Monday, March 13, 2006

My Crunchy Weekend

Sunday afternoon I hopped in my seven year-old Ford econo-$@%!box car and drove over to the Whole Foods in Cambridge, Mass. to stock up for the evening meal. "Air chilled" free range chicken, carrots, celery, onions, $4/pound locally-grown mushrooms and two bottles, one Rhone, one Alsace, one for the pot and one for the glass since my dining companion doesn't fancy reds.

Being Cambridge, the store was filled with the entire cross-section of society from bearded plaid-shirt wearing misanthropes who teach Anthropology at the little local college called Harvard to Europeens in their pointy hats and funny wooden shoes and a thirtysomething woman wearing a pair of boots that I'm pretty sure cost more than my car, to working-class people who were, duh working there. Luckily I had my Amex Platinum on me (no pre-set spending limit, baby!) because this was not the kind of place to shop on a budget, at least not one defined by a maximum rather than a minimum.

After that I hopped in my sled and boogied over to Target in the South Bay center to pick up some kitchen-wares. Tar-jhay as we call it in the hiz-ood is all about this thing called "Masstige" which is like prestige except that poor non-white people from the rough side of town can afford it too, so now they don't really have any excuse for looking like a bunch of punks all the time. I mean, Isaac Mizrahi placemats for $3.99? What a country! China, that is, since that's where it all comes from. So, what I don't understand is the whole Wal-Mart Bad, Target Good deal. People would rather get caught scratching their butt and then sniffing their hand than be seen shopping at Wal-Mart. As far as I can tell they're both big stores full of cheap crap that came here on a boat, though I will admit there is something more pleasingly perky about the whole red theme. But it's no problem around here in Boston because there are no Wal-Marts, presumably because people here are too smart to shop there.

Anyway, after Tar-Jhay it was back to my studio apartment in a lovely restored Victorian-era brownstone in a majority-Hispanic neighborhood next to the airport. There's a grocery store here (and it has an amazing waterfront view from the parking lot) but I dare you try find glace de poulet there. They do however have a more comprehensive selection of Central American foods than the Shop-Rite in Guadalajara, I bet.

With all that settled I spent a nice afternoon preparing a non-cream of broccoli soup (Recipe: broccoli stalks, water, boil, salt, blender, olive oil, blender, yum!), chocolate mousse, and a big kettle of Coq au Vin, though unfortunately it's hard to pick up Coq in the grocery store, even in Cambridge, so I had to stick with th female version which just isn't the same. Apparently there are "special" places where you can buy real (live!) rooster but those are in a different part of town.

Naturally I shared this elegant repast with a certain lady-friend and we had a most convivial evening with the wine and food, and later a viewing of one of my favorite romantic comedies of the past decade, Fight Club, which she thought was really cute. How did it all turn out? Well, as one of Paris Hilton's ex-boyfriends so memorably put it, "she loves the Coq."

Oh, and please stop your tittering and get your mind out of the gutter. The only sin that got committed that night was gluttony.


Blogger James said...

This was funny, but I'm not sure what it has to do with crunchy cons.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

I thought the post was quite good. Convivial, even!

10:41 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Brilliant! very funny.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Another crunchy tone-deafness alert...

In a hollering defense of himself from Maggie Gallagher, Rod Dreher says that he didn't like the masses at his local Catholic parish. Okay, Rod, there's no arguing with tastes.

But then he unnecessarily puts off his audience by denouncing "smarmy, white-bread, middle-class American" worship services.

Rod, does it ever dawn on crunchies that most people in this country are middle-class people who really don't like being called "smarmy" and (racially-tinged term) "white-bread"? If you want to persuade any sizeable portion of people in the U.S. - which maybe you don't - you've got to avoid this kind of broad-brush, ugly, sneering contempt.

Maybe the masses at your church were bad and maybe they weren't. This sounds like an extremely subjective assessment. But just argue the issue without taking a wholly unnecessary, unjustified and counter-productive swipe at most Americans.

10:30 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Ironically, Rod is turning EVERYTHING into a matter of consumption (packaging and selling his crunchy con idea, shopping for a church/religion), and in the meantime berating everyone else for over-emphasizing consumption. It's hypocrisy, but hypocrisy elevated to the level of extreme self-deception. A case of one becoming exactly what one fears most.

