Thursday, March 5, 2020

Called It

As I wrote in my last blog post, In Memorium, I have no doubt that Nashville will be fine following the tornado and they have the resources and more important the desire to continue their momentum of being the "it" city forever.  But with a conservative legislature, a city in financial arrears I have of course doubts that it will be seamless and it appears I am right. The roads are barely clear and power is still out across parts of Nashville but the begging and bullshit have begun.

First up the Carpetbaggers with checks are there and while no one can actually find said mythical being they are ever present and waiting.

A Tornado Decimated North Nashville. The Rebuilding May Destroy Its Soul.
A devastating tornado in 1998 transformed East Nashville and forced many African-American residents to relocate. Now, North Nashville residents fear the same will happen to them.
The New York Times
By Richard Fausset and Steve Cavendish
March 4, 2020

NASHVILLE — Adia Victoria huddled with her cat under the covers in the North Nashville home she shares with her mother, her ears popping as a tornado roared across their neighborhood, among the oldest in this booming city.

A few hours later, in the morning light, the damage was clear: Much of their neighborhood — a traditional and important African-American community that has been rapidly gentrifying — had been decimated. Now, Ms. Victoria, an African-American musician and songwriter, assumed that the gentrification pressure would only get worse, that working people would struggle to rebuild, flirt with the idea of selling to developers or simply move away.

“My mom and I woke up, and with this dark-humor laugh were like, ‘Well, there goes the rest of the neighborhood,’” she said.

As this city cleans up from nightmare storms that cut a swath across the central part of the state on Tuesday, killing at least two dozen people across four counties, some residents of North Nashville also worried that the tornado’s destruction would exacerbate the forces that have been diluting their neighborhood’s character and culture.

“There has been a gentrification tornado spinning through North Nashville for the last 10 years,” said the Rev. Jeff Obafemi Carr, an activist and former mayoral candidate. “You hope that a physical tornado doesn’t become the catalyst for more.”

The neighborhood’s post-storm anxiety echoes broader concerns about whether this fast-growing metropolitan area, rife with cool cachet and rising housing prices, is doing enough to accommodate its African-American community as the city is transformed by construction cranes and new residents.

Unverified rumors about forces that Ms. Victoria described as “greater than the tornado itself” spun through the neighborhood on Wednesday.

“I heard people in Land Rovers were going around yesterday basically trying to scout property — but I can’t validate that,” said Freddie O’Connell, a white member of the unified City-County Council whose district includes a badly damaged portion of North Nashville.

With a diversified economy and its sheen of countrypolitan chic, Nashville continues to grow. It recently passed Memphis as the state’s most populous city, with about 700,000 residents, and demographers predict it will grow by more than another 100,000 people over the next 20 years.

Along with that, however, has come a growing — and well-founded — fear of black displacement. In late 2017, the city’s daily newspaper, The Tennessean, analyzed census data and found that the African-American population had plummeted in some historically black neighborhoods, in some cases by 20 percentage points or more. Many black residents also had left the city’s urban core, the newspaper found, “while white buyers and renters are spreading throughout the core.”

Though Nashville’s global calling card, country music, is usually associated with America’s white working class, the city is nearly 28 percent black, with a storied civil rights legacy and a number of historically black colleges and universities. Yet many African-American residents said they have felt slighted in recent years as Nashville’s cool-town reputation took off.

An ambitious $9 billion public transit plan was shot down by voters after opponents argued that working-class black people would bear an undue tax burden and see relatively few benefits. Some black leaders saw a recent effort to scale back services at Nashville General Hospital, which is city-funded and on the city’s north side, as an affront. So was a short-lived plan to develop homes, retail and office space at Fort Negley, where enslaved African-Americans are buried.

And there is controversy over Nashville’s signature dish, hot chicken, an African-American creation that many feel has been misappropriated and widely marketed by white people.

Tuesday’s deadly tornado was not the first to play a role in the city’s gentrification drama. After the East Nashville neighborhood was hit hard by a destructive storm in 1998, it enjoyed a hip renaissance, fueled in part by insurance money. The cool bars and pricey restaurants that emerged after the storm helped boost property values and a gentrifying circle that continues today.

This week’s storms were indiscriminate in their wrath, and once again, East Nashville was battered. The Basement East, a popular indie-rock club founded in 2015, was badly damaged. Nearby, a couple was killed after leaving Attaboy Lounge, a craft cocktail lounge. Scores of homes were rendered unlivable.

On Wednesday, gentrification concerns were not a top priority for many Nashville residents who were simply trying to clean up their neighborhoods. Professional cleanup crews, joined by volunteers of all races and backgrounds, worked to clear the streets of tangled wires and branches and help their neighbors as power outages continued to plague some areas.

In Putnam County, in the rolling countryside east of Nashville, 18 people were killed, including 13 adults and five children under the age of 13. Late Wednesday, one person remained unaccounted for.

