iRant: Modern Moats and the Center of the Universe

Prepare yourself for an aimless diatribe of diatriblical proportions, my reader(s)! I cannot promise coherence, but my rantings typically garner a laugh or two. Stick around.

First off, I coined the phrase iRant simply cuz I can. Let's face it, with everything being "My Computer" or "My Documents", iPod, build-your-own sandwiches, and even MySpace, it's all about me. And what country has a firmer grasp of individualistic self-indulgence than America? And no, I don't feign any piety in this matter, guilty as charged. Moving forth...

Modern moats. In olden days, moats were defensive measures that any fief lord with a ducat of sense would dig around his castle. Quite simply, it kept an unwanted person from getting from point A to point B. Nowadays, we have our alarm systems, locks (we love you Kryptonite, but why did the Bramah fade away?), and if you are rich, a body guard. I'm not so interested in these modern moats. No, my rant is with cities and their growing accesibility issues. Particularly, poorly planned, poorly constructed, poorly utilized cities like...oh, let's see, Champaign-Urbana!!

As the famous addage goes, you can't get there from here. And if all roads truly lead to Rome, I think the dirt track from C-U never quite found it's way. If it isn't the slowest drivers in the world, it's the numerous streets without passing lanes (and no dedictated turn lanes, too). Or it's the critical mass of street lights. Or it's building the only shopping district in one corner of town so everyone can get there from only a few places. Then there are those parking lots where you think, I can cut across and bypass the traffic. Not having it. Because you all have encountered these parking lot mirages before. The two lots next to each other DON'T LINK THE FUCK UP TOGETHER!!! And why should they, right?

I feel sorry for Urban Planners. They absorb all this education and research and data. They go out into the world to make a difference. But they are only really advisors. And like any advisor, you can whisper into the ear of the idiot on the throne, but you don't make any decisions. And trust me, C-U hasn't really listened to their Urban Planners, if they even employ them. Yeah yeah, I get it. There are two different city governments to contend with. You have Champaign, that is making worthy strides in revitalization, progression, and building a commerce base. But it can only do so much...because there is Urbana. Who seems to think that corporations are evil, hippies rule, and doing nothing will somehow lead to progress. As Dr. Phil bluntly puts it, "How's that working for ya?"

As a resident of Urbana, I can tell you it kinda sucks on our side of town. I think the term "anchor store" has been around for a while. You know, drop in a chain store and it attracts other businesses, particularly small local businesses? You know, otherwise, the tax base it too high and the incentives for the little guy and gal aren't really there? Or no one is drawn to that location? Am I preaching to the choir? And yeah, I don't pretend to know much about economics, but from what little I know and hear, this seems to make sense.

And I get that Urbana is trying to be a liberally-minded, recycle and organic friendly, non-corporate place to live. I respect that to an we didn't live in the middle of no where!! Besides this town, there ain't nothing out here folks. Except smaller towns. MUCH SMALLER TOWNS! Indy, Chicago, and St. Louis are all 2-3 hours away. Perhaps the small town local friendliness can be saved for a burb of a big city like Chicago. Which brings me to my second rant...

Center of the Universe. In olden days, Claud Ptolemy told us that, yep, Earth was the center of the universe. Then Nick Copernicus came along and was all like, whatevah! You're living in the past! The sun is front and center, dude! And then The United State of America came along and was the center of the universe. Now, many US citizens think they are the center of the universe. And in Illinois, pretty much everyone here (especially from N. Illinois) believe Chicago is the center of the universe. I mean, is there anything in this world better than Chicago? It has to be great because, you know, it's huge. And they have Oprah.

Nevertheless, I got some mind to speak. Residents of Chicago and it's infintely sprawling burbs, I issue to you a call to reason. There is a whole world out there. Soon, we'll own most of it. Until then, you can withdraw cash from your trust fund and visit it. Guess what, they use the same currency in all the states in our Union. And if you travel to locations non-America, you can exchange your money with local currency. No joke. So go check out the world. It's pretty cool.

Finalizing this iRant. To put a conclusive point on the debate, we know the center of the universe is really a big black hole. At least we think it is. In review, it seems we have many possible centers based on what we've explored here today. Mayhap, the moral is that in an infinite universe, there can be an infinite number of centers. How can you determine the center of everything known or knowable that is never ending? (cue mind explosion)

And if the center is indeed a black hole, that nicely describes my opinion of the urban planning of our fair cities of Champaign and Urbana. It sucks. And even though I realize there are budgets, infrastructure, constituencies, and laws at play, I don't give city leaders any slack. That's what they signed up for. It isn't easy...only ranting about it is easy. But I can do that because I am the center of my universe. Just ask me.


Allie D. said...

Have the hippies in Urbana undertaken the implemention of the all-mighty "roundabout"? Because the "new wave-I want to be just like Britain" jerkoffs out here seem to love them now as they are EVERYWHERE!!! Rant on my own blog about these, and other annoyances forthcoming, but I have to say I sympathize!!

bkdubya said...

This is why I think the Lord everyday for the new Interstate Drive. :)

Army said...

Allie, no roundabouts yet, thank god! I don't think we're trying to be European here just yet -- I don't see many berets or hear any "Ello, Guv'nah!" going on. In fact, we don't even really have the peat and hemp doobie-toking hippies like back in Yellow Springs. I guess we have non-practicing, political hippies here. Ugh.

And BKW, I'm envious of your ability to cruise. Why can't they build an interstate from my house to the Assembly Hall parking lot?

Robert said...

Sorry, but I feel that calling it the Universe is too narrow minded. Multiverse is more accurate. It has no edge or center. Yet if it could be said to have them it would be like a game of Asteroids where flying off one edge only puts you on the other side of the Multiverse. On top of that the Multiverse is an egg in the local grocery store.