Tag Archives: FUBAR

Dog Shits in Suburban Sprawl Hell, Property Values Rise 20%

A True Story about Shit

by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Today, I found myself in single-family suburban sprawl hell, somewhere in Northeast Florida, with my dog, Izzy. The reason is unimportant. However, being a dutiful dog, Izzy indicated she needed to go for a walk. (Note: She is 4 years old next month and the cutest dog with the sweetest disposition… but that’s beside the point). So, I hooked her to the leash and started to walk her through a neighborhood, which is the very definition of suburban sprawl. Yes, there was not any street inter-connectivity and we have to retrace our route into this neighborhood, giving us the “pleasure” of seeing the same Mega Mediterranean homes not once but twice. Of course, the homes are only Mega Mediterranean along the front yard facades. Along the side yards, the true nature of the homes as basic wood frame construction with really cheap siding, sitting on 1/4 acre lots, is obvious. Most of the lawns were neatly manicured with St. Augustine grass (by the way, not really a grass… it’s a weed but whatever), as one might expect. In spending about 20 minutes in this neighborhood, I passed about a half of dozen people at 6:00 pm in the evening. None of these people said hello.

In fact, only one person spoke to me. After Izzy had done ‘her business’ (meaning she pooped) in a front yard and I was bending down with my doggy poop bag to pick it up, a woman came rushing out of her house to tell me, “I don’t like dogs pooping in my yard.” I looked at her incredulously and replied, “I’m picking it up.” She said (and I’m not kidding), “I know but I spent a lot on money on this yard and I don’t want it messed up by dogs pooping in it.” As you might expect, I stared in shock at this woman like she was a crazy person. She did not make her political position on urine clear to me. I pointed out, “it’s fertilizer.” She then added, “I know but I have dogs too and I don’t let them poop in my yard.” I’m not sure but this may have been a ‘suburban code’, meaning ‘I make sure my dogs poop in the neighbors’ yards.’ I replied, “Call the police, I’m sure it must be a crime,” turned around and walked back the way we came out of the neighborhood, all the while dutifully carrying my doggy poop bag and carefully navigating through multiple piles of dog shit in the neighborhood common areas. Needless to say, Izzy and I will never be walking in that neighborhood again (not that it was ever likely anyway).

My normal experience in a historic, traditional neighborhood has always been when Izzy poops in someone’s yard, I dutifully pick it up and, if it is noticed, the homeowners usually say, “thank you.” Suburban sprawl breeds intolerance of the stranger and the unfamiliar… and, apparently, acute cases of coprophobia (an irrational fear of feces).

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The Audacity of Audacity | Transportation Secretary on Spending Binge Before Leaving Office | Planetizen

Transportation Secretary on Spending Binge Before Leaving Office | Planetizen

ray-lahoodIn February 2013, outgoing US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood was bemoaning the need for an additional $15 billion a year to fix potholes (see The Outlaw Urbanist post, “The Weight of Debt,” 2/7/13). Two months later, LaHood is apparently spending money like a drunken sailor in a whorehouse (no offense to sailors… or whores), throwing out $1.5B in grants like it was candy (10% of the total amount he previously said was desperately needed to fill potholes). Now, I’m sure local mayors and governments do, indeed, appreciate the largesse from DoT but there’s something incredibly unseemly about this situation.

From the article:

“LaHood is pushing the limits of his power. He recently earmarked $100,000 for the construction of a one-eighth scale miniature railroad in the backyard of his private home.”

See what I mean? The American taxpayers’ money at work on behalf of Ray LaHood. Surely, that has got to be illegal? Right? Generally, this is how you book a reservation at the Illinois Governors’ Memorial Wing of the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois.

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The Insidious Landscaping-Agricultural Complex

The Insidious Landscaping-Agricultural Complex
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning “against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex” in his farewell address of January 17, 1961 is well-known. What is less well-known is this echoed a similar warning President Eisenhower gave in a speech to the Akron Woman’s City Club in Ohio one year earlier, in which he railed against “the undue influence of the emerging landscaping-agricultural complex in American suburbia.” Many have discounted this lesser-known warning due to suspicions that President Eisenhower might have been suffering from an acute case of panophobia (fear of everything) in the last year of his presidency.

However, as we gaze across Suburbia today, we have reason to believe that President Eisenhower’s warning about the emerging Landscaping-Agricultural Complex was not without merit. In suburban sprawl hell, somewhere in Northeast Florida, mindless minions in service to the orthodoxy of the Landscaping-Agricultural Complex are mulching street signs, fire hydrants, overflow pipes, and electrical transformers (see above). Why?

Is there value in moisture retention for a road sign (upper left)? Are the landscapers nurturing the ‘growth’ of this sign to a more adult height? Or perhaps additional moisture will enable the speed limit to grow above its current 15 MPH level? Is this what occurred with the overflow pipe (lower left)? Was it originally only six inches in height and, over time, the additional moisture retention of mulching around the pipe enabled its growth an imposing height of two feet? Fire hydrants certainly require water in order to operate (upper right) but I’m pretty sure mulching has nothing to do with how they get water. Finally, why mulch around an electrical transformer (lower right)? It sits on a concrete pad, which is already well-hidden by the grass. Surely this was the point of painting them green in the first place, so they would be less noticeable. Personally, I didn’t even know they existed until they mulched around the base (read: sarcasm).

The only way I can rationalize this attribute of ‘mulching everything’ is the Landscaping-Agricultural Complex is artificially inflating the per square footage or volumetric costs of the amount of mulch used in this suburban community. Either that, or I am just not smart enough to understand the functional benefits of moisture retention in mulching inanimate objects.

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McMansions Return: Big Houses Come Back | Yahoo! Finance

McMansions Return: Big Houses Come Back – Yahoo! Finance.

In other news today, the Hershey Company released the startling results of a survey that indicates 98% of children want candy for every meal on an everyday basis. This appears to confirm the findings of the most recent surveys by the American Dental Association and Halloween Industry Association (yes, it really does exist) that asked similar questions of American children. However, it does seem to contradict the findings of a recent survey by the International Association of Ice Cream Distributors & Vendors that suggested 96% of American children actually want ice cream for every meal. A spokesman for the American Dental Association was kind enough to take time away from a vacation on his yacht off the coast of Barbados to comment, “We don’t see how the results of these different surveys about what American children want to be provided for their daily nutrient requirements can be viewed as in conflict with one another in any feasible manner.”

There are so many depressing aspects of this story and the media coverage that the McMansion part only begins to scratch the surface of what is wrong with this picture.

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