Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There Goes The Neighborhood....

I've been saying it for years, now: Despite all my jokes about my insane neighbors (see pretty much any given blog, Facebook post or Twitter tweet from over the years), you really don't want me moving into your neighborhood.

My growing up years aside, as well as a five year stretch in a fairly nice South Austin neighborhood in the '90s, and the three years I was in Austin in the mid-to-late-'00s, I've found myself living all my life in ghetto or barrio neighborhoods. It's what I can afford. And the food is better. But if you see me moving in next door, it's a bad sign.

Trust me: I've seen it happen time and again. Six months after I move in, you soon start seeing packs of young white people walking around. They're either carrying guitar cases, or you'll see paintbrushes sticking out the back pockets of their skinny jeans.

Three months after that, the convenience store (or bodega, depending on your location) either on the corner or downstairs in your building closes down. Six months after that, it reopens as a combination espresso bar/art gallery.

Inevitably, three years later, rents will triple. Which is when I'll have to move out and find some other ghetto to ruin as a harbinger of the ol' dreaded gentrification.

You hear complaints about that all over Austin these days: Gentrification, over-development, too many people moving here and all that. Certainly, I can remember SoCo when it was just South Congress. No $500 skinny jeans shops and long-line gourmet burger joints then. No, the Continental Club had a gun shop (Just Guns! I shit you not!) and a liquor store for neighbors. What's now an advertising agency down the street was a porn theater, a run-down weekly bedbug motel across the street. If you were walking home at 2 AM from the Continental after seeing Ronnie Dawson, a charming, 6-ft.-tall black transvestite with a sprayed silver high-rise fade would offer to suck your dick for a quarter.

I moved into this neighborhood back in November, after me and my then-roommates all got word that the house off Riverside we'd been in for years (well, year, in my case) would have to be vacated in December. I'd heard there were no plans, other than maybe to turn it into a vacant lot. As skyscrapers went up a few blocks away, in what used to be another crack neighborhood. And so it goes....

The day I moved into this duplex I currently share with three others, the welcome wagon came in the form of first responders dragging a body out of the house across the street, respirator mask firmly clamped to the face. My immediate neighbors in the duplex next door finally cleaned up the mound of garbage in their front yard that has been there since likely before I moved in. But their pitbull still comes onto my property and barks at me like I'm trespassing on hers'. And they still like to yell and blast hip hop at all hours - 4 AM, doesn't matter. I mean, who needs an alarm clock, when you can count on hearing 500 dBs of Tupac or whoever, accompanied by live motherfucking of everything in sight? At 8 AM.

That's okay. They're gonna get theirs'. The 2nd day I lived there, I saw a pair of white 20-somethings in skinny jeans and bushy beards (including the one on the young lady) bicycling past. Couldn't see paint brushes in their back pockets, however. And our landlady power-washed our house a few weeks ago, mowed our yard last week.

So, yeah. Go ahead and steal our city garbage cans, motherfucker. Your rent is about to get really unaffordable.

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