NolaAnarcha

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cult of Convenience -- the Mall on St. Claude

It's an age of microwaves and internet-enabled pocket telephones. Those of us who haven't recently lived in real want and deprivation have been conditioned to expect convenience as our due. We are taught by media to demand it, to expect it, and that we deserve it-- why wait 12 minutes for some slow-ass to make a po'boy when you can get 2 Big Bufords in 60 seconds for $5? Why indeed... why indeed. Why go to a show when you can stay home and download an mp3 at the click of a button? Why indeed.

And now, with the opening of the orange-purple Mall on St. Claude, the crunchy-granola convenience cavalry has arrived downtown! Now your college friends back in wherever-the-fuck won't look down their noses at you any longer for getting spinach at MGZ or Sav-A-Lot! Now you too can buy into the trappings of the prefab identity your peer group has been sold. Slip on your yoga pants and get voodoo-yoga-wicca centered over a fair-trade smoothie... it's the NEW St. Claude.

But wait... is there some reason you shouldn't? Why wouldn't you? Are you hearing some tiresome murmurs suggesting you're not supposed to? What the fuck... who are these muttering spoilers, these haters trying to make YOU feel bad about your glorious Mall On St. Claude shopping experience?

The recently opened Mall on St. Claude is essentially a roach motel to attract and trap affluent whites. If you don't believe me, look who's excited about it, and who's staffing it, and who owns it, and who's on the board, and who shops there.

It is part of a deliberate and overt plan to remake the region, a trap baited with Reiki and Pilates and Sushi and World Music and Organic $5.89 packs of hotdogs... and a credit union, and a gym, and a bunch of other nonsense designed to delight and reassure the ruling-class "new-creatives" and any post-political burnout artistes willing to lend legitimacy in exchange for a foot rub.

Pres Kabacoff, the same megadeveloper who holds the contract to tear down the Iberville, used $1.8 million of scarce CDBG disaster dollars-- community money-- to build this day-glo Johannesburg Fortress. Of course that's nothing compared to his earlier $55 million backroom deals with city hall-- He built the gross Saulet apartments, Wal-Mart, and a vinyl-sided cheaply-constructed suburban townhouse neighborhood on the former site of the St. Thomas projects. St. Thomas' displaced residents, including those few originally permitted to stay in the townhouses but since evicted for violations of "community rules" like sitting out on their own stoops, have been cast to the winds to survive without their former tight-knit community and its health center. Some of them have died fending off violence from the wardies into whose unfamiliar neighborhoods they were forced to move. Lives lost... to gentrification.

But oh, "gentrification," what a complicated and loaded word. I mean, it's like gravity, right? Gentrification has no agents; it's really all of us, like the air. There's no power analysis possible. If you can pronounce the word, then YOU're part of the problem, so get off your high horse! Gentrification just happens... blamelessly... it's just change. Change happens. There are no rich people pulling the strings. Gentrification has no real meaning as a word.

Now, you may already have negative perceptions of NOPD-- I say "may," because who am I to judge? But the Guardian Angels who Pres has given a City HQ inside the mall are an actual self-described paramilitary group. What a blessing Sallie Ann's fake-priestess ass has wrought upon the 9th ward with her Healing Center... I mention the ninth ward specifically, since that's the neighborhood the Guardian Angels described to the media as being "Uzi-toting, dope-sucking, psychopathic killing machines roaming the streets."

Question:  How effectively will the Mall's co-opted co-op (for example) feed the community when it's guarded by these violent, racist thugs?

Answer:  It will only serve the tiny (but growing) stratum of the neighborhood that Pres Kabacoff WANTS it to serve. Are you part of that slice?

Will you stand in solidarity with your "dope-sucking" neighbors, or will you use your privilege and money to enjoy the organic kombucha and the safe, sanitized atmosphere of the healing center while the Guardian Angels patrol to keep you and your fellow-shoppers safe from the rest of the neighborhood?  Which side of the windows are you on?

