Saturday, April 29, 2006

Things I Will Miss (not really) #2

Today's post is about Cannery Row. John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. John Steinbeck the writer who wrote a book called Cannery Row. He also wrote books called The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, and The Pearl, among others. He was a very famous writer. He also happened to live in Salinas, about 15 miles from here, and I have had the interesting experience of growing up alongside the actual Cannery Row. I also used to work at a bank that was in the building in which Steinbeck wrote The Pearl, but I digress.
When I was a kid in the 60's, Cannery Row was just that, a section of town full of sardine canneries. By the time I came along the sardines had dried up and most of the canneries had closed and lay in various stages of disrepair and ruin. As a teen we used to go down to the water and crawl up under the canneries and party. We had friends that ran away from home and actually lived under the canneries. Those were fun times. I'm serious. There was never anyone down there, just a few shops, a really cool record store called Odyssey Records, and a movie theater called The 812 Cinema which had no seats, only giant pillows. I saw The Song Remains The Same there about 15 times, well at least I saw the first part, I was always really stoned and would fall asleep during the movie all the time. It was a fun and scenic place to party and hang out.
During the 70's many of the canneries burned down under suspicious circumstances, arson was always suspected but never proven. I always figured that was a good way for the cannery owners to get rid of their worthless crumbling buildings that were on prime waterfront property, so that they could build new, more profitable structures there. And that is what happened. And this was the thing that really kickstarted the touristy ruination of my beloved old Cannery Row:


The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Now don't get me wrong, I love the aquarium, it is the best, we go at least once a year, it's awesome and I have always felt fortunate to live so close to something so cool. But let me tell you, John Steinbeck's Cannery Row is gone, replaced by Bubba Gump's and TGIFriday's. It makes me sick. Yes, they have tried to maintain the visual integrity of the old Row, but inside the old looking buildings are Starbucks and tons of gift shops full of tacky stuff you hope nobody brings back to you from a visit. Here are some pictures I took just the other day, I felt dirty after taking them, too much like a tourist.

Oh, they look like the old canneries from the street, here is what they actually are.

Three Hundred Dollar A Night Hotels! Let's go further down the Row.

This is probably one of the more unchanged views on Cannery Row, but don't be fooled--

The tour buses are coming! Let's proceed. As we go further into the sick touristy heart of the beast, we start to see the shops, how can we not, for they are everywhere! Here are some interesting ones-

I have never been into After The Quake but I would like to imagine it is a store full of broken stuff, after all, it is AFTER the quake! Here is a shot of the old Monterey Canning Company building, it's original, on the outside anyway.

That's where the Starbucks is, have yourself a Grande Iced Half Caf Non Fat Caramel Macchiatto! Then go across the street and pay homage to the bust of the great author himself, John Steinbeck:

Somehow I don't recall reading about a Sunglass Hut in his book!

OK I think you get the picture. The Thing I Will Miss is the Thing I Have Already Been Missing For 20 Years.

I'm exhausted.


Anonymous said...

Loved your memories about "old" Cannery Row. I too spent countless hours climbing under the old Outrigger down the "row" and up an old pipe into the empty buildings. The Hovden even had a working fork-lift during my day that we would start up. Good stuff!

Karla said...

We were so fearless back then, I remember walking across half rotted boards and seeing the ocean below. Now that I'm a mom this kind of freaks me out. My mom would have died if she knew the stuff I did back then.