Saturday, December 08, 2012

9 benefits of gentrification for your barrio

by RudyG

gentry - the qualities appropriate to a person of gentle birth; upper or ruling class.
gentrification - the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often replaces earlier usually poorer residents.  [definitions: Webster's Dictionary]

So, some gentry "of gentle birth" are renewing, rebuilding and replacing all over your barrio. Should you let the coraje get to you and start making bilingual picket signs and petitions?

One common belief is--Simón, ese! The price of local pizza will go up, tamales-by-the-dozen will become rarer than a Chicano jogger, your favorite cantina will be remodeled into a vegiburger or starbucked bistro where one item can cost more than a dozen tamales, and your neighborhood school will be turned into a more exclusive charter factory that features maybe a dozen chicanitos. But that's such a shortsighted, narrow and "poorer" view, it might be better to take a longer, broader and "richer" perspective on the phenomena.

Based on decades of scattered, sometimes sober, observations of Northside Denver's gentrification, as well as hundreds of hours drinking Negras on Friday afternoons out in my front yard with my untrained perro Manchas, I've discovered undiscovered value to these invasions. It's not all floating caca under the bridge, but our "usually poorer residents" can benefit from this "influx of middle class or affluent people" and even climb the economic-advantage ladder to almost becoming "upper or ruling class." Here's how I see it:

Signs when a barrio gets gentrified
Benefits for barrio gente
1. When the forecast calls for "surf's up" on the beach or mountain snow, gentry's trash & recycle bins hit the curbside days before scheduled pick-up, encouraging burglaries.
Since gentry obviously aren't home, this gives you time to search their bins for aluminum cans and junk to sell at your biannual yard sale, if you simultaneously watch your casa.
2. Yards that never had gardens are suddenly filled with lush plants, tall green trees and expert landscaping, making yours look like a monte with a barber-college haircut.
You won't have to nag your esposa to cut the lawn or weed the garden anymore because there's no way yours can ever look as suave or verde as theirs.
3. On the other hand, that deceased viejita's rosebeds are pulled up and replaced by formulaic gentry-landscapes that produce a few small flowers with little maintenance.
Your d-i-y landscaping is the most unique around, and scrawny roses you transplanted when everybody was at the viejita's funeral make gentry think you got a green thumb.
4. Newspapers on gentry's front yards pile up because they all have wireless IPods & IPads and don't read print--or went skiing--but have too much disposable income and don't cancel their subscriptions.
You don't waste money anymore on subscriptions; you just take your dog on his customary, new, morning walk, nonchalantly pick up your free copy and your esposa compliments you for getting up off your fat nalgas.
5. The viejitos who struggled along with their walkers don't come by anymore to help improve your pocho Spanish, and the young, fit güera/güero joggers never stop, unless they need a translator.
Young, fit, güeras (or güeros, if that's how you jog), jogging--paint your own picture and also see #6.
6. New, monolingual neighbors have replaced the fluent Spanish-speakers who stopped by on Fridays to chat and help you improve your pocho bilingualism, so now you always converse in English-only.
Your status rises when your pocho Spanish makes you El Primo Translator of the block, and you now translate for landscaping, drywall and roofing vatos redoing the barrio, and they envy your English fluency.
7. Your neighbors' pure-breds are fully trained, bark less and live inside more than your mongrel, targeting you for nuisance-dog complaints.
When robbers check out your block, they stay away from your casita and its unsocialized, barking mongrel, making you look smart to la esposa.
8. New, shining, MPG & GPS-equipped silver cars sit in gentry driveways, increasing local car thefts and making your old troca look like it belongs to one of the roofers.
There's more neighbors with working cars who you can ask to boost your worthless troca's battery on sub-zero mornings, if they're not skiing. Plus, see #7 above.
9. Gentry breweries and cafes have replaced your dive bars and cheap taco joints, forcing you to drive miles on Fridays for tus traguitos and some refritos con green chile picoso.
You save chingos by buying six-packs and bags of chicharrones, while spending more time training your mongrel out in your front yard, waiting for translation requests and Benefit #5.

Of course, this list is incomplete and La Bloga readers are encouraged to add to it. There could be thousands and thousands of ways for our "usually poorer residents" to benefit from the "upper or ruling class" takeovers of their neighborhoods. Qué no, gente?

Es todo, hoy,
por RudyG
aka Rudy Ch. Garcia, author of the not-yet-notorious Chicano fantasy, The Closet of Discarded Dreams.


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And here is is without the typo: Where I live we have a barrio with pretty gardens and shrines to the Virgen de Guadalupe a few blocks from a house with fake guard tower complete with a rifle-totting mannequin and an YOU CAN TAKE MY GUN WHEN YOU PREY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS sign. The gentry seem to afraid to come here, but the African immigrants like it. ¡Viva Arizona!

sramosobriant said...

My childhood neighborhood was puro fenced-in dirt, except for the Benta's next door. They had the only manicured lawn for blocks around. Of course, our dogs preferred to poop there causing endless friction between them and my grandpa, who lived up front. Our house was in the back of the lot. He sat on his front porch every day in warm weather, smoking a pipe and talking to his parrot, but the problems with the Benta's continued. He ended up creating a barrier of found wood and metal between his yard and theirs so he wouldn't have to see them when they pulled into their driveway. Theirs was the only attempt at gentrification I remember. I hope they remember him and our dogs fondly.

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Rudy, this certainly brings back memories of my own dusty, poor neighborhood when I was growing up in South Texas in a little town of 20K people. Few folks had grass in their yards, with no professional landscaping, no hired gardeners, lots of dust swirling on windy days (which was frequent), and a caliche street, with huge chunks of gravel. I was pretty grown by the time our street finally got paved in asphalt. The neighborhood now, more than 40 years later, still looks pretty much the same. Thanks for your good sense of humor!