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The Real Reason Malls Are Closing

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by PrettySquareGal, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. I stepped on many a "progressive" newcomer's toes when I was editor of a weekly newspaper in a rapidly gentrifying district in Seattle and rarely missed an opportunity to highlight the hypocrisy of those who professed to "treasure the diversity" of the district while making it all the less diverse by their very presence there. And, of course, by the wildly escalating real estate values they spurred, which effectively drove out most of the lower income, largely persons of color population. Most galling were those who portrayed themselves as saviors, as though those of us who had resided there long before the newcomers' arrival were in need of such salvation.

    A coworker in that industry, a photographer and sometimes reporter, grew up in Seattle's Chinatown. His family ran a restaurant there long ago. His father died when this friend was still a kid. His mother passed away just a couple three or four years ago, at something more than 100 years of age.

    This friend of mine -- Dino is what he typically goes by -- is now widowed. His oldest, bestest friend, Donnie Chin, a longtime community advocate, was shot dead in the street not long after Dino's wife shuffled off. So Dino has been more than a bit blue and is making efforts toward lending purpose to what remains of his earthly voyage. He's been photo documenting contemporary life in Seattle's Chinatown and those of other North American cities. And he's been a strident anti-gentrification voice.

    He'll lose, ultimately. Seattle's Chinatown is built atop what has become highly desirable real estate. There will be much empty rhetoric about honoring the history and traditions of the place, and many an old structure will be rehabbed. But money trumps.

    Still, I respect his efforts, and I'm confident that his photos will find their way into at least one printed volume. The University of Washington Press has published a couple of volumes of his earlier work, and he's only getting better with age.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  2. We have plenty of that here -- people who come sailing in on a wave of condescending goodwill and immediately run for the City Council in order to tell us rubes what it's all about. It's not a "progressive politics" thing as much as it is a "bourgeois" thing in which class privilege blinds the ones involved to the harm they're causing. Lack of class consciousness in modern society is the root of much of what we think is "political" inconsistency.

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  3. Note to moderators....this is ideological not political.....when class consciousness emerges it will only involve 6 or 7 people as everyone else will have joined the bourgeoisie. They can plot the revolution in a Dunkin Donuts
  4. A couple of sausage-egg-and-cheese on an English will put anyone in a fighting mood.
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  5. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    Haven't heard the term bourgeois in a long time. I thought it meant middle class, but it now seems a term of abuse?
  6. Gentrification certainly changes places. The real trap thereaftrer is false nostalgia. We have a lot of folks here in London are all nostalgic for the old days of Soho. What they really miss though - and reasonably so - is the first wave of gentrification. When it was still interesting and quirky, but you weren't likely to get stabbed on a night out.

    An interesting social development solved the problem of seasonal business in the tourist towns of Portrush and Portstewart in Northern Ireland, back in the 90s: the University of Ulster opened a campus in nearby Coleraine, and all the B&Bs instead of shutting for the Winter did special deals for students staying an entire term....
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  7. I have no doubt you will as you seem deeply connected to your town and I also have no doubt your town is better off for your decision - I hope you are too.

    For me, over many years, I left two depressed areas for growing ones and one depressed part of an industry for a growing one, albeit taking a meaningful and painful cut in pay versus what I had been making before the company shut down. The career shift was sparked by a recruiter telling me, "there are a hundred as good or better resumes to yours for every opening - you'll never work in this field again - meeting over," ouch. After each change, I felt like the world had finally lifted a heavy boot off my chest.

    I wanted to move forward with my life and have a chance to do more, be more, achieve more, see more and to just feel positive. If I needed to move locations and fields to do it, then so be it. It all sounds good in retrospect, but each move was scary and could have failed and left me in a worse place, but I wasn't going to keep getting kicked while I was down without trying to get up.

    I have a good friend who still lives right where we grew up (but commutes pretty far to work - no choice there) and likes the continuity it gives his life despite the challenges of the town. To each his own.
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  8. "Middle class" the way it's used in the United States is an obfuscation. It's what working class people who don't realize they're working class think they are and it's what the bourgeoisie say they are to convince the working class that they're acting in their interest.

