Comment of the Day: For If You Gaze Longingly at Trendy Development, It Gazes Also Back at You

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FOR IF YOU GAZE LONGINGLY AT TRENDY DEVELOPMENT, IT GAZES ALSO BACK AT YOU Looming Townhomes“All you ‘trendy people’ in Spring Branch need to bear in mind that even though your property values have risen dramatically, legacy homeowners don’t just immediately convert or turn over into ‘trendy people.’ That’s a process that takes time — [and] once it happens, you’ll feel nostalgia for the way things were. The newcomers won’t be ‘trendy’ — that term has positive connotations and you’ll reserve it for yourself. You will speak of them in derogatory tones, using words like yuppie and hipster. You’ll complain about how they’ve overrun your neighborhood, creating parking SNAFUs, cyclist-disrespecting traffic, and drunk drivers. You’ll complain about how closely packed the new townhomes are, even though you live in one; and about how loud the bars are, even though you bought a house next to one that had been there for 20 years. You’ll complain about how your property taxes rise 10 percent per year every year, and simultaneously protest new public housing, even though your unrealized capital gains are being subsidized by state statue — and you’ll demand even more subsidy! You might even vote for Dan Patrick. You’ll vote for localized prohibition and think that it’s ‘weird,’ kind of like living in Austin would be, except you don’t live in Austin and aren’t as weird as them — which is a terrible thing because they aren’t very weird either. You will have been co-opted by the powers that be. This is understandable. You were trendy, and will fall in line with somebody, sort of thoughtlessly, and complain relentlessly. That’s what it is to be trendy. It’s what you always wanted.” [TheNiche, commenting on Comment of the Day: Send the Trendies Outside the Loop, PleaseIllustration: Lulu

14 Comment

  • The Niche, added a little bit too much patronizing sauce on your sandwich today huh? I am pretty sure that the original writer was not looking for a lecture on trendy people, the response to trendy people, or rising property values in Spring Branch. I believe it was probably just wishful thinking for more “trendy” type places to eat at near home. From what I have observed places like SB have a greater variety of ethnic foods such as Korean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisine (just to name a few) than what is left inside the loop. Certainly “trendy” does not always equal good.

  • It matters not what the person to whose comment I replied was “looking for”. It matters only what they found.
    Also, let me be perfectly clear that I’m not putting Spring Branch down, not as a neighborhood. It has a great dining scene — which is mostly predicated on low rent and an immigrant community. Uh oh…

  • … and then you ultimately find your way onto Swamplot to disparage other people.

  • There are no trendy people in Spring Branch. There is nothing trendy about buying up a 1960s ranch house, knocking it down and replacing it with a 5000+ sq ft McMansion. People who build these monster houses do not pine for the way the neighborhood used to be after living there for a while. They wish long an hard that the hold outs will cash out so their house will no longer stick out like a sore thumb from the modest original architecture and less ambitious new builds from before the turn of the century.
    Personally, I have very little nostalgia for the way the Heights was when you could by a nice bungalow on a full size lot for a price that began with the number 2. I do not miss getting bit by loose pit bulls on a run. I do not miss seeing a drug deal go down by a run down apartment complex while taking my six month old child for a walk in a stroller. I do not miss having my kids be the only ones at the park and wondering whether the guy sitting on the benches was looking to score or had already scored and was just waiting to get high (it was the former). I do not miss waiting with bated breath for Waldo’s coffee house to open so there would be a mediocre coffee shop on Heights Blvd.
    Oh, and no one in Austin is weird anymore. They are all from California.

  • Rage on, Niche.

  • @ Old School: Let me see if I have this straight. The OP was somebody from Spring Branch wanting “trendy” eateries like the Heights has. That person patronizes said eateries, values them, and he/she and people like him/her are a valuable part of their customer base. If we take it as a premise that a restaurant must cater to trendy people in order to itself be trendy, then either the restaurant in question is not in fact trendy or trendy people do exist in places like Spring Branch. Which is it?
    I don’t mind turning the (fork and) knife on myself, either. I happen to think that it’s pretty cool that I can go to a Korean place on Long Point where they serve me some kind of a hot pot with mystery meat and can’t figure out how to explain that it is the intestines and male reproductive organs of some kind of fish. I also quite enjoy inflicting such experiences upon others because being culinarily adventurous is an important part of my social identity.
    Consider the following brand names and how they relate to a person’s social identity: Rudy’s BBQ, Kim Son, Buc-ee’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, HEB, Fiesta, John Deere, In-N’-Out Burger, Whataburger, McCormick & Schmick, Hubcap Grill, Frank’s Diner, Honda, Acura. Quite a list, isn’t it? I should even point out the prefixing of Kroger stores (e.g. “Battle Kroger”, “Disco Kroger”), and how the use of those terms connotes precious street cred in a certain population.
    I would posit that if you think it through, what is “trendy” is very much in the eye of the beholder. Anybody can think themselves trendy, and if that’s what they think then that’s what they are. However, the corollary is that a person cannot be “trendy” without comparing themselves to people who in their view are either not correctly “trendy” or that are less “trendy” than they. You can’t have something without also having its absence, and can’t have good without having bad. (Hmmm, you could replace the word “trendy” with “religious” or “patriotic” and these would work too.) It all seems to hinge on constructions of social identity.
    As a species, we demonstrate time and time again that these constructs are irrepressible and are worth killing and dying for, and worth casting insult and taking offense, and toiling long and hard to afford. These constructs give rise to a great many evils, and also to technological achievement, to the better angels of our nature.
    In any case, the topic must be approached critically. You’re welcome.

  • We have a rather large home on “Lazy Oaks” in spring branch. It’s 2000+ SF on a 10,000 SF lot with a pool. It rents for $1,300 — or about the same as our old small 2 bed 1 bath Montrose units.
    So yeah, Spring Branch is where you go to rent for cheap.

