Juicey town

28 10 2007

In the days before now a city had room for all kinds of everything and if new things popped up there was plenty of decay allowed. Smelly alleys, crumbling doorways, places to peer into and breathe deeply off, ample evidence of what the French call the city’s “juice” the smells, texture, grime of time. Those were the days before today but now it’s today and there is a systematic project to standardize the city, to spray away, demolish away, haul away everything that might shock the commercial tenants, international chain stores specialized in uniformity and the guaranteed absence of surprise. American tourists overheard on a Michigan Avenue bus compare McDo’s of America. Travel broadens.

We can’t go back home like happy tourists. We are home and we can’t smell our city’s history any more. They’re knocking it down, tearing it out, throwing every preposition in the book at it. The old Chicago of brick, granite, limestone, the city yanked out of the ground in the region’s own stones, could now be built anywhere in the world. It’s the Generic City of pre-cast concrete. Dirt won’t stick to it, mold can’t cling to it and it will never ever stink.

Dirt’s an endangered species in this town and we are down to our last grime on the CTA train platforms. Will somebody hurry up and Landmark that dirt before somebody over at the CTA HQ realizes it looks like they don’t care. Transit dirt is on borrowed time. Someone gave orders to the dim cavern of the Harrison Red Line station to splash the floor with a bucket of disinfectant just before rush hour. They don’t quite have the hang of this clean freak thing though, because they jam the same dirty towels around the base of the ticket machines to protect them from the peppermint freshness. In an age of manufactured insecurity we are to believe that clean is safe and dirt is dangeroUS.




One response

28 10 2007

Collect your own suburbanizing the city examples

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