Sparkling New Hotel

I only walked in the woods a few times during the winter. I’ve just been walking in town. Near the convention center. By a new hotel directly across the tracks from where I stood during a lunch break. A lot of homeless and encampments about. I hear some of my fellow employed express disdain toward the homeless for not having trash pick up service or toilets, both of which would cost money, which is typically earned through employment, unless its unearned income.

So, again, not much time in the woods recently, even though winter weather doesn’t bother me much. Walking during lunch, viewing this new hotel. Looking up at its countless vacant units and down at its nice ground floor retail space, also vacant. A Hyatt Regency, it is, with countless rooms with kitchenettes, showers and beds, vacant and staring down at homeless people. At ground level where I’m holding the camera, around me are impoverished people living on the streets searching for resources. Some are afflicted with mental illness and perhaps addiction to street entrepreneurs’ retail products. I’m not saying it’s a shame there won’t be a bustling hotel with hopping ground floor retail and office space serving an event-packed convention center across the light rail track. Those activities are in large part unnecessary regardless of economic state. I’m just observing there’s not much use for a hotel intended for that function, especially right now. Just observing the lack of utility in the whole arrangement, the abundance towering over the poverty. The irony of how physically close this idle resource abundance is to the surrounding poverty. Two blocks away is this encampment — one of the countless right now. It’s one of the smaller ones.

I think much of this — the hotel/commercial space vacancy, homelessness, drug addiction, mental illness — is due to moderation: moderation in public policy, in politics, by policymakers and lawmakers. A moderation that declines to establish a safety net. Now the new hotel has no people to sell goods and services to because some members of that market fell in absence of safety net, or they’re not spending much at all because they know there’s little safety net.

Moderation in what sense and for what intended result? I think it’s moderation by policymakers/lawmakers with the intent of not rocking the boat. Not upsetting campaign donor-investors of the DRIT (Democratic-Republican Investment Tool). The DRIT policy/lawmakers practice moderation to avoid upsetting their campaign donors (investors). Moderation to keep their head down. To avoid raising taxes on campaign donor-investors. Such a raising of taxes would cut into campaign donor-investors’ bottom lines. The DRIT lawmaker has to use as its compass the question “If I raise taxes or change certain tax laws even if only for the health of their own markets (an thereby sustenance of my re-election campaign) will my campaign donor-investor prevent my re-election?” The answer is yes, because of the campaign donor-investors’ short-term/shortsighted focus on business. Business as usual leads to a slippery slope of increasing market poverty, businesses vacating blocks of buildings, loss of rent income, vandalism, insurance claims, higher insurance premiums for the now tenant-less commercial landlord — all this giving the street entrepreneur an edge over the white collar entrepreneur in a given area of town. Here’s a spot a Jaguar dealership moved out of.

It seems like self-harm committed by proponents of neoliberalism and austerity. It’s like an economic analogy to anti-environmentalism: eliminating ones own markets instead of ones drinking water. Economically, it’s “don’t tax us. Don’t blow money on safety nets.” Then they watch their own markets disappear.

But maybe I’m all wrong about this. Perhaps it’s not a problem after all for the campaign donor-investors. If one diverts their investment away from goods, services, and commodities (GDP-type stuff) and toward financial markets, then all one really needs is virtual/electronic mechanisms that result in deposits into ones accounts.

Anyway, moderation is the game for a DRIT candidate to win or remain in office. Moderation is austerity. Moderation is the snipping of safety nets. Moderation is lowering of tax revenue and therefore short-changing students and teachers. Anything straying from the moderate is “bold”, “progressive”, “radical”, “fringe”, “extreme” — all those things that cut into DRIT campaign donor-investor bottom line but address topics like health care, education, disaster preparedness, pandemic preparedness, and long-term care for old Gramps who failed miserably to save enough money for his $6,800 a month shared room in a facility that can care for him.

We elected another DRIT moderate president in November, albeit one who is experiencing pressure from and responding to progressives and their critical topics that are inconvenient to wealthy campaign donor-investors. His American Rescue Plan is actually rescuing America not from pandemic economic fallout, but from decades of moderation, decades of moderates who brought us the perfect storm that is the last 12 months or so.

Anyway, back to the topic of playing outdoors next time. Some aspects of life are normalizing. Fortunate to have remained employed, I will be able to ride and walk landscapes soon.

There’s a connection between…

…the woods and urban areas: the homeless are generally not allowed. I’ll expand on this further down.

On an errand in town I wonder if the emptiness of the bus strictly reflects unemployment, or also people switching to safer modes of transport.

I still shoot out to the woods of the coastal range partly because it’s only 40 minutes away. With friends this time, enjoying the presence of eagles (or are they hawks?):

Back in town I see homeless encampments being allowed to stay, finally some rest. I find explanation on neither regular news nor homeless press/news. It results in encampments larger than I’ve seen before, and cookfires, which I’ve not seen before. I’m happy for them not being harassed for simply staying in a small spot on public property — for simply being. And I think I’ll bring them some fuelwood for their cookfires; it also would free me of thicker pieces of yard debris that won’t fit in my shredder.

Anyway, the tolerance by city government must be covid-related. Perhaps based on the thought that the routine of squeezing them into smaller, out of sight areas would result in city government being viewed as a failure at slowing the spread of the virus. Or perhaps it reflects social distancing reducing shelter capacity. Anyway, the homeless are usually not allowed to live somewhere; they’re generally pushed from spot to spot by police, chamber of commerce, and other players who have an audience that can push.

But I think that if homeless people learned how to forage, shelter and otherwise sustain in the woods instead of in the city among guns, nightsticks, and other elements of government and crime, they would not be allowed there either, technically. There are restrictions there just as there are in town. But the experiment may already be underway for all I know. In town, dumpsters, soup kitchens and shelters are more immediate food sources unless one knows how to forage. But of course there are also street entrepreneurs selling addictive chemical highs to addicts who’d find no such businessmen in the woods. And in a sense, most in civilized communities cannot part, and wouldn’t want to part, with luxuries and services we’ve developed dependency on — which also includes addictive highs like from wine, whisky, craft beers, foodie cafe carbs and coffees. Really, where can one draw the line between culture and addictions? Extremes on a spectrum are easy to spot. But distinctions or lines are nebulous, often fictions based on convenience, and have less utility than dysfunction. Wait, maybe Pirsig’s philosophy of quality helps with some of this confusion; I’ll have to relearn what it is.

I wouldn’t want to live in the woods like my ancestors did. Unless I was stuck in homeless, urban street culture that I see from the train. And on the train. If homelessness were my starting point, then which would have more potential: staying in town, or moving to the woods? The next question is Potential for what? For doing what? For experiencing or accomplishing what? I think creative types and cell phone junkies both need culture that the woods couldn’t provide. If you create with an electric guitar, there is tactile and resonant interaction that just isn’t available as a tool — and can’t be experienced — on acoustic instruments.

The woods are still just a place I like to visit. Kind of like some cities.