Friday, November 24, 2006

The Living Dead

For an excellent synopsis about how aspirers to "crunch" can kill the thing they most want to achieve ... read this article in Vanity Fair by a.a. gill, in which he discusses the monstrous new condos being erected around residential areas of New York. These new glass towers are an outrageous visual insult to the aesthetics of the nineteenth century neighborhoods in which they obnoxiously stake their claim. All the while, they market their Dreherian material authenticity in the form of "bog-stained Irish elm, gnarled Honduran corset pine, [and] smoked Austrian oak" wood finishes, while also touting "the provenance of the washing machines and the door fixtures". Sound familiar to readers of crunchy cons?

These multi-million dollar "lifestyle condos" are being marketed to wall streeters who desire the social cred of having made it in the big bad city. Gill makes all-important point that merely by building and marketing these condos, that "big bad city" is sterilized and commodified to the point of vaporization. Gill says it best here: "Fund managers kill the thing they crave." Indeed. The same could be said for the author of "crunchy cons", whose voracious craving for and analysis of "authenticity", encapsulized in the form of a mass market book, threatens all that is in fact "authentic". We humbly submit that pointing out this fatal paradox is not a bad raison d'etre for any blog, even this one.

53 Comments:

Blogger Diane said...

Hah! Good point. Those condos sound gawdawful.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

"...encapsulized in the form of a mass market book..."

The paradox also shows itself in the blog ads on beliefnet. I just saw an ad on his blog which boldly queries "What kind of kisser are you? Take the free quiz." I've noticed in the last several visits a lot of T&A-laden images, dating sites and ads for pyschic readings. In a sense I don't care, just like I don't care what nationality his booze claims to be. However, the fact is that he is always claiming to be above such crass capitalism; a major tenet of his book is that being beholden to such low forms of making a buck is a problem with mainstream conservatives. Physician, heal thyself.

6:51 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

The condos sound like the modern new ballparks that are meant to look old. (We have one here.) Nice place to watch a game, to be sure, but the faux old is a little phony. I'd prefer something that is just true to its own era and its own location.

Old ballparks are cool. But they've gotta smell like urine and cigarettes to be authentic.

Beware the Crunchy that is phony.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Pikku: Isn't all Crunchy pretty phony?

E.g.: The Crunchies are always going on about the Family Farm, and some of them are even gentleman-farmers themselves. But talk to a real farmer, and you'll get a very different picture of farming than you'll get from the Crunchers. Case in point: my father-in-law, who grew up on a Kentucky hog farm and wouldn't go back to that life if you paid him a million dollars. Seriously.

Would the Crunchies ever bear the very real (and rather daunting) inconveniences of the pre-mass-market lifestyle they extol? No electric lights, no central heating, no (inside) bathrooms, no (gasp) high=speed Internet? That's how my father-in-law lived, as late as the 1930s-early 1940s.

It's all utterly faux-ny, eff'n you ask me.

When we lived in Vermont, we knew a couple who had built their house with their own hands. As their land was located a hefty hike away from the nearest power line--and since the electric company charged $8 per running foot to install line--this couple heated their home with solar panels and a generator. They had a gas-powered fridge, which they'd bought from a supplier who also supplies the Amish. They had gas lamps instead of electric lights.

I admired them. They had the courage of their convictions. They weren't quite as plucky as the pioneers, perhaps, but they came pretty darned close, IMHO. I mean, when I say they built their house with their bare hands, I'm not kidding.

Compared with this couple, the Crunchies are poseurs, methinks.

Diane

P.S. The only ballpark I've ever been in is Fenway Park, and you can't get too much more genuinely old-timey than that. :)

9:57 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

From the Crunchy Manifesto:

6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.

diane, here's the barn door through which Crunchy meets Phony. Besides the obvious question-begging of "better" (Is it better because it is Small, Local, Old or Particular? Or is it better because Rod says so?), is the "almost always". When is Big, Global, New, and Abstract better than Small, Local, Old, and Particular? When it sells books? When it is a new condo with Irish elm?