But oh my god, what-EVER. I see you rolling your tired eyes. Of course you disapprove of these bad things. You're not pro-Mall, but at the end of the day, you just want organic hotdogs and a yoga sesh. At the end of the day, basically, you don't care.

I mean, surely those making the criticisms above don't appreciate how much YOU personally have suffered and sacrificed to live here. Jesus you've been in this miserable neighborhood for, like, multiple years. How dare anyone wag their finger at you for taking advantage of convenience, for cashing in a little of your privilege chips and enjoying some amenities of the consumerist alterna-culture you've so valiantly forgone 'til now? Don't these haters WANT the neighborhood to have access to Reiki?

It makes you angry, maybe, that anyone suggests you should care. So what if the Mall on St. Claude blasts loud music late into the night, disturbing long-time neighbors, and threatens to have those who complain evicted? So what? How does that concern you? Why should YOU care? It's not really your problem, is it?

Your life is so difficult, so demanding. The dues you've paid as a bohemian transplant roughing it in the wilds of downtown New Orleans are immense... people calling for accountability, using the term gentrification, those are just guilt peddlers. Guilt is so last-century. You don't even consider yourself white, really, not deep down.

The gaudily, perpetually brightly lit, thunderously air-conditioned, aromatherapized, McDonaldland-Massacre-paintjob Mall on St. Claude is there. What's done is done. It's there, and my lord, is it convenient!  Plus now, if the people hanging around Hank's annoy you or get in your face, you'll have a safe place to run to... thanks to Pres Kabacoff, who created it for that very reason.

No joke; you'll be SAFE inside the Mall, surrounded by the symbols of material success, guarded by NOPD and the Guardian Angels. It's like a beautiful other-world in there, a mini-vacation (from poor people). Standing in its carnival-vomit-hued belly, you'd never know you were in New Orleans at all! You're safe... breathe out, breathe in... relax. You're safe from the realities the rest of the neighborhood has lived with for however long. You're safe, and the red-bereted paramilitary and NOPD cops who guard this tiny oasis of affluence will never bother YOU, will never beat YOU up. They'll smile at you, they'll be unobtrusive and obsequious, because they know, same as you do deep down: You belong in the Mall.

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58 comments:

  1. Bean sprouts, pilates, neti pots, oh yeah
    You can find them
    At the center
    Talking ’bout the Healing Center
    New Orleans

    It’s just like
    It’s just like,
    a Mini… Mall

    Oh yeah
    Come shop, with us
    I said Healing Center
    New Orleans
    It’s just like
    It’s just like
    a Mini-Mall!

    Hey Hey
    You heard me
    Come Shop

    chai lattes, colloidal silver, jicama
    We got it
    You need it
    You’ll find it
    It’s just like, It’s just like
    A Mini-Mall

    Hey Hey You heard me,
    Come shop
    I said Healing Center
    New Orleans
    it’s just like,
    it’s just like a mini-mall,
    Hey Hey

    It’s just like, it’s just like
    a mini … mall

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fuck lazy white pandhandling traveling kids. Otherwise, this article is spot on!

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    Replies
    1. Those lazy kids are eye witnesses.They take the truth home with them.Mush of America didn't even know people starved here.They spread the word with their expensive phones and laptops.They aren't trying to make us get a permit every time we second line

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  3. I agree that's its all bourgeois bull shit but what would you rather see happen to those buildings? I hate seeing history slowly rot away.

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  4. While I found this article funny, and it's no secret PK is the devil, personally as regards the Healing Center my biggest objection to it is still how ugly it is visually. If it wasn't painted those god awful colors I wouldn't dislike it nearly as much.

    The fact it's such a eyesore in our community is 99% of what I don't like about it. It's such a visual affront to those of us who have labored to make the Bywater beautiful. Aethestics matter, and I moved here in part because of how attractive I found the neighborhood. I didn't move here to have to see such shocking ugliness.

