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Eleven year old Jeff Greenaway is in love and on the loose in Manhattan circa 1962.
This book will crack you up.
For adults.

Sheer antic delight” — Remsen Pilchard

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Shattered and Shuttered

    
     The dollar was up to its armpits in quicksand, and oil prices had crept stealthily into the death-to-airlines range, and if, in the old slogan, what’s good for General Motors really is good for the USA, then destiny was dealing a harsh lesson to The Land of the Free — while I made a drive on Thursday (in a Japanese rent-a-car) through the remotest ends of upstate New York State into the province of Ontario, Canada, to see what I could see. What I saw was pretty scary.
     You get into these far reaches of upstate New York and your senses report that you have entered something like an HP Lovecraft story, where the sun comes up twenty minutes late, and the magnetic poles are not where they’re supposed to be, and the few remaining denizens of the towns all have eleven fingers…. Even though I’ve seen plenty of desolation like it in other parts of the country — the back roads of Ohio, the Mississippi River towns of the upper Midwest, the morbid stretch of blue highway between Memphis and Little Rock — I’ve never encountered a landscape so shattered by the mere ravages of economic fate.
     The most striking feature is how all the things once so “modern,” all the roadside business enterprises designed along “space age” motifs — the car dealerships with boomerang-shaped signs, the rocket-ship-style food huts, the schools that look like atomic power installations — all teeter now in sublime decrepitude. The reversal of spirit from childlike exuberance of the 1960s to the senile sclerosis of today said everything about where America is at. Much of what existed before the space age is not even there anymore, bulldozed decades ago in our haste to erase pre-drive-in living, as if it branded us a lower life-form than, say, our arch-enemy, the Soviets.  I’ve wondered for many years what Modernism would be like when time finally passed it by, when it was no longer the sole thing it declared itself to be, up-to-date — and there it was smeared all over the landscape like so much road kill.
     The most horrifying part of the trip was the old city of Watertown, a short hop shy of the Canadian border.

Named after the many falls located on the Black River, the city developed early in the 19th century as a manufacturing center. From years of generating industrial wealth, in the early 20th century the city was said to have more millionaires per capita than any other city in the nation. Residents of Watertown built a rich public and private architectural legacy. It is the smallest city to have a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the celebrated landscape architect who created Central Park in New York City.Wikipedia

     All that industry is gone now, apparently, and all that’s left of the town’s economy is whatever it gets from nearby Fort Drum, the giant US Army installation. Nineteen year old soldiers-in-training are not so impressed by Olmsted parks and the civic embellishments dreamed up by timber magnates, bankers, and the owners of piano factories.  The humanity visible on the downtown streets of Watertown looked like extras who wandered away from the latest Road Warrior location shoot — semi-hominid creatures with strange loping gaits, arresting hair-dos, and enough tattoos to qualify them for harpoon duty on Herman Melville’s Pequod.  You passed by groups of them on the streets and wanted to make sure the car’s doors were locked.
     At the heart of the old town, everything possible had been done to erase the vestiges of pre-automobile living.  I suppose this is because the first thing many young army recruits did until fairly recently was buy a car. If having to join the army (because there are so few other jobs) buys you a ticket to The American Dream, then getting a car is the consolation prize — even if you have to make four years of “easy monthly payments” on it.  Very little of the town’s physical history was left standing, and most of it stood in isolation, devoid of context, awaiting the next parade of the front-end-loaders.  What was left of “the action” had shifted to a ghastly franchise strip along the Route 3 connector to I-81.  This stretch of highway was clearly where all the money had gone since, say 1976, though mostly to the pavement itself and its heroic furnishings of signage, light poles, multiple turning lanes, and curb cuts. The buildings were little more than packing crates with a few plastic doo-dads stuck on. You had to wonder if all this stuff would ever see another iteration of repair and restoration.  I doubt it.
    Burger King was doing some kind of promotion in its Watertown huts and the marquee in their several parking lots proclaimed — I swear to God — “Ask us about our Angry Burger.”  WTF? Is the rage of lumpen America so repressed now that it can only be expressed in menu items that turn people into hulking four-hundred-pound monsters?
     It was, I’m sad to say, a relief to cross the border out of my own country. Once you got off the main highway of Canada, 401, along the north side of Lake Ontario, the landscape presented a disturbing contrast to what you saw on the American side. Unlike the slovenly, failing farms of New York State, the farms of Ontario looked successful and prosperous.  The barns did not tilt at weird angles and the roofs were intact.  The farm houses were freshly painted and the grounds generally not strewn with the sort of dingy plastic effluvia Americans like to deploy around their dwellings to give the impression of plentitude. You wondered: how did all the IQ points below the Great Lakes somehow migrate over to the Canadian side?  Had they invented some kind of quantum spirit vacuum, run perhaps on dark matter, that sucked all the vitality out of their neighbor-to-the-south? (If so, maybe Canada should take over our dreary duties in Central Asia.)
      All this was occurring against the background of General Motors looming bankruptcy, an epochal moment in US history, like losing a limb or a loved one. The US Government has decided to drive a Chevrolet off the cliff Thelma and Louise style.  We were heading there anyway, so why not make the trip in air-conditioned comfort, with plenty of room for all the family members, and on-board video entertainment for the little ones.  In fact, it may not be the bankruptcy of GM itself that will amaze and appall the other nations of the world, so much as the US government’s pretense that the company can return to health in just a little while and pay back all the money that the citizenry has allowed to be sucked into its black hole of losses.
     My daddy bought Chevrolets in the 1950s, marvelously crazy-looking machines with winged tail-lights that handled like pontoon boats, broke down after 30,000 miles, and were tossed out every couple of years not on account of their mechanical failures so much as their obvious lack of up-to-the-minute styling. The post-war prosperity dazzled his generation with its democratic cornucopian bonanzas.  The innocence of all that is truly lost now. There is a dark sense of things shifting out there now in a major way.  The tectonics of history are taking us to a strange place.  Maybe Mr. Lovecraft had it right.
____________________________________?
My
2008 novel of the post-oil future, World Made By Hand, is available in paperback  at all booksellers.
    

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

198 Responses to “Shattered and Shuttered” Subscribe

  1. James Howard Kunstler June 1, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    What a strange pleasure to be the first one to comment on my own blog. HP Lovecraft, where are you???
    –JHK

  2. montysano June 1, 2009 at 9:58 am #

    Great column, JHK, and I like the new digs.
    I think the only question now is: fast crash or slow crash? Beyond that, it’s evident that the Long Emergency has begun.

  3. Stephen_B June 1, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Jim,
    Not to point out the obvious, but Canada still has oil and therefore its govt. isn’t quite as insolvent as ours yet.
    I did a trip up to Aroostook County in Maine last week, home of many industrial-sized potato farms. The large farms looked still pretty good, though I admit to seeing many run-down smaller houses, especially in the old railroad villages of places like Oakfield and Island Falls. One wonders what the potato farmers are going to use for fertilizer on their 500 acre fields after the commercial stuff runs out. (Potatoes need regular potassium and/or phosphorus I think.)
    The award for the most prosperous looking farms and businesses would have to go to the Amish of Symrna, Maine I would say, however. And their buggies I passed (I was on a bike myself at that point) didn’t seem wanting for gasoline either.
    Gas has jumped almost 40 cents in the past month here in New England.

  4. raemuir June 1, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    I’ve observed the same contrast crossing the Canadian/US border here in the West. Neat farms, pleasant small towns — then the shock of permanent trailer parks and abandoned town centers.
    We recently made a camping trip from Central California to central Washington, and discovered the “RV parks” are rapidly filling up with permanent residents. A few years ago living in your RV for a year or two after retirement seemed a romantic getaway. Now, observing the school bus stop at the KOA, and that evening meeting the harrassed woman with seven loads of laundry, you realize that for many Americans, the “full time” lifestyle is a torture of desperation, crowding, uncertainty, and bitterness.

  5. Charles In Vermont June 1, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Seems to me that Watertown is a great place to buy property. Pre-oil fortunes were made there based on the the hydro energy, there is no reason to believe that post-oil fortunes will won’t also be made. The land must be cheap now, the trees have re-grown, and nobody is thinking about small scale hydro for future manufacturing. Plus, the nearby Canadians provide proof that farming works in the area. Of course, you will have to deal with the riff-raff until we enter the post oil economy.

  6. galen June 1, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    People are on vacation…. to upstate New York???
    Anyway, a good read but the grammar……!
    ‘The reversal of spirit from childlike exuberance of the 1960s to the senile sclerosis of today said everything about where America is at.’
    The word AT does not belong at the end of this sentence.
    (everyone is a critic….)

  7. M.F. June 1, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    So when does the long emergency finally start? Now?

  8. Brian Fleck June 1, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    The Lovecraft reference is perfect.

  9. frugalman June 1, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    Or Stephen King..
    I’ve been following Jim for a long time. He’s one of my favorite gloomers. I agree with much of his thinking, yet I feel “necessity is the mother of invention” will win out in the end. For example, the sheer amount of energy available in the newly discovered and workable shale gas deposits could, I emphasize could, power our auto fleet for 100+ years, allowing us to reduce or eliminate our imports of foreign oil. It’s also possible that the US will learn to quit being the policeman of the world, and cut our spending on military and wars by 2/3. If we do these two things, and implement a cheap national healthcare system, gosh, we might actually return to prosperity and run budget and balance of trade surpluses! Nahh, Jim is right, we just can’t seem to focus all the sheep and herd them in the correct direction. The destruction of our economy sure is a slow motion thing, though, to my human senses. Even though every strip mall I pass by has for lease and for rent signs up on them, and even though GM and Chrysler are going through bankruptcy, the stock market is currently up 175 points on the DOW and has virtually gone straight up without a corretion since March. Go figure.

  10. Jesus X. Crutch June 1, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    You scared me with the image of the Chevy flying off the cliff (Suburban?), then I remembered, the Chevy’s up on blocks!

  11. timetobike June 1, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    Ah, if only the political classes had been reading this column, the $50 billion or so spent or promised to General Motors would have been invested in passsenger rail and a few bike paths… Then, at least, one could visit the areas described by Kr. Kunstler by train (or bike).

  12. Joe June 1, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    Second!
    In the spirit of a new america I proclaim myself proudly as Second!

  13. inflation June 1, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    Jim,
    Honored to be #2. Just wanted to say thanks for keeping up the good fight. GM goes bankrupt and the markets explode to the upside. I, along with many others I am sure, am wondering if I we have entered twilight zone.

  14. Thinkin Mencken June 1, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    Maybe H.P.’s Escalade ran out of gas in the Angry Burger drive-thru line. ;-)
    Two questions, if you please: When will the sequel to WORLD MADE BY HANDS be published and would it be possible to add a “printer friendly” tab to your page?

  15. Rod Roth June 1, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    Read World Made By Hand over the weekend, Jim. Thoroughly enjoyable. A tribute to your faith in the likelihood that humanity will prevail despite its propensity for ruinous grand schemes. Thanks, Rod

  16. kevdod June 1, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    JHK – excellent post, as usual. You are one of the rare truth-tellers of our time. Why do you think Canada is not as cluster f’ed up as the US? Or is this just an isolated incident with the contrast so magnified by the disaster that is that part of the US? And keep up the great work!

  17. Charles O'Dowd June 1, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    I always like this one from Lovecraft: “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents” – except, that inability to correlate is the real problem and sounds like it could be the definition to your “sleepwalking into the future.”
    And on top of it all, the “Angry Whopper” sucks.

  18. Bruce Stewart June 1, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    Two thoughts on today’s post:
    1. Canada has been in Afghanistan since 2002, something not well known south of the border.
    2. What you saw on both sides of the border gets played out right across the continent. Border communities on the US side are “a long way from the action” and generally decrepit. Border sights on the Canadian side are generally in good shape because they are part of the “centre” of the country’s life (the Canadian population is spread out along the border for the most part). Add a lack of stupid rules like “taxing for a door” as you have in NY State and the differences become paramount.
    Canadians are no less trapped in the Happy Motoring paradigm; our cities are littered with the effluvia of burger joints and taco stands no less than your own. Our developers have trashed the cityscape with boring, instant buildings for profit no less so.
    For all of that, there is a qualitative difference once you cross into Canada that screams “home” to me and “better” to you.

  19. fallout11 June 1, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    Most probably read your input and then comment via the other website (CFN), rather than here, and/or do not yet know that you have enabled commentary here.
    Such can be seen as a blessing in disguise, if you catch my drift.
    Great work as usual, Mr. Kunstler.

  20. Dancer1 June 1, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    As a resident of one of those Mississippi River towns in the upper Midwest, I see the results of this decline every day. As you know, the smartest and most motivated young people leave for the cities and the small town are left with hard working people, but maybe not the most motivated.
    That being said, there are people here that care very much about the town and it is very gratifying to be a part of trying to make it a better place. We retired here three years ago (left Dallas, Texas) and one of the things that impressed us most is the sense of community. There is a real opportunity to take part whereas in Dallas we always felt pretty isolated.
    Even though our small river town is not rich, people here raised money, without any government help or advertising, to build a bandshell in our beautiful park. It is a source of pride because we did it together, for ourselves.
    Yes, the town is old and many of the buildings are neglected and the homes are expensive to keep up, but there is a quiet beauty here. I think there is still hope and pride here.
    Good post today

  21. Paul June 1, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    Allow me to be the second. Bienvenue à Canada, eh.
    If we were to take over your dismal role in Central Asia, we undoubtedly would replicate some of the decline you have so eloquently described. (Our current involvement is bad enough!)
    Might I suggest that a key to American resurgence is for your country to relinquish its costly imperial ambitions and use the resources currently dedicated to dropping bombs on people abroad to create a sustainable society at home.

  22. fallout11 June 1, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    P.S.: I resisted the obvious temptation to post something immature and inane such as “First!!11!!” on last week’s commentary. I’m glad I did.

  23. manifestogr June 1, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    How nice to see your comment section open to your readers
    I read your blog every Monday
    I m a fan ;)

  24. Jon Husband June 1, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    I grew up in New England, but as a dual citizen moved to canada to go to university and never returned to the USA.
    I have visited relatively often during the subsequent years.
    It has always been immediately noticeable, and like a breath of fresh air, that things are different only a couple of hundred yards further north wherever there are borders between the two countries. I find that astonishing, given that physically borders are only artificial lines in the sand, as it were. But it is good evidence that cultural differences create tangible results.
    And in recent years, it seems to me that the differences are accelerating and growing in many ways. I now live in Vancouver,B.C. and it’s as if there are two almost completely different countries on one side or the other at the Blaine, Washington border country.
    Oh, wait … there are ;-)

  25. asoka June 1, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    Marvelous writing, Mr. Kunstler, though I’m not sure upstate New York generalizes to the rest of the country. I just spent the weekend visiting Seattle and saw a vibrant town, beautiful arboretum, and healthy and fit people all over the city jogging. Quite a different picture.

  26. fallout11 June 1, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    P.P.S: The Angry Burger is a BK Whopper with special spicy chipolte sauce (rather than mayo) and pepperjack cheese (rather than American cheese), and while delicious, is no longer available down here in the Deep South, nor has been for some time.
    A shame, since it turns us cornbread boys into hulking 400 pound monsters….

  27. hemlockstreet June 1, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    You’re OK, JHK – almost as good as Solzhenitsyn (and he had the advantage of hindsight!).
    Rgds.,
    t.

  28. pcnot June 1, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    Planet of the Apes, a preview.

  29. Misterben June 1, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    Great new site design! Much easier to navigate than the prior incarnation.
    Speaking of incarnations, I don’t know if it’s such a great idea to be calling out into the Internet void for HP Lovecraft. That’s a call you might not want answered.
    But I definitely agree that it is heartbreaking to learn just how much of the “City Beautiful” era was bulldozed over by the plastic nonsense of Modernism.

  30. UpperCanada June 1, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    “You wondered: how did all the IQ points below the Great Likes somehow migrate over to the Canadian side? Had they invented some kind of quantum spirit vacuum, run perhaps on dark matter, that sucked all the vitality out of their neighbor-to-the-south?”
    Hey Jim, great to have you north for a bit. And eastern Ontario is a well kept secret…although there are small pockets of what you saw upstate and in Watertown. But it’s a neighbourhood rather than a town, and maybe a town or two like Trenton rather than a region (as with Watertown, Trenton’s now mostly dependent on a military base…supplying Canadian troops in Afganistan, and receiving the military bodies coming back for burial.)
    As to the differences…you have to remember a lot of the core in this piece of North America were booted out of the US in 1782-4, took their re-settlement grants here, and tried to rebuild their bankrupt lives. A few good infusions of Dutch after WWII helped spruce up things a bit, which were getting a little dingy at that point.
    Funny your post today…because a trip like yours is now nearly impossible for most Americans – not because of the car & the economy…but because as of today Americans (and Canadians) need to have a passport to get across the border. And I think the US has one of the lowest proportion of passport holders in the Western World.
    Last week Bush Jr and Clinton were in Toronto, picking up $300,000 each to speak; when asked about the utility and purpose of the new border clampdown, both of the men were absolutely surprised about the change. And it happened under Bush’s watch too.
    Is it to keep ‘the terrorists’ OUT, or to keep y’all IN?
    Cheers.

