Monday, December 22, 2014

Narcotecture: The Other McMansions

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We have been discussing McMansions here a bit over the last month or so. The reason being so many of these things are being built down in Arcadia that it is only a matter of time before they start sprouting up in greater earnest here.

Or so many fear. As we know, the folks building them are not as local as some believe. There is a lot of cash coming into our corner of the world from China in particular, with much of it being illegal at the source. The word of choice for the transit of all that wealth is smuggling, though embezzlement is often used by the interested overseas parties as well. And since there is no extradition treaty between the United States and the Peoples Republic of China (a kind of cold war relic), all of that cash is welcomed here in a warm and caring way. And apparently with no strings attached. 

You are welcome to come along with your  money as well, just as long as you have enough of that embezzled stuff to make yourself interesting to our government. And once you've made the trip, you can pretty much build whatever you like here. All you need to do is find localities that privilege and enable your kinds of cash driven needs over the less glamorous concerns of the locals. Who often have barely enough money to pay their taxes.

Arcadia (and perhaps soon Sierra Madre), serves as a kind of sanctuary for multi-millionaire refugees fleeing the cheap labor republic where they made all of their money. Something that must seem like ingratitude to the folks back home, especially those running the government. So great is their pique in Beijing these days that they have begun arresting some of the worst offenders and putting them on trial for corruption, sexual misconduct, and worse. Something that is apparently a very popular form of televised entertainment there. Kind of like the NFL is to us.

However, there is another source of enthusiasm for McMansions, and that would be the so-called  Narco states of South America and South Asia. Places where vast new fortunes are being made in the drug trade daily. And as with a lot of folks from similarly rough and rude backgrounds, ostentatious displays of their new found wealth are simply a must. And, just like here, that means McMansions.

The term for McMansions built for the likes of drug lords and narcotics smugglers is Narcotecture. Which is kind of a cool word that does impress. Or at least it impresses me. Here is how the always essential Urban Dictionary defines it (link):

Narcotecture - n. - (nahr-coh-tek-shur)- The style of structure (most commonly large residences) built by large-scale distributors of illegal narcotics. This style includes many exits, ostentatious extravagance, and other features that are either practical for a fugitive or large-scale drug dealers, or classic signs of nouveau riche. Common in illegal narcotics hubs such as Bogota, Colombia, and Kabul, Afghanistan.

A rather luridly illustrated blog (in a murderous and gory drug criminal kind of way) called Ironiclast is also interested in Narcotecture, and they have their own interesting take. As a word of warning, if you choose to click on the link I am about to provide you, a few of the pictures you will find there are pretty gruesome. Drug lords having decorum issues that some living in Sierra Madre would abhor (link).

THE RISE OF NARCOTECTURE What is it?  What is -- Narcotecture?  Narcotecture is a term used to describe the gaudy mansions, homes and burial shrines -- yes, burial shrines, built by powerful drug lords in both South America and Afghanistan using illicit drug funds.

Drug cartels have never been more powerful than they are now.  Neither can it be said have they been more dangerous.  When President Nixon created the DEA and with it, the "war on drugs," they effectively shut down the distribution channels in Columbia.  This didn't stop production, however.  They still produce copious amounts of cocaine, but they leave the distribution part to the violent cartels in Mexico.  Now, Mexico is essentially a "narco state" and the blood runs red in the streets at a swiftly moving northern current into the United States.

It's a shame that all of the money and influence these cartels garner does little more than build these Narco palaces, but it can't be understated how much gruesome, barbaric violence used to instill fear in their people make dissenting voices impossible.

Another interesting source for information on Narcotecture is the military newspaper Stars and Stripes (link). In the following article they discuss the drug funded McMansions of Kabul, Afghanistan. This in a country where we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars, plus the irreplaceable lives of many of our military men and women, to prop up.

It is sad to see that some of the end results of all that sacrifice and misery aren't quite what we might have hoped for.

Garishly incongruous ‘poppy palaces’ lure affluent Afghans - For rent on Street 6 in the neighborhood of Sherpur: a four-story, 11-bedroom dwelling of pink granite and lime marble, complete with massage showers, a rooftop fountain and, in the basement, an Asian-themed nightclub. Price: $12,000 a month.

