Sunday, January 17, 2010

Not So Filthy Lucre

The problem with money is not that it is dirty but that it is quite the opposite. Money is a sterilizing, homogenizing force in the world. Singapore is the perfect example of this. The twilight tranny parade has been replaced with avenues of all the exact same store you can find in every other metropolis in the world. Why go to Singapore for The Gap? Or Moscow for MacDonald's or Paris for Starbuck's? Just stay home godammit, if familiarity is all you're looking for.

But you don't have to go to the other side of the world to witness the homogenization of culture. It's right here in Boston's South End. I don't think there's a MacDonald's and the Banana Republic is in the Copley Square mall, known as Copley Place. No there's a homogeneity of sensibility and I don't mean a homo-sensibility. Fagolas in the South End keep it a tad interesting. And all the boutique stores, restaurants, and bars are better than the international chains, if unaffordable. And that's where the South End becomes dull. The people there are either really affluent yuppies or public housing denizens. So there's predominantly this really comfortable, hip yet dull, middle-American ethos that permeates the district. And I don't want that coming up into Dudley. Give me Rozzie Square with its myriad small mom and pop businesses (a butcher shop, several bakeries, cafes, fish market, wallpaper and paint store) or Union Square (same deal) instead. I prefer funky, authentic, immigrant, diverse, and varied to a whole slew of upscale.

But the tentacles of the South End are pushing to breach Mass. Ave. In some cases they have. Restoration Resources is one business that is a sign of this breach. The store is actually kinda wonderful. They are an architectural salvage business, taking useful and beautiful materials from places that are run down or about to be demolished (I assume) and selling them. There are old mantelpieces and windows and chandeliers - all very shabby-chic. The cradle to cradle people have to love the concept but the prices are anything but sustainable - unless you're getting a Goldman-Sachs type bonus. Or aspire to.

Ok, ok. So I like Restoration Hardware and I'd prefer businesses like them in my neighborhood over The Home Creepo anyday. But is the gouging really necessary? Isn't it possible to be interesting and affordable at the same time? I think what rankles as much as the homogeneity of culture is the concomitant brainwashing: money, style, status uber alles. Yawn. How boring.

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