I have a favorite part of town where I like to go around on foot. I do have to drive there, find parking on the street and get out and walk- but that’s part of the appeal. I can leave the car and walk for a couple of hours and there’s hardly a better time.
We all have a certain style we’re used to.
In a year, maybe two, it won’t look the same. The local politicians and money interests and associated lackeys have been eyeing these few blocks for a while, in order to bring them into line with the larger success of the city. It’s a prominently located neighborhood, and they have wet dreams and cum-stained sheets over the potential as they see it.
The big boys are coming in.
Yeh so there’s an old book store in a big industrial garage frequented by nouveau-hipsters, across the street from the downtown Greyhound station, around the corner from the Salvation Army. A big statue of Lewis & Clark sits in the middle of the main intersection, as they were from here and we do like our statues. Oh, and Sacagawea too, she’s with them. She’s not from here but has some association I oughta know. And there are quite a few restaurants: cool, newish retro-joints alongside upscale an French bistros, a hoagie shop, an Italian restaurant, a diner, can you picture it? There’s a tire store across from a new age book and trinket shop, a historic black church, a Chinese grocer next to an acupuncturist, a candy store, a tattoo parlor. A very interesting and eclectic mix overall. And a funky one. One side of the thoroughfare is our version of the ghetto and on the other is the train station, next to an overpriced, aesthetically unpleasant yuppie subdivision.
THAT place doesn’t do THIS place an iota of justice.
Yeh so traipsing is the preferred mode of travel. And lots of others must feel the same as there are lots of others doing it too. I don’t think we collectively do enough of it. I mean as a lifestyle. But that’s just me. If we could go back to being hunter-gatherers I’d be first in line. I think our incredible lack of walking as a way of life is a huge contributor to our general state of malaise. It’s just not NATURAL to be sitting like we do (as I am). I’ve not enough time or space here to really get into all that, but when I look around, the evidence speaks. People are dying for chrissake! I’ve driven a lot of miles in my life and done an awful lot of road time in an awful lot of places. If I never had to drive again I’d be a happy camper (come pick me up!). I guess things do come full circle because I’ve also spent a lot of time on foot, and there’s something freeing and liberating about that.
Getting to see things.
So gentrification and upgrading and attracting more tourists to spend more money and shoring up this neighborhood (according to somebody’s standard) is the goal, but for now the whole ambience as I see it is agreeable. For some the “element” is a little too seedy here, ethnically and economically diverse (if you hear what I’m saying), and therein lies the problem. It’s all a big eyesore. People are scared. Don’t get out of your cars! I’m lucky I was exposed to said element at a very young age, and was “taught” how to carry myself as well as appreciate its richness. It’s second nature.
A style thing.
The feel is organic. It’s mom and pop businesses that have sprung up over time, along with folks from the surrounding blocks who coexist with the more transient types. Colorful. A true urban vibe. Gritty. We don’t have too much of that around these parts. The desired tone we’re going for is much more Disney. You know, life as a clean, safe and homogenous theme park?
Upscale and white please.
On one side the neighborhood adjoins the downtown shopping district, which is a tourist destination unto itself, and the bustling university area is on the other. The current wet dream and cum-stained sheets situation is removal of the remaining riff-raffiness. And again the big boys are on their way. Don’t get me wrong, the neighborhood already has many successful businesses with customers, but the idea of a total transformation is the end game. And we’ve done that in this town before, removing whole neighborhoods and relocating its people. Ironically that period in history is now part of the current white guilt dialogue here- some feel a need to make amends. How funny. But doesn’t making the world safer for American Express take precedence? The first large successful bidder for the most high-profile parcel of land is Marriott International. Their plans are for a big, full-service hotel with a parking deck. We do have a very nice hotel across the street from this parcel and that hotel does provide a certain cushy experience when you stay there. I know, I’ve stayed there.
Do we need another one?
Depends on who you ask. So we’ll mow down some buildings. We’ll put up familiar signs, those of the corporate ilk. We’ll sanitize the place and when business people and parents of students visit from out-of-town, they can park their cars in the garage and get out and go in the buildings and buy their stuff, like they do all across America. As a matter of fact they may not even realize where they are, as the neighborhood will look like many other neighborhoods in many other smaller cities where many other blocks have been mowed down in order to put the best face on to make a buck.
Lacking in any particular style.