Rent Too Damn High

      上个周末敲定了去加州的机票和房子,可以了无牵挂地等着夏天的到来了。去年大苹果给伙伴安排的是cooperative housing(公司帮忙租的公寓), 完全不用我们自己费心。今年谷哥哥给了一笔安家费,虽然也提供了合作的公寓供选择,但考虑到我要同去,决定还是自己单独在外面租房比较方便。
      在此给Airbnb打个硬广告,真是出门短租必备产品;同时也吐个硬槽:“湾!区!才!应!该!成!立!rent-too-damn-high party [1] 好!吗!” 山里租个一室一厅带厨带卫大公寓一个月才七百块钱,搬到湾区去两千块钱只能求得一大家子里的一间房,这个价还指不定带不带独立卫生间,得看地方。我看着高昂的租金对着伙伴发牢骚:“都是你们这帮破码工们闹的。”
      美国湾区(Bay Area) [2]因着是硅谷所在地,又有Stanford,UC-berkeley两大名校撑着,聚集了数不清的各类high-tech (高科技公司)与start-up (创业公司)。Google,Facebook,Apple这些巨头们在发家致富的同时也把加州的房价推升到了一种疯狂的境界。(当然,我怀疑加州华人众多,带去了国人的炒房风气也是一大重要因素= =)近几年来,湾区原住民和巨头公司们之间的关系日益紧张。前几日三藩市通过了一项法案规定google等公司接送员工上下班的免费班车不可以再像以前那样薅资本主义羊毛,免费停靠在市内公交站点了(说真的,我对于以前居然可以免费停靠感到震惊。)。不知道这法令的颁布能不能稍微缓解一下剑拔弩张的气氛,减少一些原住民们成群结队上街抗议拦停这些公司免费班车的事件[3](不过这些班车上为了确保员工随时可以办公都是装有免费wifi的,所以人家公司不一定真的在意你们拦不拦车。。。) (查找背景资料的时候发现随着抗议的升级,已经出现了一些砸玻璃等暴力行为。)我在找房子找得最火冒三丈的时候也曾经开过玩笑说等到时候伙伴坐着Google的大巴去上班时,我要跟着当地群众们一起举着标语去拦车。这一切的一切,都是因为RENT . TOO . DAMN . HIGH.

      出生于加州的美国诺奖作家John Steinbeck 在他的<Travels with Charley: in Search of America> 中写到自己阔别家乡多年后重返故土,目之所见均时过境迁物是人非时的复杂心情。彼时的美国西岸已经掀起了源源不断的移民潮,小镇转眼扩张为城市,乡间泥路隔天便成了四道高速。

     “This four-lane concrete highway slashed with speeding cars I remember as a narrow, twisting mountain road where the wood teams moves, drawn by steady mules. They signaled their coming with the high, sweet jangle of hame bells. This was a little little town, a general store under a tree and a blacksmith shop and a bench in front on which to sit and listen to the clang of hammer on anvil. Now little houses, each one like the next, particularly since they try to be different, spread for a mile in all directions. That was a woody hill with live oaks dark green against the parched grass and a television relay station lunges at the sky and feeds a nervous picture to thousand of tiny houses clustered like aphids beside the roads.”

      外来移民的大量涌入不可避免地带来了对本土居民生活文化等各方面的冲击,由此分化出的两类居民群体冲突频发,关系紧张。这都不是当下才出现的新鲜话题。其实今天义愤填膺地去拦截科技公司大巴,游行抗议大量涌入的IT移民侵占资源给本地人生活带来极大不便的人,大多数也许就是当年受到排挤遭到嫉恨的移民的后代。如John书中所言:“And we were an outrage to the Spanish-Mexicans and they in their turn on the Indians. ”

      对于家乡发生的单向不可逆转的改变(change),或者叫做“发展” (progress),John谈不上高兴,倒也不算抗拒,更多的不过是抱着怀旧之情,泛起一股正常人类固有的对待旧事物的缱绻挂念情绪而感到无可奈何罢了。

      “And isn’t this the typical complaint? I have never resisted change, even when it has been called progress, and yet I felt resentment toward the strangers swamping what I thought of as my country with noise and inevitable rings of junk. And of course these new people will resent the newer people. I remember how when I was a child we responded to the natural dislike of the stranger. We who were born here and our parents also felt a strange superiority over newcomers, barbarians, forestieri, and they, the foreigners, resented us and even made a rude poem about us:

The miner came in forty-nine,

The whores in fifty-one.

