“Renaissance” is French for “Gentrification”

Recently, in the Orange County city of Santa Ana, I’ve been hearing a lot about a mixer and showing of a film called “Primer: A Documentary of Life in Downtown Santa Ana” that raised a few eyebrows. Last night, I desperately searched and searched the internet for the trailer. Unfortunately, despite my best google + searches, I came up with nothing. Fortunately, however, OC Weekly staff writer Gustavo Arellano posted the video as well as his thoughts on it at the Navel Gazing blog of the alternative newspaper. Basically, the docu outlines a ‘vision’ for the bustling city of Santa Ana in the heart of OC by showcasing the current ‘movers and shakers.’ And as Gustavo Arellano’s play on Gil Scott Heron’s words suggest, Primer is the televised reconquista of the problematic renaissance plan for the city. (And isn’t primer, for all you painters out there, that first coat of paint that goes on before the final coat finishes the job!?!?)

As someone who takes in the wonderful culture of Santa Ana through the hard work of hustlers like Calacas Inc. El Centro Cultural de Mexico, SolArt Gallery and Cafe, and Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, I see none of their contributions included in the film’s trailer. I do see Libreria Martinez owner Reuben Martinez included in the film, but his bookstore might be on the outs soon from its current location. And while I don’t see the previously mentioned hustlers, it goes without saying that neither do I see the greater community at large that they support and it’s a shame. The best that Santa Ana has had to offer over the years has been the Day of the Dead festivals, the Son Jarocho and other musical concerts at the Yost, and the brave new stagings of Breath of Fire. Our communities count, and any vision, present or future, that doesn’t count us in, can count on us counting out!

This is something that isn’t limited to Santa Ana, though. The Boyle Heights based group Los Poets del Norte let it be known at their performance at the Yost Theater a few weeks back that the same phenomenon is happening in their community. It’s why Zack de la Rocha raps in his new EP “One Day as a Lion,” that “From Chavez to Main / Downtown was the same”

Now off to watch Hillary blabber at the DNC…

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One response to ““Renaissance” is French for “Gentrification”

  1. Gustavo Arellano

    Just wait for my post next week about the etymology of ‘renaissance’ in SanTana’s gentrification dreams!

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