We ran across an alarming note in the local alt-weekly. Woody's Oasis, a bar-and-restaurant in East Lansing, was closing at the end of July. We got there the day before its closing. So now you know how far behind ``current'' I'm running. I'm working on it.
The closing of Woody's Oasis took us by surprise. Took everyone by surprise, I think. The newspaper just alluded to problems involving the lease, and that a chain of coney islands (diners) would be opening in the spot soon. We have the inferences we've drawn from this. Still it was a shock. Woody's Oasis has long been one of those standard places to take people, and the more important since the closing of the Travellers Club Restaurant and Tuba Museum.
When we had our farewell lunch there was a light crowd and a definite air of ``yeah, we're a week past caring''. We waited I didn't think an unreasonable time before a guy came over and explained that he was normally working the kitchen, but he didn't know where the waiter was so he'd take our order if we had one. We wanted the place's specialty --- smead, some kind of cracked-wheat contraption that seems unique to them --- but, after a minute he came back to apologize they'd run out of smead. We kind of expected that. So we tried something different and liked it. He said that since they didn't have what we had ordered, they'd comp our lunches. This was way more than we expected, since, after all, he basically just ran back to check and told us they were out of something. On the other hand, they had two days to use up all the customer make-good budget they would ever have, and what was anybody going to do, fire them? Ended up comping our drinks, too, which left us trying to guess what the heck a fair tip might be.
Over the course of lunch it rained, off and on, about three times. And people were coming around taking artwork off the walls. Some of the staff was talking with people about past days at the place, and about the closing party set for the next day. We took pictures, of course, and noticed how much more interesting the place was, architecturally. (Also I got to wondering about the smoke-vacuum unit hanging from the ceiling. Was it Woody's, or the landlord's? And who wanted it now that smoking's prohibited in bars and restaurants? Has it got any value?) We felt bad for students who left Michigan State in May, looking forward to Woody's in the fall, who'd be caught by surprise.
And that closed out this piece of local texture. It's not the last interesting place in Lansing, of course. And new stuff is opening up. There's several neighborhoods in Lansing that are positively gentrifying, creating the kind of stuff we're sorry to see close a decade hence. Our neighborhood is allegedly one of them although we'd like it to hurry up a bit on our block. But it's still the end of one of the things bunny_hugger first took me to, to see what the place was like, the first time I visited the area.
Afterwards we stopped at the Story Oldsmobile dealership. The name tells you its current state. We had noticed the place slated for demolition and redevelopment in the indefinite future, and kept meaning to get there and take photographs of it. I never saw the place when it was open, mind you. And it's just a car dealership, although a representative of a particular model of late-50s General Motors architecture. We got photographs of that, too.
A month later the dealership is still intact as far as we can tell from the street. Woody's Oasis still has that name on their awning and we haven't been on the sidewalk to see if there's renovations actively under way. Also in East Lansing, there's a Jersey Mike's moving in. It's taking the place of a Moe's Southwest Grill, so at least it's not displacing any particular local character. But that's still a strange little change of the environment.
There are two or, depending on the newspaper article you're reading, three other Woody's Oasis establishments. One is at the food court in the student union. Not the real student union, but the one students use as the union. Another is a restaurant, no bar, just outside town, which bunny_hugger went to once, years ago, and thought had a really bizarrely weird atmosphere utterly different from the one that closed. The third we don't know where it is, and it may not actually exist.
Trivia: The steel table at which General MacArthur and Japanese officials sat to sign the surrender documents at the end of World War II was made by the Metal Office Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Source: Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design, Henry Petroski.
Currently Reading: Austerity Britain, 1945 - 1951, David Kynaston.
PS: How August 2015 Treated My Mathematics Blog, in case you were wondering. The answer: it's complicated, though not so complicated as I make it out to be.