Pioneer Myth | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Pioneer Myth



Dear editor:

This is in response to Jack Clark's article "Home Invasion" printed in the 7/30 issue of the Reader.

I am a renter in Lincoln Square and share many of Mr. Clark's ill feelings about the gentrification of this neighborhood. But what Mr. Clark has given us in this article bears a striking resemblance to what he anticipates from the mouths of yuppies in years to come, "war stories about pioneer days when the neighborhood was little more than a slum." In his description of Lincoln Square he turns people into props that lend authenticity to his own personal urban myth--where he figures as the heroic pioneer, romanticizing homeless people and turning "people with accents" into quaint characters. I would hope that his experience of being out-priced from one neighborhood to the next in his 25 years of being a renter in Chicago would teach him that neighborhoods, and the people who live in them, do not exist as fodder for his writing. (Nor for that matter do women sunbathe in their own backyards to get him off.)

Although Mr. Clark acknowledges that he often plays the role of middleman for gentrification, he fails to recognize that he is embracing that role in "looking for new neighborhoods to conquer." It is exactly this mind-set--that neighborhoods exist to be conquered--that feeds the machine Mr. Clark rails against.

Gabriela Fitz

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