11/21/11

Austin, TX: The Next "Placeless Place"?


I went to UT from 1990-97 and lived in Austin until 1999. I just visited and drove around town. I am probably a curmudgeon, but here are a couple things which unsettled me. Perhaps they're symbolic to you, perhaps not. They are to me.
(1) There's a Ferrari dealership in downtown, right near the luxury apartment skyscrapers.
(2) There's a Starbucks where Les Amis used to be.

(3) There's a Patagonia on Congress Avenue. [Michael Lind once named trends like this " Brazilization of the economy." Brazilization, Lind defines as "a high-tech feudal anarchy, featuring an archipelago of privileged whites in an ocean of white, black and brown poverty."]
Much, in fact, of the development I saw was of the expensive, upper middle class kind. Serving needs but in an anodyne and corporate way. Austin seems ineluctably moving from "weird" to "placeless."

The photo below is from....Cleveland. But it could just as easily have been Austin, in many places.