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Thread: Excellent Planning Polemic: The Tyrant of Lawns

  1. #1

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    Excellent Planning Polemic: The Tyrant of Lawns

    Many of us find Kunstler very amusing, if profane at times. But, I would suggest another, excellent writer who provides a more nuanced, if equally angry approach to polemics. Richard Reichenberg is a aging Los Angeles resident who refuses to buy into the automobility ideal. In light of our discussions of suburbia, I thought this was a particuarly interesting essay:

    "It seems that none of the clichés holds true--living in the suburbs confers upon one not independence but parasitism; brings one closer not to Nature but to the hard concrete channels of the freeway; nurtures not familial intimacy but separation.

    The Tyrant of Lawns, like any other tyrant, lives by lies, and gets and keeps his power by lies. And the bigger the lie, the better it works."

    http://www.newcolonist.com/rr54.html

    (Caveat: No, I don't beleive that everything in the essay is gospel truth, but there are some interesting points here, written in a very eloquent manner."

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    nice editorial

    Isn't he also the rabid socialist, New Colonist contributor or am I mistaken?

    I like his comparison of the availability and access to nature in the suburbsa and the city. I prefer 10 acres of parkland nearby (that I don't have to maintain) to the 1/2 acre of lawn that I would have to mow.

    Though, I live in the close first-ring and commute 30 miles to the outer second-ring suburbs, so......
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    He's got some good points, but reduces himself to stereotypes - kind of like when suburbanites claim "the city is full of crack-whores." As discussed in the "Why Suburbia?" thread, a lawn is not the reason people move to the suburbs.

    By the way: Is it just me or is there something weird about the name "the New Colonist?" - Implying that gentrifiers reading the site need to "colonize" poor minority neighborhoods. Maybe I'm misinterpreting it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    lawns

    Read "Revenge of the Lawn" by Richard Braugtigan. It has absolutely nothing to do with this thread but it's funny anyhow.
    WALSTIB

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    All of these observations are well trodden by Jacobs and Kunstler. I always laugh my arse off when I see ranchettes and McMansions, because I often see the "Lord of the Manor" (or Plantation if you're south of the Mason-Dixon line) in his jammies, sipping his coffee and casually surveying his land (all 15,000 sq. ft. to 1 acre of it) from his postage stamp sized front stoop lined with columns.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    By the way: Is it just me or is there something weird about the name "the New Colonist?" - Implying that gentrifiers reading the site need to "colonize" poor minority neighborhoods. Maybe I'm misinterpreting it.
    I thought the same thing when I saw the title, and given this guy's disdain for suburbia.

    One more thing -- do the urbanists of the world really gain any converts when they continue to rail on the moral and intellectual deficiencies of suburbanites? I'd think if you want more people on your side, you'd have to extend an olive branch sometimes.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    He's got some good points, but reduces himself to stereotypes - kind of like when suburbanites claim "the city is full of crack-whores." As discussed in the "Why Suburbia?" thread, a lawn is not the reason people move to the suburbs.

    By the way: Is it just me or is there something weird about the name "the New Colonist?" - Implying that gentrifiers reading the site need to "colonize" poor minority neighborhoods. Maybe I'm misinterpreting it.
    Polemics almost by definition exagerate things. And, one should not focus on the lawn per se but on what the lawn symbolizes (which his essay does quite well).

    He is definitely not a fan of unbridled American neo-capitalism. Is he a "socialist"? Not sure what that is. His co-site owner is of the libertarian persuasion, so...

    As for the name of the site (New Colonist), I have suggested to Richard that this name does have unfortunate connotations. (The urbanphoto board dismissed the site for that reason plus their advertising/City Guides, which are quite "yuppie") The site's editorial content is hardly "yuppie," of course. Richard is adamantly anti-consumption.

    I would agree with ablarc: most American cities need gentrification-especially Pittsburgh, which has seen vast abandonment and population decline.

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