« McCain Agonistes | Main | Decade of delusion »

December 17, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Having been fortunate enough to escape from Phoenix, where I spent the first 27 years of my life back in 2004, for a job in Boston, I can say that Mr. Talton is 100 percent correct in his contrast of Seattle and Phoenix. Natives of the Valley of the Sun (or those who have spent most of their lives there, as I did) would benefit from taking an extended vacation outside of Arizona. They would be amazed what a REAL city looks and feels like if they spent at least a year living there.
When I settled in Boston, my homesickness for Phoenix quickly evaporated as I discovered the old city's cosmopolitan vibe and its historical beauty. My wife and I never tired of exploring its museums, restaurants and bars, and its charming neighborhoods. And best of all, everything in Boston is within walking distance.
We've since relocated to Denver to be closer to her family. I do miss Boston terribly, yet I can appreciate living in another great American city that has reinvented itself. Denver has a vibrant and diverse economy, and the city's downtown is one of the best in the nation.
I have only visited Phoenix twice since I left six years ago -- in 2006 for our wedding and last spring for a business trip -- and each time, I found myself itching to leave. Yes, Phoenix has come a long way since I left -- the light rail is awesome and the downtown skyline has improved -- but it has a long way to go before it can match up with the Seattles, Denvers and Bostons of this nation. Perhaps only a crash, followed by a reinvention will spur this. The good news is that the crash has already happened.

Because Phoenix came of age after World War II, it missed out on the Golden Age of city-making when civic stewards consciously laid out grand embellishments. Today, those amenities strongly suggest why a particular place is loveable and even prompt today's citizens to undertake their own projects, like Millenium Park in Chicago. It's not that Phoenix never tried - the City Beautiful movement was active here - but that the size of the place was too small to serve the autocentric boomtown that followed. It's hardly an accident or surprise that the Rio Salado project failed here.

I grew up here when the future was still dazzling. No dystopian anxieites then! Yet by the 1970s, it appeared optimism was waning and walls were getting higher. By the 1990s, this city was in full psychological retrenchment where real-estate interests mediated our attenuated civic lives.

Today, Phoenix looks and feels like a city without any core beliefs. Housing prices can't stop their freefall because the economy itself reflects the cancer of growth. As a pathology, growth could only work when the host was healthy enough to support it. That host today is very, very sick.

The arguments we have with the right are fun but ultimately empty. They thought the magic of the market would alchemize greatness. Instead, it simply fed a huge but insentient dinosaur. The right may pretend to love this monster but it's all fakery. That's why they hate you. As an idea, Phoenix can only work when it fools everyone. Even one dissenting voice undermines the rationale of their cargo cult.

Phoenix 1000 years from now, archealogists will discover our canals and a few bits of plastic artifacts. They'll wonder where we went.

Long ago, Jon identified one contributor to Phoenix' myopia, namely the large influx of Midwest transplants with little sensitivity to the environment. Today, many of these folks still manage to exit and go back to Peoria during the ungodly summers.
Consequently they tend to be less aware that climate change is making Phoenix hotter and drier . . . and less habitable.
Year to date, we've received only about 40% of our average rainfall but the golf courses are still lush and green, so hardly anybody complains.

Climate change is sheer BS! I do see eye to eye on john's economic views and have first hand experience since 1995. Agreed the host REIC industry cancer has ruined Phoenix. VERY SAD.

Why did my comment get deleted?

As an Arizona resident from 1990 until I escaped to Seattle in 2008, Jon's voice has been, and is again a great comfort. When his voice was first heard in Arizona, it was like a cool, fresh breeze slicing through a hazy, brown, toxic cloud. For someone who eschews professional sports, Jon represented the Arizona team I could finally cheer! For too brief a time, some of us were able to retain hope for Arizona’s future. That hope emigrated. Arizona is hazier than ever.

That said, it’s much more difficult to walk Seattle’s streets in half-naked bliss.

"Long ago, Jon identified one contributor to Phoenix' myopia, namely the large influx of Midwest transplants with little sensitivity to the environment."

What the hell? Last I checked, the Mid-west transplants are the ones getting jobs in Phoenix because the natives are just too stupid. Wake up, the reason Phoenix is a still stuck in a brown haze is because the median IQ of the natives is likely double digits. Furthermore, most of the Midwesterners are not litterbugs, having come from scenic Blue States where we don't trash the place.

Rate Crimes:
" it’s much more difficult to walk Seattle’s streets in half-naked bliss."

I moved from Seattle to Phoenix on Dec. 26th, 1974. Going from Seattle's low 40's to Phoenix's mid 70's felt like summer to me, but the natives were all bundled upo like it was cold.

As a young man I made a living as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. In Seattle, pools are mostly indoors. I imagined a huge market for my skills, but there was only one indoor and two outdoor pools that were open all year. (One was in Scottsdale) People would only swim in the fall and winter because it was too cold in winter and TOO HOT in the summer!

In my experience, if you see someone 'half-naked' in winter, they're from out-of-town.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz