The Geography of Nowhere...

Mt. Casino 2009

For years my friend Randall Updegrove has been suggesting I read The Geography of Nowhere, by James Howard Kunstler. When I finally did get around to reading the book, it was like finding the perfect narrative to my photographs. I was blown away, page after page, not just because I agreed with most of what was being said, but because someone had put into words what I had been feeling suffering from for years. It was like finding a long sought medical diagnosis and now I could begin to work on the healing process.

One of many examples from the book...

The dogmas of Modernism only helped rationalize what the car economy demanded: bare bones buildings that served their basic functions without symbolically expressing any aspirations or civic virtues...Try to imagine a building of any dignity surrounded by six acres of parked cars. The problems are obvious. Obvious solution: Build buildings without dignity.

Is there a more pathetic example of a lack of dignity in architecture than the recently constructed Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa.? This facade consists of nothing but enormous video screens that provide non-stop high definition advertising for the winning potential to be found inside. Advertising so powerful that a few weeks ago a man was arrested for leaving his 15 month old son outside in the parking lot in a locked running vehicle while he was inside for over an hour playing the penny slots. The guy claimed he had only intended to be in there for ten minutes, and he had left the air conditioning on in the car.

Many thanks to Kunstler for a brilliant expression of words that most of us are incapable of coherently assembling, even though we feel them inside our souls.

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