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« Erotica Linkage | Main | Immersion in Another Life »

August 14, 2008

Fred and Bill

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Two super-eloquent writers check in with some thoughts about place.

Fred Reed riffs on a theme familiar to those who have read James Kunstler's rants about cities, towns, and sprawl. (Kunstler blogs here. Here's an especially lively recent posting. Bookwise, start with this eye-opener.) Great passage:

I am not religious, at least in the sense of believing that I have the answers, but I am religious in the sense of knowing the questions. I know that there are things we can’t know, things even more important than making partner before the age of thirty. Doubtless most of us know this. Yet the tenor of life is not easily escaped. We try. People rush to Europe in search of the old, the quiet, and the pretty. Peddlers of real estate understand the urge, and hawk tranquil rural life while building the malls that will make it impossible. And so hurry comes to Arcadia. People then think of escape to the next small town. We spend a remarkable amount of time fleeing ourselves. Maybe instead we should build a place we like.

Bill Kauffman writes to the local paper about the damage a mall did to his beloved hometown of Batavia, NY. (CORRECTION: The Batavian isn't the "local paper." It's an online local-news website for Batavia.) Dandy passage:

The mall ought to have been dispatched long ago to that circle of hell reserved for brutalist architecture. For 30-plus years it has been a monument to misplaced faith in big government and capital-p Progress. Urban renewal was a catastrophe for many American cities, Batavia not least among them. The demolition of old Batavia was a crime against our ancestors, ourselves, and our posterity.

Kauffman link thanks to Dave Lull.



posted by Michael at August 14, 2008


Thanks for the link, but for the record, The Batavian is not associated with the local paper (which would be the Daily News). We are an independent online news and community site.

Posted by: Howard Owens on August 14, 2008 6:54 AM

You know, I love Fred Reed's writing. He's a cranky old fart, and he seems to be drinking more these days. I don't take him very seriously. One of his endearing qualities is that he doesn't take himself very seriously.

The Karaoke Queen loves malls. Malls are not an entirely American thing. Malls are sprouting up all over the Philippines... often bigger than our own. She loves the big box stores. Malls and big box stores appeal especially to people with a lot of children. Visit the Costco in Jersey and you'll see Asians and Hispanics filling up two shopping carts and dragging along a half dozen kids. The Queen celebrates a kid's birthday almost every week. Then there's the back to school shopping to do, not just for the kids in the U.S. but for the extended family back home.

These malls serve the society you don't much care for, Michael... the society of big families and old fashioned upwardly mobile ambitions. I'm inclined to think that your aversion toward malls and sprawl is more an aversion to this.

I'm not speaking from ignorance of your point of view. I lived the life of the childless hipster in the big city (San Francisco) until I was 26. I'm sorry, but I don't share your enthusiasm for it. I regard it now as almost entirely wasted time... well, it wasn't wasted in that I needed to get it out of my system.

While I don't entirely share the Queen's love of malling, I do find the life of the huge extended family that she's living a lot more cheerful and fun than the life of the grumpy hipster intent on improving the world.

I'm not here to improve the world. And, while I used to understand your point of view... I've lost it completely. Why are you concerned with improving the world? Even more so, I'm now completely perplexed by the pride you take in not having produced children. All of your political and social ideas seem to revolve around this issue. Why do you want the world to end with you? Why is this a virtue?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on August 14, 2008 8:31 AM

I'm not here to improve the world. And, while I used to understand your point of view... I've lost it completely. Why are you concerned with improving the world?

Because the modern man made world is ugly, and it needn't be so.

Posted by: slumlord on August 14, 2008 9:36 AM

"Because the modern man made world is ugly, and it needn't be so."

You must be living in a different world than I live in, slumlord.

The world I live in is breathtaking in its beauty. I spend my time in the following places: New York City, suburban New Jersey, upstate New York, Chicago and downstate Illinois. The wealth of these locales is stunning. People are building, growing crops, hustling around and achieving on a scale that is truly astonishing.

New York City is just a fantastic place. I've lived or worked in every borough. From the brownstones of Brooklyn to the condos of Manhattan, NYC is spectacular. I remain in awe of the industry and brilliance of its people. Chicago is another place altogether. It is so proud of its brawling, gangster, blues tradition. The neighborhoods are small scale and beautiful. Certainly, both cities feature immense slums, but there is beauty even in poverty. These are places where immigrants can gain a foothold.

