Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Old man Fitzy misses the way we were

It's a slow news day (again), so it's time to take a look at Fitzy's column from Sunday. And well, there's a lot to look at.

I'm fairly certain it's supposed to be some sort of anti-sprawl commentary, but it gets lost among the old-timey prosey (those are actual words, right?) style he attempts to write in to describe his childhood ride to Gilroy.

I would love to sympathize with Fitzy. I too hate the sprawl that kills the agricultural land that makes/made San Joaquin Valley relevant. But he makes his point in such an old man "back in my day" sort of way that I just can't bring myself to agree with him. The growth he's complaining about, no matter how poorly planned, was needed. Everybody wants things to remain simple in their small town. Lodi's turned it into an art form. Morada's not even an actual town and it actively combats growth. One of the biggest issues at the mayor's town hall meeting in "the SOUTH!" was how shit wasn't like it was back in the day. Of course shit's not like it was back in the day, that's what makes it back in the day.

Everybody likes to wax nostalgic about a simpler time but simpler doesn't necessarily mean better. Things fucking change, it happens. Growth is inevitable, whether it be personal growth or municipal growth it's going to happen. Towns, like people, have and should always have aspirations to better themselves.

The challenges Tracy is facing aren't any different than the challenges every town goes through when experiencing growing pains. They'll figure it out and they'll be a better community for it. Whether you're a town or a person how you face challenges defines who and what you are. Tracy, as Fitz noted, isn't the town it once was. It's grown, and that's not a bad thing. He just presents it as a bad thing because it didn't grow into what he wanted it to be. Same goes for his constant championing of downtown Stockton. They too are going through some growing pains and Fitz is there trying to keep the status quo. He wants it to be some upscale area where everybody's classy and he can feel safe walking around in a smoking jacket while he and Randy Paragary smoke their pipes (sadly, filled with tobacco. Although sometimes I wonder about him) on the roof of the Hotel Stockton. Well, downtown's growing in a different direction. His response? He pretty much called us petty dicks. Twice.

I'll try and wrap this up soon, but I guess my argument is that, contrary to Fitzy's claims, the quality of life is better than it was when his dad was driving him to Gilroy in that symbolic Chrysler-made Dodge Polaris. Towns, people, everything is constantly changing. Change isn't bad, and change doesn't define who we are as a community. Tracy, Stockton, Gilroy, Lodi, wherever aren't defined by shrinking farmland and cookie-cutter communities. We're defined by how we, as a community, react to that change. And I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a lot of change going on right now.

We're not on the cusp of a giant shift or historic change, it fucking happened. The gauntlet has been thrown down. The very real challenges we're already facing and how we react to them will define our generation. We need to tackle these challenges head on, come up with new ways to move forward. Instead, Fitz apparently wants us to got back to the simpler way things were (note: he never outright says so, but the lamenting of growth combined with the whole quality of life thing seems to insinuate as much. So let us assume for argument's sake), even though that model broke a while back and was replaced by the faltering one we have now. I hate to sound like a politician (or the motivational speaker I seem to be channeling today) but we can't go backwards. That's not progress. We have to go forward, fight back if you will.

We're just in a particularly tough fight right now. One of our eyes is swollen shut so we can't see how much time is left in the round and the economy's peppering us with body blows. Fitzy apparently wants us to cry "No más" and go back to a simpler time that he understands. I don't wanna go out like that. We'll figure it out, I'm not sure how, but we'll figure it out. He said it himself, every generation will do better than it's predecessor. Falling back on the simpler days of yesteryear isn't doing better. And frankly, it's kind of sad.

I don't know how other cities are going to react to this fight, but I know Stockton. We're not a town of pussies God dammit. We're fighters. Sure, our opponent knocked out Chrysler, but we won't go down like that. Remember, real fighters are from Stockton.

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