vignettes of vanishing

“Press 2000”

It had been optimistically named like that in the early 90s : “Press 2000”.  A competing newspaper shop close by was called  “Euro Press”. Yes, those were the days that millennial & European enthusiasm was at its peak. And those were the days that people still smoked ‘en masse’,  and read papers & magazines. 
I used to be a regular customer at the “Press 2000” -  for cigarettes, The Economist and Vrij Nederland (its literary supplement!) – torn, as always, between left & right politics and between left & right brain parts. On Sundays the “press 2000” counter was manned by a young guy who looked like he’d landed there straight from some heavy duty nightclubbing. His off-beat humour and defiant attitude might have one worrying about his use of certain substances, but in any case never failed to  lighten up an otherwise dull Sunday.  

Since then I have moved to another neighbourhood, have quit smoking and the literary supplement of Vrij Nederland has turned into a faint ghost of what it once was. But last year, after an interval of maybe 15 years, I happened to drop in there again.  The shop was still called “Press 2000” and, lo and behold,  the young guy was there at the counter, still looking, well yes, young & trendy. He recognized me too, and we greeted each other as if we were long lost friends.

For days I felt happy at this unexpected continuity - not everything vanishes without leaving a trace!  

But then, this summer, riding by on the bus, I saw the place was boarded up, some left over magazines starting to yellow in the shop window. 

And today, when I cycled past, only gaping voids where left – a demolition company had taken over.


“Service, Quality  - Guaranteed!” 

The lady in the photoshop was a walking encyclopedia of photography know how. From analogue to digital, from automatic compact cameras to sophisticated reflex cameras – she knew every button and functionality. And she did her utmost to guide her clients to the single best camera suiting their needs. She was not going to be beaten by some stupid on-line camera buying wizard, oh no!  Service and Quality , that was how she was going to compete! 

 But fear did flash up in her eyes when the camera she had guided me to, was not in store and could only be delivered 10 days later. Would I perhaps be ready to make an advance deposit? Reluctantly she admitted that, yes, sometimes people did come in for a lengthy advice session, only to walk out the shop and buy on-line. I duly bought my camera there, picking it up 10 days later. When I entered, she was serving an elderly client, explaining enthusiastically some very advanced function of his camera.   While waiting, I took in with pleasure the many shelves that were crammed full with photography paraphernalia – from expensive lenses to humble rain covers, from protective bags to tripods, from printing paper to albums – everything a photographer might ever need. 

Except that our world’s recording frenzy is now catered to by smartphones – allowing a real time flooding of the web by millions (billions?) of images.
So, in August, there was a sign "Liquidation Totale” – "everything must be gone by September 30th" !

And yes, when I walked by today, everything was gone, systematically gone, vanished without a trace -   the shop window empty, the logos and publicity signs gone – only, high up there, the remains of a bleached poster promoting the printing of digital photos and faded letters promising Service - Quality – Guaranteed! 



Anonymous said...

Quality gauranteed. "Binnen een paar jaar blijft er geen enkele kleine zaak meer over," zei een winkelier (met een sprookjesachtige snoepwinkel) me onlangs. Wie weet. Dan flaneren we door triestige straten, vermoed ik.
Ik maak van de gelegenheid gebruik om het boek Flâneuse van Lauren Elkin te signaleren.

Swann Ffflaneur said...

ja, erg hè - de charme van een stad gaat zo volledig teloor. Maar daarom niet getreurd: dra kunnen we gezellig in de file staan naar één van de geplande mega shopping malls aan de rand van Brussel.

bedankt voor de Flâneuse-tip, is genoteerd!