Friday, May 4, 2018

Tag You're It

Nashville wets itself daily on being declared an "it" city all which began and should have ended long before the soap show ended its run this last year.  It was overdrawn and badly written and got off to a good start before finally fading into black.  Kind of like the transit plan.

I have lived here in Nashville just shy of two years.  Since that time I have had three different management companies running my apartment building, the current one, Elmington Property Management,  has to be perhaps the worst facility management company in the business.  There are nothing but complaints about this company across the country and my favorite are the raves from those who work there as a simple Google check on the names confirms this.  Seriously when you are Yelping about your company and how great they are find a pseudonym.   But that would require intelligence and there is nothing about those at Elmington that demonstrate intelligence.

I have watched as building after building goes up many of them huge apartments with more amenities than a hotel.  My favorite is concierge garbage pickup where you leave it in the hall someone takes it.  The free coffee, the endless barbecues, pools and other services that drive up rents to astronomical proportions not in line with wages.  We have a massive housing crisis here and the funny thing is that I have never seen quite as much public housing in my entire life since relocating here.  It is vast and encompasses the city, the Cayce Homes project runs the length of its  own neighborhood.  This was apparently the South's way of resolving that racist thing, shoving people into one cheap housing unit as long as they are across Nashville's neighborhoods where the rich don't cross.  The irony that Edgehill is adjacent to the Vanderbilt campus and close to the happening Gulch and 12th South is another irony to throw in the fire as that is how gentrification works.  It should be only a matter of time before those are changed into some alternative housing concept.  The affordable aka cheap apartments nearby are already scheduled for demo and undoubtedly will mirror the numerous tall skinny's being built in the area.  Yes spend six figures and buy a home next to a challenged public housing unit and let me know how that works out.

 I live very close and yet very far in every sense of the word  to the Napier Homes,  and my area was once utterly neglected and abandoned, literally tons of abandoned tires and junk filled the park across the street and the parking lot of the school nearby.   Bu irony again this "gentrification" done originally by a resident not an investor and he engaged the community in its transformation.  And in turn the projects were cleaned up, grants issued and it was a project of another kind.   He has since left the area but he actually left it better than he found it.  As for the nearby Ft. Negley that the Slattern wished to turn into fabulous housing has since been designated to be restored to a park.  However, the building continues or not as this sits just up the street, in the area regardless without any due planning all based on random numbers, the yet built MLS stadium at the Fairgrounds.   The May Hosiery building owned by the same idiot who bought the property linked above has finally begun to be revamped and upgraded, of course all at the costs of the artisans who rented their and have now absconded to areas unknown.  And since that time I have heard numerous tales of the Southern kind that New Orleans style food emporiums would move in (they had to finally decline), then the Nashville Scene/Post and the Business Journal was to consolidate and move offices there but that will not be happening as the Scene/Post has been sold to another company and the BJ will likely remain in their current location  so they will not be honoring any of those commitments anytime soon.  So this huge industrial space may have a tenant or two but I suspect it will be like many of the buildings in downtown Nashville - vacant.   If and when the park is finally constructed then this area may elevate in bodies but in reality who are these people moving here and what is their income?

Development and urban planning in Nashville is like a baby with keys where it  just looks to wherever the keys are shining at you.  The irony was that the Slattern liked this area as her and the bodyguard used to bang in the City Cemetery  and that may have been the appeal.  But this obsession for growth has no logic or organization to accompany it and this adds to the transportation times, issues about housing costs and of course services and businesses in the area to accommodate the growth.  And in turn the reality of a city budget that has no money in which to do so.  So if 100 people a day are moving here they obviously neglected to throw money in the kitty. Whoops.

This is a place with no sidewalks or crosswalks. That public schools are garbage and underfunded while charter schools are fully funded regardless. The private schools here are much like colleges with campuses and extracurriculars that boggle the mind and the pocketbook with regards to cost.  The farce that adjacent counties provide better schools is another anomaly as they then are responsible for the one-third of the entire population that goes onto College.  Again belying that "other" name for Nashville, The Athens of The South.   Really it should be the medical tourism capital of America as there are more hospitals and clinics here than I have ever seen.  And the ability to get excellent care exists but it comes at a cost. Again access and availability are two very different concepts here and despite the Truck Stop Governors many attempts to get access the fine Legislature from rural towns have systemically blocked this. They overrule the City of Nashville's attempts to do anything from providing affordable housing, limiting AirBnb rentals, plastic bag bans, minimum wage elevation and pretty much anything else the elected City Council and Mayor enact.  So why have any local Government?  And for the record all of this building and construction is taking place in flood zones that less than a decade ago was under water and none of that has been remediated or even addressed. Well it was briefly before the Slattern left office and that was dropped.  I am certain any and all of her agenda, including transit was thought of much like the game of tag and no one wanted "it" anymore.

What I found interesting in the transit debacle was the way it was designed, too broad and yet too narrow, way out of scope and scale for the city.  The other was the marketing of it was odd and unsuitable for people who are obsessed with money they did little to exactly explain to people what their individual costs would be, how that would personally affect them in relation to costs, time and other expenses that the daily commute via a vehicle would be versus use of transit.  There was little discussion on routes, buses and daily issues that matter to people where there are no sidewalks, crosswalks or adequate wait time for varying routes that currently exist.  All of that was spent on just goodwill and how it will help you in the future.  For a city of now they rarely deal with the now at all and speak to people in ways that matter - as in stupidly.  Seriously they need a paint by numbers chart in which to make it easy for them to understand.   People here see this as 'them' vs 'us' and if they don't need/use or want it why have it?

