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July  16

Just Say No To Sprawl

Not exactly a beach read, but a page-turner for any McMansion hater. In our mailbox, a press release for Sprawl Kills

Sprawl Kills examines a combination of interrelated topics that no other book has achieved. You can choose to ignore sprawl, but it will not ignore you. Readers will learn how to fight corrupt sprawl politics used by the sprawl industry, identify sprawl shills, identify true alternatives to sprawl, and kill sprawl, before it kills our country.

Books can change society, as proved by Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe At Any Speed,” and Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” The tipping point for a revolution in the housing and transportation markets is within sight. Healthy active living can be promoted by replacing blandburbs with walkable real neighborhoods, designed on smart growth and New Urbanism principles. No matter what else you’ve read, “Sprawl Kills” gives a new picture of what American society can and should be. Learn how “sprawl politics” – aided by right-wing sprawl shills – have corrupted government and deprived Americans of housing and transportation choices, caused environmental damage and loss of greenspace, and harmed public health.

We're all for killing sprawl as long as we can still maintain a big spread. And we love the term blandburb -- so evocative. Maybe our own Debra Galant can set her next novel in the fictional town of Blandburg, loosely based on what other town?

July 16, 2005 in Books | Permalink


This guy sounds like a lot of folks in these parts: a moderate optimist (just kidding).

I actually read some of his Chomskyite ravings at (where else?) commondreams.org. I think he is just another in a long list of warmed over socialists who has his proletariat paradise all worked out. Now if there was just some way to force everyone else to go along!

I wonder if you all would consider him an extremist or in the mainstream of the Democratic Party?

I hope since I belong to the party of "murderous shills" I will be exempted from his utopian Valhalla. Please? (probably the most I can hope for is that Cathar will be in the next cell over at the reeducation camp.)

No doubt, the pronouncements of the good doctor will go over well with the Blue Wave NJ set. Looks like the Doc has lots of buddies and admirers over at indymedia. Maybe they will buy and read his book. Now that they have more free time.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jul 16, 2005 3:47:13 PM

quick what is the total percent of american landmass built up with manmade structures - you know roads, houses, cities, etc.

a. 40 %
b. 25%
c. 10 %
d. less than 3 %

if you answered anything but d you are wrong. This posted by a graduate of urban geography


Posted by: jmo | Jul 16, 2005 5:14:39 PM

Interesting fact, Jmo. But that's because places like Nebraska and North Dakota bring the percentage way down. What would you say the percentage was for, say, the Middle Atlantic States? How about NJ?

Posted by: Annie O | Jul 16, 2005 5:28:23 PM

point of fact even though jersey is the most densely populated state it has the largest open space east of the mississippi - callled the pine barrens. thank god or whomever that stopped the mega airport plan of the the 1970s. it is a wonderful wilderness, i know i have kayaked most of its rivers the batsto, mullica, oswego, et al


Posted by: jmo | Jul 16, 2005 6:15:14 PM

You rock , jmo

Posted by: grme | Jul 16, 2005 7:24:05 PM

Aw, ROC. You ole' right-wing sprawl shill you!

Posted by: walleroo | Jul 16, 2005 11:52:34 PM

A fascinating review. FYI, I've mentioned your perspective on my blog, "NIMBY Monitor" at www.nimbymonitor.com.

Best regards!

Posted by: Douglass | Jul 17, 2005 12:19:27 AM

And let's not forget the impact that Silent Spring had. The banning of DDT which ultimately has caused the deaths of millions in sub sahara, sub continent now that Malaria has resurfaced as a major killer. But it makes us all feel good about ourselves, regardless of the actual outcome.

Posted by: jmo | Jul 17, 2005 2:59:22 AM

And let's not forget the Corvair....it was a nice little car, and if anyone has one let me know I am looking for a third car

Posted by: jmo | Jul 17, 2005 3:01:49 AM

The Corvair rocked. First modern American stock car with four-wheel independent suspension, rear mounted boxer engine, turbocharger (the Monza), and good gas mileage to boot. A few years ago I saw one race in a vintage meet at Lime Rock, CT. It had Massachusetts plates that read "NADER." What's not to like?

