[lit-ideas] Re: Speaking of ...

  • From: "Andy Amago" <aamago@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 23:15:39 -0500

If one is fairly near a grocery store and has lots and lots of friends a la
Our Town whose interests coincide with theirs and who obviously do have
cars then I suppose being car-less is possible in the U.S..  Regarding
Wal-Mart, the nearest one is 10 miles, and I admit I like Wal-Mart. 
Whether I shop there or not won't make any difference to the economy at
all.  Likewise the library is 8 miles away.  The town center is 5 miles;
another is 7 miles.  Are these really walkable numbers to you, especially
up and down pretty steep hills?  There's a deli within a mile and there's
not one thing there worth eating, it's all meat and cheese.  The landscape
for all that walking doesn't change much.  And then who lives within
walking distance of work unless it's in NYC?  As far as being isolating in
a car, it probably is.  On the other hand, it's a chance to catch up on
what's going on in the world on a level not available on television if one
listens to NPR.  

The isolation is a deeper phenomenon than cars.  I was listening to a
discussion on marriage and how today people turn to their spouse for most
of their companionship in ways that historically wasn't done.  One of the
reasons that was suggested is that the changes in work habits in the middle
of the 20th century such that men went to work and women stayed home,
coupled with work becoming a very competitive place, which ended trust
among people, began the shift toward relative isolation of people.   They
weren't knocking marriage; in fact they said marriage has never been better
in history, just that too much might be being asked of it.  Personally, I
think they were romanticizing other centuries that were at least as
dysfunctional as now or much worse.  

Also, commutes aren't such bad things depending on how they're used.  One
of my friends lived about 2 miles away from me and when she commuted to
work she would listen to motivational tapes and she loved them.  Then she
got divorced and sold her house and bought a townhouse much closer to where
she works and now she has to find time to listen to her tapes.  She misses
the commute.  Personally,  I would love to not own a car, but it's just not
possible outside of NYC, where a car is a liability, at least in my

> [Original Message]
> From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Date: 11/22/2006 9:51:36 PM
> Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Speaking of ...
>  >>Even if the grocery stores around here
> offered delivery service, which they don't, it's still 
> rather isolating without a car.
> For me, it's the opposite. Driving is isolating. You're 
> stuck in a metal box -- a "trainer coffin" if you will -- 
> and the whole point of that box is to get out of it. I mean, 
> people do lethal things in attempts to shave seconds from 
> their time in the metal box.
> You have to watch the road and so you miss the landscape. 
> You can't meet people by chance while you are driving. You 
> also can't subvert the "point A to point B" behavior by 
> suddenly stopping.
> Of course, it's comfortable to preach when one doesn't have 
> a car. When one owns a car, and someone suggests walking to 
> the store ... well that suggestion is not usually going to 
> succeed. It's part of the addictive nature of easy solutions 
> -- it's easy, so it doesn't matter if it is inferior or 
> degrading. Like Wal-Mart.
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