1. On Friday, NBC DFW ran this upbeat piece on the state of Near Southside, Fort Worth – aka The Fairmount Historic District, aka The Hospital District, aka The Medical District. I mentioned not only my admiration for the area, but also commented on its need for a permanent and universally agreed-upon name in a recent Weekender.
This once-suffering part of town has long been on the rise with a resurgence that seems to be increasingly picked up by the local media, though I’m sure some longtime residents are rolling their eyes. But this story has been in the making for quite some time according to this informative Dallas Business Journal article full of civic, cultural, and commercial foreshadowing. The changes to Near Southside were prompted by a cooperative effort between a non-profit, The Fort Worth Police Department, a railroad executive, and of course, the city itself, which apparently was feeling satisfied at the time, after a successful revitalization of Fort Worth’s Downtown. According to then City Council Member and now State Senator Wendy Davis:
“The good news is the big boys have already done this downtown,” Davis said. “We don’t have a single property owner objecting to the guidelines.
But according to historical info in the article, Near Southside will be returning to the spirit of its intended use:
The area was platted between 1890 and 1920 as an industrial, retail and residential center. Its residents headed for the suburbs after World War II.
Selfishly, I wonder what the billions of dollars already spent, and the 600 million yet to be spent ultimately mean for the area. Will rent always be affordable for every little uncommon enterprise on the block, whether it be a bike shop or a gallery? Can Near Southside maintain it’s heretofore untainted cool, even with all of the tons of cash from various interests raining down on every square foot? Tread lightly with comparisons to Oak Cliff, this neighborhood can be a little touchy about Dallas.
Even more selfishly, the area is home not only to my two favorite bars in DFW (The Chat Room and The Usual) but also to various unique eateries including the original location of the iconic vegan restaurant Spiral Diner.
I know that the mood so far has been optimistic and I’m definitely hoping for the best, but something in NBC’s video caught my attention. When they interviewed “Rick Screldon,” aka “Rick V.,” one of the main proprietors of DIY venue 1919 Hemphill. I wondered how an entity such as 1919 might fare in the long run, since it is far and away the longest-running independent, volunteer run venue in all of Dallas-Fort Worth, having operated since September 2002. Or, exactly a month after that Dallas Business Journal article was written. As far now, Rick is happy, as he told NBC:
“This is the coolest part of town, I’d have to say,” said Rick Screldon, who lives in the area and works at Spiral Diner & Bakery. “Everything I like is within walking distance.”
Since 1919 has recently had a new like-mindedly independent neighbor, simply called Pizza House, this is probably doubly true for the Fort Worth underground advocate. Here’s hoping that everything that makes Near Southside great, even the overlooked or unsung, is still part of the plan. By the way, I fully encourage more musicians to read business journals, that way you’ll know what’s going to happen to your beloved neighborhood ten years from now.
2. Shiny Around The Edges‘ founding member Michael Seman has also been in the local socioeconomic news conversation, discussing this week’s 35 Conferette festival’s evidential and theoretical effect on tax revenue with the Denton Record Chronicle as well as blowing Jim Schutze’s mind that music might reshape the lay of the land in Denton for decades to come.
Even though I am always deeply interested in such stories and specifically Seman’s work, this isn’t exactly new when one considers that the 60’s counterculture ripped off a chunk of the Lower East Side and renamed it the East Village, a shift that was largely due to the music-focused habits of a changing demographic profile. To permanent and dramatic result.
It’s worth noting that the music Seman mentioned repeatedly was “Indie Rock” since that could be related to New York’s current growing pains, this time in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. In a convoluted story full of theories and twists, a supposed Park Slope resident started a petition against what the resident assumed would be a Hip Hop club and suggested that an indie rock club would be:
“a vibrant artistic hub instead of another Yo MTV Raps ‘bling bling’ vip club.”
As it has been repeatedly mentioned, there are obviously some nastily loaded racial overtones to the alleged petition. Fake or not, it has worked up the residents of Park Slope quite successfully, and it makes me wonder if this sort of thing could happen in Denton, since it seems that we’re all counting on Indie Rock specifically to bring the next North Texas Renaissance. If this sort of thing can happen in the birthplace of hip hop, what would happen if the entire Square was lined with as many rap and dance clubs as Deep Ellum had in the early 2000’s? Would everyone be on board for that? What kind of fake petitions and ruses could this historically disharmonious area come up with in a similar situation? Makes you think.
For more on the petition as possible hoax, go here.
Photo: 1919 Hemphill’s ever-busy calendar. Courtesy 1919 Hemphill.