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Lileks in suburbia

Posted by Richard on September 1, 2005

My God, that Lileks can write! His latest Screedblog post, written while visiting a suburb of Minneapolis, is all about the difference between the city and the suburbs — and about the people who hate suburbs:

As it happens, the suburb in which I’m sitting now is denser than my city. There are vast townhouse projects cropping up on every ridge, spilling along the highway. Not ugly ones, either. None of those “ticky-tacky” houses that so offended the sneering sensibilities of ungrateful Boomer brats forced to do childhood in the godless potato fields of Long Island, dreaming of the day when they could move to the city, live on the fourth floor, read Kerouc by a candle stuck in a fiasco, and wake to the sound of beer bottles dumped out when the bar closed. Real life. True life. What do you have in the burbs but starlight and silence? What’s real about that?


… It’s built around the car, and while this bothers some, it means that you can get the necessities of life far more efficiently than you can in a city.

… Instead of having foodstuffs, clothing, cafes and boozeatoriums spread out along the long spine of Broadway or Main, it’s concentrated in one dense blob of free-standing structures. You can buy what you need for the week and go about your life. Now: some will find this less attractive than the daily urban forage, the small thrill of bringing home your daily sustenance in thin plastic bags, the undeniable contented pleasure of shopping in a tiny corner market. I’m serious – you do feel like a Man of the World sometimes when you’re poking through the produce at Smiler’s or Dean and Delucca. The big city growling outside, the unpredictable clientele, the stolid storekeeper, the mix of chaos and order, the skyscraper lights, the smear of dusk in the indistinct distance – New York enobles the smallest task. I never feel more cosmopolitan than when I’m getting supplies at this grocery in the Roosevelt Hotel or the thin typical joint across from the Millennium, right up to the moment when they tell me I owe them $36.93 for muffins and a beer. There’s just a buzz in these places, be it ten PM or 8 AM. The city is full of juice and it spills into every shop.

Like I said — he can write! Read the whole thing, you’ll enjoy it.

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