Sunday, June 17, 2007

Download 'em, print 'em, and post 'em up!

I came across this poster a few days back, on the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition website, and thought they were very well done in outlining the problems of gentrification. They're available for download, along with other variations on the theme of "You Can't Vote for/against." I'd love to start seeing these all over Tempe, and any area people and neighborhoods are getting screwed by developers. Click on the poster below to download:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Would anyone care if she was stuck with a shiv?

I know the last person anyone wants to hear/read/think about right now is Paris Hilton, but...I have some gems for you. First of all, our friend over at Phoenix Insurgent has written an insightful piece about the class politics of America's most hated, take the time to read it here. Then, these wonderful shirts are for sale, designed and printed by valley residents, buy many of them now (click on the image below to order)! Finally, to the LA county jail system, I have but one request: Let her rot!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Now Showing: Death in the Desert for Development!

A bad week for workplace safety in the valley, as two workers were murdered on the job, one of the workers died while in a trench at the site for the new Harkins Christown 14. The police are fully aware of the identity of the suspect, but are not making any arrests. The culprit is well known amongst federal workplace safety investigators, and is described by detractors as a serial killer. A description given to this writer by a worker, who will remain anonymous, named the killer as a viscous system known to working folks as Work. The attacker goes under a number of aliases, such as capitalism, progress, development, or industrialism. The suspect is armed, dangerous, and everywhere. Here's some more information on the valley's latest work related deaths:

A worker was killed Saturday in a trench collapse, the second death of a construction worker in the Valley in four days.

Phoenix police said the 42-year-old man was working on a 5- to 6-foot deep trench at the Harkins Christown 14 theater going up at Spectrum Mall, Bethany Home Road and 19th Avenue.

The worker fell in as the trench collapsed about 3 p.m. and was partially covered by dirt and concrete. He was pronounced dead at the scene, said Sgt. Joel Tranter, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Tranter said a homicide investigator made an initial review of the scene and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified.

On Tuesday, Francisco Lugo, 20, was crushed by a pipe at a worksite at El Mirage and Bethany Home roads.
Workplace deaths are not only seeing a spike here in the construction and development oriented valley, Washington's King County has seen a spike in workplace deaths due to the area's building boom:

In one of a string of high-profile workplace accidents in King County this year, Merryman was killed Feb. 7 when the service locomotive he was on went out of control in the Beacon Hill tunnel, and he was thrown or jumped from the engine.

Workers have been crushed to death at a South Seattle metal recycler and at the Port of Seattle. A contractor was electrocuted at a Federal Way amusement park. On Friday, firefighters rescued a worker at a Harrison Street construction site from a 40-foot-deep hole after the man suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

This year, already a lethal one for workers in King County, comes on the heels of the deadliest this decade.

Not including workers in King County killed in homicides or car crashes, 14 people died in job-site accidents in 2006, according to a Seattle P-I analysis of statistics from the state Department of Labor and Industries. That's well above the county's five-year average of about nine workers killed a year in job-site accidents.

While the newspapers, developers, and politicians may cheer on economic growth, who will remember those who died to build the monuments of wealth and excess? The 14 in King County, 37 in Oregon, or the two in Phoenix last week, it seems apparent to me that more is needed than a monument at the state capitol.

Finally, a special message for Dan Harkins: Dan, first of all, a thank you from this valley native for the years of entertainment you've provided through your highly lucrative chain. The Camelview 5 was my film school, here I was able to take in avant-garde and international films I would have never otherwise seen on the big screen in Phoenix, it was a young film geek's film school.

