The Null Device

Stuff White People Don't Like

Not even bohemian Berlin is immune from the forces of gentrification; luxury apartments are going up where the Wall stood, and the city's legendary bars and clubs are threatened with closure by rising rents and noise complaints. The city's non-yuppie residents are fighting back in a number of ways; some are torching luxury cars, while others are uglifying their areas with yuppie-repelling camouflage:
A recent meeting at SO36 discussed non-violent ways to keep out "unwanted" residents. Erwin Riedmann, a sociologist, proposed an "uglification strategy" – to "go around wearing a ripped vest and hang food in Lidl bags from the balcony so that it looks like you don't have a fridge". The suggestion drew laughs, but is a strategy being adopted.
An "anti-schicki micki" website, (it's raining caviar), offers the following tips to make a neighbourhood unattractive for newcomers: "Don't repair broken windows; put foreign names on the doorbell, and install satellite dishes."

There are 4 comments on "Stuff White People Don't Like":

Posted by: ianw Sun Mar 14 00:15:50 2010

the burning-cars website is astounding - 500+ in the last 3 years ..a map, a brandname count..

Posted by: Greg Sun Mar 14 02:40:15 2010

I had an idea once (but have never executed it) to set up a one-off soup kitchen near auctions in gentrifying areas. This would surround the auction with homeless people, and possibly keep prices down. I think I modified the idea from somewhere, possibly National Lampoon. I suspect strategies like this are perfectly legal. In my last rented house in Brunswick I lived next door to a building site for eight months while the nice Federation house next door was turned into two crappy flats. When a house over the road auctioned for nearly a million dollars I thought "I wonder if they'd have bid so high if the builders had been working today".

Posted by: acb Sun Mar 14 18:53:41 2010

I wonder whether developers take kickbacks from sellers to suspend work on strategic days.

Also, the idea of uglification does raise the question of street art, a lot of which is designed to be aesthetically positive. Are the likes of Banksy, Ghostpatrol, &c., traitors to the bohemian communities they work in for making their areas more desirable to yuppies? Is any art that is not explicitly abject, confrontational or hostile to the bourgeoisie (in a real, not defanged and pretend, way) culturally suicidal?

Posted by: Greg Mon Mar 15 10:28:42 2010

The underlying problem is about who owns the real-estate and who does the work to improve it. It seems to me that in a lot of gentrifications, renter artists/musos do the improvement, deliberately and otherwise, while buyers and sellers reap the benefits. I don't know when this model became obvious to the real-estate industry - it's only been obvious to me for a couple of years. I suspect some of those renters thought they were subverting capitalism - instead they were participating in one of the greatest wealth-creation schemes ever (sum the house price rises over a whole gentrified suburb - it's a huge amount).

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