Sung Kim

Commercial geology: the evolution of rock material under changing economic conditions at the earth's surface; the upheaval of the lithosphere by transitory agencies such as the land developer, the urban planner, and the bureaucrat.

Collapse structure: Henry's landmark falls down, goes boom, abolished by eruptive erosion. (See: sell-out.) Historic rubble lies heaped around brew house buildings. An exposed wall stands like a blanched escarpment whose cave mouths holler, "I'm next!" at three, four, and five-story intervals.

Redevelopment: the amalgamation of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rock--brick, marble, granite, glass, and steel--into an upscale orogeny of offices, boutiques, condos, and bistros. Orogeny? Sign me up!

Re: devil payment (or, the calculus of fiscal tectonics): Will the Burnside walkways be eight feet wide, as the developers of the Brewery Blocks desire? Or will they be 12 feet, as the city requires for public safety and beautification, thereby reducing the potential lease space by 2500 square feet per additional sidewalk foot? And how many of our tax dollars will be used to fulfill the dreams of the developers? (Eight million bucks and counting.)

Urban planning? Isn't there such a thing as rural spontaneity?

Subduction: the process whereby one lithospheric plate is buried beneath another. West Burnside's other landmark, Powell's City of Books, is a case in point. The Planet's Bookstore was once this funky joint that maintained its inventory through a card system. Computerization of the inventory begot an online presence, begot Internet offices and a four-story "tower," begot the unionization of staff members. While Powell's fostered an image as community pillar, the company stance regarding the union--pouting, foot-dragging, plaintive bewilderment slash sand-pounding--conclusively revealed Powell's was not communal. Neither was the crazy money the owner and upper management paid (and still pay) themselves while rolling quarters down to the lowlanders.

As the communal plate was subducted beneath the capitalistic, a deep divide called Hypocrisy and a mountain of Mistrust marked the subduction or collision zone. (See: shameless deceit.) The only means available for staff to overcome these impediments and expose the company's ever-widening moral and economic landscape was through unionization: "Share and share alike" vs. "I wanna be like Mike." Say didja hear the one about the independent bookstore that needed two CEOs and a Board of Officers?

Remineralization: the gradual replacement of organic matter (heart) by inert (stone). In studying the folds and faults of the historic strata, we find Powell's had been a bitchin' place to work. Once, to celebrate completion of the archway between the Green and Blue Rooms, management served champagne to staff members, including those working the sales floor. Another time this supervisor, a fan of Annette Funicello, wanted to send her condolences to Funicello upon news the star had been diagnosed with MS. The supervisor constructed a "set" to match the cover of one of Annette's surf albums. One by one, employees were photographed as the ex-Mouseketeer wearing a Hawaiian dress, lei, and curly black wig, with pineapples as hapless props. The photos were shipped off to Funicello, who returned a polite thank you. While Funicello didn't altogether understand or appreciate the tribute, for employees this was community, this was closeness.

Misery was not pervasive.

Morale was not evasive.

Greed is the preeminent force behind commercial geology. Greed allows economic evolution to occur irrespective of the biosphere. Greed knows no saturation point, nor does it willingly admit to wrongdoing. (See: silicious ooze.) In light of this, and of Henry's example, both the uniformitarian and the catastrophist would agree it's possible the Burnside marquee will one day read "Barnes & Noble's" or "Borders'" or "Amazon's City of Books."