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  5. Let me preface my comment by stating two important things:
    1. I didn't move to NOLA, I'm from here, born and raised.
    2. I'm not white.
    These two preceding facts mean I'm not the target audience for this article, but I'm going to respond anyway. Nola anarcha- being critical of gentrification DOES NOT mean that you are not an agent of gentrification. If you are a non-working class white person moving into a working class neighborhood made up of POC, guess what, you are a gentrifying force. I don't care if you have freaky hair and don't wash your clothes, your presence will still make other white folks more comfortable with moving into that area. You're not any less white because you don't want to buy organic almonds or get reikied.
    Do I think the "Healing Center" is the best use of the space on St Claude? No. But then I don't really think the McDonald's is either. What would you like to see in that location? What is your proposal? Do you have one? Or are you just whining about it in some ill-conceived attempt at distancing yourself from those kind of white people? Do you think that by denouncing gentrification you somehow stop yourself from being a part of it? It just plain doesn't work that way.
    As per the ugliness of the building--of course it's painted bright colors? Have you ever looked around? Everything in this city is painted like a goddamned Easter egg. Why would this be any different?

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    1. Ummmm.. Yes you are! There is a kids shop in the healing center and they do free movie nights for the kids in the community and this summer they are doing internships for the kids in the community that teaches them how to open their own business not just work the register but to really understand what it takes to get permits and do wholesale inquiries ect..

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    2. I have never seen a Guardian Angel at the healing center ever!

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    3. I stumbled 3 yrs too late on this discussion, but I agree with 7thWard.

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  6. Here come the mystical and meaningless "we (you) are all gentrifiers, everyone is holistically to blame" crowd again. Why are some of you so bound and determined to hold someone BESIDES pres kabacoff responsible for the healing center?

    Guess what... he chose to build that shit. Middle-class white people, poor people, struggling artists, even my more comfortable neighbors like Charmaine Neville and the Rathkes... we are not responsible for cynical housing-stock-destroying multi-multi-millionaire Pres Kabacoff's actions.

    What kind of a fucked-up liberal funhouse mirror do you have to peer into to think otherwise?

    ASSHOLES who come in and fuck up OUR hood... like pres kabacoff, like Hubba Hubba... are responsible for their own actions.

    DEVELOPERS, the BIG LAND-OWNERS, the "ONE PERCENT" of our pisant podunk, are responsible for their actions.

    I don't need to attempt to distance myself from anyone... the shitty snobs who have moved in... the type with no manners and their noses in the air... take pains to distance themselves from me!

    But then, I'm trying to talk sense to someone who apparently doesn't think the Mall on St. Claude is ugly... so I might be wasting my time

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  7. 7th ward because I can't afford the 9thOctober 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    So tell me "neighbor," do you think this building is ugly in comparison to the stunning architectural beauty of the Rally's? The Beauty Plus? The Dollar General? Inhibit Urban Wear? Whatever.
    Honestly, I think it's absolutely ridiculous that you're "trying to talk some sense" into me at all. I am the sort of person who is actually affected by gentrification, not you. I was priced out of the Marigny after Katrina (the neighborhood I'd been living in since the 90's). You're the sort of person who moved in (I'm assuming, since you're worried about the fate of "your neighborhood"). So maybe I don't even have the right to comment about this anymore. This is now "your neighborhood". Have fun white whining about it.
    If you want to answer my original question - What would you like to see this space used for--please respond. Otherwise, don't bother. I doubt you have anything new to say.

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  8. rent control.

    rent control.

    rent control.

    rent control.

    oh yeah, rent control.

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  9. 7th ward how dare you bring INHIBIT into this conversation! That's a low blow. If you don't like the smooth beige curves of INHIBIT and the mini-vegas glamor of RALLY'S then maybe you got no soul!!!!

    I would never deny you your victimhood but realistically I think a lot of people are affected by "gentrification," maybe even a few white folks here and there. Hey even homeowners are affected because suddenly their cool neighbors are replaced by snobs!

    Oh wait I forgot I have been commanded to answer your original question or NOT TO BOTHER. Well then I would like to see the building used as a warehouse to hold all the hundreds of tons of "YOUR NOT THE BOSS OF ME" middle fingers that I got for ya.