    I use "bourgeois" in the actual Marxist sense, but in recent years it's also become a popular insult among the younger generation -- usually abbreviated to "boojhie" -- applying to the kind of people who think they're more culturally sophisticated than they really are, and to social-climbing pretentious strivers in general. Not really the same sense as I use it, but it does have value in describing the kind of people who go to an opera and then complain that it's in French.
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  9. I can't help but be amused by the people who bemoan the loss of "the way Seattle used to be," by which they mean in the waaay distant mists of, say, 1994, when they, as then young adults, came to town to be amidst the grunge scene.

    If it ever occurs to them that they made their own significant contributions to what has become of the place since they blew in, they show no sign of it.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  10. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    Thanks for that answer, clears up the above debates a bit.

    But I'll be dang whether I'm working class or a 'Boojhie'!

    My parents were working class, so I must be too. But I moved from the US to Europe in order to gain a European university education. Guess I'm bourgeois! But hang on, I worked as a nurse for over 25 years, so I must be working class. Hey, I own my own home, no mortgage, and I now enjoy classical music (though not opera, whether French or Italian). Boojhie comes the cry! I prefer Coca Cola to wine. I don't own a car. I read Edwardian fiction. I like gardening. The list for and against grows longer! Guess I'm neither bourgeois nor proletarian (also in the Marxist sense) but just a honest Joe.

    I went to my local mall today and there was a artisan bread counter selling bakery items. Loved the look of the bread so wanted to buy a loaf. Guy wouldn't / couldn't accepted plastic and I never carry money with me. Went to the local supermarket instead. Cheaper too.
  11. A little while back I happened to be in Sherman Oaks so I decided to check out the Galleria, probably one of the most famous malls in America, immortalised by the song Valley Girl and seen in movies like Fast Times at Ridgmont High and Commando. Despite growing up in Southern California I had never been there in its heyday. So when I went there the first thought in my head was "Where is it?????" It turns out that it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, torn down and rebuilt with the new Galleria being a couple of office buildings with just a few meh shops and restaurants on the ground floor. A total disappointment.
  12. I wish you were right. And I hope you are. But when I read reports of just how near the edge most working class people are -- less than a thousand dollars in the bank, no retirement plan other than Social Security, etc. -- I truly fear for all of us should there be another serious economic downturn.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  13. An extreme case of "gentrification" occurred in Times Square in NYC.

    In the '70s, Times Square was a wasteland of drug users and dealers, prostitution, pornography and general graft. It's where addicts (of all types) who didn't have or had worn out (not judging) their family's and the social net's support structures went.

    It was raw with graphic human despair and aggressive street-level crime and scams tucked right in the heart of a still-robust metropolis. Adding to the weirdness, the area had some normal functionality as the theater district was in and around it, as were other regular businesses from the "outside" world, like, well, The New York Times.

    A trip through Times Square back then (reasonably well captured on the HBO series "The Deuce," but oddly worse in real life) was a phantasmagoria of human misery, chaos, crime, despair, needles, broken vials, discarded liquor bottles, hustles of every type ("hey, want to buy a new TV cheap") all emphasized by the blizzard of flashing neon lights running for several stories overhead and the honking horns of the always present traffic jams.

    For a whole lot of reasons - gov't programs, effective policing, business investment, societal changes and more - Times Square today is a pretty safe, manufactured tourist attraction that is incredibly "successful" from a financial and popularity perspective. Is it better - well it's better than the horrible despair that it was, but human despair didn't stop, it just isn't in Times Square anymore. What is there feels as fake as it could be / as manufactured as it could be - almost no New Yorker goes to shop or eat at the incredible number of huge chain shops and restaurants there, but the tourists stream in.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  14. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    May I ask your alma mater?
  15. HanauMan

    HanauMan A-List Customer

    Nothing fancy, a nursing college. Aberdeen College of Nursing. Got my diploma initially, then, with further study, gained a degree.
  16. Well said. While my list is different, I'm the same type of mashup.

