21 August 2012

The Town Mouse and the Suburb Mouse

The Suburb Mouse grew up in a suburb where computers outnumbered civilians. He was accustomed to living among perfect green lawns and perfectly square houses and one car per human and not much in the way of crumbling Victorian woodwork or burly trees shedding leaves which would turn to mud on the sidewalk.

One day, he overheard the Town Mouse muttering the lyrics of
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes by the Interstate
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same
There's a pink one
and a green one
and a blue one
and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

and requested a translation.

The Town Mouse explained that this was a song about the suburbs, and that the little boxes signified the identical houses plunked down in perfectly straight lines.
"What's wrong with that?" asked the Suburb Mouse.
The Town Mouse, to her surprise, was hard-pressed to come up with an answer. Was there something wrong with building an efficient but uninteresting neighborhood?

"Anyway, the houses in my hometown don't all look alike," said the Suburb Mouse. "There are four different models of houses, and they are painted in five different colors."
The Town Mouse thought he was kidding. He wasn't.

I suppose (concluded the Town Mouse) that ideally, architecture and city planning should be a positive influence on a city and on those who live in it. Imaginative planning can completely alter the character of a city -- Portland's row of Park Blocks is a classic example.

I guess (said the Town Mouse) there are people who find the suburban aesthetic uplifting, or at least reassuring. Personally I find the old, intricate, and be-foliaged more conducive to keeping my head on straight.

Until recently (reflected the Town Mouse) I did not believe that attractive suburbs exist. But I actually found one the other day, when I was driving around Tualatin and wound up on Tookbank street, and then on Withywindle.

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