The sickening trend in contemporary business development is a new iteration of the age old quandary — an established business paying rent fixed at some time in the distant past (when movies probably cost a nickel) loses its lease and is promptly replaced with a yoga studio, brunch place, or something else both kitschy and obnoxious. Children of the 80’s are well familiar with this sad condition, immortalized in film, such as when the Karate Kid had to raise money to save the community center from Shredder, with the possible aid of a few X-Men.

By virtue of free-market progress and gentrification, proper dives are whittled down to the essential, which then get caught up with some crowd or domain of hipster appeal. Eventually they are cleaned up, endowed with wood-burning pizza ovens, and become kid-friendly until 9. It’s one thing to talk about loss of culture, but gentrification is an amoebic scourge, marginalizing all it touches to an extension of its accessible, franchise-based reality. Even the ‘independent’ stores are cheap geographic iterations of some core viable commercial concept: namely, selling something cheap at an absurd markup to cover your obscene rent and make enough dollars to do it all a few more times in other trendy locations.

The gentle souls of England have already seen the worst of this trend; following legislation banning smoking from public places, the nation’s core drinking population was driven to home or park-based alcoholism. Ancient, traditional pubs have died off in droves, leaving prime real estate to be exploited by any enterprising business interest, which are mostly large-chain gastropubs and dismal, violent betting parlors.

These chain pubs are uniformly generic business formula applied in mass to pubs new and ancient, known the world round for their well-maintained toilets. The selection of spirits, beer, and cider is ample and commendably affordable. Similar modesty is employed in regards to atmosphere. Instead of music, the chain pubs of Britain embrace the loud vulgarity of their ‘chav’ and ‘docker’ clientele to provide an atmosphere redolent of cutthroat Victorian pisshouse of yore.

But maybe it’s not too late for America — you can be the change, support your local dives!

To see more examples of how gentrification is starting to ruin things around the country, check out this blog that keeps a record of unique stores being replaced with fro-yo shops: nowitsaf**kingfroyoplace.tumblr.com


Additional image: Flickr

 

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