American Landscape

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?
roadkill bill
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Postby roadkill bill » Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:37 am

Ducatista wrote:Ugly strips aren't necessarily soulless. I love the classic Ernst Haas shot of Albuquerque:

Image

It loses a lot at screen size, but at 4ft x 3ft it's pretty amazing.


It's a great photo, but I'm wi8lling to bet it doesn't feel classic or beautiful to walk down that strip.

One of the things we are talking about is whether something is built for the human scale - like small town old business districts or pre-WWII neighborhoods - or whether it is built for the car scale - lots of parking, wide streets, signs easily identified from a vehicle moving at 45 mph, etc.

When a human gets out of his/her car and moves in that later environment, it feels very soulless because there is nothing to look at or interact with at eye level. Places are too far apart and separated by parking to feel comfortable walking.

Think of the distance across the West Towne parking lot, then think of the distance that is all of State Street. People gladly and happily walk down State St, yet they will move their car if they are going from Sears to Barnes & Noble at West Towne, a much shorter distance.

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Postby cattyr » Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:44 am

roadkill bill wrote:People gladly and happily walk down State St, yet they will move their car if they are going from Sears to Barnes & Noble at West Towne, a much shorter distance.


That is a very astute observation.

I am always thrilled the rare times I make a client visit and find myself in a ped-friendly, downtown environment. I would say that happens maybe 10% of the time, a sad commentary on cities across the U.S.

Ducatista
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Postby Ducatista » Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:56 am

roadkill bill wrote:It's a great photo, but I'm willing to bet it doesn't feel classic or beautiful to walk down that strip.

I'm with you in principleâ??that's why I live downtown and walk to work.

But Central Ave was so extreme that I wouldn't be surprised if it crossed the line into lovable back when the photo was taken. I've seen recent pics (people try to recreate the Haas shot), and it's definitely lost something, thanks in part to an annoying incursion of greenery and the absence of the big Cononco sign.

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Postby charliedon'tsurf » Tue Mar 27, 2007 4:10 pm

aaron wrote:
narcoleptish wrote:
square wrote:tell me, again, what makes you a better person than mr. unpretentious, dirty sweatpants at woodmans? .


Because I didn't just decide to give up, that's why. Because I didn't keep myself looking and dressing decent just long enough to find a mate, only to let myself go and then sit around with the guys, scratching my fat ass, wondering why "the ol' lady don't put out no more". Because I put just a little effort into my appearance before I leave the house.

Look at old pictures from the fifties and before. People used to take pride in the way they looked no matter where they were going. A picture from a sporting event back then showed every man in a goddamn suit! Now, I'm about as likely to wear a suit as I am to wear sweatpants, but I do make a simple effort to look decent. I do not spend a lot of money on clothes, you don't have to. Some of my best stuff comes from st. vinnies. Put on a pair of real pants! Wear something without a team logo on it! There are other shoe styles besides sneakers and sandals! Every different function in your life does not require it's own baseball cap!

Men are by far the worst offenders in this. When I was bartending, the bar I worked at was popular for first dates. I could usually pick them out. The woman would arrive first and sit facing the door. She always was dressed very nice and had obviously taken some time to look her best. Ten or fifteen minutes later, in comes the guy in jeans, a T-shirt, and a baseball cap. Fucking putz. This same scene played out many times.

No, I'm not a better person than Mr. sweatpants just because I've got better style. When you look better, you feel better, and judging by the looks on many of these peoples faces, they ain't feeling too good. I know they ain't looking too good.

Sorry for the slight hijack aaron, but I think the two subjects are in the same family or genus, if not species.


I totally agree, 100%. You see people today (in this country, anyway) going to church or to a fairly nice restaurant looking as if they were going out to do some yardwork. I have even heard people say that they would not go to a particular place (i.e., a wedding or some such thing) because they had to "dress up". Fer Chrissake. It is pure and unadulterated laziness...as well as a lack of respect for other people and/or tradition. And I also agree that how you present yourself to the world speaks multitudes on how much pride you have in yourself.

Sorry, but I canâ??t stomach your inherent bourgeoisie, metro-sexual smugness and derision. Your irrational, overpriced fashion preferences and sneering at those who donâ??t agree strikes me as progressive and as intelligent as redneck troglodytes who donâ??t like gay people for no good reason at all. Maybe you can go back to junior high and taunt the kids who canâ??t afford the right brand of jeans. You are certainly entitled to your opinions and dress how you want to but, perhaps your concerns about others fashion choices or lack thereof has a lot more to say about your own insecurity and shallowness.

