May 03, 2011
SOMERSET - It's a Saturday night in April, in Pitney Village Hall in Somerset, an English county the local tourist office boasts is the jewel of the South West. But this evening, there is a slightly melancholic tinge to festivities. On stage, a man with grey hair that carves two lines along his temple and grows bushy on top, attaches his acoustic guitar to an amplifier and gives some last words of advice to his three partners -- a drummer, a pianist and accordionist -- in his Hedge Fund Band.
The lead singer and main attraction of the evening is named Chris Jagger: yes, the younger brother of Mick, rock god, universal sex symbol, millionaire baronet and lead singer of the Rolling Stones. Essentially they do the same thing: they sing. In reality, they are lives apart, and measure Satisfaction in very different ways.
The hall is pretty full: about 70 people, who have paid £7 a head to get in. Plopping down on black metal seats, three overweight women lay down their shopping bags. A teenager in a blue cotton sweater gulps down a pint of beer.
Chris Jagger asks for silence and starts to twang his country tune. He has a rich, mature voice, and plays pieces that lie somewhere between Joan Baez and Mississippi John Hurt.
Sporting a checked, grey shirt and a white vest, he closes his eyes when he sings, three deep vertical lines forming just above his nose. Sure, it's not Wembley, nor the mythical San Francisco Winterland, but there is a comforting family atmosphere. No bottle throwing or joint rolling roll and when Chris finishes, applause breaks out. Someone cries out: "Come on love, I'll take you home."
Is there anything about the younger Jagger that reminds you of the genius of Mick? The same contagious energy? No, nothing.
Well, the lips, but this is the only visible sign the two brothers have in common. Chris pours himself a light beer. "My music isn't bad. It's just that every time that I made a record there was someone who said: he's decent, but he's not like Mick. It's true, but so what? It's been a burden, there's no point in denying it."
Chris says for many years he has suffered this kind of daily death: You wake up in the morning next to a shadow of a brother who has done what you have always wanted to do. And then you ask yourself: "Why him, and not me?" The only sincere reply that you can give yourself is that he is better than you.
So when the Rolling Stones filled the stadiums, Chris limited himself to dreaming. It's difficult to understand why he still decided to be a musician. "Just because I liked it," he explains. "But to get by I have also been a journalist, an office worker and a taxi driver. People would get in the cab and say to me: oh yeah, you're the brother of that famous guy, why don't you live in a villa or in a penthouse?"
Jagger recalls: When I was 18, I used to suffer. When I turned 40 I stopped. We love each other, but everybody has their own path and I don't regret mine."
The younger Jagger has put out three records, but has never sold much. He is married to former model Karin Ann Moller, and the couple has five children – two fewer than his brother.
As children they would continually come to blows. "Chris was very good, it was always Mick who would pick a fight," explained their mother before she died. In 2000 the two brothers were side by side at her funeral.
The last time they played together was four years ago when Chris had a gig at the Bulls Head in London. Mick showed up in a limo, and took to the stage and hugged his brother before they kicked into some country music duets. About 40 people were watching.
"Who's to say that he has lived better than me?" asks Chris. "What is this distrust of normality?" Money, maybe. Mick has earned £270 million and bought a castle in France and a penthouse in New York. His brother has a farm in Somerset County. Jewel of the South West.
Read the original article in Italian.
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In San Diego, California, a researcher tracked how in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked dining options, when interesting eateries arrive the gentrification of white, affluent and college-educated people has begun.
October 20, 2021
SAN DIEGO — Everybody, it seems, welcomes the arrival of new restaurants, cafés, food trucks and farmers markets.
What could be the downside of fresh veggies, homemade empanadas and a pop-up restaurant specializing in banh mis?
But when they appear in unexpected places – think inner-city areas populated by immigrants – they're often the first salvo in a broader effort to rebrand and remake the community. As a result, these neighborhoods can quickly become unaffordable and unrecognizable to longtime residents.
An appetite for gentrification
I live in San Diego, where I teach courses on urban and food geographies and conduct research on the relationship between food and ethnicity in urban contexts.
In recent years, I started to notice a pattern playing out in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked food options. More ethnic restaurants, street vendors, community gardens and farmers markets were cropping up. These, in turn, spurred growing numbers of white, affluent and college-educated people to venture into areas they had long avoided.
This observation inspired me to write a book, titled The $16 Taco, about how food – including what's seen as "ethnic," "authentic" or "alternative" – often serves as a spearhead for gentrification.
Take City Heights, a large multi-ethnic San Diego neighborhood where successive waves of refugees from places as far away as Vietnam and Somalia have resettled. In 2016, a dusty vacant lot on the busiest boulevard was converted into an outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44. There, food vendors gather in semi-permanent stalls to sell pupusas, lechon (roasted pig), single-sourced cold-brewed coffee, cupcakes and tamarind raspado (crushed ice) to neighborhood residents, along with tourists and visitors from other parts of the city.
