These days, the stretch of Maryland Parkway from Flamingo Road to Tropicana Avenue is sharply divided between its west and east sides. On the west side sits the ever-growing, increasingly modernized UNLV campus. Looming like an overgrown Tinker Toy creation over what was once a parking lot is the steel frame of a new, under-construction student union. The face of Maryland Parkway, at least on the west side of the six-lane thoroughfare, is rapidly changing.
On the east side, however, the story is a little different. Decades-old shopping centers with little more in common than their aging exteriors and interiors are strewn across the parkway, inconsistent in design, color, tenants or clientele. Those walking the sidewalks are less likely to be students than derelicts, residents of the surrounding neighborhoods or CAT bus riders biding time between routes.
Now, picture Maryland Parkway as a center of cultural activity, where college students and the creative class of Las Vegas come to study, socialize, dine and shop. Independently owned coffee shops are filled with academics and intellectuals. A top-grade record store such as Tower Records serves as a premier destination for local musicologists. Bars and clubs are buzzing with live music, flowing taps and warm bodies. At night, people casually walk from retail stores to cafes to bars, making the parkway a culturally aware alternative to the tourist-trapping Strip.
This vision of the University District as a pedestrian-friendly, bustling cultural community is not the imagined "Midtown" that UNLV President Carol Harter and developer Mike Saltman have envisioned for the area 10 years from now. It is the memory of a scene that actually existed, 10 years ago.
How did Maryland Parkway go from cultural center to wasteland in such a short time, and can forced development really bring it back to life? We've been wondering that ourselves, so we gathered business owners, journalists, musicians and scenesters from that era to tell their stories of how Maryland Parkway was born, how it thrived, and, eventually, how everything just faded away.
IN THE BEGINNING, LENADAMS CREATED THE NEWSROOM ...
Lenadams Dorris has been a force in Southern Nevada culture and politics for most of his life. In the last two decades, he hosted an environmental talk show on KNPR, co-owned Enigma Garden Café and, most notably, opened Las Vegas' first real European-style coffeehouse, the Newsroom, at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Carson Avenue.
Dorris: I graduated school here at 16 in 1976. I was involved with art and music stuff from the time I was 11 until I split for Los Angeles at 17. I had a kid, married, divorced, watched my house burn and then I traveled the world, living in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, parts of Europe, Asia and Africa before I came back home in 1985.
Everything had changed. I couldn't find "the scene" except for the parties and weirdness emanating from [Jerry] Russo's old Hair Zoo. I had been exposed to coffeehouses in other parts of the world, particularly Seattle and Italy, and I decided that if I couldn't find the freaks, I would create a place where the freaks could find me.
Thus was born the Newsroom, which used the gimmick of having magazines and newspapers from all over the world in order to draw out the potentially cool people. At that time, you had to drive to L.A. to find a London Times or an Italian Vogue—or even a goddamned zine. The strategy worked. All the weirdos came crawling out of the woodwork.
I believe—and I know I am biased—that the opening of the Newsroom marked the beginning of a cultural renaissance in the city that lasted until rather recently. Within six months of the Newsroom happening, there was a definable "scene," a lot of which quickly spun off and went its own way.
Brian Weiss was raised in Boulder, Colorado. After moving to Las Vegas in 1985, he started working at the Newsroom, only about six months into its existence Downtown.
Weiss: It was an entirely different crowd. The whole coffeehouse culture at that time hadn't taken any ground—it was still a strange thing that bohemian kids did. There was no national picture of Starbucks—it simply didn't exist.
By the end of 1986, Dorris decided to move the café to a larger location across from UNLV in the Promenade at Maryland Parkway and Harmon Avenue.
Dorris: We had a New Year's party as a way of both raising money for KNPR and marking the move from Downtown to UNLV. We celebrated New Year's 12 times, on the hours starting at noon, charged $20 a head and had 1,370 people there. It was good, but coffeehouses just don't make money.
Weiss: The whole move was done over a week and a half, and as we moved the location, most of the people who were regulars become construction workers. The people who frequented the place built it.
We co-leased the upstairs of the building. We had a little gift shop up there; a couple people sold clothing, jewelry, etc. Having more space—3,400 square feet—meant having a kitchen, an office, backroom prep, bakery facilities. It was very nice.
Dorris: When the North Las Vegas library at the last minute refused to allow a show of UNLV student art to open because of "morality issues," it made headlines. When we invited the show to come over to the new Newsroom's gallery instead, it made bigger headlines and produced the biggest opening for a gallery exhibit anyone could remember.
