Excellent input from one of the city’s great clarinetists, himself a transplant albeit decades ago. So as he says (and represents) it is not that all comers are unwelcome. It is that it is vital and brave to truly comprehend what it means to support the complex dynamics of the formal and informal cultural activity that has held our place together. And that actively working for useful and manageable ordinances and zoning that discourage a “monocrop” society has to be everyone’s goal.
Let’s get serious about this damn elephant. He’s being too well-fed by our civic leadership, which continues to march toward a goal of 13 million annual visitors by 2018. Though they are beginning to listen to the bearers of their culture, they mostly try to measure our contributions in terms of “cultural economy.” And, given their attentions to the tourism lobby and neighborhood associations, it seems they still regard us more as an extension of the service industry than part of our city’s lifeblood. The resultant clashes between policy and organic culture are exacerbated by ham-handed and selective enforcement of our sound ordinance and an unwieldy process for amending the Comprehensive Zoning Order and “Plan for the 21st Century.”
Those of us who are truly committed to our community’s cultural vitality need dialogues that reflect appropriate ambivalence from all stakeholders and respect the issue’s complex dynamics.
and this truly accurate response:
I moved from Uptown in 2001 to Burgundy Street in the Marigny. My immediate neighbors consisted of a nice (African-American) family in the double on one side and a Honduran woman, Miss Consuela, who barely spoke English on the other side. Across the street was a corner bar, a Section 8 double, and a long-time resident (Caucasion) who works at a hospital. An old man on the other corner lived behind his long-closed, 1930(ish) gas station. We were a diverse bunch to be sure. But we all knew each other. We all helped each other out. We were neighbors. After the storm, the only ones of us left were us, the bar, the hospital worker and Miss Consuela. Then someone bought the double next door. They completely rennovated it, flipped it and sold it as 2 condos to some really wonderful people who live there now. The Secton 8 house was sold after a brief stint as a crack house. It too was sold and rennovated. It is now a long-term rental. An expensive one. Miss Consuela fell ill and died. Her home was sold at a tax auction to a doctor who took it down to the studs, added a camel back, renovated the entire thing and hasn’t spent a single night there. It is an illegal short-term rental. Less than 3 feet from our home. It sleeps 10. At least that is what the Airbnb ad says. Sometimes the people are very nice. We try to engage all of them. Sometimes they are gaping assholes. The group two weeks ago who were blaring bad disco music at 4:30 in the morning into the top of the line outdoor sound system come to mind. All this while the doctor takes his homestead exemption on this place. We have complained to City Hall. They don’t care. I could go on about the slumlord rental on the block that smells like ass, and rents for $1275. It was $500 pre-K and housed a loveable ‘OZ dj who can no longer afford to live here. Or the house next door to that, which housed a local band, then a young family, and finally turned Airbnb. Or the hordes of bicycle tourists who block the street like a particularly large school of minnows and shout “car!” whenever an automobile approaches, all while gawking at the neighborhood like we are in some kind of bizzaro, New Orleans, performance piece. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy that these buildings around me are being “rebuilt, renewed and restored”. I just wish we could find a balance that allows us to look toward the future without completely losing the past. Sorry this is so long. But it does feel better to write it.