Read a free DC paper today. The Washington City paper. There was a theme. I don’t know if it was intentional. Maybe I’m imagining patterns now. Seeing my one or two interests in everything.
The first story was about a new luxury apartment complex in the Shaw neighborhood. I writing about these things because they’re popping up everywhere. Even in the small college town of Bloomington, Indiana. When I visit home there’s always a new, ugly apartment building with a street level gym. It’s always where an old waffle house or pet store or soup kitchen used to be.
There’s nothing to do in Bloomington but cater to east coast assholes who send their ape spawn here for school. There’s no industry, no way of making a living unless you’re working for these people. You can staple stacks of papers for the university, cook, wait tables, or work in the luxury apartments.
The old industrial side of town no longer exists. It was a ruin for years. Burnt out husks of abandoned factories. Rusted sheet metal, pieces of broken equipment. Overrun with weeds, bugs, and scurrying small mammals. It was a reminder of the grim obsolescence stalking our lives.
Walking through the eerie expanse of wreckage and neglect took you back to a different time. A time not long passed but already so distant you can barely make it out. When you could work in a factory and make enough to send your kids to college where they would learn how to hate you.
Those quaint old days when you could support yourself and your family without needing 4 or 8 years of additional soul numbing indoctrination added onto the legally required 12 years of new soviet man education. It’s difficult to grasp now that for most of human history, people provided for themselves and their communities without extensive formal educations. Without credentials and diplomas, batteries of tests and performance evaluations.
Somehow they learned from people around them, they learned from the people doing what they’d end up doing. It’s almost a default that just being around people being useful turns you into a useful person as well. But now we have a different formula. We created a new way. Now we educate people into a state of servility, helplessness, and retardation. Sophisticated confusion.
It takes an intense, prolonged, tax fueled, time sucking education to make a modern individual properly useless. Good for opining, consuming, and drifting from one meaningless encounter to the next. An epicurean idiot.
Anyway, back to the story of this DC apartment building. It has a gym and a grocery store like any self respecting upper class compound. But where it sets itself apart is the roof. There’s a waterfall and grotto. And a boardwalk. I don’t know how a boardwalk works on a rooftop but then again I’m not a creative designer. My imagination is limited.
The rooftop of a two city block spanning apartment complex in the heart of an historic black neighborhood where crack wars used to rage also has a Steinway grand piano. As well as a swimming pool. And an obsidian altar for sacrificing infants.
Groves where masked socialites perform unspeakable acts of debauchery on each other away from the prying eyes of the populace. Hidden alcoves where elites practice their ritualized pedophilia. Goats blood and trafficked cambodian children. Drugs you’ve never heard of, psychedelic viagra.
Caligula is a real estate developer. Property management companies are run by sybarites and impudent urban planners taunt the gods with their prideful designs. They live to top themselves. So far as they’re concerned they haven’t yet gone far enough.
The apartments in this obelisk of exclusivity range from a $2400 a month studio to a $12,00o a month penthouse. You can’t afford to live here. You can shop in the stores on the ground floor, but you won’t be using the gym or playing Burt Bacharach on the roof.
When people have money, they segregate themselves. They tower above the masses, swimming leisurely laps on their rooftop pools. That’s the appeal. Seclusion, exclusivity and comfort. They sell life in this building as convenience, but the rich buy it on contempt. The more wants and needs I can satisfy without leaving my estate the better. Fewer common folk befouling the air around me.
There’s a quote in this story from one of the developers. It becomes this place where you really don’t want to leave. I don’t know about you, but that statement screams community to me. Sounds like the kind of place that will bring neighborhoods together to create a warm, open environment. They’re building this up to be a place where people stick around and establish themselves for generations, where people with different histories can mix and forge a new, shared future.
Now, when they talk about this being a place you don’t want to leave, they don’t mean the area, they don’t mean the neighborhood. They’re talking about the building. Lock your doors and close the gates. We have everything you need in here. Whatever happens around you doesn’t matter because you have the resources to leave whenever you want. You’re invulnerable to the consequences of your transformation of this public space.
The first story in this paper is a matter of fact exposition of an obscene pleasure palace in the middle of the city. And then the next story is about another set of apartments under a different management company. Terrace Manor in the Southeast quadrant, owned by Sanford Capital. In case you were wondering, southeast DC is one of the last undeveloped poor black parts of the city.