The Newsroom did well in its new location, but by mid-1987, all was not equally well behind the scenes with Dorris and his business partner.
Dorris: My business partner, John Laub, who I'd gone to high school with at Clark, had just become engaged, and his fiancée hated me; she went so far as to go to his conservative, wealthy parents and say, "Have you seen the sort of filthy artists, musicians and homosexuals your son hangs around with?" It became difficult to do anything with the place because his loyalties were split between the wife-to-be and me. Of course, she won, because she had pussy and pillow talk on her side.
At the same exact time, my lover, Stephen Anderson, who had founded AFAN, had come down with full-blown AIDS. As a result, I gave my shares in the coffeehouse to my partner and moved with Stephen to Vermont, where he was from.
I disappeared from the scene in mid-1987, six months after my coffeehouse moved from Downtown and about five months before my business partner closed it.
Weiss: I was at the Newsroom until two weeks before it closed.
After it closed, the Newsroom became Bad News for about six months, until it was reopened as Café Espresso Roma, part of a Berkeley, California-based chain of college-friendly coffee dens. Roma became the de facto place for the city's creative class and caffeine-driven coeds.
A WORLD OF CHOICE
Like most good things in Las Vegas, UNLV's campus radio station, KUNV, started small. In 1978, it was known as KJON, broadcasting from a bathroom in the university's Moyer Student Union. In 1981, the station became KUNV 91.5-FM, the full-fledged sponsored radio station of UNLV—and moved into a proper studio on the third floor of the MSU. Known for its eclectic after-hours programming and the solid college-rock format of the Rock Avenue program, KUNV truly lived up to its slogan, "A World of Choice." Beyond the content on the airwaves, the station provided a physical connection between the community and the university area.
Jason Feinberg is the owner of On Target Media Group, a Los Angeles-based music marketing and video production company. He was music director at KUNV from 1995-96.
Feinberg: In the early 1990s in Las Vegas, there was only one place to hear punk music, and that was KUNV. I remember being floored that you could find a radio station that played the Misfits.
James Paul Reza, a Las Vegas native, is a travel writer, local columnist and former publisher of the original incarnation of the Las Vegas Weekly, Scope Magazine.
Reza: The station's DJs used to have KUNV nights at the Steakout [a bar across from UNLV, near Tropicana Avenue]—it was the only place to go where anyone was spinning alternative rock. If you were wearing black clothes and smoking cloves, you were there.
The Steakout was just one of the bars on the parkway that was frequented by college students and underage patrons alike. The Sports Pub, above Roma, was a popular spot for live music, as was Carlos Murphy's (now Moose's Beach House) and Tom & Jerry's Pub & Grub.
Reza: It was much more of a college scene in that sense, where bars would look the other way with questionable IDs.
Weiss: I remember Lon Bronson and his big band playing at Favorites [a bar near the corner of Maryland Parkway and Flamingo Road]—an 18-piece brass section that played so loud the room would shake. You couldn't even play pool because the balls would rattle.
At the time, Weiss was playing in a number of alternative rock bands. He was also dating Suzanne Scott, who was a DJ at KUNV.
Weiss: Through Suzanne, I was somewhat involved peripherally with the radio station at the time. One of the things that really moved the scene was that everybody was peripherally involved with KUNV.
Ronn Benway was raised on Maryland Parkway. He was born at Sunrise Hospital, went to Orr Middle School, bought his first record at Tower Records (when it was directly across from UNLV) and worked at a Wherehouse store a block from there.
Benway: When I was 18, I moved to Venice. I worked for the Wherehouse, then at Penny Lane Records. That's where Kelly and I met. We worked together for a couple of years, got married and had a baby. We then realized that everything in LA was too expensive.
I hadn't been to Vegas in years. We went back to visit my mom—and it was one of those rare weekends: Sonic Youth was somewhere, Neil Young was somewhere, Living Colour was playing. It looked like the place was happening, so we decided to open up a store there.
The Benways found a space for their store, Benway Bop, in the same strip mall as the Steakout.
Benway: We got the smallest possible space we could find—700 square feet—and the lowest rent we could find. It was a hallway. They just put up a wall in the front and a wall in the back. But it was close to where we were living.
The strip mall, when we got there, was all middle-aged shops, like an old ladies' beauty salon and a computer repair shop.
Kelly Benway is a Los Angeles native, and moving to Vegas, she expected to find culture akin to her hometown.