10:36 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Jonah scores again.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

One other really weird comment from Dreher's defense:

"As for our 'nice bungalow,' it's a small house we bought for a song because it's situated close enough to a bad neighborhood that we can hear gunshots not too many blocks away some nights. Before the previous owner renovated it, the last tenant was a junkie who slept on the front porch, and who would leave his needles in the front yard, according to our neighbors. But this is a beautiful little house, and I can be home from work at night in 12 minutes to see my boys before bedtime."

Say what? Dreher's kids are living in a dangerous neighborhood, just so Rod can save time on his commute? This is the way Dreher defends himself?

If I were you, Rod, I'd find a safer neighborhood even if it means a 25-minute commute instead of a 12-minute one. Gunshots, junkies, needles? I'll pass on that for my kids, even if it means living in one of those just awful suburbs.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

Oops, I just see that Jonah made my point a lot better than I did. Or at least he was gentler. But it really does seem like Dreher should get his kids away from a pretty, uh, dicey environment.

One more case of crunchy tone-deafness.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Pretty odd stuff from Rod, to say the very least; I'm glad that he's honest enough to admit that there were tradeoffs in deciding where to live, but I cannot fathom the calculus that says a short commute to a tiny house with loads of character is worth the fact that the house is noticeably near drugs and violence, especially when he's raising young boys.

(I guess the argument is, "Sure, it's a crack house, but it's a convivial crack house.")

At the very least, Jonah's right that Dreher shouldn't begrudge other families for not coming to the same conclusion.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

You go Jonah!
> you've over-read the significance of your
> personal experience and the experiences of the
> people you went looking for — and found — who
> verified what you already believed.

This segues with what Casey just wrote about Rod's gripe about liturgies he doesn't like. What does that have to do with conservatism? Granted it has a lot to do with Catholicism - and I think it's important because I'm catholic - but of the dozen or so priests I know the ones who I'm sure vote Republican are the ones most likely to favor a more traditional "orthodox Catholic" liturgy. So where's the non-crunchy connection there? As if no liberals or democrats live in the "white-bread" suburbs, come on....

As far as the quirky bungalow in a bad neighborhood goes: as I mentioned earlier, I used to live in the same situation. I have to travel farther to work now, but my kids can play outside and not find needles in the front yard with who knows what disease on them. Sure I get 15 minutes less with them when I come home, that's a tiny price to pay for safety and sanity.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

One thing's for sure. I don't think Maggie Gallagher has to trouble herself to answer Rod's "defense."

I'm not trying to tell Dreher how to live. But it's just amazing to me that he would admit buying a house because it looked good and came cheap, even though there appears to be real danger to his kids from the neighborhood.

Isn't this what all those big bad capitalists are supposed to do? Chase material possessions at a cheap price regardless of the consequences?

Jonah was very gentle. He just called Dreher's decision "quirky" and tried to make a joke of it. Yes, NRO has to maintain a collegial atmosphere. But somebody should just sputter: this is crunchy conservatism? Endangering your kids to get a good deal on a house?

Okay, violence is everywhere, there was a murder in Vatican City a few years ago, blah blah blah. But it really does sound like Dreher has accepted a much higher level of danger to his kids just so he could buy a pretty house "for a song."

If this is Dreher's defense, who needs an attack?

11:26 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Now Caleb is agreeing with Rod that Maggie thinks questions of God, family, architecture, liturgy, and the kind of food we eat really aren't very important.

But people who actually read her column know that the question she thinks really isn't very important is this: "Is there room at the great conservative table for people who love God, family, Arts and Crafts architecture, ancient liturgy, Birkenstocks and organic chickens?"

And it's really not very important because of course the answer is, "Sure, Rod," and no one has ever suggested otherwise, except possibly a pre-Birkenstocked Rod Dreher.

But they're so convinced of the nobility of their message -- proved by the buffets and spitting from smarmy whitebreads and cultural nihilists -- that they don't even seem to realize nobody else has any idea what their message might be.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

Dreher realizes that he stepped into a mega-pile with his gunshots and his junkies. He just posted an, er, clarification where he swears that the crime rate in his neighborhood has gone down.

Which could mean they only hear gunshots three times a week now instead of four.

