Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Here's an interesting review that is trying hard to pitch a book about how Americans should be forced to live because this crew knows best: from amazon:
 The Geography of Nowhere traces America's evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots. In elegant and often hilarious prose, Kunstler depicts our nation's evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness. The Geography of Nowhere tallies up the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs that America is paying for its car-crazed lifestyle. It is also a wake-up call for citizens to reinvent the places where we live and work, to build communities that are once again worthy of our affection. Kunstler proposes that by reviving civic art and civic life, we will rediscover public virtue and a new vision of the common good. "The future will require us to build better places," Kunstler says, "or the future will belong to other people in other societies."
The simple fact is that what people build and where they build is based solely on how and where they want to live. It isn't what the control freaks who want to run your life want. People with small children want a place where the kids can play safely. They want good schools. They want neighbors who share their values. They weren't rounded up at gun point and forced to march out into the bleak wilderness to create the 'horrible awful suburbs with good schools, sidewalks, driveways, 2 car garages'.

What relentlessly escapes the utopians attention about suburbs is that suburbs, by their very nature, regulate who can live there. People who are like you can afford to live near you in your suburb. Every morning you go out and find your car is where you left it and nobody has smashed it to steal the radio. You come home from work to find your house is just as you left it. Sirens are a rarity and you may go for months without seeing an emergency vehicle on your street.

Crime-ridden, abandoned, recently gentrified, vibrant, diverse are words used to describe city neighborhoods but you seldom see them applied to suburbs. There are towns like that, but let's be honest, those aren't suburbs; they are old towns that failed to take off as cities after something happened to the industry there.

People actually choose the suburban life and even give up the city life for the things that matter most to them. Starbucks and the endless catering to people with money have brought the things people like most about cities to the little towns they prefer to live in. Freeways made it all possible. Naturally, the modern fascist utopian loathes freeways for letting the people escape from the collective.

I wish the modern utopian fascists would just shut up and go live in the places they imagine are ideal such as New London, Detroit, Chicago or Philadelphia. Maybe they'd like to gentrify Anacostia and get a nice place with a river view right there in our nation's capital. It might be nice if everybody had an apartment like Seinfeld's or like the ones you see on TV about people living in the big city but it isn't really like that now, is it?


virgil xenophon said...

Amen, brother. If you want to read a good blog on this subject that punches holes in all the "City/Urban Planning" utopian mystique, go visit a blog called "The Antiplanner" run by a "planning professional" who doesn't believe in the stuff and where he and other "urban planners" pro & con thrash out things like the efficiency of "light rail" vs cars, effects of restrictive zoning policies on availability and cost of metro housing, etc. It's a good place to visit--they cover all the trends/controversaries.

OldAFSarge said...

The beauty of America, you get to choose where you live. While this is subject to the availability of employment and other factors, by-and-large we choose. NOT the government. (And thanks to VX for the blog tip. Very interesting!)

Buck said...

The Second Mrs. Pennington and I considered becoming "urban pioneers" when we moved to Detroit in 1985. There were seriously well-built houses (read as: 1920's and earlier vintage) that simply reeked of charm in some of the declining older Detroit neighborhoods, and you could buy one for a reasonable price, too.

In the end we decided NOT to go there and bought in the 'burbs. As things turned out, that was one of the best decisions we EVER made.

HMS Defiant said...

Thanks, I will. I used to go to City Hall and hear some of the nonsense that people spouted about what ought to be done and banned in Solana Beach and it could get ugly.

HMS Defiant said...

You hit on why I dislike these people so much. They absolutely insist that you should not be allowed to chose. They know better than you and criticism of them will not be tolerated.

HMS Defiant said...

In that clip I posted a week or two ago there was a Detroit Detective driving along showing $1 houses in a Detroit neighborhood. Not a good one. Not at all. He said, sure you could buy them for a $ but the city still taxes them at their "ASSESSED VALUE" of $60,000 so you pay property tax based on that and you get NO services, no water, no sewage, no lights, no police, no fire, no ambulance. You get to pay $2000-3000 for that privilege.

You chose wisely. As you know full darned well. We drive by these amazing old houses here and around MetroParkCentralis and they are heart breakingly nice. They date from almost a 100 years ago when people designed houses for living, not to show off their parquet floors or fancy art work or have a 5000 square foot kitchen. I could buy one for probably $10,000 but I could not live there. The critical mass for urban pioneers or gentrification is microscopic here and will never get better. They exist in an urban wasteland.

It's funny in a very sad sort of way. Every where I go I see these beautiful picture books of life here as represented by the existing well maintained homes that are still lived in today. The books recall an earlier time back before World War II when this place was the 5th largest and almost the richest city in America. This was where Vanderbuilt came from. There are some gems left but only a tiny handful are left in the wasteland.