Casa de Mexico in Harvard Square is gone. It was a little hole-in-the-basement placed that served any Mexican dish you wanted, provided you wanted something smothered in lots and lots of cheese. It also served the most delicious Mexican coffee, flavored improbably with chamomile, cinnamon and chocolate. In its place is a minimalist-looking trendoid presumably expensive Indian restaurant which fails to capture any of the ambience or character Casa de Mexico had in that basement location. They took off all the wall tiles. I won't eat there.
Wordsworth, also in Harvard Square, is gone. A venerable two-story bookstore now replaced by ... er, a boutique on top and I don't know what yet on the bottom. I loved Wordsworth's and will not listen when people tell me to just go to the Harvard Bookstore instead. All the books I bought in the past year, with the exception of some Amazon special orders and my sci-fi and fantasy which I get from Pandemoniums, I bought from Wordsworth's. Along with Bartley's, Wordsworth's was the foundation of my Burger An' A Book Tuesdays over the summer.
Mr. Crepe in Davis Square is gone. I found this out the hard way after a Murder rehearsal. The pasta place next door, which I believe owned both spaces, decided to expand into that area and so they pushed Mr. Crepe out. When last I went by, there was a smug sign on the window that said something like "Yes! We're expanding!" which just rubbed the salt deeper into the wounds of those Mr. Crepe fans among us.
And now the White Hen on Mass. Ave and Day Street is gone. "Lost our lease December 1," reads a sign on the door. "Thanks to all our loyal customers for 15 years of business." This was the only 24-hour place around Davis Square, and when I lived on Rice Street I was always glad to have it around so I could stumble in at any hour of the night and at any level of sobriety. I once saw the owner, a little fellow, hold his own against three shoplifters -- two who'd done it intentionally to distract him from the third, who was trying to lift free scratch tickets. He kicked 'em all out of the store and said "Never come back. Never come back." I admired the dude. Now I'm closer to the Porter Square White Hen, yes, and I certainly hope it keeps its lease, but the Davis Square one was a necessity and now it's gone. I shudder to think of the gentrified crap that'll inevitably spawn in its place. Lord knows that stretch of Mass Ave needs another trendy, here-today-gone-tomorrow boutique or cafe.
What hurt the most is not the fact that I took all four establishments for granted, because that's always what happens. Part of the healing process, I guess, is that twinge of guilt. But it's not like I could've done anything to save a business. I admit I hadn't been to that White Hen since early last summer, when I wandered back over from Jamin's place after a Philip Glass rehearsal, and I only decided to go to the Mr. Crepe a few weeks back because "Hey, I haven't been there in a long time." But is the onus really on me and my $5 every now and then? Honestly, no.
What hurts the most is the sting of loss, sharp and intense, that accompanied the news of each demise. It's the realization that yes, there is now a "last time" you visited that place and no, you didn't get to choose it. I didn't get to say goodbye to Mr. Crepe or to the White Hen. (I did go into Wordsworth's for One Last Time before they closed, but by then the place had nearly been picked clean.) I guess the goodbyes don't really matter as much as the fact that four good friends are gone from the Boston area and we're all the worse for it.
So it goes.