Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
GENTRIFICATION AND THE NEW URBAN COWBOYS
"Trendy." "Hip." "Cutting-edge." "Slick." "Renewed vibrancy."
You won’t find many discouraging words in Ian Bailey’s feature Hip Spots and doughnuts in the Downtown Eastside (Globe & Mail, Saturday Feb. 18). The tone is positivist in Ayn Rand spirit and the message is simple: young middle class hipsters and novice entrepreneurs (Cartems Donuterie, Calabash Bistro, the Bitter pub, Save-On Meats Diner ) have nothing to fear amid “the home to thousands of intravenous drug users.”
“I don’t think it’s scary like it was,” Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, declares in Bailey’s piece.”It really is — good food. And it’s safe. “ I mean, I’m not saying you go down the back alleys, but I wouldn’t go down the back alleys of Granville Street for God’s sake.”
Like most proponents of creeping gentrification, the message seems to be win-win: Affordable rent for modest restaurateurs, and a fresh and edgy experience for patrons in, as Bailey describes it, “the new community of cool.”
Yes, it’s a Bob Rennie wet dream come true. Low rents, chic eateries and a “revitalization” of ‘one of Canada’s poorest, most chaotic neighborhoods.”
Oh, happy days!
The problem with Bailey’s feature, and the problem with the Vision-steered architectonic makeover of the Downtown Eastside, is that it throws an invisibility cloak over the thousands of long-time residents of the area, most of whom are NOT intravenous drug users. Poor, many may be, and therefore all the more reason to consider their vital stake in this civic/development shakedown and profit bonanza that is the underlying raison d’etre of the fashionably black heart of gentrification.
Look in the historical rear-view mirror and you’ll see an eerily similar trendy trend that overtook the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late ‘80s — a poor, traditionally Latino neighborhood. At least there were protests (very much an embryonic version of Occupy that staked its tents in Tompkins Square Park) against the gentrification that resulted in rent gouging, evictions and displacement of the residents and small storefront businesses that had made the Lower East Side vibrant in its own right, but of course now is bears the cleansed name of “East Village,” everything real-estate mandarins like Rennie and “ethical” architects like Henriquez (Woodward’s) would like to see evolve in the Downtown Eastside — a “cutting-edge” “hip” landscape for the chic-seeking white-collar set.
Just as in the Lower East Side, developers salivating over the profit potential of the Downtown Eastside have already enlisted artists and art-patrons (along with the boutique eateries) to lubricate their penetration and eventual occupation. I mean if artists like it, then it must be ethical, right? Just ask Rennie.
I’ll leave the backstage dynamics to urban geographers like Neil Smith (The Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City), who could outline how developers and banks allow dis-investment in an area, then establish a beachhead (in our case, perhaps Woodward’s) and swoop in and predatorily purchase distressed properties at fire-sale prices — then either flip them as values rise along with re-investment, or raise high the roof beam of edgy condos for the young, new hipster middle class, again driving up rents and driving out many of those who don’t recognize bare-brick walls or peeling paint as aesthetic accoutrements. And this despite the developer bribery of including a token number of low-income units among the market price digs.
The overall effect is one of contrived amnesia.
All of this re-colonization (think of the residents as “savages” and the gentrifiers as the “pioneers”) is witnessed (as in Bailey’s article) from the vantage point of the pioneer.
Not one word in the Globe feature comes from the mouth of any DTES resident. And none from any of the long-time small business owners, some of whom I know are already closing or moving because of escalating rents.
Twenty years ago, when New York City was in the throes of a similar phenomenon, Peter Marcuse, an urban planner at Columbia University, said:
“The opposite of gentrification should not be decay and abandonment but the democratization of housing.”
— LEE BACCHUS
Posted by lee bacchus at 7:16 PM
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
You never know what the day will hold, especially when you try to discard it immediately into the garbage function, as I tried to do with a missive from Lululemon, you know, that bunch of creepily miliitant clothing shills who, in a colossal leap of credibility, have stooped to advocating Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged to push their wares.
Today I got a fulsome and definitely stupid promotion from Lululemon, saying that I could get into it for nothing, being from the media and everything. Apparently everybody else would have to pay?
I fired back, "This is a joke, right?" Within minutes I got this response from some petty functionary called Kristen or something, though her job description claimed a position far loftier than white trash gofer idiot. She said (note the sarcastic use of lower-case), "excuse me?" My response was, "It was a polite way of saying fuck off."
Kristen, a good and tactful company representative, fired back, memorably, "Get a life loser."
I replied, "Thanks but I have one. Get a job, loser."
I hoped Kristen Could read my best wishes and my auxiliary thoughts. Among which were, " Thanks for sharing your pr skills and your dreams of world domination, a dream predicated on No-iron Fortrel and not invading Poland again.
And so ended my dream of connubial bliss with Kristen, or whatever her name was.
— Lloyd Dykk
Posted by lee bacchus at 6:17 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
HURRY UP AND WAIT
For two days I tried to connect with Shaw to get a new password or some entry into a magical realm governed by the resident spirits of outsourcing hell. Estimated time waits were laughably approximate, "Two hours" routinely becoming four hours, and even that being no guarantee. It might be time for Shaw to consider hiring, and perhaps hiring people who speak English, since it seems that expecting people to keep on top of technology is already tough enough.
On my last fruitless attempt, I endured an hour or so of very bad music, on a loop, interrupted only by Shaw's advertisements for itself, and news that my call was important to Shaw, but the reading was, "Your call is of supreme unimportance to us because we happen to rule. Please continue to hold for the next available customer service representative, or for Godot, since an appearance by the latter is highly more likely in the grand scheme of things."
I listened until my ears bled. Swinging Shepherd Blues … I Could Have Danced All Night … Here Comes the Sun … Lara's Theme from Doctor Bloody Zhivago … The semiotics were that there was good news here, if only one just looked hard enough to find it. The good news was that these clips of very bad music in very bad arrangements were very short. The bad news was that because of their brevity, you'd be hearing them come around again all that much sooner.
Eventually, the phone rang. The accent was as unplaceable as it was indecipherable. The brief exchange led to nowhere, though the man on the other end was very pleasant as he asked me if there might be anyone else in the house who knew a little more about computers.
In turn I like to think I was quite pleasant when I asked if there might be someone in his house who had a perhaps firmer grasp on the rudiments of English, and if so to please put him on since I would love to talk to him.
— Lloyd Dykk
Posted by lee bacchus at 4:47 PM