Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stuck at Home in Suburbia

I have a friend, currently living in a great house Central City, Wellington. You can walk anywhere in town and the Midnight Expresso is just a stones throw away. My friend is going through a combo-crisis. She is approaching 40. And she is about to move to suburbia.

This frightening tension says a lot about the mid-life mystery. When multiple bathrooms, double garages, lawns that need to be mowed and room to park the Stabicraft replaces the urban alco-club induced hedonism of our 30s. Symbolically she is faced with letting go of her youth in two short punches.

People don't choose suburbia, it chooses them.

Not only has the hyper-suburbanisation of the cattle-class over the last 20 years essentially propped up the New Zealand economy but you can accurately measure the suburban fiasco by the number of other happy motorists interfering with your commuting pleasure. Suburban life isn't much fun in Auckland if you work in the city.

Our entire fucking economy is based on continued creation and maintenance of suburban sprawl and all the insidious bullshit (recreational shopping at the local Warehouse) that it entails - we're at the end of the civilisation cul-de-sac. The far flung exburbian outreaches of society will be the first to implode in the severe vacuum that will accompany disruptions to the oil markets that they depend upon thereby seriously impeding the 80k a day commute. All the morbidly obese brain-dead infotainment zombies and desparate soccer mum housewives who live in their three bathroom "internal access" McHouses will find themselves cut off from work and midweek tennis dates.

The suburbs are the slums of the future. Some won't have to wait that long. The story goes something like this. Gross devaluation accompanied by wholesale denial - what Kunstler terms the pyschology of previous investment will be dictate behaviour. Default, foreclosure, repossession, bankruptcy. And for some, attempts to fly out of office block windows as the reality dawns.

Cheap oil subsidised our way into sprawl, but cheap oil is gone. My advice to those not currently comatose, make plans to get out now. By the time you're spending a third of your weekly wages filling the Ford Explorer it will be too late.

Postscript
For my friend worried about the suburban choice - the intuition is right. However, suburbia has a knack of quickly dulling the senses.

...but don't take my word for it






4 comments:

Steve said...

Please note, this is meant to be a self-indulgent "specious rant". If you thought it was supposed to be a well thought out rational argument, and more so, if you attempt to critise it as such - you're a bloody idiot.

rach said...

Well since those who choose to live in suburbia are the same people who drive the big SUV's and gas guzzlers and would rather have their teeth pulled rather than walk a couple blocks for anything, we might be better off if they all get stranded out there when there's no more gas for their big cars :)

Canine said...

Not every person can achieve the ideal life situation of having a proximal job and compact lifestyle, there are just too many people and the current infrastructure cannot be changed in time. In fact the root of all the 'issues' for which we are on the cusp of crisis point, is population/growth. I consider it irresponsible to breed in today’s world, sadly a view not shared by many. Especially those of religious persuasion. Actually when you strip away the veneer of civility, religions such as christianity have much to answer for. A quote from the bible...
"Thou hast made him [man] a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields. The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea. O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!"

Clearly, embracing a paradigm from the outset, placing homo sapiens above god’s creatures and lands, is coming to bear fruit. We are merely organisms integral to the biosphere... not able to live above and apart from it. Religion has lead to the disconnect mindset, catalysing our environmental disaster.

If humankind were indeed intelligent we would modulate and regulate, first and foremost our population, rather than continuing our fossil fuel subsidised race toward the ten billion mark, striving for oblivion like some planetary yeast infection.

'Peak oil' et al. will not have any near serious mitigating response under a democratic model. No near retirement cornucopian babyboomer politician will enact the necessarily unpopular legislation. In a down sizing, depowering context any prudent governance will not enjoy a popular vote>> dictation/fascism/despotism or civil unrest/war. Who will choose which path?

Canine said...

Not every person can achieve the ideal life situation of having a proximal job and compact lifestyle, there are just too many people and the current infrastructure cannot be changed in time. In fact the root of all the 'issues' for which we are on the cusp of crisis point, is population/growth. I consider it irresponsible to breed in today’s world, sadly a view not shared by many. Especially those of religious persuasion. Actually when you strip away the veneer of civility, religions such as christianity have much to answer for. A quote from the bible...
"Thou hast made him [man] a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields. The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea. O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!"

Clearly, embracing a paradigm from the outset, placing homo sapiens above god’s creatures and lands, is coming to bear fruit. We are merely organisms integral to the biosphere... not able to live above and apart from it. Religion has lead to the disconnect mindset, catalysing our environmental disaster.

If humankind were indeed intelligent we would modulate and regulate, first and foremost our population, rather than continuing our fossil fuel subsidised race toward the ten billion mark, striving for oblivion like some planetary yeast infection.

'Peak oil' et al. will not have any near serious mitigating response under a democratic model. No near retirement cornucopian babyboomer politician will enact the necessarily unpopular legislation. In a down sizing, depowering context any prudent governance will not enjoy a popular vote>> dictation/fascism/despotism or civil unrest/war. Who will choose which path?