The theory about how choosing to dress working class equates to poor self-esteem is just a construct to justify your own irrational prejudices. Personally there are many other things I choose to put more pride and effort into than getting dolled up to impress others and when I think I look both fine and normal amongst my peers who are also working class and punk rock.

As for tradition, I am one person who refuses to honor such sentiments and would like to think I am not alone here. Traditions should always be analyzed and discarded and reinvented by freethinking people not constrained by retro rules. Yeah it is great that people dressed up in the 1950â??s. On the other hand Jim Crow existed, interracial dating was banned, people were drummed of their jobs for leftist beliefs, no representation for racial minorities and hardly any for women in government, etc. Luckily like dressing up to go to the hardware store and the other more negative traditions of that era have faded away, to at least some degree. I think if anything the larger prevalence of neckties and other conservative fashion choices of that historic era speaks to the sickening conformity and lack of individualism rather than a higher sense of self worth. Well that and probably higher standard of living after WWII and people being able to afford nice clothes.

I am with your folks in terms of America turning one indistinguishable strip mall, the shallowness of our culture and the obesity epidemic, which has many more negative effects than appearances. Nonetheless your catty judgments about something as trivial as fashion choices (which by the way are not tied to character as perhaps the business/political scandals amply demonstrate) show just how shallow and ridiculous your sneering standards are and fundamentally undermine your other points.

This is the second time when your highhanded cultural chauvinism offended me within the space of a few days, Aaron, and this time I am not drunk. What you might want to try doing is just support and celebrate what you appreciate instead of wasting time and making enemies ripping on things you do not care for. You know if you donâ??t have anything nice to say, donâ??t say it. Going along with that donâ??t stress on other peopleâ??s choices unless they have a direct negative impact on your life. It could make you even happier than dressing up.

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Postby Twofer4 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 4:43 pm

Well said charliedon'tsurf. After reading the first couple responses to this redundant thread, it became clear this belongs in the "R.I.P. Town Vibe" thread or better yet, used as an example of... The only thing missing so far is the Langoliers style whine about all the "evil condos" sprouting up around town.

lysander
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Postby lysander » Tue Mar 27, 2007 6:35 pm

charliedon'tsurf wrote:
aaron wrote:
narcoleptish wrote:
square wrote:tell me, again, what makes you a better person than mr. unpretentious, dirty sweatpants at woodmans? .


Because I didn't just decide to give up, that's why. Because I didn't keep myself looking and dressing decent just long enough to find a mate, only to let myself go ...


I totally agree, 100%. You see people today (in this country, anyway) going to church or to a fairly nice restaurant looking as if they were going out to do some yardwork...

Sorry, but I canâ??t stomach your inherent bourgeoisie, metro-sexual smugness and derision. Your irrational, overpriced fashion preferences and sneering at those who donâ??t agree strikes me as progressive and as intelligent as redneck troglodytes ...


Interesting point. I may very well be misinterpreting everyone, but here's my take:
I am basically in the "let's all try to look halfway decent" crowd. I don't feel like an elitist, because I don't equate looking decent with spending a fortune on name-brand clothes. What I was picturing was simple, basic skills like wearing the right size (or close to it), keeping your clothes reasonably clean, avoiding t-shirts with the words 'tits' or 'big johnson' on them and basic grooming stuff. There are lots of people who have 3 kids, shop at Wal-Mart proudly, live in small towns, and yet manage to meet these simple expectations. There are also folks who buy only top name stuff, and still manage to look like they live out of their cars and ran out of their meds weeks ago.

That said, people do tend to judge a book by its cover, whether that's right or wrong. A number of times I've done parallel activities in almost opposite clothes (three-piece suit vs. what I was wearing when I saw Cannibal Corpse last November). And you know what? When you're wearing a suit, people are more likely to listen to you like you know what's up. Like you're some sort of authority figure, regardless of the fact that you smoked a huge bowl less than an hour ago. And if you're wearing combat boots, cargo pants, a dog collar, and a t-shirt depicting a skull with a screw being driven though the forehead, people don't seem to view you the same way, even if you've been published in half a dozen peer-reviewed journals.

