The nicest people I know say “I’m all for progress, but…” when confronted with some hard industrial or commercial nut that’s fallen into their backyard. “I’m all for progress, but I don’t see why those condos they’re talking about building on the beach need to be twelve stories tall. I mean, progress is good, and it’ll help with the tax base, and jobs, but why do they need to be twelve stories tall?”
These are nice people. They don’t want to cause a ruckus or anything, but won’t all these condos and Oreck factories and jobs slithering into their backyards make more pollution and traffic? They understand that some pollution and traffic are necessary consequences of progress, and don’t get them wrong, they’re all for Progress, but isn’t an extra eight stories of concrete a bit much? They understand that the enlarged tax base will keep their own taxes down while still allowing the city to afford to improve the roads and upgrade the sewer systems. And with improved roads and upgraded sewer systems, the town will be more attractive to businesses, so that they can have more condos and more people coming in to live in them. They understand that’s Progress, and there’s simply no stopping it.
Yes, these are nice people, who have no idea how they wake up one morning forty years later and are surrounded by desolation.
Progress sucks. “Progress,” when used by local burghers to stampede the citizens into accepting things they shouldn’t accept, means to allow businessmen to do whatever their little hearts desire, with no accountability for their selfish actions. Consider this example of Progress:
the Piggly Wiggly, click pic to embiggen
This is Progress: a strip mall that’s been vacant for at least twenty years, while other strip malls sprouted around it, like weeds. This building does nothing for anybody. But because it’s cheaper for capitalists to throw up another strip mall five hundred yards down the road where once trees were, instead of using this hulking thing (or knocking it down to make their own hulking thing), that’s what’s done. In a clueless, lawless place, that’s what’s done.
Here’s another picture of Progress:
the Beatline Dump, click to embiggen.
This place has been a de facto garbage dump almost as long as I’ve been alive. It used to be a general store, which I vaguely remember, but it burned down. Afterwards, the owner has periodically piled it high with trash; the city periodically cites the owner for it, and some of the trash gets moved around, but then the city moves on to new business, and the owner starts dumping his garbage here again. Currently, the property is in its “semi-cleared” state, but the owner has begun to cocoon the property in a new layer of trash. A year from now a beautiful garbage butterfly will once again emerge in glory.
This is the corner of White Harbor and Highway 90, the beach highway. It looks like these acres have been cleared, and a project is ready to rise. Looks are deceiving. This land was cleared years ago, and a system of broken PVC piping and cracked concrete foundations was put in. The project was apparently declared a success, and the developers have taken several years off to celebrate.
The Dahl House, click to embiggen
This is the Dahl House, a hideous structure on Pineville Road that until last year was home to a thriving, small bakery. The bakery built a new place on Beatline (where trees used to be), and this, their old place, became a shitty dive of a restaurant that lasted four months. I fully expect the building to change hands several times in the next couple of years before it begins the long slide toward final garbagehood.
the old Hancock Bank
This Hancock Bank moved farther away from the city center, to Beatline and Pineville. Meanwhile, the bunker they left behind is up for sale or lease, and has been for at least a year. It will eventually fall apart, despite the “God Bless America” sign jammed in the hedge in front.
Here’s a final, more subtle example of Progress:
This is the former home of the late WJ Quarles, a Long Beach founding father. It is as nearly in the center of town as is possible. It’s been falling apart for decades, although the historic sign that was put out front fifteen years or so ago is a nice touch. Its historical value is nil to anyone but descendants of the Quarles family, yet here it still squats. It’s like our own little Alamo, but without the patina of significance. This would be a great place for a Piggly Wiggly, if a shell of a Piggly Wiggly didn’t already exist two hundred yards to the east. Instead, it rots, while wild places close by and elsewhere are cleared to make way for exciting new potential garbage dumps. Nice sign, though.
There are more examples of Progress in my little town, but decency forbids me to continue taking pictures of them.
Nice people will look at these pictures, sigh, and say, “Well, that’s Progress. You’ve got to take the good with the bad. You know?” Capitalists and businessmen, of course, couldn’t give two shits about it. But nice people will sigh, because they take Progress as a given. It’s above argument. It just is.
The thing is, I’m not very nice, and I’m going to argue against Progress, in the next post.