Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Everything's white, now so are the smiles

When I was underemployed and depressed, I used to spend my days off riding the bus down to the library, reading graphic novels and scrawling terrible writing in the Arcade over a cup of tea and a falafel wrap.

I love this city because it's home and familiar but my illusions have been dissed, as Randal so eloquently put today, and I know exist in a disillusion that is comfortable in the reality of the situation, but not entirely unhappy, as I've carved out a decent little life in this strange part of the world.

I've never been a boosterific type, and will probably change the title of the blog soon, because what I write has less to do with the city and more with the inner world and the outer world at large. I know there's a part of me that is provincial and intimidated by the ambitious, that is completely okay with not achieving great social status, and figures it's better to expect nothing than think the world is at my fingertips.

But I can't help but roll my eyes as I watch this, because I walk these streets on a regular basis and it never looks like this, even on a summer afternoon at the peak of lunch hour. I've seen maybe one food truck ever downtown and it was for Wilson's Tamales, which goes everywhere. I've seen one person walking their dog in the last four years. There hasn't been a crowd at an Indians game that big since 1997. The president of CSU (which has a nice campus believe it or not) said he was going to live downtown but opted for a swanky mansion in Shaker. So who are we kidding here?

I know this is to make us look cosmopolitan, but the part of the city that is world class is a few miles east where the gardens, museums, and the universities converge, not at the overpriced gimmicky bowling alley (my Inner Parmastani says that new ones that aren't smoke smelling and looking like 1959 are phony by default) or restaurants I can't afford or aren't interested in. $5 for a serving of ramen noodles? That's a week worth of vending machine ramen lunch or a month of Top Ramen from Aldi's. I'm probably outing myself as not the target demographic, because even though I'm relatively young and artsy and educated (ding ding ding!), I'm also poor and prefer a kibbie from Aladdin's if I'm downtown or a gyro from Frank's Falafel around the corner.

And seriously, this is almost all rich and young, and mostly very very white people. Over half of this city is African-American, and there's other sizable non-cracker ethnic communities as well. Also, most of the Bright Young Things are gone. They live in Chicago. I blame this factor in part for my perpetual spinsterhood. My friends are all 6-10 years older than me and usually married, and therefore aren't as likely to leave. If they're trying to leave they're usually stuck. I don't expect them to show people who are homeless or maybe work in a profession that isn't White Collar Technocrat, but that's a lot of our downtowners, the Peonage in varied states of dress.

We're downtown too. And while we deal well in snark and purty photos of things falling apart and the center unable to hold, at least we tell the truth, or something. It's so overblown.


MattW said...

You're right, the video is total baloney, but I have to admit it's pretty well-produced baloney. I want to believe!

Randal Graves said...

As opposed to employed and depressed? Badoomboom.

Name change? Now that's news. Is Troo Kvlt Something an option?

Um, let's hold off on spreading the pressure, mon homie. *You* tell the truth, and fabulously well (like here, again), I just shoot.

Anonymous said...

you mean the name isn't yer homage to love and rockets (the comic)?

thatgirl said...

I wish I could believe, but it's hard for me to believe in almost anything involving the human spirit, especially when it involves marketing dollars and a consuming lifestyle.

Depressed is ubiquitous. I started out writing and processing my thoughts out about returning to the City of the Dead, and now it's less about that, rebranding to sound like a corporatista.

Yeah, you take good pictures but the snark is the icing on the cake. Besides you have more readers than me anyway.

I definitely read my share of Hernandez Bros. work way back when but couldn't always follow the storylines. I might have to dig that up again. I guess there are some parallels, or something.

Anonymous said...

was kidding, i figured it was yer take on california love and that RG is yer tupac.

S.W. Anderson said...

That's a splendidly written post that I'm sure many, many people would say of, "That's right, that's me too."

The promo video is a virtual twin for ones done in my city, where a very wealthy and enterprising family has invested much and worked hard to resuscitate the downtown core. With moderate success. The centerpiece of this effort is an upscale, kind of glitzy mall geared to the yuppy and old-money sets.

Downtown's reality, as you said, is much more diverse. More than anywhere else within city limits, it's where the poorest and least productive, and the wealthiest and most productive, can be found in proximity but not rubbing elbows. Underclass people are there by default. The well off are there to engage in commerce or enjoy the fruits of their pelf.

Middle- and working-class people prefer larger malls outside the core. Parking is plentiful and free, the more odiferous and potentially dangerous street people are kept at bay, and the stores cater to a wider range of preferences and budgets.

Several events and the holiday season tend to bring all sorts of people together, downtown and at outlying malls, so it's not all cut and dried, though.

Just a thought here. Sometimes, a change of place can be beneficial. If you don't fall in love with the new, you better appreciate what's good about the old. So, if dissatisfaction sends you back to where you came from, chances are you'll treasure what's good about it more than ever and perhaps be less bothered by what's not so good.

thatgirl said...

Actually I started this blog before me & Randal became coworking homies of peonage. Originally it was processing my thoughts on my hometown but it's evolved into something else completely as of late.

I'm sure there are similar efforts in a lot of cities and that does sound a lot like here except not as many people come down around Christmas.

I'm pretty happy here (general depression aside would happen anywhere). I love seeing what else is out there, but this is still a good place for me to come home to.