Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 22, 2005

Man the Turrets and Lower the Garage Door

It’s Earth Day! HooHoo!

“Self,” I says, “stay away from that Public radio station, cuz it’s just gonna make you crazy today.” But then miracle of miracles, on Ben Merens’s show comes a Clara Jeffery, deputy editor of Mother Jones magazine, and she’s talkin’ my language.

Skipping the usual grist about windmills, bio-engineered automobiles, etc., this woman is right close to the nitty gritty of the American ravaging of the finite resources we humans must learn to manage if we are to survive with any level of comfort we have eked out thus far.

She speaks of the millions and millions of 2,500 to 6,000 square feet homes we are building hours of choking pollution from our workplaces. She mentions how working people have to locate in far exurbia and devote hours and hours of their time commuting to corporate campuses built adjacent to the highly exclusively zoned and thus too expensive enclaves of the upper middle class.

She actually mentioned class.

She called this urge to own a cul-de-castle, and I had to pinch myself, neo-feudalism. (see Stuck in the Middle with You) This yearning to own a postage stamp of land at all costs is costly indeed, and has led to a hideous non-design in many ways, let alone obvious transportation issues.

This is my busy season, and I visit more homes during the six to seven o’clock family hour. I’m struck by the frenetic atmosphere of these “family” times, as too-tired spouses shoot their little arrows at each other while they work out the travel arrangements to Johnny’s band practice and Sally’s gymnastics. While this crankiness is going on the kids know to stay out of sight having learned that the time when Daddy and/or Mommy come home is too temperamental to have any other quality.

Considering the social, we have now what I like to call the “garage door” syndrome. Suburbanites move from their big sealed sphere into a smaller one and though the portal of the automatic garage door and out into the world, but their journey is as sterile as that of Dave in the movie 2001 as he slips into silent space in the EVA pod. Should they have to venture 50 out into the world of a service station they lock everything up tight. When they get home they make sure all the windows and doors are locked tight, never stopping to realize that the front door hasn’t been unlocked in days.

Half the housewives I visit during the day lock the front door after I’m in. Some are locking their kids in—something we never required, but that is probably a subject for another time—but for many it’s autotronic. If it’s not safe beyond your door, then why have a lawn to mow? I don’t get it.

Because it is Earth Day I’ll repeat a thought I had in You Crack Open a Window, Honey, While I Throw another Log on the Fire. The greatest irony of America is that the thing we consider our greatest comfort, the single family home in the suburbs, is also our biggest threat. Perhaps the world’s environment would survive this American ideal in America, but on the horizon emergent China, Russia, India and so many others are looking to follow our dream, and I don’t see how this will be possible.

And soon—I would say within three years—we will be faced with the scenario that those who can least afford it will have to buy the most $5.00 gallons of gasoline to get to work. This includes me, though I realize that time is short to make a change ahead of the game, and am acting accordingly.

Or maybe I should be more concerned with a tax on “paper or plastic” bags?

I don’t think so.


Post a Comment

<< Home