Fresh ammunition for my grumpy opposition to "anti-sprawl activists" is provided by Robert Bruegmann's Sprawl: A Compact History, nicely reviewed by the Blogfather himself. Bruegmann's main point is that sprawl, like so many other things, was always practiced by those who could afford it, and only started to become a problem when the common folks started doing it. Reynolds goes on to highlight the author's points that spawl is neither uniquely American nor necessarily bad for the environment.
As it happens, though, the TCS column gave rise to a post by Jim Bennett at Albion's Seedlings which provides an interesting illumination of a minor point: the song "Ticky Tacky Houses", which some of you may remember from your encounters with folk music, was an early shot in the smart growth Kulturkampf - and the people behind the song are probably not the kind of folks the modern activists would care to be associated with*...then again, Hubert Humphrey and his legacy have both been dead for years, and DFL activists show no shame when wearing their chic Che Guevara T-shirts these days.
The last word (well, probably not, given that this is the blogosphere we're talking about) goes to Ed Driscoll, who quotes extensively from Bennett:
The specific houses in question were the multi-colored developments on the hills just south of San Francisco. I remember seeing them on my first trip to that area and thinking them charming. Eventually I learned that they were the "ticky-tacky" in question. It's a sort of reverse Marie Antionette --- criticising the peasants for eating cake when they could have had nice Soviet-style high-rise concrete block apartments instead.and asks mordantly:
And that certainly worked out just swell for all concerned, huh?
Indeed, as Professor Reynolds might say. ^^
Don't miss the late addition to Driscoll's post, an e-mail from a reader who was lucky enough to grab one of those "ticky-tacky houses" in the south end of San Francisco ten years ago. Heh.
*I knew there was a reason I thought most folk music sucked.