“Most of the folks that I have talked with, black and white, all of our heads are pretty much in the same place,” said the Rev. Dr. Frank Gordon, pastor of North Nashville’s Fourteenth Avenue Missionary Baptist Church. “We have been through these things before with tornadoes and floods in Nashville. Each time that I recall it has happened, the major thrust in the community has been everybody pulling together.”

Still, beneath the sounds of the buzzing of chain saws, many worried about how the tornado would transform North Nashville.

In September, Ms. Victoria wrote a searing essay in The Nashville Scene decrying the expensive makeover that had begun transforming North Nashville. Ms. Victoria described the new construction, and the new flavors that came with new neighbors, including “the appearance of a natural-foods section at the Kroger on Rosa Parks Boulevard where years ago I purchased my first chitterlings.”

“There is a rapaciousness in the air, bordering on the obscene, as the city contorts, bends, shucks and jives to become whatever version of itself will bring about the largest turn of profit,” she wrote. “Those positioned to make money do so, while all those standing outside the circle of profit are left on their front porch wondering when their lives will be razed and paved over.”

There, Shirley Brooks has lived on Monroe Street for a decade in a one-story wood house. Before the tornado, she watched as new brick townhomes rose all around her. They were barely affected by the storm. But the tornado tore off the front of her little green house and wrecked its roof, displacing her and the 15 other residents.

“We got to the middle of the house and the roof caved in,” Ms. Brooks said. “I had the baby and the roof fell in on my back. We were trapped in the back and couldn’t get out. I was screaming and hollering to the people next door, saying, ‘Please help us! We can’t get out! We can’t get out.’”

The next day, Ms. Brooks and her grandchildren returned to their ruined home, gathered what they could and prepared to go elsewhere. She said her landlord told her that he did not plan to rebuild it.

“They told me they didn’t have no more rental property,” she said, “and I don’t have nowhere to go.”

Nearby, the Rev. Lisa Hammonds stood outside of St. John A.M.E. Church, the oldest A.M.E. sanctuary in Tennessee. The tornado had cratered the roof and caused other structural damage. On Wednesday, it was surrounded by police tape.

Ms. Hammonds talked about feeling slighted when the initial news coverage of the tornado seemed to focus more on fully gentrified places like the nearby Germantown neighborhood. She spoke of the new housing sprouting up in North Nashville, including the buildings that residents call “tall and skinnies,” built to maximize space and profits on small lots.

“What we have to understand is that it’s happening already,” Ms. Hammonds said. “We just have to figure out what that means for our community.”

Now the ugly truth about the low wage service workers who are the largest part of the working class community in Nashville. They make substandard wages, they live in overpriced housing now with the decimation of some of the larger apartments expect the already high rents to rise further, they have no health care, they will find their renters insurance utterly useless and in turn will be out of work and not qualify for unemployment as the State will see to that.   Right to work right?

The Go Fund Me's have begun with of course the local peddler of bullshit Crosspoint TV hawking for money and naturally none of them have oversight and any type of forensic accounting to validate who or where the money is going so that should be interesting to say the least.

Tornadoes Cut a Swath Through Nashville’s Restaurant Scene
As many businesses dig out, others are pitching in to help.The tornadoes that touched down in Nashville and other parts of Tennessee devastated some restaurants and left others fully intact.

By Amelia Nierenberg
The New York Times
March 4, 2020 
Freddy Schwenk woke up at 2 on Tuesday morning to a barrage of texts and calls: people asking if he was safe, people asking if he knew what had happened. And then photographs of Geist, a bar and restaurant in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood where he is the managing partner. 
The photos showed that two exterior walls of the historic blacksmith shop had been ripped away, with debris everywhere. “I looked at my phone in disbelief,” he said in a Tuesday phone call. “It looked like my property was completely demolished.”
Across the state, Tennesseans woke Tuesday to devastation from overnight tornadoes that killed at least 25 people. In Nashville, two of the hardest-hit neighborhoods — Germantown and East Nashville — are home to some of the city’s most beloved restaurants and bars. 
Several of the dozen or so places that suffered extensive damage are central players in Nashville’s nationally renowned culinary scene. Many other restaurants have blown-out windows and debris strewn across their property. 
Even if they were spared a direct hit, chefs and owners are scrambling to donate perishable items while they wait for parts of the city’s electrical grid to flicker back to life. Eater Nashville has been updating a list of more than two dozen affected businesses. 
“There are cooks and whatnot who have either lost their jobs because their place of business went down, or they have lost their homes,” J.A. Harrison, board director of the Nashville chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, said Tuesday. He has started a GoFundMe account to help service-industry workers. As of Wednesday morning, it had raised more than $22,000. 
“Many of our community are living paycheck to paycheck,” Mr. Harrison said. “A week without work can equal a month without rent, which can equal an eviction. We want to be able to cut a check for anyone who is experiencing food insecurity or housing insecurity.” 
At Geist, Mr. Schwenk spent much of Tuesday trying to find temporary jobs for his staff and fielding calls from other restaurants offering to help. 
Good food is hardly new in Nashville, which has long had a thriving restaurant scene. But the city has experienced a boom in new, innovative restaurants that cater to a growing hipster class over the past decade, as young people have moved there, drawn by its music scene and relatively low cost of living. 
Many businesses that had been spared the worst of the tornado damage opened their doors on Tuesday and began to help the relief effort. 
As soon as they could, the team behind the Grilled Cheeserie parked their food truck in the center of East Nashville, near one of their three brick-and-mortar locations. 
Emergency medical workers and neighborhood residents came by for nearly 250 free sandwiches, sharing stories over a plain buttermilk Cheddar on sourdough or a homemade pimento mac-and-cheese melt. 
“At the truck today, it’s this feeling of togetherness,” said Joseph Bogan, the business’s chief executive and co-founder. “You are talking to people that you’ve never met, you’re relating to people on a different level.” 
The team served until they ran out of gas in their generator. At the same time, Mr. Bogan was trying to figure out how to help his parents, whose home had been severely damaged. 
“It feels surreal,” Mr. Bogan said. “When you drive through our neighborhood, it doesn’t feel real. It feels like a movie.” 
Nearby, at Saint Stephen, which has put Friday’s first anniversary party on hold, the staff fired up the wood grill and served burgers and beer, accepting donations for the recovery effort. The Grateful Dead played through Bluetooth speakers while neighbors talked under a sunny sky. 
“We’re just feeding the community basically comfort food,” said RJ Cooper, the chef and owner, talking over the noise of the gathering on a Tuesday evening phone call. “Within that dark swirling wind, there is light.”