He also swears that the crunchies aren't trying to "demonize" the burbs, even though they've have spent the last few days spitting about "strip malls" and "McMansions" and "sprawl" and every other hate-word they can devise.

Stegall, meanwhile, has taken a swipe at Jonah for being - can you believe? - inconsistent. I would love for Jonah to come back with a quip about well-educated lawyer Stegall playing Farmer John on the crunchblog.

Won't happen, but I can dream. Jonah really scored with his destruction of Dreher's admittedly self-destructive "defense." It's not surprising that the crunchies are now going after him hard.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Stegall, meanwhile, has taken a swipe at Jonah for being - can you believe? - inconsistent.

The funny thing is, Jonah's apparently being inconsistent because of something John Podhoretz wrote.

Are we not seeing the entire conversation here? At any rate, Stegall's looking for a fight. Somebody ought to give him one.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Dreher continues to backpedal. He now says that his choice of housing is "open to question" (duh) and that his neighborhood isn't really all that crime-ridden and...gee, Jonah, did you have to score so many points off me?

Stegall really is spoiling for a brawl. K-Lo might have to step in again.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Rizzo said...

Dreher writes: "What I find maddening to deal with is the persistence of this idea that the kinds of things I and sympathetic bloggers here write about is merely a matter of taste, and has nothing whatsoever to do with ideas and principles. It’s simply not true."

Perhaps the idea is persistent because he hasn't convinced very many people that it isn't merely about taste. I still, for the life of me, don't know what ideas and principles the crunchies are promoting or defending.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Rizzo, are we crazy? I mean, am I weird because I wouldn't be able to identify a Birkenstock shoe at short range, let alone what they have to do with the price of tea at Walmart? Does Birkenstock even make a shoe which would be suitable for walking through a neighborhood, or front yard, littered with heroin needles? Should we include the identification and condemnation of stripmalls and McMansions as part of the religious and moral education of our children?

These and so many other questions fill my mind, and they are not going to be answered by the crunch-elite, I'm rather sure of that. They will continue to spew incoherent bloviations and ignore the fact that Jonah Goldberg and John Podhoretz have chopped all their arms and legs off - sort of like the "Black Knight" in the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

1:31 PM  
Blogger Rizzo said...

The funny thing about Birkenstocks is that they were always the preferred sandal of my more trendy, materialistic, and consumer-oriented friends. I thought they were a waste of money. They tended to cost well over $100, and you could find a pair of sandals that looked pretty much the same for half of that.

And that's the part that I don't quite get about so-called crunchy conservativism: they're supposed to be opposed to materialism and consumerism, and yet they're always talking about buying trendy things and shopping at trendy places I can't afford (or don't want to waste money on). But apparently, you're allowed to save money on your house by buying near a dangerous area, so that you can afford more expensive free range chickens and bottles of organic Chardonnay.

But paying more for a nice, safe home in the suburbs and then saving money by shopping at Walmart? Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I simply don't get it.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Oh, well if it's primarily a status thing then I'll opt for Doc Marten industrial steel toe boots. Suitable for kicking the neighborhood junkies, crunching over the broken glass in the back-alley and slaughtering chickens in the city park.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

That's the simplest criticism of crunchy conservativism: it's only the personal preferences of whoever calls himself a crunchy conservative. At this point there's nothing to argue about. Non disputandum, for those who sat through a Latin class or four.

But there is a more powerful criticism, which Jonah nailed with an e-mail. To the extent that any coherent political program can be discerned from the crunchies' chatter, it hardly seems conservative. In fact, it looks exactly like big-tax, big-regulation, big-government liberalism.

The crunchies know this, so they try to avoid specific policy suggestions. Angelo proposed higher taxes on short-term capital gains. Somebody pointed out that short-term gains are already taxed much more heavily than long-term. Guess what. Angelo hasn't said anything about taxes lately.

Dreher muttered something in his book about "factory farming" being outlawed. People wanted to know how this could be done without expanding government significantly, or without even a legally enforceable definition of factory farming. Well, gee. Dreher hasn't talked much about factory farming lately.

The last few days the crunchies have twisted and shouted about the suburbs and their sprawl and their ugliness and their blah blah. What's the solution? Tighter zoning laws look to be only answer, but the crunchies don't want to go there because it again means bigger and more intrusive government. (Then Dreher stepped into the mess with his gunshots and junkies and needles, and the suburbs were suddenly just fine with the crunchies.)

