Over there on the west side of Alameda, at the intersection of 9th and Santa Clara, plunked down right in the midst of an otherwise residential neighborhood, is a most intriguing commercial island. Once upon a time, I'm sure, it would have consisted of (let me guess) a hardware store, a mom-and-pop grocery, a haberdashery or a shoe store, and a gas station. Now it's a fully contemporary American mish-mash.
The gas station has been converted into the Islamic Center of Alameda. Where there would once have been a sign advertising Esso, there's now the harder-to-parse motto "there is no God but Allah, the self-sustaining, eternal." Directly across the street from the mosquette is a second store-front worship-opportunity, the Love Fellowship Church of God in Christ. Here pride of place goes not to Allah but to "Pastor Elder Samuel Butler," or "Pastor Elder Samuel Bulter," depending on which hand-painted sign you put your faith. Kitty-corner to Love Fellowship is Dance 10, no longer a shoe store, but now a venue where budding toe-tappers are instructed in "Hop. Lyrical. Modern. Musical. Theater. Jazz. Tap. Ballet. Acrobatics. Hip-hop." On the fourth corner, there's a "convenience" store, where outsized neon signs advertise "Budweiser" and "Tecate."
It's a comprehensive assemblage: feed your soul (for them as believe they have one), feed your feet, feed your gullet.