Jersey is an entirely different culture. You should visit the horse farms out near Morristown, or the beaches in Cape May. Northern Jersey is an emerging metropolis that will one day be a secondary Manhattan. You can buy an incredible townhouse on the river with views of the city.

Upstate New York is as beautiful in its own way as the Napa Valley. Driving the Thruway is one of the distinct pleasures of my life. The views of the mountains and the river never cease to soothe me. Once you clear Newburgh, it's apple orchards for as far as you can see.

Downstate Illinois feeds the entire world. They push so much corn out of the ground! It's an amazing thing. The people are like the land... kind of flat, but extremely deep. Visit Champaign and you will see some of the most unusual and imaginative architecture in the world.

My little homily doesn't even begin to take in places like Portland, Oregon, hometown of the legendary Myrna, or Cebu in the Philippines. I was completely charmed by the poor in Cebu. Jesus really does live in the poor.

The works of men are beautiful.

Go visit the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ. I challenge you to tell me, once you see it, that that place exists for any other reason than that people love it. You can't find a parking place. The teenagers use it for cruising and mating.

Having children really does change your point of view. For most people, having children means struggling for survival and accepting the world for what it is. The world as it exists is extraordinarly beautiful. My children are inheriting a wonderful world. Certainly, they will be challenged by evil and death. This is all part of the game. This is what gives meaning to life.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on August 14, 2008 10:04 AM

Why do you want the world to end with you?

ST, I didn't get that at all. If I can speak for Michael, he is looking to see architecture and places that have some timelessness to them. Things that will be treasured long AFTER he is gone. He is not looking for things that will end with him.

Posted by: Usually Lurking on August 14, 2008 10:11 AM

Michael, the fact that you take Bill Kauffman and William Kunstler seriously is one of the most mystifying things about you. These guys are NOT serious thinkers, and almost everything they have to say could be summed up in the old Monkees song "Pleasant Valley Sunday", and that's not a good sign. As for Fred Reed, I'm with ST on this one. Reed is funny, and he's got some good points to make, but he doesn't even try to be consistent from one week to the next, and he's hardly a great philosopher, as I'm sure he'd be the first to admit.

Hatred of the middle-class and their lifestyle has been one of the great unifying themes of the totalitarians of the past century (along with hatred of Jews, naturally). Of course, most people who rave about "sprawl" (read: other people's homes and families) aren't totalitarians, but the are not in good company. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the mall...

Posted by: Tschafer on August 14, 2008 10:17 AM

Two thoughts:

1) From what I've read of their work so far (which is, admittedly, very little), I don't share the enthusiasm of some for the writings of Reed, Kunstler or Kaufman (or, for that matter, Roger Scruton, Nikos Salingros or Leon Krier). Basically I see them all as really being mostly curmudgeonly anti-change, “draw up the drawbridge now that we’re in the castle” whiners -- that is, against any change that their cranky selves have a dislike for and, especially, any changes that result in increased densities. (This is in contrast to someone like, for instance, Jane Jacobs who, contrary to an inaccurate stereotype based on just selected passages of only one of her seven major books, is actually very enthusiastic about change.)

Also, in another contrast to Jane Jacobs, all of these guys (like Lewis Mumford too) seem to hate REAL (e.g., unplanned, dense and diverse) cities and seem to be quite eager to outlaw the production of any new neighborhoods like MB's (and mine).

2) I think there is a lot of misguided thinking about malls, which if designed properly can be just as urbane -- and wonderful -- as a traditional big city department store, like Macy's Herald Square or the old Wanamaker's on Astor Place (which, if it was like the Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia, had a big atrium too -- which most big city department stores seem to have had in the pre-florescent era, by the way. (Also, by the way, judging from photos posted by MB on this website, the old Wanamaker’s building is located across the street from MB's apartment house.)

If anyone doubts that shopping malls can be urbane, they should visit the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst Queens (take the E, F or V trains to Roosevelt Avenue and then switch to the local). From the outside it looks like a handsome department store, shorter than Macy's Herald Square, but seemingly much longer (i.e. with a larger “footprint”). Inside it is a spectacular mall, atrium, food court and all -- with lots of upscale shops that one wouldn't expect to find in Elmhurst, Queens. There's a lot of parking in a multi-deck parking garage along the western side of the mall.

