Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


The future of America

I have another big post coming up, I can feel it. It's like when you have a big burrito, and it's late at night, and you're just sitting there ... no, I'm not going to pursue that. Let's move on.

The Disgruntled Chemist had reason to be disgruntled last weekend, as he visited Phoenix. That would piss anyone off, let me tell you. He mentioned that it was "not all that interesting." A more understated view of the Basin I cannot imagine. Back in April, when my father-in-law was visiting, he found it also not very interesting. I bring these two people up because, folk, if you want to see the future of America, come to Phoenix. It's here, people!

I don't like Phoenix. Many people do. I understand that. (Well, maybe I don't understand it, because I hate it so much. But lots of people like it here. We'll leave it at that.) The future of America goes beyond politics. It's all about culture and what people want, regardless of their political persuasion. And what they want is Phoenix.

Ah, Phoenix. It's growing by leaps and bounds. The people who come here want some things, and those things will change America in its image. So what do they want?

Sun. Phoenix enjoys a ridiculous amount of sunny days. It's probably something like 340 per year, although I don't feel like checking the statistics, so you'll just have to trust me. Every August/September we get what is laughingly referred to as the "monsoon season," when it rains a bit, and it will get yucky occasionally in the winter - this past winter was actually kind of crappy - so maybe we should take that down to 330 days. Whatever. It's deadly dull. Right now it's well over 100 and should stay there until late September/early October. People love this. The only time it's nice to be in Phoenix is about from Christmas until March. The weather is gorgeous - in the 70s, chilly nights, occasional rain - absolutely wonderful. Is it worth the hellhole the rest of the year is? Not for me, but obviously for others it is. People are migrating away from winter. I don't know why. If it's just a question of more discretionary income when these senior citizens are getting older, then that might explain why Phoenix has become a destination. It's partly that, but there are other reasons too.

How about golf? The future of America lies partly with golf. Every-freakin'-one is golfing, including that lovely lady sitting with me at the bar in the previous post. And she's Australian! Sweet Jesus, my cousin is obsessed with golf, some of my best friends have been for a long time, and Arizona is a golfer's paradise. You can't swing a dead illegal immigrant (okay, cheap shot) without hitting a golf course. They squeeze them in wherever there's an acre of unused land, and manage to fit nine holes on that acre! If there's some pristine desert out there, you know someone's looking at it thinking, "It's a damned shame there ain't a golf course on this here land." I hate golf, by the way. Arizona, because of its weather, attracts golfers. They flock here. Women at Krys's work used to talk about taking up golfing just so they could spend time with their husbands. Think about the insanity of that statement for a while. Do you like golf? Move to Arizona. You will not be disappointed.

The other future sport of America is NASCAR. Why? Beats the living fuck out of me. NASCAR recently passed baseball as the fourth-most-popular sport in the country. Well, Phoenix has gotten onto the NASCAR circuit, so if you dig watching cars go around and around, we have you covered. I happen to dislike it, but if it's your deal, welcome to Phoenix!

Okay, weather and sports. What else? Phoenix is the model for the country in terms of transportation. What? say you. Does it have light rail and excellent buses and a super-duper train system? For shame, people! I'm talking about the future! Okay, we're getting a light rail system - a little late, but still. However, the future of America lies with big, wide, straight roads, easy access to freeways, and lots of space for your SUV or pick-up truck. (These are the vehicles of choice here, despite the fact that nobody goes off-road because, well, it no longer exists. They've paved it all.) We have all that. Americans don't want to be cramped, man! Here in Phoenix, if a road curves, it's just because the designer thought it would be quaint. There's no reason for the roads to curve - there's nothing standing in their way! There are gas stations on every corner, too, so the fact that your SUV gets only 6 miles to the gallon doesn't matter - just fill it up at the next corner! Whoo-hoo! But wait a minute, Greg. If the weather is so nice there, why don't people walk? You, my good reader, have obviously never been to Phoenix. In fact, I might question your Americanism! You don't walk anywhere in Phoenix. Only Commies walk! The streets are ridiculously wide, as I may have mentioned, and nothing is built to be pedestrian-friendly. Plus, between April and September, if you try to walk anywhere, you may die. I'm not joking. Bring lots of bottled water!

