I’m so old I remember when a certain mini-chain was one Tex-Mex joint downtown, and one that was best known for always making the Health Department shit list back in the days when ratings were actually reported in the papers. (The first casualty of corruption is transparency.) When a branch came to upper Broadway, I figured it had to be cleaner and went once when it opened and once in a moment of indefensible weakness. The latter encounter was memorable because the one waiter at lunch had a rather grimy bandage on his business hand and I didn’t instantly flee when I saw it. It seemed rude to run, so I ate whatever I ate and went home. And next day I was sick as a perra. The only worse experience was eons ago in Florence, when our waiter at lunch kept wiping his pimply nose — that had to be what did me in and not the horse salad my consort insisted on ordering and sharing. But all funky places come to an end, especially in New York, and so this one is no longer around to tempt the unwitting and undiscriminating. Now it’s like all the other storefronts I passed on the way home the other night, sitting empty with a huge “for rent” sign in the window (or, in the case of Aix, with the new definition of loser out front: a guy who didn’t realize the place had closed and had actually arranged to meet a date there). I just hope all the greedy landlords routing longtime tenants know we’re a long way from that elephant on CPW. Walk down Columbus with all the “apartments for rent” signs and it’s obvious what’s going up closer to home: Mastodons.