I don't remember what the parking deck side of the structure looks like from the outside, but I don't recall it being that offensive, but the street itself is lined with nice apartment houses and a park with a baseball field (which appears, alas, to be Astroturf!). And, in any case, even wonderfully urbane big city department stores have their "dark" side street sides (e.g., Macy's 35th St., Bloomingdale's 59th [?] St.).

Another very nice (and upscale!) mall in Glendale Queens is the Shops at Atlas Park. However, it is an open air mall (I think they call them lifestyle centers now) and more suburban -- but not offensively so, especially considering that it is a remodeled trucking depot / industrial park.

For limited visuals of Queens Center Mall go to their website. The owners of Queens Center Mall, the Macerich Company, used to have great photos of the interior and exterior photos of the mall on their website, but they seem to have taken them down. The Shops at Atlas Park, however, does have a nice collection of photos showing off the modern traditional architecture of the development.

Here’s the address:

or click on “Gallery” on their website.

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on August 14, 2008 12:40 PM

I read Bill Kauffman's writings from the links provided. Although there is much I disagree with him, I think he is worth reading and I especially agree with his anti-war position. Bill is a classic small town conservative. He believes in the localization of government and in staying out of foreign wars for this reason.

William Kunstler is another matter. What this guy has to say is utter trash and is not worth the time to read it. He simply hates the suburban life-style so much that he fancies "peak oil" bringing it to an end. Much if his "peak oil" shtick is just bilge. People like him predicted the end of suburbia in the 70's for much of the same reasons. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

Michael is old enough that he should have some perspective on the doom and gloom stuff, which is merely recycled 70's crappola.

I like Fred Reed. I don't agree with him all of the time. He does not seem to take himself too seriously, which is a strong point in his favor (people who take themselves too seriously are called fanatics, who do not make enjoyable company). I think some of his social commentary is quite valid. He speaks of a childhood that many of us experienced that is pretty much gone forever. I love his commentary on expiating.

With sprawls and malls, I'm actually on both sides of the fence. I see the charms of the traditional small towns and can understand why men such as Fred Reed and Bill Kauffman extol them. Yet, I like the energy and dynamicism of modernity along with its sprawls and malls.

Posted by: Kurt9 on August 14, 2008 1:10 PM

My impression is that Tschafer is probably correct about people (and by "people," I mean mainly "members of the commentariat") who complain about "sprawl." They're generally in the collectivist camp. And yet I dislike sprawl, too, and I'm a libertarian individualist. I grew up in NYC and in my 20s and '30s lived in Hell's Kitchen, then a semi-slummy section of West Side Manhattan; and now I live in what may be the quintessential Southern Sun Belt "Edge" city, Atlanta, which is essentially a suburb wrapped around a slum, which affluent enclaves scattered throughout. My main gripe against sprawl is that it requires that people, even people with cars, spend enormous amounts of time travelling to get anywhere or buy anything. It also promotes the Car Culture. Nothing against the car; I understand it's a wonderful invention, gives people mobility, and I enjoy it when my car-owning friends chauffeur me around. But ity seems to me (again speaking impressionistically) that wherever the Car Culture dominates, culture takes a holiday. At least that's the case here in Atlanta.

Posted by: Bilwick on August 14, 2008 1:40 PM

It's James Howard Kunstler, not William. William was an objectionable, indeed repellent, figure in his own way. JHK has holes in his theories that are miles wide, but he's nothing like the scumbag WK was.

Fascinating points by Benjamin Hemric. I'm going to have to rethink my entire take on Jane Jacobs.

Fred Reed's like an old drunken uncle who gets into war stories when he's into the sauce. Ignore the slurred speech and the repetitious crank stuff, and he's full of gems. Well worth the digging, IMO.

There is something about the Bill Kauffmans of the world that is deeply alien to me. I feel about him the way I do about Wendell Berry...I can nod about this or that, shake my head about other things, and at the same time feel I'm reading someone who only cares what he himself thinks, who has long since made up his mind about everything, and is just unreeling the latest spool from his spooled-up mind. Smart, sure, but somehow I've usually got better things to do than spend too much time with him...

Posted by: PatrickH on August 14, 2008 1:53 PM

Reading the other comments in this thread, I see that I should quickly explain that although these writers (and the additional three that I mentioned) are probably correctly being described by other posters as being anti-(VERY)-low density, anti-suburban, anti-sprawl, anti-large-lot-zoning, etc., they all ALSO seem to me (a city dweller) to be anti-high-density, anti-city, anti-apartment-house zoning, etc. for small towns, etc.

