Monday, May 20, 2019

They Have Arrived

I

 have been very vocal about what it is like to live in Nashville and I can assure you I would never move to the South again for any reason as I do get it, I really do.

I laugh today about the Seattle "Process" and the Seattle "Freeze" as quaint excessive bizarre behavior of the native Northwesterner but in reality that is from outsiders who arrive to a new city full of hopes, dreams and bullshit.  The pursuit of money and to find a tribe dominate the culture of the city of Seattle and always has and in turn we had a shitload of serial killers so go figure.  The reality of social isolation and gloomy weather, living between two mountain ranges makes people loners as you do a lot of hiking and skiing which are not exactly group activities.   And in turn it explains the 13th Man of the Seahawks and the need to belong, to find a tribe.  Growing up an only child I am fairly comfortable on my own and I am a loner and just as passive aggressive as any Seattle resident, new or old, can ever wish to be.  But over time I just leap frogged past passive and went to snark and aggressive.  I figured doing it with humor was a much better way than suppressing anger and becoming a serial killer or mass murderer.

In Nashville they too have their process and freeze but it is called the "way" and that means that you are on the outside unless you join a church, marry someone from the tribe, have children, are a person who offers money or buys their way into the social scene.   Pass, pass, pass again and thought about it for a hot minute then took a pass.   This city smacks of a desperation to somehow become a major player in America's cities.  Well Cleveland was once, so was Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Detroit and well you get it.  Seattle is risen like Christ and in turn it shows with the destitute that clog the streets and the rising crime and endless tides of people moving in and out in search of the next best thing.  Nashville is taking a turn at the plate and swinging bats like crazy. True most of their hits are some runs but mostly foul balls as in reality the State Legislature overturns and overrules most of the cities attempts at self governance.   You don't find that in Washington, the competitive nature and weird "county" bullshit you have here. I have never referred to a town/city in Washington State by a County nor actually ever called myself a "Seattleite" or "Northwesterner" nor actually know any native that ever did.   Here I love that people raised here from infancy but not born here say that they are not "from" here although they have never lived anywhere else but for a hot minute so they cannot I guess by unwritten code claim they are a "native." This place redefines tribal and nativism in ways that transcend logic.

Which is why as I watch the news reporting on the South and the current slate of laws that are directed towards women I want to remind everyone that they have had endless laws directed at faces of color, faces largely if not exclusively black, over history and have manifested themselves in crime laws or as Michelle Alexander wrote in her book, The New Jim Crow.  Then we have massive laws that began in North Carolina directed toward the Gay Community and particularly Trans folks. These have been also replicated here in Tennessee and if anyone is unaware many of these laws about reproductive rights and sexuality also exist in the heartland of America or does anyone forget the reign of terror by Mike Pence in Indiana.

The next assault is public education and that is about money first and then the poor and in turn the myriad of the faces of color and disabilities that exist within the walls of public school houses.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Those are the words of Martin Niemoller who was one of the earliest Germans to talk publicly about broader complicity in the Holocaust and guilt for what had happened to the Jews.  Not pretty is it to think that many stood by and watched if not participated tangentially in the genocide of millions.

I live here and am leaving. I fucking hate every waking minute here.  I don't sleep much so a lot of time of that is running the movies in my head.  There is no New South just a rebranded version of the old one.

When I read The New York Times I read this column and thought this is another Millennial who has no clue about what activism is in the South:
Abortion and the Future of the New South
By Ginia Bellafante The New York Times May 16, 2019

Two years ago, I got a text from a cousin I love announcing that she had moved to New Orleans, leaving behind a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and a job of millennial fever dreams. At 26, Tess was head of research and development for Christina Tosi and her baking empire, Milk Bar, the great 21st-century dessert disrupter.

At the age of 12, Tess was already selling her brownies to a gourmet market on Cape Cod; her ascent seemed the equivalent of an anointment at J.P. Morgan for the child who went to bed calculating short positions on foreign currencies.

Tess wanted her own kingdom, and New York — forbidding, impossible — wasn’t going to let her build it. The start-up costs for the baking and catering business she envisioned were going to be too high; the rent on her apartment in Bed-Stuy was increasing. When she moved in it was $1,800 a month; just a few years later, it was approaching $3,400.

This young woman was a citizen of the New South now. Her business, Tess Kitchen, was thriving. Her New Orleans apartment, at $1,900 a month, had three bathrooms.

