for 20 February 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Thanks for putting this out. Popular culture today comes from the suburbs not the cities and even if I don't like popular culture indiscriminantly, I love the suburbs. I'm renting a place out here on the BART line, and I've never been happier. Where I live, the situation would be whimsical, if it weren't desperate these cheap little wooden ticky-tacky houses that Malvina Reynolds used to make fun of are being snapped up for $350,000 per and I can't afford to buy in though I'd desperately love to do so. The question I'd ask the young artist is to paraphrase Archimedes how big a rock do you need to stand on to move the earth? Being a nice distance away from the blather, phony rivalries, and trend-piggery of the city is a constant comfort. And if the suburbs are good enough for Homer and Marge, they're good enough for me.
Richard von Busack
Yeah, but paying so much for ticky-tacky houses is a crime great enough to propel even the foulest trend pig to pack up and move back to the hills of West Virginie, where $350,000 buys you a veritable mansion. Sure, you'll have to adjust your thinking a little, but think of the square footage of green, green grass you'll get.
The older we get, the more we care about owning grass. That should be a pun, but, sadly, it's not.
The bigger rock, the better,
The reason the 'burbs take so much heat is because so many people live there. I grew up out in the country, and I'll tell you, nobody understands my angst.
And another thing, the environmental impact of sprawl is real and evil. While lawns are nice, I'd rather have more people riding the subway to work from their apartments in a cleaner, cooler world.
Aw, shut up about your country-style angst already. Clearly you're too young to understand how very, very important a wide expanse of green grass is to those of us who are elderly and live in ugly gray cities. As you get older, Ben, you'll find that you care less and less about almost everything. In fact, you'll find that all you care about is staying warm and dry and occasionally being able to grill food right next to a great deal of green grass. We don't understand it any better than you do, but don't tell us about your utopian vision of everyone riding the subway until you're out of those short pants.
Although your prose was good you failed to make mention environmental impacts that the burbs cause, if that sounds too bleeding heart liberal, how about the impact of time management sitting in traffic to get home. I live in the 1% sliver of Atlanta vaguely resembling a city, Atlanta isn't really a city, it's a non-city city (a sprawl technically should not be called a city) where the burbs are so out of control you can drive 50 miles past over 100 look-alike strip malls and still not be down to a two-lane road. Also it's creating a micro-global warming from so much destruction of land it creates a heat dome that literally pushing needed rain storms that edge close to the city to the north, south, or evaporates every summer.
From an aesthetic standpoint there's very little redeeming in suburbia, cookie cutter and bland, it matches the sheep that live there. And don't even get me going about the lack of community (everyone going to a Walmart on a Sunday is NOT community). Suburbs are a death of culture, ecology, community, people needing to get along with each other, diversity, and on and on. Europe doesn't have burbs, it's very much an American thing, like corn dogs and vaguely flammable DQ vanilla cone, doesn't make them good for anything.
Horizontal city my thin, city-living ass!
Ah, yes. All those pathetic sheep. And what are you, a wolf? Your grasp of meteorology appears too weak to put to the test, but please, tell us all about your superior connections to culture and community. Do you volunteer at the Museum of Modern Art? Are you involved in community theater? We're betting you you eat corn dogs far more often than you march for Green causes.
Sorry for pointlessly lashing out, but when people refer to themselves as skinny city-dwellers and refer to others as sheep, it's tough for us not to get our hackles up.
Besides, corn dogs rule.
Fast food, convenience, lack of exercise, the automobile whatever it is it is NOT the fault of the person stuffing their face every fifteen minutes for fifteen minute spates (too short a time for the stomach to even TELL the brain that its had enough). They can't control themselves or their actions. So, I guess we'll just have to sin tax people into poverty so that they thin up!
Does anybody see a trend here? Common institutions' view of taxed cattle? It's no wonder the unibomber was screaming about sections of humanity becoming little more than domesticated animals they already are considered to be that. Terry Colon's illustration of the CDC ranger tagging a fat suburbanite is to TOO telling.
From a certain point of view, the suburbs may be little more than fancy cages with poorly photocopied social institutions as the real bars, but the people inside those cages have no one to blame but themselves. They are not animals. They have lives they lead and places they go. Thanks for pointing that out. It's frightening when governments, corporations and academics take the attitude that certain people can't think for themselves.
I'm a smoker and believe me, I'm just WAITING to get hauled off to a concentration camp for my health.
We're not quite clear on where you stand, frankly. Are you criticizing fat people for not being able to control themselves, or criticizing the government for criticizing fat people for not being able to control themselves?
Maybe we're a little too preoccupied by the thought of the large pineapple and ham pizza we just ordered.
Self-control isn't something people should lecture other people about, in our not-very-humble opinion. Self-control is something you learn at a very early age a very subjective lesson that can't simply be passed along just by yelling loudly at someone to get their shit in one sock. If your parents are lazy, chances are you're going to have learned even less about hard work than they did. But who's to say you're any less happy than someone who works their ass off? Most of the more successful people we know are incredibly hard on themselves how else can you get motivated enough to keep your eyes on the prize year after year?
Hell, we can't even keep our eyes on the prize long enough to forget about that pizza that's on it's way over here.
Slow, cheap, and out of control,
you write well. think uniquely. and compel.
as well thought out as your recent article on the 'burbs feels, in reality, it's an opinion short on testimony and delivered through the arrogant and unknowing lens of a pop culture prism.
... which may be the point.
my opinion is:
you should understand people in the suburbs before you claim to stand above them.
We claim to stand above suburban peoples? Where? When?
More proof that most people can only see what they're looking for.
Got a little inferiority complex you'd like to explore, Kevin?
Putting the Ass Back in Assassin
Thanks for the props. While a compelling case can be made that every historical narrative is one of declension, it's important to note plenty of assassinations prior to Moore's erstwhile shots at Ford had silly components. Witness, say, Rasputin's death, or Franz Ferdinand's. As far as intent, or at least how media perceives intent, though, you might be on to something. As public political figures get more irrelevent, assassination for purely narcissistic reasons seems to make a lot more sense. But then, why stoop to murder when you can hold John 3:16 signs at basketball games, or ride your lawn chair, festooned with weather balloons, to fame? Probably because in the final equation, it doesn't really work. I guess history will never reward Rollen Stewart or Larry Walters as handsomely as it has Mark David Chapman or John Hinckley, and, let's face it, that's a damn shame.
Ian Quigley, Editor, History House
History doesn't reward the dead, Ian. Period. Nothing rewards the dead. Except maybe well-produced biopics...