So, although I hate to use the word, there seems to be a certain "hypocrisy" (maybe "disconnect" is a better word?) about their writings, too. They seem to be saying that people who like suburban sprawl should really "toughen up," be less "selfish" and accept change that would result in more mixed use and higher density areas, but that people, like them, who live in small towns shouldn't! There is to my mind a similar disconnect among many NYC brownstoners, gentrifiers too. Many seem to me to be very smug about how dense and urban their neighborhoods are (i.e., when compared to post-WWII suburban neighborhoods), but very adamantly opposed to any changes like the construction of high-rise apartment houses (even like those found in Brooklyn Heights or Greenwich Village) or -- even more adamently opposed to -- any new commercial or manufacturing structures that would "ruin" the homogeneous, low-rise, essentially residential quality of their own neighborhoods.

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on August 14, 2008 2:25 PM

I don't know Batavia very well if at all, but if it's like most of Upstate New York it's a reasonable guess that the downtown area would have declined in recent decades, mall or no mall. Come to think of it, downtown decline has happened in economically strong parts of the country too.

Posted by: Peter on August 14, 2008 2:58 PM

I've been told this is a fairly good book on the disastrous effects of urban renewal on certain communities. I haven't read it myself but it looks interesting.

Posted by: Gonzalo on August 14, 2008 6:04 PM

"Malls" haven't ruined anything. People choose to shop at malls for many very good reasons--one being easy parking and lots of shops that you can zip to without going out into the heat or cold, unlike the old downtown. People like malls. I don't like malls, but so what? If the old downtowns with no parking and ravenous govts. (who want to charge people to park on the same roads the people themselves paid for) can't offer something better, they deserve to eat it. Screw 'em. Serve the people or perish. The people don't exist to serve the businessman or the politician. Its the other way around. And if you want a quaint downtown, give the people something so that they choose you instead of the other guy. Compete or die.

Posted by: BIOH on August 14, 2008 6:51 PM

Living in the scrub, I don't get to malls often. When I do, I love going in extreme weather: you get that blast of warmth and cheap cinnamon as you enter on a cold day, and the cool blast on hot days with...well, cheap cinnamon. No cars, so you can walk all over the place, and if the kebabs are good you can do a little pious boycotting of the Big M or KFC.

Slightly off-topic: am I the only one who loves plastic bags? Absolute miracles of convenience and efficiency. And the best ones are waterproof. I LOVE plastic bags.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on August 14, 2008 8:36 PM

"People then think of escape to the next small town. We spend a remarkable amount of time fleeing ourselves. Maybe instead we should build a place we like."

How tiresome. No, "we" don't. A small, small number of people prefer an urban walkable environment. The masses, clearly, don't. They like cars, malls and megaplex theaters. But surely that has to be because they are ignorant dupes.

Suck it up: most people who live in the suburbs are perfectly happy to do so, and don't feel their lives are meaningless and empty because of it. Are they boring? Sure, but so what?

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on August 14, 2008 9:31 PM

"I used to walk 7 miles to school, uphill both ways! And I made my own toys with hammer, nails and rope" Therefore, life is cheap, ugly and meaningless today. Oh, and by the way, it's "the corporates" fault.

Give me a break.

I hate malls, but when I was a kid we only had department stores, which I hate even worse (unless they're full of tools and sporting goods. Cabela's is fun).

In 1950 we had no air-conditioning, no blacks in our part of town, and life expectancy was around 60. But also I used to hop the back fence and go drink from a cool, clear creek. I have plenty of nostalgia, but unlike Fred I'm not bitterly blaming it on corporates, Bush, or whomever. Fer Chrissakes, boys, there are twice as many people here as there were in 1950! Blame it on the population if you need a scapegoat. They all have to eat, shit, and go to work.

Now I live in two places; one in a big crowded city, which serves its purpose as designed, and one way out in the country. It has squirrels, snakes and deer, and a fiber optic line down the boundary. I like Fred; been reading for years, but you've gotta admit he can be a clueless blowhard.

By the way, there are a zillion acres of rural land for sale. Go getcha some if you want to be far from malls !

Posted by: Sam_S on August 14, 2008 10:21 PM

Was somebody arguing that all malls are bad? Let alone that Fred Reed, James Kunstler and Bill Kauffman are philosophers? I missed those parts of the posting.

