February 12, 2008

phoenix is a great place

Most people who visit the United States of America bypass Phoenix. Most Americans, people traveling to and from California, do so as well. While all of them probably think that the climate is unbearable and so they should not have to stop I would like to draw your attention to another fact of this dusty western town.

Like the Phoenix, perpetually rising out of the desert landscapes next to Sky Harbor, this town rose out of the ashes. In 1940 Phoenix had a hot 65,000 inhabitants. Compare that to the explosive growth of Southern California in those days and one has to realize that it couldn’t have been all those beach bunny California girls and fruit picking jobs that made people move there instead of Arizona. Nope, you guessed right, it was the heat. You can fry an egg on the side walk here – at 8am. You park your car 2 blocks from work so that you can get the only shady spot available, and at lunch time you rotate parking spots with the shade. Roadrunners routinely run in front of your car, preferring suicide by tire to having their brains boiled – all you hear is a tired Beep Beep.

As soon as air-conditioning and Motorala arrived so did the people. And did they ever come. Every decade it seems as if this joint at least tries to break another population growth record. It is a human fungi spreading over dry land. From 1997 till now the Phoenix population has increased by 39%. That’s like Mumbai on Crack, at least for US Standards.

Its location is perfect, a town that can grow to its heart’s and boosters’ content, hardly any natural boundaries inhibiting its burb-mania. I still think that the only reason that they built their state capital here, instead of in a sensible place like Flagstaff is that there are no limits to sprawl here. Phoenix can look to LA and learn how not to build roads and freeways. It can pick up a thing or two of how to handle population spurts from cities all across the country. How to move the masses, how to cool the masses, how to feed the masses and how to house the masses.

Phoenix has indeed learned a lot from cities who have grown to its size much earlier. Do not take it for granted that crime is low here. It would have been easy for this town to degenerate into a lawless city state reminiscent of old Western Towns. Traffic is bearable, it’s not perfect, but it is by far better than at least 8 other metropolises in the USA. Love the Suns, so even the immigrants (Steve Nash) are kinda hip here. Higher education is somewhat lacking, but with typical USA enthusiasm for profits that will be remedied pretty soon. In the northern and somewhat cooler enclaves of the rich and the boobjobed one can even find a good cup of coffee on occasion. Forgive this town the heat, it’s not its fault and in fact it is outstandingly perfect for nine months out of each year. Not a cloud in the sky, the whole world wants to come and play golf here when its freezing everywhere else. Those baby-boomer snowbirds follow the warm weather south en masse. To summarize, this town is perfect for the way of life that most citizens of this country enjoy.

But damn the punk neighborhood planner jerk who sits in city council after city council, real estate development company after real estate development company. They should all be lined up and shot in their unimaginative gluteus maximus. They do not actually design anything. They ejaculate whatever is left of their never highly developed, now completely stunted creativity on a piece of paper – through their sphincter muscle! Style is the red-headed stepchild that Phoenix did not just leave behind at the last bus stop in New Mexico. They literally kicked the poor thing out on the street, reversed over it a couple of times to make sure it was dead, and then kept collecting alimony. You like to say that the 80s is the decade taste forgot? Well, Phoenix declared taste to be public enemy number one.

Every street, every corner, every mall, every shop in every mall, every person who works in every shop in every mall - they are all the bloody same! They look the same, they think the same, they talk the same. And they live in houses that all look the same. I don’t know why they bother buying a house. A house is supposed to be a man’s castle, something individual, not a carbon copy of his neighbor’s house. People might as well live in a termite hill for all the diversity in architecture here. They eat in restaurant chains that I have incorporated into one of those nightmares where you keep falling of a skyscraper over and over again; only I get served the same lame piece of artificial sushi before I wake up screaming. I call dining in this town regurgiteating. It all tastes the same, looks the same and the girls who serve the meal all go to the same titty surgeon. By all that you hold dear in life, please understand that regurgiteating is not actually a pleasant thing to do. Just talk to that cute Penguin from last year’s summer hit, or a cow. If you must know; you have throw up before you can regurgiteate.

This town had a chance. One of the greatest minds of architecture this country has ever seen decided to live here. Don’t ask me why, this was before air-conditioning, he probably hoped that nobody would follow him. But he did not just want to live here. He created a school of architecture, the brilliance of which only slowly emerges in our midst. Taliesin isn’t just the culmination of Frank Lloyd Wright's lifework. It isn’t just a school that architects the world over aspire to attend to this day. It not only incorporates living in harmony with the desert and ecology. It is also beautiful. I would live in it. And so would you. You would feel cradled in its protective arms. You would feel expansive yet close to nature at the same time. You would feel authentic. Food would taste ambrosia-like. Songbirds would sweeten your morning. Wine would run in the fountains and pools. Phoenix never cared.

