Friday evening, I re-watched a not so old favorite movie... Almost Famous. While there are an overabundance of coming-of-age trials to speak of when referencing this particular film, there was one overriding theme that I found to be engaging as I breathed in the film once again.
The death of a musical genre, and the subsequent birth of "an industry of cool."
Although I may have some rock star aspirations (learning the play the guitar for example), I find that is more engaging a theme if I relate it to design.
There are so many things that I want to do with this house. Yesterday, I stretched myself out across the newly laid joists for the third floor. I looked towards downtown and found myself staring at the Washington Monument. I recalled that one of the incredible things I rememebered about being on the roof of the original house was being able to see downtown, focusing particular attention on the Washington Monument and the Capital Building. My current design doesn't capitalize on the view as much as I had originally wanted to. Because the site is on a hill, I knew that looking downtown would be pretty cool. How cool would it be to be able to show folks my view? How cool would it be to look at the city from across the river and then walk, ride or drive into it?
A few weeks back, I told the seventy-year old black man that poured my concrete that it was going to be cool cus I could see the city from the top of the house.
He said, "What do you want to see the city for? It's not for us."
His view, however dismal, speaks to a larger truth. Being excited about this house cannot and must not destroy the original agenda. The truth in his statement comes from feeling like a forgotten people. The truth in his words comes from the downside of gentrification, which originates from the latin gentrificus, which loosely translates into: Making poor or underrepresented people someone else's concern.
The city, not unlike an eight minute guitar solo of the mid 70's, is dying and giving birth to an "environment of cool."
This new environment is paved with camera phones in place of conversation, designer dogs in place of watching your neighbor's children until their parents get home, overpriced natural grocery foods in place of window sill herb gardens, ipod nanos in place of street performers, and ultimately... placing more value on your view of the city, than on the people in those buildings... or better still... the people that used to live in those buildings.