  31. steavo June 1, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Like the road reports from JHK. And hey, it was nice to hear positive comments from Da Man about one’s fair country. Lucky, in many ways without planning to be, but fortunate nonetheless. Towards Niagara Region and the greater Toronto area some of GMs pain will be felt and Ottawa has been sinking money into the auto industry don’t forget. You make us nervous down there because the tendency is that where America goes Canada tends to follow.
    Also, the tar sands represent a unique form of national suicide according to a book every Clusterf**ker should get their hands on: Tar sands – Dirty Oil & The Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk. Check out AN on YouTube:

    The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

    Cheers

  32. mememonkey June 1, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    Hey Jim, love your stuff, but you should lighten up on the tattoo references, ( no I don’t have any) it’s just a generational style preference, like you choosing to have a 70’s porn stache.
    -mememonkey

  33. Bob Bannister June 1, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    A bit off-topic, but Watertown is the setting of Frank Sinatra’s rather bleak 1970 concept album of the same name.

  34. Dystopic June 1, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    What an equally strange pleasure to be second, if I am by the time I type this. I am not HP’s Ghost, sorry.
    Congrats on the new digs here, hope it serves your purposes the way you envision.
    In my city, as you look around the landscape, many commercial front properties have vacancy signs, that is about it, no freaky decay just yet. You have to talk to people to understand that there is a problem. Know a guy who is in AI at FedEx who worked his last day yesterday because he and 499 others were laid off. Most folks I know are worried about their jobs. A machinist lamented to me yesterday that they have been through three rounds of layoffs already because their jobs are being shipped over seas.
    I am beginning to wonder if protectionism (tariffs, etc) is going to be the only way we can secure a top down localization movement. But if we do that, how do we get fossil fuels?
    The disjuncture between the reports on reality and reality are frightening. The mainstream press keeps harping about recovery like a choreographed puppet show. Unemployment is getting worse, Alt-A and Adjustable Arm loans are going to start resetting in earnest, no one can qualify for loans because they are in houses that are underwater, and these loans are the so called assets that much of the banking world is holding on to as reserves.
    Just another crumbling empire I guess.

  35. cookj1 June 1, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    I do enjoy your comments and read your Monday blog faithfully. But why do you “enhance” your blog? Please leave it alone.

  36. brett June 1, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    JHK-
    The bright spot of my Sunday morning.
    I don’t know if you’ll be out on the West Coast soon (Northern California), but if you do, I’ll be your personal tour guide. You will have a lot to write about- Stockton, Tracy, industrial agriculture in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley. And we’re facing a drought this year.
    It’s going to be great times for all!
    Brett

  37. dale June 1, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    Went downtown in Boise Friday night for dinner, beautiful evening, setting outside in a lovely cafe with a two piece combo playing easy jazz. I was surprised to see that almost all the store fronts and restaurants were still in business, and in the most obvious cases, seemed to be doing well. The most expensive retail area in town is showing a quick turnover in new business when the weak ones fail. I had thought last December that by this time there would be rapid fallout from the post holiday period and many more empty storefronts would be visible. Turns out I was way too pessimistic, at least in the short term. Given the large number of jobs which I know have been lost here, it is hard to imagine how it all sustains itself. Time will tell.

  38. freeway_4_eva June 1, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    The lack of comments probably has to do with the fact that people have to sign up for a whole new account. It only took me two minutes to go through the process, but I’ll admit to being too lazy to take two minutes to do something in the past so …
    As for Lovecraft, thanks for the intro – I’ll have to look him up!
    Thanks for the update from upstate as well. I lived, worked and went to school in Syracuse a few years back. Frequently delivered food to the huge Magna/NPG auto parts factory so, yes, there was some industry that survived into this century. That place is now another victim of the auto industry crash:
    http://community.9wsyr.com/blogs/from_the_newsroom/archive/2008/01/11/2374169.aspx
    I saw it coming years ago (in the days that the boss would grumble about $2.60 gas) and told the guys at work, but no one believed me.
    The plant is outside of East Syracuse, which is one of the saddest villages I’ve ever seen. The place has a sky high teen pregnancy rate, and all of their remaining tax revenue seems to be plowed into a wasteful village police force that goes after speeders and skater kids – as if they were the ones who chased the factories away. My novel in progress, oddly enough, is set in East Syracuse (before the announcement of Magna/NPG’s closure), and I recently posted a sample that describes that villagescape, complete with one of the so called “semi-hominid creatures” described in the Watertown account:
    http://fairyheart-movement.blogspot.com
    As for the Canada/USA difference – I still haven’t figured that out. It seems to be due to subtle policy differences, including the fact that they ditched their arbitrary and inefficient (e.g. the East Syracuse police department) local governments years ago in favor of regional systems. One thing I will share is an anecdote from a bus trip I took from Montreal to Albany. This other American and I were talking with two British men sitting behind us when we pulled into Plattsburgh. It was their first trip to America (besides NYC), so they were shocked at they commercial strips. When they asked what those weird buildings were, we told them they were drive through banks. They just started laughing (enough said)!
    Despite all of the ugliness, upstate NY is still a great place to visit. Get up there while you can, but, remember, watch out for those village speed traps!

  39. C. Carlson June 1, 2009 at 10:58 am #

    Jim,
    I have passed through Waterton several times while driving between Chicago, Ill. and Burlington, Vt.
    The desolate urban landscape between Chicago and Waterton is depressing but it does nothing to prepare you for the palatable sense of seething anger and violence that is the remains of Waterton.
    There are remnants of the city’s past to be seen but in the eyes of the inhabitants there is a glaring hate engendered by the belief that they have been abandoned in a burnt out burg with little opportunity and literally nothing to do.
    But the rivers and mills do hold out hope, with the demise of the auto Waterton will probably be rebuilt. Where to start? Better schools, a walking downtown, renovation of the mills? Who will lead such a change?
    Heading North East from Waterton brings you to Route 11 which is a gorgeous road that crosses upstate New York all the way from Waterton to Ellenburg at which point you can choose your ferry to Vermont at Plattsburg or Port Kent.
    Whenever I drive Route 11 I wonder what life is like for the folks that live in those woods. By our standards there is no work and nothing to do. But some folks living out there must think the same about us!
    On a different note, we gave GM another 30 billion today. I wish the folks at the Detroit Three and NHSTA understood just how much I would like to own a Tata Nano or similarly sized (and priced!) car like the original Subaru Justy.
    A pipe dream though. Me and my wife drive the speed limit and I can’t tell you how much that angers the average American SUV or pickup driver. They tailgate, honk their horns, flash their lights, pass indiscriminately, and throw their Budweiser cans at us as they go by, then immediately pull in to Burger Boy for presumably a cheeseburger and fries…
    Cheers~
    Carl

  40. whathappened June 1, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    Your assessment of Ont, CA is quite correct. Although they may have a bout of rising unemployment in the wake of the automotive meltdown, the Canucks are resourceful enough to figure out how to capitalize on their massive resources and steady growth in order to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Now may be the time to reactivate my dual citizenship and head north.

  41. Chris C June 1, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    A major growth industry in the Tampa Bay Area is “convenience banking” better known as check cashing and payday loans. The bright blue and yellow theme reminiscent of Blockbuster video rentals are appearing on many street corners and there is even a tall building in Tampa just like a real bank!

  42. bud4wiser June 1, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    “In fact, it may not be the bankruptcy of GM itself that will amaze and appall the other nations of the world, so much as the US government’s pretense that the company can return to health in just a little while and pay back all the money that the citizenry has allowed to be sucked into its black hole of losses.”
    “pretense” – pretty much sums up our current state of affairs. Pretending our government works. Pretending all the fake financial paper has value. Pretending we can and will somehow pay back the Chinese.
    I just hope we don’t pretend our way right into a new era of “peace” – while using ICBMS as “peacemakers.”

  43. Gulland June 1, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Hi Jim, Thanks for your observations and insight. I like the new format and will be participating more often now. I have missed you all.
    All good things, Gulland

  44. carlostheobscure June 1, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Sad to hear about Watertown – never been there, always had a bit of a romantic aura to me. We can only be hopeful that the cliques of tattooed young barbarians roaming the streets will soon get to work installing low-head hydro there – if only to keep their tatoo parlors open.

  45. jerome June 1, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    I always wondered how an economy largely based on the automobile would ever survive. Well. . . It isn’t a sustainable one. There are no guarantees that the auto business must survive, just ask those that made wooden buckboards and conestoga-wagons. Just like money: Money comes and money goes! The Wheel of Fortune. And so the Mighty Car Companies go supernova, one by one. Just think of all the car manufacturers that have disappeared since 1950.
    Nash, Hudson, Kaiser, Fraser, Tucker, Studebaker, Willis, DeLorien, to name only a few.
    Any company that comes up with a scaled up Tonka toy aka the HUMMER, deserves to go down the tubes! At least the Euro and Nippon car designers came up with cars people want. But, they too will succumb to the oil depletion, and will fade out from the planet.
    Keep up the good work enlightening people who are being dragged, kicking and screaming into the future. From all this will come retooling of life.
    JS

  46. heatkernel June 1, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Hi JHK,
    I’m writing this from a train between Ottawa and Toronto. I couldn’t agree more and wonder just how Canada seems to have worked out everything in society so much better than the US (though relative lack of racial tension, small people/natural resources ratio, and shying away from imperial adventures probably have a lot to do with it). For example, this train is far superior to anything the US has to offer. It is not high-speed in the European sense, but it actually has a decent on-time record and the staff treats the passengers like human beings, not like the enemy. This is a good example of something the US should strive towards in the short term, before we start thinking about “high-speed” rail, since achieving this level of service between major cities would involve little capital investment, just an increase in operating budget and giving a higher priority to passenger trains than freight on shared lines.
    Ottawa, where I just came from spending the week, was such a contrast to our own Federal Capital, it’s hard to believe the US is (supposedly) the dominant country on this continent. I could actually walk around after dark by myself from restaurant to market to riverfront and in between without ever feeling endangered and always surrounded by ordinary citizens going about their business or coming and going from theatres.
    I do know that Ontario, perhaps because of its government healthcare, has been a magnet for some of the newer GM and Ford auto plants. It will be a test of the Canadian system’s resilience to see how the current events in that sector affect the local economy. I’m a US citizen not trying to bash my own country, but I think it’s undeniable that in a lot of ways Canada’s living arrangements can serve as a close-by and achievable model for the US to try to live up to as we enter the new era.
    PS I am wondering whether JHK is speaking in Toronto in the next few days. I’ll go if I can…

  47. IntegralResearchSociety June 1, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    It’s fairly easy to get a glimpse of the future. Here in Spokane, you can go to neighborhoods that have been socioeconomically challenged for decades. My own neighborhood is an island of Silent generation retirees still able to maintain their homes with GMAC — literally in the case of one woman — pensions. However, one does not have to go far in certain directions to see the future in houses that have not been maintained for decades.
    Interestingly enough, those who live in the less maintained areas have a better grasp on our impending collapse. Life for them will change, but not nearly as much as it will for the Suburban driving crowd that were in evidence this weekend for some kind of junior basketball tournament — the license plates revealed that some had driven all the way from Alberta, Canada.
    BTW, Canada is only one small step behind us in everything we do. After all, it is the place where George Bush reportedly made his first dollop of post-presidential cash speaking to a group of like-minded bidness folks.

  48. Jeff Watson June 1, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    It does seem strange that amidst all the crying out and gnashing of teeth over the state of our nation and the crisis of the day, there is only one problem over which we will ever exert any control: Our population. No amount of conservation, agricultural expertise, train building or alternate energy discovery will ever sustain a population of over six billion people on this planet long term. We only must decide the method by which we will accomplish the reduction. There is no argument over what the problem is. Sustainability is population control.

  49. Gulland June 1, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    Hi again Jim,
    I would like to know more about advertising on your blog. Here’s what I have to sell:
    http://gullandforge.com/
    http://broadforkblog.blogspot.com/
    I think a lot of your readers would be interested in my broadfork.
    Thanks,
    Larry Cooper

  50. Chuck June 1, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    I was just listening to a radio show this morning on the way to work – the show was about India’s increasing use of organic farming techiques and how they may not get the same yeild without fertilizers, but will continue to use organic farming regardless. They mentioned how certain insects eat other pest incest…ladybugs eat aphids…etc. Tried and true techniques that were used over hundreds of years. Waste not want not. I cant help but notice the stock market up again today regardless of GM. Some World Bank guy said the stock market was on a ‘sugar’ high from all the bailout money. Maybe it will tank again.

  51. coreyjsax June 1, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Great piece this week. Isn’t it amazing how so many people (mostly the boomers) pretend like everything is going to be ok?
    Corey
    http://www.coreyjsax.com

  52. carh8tr June 1, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    “The humanity visible on the downtown streets of Watertown looked like extras who wandered away from the latest Road Warrior location shoot — semi-hominid creatures with strange loping gaits, arresting hair-dos, and enough tattoos to qualify them for harpoon duty on Herman Melville’s Pequod.”
    I love the way you can turn a phrase Jim and the new website is great! Thanks for sharing your insight with us.

  53. Phil Gannon June 1, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    Jim, I went up to Toronto a few weeks ago on a trip with my son’s school band. The contrast between the US and Canada is quite profound. There dosen’t seem to be any visible slow down over there. Things here in Michigan are looking like a statewide yard sale. Great deals on every kind of fuel consuming toy you can name.
    I sent you an email on whats happened to GM while everyone was watching Idol or NASCAR. It is a good article.
    Stay Frosty,
    Phil
    ps: the new site format is cool.

  54. Othello786 June 1, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Kunstler’s description of the present landscape could do even more to bring the reality of our energy/growth constrained age if presented in video format. Any plans for a documentary? Any recommendations of an existing documentary that approaches the powerful eloquence of this piece?

  55. tomio June 1, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    JHK, always a pleasure to read your blog. I had to look up the Angry burger, and couldn’t believe that it was actually intended to be sent to someone that pisses you off with an “angry-gram”, a note to tell them how much they piss you off. How absurd. Also, being a Canadian, I think that if we aren’t the smart ones north of your border, we are just a little bit smaller and easily managed comparatively. Maybe the bigger you are, the harder you fall? I would love to see more localized, robust economies that aren’t totally connected to the world’s tightly coupled financial machine. Hope you have a great time while you’re in Canada!

  56. ozone June 1, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    …and a distinct pleasure to read your weekly musings (as always)! Thanks…
    I guess the “memo” [on where to post] has not been widely distributed yet; or folks just don’t dig “change” as much as they say they do. ;o)
    Oooo! On a side note; check out Greg Palast’s latest. The theft and disintegration of the GM penury fund, is distinctly ILLEGAL! Yow! My question to all: Even tho’ we have strong inklings that most of the laws are created by and for the rich; how can we possibly be expected to be “law-abiding” when the government and its’ officials have such obvious contempt for their own creations?!? (the cognitive dissonance is truly mind-twisting…)
    Thanks again Jim, the symptoms of inevitable collapse are starting to become evident as the veneer of Chinese plastic and political bamboozlement begins to wear through.
    Buy tools… and be sure they don’t have to be run on that new-fangled gas-I-leen.

  57. ozone June 1, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    P.S. (sorry)
    I have always enjoyed the alien spookiness of HPL as well. A welcome reminder of that fish-out-of-water feeling I’ve been experiencing for the last 20 years or so… :o)

  58. Loveandlight June 1, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Unlike the slovenly, failing farms of New York State, the farms of Ontario looked successful and prosperous. The barns did not tilt at weird angles and the roofs were intact. The farm houses were freshly painted and the grounds generally not strewn with the sort of dingy plastic effluvia Americans like to deploy around their dwellings to give the impression of plentitude. You wondered: how did all the IQ points below the Great Likes somehow migrate over to the Canadian side? Had they invented some kind of quantum spirit vacuum, run perhaps on dark matter, that sucked all the vitality out of their neighbor-to-the-south?
    Yay, HTML!! :-D
    When Soviet communism collapsed precipitously back in 1991, I had a sinking feeling that the USA would become the USSR of the 21st Century. The passage I quoted above this comment makes me realize that I was quite correct.

  59. Railmeat June 1, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    Nice site redesign Jim! Long overdue, and most welcome . . .

  60. denny June 1, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    A bottle of bubbly over the bow of the new site! Break a leg!