Americans also like convenience. Boy howdy, if it ain't convenient, we don't want it! So here in Phoenix, if it's not a chain or big box store, get outta town! Go back to Russia, you Commie! I'm serious. I live near a big intersection in Mesa. A mile north is another big intersection (that's how the streets are laid out here - every mile is a big road, and that's how you tell people where you live). At this big intersection is a Walgreens. Fine and dandy. Guess what is almost open at my intersection, less than a mile distant? If you said a Walgreens, you're ready to move to Phoenix. It does not appear that the other one is going to close. So here in Phoenix, people are too lazy to drive a mile for their overpriced prescription drugs. Mull that over for a bit. We also have pretty much nothing but big box stores and chains. You can find an independent store, but it's pretty dang hard. Everything is packed together into one place, and Applebee's is considered fine dining. Even if you can find someplace independent, it's in a strip mall. Everything in Phoenix is in a strip mall. The school I used to teach at was in a strip mall. At the major intersections in town (see above), if there aren't two strip malls out of the four corners, you can bet someone (the same someone above who wanted a golf course in the desert) is thinking, "Now that's a damned shame. These poor people living here have to drive a mile to get their hair cut at Supercuts and buy a sub at Quizno's. That ain't right. Hey, let's build a strip mall!" It's convenient, you see. When your SUV gets only 6 mpg you don't want to be driving far in it. Convenience is the wave of the future, people - it's as American as apple pie and baseb - Whoops, I mean NASCAR.

So where do people go to hang out in the future America? Well, I'm dang glad you asked. If everything is built around convenience, and chains are King, and it's really hot most of the time, where would you hang out? If you said the mall, give yourself a gold star! Yes, in the future we will all spend time at the mall, roaming the wide palisades and stopping into Abercrombie and Fitch and Aeropostale and getting all our food at the food court. (The visionary movie of the future? Mallrats. Chilling.) It's the only place to go, really. Here in the future it's largely because of the summer heat, but it's also the wonderful conformity of it all. We're all equal at the mall, man! And if you want to be "quirky," well, you can safely do it at Hot Topic, where all the other non-conformists look just like you do! How bold and daring is that? And guess what - your mom bought her Green Day T-shirt there too! Malls are plentiful here in Phoenix, because they are the future, and so is Phoenix.

You must have a lot of churches here in the future. Despite some evidence that Americans don't attend church as often as they say they do (hypocrisy? in America? never!), you still need a lot of churches. All those Jews and Muslims might want to convert any day now, you know! The churches aren't often on the major intersections, but they are scattered liberally throughout the area. The future is now in many sections of the country on this point, I would imagine.

So what kind of people live in the future? Well, that's what's so fascinating about the future. The people in Phoenix desire this kind of landscape. They made it that way. I'm going to generalize A LOT now, so if you live in Phoenix and aren't this way, I apologize. I'm only going by what I see. The people in Phoenix are all-American family-type people. Families want everything comfortable and the same. Anything that doesn't conform must be excised out. Therefore, all the houses look alike. I cannot stress this enough. All the homes look alike. And they have cinder-block walls dividing every back yard, because we don't want to get to know our neighbors. We have enough friends! Families like things normal. That's why we have the malls. That's why there's a Walgreens on every corner. That's why we have Wal-Mart. That's why people who come here plant grass in their front yard in the middle of the desert. They move here from parts north and east for the fabulous weather, but they miss their yard. So they plant grass and waste gallons of water to remind them of home. Forgetting, of course, that they're in the desert and they should deal with it. Families also want to do things with kids. That's why there's a Peter Piper Pizza joint on every corner (okay, not really, but still). Families want to take their children everywhere. Out to restaurants, out to the mall, out to the theater (theater in Phoenix - bad), out to the movies. This is the future, America. Babysitters are stinky and parents work so much they want to spend every second with their kids, so they think nothing of taking them to see Sin City at 10 o'clock at night. Of course, every movie theater must be a "megaplex" near a mall, so that you can make it a whole day and see a nice, wholesome G-rated movie. I just saw that G-rated movies make more money than R-rated ones. Well, shit, of course they do. Every movie must be made for families, because families are the big demographic in this country and they must do everything together. So that's not surprising. No wonder fine dining means Applebee's. A few years ago, when I lived in Portland, the people in the renovated Pearl District were whining. They had moved downtown and bought trendy lofts and hung out at art galleries and saw shows at Darcelle's and wanted to live their hip single lifestyle. And then families wanted to move in (to lofts, mind you) and wanted everything "kid-friendly." So the hipsters whined. They didn't realize that in the future of America, everything will be "kid-friendly," even drag shows. Take that, hipsters!