Compliments aside, a worker died building one of your many new financial projects, is it possible that you set a precedent no other company will make by giving your name a rest and at least go with the Harkins (Slain workers' name here) 14 Theaters? Could you possibly give it a shot? After all, he died for you to continue to profit from your empire of theaters (standing at 31 completed in Arizona and four other states), the least you can do is drop the highly inventive (*cough*) "Christown 14" and throw this hard working person's name on the marquis, right next to your own. Sure, bosses say they take risks all the time (they mean with their money), but I'm sure we can all agree that they're rarely putting their lives on the line like their workers (who give their bodies, time, and creativity to fatten pockets that are rarely their own).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Photo of the day

Tempe residents protesting against the Mosaic condos at a party thrown by the developers to attract potential investors and other assorted rich scum. A few of the attendees getting tipsy sipping on the free margarita's had conversations with demonstrators, apparently the demonstrators have the gift of gab as a few folks said their minds were changed and they would not be buying any condos at the Mosaic, or in Tempe in the future. Good.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Love from the Repub, and confronting yuppies this weekend!

First of all, a unlikely "props" to the AZ Republic's Katie Nelson for posting a link to this fine blog in her own yesterday.

Secondly, I received the following in an email yesterday from a group calling itself Tempe AYA (Anti-Yuppie Action) issuing a call for a demonstration this Sunday, below is the invitation I received from some dedicated anti-development homies:

Anti-Yuppie Action invites all Tempe residents and working people who are fed up with seeing our neighborhoods destroyed by the Yuppie development invasion to join us this Sunday to confront those who would see us uprooted from our neighborhoods and our lives for their selfish, greedy lifestyles. Join us this weekend to let the developers and yuppies know that they're NOT WELCOME in Tempe!

Here's what's going down:
The new Mosaic lofts will soon be built on the NW corner of Ash Ave. & University, the site the co-op was located on, the building will stand 22 stories tall, and as a monument to the yuppie triumph over Tempe. If you're like us, your sick of all the construction that doesn't bring jobs down here for folks like us or improve our economic standing. Nope, it pushes folks like us out of the neighborhood, evicted house by house, apartment by apartment, and even our beloved locally owned business get the boot. Why? For the wealthy and super-wealthy to make Tempe their new playground, apparently Scottsdale and Phoenix just weren't good enough.

So, the Mosaic developers are throwing a booze party for potential buyers of the condos this Sunday (from 2-5 PM) at the Macayo's on 3rd and Ash Ave. Tempe's unwelcome potential new residents will be slurping down the margaritas with their rich pals, chauffeured around on a tour of Tempe by a trolley.

We'll be meeting up at the Southwest corner of Ash Ave & University from 1-1:30, then walking down to the Macayo's to have a working folks' (un)welcoming party (and mobile BBQ, expect some hotdogs, and pork and beans) for future Mosaic residents. We'll be out there having a good time (but making their's a bit more unpleasant) from 2-4, COME ON OUT!!!

Click on the flier below for more info:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Photo of the day

Hugh Hallman: Tempe's wet blanket

Hugh Hallman, Tempe's pro-development bummer. Former mayor Neil was an O.G. gentrifier scumbag, and did quite a bit to yuppify up Tempe (long before Hugh ever thought to run for mayor), and he had some spunk to him. Hugh's just going through the motions, and to be fair, who could compete with Neil?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More signs your town is going to shit...

A Tempe news round-up:

Possible nepotism at Pappas at issue

"Embattled county schools chief Sandra Dowling is fighting allegations that she hired her kids to work for the school district that she created. But Dowling wasn't the only top county school official with a relative on the district payroll. Three people with family ties to southeast Valley politician Ben Arredondo, who was Dowling's deputy at the time, have worked for the district for homeless and troubled kids."

Developer of W Hotel plans chain in Tempe
"The developer behind the swanky W Hotel plans to start a new hotel chain in downtown Tempe. Constellation Property Group wants to work the new hotel brand into a pair of condo towers it’s about to start building at the site of a former Arizona National Guard Armory at Fifth Street and College Avenue.
Constellation originally called the project the Armory lofts, which it considered a placeholder name referring to the military building that once stood at the site. Now, it’s called Stadium Towers. It includes a 20-story, 225-foot building and a second tower of about 15 floors."

