Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Cobbham Elite

Kinda like The Power Elite, as envisioned by the groundbreaking sociologist C. Wright Mills back in the 50's (minus the military part).

During this campaign season it's been interesting to observe the epithets and hand-wringing done by many of the ABH crowd (Anybody But Heidi) over the so-called "elitism" of the intown neighborhoods, particularly Cobbham. Five Points seems to have more of a smattering of conservatives, but the Cobbham and Boulevard 'hoods seem to be overrun (according to right wingers) by elitist liberal snobs ("treesex freaks", as we have learned here on this blog). And Heidi and Kelly were their candidates, and what they say, goes, and they always win, according to the opposition.

Whether it's factually true is difficult to measure. Cobbham doesn't always win (see also: defeat of three-laneing Prince Avenue). And Cobbham may be a haven for the well-to-do or it may not, depending on how one measures "well-to-do" and Cobbham itself. There is just the historic district, and then there are the surrounding areas (The Plaza) that would suggest Cobbham is much more diversified than rumor has it.

Nevertheless, the question I pose is rather simple: why the perception? Why is "the Cobbham elite" seen as this force of movers and shakers, especially in the world of politics? Is it true if you get Cobbham's blessing ($$$$), you automatically win? Why the split between the intown neighborhoods and everyone else in Athens? Is there an "elitism" amongst the "townies", or is this all designed to create an "us v. them", left v. right mentality that makes things (elections) simpler?

Inquiring minds...

UPDATE: A reader emailed me to suggest that maybe the ABH (Anybody But Heidi) crowd of developers, insurance, conservatives, the Chamber, etc. (what Pete lovingly refers to as "Doc 'n them") were really the "power elite", and that the Cobbham Elite were enjoined to basically "fight the power". Hmmmm....

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill Overend

Chuck said...

Hhahah.. Bill Overend lives in Cobbham?! Good Lord Almighty - don't tell me that I actually voted for a Cobbhamite. I'd rather kill myself!

I heard a joke (it was actually about rival colleges, but I'll adapt it): One day Chuck Jones (that's me) and a Cobbhamite were walking down the street when a genie appeared and granted them each one wish. The Cobbhamite said "Please surround our beautiful neighborhood with an impregnable, 200-foot wall, to keep the riff raff college kids out." *poof* the genie said, and it was done.

Then the genie turned to Chuck Jones and said "Now it's your turn to make a wish." Chuck Jones looked at the 200-foot tall wall that surrounded Cobbham, thought briefly, and turned to the genie, and made his wish.

"Fill it with water."


:)

Anonymous said...

Bill Overend does not live in Cobbham, and goddamn Chuck, you are a fucking moron. Please go away.

Chuck said...

Oooh, and I am sorry. I'm afraid that request is going to have to be denied. ;(

And thank you for letting me know that Bill Overend does not live in Cobbham. I was very worried that I had voted for one of those terrible people.

Anonymous said...

lol this is funny.

Yes, there's a townie element in Cobbham and it is generally liberal. I'm not sure how it happened, but I suspect that when Milton Leathers and Pete McCommons were driving around and trying to match up people they knew w/the houses in that area that needed restoration, they offered the places to their friends. Who, knowing Milton and Pete, you would expect to be fairly liberal.

And yes, the Bertis Downs effect is real. I hope it stays incredibly effective, so far I think he and his friends have out performed not only the Chamber, but the Repub party, the Jr League county club set and the downtown heery's types.

I say go, Cobbhamites... I'd really hoped to buy either there or on Blvd., but I just couldn't afford it!

Chuck said...

I would love to buy a house in Cobbham, just because I know how much it would piss them off.

Or even better, buy a house and turn it into sort of a "weekend flop house" for drunk college kids. After all we don't want them driving home, and Cobbham is right next to downtown. Poor Mary Songster's ears would just fall right off her head if she had to listen to all that noise!

mwahahaha

Polusplagchnos said...

We always become the things we obsess over not becoming.

G. Lamb said...

You're being a rude dude, chuck.

Anonymous said...

hey y'all, I finally got around to posting my response to a query re the AHA, it's number 152 on the message list.
thanks for whoever asked me for ideas re the AHA, I had a great time talking about it. Sorry it took so long!

aquariusrizing

Jmac said...

I think a lot of the Cobbham influence is fanciful wishing. To be sure, it possess a good deal of political influence (and I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing either), but I think that also undersells the influence in, say, East Athens.

Turnout, from what I can tell, was fairly high in some precincts out there too, and it went decidedly for both Davison and Girtz. Remember, Cedar Creek carries considerable influence in a variety of things, as does a collection of westside neighborhoods.

