Monday, October 07, 2002
Fears of a lurch to the American motorized, alienated aesthetic in traditionally more socially-aware and environmentally-minded Holland
Rich in urban and environmental skills, Dutch architects and engineers have shaped civilized cities, doted on mass housing, and tooled well-crafted buildings. Notably tolerant, its citizenry has endorsed "social housing" or low-income rentals -- foreign to market-driven America. From public transport and bicycling, to sustainable space and environmental protection, the virtual island nation has framed standards for the world.
Now, however, some see a shrinking of these urban and social values. In the wake of the conservative election after the murder of far-right candidate Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch worry that market dictates and the move to the right could undo progressive living policies. Some fear that social housing, which once accommodated 70 percent of the population but now is down to 30 percent, could descend still further. Others watch anxiously as suburbanization and motorization expand and new shopping centers spin off the freeway.
Boom times in Europe's new global economy have fed the urge for more space for a swelling population of l6 million in l3,000 square miles (the size of Connecticut). Like the sprawling US population, the affluent Dutch display both a real and a perceived need for more living space. Even before the election, privatization and motorization had begun to worry planners.
10:54 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Another sign the end is near: Americans are spurning burgers
...McDonald's stock is already down 60 percent in three years. The golden archetype of reliable meals on the run has seen its same-store sales fall 2.5 percent globally in the second quarter. Revenues at rival Burger King are stagnant. Jack In The Box warns that same-store sales may drop 3 percent.
Experts credit the downturn largely to consumers' boredom with monotonous menus, as well as rise of health-conscious eating. The slow, steady shift in consumer sentiment, say observers, has left McDonald's and its peers with a mandate: Reform, or be deep fried.
A current effort to diversify menus by adding more-sophisticated items marks a significant turning point for the fast-food industry, which has built a food empire, and changed American culture, squarely on the back of burgers and fries.
10:09 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
I'm adding some amazon links here, more to advertise books I like than make any money (I've had some up on the other site for a while and after the first week I don't think anyone's used them at all).
I wanted to add Steve Erickson's Amnesiascope, but it's out of print (naturally). I really like it, and haven't read but one of his other books, finding them far less engaging (Days Between Stations -- no wait, I read American Nomad about the '96 election, it wasn't bad). That seems to be the 2 camps fans of his work fall into, from a comment on the amazon site linked above.
Anywho, Amnesiascope rocks. Henry Miller was an inspiration apparently. The link has used copies for as little as $3.24, and half.com probably has it cheaper.
I love the ashes. I love the endless smoky twilight of Los Angeles. I love walking along Sunset Boulevard past the bistros where the Hollywood trash have to brush the black soot off their salmon linguini in white wine sauce before they can eat it. I love driving across one black ring after another all the way to the sea, through the charred palisades past abandoned houses, listening through the open windows to the phone machines clicking on and off with messages from somewhere east of the Mojave, out of the American blue. I've been in a state of giddiness ever since the riots of ten years ago, when I would take a break from finishing my last book and go up onto the rooftop, watching surround me the first ring of fire from the looting. I still go up there, and the fires still burn. They burn a dead swath between me and the future, stranding me in the present, reducing definitions of love to my continuing gaze across smoldering panoramas as Viv, my little carnal ferret, devours me on her knees. I love having nothing to hope for but the cremation of my dreams; when my dreams are dead the rest of me is alive, all cinder and appetite. Don't expect me to feel bad about this. Don't expect my social conscience to be stricken. My conscience may be touched by my personal betrayals but not my social ones: the fires burn swathes between me and guilt as well. In this particular epoch, when sex is the last subversive act, I'm a guerrilla, spending my conscience in a white stream that douses no fire but its own.Not sure about sex being the last subversive act, but I love the Ballardian mood, with a richer environment, not so de Chirico-empty-surreal.
2:00 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sunday, October 06, 2002
A rating of the best public libraries in the US (5-page .pdf) broken down by city/town size [The Virtual Acquisition Shelf and News Desk]
Ohio, Indiana and Utah come out best state-wide.
12:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()