One fact that a surprising number of you bright people seem unaware of is that post-WWII US suburbia is anything but a spontaneous creation of the free market. There were suburbs before WWII, god knows. And the movement of some people from the city to the edges outside the city is apparently a constant in history.

But post-WWII US suburbia -- collector roads, cul de sacs, strict zoning separating retail, industry, and residential, and zero access to public transportation -- is something quite distinct, and quite a weird, never-before- seen-on-the-face- of-the-planet type creature.

Post-WWII suburbia is at least partly (if not largely) a function of a number of factors: government guarantees for home-mortgage loans; government sponsorship of freeway building (often said to be the largest civil engineering project in all history); a government-sponsored attack on city downtowns in the form of "urban renewal," which destroyed thousands of neighborhoods and hundreds of thousands of residences, and which forcibly displaced millions of citizens from their homes; and a handy-dandy tacit agreement between government and industry to support and encourage car culture.

Notice how many times the word "government" appears in the above paragraph.

OK, few people were forcibly moved to the new 'burbs (though some millions were indeed forcibly removed from their traditional city homes). But 1) that's a lot of carrots and sticks the country's elites were applying to its populace, and 2) that's a lot of top-down social engineering.

Viewing post-WWII American suburbia as "normal," let alone as something that developed spontaneously out of people's freely expressed preferences, is like ... oh, I don't know, arguing that Cheetos grow on trees. They may be your personal favorite treat-- but your fondness for Cheetos is not a trustworthy guarantee that Cheetos grow on trees. In fact, they're the product of a lot of food engineering. Which of course is OK. But let's at least recognize that there are a few differences between an apple and a Cheeto.

Now, would many people have moved to whatever kinds of 'burbs would have developed had the government not interfered, and if we'd all been left to our own devices? Could well be. Hard to know.

A couple of questions for you market types? (I'm one myself, with some reservations.)

1) You're moving to a new city area. You're going to have to choose a place to live. We could think of you as a "housing consumer" shopping for a "housing product" in something called the "housing market."

In and around many American cities the range of what's available to the housing consumer in the local housing market is rather small: depressed loser downtown, distant straggly farm not-quite-towns, and sprawl-style suburbs. That's it. That's quite a restricted set of choices -- and don't "market" types generally think that one of the great things about the market is that it offers consumers lots of options?

What if that same housing consumer were shopping in a housing market that offered more variety: some lively downtown neighborhoods, some small towns with actual walkable town centers, farm towns with town centers, as well as sprawl-suburbs. You may personally prefer sprawl-style suburbia. But how can you object to a housing market that offers a wider variety of choices? More choice is better, right? At least a lot of the time?

2) New Urbanist developments can be more usefully pictured as ways of opening up local housing markets than they can as attempts to dictate your life. There are some badguy/socialist types in the Smart Growth world who we all ought to be wary of. But most NU supporters are market fans. (They get a lot of flack for this from the usual academic-critical architecture establishment, btw.) And, thanks to NU, housing consumers in some markets have -- because of the presence of a NU development or two -- greater choice than they had before. Do you root against "greater choice" and a livelier market?

Another point here is that (to my knowledge, happy to learn better, etc) NU developments generally command a sizable premium over more routine housing developments. That's usually interpreted by market fans as a sign that a given product has a lot of as-yet-unmet demand out there, no?

So it would seem safe to suspect that a fair number of people in the U.S. would like to live in NU-style developments but currently can't, because not enough of them are available.

Why isn't a broader range of choice more widely available in US housing markets? Because our usual financing/zoning/development bureaucracies and structures make many kinds of developments impossible to construct. Really-truly: In many cities, given current practices and regulations, you literally cannot create a New Urbanist development - you can't even create a neighborhood in proven traditional styles -- despite the fact that all market indicators are that such developments are successful and liked.

Seems to me that a fair conclusion for a market fan to draw from the above is that many American housing markets are rigged -- and rigged against a kind of housing product that many Americans would enjoy buying and living in.

Seems to me that a real market fan would 1) deplore our current, hugely-rigged, top-down practices, and 2) look at New Urbanism as a successful new housing-market innovation and say, "Hey, let's have more of that." And would do so independent of personal aesthetic preferences.

Incidentally, the usual post-WWII American way of 'burb development may well manage to house tons of people, may well be efficient, and may even please loads of people. It's impressive. Did someone say it wasn't? And you may love the post-WWII 'burbs yourself. Fair enough, interesting to learn, etc. But please quit claiming that they're the consequence of freely expressed preferences except maybe in the narrowest kind of way.

