The Gentrification Parade
Dropping by the bar in Hamtramck last night, I met several revelers who’d been to the Marche du Nain Rouge. If you haven’t been, it’s a great springtime party on foot, where lots of young people living in the city parade through the old Cass Corridor to chase out the red dwarf who brings evil tidings to our fair city. I’ve been a few times, though not in the last few years. One of the guys who’d attended pulled me aside and asked with a laugh, “Did you go to the gentrification parade?”
I laughed at that one, a new joke, evidently told by somebody who participated and had a good time. Was it a little self-deprecating good humor, or that kind of snark that shows one can be in the thick of it and yet oh-so-above it all? I must say, it kind of threw me, because, in years past, the march seemed to be a countercultural goof, an excuse for the Cass Corridor’s freaks and “cool kids” to go on a lighthearted art rampage and end up stewed at the Temple Bar. In the mind of this joking acquaintance, was the march somehow now aligned with the forces of development and power? If so, how did that happen?
I shrugged it off, thinking it was the same sort of joke that drives white hipsters to joke about “white hipsters,” that, for this generation, the ultimate sincerity is winking disdain.
Then, however, I ran into somebody involved with the march, and he said it was off their projections by several hundred participants. Perhaps Cass Corridor needs its cheerleaders less when the whole shebang looks like it’s going to be another arena district in the grip of another local billionaire? And with artists evicted from Capitol Park, maybe the crusade to change Detroit is getting really complicated all of a sudden? Again, this is something totally unscientific and speculative when it comes to alleged attendance figures, and perhaps those “yuppie parade” comments were just a bit of black humor.
All that said, the G-word is out of the box now, and seems to be on everybody’s mind in a way it hasn’t before. And, if these few quips are any indication, the topic will be coloring much more than a springtime lark in the near future.