There is a place for what used to be called salty language in our discourse.  As a seasoning, however, it is more like Dave's Insanity Sauce, and the extent to which it is poured out today only proves that our societal tastebuds have been destroyed.  Why can't people—especially intelligent, articulate people—communicate without being offensive?

The Front Porch Republic recently highlighted a lecture from 2004 featuring James Howard Kunstler.  His occasional use of a particularly offensive four-letter-word keeps me from embedding the video here, but anyone willing to take the risk can see it on the FPR site.  That I mention it at all is due to a suspicion that Kunstler may have a few good ideas, and the fact that I have one son-in-law who is interested in urban architecture and another who is interested in anything that promotes community life.

I do not share Kunstler's distain of suburbia.  I approve of yards (back and front) where children can play without constant supervision and where families can grow their own fruits, vegetables, and flowers (and even, in the right neighborhoods, their own chickens); of quiet streets where neighbors walk and chat after dinner while their children organize kickball games; of tiny wild places where birds and small animals can prosper.  If this is not everyone's view of suburbia, it is the suburbia in which I grew up, and I will not have it tarred with the brush of scorn.

Also I wonder about his approval of stores built to the sidewalk's edge.  When we moved from Florida to Massachusetts I remember feeling quite claustrophobic for just that reason, as if the buildings were crowding and jostling me more than my fellow pedestrians.  With that exception, I can see the appeal of his approach to urban planning, especially in contrast to the sterility of blank walls and parking lots.

There is a city near us called Winter Park, one of the older cities nearby, and I've often said it's the closest we'll get here to a European feel, with its cafés and coffeehouses, its central park area, its old apartments and its farmer's market.  Unfortunately, the character has been changing over the years as big chains buy out the little stores, but some of the community feeling remains, perhaps because the architecture is unchanged.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 6, 2009 at 8:17 am | Edit
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