And in poor, black, southeast dc, no one builds penthouses with grocery stores at the bottom. Not yet anyway. Give it five years. Right now it’s post apocalyptic. Sanford Capital is currently in court over the conditions of their properties. The writer of the article describes it as deep disrepair. That’s one way to put it.
Terrace Manor is overflowing with raw, human sewage. It’s a waking nightmare. Diarrhea bubbles up into resident’s bathtubs. The carpets are soaked with liquid poop. Pipes break and toilets explode, sending shit and shattered porcelain everywhere. There are gas leaks. Bugs and vermin roaming unchecked.
Floods of feculence spilling into living rooms. The concentrated stench of exposed human waste stinging eyes and choking throats. People are getting sick and going to the hospital. The air is dense with the fumes of curdled turdwater. Sometimes it takes days for anyone to come and fix the broken pipes and toilets. Sometimes no one comes at all.
One resident was shitting on the toilet when the ceiling fan fell on his head. His towel rack broke and a team of mongoloid maintenance men destroyed his wall trying to fix it. Another woman’s refrigerator stopped working and the management company gave her another one. It was used, dirty, wet and full of bugs. She wouldn’t store food in it.
The article just ends. Sanford Capital didn’t comment. We talk about the shitty lives of the poor, but sometimes it’s not just a colorful description. Southeast DC has turned into India. Proper waste disposal is a bare minimum requirement of a civilization. There are people living outside of civilization not even ten miles from rooftop piano parties and hot yoga classes.
And finally, the last article is about the futility of small business ownership in DC. Most small business can’t keep up with the ever rising rent. They almost always fold within a couple of years. The writer of the article interviewed the owner of a boutique clothing store in Northwest DC on Connecticut Ave. For those of you not in the know, Connecticut Ave was one of the few safe, rich white parts of DC prior to the massive gentrification that began around the first Obama term.
If a boutique clothing store is going to make it in this city, it’s going to make it on Connecticut Ave. But this place is shutting down. The owner can’t pay the rent. His proudest moment was earning the patronage of Kevin Spacey, who walked in one day and spent $1400. Later, when Spacey returned to the store, he was disappointed to hear that it would soon be closing.
You can put your high end clothing store in one of the whitest, wealthiest parts of DC, and you can snag Kevin Spacey as a repeat customer, but it won’t be enough to save you. People other than Kevin Spacey will walk into your store, take a picture of something they like, and then walk out and order it online.
It will be a little cheaper that way. Not much, but just enough. Online retail is destroying physical space. And given that we are physical beings, and that our deepest needs are ineluctably connected to the physical world, to our bodies and the space we inhabit, we are destroying ourselves.
For the sake of what? Efficiency, convenience, comfort, and privacy. The grinding, moronic drive to optimize, streamline and standardize every function. Replacing all natural bonds with contracts and laws. Everything unconscious, organic and fertile must become conscious, engineered, and sterile. This is the fulfillment of the modern project. First man dominates nature with instrumental rationality, and then instrumental rationality dominates man.
It’s just easier, cheaper, and faster to shop online, says the morally, physically and emotionally drained humanoid living in his futureman bug colony studio apartment. His embodied contact with the world reduced to retinas and fingertips. Contracted pupils in the radiance of anonymous, disembodied transactions.
Small, local businesses can’t make rent and get replaced with mega chain outlets. Urban spaces come to resemble each other and lose their distinctive characteristics. Where you are becomes meaningless. People without attachment to a particular place can be more easily controlled, moved around and manipulated.
Luxury apartment buildings radically transform urban space into disconnected, discontinuous zones of short sighted spending and bidding. The wealthy construct inaccessible private enclosures which redound on the market value of surrounding properties, sending prices into the stratosphere and making it next to impossible for anyone else to live or do business nearby.
These living spaces attract people with money, mobility, and the desire to be secluded from the rest of society. The designs of their buildings are based on short term, low commitment, high cost habitation. They never have to confront the negative, unforeseen effects of tampering with delicate urban ecosystems to suit their overindulged tastes.
So once the high rise apartments with pianos on the roof price people out of their neighborhood, they’ll move to the overlooked and underserved districts, into filthy hovels near ruptured septic tanks. They’ll choke on the accumulated ass vapors of the entire city while they spend what little money they make shopping online. They can’t afford therapy, schooling, or job training, but they can ease the pain of living in broken down outhouses by clicking themselves into a state of virtual contentment.
It was a hell of a read.