But what was even more interesting was the strange dark money that showed up. Here in the land of the fear factor where even Senate Candidate, Phil Bresden, is seen as Carpetbagger, this after 20 years of living here as the Mayor of Nashville and the Governor, so there you go, that the anti tax people were hired to be the faces of dark money and were of course faces of color in which to further obfuscate the message as black voters were seen as key to this drive for transit.  My personal favorite was the Rev. jeff obafmei carr who has a history of activism behind his resume of acting.  That was a fascinating debate to see him of course be anti tax (note that this was about taxes and not about transit another clever use of words) speak about this issue against a white man. Deliberate and manipulative here in a city highly charged with race.  And for the record Nashville is about 73% white.  A recent Washington Post article discusses this issue of segregation and diversity in America's cities and is a useful read.

Naturally there was much consternation and analysis why this measure failed and following the defeat was this comment from the Mayor who is already up for re-election starting today.

Mayor David Briley said he did not see the transit failure as derailing Nashville's momentum but that the city would need to improve its transportation system for its long-term success.
"I don’t think any single vote or decision in this city is going to keep us from being a vibrant economy and attracting people," Briley said. "At the same time, we've got to make investments in transit and transportation to remain competitive.  As far as he knew, Briley said the city remained on Amazon's list of potential cities. Regardless of Amazon's decision, the city needed to act on transportation to keep the pipeline open for other meaningful businesses

All of this while standing next to the primary partner of Alliance who is moving their "headquarters" here this year to a building and location not yet named.  Well there are no  shortages of buildings many of them remodeled and vacant in need of tenants.  There is no problem with commercial availability and I see that in residential as well. Despite my wonderful property management firm and their idiocy they have 5-6 vacancies every few months and they threaten rent rises, refuse to pick up my mail from the post office which has my rent check and basically answer the phone and this too exists throughout Nashville in many of the sites across the city.  Low wages, high transient turnover and high rents means a lot of moving in and out. Even Seattle has found that there are finally more people moving out of the area and back to the dreaded California that has been blamed for the excessive cost of living rises in the area.

People do not want to live in "it" cities very long.  It is expensive and frankly the benefits run out very quickly when housing costs become out of reach and the novelty of living in urban centers which contributes to that as well as the issues of crime, again schools and other luxuries that suburbs provide when you start building a family.  Urban cores are great for young singles, the elderly and those who simply have no interest in a conventional family dynamic - house, car, kids etc.  But here in Nashville again there is nothing here for you after a few months it is utterly boring as hell.  The Opry Mills Mall yesterday was a site of a shootout.  I go there to catch a flick, do some shopping and it is adjacent to the hotel which has its own sort of interest and Opryland which if you have never just gone and bought a standing room ticket for an early show it is worth it.  And then it is not.  As that is where the shooter went, encountered a retired Cop who was obviously doing just that and handled the situation.  Once again a young black man of 22 lost his life to another young black man of 22 over a dispute at the Pretzel stand.  Yes I know it and it is next to my favorite cookie spot where I go then to Orange Julius, the H&M and Saks.  I have a boring routine there as it is an adequate mall but again no matter where you go this is Nashville,  a violent expensive little big town with real big city problems.

And this is why I struggle with race. The largest portion of violent crime is committed by faces of color.  And my neighbor, who is black and the building is now becoming largely black thanks to a recruiting plant that gives 200 dollars to any tenant that finds an occupant and they said right in the letter, "live next to someone you like"  Well kids we all know that like likes like and when I see that many faces of color moving in I have to ask myself who are these people they are not "like" me.  So again that message is loud and clear as a bell in my head and I ask myself if I am becoming racist? And this from the woman who lived in Oakland and South Seattle in very sketchy areas and it never once crossed my mind.  But I never heard of gun violence like this and the only true incident was a SWAT raid on a kid who again did nothing but this is what Cops do and he was shot in the head by them.  It was only right after than Oscar Grant was killed on the Bart and I left town shortly after.  So one wonders if cause and affect are an effect on my own personal thoughts that frankly are just random and I cannot see that for the forest or trees.

So to come home after a great day not in the public schools but walking, having acupuncture and getting a Lyft home from a fantastic chick to hear about Opry Mills was another red flag. And had that retired Officer not been there once again I suspect a serious problem with regards to how the Police force handle this. They had already declared it an "ACTIVE SHOOTER" inside the mall, causing panic and again fear. There was no coordination despite the irony again always irony that the State Patrol was using the parking lot as training which enabled them to get quickly to the shooting victim but the shooter had literally crossed that same lot to Opryland.  I have done that as well and the shades of Waffle House was not lost on me.   You literally can turn up there to McGavock Pike and to the large Two Rivers Park and the nearby water slide park and be gone.

But again the guns and the violence are not the problem so we will respond with thoughts and prayers and go on about our day.  I struggle with remaining here and once again Vanderbilt too disappointed as I watched the news I get an email from my Dentist  that there are  more problems with finishing my upper reconstruction and my appointment was pushed back two more weeks.. I suggested we push it back six more and we could make it a year and have an anniversary that would be cubic zirconium the product I pushed on them to make my upper teeth.   So in some ways the delay was great as it enabled me to find a better more sustainable product to use.  Funny how the patient once again does the work.

I find every day here challenging in ways that are too similar to Seattle and that constant confrontation, the social isolation and anger are not doing much to heal this broken soul. I did not think for one minute this transition would be easy but frankly this is too much for one person to bear on their own.   Rarely is one spoken to kindly or with dignity and at the end of the day the level of incompetence and idiocy is so overwhelming I struggle with how to cope.  I worry about what will happen next when I move onto the next.  My carpetbag was once filled with excellent navigational tools that enabled me to figure out what I needed to survive and adapt no matter the seas. But here in the deep red ones I have no such skill set.  But someone need to tag the next as I don't want to be it.

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