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  • Part two of a series - Intro/Part I here.

    Page - across D, down 3

    The very first page I drew, downtown Redfern on the beach, with its scraggly streets, over time became an older, decaying neighborhood. Redfern City Beach became increasingly unsafe, with needles and condoms littering the sand and drug dealers taking over Ocean Park. The high school has become a continuation school, and the elementary school a charter. As the sheet of paper began to brown and get soft with age, so did downtown Redfern. But then, a few years ago, because rent was cheap but the architecture cool, some younger people began to move in, and soon new businesses opened, especially on Ocean St. Le Hot Disco, which had in the 70s (when I first did this) been a swinging disco, had fallen on hard times and became a skid-row bar. That was the first place to get bought and fixed-up. Then came the tattoo shop, and Fat Pat’s Heart Attack Shack (when I asked my friend Pat many years ago what business he wanted, he wanted this restaurant). The women’s shop Closet of Iris opened, and then the Redfern Theater next door, which hadn’t shown movies in years, was bought from the church that held services there with the help of loans from the Redevelopment Agency and was turned into a hip movie theater/restaurant/bar/club. Someone bought and remodeled The Palace, off Franklin Ave. near the beach, and this is the first sprout off Ocean St. Residential and commercial rents are moving up, and some of the locals and old-timers are feeling the squeeze. The Fish Trap, Village Market, and the Gold and Silver Exchange are the only old businesses on this stretch of the street, and people are looking to turn Ocean St. by the beach soon.

    K-You Radio at 304 Corona Dr. is all-request radio – “The music you want!” In my teens I wanted to be radio DJ, thanks to Dr. Johnny Fever and a booming, deep voice. When I sat in my room and played my records, I would pretend to be a DJ, and one of my stations was K-YOU. I would read off the dedications and requests and play the music – “This is from Danny to Debbie in Oceanside – Missing You from John Waite.”

    For the largest city in Vandalia, the actual downtown government district is quite small, owing to it being the first one. Subsequent government centers were much larger. There have been discussions to merge Redfern with the city across the river, Riverdale, at which time that happens, if it ever does, the city government would move into their huge government buildings and the buildings in Redfern would be turned into more restaurants, shops, etc. But these merger talks have been going on for years, and nothing has happened yet.
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