So that's why crunchies try to keep things as vague and "lifestyle" as possible. They know that big-government liberalism will be, to put it mildly, a tough sell to the NRO audience. That's why crunchy conservatism on NRO quickly seems devoid of any substance. The crunchies don't want to give subtantive policy proposals. The counter-attack from NRO writers and readers would be immediate and strong.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Oh, I spoke too soon about the crunchies' reconciliation with the suburbs. Dreher may be backpedaling and putting up posts with titles like "Yay, suburbs."

But - guess who - Caleb Stegall will have none of it. He just blasted "the suburban landscape of instant gratification, fear, and spoiled denizens of personal desire."

I can only respond with Jim Geraghty's comment: "What a jerk." Are all suburban Americans really "spoiled denizens of personal desire"?

Our local school, located in a suburb north of Dallas, has lost two graduates in the Iraq war. I want this...thing Stegall to walk up to those kids' parents and tell them that their sons were the spoiled denizens of personal desire.

K-Lo, get rid of this jerk. Please.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Casey wrote:
> The crunchies don't want to
> give subtantive policy
> proposals.

Exactly. For example, when Dreher was on Michael Medved's show, Walmart was brought up, and Medved directly asked him if he favored some type of government action forcing Walmart to pay workers more, or insurance or the like. Dreher paused, then said "No." They always back off when you call them on concrete action.

That's why I think the topics of this discussion don't belong in a political context. For example, Stegall's recent encounter with Father Richard John Neuhaus was regarding the lack of a "political theology" in our "naked public square" where he lamented what he refers to as the "demythologized modern state".

Father Neuhaus's short, patient response is worthwhile reading because it applies to the necessary vagueness and veiledness of crunchidom. [begins "Stegall's is an interesting argument..." about half-way down the page.] It's also the answer which you would expect from a man who probably has Lumen Gentium memorized. And we have a good demonstration here of how the superior mind can be more lucid and coherent.

3:01 PM  
Blogger armstrong said...

Rizzo - your comments on Birkenstocks are right on the money and reminded me of why they were originally a status symbol of the left. When I was studying in Germany in the early 90's, my house "father" materialized in a smoking jacket with these hideous monstrosities on his feet. EW! we all recoiled - why on earth are YOU (a dapper man in dress & grooming habits) wearing those revolting hippie shoes? He explained that they are GERMAN HOUSE SHOES, the equivalent of what I was wearing (pink, fuzzy bedroom slippers),& only Americans wore them in the marketplace as a sort of "rebellion" or thumbing their nose at society back in the day. That is why now this particular brand name is exorbitantly expensive - it's associated with countercultural rebellion of the 60's, so that what was once contrived bohemianism is now hopelessly associated with bourgeois wanna-be hippies and lesbians. It is therefore VERY important that Mr. Dreher wear this brand name as part of his countercultural costume; he's dressing the part. Great marketing gimmick, really, but not very crunchy. As you said, at your local mom and pop shop there are now available much less expensive, but equally therapeutic, shoes that provide the same comfort and durability without the brand name price and social connotations. But that you see is the point....

3:07 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

I'm sorry, I kinda lost it on Stegall. I still think his comment that "the suburban landscape of instant gratification, fear, and spoiled denizens of personal desire" won't provide men to defend our country is unconscionable when tens of thousands of suburban kids are laying it on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But I shouldn't have let myself get so angry. Nobody has posted anything on the crunchblog for the last three hours since Stegall's repulsive remark. Maybe they haven't seen it, maybe they're just trying to draft a reasoned response. Maybe K-Lo is doing damage control in the background. Maybe the site has crashed, I don't know.

But Stegall's comment is just beyond the pale when so many suburban kids are dying in Irag and Afghanistan.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Casey, I feel your pain. I'm still upset about his sprawl fixation and suburb-hatred. He is really trying to get someone's goat.

I'm just contantly amazed by this immature making of false distinctions between one thing and another thing which is almost exactly the same. For example, I have fruit trees in my back yard which I plan to tend this year, we'll have a garden, too. Is that good enough? Where's the line between suburb and country? Is nobody allowed to live a certain distance from a metropolis, but go out a little further and "hey! this is a cool, crunchy spot. Just pick a good place because you're not allowed to move ever again."