And when they got together,

They made a Native Son.

      Sometimes the view of change is distorted by a change in oneself. The room which seemed so large is shrunk, the mountain has become a hill. But this is no illusion in this case. I remember Salinas, the town of my birth, when it proudly announced four thousand citizens. Now it is eighty thousand in three years and perhaps two hundred thousand in ten, with no end in sight [4]. Even those people who joy in numbers and are impressed with bigness are beginning to worry, gradually becoming aware that there must be a saturation point and the progress may be a progression toward strangulation. And no solution has been found. You can’t forbid people to be born–at least not yet.”

      John去一个酒吧参加旧友的聚会,一直留守在家乡的伙伴召唤他回来,回到家乡回到老朋友身边。尽管有那么一瞬间感到一股热浪涌上心头,他还是只能难过地回答道:“I live in New York now.”

      旧友一开始还坚持这说这是你的家,你的归属之地,你百年后应该长眠的地方。可随着争论的继续,朋友自己也渐渐开始感伤,承认时间改变了太多东西,家乡和人都不是从前的模样。

 

      “Step into the street–strangers, foreigners, thousands of them. Look to the hills, a pigeon loft. Today  I walked the length of Alvarado Street and back by the Calle Principal and I saw nothing but strangers. This afternoon I got lost in Peter’s Gate. I went to the Field of Love back of Joe Duckworth’s house by the Ball Park. It’s a used-car lot. My nerves are jangled by traffic lights. Even the police are strangers, foreigners. I went to the Carmel Valley where once we could shoot a thirty-thirty in any direction. Now you couldn’t shoot a marble knuckles down without wounding a foreigner. And Johnny, I don’t mind people, you know that. But these are rich people. They plant geraniums in big pots. Swimming pools where frogs and crayfish used to wait for us. No, my goatly friend. If this were my home, would I get lost in it? If this were my home could I walk the streets and hear no blessing? ”

      John 完成他著名的”Travels with Charley” road trip是在1960年,彼时硅谷的传奇故事才刚刚开始上演而已。如今已是半个世纪过去了。想来当年不管是远离了家乡的John还是他酒吧里那些一直留守故土的朋友们,在感叹家乡正在经历的变化之时,都未曾想到他们抱怨的是一段前所未有的历史开篇。此后几十年加州湾区的发展完全超出了人类语言可以描述的范畴,不管是“日新月异”还是“翻天覆地”在其面前都显得too weak。我很好奇,如果John活到了今天,看到了湾区崛起的新贵们的生活,看到了这漫山遍野的high-tech coops 和 start-ups, 看到了当年被他们在心里默默排斥的移民后代已成为了不折不扣的本土居民,举着标语上街游行抗议新的外来者–看到这一切的他,又会写些什么。还是说,这些已经远超出他能预见的图景,除了在震惊中沉默,他也只能像我这个过客一样,骂一句:“Rent too damn high!”

注:

 

[1]. “Rent is too damn high party”: “房租太他妈高党”, 是美国一名叫Jimmy McMillan 的人在纽约成立的一个政党。名称很清楚地表示了该党的成立宗旨是为对抗纽约高贵冷艳的房价。2009年Jimmy以该党名义参选纽约市长获得超过4万张选票。Wiki链接:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent_Is_Too_Damn_High_Party

[2]. San Francisco Bay Area: 通常称作Bay Area,译作“湾区”. 是美国加州北部以三藩市(即旧金山市)为核心的一块儿区域。区域内主要城市为三藩和圣何塞(San Jose, also known as the capital of silicon valley.)

[3]. http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/20/5231758/protesters-target-silicon-valley-shuttles-smash-google-bus-window

[4].  2010年的数据显示Salinas人口已达15万人。wiki链接http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salinas,_California>

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