Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wonderful Redux

I've been reading Jim Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation blog for the better part of the year now, and while he only posts a few times a month, he never disappoints. Jim's raison d'etre is to warn us all, Cassandra-like, about the coming crash of our entire American suburban system when we hit the downhill slope of peak oil and our entire car-nation is forced off the roads.

While I recommend reading any of Jim's non-compromising posts, he put up a particularly provocative one for the holidays, his take on Frank Capra's classic film It's a Wonderful Life, extrapolating out on George Bailey's mission to spread suburbia vs. what has really happened to the small town centers Capra valorized in the picture:
In one of the movie's major set pieces, George Bailey opens Bailey Park, a tract of car-dependent cookie-cutter bungalows, and turns over the keys to the first house to the Italian immigrant Martini family. Had the story continued beyond 1946 into, say, the 1980s, (with George Bailey now a doddering Florida golfer), we would have seen the American landscape ravaged by suburban development, and the main street towns like Bedford Falls gutted and left for dead. That was the perverse outcome of George Bailey's good intentions.

Kunstler sorta nearly rhymes with curmudgeon and, with his usual intelligence, insight and, I'm scared to say, capacity for prediction, he'll make you see that beloved picture in a whole different light.

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