Stegall is going to jump the shark soon if he hasn't already. You don't mess with the military and their moms and dads even if they're unfortunate enough in his mind to live in the suburbs. Do you think that K-Lo and Jonah are somewhere saying to each other "You know, Stegall is really good and making his point. I'm kind of worried that he'll win people over to this sub-culture and we'll lose readership."? I think it's more like "Let's take bets on when he starts raging about American imperialism, Walmart, PNAC, the Saudi-Bush-family connection and the Bohemian Grove Conspiracy."

6:34 PM  
Blogger Rayne said...

How do you respond to something like that? It's obscene, cruel and UNTRUE. It's PATENTLY FALSE that MOST of our military men and women hail from farms and inner cities, where protection is not provided by law enforcement officials, but fought for every step of the way through a peculiar kind of vigilantism. He is trying to tell us that our US military is made up of predominantly crunchy conservatives, as they are the only ones who know how to fight worth a damn due to their superior survival skills cultivated on the farm or in the hood; the rest are suburbanite pusses. This is crazy talk by any standard & would certainly be news to the enlisted, and as you said, all the DEAD suburban soldiers and their families. This is also really ironic since the founder of the "movement" is a self-professed "avid INdoorsman" who would prefer cooking in the cabin to hunting. Suddenly the Birkenstock-wearing guys are the Alpha males? This would be laughable if it weren't so sick. I honestly can't believe NRO has provided this Stegall lunatic with his own little hobby horse; he'd invented his own silly webzine as a soapbox, but no one had ever heard of it, or him, for obvious reasons until now. He must be in hog heaven.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Rizzo, you wrote, "I still, for the life of me, don't know what ideas and principles the crunchies are promoting or defending."

I think they'd be quick to tell you: the Permanent Things. The Good, the Beautiful, and the True.

How the hell their ideology/platform/philosophy/sensibility succeeds in upholding these things is beyond me. I'm sure there are crunchy people who are moral reprobates, and I'm equally sure that there are people who are cultivating mature relationships with their Creator and with each other even though they haven't a clue that they're supposed to be revulsed by suburban strip malls.

That being the case, maybe what we eat and where we live isn't the important thing. The fact that there are self-professed Christians in this "crunchy con" movement who don't get that -- and who actually think themselves as the enlightened annointed because they don't get that! -- astounds me.

There've been two developments since last night worth mentioning.

1) Stegall kinda-sorta backpeddled on his comments, saying essentially that his galling insult doesn't apply to those who are the exception. I suspect the immediate negative reaction had something to do with his explanation (though I wouldn't be surprised if someone behind the scenes "encouraged" such an explanation), but I wouldn't put too much stock in the comment. After explaining that suburban soldiers actually do exist and are a-okay in his book, he still managed to write this:

"But the trend is real, and it would be putting our heads in the sand to pretend otherwise."

I'd like to see him at least try to persuade us of this trend, to establish that suburbia is disproportionately underrepresented in the military, and to establish that it has nothing to do with other factors, such as the dynamics of blue states and red states or economic status.

To say that those who disagree with his divine proclamations have their heads in the sand is typical horse manure from Stegall.

2) Rod Dreher's decided to draw the discussion about the chapter on real estate to a premature close. The goal has been to spend a week on each chapter, and he started this particular discussion on Monday. The discussion didn't last three days; it was shut down in literally less than 72 hours.

Maybe this has to do with non-crunchies like Jonah and JPod actually addressing some of their points (with JPod, admittedly, not being anywhere near as thorough as I would like to have seen). More likely, this has to do with Caleb Stegall calling suburbanites decadent cowards who embrace humanity's most base appetites.

Either way, changing topics on an early Thursday morning isn't an indication that things are going well.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Bubba wrote:

> Stegall...backpeddled on his
> comments, saying essentially
> that his galling insult doesn't apply to
> those who are the exception.

Good for him. I've heard racists justify racial slurs like the "N-word" with the same logic. He states: "I acknowledge that this discussion is using a lot of broad brushes... That doesn’t mean the broad brush strokes don’t capture something essentially true." This is an admission of his elevation of anecdotal evidence, qualitative research and selective reporting of the "facts" to an absolutely hubristic degree.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Dreher's first post on education is being ignored because people like Jonah aren't ready to let Caleb Stegall's comments pass (and rightly so). The free-for-all with Rod and Caleb on one side, and Jonah and KLo on the other, continues.

