September 2004


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Archive for September 14th, 2004

Trouble in Troutdale

Posted in Life on September 14th, 2004

On the backpack front, I finally managed to get ahold of that cop who called. She had been off for a couple days, so didn’t have all the specifics right at hand, but apparently a woman was at least seen trying to pass some of the stolen checks.

Thinking back on it now, when I went out to the car the morning the pack was stolen, there was a grey-haired woman standing on the sidewalk waiting for her ride near my car, and I vaguely remember seeing a backpack on her, but can’t quite recall. It would be just my luck that she was standing right there in front of me with my bag and I was too oblivious to notice. I’ll have to call that cop back again later this week to see what’s up.

Ahh, the wonders of urban renewal

Posted in Life on September 14th, 2004

Twelve years ago, I lived in a section of town called Northwest Industrial. It’s the area north of Burnside and west of the Willamette. When it was all first built, it was bustling with river and train traffic, commerce on the move.

When I lived there, the glory days had definitely gone. Most of the folks in the area were barely scraping by, and what businesses there were tended to be places you wouldn’t take your mother to. Unless she was really wierd, anyway. The first apartment I had we got evicted from – they condemmed the top floor where our apt was. Still being mostly broke, we moved into the building next door – the one with the Phillipino-Mafia-owned restaraunt and the matching gay strip club. Then I got even more broke, and left the state.

When I came back, the area was called The Pearl. Yuppies had moved in and begun buying up the old run-down and partially condemned tenements and warehouses, either renovating them or razing them outright to build condos and lofts. The bums and homeless folks who had been squatting in these buildings were simply run out, left to fend for themselves someplace else. Property values skyrocketted with the influx of Californians moving up from Silicon Valley, and by all counts the area was a success story.

Now it’s twelve years later, and on a downward spiral. Some of the new apartment buildings went HUD and Section 8 at the beginning of the economic slump to keep occupancy up. Some of the newer buildings have yet to reach capacity, as folks started buying houses when the interest rates fell instead of renting or buying ridiculously-expensive condos next door to the poor and unwashed folks moving in across the street. Vandalism is on the up as apartment managers have had to cut spending on security. Places that were clean and beautiful are now dirty and ugly again.

I worked in one of those apartment buildings as a cable guy starting in 2000, and it was almost sickening watching them build these beautiful new buildings, when the one I was working in was getting worse every day. I just couldn’t understand how people would willingly befoul their own home at such a rate that even the most determined maintenance crew couldn’t keep up with it.

What has happened to humanity? I’ll be the first to admit that I grew up poor – my family has never been wealthy, and my mom was on welfare much of my childhood. Nevertheless, our house and property (when we had it) was always clean and well-maintained. Often, we made deals with our landlord for reduced rent in exchange for improvements to the property. I just don’t understand how someone could willingly do this to themselves.

I had a point when I started writing this, but it escapes me now.