Today another longstanding Chapel Hill landmark is gone; the venerable Pyewacket has bitten the dust. I’ve long since gotten used to the impermanence of everything in North Carolina (in fact, it was one of Chapel Hill’s better qualities) but the demise of Pyewacket comes as a bit of surprise in that it was so fetishized by everyone in town. It was certainly the best place to take your parents, if you were an English major, that is. All the other Carolina parents would patronize the usual boring surf-n-turf bullshit “New South” restaurants like Slugs and the edge-of-the-stripmall tastes of the Macaroni Grill.
Not my parents, and not my friends parents either. We all went to Pyewacket, even though I thought the food was a little boring. It had a kick-ass bar, and was an excellent place to fall in love (or at least seduce somebody), and it wasn’t that expensive. Tessa used to work there, alongside all the upscale hipsters. And it always seemed packed, which is why I don’t get the whole “lack of business” angle – but then again, I haven’t been around in five years.
The Gap-ification of Chapel Hill has been a long time coming, and though it’s easy to wax nostalgiac for the days of the Hardback Cafe and Jeff’s Confectionery’s vanilla cokes, those days ain’t never coming back. The Intimate Bookshop burned down, then was rebuilt, then went out of business; Sephora now sells scented mascara there. Barrel of Fun – where I spent $8 daily on the Cyclone pinball machine – is now one of fifteen coffee places on Franklin Street. The Mona Lisa painting that had withstood decades of the Pink House was painted over the fucking day after I moved out.
The only way to stay sane in this world without devolving into a bitter, warped, cynical guttersnipe is to embrace these changes and figure that they all serve some greater good. My friend Ehren Gresehover hates the Amish because they’ve chosen a particular year, sometime in the mid-1800s, to call it quits on technology. He thinks the whole rustic Amish thing is arbitrary and moronic, and I’m inclined to agree. You can’t decide you want the world frozen in 1986 (although it was a damn fine year for music), just because you were more comfortable with your surroundings then. The students of UNC today lap up their tall mocha frappucinos and comparison shop for toe rings the same way we sought out Suzanne Vega vinyl and took our parents to Pyewacket.
I mean, I’m trying to be at peace with the future, because there’s not really anywhere else to go.