Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"War of the suburbs"?

Okay, I know what it means, not to Americanize everything, but I did have to laugh for just a second at the idea of American suburbanites rioting, throwing Molotov cocktails, setting cars on fire, etc. What would it take to set that off, anyway? Probably five years of a truly bad market, plus Nixon-Carter tax brackets, plus an even worse decline in school standards, plus the banning of all lawn chemicals, plus mandatory polyester (and I'm not talking "a touch of Lycra") - all that at one time might set off American suburbanites. But somehow I think they'd still keep working - vote the bastards out and try something else - no matter their race or religion. And American suburbs are as multi-culti as you want, these days, they just don't fetishize it. Of course, these cit├ęs are nothing like what we'd think of as "suburbs" - they're just ginormous housing projects that are "suburban" in the sense of not being in the city center, or even in the established arrondisements or neighborhoods. And, if possible, they're uglier than the projects/estates that we Americans and Brits are pulling down as fast as we possibly can: Check out Colby Cosh's good post and scroll to the bottom of it for a great pic. Would you want to live there? Let's face it, Le Corbusier's theory is as dead as he is.

The other strange thing in the referenced article is that it's the PM, de Villepin, who's doing all the talking. Um, monsieur, doesn't your interior minister have anything to add? Or are you trying to elbow him out of this too?

I was speaking last night to my father-in-law, who is Polish but has lived in the English-speaking world since he was sixteen. He always has an interesting point of view. He said, "I have this schadenfreude feeling about the whole thing in France." (If you don't know what schadenfreude means, do look it up. It's a very handy word.) I replied, "Well, I feel split. Half of me feels, in a Christian way, badly for everyone involved - but the other half is definitely on the 'ha ha, you Frogs!' side." "Not me - it's all schadenfreude!" he replied, laughing. But he and I have discussed this day coming in the past, so neither of us is surprised to see it now.

Actually, there's a question: Is anyone surprised this is happening? You've got to be pretty out of the loop, or out of touch with the way reality works, to not have seen this coming. A little sooner than I thought, but no surprise.

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