Monday, January 14, 2008

Cities everywhere

This is old, but my roommate had e-mailed it to me and I hadn't gotten to it until now. It's a little short feature from the Times about, basically, how communities and cities in the U.S. look the same everywhere. It makes me think of when my grandma spent some time taking pictures up and down Whittier Boulevard. I wonder sometimes if, pulled out of context, these ugly towns and streets and storefronts could be kind of pretty in a way (like Victoria does with random spots in San Francisco, which I have seen before and never thought of as pretty, but sometimes she makes them so). But for the most part, they aren't, and this video is correct, they look the same everywhere. In a way, it's sort of good ol' Americana, and in another way it's sad because of the lonesomeness of the landscapes (it makes me think of Ghost World, actually, which takes place in LA but which could have been anywhere, and which is a movie about lonesomeness if there ever was one), and in another way it's sad because these places are ugly, and in other way it's sad because of the lack of community. It makes me very happy that I live on a street full of people who care about the street. Anyway, it just make me think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let me quote something from Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash":

///The franchise and the virus work on the same principle: what thrives in one place will thrive in another. You just have to find a sufficiently virulent business plan, condense it into a three-ring binder --its DNA-- xerox it, and embed it in the fertile lining of a well traveled highway, preferably one with a left-turn lane. Then the growth will expand until it runs up against property lines.
In olden times you'd wander down to Mom's Cafe for a bite to eat and a cup of joe, and you would feel right at home. It worked just fine if you never left your hometown. But if you went to the next town over, everyone would look up and stare at you when you came in the door, and the Blue Plate Special would be something you didn't recognize. If you did enough traveling, you'd never feel at home anywhere.
But when a businessman from New Jersey goes to Dubuque, he knows he can walk into a McDonald's and no one will stare at him, he can order without having to look at the menu, and the food will always taste the same. McDonald's is Home, condensed into a three-ring binder and xeroxed. "No surprises" is the motto of the franchise ghetto ... [and] the people of America, who live in the world's most surprising and terrible country, take comfort in that motto.

For some reason, your post reminded me of this.