Regardless, the post on education has two passages that deserve comment.

First, Rod writes parenthetically, "Please hold your accusations that I am trying to say that people who don’t homeschool are bad parents who don’t care about their kids. I do not say that, nor do I believe that. So let’s please not go there."

He didn't say that, but we know someone who said that about daycare and would more than likely say the same thing about public education. That someone is the reason Dreher's having to defend himself against the allegation.

Second, he wrote, "I would not put my child in a school where I didn’t think he would get a decent education just to make a social point."

Good for him; what about putting his child in a neighborhood that has a noticeable amount of drugs and violence to make a social point? Or at least, retroactively defending the decision as if it were being made to make a social point?

Maybe the neighborhood in which Dreher resides is truly safer than it once was, but he's still climbing out of the massive hole he dug for himself earlier.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Pauli, you make a great point; the entire first half of that paragraph is contrite:

"First, I am not interested in spitting on anyone! I am not talking about anyone specifically. I acknowledge that this discussion is using a lot of broad brushes that will not capture the truth about a whole lot of people."

Huh. What the hell happened to rigor in the discussion of what makes a good person? With Augustine's principle of judging a man on what he loves, a principle that is part of "the foundation of western ethical thinking"?

What a coward. :)

6:35 AM  
Blogger Rizzo said...

Bubba, I actually do know what principles and ideas that they are attemtpting to promote or defend, but they've done such a poor job in doing so that when I read their posts, I forget what the big picture is supposed to be.

They say the prefer the "small, local, old and particular," but then shop at Whole Foods Market, which is none of these things, all the while disparaging those who shop at Walmart.

The thing is, I agree with many of their principles and ideas, as I think most conservatives do. I'm not sure what it is that makes them unique (and this has been one of Jonah's main criticisms from the beginning).

I don't like Walmart much either, but if I need something at 2pm on a Sunday, I can't go to my local hardware store, because it's closed. And the small and local "mom and pop" stores can be great, but in some cases, "mom and pop" can be incredibly rude and don't know how to run a business. Should I continue going there anyway? And they ignore the fact that most of these big box stores started out as small, locally-owned, family stores themselves.

I'm troubled by consumerism and materialism, but my solution is much more simple than the Crunchies: I don't try to outdo my neighbor. I don't buy things for the purpose of elevating my status in the eyes of people I don't even like anyway. And I don't make my purchasing decisions part of a larger ideological structure. In a way, someone like Dreher who makes the location of his house an issue is making the same "I'm better than you" statement as your neighbor who buys a Porshe and makes sure he washes it daily for the rest of neighbors to see.

I agree with them in that I don't think a family of four needs an 8 bedroom "McMansion" as Dreher calls it, but my solution is that I'm going to buy a house no bigger than what I reasonably need, rather than insult everyone who lives in the suburbs. And anyone who has ever lived or even been to a suburb knows that they are not always filled unnecessarily extravagant houses. Some are quite modest.

And I too think strip malls are ugly. But then, so are ghettos located near factories. And who finds rows and rows of corn aesthetically pleasing?

So, I guess I'm not sure what makes it so obvious to them that living in a suburb is such a soul-crushing experience, as opposed to living anonymously in some high-rise apartment or in a small, old, musty house miles and miles away from any neighbors. Neither of those options seem particularly convivial, which seems to be very important to them.

So, again, I don't get it. Maybe Dreher does a better job in the book, which I admittedly haven't read. But reading after reading the blog, I'm not sure I really want to.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Funny enough, after reading the blog, I'm thinking about the sort of message I would send by buying Dreher's book. Oh, dear: buying his book might not be the lifestyle choice for me. :)

In all seriousness, my presence here probably doesn't convey it, but I've been quite disappointed with this whole thing. The blog began with a great quote -- "the essence of civilization is not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character" -- and I read the blog with a pretty open mind for the first ten days or so.

Things got odd toward the end of the first week when Rod Dreher quoted and praised a passage that said that nominal conservatives "will not oppose promiscuity because sexual discipline would reduce the profits of corporations."

