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Ho ho ho! It’s that time of year again. Here’s JHK’s holiday classic: A Christmas Orphan.

11-year-old Jeff Greenaway hears his mom and dad argue one night after an office Christmas party. He infers from their garbled squabble that he is an orphan, found in a willow basket on the welcome mat outside their New York apartment. Thinking now that his parents are imposters, he steals away to Grand Central Station and buys a train ticket to Drakesville, Vermont, where he intends to start life all over again.
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Behold the Troy, Michigan, Children’s Hospital, apparently based on the idea that little kids will associate chemotherapy with playtime. Yes, the USA is a toxic stew of molecules not found in nature, and this building actually looks like Willie Wonka’s Carcinogen Factory. The yellow stands for “Roundup” (Glyphosate) engineered into the very genetics of the corn that ends up in your child’s Froot Loops; orange stands for the dye that gives Cheez Doodles their vivid radioactive glow; and blue represents the clinical depression induced by all the off-gassing carpet back in the family room at home in the subdivision. Love the planting bed in the foreground with the rusty steel pipe mysteriously protruding. And that would be for… uh…? The usual tropes of brain-dead, off-the-shelf Modernism are on display, of course: the horizontal window bands evoking Ye Olde Insecticide Works, the canonical flat roof, the absence of any ornament that alludes to natural forms or expresses the contours of femininity (horror!). The kicker: you can be sure the grounds crew is using Roundup on the grass.

Thanks to Frank Griffo for nominating this humdinger.

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.

10 Responses to “March 2017” Subscribe

  1. Cactus Girl March 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    Well, it’s not THAT bad. Might be a little less scary to kids.

    BTW, glyphosate isn’t engineered into corn; BT is. Corn has been genetically modified to produce its own BT. They also have strains which have been chemically (not GMO) modified to resist glyphosate, so more glyphosate can be used. (Weeds are becoming resistant.)

  2. Richo March 6, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    Another mistake, no one would ever, ever apply Roundup to grass in a lawn. Roundup kills anything green growing indiscriminately (except a handful of ag crops specifically bred to resist it). Applying Roundup to any lawn would kill it dead.

  3. Zarko Straadi March 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    That’s not a children’s hospital, it’s an institution of national defense. You see, if Godzilla attacks, and he can be lured into stepping on the Lego Hospital, he’ll go limping back to the sea yowling in pain.

  4. WoozyCanary March 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    A nomination for the Eyesore Department:

    care2.com/causes/hundreds-of-birds-are-expected-to-die-from-the-vikings-stadium.html

    Hundreds of Birds Are Expected to Die From the Vikings’ Stadium

  5. lateStarter March 7, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    My first take was along the lines of Zarko’s comment. It seems to be hoping the children will make the Lego association when they see it.

    Overall, on a scale from 1-10 (10 being a place I’d like to go to), I’d give it a -7. It wouldn’t inspire a lot of confidence in me as a parent, if I had to take my child there for treatment of some potentially life-threatening illness.

  6. malthuss March 13, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    I like the look. Better than previous ‘winners.’

  7. SvrzoH March 15, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

    Agree that this month’s is not that bad.
    Clever landscaping can make this lego themed building more interesting and demand that pipe in forefront to be removed.

    For one thing, it’s design is a promise that interiors are spared from medical / dental usual palette of pastels (where grayish pink is a mandatory) with dark stained wood ogee crown against acoustical ceilings.

  8. AKlein March 18, 2017 at 11:59 am #

    What ‘s the old VW minibus doing in the entrance portico. I wonder – is it additional “artwork”? Strange.

  9. Marvin the Martian March 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    You should have an entire Architecture section – the “modernist” minimal work being done is shit-tier and deserves to be roasted.

  10. farfaraway March 21, 2017 at 5:38 am #

    There is some optical illusion in the photo: the “planting bed” is just a wall, similar to its extension on the other side of the path, but L-shaped; the plants are at ground level further over around the edge of the vehicle turning circle; the “rusty steel pipe” is a light pole, like the other one (but without its light on it yet), both of which are also located in the turning circle. The VW looks like a flatbed – maybe a tradesman’s vehicle. The building was still under construction in this photo. You couldn’t say it is an attractive building.

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