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January 10, 2014


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Extremely well written piece.
So well done, that it made me gag just thinking of all that man made confusion.
I leave for a few days to Organ Pipe to lounge among the cacti and then south to search for the ancient trail of the Seri Indians.

Seattle is New York to Portland's Boston. Both cities are wonderful but I'm happy to live in a place where the crush of sprawling humanity isn't so intense.

I read the comments at the end of Rogue's piece. I noticed straight off that people there suffer from that same myopia you find almost everywhere: nostalgia. Things used to be really nice here! Then - take your pick - Californians, liberals, developers, government, globalization, etc. ruined everything.

Several decades ago, some of us who used to complain about the growth in Phoenix were told that you can't put up a sign saying "full - go home". Point taken, needless to say. But the problem today shows that while growth was inevitable the worst aspects of it were self-inflicted. Phoenix didn't dream big except to say more, please. The result is a city very few people think of as having a great quality of life. Poolside margaritas, low rents, and Mexican food are attractive offerings to be sure. Just don't expect to find a city people love and care about. The dreams are all private.

I took the Bolt Bus to Canada over the holidays and spent two hours pondering Seattle's epic sprawl on I-5 from Olympia to Everett. Downtown Seattle is breathtaking but the metroplex is enervating. And for all Seattle's cultural capital, there's decreasing access to it. The rents are too damn high.

Seattle's location is one of the best in the world. If and when Seattle's boom stops, the city will still be blessed in a way that Dallas and Atlanta - forget Phoenix - can only dream about. The current growth gives the city a chance to play catch-up with mass transit and getting rid of that eyesore downtown, the Trans-Alaskan highway. If and when the dust settles, Seattle may not be an alpha city but it will be an irresistible magnet to young, creative people.

Portland seems sleepy by comparison to its big sister to the north. Yet the young people keep coming here, searching for the "cool" that thrives where bicycle lanes lead to brew pubs and bookstores. The median income level in Oregon is below the national average, and the state also has the nation's highest food-stamp participation level. That's mostly a result of the old manufacturing/extractive economy shrinking. Portland is the main story in Oregon now, and it's mostly a good one. We can't make this city sizzle like Seattle, and it's hardly a concern to anyone except the economic development commission. The city is taking care of itself. That's enough.

Thanks, Soleri. I was hoping you would write.

I tend to have allergic reactions to obfuscating buzzwords that were introduced by sociologists. Rankings are also a hindrance to real insight. They mostly serve as marketing exercises for the rankers and the rankees. That's not to say assessments based on real measureable indicators such as capital flow, productivity, economic connectivity, education etc. are useless. But nowadays rankings quixotically augment the hard numbers by attempting to measure the unquantifiable. "Livability" and "culture" on a scale from 0.0 to 100.0?! And for what? So that we can somehow arrive at the foregone conclusion: New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo are on top. Who would've thought?

No, the real game is in the middle to toilet tiers where arbitrary rankings are most volatile. It's about mayors and city officials doing constant battle (shadow boxing) in the circus of the attention economy. Itinerant preachers of globalization keep passing through. Yesterday Friedman, Florida, and tomorrow some other semblance of an idea.

If in doubt there is nothing like a mega event to propel a city or nation into the first tier. The global debutante ball of the olympics or World Cups offer what the prestige and recognition-obsessed excellencies can't produce on their own. But hurry up, the price tag is rising fast.


That other 'alpha city' (love the Huxleyan taxonomy) --LA-- now wants to be a real city:

After the food&shopping blabla comes the pertinent paragraph:

"The fact is," he says, leaning forward and making eye contact for the first time, "Downtown is the only solution to the problem of L.A."
And that, truth be told, is when the last of my skepticism begins to dissipate, the moment I finally grasp the vision so many people have so excitedly tried to communicate: that Downtown isn't a bet on hipsterism, not on dumplings or cocktails or cool shops or food trucks. It's a bet on urbanism itself, a conviction that the past fifty years of outward, sprawling cul-de-sac development was just that: a dead end. That this is how we want to live, amidst the spark and jangle of humans pressed up against humans. Even in L.A.

Pleasant post Soleri,
Yawn, I think its a good nite for a movie, "quest for fire " sounds good.
a beautiful Rae Dawn Chong and her one arm friend.
The mountain was good at sunset today. Had lite dinner of hard boiled eggs and water while resting on a large rock watching a hawk kill. photos available.
Suggested reading, Peregrine.