It’s a relative bargain in this district favored by former warlords and bureaucrats — Kabul’s version of Beverly Hills. There’s a war on, but carnival-colored mansions are mushrooming alongside cratered streets and sewage streams. Vast outdoor chandeliers, heated indoor pools and acres of mirrored, skyscraper glass windows abound.

The grandiose houses, derided here as narcotecture, have become the most obvious symbols of Afghanistan’s corruption, which ranks among the world’s worst and is fueled both by an enormous influx of U.S. dollars and by the opium trade. They have paralleled a building boom sweeping this and other Afghan cities, fed by the donor money that has helped distort an economy of haves and have-nots.

I have selected a few examples of Narcotecture, both the South American and Afghani varieties. I think you will agree that some are not really all that different from the local McMansions already being built here in the San Gabriel Valley.


http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

64 comments:

  1. What wonderful work. Thanks.

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  2. Unfortunately, greed seems to carry alot of weight - and I'm talking about the people who accept the tainted money and turn a blind eye to where that money came from. Its almost like the money could be soaked literally in blood, and certain folks would just accept and wash it off without any qualms whatsoever.
    Arcadia sold out a long time ago. Sierra Madre is under assault. Every project that the community doesn't want is being funded by foreign money: Camillo, One Carter, Stonehouse, 576 Elm, Mariposa. The common theme is that not one of the developers cares about the feelings of the community in which they build their projects. Its arrogant and reprehensible.

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    1. And you personally know where all the money is coming from that is funding these projects, wow. you really do know what's going on in town, are you a banker, lender, real estate agent, commercial property sales agent, do tell how we know all this................................thought so.

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    2. 8:24 is right. The cash is obviously being brought in by Nobel Laureates, or other kinds of good samaritans who are contributing to the well being of the world, and just looking for modest lodgings from which to continue their altruistic efforts.

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    3. For some reason 8:24 was really upset by this article. So much so that he has actually posted comments that are free of obscene language. Which is rare for him.

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  3. As Lenin said, "Capitalists will see us the rope that we will hang them with". The Roman empire collapsed because it couldn't fend of the barbarians that were at its gates. It wasn't really do the strength of the barbarians. It was due to the weakness, decay and complacency of the Romans.

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    Replies
    1. Again, Lenin? Really?

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    2. It is a famous quote. I first heard about it when I was in high school.

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  4. The theme being developed here is that there is a connection between tainted money and McMansions. While I doubt that is always the case, there are obviously instances where it is true. You really do have to be cautious about what you let into your town.

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    1. Good point. An all-cash offer for your home may be hard to turn down.

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    2. All cash buys are not normal. There has to be something wrong for them to happen.

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    3. All cash are normal in alot of areas , most upper end house sell that way , many lots sell that way . There is nothing wrong with it you just do not play in that league

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    4. Sure. You know, if your nose grows any longer you won't be able to reach your keyboard. Just a friendly warning to you.

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    5. Agreed, 9:14, that people with a great deal of money can make their purchases with cash, but it's not in "a lot of areas." It's a very small group. And whether or not there is "nothing wrong with it" depends, as the Tattler has pointed out, on the source of the wealth.

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    6. When you have a factory filled with people making .18 cents an hour, anything is possible.

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    7. That's a living wage.

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    8. Can you tell us how you do it? Is it the .37c overtime you get after 80 hours?

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    9. I shop at Wal-Mart. The dollar stretcher deals really help.

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    10. An "all cash" purchase of your home really does not alter they way in which you receives funds from the sale, "all cash" expedites the process, no loans, no qualifying, etc...plus carries more leverage over someone that needs to secure funding, These deals are done all the time, no big deal, relax.

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    11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    12. True. You got in.

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  5. So is 9:14 purposely calling down the wrath of the Grammar Lady, or is just that ignorant?

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    1. Errors in spelling, punctuation, sentence structure...I say it's too good, meaning bad, to be true.

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    2. Must be an Arcadian.

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  6. Who doesn't dream of a nightclub in the basement?
    A loaded schlep up the stairs is much safer than a drive home.

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    1. The view from my patio is better.

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    2. You mean, an elevator in that big of a Casa, I think.

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    3. The top picture with the Mercedes is in Arcadia by the looks of it.

