Scrolling Headlines:

Providence power play haunts UMass hockey in 6-2 loss -

February 25, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 10 Providence on Senior Night at the Mullins center -

February 25, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

Amherst’s capitalist legacy

There is no finer, more profitable monopoly in a college town than the one on mistakes. Each morning reminds me of this as my car crawls along in traffic past the illustrious Route 9 residence, the College Inn. It’s an “economical” apartment building, mass produced in every sense, with thick, crusty grey paint and an overall greasy appearance; its roadside location refreshes it daily with an endless fluttering wind of McDonald’s bags and empty beer bottles. Each night, the air swells with the warm, cheesy smell of Pioneer Valley Pizza and the clacking billiard balls from the bar next door.

Kamins Real Estate offers all this and more for, yes – only a one-time, all-inclusive contractual obligation. But in this monopoly, this is only one cash trap of many set to lure in naïve people.

The symbiosis between students and the actual town of Amherst has evolved into an overly-dependent, warped relationship. Young minds and sumptuous wallets led Amherst and neighboring whistle-stop towns to become dwarf theaters for an on-going game of financial Risk; small armies of businessmen-to-be clash, struggling over dibs on every profitable industry in this college town.

How and when a simple thing like education became so lucrative, I don’t know.

But history shows that these zealots of fast food and real estate colonialism aren’t the first of their kind. It seems Amherst, including much of America, emerged in history by this very same venture capitalism.

According to Edward Carpenter’s book, “The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts,” a smooth talking John Pynchon from Springfield procured the first deeds to Amherst. In 1658, he got himself a choice piece of land from the local Norwottuck tribes in exchange for some 200 Wampam – rare shells used by those natives.

Years later, Jeffery Amherst, a French and Indian War hero, concocted a brilliant, cost-effective ruse to oust those tribes once and for all and enlarge his town: give them all blankets infected with smallpox. Fortunately, this wasn’t carried out. But fate was inevitable, and those tribes have long since vanished.

While the Civil War ravaged the Mid-Atlantic, Amherst still prospered. By 1863, Amherst had grown considerably, with some 3,500 residents and a new university, created from the progressive Federal Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act. For all intents and purposes, the goal of the university was to instruct citizens in military tactics, mechanics and agriculture.

So you see, the tradition of venture capitalism, as it were, suffering but minor alterations, has stayed the test of time. But what was a quiet New England town with a college then, hosts countless vendors of weird goods and strange services now.

A Google Maps search reveals that Amherst boasts six gas stations, ten chiropractors, eight gyms and twenty pizza shops, add that to several low income housing units shared jointly by college students and actual low income families, and you have a jumbled communal identity.

What sort of picture can be painted from these colors: people who crave pizza, but are self-conscience about their weight; who drive, but have back problems; who are rich, but live with poor.

A town like Hadley, which recently celebrated its 350th birthday, hardly boasts a historical, or cultural monument other than a Home Depot and a Staples which can be seen from the moon; most distinguished businesses on the Route 9 strip peddle fast food, booze and cubic zirconia earrings.

While Amherst seems more or less like your average town, capricious consumerism pumps tainted blood into healthy limbs of the community.

Goods and services are popping up which don’t contribute to any long term communal goals. Capital harvested from a town’s McDonald’s and Sunoco Stations goes immediately into a private pocket. These are all excessive and impulsive buys; I don’t think a couple extra gallons of gas or a Big Mac are, or ever will be, good, necessary ideas.

If Amherst could be wrung out like a sponge, it would leak drops of every element within an average size city. An optimist perhaps could see the positive side of this: the entertainment, restaurants and free transit. But try as I may, I just see a little old town too big for its mini-skirts and Dickies britches, a town which has grown too large to hold and foster its permanent population, and its youth.

And for those who do love this town for its natural charm and character, hopefully in the end it will not have garnished false hopes in you, in leading you to believe that any town could, in fact, outlast the ever sweeping arm of time.

Evan Haddad is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at ehaddad@student.umass.edu.

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