One of my favorite ballparks was the Houston Astrodome, perhaps the epitome of non-Crunchy. It was a dome. Its sight lines for baseball were not so good. It had Astroturf. It had dancing cowboys and steers on the scoreboard that lit up after homeruns. But it was built in Houston, Texas in the '60s, and it was true to that. When you were there you were IN Texas in the '60s, when the sky was the limit and the world was your oyster. I loved it and miss it.

diane, the only park you've been to is Fenway? You're a purist! Someday I'll see a game there. I want to sit in one of the nooks in the outfield.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

LOL--no, not a purist. Just an ex-(native)-Bostonian. Fenway was the only Major League park I've ever had a chance to go to. :)

Great post and astute observations, as always.

9:41 AM  
Blogger xavier said...

Hi all:
This obsession of the Jeffersonian agricultural republic is what turns me off from the crunchy conservatives. Honestly, I've never understood this preference for the rural life over the urban. It must be peculiar to Anglosphere conservatism. Continential conservatives aren't as fixated by farmers and rural life. They respect them but they don't become gooey eyed and blubber like babies.
I suspect is explain the kitschy urban architecture: the desire to transplant the family farm in the city.

xavier

xavier

5:01 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Welcome, xavier! I am but a poster here, so it is not my place to issue official greetings...but I can welcome you unofficially at least.

Where is everyone, BTW? Surely there must be some crunchy silliness we can comment on? ;)

11:01 AM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

I'm hanging out over here these days.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

In a matter that rises to the level of Mr. Dreher's Liberalism the City of Chicago has done the following.Chicago Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians. The last time I checked the first five letters of Christmas where Christ.
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20061128/D8LLRK9O0.html


Please let officials in Chicago know how stupid this is. The address is

moseinquiry@cityofchicago.org

This is the Mayor's Office for Special Events which made the decision. It is headed by James Law. His address is
JLAW@CITYOFCHICAGO.ORG

5:11 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

JCarp, if I have my German right, "Christkindl" translates to "Christ Child".

It doesn't get more *offensive* than that.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

If you think that was awful than read the following story.

http://living.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1771362006

You always here people like Andrew Sullivan et. al. harp on what the church does to Gays. When do you think they will cover this?

3:58 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Latest update: Rod has drunk the Orthodox Anti-Western Kool-Aid (a la Frederica Matthewes Greene, one of the biggest Eastern chauvinist kooks around--she's so extreme even her fellow EOs chide her for it).

It's predictable as all get-out. It also reminds me rather strongly of all the kids I knew in college, back in the late '60s / early '70, who rebelled against consumerist American culture by adopting ersatz Eastern Religion.

I guess Orthodoxy is the Zen of the early 21st century, eh? For the Terminally Cool Crowd, that is.

Jonathan Prejean nails it over at mliccione.blogspot: Anti-Western Eastern Chauvinism (with all those oh-so-exotic Orthodox smells and bells) is the latest cool fad among the cool kids these days. Talk about shallow.

(end of rant)

4:05 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Latest update: Rod has drunk the Orthodox Anti-Western Kool-Aid (a la Frederica Matthewes Greene, one of the biggest Eastern chauvinist kooks around--she's so extreme even her fellow EOs chide her for it).

It's predictable as all get-out. It also reminds me rather strongly of all the kids I knew in college, back in the late '60s / early '70, who rebelled against consumerist American culture by adopting ersatz Eastern Religion.

I guess Orthodoxy is the Zen of the early 21st century, eh? For the Terminally Cool Crowd, that is.

Jonathan Prejean nails it over at mliccione.blogspot: Anti-Western Eastern Chauvinism (with all those oh-so-exotic Orthodox smells and bells) is the latest cool fad among the cool kids these days. Talk about shallow.

(end of rant)

4:05 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

"you kill what you crave" -- man, but doesn't the thrust of this post go double for eastern orthodoxy being overridden by these WASPY converting types? how depressing that must be for the ethnics. the thought of attending a bells and smells orthodox service surrounded by white protestant malcontents is so ... off-putting. and sorry, but in catholicism you don't have that problem. it's already multi-ethnic -- and if "authenticity" is the goal, that's what makes it more "authentically" american.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Kathleen--amen! What's such a hoot is when the WASPy converts go all faux Greco-Slavic---like, adopting names like Photini and Basileus and going on and on about phrenoma (sp?) and omniphoron and whatnot.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Maybe this Greek wannabe-ism is merely the more civilized, post-graduate version of this phenomenon. Except they've evolved from Greek letters to complete words.

