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robertogreco : hipsters   12

A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The peril of hipster economics - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"In a sweeping analysis of displacement in San Francisco and its increasingly impoverished suburbs, journalist Adam Hudson notes that "gentrification is trickle-down economics applied to urban development: the idea being that as long as a neighbourhood is made suitable for rich and predominantly white people, the benefits will trickle down to everyone else". Like trickle-down economics itself, this theory does not play out in practice.

Rich cities such as New York and San Francisco have become what journalist Simon Kuper calls gated citadels: "Vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself."

Struggling US cities of the rust belt and heartland lack the investment of coastal contemporaries, but have in turn been spared the rapid displacement of hipster economics. Buffered by their eternal uncoolness, these slow-changing cities have a chance to make better choices - choices that value the lives of people over the aesthetics of place.

In an April blog post, Umar Lee, a St Louis writer and full-time taxi driver, bemoaned the economic model of rideshare services, which are trying to establish themselves in the city. Noting that they hurt not only taxi drivers but poor residents who have neither cars nor public transport and thus depend on taxis willing to serve dangerous neighbourhoods, he dismisses Uber and Lyft as hipster elitists masquerading as innovators:

"I've heard several young hipsters tell me they're socially-liberal and economic-conservative, a popular trend in American politics," he writes. "Well, I hate to break it to you buddy, but it's economics and the role of the state that defines politics. If you're an economic conservative, despite how ironic and sarcastic you may be or how tight your jeans are, you, my friend, are a conservative …"

Lee tells me he has his own plan to try to mitigate the negative effects of gentrification, which he calls "50-50-20-15". All employers who launch businesses in gentrifying neighbourhoods should have a workforce that is at least 50 percent minorities, 50 percent people from the local neighbourhood, and 20 percent ex-offenders. The employees should be paid at least $15 per hour.

Gentrification spreads the myth of native incompetence: That people need to be imported to be important, that a sign of a neighbourhood's "success" is the removal of its poorest residents. True success lies in giving those residents the services and opportunities they have long been denied.

When neighbourhoods experience business development, priority in hiring should go to locals who have long struggled to find nearby jobs that pay a decent wage. Let us learn from the mistakes of New York and San Francisco, and build cities that reflect more than surface values."
cities  class  gentrification  hipsters  race  economics  inequality  redevelopment  sanfrancisco  nyc  brooklyn  poverty  adamhudson  sarahkendzior  spikelee  katharinagrosse  whitewashing  simonkuper  segregation  rustbelt 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Podcast « You Are Not So Smart
"Episode Five | Selling Out | Andrew Potter
Episode Four | The Self | Bruce Hood
Episode Three | Confabulation | V.S. Ramachandran
Episode Two | Illusion of Knowledge | Christopher Chabris
Episode One | Attention | Daniel Simons"
keepingupwiththejoneses  freerange  local  natural  organic  andrewpotter  poiticsofcool  oneupmanship  statusseeking  nonconformism  hipsters  hipsterism  conspicuousconsumption  status  kurtcobain  art  advertising  consumption  christopherchabris  guiltypleasures  danielsimons  vsramachandran  society  modernity  brucehood  confabulation  knowledge  attention  authenticity  authentic  culture  counterculture  2012  via:zakgreene  sellingout  psychology 
january 2013 by robertogreco
The Entrepreneurial Generation - NYTimes.com
"Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration — music, food, good works, what have you — is expressed in those terms."

"Our culture hero is not the artist or reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur. (Think of Steve Jobs, our new deity.) Autonomy, adventure, imagination: entrepreneurship comprehends all this and more for us. The characteristic art form of our age may be the business plan."

"Today’s polite, pleasant personality is, above all, a commercial personality."

"All this is why, unlike those of previous youth cultures, the hipster ethos contains no element of rebellion, rejection or dissent — remarkably so, given that countercultural opposition would seem to be essential to the very idea of youth culture. That may in turn be why the hipster has proved to be so durable."

[Updated in this talk: https://vimeo.com/46254409 ]
entrepreneurship  slackers  punks  hippies  millennials  youth  ideology  smallbusiness  business  advertising  hipsterism  hipsters  culture  2011  williamderesiewicz 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Detroit: The Death of Manhattanism - Op-Ed - Domus
"As far as the similarities from one urban circumstance to another, there is a case to be made for the emergence of a global typology and the slow transformation of American cities toward a global model. White flight, the demographic phenomenon that defined American cities in the 2nd half of the twentieth century, is finally unwinding itself. Witness the rise of the "hipster," which is really just a polite and racially sublimated way of talking about white culture as urban culture. Alongside this, we are witnessing the rise of the black and immigrant suburbs. American cities are moving in the direction of operating more like European and South American cities. The latter part of the twentieth century in this country was an anomaly compared to global urban and suburban development, and that historical moment is over."
detroit  brooklyn  berlin  cities  mitchmcewen  urban  hipsterism  globalcities  transformation  hipsters  gentrification  us  urbanism  2011  suburbs  innercities  diversity  segregation  nola  neworleans 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Faux-Vintage Photo: Full Essay (Parts I, II and III) » Cyborgology
"I am working on a dissertation about self-documentation and social media and have decided to take on theorizing the rise of faux-vintage photography (e.g., Hipstamatic, Instagram). From May 10-12, 2011, I posted a three part essay. This post combines all three together."

