In one fell swoop of a measly blog post, David Mendez was able to do more damage to the relationship downtown has with the weekly than a sale to the Wicks, or moving its offices to the south side. Way to bite the hand that feeds. The weekly was created as an alternative voice which was often for and about an "alternative" community. The fact that Mendez misses the mark just bolsters the growing chasm between the weekly and the community who helped make it successful.
Downtown tucson is a unique oasis in an otherwise fairly bleak smear of strip malls and suburban blight, devoid of history and character. Like many other cities its size, the exodus away from the cities center during the 70s, 80s and beyond left a part of town that many people, aside from going to jury duty or their city/county jobs, avoided like a puddle of hobo piss. Artists, musicians, bohemians etc found it possible to, with a few bucks and a DIY ethos, carve out a niche for themselves. It was that way for many years, and out of that came a culture and a closely knit community. One could argue that another community was displaced ( the barrio), but that's for another argument. Still, many hardworking, talented and creative people put what little money they and all of their hearts and talents in to making lemonade out of a lemon, and often with little financial gain, or support from the city or from what could be called "outsiders."
It's that hard work and dedication to a small community that laid the foundation for what downtown tucson has become. Is growth bad? No. The problem is not that downtown has matured, but that it has done so at the cost of excluding small business owners and artists who laid the foundation for what it is today. The people who created a scene and an atmosphere that is finally now attractive to those from the east side or the foothills can no longer afford to do their thing because its too costly. Biblio, preen, grill, yikes/picante; the list of great businesses that set the precedent but are no longer around is long. Knowing many of these business owners and artists, I can say that had they been given the same treatment by landlords, the city etc that some of these larger newcomer businesses have, the dialog would be very different. But the loudest voices ofopposition to "the new downtown" are often these small business owners who, when faced with rising rents and little support from landlords who rarely (if ever) spent an hour or a dollar downtown, were forced to close.
The phrase "keep tucson shitty" for those in the know is obviously not to be taken literally. It's a metaphor. It's cultural dissimilation. years ago, "outsiders" thought of downtown as a shit hole. For those who knew better, the phrase was a rallying cry. A way to keep the people with their bourgeois attitudes away. The fact that Mendez doesn't get that just shows what side his bread is buttered on.
I'm proposing a new "movement." ( by the way, Mendez, there is no "movement." It's called Keep "Keep Tucson Shitty" Shitty. The first rule of KKTSS? Don't talk about KKTSS to David Mendez.
Tucson Weekly |
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