June 29, 2011

Some of these things are not like the others

Don’t be fooled by the smell of sticky buns. You are under attack.

Yes, the new Panera Bread on Bardstown Road will be offering delicious baked goods. Yes, you want some. And yes, you should run the other way.

Let me start by saying I realize that training the cross-hairs of the enormous and devastating rhetorical power of Raised Relief on a stupid chain bakery is a little bit like using a Gatling gun to fish for minnows. It may seem like a trifle when there is so much in the world that is unjust and actually evil.

But I’m of the opinion that our neighborhoods and cities, our most immediate communities, are the places where we should be able to exert the greatest degree of efficacy, and that our responsibilities to those places should not be short-circuited by uncertainties and injustices elsewhere.

I think Panera’s new location critically endangers the aesthetic qualities of the neighborhood where I grew up, and, against all odds, I am hopeful that the business will fail totally and completely. If you truly don’t understand this concept, let’s meet sometime for jalepeno poppers and happy-hour Coors Light at Chile’s on Hurstbourne Lane. I’ll be happy to explain it in detail. Call me an elitist if you like, but I’m unrepentant in my desire to keep the 8th District from turning into Fourth Street Live-East.

Just like the blighted BW3s in the former location of the Bardstown Road Youth Community Center, Starbucks, and the Brave New Walgreens at Highland Avenue, the new Panera Bread will seamlessly integrate itself into the landscape of the neighborhood, and the hopes and expectations of Deer Park residents will soon trail off.

I’m not totally immune to the seductive, slow creep of corporate hegemony, which relies on forgetfulness, inaction and diminished expectations. I’ve crammed countless burritos into my face at Qdoba on Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road, in what was the lobby of Louisville’s last independently owned neighborhood movie theater — The Uptown — where I was, like so many in my generation, critically scarred by “Bambi,” “E.T.” and “The Last Unicorn” as a boy.

But damn it, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, and I will not eat stale crème hornes or completely sub-par egg sandwiches in the same sunlit window where the Local Music section used to stand at ear X-tacy. I understand the economics of the situation: A record store, whose roll in the grassroots musical culture of this city simply cannot be overstated, didn’t sell enough records to pay the rent, which was about to increase dramatically. They were squeezed out and forced to move down the street to 2226 Bardstown Road, where they are still selling music to people who buy music. Now Panera is moving in and will likely never leave. That this type of “progress” is familiar and very difficult to avoid is simple and true and sad.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much precedent for creative zoning that can limit the ability of gigantic corporations to slip into unique neighborhoods and destroy their character. They simply have more money and a bigger umbrella to weather the financial storms that sink many small businesses.

William Burroughs is purported to have attacked businesses he disapproved of through a shrewd campaign of psychic guerilla warfare, which consisted of parking a car in front of said objectionable establishment and playing the recorded sounds of gunfire, screaming and general mayhem over a public address system every day for a week. He swore by its effectiveness in making businesses fold within six months. Now I’m not suggesting anyone should employ this type of totally legal if obnoxious harassment in front of BW3s or Panera Bread in the Highlands (yes I am) — psychic warfare against your shitty corporate neighbors is not the answer (yes it is).

The remedies that are always available to us are choice and legislation. Call Councilman Tom Owen and Mayor Greg Fischer and ask them how we as a community can zone business corridors to favor local vendors over corporate ones. More importantly: Buy local. It’s not just a damn bumper sticker. These are the names of some locally owned businesses who need your support more than Panera: Bussman’s Bakery, Blue Dog, Breadworks, Plehn’s, Nord’s, Highland Morning, Twig and Leaf, Nancy’s Bagels, Homemade Pie and Ice Cream Kitchen — just to name a few. 

Tagged: Raised Relief |

new Panera Bread in The Highlands

By Ben-e-fits
Is this article some kind of joke? Panera Bread is a wonderful gathering place the brings the neighborhood together. To declare war on a business that is investing in the community and creating jobs is totally insane. Panera Bread is a publicly traded company owned by thousands and thousands of regular people who depend on the continued success of the company for their future retirement, etc. Do you automatically root against the Green Bay Packers because they are a publicly traded company? With your logic, you probably root for a family-owned business like the Dallas Cowboys.

I've been told that Panera

By lindsey0226
I've been told that Panera is Leos largest distributor. Even if they arn't, I know I've seen the Leo in a couple Panera locations. Now since you threw them under the bus, I hope they do the same for you.

Although I am sure you are a

By pretentiousbs
Although I am sure you are a highly successful writer in a "magazine" that is so popular it is given away for free(although most of the time I see it discarded on tables and the ground downtown), I must completely disagree with your view. Were you aware that most nights Panera donates goods that were left over from that day to local charities and soup kitchens? And although you might disdain "sub-par" egg sandwiches,I am sure those who have not had a meal that day sure appreciate it. Also, the fact that fifty plus jobs were created in this current economy can only be seen as good. Perhaps you and all the others who are bemoaning the fact that Panera has moved in should put down your ipads and iphones and stop down loading music.This more than anything is what hurt Ear-X-tacy. I too have heard that Panera was the largest distributor of Leo. I don't see that continuing in the future. I for one will never pick up another one. And no, I do not work for Panera.Ignorant articles rile me up. Instead of wasting your time standing in front of Panera protesting,put your IPhone down and your Heine Bros coffee and go work at the charity that Panera donated to.

Panera Bread racks up more

By fjfiend
Panera Bread racks up more karma points each day then you do in a year, you pretentious hipster douche bag. Stop whining about supposed injustices online and go do something positive for your so called beloved community instead of throwing rocks through the windows, which were kept from Ear X-tacy, by the way. Oh, and your writing sucks, just like your music.

On a further note

By abcdefg
How many restaurants in Louisville recycle? Look in their dumpsters. We should push all business establishments to recycle. This suggestion isn't a declaration of war on any particular company. It's simply an observation I have of a discrepancy between what good private residents do and what some businesses do, because they're in too big of a hurry to sort garbage or they claim there's no space for it, etc.. I'm not saying a restaurant should take a fine-tooth comb through their dining room garbage bags, but sending cardboard boxes and metal cans to the landfill is a shame. Every little bit helps. It would be nice if places like Panera had recycling receptacles in their dining rooms. I know I'm branching off from the point of Manning's piece, but it's something that concerns me and is generally related to what he's written.


By dragonfly
Consider for a moment the businesses lost in Louisville in the last decade--a litany too long a depressing to share here. These closings represent a loss of jobs and character. Chains have their place and are (often) popular with good reason. But do you want to live in a place just like every other place in America? Once, for a few brief wonderful years, I lived in a village that managed to keep all chains at bay. Every downtown business was locally owned and unique. And people flocked there because of it...and still do. Tourist and out-of-town dollars flow in every day...and residents enjoy world-class shops and restaurants that a town that size could not normally sustain. No one visits a city because of their surfeit of chain stores and restaurants...unless that city also offers gambling and live nude girls. So my heart sinks a bit when I see suburbia/generica make further in-roads in the Highlands--a neighborhood I selected for character, not homogenous convenience.