Jagoffs of the Week: First Wave Gentrifiers Who Protest Second Wave Gentrifiers


First Wave Gentrifiers Who Protest Second Wave Gentrifiers

By Bill Savage


These are the poor huddled masses of recent college graduates or dropouts who move into that hip new neighborhood. Wicker Park in the ‘90s, Pilsen in the ‘00s, Bridgeport in the Teens. They like the neighborhood’s character, especially the cheap rent and proximity to public transportation and their Loop sell-out McJobs. An urban infrastructure that includes former industrial or warehouse spaces that can be made into lofts helps. After a critical mass of First Wave Gentrifiers (FWGs) accumulates, someone opens a coffee shop. Then a tattoo parlor. Then a bar that serves more than just Old Style or Zywiec or Tecate. Then an art gallery or a “performance space.” People who lived there in the first place—immigrants or their children, from some Latin American or Eastern European region that the FWG might have studied in college—have to move out due to rising rents. This opens more space for even more FWGs. But then, their mortal enemies, The Second Wave Gentrifiers, arrive.


The SWGs don’t just rent, they buy, driving up rents. Soon someone opens a bistro. Then not just a café, but a coffee roaster! Strollers appear, some of them doublewides, and trendy dog breeds, instead of shelter mutts and rescued pit bulls, crap up the sidewalks.


FWGs protesting the presence in their sacred neighborhoods of SWGs are jagoffs of the first order. How dare the SWGs do to the FWGs what the FWGs did to the neighborhood in the first place? They are like the southern “right to work” state textile mill workers, who bitch about losing their jobs to even cheaper workers in Mexico or China, when they themselves stole unionized jobs from New England mills a generation earlier. No one likes the taste of their own medicine, least of all Gentrifier jagoffs.


This originally ran in our special Lumpen Field Guide to Chicago Jagoffs.

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