Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Harlem Would Be a Nice Place If It Weren’t For Those…

We've all heard about these self-absorbed assholes who move next door to a school and then complain about all those screaming kids. Or they move from the city out to the country and then complain about farm smells, wild animals invading their yards, etc.

Here's the newest variation: millionaires buying luxury condominiums in Harlem and then complaining because — well, because they're in Harlem. Hellooo!!!!

Did these spoiled trustfunders think they were moving into another sterile suburb that’s just begging for more Yuppies to move in??? Harlem has been the center of America’s Black culture since the early 1900s. It’s nice that the neighborhood is upgrading, but things are going too far when millionaires move in, start calling all the shots and generally steamroll their way over local traditions and residents.

The biggest controversy concerns the longtime ritual of African drumming that’s been taking place in a local park every Saturday for decades. Now that a luxury condo has gone up next to the park, some of the new residents are complaining about the noise.

“African drumming is wonderful for the first four hours, but after that, it’s pure, unadulterated noise. We couldn’t see straight anymore. It was like a huge boom box in the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen. You had no way to escape except to leave the apartment,” said new resident Beth Ross. So what are you waiting for Bitch? Leave already!!

James David Manning, a local pastor, said “They call this the new Harlem Renaissance — bringing in people who are able to pay for these properties, who push out people who can't, like schoolteachers and municipal workers. The community has been taken over by big business and banks, and deep-pocketed entrepreneurs. If we lose Harlem, we lose the flagship of African-American people worldwide.”

Is this just another variation on the theme of rich newcomers trampling on the rest of the community, or is this a kinder gentler version of ethnic cleansing?

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16 Comments:

Blogger Candace said...

In my 'hood (Old East Dallas), developers are tearing down old frame houses, which were mostly occupied by long-time Hispanic residents, and replacing them with what we call "McMansions" and "Starter Castles." These are two and three-story brick houses that occupy the space from lot-line to lot-line. If one of these goes up next to you, then you're dealing with the equivalent of a three-story building five feet from your bedroom window.

Others are putting up luxury "City Homes," which are townhouses, and their selling price STARTS at a quarter mil.

(Fortunately, my block got itself included in an historic district, so we're safe from this.)

So, what do these new residents complain about? The very diversity the rest of us love about this area. Many long-time residents here save their soft-drink cans for the street people. You just crush the cans and leave them in a little pile by the curb. They come along, add them to their cart, you wave to each other, and that's that. But the new residents don't want to have to even SEE the street people. They're putting razor wire on their fences. They don't want the guys coming down the street around dinner time with their tamale carts, either.

Honestly, crime isn't that bad here. People watch out for each other. One reason is that we have front porches. It's a nice way to get to know your neighbors. The new houses don't have porches. It's a shame, and the new people have no idea what they're missing out on.

The more McMansions and City Homes that are put up, the higher the property values, and thus, the higher the taxes on the poor people who live in the original frame houses.

Why can't these people stay in North Dallas where they belong? Up there, the streets and landscaping are pristine. People come home from work and drive into their garages from the alley. The garage door closes, and they go inside, never having to make eye contact with a neighbor. If that's the way they want to live, then why the hell did they move down here?

Sorry, didn't mean to make this into a post :) but this is a sore spot with me!

August 15, 2007 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Candace: Great rant. This is the exact kind of thing that's happening all over the country. I think it's especially tragic for a place like Harlem -- since it's synonymous with African-American culture -- to be sterilized by a bunch of millionaires moving in. But it sucks wherever it happens.

In Forestville, CA where we used to live, we lived in a quiet neighborhood full of quaint one-story houses. About a year and a half after we moved, we went back for a visit, and there are three of those Starter Castles on our street. It's just like you described; they're flush up against their neighbors' one-story houses. The area has a "right to farm" ordinance because too many Yuppies moved out to that region and then complained about farm odors and tractors going down the road and holding up the BMW drivers who couldn't be inconvenienced for two minutes.

I'm glad you live in a historic district so this can't happen on your block. But it sucks that there was a working relationship between residents and street people and now the newcomers want to just sterilize everything and not have to look at a low-income person. Like you said, why didn't they just stay where they were?

August 15, 2007 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Obviously these yuppie neocons can't stand for poor people to have anything, even a housing project in Harlem so they hoard in to take over.

Perhaps their perfect world is a world where only the ultra rich exist, and everyone else can die in the gutters of hell.

August 15, 2007 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Larry: Yup, that would be a perfect world for that type of person.

August 15, 2007 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Mile High Pixie said...