Then, for me, the thing jumped off the rails when Caleb Stegall accused Jim Geraghty of "soft 'censorship'":

"Any intrusion into or critique of real life decisions people make is out of bounds as a matter of course."

This, after Stegall wrote that non-crunchy conservatives exhibited a coldblooded, subhuman mind and that those who move away from home are almost universally selfish: not just "any" critique, but extraordinarily harsh critiques.

That was about ten days into the blog, and I've been watching, half-hoping to see the blog recover its sense of sanity. Hasn't happened yet.

8:51 AM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Rod's problem is that he's trying to use a shovel to get himself out of a hole.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Rizzo said...

Bubba, that's the thing. I don't know who these "other" conservatives are that they are trying to criticize. Another of Jonah's criticisms of Crunchy Conservativism is that they are buying into the liberal stereotype of conservatives, and he's absolutely right. I'm not some money-grubbing capitalist, and I don't know of any conservative who is. I support capitalism because I believe it to be the best method to make the most people happy, not because I want to maximize my profits on the backs of poor, bastard ghetto children.

It's always been my experience that consumerism, materialism, trashy pop culture, etc. have been more associated with the left side of the political spectrum. Sure, the right is not completely innocent, but part of the reason I never felt comfortable on the left is that I was annoyed by the trendy, faddish pretentiousness that was always on display there. You had to wear the right clothes and shop at the right places and participate in the right activities. To hell with that. But now I have a group of conservatives telling me how I'm supposed to live, all the while complaining about how it is they who feel that they don't fit in.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

If ya wanna hear Rod Dreher regurgitate a lot of these stereotypes, you should listen to the soundclip linked here, a pre-written monologue by Dreher on NPR, apparently culled from the book.

One choice line is that crunchy conservatives believe "that the family, not the state or the corporation, is the institution most necessary to conserve."


"Crunchy cons are not merely looking to be more authentically conservative, we’re looking to be more authentically human."

This, delivered to an NPR audience that probably thinks conservatives are subhuman to begin with.

12:49 PM  
Blogger G.J. said...

It's not such a strange vision that allows that we can be less that what we ought.

Aristotle, Aquinas, Mirandola...

2:25 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

There's a big difference between saying that we are less than we ought to be and saying that some other group is less than they ought to be.

And there's a huge difference between saying someone is less than he ought to be and saying someone is less than human.

I can think of people who thought of others as less than human, and as a rule none of them were very nice.

3:08 PM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Screw nice. The fact is, a lot of people are and have been saying the suburbs suck, including suburbanites. You can nuance that all you want, but it it is a generalized ethos that is prevalent and prevailing. Obviously you're committed to dismissing it as a completely nutso phenomenon, so I won't argue with you about it.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Rayne said...

"Screw nice" - WOW, now that's a way to win friends and influence people while showing off your brilliant debating skills. What/whoever you are, you are most certainly NOT a Jesuit as there is NOTHING Jesuitical about you - that would require subtlety and an erudite mastery of persuasion, not this playground bully nonsense of name calling then running and hiding behind a fake identity. "A lot of people say the suburbs suck" is not an argument; a lot of people say the farm and the big city what? I like all three...

10:32 PM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Madam, I come from a different age of Jesuits. The cloak and dagger sort. The thumb-screws, the rack. Naturally I have liberalized and updated over time. I now mainly deploy rhetorical equivalents of those devices.

I suppose I did not make myself clear earlier: "persuasion," in your sophistic sense, is garbage. What you are asking for is "nice" (kiss-ass), "nuanced" (self-emasculating, self-contradictory) arguments. For contemporary mush-heads such as yourself, any frank and plain thesis that sharply contradicts your opinions, habits, prejudices, etc. is automatically deemed out-of-court. Clearly there is nothing to be gained (for me) by discourse carried out on these terms.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Rayne said...

"Madam, I come from a different age of Jesuits. The cloak and dagger sort. The thumb-screws, the rack."
PLEASE. Give it a rest, you big goose. You are neither Catholic nor Jesuit - the Roman Church and that poor, benighted order have enough bad PR (deservedly so, alas) without a goofball like you posing as a representative of both.

6:52 PM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Be nice, and maybe you could accompany me when I visit Spengler in Munich.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Rayne said...

Ha! You got yourself a deal!

2:06 PM  

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