A Town

by talkbackty on Jun 26, 2011

I went looking for a place to live in a town I'm going to be working in for 6 months or so. However, calling it a town is too generous. A city would be better, but there are serious drawbacks to calling it a city. At the end of the day, it's just a place. And that is why I despised it so.

I know I was lucky. My parents picked a good place their children to grow up. And for a humorous sketch, here's Craig Ferguson doing a bit on the town I grew up.

If you didn't have time to watch...go back and watch it you lazy bum. It's funny.

Notice how he talked about two things specifically. The old-timey feel and main street. Now for the record Pleasanton is hardly old-timey compared to the rest of the country or world. Every street is paved, every sidewalk is walkable, there are well-maintained parks, a Raleys, a Wal-Mart, a Safeway, and an Albertsons. It's not old-timey.

But it does give off an atmosphere different from other places. It is a town.

I don't even know what this means. It's just a concept. What I think it means is that we've had some pretty good city-planners over the years. Let me explain why.

Everything flows outward from main street, which is kept pristine. There are sections of the town for different things. And, I think, most importantly, there is no street with only stores upon stores upon stores. Things are broken up and segmented. All those grocery stores I mentioned? Ya, they aren't even close to one another. And with the exception of Safeway, they are all on the edges of town...not in the middle.

This isn't the case with my new soon-to-be residence. It's a disgusting sprawl that doesn't have a center, only more shops. The main street is 12th avenue. Because that's where all the businesses went. And I mean all of them. So over time that became the most frequented place, so it needed revisions to handle the most traffic, and then other places were left behind as that area developed.

This is the problem of land, low populations, and freedom. Now some of you just gasped. Calm down, I have reasons.

See geography sets up nice borders for some places. L.A stays in the valley (for the most part), Manhattan can't build off it's island. Land restricts us. But that causes innovations. The skyscrapers of Manhattan are only because it was highly populated and on an island. If they had more room to move outward they would have, because that is easier.

Low populations that grow quickly to large populations are probably the most damaging thing I've seen. Rural towns that suddenly grow because technology has made it possible to live their are normally atrocious. Actually I haven't seen any I like, including where I currently live and where I'm going to live. They become overrun with things that are secondary, but treated as if they are the primary objective. Gas stations, motels, car dealerships, 7-11's. All those things pop up quickly and whereever there are people. And city councils (because they are old people who have lived in the same place for years) don't know enough to stop them.

Lastly, freedom. I know I'm American. But freedom isn't all it's cracked up to be. See freedom of resources actually leads to stagnation instead of innovation. This is why all great societies grow next to rivers or water. Literally everywhere. New York, Chicago, London, Rome, Egypt, Hong Kong, Islamabad. They are all right next to water sources. People HAD to live there because it was the only place around that had enough water and resources. Now we can live basically anywhere. Las Vegas is a great example. No one should live in Vegas. It should kill all it's inhabitants. But we adjust rivers and use technology and that allows Vegas to expand- although quite harmfully.

You have to look closely to see these things. If you never leave the town you grew up in (whether it's a good or bad town) you'll never notice these things. But there are differences between a town and a plot of land where people live.

To go macro in my thoughts. This is why third-world countries dislike Westernization. Because they go from living in there rural, simple towns and watch it change into a disgusting metropolis that reflects humanities worst instinct...greed.

In closing, Craig Ferguson is funny.  I was lucky where I grew up.  Growth without restrictions and regulation and boundaries is rarely a good thing.  That's all folks.

Say, what's the big idea!