Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ode to suburban living

I spend a couple days a week working down in a little community nestled in the Southeast end of the Valley.  15 years ago it was nothing more than open land and farms.  Now it is one giant master planned community dealing with the scars of the current housing debacle. By scars I mean an uneasy blend of half occupied communities and never finished developments.

I've never really liked the suburban lifestyle.  Why?  A variety of reasons.  I prefer the patchwork diversity of a more urban setting.  I prefer older more established communities.  I very much prefer the wider range of options afforded to those who live in the city boundaries.  Actually those seem to be reasons to prefer city living.  Why the disdain for the suburban dream?  I could never really put my finger on until...

Let me set the scene.

I'm at a Chikfila for lunch at 123 Anywhere street USA.  Well, to be sort of precise, the aforementioned
community in the Southeast Valley.  The place is packed with the thirty-something moms and their little broods.  A mixture of exhaustion, yearning, and pride can be read from their faces.  They look cut from the same cloth.  The hair, the number of children, the clothing selected from the entire spectrum of the gap catalog.  Just hints at the real nugget.  And then it comes.

Over the stereo comes a completely castrated jazz rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".  Gone are the psychedelic meanderings of a once creative genius.  Replaced by a sterile copy, unoffensive enough that it can be placed comfortably at any number of stores selling any number of goods. That dreadful version of that great song served as my epiphany and helped me understand why the suburbs might be great for some but just not for me.
Seriously?  Which one is mine?

Here's my impression of the suburbs.  They represent a nice generalization of the ideal community that will satisfy the largest percentage of the population.  Everything from the square footage of the Home Depot to the menu selection at the neighborhood Applebees, to type the of swings at the community park are almost scientifically designed to maximize the utility of the community.

Now, that is all fine and dandy if the interests, aspirations, and values of the community are completely homogeneous and non-offensive. But to someone who prefers to live in the "long tail"  this type of environment is stifling and very unattractive.  These communities leave very little room for creativity, diversity, and risk because they are just too inefficient and unprofitable to incorporate into the blueprints. 

Now that is not to say that one can't be a risk taking, creative, diverse individual and still live in the suburbs.  But the odds, by odds I mean the design of the community, are against you.  That's why those types typically flock to a more urban setting.  These communities are probably a great safe place to raise a family.   And since we haven't reached that stage in our lives maybe we are unqualified to offer the critique.

Note: The impetus of this post was the response that we get in Mesa from most friends when they discover that we endeavor to move back to Phoenix.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Tonto Natural Bridge and the open road

We recently decided to head up to the famed Route 66 and the Turquoise Room at the Posada Hotel in Winslow.  Our route took us right through some scenic pine country and the Tonto Natural Bridge. It is right off the highway and well worth your time.

The recent cold freeze created some great photos.  The waterfall froze and we were able to witness several large icicles come to a tremendous crash at the bottom of the ravine.  The sun was very bright which made most of the photos over saturated or laden with too much contrast.  Nonetheless, they do a decent job of capturing another of Arizona's natural gems.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Introduction: The View from Both Sides of the Border

Things have slowed down here on the blog.  I don't want to blame it all on the recession, but...

Anyways, I have reaccessed what I want to do with the 'dude' and how I want to proceed with other interests that might not correspond with the original intent of the this blog and the interests of the 5 family members who still visit this place.   So the 'dude' will move on with its original mission and some of my special interest niches will get their own forum.

Which brings us to 'Both Sides of the Border.I am introducing this blog to serve as a portal for my insights, research, and opinions on issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border.  Topics will include: Immigration, Drug Violence, Border Security, Cultural Experiences, and other subjects relative to the region. 

Feel free to go over there if there is interest.  Also, feel free to go over there to enhance my website stats and buoy my fragile ego.

3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

That'll cost you 100 Euros I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associ...