Alan Pisarski has a nice essay up over at the New Geography on the emptiness of the word “livability”:
Livability is one of those once innocuous words, like sustainability, that now receive almost unquestioned acceptance in the bureaucracy, academia and the media. After all, words like sustainability and livability have no acceptable negative form. Who could be in favor of anything unlivable, insensitive, unhealthy or unsustainable?
And my favorite line of the entire essay:
Well it turns out I was living the livable life style when I was growing up in Queens, New York in the fifties and didn’t know it. Here all along I just thought we were poor.
Go read it.
You can argue that the opposite of all these concepts is the Dread Pirate Roberts of our time, sprawl, but then we’d have to admit all these buzzy-words amount to same concept.
When I was reading this essay, I remembered an episode of Lipstick Jungle, where Brooke Shields’ superwoman character Wendy Healy decided that they would have a ‘locavore’ Thanksgiving. It’s a strange episode–by this time the writing on the show had started to circle the drain–but it was striking to me how Wendy is furious that her husband Shane (played by the immensely beautiful Paul Blackthorne) spends the day trying to help out one of his friends whose dog has died instead of with the family. I suppose we’re all supposed to be on Wendy’s side, but honestly: I get that people who don’t have pets don’t get the human-animal bond, but losing a animal is like losing a human friend; statistics show that among long-term pet owners, they are likely to keep a pet longer than the average person sustains close relationships with any non-family humans.
Anyway, regardless of whether you get it or whether you think a “dog is just a dog” and Thanksgiving should be “sacred family time” where you spend the day watching football with your kids (which you can do every Sunday) and tell your miserable friend to suck it up, helping out a friend in need on Thanksgiving is arguably a better, more morally justifiable position than playing the role of the dutiful husband to maintain appearances at your privilege-fest of locavore Manhattan.
I think we’re supposed to assume that the woman who is grieving for her dog is trying to suck Wendy’s husband into an affair, but I live in a world where I don’t fear my husband’s female friendships, even when there are emotions involved!
I know, I know. As one of my male friends explained to me the other day, old women like me tend to get threatened and catty when confronted with a PYT who is better than us. But on Thanksgiving I think it’s good form to relax on the hag/harpy/cat job assigned to us in the patriarchy.