  61. Dave Eriqat June 1, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    I love the word “decrepitude.” Some years ago I started creating a photographic collection called “Decrepitude.” Something perverse in me loves the sight of decay of human constructions, especially old, abandoned factories and warehouses.
    Dave – Erstwhile Urban Wanderer

  62. Cosmos June 1, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    I’ve read that dying empires consume themselves ouroboros-like. The dwindling resources of any empire are finally exhausted by propping up its army and by the plundering of its treasury by corrupt officials.
    Meanwhile, the ever more preyed-upon citizenry cling to the old ways out of fear of the future, and this only abets the plundering and prolongs the death agonies.
    More specifically, the USA seems now like a failing steamboat concern that must feed its own deck planks to the boiler to get down the Mississippi one last time. A Huckleberry Ragnarok appears nigh.
    Thankfully, countries that emerge from the wreckage of empire are healthier and happier. It is post-empire societies that can afford universal health care and free education through college.

  63. Blue Mountian Man June 1, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    How right you are Jim. The landscape and mindscape below the Canadian border is scary in that part of New York (as well as here in the Finger Lakes).
    Rte 3 through Carthage is even more frightening. The death of what was once a working culture is even more evident.
    I had to laugh at your effluvia for which upstate NY is notorious. Along Rte. 3 you’ll find a sky blue Bathtub stuck in the ground surrounded by plastic flowers. I fully expected to find a statue of the virgin Mary of my youth protected in the porcelain shrine. Instead I found…now I am not kidding…a likeness of Strawberry Shortcake…really…no kidding.
    Jefferson County may be an example of what is to come for all of America; you are correct on this point. There is nothing of substance, and nothing real is being manufactured anywhere. We make nothing other than miles of service economy jobs with low pay and the need for cars to drive long distances.
    We are, sadly, at the end. I remember a ’59 Chevy that had fins sharp enough to slice your flesh. Now all that’s left to slice our flesh, most likely our wrists, is our collective unconscious as it relates to what we think will turn out OK.

  64. DoBotherMe June 1, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    Wow! Lots of comments. I sent a link to our Mayor, Frank Cownie. He’s trying his damnedest to keep Des Moines viable. Keep up the good work! Dana ; )

  65. upstatebob June 1, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    new site looks good james.
    Hiking and biking on the old rail trails piqued my
    interest in the old rail lines. A shame that so many
    are gone now. They once criss-crossed the countryside. The local governments continue to tax
    the remaining survivors whether they make money or not. Yahoo maps is a good resource for finding old
    routes.

  66. Barry June 1, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    When I ponder places like Watertown, it seems to me that the only thing more tragic than the world we live in is that those who are aware of it can do little to change it. Too much inertia.
    Today is Bankruptcy Day for GM and those involved are still telling us how they are going to restructure and have everything turned around in 60 to 90 days. Perhaps we’ve seen too many episodes of Dukes of Hazzard. Launching off the ramp, flying in mid-air, freeze frame, Duke Boys doomed – a quick message from our sponsor – but back with a freshly-painted General Lee.

  67. Ed-M June 1, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    Hi! I’m a newbie here, although I’ve been reading your blog over at TypoPad for some time now — your article in Rolling Stone Magazine a few years back keyed me in to TLE.
    I also read Elaine Supkis’ blog as well and she has reported on the sorry state of farms near her hometown of Berlin NY in the Berkshires: that they are SLUMS.
    I used to live in Boston and once I traveled to Ontario; along the way I noticed that the bridges on the NYS Thruway were in the most advanced state of decreptitude compared to the New England States and Ontario. And this was back in the 80s!
    On my last return visit to New England via Amtrak, that area still looked prosperous once one gets north of New Haven — below that city, the tracksides were for the most part pretty damned blighted til one gets into the sprawing DC Metroplex.

  68. Consultant June 1, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    Hi Jim,
    Great web redesign.
    I think we’ve given up on the American Project. By we, I mean our “leaders”. We have a collapse of leadership that is so wide and deep, it can only mean that our culture has collapsed.
    A failed culture no longer believes in itself. In fact, there is no longer a common culture. Individualism reigns supreme. The center doesn’t hold.
    This is scary. A failed culture with nuclear bombs. Not good.

  69. G. Nye June 1, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    The clusterfuck nation is one of my favorite websites. It is usually the high point of my Monday reading. I am so sorry you have dropped the typepad location. I use a phone modem for internet connection and today I sat through a 1,351,000 byte download in order to see a link to what I wanted to read (and a bunch of small pics and other links). I bet there are a lot of people like me who are too frugal to pay $40 or $60 or $90 a month for a fast connection. Please ask your web designer to make the c.f.n. load first, as a favor to loyal readers.
    I’ve purchased and read two of your non-fiction books, thanks! Please keep whuppin’ on the clusterfuck clowns! The webcast with D. Crary is great too. I click on download at bedtime, and enjoy a good talk show over morning coffee.
    Regards, Geo

  70. DCC June 1, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    G. Nye,
    In the future, just bookmark this address:
    http://kunstler.com/blog
    That will take you to Jim’s blog home page and you can skip over the home page.
    Also, this is Jim’s RSS feed page:
    http://feeds2.feedburner.com/clusterfucknation

  71. J Lee June 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    Isn’t life rosey up here too. Travel a bit more in this barren wasteland and you will find that it is just as awful as the good ole USA. Except we don’t have quite as many guns and we aren’t yet a fanatical religious society and we aren’t quite as fat. Nevertheless, I say lock the border going north, don’t just make it difficult to cross going south. Where do you think our criminal gangs get all their handguns. It’s not from gun shops or gun fairs at our local malls.

  72. Ed-M June 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    @Carl: And right after the typical American SUV / Pickup driver angrily passes you and before he turns into the Burger King, he almost STOPS in the travel lane to make his turn, usually with no activation of the turn indicator. X-(

  73. WanderingOak June 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    This hit very close to home, because, while I’m not a native, I am a Watertown resident. Parts of the downtown area still have architectural potential, but unfortunately, the people don’t seem to be up to the task of keeping it alive. The city just spent untold millions on refurbishing the town square, only to realize after the fact that the new design did not allow for snowploughs or firetrucks to go through without jumping the curb. Even though there is plenty of parking downtown, half of the buildings are empty. One such empty shell has a sign saying ‘Watertown Chamber of Commerce’ on the front.
    The further afield you go around here, the worse it seems to get. I saw one house out in the county last week where it looked as if the owners were sharecroppers growing polystyrene children’s toys in their front yard. There weren’t even any weeds, just brightly colored plastic junk.

  74. BobbyK June 1, 2009 at 12:16 pm #

    23 years ago the regional grocery chain I worked for opened a new store in Watertown to take advantage of the federal government’s increased activity at Fort Drum. My first night in my “new” apartment I turn on the water and out comes this brown drizzle I knew I could never drink. My landlady tells me the next day that happens about once a month.
    Things were horrible there then and apparently not any better now.

  75. LoveSalem June 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    Wickipedia? Does Wikipedia know?

  76. david mathews June 1, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    Very nice. Very nice indeed.
    Photos of the Living Earth

  77. Jay June 1, 2009 at 12:21 pm #

    Jim
    I enjoy the occasional references and comments in your writings about the freaky looking tattooed folk wandering around loose on our streets. It is comforting to know that at least one other person in this country views them as I do. I get tired of being around people whose decor and manner project the message, “I’m ugly, bizzare, and rude, and I’m in your face”. I’m dismayed that so much of the public doesn’t appreciate what the increasing numbers, of young people especially, acting out like that indicate about where our culture is headed.
    Jim, I love your writing. You have great insight and and an uncanny ability to get to the heart of things.

  78. CDK June 1, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    What Kunstler is describing is nothing less the complete destruction of Francis Bacon’s mastery of nature project that animates and defines our modern world. I wonder if people realize how much of what call “progress” DEPENDS upon an economy that does not require large amounts of human physical labor for survival. Kunstler says that he does not think we will return to the 19th century, and he is right; by the end of this century we’ll be lucky if we’re able to maintain ancient or medieval standards of living. Even in the 19th century the vast resources of the North American continent had yet to be fully exploited and they had a fraction of our population to support. A lot of our assumptions about the dispensable nature of the nuclear family are about to be put to pasture as we either fall into a Mad Max-type barbarism or retrieve some measure of civilization.

  79. Rod Roth June 1, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    Jeff, Read George Friedman’s The Next 100 years: the rate of population growth is declining and global population will be declining in absolute terms within 50 years. It’s another kind of problem, but it is a sustainablility problem. The data on population is from the United Nations.

  80. jmsbrmr June 1, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    what a strange sensation commenting at all. yah. Ize been to Watertown. The great river. Mostly I enjoy reading JHK.

  81. fugeguy June 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    Continue the discussion at:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thelongemergency/messages

  82. freeway_4_eva June 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    Blue Mountain Man, thanks for jogging my memory a bit with your dropping of the name “Carthage.” It reminded me of another oddity of upstate New York that directly ties into the notion of empire.
    The place is practically covered with small towns named after classical places and figures, and the phenomenon seems to grow more common as you go deeper into the snowbelt. Even some of the Syracuse suburbs are named in this manner (as is Syracuse itself) – Cicero (the fastest growing sprawl pit of that city) is named after a Roman orator. Minoa, a village that I’ve also written extensively about in the Fairyheart universe, is named after an ancient Crete based civilization that some believe was synonymous with Atlantis! It was as if the original settlers of the area truly believed that New York would become “The Empire State!”
    I’d like to thank the optimists here for reminding us all about small scale hydro (built by the tattooed minions). I’ll share another possible source of post oil energy for upstate NY (and many other areas) – cellulose ethanol:
    http://www.esf.edu/willow/
    My alma mater has been working on finding ways to break up the cell walls of fast growing willow trees, along with scrap material from the timber industry, in order to extract enough sugars to ferment ethanol with a positive EROEI.
    JHK, I know you argue that we cannot find a way to run our auto and truck fleet with alternatives, but biofuels may be the key to constructing a set of long distance bike paths and keeping them plowed in the winter. And, of course, a feedstock for bioplastics that can be used to make winter biking gear :o)
    Hmm … maybe I should return to the old town and the old school to learn the science so that I can enter the biofuels industry. Who knows, I may even create a job for ol’ Buster that’s much more positive than his current career of slinging coke and oxys.

  83. Matthew in B'more June 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    Congrats on the new digs, Jim. Love it.

  84. Chudleigh June 1, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    I guess all those years of electronically bombing Watertown Bomb Plot had some effect after all. The “Oil Burner” low level routs and beautiful views of the Finger Lakes provided for fond memories.

  85. Owl Man June 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    Jeesh! I am a native of Watertown and I sort of jumped when I read your perceptions of Watertown. I grew up here seeing it change from a sleepy little town (very safe, back when I was a kid–I could walk down the street with my shotgun (the thought of harming anyone was non-existent in MY mind), I would follow the railroad tracks out of town and hunt small game–come back home with cottontail rabbits swinging from my belt–very proudly—heh! Just try THAT now and you will be in the back seat of a patrol car so fast your head will spin. Yep, I know…we (I) may be reliving that scene of walking out of town to hunt ANY game.
    There are STILL many beautiful areas of Watertown that you missed Mr. Kunstler…and not all of us are hulking, tattooed hominids (I do lament their presence and I am at a loss to know what to do for them). Your observations were great, sadly accurate and entertaining and I enjoyed it…I still love Watertown, my friends here (and from here)…and its history.

  86. C. Carlson June 1, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    One begins to wonder if turn signals are optional equipment on new cars these days…

  87. amy June 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    I like the new layout very much.
    I read “world made by hand”, very entertaining, and the characters are so ALIVE. For a movie version, i see Woody Harrellson as Wayen Karp, and Alex Baldwin as the Lietenant Governor that Earle encounters.
    Though, in the book, you write that old divisions of labor came back, and i noticed that in your future society, women held no positions of authority. Why was this?
    I am saddenend by the demise of GM-mabye it can rebuild itself, and just maybe the US will produce something of value other than CDO’s and debt.

  88. SNAFU June 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    James, Your description of the Northcountry of NY is relatively accurate as I grew up within 70 miles +- of Watertown from birth to adulthood in such minuscule communities as Antwerp, Norwood, Wanakena, Sweeney’s Corners, Sandfordville and post adulthood 9 years in Peru, NY on a farm near Lake Champlain; currently retired on a former dairy farm in Old De Kalb roughly 50 miles north of Watertown. With the resuscitation of Fort Drum in the mid to late 80’s, most likely a deal at the office of the SecDef as a result of the USAF decision to close Rome ADC and my old employer Plattsburgh AFB, has poured piles of dollars into the Watertown coffers. The blight evident to you on your ride to Canada has existed for virtually all of my recollection of life in the Northcountry. The current economic crunch is wiping out many of the older private employers in and about Watertown; however, in the neighborhoods I grew up in and about farming, forestry and private colleges, such as Clarkson College of Engineering (now Clarkson University) and Saint Lawrence University, formed the primary employment opportunities. The numerous small dairy farms of my youth have dwindled precipitously and the fewer large industrial farms who suck up the vast majority of the farm subsidies ostensibly created to help the “small” farmers now subsist in a manner similar to the California agricultural industry by using undocumented laborers primarily from Mexico and Latin and South America. Fortunately the downturn has adversely affected the large industrial farms by slashing their milk prices virtually in half from nearly $11/hundred weight to a bit over $5 in the last 9 months or so; hopefully to culminate in their demise so they can join the many neighbors they drove out of business. One of my neighbors and his father had farmed their farm for a cumulative total of 75 +_ years and he augured it in about 4 years ago after borrowing himself into a situation the 50 or so cows that he milked could not support his debt. Where were the farm support dollars when he was going under? Most likely supporting the industrial farm about the same distance from me in an orthogonal direction where the undocumented workers milk in excess of 600 cows around the clock. This farm has numerous farm implements any one of which are worth more than my not minuscule 300+ acre farm and my defunct neighbor’s nearly 500 acre farm. What is happening up here in the Northcountry is the same thing that created the economic crunch world wide; a few unconscionably greedy bastards raping the land, forests and water by taking far far more than their fair share. Why does Canada look more successful? Is it possible a more social society provides a more equitable distribution of the wealth vice the greedy bastards in the US consumed with grabbing as much for themselves as possible and to hell with everyone else. An interesting and amazing, to me at least, political fact about the Northcountry is that until very recently most of the poor bastards who had barely a pot to piss in voted predominantly Repulsifican. As a member of a family of lifelong liberals (my father a construction electrician, my brother a NYC lawyer, my sister a NYC para legal and myself an engineer) I/we never understood the enrapture of the disaffected poor with the Repulsifican party; do you?

  89. Danm June 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm #

    In Canada, “peace, order and good government” is the principle upon which our country’s Confederation took place.
    In the US, it’s Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
    The Liberty part of the principle has made Americans haters of government despite the fact they need one and it won’t be going away any time soon. In fact, it has created a party who’s primary intent is to show that government does not work. Is it any surprise that over the decades your politicians have destroyed your country?
    I’m not saying that Canada is perfect but I am convinced that a lot of Canada’s troubles stem from US fiscal and economic policies that are forced onto us.
    Socialism requires long term planning and it’s hard to plan for the long term when the giant down South keeps on instituting short term policies at an ever increasing rate.
    Most Canadians believe in capitalism and the free markets but we also realize that private business will not always give us the goods and services we want or need to give us the quality of life we cherish.
    I think the fact that Canada’s small population is spread out over a large geography with a harsh climate has made us realize a long time ago that we needed to cooperate and that meant accepting government.
    And if as a nation you accept government, it will be easier to keep an eye on it because you won’t up with mutiny or parties that will try to dismantle it.
    Over the last decade or 2, many Canadians have increasingly been vying for the American way of life: lower taxes, more consumption, larger appearance of wealth. But I think they’re in for a shock when they they realize what the American elite did to their pople. Canadians love their social net and believe much more in equality than Americans. For some strange reason most of us Canadians realize that we wont be making it into the top 1% while Americans seem to have bought into the idea that they all could be the next billionaire.

  90. FARfetched June 1, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    OK, I give up. Another sign-in, with any luck I’ll be able to remember the password. Why not support OpenID? I just hope this works better than TypoPad :-P
    This week, JHK gives us something a little different on top of the usual memes of tattooed gorillas and so on: yet another nail in the coffin of the CONservatives and libertarians who harp incessantly about taxes. All you have to do is take a look around your own locale, read JHK’s post once again, look at history, and see that higher taxes are a barometer of general prosperity (as opposed to excessive wealth for the very few and bupkis for everyone else).
    Dunno if Generally Motionless will be able to revive itself as an independent concern or not. My prediction that GM would be broken up came partially true over the weekend, although I figured they’d split along product or departmental lines rather than dumping their problem assets into an “old GM” bucket. I still think they ought to give 50.1% of the company to the UAW employees and let them decide how much & how far they’re willing to cut jobs & wages, but they only got 17.5%. Oh well.
    Good start on the new blog, anyway. In FAR Future, episode 90, The Boy makes an explosive discovery…

  91. Danm June 1, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    I/we never understood the enrapture of the disaffected poor with the Repulsifican party; do you?
    —————
    I’m reading a book on democracy and it actually approached this topic.
    For some sort of reason, those who would benefit most from socialist policies tend to vote for right wing parties.
    Apparently, these disaffected poor do not really vote for parties that will help them win more rights but look for parties that will take away the rights of others.
    For example, the poor are usually jealous of civil servants with guarateed pensions and unionized workers so they will vote for the leaders who will try to cut government and dismantle unions.

