Friday, March 05, 2004
Friday: Another Andy Rooney Moment
Do you ever wonder what’s going through the mind of all those people who walk behind cars that are backing up?
“Quick,” I heard a father say to his small son as I backed into a parking space this afternoon. “Go behind him before he gets into the space.”
Luckily for the son, I did hear his father say that. Because the boy was too small to see in my rearview mirror, and I was already three-quarters of the way into the space and rolling backwards to get out of the way of the impatient traffic on the street.
The same father would never tell his son to walk in front of a moving car. What planet are he and the countless people like him from that they think the driver can see behind the car better than he or she can see in front of it?
The same thing happened to me yesterday. And those are the only two times I've been in the car in the past two weeks.
2) I was born in New York City, and I live in New York City, but I grew up in the Connecticut suburbs of New York (in Darien, rhymes with "Aryan" – probably not a coincidence).
Today I drove down the street where I grew up. (Andy Rooney lives nearby. I saw him in the news store one day when he cut in front of me without saying a word and grumpily thrust money at the cashier to pay for his New York Times.)
My beautiful old street was lined with one terrible new house after another.
Do you ever wonder why they call them "McMansions"?
It’s not because they’re big, although it’s obvious from our SUVs and our stomachs that Americans like Supersizing. (Didja notice McDonald’s announced they’re dropping Supersizing as part of their new Healthy Menus?)
For obvious reasons, McMansions are always built in places where people can afford big houses, so they’re rarely the first big houses in the neighborhood. In the case of Darien, for more than a century it’s been a place where successful investment bankers and lawyers from New York could hang their hat at night in a WASPy New England town (Darien - rhymes with Aryan, remember?) So there are plenty of mansions there already.
The reason they’re called McMansions is because even though they’re big and expensive, they look cheap. They’re badly proportioned, they have fiberglass columns instead of wooden ones, Garden State Brickface “stone” instead of local stone, “synthetic” slate instead of wooden shingles on the roof and so on. They’re badly sited, badly landscaped – they're just plain ol' ugly.
They’re generic 21st century “housing” that never fits in the local context. For example, Darien likes uptight, New England, restrained architecture. McMansions come from the National Homebuilders Convention tradition of the House of 27 Gables.
Good architecture makes you feel good. These architecturally challenged buildings make you feel bad.
" When you live in a high entropy society, as we do," Jim Kunstler says, " the entropy manifests in many ways: toxic waste, poor air quality, social alienation, epidemic obesity, odious popular culture, AND immersive ugliness."
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Oh common, a professional family of 3 NEEDS 7,500 square feet! :)
Posted by: Brian Miller at Mar 8, 2004 2:17:15 PM
Hope for a supersize world: The Ex-Pat reports that McDonalds yesterday removed Super-Sized items(read Portions for Pigs)from their UK menus yesterday. Of course, this was spurred on more by our recent enthusiasm for blaming the government and the private sector for our obesity rather than out of any sense of reasonableness or self-restraint. McDonalds made me do it. Fortunately, other than the Sloan Rangers in their Range(r) Rovers, the cars are a bit more reasonable in size here--probably owing more to the price in petrol than any sense about reasoble human scale. The mansion, however, is alive and well, though generally less ugly (given their age). Of course, the footballers are making rapid headway in their efforts to convert lovely English villages into American suburban extravaganzas, so I suppose there is hope for us here yet.
Posted by: Thomas Massengale at Mar 9, 2004 3:15:12 AM
Garden State brick? Gets my vote for best euphemism of '04. Sure to elicit a guffaw from the petroleum transfer engineers still employed in said garden state.
Posted by: Ken Hitchens at Mar 14, 2004 11:11:23 AM
If you had grown up watching New York television, you would know all about Garden State Brickface, a spray-on synthetic stucco which is scored to look like bricks (sort of).
Posted by: John Massengale at Mar 14, 2004 6:40:27 PM
I love Andy Rooney. I am glad he is as grumpy in real life as he is on TV.
Posted by: Laura Smith at Apr 14, 2005 6:04:06 PM
I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. My personal theory about the people who walk behind cars that are backing out is that those people are so arrogant they believe that a falling piano will miraculously shift in mid air to avoid hitting them. Guess they're in for a rude awakening, huh?
Posted by: thebizofknowledge at Aug 7, 2006 3:25:39 PM
Darien most certainly doesn't rhyme with Aryan. You should know that if you grew up there.
Posted by: Will at Dec 26, 2008 11:24:32 AM