Friday, January 7, 2011

Fourth Ave., Tucson

The window of Pop Cycle on 4th Ave
Tucson is the town of my misspent youth (actually, it was quite well spent, but that doesn't sound as poetic), much of it whiled away on Fourth Ave. It was there that I punked out at dives like Tumbleweeds and Choo Choos, pogo-ing to favorite locals bands such as The Pills, The Pedestrians and The Giant Sandworms. The only "vintage" shops on Fourth Ave back then (always just "ave," not "avenue") was a cavernous thrift shop called Value Village, where you could find used saddle shoes and skinny ties for just a buck or two. There were a couple of good restaurants on Fourth Ave at the time like Caruso's, an Italian eatery, (obviously) and Delectables - too pricey for me and my friends back then. But then there was always the Food Conspiracy Co-op where you could pick up a hummus sandwich for lunch if you could make your way through the homeless hippies in front banging out Neil Young tunes on their busted guitars. Oh yeah, and there was a Dairy Queen.

Now, 4th Ave is a mecca for vintage shopping and excellent, natural-food restaurants. Most of the vintage shops price their stuff appropriately while offering up great finds; the restaurants as well. The Food Conspiracy hasn't changed a whit, hippies and all. (see my blog on it: food-conspiracy-co-op-tucson.html) It's actually amazing that the street has managed to become even more of a destination without losing it's essence, though Tumbleweeds is long gone, and Choo Choos has changed names and owners a hundred times. Caruso's and the Dairy Queen are still there, though Value Village is now Beacons. There are some shops that are obviously trying too hard, like Hippi Gypsy - please! You will also find a few corny western shops, or new-agey places, but there are plenty of  independent stores that are worth popping into, such as Pop Cycle that sells great, unique clothes and other items, as well an amazing music shop, Toxic Ranch Records, just off the Ave on 6th Street that has stood the test of time.

Though the interesting establishments are too numerous to name, it's so satisfying to go there when I'm in town, check them out and find that Fourth Ave feels almost the same as it used to - just a little less scuzzy.

Evaluation: Pretty sincere 


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