentioned that he was happy to see more goths coming out to the Ave, as we are a twilight bunch on the red bricks.
There were also fireworks.
Apparently from a basketball game.
The first few hollow gunfire booms caught me by surprise as they echoed between the buildings and startled the bats into a frenzy, their tiny bodies flickering bright white and yellow hither-and-thither as they flitted between the trees. The fireworks, though hidden invisibly behind me by a tall building, reflected themselves in fractured mezzotint patterns, repeated and spit across the windows of the unfinished Centerpointe Towers. They compete, however laughably, with the red beacons flashing atop the towers. Flashes of red, blue, green, white—scintillating like dying flowers, falling and burning pedals that eventually fade to embers and disappear in the lower windows.