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  10. By choice, I have neither microwave nor smartphone. And yet I think this is all a tempest in a teapot, and I plan to patronize the co-op. It's laughable that some uptighty whiteys would fuss about the outside colors. It's New Orleans. Don't like it, go back to Portland and caucasian homogenization. The comical part of this is that those railing against the co-op and Kabacoff will be in back every night dumpstering for dinner.

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  11. You still don't have an answer. Dumbass.

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  12. gosh, some of y'all sound mad. the hemp-woven shoe fit, much?

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  13. or maybe the Patagonia(TM) hiking boot? I don't know what you healing center shopper types wear.

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  14. You guys are whitey whining about the color of the building and now your critizing peoples shoe choices? Is this queer eye for the anarchist? And still no one has yet to answer 7th wards VERY valid question. I don't think you guys have an answer. "Your not the boss of me" middle fingers!!!!! OMG. I really hope your 14 years old.

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  15. If you apologists for kabacoff-- for gentrification-- think this is really about the color of the building, maybe you need to re-read the fucking piece.

    Queerly,
    an anarchist.

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  16. I'm not whoever you're asking, but I have many ideas about what that space could be used for, none of which include an NOPD substation or the Guardian Angels. I think those two very un-healing aspects are the core of peoples' complaint, although I appreciate that many do find the building visually offensive.

    Since 511 Marigny is being turned into condos, and the Colton School is a gutted skeleton, I'd like to see the many, many community resources those two addresses once provided housed somewhere.

    I am a co-op member, by the way, and I validate much of what is said in this post (aside from the un-productive sarcastic tone). You don't have to be an anarchist to find the Guardian Angels a very troubling organization.

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  17. It's important to point at that gentrification does not mean a white person moving into a neighborhood of non-whites, which makes other whites feel more comfortable moving there too. Gentrification, by definition, means exerting financial influence on an area. It has nothing to do with "implied white privilege" if that white person has no money -- maybe in your definition it does, but not in the real definition. Your distinction between working class whites is almost correct, although most of the people who have gentrified Bywater ARE working class, they just work in offices and make a lot of money. And you don't mean "working class" anyway, you mean "the poor," ie. people who generally aren't working. The idea that as a white person, you are innately fucking up anywhere you move by gentrifying it does not hold water. If you'd like yo bone up on the actual definition of gentrification, try this wiki definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentrification

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  18. Also, I am not sure why anyone is sweating the guardian angels, as they aren't cops and you're more than welcome to tell them to piss off if they bother you. Unless you're really doing something wrong, in which case I hope you are citizens arrested!

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  19. Who would enforce rent control in an anarchist society?

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  20. St Claude Arboricide? Are you kidding or did the Onion take over this site? I really wonder if the NOLA "Anarchists" are mostly upset when other people do things and accomplish something, otherwise how could these "anarchists" not feel totally ashamed that even after the head of Food Not Bombs was here after Katrina, the "anarchists" can't even get their shit together enough to continue it. So much for feeding these in need. The NOLA "anarchists" actually do very little. They protest instead of volunteering and helping the elderly get back in their houses. The rail against the food co-op, but can't get Food Not Bombs going. They break trees instead of planting them. And on and on.

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  21. Wow. You are using a tree that children were beat/killed upon to make some point? That's pretty sick.

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  22. ok folks... I know some of you disagree with 7thward but personal attacks... including accusing him of being an anti-semite... really aren't what's up. If you're so sure you know who he is and are that disgusted with him, tell him using different means-- not via anonymous comments on this blog.

    now back to your regularly scheduled whatever this is...

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  23. Just a heads up, I'm actually a woman, so I'm not whoever you think I am.

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  24. Did 7th Ward write this article? I was speaking to the writer, not any of the versions of 7th Ward.

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  25. Just a heads up, I'm actually a tree, so your speciesist assumptions are totally fucked up.

    I will never forget the horror that opponents of the healing center wreaked upon my sistren-- never! Never! And I can live to be over 600 years old, so my enmity will outlast the internet itself!!