Speaking of kids, well, Phoenicians don't think it's their job to educate them. But I've already written about that.

In America of the future, ethnicity will be welcomed, as long as it knows its place. We love Hispanics here - they're cute and they celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which gives everyone a chance to eat spicy food and drink beer. But they better know their place! And God forbid they ask their employers to, you know, help them become citizens. In Phoenix we like our landscaping prices low low low, and if we had to hire companies that used citizens and had to pay them a fair wage, we wouldn't have that! Phoenix is also pretty conservative - the churches testify to that. We like our sheriffs to be hard-ass, and we like our gay marriages not only illegal, but constitutionally illegal (if we get to vote on that next year). We like things to work smoothly - if anything's wrong, just go along; don't rock the boat. That would upset us all.

The future of America will also, almost as a contradiction, be hedonistic. We have a lot of college kids here, and they like to party. The sun gives plenty of people ample opportunity to tan, so beautiful people flock here. They go to Lake Havasu to drink and fuck random people, and then they come back to Tempe and wander the streets and party some more. Of course, they all say they go to church on Sunday, so it's okay to party the rest of the week. And once they get out of school, they will all go to work at Motorola or Intel or one of the other massive corporations that call the Basin home because they don't pay any taxes. Phoenicians like big business over big government, because big business provides jobs and doesn't ask questions, while big government levies taxes and asks uncomfortable questions like where will all the water come from in twenty years?

This, then, is the future. Personally, I don't like it. I'm not making a judgment on it, however - if this is your style, move to Phoenix. We have plenty of room - we'll just bulldoze more of the desert, put in artificial lakes, and voila! instant development! We'll find water somewhere! The future awaits!


Blogger N said...

Wow! It's like Dallas, but even more intolerant and wasteful! (Actually, that's not very fair ---in terms of homosexuality, at least, Dallas is a moderately tolerant city given its political and geographical placements.)

I liked your lawn notes. I have always, ever since I was a little kid, absoluted loathed the wntire concept of "lawns" with a passion. Partly because I was too lazy to mow and bag leaves, yes, but partly because even back then I could see that it was a tremendous, foolish cycle of waste of water and resources, and the wild grasses I saw outside of yards were more efficient and interesting.

7/6/05 7:55 PM  
Blogger The Disgruntled Chemist said...

where will all the water come from in twenty years?

You're not kidding. Phoenix and Southern California (where I live) are screwed if they keep growing and the water keeps flowing less.

I'm thinking about a post on this now, in fact...

7/6/05 9:47 PM  
Blogger Roxy said...

You are so SILLY Greg!

You actually believe that Phoenix will end up with a light rail? When I was a wee one growing up here, the City of Hell churned out proposition after proposition to get money to plan a light rail.

In our most recent election, our lovely citizens voted yes on yet another bill to "Finish our Freeways" which in actuality only gave $20 million to freeway development and $80 million to PLAN (not implement one tangible rail) the light rail that the city has already been planning for 20 years.

As for the churches, you've failed to mention the God-Complex compounds that exist here. Yesterday, I had to visit a venue for an event I'm planning and it was like visiting Christland. No, I'm not knocking organized religion, but this "Center" had a Disneyland-like map of all the "Villages" contained within the square mile of property developed by the church. The primary church building was nearly as big as Gammage auditorium with plushy red theatre-style seats and room for 200 choir and band members on stage (for those of you out of town - Gammage is where the major theatre productions are held in town). There were fountains, and kiddie rides, a theater and courtyards galore. There are several of these compound-churches throughout Phoenix and each one has their own bumper sticker for loyal members...

I recently posted about the fact that we are eating up the desert and that nothing will be left. This is happening all over the country but is very recognizable here. When I lived in Richmond, I watched chain after chain move into new upscale malls and strip-malls. Suburbanization keeps encroaching on nature like a staunch poison.

We want to move away from the pre-packaged, strip-mall life...we've even considered leaving the country. Where do you go to escape the greed and hubris?

8/6/05 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

Roxy: you want to escape greed & hubris? Come to Boston! It's full of ungreed & non-hubris, unlike the rest of the damn country which can go to hell for all we care, those ignorant Bible-thumping...

