Midnight Pub

Too Fast, Too Loud, Too Much


The growth of this place is straining my equanimity. It's not the amount of people moving here, per se, but rather the built environment 'developers' (what a strange and misleading name for mindless corporate organisms that eat land!) have made to accommodate them. We needed significant density to house this mass influx of humanity, and we got unchecked suburban hell. Hundreds of thousands of wild acres--a precious resource for many peoples over the last 10,000 years--are gone, buried under a hideous sea of identical 4000 square foot houses and big box stores. Malvina Reynolds was mostly right, but it's not little boxes on the hillside, it's pharaonic tombs in three different Richmond-approved colors. And the cars.

Oh god, the cars.

Look, I don't hate people, or towns, or even development necessarily. But we're destroying so much more of our landbase than we need to purely to accommodate the 'needs' of personal automobile ownership and the suburban anomie that is held up as some kind of modern human ideal (at least in the USA). It's sick, and many of us *know* it's sick, but the scheme will continue to run on autopilot until catabolic collapse up and punches it in the face. It's just reached some kind of...aesthetic tipping point for me. The sheer number of automobiles have gone from "gee, lots of cars on the road today" to "this is consistently beyond human comprehension". It's not really an issue of traffic--I rarely drive--but more that their very presence makes everything Too Much:

I've often heard from people that I'm 'too sensitive' or 'that's just the way things are, you need to get used to it' and having given those opinions due consideration, I can only return a hearty "Hey, fuck you!" My reactions to losing this place to the wendigo spirit that animates this culture are normal and human. I won't apologize for that or take drugs to make it more palatable. We can and should make non-insane places. Slower places. Places for all the souls we share this land with instead of machines.

I used to go out to the wild to recover when the civilized life became overwhelming, but one side effect of this sort of sprawling development is that wild places are now much farther away. A rental car and an hour--or a bicycle and four or five hours--used to be enough, now it's more of a six hour drive to get somewhere you can see the stars and not hear the roar of engines. That's a hard slog for me, as I find driving a physical and spiritual trial. Necessary sometimes, but unpleasant. I need to be stronger.

I'm not, though. Not yet. And so I sit here in the Pub, griping and grieving, wondering if I should flee the battlefield to somewhere with a bit of wildness still, and be a better defender this time.


At least where I used to live for a considerable amount of time, the car density in rural areas increased just as significantly as in urban areas for a rather silly reason, that being most people having begun to merely lease cars and change them more often than their underwear. My street used to be calm; you never got to see more than three cars throughout the day, at best. Now, everyone got at least two cars, all of which are way too wide for the narrow streets going through this old village. It's gotten to a point where I mostly despise driving, mainly because my old mid-class Audi from the 90's gets pushed off the road by heavy, yet fragile city tanks and infotainment systems on wheels. But it's not just cars that have become, dare I say, ridiculous; I've lost count of all the shiny new tractors that sent an earthquake through my old living room and make the damaged asphalt underneath them vibrate visibly. House owners shamelessly exploiting subsidies also have decided to rebuild their homes to make them bigger – I used to have an incredible view from my bedroom window and always felt at peace the moment I saw the trees located around a soccer field, now the same view is blocked by a wooden facade and a short sheet metal chimney blowing carbon monoxide directly into my bedroom.

Never having lived in a city, yet being familiar with the concrete jungle, my old home – a village with less than 500 inhabitants – has become completely alien to me. The noise passes the thick walls of the old buildings, the cracks on the facades are growing faster and multiply, the air, despite the abundance of trees, is poorer than it used to be. And then there are the cyclists, all of which tend to decide to use the same tracks (and violate traffic laws, as if none of those apply to them at all) at the same time, not caring that they disturb and destroy fragile ecosystems by demanding that every track needs to be made of asphalt, so they can engage in races on them. Or the growing amount of dog owners that shouldn't own a dog in the first place and always let them walk around freely, despite the area hosting species of mammals and birds on the brink of extinction.

Even living in an unattractive village with a shrinking population no longer provides a true sense of peace from human activities. And just like in your case, I have noticed that the amount of stars I can observe with my naked human eyes decreased, despite half of the street lights now being turned off after midnight.



cant talk about how much i agree. if it wasn't near midnight i'd go on a spiel about industrialism, capitalism, and the possibilities of urban planning but i just have to let you know there is such a distinct strain og philosophy and politics that agree with you in such an expansive and important way



the car culture will end in the most boring way possible

there is a sense in which cars are a memory overflow of our society, a mistake in the programming

they are just pure insanity, destroy whole idea of a space



I don't know that I've ever really lived in a big city. I grew up on Air Force bases in the USA, which are all little gated communities that have their own grocery stores, schools, movie theaters, places of work, and community spaces. I've often described it as "growing up in Wal-Mart", in that no matter what state you are in, the bases all seem to look more or less the same. Once I became an adult, I moved to the other side of the country for college and found myself in the rolling forested mountains of Vermont. Here the population is small (under 650,000 people in the whole state) and most folks live in sleepy little towns and villages, made up mostly of dirt roads winding through the hills and valleys. Except for the state's two interstate highways, all we have are one and two lane roads with minimal traffic. Billboards are illegal here and development is regulated to preserve the beautiful scenic views everywhere you drive. I live off-grid in a yurt on 67 acres of forested land down a one-lane dirt road in a town of 1000 people, almost all of whom are scattered through the forest in their own secluded homesteads. I'm also fortunate enough to be able to work from home over satellite internet, so I usually only get in a car once or twice a week on the weekends to drive to the nearest town for running errands. Out here, it's just me, my partner, my companion animals, and the wildlife. If I want to see other people, I can travel out to find them, but they rarely come out to find me. The homesteading chores are significant everyday, but I wouldn't trade it for city or suburban life for any amount of money.