Instead one ill-insulated McMansion springs up next to the other. 3.56 people living in 3000 sqf. It boggles the mind how ugly and wasteful it is. Henry Ford would probably think that this conveyor belt produced way of living is good economies of scale. I just want to vomit in your front yard. At least it would add a little color.

You say that the market has spoken. This is what people in Phoenix want to live in. This is what they want to eat, this is what they want to see and this is where they want to go shopping. I don't know who is guiltier in this chicken and egg puzzle – the buyers or the sellers. I am sure though that this architecture reflects on the people and vice versa. There is a symbiotic relationship between a human and the environment she lives in. A man becomes what he sees and that which he sees takes on his soul. Q.E.D Phoenix never really got rid of those ashes. Those feathered wings never took on their new shine of brilliant colors.

This bird is a lost cause. Short of turning all those stupid Home Owner Association hoods into slack and rebuilding it all from scratch nothing will help. It is like making a crater on the moon into something that you want to call Home Sweet Home. So instead of trying to make it look good, let’s do something practical and useful. Let’s put solar roofs on all those ugly abodes. At least if it is not that nice to look we could turn it into a mirror and power the rest of the United States of America with it.

February 10, 2008

nice sunday

Emily said that there is always one video from a trip that you will keep watching over and over. We agree.

February 9, 2008


Just looked at my last two posts and noticed that they are not the most feel-good propaganda. Really, I am not trying to give you a complex, it just so happened that I saw these two data points floating on the web. Now they might as well be linked in spirit as well as in location, on my grand world renown blog. The moral of the story? The people nowadays don't just want bread and games (to spell it out: McDonald's and Superbowl) for them to let you control them. They also want the freedom to be as wasteful as they want to be. So if you let them drive their Hummer to Mickey Dees and order large amounts of pizza and Soda on Sundays you are gtg on the surveillance business.

guilt trip

Because we don't get to see enough of this kind of Data in the USA. Not that we are all necessarily moral human beings, but if you do lay claim to such morality, you better start taking the bus. For more and to learn German go here.

February 6, 2008

how surveilled are you?

This should give my American readers pause. It gives me chuckles. Apparently our semi-communist , but definitely socialist, eurotrashy america-bashing heartlands of the EU never really knew freedom the way Americans did. It also explains why we are so jealous of America (must stop listening to FOX). Us Europeans of course have always known that it is an illusion that privacy in America is much more highly valued and defended than in other western countries.

According to this graph from The Economist (scale is 1-5, 5 being the least surveilled) Americans have less privacy then all EU countries except the Brits, but they like to spy on each other, and are only slightly better of than Russia and China.

Bloody hell, I just saw that ROMANIA, not even two decades after Ceausescu's execution, does nearly three times as good as the USA. Thats embarrassing. Not so much because it is happening, but because people in the USA are too dumb and arrogant at the same time to realize this and keep telling the rest of us, how they are trying just their absolute best to bring the joys of freedom to our poor, backwards, super-surveilled, un-free, undemocratic nations. And because they are feeling especially magnanimous they will throw a color TV in as well, since they know that us poor saps don't know what those are either.

February 4, 2008

franchise this

Stamati tells me of a business venture. It’s coffee. Not just any coffee. It’s Sonoma Coffe Café. Actually has a nice ring to it. You can get a franchise. The guy selling you the franchise tells you to do some research on franchising, see if you are fit for this kind of work, some call it indentured. Tells you to go online, to read some books. You think that's a reasonable thing to do. So do I. So you do. Apparently, the best book on franchising, and the coffee franchise rep profusely apologizes for this monumental lapse by the CPD (cliché prevention department), is unfortunately but all the more hilariously “Franchising for Dummies”. Seriously. No, really.

zis. i like

February 1, 2008

killing prudes

The freshly showered man enters the locker room – with a towel around his waist. The towel stays wrapped around his waist as he twists himself into a pretzel and pulls his boxer shorts over his knees in a supremely awkward manner (he had just worked on his Latissimus and Gluteus Maximus). All of this contortion to shield his oh-so-privates from the prying looks of men. Usually one can only witness the other species of humanity do this on the beach, but then it is a pleasure. Considering that the freshly showered man just spent 2 hours chained to so many machines in order to improve his masculinity it is indeed surprising that the best of such symbols may not be shared with other similarly equipped humans, even though presumably that’s where the competition lies.

The freshly trained man walks down a dusty road – with a machine gun around his shoulder. The machine gun comes off in a flash as he falls to the ground and fires a stream of bullets with supremely devastating effect (he just did the work of a citizen). All of this carnage to shield our private interests from the prying hands of humanity. Usually one can only witness this happen to those other, mediocre tribes, but then it is a guilty pleasure. Considering that the freshly trained man just spent 2 months in boot camp, chained to so many of his compatriots in order to improve our masculinity it is not at all surprising that we share this symbol with other dissimilarly equipped humans, because that’s where the competition lies.