  92. Richard Brenne June 1, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    Great site, Dude (and vice-versat)!
    Sometimes dittoheads breathlessly ask through tears, “What if there’d been no 4th of July declation and all that’s resulted?”
    Then we’d have gun control and universal health care.

  93. Bambini June 1, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    I live in the Western Catskiils of New York. 50% of the retail shops are now gone. I looked into opening up shop. I soon discovered the distributers and manufactures charge retail prices for merchandise leaving me with limited markup, add in taxes, rent and advertising expenses. At most I might make $150 a month, that doesn’t cover the interest on a business loan. Plan B; make artisan bread and sell fresh eggs from my home. I get an order of 25 straight run chicks. Months later I have 21 roosters and 4 hens. Could not find a staugher house in a farm county, because they have been over-regulated and taxed right out of business. Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. President Obama, went on a $24,000 date this weekend. At least someone is having a good time at my expense.

  94. Jeff Gerritsen June 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    Time and resource depletion does provide an ironic end to the once mighty GM. There are more fitting endings for a company that along with Firestone and Standard Oil of Southern California formed a holding company that bought up many of the trolley systems around the nation and destroyed them — so they could buy GM cars, running on Firestone tires, and fuelled by Standard Oil gas, but alas GM has truly left US with a mess to clean up — that is the car dependent culture. For one thing GM could be forced as a part of bankruptcy to rebuild those trolley systems they participated in destroying!
    We have “frittered away” precious time to begin the transformation process within our country away from the car dependent culture, few people can even begin to conceive the pain we will endure in the up coming years. I sumize this will be our national mortgage payment we will be saddled with for the next 30 to 50 years or so.
    The “offical” bankruptcy of GM marks the turning point where we begin making payments on our national mortgage payment — along with late fees too boot!

  95. Kalpa June 1, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    Extra good commentary today. I think we are all rather melancholy. Sounds like you are still living the dream, though, motoring around on the weekend! Nice, new web layout.
    I’ve seen you speak twice, now, here in Boulder. If you’re bored, come visit my new financial Blog:
    Financial News Express
    http://financialnewsexpress.blogspot.com/
    Here’s what I wrote today:

    Who cannot feel sad, nostalgic, and like we are experiencing something significant historically in America today, as GM officially files for bankruptcy? And there is that saying that we all know, in the back of our minds, “As GM goes, so goes the country?” We have all been in love with the cars. The era of carefree and dangerous adventure in muscle cars with leaded gasoline, no seat belts or air conditioning on newly built highways across America, burning our own unimported gasoline, will continue to fade into our distant memories. And that era was once strongly intertwined with the identity of this entire nation. The songs. The movies. The rides. I don’t care what the negative aspects are today, I just want to remember fondly and think about the implications “going down the road”.

  96. bahmi June 1, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    While driving throughout eastern NY State over the last 35 years, one could see that prosperity started waning long before the current Messiah’s rule. Decrepit farms by the dozen appeared down the side roads, the first sign of farmers unable to produce foodstuffs at a profit. Enter the subsidies, good for a while, but ultimately death revealing.
    I wonder how many readers know what the hell a corporate farm really is. These farms are usually lambasted as being the WalMarts of agriculture, putting the little guys out of business, yeah. Corporate farms, technically, can be teeny little entities with LLC after their farm name. Just a liability limiting device, that’s all this sort of corporation is.
    At the other end, the huge corporate farm, you have an entity that has size, borrowing power, needs lots of labor, etc etc. This type of farm grows bulk. It can turn a profit, often, on the heels of huge volume in a low margin market. It has capabilities to do things that the little LLC farm simply cannot do. This farm is highly mechanized and can very often grow crops that allow consumers to purchase said foodstuffs at affordable prices. A small farm very often cannot do this. Hating corporate farms MAY be legit when talking about subsidies given for NOT growing cotton in North Dakota! Or, not growing oranges in Caribou, Maine! Some of our fine politicians of the past were marvelous at extracting subsidies from these slush funds.
    To hate a legit corporate farm that very often does a tremendous job at producing food or fiber legitimately without taxpayer inputs is like saying Mom and Pop stores should be the only ones to exist today. And, I can assure you farming for profits is damn tough these days, unless you are farming ganja in Culiacan.
    Jim provides a great forum for us all and some great stuff has been uncovered. In this vein for you blog seekers, take a good look at Brussels Journal very soon. There’s some great stuff there and you will really take to it. Bloggers are often lambasted, but there are some sharp cats out there.
    Jim, great new look, thanks!

  97. Bike Tourist June 1, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    As Pangloss has suggested, everything is always for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
    I heard that the world’s population (of humans) will be nine billion by the year 2050. GM will have the large base of people necessary to keep selling urban assault vehicles.
    See? Isn’t that reassuring?

  98. ValleyBoy June 1, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    I’m from Canada but now live in Austria. I don’t believe the natural resource endowment is a deciding factor for Canada/US differences. Others on the blog have pointed to the differences in governance, which is probably at the root of it all. I’m always puzzled by two aspects of the US psyche:
    1) The pervasiveness of toxic ideology based on “wooly” values (true conservatism, true patriotism, true capitalism and other such crap). People in the US believe that taxes are bad? That government is bad? You may have some bad governments, but government is essential (what is the alternative – a society of survivalists in backwoods cabins).
    2) The lack of attention to outcomes. California’s constitution has hobbled the state’s finances but the populace and elected officials can’t get themselves disentangled from ideological baggage and get on with the legislative house cleaning to fix the problem.
    To me, the sweet spot is to strike a balance between outcomes and underlying values. Ditch the ideology (or at least confine it to academic circles). BTW there is a parallel over here similar to the anecdotal accounts of the USA-Canada situation. Austria, which has 1/10 the population of Germany, is generally thought to be doing better than its larger neighbor.

  99. Danm June 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    Valley Boy:
    The lack of attention to outcomes is an interesting observation.
    One thing I have noticed is that Americans are navel gazing , and refuse to look outside their borders (they have not had to because of their weight) to see if anything else works better.
    Also, they always revert back to their founding fathers words instead of looking forwards.
    Why would they want to go back into the minds of dead people who had slaves and lived in the bush?

  100. Poet June 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    I hear tht his excellency, Secretary of the Treasury Geithner after reassuring a group of chinese that their investments in the US were safe when he was greeted with laughter from his audinece.
    What I doh’t yet know for sure is whether the audience was just being rude or thought the Treasury Secretary was joking and were just going with the flow of what they imagined was his amusing narritive.
    It left me wishing that the Washington press corps would behave similarly during press conferences of many US government officials-including our sincerely earnest but apparently either clueless or severely cowed President.

  101. M E Beddoe June 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Watertown responds:
    Say, Jim, why did you come here? Are you a glutton for punishment?
    I had to swallow hard before agreeing to move here. I was born in Massena, and I know about these desperate border towns clinging to life. My expectations have been thoroughly met, and surpassed.
    The Burger King marquee is surreal: “Try our new Angry Whopper Meal.” I was flabbergasted when its visage first crept into view a few weeks back. It’s a jalapeno burger, for Chrissake, what’s so angry about a jalapeno? My brother the heat fiend (he emigrated north; I guess he’s trying to keep warm) tried one and so informed me. I write the marquee nonsense off to pandering to the boys in fatigues. I so appreciated reading your comments about seeing it because WTF was exactly what I thought, too.
    We were in Ontario on Sunday as well, as luck would have it, on the twentieth floor of a high-rise facing north to the Gatineau Hills, the breathtaking, utterly lovely view from my brother the heat fiend’s new postage-stamp condo. I’ll say one thing about our neighbors to the north: they’re fearless about facing the cold head-on. This place cost a quarter million and is one prolonged power outage away from being a large pigeon fridj. Some kinds of foolhardiness cut across national boundaries.
    Buying property here was quite the experience for us. We found that housing prices remained inflated longer than in other areas of the country because of the proximity of the Fort. Now, for those of you looking for the really unusual find, may I point out that the once grand masonic temple on Washington Street is, by gauche, for sale?

  102. caliope June 1, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    At any rate, the key to understanding the question of these types of farms that exist on volume business by undercutting their low-tech competitors, so people can have food at ‘affordable’ prices, as you say, is the question of EROEI for society. What needs to be answered; Is it sustainable? and Is it
    contributing or hindering the sustainable functioning of civilized societal functions?
    Obviously in the case of these types of farms the answer is a resounding ‘no’. We want all the benefits (cheap prices) without paying the costs; poisoning water tables from chemical run-off, not to mention the oceans, the ill effects of the unhealthy cows that are fed corn sugars instead of grass, yielding a dairy product virtually devoid of Omega 3 fatty acids that would help curb the epidemics of heart disease, diabetes, etc., the employment of local labor, leading to cohesive community and civic responsibility, and wages that would allow people to afford this more ‘expensive’ dairy product…
    Cant you understand these things all go together?! All roads lead to Rome, one way or another, take your pick of which Rome you prefer!
    And the ‘cost’ is the possible disintegration of civilization, merely because otherwise intelligent people cannot see the interrelationships of societies choices.
    And if you think this cant happen, a fascinating account to watch is Carl Sagan on Youtube speak of the library at Alexandria…they had the size and shape of our planet, the mapping of the solar system, advanced mathematics, designs for STEAM ENGINES! All this before the birth of Christ!
    Want to make a difference? Buy from your local sustainable farm, meet the farmer, and make him your friend, because we’re all going to need that…

  103. Danm June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    Did you know that Americans spend something like 5-7% of their income on food?
    Canadians 10-15%
    And Europeans 15-20%.
    ———————-
    Either Americans eat very low quality food or it is a very highly subsidized sector (overvalued dollar maybe?).
    Something tell me that food in % of incoem will be going up as Americans lose their purchasing power over the next little while.
    On another note, we got to 6 billion people because of the big corporate farm. If we all go small, local and sustainable, population won’t be 6 billion that’s for sure.

  104. Walter June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    Regarding the relative prosperity of Canada vs. the Lower 48: I drove the Alaska Highway in 2006 and was sruck by the neatness and overall high standards of the farms from the border crossing at Sweatgrass MT to Edmonton.
    The area from Edmonton to Ft. Nelson was buzzing with oil and natrual gas related activity and even in March there was a shortage of hotel rooms.
    I believe the hydrocarbon,mining and timber components of the Canadian economy are very robust industries and give them a great advantage in world markets now.

  105. braindeed June 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Damm :
    This American and his audience are indeed navel gazing – I don’t know where you are, but the phrase Peak Oil (for instance) is virtually unknown in general parlance here in the United Kingdom……it’s just too frightening for the ‘children’ to hear.
    Be glad they are starting to reflect so, for this innovative and inventive people will lead the rest of usto a solution I’d guess – they have done to most things….Adolf, Uncle Joe Stalin, the Land of the rising sun, for instance. They call the shots economically, but every dominant power has done since money and trading blocks were invented….but I’m glad to be under the sphere of Uncle Sam – I’d be less fortunate if it were Uncle Mao or Uncle Ahmed for sure.
    As for the founding fathers, they may have been in forests and fields, but they striving to be free men – Independence was won from the Kings of Europe who would have kept them serfs. Their Constitution documents were arrived art through embracing all the most fanciful ideals of the gentlemen scholars in the Europe of the supposed ‘Enlightenment’ – I say supposed, because it was mostly a parlour game in England and won only through decades of murderous strife on the continent|.
    Slavery was (and will remain forever so) a stain on their achievements – imported from Europe as a trade, along with the notion that Africans were less than Human.
    The Constitution remains a piece of art to be revered, it is fluid and still yet speaks to their nation in a way that has not yet been achieved in Europe 200 years later.
    One criticism though ….Jim your ideas need to reach a global audience – give it some thought.

  106. thomas99 June 1, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    It seems ironic that I read today of the passing of the last Titanic survivor, a 97 year-old woman who was two months old when she was lowered in a gunny sack into a lifeboat. And this on the same day that JHK reveals his new format and blog. Strange coincidence? I think not.

  107. Warren L June 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Your Route 3 connector to I-81 could be either Blenheim Road or Moorhouse Avenue here in Christchurch, New Zealand. Our colonial heritage, along with any pretense to aesthetics, has been bulldozed in favour of long strips of franchised concrete boxes covered in corporate colours and gaudy signage. Two of our most important streets, one a main route into the city, the other a chief thoroughfare through it, have been turned into car-centric shrines to cheap imported Chinese goods. Of course it’s a case of supply and demand – it never fails to amaze me that where ever a car park is built it immediately fills with cars.

  108. Sanvoiture June 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    I agree with much of the contrasts shared entre Canada and the U.S., and as a Yank who studied at Carleton U. in Ottawa I can also attest to the shabby and seedy side of that city and Canadians in general. I know the north country of NYS well, having driven through there for years to get to university, living in Rochester, NY (car slum) I have to say, I encountered more seediness in la capital du Canada, than here in former K-town. And clearly, Ottawa never had the wealth we had -for whatever it’s worth (nada). Also, it’s not nearly as bilingual as Rochester where 30% of nuestra ciudad speaks both Spanish and English.
    Yes, in general our (US) northern backwaters, along which Canada borders, has largely that Deliverance-look, no question. Canada (larger in territory, not in land) too has it’s rural poverty, just visit a reserve of the Aboriginals.
    Having lived there I found the Canadian mentality to be comparable to that of the American suburbanite.
    I know too that there cities are no less car slums than ours, just spend an hour in downtown TO (GASP).
    Jim, thanks for inspiring my anti-car aspirations (car-free for six years, in Rochester no less!). I attended your presentation here found your info. validating- especially in The Long Emergency which I’ve shared with many.
    Look forward to many more Monday essays!
    Berig Vintrange / Sanvoiture!
    Sanvoiture! Rochester, NY

  109. onthemovenow June 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    Holy collapsing nations Batman Your like a freaking rock star. I did not know people were so aware of you.
    James You are God. You know why? Because you can open eyes and make people laugh while they cry. You opened mine and I can not tell you how many times you made me grin and weep. You created, through the Geography of Nowhere, a Future City Planner.
    I Know you have your doubts about City Planning and its future but you have to agree The stuff Planners of today learn are things that all citizens should know and even if they do not know what makes a place livable then there at least has to be some passionate experts, hence, me.
    I am just so excited that I can tell you Thank You via Comment.
    Thank YOU for being so truthful.
    Sincerely, James S.
    P.S. Great read today.

  110. Grouchy Old Girl June 1, 2009 at 6:17 pm #

    As a Canadian living across the lake from Rochester New York I especially enjoyed today’s posting, although I wished JHK had offered more commentary on his experience north of the border in Ontario. My parents often vacationed in Watertown, staying each time in the same room of the same Ramada hotel, shopping at the Salmon Arm shopping mall, which I am sure must be part of the strip Jim refers to.
    They, like many of their generation, were Canadians who worshipped Americans and the Happy Motoring lifestyle passionately, so every family vacation meant racing to the border at either end of Lake Ontario and glorying in the fast food and frenzied shopping at fancy strip malls we could only dream about up here.
    It was a relief to grow old enough to be left at home where the real fun would be, what with them out of town and all. But I digress…
    Nearly finished reading the Long Emergency now so I can start World Made by Hand next. I can hardly wait. JHK, you are the source of my renewed faith in personkind. Not that I really feel encouraged, but I feel encouraged to learn that you and some others out there think like me, therefore we cannot all be completely deluded and paranoid.
    That’s something, right?

  111. BlackDouglas June 1, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    Well, mourning the passing of GM is where we part ways, Jim. I grew up regarding GM the way the Armenians do the Turks. While I was still playing Giant Steps with names of cars like Hudsons and DeSotos, I knew that Chevy people belonged to the dark side. My dad told us the story about GM buying up all the streetcar lines so they could tear them up and make cities buy buses–and retold it probably hundreds of times. Some of us never had the innocence you speak of, we just feel justice is, at last, being done. As always, it’s the bystanders who have to pay the heaviest price.