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  7. I see the new owners of John's old house are going for an addition . maybe the start of a Narco house

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    1. I expect we'll see you at the door, asking to borrow some sugar.

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    2. Wait'll you see the water fountain with the marble cherubs.

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    3. It'll be tough to do that with an addition under 500 feet (or so the sign says).

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    4. It's a high squirter.

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    5. I hear its gonna be a combo underground parking garage and shooting range.

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    6. There is a Heaven's Gate skilled nursing facility across the street. Run by the same people who used to own the Corfu restaurant. Anything can happen on North Grove.

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    7. I've been in it! Major deficits include only two bathrooms (needs at least three more), insufficient space devoted to master en suites, no second story with views to the north, notorious lack of landscaping, no water feature. Oh, and no media room (which you'd think would be de riguer for a marketing duck like Crawford). Some columns and bay windows would bring it into compliance with the way architecture in Sierra Madre is trending (and some marble, maybe granite).

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    8. The difference between California native plants and plain old weeds is a slim one. Some people just don't have the ability to tell the difference.

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  8. How'd that happen?
    North Korea experiencing severe Internet outages; US official declines to say if it is responsible
    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20141222/north-korea-experiencing-severe-internet-outages-us-official-declines-to-say-if-it-is-responsible

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  9. Brass plaque at entrance:
    This is the original birthplace of the world renowned Sierra Madre Tattler founded mm/dd/yyyy (help me here, Mod).

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    Replies
    1. Is it a Mills Act estate?

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    2. Judy Chu may designate it as a National Monument.

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    3. Hasan Ikhrata has designated it for a subway station.

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  10. Had ocassion to go by the Mariposa property. Looks pretty big to me in terms of its massing. Once again, Mur-Sol is behind another monstrosity. They are doing most of the McMansions and big projects in Arcadia and now Sierra Madre is in their cross hairs. The question is whether we are going to let them ruin our town so that they can make a big profit at our expense. Does anybody know who those folks are?

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    1. Local residents.

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    2. How local? Pacific basin perhaps?

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    3. Mur-Sol has been building homes in Sierra Madre for years, where have you people been?

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  11. Why are those narcotraffickers who work at the SGVT controlling what is placed in print as of late?

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  12. Good luck with this one.

    $2,000 in power tools stolen from Sierra Madre front porch
    By Melissa Masatani, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
    POSTED: 12/22/14, 5:58 PM PST | 0 COMMENTS
    SIERRA MADRE >> Officials are looking for a person who stole $2,000 worth of power tools from a Sierra Madre resident’s front porch Sunday night.

    The victim left several power tools unattended around 8 p.m. Sunday on the front porch of a home on the 100 block of Lowell Avenue in Sierra Madre, police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said.

    “He woke up this morning to find that they’d been stolen,” Ortiz said.

    Most of the tools were Makita brand and were hand tools and battery operated tools, he said.

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    1. Live right off Baldwin and leave power tools out?

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  13. One of the Mursol guys lives in Sierra Madre

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    1. A few years ago the Mur-Sol guys were before either the City Council or Planning Commission trying to get a lot split on their property on Sunnyside (as I recal). A large lot. They wanted it divied up as a flag lot and they wanted to build three additional houses. They were turned down. Don't know the outcome, but the entire family showed up right down to the young children to show what wholesome folks they were. They're responsible for the very, very prices townhouses on the south side of the Boulevard on the west end of town. Big battle to keep them from tearing down an existing structure but eventually they prevailed. Oh yeah. They're local all right. Google them.

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  14. Anybody know why the helicopter is up at Carter?

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  15. Off topic,
    Does anyone know why we have had sirens and a police helicopter flying overhead for the last hour? There was a lot of action around Bailey Canyon! Still is ongoing.

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  16. Fire truck up at Carter One.

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  17. There's a police car stationed at the top of Baldwin, like it's guarding the entrance to Carter.

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  18. Lost hiker - rescued now.

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  19. An injured hiker was lost, but they've found him.

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  20. We have a human lost and found.

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    Replies
    1. What happens to the lost if nobody claims them?

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    2. Jesus will always claim the lost, if they will let him.

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  21. The bubble map is here, driven by asian buyers

    http://la.curbed.com/archives/2014/09/watch_las_housing_bubble_and_burst_from_2001_to_2012.php

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