Kelly Benway: When we moved here, I would drive around looking for things. I thought there had to be a Melrose area, a Sunset Strip area. But there wasn't. I asked myself, "Where the hell is everything?" There was nothing.
Ronn Benway: We were expecting Benway Bop to sell a lot of alternative rock, maybe a lot of jazz, but everyone just wanted punk rock. We got a lot of meatheads at the college—it's not like UNLV was known for its art or music departments.
The record store the Benways worked at in Westwood, California, was near a university, and its clientele were college students into bands like Depeche Mode and the Cure. They expected the same from UNLV.
Ronn Benway: We thought the university was a good place to feed off, but it ended up being high-school kids.
One of those high-school kids was Jason Feinberg, who also found refuge in other Maryland Parkway record stores, like the Underground, Tower Records (which relocated to the corner of Flamingo Road before Benway Bop opened) and J-Mar (near Sahara Avenue).
Feinberg: There was nothing on the other side of town. I mean, there were Record City stores, but they all sucked.
After a few months, Benway Bop moved into a larger suite, right next to the Steakout.
Ronn Benway: When we moved into the bigger space, we could do more things—with the bigger store, there was more room for displays. We could do in-stores. Of course, calling labels at that time to say, "Hey, we want to promote your band in Vegas" was like saying, "You want to play an untapped market?"
Geoff Carter bounced between New Jersey and California before landing in Las Vegas in 1989. He is now a columnist and web content editor for NWSource.com in Seattle, but in the early '90s, he was simply a music lover working at one of the local Record City locations.
Carter: I started going to the Sports Pub around '90 or '91 to see the Shakin' Dominoes. I'd see either them or Constant Moving Party—they were there every night.
About this time, Aaron Britt—who would later co-develop Club Utopia—and Mike Ford started In Music magazine, a free paper focusing on local music. Carter started writing for the publication when he met Britt through his friends in the band Endless Mindless.
Carter: Aaron managed Endless Mindless. In Music meetings were sometimes held at Café Espresso Roma—which I wasn't wild about. Something about the place didn't click with me. There was always one of their "resident" guys there sleeping on the couch, and they got a little territorial.
Meagan Angus lived in a coastal California fishing town until her mother transplanted her to the slums of North Las Vegas. She now lives in Seattle, indulging in photography, fetish wear, poetry and other means of creative expression.
Angus: I first found Maryland Parkway while going to night school at Sunset, over on Charleston, approximately late 1991. There, I met Keith Halbrich [future UNLV DJ], who told me of poetry readings at some place called "Roma." When I told my mom where I was going, her singular response was, "Thank God, you've finally found the artists."
Weiss: Alternative culture had exploded in that area, but it was a very small scene.
Angus: Very soon after joining a couple readings, I was completely hooked: the people, the experience of being on stage again, the cigarette smoke, the hippies. I nearly swooned. All I had seen of this town was shit, filth, decay, whoring and violence. To stumble all of a sudden on what I literally saw as an oasis of intellectualism and creativity, it really affected me, and I latched onto it.
I could feel a palpable aura surrounding the coffeehouse, coming directly off the artists who were keeping it open. There were cliques, but altogether, the groups were very welcoming to new readers. The worn floors, hand-painted walls, and every corner crammed with art, zines, flyers—I felt like I had found a place that I didn't know I was looking for.
Feinberg: For a high-school kid to discover this, that there actually is some culture—not awesome culture, but it exists—that was huge.
IF YOU PRINT IT, THEY WILL READ
The growth of the cultural scene on Maryland Parkway received a boost when Reza launched Scope Magazine in April 1992. The free monthly alternative paper set itself apart from In Music by catering to a wider range of topics, including art, poetry, theater, social commentary and, of course, local music.
Reza: In the beginning—the first six months to a year of publishing—we held our editorial staff meetings at Guy's Pies [in the Promenade], which was weird because In Music's office was upstairs. That area was the center of what Scope represented, because most of our writers were students at UNLV, and they all hung out at the coffeehouses. The live music scene was right there around UNLV. If there was ever a true campus culture, that was it.
I think Scope, in its early days, forced things into being. We were not objective. We were an advocate for the scene.
A VIRTUAL EXPLOSION
Doug Jablin, who is now a video wizard at the House of Blues, was on KUNV in a variety of roles from 1985 to 1998. In 1990, he took over a late-night experimental show, Difficult Listening, which became Virtual Radio in 1991. The next logical progression was to take the spoken word, music and madness of the show to another dimension.
