Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Love it, or leave it (and leave us alone).

Once again I've found occasion to become infuriated by the peanut-gallery ravings from the suburbs. I know... I do it to myself by continuing to listen to the Marty Griffin show. Why can't we have even a single progressive voice on KDKA AM 1020? Allegheny County is overwhelmingly Democratic, yet there is not one single corresponding radio voice. Is it really true that only conservatives listen to talk radio? I've often thought about writing a letter to the managements of the few local 'news radio' stations, and demanding that they provide just the merest hint of diversity. If we had a 24-7 NPR affiliate, then it wouldn't be that desperate of a situation. At least their coverage is vaguely moderate. But no... public radio has to share its space on the dial with 'smoove jazz'.

Not a single one of the talking heads I hear on KDKA lives in the city, but they advertise themselves as "The Voice of Pittsburgh". Their deception should be legally actionable. Marty Griffin lives in Mt.Lebanon. Kevin Miller is a recent PA transplant living in Cranberry. Fred Honsberger resides (I think) in Peters Township. Still, all of of these guys spout off as if they were some breed of authority on Pittsburgh. They know absolutely nothing about urban living, and never have. Their presence is indicative of the provincial attitudes associated with this town. I can't stand people that flee the city's taxes and problems, and then expect to have their ill-informed opinions heard.

Today Griffin was talking to "his army" (which consists of vacuous hordes of homogenized suburban/exurbanites) about Downtown Pittsburgh. Somehow they have convinced themselves that they have some worthwhile input on how to make it a better place. They are whining that the atmosphere isn't 'family-oriented' enough for their precious sensibilities. So they are basically calling for the 'suburbanization' of the inner city, as if their familiar stomping grounds (like Walmart and the mall) provide a decent template for the renewal of Downtown. I constantly hear these 'sheeple' bitching about the parking taxes they have to pay when they drive their SUV's to work. They moan about being intimidated by the poor people who live in the city. They simply don't know how to handle themselves in an environment that hasn't been neutered and denuded of character. I actually heard a female listener today whining that she can't find a TGIF or Applebee's downtown.

I've never been a big fan of the whole "love-it-or-leave-it-posture" of the jingoistic camp of Americana. It rests on the unexamined belief of the speaker that his particular 'way of life' should be considered the one-and-only true representation of our nation's values. What it ignores is the reality that the United States is a composite of many diverse groups, all of which are engaged in the valid pursuit of manifesting their own individual ways of constructing community. It communicates a deep ignorance of the fact that not everyone feels the same about the place they inhabit. However, on a local level this attitude conveys something different. If you don't have the balls to live in the city, then go ahead and leave. There are plenty of other places for you to go. Go out to "any-town" and enjoy your strip malls and bland housing developments. But realize that in doing so you have ceded your right to determine the future of the city. No one cares about your opinion.

As I've said time and time again, wearing your Steeler jersey on casual Fridays at work does not make you part of Pittsburgh. You CHOSE to disassociate yourself from the problems of city-living, so it's time for you to shut up. You have no role to play in the development of downtown or any of the city's neighborhoods, other than that of a tourist. Unless you are offering your money or your volunteer efforts, then you have no stake in the prospects of Pittsburgh. The city isn't simply an 'amenity' to be used during the holidays and forgotten about in the off-season. People actually live there, and many of them are offended by the very sight of weekend warriors. They certainly don't want to transform their living spaces to meet your aesthetics. So turn your attention inwards and confront the growing problems in your own communities. The government subsidies of both the oil and the roads that enable your lifestyle won't last forever.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Rob Carr said...

Griffin's army doesn't represent suburbia -- any more than your rant about suburbanites does.

Yeesh. More straw men around here than Kansas.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

It's true that suburbanites come in all sizes and colors. What I'm implicating specifically is those who call Griffin's show to bemoan the operations of the city of Pittsburgh- I know that they are from the burbs because they identify themselves as such.

I never claimed that my 'rant' represents suburbia- as I don't identify myself with it. I thought I made that pretty clear. What is it specifically that's bothering you? Did you feel personally attacked? Why is that?

6:32 PM  

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