Friday, September 2, 2016

Salud - En La Perla

This more than a moment in time. It probably soon will be in the very past. La Perla is one of the last Hispanic bars on the legendary East Side of Austin, Texas. With gentrification and condos came higher rent and a change in demographics. Rich kids, mostly working behind desks in the moving in, while families can't afford the raise in taxes anymore. House prices soar, what could have been bought below $100'000 a bit more than a decade ago, triple, quadrupled or even quintupled. And it's not unseen that an "old" 50-60 year old home is bought, torn down, razed and replaced with a "McMansion."

All this is called progress. Progress for what and whom. By destroying the dives and neighbourhood bars - well there aren't anymore customers anyway - part of the social fabric is gone. Replaced by anonymous sports and music bars. Don't get me wrong, where ever there is music, let's check it out. But no more families celebrating a quinceanera, where somebody would have brought fajitas or gabrito, where the six year-old would have made her first dance moves twirling with her dad, where a Mariachi or the jukebox were playing songs by Ramon Ayala, Vincente Fernandez, Juan Gabriel or local hero Flaco Jimenez. No more. No it's a battle of the bands. Loud, agressive - far, far away from the all encompassing family feel to the fake "you're-a-part-of-the-crowd-now"-illusion.

People move to the more affordable edges of town, into non-descript starter homes - as living in a family home for generations now demand that you start a new. "Little boxes" (Thank you Pete Seeger) in cookie-cutter neighbourhoods, where you don't know your neighbours anymore. No social life on the street or in the corner bar - well there are no corner bars.

It's a lament of the times. So next time walk across the tracks or as in Austin under the once dividing highway and soak in a different culture. And have a toast to the times that are gone.

This shot and other photography of mine are available through Dispatch Press Images for publication.

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