Jablin: I had been doing radio since 1985 and was in need of doing other creative types of things. Club Virtual was created as a multimedia experiment that merged poetry, visual art, video and music together into a dada amalgamation. I did a New Year's gig at Benway, but the first Club Virtual was a few months later and there was another that followed at Benway.
Jerry Higel opened Café Rainbow in the spring of 1993 on the northeast corner of Flamingo and Maryland. It didn't take long for Jablin to come knocking with his idea for a weekly event.
Jablin: I became entertainment director at Café Rainbow in June of 1993 and started Club Virtual as a weekly experience. It was out of Club Virtual that the Committee for Public Safety was born. I coordinated Club Virtual, with Gregory Crosby, who became the host, Jeff Morris, who was the audio tech, and Anthony Bondi, who created the sets.
Angus: I found Cafe Rainbow because of the poetry scene. It was a long, skinny room with a poorly marked bathroom. I never could really tell who the employees were, as it seemed random people would often get up to make themselves drinks. Microphones scattered throughout the room and the crowd sampled over (or under) whatever else was going on—reading, singing, performance art—Spit reading "Swazi Boy" a few years before being murdered by one.
The Committee for Public Safety was essentially the same enclave of creative minds that could be found in the pages of Scope, on air at KUNV and of course, at every poetry reading in the city.
Jablin: Club Virtual went from June of 1993 to January of 1994. For a long time we were the C.P.S. It wasn't until later that I told other creative individuals that they were members. I guess my attitude was that you didn't join the C.P.S.; you were C.P.S. It was a good idea that I poorly implemented.
Angus: Other things I remember of Rainbow: the bad blues open-mic nights; everyone standing outside because you couldn't smoke inside; the fussy restaurant next-door [Café Michelle], whom I'm sure helped get the place closed; body paintings on the back walls.
In October 1993, Mike Gazal, who had grown up in Los Angeles and Israel, opened Café Copioh in the Rebel Plaza, directly across from Roma on the south side of Harmon Avenue. It started as a quiet, more sophisticated alternative to Roma or Rainbow, but that didn't last for long. Café Rainbow's closure in early 1994—rumored to be a result of owner Higel's personal demons and constant complaints from Café Michelle—unleashed a horde of youth culture upon Gazal's new establishment.
Feinberg: People from The Rocky Horror Picture Show [in which Feinberg performed for a short period] were going to Café Rainbow—and then when that closed, we all moved to Copioh.
Angus: When Copioh opened, I walked over one afternoon with my friends Sarah and Keith and tried to be the first dollar Mike took, but they weren't ready to serve yet. The fact that these two coffeehouses [Copioh and Roma] were next to each other never seemed like competition. It felt like a logical decision, and promptly expanded the growing aura of the place. This block of land was now "officially" recognized by the gutter-punks as "the place to be," and once the punks really started to inhabit, it seemed the two places exploded with activity. And it centered on two spots: the Copioh parking lot, and the stairs outside of Roma. I think those sports bars never saw it coming.
Carter: Brian Weiss mentioned this nice café called Café Copioh. One day I went down there with my notebook. Copioh became my base of operations for a few years.
Angus: It seems there was always something going on in the Copioh parking lot; music blaring, people getting high, doing beer bongs, selling acid, whatever. The area became known as the place to look for people when you couldn't find them anywhere else. The parking spot in front of the Copioh door, next to the big rock, was probably the most prime real estate in the whole lot.
Carter: The evening started at Copioh and often ended at Copioh. There weren't that many places to go. You would go and complain about seeing the same people. But then you'd rely on it and depend on it—there's where everybody was.
Mike Upchurch is an Emmy award-winning comedy writer and Los Angeles resident. In the early-to-mid 1990s, he lived in the Living Desert apartment complex behind Rebel Plaza while attending UNLV.
Upchurch: It was the heyday—you had Copioh and Roma, and Copioh was just the crazier of the two. There were more deadbeats there—I think they had been run out of Roma.
Reza: I could find any one person on my staff at any time down there, usually more.
Kelly Benway: The scene was so small that everyone knew each other. It was a giant family. It was very incestuous, but you knew everybody. I came from LA, and it's huge and you don't know anyone.
John Emmons was the host of Poetry Alive at Café Espresso Roma. A grizzled old hippie, Emmons was respected and disliked in equal measures. He also lived in Living Desert, directly across from Mike Upchurch. One night—for reasons that remain open to debate—he found himself on the wrong end of a bullet.