Posted by: conan the grammarian | Jul 17, 2005 8:01:46 AM

Jmo, I believe the mega airport plan wasn't for the Pine Barrens (that was to be a somewhat smaller project serving Philly) but, rather, in the Great Swamp in Morris County.

Posted by: cathar | Jul 17, 2005 1:46:29 PM

Cathar, I may be wrong but I thought it was the motivating factor behind John McPhee's classic "In the Pine Barrens." I do believe the Great Swamp was also considered a potential site later on. But the original Robert Moses like plan was in the late 1960s..Again I might be wrong on this one, then again.....

Posted by: jmo | Jul 18, 2005 12:59:07 AM

I'm no fan of suburban sprawl or eating up more of our farmland and forest with strip malls and housing tracts. But I wonder if our cozy little towns (Newark's older suburbs) in Essex county were considered the unwanted sprawl in their day? Did folks in Manhattan or Newark consider the large victorians and colonials of Maplewood and Montclair as McMansions and the smaller cottage style houses of Bloomfield and Nutley as tract homes that threatened a way of life in those cities?

Posted by: Todd | Jul 18, 2005 10:14:20 AM


Probably not. I think people in the "olden times" (*as far back as the 1950's) were more likely to look upon the form and style of someone else's choice of "urban" structure as none of their business.

But that is not to say the Dr. Hirschhorn and his merry band of Socialist reformers don't know precisely how we all should be forced to live. After all, they have the same ideology whose penchant for paternalistic social engineering brought America such raving successes as the inner-city housing project!

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jul 18, 2005 10:50:25 AM

There WAS a small airport on the edge of the the Great Swamp. It was developed into condos/co-ops in the early '80s. I think as Jersey residents we're very sensitive to the loss of open space. It's great that the Pine Barrens are preserved but I don't think that those of us who live in the Central or Northern sections of the state want to have to drive that far to see open spaces, farmland, etc. My gripe is that every nook and cranny of space has to be crammed with a strip mall, chain store, or co-op/condo development. I was heartened to read about our booming winery industry in yesterday's Times. Maybe we'll see fewer developments and more wineries in the future.


Posted by: Anita | Jul 18, 2005 12:51:52 PM

Well as New Jerseyans maybe we can all agree that open space, wildlife sanctuaries and preserves are all a good thing. I think so.

All the more reason we should shun the likes of Dr. Hirschhorn who seek to politicize the issue in a truly poisonous way. (Talk about pollution).

Of course I say that as a "murderous shill" of the "puppet, faux-democracy" so constructed in the un-developed fever swamp of Hirschhorn's open-space mind.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jul 18, 2005 1:03:48 PM

Jmo, I realize this qualifies as heresy, but I sincerely feel that the motivating factor for any John McPhee essay is his unquenchable desire to go on and on and on about things in truly dense, nap-inducing prose.

And I really do recall the plans to build what was called "the area's 3rd major jetport" in the Great Swamp. This was before Newark was upgraded instead, and why. I also recall one of the reasons specifically put forth for this airport was the then-planned construction of both 78 and 287, which dance around the edges of the Great Swamp.

Anyone who's ever tramped through LA or Florida, however, would probably refer to the "Great Swamp" as a thicket at best, albeit one ringed by million-dollar (and up, way up) homes that now don't have to fear jet noise or auto traffic.

Posted by: cathar | Jul 18, 2005 1:10:33 PM

Blandburg? Oh, yeah, isn't Hovnanian building starter castles there? Or is it the Toll Brothers? What a great name for New Jersey builders.

Anyway, you take I-80 West to the Pennsylvania border, then take the first jug-handle back to Blandburg. The real estate office is on the corner of Hohum and Ennui Streets.

Cathar, McPhee might be the Proust of new Jersey (I don't want to know anything more about shad!) - but if you are at all interested in any of his subjects, he is a master of expository prose.

