‘Manure is the flashpoint of exurban consciousness’
|September 22, 2011|
Thoreau’s Cove, Concord, Massachusetts
From Design Observer:
Currently, the town is embroiled in a minor controversy, played out on the municipal listserv, about a local pond that has been purchased by the town and preserved under a conservation easement. Where there used to be a clothing-optional beach and a gunshot-pocked No Trespassing sign that everyone ignored, there is now a small gravel parking lot and an info kiosk explaining the rules and regulations. No hunting or fishing, no visiting after dusk, no amplified music, and — this is the proviso that has sparked the controversy — all dogs must be leashable. Not on a leash, but leashable.
Carrying a leash while your dogs romp on the beach is a better deal than you get most places, which is probably why the place has become a favorite for dog walkers. Last summer, the barking, splashing, shaking canines often outnumbered human bathers. The controversy isn’t about the number of dogs, though, but rather what they leave behind. Does a dog shit in the woods? Well, yes. And apparently on the trail, on the beach, pretty much everywhere.
What happens when someone in a wheelchair has to roll through excrement on the trail to the beach? The online ruckus that erupted says more about the dynamics of small-town life than about the facts of the original complaint. Quickly it became clear that this wasn’t about dog shit so much as the identity of the community itself. Who has a right to shape that identity? What does it mean to be a “local”? On one side were those who suggested, somewhat tremulously, that maybe the dog owners should think about picking up the poo and putting it in a baggie and taking it home, which is what responsible people do when they walk their dogs in the suburbs. But this isn’t a suburb, others protested. This is the wild, and there’s too many rules already. What’s the world coming to when you can’t let your hunting dog sniff around the woods without being forced to tramp around behind him with a leash and a baggie?
Manure is the flashpoint of exurban consciousness. Wherever a housing development sits beside a factory farm, and the sweet smell of corporate agriculture wafts over someone’s dream of crisp fresh air, regulations are sure to follow. But the exurban sensibility is more complicated than that. People want rules to protect their experience of isolation from industrial-strength manure, but they also want to be free of the regulations that drove them out of the city in the first place. The fundamental paradox of the exurban mindset is marked by this conflicted desire for regulation and freedom, which plays out in a fantasy of original wilderness, a vision of a simpler time when the pond didn’t need regulation because there weren’t so many people and dogs using it.
Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology
As much as death signals the end of the self, birth is just as mysterious. Both extend out to infinity and signal the brevity and contingency of our lives. As mysterious are those first few years of life that one does not have access to as an adult, I know I existed before my earliest memories. I know I interacted with others, I learned to walk and talk. I was willful from my parent’s tales.
William Pope.L: Reader Friendly
William Pope.L is famous for (among other things) carrying a business card that identifies him as “The Friendliest Black Artist in America.” It’s a clever gag because it makes itself true, in a way, every time it draws people closer. The card must be especially useful when Pope.L does business with people who dread Black men or Black artists.
10 Things the NSA Has Seen Me Do
One winter in my early twenties myself and some good friends — a merging of art, music and literary ladies of New York, full-grown girls aspiring to be women — got together, had a lovely dinner, some wine and delightful chat. Then we decided to spend an hour practicing “Teach Me How To Dougie”. NSA — can you teach me how to Dougie? You know why? “Because all my bitches love me.”
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