We have lived in the Dark Purples for as long as we can remember.
Ours are salt of the earth families, descended from migrant chute and ladder repairmen who came over during the depression with only the clothes on their backs and the $200 in their pockets from passing Go.
We have seen the neighborhood go from bad to worse. In the ’80s whole blocks were torn apart by the drug war. Countless friends were stabbed for wearing light blue sweaters on Oriental Avenue. When a judge sent one of us directly to jail, it was never for a simple three-turn sentence, and couldn’t be avoided by rolling doubles.
We watched as tycoons carelessly ignored our plight. They attended opening night at the Grand Opera. Banks had a habit of erring in their favor. Their building loans and life insurance policies matured. They regularly bought and mortgaged entire utility companies, leaving whole districts without water and electricity. Our once plum lots grew darker with each passing year. Before long, gentrification and destructive urban renewal initiatives would turn them the shade of rotting eggplant.
We first noticed something was amiss when the local optometrist started selling prescription monocles. Rents quickly rose; honest, hardworking people were barely able to make ends meet. Public schools went charter and the new PTA boards had our beloved annual beauty pageant shut down for reinforcing “antiquated notions of femininity.” Vintage-obsessed millennials bought all their clothing from Community Chest Thrift Shop, leaving the destitute nothing to wear.
To add homelessness to injury, real estate developers saved on renovation costs by converting green, rent-stabilized housing into cold-pressed juice shanties.
As usual, the magnates only cared about their bottom line. No one was surprised when Thimble closed down his motel on Mediterranean in the middle of January to open a preposterous DVD-to-VHS conversion studio. Displaced boarders escaped those freezing winter nights by buying overpriced rides on the Reading Railroad — coincidentally owned by Thimble’s fraternity brother, Shoe.
Such abuses of power are symptomatic of a broken society that casts aside its most vulnerable citizens. The radical and rampant inequities that result have led to public outrage and unrest. I’m sure you’ve heard the battle cry at recent riots: “KILL THE BANKER! FLIP THE BOARD!” And the fight is now fast approaching the beachfront villas of the Royal Blues. Just last week, residents from Kentucky Avenue toppled three vegan food trucks in Free Parking to protest the commercialization of what was supposed to be a public space.
We do not condone violence. We are not issuing threats.
But will there come a day when a panhandler abducts Scottie Dog’s young pup from the daffodil-lined Marvin Gardens? Will that evicted, desperate man seek ransom — in the form of small, unmarked, multi-colored bills, perhaps — with the hope of quieting his rumbling stomach? Unless your impoverished constituents see change, this is simply one of many tragic inevitabilities. We pray this petition makes you consider rewriting the rules.
Some of us still have faith, despite watching Wheelbarrow suppress voter turnout to get himself elected Chairman of the Board. Others have already left this slat in search of new life. There are whispers of a place that isn’t controlled by vicious capitalists, a board where the forests are made of peppermint and the mountains, gumdrops. A utopian land of candy where when it rains, it rains thick, syrupy freedom.
The Dark Purple Chapter of Occupy Boardwalk