Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Brotherhood Of Rust Belt Chic

I have a ruin porn addiction. I'm still trying to figure out if I should be merely ashamed or need to seek professional help. I'm told that the "blank slate opportunity" is all in my head. Yes, there is nothing wrong with Pittsburgh because everything is Rust Belt Chic. My denial is a form of oppression.

The above is the normative human geography. There is a right way and a wrong way to perceive space and interact with your environment. Everyone needs to look at the world through the same lens I use because life would be better. After all, it is the right thing to do.

As more people roughly share the same spatial read, it gains power and will transform landscapes. Whether or not you see the surroundings in the dominant view, the experience is forced upon you. Welcome to the latest geographic fad. The latest fad is Rust Belt Chic:

Walking, once again, among the plaintive rasps of the ghosts of the devastated laboring class (the social setting of our youth) provided us with a humanizing contrast to our present-day circumstances stranded amid the manic chattering of the preening demons of banal self-regard possessing Manhattan careerists.

Nowadays, the island of Manhattan is tediously bright and shiny — a sterile, oligarchic-controlled dystopia. Accordingly, any sign of redemptive decay and hint of shabby-ass human glory has been banished by official caveat and collective collusion.

In contrast, while in Pittsburgh, because I was born in a steel and coal town, Birmingham, Alabama, I shuffled among familiar shades. Deep in my being, I know the social setup — once manifested in forged steel, living flesh and human longing — now lost to the ravages of time (more accurately, the consequences of neo-liberal economic doctrine).

"Redemptive decay"? In honor of Labor Day, the author celebrates a trio of cities where capitalism spectacularly failed: Pittsburgh, Birmingham, and New Orleans. The essay is ruin porn. Rust Belt Chic is put on a pedestal.

We've gone from razing the red light district to waxing romantically about the good old days. Pittsburgh has its own Time Square story, the Disneyfied Cultural District. The city sold its soul for core vitality. Where have all the Yinzers gone?

Rust Belt Chic is neither good nor bad. I see it as a trend that will help revitalize shrinking cities. I think it could save a few struggling rural communities. That normative business aside, I love Pittsburgh and similar urban form. Viva ruin porn.

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