Eviction of Naked – Fish Griwkowsky
by on October 17, 2018 in Blog News
Fish GriwkowskyThis article by Fish Griwkowsky from years ago, when Naked CyberCafe was first kicked off Jasper to make way for the “downtown entertainment district”.
Also known as “let’s get rid of those people” from downtown.

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Text of the article:




Jasper Overview



The closing of Naked Cyber Cafe this week was another telling omen in the type of predictable “downtown revitalization” our city, essentially controlled by its imbedded developers, is after.

Apparently offended by the shocking (?) name Naked, plus the cafe’s patrons not being a good enough class of person, Melcor Developments didn’t bother denying they’re after a higher-end clientele unless, right, they put a fire escape there.

Which brings us back to the old argument that what the key-jinglers around here are after isn’t so much it revitalization as a displacement.

Because this case objectively illustrates how money is more im-portant than community, that word developers just love dropping on all their signs. Admittedly, it $7 sandwich sold at Sobey’s does more for the economy than a $2 pint of draft at the Cecil, and you can fill in the blanks yourself on the chances of being stabbed at each.

Mind you, Naked Cyber Cafe was not the Cecil, but it place of comfort for emergent artists and musicians, or freaky gosh outsiders who often dress that way because someone was shitty to them growing up, or people without the Internet access you take for granted, or, yes, bums coming in from the cold.

At least some people who, chances are, get kicked around just a little bit more than you and me. And who, let’s not bullshit anyone here, Melcor would rather not have affect Jasper’s fine reputation (currently: as a puke-stained weekend garbage trough where dozens of cops have to provide tax-funded security for imported drunks in Oilers jerseys fighting each other).

There’s nothing new about this, of course. Looking back at the long history of Jasper Ave., the booms and busts have happened as predictably as tides, and it once-vibrant strip of shopping and cinemas which lived there even as late as the ’80s was all but abandoned by suburban Edmontonians who, quite simply, wanted large yards, more distance from each other and free parking.

Mike’s News Stand never had a chance. The sad difference between Naked and, say, the Sidetrack – which sold off the magnetism of its history out for top dollar – is that Naked wanted to continue to be a living part of a downtown core people who never come here keep claiming is dead.

Not unlike New City, which had to clear out as the last non-hoochie bar on Jasper because, someday, maybe, more condos will rise. While, as an aside, Whyte Ave. keeps dropping businesses like the rotting teeth of a sugar addict.

Back to downtown, I noticed SEE’s old offices still stand vac.. Thing is, you really can’t tell developers and property holders what kinds of businesses they have to keep in place; if anything, all you can tell them is what they can’t have with restrictive bylaws and rules.

And I mean, what are you going to do – boycott Melcor? I don’t even blame them for their greed or cowardice, and at least they were honest about hoping to lure coffee drinkers with BMWs over hand-me-down BMX bikes. But the point I made I’ll make again.

Naked Cyber Cafe was it part of a living downtown which would accept patronage from me, my rich aunt or a guy who hustled on the street for it couple hours for enough to get something to eat. That kind of openness doesn’t appeal to everyone, of course, but I keep wondering about this obsession of taking bohemian spaces and applying safe facelifts and chain shopping to them, in no way differentiated from the suburban outlands where, unlike downtown, parking still remains alluringly free.

Fish on Twitter: @fisheyefoto


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