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October 23, 2014

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Joe Downtown: There’s still some grit left among the gentrification

Downtown is becoming more gentrified but is still very much a gritty urban center.

Proof?

A few weeks ago, a guy walked up to one of the girls working behind the counter at the Beat and asked for a beer.

She tells him he can't get a beer for several hours because the Beat’s license doesn’t allow it to serve beer or wine until 7 p.m.

For three hours, the guy sits and waits.

This is the same guy who had to be told not to put his bare feet up on a table in the coffeehouse. He’s the same guy who lived for several weeks in a downtown hotel and who would leave the faucet running in the bathroom at the Beat. The day he asked for the beer, he had already been in the area a few weeks.

He is generally described as unkempt and unshowered.

In his 20s and wearing a shirt with an illustration of a man vomiting on a girl, he walks up to the counter again.

“Pitcher,” he whispers. “Pitcher.”

“We don’t serve until 7,” the barista replies.

Like a gunfighter, he holds her in his gaze while slowly reaching into his pocket. He pulls out a cellphone and holds it up, the clock face pointed her way.

“It says 7:01,” he says.

She mocks his moves, reaching into her pocket for her iPhone and points the face his way.

“That’s East Coast time,” she says. “It’s 4:01.”

Downtown is changing. Hopefully not so much that stories like these fade from the landscape.

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