1.16.2008

No. 200

Perhaps cities and me don’t mix. Or maybe its just me and American cities, I don’t know yet. Living in Seattle is my first go at city life. And it’s been great, until recently. This city is nice. It’s got a lot to offer, great climate (once you get used to the rainy season), stunning location (you can see a giant volcano looming over the city on clear days) and interesting culture. I like it here.

It's only been three years (not even) since moving here and the one thing I have struggled with on an almost daily basis is the change that happens here. I remember watching this documentary on New York City a few summers ago and how in that documentary one of the narrators talked about how cities were all about change. That nothing ever stayed the same for long. Buildings were torn down and news ones built in their place at what seemed a maddening pace. And I understood that when talking about a city like New York.

But not Seattle. I’ve been observing the systematic destruction of all things old, all things affordable and all things character filled being replaced with soulless, characterless and expensive (to rent) but cheaply built buildings. I hate this.

It makes me want to do all of the following at once: weep, abandon the city, grab developers by their greedy little capitalist necks and toss ‘em out on the street, scream out loud on a street corner soapbox about how shallow and rootless our culture is and how we value nothing unless it produces large sums of money, how we destroy lives, how we destroy what little culture we have left and don’t give two shits about the kind of world we are creating for our kids to grow up in and eventually inherit.

Seattle is the perfect example of what capitalism does to a vibrant, art filled, community oriented city: kills it dead.

Allow me to rant for only a minute or two about what it means to be an artist in a capitalist society. It means being torn between “getting a real job” and staying broke because you love to create. It means turning your art into a product and in turn selling your crazy, passionate, unique and beautiful perspective of the world for a few bucks to buy some groceries or pay the rent. Its means fighting everyday to validate your existence as an artist in a culture that doesn’t know how to love art and those who create it.

How do you quantify art? How do you quantify something that comes from some unknown place within you and drives you along like some demon-possessed madman? A madman that must create or die trying. I’ll tell you how you quantify it; you let capitalism tell you how to view everything in life (including life itself) through the lens of “what can I sell this for on the open market?” You reduce life to nothing more than monetary units and economic terms. You sell your soul simply because someone was willing to buy it and you needed the cash.

Two minutes are up.

I don’t know, maybe I just don’t deal well with change. Or maybe I just don’t deal well with the kind of change that I see all too often. The kind of change that benefits no one except a small handful of investors, realtors and developers. The kind of change that regards history as an obstacle to be plowed over and character as something to be manufactured.

Is there a city in America that cares for all of its citizens (not just the ones with the most money)? Is there even an America that cares for all of its citizens?

Two months back in the States and I'm already disgusted.

3 Comments:

Blogger Stu Bish said...

Hey Bro, two thoughts I wrote down when I read your post.

Change: Yep, I hear you. Having said that, I don't think it's sustainable. I think eventually Seattle (or Van for that matter) will wake up to what it's done in the name of a tax buck. And it's going to be people like you who are not scared to actaully seek out people, and love on them that will help rebuild. I think it's possibly a good analogy of what happens allot in church. But maybee we'll talk about that more over a beer or coffee when I'm there in 2 weeks!

Art: 1/2 way through my music degree, I copped out. I decided that I didn't want to persue making music because all the joy would be taken out of it. I think i lost because of that. I was safe, I didn't have to risk. But now my passion was not my life. I love that you're willing to put your passion out there. And I've always said that the best in the world deserve to be paid hansomly for their work. Having said all that. I'm not sure what to do. Maybee some verbal processing again in 2 weeks.

Peace

1:21 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

Stu,

Thanks for the processing/thoughts. Yeah, lets continue this conversation in a couple of weeks when you're in town.

It'll be good to see you again.

10:15 PM  
Blogger sageplant said...

RAGE ON FOOL!!!!

6:44 PM  

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