Written by Curtis M. Carlson

In so many cities that I have lived in and around there was a cool part of town to hang out in. It is the part of town where the homeless and junkies mingle with the students and business people. There are always neat coffee houses, and boutiques and bars and diners. Sure it is a bit run down, and having to cough up a fist full of change to the homeless guy is a bit annoying at times or stepping over the puddle or urine can be gross, but it is worth it because so many different people and so many different things are represented there in that part of town.

I had a long discussion about gentrification a while back with a buddy of mine. It's the Bardstown road district here in Louisville Kentucky. Way cool, hippies and yuppies and junkies and all the other 'ies' running around interacting. These areas are always a great place for the soulless white middle class people to go to feel like they have a 'connection' to something that is real. A connection to something more than their cubical, or their job taking and taking and never giving back.

Sooner or later someone figures out that 'hey, wouldn't it be nice if'...or 'couldn't we make a little more money if'...and it all starts to go to hell.

Maybe it's the landlords that think they can charge a little more rent, or the shop owners who want to give their kids an 'advantage' or buy a bass boat or Harley so that hey can raise their status level. Either way the prices slowly go up. That $1.25 cup of coffee becomes a $3.25 cup of coffee and Tuesday nickel beer night becomes $1.00 bud light night.

Then the shop owners and neighbors start thinking, "Geese we are making some money, we need to make some more!" and gentrification sets in. The homeless are carted off because they can no longer afford the coffee and the junkies are arrested because they have to hustle that much harder, cause the dealers are gentrifying also. They now sell their drugs at a inflated price to the now well to do shop owners. Can't blame the dealers cause their rent has also gone up..

It's not just the junkies and the homeless. They had to go because they had no money, and they were trashing up the neighborhood. Which is good because more uptight white folk now felt more comfortable to "risk" an excursion into 'that' part of town. Hell, they got cash and credit cards and can afford to buy the boutique items and the $4.50 lattes which replaced the #3.25 cups of coffee (whoops I should have let you know that the price of coffee went up while I was talking).

That punk rocker who used to serve you know the one with the punctured face and the obscure music and the purple and green hair, well she had to go too. I mean she did a good job and all, we love her to death and wish her all the best, but she alienated those yuppie customers, you know the ones with cash and credit cards. We hired a clean cut student who listens to more main stream music, to serve you your $5.65 lattes and biscotti.

Now the boutiques and the coffee houses and taverns can afford to clean up and redecorate and refurbish and rebuild and it looks so clean and so proper. And we haven't lost any of the charm, because we framed all the art, proper art, print's actually that we bought at the boutique up the road that used to sell that junkies' art, but now the just sell framed prints of Picasso and John Lennon, you know the hand holding flower's print.

We really didn't need that punk rockers' music. We have one of those subscription channels now that plays generic punk rock music or generic reggae or generic techno. And everything is so clean and proper, and there are no Mexicans on the street corners looking for work or black folk dancing and taking up sidewalk space with their cardboard and their black skin, constantly reminding us of our guilt and bigotry. There are certainly no more punkers and junkies and looser homeless to clutter up our nice little neighborhood. Oh did you hear? That punk rock girl is homeless now, cause she couldn't find a job. She should have known better and instead of getting a job serving coffee right out of high school and working for 12 years for that coffee house, she should have gone to college and gotten married to some yuppie business person. She should have known.

It's alright though, the shop owners are loosing money, seems like all those old customers, the homeless guy who bought 4 cups of coffee a day and the junkie who's customers met him at the coffee house to buy his products and a couple cups of coffee and that black guy who used to drink coffee and sing in front of our shop are gone, you know the one that always greeted us with a smile and a song, are gone. Gone to that seedy part of town.

The seedy part of town where all the cool people hang out. It is a little scary, with the piss and puke and the homeless and the junkies and the little shops selling cheap food or beer and that little shop where they sell local junkie art, you know the one where the freak and his wife live upstairs and always smell like weed and cigarettes.

You know that part of town isn't that scary after all. The faces are familiar and I can afford coffee and beer in that part of town, I have to lock the doors to my car, but I don't have to worry about parking tickets. It's a really rather cute part of town. I think I'll go down there. Maybe start a small business and make a little money. Then once I make a little money, I can try to attract people with more money, raise my prices and run out all those filthy freaks and get some credit machines for the yuppies.

Ah gentrification, there is something to be said for greed, and the status quo.