Completely agree with the huge societal impact of cars. Cars and cigarettes are so nocive, so bad for everything and yet mostly unquestioned and unquestionable.

This really freak me out that, yes, we want to save the planet but we also want more road, more cars and the freedom to smoke everywhere.



\*I don't hate cars*. They are the ultimate vehicle in which to safely explore your environment with every luxury known to man (heating/cooling, recliner bed, media center, massage function, etc.). For getting from A to B and bringing your entire workshop with you, as well as picking up random furniture along the way, there is nothing better than a car.

\*I do hate cities built around cars*. Cities are where people go to work, raise families, hang out, relax, play, interact, share ideas. I.e. a large sprawling community. Making this a dangerous, loud, and (literally) toxic place to do any of these things counteracts the whole point of a community, and just centers a city towards work and an insular home life.



i'm an urbanist and i agree with this; this is exactly what i believe. i actually do like cars, they're a modern marvel, but car infrastructure is the absolute worst thing humans have ever made. it is a nightmare (literally) for me and i hate living in it with little choice to leave it behind.

now that i think about it, i'm sure most smallweb users are the same in many ways, including this one.



I agree completely.

I'm lucky enough to live in a city with great public transport, so the infrastructure and housing pretty much make sense. But there are still too many cars. The amount of time, money and effort spent on them is crazy given that you don't need one here.

Like I said, I got lucky--I moved when I had to, not out of choice. So I can't exactly give advice ;) but if you have a chance to move somewhere that fits you better, it can be a huge benefit. It's also a vote against the cars :)



i empathize with you.

i live i an urban town where, over the last decade,

i've seen entire towns pop up adjacent

to my poor (economically & metaphorically) town.

folks i know (alongside myself) have to fight to keep nature alive.

i live right next to a metalworks factory near a major river,

so the amount of dust accumulated across my whole body after an hour's

walk would be derisable if the reality wasn't so miserable.

luckily, there's a small amount of natural forest near me -

about four acres.

the problem is that this land isn't respected.

antiquated buildings stand dilapidated in concrete fields

coated with a bed of gravel, and scattered across this plain is a plethora

of junk.

lots of folks use the space as an area for public drinking -

which would be fine if beer cans weren't sprewn everywhere alongside

an assortment of joints, clearly unattended leftover fire pits etc.

as for cars: you've definitely hit the nail on the head.

i used to love riding my bicycle. i still would if it didn't

feel dangerous to do so.

i stick to riding on the sidewalks a lot because i'm genuinely terrified

of being hit by an automobile.

the context for this is that i'm pretty nocturnal ergo i see a lot of

folks racing or driving for the thrill which speed brings.

as for your later reply, OP: yeah - we have a moral and societal obligation

to be good people (even if it's by our own definitions - sometimes) and

try to peacefully stop development where development would hurt others.



My daughter (almost 2) hates cars, and it made me realize how bad it is. For the same reason as you: it's noisy, scary, and visibly dangerous. And as you say, they are everywhere, so I hear a lot of complaints.

The funny thing, though, is that in people's minds, it's obligatory. Apparently, going to places without them makes someone either object of pity or admiration (it's like the "wonderful crip" trope). So some nice people get a bit too insistent in offering rides. But if you're cycling in winter, it's dangerous because you could skid on an ice patch—which is a bit weird when the alternative is a much less maneuverable half-ton behemoth. (I get the idea: the driver of that behemoth is safe. But I'm not certain it's a gain.)



The "place" you seek is the ineffable source of attention directly opposite the sad scenes you describe.

Said "place" is necessarily within because looking outwardly inadvertently posits a sorry-assed, allegedly free-willed sack of shit (usually referred to as an "individual") separate from all the non-self "stuff", and that lonely separation sucks ass indeed.

Said another way elsewhere:

          abide in awareness
      with no illusion of person
you will be instantly free and at peace


Thank you for your considered reply, but...even in the absence of ego, isn't this flesh *of* the world, embedded firmly in the web of all life and death? When that world is wounded, aren't all contained within wounded likewise? What duty, if any, does this compel?



(NOTE: what follows is merely wondering out loud, not presumption of knowing/imparting "truth"..)

> Thank you for your considered reply, but...even in
> the absence of ego, isn't this flesh *of* the world,
> embedded firmly in the web of all life and death?

How can an ego answer a question whose context is the absence of ego?

> When that world is wounded, aren't all contained within
> wounded likewise?

Given the ego-less context, who's there to know whether or not physical circumstances constitute wounded-ness?

> What duty, if any, does this compel?

Does 'duty' make any sense outside an ego context?