Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pair of sneakers beats a full NSP house?

There has been an animated off-line discussion about this piece, which appeared in Granta way back in September, when our attention was diverted from gangs to gaping bridge holes. My guess is that Bob Caesar won't be asking Mr. Bill to write the forward for James A. Crutchfield's bicentennial book.

The Heartland: Ten Years After 9/11, by Frank Bill

 ... We drive down Vincennes Street, the main drag in New Albany, Indiana. From Vincennes, the area appears safe. But cruise the side streets around the high school and S Ellen Jones Elementary School and it’s turf. Houses are tagged with gang graffiti. Every block is marked as territory. He points out a pair of sneakers hanging from their laces on a power line. ‘It marks the area. It means a drug dealer is living at one of these houses. Sells right out here.’

‘These gangs sell meth?’ I ask.

‘They do,’ Merritt tells me. ‘And crack, marijuana, various prescription meds.’


Jeff Gillenwater said...

Except for the racially tinged bits, pretty funny stuff.

G Coyle said...

Jeez, now I know what the tennis shoes are hanging from the wires by our driveway. Yes, my house and the next door house were full of meth zombies, armed and selling drugs when I bought it 5 years ago. I'm glad my little corner has improved, however, I see the same drug zombies in the S.Ellen Jones area now. They just move around, why don't they go away?

Jeff Gillenwater said...

If you believe Frank Bill, G, it's because they're under the secret control of armies of invading brown people and/or are otherwise linked to 9/11.

Personally, I fear bureaucrats and overly paternalistic do-gooders in the neighborhood more than gangs.

It's too bad the gangbangers haven't advanced to protection rackets yet. We could hire 'em to shield us from various boards and commissions. LOL.

Frank's Eastern Boulevard example is a prime one. It's been on a largely downward slide toward seediness for at least 20 years-- not because of Arab or Mexican immigration but because white, mainstream business and civic leaders forsook its preexisting assets in favor of ever increasing, greenfield sprawl.

One of its few bright spots lately has the been the influx of local, independent Hispanic businesses that have turned some of the empty storefronts into a small but more vibrant district.

Content to let it rot for so long, some of those same "leaders" suddenly now deem it necessary to spend a bunch of public money to "revitalize" the area and upscale rents, lest some other enterprising immigrants find it promising and affordable.