The people who move to the suburbs aren’t nearly as stupid or careless or brainwashed as the urbanites seem to think. They know they’re going to get a lawn, a garage, and a backyard. They know they will be miles from a store or cafe, and that they’ll have to drive everywhere. Most people move to the suburbs with eyes wide open, fully aware of the tradeoffs they are making. They are not looking for some pastoral idyll, but for more privacy, space, quiet, and parking.

A rural person expects to know every person in his world, and therefore thinks of every person as an individual. An urbanized person never expects to know the people he comes into contact with, and therefore rarely focuses on them as individuals. Stating the same thing in a different way, when you have more categories in your mind than people, you tend to see the categories as characteristics of the people. […] But once you have more people in your world than categories, you start to sort the people into categories.

Bill James in Popular Crime. Food for thought.

Ranking Baseball’s Best Ballparks –

The winner by a country mile is Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. More than 80 percent of reviewers gave it the top, 5-star rating, and its average score was 4.77 points. It is followed by Boston’s Fenway Park (4.59 stars), San Francisco’s AT&T Park (4.57), Minneapolis’ Target Field (4.53), and Baltimore’s Camden Yards (4.47).

I have a suspicion based on zero personal experience that Pittsburgh is one of America’s secretly great cities.

Ranking Baseball’s Best Ballparks –

Pre-interstate Atlanta, 1919 by the Foote & Davies Company.

This is an image from the 1919 Foote and Davies map of Atlanta, taken from the very cool Big Map Blog. We can see what the built environment of downtown Atlanta looked like (and might have continued to look like) before the interstates and their ramps sliced wide chasms of asphalt and concrete through the area.

I’m trying to imagine Atlanta if we got rid of the I-75/I-85 Connector and did a Cheonggyecheon-style restoration. I can dream.

Rural purge


The “rural purge” of American television networks (in particular CBS) was a series of cancellations between 1969 and 1972, the majority of which occurred at the end of the 1970-71 television season, of still popular rural-themed shows and shows with demographically-skewed audiences. (via sleevia)


Rural purge

Ben Casnocha: The Blog: Las Vegas: Authentically Unauthentic

When you visit New York City, you worry about whether you are being a tourist, about whether you are doing as the locals do. Same with visiting Paris, Rome, London. But in Las Vegas, everybody is a tourist. Anybody who’s not a tourist works in the tourism/hospitality industry. There is no real thing. It’s fake all the way to the bottom. The very idea of a sprawling, water guzzling city that sits in the middle of barren desert is too absurd to take seriously.

See also Richard Thompson & Communicatrix on cultural neutrality.
Ben Casnocha: The Blog: Las Vegas: Authentically Unauthentic

I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise…

George Gershwin on Rhapsody in Blue’s inspiration, the rhythm of the city train. (via adamnorwood)

This reminds me of what I called and still call one of my favorite pieces of music ever, Steve Reich’s City Life, which uses a bunch of samples from New York City street scenes: hawkers, sirens, car and boat horns, screeching tires, subway whooshings. Luckily all five parts are online for your listening pleasure.

Dickens in Lagos – Lapham’s Quarterly

George Packer argues that “in vast, impoverished cities like Bombay, Cairo, Jakarta, Rio, or Lagos, the plot lines of the nineteenth century proliferate.” And thus, the readers of the developing world can more easily relate.

The concerns of that literature [late 19th-century novels]—the individual caught in an encompassing social web, the sensitive young mind trapped inside an indifferent world, the beguiling journey from countryside to metropolis, the dismal inventiveness with which people survive, the permanent gap between imagination and opportunity, the big families whose problems are lived out in the street, the tragic pregnancies, the ubiquity of corruption, the earnest efforts at self-education, the preciousness of books, the squalid factories and debtor’s prisons, the valuable garbage, the complex rules of patronage and extortion, the sudden turns of fortune, the sidewalk con men and legless beggars, the slum as theater of the grotesque: long after these things dropped out of Western literature, they became the stuff of ordinary life elsewhere, in places where modernity is arriving but hasn’t begun to solve the problems of people thrown together in the urban cauldron.

Dickens in Lagos – Lapham’s Quarterly

There is perhaps no psychic phenomenon which has been so unconditionally reserved to the metropolis as has the blasé attitude.