« The End of Suburbia »

There is this small coffee shop in Sandy Eggo that is hosting some alternative political movies. The first week I went they were showing Orwell Rolls in his Grave, and this last week there was The End of Suburbia. I got to talking to the organizer guy about his film schedule and asked him about the Suburbia movie and offered myself up to talk if there was need to discuss it, answer questions, etc. Sure enough, he called me on that Friday afternoon last week and asked me to do just that.

We watched the movie first. The tiny place was packed. It was a living room sized place and we had about 25 people in there all watching in rapt attention as the film was projected onto the stucco wall. The audience ranged from the freshmen in college to an older lady who may have been 80. It was nice to see that wide of an age range.

I got up after the movie and remember not really knowing what to say that hadn't been said in the movie, so I opened it up for questions first to get a feel for what needed saying. There were some people who worried about the loss of community, or of the loss of life in defending the oil supply, or of the value of goods made by neighbors. A group of UCSD students all filed out around the time I got to saying that no president will ever really solve this problem, because the issue is bigger than politics. Bush is evil, and a massive part of the problem now, but Kerry can't do what needs doing. Maybe a guy like Kennedy could get Americans to act more modestly and sensibly. Roosevelt could do it. But now we are up shit creek without a paddle and no president can even bring this shit up in campaign speeches because none of them have what it takes to tell the American public to stop being such pigs. Well, it's a deathwish to say shit like that. So anyhow, the 19 year olds left once I dissed Kerry by this unfortunate association. I wish it wasn't like that.

Then the discussion went on. I think it lasted about half an hour or so. Some parts were about environment, some about transportation and civic planning, some about oil crisis, some about racism. The thing is, suburbia is not a part of American life. It is American life. Every last thing you and I do is tied to the suburban lifestyle, even if you live in the sticks. The matter is so all-encompassing, from the oil and gas in your car to the shops you buy from to the quality of air you breathe, to the politics of your city, state, and nation. Terrorism is a direct result of the suburban lifestyle, as is ozone depletion, loss of farmland, depression, centralization of industries, obesity, consumerism, drug abuse, pollution, violent crime. Need I go on? Suburbia doesn't exist in a vaccuum; it is the vaccuum.

Man, I am soooooo gonna go to Ashcroft Hell. I am so un-American. But when you think about it, the end of suburbia may not be such a bad thing. I mean, not for you and I or for the next three generations, but one day humanity, and America in particular, may rediscover the root of our humanity by rediscovering what it is to have to trust each other and not live in fear. Suburbia is all about fear. It was a response to it and a perpetuator of it. Suburbia is an excuse to be racist, an excuse to be selfish, and an excuse to be ignorant of the world around us. Suburbia is a civil way of being really uncivil to each other.

Would it really be so bad to see it go away?

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