  • So many misconceptions about Spring Branch being espoused by inner loopers. First, SB is only a suburb in the sense that the Heights is a suburb. SB is centrally located in West Houston with prime access to many major employment centers. Second, SB already supports many good local restaurants. It has restaurants nestled close to neighboehoods, and it has strip centers available in major thoroughfairs (think shepherd / durham, Wirt, Blalock). The area can easily support additional restaurants and the older residents and newer ones alike would support high quality dining. Energy corridor workers would also likely appreciate a chill place to go after work that is closer than the Heights It appears that it is only group-think that keeps these high quality (yet often failing restaurant ventures) inside the loop. Lastly, there are still many ranch houses here. They have not all been torn down as one poster lamented. There is a healthy mix of styles that co-exist well for the most part. It would be smart to consider this area for a restaurant venture rather than be another inner loop statistic. We are getting several new ventures soon by some first time restaurant / bar entrepeneurs. Hopefully, they will be well run and show the way.

  • Wanting a trendy restaurant and going to a trendy restaurant does not make one trendy. You can write one hundred paragraphs of drivel of hackneyed post modern thought on how to identify trendy people and there still will not be a single trendy person in Spring Branch.

  • Spring Branch resident since 1970. Proudly STILL not trendy.

    (And hell yeah pissed about my 10% property tax increase EVERY FREAKING YEAR.)

  • If Energy Corridor employers wanted their employees to go to a chill place after work, they’d have never moved their companies to the Energy Corridor in the first place.
    It’s not groupthink that leads to restaurant ventures located primarily within the Loop. It’s market and demographic analysis. Banks and investors are driving the bus on things like this, and they’re not inclined to take a flyer on an area with 1970s suburb density. Restaurants are notoriously high-risk, low-reward investments, and as such, lend themselves to investor conservatism.
    In short, you’re not the first one to consider Spring Branch for new restaurants. But there are reasons the ones that stick around are largely immigrant-run – low overhead, access to non-traditional sources of capital, and a relatively captive market. “Trendy” restaurants, i.e. aiming to bring in upper-middle class Anglo clientele, don’t have these advantages – unless they have expensive ingredients, attractive premises, and a good line of credit, that market has the disposable income to travel elsewhere to meet those tastes.
    Really, the question here is “why does my post-war suburb behave like a post-war suburb?” It was designed that way.

  • @ Old School: Indeed, I find that much of what I contribute to social media is basically deconstructive. I especially enjoy pointing out how ordinary and base the people are whom believe themselves to be more special than others and how poorly-considered desires lead them (and the rest of us) into folly. The Heights is my favorite playground, a never-ceasing buffet of humanity’s foibles wrapped in an illusion of altrusim.
    @ TMR: I partly agree with you — but consider the little community of Addicks, now little more than a cluster of shady restaurants nestled in the armpit of I-10 & Highway 6. It serves the Energy Corridor. There’s definitely something to the idea that there’s a certain kind of restaurant, described here as “trendy”, which is often found in pre-WW2 suburbs. That little nook is similar to the one-third Houston’s of pre-WW2 suburbs which are so often associated with “trendy” restaurants in Houston in that there are a lot off office workers nearby and a large residential base of fairly affluent white people within a reasonable driving distance; Addicks has parking problems just like parts of the Heights and Montrose, indicating that walkability between there and residences or workplaces isn’t particularly relevant. There is no zoning or deed restrictions, and there were many functionally obsolescent buildings. The environs are in general very leafy and outdoor seating is common. The architectural style offers up some flourishes, room for certain peoples’ nostalgic imaginings about an idealized past that has since been lost. These “trendy” restaurants are cultural institutions, signifying so much more than simply the quality of food. And unlike upscale restaurants off of Post Oak or in CityCentre, these are considered somehow “authentic”. Indeed, I’m not sure that Long Point can ever be like that; however, it is possible that with generational turnover, values will change, and Long Point will become “trendy” to people who think that this generation’s “trendy” restaurant is as every bit interesting and relevant to them as a Luby’s.
    On the subject of banking, it is important to remember that banks do not simply decide upon the location of “trendy” restaurants. Deals get brought to them by people that fit a certain profile, that think a certain way. If you’re the sort of person that thinks that a “trendy” restaurant has to be located in a pre-WW2 development, then you’re not likely to deviate from that. The banking process goes one step further and culls many of the geographical outliers and the oddities; they are not especially interested in a business’ popularity or even that it is especially profitable, only in whether a loan will perform and is safely collateralized. This is just another aspect of economic zoning, one that contributes to socioeconomic segregation by reinforcing peoples’ perceptions about who and what belongs where.

  • Trendiness is monopolized by Anglo-Americans (white people) w/lots of disposable income. If they deem something trendy, then it must be. Follow the money and you end up @TheNiche’s doorstep who will probably be wearing Chinese made sunglasses, eating guac and chips from a Mexican restaurant, and drinking draft beer from Germany.

    Stay classy ‘Murica!

  • @ Paddy G: With that last comment, I was trying to work within the construct of “trendiness” that seems to be the standard on Swamplot. I do not personally endorse it. It’s my opinion that most people consider themselves to be trendy (even when they openly reject being trendy), and that we’re all just building a social identity for ourselves that we view in a positive light. Nothing more, nothing less.
    Btw, I never wear sunglasses, but sometimes flip down a tinted visor. I eat chips and salsa at Tex-Mex restaurants and I salt them heavily; if you slice up avocados and douse them with fish sauce, minced chili peppers, and sea salt, that’s a much better way to use them than by making guacamole. I think that German beer is perfectly okay but Belgian is better. And I am partial to a few IPAs and a wide variety of pot-distilled spirits.