Responsibility and climate refugees

I’m trying to fight my way out of a really bad depression. So this may not make a lot of sense.

I’d forgotten that I owed a blog post on climate change, and it’s one of those things that I regret saying yes to. I said yes because I like the person asking, without really reflecting on the problem that I don’t really know much about climate change other than I trust what people like Phil Berke and Deb Niemeier tell me about what we ought to do about it.

However, I do have some things to reflect on with environmental justice, accountability, and refugees. We’ve been confronted this week with families split at the US-Mexico border, and it is sickening. At the risk of being a scold, we should probably, along with our renewed outrage, remember that the state routinely breaks up families via the prison system and “family services.” It would be nice if the people organizing the women’s march would turn their attention here.

The thread that ties climate, DACA, Syria, and Central American refugees together is US power and our refusal to live with the consequences of our exercises of power. Last year in my classes on social welfare and social justice, I used DACA/DREAMERS as an exemplar of our failures in accountability and the moral problems those present, but the logic is equally applicable to Syrian and Central American refugees, and those who will be displaced by our contributions to and nonresponse to climate change.

At the time, I made an argument–and I still think it’s valid–that DREAMERS deserve special moral concern in policy ethics because they, as a class, exist because of policy. I get the critiques: that Dreamers are an appealing group of migrants, and that appeal of American integration, etc. privileges them already. Yes, we should respect the human rights of all migrants, and regular readers know I am of the “if capital can move across borders, why can’t workers” camp on migration. All that said, DREAMERs exist because of bad policy formulation, and bad policy formation should be disciplined by our ethics and willingness to assume democratic responsibility–in Iris Marion Young’s usage of the word. Power and responsibility have to be key democratic practices and virtues, instead of what the US typically does: creates policy that harms subgroups and benefits either elites or majorities, and then washes its hands of the consequences.

That is unacceptable, for many reasons. First off, taking in refugees as a matter of simple humanitarianism sounds like a more generous proposition than taking refugees because of our responsibility, and the former is kind and all that. Bbut altruism has limits, as our current wave of xenophobia and nationalism suggests. What is worse, altruism in this case obscures the relationship between power and accountability.

That problem replicates. Americans are provincial, willfully; few people you stop on the street are likely to be able to locate Syria on a map, talk about how a devastated Syria is strategically useful to for the Israelis, or how our activities in Afghanistan since forever have contributed to the elevation of ISIS. I strongly suspect that the response to any question about whether America should admit Syrians will come down to assessments of desert, both liberal (“they are human beings, we should care”) and conservative (“only once they have been thoroughly vetted, if at all) , rather than assessments of US culpability.

It is virtually impossible for me to cite an example where US policy culpability is more obvious than for the Dreamers. Yes, you can say, as many do, that their parents are culpable for entering the US illegally. But the people in question were children, guilty only of being with their families. We also then passed a policy that made it impossible for these children to apply for citizenship later. Policy created them as a class of migrants, and yet Americans still seem incapable of accepting responsibility for these policy decisions and making things right.

Responsibility for accepting and accommodating climate refugees looks like a pretty unrealistic proposition here in a country that has refused to acknowledge climate change as a problem, let alone govern itself with that reality in mind. The treaties and agreements governing how refugees are to be treated* were written for refugees seeking asylum from violent conflict. As a result, implicit in much refugee policy is that a) host countries are being altruistic instead of accountable, and b) a refugee might be able to return home once things have settled down. For climate refugees, home is unlikely to be habitable without large investments in adaption or at all, and they are likely to be perceived as being victims of unfortunate natural disasters rather than victims of a systematic failure in governance.

*in theory; these rules are flouted pretty regularly as they are unfunded mandates and voluntary agreements).

Could we also can it with the “virtue signaling” call-outs in housing , please?

So I have noticed one of the trends in debates, particularly about housing since that’s all I hear about anymore*, have become riddled with assumptions about everybody else’s “bad faith” arguments.

Yes, it is possible that people argue in bad faith.

It also possible they just don’t agree with your ideas, either positively (about what will happen in the future if we implement a policy) or normatively (about whether what we think will happen is normatively good, or will normatively have benefits that outweigh the costs.) The idea that people who disagree with you are making a bad faith arguments strikes me is lazy argumentation, a form of ad hominem.