If I sound as one who lacks compassion, far from it, as many of the businesses (the ones in fact mentioned)  I frequented and tipped and tried to treat all of the workers as close friends or even family.  I got burned as the kids there are really all very screwed up due to poverty, religion, abuse, a lack of education and sheer tribalism that has them at odds with a person like myself. Some were kind and some were not and the reality is that they are all very young and very confused and afraid.  So for this to happen I can only imagine the fear factor setting in and for those with massive drugs and alcohol problems (as most service professionals have and they are almost all quasi musicians as well so there you go) this will only exacerbate the problem.  I used to say that they do very little but work at their shitty jobs, go out with their co-workers drink, suck, fuck and hump all week til Sunday where they thump the Bible to alleviate guilt or shame and lather/rinse/repeat on Monday.    Without full foundations and tethers to a community and a sense of belonging it makes sense and one only feels pity when you see their faces on a daily basis and it truly affected me. I feel for them tornado or not. 

I also spent my days in Nashville in the schools or dumpsters as I called them and saw the damage that the  grown ups afflicted on the youth.  And of course in less than 24 hours the shootings and looting began with no media covering that fact of course as that would not be a feel good story.  But there is still a city there with other problems that again are only overshadowed by this storm.

Here is one of the business owners words from his GoFundMe:

 We’ve been flooded with so much love about The Soda Parlor. First off thank you! We had been open for 6years! Wow! We poured so much of ourselves into that place, I’ve meet thousands of you in that shop. And then bam! A tornado tears through your town. It doesn’t really even feel real.

Let me say this we had insurance. We’re meeting up with said insurance agent today.

I don’t know how long of a road we have ahead of us. I don’t know the obstacles we have a head of us. I don’t know when we will get these insurance funds. I don’t know the extent of the damage.

Sadly ONTOP of all of that are place was looted. Which means nothing to me. All of that can be replaced.

My mind goes to oh crap we have a bunch of employees that don’t have a job right now.

I’ve seen many of you asking, begging to help. I’m going to set up a gofundme I don’t have a number in my head as of yet and it’s totally up to you don’t feel the need to do this. This is where it would go.

Give our employees some bridge money to find a new job.
Removal, storage of everything in the shop. Whatever that wasn’t looted.
We would throw some to a charity to help some people who were effected by this.
And whatever left over if there is any we would throw at the beginnings of a Soda Parlor 2.0. I’m pretty positive insurance will cover this.

There is a very lengthy road ahead of us and some many people in Nashville. We got this. I look forward to the day I lift a float with all again.

Thanks so much!

Again the reality is that the rich will get richer from this disaster and the poor will get nothing. Note New Orleans if you need a memory check.  Funny here in Jersey we are only going on and getting better from that bitch Sandy. But then again the rich live here and that matters.

So no I have not contacted anyone I know in the area and will not. They are more than aware of my disdain for Nashville and if they felt compelled to let me know they are fine they could do so, but they won't.   Fear of me gloating, being right or simply not giving a shit.  And there may be truth in all of that.  That is Nashville as I served my purpose, my checkbook is closed and they have no use for me now.  So that pity party is not something I plan as the door swings both ways and I have decided to put a lock on it as well what can you say after years of abuse and unkindness?  I have nothing left to say.  I wish them well and I already know that they will be fine but some won't and that is the reality of it. Had I stayed there I know that no one would have cared for me so that says all I need to say on the subject.  I carry my cup of bitter tears and fill it with Bourbon as I can drink to the fact that I am not there and thankfully had left 72 plus hours earlier.

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