Quetzal Flores, leader of the iconic Los Angeles Afro-Cuban rock band that bears his first name, has recently returned to the city of his birth, and he has some strong opinions about some of the changes that have taken place since he's been gone.
Speaking to L.A. Weekly about the impending release of Quetzal's latest album, Imaginares, Flores likened the influx of newcomers to Highland Park to "corporate greed."
"Gentrification in Highland Park is a perfect example of corporate greed ... "Rather than revitalize what's here and make it better for the people living here, rents are raised, property values go up and it forces the people who have been here to move. Imaginaries responds to that feeling."
For those residents who have remained in Highland Park for the last decade during its most recent demographic shift, Flores' comments will likely come as no surprise.
The area's low rents and artistic roots have attracted a new crop of artists, designers and business owners, which in turn has left many long time residents feeling marginalized.
Flores' argument isn't likely to find favor with Highland Park's newcomers, many of whom feel their contributions to the local arts and business culture are unfairly categorized as gentrifying.
That seems to be the kind of split reaction Flores is looking for with his comments, as he admits to L.A. Weekly that he welcomes friendly debate about his controversial opinions.
From L.A. Weekly
"I hope with this album we incite conversation but also criticism. We need it," says Flores, his face brightening as he takes a sip of tea. "Everyone loves [praise], the good stuff is great, but it doesn't help you. You need someone to be honest and say, hey, I'm not feeling what you said there, but to say it in an honest, nonviolent way. That's what keeps us always growing."