Those of us who are able (financially as well as having what it takes to iron a shirt) to dress well should reap the benefits without guilt. There's nothing wrong with being attractive, smart, rich, or talented. But using it to make others feel bad is just a bitch move. Putting others down doesn't raise you up at all, it makes you more of an ass then anyone. Be a shining example of awesomeness, not a stuck-up douche.

So on that note, dress as nicely as you can if you care about what other people think. Or just look like you're all about Freeganism and give the well-dressed the finger, but be prepared to get the finger back figuratively. Mostly.

Marvell
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Postby Marvell » Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:17 pm

lysander wrote:Be a shining example of awesomeness, not a stuck-up douche.


One man's shining example of awesomeness is another's stuck-up douche.

Besides, no one makes someone feel guilty, do they? If a sense of guilt is to have any meaning - not in the legal sense but in the fundamental moral, existential sense - it must originate in the self, no? In the self's own ability to recognize wickedness and error?

Is there an ethicist in the house?

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Postby Bwis53 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:40 pm

My feeling is, wouldn't it be nice if we could dress with some kind of style,attitude or expression? Why not dress with some expression, instead of that old quiet desperation, conformist,on the way to the grave kind of look? I does take a bit of courage, but so does living a more authentic life.

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Postby doddles » Wed Mar 28, 2007 12:43 am

My take on this is that there's a world of difference between the person who:
i) thinks about what they're going to wear, how they look, whether they want to look the same/different to everyone else, and then decides to wear baseball cap/sweat pants/...etc anyway
ii) is so fucking busy working 2 jobs and looking after their kids/mum/dad/lazy unemployed brother/husband/wife, that frankly they don't have time or energy to give a fuck about what they wear
iii) hasn't had a single thought enter their vacant brains in a year, and wear whatever they always wear/whatever all their friends wear/whatever the TV tells them to wear.

Point is, you can't tell, just by looking, whether someone is i, ii, or iii. And iii might just as likely be the boring, brain dead office worker in a suit as the sweat pants wearing Woodmans shopper. So the only reasonable option is to judge people on their actions, not what they wear, though let's face it and be honest - that's easier said than done.

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Postby wolfsbane » Wed Mar 28, 2007 2:54 am

Ducatista wrote:
roadkill bill wrote:It's a great photo, but I'm willing to bet it doesn't feel classic or beautiful to walk down that strip.

I'm with you in principleâ??that's why I live downtown and walk to work.

But Central Ave was so extreme that I wouldn't be surprised if it crossed the line into lovable back when the photo was taken. I've seen recent pics (people try to recreate the Haas shot), and it's definitely lost something, thanks in part to an annoying incursion of greenery and the absence of the big Cononco sign.


The last time I was in Albuquerque, about 2 years ago, it was the epitome of an ugly, soulless, disgusting western city. An exceptionally skillful or lucky photographer could make ruptured pustule look beautiful. Citing Albuquerque as a counterexample to an argument that the US is one big, mass of monotonous, disgusting sprawl is the kind of absurdity that leads to spontaneous human combustion. Be careful where you point that thing.

aaron
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Postby aaron » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:29 am

Just for the record:

I don't give a shit what people wear. But I reserve the right to think they look like shit, just as they have the same right to think that about me if they want.

Somehow this whole thread got a bit hijacked anyhow.

Ducatista
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Postby Ducatista » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:29 am

wolfsbane wrote:Citing Albuquerque as a counterexample to an argument that the US is one big, mass of monotonous, disgusting sprawl is the kind of absurdity that leads to spontaneous human combustion. Be careful where you point that thing.

Where'd you get that? I cited Route 66 circa '69 as a singular example of how sprawl can take on its own freakish beauty. Be careful how you skim.

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Postby DMeister » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:29 am

aaron wrote:I don't give a shit what people wear.

I don't think that means what you think it means.

But, honestly, I don't give a shit.

Ducatista
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Postby Ducatista » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:34 am

I don't care if people walk around in sweats and flip-flopsâ??as long as they don't drag their feet when they walk. Is it really too fucking much trouble to pick up your own feet? Would you like me to hail you a rickshaw?

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Postby Chuck_Schick » Wed Mar 28, 2007 10:37 am

Ducatista wrote:Would you like me to hail you a rickshaw?

Actually, yes ...


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