Informal street vendors are casualties.
A public-private partnership called the City Heights Community Development Corporation, together with several nonprofits, launched the initiative to increase "access to healthy and culturally appropriate food" and serve as "a business incubator for local micro-entrepreneurs," including immigrants and refugees who live in the neighborhood.
On paper, this all sounds great.
But just a few blocks outside the gates, informal street vendors – who have long sold goods such as fruit, tamales and ice cream to residents who can't easily access supermarkets – now face heightened harassment. They've become causalities in a citywide crackdown on sidewalk vending spurred by complaints from business owners and residents in more affluent areas.
This isn't just happening in San Diego. The same tensions have been playing out in rapidly gentrifying areas like Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood, Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, New York's Queens borough and East Austin, Texas.
In all of these places, because "ethnic," "authentic" and "exotic" foods are seen as cultural assets, they've become magnets for development.
A call for food justice
Cities and neighborhoods have long sought to attract educated and affluent residents – people whom sociologist Richard Florida dubbed "the creative class." The thinking goes that these newcomers will spend their dollars and presumably contribute to economic growth and job creation.
Food, it seems, has become the perfect lure.
It's uncontroversial and has broad appeal. It taps into the American Dream and appeals to the multicultural values of many educated, wealthy foodies. Small food businesses, with their relatively low cost of entry, have been a cornerstone of ethnic entrepreneurship in American cities. And initiatives like farmers markets and street fairs don't require much in the way of public investment; instead, they rely on entrepreneurs and community-based organizations to do the heavy lifting.
In City Heights, the Community Development Corporation hosted its first annual City Heights Street Food Festival in 2019 to "get people together around table and food stalls to celebrate another year of community building." Other recent events have included African Restaurant Week, Dia de Los Muertos, New Year Lunar Festival, Soul Food Fest and Brazilian Carnival, all of which rely on food and drink to attract visitors and support local businesses.
Meanwhile, initiatives such as the New Roots Community Farm and the City Heights Farmers' Market have been launched by nonprofits with philanthropic support in the name of "food justice," with the goal of reducing racial disparities in access to healthy food and empowering residents – projects that are particularly appealing to highly educated people who value diversity and democracy.
Upending an existing foodscape
In media coverage of changing foodscapes in low-income neighborhoods like City Heights, you'll rarely find any complaints.
San Diego Magazine's neighborhood guide for City Heights, for example, emphasizes its "claim to authentic international eats, along with live music venues, craft beer, coffee, and outdoor fun." It recommends several ethnic restaurants and warns readers not to be fooled by appearances.
Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against the "urban food machine"
But that doesn't mean objections don't exist.
Many longtime residents and small-business owners – mostly people of color and immigrants – have, for decades, lived, worked and struggled to feed their families in these neighborhoods. To do so, they've run convenience stores, opened ethnic restaurants, sold food in parks and alleys and created spaces to grow their own food.
All represent strategies to meet community needs in a place mostly ignored by mainstream retailers.
So what happens when new competitors come to town?
Starting at a disadvantage
As I document in my book, these ethnic food businesses, because of a lack of financial and technical support, often struggle to compete with new enterprises that feature fresh façades, celebrity chefs, flashy marketing, bogus claims of authenticity and disproportionate media attention. Furthermore, following the arrival of more-affluent residents, existing ones find it increasingly difficult to stay.
My analysis of real estate ads for properties listed in City Heights and other gentrifying San Diego neighborhoods found that access to restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and outdoor dining is a common selling point. The listings I studied from 2019 often enticed potential buyers with lines like "shop at the local farmers' market," "join food truck festivals" and "participate in community food drives!"
San Diego Magazine's home buyer guide for the same year identified City Heights as an "up-and-coming neighborhood," attributing its appeal to its diverse population and eclectic "culinary landscape," including several restaurants and Fair@44.
When I see that City Heights' home prices rose 58% over the past three years, I'm not surprised.
Going up against the urban food machine
Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against what I call the "urban food machine," a play on sociologist Harvey Molotch's "urban growth machine" – a term he coined more than 50 years ago to explain how cities were being shaped by a loose coalition of powerful elites who sought to profit off urban growth.
I argue that investors and developers use food as a tool for achieving the same ends.
When their work is done, what's left is a rather insipid and tasteless neighborhood, where foodscapes become more of a marketable mishmash of cultures than an ethnic enclave that's evolved organically to meet the needs of residents. The distinctions of time and place start to blur: An "ethnic food district" in San Diego looks no different than one in Chicago or Austin.
Meanwhile, the routines and rhythms of everyday life have changed so much that longtime residents no longer feel like they belong. Their stories and culture reduced to a selling point, they're forced to either recede to the shadows or leave altogether.
It's hard to see how that's a form of inclusion or empowerment.
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