  112. garman June 1, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    I read and enjoyed WORLD MADE BY HAND as a novel that had many ideas that resonated with me, my only problem being the rather puzzling ending. As you being a man with obviously something to say, and as myself being a Watertonian, I must say I was disappointed that your trip through here could only show you our worst features. The abominable route 3 passage, sprung up in the wake of a Ft Drum expansion back around ’85 and known locally as “Suicide Alley,” is simply an all-too-common type of American unplanned strip development, the sort of thing that happens when sudden expansion comes to a town too far back in the boonies to have any idea at first how to deal with it. Neither should the tattooed trogs around downtown be taken as representative; chances are they are denizens of the kind of welfare housing that focuses on cheap downtown apartment space in buildings that have seen better days, who have noplace else to go nor any wheels or gas to get there if they did. Who mostly do probably feed on fast food, and yes, the local food is generally terrible, although in fact there do exist a couple of pretty good restaurants I could have steered you to.
    As to local farming, today only the strongest survive. Local land consists mainly of heavy rocky glacial terminal moraine basically good for nothing much but small scale wet upland pasture agriculture, cut through here and there with streaks of alluvial outwash that is actually pretty good farmland where you can find it, for all but the harshness of the climate. This once prosperous land was all cleared and pioneered a couple of centuries ago by thousands of small marginal family subsistence farms, pretty much wiped out by the 20th century advent of mega-scale agribusiness and slowly but surely going back to forest and brushland ever since. Yes, local real estate is indeed cheap, and might well become sustainable-farming viable again some fine day when petrochemical fertilizers disappear and worn-out factory farm soils can no longer feed us, who knows. Not to mention the hydro power that’s still here, against the day when we might not be able to do it with coal or oil anymore.
    It’s true, Watertown is in the middle of nowhere, and may not be the end of the world but you can see it from here, and in the meantime it does have its agreeable features that you never got to see, alas. Just about any kind of low-impact outdoor recreational activity, for instance, that you could wish for. As a dying rustbelt mill town, most of which should have fallen decades ago to urban blight, gangs, arsonists and the wrecking ball, Watertown has somehow managed to preserve something of a strip mall-blighted National Register town square area that may yet evolve into a walkable shoppable downtown if it hangs on long enough, plus perhaps a good quarter of the rather splendid surviving Victorian residential architecture that it once could boast, far more than you’re likely to see elsewhere, with renovations and restorations going on all the time, in neighborhoods where people know their neighbors, kids walk to well-funded schools, health care is first class and crime is virtually nonexistent. As are culture and educational opportunities, unfortunately, not to mention jobs and the local economy, perpetually twisting in the wind, hanging by a thread. Just wanted to say, though, that it ain’t all HP Lovecraft here when you get to know the place, grim though it may look when you’re just passing through.

  113. patrick June 1, 2009 at 6:32 pm #

    I think the take away from this is that the collapse of the American empire is not going to be a sudden event. It’s going to be a grinding, agonizing decent. The economy (ignore the stock market; they have no clue) is bleeding out and oil closed at just under $69. Speculation? Maybe some. If so, I suspect it’s mainly producers leaving oil in the ground.
    The next convultion is in the mail.

  114. den111 June 1, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    You draw colorful images Jim. Reading this one had me picturing some bastard devil spawn of ‘The Jetson’s’ and Route 1 north of Boston MA.
    You wouldn’t happen to have any pics, would you?
    Thanks
    Den

  115. sidd June 1, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    Great Lovecraft reference! Awesome – wanted to mention – Rockford, Il – much like what was mentioned in this post…downtown, virtually dead, all the “stores” are obnoxious big-box monsters right off of the freeway. Sad, really sad. It’s like…it was a growing town and then the 50’s hit it and wham! It bled to death along the main road out of town.

  116. captainadm June 1, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

    Mr Kunstler,
    Been a devoted reader of your blog since the beginning of 2009 and can’t wait to get your books. Interesting take on the borderlands of Canada/Watertown. I often drive boats back and forth from Florida to the Great lakes and use the Erie Barge Canal. Makes me really sad to stop and stay in the threadbare towns along the once great canal. What gives me a little thrill is spending some fat cat’s cash in those towns where people really need it. When I’m driving a huge, diesel- slurping, floating clorox bottle I try to make amends for my sin by buying everything I can from the locals. I wish I could get into Canada…A small youthful indiscretion from about about 30 years ago has had one of my crew stalled at the border a few times. Your opinion, is Dept. Homeland Security trying to keep us in? or is Canada trying to keep us out? Great website! Thanks…
    Captain trying to be good

  117. littleplanet June 1, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    Yes, it’s very nice to be able to visit and chat.
    (no doubt, since a gazzilion nasty emails have cluttered up the cybersphere lately from all the flipped out sleepwalkers who don’t take kindly to rude awakenings…) – hence, the lack of email responses since I can’t remember when…
    This Monday blog is about the only thing I look forward to on blue Mondays.
    As a Canadian, I have to say that I hold no smug holy delusions that we’ve done a whole lot better than what JHK describes south of the border.
    We bought just about the same brand of Hostess Twinkie, far as I can see. Toronto is still busy sprawling its way toward Siberia.
    (although we’ve also produced End and Escape from Suburbia)
    Perhaps this stuff should resonate along our border, as no other (particular nation) because the majority of us are strung out within spitting distance of America, it seems. (physically and psychologically)
    And if there ever really was a parting of the ways (which doesn’t seem to have been accomplished in the last 3 centuries or so) how isolated would we find ourselves, then?
    Quick: map out the movie set!
    Change a few dozen license plates, change the letter boxes to red, white and blue, exchange that maple leaf for a few spangled stars……..
    and leave everything else just about the same.
    In fact, don’t change a damned thing!
    And on that note – can someone please invade Alberta for us and take their tar-extraction toys away from them?
    thanks in advance,
    jp
    just let me laugh when it’s funny
    and when it’s sad, let me cry

  118. seb June 1, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    I don’t want to be an idiot. You have to be brief in these things. No matter what if I ramble on I’ll be screwed. JHK is a writer. They have these blog comment sections and they tell the writers to read the comments so that they become better bloggers. I have five of those.
    i. JHK becomes the first to comment on his own blog. He says so. I am intimidated by the writer. The writer’s sophistication comes from writing, not from a lot of calculus and labor and prison and mental institutions. I just relate on a basis of my hip hurting, and his hip being replaced, not some thing of him being a hippy. I was from San Francisco, not him.
    Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow
    Why, man, this is war au-go-go
    There’s plenty good money to be made
    By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade
    But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb
    They drop it on the Viet Cong.
    Country Joe and the Fish (that’s where they first spell out F-U-C-K, not here on this blog).
    To me, that’s mild. I choose to call ‘em gooks.
    Now, what about this writer, no doer mind you, constantly coming out with this “we” shit, as in, “Here’s what we should do”?
    2. He’s a damn elitist. I am sick to death of it. What’s “lumpen”? I’ll tell you: it is “lumpen prole”, some hammering phrase trying to kill us. We work. We do honest labor. We could do what you do; you can’t do what I do. Tht’a a reference to the proletariat. Forget it. Ain’t going to happen. Try me. I am dropping M&M’s in my mouth right now. I weigh 250, not 400. Is that 150 important? Not to him. My anger isn’t repressed. DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS
    3. He goes into Central Asia. There’s no way to make sense out of that. If you refer to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, can you be a little less vague? You must have thought “Middle East” and rejected it. Well, get back! What is the word-TRAUMATIZED. You’re too Jewish, and you guys have a guilt and at the same time want to flog us over the Haulocaust. Shakespeare got you in “The Merchant of Venice”. H. P. Lovecraft is crap. If you have to, ASK somebody what is good.
    4. Thing of, the psychic link here. Elizabeth Gladys “Mellvina” Dean, last survivor of the Titanic dies yesterday, and you get a premonition, and/or you read the name once, and you are going along and you go, “I want it to be Melville”, because, at our ages, we didn’t remember MELLVINA, and substituted MELVILLE, which we’ve heard a hundred times and is good (“Call me Ishmael”), and after all, the sea holds white whales, the Titanic, and other things in it.
    I know, I did it too. Fuckin’ Herman dude, yeah.
    5. One small reply to the person who got you on ending a sentence with the preposition ‘at': You stupid cocksucker. This is English. We are history. We have a phrase, “That’s not where it’s at”, from “Positively Fourth Street”, by Bob Dylan, who writes pretty good, so, please ram it, ram it, ram it up your poop chute. It may not translate. Get your boyfriend to do it while you are eating a sandwich. Enjoy!
    http://sbillinghurst.wordpress.com
    HOW TO MAKE METHAMPHETAMINE

  119. piltdownman June 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Jim –
    Nice to have a post what harkened back to your early themes, those times when we were all first discovering “The Geography of Nowhere.”
    I’m not sure I totally buy the “Canadian’s are doing it better” argument. I have friends who live up around Newmarket, Ontario and, from what I see there, the idea of strip malls is still going strong. As the Don Valley Parkway moves further north, it just keeps bringing with it more of the same….
    My hope, and it’s just that, is that all of these “lost souls,” these empty and deserted downtown blocks will someday be reborn. Many of them have been left nearly intact, as businesses just closed up and there was no money or motivation to do anything with them….
    If the unraveling proceeds on schedule, I’d like to think that places like Watertown and Massena and Utica and Medina and Poughkeepsie will live again, as centers of commerce.
    Pilt
    Satire: http://mytabloids.wordpress.com

  120. Sansvoiture June 1, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    Thanks for that insight on New Zealand, I have a British Amerian buddy who has siblings in Christ Church (is that 1 word?), he loves his annual visits there. Berig Sansvoiture, Rochester, NY, USA.

  121. Sansvoiture June 1, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    IN REPLY TO UPPER CANADA’S COMMENT-
    As to the differences…you have to remember a lot of the core in this piece of North America were booted out of the US in 1782-4, took their re-settlement grants here, and tried to rebuild their bankrupt lives…
    from Sansvoiture, Rochester, NY
    right Upper Canada, in our first civil war, we opted out of BNA, my ancestors were split, paternal side were Vermont loyalists, maternal side were Mohawk Valley Patriots.
    having studied at Carleton, in your capital, I’ve had the advantage of studying your nation’s history,
    many of my ancestors fled into the Ottawa Valley, geneologically I have many connections up north- I used to call Canada the great white north until lived in Anchorage, then it was, let’s go south to Canada, aye?
    at any rate, it’s nice to see your appreciation for our common history,
    Sanvoiture in Rochester (where 1/5th of our citoyens have Canadian roots or connections)

  122. scarlet runner June 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    Jim, I enjoyed your account of your North Country trip and appreciate greatly your weekly Monday morning scuttlebutt. If you’re into interesting, semi-deserted places up Northern NY way, check out Whitehall, next time.

  123. tgold1968 June 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    It’s strange to hear older generations lament the contraction of the auto industry, but I suppose if it were MTV, Apple, Microsoft or Google you’d get a similar response from younger ones.
    The days of this industry’s “tail” wagging the economic “dog” of America are obvisously over. GM now shares state ward status with the likes of Amtrak. It’s agenda and political influence will never be the same. It may eventually have to liquidate.
    Still, sympathy is hard to muster here. There is a lot of good that can come from the marginalization of this industry.
    We are still a creative nation despite this industry. We’ll endeavor to fill the economic void with more sustainable enterprise, I hope.
    I wonder if future generations will look back on this day and call it VF Day… Victory over Futurama.

  124. Cthulhu June 1, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    Cthulhu here. Cthulhu is first on this blog’s comment section(after JHK, naturally). Those other five or six “firsts” are pretenders, and Cthulhu shall crack their bones, and suck their sweet marrow, then Cthulhu will let them die.
    For Cthulhu shows mercy.
    Cthulhu was working today, and Cthulhu had not the time for the inter-webs©.
    Cthulhu is now returning to his domain. All shall know me, upon wakening in the morn, before the light; only your gasping breath and shuddering heartbeat for a melody. Just beyond your ear’s acuity, my portal seals with a thud.
    -AU channeling HPL

  125. kw1941 June 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    Hello folks! Having read your site for several years now and finding you generally right on target, plus being from Watertown, I would like to point out that you didn’t point out that Watertown has more creosote-soaked telepoles and cobweb-like wires than any place on the planet earth (except oh maybe, Baghdad).
    But I do suggest that you travel ten-fifteen miles north of the US-Canadian border to Athens, Lansdowne, Lyndhurst and Sweets Corners and you will see much of the same there as here in Jefferson County.
    On a more serious note though, all of these rural towns and villages on this side of the border have suffered partially as a result of Fed. Res. banking policy whereby 100 years ago we had twice as many banks (locally owned at that) as today, serving rural America. Today the top 50 “too big to fail” banks (out of about 8000) are responsible for ca.45% of all bank profits! They do business with guess who! Corporate America! One can see this when shopping at Watertown’s Salmon-run Mall(and other malls across the USA).
    Where do you suppose this money ends-up? How about the Hamptons on Long Island? (after first making a pit-stop at Wall Street). Jim! How about an expose’ on the flow of money in one of your future studies?

  126. mayberrymachiavellian June 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    Just made the same trip on Memorial Day weekend via the Blaine, WA border crossing. There was a traffic jam on southbound I-5 that I would estimate at 30-50 miles in length, stretching from Everett through Seattle and down into Tacoma.
    Tens of thousands of cars, trucks and SUVs just sitting there idling, for mile after mile, for hour after hour.
    This is apparently considered “normal” in this region.

  127. mayberrymachiavellian June 1, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    Jim:
    You should hire an intern to select out the “Editor’s Choice” comments — I have a feeling there are some worth reading here amidst the ramblers.

  128. gorditasmama June 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    I wonder how long it will take before the rows of empty McMansions begin to deteriorate, with broken windows and sagging roofs. None of them were built well. Almost all used inferior products from China and plastic “woodlike” window sills etc. I hope it doesn’t take long. I remember taking a vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and seeing the hulking rows of
    crappy houses, giant and characterless. It breaks your heart to think that all those natural dunes were eliminated for some builder’s idea of a community. I hope the sea takes them all. As for GM, it appears all will be well after the big US taxpayer bailout and the speedy BK reorganization. I guess all of the sudden we will be frothing at the mouth to buy
    their cars!! Especially since they are closing 9 more US plants and idling 3 more!! I guess Americans are throwaway employees. We are obsolete in the eyes of our “American” corporations. Lets see how much of their stuff we will buy without any incomes. Maybe the workers in India and China will buy them.
    hahahahahahahaha

  129. McCool June 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    Urban Ontario has languished for years due to the neglect and/or outright hostility of higher levels of government, and the willingness of local governments to enable developers to run roughshod over good sense and taste. The City of Toronto, the province’s main economic engine, is always getting the shaft from political parties dependent on the votes of suburbanites and rural yokels, in particular its woefully underfunded mass transit system. Anyone who wants a glimpse of urban dysfunction ought to visit the inner suburb of Scarborough. The car culture is just as dominant north of the St. Lawrence Seaway, unfortunately. A recent plan to create a bike lane on a busy downtown Toronto street was greeted with the type of vitriol usually reserved for reality T.V. villains.

  130. abbeysbooks June 1, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    Hi Cthulhu,
    I’ve just gotten into Lovecraft and am dazzled. Been into Kunstler for a long time now and read him every week. Have agreed with him for a few years and have seen this coming since 1981. For such a long time? How come? Well, Ron Paul told us back then that Congress had changed the money, put in a metal strip to doing the metal detectors, all for counterfeiting detection.
    Hmmmmm said I. They are going to rachet up inflation again in a generation or so. Be ready. Also Greenspan was my economics teacher when I followed Ayn Rand, so I was forewarned. Had it made and then came betrayal, but that is another story.
    I came to Lovecraft via Houellebecq who has written a book on Lovecraft called Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life. It is a beautiful and sensitive essay and sort of bibliography of HPL by the major writer now in France since Camus. HK you must read him.

  131. Patz June 1, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    Canada and the US are two different countries that just happen to look and sound much alike. The differences are usually more discernible to Canadians than Americans. Although when Americans find differences they tend to belittle the Canadian.
    I am a dual living now in Vancouver, BC.
    Here are a few comments on why what you see may look a little different–it will certainly feel that way.
    In Canada no one goes without medical care–full stop. There are no such things as “using up your allotment of treatment” no “prior conditions,” nothing like that. Consequently, no one has that “health anxiety” so prevalent down south.
    We have neither the highs nor lows of wealth and poverty, nor quite the same expectations of getting rich. It’s a little less exciting and a lot less nerve racking.
    A big difference I find is the ubiquity of the military and the reverence accorded them in the US. Yes, Canada has troops in Afghanistan but most of the time it’s under the radar, although they regularly report Canadian troop deaths.
    One of the biggest differences is in race relations. We simply have not had the history of slavery and antagonistic race relations that have existed throughout US history in one form or another. The result of which has been visible poverty, frequent violence and other ills. (Very important to point out that this in no way makes Canadians morally superior. Our treatment of native peoples and of African-Canadian and Americans has been abysmal in the first case and frequently shameful in the second.)
    Canada leans a little towards the Scandinavian model of society in many ways–for good and bad. It is this and the above I think that make Canada seem a bit better off–FOR NOW. We’ll see what the future brings–who knows maybe American troops will be sent to “protect” our water and oil.