AWinter, surely U meant Aldous not Julian?

"That this is how we want to live, amidst the spark and jangle of humans pressed up against humans. Even in L.A."

No thanks. Too many rats in a box for me.

You are not a concern or any other kind of troll, Cal.

Thanks Jon.
Reb had me worried.

It’s all very interesting, Rogue, your article and the comments left by others. One comment from the comment section of the Pacific Northwest stood out for me. Puget Sound Islander said, “The war on cars will be our economic downfall.”

I contrast that thought with another that I heard from Ed Hyman on Consuelo Mack’s show this past week. He said, “Andy McAfee of MIT is talking about the second industrial revolution.” Consuelo asked, “And the second industrial revolution coming from technology?” Ed replied, “All kinds, medical technology, robotics, mental technology, you know, computer science.” There was a brief exchange on energy efficiency; however, I think we all know that transportation will be, by necessity, included in this second industrial (and I’ll add transportation) revolution. It might look something like this: http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-bullet-train/11785/

I enjoyed your column Rogue.

I wonder if Phoenix and Tucson will be one contiguous region or metroplex in the future?


Is there that much demand for housing and will their be enough water?

Suzanne for MANY years I have write letters to governors and the like expressing a need for a people moving rail from Nogales to Flagstaff. Along with other letters like, buying out Oak Creek Canyon from the bridge north of Sedona to the rim. And closing it down for a while to let the canyon and creek heal.

Suzanne I like to see the light rail from NOGO along with a good working workers immigration plan.

Happs, the article reads good. But things like Mesa bought the land previously for the water rights.
What happens now.
And Mesa is going to use the profit to build a ball field?
I have heard that parts of Eloy sank as much as 20 feet due to mining of underground water.
I know dairy farmers who are leaving the area due to water problems. Of course the new golf course hitters would complain of the smell.
I think we should send Jackob copies of Cadillac Desert, Killing the Hidden Waters and the Dunes Trilogy.

I don’t think this will be a thread-jacking: I came across this article Friday. I think it explains (partially) the feeling I have that most of the people I know just aren’t very well informed.

“In this piece, Tom Bertonneau writes about his post-literate students, many of whom struggle with and abhor reading.”
If the poke point doesn’t work:

Increasingly students tell me that they “can’t understand” the reading. If they referred to Plato’s Symposium, the confession would be easy to interpret. Abstract argument, syllogisms, and the refutation of syllogisms pose difficulties for inexperienced readers. However, the texts that students tell me they “can’t understand” are The Odyssey or a novel by Hawthorne or Melville or a short story by Ray Bradbury. In the case of The Odyssey, I assign Palmer’s WWI-era prose translation, so as not to traumatize the readership by confronting it with narrative in verse. Students are telling me that they can’t understand stories, where one thing happens which leads to another and so forth. Students give voice to a different, a radical species of incomprehension that bodes ill for the culture, the society, and the polity that they will constitute. Their bafflement harbingers the age of post-literacy.

Good one, wkg


I had to look up the definition of four words in the extract

I have been reading for 70 years and did not understand these sentences on the first read.

"If they referred to Plato’s Symposium, the confession would be easy to interpret. "

"Abstract argument, syllogisms, and the refutation of syllogisms pose difficulties for inexperienced readers."

And I am not sure understand the first sentence, yet.
bafflement harbingers?

Cal Lash: Yep. The article is by an academic and he probably can't help himself. But I think you gist of where he's going. If you went to the whole article, I think you would more than understand.

I know from your comments that you read a lot. I'm sure that you've read a lot of Ray Bradbury. Many, if not most, college kids cannot read a Ray Bradbury story with compression. These are the wonderful “creatives” that are supposed to save the day.

WKG, thanks.
I read well but when it gets academic I have to do some research to comprehend.
My reading started at 3 due to my mom, a country room school teacher and my grandmother, a big bible reader. but I hated school and did very poorly by not paying attention or just not going. I was more interested in working for $$, having a car and a girl in my life. Consequently I have little in the way of grammar skills. I know what a verb is but thats about it. I write I guess based on my learning from reading.
Thankfully my daughter and grand kids are avid readers and have performed extremely well in their academic studies. My grandson reads in four languages, English, Italian, Spanish and Korean.

It's comprehension, not compression boys. Get it together, and then, perhaps, you can be taken seriously.

toughteri, I agree its comprehension.
but please I dont want to be taken seriously, thats no fun.

Ouch! Yes teacher. I will double-check before posting in future.

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