Of Guppies, Big Fish and Ponds, Large and Small II. Compassion
A couple of guppies I know from the Big Apple won a landslide victory when they moved to Park City. They, quite literally, moved mountains that were presumed by the locals to be immutable, thereby securing a new status. The Big Apple, you see, feeds a variety of guppies that grow to Big Fish when placed in situations conducive to assured victory. Let me explain.
There is a phenomenon we, in this fair city, fondly refer to as gentrification and generally agree that this process is a good thing. Right? When this process goes beyond the realm of reasonable transformation from poverty to prosperity and enters the territory of, say, creating homelessness and unmitigated greed, maybe it’s time to reconsider. All I’m saying…
Witness the state of housing in the city in this moment. Do you look at the real estate ads? There is a glut of unaffordable housing here and a dearth of affordable housing; shiny new empty structures of glass stand alongside overcrowded tenements. Gluttony and dearth. I see young adults and immigrants doubling, tripling and piling up; squeezing, like canned sardines, into shared space just to stay in a city that relies on them to serve, clean and do the myriad tasks that keep us going. The class divide so pronounced, some of us don’t know which way to run. But I digress. I am not here to argue in favor of social reform. Not today.
I just want to tell a story. A couple of years ago, before this country teetered on the brink of financial calamity, my family visited our friends in Park City, Utah, for our annual ski vacation and reunion with said guppy friends. Ten years ago, after their business tanked, they left New York dragging their tails and fins behind them.
“We’re gonna ski in the winter, golf in the summer, and throw it in your face!” (They really didn’t say that last part audibly, but we got the message.)
They did exactly as they said. They skied, golfed and grew, well, kind of restless. They started a business. They grew restless. They expanded their business. They grew restless. They got into real estate. They grew rich. They built a ski resort. They grew richer. The locals didn’t much like it. They didn’t much give a damn. (You must wonder, as I do, why I have such friends. Is it possible to be bourgeois and a Socialist?)
So, there we were, riding a chair lift together, admiring the landscape and all the booming construction. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were trying to impress or humiliate us as they pointed out the fabulous new McSkiLodge that was on the market for some ridiculous sum, maybe 10 or 15 million.
“Wanna buy it?” our pal (did I mention he’s a Republican?) inquired with a shit-eating grin.
“Sure,” I quipped, “It’d make a great homeless shelter, don’cha think?”
His thoughtful response, “Why would you want to throw that in their faces?” gave me pause.
After a moment I had to ask, “Who, the rich or the homeless?”