Thursday, September 15, 2005

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Letter to the City Paper:

Barely weeks after City Hall went into the hotel business, the selective socialists ring in again, this time in Hampden, hon ("Life on a Different Avenue," Mobtown Beat, Aug. 31). The recent effort by Mr. Atomic Books to curb chain-style development in "his" neighborhood completely misses all of Hampden's social and economic issues by a city mile.

I can assure Benn Ray and Rachel Whang that efforts to develop the Avenue and the Rotunda have been in the works for the last seven years. The no-chain-store policy has been Hampden's default position, because no chain store would come, given the crime and income levels in the area. To understand the effects of such a policy, look at Hampden today. Tawdry signage, bad retail, decay, and vacancy. Go to the Avenue on any Friday or Saturday night and you'll see tattooed-pierced-drunken-screaming-bottle-smashing-brawling chaos, dark storefronts, and litter. It's kind of cute during the day, though. There's a flamingo and all.

Now, with a smattering of pioneers gentrifying (overused word) the area, prosperity looms. Unless some misguided souls derail the process under the guise that there is some significant culture here to be preserved, like an aboriginal tribe in the rain forest.

Chain stores bring jobs (with management positions) and stability to vacant tenant spaces the whole country over. They bring better-lit sidewalks and heightened security. They survive in this world because they offer good products at fair prices and people like them. People like them so much, they travel great distances to be in their general vicinity, which benefits the entire business community and creates local employment and a greater tax base.

Character happens, it is not legislated into being. To compare Hampden to some boutique San Francisco community with nutty California laws is just plain silly. The Rotunda is a beautiful historic site that is perfectly suited, like the Power Plant, for big development such as a Barnes and Noble (stiff competition for little Atomic, eh, Mr. Ray?). With Outbacks and Bennigans come Ray Lewis Full Moon Bar-B-Ques and Babalu Grills. Do those fit the vision? If there was a Chili's in Hampden, I, for one, would be out there twice a week visiting your little freak show and spending my downtown bucks freely. They have a kick-ass queso skillet.

Really, though, I'm much too busy waiting for the "shock troops of gentrification" to redo the "arts district" to care about what happens in Hampden. I never did get the whole beehive-pointy-eyeglass thing anyway.

Gotta go, there's a junkie at my door. Did I mention we're buying a whole hotel?

Mike Peters
Locust Point


Jonathan Matthalamew Comerus III said...

Take that you ... you ... uh ... commie book readers!

jayfish said...

chili's has good food? please tell me he's kidding. if mr. peters spent a week in the sf bay area, his stomach would finally be happy.


Matt "Max" Van said...

This from a town that produced HL Mencken, John Waters, artists from John Doe to Edgar Allen Poe?
More and more, I wonder if Hunter S Thompson wasn't onto something? Blow your brains out, and have your ashes scattered by fireworks, rather than give in to the mediocrity of aging. I'm starting to see the same thing out here in Frederick County: people actively choosing strip mall anticulture over against anything remotely human.
Kanye West said that Bush doesn’t care about Black people. I just wanted to give him that extra little push: the truth? People don’t care. At All. They want their hermetically sealed world of prepackaged consumerism, lest they should ever have to engage with another soul. I know what’s next: Amazon Pizza delivery. You don’t even have to talk on the phone. You just place an order once a year, and have a different pizza (cooked up and frozen by Papa John) delivered to your door every Friday night, so you don’t have to miss the commercials in between episodes of Cops (Ohhh, those scary junkies!) and Survivor (I’d never do any of that, because I’ve got too much dignity!).
Yes, it’s choose your dystopias time again, isn’t it? We can have the Mike Peters special, wherein I can only imagine that The Alarm features prominently, as the endless buffet of high fructose sweetened partially hydrogenated beef products are served by servile post-teens, grateful for their three hour commute to thaw out the goods straight off the truck, and Bill Cosby is airbrushed in to the history books in place of all those nasty artistic types.
Yes, character happens. Usually to people other than Mike Peters. Usually it’s taught, but I guess Mike Peters was too busy opening his happy meal that decade.
Really, I’d love to have a discussion about what constitutes a “good product”, and especially what makes it a “fair price”, but I’m afraid that I’d be too tempted to just make dick jokes out of sheer frustration.
Instead, I think I’m going to scan the headlines for crimes to gloat about…..
Ye gads, but I wanna find Tyler Durden and KICK HIS ASS.