17 mar 2008

Well, hot on the heels of yesterday's post, I got a heads up to this article in the NY Times about foreigners flocking to BsAs and setting up shop, which I find a bit troubling. I knew this was coming but watching it in progress kind of makes me want to cringe. Being a foreigner myself I suppose I don't really have any say as to what is right for BsAs, and in truth I am a part of that very same influx that is bringing an outside influence to the city just by virtue of being a tourist. Still, it would break my heart if the city's cultural identity was changed by a bunch of spoiled, non-native, exploitative hipsters with pretensions to being "artists."

I can't help but feel it is a remarkable coincidence--or maybe just really good timing--that this very subject was touched upon by the cartoon King of the Hill recently, where one of Hank's Mexican friends gets dismayed when his neighborhood is overrun by hipsters drawn to its ethnic culture, who inevitably begin to subvert that culture to meet their whims (bad diy music, salmon in the fish tacos) and as a side result cause housing prices to skyrocket, making it unaffordable for the longtime residents.

I guess historically speaking, this is not exactly new. We all know that BsAs was always a city made up of foreigners. I guess what I feel may be different this time is that these foreigners are coming with the power of foreign currency, and to me it seems that by their very nature they won't stick around forever. As soon as BsAs becomes passé they will head on to the next fashionable locale. My concern is with what they will leave behind. I have already witnessed how pricing for tourists has hurt the locals with the steadily rising costs of food and housing. But how it would suck if the cultural change became so prevalent that BsAs transformed into a caricature of itself, reflected in the kaleidoscopic lenses of myriad misguided yet influential dealmakers.

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