I called Tess on the day that the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee backed legislation to prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected. This came 24 hours after Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, one that does not allow exceptions for rape or incest. That followed the passage of another restrictive abortion law in Georgia.

Living in a very liberal city in a very conservative state is a trick mirror. “You really forget that you are in the Deep South here,’’ she said. The news was an awakening. When she had moved to New Orleans she volunteered for Planned Parenthood. She knocked on doors to ask for donations, expecting at least some to be slammed in her face. But nearly everyone she met was already making contributions to Planned Parenthood.

“The New South’’ was a term conceived in the aftermath of the Civil War to suggest a set of aspirations of some southern elites who hoped to rebuild a backward and devastated place into a world better aligned with Northern urban values.

Over the many decades, it has acquired various layers of nuance, but today it tends to call to mind a string of cities from Charlotte, N.C., to Austin, Tex., that have essentially been Brooklynized by way of a progressive social culture and a tweaked fidelity to some of the South’s more marketable traditions.

In this iteration the New South has a powerful public relations arm in the magazine Garden & Gun, which really would require many more thousands of words to properly describe, but it is presented, in essence, as a lush-life destination where the mint-julep cups are always sterling, the leather is hand-sewn and the pastrami is made from duck you shot yourself.

It has been a successful formula. These revitalized cities have benefited from the system of afflictions that places like New York and San Francisco impose on their young. At the end of last year, LinkedIn, which regularly mines its database of 150 million worker profiles to analyze patterns in American employment and migration, reported that Atlanta had received more workers from New York City than any other place in the country during the preceding 12 months. That development has continued for most of this year.

In the last 15 years or so, I have made no fewer than 50 trips to Birmingham, Ala., where my husband’s family lives, each time marveling at how much more exquisitely it meets a particular set of consumerist and architectural fantasies — the book shops, the midcentury modern furniture stores, the retooled industrial spaces, the gyms that are indistinguishable from the ones in TriBeCa, the soaring leaded windows, the restaurants now nationally known and the new ones always coming up.

I once landed at the airport with a hypnotic determination to try the pizza of a young African-American chef who had returned home, by way of Cobble Hill and Per Se, to open a restaurant in an old Birmingham post office. Two years ago, in the lead-up to the special election that would find Doug Jones beating his Republican opponent Roy Moore for Jeff Sessions’s Senate seat, it was hard not to notice that nearly every political sign on a lawn in a Republican suburb a few minutes from downtown was a sign for Doug Jones.

I would return to New York and market these truths to skeptical friends whose experience of the South typically never extended past Arlington, Va.

It is this understanding of the modern Southern city — that you could nurture the addictions you had cultivated somewhere else — that has allowed places like Birmingham to grow into budding technology centers and to lure the bright and the driven.

A few years ago, Time Inc. set up a campus there. Shipt, the online same-day grocery delivery service, was started in Birmingham by a 32-year-old high-school dropout who sold the company to Target two years ago for $550 million.

How will these new abortion laws affect the redistribution of talent to places whose economies prosper from that talent? Under the current conditions, I wondered if women like Tess and her friends, many of whom moved from New York or Los Angeles, would have chosen to relocate to the Deep South. I asked some of them, and they told me that they were not sure.

One, Allison Gourlay, arrived in New Orleans a few years ago from a studio in Greenwich Village she could barely afford. At first she had a hard time finding work and questioned her decision.

“I was talking to a friend one day when I wasn’t sure and she said, ‘Stay, this place is about to blow up. It’s on the cusp of something big, can’t you feel it?’ This is cheesy, but I got goose bumps. New Orleans is really a place to establish work-life balance but I’m getting ready to start a family and it scares me,” she said.

“When you meet all these young people moving here who are so passionate and intelligent and changing the rules and making the city what it is, it is so inspiring. But it really worries me that it could no longer be that place.”

What she fails to mention is that New Orleans is literally sinking. It has never attained its pre-Katrina population and in turn it will be facing massive damage as the climate continues to change and evolve.  I have met a young couple who relocated there from New York and much for the reasons cited but the reality is that they are aware this is a short term plan for a long term problem.  That and the climate of politics has always been a corrupt backroom place and that will not change. But people do and they eventually pack up and move or just accept it as a fact of life and live theirs.  