$70 million office building slated for US Airways’ lot in downtown Tempe

"A major Valley developer has set its sights on Mill Avenue with plans to build an eight-story office building on the US Airways headquarters campus in downtown Tempe The $70 million project — called Tempe Gateway — will sit on 3.5 acres at the northwest corner of Mill Avenue and Third Street just north of a future light-rail stop. Under development by Opus West Corp., Gateway is part of a long-standing agreement by the city and the airline to build out the site. “We’re happy to do it,” US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant said. “The city’s been good to us.” "

Proposed Wal-Mart stirs Tempe residents

"Wal-Mart's announcement to open a second store in Tempe has unleashed an outpouring of public dissent. It would take over a Mervyn's at a strip center on the northwestern corner of Rural Road and Southern Avenue. The plan has raised ire from neighbors in every direction. Community members are gathering, creating e-mail lists and planning to circulate petitions and build opposition Web sites."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In response to criticism from Michael Monti

Monti's: The good ol' days

I have finally discovered why I received a comment in response to something Michael Monti, owner of Monti's La Casa Vieja on Mill Ave., had written in reaction to my piece "What do empty promises look like?". Thankfully, I was emailed the link to Monti's blog, "100 South Mill Avenue", by a reader and was finally able to take a look at his criticism of my article. Needless to say, he wasn't much of a fan. In his article "If You Can't Say Something Nice...", Monti completely fails to address valid points made about his principles that were articulated clearly throughout my piece.

Some gems (Monti in italics, my response in bold):

Reasonable people can disagree.



I have always been available to talk about Downtown Tempe issues and my restaurant for those who contact me and leave a name and number, or send an email. (*)There is room for civil discourse.

I didn't contact you through any of the options you listed, meaning you found me, I did not write the piece with the intention of you specifically reading it. Glad you found it, though. You chose to (not) address my article by disregarding my argument and instead attacking the anonymity of myself, the writer, dodging the criticism. I could be one of your workers, someone who works for the city, an "insider", or just another Tempe resident who is fed up with the developers and their bullshit, so anonymous it is and shall stay.

Well, since you went to the trouble of griping and then linking to my blog, it could've been just as easy to respond to the points raised, specifically you doing business with a developer that has forced the relocation or put out of business a number of shops at the Arches and other shops along University and Forrest Ave. You're dealing with a company that has ruined many lives of small business owners and their workers, and will continue to do this while their properties are constructed and the property value goes through the roof, and the waves of yuppies and wealthy money flaunters fill the condos one by one. Tempe's new future residents won't remember Monti's, or know who you are, or care. Sure, there will be new small businesses (boutiques, upscale eateries, and galleries) which you can happily defend from your role in Chain Reaction, as they service Tempe's new upscale clientèle, (and meet the "independent business" qualifier) and rest assured that Tempe's lower income and working class residents will only be working there, not buying anything.

On the other hand, some people are angry. Born angry. Such people spew envy and spite so copiously that it completely undermines any scintilla of reason that could be gleaned from their argument. And, predictably, they hurl their venom from the safety of anonymity…and with plenty of juvenile profanity just for leavening. These people do not merit a response.

You claim I don't merit a response, but Michael, you sure gave me one hell of an angry response, what about my critique is so upsetting? That there's truth to it? Perhaps you feel bad about compromising your values?

If you wish to be amused by the stylings of a puerile mind, look here. In the end, who could take this seriously?

Um, you sure did.

Michael, I wish I had something nice to say about the development. I wish all the developers were here to offer something to Tempe's working poor, to raise the standard of living for the residents already here, or affordable housing in the new towers. I wish you hadn't sold out to 3W. I wish you could understand the scale of a personal attack, afterall, you just made millions (I'd say you earned it, but we both know that's not true) from a company that had the millions as a direct result of uprooting the same small business you should be defending from your position in AZ Chain Reaction. Greedy developers who shut down mom and pop shops are engaged in economic personal attacks all the time, funny it's me you feel needs to be called out for an attack.