    We trees are waking up. My 7th ward tree posse and I hate gentrification, so we're going to bum-rush the Franklin Ave neutral ground and strangle the dirty panhandlers, just like the Ents storming Eisengard. Hoom! Hoom! Look out, crusties! You are not in any of the old songs!

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  26. Isn't it nice to be able to poof the links to what you really are. Bubbling just below the surface of comedians is usually some pretty sick anger. And could you post a link to the OFJ bit. So much covert bigotry there it's not even funny. Fried chicken and Red Bulls?

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  27. well, it's a virus across urban u.s. - if you build the condos the organics will come, coiffed and with accoutrements, the real scene is at walmart....

    "Whatever we do, we have to accept that our hopes and fears will be mercilessly exploited by those that have nothing better to offer than money."
    Penny Rimbaud

    "sick anger" - eh....if you haven't noticed how angry new orleans is generally and has been for sometime, you are living in a privileged neighborhood or hiding your head in the sand....and the anger is primarily about class struggle, one way or the other

    yeah a 40 in a paperbag, a black and mild, hot sausage and barbecue and gumbo....that segment of society is more in touch with reality than any college educated liberal or conservative -book smart, life stupid - who's never lived it...

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  28. Raphael, where do you fit in to your rather narrow view?

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  29. "yeah a 40 in a paperbag, a black and mild, hot sausage and barbecue and gumbo"

    And what is up with this shit? It is just fucking strange. I take back the covert bigotry. It's overt.

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  30. Well, this group fighting things like CVS pretend they are doing it with the community in mind, but I'd be curious if they've asked the poor and people without public transport what they want. No different than the Uptown crowd that fought Walmart. Ask the people who would shop at these places what they think.

    Personally, I'd have preferred a Roberts in Universal, but I don't think that in the grand scheme of things, it is worth the energy. Tearing down public housing, yes. But pulling down the horrible facade that was UF, I think is not the tragedy people are making it out to be.

    Why don't y'all occupy The Healing Center if you're that opposed to it? Picket in front of it?

    And I too find the statement about 40s and hot sausage to be pretty offensive. It makes whatever your ideals are questionable.

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  31. That should be transportation not public transportation.

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  32. Because I'm not so naive/unyielding to think tomorrow I might change my mind. The internet sets ones thoughts at a given moment in stone. If we are constantly gathering information and having discussions, we hopefully will always be changing our opinions.

    If the way I felt about issues when I was in my 20s were the exact same now, I might as well be dead.

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  33. Might NOT change should say.

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  34. And now they are calling it the MOSC. That doesn't smack of antisemitism or anything.

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  35. ^^^^ reading the above comment makes every hardship I've endured in my entire life worthwhile. Thank you.

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  36. If the Healing Center is a mall, then the ARK was a mall.

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  37. Thanks for the non-stop amusement. I might be wrong, but my guess is that in 10 years you won’t be in this neighborhood. Your whole attitude isn’t sustainable on a personal level.

    Also, you demonstrate a genuine lack of homo sapiens psychology, which, taking into account homo sapiens psychology is predictable and forgivable.

    Your best bet is to take your own advice and breathe in ☺

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  38. This is interesting. I see a whole herd of liberals, here and on Facebook, angrily defending the co-op... and yet not ONE of them has any rebuttal to the serious issues raised about Pres Kabacoff's destruction of public housing, the NOPD substation, the Guardian Angels, or the Mall on St. Claude bullying and threatening to evict its neighbors.

    THIS is why the co-op being in the Mall is a problem, and this is EXACTLY why Pres bought the co-op's soul and installed them there: to deflect criticism of his fucked-up agenda, and to interpose a human shield of sobbing entitled liberals between his girlfriend's taxpayer-funded vanity project and its critics.

    Kabacoff knows something about "homo sapiens psychology." Do his de facto defenders?

