Aging is an inescapable reality of life and for some a reality that we 'd prefer to face later rather than sooner. Sadly, all too frequent reminders that the hands of time are passing more rapidly than you would like make it impossible for you to deny the obvious. For example, mirrors serve as almost daily wake up calls that you aren't getting better - just older. If that doesn't get your attention, frequent reminders courtesy of AARP and other companies that offer assistance with hearing and mobility issues or funeral planning may cause you to ponder the positive " side effects " of joining the over the hill brigade. Don't despair. There are benefits to the aging process. You now qualify for those all important early bird specials. You can now line up with all the other 55 plus folks and await your turn to dine on one of Denneys culinary delights.. You are now eligible for those 55 plus age restricted communities - the ones pictured in those glossy brochures advertising the merits of such communities for the mature adult. Glossy pictures of well healed seniors cruising manicured golf courses in their pimped out golf carts, smiling gleefully as they clutch a " medicinal " cocktail in one hand and a golf club in the other. I could never figure out if being isolated with your own species is a good thing - or a societal thing. Apparently there is a misperception that all mature adults enjoy playing shuffleboard and need to be located in close proximity to each other. Just remember - you can run but you cannot hide. Today you may be sporting stilettos but in a few years you may be sporting a broken hip and an electric scooter. Embrace it. Mirrors are no longer your friend but - clairol is. Cosmetic surgery is now an acceptable possiblity and not a frivolous waste of money. Senior centers replace bars as the hip place to see and be seen. How about bars in senior centers? I can't believe Scottsdale hasn't thought of it yet.
It's Important to remember that aging has its benefits however. Wisdom comes with years of accumulated life experience. Sadly, society often sacrifices the tried , tested and true for the flavor of the month.This out with the old and in with the new mentality is prevalent in our society.and in Scottsdale as of late. It is important to remember that everything ages - people, politicians ( They are in a class by themselves ) and cities like Scottsdale. It's how we age that counts. How do we treat those people, places and things that have comitted no sin other than turning another year older ? Do we welcome them with open arms or a dismissive attitude and a bulldozer? As a society and a city we have a disturbing habit of marginilizing the more mature members of the community. For city purposes these folks are referred to as a demographic. City officials seldom value their input but covet their votes. You are not compatible with that upscale live , work and play image that Scottsdale is fond of promoting. You are bannished to the confines of some senior community or your childrens basement - or Mesa.
As Scottsdale ponders a variety of issues including how we should age and what our future will hold, which valley city can lay claim to the label " The wests most western town " , how we should brand south Scottsdale or what we should rename it, allow me to make a few observations. Great cities have figured out how to welcome the future without ignoring their history. Scottsdale doesn't seem to know what it wants to be when it grows up . Sophisticated city slicker or the wests most pseudo western town. Should we age with grace and dignity or artificially with the help of well intentioned developers? I can't see John Wayne sauntering up to the bar at the W Hotel and ordering some overpriced high octane beverage. At least guns are still allowed in these places though. Whew - dodged a bullet. Cities like Bisbee are probably more deserving of the wests most western town label. Cities that are home to buildings at least 100 years old adorned with bullet holes from the same era. Allow me to offer some more appropriate mottos for Scottsdales consideration:
- The Wests most unwestern town
- Scottsdale - Land of make believe
- Scottsdale - At least we aren't Mesa. Sniff
- Scottsdale - The cure for your live, work and play addiction
- Scottsdale - the more things change the more you feel like a piece of tissue on the bottom of our shoe
- Scottsdale - Benzes, Barneys and Bars
- Scottsdale - the Rhinestown Cowboy of the southwest
Too much? As far as the cities preoccupation with branding south Scottsdale, if you doubt their ability to " rebrand " an area, just cast your gaze in the direction of the downtown entertainment district. Hiccup. Branding? Are we Kraft trying to sell a box of macaroni or are we a herd of - cattle? What's in a name afterall? Cosmetics are less important than what they camouflage - a heart and soul. It's not what you name it but what you do with it and how that matters. How will you deal with existing south Scottsdale residents once revitalization efforts are in full bloom ?.Yes , south Scottsdale is an area ripe with possiblitites and make no mistake we have at long last attracted the attention of city officials who are eager to transform south Scottsdale into an area that residents I mean Skysong can be proud of. What Skysong wants, Skysong gets . What residents want may get lost in the dust of revitalization efforts. It's how a city integrates the old and the new, the young and the not so young that adds character and much needed balance to the mix. It will be up to existing south Scottsdale residents to make certain they are not revitalized out of existance in favor of the younger demographic the city hopes to attract to the area. What revitalization options will the city utilze to transform the area into something existing residents probably won't recognize? Several revitalization techniques were mentioned at a recent city meeting including parcel assemblage and - repurposing existing buildings. For example, say you are unfortunate enough to reside in an older condo community located in the Bermuda Triangle between ASU, Skysong and the downtown entertainment district and a group of profit motivated investors eager to capitalize on the location of this soon to be up and coming area , wish to " repurpose " your happy home into short term living accomodations to service Sksong/business travelers, tourists and the like. Just an example - of course. You may be up a creek and repurposed right out of your affordable home. Ironic considering Scottsdales interest in affordable housing.
As the voices of existing south Scottsdale residents are slowly replaced with those voices deemed by city and Chamber officials to be more " positive " and more representative of the young , affluent demographic they wish to attract to this area, south Scottsdale residents may want to consider the disturbing possiblity that their hard work and efforts to protect their neighborhoods from city inspired blight may have been all to no avail. Yes, the public art is on the way and the handwriting is on the wall. I'm all for progress since you can't freeze the hands of time ( Believe me I've tried. ) but as south Scottsdales old , confortable image is replaced with a botox infused future ( Our cracks are being filled in ) , I find myself wondering if we will be better off or if we will become victims of the progress we have waited so long to see. Balance is the one ingredient that seems to be lacking in this revitalization cocktail. Funny. Cocktails are what Scottsdale seems to do best. Maybe south Scottsdale residents can move to one of those communities for over the hill residents . Maybe we can find a developer who isn't busy designing apartment communities . Heck, we don't need much. A sit down restaurant, a little blight and a pawn shop or 2 and we're good to go. John Berry should be able to whip something up. Note- Our entertainment needs are simple. We don't require an entire district. A good game of pin the tail on the politician and we're set.
Well, I have to run. The Early Bird Special is about to start. Now - where did I leave that electric scooter?