Of course, these problems are all over any debate, from assumptions that one knows what will happen in the future. Don’t even at me with this. My entire profession lives in this future knowledge space, and we are full of smartest urbanists who promote the idea “if we do this, this will happen and this will happen and this will happen and hooray us!” Then only part of any of it happens, but it’s not planners’ fault because…overpromising is democratic politics and the ass-kicking complexity of real-world contexts makes fools of us all (including economists).

“Virtue signaling” is, as far as I can tell, the right-y version of “performative wokeness” (the lefty version). These call-out are simple dust-raising, and I’m tired of reading them. Look, people, you are reading attempts to influence on social media. It’s all performative. But worse than that, virtue is always signaled. Wokeness is always performed. Why? Because all social behavior, including all normative claims and moral behavior, are social. Since “being woke” is a virtue, let’s just collapse everything into virtue discussions.

Virtue is meant to be displayed in social contexts. Yes, we all love the billionaire who quietly gives to charity instead of tooting his own horn or using it as yet another self-branding exercise.**

But…virtue is demonstrated socially for a whole bunch of highly functional reasons. We all take social signals from peers, we learn what groups and societies expect from us via social behavior, role models, praise for role models’ virtue, etc. It’s not like we have secret athletic events where nobody is allowed to watch, or ever learn, who won the gold medal. How are other wealthy people supposed to give to charity if they don’t see others doing so? And all the hush-hush around giving creates information asymmetries that allow free-riding.

As with many issues, whether virtue is undertaken for strategic, self-interested reasons or truly altruistic reasons, poses an information problem. Some twitter jerk, for instance, accused me of performative wokeness, and one of my students replied; the former can take cheap shots because they live far away and know only the blog and a social media presence. The student knows me and–at the risk of virtue signaling–knows what I stand and fight for on campus and off, how, and why.

As with other ad hominem, making a bad faith argument doesn’t mean a person has made an objectively bad argument. Deal with the argument, let the other people worry about their souls.

*My husband gave me his phone to take to work when I lost mine in the house somewhere and I thoughtlessly flipped open his Fboo…and it’s all math, history, and cute animal pictures. Mine is all housing politics, Donald Trump, animal torture cases, and other depressing stuff. I am clearly doing Fboo wrong.

**I could do with fewer buildings named after rich people and corporations and more that retain names for people who showed other virtues than good business sense. Moderation in everything, except moderation.

In defense of Rory’s unprofessionalism: stop listening to the noise and go back to work

So I am feeling a need for a palate cleanser in my head after last week’s frankly traumatic writing. So let’s talk, months too late, about the Gilmore Girls revival, which I finally watched. AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

SPOILERS AHEAD SPOILERS I SAY.

In addition to consuming the miniseries, I also consumed the volumes of criticism surrounding it, in particular the problems that many (including me) have with the show’s problems with race, body shaming, etc. Those were on full display: after all, those problems were there in the original show, too; they just weren’t perhaps as obvious.

In the revival, Rory is a mess, there is no other way to put it, and many writers have jumped all over it.

In the commentary I’ve read, however, even more ire has gone towards condemning Rory’s lack of professionalism on display. Here, the problems just keep coming. She thinks she has lined up a biography project of the feminist politico Naomi Shropshire (played brilliantly by Alex Kingston. Can I look like her? No? I have to be boring? FIIIIINE.) Rory had written a very well-received piece on Shropshire that got into one of the pillars of “Frack yah, ya made it” in US journalism: the New Yorker. She puts perhaps too many eggs in her basket based on this success. Doing a longer project with Shropshire is a problem because the woman is nuts and, perhaps worse, she is indecisive. “Let’s make it a children’s book,” Naomi suggests at one point. Anybody who does’t feel sorry for Rory at this point (hilarious though it is) has never done a research project.

Now I don’t know about you, but I have totally been there professionally: a position where you hit a home run, and then you think the next at-bat should be easier. And it’s not easier. It’s so not. If anything, it’s worse because more people are watching, the stakes are higher, and you’ve proven you can do it once. You should be able to do it again and again, right?

I’ve also had projects that couldn’t jell simply because every time I met with the client, they wanted something different. It’s madness, and it can happen to anybody.