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  39. How do you know people defending it are liberals? Do they write a certain way? Maybe those people like cops, etc., etc. What's to rebut if you have nothing to say? Some people don't think public housing is in the best interests of anyone. And they don't give a shit if a few little punks want to run around in red berets. I haven't even seen red berets.

    What neighbor was threatened to be evicted? Maybe the people don't like that neighbor and don't care about that either.

    Maybe people work all damn day and don't have the time to write and read blogs and Facebook all day.

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  40. The only angry whiners are the wannabe anarchists and gutterpunks, the anarchists who protest everything and accomplish nothing and the gutterpunks who eat out of the trash/drink from the street/smell like sewage but are too sensitive to be called "gutterpunk." What kind of whitebread puritan do you have to be to complain that taxpayer money is going for a voodoo shop/bookstore/co-op/mediterranean restaurant/etc? Better that than a Walmart or some chain monstrosity. Change the name of this site to "NOLA Puritanica."

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  41. I think the term is "Yankee gutterpunk," IIRC.

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  42. 'Occupy' stands up for the Special Man

    Contains some excellent discussion of the white guilt mall aka Mall on St. Claude.

    "BIG BLESSIN'S POPPIN', FUCK CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!"

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  43. I must say I have only been in New Orleans a few weeks and realize that the politics and situation are much different than where I am from. I agree gentrification is not an agreeable set of affairs but the overall tone of this article makes me sad. I also wonder if the person writing it thinks everyone deserves peace of mind and organic food? Or the alternative a chaotic state of mind where emotion rules action instead of the whole person and genetically modified food sprayed with who knows how many different toxic chemicals. I realize also that at the moment organic food costs quite a bit (which is by the way not a fault of the co-ops but a bunch of larger food dependencies) but I believe some of the yoga classes are by donation.... yoga by the way can teach you a number of valuable things especially in a stressful world such as ours, like how to breathe in a manner that the brain is in bliss and cannot experience anxiety. To the author - you are so passionate about this I really really want to hear your voice but find your anger and judgments get in the way even though the situation is indeed important - gentrification is an ugly power struggle. I wish for food sovereignty to all persons in New Orleans - use your empty lots to grow your own organic foods and raise your own chickens and eggs! May the sunflowers and mustard greens cleanse the earth so that it might grown nourishing food for every person regardless of their economic situation and may each person respect and befriend the plants that do so! May each one of us live intimately with all aspects of our environment especially our food sources to create a wellness within each of us that empowers us in a unique and individual manner so that each of us is holding a space of love for ourselves and others! May true anarchy continue to evolve.

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  44. I don't get what you mean by "white guilt" mall. What does that mean?

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  45. The Mall on St. Claude bullies transgendered people... beloved local author Billy Martin, author of the "Liquor" series, among other books, tweets:

    "crew at NO Healing Center views gender-policing restrooms as part of their job. Srs harassment. Beware if you have to pee here."

    and

    "Had to leave Healing Center event - couldn't enjoy myself after being harassed in men's room by multiple persons."

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  46. Who the fuck is Billy Martin? Poppy Brite is the name of the troublemaker.

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  47. Oh, he's a "troublemaker," is he now? Just because he doesn't want Sallie Ann Glassman and her staff of goons sticking their hands in his pants?

    Typical Healing Center bullshit...

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  48. the armchair politicking of this town is incredible. but no one dares to answer the million dollar question, "WHAT WOULD YOU PUT THERE INSTEAD??"
    guess complaining is good enough.

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  49. - mental health counseling services
    - HIV testing / meds distro
    - needle exchange
    - addiction recovery services
    - residential halfway house
    - food pantry / nutrition education
    - free school
    - community library
    - kustom-designed "re-education" torture-gulag for kabacoff, his bootlicking internet defenders & police/judges

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  50. GAY PORNO SHOP!

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  51. What would anarchists put there? It's not a question we normally entertain given that none of us have fortunes, what with WEALTH BEING CONCENTRATED INTO THE HANDS OF THE RULING CLASS AND ALL. But yeah, probably a gay porno shop. And whatever that other anon said.

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  52. Was that picture of a killing tree in Cambodia?

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