Sunday, August 20, 2006

Googie and the Boogeyman

Architecture is cool.

I’ve always loved the mid-20th century Googie style.

Those are the 50’s and 60’s coffee shops and gas stations and public buildings with outer space themes and an atomic powered, ‘blinded me with science’ Jetson’s look.

Sweet Tomorrowland stuff.

You know. The Space Needle in Seattle. The LAX theme building. Every kind of store and café and movie theater for those of you old enough to remember.

Guess Googie is big right now with young urban hipsters. Most Googie stuff is long gone and the rest is on the endangered species list.

Some of the best and brightest—particularly among the young technophiles--are apparently trying to save what’s left of the Googie architecture in cities all over the country. I’m delighted.

Googie style is big on South Broadway here in Denver where my daughter goes to browse the boho hip shops for clothes.

Fun to see what motivates these folks.

• “There was a kind of innocence to Googie. We thought science and the future held all good things, and it spoke to our aspirations and optimism about the future, something I think people now look ahead to with a sense of fear and dread.”

• “A lot of younger people don’t remember it when it was new, but they’re attracted to its vividness. It’s bold and colorful, with a very strong identity, sculptural, delightful and fun. Commercial architecture has become bland, and they like Googie because it’s so distinctive.”

An enthusiastic hope for the future combined with a thing for the creative and distinctive. Nothing wrong with that in my mind.


It often seems to me that many Americans in their 20’s and 30’s right now are astonishingly conservative. And not just politically. I mean conservative in their whole take on the world.

There’s something more than a little crocked about that.

At the risk of oversimplifying, conservatives believe there really is a boogeyman in the closet.

Liberals doubt the boogeyman is there, but feel confident we can make friends with him if he does show up.

Given how hard life is for most people, conservatism is the default world view for the human race and always has been. Middle aged people—-particularly when they get some possessions to protect—-move downhill toward it like an SUV on a 6% grade with burned out brakes.

But folks under 35 are natural liberals. When they aren’t something is wrong.

Maybe this “nostalgic” interest in Googie is pretty good news :^)


Anonymous Jon said...

I agree that most young people (I'd say under 25 rather than under 35) are natural liberals, except for the ones with very strong family indoctrination. But if experience naturally brings you to the other side of a political ideology, what would be so wrong about some people getting their faster than others?

Also, it seems like the liberals see bogeymen as often as often as conservatives, just different ones. Liberals see really scary bogeymen hiding in the environment, in capitalists, in religious conservatives, in our own government, and in the military. Conservatives see really scary bogeymen in socialists, in identity politics, in anti-Americanism, in secularists, and in terrorists. It seems like both sides have plenty of bogeymen to go around.

10:49 AM  
Blogger 3wishes said...

whew if I had to worry about all those boogey men I would have no time worry about the jerk that just cut me off in traffic, the semi truck that really isnt road worthy zooming up from Mexico hell bent on making it up north. etc etc oh yes and the internet police.......gotta watch out for them too

4:53 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

I think you might have missed my point Jon.

I may have missed my point :^)

I'm just a down home and interested Christian anarchist from Colorado.

Lots more true believers among the ditto heads on the right than the left right now.

Whatever you may say about the left, when they err they do it on the side of too much inclusivity.

So I think it's disengenuous to compare conservative thinking with liberal thinking in terms of who sees more 'boogeymen." Come on. I say that with all due respect.

Both traditions are willing to use violence to force their views on others but conservatism wins that competition hands down.

If liberalism has become a shrill ideology it's only out of reaction to the even more shrill and inappropriate religious extremism of current political conservatism.

Religion applied thoughtlessly to politics produces lousy outcomes. Many Protestant believers have thought so for a long time. Liberals have just taken their cue from the best of Protestant history and self-reflection.

Personally, I'm bored with both conservative and liberal thought and practice. I'm frustrated I've got to use that language to connect but hey, it's blogging in Karl Rove America.

Conservatives naturally believe that old people and ancestors tell the truth. You seem to be in that crowd from what I've read.

Experience is a different thing, though.

Everybody's got the most relevant experience. Young and old.

Personally I don't think old people or ancestors have anything particularly outstanding to contribute. Certainly not more than young people in the prime of their lives who have more current experience.

Combining the two in a creative way is the trick.

Again, when the majority of young people identify primarily with old people and tradition and cynicism, something isn't right.

It's no badge of honor to get more inflexible and cynical before your time even if that's a natural experience for many older people who've experienced a whole lot of loss and disappointment.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

I think the difficulty comes because you and I think very different things when we hear the word "conservative". I think of a set of ideas and beliefs, just as when I hear "liberal". I take some and I leave some, as they seem to work and fit the world I see around me. But you seem to have loaded up "conservatism" with certain things - use of violence, shrillness, extremism, cynicism, inflexibility - that I don't believe are natural traits of conservatives.

I've been talking with lots of people this summer who have become more conservative as they've worked in urban poor settings. This includes SP staff, IV staff, and other urban workers, both here and abroad. (not saying that all of them are conservatives, just that they've felt themselves become significantly more conservative). I wouldn't characterize them as inflexible or cynical. They've excited, energetic people trying to bring change to communities they love. But as they learn more and more about those situations, they see that in some ways, the conservative approach is what really works.

I'm still not saying I'm a conservative. I'll stay my pro-environmentalist, pacifist, foreign aid dispensing liberal self. Actually, I've only become pro-gay marriage and pro-drug legalization in the last year. But if I see a conservative idea about influencing a community, or improving education, or using our money, or making economies work, and the idea actually makes more sense and works better than the liberal idea, then I'm going to latch onto it.

11:36 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Oh yeah. I agree. I think we are talking about different things. I'm really speaking about conservatism as a mindset not as a political philosophy.

Folks that are highly eclectic--whom I consider to be Christian anarchists rather than conservatives--aren't the people I'm speaking about. And certainly not folks who are committed to investing themselves heavily in serving others. I think you may have taken the post a little too personally :^)

A conservative outlook has a lot to be said for it as I've tried to argue many times. It may be the appropriate take given a situation. In an inner city situation, having naive hope for change doesn't help anybody. While I think some of the politically conservative solutions for poverty are half-baked and won't work well, having a fundamentally sceptical take and a 'show me' attitude is just what's needed. In fact, one of my critiques of the misguided Bush foreign policy is that it hasn't been conservative enough from the point of view of 'world view.' I consider it naive and destructive because of its naivite.

But when so many young folks are so conservative from the point of view of world view, and so conservative beyond their years and experience, I think it speaks to something unhealthy culturally.

4:20 PM  

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