    I've worked on loading docks and in offices, like champagne and beer, enjoy classical music and classic rock (have tried to enjoy opera and, maybe, am just starting to get it), love a diner and nice restaurants (but have been losing interest in the latter over the past few years), like reading Clive Clussler and Edith Wharton...you get the point.

    I won't lead with anything and won't jump in to "make a point" as I think proving how "regular" you are is as obnoxious as proving how "smart" you are - but I won't hide a darn thing about my past or present if appropriate to share. Where's that put me vis-a-vis Marx and his bourgeois?
  17. In the most basic Marxist view, anyone whose economic position depends entirely on wage labor is working class. It's not "how much you make," it's *how you make it* that counts in determining your position in Marxist class theory. If you don't control capital, and you survive by selling the value of your wage labor for less than the value of what you produce, you're working class. The bourgeoisie, on the other hand, owns a small amount of capital, either as a "small business owner," an executive with stock options, or as a petty landlord, but doesn't actually control any significant amount of capital. It usually aligns itself with the capital class, but seldom truly benefits from this alignment except for short-term gain.

    The way Americans usually look at class structure, on the other hand, is based more on how much you make and how you display how much you make -- it's more a Boys From Marketing approach to class identity than it is an attempt to understand one's actual place in the economic structure. Probably the best analysis ever written of American class beliefs is Paul Fussell's "Class," published in the 1970s. It's semi-satirical, but it absolutely nails the social signifiers Americans use to define themselves -- and interestingly, Fussell also disdains the idea of a generic wide-ranging "middle class," because, culturally, an "Upper Middle Class" American has, essentially, nothing in common with a "Lower Middle Class American." He does postulate the existance of a "Class X," which seems to be the same class that was described in the early 2000s as "bourgeois Bohemians." But these analyses don't have anything to do with one's actual place in the economic structure, they're merely cultural differentiation along the lines of the "high-brow/middle-brow/low-brow" and "U/Non-U" fads of the 1940s and 50s
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  18. One, I'm not being sarcastic or trying to "get" anyone with these questions and, two, to be fair, I realize the economy and its capital structures have changed since Marx, but would a senior executive making $5 million a year with say a quarter of it in stock options be considered working class because his or her income is mainly from wages?

    Also, where would a secretary who's been with a company for 25 years and has accumulated so much stock via her 401-K stand in the working class / capitalist / bourgeoisie divide if she feels her comp and future are tied much more to the stock and its dividend than her salary (real life example of a woman I worked with)?

    One more, I worked for a company in the '80s that gave everyone shares of stock and options (mailroom junior clerk to senior exec) as a meaningful percentage of their pay - salaries were lower than comparable jobs at other companies. Some grumbled, some like it, but everyone paid attention to how well or poorly the company was doing as they felt and knew that a meaningful part of their comp was tied to the stock (which it was). Sad part of the story - the company went bankrupt (I tossed my physical certificates only a few years ago :(, no Learjet to Paris for lunch for me).
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  19. Marx would definitely consider the secretary in that scenario to be a member of the "petty bourgeoisie." She'd also be the first one to suffer if the value of her stock took a dive, which is the main reason why the petty bourgeoisie tends to be extremely anxious about its class status, an anxiety which makes them especially susceptible to manipulation. Likewise the executive -- if he's in a position where he controls a considerable amount of capital, he's obviously not dependent on his paycheck the way a true wage-worker would be.

    On an entirely non-Marxist tack, I think you would enjoy Fussell's "Class" very much -- it's a very funny book, and especially for those of us in the Northeast, you will likely recognize a lot of people you know in his examples. Some of his cultural references are a bit dated, but there are still plenty of old white men in canvas dock sneakers sipping whiskey out of tumblers decorated with sailboats to make them relatable.
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  20. I think, not sure, I read it in the '90s during a "re-issuing" event or something that gave it a moment of press again. That said, I'm going to check into it to see if it jars my memory.

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