29 August 2006

Neighborhood Differences - Part Two

Recently, an online friend said that he and his fiance' were looking to buy a home in Fort Wayne. And aside from the fact that WE are thinking about looking to sell OURS after a LONG struggle to manintain our part of the neighborhod, and finding the system has played us like a cheap fiddle, I told him in spite of them getting a REAL nice house..ours is in a "distressed" area of this side of town, and I wouldn't want to piss someone off THAT much, should they move in and find the same problems we have...LOL!

The reality is this:
In Philadelphia, SO many of us grew up and wound up owning a ROWHOME. For those not familiar with this, it's basically a ONE family house, about 16 ft. wide and about 90 ft. deep (including yard if you're lucky). It's a 2 story house with basement/garage, maybe a small "lawn" (think patch of green stuff that can be "mowed" with electric grass shears) and maybe even a retaining wall (we had a white stone one with drainage holes...damn nice). And on ANY given block, you'd have about FORTY of these...20 per side per block. Nice tight accomodations, but hey...it was STILL a house. In SOUTH Philly, they're even SMALLER, perhaps 3 stories (called Faith, Hope, and Charity homes) with NO lawn, small backyard, and no garage (on street parking only). Your nearest neighbor is only SIX INCHES away...the thickness of the walls between houses. And when you were out front OR out back...damn near everyone on the block could SEE you. Privacy was relegated to INSIDE the house....But we DID have some great BLOCK PARTIES...!
In Fort Wayne...on most "typical" streets, you have anywhere from between 8- 16 houses, and these are ONLY stand-alones...no real "rowhouses" at all! Now you'd think that with ALL that space around and SO many FEWER families...that things would a LOT less stressful and a LOT more peaceful...
It depends on the "quality" of the people that are allowed to dwell in those houses. The worse the quality of the people...the worse the quality of life for everyone one ELSE! And that shit floats ANYWHERE, believe me!

If a neighborhood starts to decline, it's because ONE house started it all...ONE family, or even ONE person. Also...with FEWER families per block, you'd ALSO think there'd be FEWER cars (we're not on a "main-drag" like Robbins Av. or Levick St. back in Philly), and since we're off of the MAIN streets...traffic should be lighter...(excluding the city trucks or ulitilty vehicles).

We've got MORE traffic in ONE DAY on our street (which might include tractor-trailers or those HUGE dump trucks - both illegal according to city ordinances...we're NOT a truck route), than we had most WEEKS on streets feeding into Robbins Or Levick! And it was always busy (main street to Tac-Pal bridge). Some HOUSES on our block have MORE traffic in one DAY than most ALL other houses have ALL FRIGGING MONTH! We like to call them "Drug Houses" here. And deservedly so. SP one would think that with such traffic, we'd have the appropriate amount of POLICE cars to balance the equation...


All things considered, the respect level of having SO many people packed in on a Philly street went a LONG way to promote a sense of COMMUNITY (or else...lol). Then again...up in RHAWNHURST (which LOOKS much like OUR streets HERE in Fort Wayne), that same sense of community USED to prevail as well. Most of those houses were single or duplexes with detached single car garages. It was the PEOPLE that made the area nice, and kept it nice. Conversely, it's the "people" that will bring a neigborhood to the depths of despair. And we all know that when it comes to mankind...it is ALWAYS easier to DESTROY something than to BUILD it. Hell...back in Philly, anytime during the day OR night..you'd feel OK with taking a walk, going down to the store, strolling over to the local taproom, or just sitting out front. In MY neighborhood here...well, just mowing your lawn can be a study in "confrontationalism".
People will call you out JUST BECAUSE you're living on a street that they "think" should be entirely THEIRS! How DARE you try and make this area look NICER than they ever could? Being white certainly doesn't help your cause one damn bit either, so YOU can't play any type of "race card" like people of other ethnicities can seem to do with inpunity. I asked myself "WHY" do they feel this way? I''ve never bothered them one bit, kept to myself, always taken care of my house and lawns, and always tried to set a GOOD example of being a homeowner. It's the "good stewardship" thing from Sunday School. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.... THAT is exactly WHY they want me (and others like me) out of here...I represent a "threat" to them (however ill-perceived). I represent a form of "control", "authority", and "structure" that they obviously both LACK and DESPISE. Now I don't even pretend to control anyone or anything (except my garden...I AM their "god"...LOL), and I have no authority over anything, save my own meager life (by MY CHOICES alone), so THAT can't be it either. It MUST be the "STRUCTURE" thing.
Since they have NO structure in THEIR lives (as is evidenced by their behavior alone), I'm placed on the very SAME list as the police (distrust of ANY authority) and the government (NO one controls THEM, even though they get a monthly CHECK from them)..and that makes perfect sense, even if it IS in some bastardized fashion. I have become an outcast where I chose to settle down, simply because of WHO I am, and what they "think" I represent to them.
The nice guy is forced to finish last again.
And sadly, this scenario is played out in cities all over this nation. That's what "white flight" is all about, but even others of the same ethnicity find themselves being driven out of neighborhoods because they (also) represent some level of (misperceived) "whiteness". Yet all these people want is the same as I want; to take care of what they have, enjoy a decent life with their families, and be bothersome to no one. The system is never there to aid the good people, only to discourage them. The same system rewards the bad people, gives them the houses WE used to live in, practically free, and gives them the means to perpetuate this process again and again.
Whenever I hear someone mutter the word "equality", usually spoken by some person of ethnicity, and probably by someone NOT of (at least the middle class)...I just have to laugh at the irony.
When decent people of ANY ethnicity are driven out of (once nice) neighborhoods, turning them into minor versions of major ghettos...that is about as FAR from ANY form of equality as you can possibly get.

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