By Laura Medina
What started out as a "cool" project became a deeper issue of gentrification, neighborhood and economic transformation, long-time resentments; and new transplants making a neighborhood home and the local spots their external living room/kitchen.
Hello to "Meet the Regulars," by Detroit-native-turned Brooklynite, Joshua D. Fischer.
While keeping to know his new-found home and knowing some really cool creatives or "celebrities" are making Brooklyn, a hipster-central, that it branded a new type of hipness, "Brooklyn Cool."
Researching for Josh and reading by this scribe is akin to peeling an onion.
Obviously, the outer most layer is the celebrity part, such as Andrew W.K. Josh had to go through the proper channels to meet these celebrities who impart the hipness and coolness into Brooklyn.
The second layer is using these celebrities as an hip, insider tour guide to their favorite watering holes or yoga studios patronized by these celebrities.
To these local watering holes and studios, these celebrities or "working performers" are just like any other local. So, these establishments got these insider "approval stamps" that adds cachet to those businesses and the neighborhood.
Thus, fueling the "Gentrification Fire" when noteworthy locals attracts wanna-bes and equally creatives, rising the prices, transforming the local businesses, then pushing out long-time residents who can't afford the new perks and the rent, which leads to violent push-backs.
"How long and how far can you push people?," Josh.
Ironically funny, interviewing Josh turned into him interviewing this scribe, with this scribe representing and reflecting the West Coast version of what he witness and wrote, firsthand about being stamped "cool" and that cost of "cool." He laughed when this scribe told him about Boyle Heights residents and gang-bangers fighting back against metrosexual but frugal-minded art gallery owners hunting for dirt-cheap spaces. Surprisingly, Josh chimed in, "Good for them." Paraphasing Josh, "They're smart. They know what's going on."
Then, this scribe told Josh about the long-time gentrification of Downtown Los Angeles, from Skid Row N0-Man-Land to upscale sky rises for yuppies and professional athletes do games at the nearby L.A. Live/Staples Center, home to the L.A. Lakers and the L.A. Kings.
He was really impressed by an Olive St. sky rise with a full gym, a lounge and bar that opens up to basketball court, a tennis court, a pool with a jacuzzi, and a BBQ/sauna room.
This is where Josh got to thinking,..."This is how these real estate developers got those rich people to a formerly dirt cheap area...luxury amenities, the idea of luxury,..,but what about the long-time residents. Do they have access to those amenities?"
The more you read his book, "Meet the Regulars," you go beyond the celebrities to life-long residents lamenting about the changes and the rising costs in what used to be affordable.
Which returns to Josh, "How far and how long can you push people?"
This is where this scribe ask Josh, is there any city he wants to another "Meet the Regulars" on other cities and apply the same inquiry and thoughts to?
While interviewing Andrew W.K, in his favorite watering hole, Amarin Cafe in Brooklyn, he opened up to Josh, that a favorite spot is any place to makes you feel welcomed and comfortable. Then, he advised Josh to explore other areas.
Yes, this transplant Brooklynite showed Los Angeles some love. "Los Angeles is the Sister City to New York. We share so much commonalities with Los Angeles, regarding real estate."
Okay, this is where he and this scribe exchanged funny Air BnB stories and how local neighborhoods either start banning them or taxing them hotel fees, like impromptu sex parties out in the back yard where young family can see them. Josh calls them "Brooklyn Orgies"...Hahahaha...
If Los Angeles is the Sister City to New York, Josh called Chicago "the Third Coast," and Josh's hometown, Detroit. Detroit has gone so far down that needs gentrification and hipsters to bring it back up. As for the South, he wants to check out Austin, Texas.
According him, each and every one of those cities all share the same issues of creatives changing the neighborhoods, the businesses, and gentrification.
For those dying cities and towns wishing for a cool economic turn-around, Josh warned them wisely that it took Brookly 15 to 10 years for it to become the "Capital of Cool" and the "Brand of Cool" that even Parisian youths want to copy.
You can use "Meet the Regulars" as your hipster, insider guide to Brooklyn, off-the-beaten track off Manhattan but it's a fresh take on sociology and how a tribe of shared styles and talents can really flip a neighborhood inside and out.
As soon as the book was released, it was the #1 new release in the categories of NY State Travel Guides and Mid Atlantic U.S. Biographies.