There Goes the Neighborhood

I seen on the internets that young whites are fleeing the suburbs for the cities. I fled the ‘burbs thirty years ago. You can’t find a decent cup of coffee there and you have to drive all day for everything. Oh, the humanity.

Tom Sgouros could probably give a brilliant analysis but I will offer this random song that keeps going through my head, by The Busboys, ca.1980…

Too many faces that are not just like mine.
I see them moving in two at a time,
And, oh-oh-oh; it doesn’t look too good to me!
Give them an inch and they will take a mile.
I only want to see them once in a while.
And, oh-oh-oh; it doesn’t look too good to me!
There goes the neighborhood!
The whites are moving in, they’ll bring their next-of-kin. Oh boy!
There goes the neighborhood!
Boy! Boy! Bo-o-o-oy!
I ain’t movin’ out for no ‘Carol and Bob’!
The inner city is too close to my job.
And, oh-oh-oh; it doesn’t look too good to me!

We had a lot of talk about gentrification on the East Side of Providence back in the day. I think that it does not have to be a land grab, if the rights of the long term residents, especially the elderly, are protected. Fixing up houses is a good thing. Fox Point put up a fight against the speculators and did a pretty good job of riding out the economic ups and downs without losing its character and its hard-working homeowners. Let’s mention that renters work and pay taxes too, and a nice mix of incomes makes a neighborhood interesting and works against segregation.

As for the aging suburban plats, destination of people who have less power and mobility than the people moving out, it doesn’t look good to me. A lot will have to be changed, re-arranged and updated if we are not to see a 21st century Steinbeck writing the ‘Dandelions of Wrath’.

UPDATE: Today’s NYT has an article about a building boom in Vegas mini-mansions. They have acres of empty houses, but they want to attract the kind of buyer who would no more buy a used house than used underwear. And let me share this lovely sentiment…

In Phoenix, a billboard for Fulton Homes summed up the builders’ marketing approach. “Does your foreclosure have tenants?” it asks, next to a picture of a mammoth cockroach.

Right now I’m reading ‘Eaarth’, a sci-fi horror novel analysis of global warming trends by environmental writer Bill McKibben. Thru this lens I’m looking at the photos of the Vegas houses, and noticing that there is not a tree to be seen. Where will they get their water? Seriously.

I guess that the best place to be when you are Left Behind would be Bill McKibben’s farm in Vermont, with the garden and the solar panels. But that’s not my style, and if I have to do the post-apocalyptic lifestyle somewhere, I’d choose the city over a house in the desert where all the water is piped in and nothing grows.

Whew! Anyway, for today a mixed-income city neighborhood is a great place to live. I can see why young suburbanites would be attracted. They need not consider themselves ‘urban pioneers’, and they’re not, thank gods, environmental refugees. They’re just another wave. Walk lightly on the concrete, Carol and Bob, and we’ll get along just fine.

UPDATE: Thanks to Sekanblogger at Kansas Mediocrity for this link to the country version of ‘There Goes the Neighborhood’ by the Dillards. “When they mowed our front yards, they found our old cars–there goes the neighborhood.”

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4 thoughts on “There Goes the Neighborhood

  1. […] Anyone remember the hilarious song by The Busboys about gentrification? ‘There goes the neighborhood, the whites are moving in, they’ll bring their next of kin…’ Now there is a trend of young whites moving to cities and our aging suburbs becoming the less expensive real estate. We need some good urban planning to prevent predatory gentrification and a new generation of suburbanites facing the dandelions of wrath. […]

  2. […] As posted below, there’s a trend for young whites to move back into the cities, where you can find a decent cup of coffee and intelligent conversation. But clearly there is also a trend to push out into less and less hospitable places, to stake out that lawn you can call your own. […]

  3. I like cities,….small ones.
    Shewt, I’m even driving to Joplin tommorrow. It’s big enough for me.

    Speaking of cars in the yard, one friend of mine who lives on the farm; he had so many cars in the weeds that the car-crusher actually came to his place. 22 cars crushed and loaded there.

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