Posted by: conan the grammarian | Jul 18, 2005 1:18:47 PM

PS: I just read some of the pink (at least) Dr. Hirschhorn's ravings. Oh Lordy but this creep is full of hatred for everyone who doesn't savor his "progressive" agenda. Which makes me suggest he be dumped to survive on his own for a week in either the Great Swamp or, better yet, the alligator-infested Okeefenokee. But definitely somewhere away from those "right-wing sprawl shills" whom he excoriates. Perhaps we'll see him soon in baristaville, say at a fund-raiser at the Plofkers? Liberal sprawl is probably fine, as in either Montclair or Martha's Vineyard.

Posted by: cathar | Jul 18, 2005 1:19:19 PM

Conan, very respectfully, I don't like Proust (and can't think of too many people who really do). McPhee may write expository prose, but it's the boring, logorrheic kind that half-assed teachers tried to impress upon us. Yes, every comma fits, hyphens are beautifully placed, etc., but the end result is still mightily stultifying.

You'd probably get a high score aping McPhee on that new SAT essay, but you'd also even be sending off to sleepyland the very hacks who, while grading you, have built their own entire careers on telling you that such verbal quaaludes in fact constitute "good" prose. I just think that if you read the guy aloud to anybody but a room full of meth freaks for anything longer than 5 minutes, you'd wind up holding a narcolepsy festival.

Posted by: cathar | Jul 18, 2005 1:29:55 PM

"This creep is full of hatred for everyone who doesn't savor his... agenda."

(The opposite of "sitting on the fence," "wimp-like" and "avuncular"?)

Anyway, if this isn't one of the deadly sins, it should be.

Posted by: walleroo | Jul 18, 2005 1:38:01 PM

I hate to be the one defending Rachel Carson, but her tract, as emotional as it was, led to lots of good things, like cleaner air and water, to name two. Remember, she was writing during the era of "Better Living Through Chemistry" -- an era that China, for instance, is only now coming to realize can come with a big downside. The problem with malaria has a lot to do with idiotic total bans on DDT, true, but also to post-colonial politics, which has made it no longer cool to wage eradication programs on malaria-carrying mosquitos.

Posted by: walleroo | Jul 18, 2005 1:44:48 PM

Are you now feigning Blanche DuBois, Walleroo?

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jul 18, 2005 1:52:02 PM

Walleroo, walleroo, let me be gentle here as I point this out: in a Hirschhorn-run world, you'd be among the first on the trucks out to the "progressive" re-education camp. If you've read the good Chomskyite, you know that he seriously proposes putting "None of the above" on ballot options. Which of course might mesh well wirh some of your own tendencies towards mediation as stated here, but might also allow for the triumph of nasty forces compared to which even Donald Rumsfeld on a bad day will appear mild-mannered.

What then, in fact, was your point? I don't know where Hirschhorn dwells of late (I'd guess somwhere round Camobridge, MA, just as I'd also wager his kids if he has any have never attended public schools, but I could be wrong), but it is certainly on a politicized version of New Grub Street (perhaps "Newer Grub Street") that would never welcome either of our comparatively far more raffish selves. And it is most likely a place where they commit daily the premiere deadly sin, pride. But pride coupled with the 8th worst sin, lefty condescension.

Do you really want to live there? I doubt it. Thus you should take very seriously Hirschorn's pleadings to the Good Dr. Dean to institute a new platform for the Democratic party. Both because your sort would suffer much from this platform and also because Dean is just loony enough to do it.

Posted by: cathar | Jul 18, 2005 1:55:31 PM

So, Cathar, how do you really feel about McPhee?? Agreed that 350 pages on basin and ridge geology might bore the ears off a stone lion, but a lot of his earlier and shorter pieces in The New Yorker are very well written, IMHO. Would that today's SAT takers (or their principals) could put together a genuine paragraph of simple, expository prose.

No shad or madelaines for you, I guess.

Posted by: conan the grammarian | Jul 18, 2005 4:21:32 PM

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