Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The End of Suburbia

The suburbs, as described by the inimitable James Howard Kunstler in his book The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape:

“…depressing, brutal, ugly, unhealthy, and spiritually degrading — the jive-plastic commuter tract home wastelands, the Potemkin village shopping plazas with their vast parking lagoons, the Lego-block hotel complexes, the ‘gourmet mansardic’ junk-food joints, the Orwellian office ‘parks’ featuring buildings sheathed in the same reflective glass as the sunglasses worn by chain gang security guards, the particle-board garden apartments rising up in every city with their clusters of discount merchandise marts, the whole destructive, wasteful, toxic, agoraphobia-inducing spectacle that politicians proudly call growth.”

The film was released in 2004, when oil was still a mere $38 per barrel (it’s over $110 now) and its message is understandably even more powerful and relevant now. Currently it’s being shown at a small number of public screenings by environmentalists, “new urbanists” and others concerned about the future effects of “Peak Oil.” More at The Tyee about a recent event in Vancouver.