I was in Death Valley a few weeks ago, and I wore my trusty black boots that go everywhere extreme with me - rock festivals, hikes, whatever. The hard core ones that have been re-soled no less than seven times. I could get new ones, but I love these, and that's that. Death Valley was so hot that I could tell the glue holding the sole on was letting loose, and to paraphrase Boots Riley of The Coup, my shoes were about to look like a Muppet mouth flapping.
When I got back to Venice, I walked on over to Anjela Shoe Service to visit with Andy and have him put new soles on for the umpteenth time. That's when I discovered that he was gone.
I'd been nervous about it for a while, as Andy had hinted at having to close due to his insane rent - after doing business on Abbot Kinney for at least all the 20 years I've been here. This was right on the tail of hearing the awful news that our beloved Hal's is closing (more on that soon), and I'm just sick of it. I think we all (those of us who love and care about a unique Venice) feel sick of it.
Andy's shoe repair was expensive, and he didn't always do the best job. He liked to put black shoe polish over the rubber natural colored sole, and it would rub off after a while and look real budget. He always called me "Michelle", and I finally gave up and let him. He refused to ever let me do a story about him and his old world, crammed to the rafters shoe repair shop that seemed to have absolutely no sense of order. The soles didn't last that long before I'd need them replaced again (like now), but I'd keep going to Andy, because we needed him there as one of the block's pioneers, and he needed to make a living. Plus I just liked shooting the breeze with him, a real character.
Andy never wanted the attention a story brings, and would always try to push me off on two old ladies he said he knew who had lived in Venice longer than anybody and would have good stories to tell. He never did hook me up with them, but maybe he'll see this somehow and we can finally tell his whole, Gepetto-like story (I like to think).
So another Venice institution is gone, all in the name of money and "progress". I keep saying it, but really, People. Look at the bigger picture. Once Venice has all the same stores and posers that populate everywhere else, there is no need for anyone to come here and put up with the parking and the locals resenting them. They can just go to their own stupid mall. Venice is supposed to be different. It all comes down to choices ... and that bigger picture. Think before you cash out, residents. Think before you push out, landlords. Let's truly BE DIFFERENT.
Farewell, Andy. I wish you all the very best. I'm sorry your neighborhood couldn't keep you.