Sprawl Urbana; Citywide Oxidation


One of my earliest jaunts out into Sleepytown since landing back among her borders involved public transportation. I have grown not only accustomed to, but actually enjoy the routes I ride via bus for it allows me to peer into the soul of the commonfolk and their everyday surroundings. Bus routes are typically built to accommodate the lay-traveler, the beaten sots that society has dealt a bad hand for whatever reason – not so down and out that they’re on the corner with a cardboard sign, but not so well off that they own a Lexus…or maybe they do have a cardboard sign, it’s a mixture of cultures and castes where everyone on board will respect anyone on board, because we all just want to get home. Riding the bus to me is akin to driving cross country rather than flying. That slow trip along vast stretches of highway expose you to all the wrinkles you would otherwise pass over in mere minutes. I want to see the raw nerve revealed, I want to experience the pain.

I was on my way to meet a good friend who is having a house constructed in the middle of the old school streets in Indy; Central East side, Tech High School vicinity. He has run the course of living in the inner city community, moved out with the wave of urban sprawl to buy a house on the northern outreaches of Indianapolis and now comes back toward the old established neighborhoods to bring some vibrant growth back to an area that has weathered some harsh times. The sleek design, modular house he’s having constructed is a marvel of modern engineering in both look and construction. The thing snaps together with the simplicity of Lincoln Logs (okay maybe that’s a bit of a fucking exaggeration but awfully close) and gives me a sense brought on by Bauhaus perfection – function fits the form. The step outside the box he took having this thing built, where he had it built, is what I consider the personification incarnate to what so much of our country needs right now.

Urban sprawl has plagued American cities for some time now and city planners and theorists continue to debate on what the answer is to solve this problem – or if it should even be considered a problem. As I took the bus toward the heart of Sleepytown I watched the endless blocks of Washington Street whisk by me, empty lots and decayed buildings covered in a slow oxidized cancer that would eventually reduce them to rubble. So what goes in place of these abandoned Iglesias del Dios and tattered burger joints? Only time will tell. The potential to pick up real estate for a lark is ripe right now, but investors are holding onto their cash to find out where the next big wave or urban sprawl will lead the masses. Like bad television show ripoffs, they will most likely wait until one successful, well thought out business begins to make it, then they’ll strike like crabgrass and set root amid something good and right to bastardize it with some inept, lesser quality substitute.

Perhaps, years from now, the location where my friend is having his new house built will be littered with more of the same and small shops and convenient stores will pop up in response. Only time will tell and if that happens, I for one will consider that a natural cycle of urbanization and not feel saddened. Refurbish the old neighborhoods and forget about continuing to branch out into new gated communities – the chase is mindless. Stop ruining untouched areas which push us farther from the heart of the city and concentrate on bringing about a rebirth to the communities once loved. Clean up the fucking mess that was left when they abandoned the heart of your town. Scrape the oxidation off those old communities. Silver just needs to be polished sometimes to make it shine


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