Augh! You gotta be kidding me! You'd think that the people moving there would be super-liberals with lots of social guilt to burn off, not easily-annoyed white people. You'd think they'd all stay next door to martha Stewart and leave these folks alone.

Sadly, I watch too mucho f this super-gentrification here in Denver, and my profession is part of the problem. We want to do the cool urban lofts, but we calmly turn a blind eye to the people these starting-in-the-high-200s places eliminate. Or worse, we designate the worst units in the building (no balcony, overlooking a parking lot)as any required affordable housing unit. Oh, sorry, I guess "poor" people like teachers that make $35K a year don't deserve nice things. My bad.

August 15, 2007 at 6:59 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Giuliani just ADORED this sort of thing.

Gentrification of cities is going to pick up in pace as energy prices rise. In a generation, it will be the disadvantaged who wind up in the 'burbs, which is roughly how things worked 100 years ago.

August 15, 2007 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mile High Pixie: Yeah, people are hard to figure out. If somebody finds African drumming annoying, why in the F### is that person moving to Harlem?

This gentrification process seems to be everywhere. It's nice when a neighborhood upgrades, but after a point it just becomes a tide of Yuppies moving in and everybody else being driven out. Hell with those worthless poor people -- teachers, cops, firefighters and everybody else who'd like to live in the neighborhood that they're working in.

August 15, 2007 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jolly Roger: That's what I've heard about New York when Giuliani was mayor, that even the funkiest neighborhoods got gentrified and sterilized. I haven't been to New York in a long time but that's hard to picture. You're right, this will probably become the norm for cities.

August 15, 2007 at 8:43 PM  
Anonymous kip152 said...

I think you hit on something. It is sort of like ethnic cleansing, except instead of using guns, they're using checkbooks.

August 16, 2007 at 2:14 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kip152: Yup, that's a good description. Using financial means to drive them out of their own neighborhood.

August 16, 2007 at 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Hell of Good Post

And this is old news, in the Bay Area it happened to The filmore area of San Francisco (Gays and Blacks), Cypress (after the earthquake it it became a great neighborhood) Oakland and now Marin City.

Granted there are blighted Neighborhoods where people come in and take a chance but they usually share the diversity.

Bill Clinton put his Presidential Office in Harlem and blended right in.

This instance is people who going to be investing in a lot of real estate to get in on the ground floor. That is they plan to make a change, make a whole lot of money and DON'T care who gets hurts in the process.

Let's also remember another type of takeover, is when they put airports in the middle of no where then greedy developers put in cheap houses around it - and then people are complaining about the noise and air travel goes up. Sam with Train tracks where housing is put around them and they because a nuisance hurting our most for of shipping.

As for Harlem, it will change, it always does.

Erik

August 16, 2007 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: And now Marin City too? Damn. I knew about the Fillmore and some parts of Oakland.

To an extent it's good when a "bad" neighborhood starts to upgrade, but there needs to be a balance. Like you said, the people who initially buy property in a low income neighborhood are taking a risk and they're adding to the diversity.

But after that point, the people who move into the new luxury condos in a neighborhood and then complain about something that was already there -- that's just inexcusable.

That's true about airports too. And I think that's the case with those oil refineries in the East Bay -- Richmond or Pinole or wherever they are. I'm pretty sure those refineries were built when that area was remote; and then people started moving out there. So now whenever there's an explosion or a leak at one of the refineries it's a public health hazard because of all the people who have moved to that area.

August 16, 2007 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

Hi tom. great post and interesting comments. I'm in agreement with most that this is a move that is seen all over America, including my hometown.

August 16, 2007 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: True, this is happening all over the country. I think it's especially tragic when this happens in a famous place like Harlem since it's been synomymous with Black culture for almost a century. But it sucks any time this happens, to see a neighborhood that had character and uniqueness getting overrun with Yuppies who just want to homogenize and sterilize everything.

August 16, 2007 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Mike V. said...

As someone that loves to visit NYC, I do appreciate the ability to safely walk all over the entire island of Manhattan day or night.
But I don't think entire cultures and neighborhoods (anywhere) should be swapped for a city version of white suburbs.
I left the suburbs for a reason. It sucks. It's fucking block after block of Olive Garden and Starbucks. Breeders in SUVs and republican slack-jawed dipshits.
When I was a kid, the neighborhoods that sprung up around WW2 into the 60's (when I was born) were at least neighborhoods.
All over America, neighborhoods are giving way to soul-less pits of banality..

August 17, 2007 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike: Great comment and descriptions. Like you said, at least they were neighborhoods, for better or worse. I guess some people would rather have one giant faceless collection of malls and franchises to replace everything that once had character and history.

August 17, 2007 at 11:22 PM  

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