But what I do find interesting is that the South has found a place to become such a magnet for young millennials.  Frankly I have been to Cleveland, to Pittsburgh, am going to St. Louis and there are few people in Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Nebraska, so why the South? The weather?  People its humid as shit here and equally as horrible as any of the others in the cold.  So it has to be the PR and the belief that Hotlanta is where its at. And true we have had a reverse migration of Black families, the reality is that up north they are courting Immigrants to replace the lost population which is why this Trump bullshit is another hit to saving smaller communities.  However these are not as political active so why young people are you moving like a Bird in winter?  It is about money and that seems to be the driving factor nothing more.

It is one thing to relocate it is another to actually change, to find purpose and balance in life/work in the South is a very different animal.  It means getting your ass to the Churches and integrating the coffee clatches and having the ladies who lunch talk about themselves and you just listen and you hear what they are saying.  These women are alone, desperate and afraid. They are poorly educated and the Church has stepped in and filled that void which explains why they are the strongest advocates for the pro life movement.  If anyone thinks this is a well organized and funded movement it is not it is happening in isolation and that is why it is happening.  People just want to be heard. And they in the South feel they are always being talked at and down to. Move here they have that type of speech down pat, its pulpit talk only with less multi syllabic vocabulary.

I don't have the patience and I am a Teacher go figure. But it is something much greater than I can cope or handle frankly and I just don't want to.  I am exhausted trying to rationalize and intellectualize a place that values neither.  Here it is God and Sports and Money and they see all those things as interconnected and essential to building community.  I have one out of three and I have been ripped off once and it took just once when the car was towed and the 200 bucks in cash to get it back. I learned quickly that they will fuck anyone over and the irony it was a rental with out of state plates and that was the reason it was towed.  I have seen many local plates in the same lot left alone so it doesn't take a great analysis to know the what to the what on that.   This is how they roll here. They are crooked like Lombard Street in San Francisco just not as charming.

And that comes from the lack of education and the role of the Church.  If you come to the South there is much more diversity than you would imagine but it is largely segregated and in turn a challenge to navigate.  These are the waters of the red sea and it is done intentionally and done so not with regards to the issue of race but the issue of money.   It is more class based and in turn that is why they have massive housing projects ringing the entrances of every city.  Go to Charleston, Savannah, Nashville you all enter the city by driving right through a housing project.  

This morning I read an excellent piece about Memphis and while I found the city amazing there are shared characteristics that are duly noted about the surface of the character of the city it would be a disservice to mention that the reality is the composition of it and again largely black faces are the majority of the population.  So it makes one wonder if this is some racial issue that somehow excuses or explains or am I over thinking again?   I quit using race and religion as an excuse a long time ago and the blanket explanation titled "The South" as a reason to dismiss the odd greed, the odd laziness and the simple lack of intellectual curiosity that falls across racial and class lines cannot be ignored.  It is one characteristic that defies the entire up by your bootstraps and work ethic so preached in the streets and the pews.  It is almost defiance and resistance that seems to encourage this and I found that too in the article which may explain a great deal of what I encounter on a day to day basis in Nashville.

Naturally my least favorite writer in Nashville who for whatever reason has been given a platform in the New York Times has once again done what they do best here, deny, obfuscate the truth and coat it in Sugar to make the bullshit taste sweeter.

But the reality is that the South is a complicated divided and divisive area by history, by race and by economics.  The few industries that came here in the post civil rights South were foreign. Nissan had no allegiance to North American history or culture so when they moved to Nashville followed by Bridgestone it enabled other foreign companies to do the same; from Electrolux, to Volkswagen they opened a door that allowed Boeing, Ford and GM to move operations south.  With that influx of money it seemed to give tacit permission for these legislative bodies to continue on course with their version of hate laws and oppressive acts that have been going on for hundreds of years. These people are enmeshed in history the point they are enable to break free of it.  Nothing will change this unless these supposed young creative's start becoming active and engaged with the residents and with their means of communication and that is via the Church.  As appalling as that sounds, pews to the polls is what brought about the Civil Rights Movement and we are at that point again.

What I am seeing is that from all aspects of equality, civil, gender, sexual, we have thought it was settled law of the land and what we have learned is that no it is not settled nor will it ever be apparently as one dies off another takes its place via heredity, via nativism, via education or lack thereof or through this thing we do value here - freedom of choice. Funny how that works out as that means your choice not everyone else's. That we seem to be confused about.









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