Monday, January 29, 2007

My Weekend of Suburbia

I'll admit to a generous dash of midtown myopia. I occasionally think that people who regularly subject themselves to long commutes, short trees and mega malls tend to be slaves to convention or afraid of poor people. I'm not trying to pick a fight here - I know these are ugly stereotypes that are correct no more than around 75% of the time . . .

Anyhow, this was a weekend of visiting suburbia, and it was shockingly tolerable. On Saturday, we ventured into the Wyandotte Retail Wonderland, and spent money at a store large enough to house an aircraft carrier or two. We ate lunch at a fake Irish pub, but the food was good, and it offered the first Boulevard Irish Ale I've seen this season, so I'm not going to complain.

On Saturday, we had dinner with friends north of the river, at a chain restaurant called Bonefish. Nothing makes a midtowner twitch quite like a chain restaurant. The corporate-approved "atmosphere", the rigidly controlled plating, the whole genericness (genericity?) of the experience makes us feel like tools, on top of the guilt of spending serious restaurant dollars at a place that isn't Aixois, or Lill's on 17th, or any one of dozens of authentic Kansas City restaurants that need and deserve our support. But, I'll admit it - the food was good, the service was fine, and the prices weren't out of line. It was a perfectly adequate meal in a strip mall.

On Sunday, following the race, I drove out to Blue Springs and drove through a subdivision full of vertically-sided houses on cul-de-sacs. I'm trying to come up with something positive, or at least non-snide, but I'm stumped. The only thing I know they had a lot of is wind, but it was too cold for kite-flying.

I'm back in my midtown home this morning. I hope I don't have to drive more than 5 miles again for a couple months . . .


Anonymous Anonymous Me said...

Wow, Dan, what a narrow world you live in. Get out! There is more to life than downtown.

And self-rightous. ". . . tend to be slaves to convention or afraid of poor people" ?? What in the hell is that?

1/29/2007 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Little known fact among urbo-snobs : sometimes restaurant chains come from small, local restaurants that people really, really like. Then the small restaurant opens a second, and a third, and a fourth, etc.

"Slaves to convention" - would that mean shopping and dining near home?

1/29/2007 11:47 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

I feel compelled to come to the defense of urbo-snob Dan. Perhaps it could have been stated better, but as a mid-towner who moved in from the 'burbs I can tell you that at least some of the original statement is true. When my wife and I decided to pack up and move into the city, we fielded a rather steady stream of questions about why we weren't afraid to do so. It certainly isn't fair to say that all suburbanites feel that way. But it is fair to say that to some, anything between downtown and 103rd might as well be Afghanistan.

As for the restaurant question, sure most chains come from small joints that started somewhere. The point is that they didn't start here, and now the dollars that you spend at one don't have the same local impact that those spent at local restaurants do. Gates is by most accounts a chain, but I never hear anyone complain about it. That's because it is our chain.

1/29/2007 12:44 PM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

You're right about one thing (OMG). Subdivisions are so damn boring. Here their colors are lovingly referred to as "Johnson County Tan". No character whatsoever unless you move up to $1mm or so and even then you can still piss out the door to your neighbor's yard, course you can do that in the urban areas too...maybe I'm missing something???

So glad I don't live in a subdivision. Green acres is the place for me, farm livin is the place to be..doo da doo da

1/29/2007 1:27 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Dan, I thought you lived in Brookside, am I wrong? No offense, but Brookside is not quite Midtown. To me it's more like Prairie Village with shared driveways and slightly older houses...

1/29/2007 1:43 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

I live in Liberty and I love it. People shovel each others lawns, we say hello, we go walking together, we call the police on each other's kids, it's great!

We have great local eateries. Want pizza? Try The Dish. Won't find that anywhere else. Want upscale? Try The Hardware Cafe on the square. Want big screen TVs, great burgers and ice cold pitchers of beer? Go to The Landing.

Oh, and one other plus about "the burbs", nothing out here smells like wino piss.

The worst you'll smell out here is realtor piss. Less amonia, more asparagus.

1/29/2007 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - quick subject change.

Anyone know the technical reason behind the "asparagus piss" phenomenon?

Inquiring minds want to know.

1/29/2007 10:05 PM  
Blogger emawkc said...

Some of the constituents of asparagus are metabolised and excreted in the urine, giving it a distinctive, mildly unpleasant odor. The smell is caused by various sulfur-containing degradation products (e.g. thiols and thioesters). Studies showed that about 40% of the test subjects displayed this characteristic smell; and a similar percentage of people are able to smell the odor once it is produced. There does not seem to be any correlation between peoples' production and detection of the smell. The speed of onset of urine smell is rapid, and has been estimated to occur within 15-30 minutes from ingestion.

Or so I've read.

1/30/2007 9:01 AM  
Anonymous JW said...

There are lots of good things about the suburbs. The problem is they are built upon shaky finances and cheap oil. That lifestyle is unsustainable. If we take what we've learned and re-invest in public transportation, livable, walkable communities with sensible density, and efficient housing instead of razing hillsides to maximize lots of appealing boxes, then we have a chance.
I read an opinion that suburbia represents our shared history of taming the wild west. Short of the real thing, we settle for a substitute, thus the manicured lawns and landscaped shrubbery. But it's probably the desire to disappear and leave your past behind that's the biggest draw.

1/30/2007 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depending on how many cigarettes the chef smoked the night before, the food at Aixois is awful salty.

Also, it is "genericalness". You were *this* close.

3/27/2007 3:49 PM  

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