Last week's issue of College Times features an interview with Kimber Lanning where the Modified Arts owner talks a bit about her plans for the future and a little about the controversy surrounding my "Downtown is Ovah" column (and my followups) on the subject:
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College Times: Martin Cizmar from the New Times has claimed that downtown is "over," at least as far as the music scene goes. I know a lot of local music fans feel the same way. How do you feel about that?
Lanning: I think that's laughable, actually. It doesn't even warrant a response, it's so silly. If you think that downtowns are based on a music venue that holds 150 people, [that's] delusional. I mean, there's $1.2 billion being poured into downtown Phoenix in the last three years, so let's just have a little reality check. There are all kinds of new restaurants. I could go on, but it's [unnecessary] to even bother.
I'm happy to hear Lanning is so confident -- truly, that's a good sign. I can't help but remain suspicious though, something I've increasingly come to realize has a lot to do with where I'm from. Like other Arizona natives, Lanning has never not seen her city progress on every front. Actually, Arizona and Phoenix, have never done anything but grow and improve. They've moved forward constantly and consistently, especially in the last two decades. I'm from the Rust Belt, where I've seen shit fall apart. I see a lot of reasons to worry about that here.
This post will undoubtedly provide an excellent opportunity for people to tell me to "go back where I came from" and talk about how much Ohio sucks, but I'd caution those overconfident folks to remember that Arizona is the very dumbest state in the nation, according to some sources, and has been called "The Appalachia of the 21st Century" by several prominent sources. Since Maricopa County's citizens can't stop all the abuses its sheriff commits every day, I think it's fair to remain a little skeptical about our ability to successfully complete an ambitious urban renewal project without suffering some major setbacks. It's great to see progressive-minded people gathering downtown, but, as I said a month ago, I strongly suspect business owners will ultimately have more success drawing patrons to concert venues in Tempe.
Do I love Arizona, and have hope for its future? Certainly, that's why I live here. But do I think the idea that things may regress is "laughable?" Obviously not. This discussion is getting pretty far afield as far as music blog content goes, so, like I said, let's just be glad Lanning is confident.