La pulga

The flea market at Pleasant Valley and Elmont surrounding the old Aquarius Theater is one of the liveliest places in town. I’m with the owner on this one. Following up on two tiny news items over the past few months, today’s local daily boasts a front-page feature by Jeremy Schwartz, entitled “Flea market entangled in red tape.”

The owner and the city are at odds over whether there’s a proper operating permit for this venture. The City may also be pressing him on the issue of parking. I’ve been frequenting this venue since it first appeared. Most people walk to it from the hundreds and perhaps thousands of nearby apartments; others arrive by bus and walk down from Riverside. There’s a busy informal street market in used vehicles. Some people sell from the sidewalks on the way to the pulga. In the parking lot of the former location of Casita Jorge’s across the street from the Aquarius are additional informal stalls. People set up vending tables on the grounds of apartment complexes nearby or sell from the beds of pickups parked on the streets. There are usually items for sale employing apartment fences for display purposes.

The owner took what was a dead spot devoted to the shadier sorts of commerce and brought it to a life so vital that, despite all the construction on Pleasant Valley, business continued unabated, again probably because, apart from the official on-lot vendors, most people arrive on foot. Independent discotecas complained about sales of bootleg music a while ago. I think that the owner is correct in saying that his vendors were not the responsible parties. The sales of this sort that I’ve observed have been off the premises on nearby parking lots.

I’d post a picture of the beautiful dancing pigs carnitas trailer but I haven’t yet succeeded in getting a good one. Everything’s so crowded that I’m never over there early enough to get an unobstructed view. It is a veritable work of art.

The pulga is just the pulsating core of a galaxy of commercial activity that has enlivened and brightened a formerly dismal corner of Austin.

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