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Marc Dion: Selling Fall River for the next fix

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By Marc Munroe Dion.

I do a radio show on WSAR. Just a few days ago I said I didn’t mind a giant electronic billboard in front of Government Center because it’s impossible to make that building look any uglier than when it was built. Given an architectural tradition of grace that gave tenement hoses scroll work outside and stained glass windows inside, it’s hard to believe the city surrendered to poured concrete so quickly and completely.

What I really see when I think of giant electronic billboards in Fall River is “junkie economics.”

When you first start banging junk, it’s a weekend thing, a party thing. It’s okay.

You don’t use every day, and you can afford what you do use. A lot of times that party thing phase doesn’t last too long.

One of the special hells of the junkie is that there’s always something left to sell.

You catch a habit, you sell your electronics, your car, your Harley, your jewelry, your husband’s wedding ring. You’ll steal and sell your mother’s wedding ring if she takes it off and leaves it on the dresser when you’re over at her house. You’ll sell all of it for much less than it’s worth, too, because the guy who buys it from you knows you’re desperate and he knows why you’re desperate.

“Steal, deal, or hook,” the old-time dope fiends used to say, describing the blunt economics of a drug habit.

For the hardcore addict, money isn’t just what you use to buy dope, money IS dope since any money you get is used to buy dope immediately. Money has lost any other value. No one ever robs a bank just to put the money in another bank.

When there’s nothing left to sell, you sometimes find yourself on a sidewalk at 2 a.m., selling little pieces of yourself to the shark-eyed men who circle the block in their cars.

But you knew that. If you live in Fall River, the end game of that equation is what killed your cousin, or your kid, or a couple of your best friends.

As Fall River swings from one disaster to another, we continue that desperate game of junkie economics.

Sell the water. Sell The Rail Trail. Sell some land for billboards. Everything is worth something, and there are plenty of shark-eyed buyers circling the block.

New apartments are built in the city, some kind of bright future for shiny new people, but the city’s politics remains stuck in the junkie economics of “What can I sell next?”

The granite countertops and stainless steel appliances of the new apartments present an odd contrast to Fall River city government’s endless, sleazy hustle to get enough money from somewhere to get through just one more day.

And the buyers stand patiently by, grinning a little, waiting until the city, shaky and sweating, offers up one more thing, one more bit of property, one tiny, little piece of Fall River.

Steal, deal, or hook. There’s always something left to sell, even if it’s only ourselves.

Jobs for your supporters. Jobs for your friends. A job for your cousin.

The money has to come from somewhere, and there’s always something left to sell.

Money is ONLY used to support the government itself. No mayor ever took bribes to raise money to patch more potholes, or buy new schoolbooks.

The new billboard, it and the other proposed billboards, are not so much a statement that Fall River is “open for business,” as they are a statement that everything is for sale, right now, to anyone, at a bargain price. Questions of scenery are unimportant, as are questions of soul. Only the money counts.

Fall River. What the hell is it anyway? Your house? My house? Your memories? St. Anne’s Church? A walking trail by the banks of the Quequechan River? The clear waters of the Watuppa? Lawyers in shiny wingtip shoes? The endlessly photographed sunsets over the Braga Bridge, photographs that are always pretty because there are no people in the picture?

Steal, deal, or hook. There’s always something left to sell, even if it’s only ourselves.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Donald Hornby

    January 19, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Whenever an new approach to make help Fall River residents reduce taxes there is an obstacle, in this case WSAR with an editorial and now Marc Dion’s editorials and probably his talk show “Talk to me”

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