Monday, April 05, 2004

Jersey Girl

Oh, the darling suburbs, which is not spelled like rhubarb. I know they don't even sound alike at the end. Burb. Barb. Tomayto Tomahto. If you, and verily likely you are, are from these charming regions of America, you best read Our Sprawling, Supersize Utopia from this Sunday's NYT Magazine.

Oh David Brooks, you ring far too many bells. Are they charming and cheery like holiday jingle bells? I think they are a little more edgy. Like the insane going kind.

I digress. Brooks writes about the US of A turning into one big WalMart parking lot. Move to Canada while you can!! Har Har. The suburbs, themselves, are starting to have suburbs ... or "exurbs" .. spraaaaaawwwwwwl stretching far as the eye can see, like a nationwide taffy. From sea to shining sea! Terrible for your teeth, though.

The article is pretty interesting and funny at times, as it's almost impossible to talk about the suburbs without some pokes and making fun. I especially like the bit on the "crunchy" suburb and Trader Joe's (Hello Westfield, NJ!!) "where all the cashiers look as if they are on loan from Amnesty International and all the snack food is especially designed for kids who come home from school screaming, 'Mom, I want a snack that will prevent colorectal cancer!' " Hey man, they have $3 wine. What's not to love?

Anyways, I find it pretty interesting that Brooks has sort of sectioned off different kinds of suburbs into "cultural" (not necessarily ethnic/racial) areas. Maybe it's me, but in NJ, we seem to be all smooshed together. Trader Joes, Rainforest Cafes, golf courses, Behemoth-Mart, and most importantly, Asian food marts and other such 'diversity' delights all pretty much in each other's backyards. And maybe Brooks talks about how we all tend to create these 'types' and stick to our own kind, (I like a nice chocolate fondue myself) creating segments. And maybe I have this sheen-of-optimism/naivete about my hometown, but I hope all these segments in places that aren't smooshy get more mashed together, like potatoes (that's good ol' American fare!), not to lose individuality, identity, yadda yadda, but so that people have accessibility to all sorts of "cultural zones". So that Taiwanese girls and Ukrainian boys can hold hands peacefully in their soccer fields and malls and sing along to the current American Idol "hit".

One in nine people in America are born in a foreign city. Pretty cool eh? Don't forget the American Dream. This funny concept, a non-reality that so often has to do with materiality, might be the only glue that holds us together as an American people. And yes, don't forget American Idol!!! (I'm sleepy, I put myself on repeat).

Brooks definitely starts to put on his Super-Rosy glasses and gets too happy-lala-optimistic towards the end of the article, but I think it's generally a good read.

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