The folks in Cobbham were just very motivated this time around, and their views gelled, actually, with those in Cedar Creek. That was a pretty good bloc to have.

hillary said...

I think the perception is that the Cobbham folk control politics in this town because money controls politics and a lot of those people have money. Also, politics in this town tends to be liberalish, and so do those Cobbham people.

Chuck Jones loves class warfare.

Anonymous said...

Who is Bill Overend and why is he the answer to Todd Mitchell's question about the Cobbham elite?

Jmac said...

Overend ran for soliciter general in the primary, but lost in a runoff. He was a damn fine candidate ... though the fact that Chuck and I both voted for the same dude is a tad disconcerting (no offense, of course).

Still, Overend's good people. Had good ideas for downtown too.

Anonymous said...

All reasons why Bill could be a good Commish candidate at some point.

Darren

chico said...

Cobbham is just a slice of in-town Athens. Bear with me and I'll take you through what I think of all of this. When most people say they love this town, it’s not because of the country clubs, or the mall, or the big chain restaurants and numerous subdivisions; it’s because of what is found in the heart of the city. Folks love the in-town area now because it’s easy to walking to a variety of restaurants and bars, there are older tree-lined neighborhoods, and there is a strange diversity that’s hard to describe. It’s not necessarily an ethnic diversity, but more like people from different backgrounds that have come together to enjoy a natural resource. I think the “former regime,” which I keep hearing threw their powerful support behind Maddox, lost touch with this and we have been seeing a new power rising during the past decade. I remember 15 years ago when prostitutes and dealers were working Finley and Hancock, you would be labeled crazy to walk anywhere outside the immediate boundaries of downtown. However, young first time home buyers and renters with more disposable income, service oriented jobs, and a passion for the arts (including the local music scene), started reclaiming the in-town areas near downtown, up Prince Ave. and all the way down Milledge. Today, we know that all of in-town Athens is gentrifying. As more like minded people are drawn to the area, their influence grows. It’s almost like natural selection. Those who don’t like it or want a more “cut and paste” traditional family living seem to jump ship for other counties. Those who can’t get that in-town house of their dreams still move to neighborhoods closer to the center of Athens and carry that “townie” passion with them. The new Athenian (which usually seems to be transplants from other areas), appears to be somewhat educated and/or aware of local issues like the environment, poverty, and education, usually has some disposable income or time for support of issues they deem moral and just, and can drum up support for local community issues through well written letters and a tight knit “townie” community. They also love a good time and a lively city. Cobbham is just the tip of the iceberg. Money does go a long way to influence others, but I think many neighborhoods, in every part of the county, are becoming more organized and more involved in local elections and legislature. I think it’s the new Athenians taking power, not just Cobbham. Are there elitists? Sure, every group has to have its set of snobs. Are they controlling everything? I think not yet, but ask that again at the next mayor election. Maybe I’ll find myself outside the loop and change my mind.

Ryanetics said...

I think Chico nailed it (say that out loud - good stuff). I also think the concentration of wealth in Cobbham is often exaggerated - don't get me wrong the people who live in what is traditionally considered Cobbham are far beyond middle class but when it comes down to numbers I am under the impression that there is more wealth concentration in 5 Points and in developments on the East Side. I could be wrong but I just think this is one more area where people like Chuck play the blame Cobbham card for shock value to facilitate the kind of divisiveness that makes politics depressing.

Nicki said...

Amen, ryanetics and chico.

hillary said...

when it comes down to numbers I am under the impression that there is more wealth concentration in 5 Points and in developments on the East Side.

Yes, but those areas aren't as useful if you want to complain about the "liberal elite." Five Points is more so, but there were a surprising number of signs for Republicans on some streets.

Anonymous said...

" I remember 15 years ago when prostitutes and dealers were working Finley and Hancock"

Um, I remember 15 DAYS ago when that was happening. Hell, 15 minutes ago!
I mean, dude, rarely a night goes by (weather permitting) that you can't find drugs or prostitutes on the Hancock Corridor.

-G. Lamb

Anonymous said...

Ditto G.Lamb's remarks.

Anonymous said...

-G. Lamb, you say it like prostitutes is a bad thing. - jk

Anonymous said...

change prostitutes to prostitution

Anonymous said...

I am told that the Cobbham people are having a Christmas party tomorrow at which caroling may be going on.

You know what would be a real shame? If there were some spiteful and vindictive person, irritated as hell over the fact that the Cobbham people called the police on a student's Halloween party, who would call the police on the Cobbham people to complain about the noise.

That would be a real shame.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty simple. I don't like Cobbham because it's a dumpy, rundown neighborhood and the people that live there are assholes.

Elite? People are not called elitist when they live in a slum. It's called delusional.