Friday, April 01, 2005

A Disquisition on Architecture

Graceful porticos adorn an Arlington street.
A Large-Scale Disagreement
As Massive Houses Prompt Protests, Arlington Proposes Limits

By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 31, 2005; Page A01

In Arlington, plans for a palatial, 12,500-square-foot house on Pershing Drive call for a basement ballroom with bar, an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub, five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a library and a prayer room. The house would be 4 1/2 times the size of the average home on the block.


Driving Arlington's efforts to curb the influx of giant houses are residents worried about construction that they find at odds with the scale and character of their neighborhoods, said County Board Chairman Jay Fisette (D).

"We know we can't legislate good taste or good architecture," Fisette said. "The modifications we've been talking about will keep the worst projects from being viable."

[S]ome critics of the proposal say they suspect that much of the discontent springs from a culture clash between longtime residents of Arlington and new, richer arrivals, many of them wealthy immigrants.

"They flat out don't like these rich people moving in and building big houses. It's a bunch of old liberals, and they've just got to give up," said Terry Showman, a developer who builds homes in the county. (Emphasis mine.)

Full story here.
Let's examine that last sentence again, shall we?

Mr. Showman, "a developer who builds homes in the county," which is a polite way of saying "a land-raping greedhead Jabba the Hutt who would happily crush his own toddler with a Lincoln Fucking Navigator if he thought it might put 32 cents into his greasy, piss-stained pocket," has the utter baldfaced carney-grifter gall to frame this as a "class war" issue, as if the nouveaux-riches buttboys who rode to Washington on the coattails of their miserable smirking Deke President for the purpose of gutting the Treasury and impoverishing future generations had even the dimmest glimmer of a chance of being thwarted in their plans to erect hideously vulgar tributes to their own villainy by something so quaint, so idealistic, so awww-shucks-ain't-that-cute as motherfucking zoning laws.

According to an online History of Zoning Laws, "The[ir] objective is to provide for the greater benefit of the community by curtailing the freedom and rights of individual property owners." "The greater benefit of the community" being defined in this case thus: that your right to behave like a dookie-chucking silverbacked gorilla by adding on six vernacular-raping stories to a Pershing Drive Cape Cod so you can have a library and a Texas-shaped indoor hot tub and a motherfucking prayer room, ends approximately at that point at which your fucking warthog of a Hummer 2 eternally blocks the sunlight from your neighbors' rose bushes.

Now, is that a liberal idea, Mr. Showman? Is that some kind of fuzzy-idealist, Woodstock-Nation, War-on-Poverty, Permissive-Doctor-Spock, baby-coddling, Hanoi-Jane-ing, Nixon-toppling tree-hugger notion, the idea that we have a right to protect our neighborhoods from your self-regarding vulgarity, your miserable chest-pounding King-Kong cock-waving?

Well, actually, no, Mr. Showman. No, it isn't. Actually, Mr. Showman, cities have arrogated unto themselves the right to declare what buildings may and may not be constructed in them since, well, since that dope-smoking hippie punk Charles II and his rad-lib Yippie henchman Christopher Wren rebuilt London after a little fire they had there a few years ago. You know. Back when we still had an Enlightenment.

"Bunch of old liberals..." There's no hell hot enough for you, you fat sack of greasy shit. You blot. We are through being polite.


Linkmeister said...

I love this item: "built by a former George Washington University professor who later declared bankruptcy and decamped to Hawaii."

If that so-and-so thought he was going to a cheaper place to live and build, he was nuts. Our median price for a single-family home just hit a half-mil.

LA has been seeing this happen a lot; we haven't seen much if any of it in Honolulu, but then we've got a bunch of liberal Democrats at the City Council and in the State Legislature and have had since about 1952.

PixelWeasel said...

My professor of urban and regional economics, Ed Whitelaw, used to call the principle underlying this type of argument the Slam the Door Theory: I've got mine, and you're not getting in to get yours. One of my friends rails against the Microsoft millionaires who are tearing down houses in her neighborhood, and blocking her views with their mansions. She is ironically oblivious to the fact that her two-story house, built in the 1950s, towers over the 1920s bungalow next door, and must have elicited the exact same complaint in its day. It's too bad that the aboriginal inhabitants of Mr. Jingo's demesne didn't have better zoning laws, to keep his erection out of their neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I think neddie is absolutely bang on in this one, myself. Not because I care about big versus little so much, but because I'm scared at the increasing impermeable surface and the elimination of green space around houses.

I think your professor is full of it, pw. Here where I live, it isn't about getting mine and you not getting yours. Those that protest tend to be the lower and middle class people who have to find someplace to live that's within driving distance of work. You know, the work like nursing, teaching, garbage pickup that makes living in these great big houses sort of bearable.

Aunt Deb

Neddie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neddie said...

Oh, pish tosh, Pix. The sin being Jeremiaded here is GLUTTONY, not avarice. I have nothing (or at least not much) against people tearing down houses to erect new, more modern ones; my problem is with the wholesale destruction of any sense of SCALE, which is a direct result of people being unwilling to live with "enough" and judging themselves worthy of "way, way MORE than enough." Texas-shaped hot tubs, Pix. It's in the Post article.

What institutions these days encourage their adherents to live simply, at a human scale? Churches? Corporations? Political parties? Not bloody likely -- ever-increasing consumption drives the whole damned boat, and anyone who dares to suggest that's unwise or ugly is condemned as a raving pinko from Planet Gulag. So when Jabba the Hutt up there spits out the word "liberal" as if synonymous with "Pol Pot," I see red and wax ranty.

Are you saying that your two-story friend should shut her mouth about the MS Millionaires? She didn't build the '50s house, did she? Why's she have to suffer in silence, endure someone else's gluttony, when she's committed no sin?

And sure, it would be lots better if we were all dead -- think of the injustices that would resolve -- but the crack about the Indians is just a shade nihilistic, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Neddie, I just actually *looked* at that picture and started laughing in disbelief. What is with the windows?? The first floor ones have those weird little curvaceous shutters and the top ones are all serious farm-house foursquare. And that porch! Everything about that house is truly jaw-droppingly bizarre.

Aunt Deb

Neddie said...

>Everything about that house is
>truly jaw-droppingly bizarre.

Yeah, wouldn't you like to have been a fly on the wall when that owner and architect met? The owner demanding pillars in the front because that's what classy houses have, and the architect gently pointing out that that would block the garages, and the two of them compromising on just half the front getting the pillars, and then they start to discuss the height issue...