  132. phixstick June 1, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

    I don’t mean to be a contrarian on a site I enjoy so much,but after a couple of weekends unluckily spent visiting Phoenix-area malls,I think it’s a little early to be thinking of impending gloom. The malls are packed, the parking lots are full, and the happy motoring mall-centric life is thriving, even in the midst of our economic meltdown. The road to the long emergency promises to be a long and bumpy one, and we’re nowhere near there yet.

  133. abbeysbooks June 1, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Bambini,
    The business to be in now is discount groceries etc. You buy those big flats of dozens of banana boxes filled with all sorts of merchandise. One big flat may go for $750-1000 and then you set up shop. I can’t begin to tell you all that’s in those things. A friend of mine does this and I took all the Curad (scar therapy) boxes out and the Nicorette gum and ebayed it all and paid for the entire flat outof those two items (there were a lot of them). But today you must think outside the box. No wonder all those box stores are going to go. They clean off the shelves to make room for new products and distributors get them. If you are or know a trucker then you are in biz. Fill the truck up and you can wholesale a huge amount of it to other discount grocers et al. Also have a retail store. Then ebay huge lots of it.
    If you want to research the market go spend some time on ebay. Trust me you will make a bundle. People don’t just buy one item they buy all the flour you have on the shelves!

  134. abbeysbooks June 2, 2009 at 12:10 am #

    On Lovecraft after reading Houellebecq left me weeping. His incredible life of the mind and imagination and acute perception. Kafka the same:”to understand is to want to die.” (close to that) Both so perceptive of the madness of the world. Start connecting the dots and you will see the madness clearer and clearer.
    Platform by Houellebecq is ghastly truthful. Has a horror scene by muslims that put his publisher in a panty uproar and almost a fatwa on him. Then two weeks later comes 9-11 and he is saved. Prescient as is Kunstler. Just different mindsets.
    And on that 24K date in NYC. If it weren’t for assassination fears it wouldn’t cost that much. Until the Swedish PM got murdered (killer still free) he just went everywhere on his bike.Now I suppose it costs the new PM of Sweden a grand or so to go get some eggs at the supermarket.

  135. B85 June 2, 2009 at 12:27 am #

    Jim,
    I would like to here what you think about the Erie Canal and our other Canals. What will be their future?
    Thanks for the hard work!

  136. Jaego Scorzne June 2, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    “But sucess and happiness were not to be.
    Garish daylight shewed only squalor and alienage
    and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing spread-
    ing stone where the moon had hinted of loveliness
    and elder magic; the the throngs of people that
    seethed through the flume-like streets were squat,
    swarthy strangers with hardened faces and narrow
    eyes, shrewd stranges without dreams and without
    kinship to the scenes about them, who could never
    mean aught to a blue eyed man of the old folk,
    with the love of fair green lanes and white New
    England village steeples in his heart.” HPL, “He”
    Don’t worry about Canada, gang. Racially,
    they are about thirty years behind the United
    States, but like Europe, they are working very
    hard to create a racial problem. Given their rel-
    atively small population and their rate of immig-
    ration (hundreds of thousands of third worlders
    a year), they will soon have eneough Blacks and
    Muslims to overwhelm the Social Services. They
    already have gangs and high rates of crime in the
    big cities. White Canadians will just have to un-
    erstand; the Great Work of destroying Western Civ-
    ilization must continue. And the means? White Dis-
    possesion.

  137. abbeysbooks June 2, 2009 at 1:39 am #

    You need to know Jill Richardson and so does the guy who just bought your fabulous tool. Here’s her site: http://www.lavidalocavore.org/ She has become very visible in her passion for healthy food and her political take on the corporations who poison us.
    She is presently writing a book I believe and has become well known throughout the blogosphere, so I thought you two should meet if you haven’t already.
    I am assuming you know about Wes Jackson and the Land Institute? http://www.landinstitute.org
    Remember Kuntsler’s blogging about cattle eating chicken shit. She really ran with that one when I made her aware of it.

  138. wmt477 June 2, 2009 at 1:53 am #

    On a motorcycle trip I visited Mingo Junction, OH
    to see where the place where “The Deerhunter” was filmed. I was shocked by how destroyed the place looked.
    My M/C vacations often take me to Canada where
    I once commented to an old couple in Wiarton, Ontario that the Georgian Bay area wasn’t that different from where I live in Virginia except
    in Virginia we have bullet holes in our rural traffic signs.
    I’ve lived in Germany and Japan, traveled a bit
    and the fact is in both those places the roads have less litter, the little farms are better
    run, the air seems cleaner, and in both of those places dictatorships took hold and wars were started. You can never tell how things will turn out. God Bless America, I’m proud to live here
    warts and all. People like you Jim will make the USA a better place to live. Keep up your good work. I read CF Nation every Monday and I own most of your books. Thanks.

  139. DCC June 2, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    B85,
    I believe JHK mentions the Erie Canal in “The Long Emergency.”
    He also talked at length about the Erie Canal on this episode of The KunstlerCast:
    http://kunstlercast.com/shows/KunstlerCast_39_Water_Transit.html

  140. Elle June 2, 2009 at 4:00 am #

    I am a tattooed, urban homesteading, stockpiling, “Long Emergency” reading, “World Made by Hand” preparing, “Clusterfuck Nation” following, vintage clothes wearing, high IQ holding, rockabilly all-Canadian girl and I would like to shout from the proverbial cyber rooftops, “listen to this man, before it’s too late!”

  141. eightm June 2, 2009 at 4:24 am #

    You all may want to check out these:
    http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=168540
    http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=168156
    Another take on what may be happening. Of course cause and effect my get confused in the end, or is it the final breakdown of cause and effect through “free willonium” minds, acting and reacting and mixing causes and effects in any order, or maybe we think things happen even when nothing really happens except the same old continuous cycles of up and down and constant change that really changes nothing at all. What we want and say causes what happens and influences what we want and say and think that causes another event and so on forever.

  142. autumn June 2, 2009 at 6:38 am #

    I enjoy a weekly dose of eloquent doom from JHK, and appreciate the way my unorganized and not so eloquent thoughts and ideas are expressed by a talented writer.
    Often I wonder what Kunstler’s opinion would be places and happenings I have seen that he has not written about yet. Yesterday my travels took me to a place far different from upstate New York, though still in the northeast and with a common background as an agricultural area.
    This small New England town on the western edge of New Hampshire was once a farming community but is now a haven for wealthy retirees. There are few newer tasteless MacMansions and also lovely old houses that have been restored and sometimes expanded. Many of the oversized dwellings house one or two wealthy, elderly people – though in the winter houses are often empty as they are second or third homes.
    The metamorphosis of this town into a haven for the wealthy annoys me very much as it was my hometown decades ago when it was a farming community. My father stopped farming in the mid 70’s when farmers were told to get big or get out. I would love to be able to move back and be near family and old friends and own some good agricultural land, but the only affordable properties are crappy little ranches on tiny lots – housing for the working class, you know. Those wealthy old farts need their housekeepers, gardeners and handymen. It occurred to me that the all the people I know who grew up in the town and are still there inherited property.
    Are the changes to this town a sign of the concentration of wealth in this country? What will a town of wealthy old people look like in 20 years? Is there any way to move them to upstate New York?

  143. FARfetched June 2, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    Remember Kuntsler’s blogging about cattle eating chicken shit.
    I don’t, but I can tell you this: I spend way too damn much “free” time working on a farm that raises both cattle and chickens, and I find it highly unlikely that they would deliberately feed chicken shit directly to cattle. That stuff is good fertilizer; the way it works here is that they put end-loader buckets on the tractors (the small tractor has a 1/4-shitload capacity bucket, the larger tractor has a 1/2-shitload bucket), scoop the shit into a spreader truck, and scatter it around on the pasture(s).
    The pastures themselves are fenced off from each other, and the cattle get rotated through as they crop the grass down, giving the field a chance to regrow (and absorb the fertilizer). Now cows, being the big dumb bastards they are, like to find weak spots in the fence lines and go through them when the grass is a little greener on the other side. It’s possible that there was a big pile of chicken shit waiting to get spread out, and the cows got to it… they’d probably eat it if they had some mineral deficiency. But I just can’t see even an industrial operation feeding it directly to the cattle; they wouldn’t absorb the nutrients as well & could get sick off it. And even when you can sell them, you don’t get as much money for sick cows.

  144. JD Moore June 2, 2009 at 8:18 am #

    I suppose I am lucky in a way. I grew up in Saugus, Massachusetts. This IS the infamous town with the orange dinosaur greeting you on “The most dangerous highway in Massachusetts” or at least before the Commonwealth removed all the places motorists could turn around. The Saugus Pines and Russo’s Candies, those monuments to car culture from the 1930s, are now gone. In their place are buildings with a “design life” of 25 years. Actually, the rest of the town was rather nice with several walkable areas, till the McMansion builders came around 2000 and built the town out on the “difficult to develop” land. So, all the woods I waked in are now gone. I miss seeing the pink ladyslippers in the spring. I could live the “innocent all-American midwestern small city” lifestyle around 1965-1970. I knew nearly everyone in my high school class.
    I say I am lucky because I live in one of the few areas of the USA where one can walk or take public transportation to a lot of places, Somerville Massachusetts. We still have viable Main Streets. Few storefronts have gone empty so far. The city got the moniker “Slummerville” 30 years ago: it isn’t so now, not with three-deckers near the subway still going for half a million.
    On the rare times “I’ve seen the USA in my Chevrolet” often a Cavalier, nice small car that easily got 30 mpg, I have seen some of the rural poverty in places with net out migration, places like upstate New York, and central Pennsylvania. And sometimes people move back, like the eastern West Virginia panhandle, or nowadays, western Maryland (Real estate prices are still going UP in Cumberland now!). The local concern in West Virginia back in 1980 was that the Washington, DC money would bring the “ugly America” with them. I went through Elkins a couple years ago and their concerns seem to be borne out. I suspect the same thing happened in Romney, too.
    There are other areas of the USA that have had net outmigrations, places out of Mr. Kunstler’s scope. Ever go to the Great Plains? That land could go back to the American Indians soon. They can build wind farms and make lots of money, places like western North Dakota, much of eastern Montana, much of western South Dakota, all the way south to Dodge City. Small towns are dying everywhere as people move into the few cities large enough to continue the madness that the Happy Motoring culture has effected since World War II. I suggest looking at Salina, Kansas as an example of what happens in the heartland. It’s not safe to walk around those towns; the government even says so. If the cars don’t get you, the crime will. My city has a lower crime rate than countless “middle American” cities I’ve examined.
    I’m waiting for oil to go up again. Gas is already 50% more than it was last Christmas. That will kill the consumer culture more than anything. I will feel some of the sting, too, but there is still the economy of scale and the inherent efficiency it brings to mass transit. My hope is that governments get their act together soon and start rebuilding America’s rail network. It was, George McGovern’s first campaign promise, to build the world’s finest railroad network, back when he spoke in Boston to initiate his ill-fated campaign in 1984. We DON’T have to do “high-speed” right away. Just upgrading the tracks through a public-private venture so the trains run at 110 mph (180 kph) and get them to run on time would be a great start to weaning America off those “buses with wings.”
    America has been here before. In the 1850s, American whalers had nearly exterminated the whale in the quest for whale oil. Then, mineral oil, with all its consequences, came. The private car will stay, albeit, much smaller, and the automakers selling far fewer of them. I see lots of opportunity for innovation in American enterprise that could stave off or alleviate “The Long Emergency.” Mr. Kunstler, I know you’re aware of some of them: small scale hydro power comes to mind, nice simple technology. As long as America needs turbines, GE will survive.
    There are other things on the horizon like rooftop capture of rainfall (don’t do it out west, it’s illegal!), a solar-powered home distiller to go along with that. The appeal for home vegetable gardens has never died. Organic food continues to be a fast-growing enterprise. The seed exchange in Decorah, Iowa isn’t going away anytime soon. I’m lucky to be living where I am to escape much of the “ugly America” with its traffic jams, and its attention-grabbing signs, and the “disposable everything” way of life. I don’t have to go far to see it as it is. I’m hoping cooler heads prevail and diplomacy keeps the threat of a nuclear blast as a mere fantasy. We may be able to avoid reverting to a “world made by hand” brought about by some rouge government incinerating who knows where. Heaven forbid that we go back to some post-industrial Mad Max world.

  145. Danm June 2, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    Patz:
    I relate to everything you stated but as a French Canadian from Quebec now living in Ottawa, I’d like to refine your comment on our model.
    Canada might lean a little towards the Scandinavian model of society but I would specify that this is in Anglo Canada.
    In Quebec it is a strange mix of French (Code Civil Napoleon)and Americanism.
    While in the Anglo part of the country, Canadians are insulted when compared to Americans, Quebeckers could not care less because that comparison could not even exist! I think their French language and culture offers enough differentiation that they are willing to embrace American consumerism without ever getting the feeling they can be taken over.
    Don’t get me wrong. Quebeckers love their socialist perks but they love to consume that American stuff!
    I have to admit that I was somewhat apprehensive about moving to Ottawa. On my visits here, apart from the downtown core, I always felt I was visiting a generic American burb, full of strip malls and devoid or any diffentiating factors.
    I might love Canada but I am quite sure we are going to go through the wringer. We are dependant on the US economy which is increasing its protectionism. They always manage to squeeze us out. For example, when our dollar was around 63 cents, they said we were dumping and imposed tariffs but when our dollar shot up to parity, suddenly we were pricing right.
    When our dollar was at 63 cents we increased our exports to the US and inefficent exporters got a free ride. Now that the Cdn dollar is back up our government is probably going to do eveything in its power to keep the Cdn dollar low to help out those inefficent exporters when we should be taking advantage of the higher dollar to buy equipment and products that should increase our productivity. Do you think these exporters invested some of their profits during the boom years? Of course not, they probably but foreign luxury cars, yachts and Florida homes.
    That’s anothe problem with Canada. Indidudual wealth is undesirable because as soon as someone makes money skimming the average Canadian, they spend it outside the country.
    Furthermore, we are very car dependant and have built our infrastrucutre around the car. And now Ontario is bailing out GM because it does not want to deal with the pension fallout. That will come back to bite us.
    But 2 things will help us. The fact that our population is hugely concentrated in a few urban areas. Kunstler keeps on talking about the death of burbs. I think we can’t compare the US burbs to the Cdn burbs.
    Cdn burbs are so close to the city core that they are part of the cities. I think the burbs have a lot going for them. They are much cheaper and the infrastructure much younger. That’s a sunk cost. Dowtown homes are twice the price of homes in the burbs. 2/3 of boomers have not money, so when push comes to shove, they will sell their downtowm homes, move to the burbs and place the difference in their investment portfolio. I think Cdn burbs will get more densely populated.
    If he is right, and we are forced to grow locally, that means a lot more land will need to get farmed. You are closer to that land from the burbs than from the city.
    And when people can’t afford as many cars, public transit will finally take off and highways will clear up.
    This week I saw an article stating that the economy is hitting the cities much harder than the burbs. The financial industry is in a bubble. As it gets trimmed, many jobs will be lost and many of those are in the dowtown core. The poor will migrate downtown.
    The other advantage Canada has is our belief that government for the common good is a necessity. I believe that when Canadians finally realize that the American dream was really that, just a dream, they will start cooperating again.
    Because over the last 1 to 2 decades, I have to say that Canadians have been increasingly ready to destroy their country to copy the Americans way of life.

  146. bud4wiser June 2, 2009 at 8:32 am #

    What’s left to be said? GM goes by the wayside and still no one seems to understand the nature of the “emergency.”
    Playing some sort of “slice and dice” with GM’s assets – no one’s really figuring on who gets the debts – Obama claims to have reinvented the monster with a new “techno-savvy” management that will somehow grow a profit from the smoldering heap.
    Many still “don’t get it.” Even here at CF Nation we discuss technologies as solutions, while we all understand the real problems lie with our social structures.
    Our government officers are agents of a “connected few” – working not with vision or altruism, but for greed and self aggrandizement.
    Our corporations have become self-dealing legally fortified monstrosities more powerful, and more grotesque that any dictators of the human kind.
    Our electorate has been dumbed-down, distracted and formally disenfranchised from any real role
    in the social and political affairs of the day.
    Listening to Obama’s meaningless rhetoric about how neither he, nor our government will interfere with the “private management” of GM is an introduction or preamble to the coming speeches about the many other entities lining up to crash and will have to be dealt with.
    First we “loan” them our increasingly worthless money, and then bid adieu. And “so it goes” – the social patterns repeated. In every area of our social-political endeavors, we watch the subversion, the perversion of the public’s needs by the rich, the powerful and the connected.
    Looking in to the future, the rich are assured that technology will save them. However, there seems scant evidence that we can expect sociology to “save us” from them.

  147. Matt Cardin June 2, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Unbelievably fascinating to see you referring to Lovecraft, Jim, since he and his work have been a signal point of reference in my own life for over 20 years now, and since you yourself began to achieve that status about five years ago.
    Great post this week. For those who know HPL, your comparison of the decay you recently witnessed to his literary visions of horrifically decrepit and degenerated peoples and places is titanically evocative. Very nice job.