6:57 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

what is also totally disgusing are these grown men whining about how catholicism isn't MASCULINE enough for them. AGAIN, the quickest way to kill your own masculinity is to sit around whining about how unmasculine your church is, and/or converting to another church because it allows you to glom onto someone else's perceived masculinity.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Yeppers.

But I gotta say--in the latest comments, IMHO, Rod isn't behaving half as obnoxiously as tmatt. Somebody tell that self-important dude to stuff a sock in it. Ack. :p

3:31 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

I'll just respond to kathleen's comment rather than going over to CrunchyBlog to subject myself to that anger.

If someone doesn't think Catholic parishes are masculine enough, they should come to one of our parish Men's Club meetings. There's so much testosterone that we have to shovel it out the door as we leave.

P.S. I am sad that I will have to change my picture soon, to stay relevant. I'll keep JB up for awhile, tho, in his honor.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

LOL--same with our parish, Pikku. But whj confuse the Rodmeister with the facts?

Good grief, has he ever heard of the blinkin' Knights of Columbus?

7:25 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Update--Rod is once again oozing LUV for his former communion, the RCC. With friends like Rod, as the saying goes, who needs enemies?

1:52 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Unseemly as Rod's Catholic-bashing is -- he's adamant that he's not going to criticize Eastern Orthodoxy, and he has a duty to criticize Catholicism because he's a journalist, and he does so love Rome -- it's rather mundane. Much more interesting is his apparent comprehension of the threat we face from jihad, coupled with his accute Bush Derangement Syndrome. At some point, one of the two has to give: considering the dubious reasons behind his supporting the Dems in November, I think we've passed that point.


As an aside, I've noticed that, for Rod, it's not only that Bush is in denial about Iraq, he was rude to Jim Webb, and Bush's daughters aren't doing enough charity work.

Never mind that one could ask whether Rod's kids are living up to the high standards of crunchy conservatism, seeing that one is no longer being homeschooled: Rod's bitching about the Bush twins is thegossipy snark of a unthinking, overemotional housewife (no offense to stay-at-home moms).

And that leads us right back to the discussion of how it's Catholicism that isn't masculine enough for Dreher...

7:40 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Don't even get me started about that "not masculine enough" stuff. This is a guy who's preoccupied with his home's interior decor, and he accuses the CATHOLIC CHURCH of not being masculine enough? Oy vey!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Re: masculinity & Catholic spirituality. First of all Pikkumatti, mentioning the "shoveling of testosterone" was a little painful, but I get the image. I have 3 sons and I wouldn't be surprised if my wife rents a bull-dozer one of these days, to extend the metaphor.

But seriously, we often hold up St. Joseph as a model for the manly man. The guy is simply not quoted anywhere in the Bible. I'm sure he did talk and said many important things. But face it: he was an action hero. Did he have a beard? Who cares. Did he go around musing about his beard and the beards of others? Uh, no he was busying having angelic apparitions. And getting the job done, whatever it took, with his mind and his muscle.

Likewise when Catholic men execute a plan they don't always send out a press release. Nor should they. We're propelling this ship, row by tedious row -- there's no commentating or broadcasting required. If some men want to sit up on the deck with the women and kids sipping iced latte and complaining about the decor, they can be our guests. We'll keep rowing.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

If some men want to sit up on the deck with the women and kids sipping iced latte and complaining about the decor, they can be our guests.

LOL! You sure can turn a phrase.

9:25 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

yeah, i was wondering today what Orthodox church CNET'S James Kim attended. i mean, the guy had to have been orthodox. no way would someone have the testosterone to sacrifice his life for his family without having attended the masculinity-soaked services found ONLY at an orthodox church.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

LOL. Youse guys crack me up.

