Friday, April 17, 2015

The Larox

A preface: this parable lacks illustration
And the meter is wordy, so please, please be patient.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."
I stood there and pondered the Once-ler's screed
Holding the very last Truffula seed.

The seed that the Once-ler had just now bestowed
To start fixing the vast devastation he'd sowed
He'd turned the whole town all gloomy and smoggy
The beautiful ponds were now murky and boggy

All the animals vanished, all torn from their roots
All the Swomee-Swans, Humming-fish, and Brown Bar-ba-loots.
And the trees all gone, too, victims of the axe
Only Grickle-grass left, poking up through the cracks.

I thought as I looked at the mess we were in
"Boy, I'd like to help fix this; but where to begin?"
I saw a small yard, full of dust and debris
And a small new idea came creeping to me:

"That yard is a good place to make a new start in,
I'll plant the seed and start a Community Garden!"
So quickly I planted the seed in the ground
Proud of my effort and the raw space I'd found.

The instant I finished, I heard a cough most intense
And saw something perched on an old chain-link fence.
He sat there and frowned in a manner displeasin'
(It wasn't the Lorax, for copyright reasons).

He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish (just saying).
His back was all stooped and his big beard was graying.
"Hey there!" He barked, with both distrust and pity
"My name is the Larox, I speak for the city.

I speak for the city, as the city can't talk
And I spotted you meddling around on my block
Just what are you up to? Spill it! Confess!
What's with this insipid millen'ial B.S.?"

"Oh calm down" I told him with growing displeasure
"This garden is really the smallest of measures.
We'll grow tomatoes! And carrots! And Peas!
The whole town can help and plant what they please!"

"What tripe!" said the Larox, and scoffed with a scowl
But right then a blogger walked up with a trowel.
"You see, you fool Larox, we're helping you out.
So leave us alone if you're just going to pout!"

"Please" he insisted "these acts have a price."
"I'm busy," I told him "and a thanks would be nice."
I whipped out my iPhone, and lickety-splitter
I'd posted my doings on Facebook and Twitter

I knew that the next step to take on this course
Was to round up my followers and start to crowd-source
I plastered the net with tales of this plight
And called all my buddies "Get on the next flight!

This place is in ruins - it's authentic; it's real
There's room for potential, and tons of appeal
What we need are startups! Post Haste! Right away!
The rent here is pennies, so come, don't delay!"

In no time at all, a cafe sprung up
With a clever old name, like "Double D Cup"
Investors gave money, we got Wi-Fi put in
Now people could tweet, tag, text, post, and pin

Then whoa, baby whoa! Population boom!
I realized we needed some new (upscale) room
I bought out some apartments, and pushed up the price
But they filled up in no time, and the tenants? So nice!

The city was thriving, it was really renewed
But that Larox returned, behaving just as rude.
"I am the Larox, I speak for this city,
Which you're buying and turning to something quite shitty.

But I'm here on behalf of the Brown Bar-ba-loots
Who lived on that block and took the bus to commute
They wanted to move back to their original home
But I guess it's been razed for a club that sprays foam?

They've can't afford to return (it's just like you planned it)
And live in a place that does not have mass transit!
They have to spend more on a base cost of living!
So where, may I ask, is the help you were giving?"

I felt sad as I thought of them having to flee
But their old rooms were filled - blame the market, not me!
If they couldn't make it, it wasn't my fault
Be creative! Be Alger! Be Ron Paul! Be Galt!

I brought in developers, and techies, and thinkers
Opened places for yogis and Jamba Juice drinkers
Then came app creators, making ways to share nudes
I gave them high-rises and lots of whole foods

I drove up the value of all things in sight
I was helping! I was Great! I was Hope! Yes, I'm White.
But back again came the Larox, insisting he see us
I refused, but he jumped on the hood of my Prius.

"I'm the Larox" he muttered, at this point resigned
"I can't stay here long, or I'm bound to get fined.
My poor Swomee-Swans worked a mom-and-pop store
But they can't stay in business, no, not any more

The boutiques have won; they've retreated, they've caved
In the face of your culture (which I find depraved)
So too are the humming-fish similarly afflicted
They're forced out! Embattled! Ignored! And evicted!

They cannot return to this high-price utopia
Which you've built for the rich, through some classist myopia.
You said you were helping, but you can't kid a kidder
You're helping exclusively the highest bidder!"

Well, then I got mad, I got terribly snippy.
I yelled at the Larox "now listen here, hippy!
While you gripe at my city, other towns try to ape it!
Plus it's perfectly legal, stick that in and vape it!

And really? Despite all your petulant crying
I plan on gentrifying, and gentrifying, and GENTRIFYING, and GENTRIFYING!
We're a happening spot, where folks want to be!
And we're open to all, but you don't get it for free!"

But just at that moment, we heard a loud clank!
Of a metal door closing, like the vault in a bank
It was gates, on the community, closing out the impurity
And giving my people a sense of security

Just like that, it was empty. Well, the people were there.
But you knew, in your gut, it was spiritually bare.
No more culture, all brands now, all soulless and vapid
And all of it came in a manner most rapid.

The Larox said nothing. Just left me to my thoughts.
In my penthouse, looking out over full parking lots.
All he left was a note, with just one word - "Listen."
I fretted and thought, but the meaning was missing.

But now that I've seen the impact of my deeds
The meaning shines through: in full, the note reads:
"If you want to help, though you might think you're slick,

LISTEN to who you're helping. Oh, and don't be a dick."