I went down a rabbit hole this morning, following a couple of threads from a couple of articles I was reading, which stirred up some old memories and made me do a bit of spelunking on the internet. I thought it was interesting enough to justify a blog post, so here we go.
I think the whole thing started with this article about all the empty storefronts on Bleecker Street in NYC. This led me into a reverie about the “old days” of cool record stores and book stores and computer stores. Which reminded me of Tekserve, which went out of business about a year ago. (Tekserve’s collection of old Apple hardware is now owned by MacPaw, an Apple development shop in the Ukraine, which seems kind of crazy to me, but that’s probably because I’m old.)
I’ve also been reading through old TidBITS newsletters, and hit one this week that mentioned Tekserve’s closing, and linked to this video from an old Sex and the City episode that includes a couple of scenes shot at Tekserve. I’ve never actually watched Sex and the City, but that clip is kind of fun. Aasif Mandvi (from The Daily Show) plays the Tekserve employee who handles her laptop, and there’s a bit with a Blueberry iBook that made me a little nostalgic for my old Tangerine iBook.
And, going back to the Bleecker Street article, Sex and the City was apparently one of the main reasons for the beginnings of the real estate bubble on Bleecker Street, after Magnolia Bakery made an appearance on the show. And that got me thinking about the changes in Greenwich Village, in general, over the years, including Bleecker Bob’s getting replaced with a yogurt shop in 2013, and Kim’s Video closing down in 2014.
The Kim’s Video article includes this quote: “Manhattan in the 21st century is this Disneyland for the superrich,” from Richard Hell. And that reminded me of a science fiction story I read in 1989, which basically used that concept as its premise. The story was called “Do You Believe in Magic,” was written by Paul Di Filippo, and appeared in the January 1989 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. And, no, my memory is not nearly good enough to have remembered any of that. I had to do a bit of searching to figure that out. (I’m glad to have found The Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index, by the way. I may need to use it again some day.)
I’d like to reread that story, but if I still have my copy of that issue, I have no idea where it is. (I looked around my apartment a bit, and did find some F&SF issues from 1964, but none from 1989. I can’t remember where I got those 1964 issues from, but the covers sure are nice.) I found that it’s contained in a collection titled Fractal Paisleys, which is available on the Kindle for a little over $5, and contains a bunch of other stories that are probably also pretty good.
So I think that brings me full-circle, back to 2017, where I use the internet to track down old SF stories and then buy DRM-protected digital copies of them from a giant global monopoly retailer, without ever leaving my apartment. (Which I guess is why we don’t have book stores, or record stores, or independent computer stores anymore…)