Speaking of masculine men in the RCC: The most involved guys at our little mission congregation are manly blue-collar types (truck drivers, a UPS guy, a guy who fixes airplane parts). When we inherited pews from a larger nearby parish, several guys from our church loaded 'em into a truck (these pews weigh a ton, BTW), then unloaded them by hand at our church, and installed them, along with kneelers. Strictly volunteer basis. And all done by sheer brawn.

Wanna make a bet Rod has never done anything like that in his life?

But for these guys, this is typical. Wait till I tell you how we got our Crucifix. (It'll hafta be some other time, as i must get back to work now.)

God bless,

Diane

10:45 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

BTW, I've been having a bit of fun with a few of the EO blowhards in the Father Plushy & Married Priesthood threads.

Feeling impish today....

Have a great weekend, y'all. Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception. :)

2:43 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

test

4:10 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I think we're all too busy with Advent and Christmas stuff to haunt this blog. Which is too bad, 'cus I miss y'all! :)

Sometimes I wonder whether we should form a blog--maybe call it the Dunciad or sumpin'--to skewer all the pomposity and nonsense we encounter, not just the Crunchy variety, which seems to be going the way of the dinosaur anyway.

What'ch'all think?

God bless and happy FD of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

10:37 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

if we start a new blog, maybe we should call it "businesstransaction.blogspot.com", thereby recognizing Frederica Mathewes-Green's characterization of the Roman Catholic Church's relationship with God. (see page xvii of the Prologue to Frederica's generous tome "Facing East" -- an absorbing read, especially for those with a particular interest in Frederica's dining habits)

12:28 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

oh what the heck, here's the entire frederica mathewes-green paragraph (cited above) for delicious reference:

"We remained worried by traces of salvation-by-works theology in the Catholic practice and a habitual tendency to frame human relations with God more as a business transaction than as love affair. Catholic theology seemed in general too overdone, compelled to parse every sentience and split every infinitude."

meow!

Ms. frederica, of course, made regular appearances as a "crunchy" friend of Rod on the original NRO crunchblog.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

I guess she's also a regular on NPR. Here's an audio morsel from Fred where she denounces the Gregorian calender as a "crazy new innovation". LOL. Julians unite!!

Also goes on to detail how much harder their Lent is. GMAB. But I must say her voice is tailor-made for NPR.

1:46 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

aw, she's so special.

well, the gregorian calendar was "devised by a Pope". so nix that one.

2:25 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

man i just can't stop listening to that. she's got it all figured out! we just don't get it, we heathen catholics et al. with our "pastel m and m's". she's out of step, and better for it. congratulations, frederica. i want to be *you* when i grow up.

2:30 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

sorry to harp, but dig it: Frederica speaks about orthodox easter being a different day than non-orthodox easter: "perhaps another advantage is this feeling of being out of sync with the rest of the world. everybody else treats the holiest day of my religious year, the day of Jesus' resurrection, as if it were all about cartoon bunnies and chocolates. maybe that's an appointment i don't need to keep."

"EVERYBODY ELSE". that's right frederica. everybody else SUCKS.

3:27 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

The good thing about being being out of sync with the rest of the world is that you aren't responsible for anything. If Easter has too many Bunnies, it's not your fault because you're on a different day.

Kinda like being a "con", but hating Bush and everything he does. That way, nothing can be your fault.

BTW, CrunchyOne's newspaper had a front page article today about the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium. If there is a less Crunchy building, I'll be hanged.

For example, is it Small (Crunchy) or Big? From the website: The north elevation view of the new stadium gives a sense of the enormity of the structure, which will feature two structural steel arches, each spanning the entire 1,290-foot length of the stadium. As the largest NFL venue ever built, the new stadium boasts the most spectacular column-free room in the world, stretching a quarter-mile in length. The stadium will measure twice as long as the famed St. Louis Gateway Arch and the Statue of Liberty can stand completely inside the domed structure. I guess that means Big.

Check out the website. You'll see what Non-Crunchy is. I love it -- it'll be true to its era. I just can't wait for Rod to diss it.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

The "enormity" of the structure? Holy usage error, Batman. :p

Kathleen--thanks for those morsels. Sheesh, FMG is even more of a crank than I thought.

But I sure can see how snobs like Rod could go for her brand of EOxy.

