November 21, 2004

A Better Urban Environment

I have David Sucher's City Comfort's Blog on my daily read list. I don't always agree with him on various issues and he's part of that delusional group, the "reality-based community" that's today's code word for liberals but he has the refreshing virtue of really, truly caring about the built environment. What he's aiming at, I believe is something like Rome, a place where even the B and C lists are awe-inspiring.

We came with three guidebooks National Geographic, Let's Go, and the Irreverent Guide to Rome, and each one had four or five pages of photos and descriptions listing a dozen or so highlights. What was truly striking was the stuff that didn't make the highlight list. I would stand there, marveling slack-jawed at some stunning painting, or carving, or gold-leaf covered decoration with a tapestry and seemingly ancient Bible or papyrus and ask, "What room is this?" And Mrs. Kerry Spot would consult a map and reply, "The secondary broom closet, decorated by a student of Michelangelo. Not even listed among the must-sees."

Now there's something to aim for, that the secondary broom closet is such a thing of beauty and inspiration that it can stop you dead in sheer appreciation of it. The funny thing is that we know how to build that way, how to decorate that way and we don't. Or at least we don't do it anywhere near a majority of the time. We can build better, decorate better, inspire ourselves to loftier heights and we simply choose not to. Instead of something that lasts, we run out and buy into mass customized consumer fads of little value and shorter duration.

There is a better way, I think, and while I'm not quite sure that Sucher has the whole story, he's looking in the right places and has found a good deal of the answer.

Posted by TMLutas at November 21, 2004 09:01 AM