The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'suburbia'
A blogger named John finds a stack of 1960s-vintage womens' magazines, blogs about them being a depressing insight into how people coped with suburban isolation in the days before personal blogs/World of Warcraft/MySpace:
Some time ago at a yard sale I came across a pile of magazines called "Woman's Household". At first glance they just looked like your run of the mill woman's recipe and crafts magazine, but with each one I picked up I was stunned; I had never seen such despair wrapped up in so much yarn. The woman running the sale, gave them all to me for a dollar, saying "Take them all, they are just going in the garbage." I knew I'd do something with them someday, I guess this blog is it.
"Woman's Household" was a monthly crafts publication which sold for 25 cents an issue. Their slogan was "Meet Other Friendly Woman Just Like You". The key phrase being 'just like you'; middle aged women isolated in small towns across America. Every month readers were encouraged to participate in the writing of the articles, such as My Pet Peeve, or Words I Live By, My Diet or just to write a poem about Christ or their cat.
My favorite section is Missing Persons Corner. Here people ask for help in finding a long, long lost friend or relative. Usually the description of the person is vague at best, i.e., liked to drive cars; five foot five, last seen in Pensacola Florida. The most amazing thing is that they even have a section for people found.Then again, would the suburban housewives who read these magazines in the 1960s have felt the kind of despair and isolation that John describes, or is our perception of this as depressing an artefact of us living in a far faster-moving and more stimulus-rich world? I suspect that the boredom may be subjective; whether or not the social isolation of living in the suburbs would have been objectively distressing could be a different question.
(via Boing Boing)
New studies from the U.S. show that suburbia makes you fat. The studies show that the residents of sprawling counties in the U.S. tend to weigh six pounds more than their counterparts in more compact areas, which is caused by the lack of safe pedestrian areas which encourages a sedentary lifestyle. Of course, this wouldn't wash with Libertarians, who would argue that obesity is strictly a personal failing on behalf of the deficient individuals who lacked the willpower to drive to the gym, hand over their credit card and work off the pounds piled on through the Miracle of Progress (i.e., the lack of archaic facilities such as footpaths in their neighbourhoods).
Melbourne's the centre of yet another underground subculture, it seems: first we had the Cave Clan and the underground hax0r scene, and now it seems that we're Australia's capital of swinging (as in fat, balding people having group-sex parties). The epicentres of this scene are the "more adventurous suburbs" such as Ringwood. (Make your own joke here.)
The Onion: Family of Five Found Alive in Suburbs:
Upon discovery, the family was rushed back to civilization. Attempts to reassimilate the Holsapples into metropolitan living with a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and dinner at a nice Peruvian restaurant were met with resistance. "When we got to the museum, the family became quite agitated," psychologist Dr. Allan Green said. "Jay kept calling all the modern art 'weird' and Meredith said, 'If we wanted to look at art, we could just go to Deck The Walls at the mall.'"
Upon arriving in Buffalo Grove in 1993, the Holsapples befriended the locals, called "suburbanites," and soon adopted their ways entirely, from the mode of dress to the food they eat. Meredith Holsapple described in great detail the suburban settlements called "sub-divisions" where great emphasis is placed on maintaining lawns, watching televised sports, birthing children, listening to Top 40 music, and collecting stuffed animals.
Researchers at the U.S. Center for Disease Control have determined the primary cause of the U.S.'s skyrocketing rates of obesity. It's not calorie consumption (which has not increased as rapidly) or fat content in the diet (which has declined over the past 20 years); it's urban sprawl and automobile dependence. Modern American suburbs (and their Australian equivalents; have a look at Glen Waverley or Rowville sometime) are modelled around the automobile, with no high-street shops and often no footpaths; hence, those who live there have to drive to go anywhere, with exercise being a special activity strictly for the fitness enthusiasts with gym memberships.
Few suburbs now have footpaths, so pedestrians are forced on to the road. Police and private security patrols view with suspicion anyone on a suburban estate without a car: either they have run out of petrol and are in distress, or they are poor and up to no good.
An investigation into walking habits in Seattle found a direct correlation between physical activity and the year a house was built. Residents in streets built before 1947 walked or cycled at least three times every two days. Those in more modern houses used cars almost exclusively.
Which makes me feel a bit better for being one of the povo scum who rely on walking and public transport. Though one thing I have noticed is that, when I had a car, I read fewer books than when I did not (as my commute was not usable as reading time). I wonder whether a correlation can be drawn between car dependence and ignorance or mental atrophy...
The Los Angelesization of Melbourne (an ongoing series): The Federal Government is set to throw hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' funds on a freeway in outer Melbourne, which just happens to run through several marginal seats Howard's mob need to stay in power. The benefits of the freeway are doubtful, and public transport in the outer suburbs is woeful (buses typically don't run after 7pm or on Sundays), and doesn't look likely to get any better.