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Ghosts of Mill Avenue Past
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Vex Harrow
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Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 400
Location: Tempe, AZ

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:46 pm    Post subject: Ghosts of Mill Avenue Past Reply with quote

Prowling about the Internet, as I like to do, I came across some interesting images from a few years back—what I was really doing was looking for images of Long Wong’s before it was demolished.

What I found was images from a protest outside of Long Wong’s in 2004 and a series of photographs: see Part I and Part II (warning: these photos are huge.) In one of those photos I saw, vividly, a poster sporting the words: “Stop the Gentrification of Mill Ave.”

Apparently I haven't been the only one watching this happen all around our ears.

In an article I dredged up out of the archives of the Phoenix New Times I saw a quote that I really like. “The significance of the bar's closing extends beyond the local music scene. Long Wong’s has stood vigil on the corner of Seventh Street and Mill for 20 years, and many of its patrons have watched as neighboring bars and businesses, such as the equally legendary Six East, have lost their spots on Mill to developers’ greed. And when Wong’s falls to the unyielding capitalistic nightmare that is the new Mill Avenue, it will not only be another blow to a suffering local music scene but could also accelerate the disappearance of downtown Tempe's fading authenticity.”

It's telling, to me, that other blogs about Phoenix Metro also sometimes use this word authenticity when referring to the changes and development. That when metrobloggers once asked “where would you take people for a crash course on Phoenix culture if they were new?” and then added, “and don't say something like Mill Avenue: a strip mall does not count as culture.”

Blows breath out slowly between her teeth.

The decisions of developers, business owners, sitting members of the chamber of commerce can seem as the will unto gods. Since they control a lot of the environment around us, in more than just a peripheral sense, they have the pull, the money, and the ability to totally wreck what little authentic culture remains in the red bricks of the Ave itself. And they’re very happy to sell it out for a quick buck that will glisten momentarily and then fade into the plastic fronts and fake culture designed to titillate and separate Scottsdale nouveau riche from their money without having a single flyspeck of dignity unto itself.

If anyone really wants to keep this place authentic all they have to do is come down to street level with the rest of us. Stay there for a while. To be cliché: that's where it's at. The Ave has long-time been a good place, a fun place, a place that varying crowds could gather under the fading sunlight or the soft ambiance of the streetlights and ruminate. Throwing in stores that change every year, that close their doors when the dark is on us, and lend nothing to the sense of community will only take away from the already rich culture that pervades our street.

I guess that's the good thing about being street level.

The tighter they draw the lines, the taller they grow the buildings, the brighter the lights—they still need the Ave, and as long as it remains, so will we.

So will we.

Last edited by Vex Harrow on Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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