What, you want charity? Piss off! You know how much it costs to live so free from greed & hubris?!? Stupid rest-of-the-country-except-California (which is too damn hot)!

Greg: your rant parallels what I observed visiting relatives in Tulsa, OK. Scary. Boston: good, rest of country: no thank you.

8/6/05 12:42 PM  
Blogger Roxy said...

hee hee... At least Boston has decent public transportation...

8/6/05 1:14 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Well, Ms. Roxy, I don't what they're doing tearing up the streets over here in the East Basin if not for light rail, but you're right - I'll believe it when I see it.

Well, there's places in Europe that haven't succumbed to suburbanization yet, but of course, then you'll have to pay two-thirds of your income in taxes and 5 bucks a gallon for gas. It's a trade-off, I suppose. I haven't been to Boston in a long time, so I don't know if Mike's telling the truth.

N: I don't hate lawns - in fact, I really like lawns. But only in places where grass grows, you know, naturally. Here it's just a waste. I don't like the scenery of the desert, but at least it's what was here. Lawns in AZ look ridiculous.

8/6/05 1:30 PM  
Blogger Roxy said...

It could be true. I'll have to do a little homework too. Seems to me that years and years and years ago they did start "construction" of the light rail and then ended up discontinuing. Could be they are actually doing it this time. Well I'll be....

8/6/05 4:30 PM  
Blogger layne said...

Wow, that sounds like the average Winnipegger's dream come true: sun, golf, lotsa drivin', and even more sprawl.

God, I hate the average Winnipegger almost as much as I hate Winnipeg. But now I hate Phoenix more.

Thanks Greg!

8/6/05 6:08 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

That's my job, Layne - to make you hate everything!

8/6/05 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg does not lie. I have never seen a more wasteful city that completely disregards future resources and quality of life. I know someone who used to live there and they had to go to a "Water Store" to buy water because the tap water was totally undrinkable. Hopefully it was a family-friendly water store and not run by them dang homo-sexuals!

8/6/05 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

Boston has a superiority complex, coupled with a strange inferiority complex re New York (cf. the ubiquity of Yankees SUCK!!!!!!!! vs. very little anti-Sox gear in NYC).

The weather's crazy, the price of everything is too high, the people can be unpleasant, the Big Dig is a state-wide source of shame, and there's a high degree of snobbiness in the "cultural elite." On the other hand, there's more tolerence for most types of people (although there are some really racist areas), Applebees is *maybe* 1.5 steps up from McDonald's, stuff happens in the city (most of which I miss, being a new father & new homeowner, and taking night classes), there are lots of colleges and a good flow for idealogical exchange, and there is a great deal of variety in neighborhoods (Plus, no gated communities). For all its flaws, I love Boston. I'm often horrified at other cities. Orlando may be my least favorite, Tulsa was like the stepford City, but Chicago made me feel at home.

9/6/05 6:02 AM  
Blogger Roxy said...

Wow - Anonymous - there are places where you can drink the tap water? I haven't had a drop here since I was a kid.

9/6/05 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I grew up in Phoenix and you are so right on! I left at 19 and have never, ever for one tiny second regretted it.

I now live in Portland and for the life of me can't imagine how you could have moved there from here.

My mother, who lives way out in the suburbs and does not have a drivers license, actually voted against light rail. This is the mind set of people there. I feel very lucky to have made it out alive.

9/6/05 1:04 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Anonymous - who are you??? Portlanders rule!

I mentioned this before - we left because I couldn't get a teaching job there without certification. We also thought it was time to move on. How foolish we were, how foolish we were ...

9/6/05 2:06 PM  
Blogger ACPatriot said...

Ah, suburban sprawl. Pheonix is the king of sprawl, and as such epitomizes wasteful America.

However, I doubt that will be the real future. Ironically the suburbs that represent the American dream, could well be the death of it, as I tried to show in some of my posts on peak oil. If peak oil comes, cheap transport of people to their jobs and food to the people will come to an end. Those nasty strip malls depend on commuters for their livelyhood. If less people end up commuting, they'll dissapear as well. Yes, peak oil scares me, but it might teach us a lesson we need.

I came to Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl one year and I actually thought it was pretty nice. The warm temperatures were a welcome break from the harsh Colorado winter.

9/6/05 3:21 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Patriot. Great. Someone else I need to check out. I love anti-corporate patriots!

9/6/05 4:04 PM  

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