Cooder Nation

Perusing the June 27, 2005 issue of The New Yorker while in the reading room recently (I get mine third-hand), I chanced across a fine story by Nick Paumgarten entitled "Stadia Mania." In it, Paumgarten touches briefly on various ongoing or stalled stadium projects in the five boroughs before discussing the birth of Dodger Stadium from the dust of a bulldozed L.A. neighborhood called Chavez Ravine: soon the Ravine’s former residents were referring to the locations of their old homes according to the geography of the ballpark: right field, third base, bullpen. Specifically, he considers "Chavez Ravine," an album by musician Ry Cooder which seeks to bring the old neighborhood to life. Paumgarten quotes Cooder:
There is no talent involved in buying big cheeseburgers and big Cokes, going to
the mall . . . You talk about heritage, man, it was there. They find a bowling
alley, chop it down. Interesting old apartment house, chop it down. Then they
give back stuff with zero content, buildings with no past, a useless present,
and no future at all. Where nobody is going to get together, where no memories
will be created or associations made, or good times. They will simply be
directing you into the act of taking your credit card out of your wallet, with
that glazed look on your face. So, you see, I’m not a fan of that.

Though I start losing Cooder when he goes on to dismiss the value of ballparks and ball games (to my mind, memories, associations and good times are a big part of ballparks and ball games), for a moment, I think, he's describing Tic-Toc, Lowdown, Baja King Street and then il Baer-McGowan Galleria and it's pure genius.

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