Let me be straight with you, it's not that I have a personal axe to grind, hell, I've eaten at your restaurant (the sirloin steak sandwich is delicious), and I've had friends over the years that have worked at Monti's as well as business owner friends who have joined AZ Chain Reaction and have nothing but praise for it. It's not you. It's your decision.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tempe's art revolutionaries: Killing private property one wall at a time

A new anti-property art piece by Disposable Hero, located near the entry to Casey Moore's

Reclaiming public space or attacking private property? Time after time of seeing working folks' evicted, their former abodes razed, and then high end condos put in their place, I've lately been more attracted to the entire scrapping of the concept of private property. Not so much because I enjoy dwelling on the negative, but just to settle shit with the rich once and for all. No more of the "We're reclaiming public space for all the people," just so the rich can take it back later and resettle it with their developments. Let's get with it and get to work on killing private property, so that we are no longer in the position of arguing the false dichotomy of advocating for public space, while all space is constantly enclosed upon.

Developers have not only their money to buy their influence in city hall, and their yuppie art culture to woo the cowards at the newspapers, but they have the actual ability, through their ideology of enclosure, which is so pervasive, to create and define space at their whim. They make physical boundaries real and protected with the stroke of a pen, so easily is land under control and protected for them, either by the boundary lines of fences or the watchful eyes of public and private police forces and surveillance cameras, that to challenge the institution seems insane. In order to take their power away from them, a power that destroys the fabric of working class communities and local culture for the benefit of a few with money, we must resist in many ways, though writing is one fashion (the pen is mightier than the sword, etc.), it is not an effective tool for change when no one is watching or listening. The fight against gentrification in Arizona will be read, seen, heard, and felt- and this battle has already begun.

Valley anarchists attack a BMW on Mill Ave. during the May
Day 2002 protests against the yuppification of Tempe

The attacks against property, the monuments of economic inequality, are varied in tactics and intentions. Worth noting are the conscious acts of rebellion against the rich in the form of protests against development and gentrification, smashing out of windows, gluing of door locks, and/or leaving spray painted messages are but a few ways this resistance manifests. Some may recall the wild demonstrations on Mill Ave. in 2002 and 2003 against the influx of yuppies and their new colonies (namely the Brickyard), these two events (along with many other demonstrations, graffiti, and street art) polarized the dialogue locally into two camps, pro and anti, virtually erasing the middle ground.


A short film of Disposable Hero and other local artists make use of an empty wall.

One form that I have taken a particular interest in has been the dramatic appearance of art work that is posted in public, or on private property, intended for the enjoyment of all. Northern Tempe has been the scene of a renaissance over the last few years, as hanging cardboard heads from telephone wires, large wheat pasted poster on electrical boxes, and sidewalk and walls covered in stencils pieces has become the norm. Out of all of these new creative expressions filling the streets, making any bike ride down Farmer Ave. a visual treat, there has been one series of work that is impressive, more than anything, for the sheer volume of output. The artist, Disposable Hero, has been busy wheat pasting posters, putting framed art to walls with glue guns, and nailing painted scraps of wood to public and private walls for years, much to the delight of this writer. He/she has joined the likes of the infamous NG graf crew as the forefront of AZ street art, much to the chagrin of local developers, who would love to present a spotless, homeless free Tempe to their potential yuppie investors. A place where art is contained in galleries, poverty is shuffled out of sight into the waiting handcuffs of a cop, and words like "artisan" can be thrown around to "dirty up" these multi-million dollar developments when none of the new residents have any skills that resemble what artisans are capable of.

Fuck that. Let's give 'em hell, because at the end of the day, they don't give two shits about you or me, or even want us near their big money fortresses, unless the city invites us all down for a not-so free music, beer, or fireworks festival, at which we are quickly shuffled out of the area so that the bars can continue to serve the legions of ASU zombies and the yuppies can get back to their "urban experience."

On a related note: The Forever in Control graffiti art show is going down this weekend, I recommend hitting it up and seeing the future colors of your city's streets.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Better than making sure all your lights are off before bed

Al Gore: Too little, too late (or just blowing more hot air): Excellent local blog, Phoenix Insurgent, has a wonderful face smacking critical analysis of former VP and Gen-Y celeb's enivro-advocacy, as he was at ASU today.
Oh, Al, if only you could see, the robots and capital won't save us, they're what's killing us!