Bus stop taunting among the kids: Oh yeah? Well, who’s your dad going to vote for, JOHN MC CAIN? Said with dripping derision. From a fourth-grader. Well, bless them, they know not what they do, etc. At this point it’s all Xeroxed versions of home loyalties. When I picked (G)Nat up from the bus stop, she was worried; conversation on the ride home had turned to politics.
Daddy Henry says John McCain will start wars. And he says Barack Obama will make sure there are never any wars. Is that true?
The class took a poll, and Barack won, so the Super Challenge Cursive Word this week is Barack Obama. Also “Washington” and “Lincoln.” Before you put this down to the GODLESS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, the teacher had a son in Iraq, her husband is a former peace officer, and she leads the class in reading Churchill, aloud. So there.
Thursday was quite a productive day: a little video on buzz.mn, some blogging, a podcast, a movie review, and now this. Tomorrow I’ll be covering a trivia contest for another video; Saturday I have to shoot another video; Sunday I have to emcee an event at Orchestra Hall. So the weekend’s shot already, it seems.
Feels like it’s over, too; I’m exhausted right now, and this won’t be long. I’ve been going lickety-split all day. Tonight while (G)Nat was taking a bath I allowed myself the luxury of trolling YouTube for Kraftwerk videos, of all things, and had to stop myself: No! Work! Do Something! Whatever! There is an article on Atlantic about new Urbanism that demands comments!
Whatever. I’ve said all I can say on that subject. As usual, I read the article with conflicting loyalties – as a city dweller, I root for the urban core, but the idea that people will abandon en masse the space and freedom allowed by the suburbs and exurbs for tight crammed condos is a dream. En masse is the key – I’m sure there are people who, like myself, will chose to live in the city for many reasons, although I don’t live where I live because I can walk to the co-op and carry my curds home in a hemp sack. I drive. I drive because I don’t have the time or desire to schlep home the groceries every day. Jasperwood is on a hill that’s at the top of a hill, below which is a ravine, and if you want to carry two 1.5 liters of wine and two gallons of milk and gallon of orange juice and a rotisserie chicken up the road, you’re welcome to it. I live here because the convenience and ease of living outweighs the drawbacks, and because I like the history, the solid houses, the settled nature of things. But that’s me. Once upon a time I lived in a condo in DC, and every time I walked into the “back yard” I felt like I was being let out of my cell for daily exercise. We had a tiny fenced-off enclosure of personal space – six units, six little outdoor cubicles, with a big common terraced garden. We felt lucky, and we were; most units in the city lacked these spacious amenities. If I had to go back to DC and live in the city, that’s what I’d want, but there’s a reason I didn’t stay in DC: I wanted space. Space and privacy.
The idea that the majority of Americans will soon decide that a backyard with green grass and room for the kids and dog is an insuperior option, and they really want to live in a four-story building in an inner-ring suburb listening to the neighbor’s TV through the wall – well, it’s wishful thinking.
There’s something else about the anti-burb jeremiads that’s never expressed but frequently implied: an offhand dismissal of the need for personal space. If you’re young you don’t need much. If you’re an empty-nester, a condo downtown might be just the ticket. But in the great middle expanse of your life, you not only want to spread out, you want to be left alone, and this is taking on the characteristic of an anti-social sentiment. You should be walking around the dense neighborhood window-shopping and eating at small fusion restaurants. You should be engaged. If you want to watch a quality foreign film, good, but you should not watch it home; you should walk down to the corner theater and see it in a room full of other people, and nevermind that the start time is inconvenient and you can’t pause it to go pee and the fellow in the row behind you is aerating the atmosphere with tubercular sputum. This is how they do things in New York.
I love this pile-up of generalizations. Preconceptions, smashing together in the fog of wishful thinking:
"Once-thriving central-city retail districts were killed off by the combination of regional suburban malls and the 1960s riots. By the end of the 1970s, people seeking safety and good schools generally had little alternative but to move to the suburbs. In 1981, Escape From New York, starring Kurt Russell, depicted a near future in which Manhattan had been abandoned, fenced off, and turned into an unsupervised penitentiary.
"Cities, of course, have made a long climb back since then. Just nine years after Russell escaped from the wreck of New York, Seinfeld—followed by Friends, then Sex and the City—began advertising the city’s renewed urban allure to Gen-Xers and Millennials. Many Americans, meanwhile, became disillusioned with the sprawl and stupor that sometimes characterize suburban life. These days, when Hollywood wants to portray soullessness, despair, or moral decay, it often looks to the suburbs—as The Sopranos and Desperate Housewives attest—for inspiration."
Well, if Friends made urban living attractive , and Hollywood made the brave, almost unimaginable decision to portray suburbs as empty expanses of soulless consumerism, then obviously the zeitgeist has shifted. Especially when Hollywood has been such a strong supporter of the inherent pleasures of the whole two-kids-picket-fence idea. You lose Hollywood on this one, and you’ve lost Middle America. How many people put their houses up for sale after “American Beauty” won an Oscar, we can only guess.
Still have to do the buzz.mn morning update; God knows what it’ll be about. I am pleased to announce I did both a Diner and the Smartflix review tonight. Fir this I blame my daughter’s decision not to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, even though my wife had Bunco; it was just cold, and we felt like a night at home. She drew Pokemon while I worked, and I was impressed with the results. They’re copied from pictures online, but that’s how you start.
The Diner is here. Or, an MP3 is here.
Thanks for the patronage! See you at buzz.mn today and probably Saturday; there might be a video up. Enjoy your weekend.