Angus: I remember John Emmons getting shot after pissing off the Church of the Subgenious with something he said on KUNV, and stumbling into the back door of Copioh, leaving a blood smear on the back couch.
Carter: He says to Gazal, "Mike, I've been shot. I don't think I've been shot before." I remember it was the night of the Hole and Veruca Salt show at the Huntridge. The café emptied out, and it seemed like everyone was in the waiting room at UMC.
Upchurch: We went to have a beer at Tom & Jerry's, and arrived right after the ambulance left. Everybody went over to UMC.
Carter: That night drove home to me that Copioh was more than a coffee shop—it was a community.
Feinberg: There was a time when, if you had nothing to do, you could go to either Copioh or Espresso Roma, and you would find people you knew that you could hang out with and do something interesting. That didn't last.
Weiss: If you didn't run into someone at KUNV, you could try them at Copioh, and if not there, then Roma.
Upchurch: There was comedy at Tom & Jerry's—there or Copioh or Roma. I'd go to the Sports Pub for bands or the occasional comedy night. There was the Contemporary Arts Collective. There was just a lot going on.
COFFEE AND COMPUTERS
In late 1995, Joe Kendall opened Cyber City Café—the city's first internet café—on the northwest corner of Maryland and Flamingo. Though it attracted more of a gay and lesbian crowd, it became part of the regular java crawl, as well as part of the underground music scene.
Angus: The expansion of the "scene" stretched it too thin, I think, because there were never enough of us to begin with, and now being scattered between three coffeehouses—four when Cyber City Cafe opened—was a slow death sentence to the whole area.
Ronn Benway: At the peak of our store and the radio station, all the KUNV DJs would stop by our store. Bazooka Joe would come by, we'd show him a new record, he'd play it on KUNV, and then the kids would come in to buy it.
When Feinberg started DJing at KUNV in late 1994, the college station was a two-time Gavin winner for best college station and best college music director. Under the direction of Program Director Jimmy Sullivan and Music Director Ian Scott, the station—mainly because of Rock Avenue—continued its influence on the culture that was flourishing on Maryland Parkway.
Feinberg: Sullivan and Scott had known each other for a long time. They got along, they didn't get along. They were both fiercely individualistic, and had very different ideas, and both felt they were 100 percent right.
In late 1994, Don Fuller became the general manager of the station, a move that did not appear to affect KUNV in any noticeable way at first.
Feinberg: I met Dustin Hall through a shift, and we became friends. He was the assistant music director. He said I should come to the office sometime and hang out. I did, and essentially became the assistant to the assistant. For a few weeks, I did that, then Dustin left, and I was the assistant music director for a semester, until Ian graduated in May '95, and I became the music director.
Behind the scenes, not all was well. Feinberg says the station had a feeling of disarray in late 1995. Sullivan was becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. By the beginning of 1996, the university system's Board of Regents decided they were pumping too much money into KUNV, and that more support should come from the community. Despite the award-winning success of Rock Avenue, the university could not count on funding from the relatively small number of college students who actually listened to KUNV.
Feinberg: Fuller—and possibly the board—realized that old rich white guy jazz fans were the ones likely to donate cash, so they started gearing the programming more toward jazz, cutting some morning-drive-time Rock Avenue hours and extending jazz later into the evening.
The gradual cutting of Rock Avenue had damaging effects on KUNV before anyone in the public knew there was trouble: The station fell below the required number of rock-programming hours to report to industry trade magazines like Gavin and CMJ.
Feinberg: When a station is not able to report to the big trade rags, they are effectively irrelevant. It was kept secret, if I recall, that we were under the required hours, because it was just barely: maybe two at first, then six or eight, then 10, then 12 ...
Kelly Benway: Everything started changing after a while.
Ronn Benway: Business was often slow. It was always an uphill battle, and it had a lot to do with the in-store situation. Our last in-store was Love is Laughter—it was this one guy with a guitar and a drum machine. The Steakout got the cops to come, they actually physically grabbed the guy to get him to stop playing and we got a disturbing the peace ticket.
Benway Bop closed in March 1997. The Benways moved back to Southern California, opened a Benway Records in Venice, but then reopened a store just a few suites down from the old location on Maryland Parkway six months later.
Ronn Benway: When we closed the first time, Rock Avenue was about to go down. When we reopened, business was different. We found ourselves in the store asking, "What's going on? This is good product; it used to sell."
