Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hollywood Farmers Market vs. Los Angeles Film School

This controversy transcends the usual political lines of left/right, liberal/conservative; and still pushes a lot of emotional hot buttons. People moving into a seedy neighborhood and then complaining about their new surroundings that they CHOSE; affluent yuppies using their wealth and influence to bully the riffraff — this story has it all.

The Hollywood Farmers Market has been at its present location for nineteen years. Every Sunday morning — when all the neighboring businesses are closed — eight thousand shoppers crowd the market. Everybody seems to know everybody, and they all seek out their favorite farmers and vendors.

A few years ago, the Los Angeles Film School moved into the neighborhood. And now the film school is complaining that the farmers market’s vendors and customers are blocking access to one of their parking lots. They’re trying to get the local Powers That Be to revoke the farmers market’s permit when it comes up for renewal.

Again, the Los Angeles Film School is closed when the farmers market is in operation. But some of their students like to go to the campus on Sundays and use the studios and equipment, etc. And if the little divas can’t get a convenient parking space, well, [swoon] they just don’t know what they’ll do. The people who can afford the sky-high tuition are probably accustomed to getting their way, and doing what they want when they want.

If the Los Angeles City Council rules in favor of the film school because of their wealth and influence, they’ll be making a huge mistake. This exact same controversy flared up five years ago in a small town. A popular farmers market had a downtown street closed off — just one block — two days a week for about four hours. Several downtown merchants claimed they were losing business when the farmers market was in operation, and they used their political clout to get the farmers market evicted. In their arguments, they used the same rhetoric and talking points that the Los Angeles Film School and other neighboring businesses are using:

“Oh, we just love the farmers market. We think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. We just don’t want them blocking off this particular street. If my customers can’t park two feet from my front entrance, they’ll just stay in their car and drive off, and I don’t get their business.”

This farmers market ultimately did come back downtown to a different location. But the upscale merchants who got them evicted — with the help of their prostitutes in the local government — ended up winning the battle and losing the war. Stores were boycotted. People’s political ambitions were sabotaged and completely derailed.

Sometimes you’ve gotta chalk one up for the riffraff.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Great post, Tom. This kind of thing has had even worse effects in places like New York City and Washington, D.C., when well-off yuppies move into older neighborhoods. It's called gentrification.

Three-story walk-ups that traditionally were the modestly priced homes and apartments of working-class and poor people get bought out by developers for big bucks. They're remodeled and become pricey homes and condos for the nouveau riche.

The result is that it becomes harder and harder for the less well off to find a decent place to live.

Whether it's farmers looking to sell fresh fruits and vegetables or a cab driver or street maintenance worker wanting to keep his place to live, people shouldn't get pushed around and pushed out because they're not rich.

These things are more disgusting evidence that we Americans need to rein in the greed that's ruining more and more people's lives and futures.

December 28, 2010 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Demeur said...

SW as the expression goes "What goes around comes around". We're seeing the same thing happen here in Seattle. Yuppies moved in drove up the housing prices but with the present economy they can't give away their precious condos in the downtown area. The suburbs aren't doing any better. So I'd say if you're poor and have a job now is the time to buy a home while the interest rates and prices are still low.

December 29, 2010 at 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Demeur said

"Yuppies moved in drove up the housing prices but with the present economy"

Yuppies don't you mean Californians?


December 29, 2010 at 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Roger Quimby Nimby III said...

I'd say to the film school: Get some of your students to make a critically acclaimed documentary about their "plight," and try to sway public opinion that way. Just one word of caution: Do NOT get Michael Moore involved. Yes, he loves film, but...Look at the guy. He's gonna side with the food every time.

December 29, 2010 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Not Quite Mandrew, Ay said...

God god! You mean Edna is going to film school?!?

December 29, 2010 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Yes I'm familiar with gentrification. In and of itself I don't think it's a bad thing (to an extent), but it sure can bring out the asshole streak in people. For years, one of my biggest rants has been people moving into a new location and then complaining about something that was already there. This film school trying to push out the farmers market is a perfect example; one of many.

I used to live in a semi-rural area of California that was growing by leaps and bounds, and it was common for yuppies to move next door to a farm and then complain about noises and odors.

One of my "favorite" of these stories was about some luxury condos that went up in Harlem. Some of the new residents were disturbed by a weekly African drumming concert in a nearby park, which had been a weekly event for decades. They tried to get it banned.

Demeur: That's true about the housing crisis. I know it's been tragic for millions of people, but the yuppies and speculators who mis-calculated and took a fall -- they can go fuck themselves.

Erik: Now now, not all Californians :)

Roger: Yes, that would be an incredibly moving documentary about the plight of those poor film school students having to contend with all those motley farmers and hippies.

NQMA: LOL. Er, I mean -- who? :) :)

December 29, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

Not at all surprising, but pretty fucking sad. We've got a section of San Antonio developing like that. High-rise apartments, chic eateries, and the like. Probably put the little restaurants and bars right the hell out of business.

December 30, 2010 at 1:35 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

This is all the funnier to me because, after a decade in the movie industry, I've yet to meet a single person who's film school pedigree got them anywhere that they couldn't have gotten by going out and working for those four years.

Then again, I'm no one important so I could be just plain wrong.

December 30, 2010 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: That sucks. I think gentrification can be a good thing, to an extent. When a "bad" neighborhood gets revitalized and brings in tourists and new residents, it's good. But too often it goes too far and the original residents and businesses get driven out.

Thomas: I think what you're saying is true about college degrees in general. I'm over-simplifying, but I think the only advantage of having a degree is that most employers require you to have one. I think Real Life U., aka the School of Hard Knocks, is much more valuable; but it doesn't give you that magic piece of paper.

December 30, 2010 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Beekeepers Apprentice said...

You know, this kind of stuff pisses me off. I wonder how many of those swanky little shops went belly up because no one was willing to pay $200 for a piece of frou-frou? I'm seeing that around Richmond, VA quite a lot.

January 2, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

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