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!