In most American housing markets, you're like someone at the grocery store who has been set down in the packaged-crinkly-food aisle and made to choose your eats from among packaged crinkly foods. OK: You're free to choose ... between Doritos and Cheezits ... and it's kinda-sorta-dimly interesting which choice you make from those options. But, really, that's not a lot of freedom, and that's not a lot of choice.

A person who contents himself with what's on sale in the packaged-crinkly-foods aisle is letting General Mills make a lot of his decisions. (Which of course is OK.) A person who thinks of the packaged-crinkly-foods aisle as the entire food world, let alone as the pinnacle of the the free market, as well as what all evolution has led towards, is just being naive.

Hey, shoppers: There are many other aisles -- let alone stores, let alone farmers markets -- you might want to consider shopping in. Why are officials and elites actively keeping you from exploring them? And why do you put up with being treated this way?

Whether or not you personally like packaged crinkly foods ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 14, 2008 11:21 PM

For some history about suburbia, try this. To be avoided, though, if you don't enjoy Kunstler's brand of caustic humor. Incidentally: heavily biased in the New Urbanist direction. If you think that's a bad thing, then come up with a decent alternative history.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 14, 2008 11:31 PM

You know, MIchael, you're beautiful when you're angry.

I mean it. You can really pull out the stops when you're pissed. Ergo, remind me not to get you pissed. You are, of course, absolutely right about the role of gov't in the creation of suburbia. Nothing "natural" about that beast.

I await your foils' responses with some batedness of breath. Michael's breathing fire! Awright! Let's party!

Posted by: PatrickH on August 14, 2008 11:35 PM

You must be living in a different world than I live in, slumlord.

Indeed I do, I live downunder in Melbourne, Australia. And while I live in a decently acceptable bit of the earth, the surrounding suburbs are both aesthetically depressing and bland. Now before anybody gets all hot and steamy, I'm not against the suburbs, there is a place for everything. What sucks is the aesthetics of the suburbs, urban planning and urban design. I think that's what Fred was on about. The places we build are ugly.

Now this is how you build a mall. This is an abortion.

Suburbia does not have to be ugly, it is deliberately made so by architects and town planners with turd appreciating aesthetics. Yes, the natural world is frequently very beautiful, but to be sure, some shit for brains architect comes along and does this.

Kunstler is not a rocket scientist, but he makes some good points and articulates what intelligent people have surmised for quite a while, that the modern aesthetics do not satisfy as much as the old.

Our buildings are really a reflection of our culture, years ago when incomes were smaller, starvation and ruin real, and life was short, people still felt that they were obligated to produce beautiful buildings. Today with vastly greater incomes than our forefathers, we are quite happy to settle for polystyrene cornices for that "authentic" classical look. Our culture values utility above beauty, modernism triumphant, the soul famished.

Posted by: Slumlord on August 15, 2008 8:54 AM

And so hurry comes to Arcadia. People then think of escape to the next small town. We spend a remarkable amount of time fleeing ourselves. Maybe instead we should build a place we like.

Most people would prefer to build cities and towns closer to their heart's desire than pack up and move away from an environment that has become intolerable. But they feel they have no choice except to move, because they know they have no control over the aesthetics and sociology of their home towns.

City councils, packed with real estate agents, wantonly approve any new development that allegedly "broadens the tax base." (Funny how real estate taxes keep going up in spite of the new super-malls and high rises.) The federal government resettles refugees from Somalia or Pakistan in their midst. It requires "Section 8" housing where inner-city indigents can share the American dream by moving out to the suburbs.

Our rulers in Washington — lobbyists and lawyers with their $1200 suits and lavish expense accounts — see to it that an endless stream of Third World peons moves in to clean the houses of the rich, pluck chickens for Tysons, and help Wal-Mart make its quarterly report numbers.

The middle class citizen can do nothing to stop "hurry" and congestion and crime coming to Arcadia, so the one desperate act left is to move on, hoping to stay one step ahead of the debacle.

I agree with Fred Reed, but even he's given up and fled the country.

Posted by: Rick Darby on August 15, 2008 10:38 AM

Highways ARE public transportation!

Who brainwashed anybody to think otherwise?

Posted by: BIOH on August 15, 2008 3:42 PM

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