First, the wonderful Jeremiah Moss, author of the fabulous Jeremiah's Vanishing New York blog, now has a book out titled, "Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul." You can check it out online here, but it is being widely distributed and sold, so check your local book shops. (Jeremiah would encourage local, independent book shop patronage!)
For the past ten years, Jeremiah has chronicled the horrifying gentrification of the Lower East Side of New York City, in particular the doubling and tripling of rents on retail spaces to make room for stores, restaurants, and pubs directed toward the rich and trendy. This practise has put hundreds (thousands?) of much-loved and much-patronized small businesses out of business or forced them to move out of their neighbourhoods. This practise has changed the entire landscape of New York City (not just in the Lower East Side), removing a lot of the heart and soul and quirky independence by which it was once characterized.
Jeremiah lovingly documents the vanishing businesses of the Lower East Side - that so many people patronize and love - before they disappear. And I love him for it!
The hyper-gentrification Jeremiah has so heartbreakingly and painstakingly chronicled in New York City for the past 10 years is a ubiquitous Pluto in Capricorn-era theme, displacing people from homes and businesses around the globe.
"R.I.P. Art of My Heart":
I'm waiting for this wave of hyper-gentrification to run out of steam, so that I can properly assess the situation. At the moment, even walking down the street feels like a blast from an overexposed dystopic imagery furnace. Fake light and happy, grinding its pointy high heel into my eye. A nouveau rich nightmare. Teenagers in brand new, sickeningly overpriced clothes designed to look "lived in." Street-tastic! Carrying Chanel purses (yes, high schoolers with Chanel), cell phones and iced coffees.
They look straight out of the pages of InStyle (Star/People/US Weekly) magazine, so I can see why they feel entitled. That takes a lot of effort.
Mount Royal Starbucks where you'll get the snobby once-over just for going in to get a take-out coffee. They can sniff out non-upper-mid-class-yuppie status.
It's a fucking wasteland. Sorry, but it is.
The so-called alternative crowd drinking overpriced beer, eating overpriced breakfasts in pseudo-retro diners, sitting around in carefully chosen "styles" being all alternative and shit. Talking about how to market their band. Hoping to be noticed, to get famous. Even the indy crowd in this town has this marketing veneer lacquered over everything.
No one just living their lives. It's all an agenda. Gotta be someone. Gotta get somewhere. Gotta play the game.
Calgary, Alberta. Schlepping phony Western Canadiana for kicks, but the mean, mean underlying vibe is always there. Vicious millionaires bulldozing soulful establishments and people's livelihoods in favour of clean, cleansed luxury for its clean, cleansed luxury-deserving patrons. A city run by and for young souls. You can throw in a few newly-minted mature souls just to give it that fake "artsy/cultured" thing. Garbage. Trying to lure the people who don't know any better into dropping their money on overpriced drinks and food, clothing and accessories. Paying for fake experiences with fake money.
The downtown mall has kicked all the real stores out in favour of luxurification plans handed down by Torontonian property management overlords.
Brooks Brothers is coming to town! How thrilling.
Spaces are empty all over town. All over the country. All over the world. Bulldozed livelihoods. Lost our lease. Lost our lease. We're closing shop. And in a way, the independents are relieved. Because trying to keep your head above water in this increasingly corporatized climate is bloody exhausting. They tighten the vice little by little. Priced out. Squeezed out. And when the death of the business finally comes, it's accepted with a sigh.
And so I wait for the bulldozer to run out of gas. Or to at least take a fucking coffee break.
I can see it starting. "Luxury" stores aren't lining up to fill those empty spaces. The spots are sitting empty. Stalled monster condo projects all over town. Massive, gaping holes left in the ground with fences all around. They got ahead of themselves, trying to build on phony foundations.
And here I sit. I'm not sure what things are going to look like or if there will ever be a place I can stand being in again.
Art of My Heart is dead. And every fucking brainless weasel in this town can go to hell."
(All Art of My Heart articles)
I have to say, I'm most excited about the zine library. When my own local library accepted Hexagon Astrology Magazine onto its shelves, I had a little 'squee' of delight, and when I noticed that someone had actually checked it out, that 'squee' was magnified even further.