Angus: When Benway closed the first time, I think that really took the wind out of a lot of people. The weird shit started going down at KUNV and slowly, the programming started to switch over to elevator music.
Rock Avenue was officially axed in 1998, with practically no notice to either the DJs or the community, just in time for KUNV's annual fund-raising drive. Jazz took over the station completely, save for a few specialty shows that survived on late nights and weekends.
Carter: I think killing Rock Avenue was the beginning. That's what I remember as the beginning of the end. It killed Benway. It killed the Underground. It took away the "call to action" for kids to go out and buy new and different music. I'd equate it to taking the Hollywood sign out of Hollywood—it doesn't make any sense why it would affect businesses, but it would.
Kelly Benway: There was no outlet for new music to be heard. That's when I saw music starting to die off there.
Carter: The Double Down started doing bands. The Hard Rock opened.
Kelly Benway: I saw it happen through the whole thing. Once there was talk of a Starbucks down there, it was not good. I had a little bit of hope when I knew Big B's [a competing independent record store] was opening in a different, bigger place.
angus: The moment it got bigger—Enigma Café trying to establish itself, that coffeehouse out on Sahara [Java Hut], us getting older and going to [Goth clubs] Dementia or Sanctuary and the Double Down more often—and we all had our respective corners to go to, it disintegrated.
LEAVING LAS VEGAS
Ronn Benway: We felt like we hit a roof in Vegas.
Kelly Benway: Honestly, I had to get my kids out of Vegas so they could do something.
angus: I left in the fall of 1998. By then, I think Benway had reopened, but I think the Underground had permanently closed. Cyber had closed, maybe Tower too. Copioh caught on fire the winter after I left.
The ghosts of Maryland Parkway are many. Café Espresso Roma held out until 2003, when three young men, Gary Tognetti, Ryan Pardey and Wesley Hines, tried to keep the venerable coffeehouse open after longtime owner Sandy Boyd gave up on the place earlier that year. Balcony Lights, which opened in 2000 in Benway Records' old spot, severed the last connection with a bygone era when it closed shop last month. Big B's is still open, but it is surrounded by head shops, fast-food chains, decaying retail shops and urban blight.
Carter: It amazes me that Maryland Parkway happened at all—Maryland Parkway is the most hostile roadway upon which to build a pedestrian culture. It must have been something that we really needed for it to form there, of all places.
Ronn Benway: Maryland Parkway, for me, was the hub of the artery that ran through Vegas. It was like the local's Strip. When I was a kid, Maryland Square, the Boulevard Mall—they were magical places.
Kelly Benway: From the beginning to the end, everything we needed was on that street.
Weiss: The town was so small that if you wanted to be involved in anything, you had to be involved in everything.
Feinberg: You had to do so many different things because there weren't enough people, but you also had the opportunity to do these different things. In New York City, there's eight million people, so who needs another house DJ? But in Vegas, there were only three house DJs, so you could work at the coffeehouse and DJ at KUNV and put on parties.
Carter: What brought people down there? There was nothing else to do.
Weiss: People were searching for something more. There is no center in this town. I think that everybody knew Maryland Parkway was where everyone else would be. The radio station held it together, and the coffeehouses supported that culture.
Feinberg: It feels like there was a sense of community. It seemed like everyone got along.
Reza: It feels like Maryland Parkway 10 years ago was more a hub of activity than it is today.
Angus: Did we romanticize it? F--k yeah, we did. We did then. One of the things that made the scene so strong, and so very weak at the same time, was the diversity. All the scenes—Goth, skater, punk, hippie, boheme—needed centralized meeting places. We were "forced" to hang out with mixes of social groups that, in larger or older cities, would have stratified. The "scene" was "The Scene." All of it mixed together. That was why it worked.
CAN MIDTOWN REALLY HAPPEN?
Reza: I think it's a great plan. I think there's an opportunity for it, whether it's planned or not.
Upchurch: Coffee shops and people, hmm ... it would be nice if they could re-create that.
Angus: I think the city will shoot themselves in the foot if they try to package and gentrify that aura, but it wouldn't be Vegas if they didn't try.
Reza: It's easy to go too far—you don't want to gentrify off the start—but you have to leave room for organic emergence—there's enough general energy around the university campus to spark the kind of success for record shops, bookstores, comic shops, clothing boutiques, etc.
Carter: It's needed again. But it's like putting toothpaste back into a tube.