[See also (some of the tags reference): http://varnelis.net/blog/atemporality_the_iphone_camera_and_the_hipster ]
photography  twitter  instagram  hipstamatic  2011  nathanjurgenson  self-documentation  faux-vintage  hipsters  nostalgia  nostalgiaforthepresent  atemporality  networkculture  cameras  iphone  cameraphone  kazysvarnelis  timmaly  allegory  comment  postmodernism  modernism  furniture 
may 2011 by robertogreco
potlatch: An open letter to the hipster
"But why not also take a moment to reflect, catch your breath, and perhaps draw a line under the last decade or so? Surely you can't carry on with the trajectory that you're currently on. What started as knowing tributes to various white subcultures has splintered into knowing tributes to various white elite cultures (Barbour jackets and tweed), unknowing tributes to various white cultures (Urban Outfitters), then finally a satire of its own white culture (London Fields, Hackney). Knowing you've reached a dead-end doesn't alter the fact that you've reached a dead-end, and it's not too late to back out. Tony Blair may have had "no reverse gear", but I'm sure that you guys do, even if it is also a fixed gear."

[That's just a taste, there's much more to it.]
hipsters  economics  2011  uk  politics  behavior  potlatch  ownership  sociology  capitalism  hipsterism 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Useless Labor and Production of the Self < PopMatters
"We’re doing useless things and collecting the dole like the rest of our peers, so what makes us stand out?

Hence the field of consumption becomes the field of distinction and social recognition as well, and consuming becomes a sort of semiotic labor that absorbs more and more of our natural inclination to do something regarded as socially useful. (And Shop Class as Soulcraft-style retro crafts like carpentry and gardening and Etsy-ism start to register as consumerist hobbies, not “real” production.)  Social media supplies the factory and distribution center for this sort of work, as well as the scoreboard in the form of data about just how many people are paying attention to you. We produce content and links to try to “connect” to others, that is, have them regard us as socially necessary the way, say, in the 19th century the village blacksmith was vitally necessary when the horse you were traveling on pulled up lame…"
culture  consumerism  technology  society  automation  2011  hipsters  hipsterism  shopclassassoulcraft  meaning  self  identity  socialrecognition  etsy  production  make  making  diy  contentcreation  glvo  legitimacy  usefulness 
march 2011 by robertogreco
On the Reshaping of America | varnelis.net
"Hipsters have managed the illusion of living without any means of financial sustenance for a while. Now we get to see them do it for real."
hipsters  economics  richardflorida  creativeclass  collapse  crisis  wealth  employment  kazysvarnelis  culture  cities  capitalism  future  2009 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Powell's Books - Review-a-Day - Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander, reviewed by The Atlantic Monthly
"dismissing something or someone as "so white&" has long been a favorite put-down among those who like to view themselves as right-thinking, hierarchy-defying nonconformists -- that is, White People. Recall those ads extolling "the new face of wealth," which contrast male, stone-faced WASP bankers with attractive, far less formally -- though far more expensively -- clad women, quasi-hipsters, and assorted exotic ethnics. The women and hipsters may be white, but they're not white -- they're members of the cool-looking pan-ethnic tribe, a tribe defined by economic and social status and by cultural and aesthetic preferences rather than by ethnicity ... "tolerance" highest on the list of virtues prized by White People. Of course, this group shuns the suburbs while it embraces certain neighborhoods as "authentic" and spurns other enclaves and cities"
culture  elitism  hipsters  progressives  bobos  hipsterism  stuffwhitepeoplelike  consumerism  humor  books  us  class 
september 2008 by robertogreco
PopMatters | Columns | Rob Horning | Marginal Utility | The Design Imperative
"We are consigned to communicating through design, but it’s an impoverished language that can only say one thing: “That’s cool.” Design ceases to serve our needs, and the superficial qualities of useful things end up cannibalizing their functionality. The palpability of the design interferes, distracts from the activity an item is supposed to be helping you do. The activity becomes subordinate to the tools. You become the tool."
design  critique  criticism  function  form  utility  popular  aesthetics  retail  target  consumerism  consumer  society  competition  popularity  symbolism  industrial  products  customization  hipsters  marketing  image  personality  handmade  books  possessions  materialism  objects  fashion  style  commerce  variety  hipsterism 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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