Chris Barsanti of In These Times has a review of Richard Lloyd’s _Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City_. (Odd that a Logan Square-based magazine would assign a Brooklyn writer to the piece, but oh well.) Lloyd, a contributor to “_The Baffler_”:http://thebaffler.com/excerpts.html and now teaching at Vanderbilt, has written a serious ethnography of a not-so-serious neighborhood. Personally, and maybe because I was there to witness its last throes, Wicker Park’s gentrification has been far more explosive and fascinating than any number of East Village accounts. Compared to New York, Chicago’s lack of rent control, tenser race relations, better overall fiscal health, pro-business and pro-development attitudes, and far deeper deindustrialization combined to put gentrification on fast-forward here. (Incidentally, I once mentioned this opinion to Terry Clark, who replied with something about one of his graduate students. Turns out that was Lloyd, of course, and I gave it nary a thought until seeing the book.) What’s different is that Chicago is only a regional center of media and “content creation”; not only does news from here tend to spread slowly, but the creative first-line gentrifiers (literally, the cultural capitalists) are fewer in number and less self-consciously or self-referentially creative.
Somehow, thinking of Wicker Park as “over” reminds me of a conversation with a scruffy, underemployed resident of Montréal’s Plateau, a favorite landing pad for hipsters who’ve tired of Toronto or Brooklyn, who stated after a moment of thought that “you could live here pretty easily on $10,000 Canadian a year.” Plus free healthcare!