  148. benzdorf June 2, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    As a Watertown native who fled the depression deacdes ago and plan only to return when the economy completely collapse.. Why cause of the deer hunting, Salomon fishing & vegetables canning abilities this nether land has to offer and lets not 4get all my tattoo wielding shot gun tooting relatives that will keep me safe from hordes arriving from NYC and a far looking for food…. Now to the point The difference between the USA & Canada… 70 miles SE of Watertown is an even more desolate town.. Utica NY which once proudly hosted the worlds very first Wollworth store… this town is a complete eye sore and economic disaster… and what do these Cats do… build a mall and name it…( only in the USA ) Consumer Square … and get this its on Commercial Drive.. I think that kinda sums it all up..
    Until then, I’ll be Living Happily In South Florida un till S**t hits the fan..then Im bee-ling for Northern NY.. and the security it will then offer..
    peace yeah-all

  149. FARfetched June 2, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    The Great Planet Georgia Real Estate Fire Sale continues, perhaps even more intensely than last summer. On my ride into work, I counted no less than 37 for sale signs, for everything from vacant lots to a 35+ acre “gentleman farm” (which has been on the market for well over a year now), two “for rent” signs, and one place that was for both sale and rent. I didn’t even try to count commercial sale/lease properties, nor the signs pointing every which way (including backwards) to various development “communities.” Two of the developments were offering “DISCOUNTED LOTS” — one said there were 51, the other didn’t say.
    Someone with more guts & money than sense could grab up one of the wholesale developments and perhaps do it right, mixing retail & office space with medium-density residential offerings — make the whole place walkable, of course — and see if it gets some attention.

  150. blutown June 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    WWMD? What would Michael Moore Do? The “Roger and Me” film maker had this to say:
    http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?id=248

  151. Dr Doom June 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Just a technical comment, but your new host sends confirmation email that gets caught on SPAM filters, just in case anyone reading this feels excluded from commenting for some strange reason–check your filters–

  152. bud4wiser June 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    Blutown, MM’s plea to Obama illustrates my previous post. While he makes a case for re-engineering the technologies necessary for rail and energy manufacture – he ignores the root of our current predicaments.
    Namely, that as long as we continue to ignore the influences that are corrupting and perverting sane efforts in addressing the nation’s welfare – we will continue to endure ever more outrageous behaviors orchestrated for the benefit of the few influential personalities with financial connections that subvert the democratic process.
    We shouldn’t be talking about GM. We should be talking about eliminating the dishonest Congressman and officials from their positions of power. How and by what means are yet to be determined, but history tells us that eventually the will of the masses has it’s days…..

  153. Mandolina June 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Factory farms don’t really care how great a fertilizer is; if they did, they wouldn’t dump all that manure into sludge ponds.
    It’s not a stretch to imagine factories feeding chicken manure to cows. A cow’s natural diet is GRASS and only GRASS (they might get a few seeds or bugs mixed in), and if these “farms” are willing to make corn and soy the mainstay of the diet, why wouldn’t they use other weirdo stuff? Here are some of the things cows eat in factory farms:
    Corn
    Soy
    Cottonseed hulls
    M&M leftovers (irregulars)
    Potato chips
    Fish
    Chicken feathers
    Blood
    Pork
    All this weird diet does make cows sick and they are pumped full of antibiotics. I found a really nice list a couple of years ago, but not sure where it is now.
    M

  154. Steve M. June 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    America has hit rock bottom, and that’s good news because it has nowhere to go but up.
    GM’s fate seems appropriate. They’ve sold style more often than substance. I find it fascinating that Germany and Japan buiilt excellent cars AND have quality mass transit!
    For years GM’s best cars were probably Opel vehicles, because they’re German. Now GM’s troubles are so bad Opel can’t dissociate itself from its parent compnay fast enough. They let a Russian company buy a controlling interest in them!
    We’re going to have to produce better ways of growing food not because of exhausted resources but because Americans are starting to wise up and demand it.

  155. Steve M. June 2, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    Didn’t the Toronto suburbs inspire the Rush song “Subdivisions,” one of the greatest antisuburban songs of all time?

  156. Dr Doom June 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    Just a suggestion: don’t get too distracted by GM’s problems, (or same sex marriage issues obfuscation, alien abductions, etc. ala Tabloid MSM). Instead, keep a wary eye on what the federal government is and is not doing, as Jim’s current Daily Grunt video of the US Inspector General congressional questioning reveals. Where’s the money? That’s a lot of taxpayer money going unaccounted for. For how long does the populace allow these events and nonevents to proceed? What are the probable outcomes?
    Read Rod’s comment of 11:53 AM yesterday at the old CFN blog site. Rod’s got it summed up nicely there.

  157. abbeysbooks June 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    Michael Moore’s Roger and Me was a big wake up call for GM but they refused to hear it. I didn’t say didn’t hear it, I said refused!It was all there in that documentary long long ago.

  158. abbeysbooks June 2, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Michael Moore’s Roger and Me was a big wake up call for GM but they refused to hear it. I didn’t say didn’t hear it, I said refused!It was all there in that documentary long long ago.

  159. abbeysbooks June 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    The way to go now is intentional communities. See Dancing Rabbit an eco community started by ex Stanford grads on 1500 acres north of Columbia in MO. Or East Wind in Tecumseh MO. There are thousands of them all over the world and raising kids in them is great. Any single moms reading this do look into it. The children in intentional communities are incredible.
    The real estate and development game is over. Take this from someone who has played it.

  160. abbeysbooks June 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    JHK this is a wake up call for you. You have something really great here and you can be a positive motivating force in the blogosphere. Please check out http://www.dailykos.com which, once upon a time, was a major force in progressive blogs. Why not now is another story. Also see http://www.openleft.com and there are others which you will see on their blog rolls.
    You have a community here with much talent as I have linked through to some home sites. You need a different platform for blogging which has indented threads for replies and is faster and less clunky.
    You have zillions of fans and are keeping the best company of your time. The ones who call you nuts, online and off, are just ill informed. Here are some of your peers:
    Bernard-Henri Levy
    Houellebecq
    A lot of sci-fi writers
    And I will send you more if you want.
    Please please turn this into a huge success story for you and the internet. I think word press is the software used in some other places but I am not sure.
    My comment to blutown needs to be under his comment that I am replying to with reply, parent, so anyone can access the thread of the conversation.
    You have a winner here with all your fans so let’s go! Also I need to be able to see who has responded to me on my home page here, how many have responded etc. If you check out the other places you will see how they do it with their software. This is an amazing place with incredibly talented people. We need to be able to network with each other.

  161. DCC June 2, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    abbeysbrooks,
    Word Press is the most popular blogging software. Movable Type, JHK’s new blogging platform, is the second most popular.
    I believe Movable Type is a better platform for JHK’s blog.
    In the future he may change how the comments display on this blog. He just switched blogging platforms this week! Give him a little time to work out the kinks, OK?
    As far as networking with other people interested in what Kunstler has to say, you could check out the KunstlerCast discussion forum for the listeners of his weekly podcast. That forum contains several different boards, including book discussions and general topics.
    You may find some of what you’re looking for there:
    http://kunstlercast.com/forum

  162. thomriddle June 2, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    In my experience, Watertown is not much like other parts of upstate NY. I spent one horrible week in Watertown in 1999 and was aghast then at how un-appealing the area was. I now live in Tonawanda, NY not far from the western end of the Erie Canal and retired here from Atlanta, GA (where I was born) because of the wonderful small town atmosphere here in Tonawanda. Rural and small town Georgia, along with most of the south that I’m familiar, with has ALWAYS looked like what you described Watertown to be. At least it has for the last 50 years or so. Western New York in no way resembles Watertown.

  163. DCC June 2, 2009 at 5:32 pm #

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned Fred Exley’s masterpiece “A Fans Notes” yet.
    That’s a great book about an alcoholic man from Watertown NY who becomes obsessed with a professional football player. Exley, the author, was from Watertown NY and many scenes in that book take place there.
    Exley’s second book “Notes from a Cold Island” also contains scenes in Watertown. That book gets rather obsessed with another, earlier Watertown author, Edmund Wilson, who wrote “Upstate.”
    Here’s Exley’s Wiki page:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Exley

  164. Sansvoiture June 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    actually, Thomriddle, Edmund Wilson was from New Jersey, his father was at one time Attorney General there, the Talcott / Wilson family estate was in Talcottville, NY, just north of Boonville, the beautiful stone house still stands, mythically-like, he was once editor for the New Yorker, I can get lost easily reading Upstate, a book that seemingly has no beginning nor end, his love and discouragements with Tug Hill culture. No doubt he’d be on board with the rest of us, though, he voiced a good deal of sentiment for the impecunious rural types.
    Sansvoiture / Rochester

  165. teraniageoff June 2, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    Jim, Clusterfuckians,
    Canada and Australia… both Brit colonies… that didn’t revolt…
    Maybe you’ll read this bit of fan mail from DownUnder, Oz, where we wait 4-8 weeks for one of your prescient parables in hardcover. Mine are dog-eared now from being lent out. And you picked piracy in TLE. Good one! Thanks for ‘Being There’
    I live deep in the bush, a dedicated defiant Hippy, resisting still, becoming a born-again consumer as most of the hippies have become.
    For years now, I live for Tuesday evenings here, when home from the weekly hunting trip in the big Collateral Damage called Lismore. I’m off-grid, sunlight photons give me my weekly Kunstler chuckle, on dial-up.
    Lismore CBD developers, like in most Australian towns, would just love to emulate Murrika. We have strip developers, habitat destroyers aplenty. We make more CO2 per head than you! And now Lismore Council has lost $7million, after being advised to invest in Lehmann. Instant Karma.
    But something might just save us… well… delay our mess a bit;
    It Was The Coffee and Donuts, not the oil.
    When we were into tea and scones, the USA ran on coffee and sugar-coated donuts, which must surely have pressed the pedal down further, as the national psyche jostled for pole position, in the race towards the lemming cliff… just like the wonderful convertible (Pontiac?) in the Tom Tomorrow cartoon.
    We were always at least 10 ten years behind the times, as represented by the US. Maybe it was the tea? …maybe it was the beer?
    I can completely relate to my fellow Kunstler-watchers here, and it is gratifying to hear so much clarity of vision amongst you.
    Accurate self-reflection is so hard.
    Thanks again JHK for being the best acid-tongue-in-cheek commentator out there. Spot on, mate.
    Geoff, The Defiant Hippy

  166. kurt halliday June 2, 2009 at 9:44 pm #

    I love your weekly column and books, but I think this week you failed to see some of the remarkable beauty in the land of Northern New York. Watertown is depressing, no doubt. But the land of St. Lawrence County and surrounding areas and the Adirondacks and the St. Lawrence River are quite wonderful. I grew up in Potsdam then lived for many years in Manhattan, then Boston, then for a long time in Denver, but am glad to be back in this neck of the woods where there are many delightful and smart people. Some of the towns up here are organizing to prepare for the tough times you spell out in your book, and The Long emergency is the spark that has energized these communities to plan and prepare. Saratoga area is nice, but I would take the North Country with all its social and economic problems.

  167. Mark Knighton June 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Jim
    I look forward to your column on Mondays.
    I make the run from Baltimore to a Cottage in Ontario quite a few times each year. I agree with your comments. I have always felt the reason for the quality of life in Canada is a better distribution of Wealth and a limited population
    and the fact that the Climate forces people to cooperate. I found Canadians to be reserved but friendly .

  168. JMG June 2, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    If you think Watertown is bad, head up the road to Carthage.
    We travel through there on the way to our lot in Potsdam (another town hanging on by a thread) and we inevitably end up talking about the utter dilapidation of the town (and others along the way).
    Keep up the good work! You’re the first read I go for every Monday.

  169. JMG June 2, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    If you think Watertown is bad, head up the road to Carthage.
    We travel through there on the way to our lot in Potsdam (another town hanging on by a thread) and we inevitably end up talking about the utter dilapidation of the town (and others along the way).
    Keep up the good work! You’re the first read I go for every Monday.

  170. UTAH VALLEY COHOUSING June 2, 2009 at 11:43 pm #

    A podcast on intentional communities? I think it’s about time. Check out the dozens of cohousing groups and ecovillages springing up around the country!
    And if you, or anyone you know, is considering a move to Utah, take a look at the UTAH VALLEY COMMONS, a cohousing ecovillage outside of Provo (www.utahvalleycommon.com). All are welcome!
    Charles Nuckolls
    Professor, Department of Anthropology
    Brigham Young University

  171. SuaSpomte June 3, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    Viewing these outbacks of America, especially Ohio, where reside those who are struggling from payday to payday (assuming they still have jobs)but who despite their fates display those flags and bumperstickers endorsing first Bush/Cheney and later McCain/Palin on those many unreliable flivvers, the traveler is absolutely stunned.
    This mindset of those denizens is traceable to the rightwing radio squawkers and good old Fox News. Better to have a country with every citizen fending for him/herself economically, financially and politically despite the desperate circumstances of many of them, than to have librul big gummint socialism ruinin’ all Americans’ freedoms.

  172. Laura Louzader June 3, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    Might it have been “conservative” AND “liberal” big government socialism that wrecked these places to begin with? And that gutted our medium sized cities like St. Louis and Detroit, and turned our more successful cities like New York and Chicago into over-paved, over-bureaucratized Tax Hells replete with entrenched, corrupt political machines and that are relentlessly self-destructing economically because of their dependence on the FIRE economy, their leader’s excessive spending on non-essentials and White Elephant vanity projects at the expense of essential services and infrastructure, their destruction of their tax bases by subsidizing big box stores and other favored businesses via tax abatements and TIF districts, and their routine obstruction and harrassment of any business that hasn’t formed a crony relationship with the local politicians?
    Industry and commerce in this country didn’t just die, it was murdered, by cronyism, bureaucratic strangulation, and tax laws that favored offshore outsourcing while punishing local producers. Meanwhile, back home, our government made laws that flagrantly favored some businesses, like GM, and turned this country into a Corporate Welfare State that enabled favored businesses, like our doddering auto industry, to coast down into mediocrity and uncompetitiveness, while deliberately destroying, by punitive taxation and regulatory strangulation, our railroads and other industries that did not fit into their particular vision of what this country should be.
    Our towns, cities, and the country as a whole have been utterly destroyed by ham-fisted government policies backed by federal taxing authority. Since the Roosevelt administration decided we were all going to leave the fetid cities and live in houses on suburban greenbelts and have cars, the FHA redlined cities while Eisenhaur’s administration provided the “free” interstate highways that would finish the job of emptying out their populations to the burbs. And then, after 30 years of deliberate destruction by anti-urban policies and massive subsidies for auto ownership and suburban development, we just couldn’t figure out for the life of us why our cities were collapsing. No one noticed that we were stripping them to build the burbs by diverting the taxes they generated for just that purpose.
    This country has been ruined by government policies that are powered by massive allocations of tax money and whose effect cascade down through decades. And each distortion produced by them has to be addressed with yet MORE tax money and more badly-conceived policies, such as the multitude of “affordable” housing programs, easy money policies, and the stated willingness of the government to bail out our financial malefactors from the results of their malfeasance. Well, we’ll be dealing with the unintended consequences of our leader’s current bumbling attempts to set things halfway right by throwing all the tax money they can ever hope to collect at programs that are ringing up a deficit in the trillions.

  173. OneEyeOpen June 3, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    “Might it have been “conservative” AND “liberal” big government socialism that wrecked these places to begin with?”
    Amen Laura. But hang in there because its only going to get worse. As Dear Leader recently proclaimed (At a $30,000 per couple fundraising dinner) “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Really, Mr. O? Frankly, I’ve already “seen” quite enough.

  174. dale June 3, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Laura,
    I’m not sure there has ever been a time in America when your description of the cities governments hasn’t been correct. That one of the problems we have, in terms of evaluation, we tend to see only the current or most recent situation and imagine the past to be a much better place than it was.
    It’s hard to imagine city governments more corrupt than NY, Chicago, and Las Angeles have been in the past. In fact, the biggest difference, and perhaps threat is, it’s almost accepted now.
    That would be the biggest concern I would have regarding the federal government in particular, bribery is legal and regulated. How can you have a government “by the people” under those circumstances?

  175. byt0saur June 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    The stark contrast at the border may be explained by the fact that 75% (some say as high as 90%) of Canadians live within 100 miles of the border. Most of Canada’s major cities are withing 100 miles of the border. That makes about 24.5 million close to the US border. The top 3 cities (Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver make up 9.7 million of that 24.5 million. Most of Canadian affluent society is close to the border. Take a drive beyond Montreal into the rural areas and I can show you some areas that make northern Maine and northern NY state look cosmopolitan.

