I’m Not Gentrifying, I’m Californicating
As a white guy from Santa Monica, California, I am painfully aware of my impact on my North Philadelphia neighborhood. Gentrification breeds displacement and higher arrest rates as real estate developers try to steal your mind’s elation. But I can tell you that I am not gentrifying. I’m Californicating.
I came to North Philly for the cheap studio space for my four-man California rock band with punk, funk, and psychedelic influences. My girlfriend, Sarah, is writing a TV show about a depressed novelist trying to survive writer’s block, substance abuse, and the malaise-inducing vacuity of Hollywood. Unsure what she’s going to call it, but David Duchovny would be perfect for the lead.
Our presence in North Philly does not signify the racial wealth gap, it signifies the ennui and bitter idealism of struggling artists in consumerist Southern California. We’re not “those white people.” We are little girls from Sweden who dream of silver screen quotation.
Gentrification is bad, but Californication is so different. Gentrification brings cultural signifiers like crepe stores and Whole Foods. Californication brings In-N-Out Burger, and then another In-N-Out Burger.
While gentrification raises your rent, Californication puts your rent on tidal waves. Gentrification destroys authentic cultural institutions. Actually, Californication does that too, but the authentic cultural institutions are your heart and soul as you negotiate your integrity in selling out to showbiz.
And unlike with gentrification, in Californication you will own a piece of land, so buy me a star on the boulevard, one day, when you get into the Rock and Roll of Fame.
I’m doing my part to get my neighborhood ready. I’m pasting X-Files posters in local daycare centers. I’m opening a consignment shop called Firstborn Unicorn and a dive bar/bookstore called Hardcore Soft Porn. I’m painting over local murals with my homemade murals of a shirtless Flea playing electric guitar with David Duchovny in assless chaps.
I believe that cultural integration and prosperity can happened without destructive real estate racial capitalism. And if you want these kind of dreams, it’s--what’s that? Sorry, I couldn’t hear you. Earthquakes are to a girl's guitar, they're just another good vibration, am I right? Oh, yes, sorry Officer, I’ll turn down the music.