In fairness, not all Orthodox are like that, as we all know...not by a long shot.

Unfortunately, those who are like that tend to be the loudmouth blowhards who hang out on the Internet.

5:17 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Just as FMG believes apparently believes that only the Eastern Orthodox really celebrate the Resurrection, crunchy cons are apparently the only ones who realize that Christmas involves familial affection and not the "more, more, more" of materialism.

It was true at the very beginning of the crunchy blog at NRO, and it remains true:

They have no idea how they sound.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

"they have no idea how they sound."

Ain't that the truth!!!

8:24 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Diane: The 'enormity' of the structure? Holy usage error, Batman."

Should have been gi-normity as in gi-normous.

So how many volumes could be written about the crunchy tone-deafness? I think her material fits in superbly at NPR whose producers seem intent on finding the alternative angle to present about Chrisianity rather than the boring old Catholic & Evangelical stuff whose practioners might state something embarrassing. Here's another one about a liturgical group-hug during Lent; the intro guy mentions calendars again: "For those churches who use the Gregorian calendar, lent began.... for the Orthodox churches using the Julian Calendar.....".

9:48 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

do they have no idea how they sound? or is it they just don't care, and self-congratulation is their modus operandi? in any case, i can totally see why dreher and FMG are friends.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Kathleen, I can totally see that, too. "I'm so special! Look at me, y'all: special, special, special. I See Things More Clearly than you benighted hoi polloi. That is why I am one of the Illumined Gnos--er, I mean Orthodox. I wouldn't be caught dead at Our Lady of Pizza Hut, rubbing elbows with people wearing tacky polyester, singing sappy songs out of that cheap missalette thing. Ewwwww, gross. I bet some of those Catholics even live in cheap furnished apartments, without (shudder) tastefully luxurious furniture. And don't even get me started on rubbing elbows with Hispanics...."

11:07 AM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

Bubba, I didn't get that from Rod's report. It's a CC site for CCs. He's writing for his audience there, not asserting that they are better.

You guys are right though about presenting your message without offending people. I've never found him offensive, but then I agree with the message to some degree.

6:22 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

I had to go check out the CrunchyConChristmas post. Thanks for nothin', Bubba.

I was pleased to see that this post included the obligatory shot at Wal-Mart. I haven't missed much over there over the last month, have I?

6:23 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

yep, the obligatory shot at Wal-Mart. Can't have a Crunchy post without that. ;)

Cubeland: To the pure all things are pure. I do believe you see things far more clearly than I do, because you see them with the eyes of charity.

I'm hopelessly cynical, though, so I have a more jaundiced view. Warped, even, some might say. :D

Diane

9:46 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Pikku, your new photo is looking mighty Burly. (Or is the term "Burl-esque"?)

Har, har, har....

6:58 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Sheesh. Rod's at it again with another RC-Bishop-Bash. Talk about OBsessed.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Here's a patron saint for our friend Rod:

http://forestparkreview.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=1721&TM=10693.96

This lady has gone through more ch-ch-ch-cchanges than a karma chameleon. And every time she abandoned one commitment for another (the convent for marriage, marriage 1 for marriage 2, the Catholic Church for Lutheranism....), she was apparently motivated by Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa, feeeeeeeelings. What else matters, after all?

I nominate her as Crunchy Person of the Year. ;)

7:19 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Darkly comical. I don't know about crunchy, though. But she should definitely be on some TV show like Oprah's with a bunch of mindless celebratory applause to go with her story of self-congratulatory meanderings. Must be nice to go through life and be able to assume that everything you've done simply because you felt like doing it was inspired by a strong faith and deep love of God.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Darkly comical. I don't know about crunchy, though. But she should definitely be on some TV show like Oprah's with a bunch of mindless celebratory applause to go with her story of self-congratulatory meanderings. Must be nice to go through life and be able to assume that everything you've done simply because you felt like doing it was inspired by a strong faith and deep love of God.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Must be nice to go through life and be able to assume that everything you've done simply because you felt like doing it was inspired by a strong faith and deep love of God.

Yeah. Including exchanging hubby #1 for a newer model. :p

9:56 AM  

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