  176. Chinle June 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    I’ve been a long-time reader of Jim’s. Places like Waterton are a vision of the future, except those towns that redesign themselves into small sustainable communities. I believe the cities are toast.
    I have a blog that celebrates living simply and free while helping others. It’s a glimpse into what life can really be:
    spotted-dog-ranch.blogspot.com
    And thanks, JIm, for all your thoughtful and insightful writings.

  177. tom June 3, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    I found this article very interesting. I live in Saranac Lake, but travel often to Syracuse via watertown.
    Other comments have mentioned Syracuse in its lovely splendor. And they are spot on. It is in decline. Spending time there is an education in poverty. I’m not sure the average american knows poverty exists outside the major cities on this scale.
    Watertown is as stated in the article, is a debacle. Next time you are there, stop at the diner on the square. What a depressing place.
    Saranac lake is gorgeous this time of year however. I suggest you visit! Wash the taste of watertown out of your mouth in our pristine waters.

  178. Grouchy Old Girl June 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    First, let me say it’s disappointing to work hard on a posting, only to submit it and never see it again. Happened about 9 pm last night EDT, while my handsome spouse was asking, again, when I m.ight be finished for the evening.
    Knowing this is the first week of a revamped site, I offer that comment in the way of feedback.
    Now, what I am wondering, is how people are reacting to last night’s ABC news special, Earth 2100. We don’t watch much American prime time TV here in Upper Canada, but the host was on the Daily Show so caught the last 45 minutes. The brief bit on Stewart’s show was enough to convince me that ABC was ignoring a huge chunk of the nature of the real problem here: not just climate change but Peak Oil and the gross mismanagement of global capitalism run wild.
    While I was just in time to briefly see JHK making a comment on the show, somehow I doubt he would be on board with the entirety of this broadcast. Commentary this morning is focused on climate change with nobody noticing what is missing, and without that enlightenment, the rosy future forecasted in the last 15 minutes of the show isn’t going to happen.
    But as we are already sadly aware, people just don’t want to know the truth, and we sure can’t depend on maintstream media to tell us.
    Would really like to hear comments from anyone who spent some time watching this last night.

  179. John H June 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    Maybe you could go easier on the tattoo set, Jim; some tattoos look OK. I remember backpacking in NZ in the 70’s and seeing a Maori girl with a small tattoo on her shoulder. It looked very fetching; I’m not sure that it had cultural significance though. I would rather you turned your attack on the sunglasses-on-the-shaved-forehead crowd; grown men with sunglasses clamped to their brows taking their best girls out for the evening. Do they think the sun’s motion is cycloidal and it might one day reappear early? I am hoping for Mattel to release Wanker (or Violent Clown) Ken with black sunglasses fused to his forehead and oversize clothes. Then there is the belt-below-the-anus thing …
    Thanks, Jim, I appreciate you airing your views via this site.

  180. Johnny Rico June 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    Not sure I like the new site. Too many new goofballs. But Whatever.
    At least OEO is here. What’s up, Brother?
    I’m tan, rested, and ready.
    Anybody figure out the html yet? Can we post videos?

  181. Dystopic June 3, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    Johnny Rico,
    Are you going to be a bad, bad, boy {Insert Ozzy link here}?
    And are they new goofballs or old goofballs with new names, sugar?
    All,
    If Goldman Sachs is the trading arm of the US gov, (do you notice those cute little spikes in the DOW every day in the last 15-20 minutes of trading) what does that make bailout taking, fuel oil hoarding, nine month tanker renting, economy jeopardizing, JP Morgan?
    With all the bailouts can anyone even tell the difference between big corporations and the government? I can’t.

  182. Dystopic June 3, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    This is a test of HTML
    Teletype text
    Italic text
    Bold text
    Big text
    Small text

  183. Johnny Rico June 3, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    Naw, I’m, gonna be good, Sugar. I got OEO to keep me in line.
    I think the 182 comments by Thursday proves most of these clowns are newbies. Not to worry, they’ll be cleared out in a few weeks. Typical Monday morning jokers.
    Hopefully Dave will come back.
    And who might you be? (or who were you?)
    -Sincerely,
    The Good johnny Rico

  184. Vladmir Krappeshack June 3, 2009 at 7:27 pm #

    CHINLE,
    Gee, thanks for yet another iteration of the gratuitous self-posting. You’ve stuck to the template well.
    P.S. Obama sends his love-juice, Asoka.

  185. John L June 3, 2009 at 8:30 pm #

    I kinda thought something like this was going down.. here in california, all my ex-burb ex-hippy friends are going back to growing pot. It’s the only economy that’s not taxed and still functioning, plus you have a medical exemption. My daddy occasionally whipped out a few gallons of moonshine.. I got to run the spout. I’ll be putting a still together for when that’s a cash commodity and all that cabernet sauvingon isn’t being bottled anymore around here.
    I cut and facet gemstones as a side line. No one is buying or has bought anything for the last year. A friend just gave me “The Creature from Jekyll Island”. I recommend that for anyone who wants the agenda behind the bailouts.
    This whole thing is reminding me of the dust bowl oklahoma scenes in “The Last Picture Show” where I grew up.

  186. scmtneer June 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    JHK, Watertown sounds like 3/4 of the towns here in West Virginia minus the Army base. Empty downtown areas with miserable strips of gas stations, fast food joints and second/third tier big box retailers on the edge of town and lots of poor people.
    Remember the govt lies about unemployment and it lies about inflation (consumer prices only increased like 3% last year? – yeah I believe that)
    Enjoy your work.

  187. scmtneer June 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    JHK, Watertown sounds like 3/4 of the towns here in West Virginia minus the Army base. Empty downtown areas with miserable strips of gas stations, fast food joints and second/third tier big box retailers on the edge of town and lots of poor people.
    Remember the govt lies about unemployment and it lies about inflation (consumer prices only increased like 3% last year? – yeah I believe that)
    Enjoy your work.

  188. Dr Doom June 3, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Hey Vladmir, may we just call you Vlad the Impaler, instead?
    (I know, me and the mouse in my pocket)
    Any bets on how long before we can remove the ‘Good’ modifier in front of ‘Johnny Rico’?
    I’m gonna be honest with Jim K, the fonts on this ‘new look’ site suck. They’re too blocky, but great for the over 40s crowd–“Look, no need my readers!”. Looks like a kiddie show. And the colors are brown and black? Isn’t that a little too Nazi?
    I’ll tell you what: check out a pretty blog site, like Nudge’s FutureTowniesofAmerica over on WordPress. Whatever you’re paying these new guys, it’s way too much.
    Just sayin, Jim. Only your true friends and admirers give it to you straight.
    So, how’s the new book progressing?

  189. FARfetched June 3, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    I had to make a trip into Atlanta for a day seminar today; as I was getting directions to the hotel off Google Maps I saw an option for “Public transit” and clicked it on a lark. Turned out the hotel was only 1/4 mile from one of the train stations, so I decided to give it a try. Turned out to be a great idea — only $4 for a round-trip ticket & free parking at the North Springs station, vs. $20 to park at the hotel.
    The MARTA stations are clean and well-kept; the North Springs station parking deck was more crowded than I remember in the past, but I found a spot. Day parking is still free, but overnight parking is now $7 so you can’t leave your car for a week for free & take the train to the airport. (bummer) They’ve started using these “Breeze cards” that are basically a piece of cardboard around a chip; the card is an extra 50 cents but it’s reusable. After I saw another rider just slap his wallet against the reader, I caught on pretty quick. Beats using tokens.
    Really, the only hassle using the system was the 16-mile drive from the office to the nearest train station. It would be nice if they could extend the lines some more before it’s too late.

  190. Laura Louzader June 4, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    FAR, I used the MARTA rail system on a trip to Atlanta a few years back, and came away with the impression, verified by residents there, that while it is quite beautiful and modern, it is unduly costly and is underutilized because Atlanta’s population is diffused over 13 counties of low-density sprawl, and therefore cannot use it to get from where they are to where they want to go.
    I of course automatically compared the system to our system here in Chicago, which is so heavily used and vital to the area. I pretty much live my live along the Red Line (the old North-South) here in Chicago, and can fill every need within a few blocks of it. Atlanta’s system is of course much more modern and glossy, having been put into place as one piece back in the 70s, but it is incredibly wasteful and non-utilitarian. For one thing, there are the stations- quite beautiful but much larger and snazzier than is justified. These stations cost about 4X what they need to, and a rail station fitted with all the accomodations cost a minum of $5MM anywhere, just to renovate. The downtown station had a big enough platform to run 6 trains through it, I noticed. One feature I appreciated was the relative safety, in that the 3rd rail is hooded so that an employee on the right-of-way can more easily avoid being ‘stung’ by it- a frequent, tragic event on Chicago’s century-old 3rd rail system.
    City rail systems were very popular in the 70s until the Feds realized they were being steeply underutilized due to the sprawl that had spread since the 50s, which guaranteed that there would not be the population density necessary to support the system, especially since cities would not follow through by planning mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods around the stations and transfer points. That’s why the systems in NYC and Chicago are so used and vital, because the trains were put into place in response to high demand due to high density populations in cities that were built around dense downtowns where all the commerce took place. The rail systems then helped keep the population in place, and the result is that NYC and Chicago are much more intact than Atlanta, say, or St. Louis or Detroit.
    This I will say for Atlanta’s system- it is the ONLY way to travel from Hartsfield to downtown, and I would recommend that Kunstler utilize it the next time he has a speaking jig in Atlanta. It’s fast, smooth, and comfortable, even if the employees tend to be a bit surly.

  191. Sansvoiture June 4, 2009 at 7:00 am #

    this is an excerpt from the latest newsletter from Michael Moore. for the rest, you can go to:
    maillist@michaelmoore.com
    We are now in a different kind of war — a war that we have conducted against
    the ecosystem and has been conducted by our very own corporate leaders. This
    current war has two fronts. One is headquartered in Detroit. The products built
    in the factories of GM, Ford and Chrysler are some of the greatest weapons of
    mass destruction responsible for global warming and the melting of our polar
    icecaps. The things we call “cars” may have been fun to drive, but they are like
    a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them
    would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet.
    how way true! Have a great CAR-FREE DAY!
    Sansvoiture, Rochester, NY

  192. FARfetched June 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    Laura, no arguments there. You mentioned 13 counties, and MARTA only covers two: Fulton & DeKalb, encompassing Atlanta itself and Decatur (a fairly large urban entity in its own right). The other three counties comprising the five-county metro (Cobb, Gwinnett, Rockdale), let alone the exurban counties, all refused to participate. This is the South, and you can probably draw the right conclusion from that.
    Of course, the sprawl has continued unabated, and JHK is quite right to describe Atlanta as extremely car-dependent. It is. The non-participating counties offer their own bus services that link to MARTA stations, but any bus is susceptible to the same traffic issues that drivers have.
    But part of the problem has to lie with the hotels themselves. The Doubletree doesn’t say boo about how close it is to the Buckhead station — if you’re flying into Hartsfield & staying there, you’re so much better off taking the train — a couple of the people in the seminar who flew in had cars they only used to get from the airport to the hotel! (I guess the hotel doesn’t want to cut into their $20 parking fees.) There’s signage in the station pointing to the nearby hotels and large businesses, which makes life a lot easier, but you have to know that the train is an option to begin with.
    I just hope ridership grows into the stations — judging from how full the parking deck was at North Springs, it hasn’t lost all its gains from last year’s gas prices — and they can add more stations and trackage. Ironically, the conference room we used at the hotel had several photos of pre-war Atlanta outside, several of which showed the old trolley system that GM destroyed.

  193. OneEyeOpen June 4, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    Rico,
    Hot damn bud. Some frealin’ brain cells I can bounce thought beams off of. Shit-fucking-nation its been a wasteland here of late. Welcome back. More to follow.

  194. Andy June 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    I think there are many encouraging signs nowadays, and the worst of the strip mall / sprawling designs of the 1960s-1990s are becoming a thing of the past. People are realizing what enormous energy user suburbanisation is, and how it destroys the quality of life in communities.
    Things won’t change over night. But ever since the freeway revolts of the 1970s and the growing backlash against humongous developments, one community at a time, things are changing. Yet, it’s difficult to change right now when energy is so cheap, and being wasteful has no practical consequences.
    Once China and Indian start mass use of automobiles and oil supply becomes more constrained, leading to higher prices, gas prices will promote more compact designs and devalue more suburban locations. It’s possible that McMansions on the fringes, eventually will become abandoned or houses for the poor, unless energy efficent transit is designed to reach them or a walkable community is built up around them.

  195. Kurt Cagle June 5, 2009 at 1:05 am #

    JHK,
    Glad to see you migrated the blog – I’ve been looking forward to the chance to comment.
    When I migrated from Seattle to Victoria in ’03, there was a feeling every time we crossed back into Canada that an air of oppressiveness had lifted. North of Seattle, you seldom saw bucolic farms – they were too far from the highway. The land that was close had become increasingly “strippified”. Yet even the farms you could see looked dismal and dilapitated, the buildings decayed and rotted.
    Even the people took on some of that air – out of shape (which is saying something given what it takes to run a farm), terrifyingly ignorant of the world around them, and many with a look of vague disquiet as if somewhere along the line their world had shifted into Twilight Zone territory.
    Cross through the border into Canada, and the world is different. The farms look well maintained, even though the houses are probably older, and the omnipresent strip malls south of the border are considerably fewer. In the Spring, you do get a whiff of something you seldom encounter in the US – soil laden with manure, which, while not pleasant, seems at least natural.
    The trek to the Tsawassen ferry terminal south of Vancouver takes you through more farmland, until you get to the port. The ferries that make the run were recently upgraded, and are considerably more fuel efficient. From Tsawassen to Vancouver Island and Swartz Bay (about twenty km N. of Victoria) you can still see orcas, seals, bald eagles, blue heron, and other animals and birds that most people see only on TV.
    The people are healthier here. Fitter, trimmer, more physically and mentally active. Most are far more aware of their world than Americans are.
    I think the explanations given before explain some of it. Canada has a much lower population density, and it hugs the border less because this is where the trade is and more because its the warmest part of the country. Moreover, the long distance between cities means in general that most Canadian cities are much more like city-states. There isn’t the same sense of urban sprawl, though it does exist to a certain extent.
    Additionally, even in large cities such as Vancouver, the architectural sensibility is more European in flavor, where people are more likely to live in urban high-rises than bedroom communities.
    Canada is far from perfect, especially wrt its politics, though oddly enough the confederate model that Canada adopted actually works better than the federated model employed by the US. It’s HARD to concentrate power in Canada, which in turn means that you don’t get the degree of adventurism that the US is susceptible to.
    Even in Victoria, we’re feeling the pinch of the recession, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it is in the States, and Canada will likely recover faster than the US will.
    Thanks for the blog and the insights – I too have become a regular Monday reader.

  196. Sansvoiture June 5, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    right Kurt, Canada has lots of positive attributes, which explains it’s large population? Yes, you have all that territory (though less land than we), what’s with your sparse numbers, didn’t 11 million Canadians come stateside since 1880? Just a question.
    Canadians deny their american-ness, or, perhaps we yanks deny our canadian-ness? and, what’s with media “content laws,” to insist it’s citoyens patronize their national TV and radio artists?
    isn’t Canada really an extension of the old world, on our continent, grossly misused by Britain (in old world fashion), and dropped like an albatross in the 1860s?
    I think Paul Martin’s visit to Moscow was demonstrative- he was greeted by the secretary of a secretary, such was the state recognition received by “Oh Canada,”
    and since, 1988, corporate Canadian elites have bean slowly selling the nation out to foreigners, mostly Americans, thanks be to NAFTA, the slow process of annexation.
    any criticism from Canada should be weighed carefully being the land of appeasement, except for the Quebecois, who’ve bean heavily oppressed by the Brits, institutionally and otherwise,
    how do they say? Americans are benevolently ignorant of Canada, Canadians are malevolently aware of the U.S.?
    OK Canada, oh land of liberals (fiberals) open your doors as America did, to the masses and masses, and, oh, you did, and? wow, 2009 and 34 million people……….

  197. Danm June 5, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    Sansvoiture:
    First of all, winter in Canada is not easy. Since most immigrants come from hot countries, Canada is probably not their top pick. The US definitely has a better choice when it comes to climate.
    Secondly Americans are boisterous and great marketers. The American dream enhanced by its representation in the media can be quite attractive to an outsider. But when you account for our social net, Canadians in general have a much better quality of life than your typical American.
    It’s a different story if you’re in the top 1-5 %. And that’s where you see the immigration of Canadians to the US. Because of its sheer size, there are definitely more opportunities in the US for this group. But this immigration has to be for opportunity reasons and not for tax issues. Most who have gone for tax issues are disappointed because when you start accounting for life insurance and other costs, there is not free lunch.
    I like the fact that you do not like Canada and I hope you convince many more. The selfish part of me does not want Canada to get more deforested, paved and Americanized than it already has.
    Maybe one day people will realize that geography and climate mean something when choosing a way of life and that the Anglo-saxon way of life might not make sense everywhere on this planet.

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