Rory also makes terrible mistakes in two pitch meetings. She pushes to get herself a meeting at Vanity Fair, where she really doesn’t have any ideas. So instead of pitching, she picks up a project of theirs: profiling people who stand in line. It’s not inspiring, and she doesn’t have the fire in the gut she had when she was a kid at Chilton and could turn a story about new paving in the parking lot into an environmental elegy. She falls asleep interviewing a informant. She sleeps with another informant. She never finishes the story, squandering her chance to make an impression at Vanity Fair.

She also flubs a meeting with an upstart website named after its narcissistic young founder. This founder is a wheeler-dealer, mover-shaker type. She pursues Rory, flatters her, practically acts like Rory is her #1 priority. Rory, after the New Yorker piece, rather feels like this isn’t her gig; it’s too little-known, but then she gets desperate and takes the meeting, only to find that Young Upstart expects Rory to pitch something and sell herself–after months of being pursued. Rory is wrong-footed, and she blows it. And the Upstart blows her off. Worse, Rory starts an argument, cementing her bad impression.

Again, been there. There are tons of times in my career where I thought I was doing the other person a favor and where they thought they were doing me the favor, and I wound up on the wrong foot. Yes you should also show up everywhere in a professional context perfect and 100 percent ready to go. If you can manage that, you are probably too much of a winner in life to be wasting your time reading this blog.

More importantly, I think many, many creative people become…creatively dry. Becalmed. I certainly have, and that’s what I saw in these struggles more than a simple lack of professionalism. In the constant “what have you got for me now” demands of writing and journalism, content purveyors are like hungry baby birds never satiated. Content creators do run dry, at least at various moments, and they get tired.

Rory is a crossroads in the revival, and I have to say, I liked it very much. She is pushing 40. She’s had a lot handed to her in her early life. She came from wealth and privilege, and even if her mother did walk away from it, the wealth was always there to draw on when they wanted it. She was very, very pretty. She was bright and worked hard.

And at some point, none of those things guarantee that the home runs will keep happening as you meander towards middle age in a very, very competitive, star economy like contemporary journalism. She is feeling washed up, instead of what she is: tired and confused.

We don’t know what Jess is doing in the revival; I hope he’s still doing small-house publishing because once again, he proves to be a wonderful creative mentor, and effective creative mentors are really really hard to come by. He tells Rory to stop listening to the noise, stop worrying about whether she is a failure or not, and go back to work.

And she does. And then the ideas come.

It is very, very easy to get lost listening to the noise. Don’t blame yourself for getting lost in it. What matters is what you do when you do get lost and confused. I think some people give themselves over to it: somebody more interested in fame than doing meaningful work than Rory would have gladly done some cutesy, meaningless puff piece on people who wait in line. Sometimes, you do those pieces to keep the wolves off the door, and you just suck it up and do it. Too much of that, however, hollows you out. And one man’s meat: somebody else might have really had an insight on the line-waiters piece and really done something with it Rory couldn’t.

There is a strategic balance between taking care of business as a creative and taking care of your creative self. That balance differs for all of us, and you can very, very easily fall out of that balance. Having a creative life worth living, to me, means finding and occupying the balance that feels right, and it definitely means not beating yourself up when things get out of whack.

Tyndall is a symptom as well as a cause for why President Nikias should go , Mr. Caruso

The LA Times has another article on President Nikias this morning, and I guess I want to spend a little time connecting the dots for people who don’t understand why some of the faculty are asking President Nikias to step down. At our faculty meeting yesterday, I had a similar problem. One of my colleagues focussed on what did Nikias know when, and whether a health services CEO would be held accountable for predatory practitioner.

This seems to be what dominates the minds of some BoT, too.

Caruso said in a brief interview with Times columnist Steve Lopez that he was still trying collect all the facts regarding Tyndall.

“I need to understand what happened, why it was never fully reported and why his conduct was able to continue for so many years,” Caruso said. “I know enough to know I don’t have all that I need to know.”

I don’t know exactly what Caruso would need to know here in order for things to be clearer. We aren’t holding President Nikias responsible for all 25+ years of abuse conducting by one individual. We are holding him on the hook for the 13 years in which he was president and provost who possessed a top-down, imperious, “I don’t care how you get ‘er done just get ‘er done” attitude that left a bunch of us shouting into a void when we reported these things.

Everything you need to know about why the reports didn’t get to the top is right in the Times article:

The trustees came under criticism at a heated forum Wednesday that ended with the faculty senate voting to call on Nikias to resign. Some speakers said it seemed the Board of Trustees answered to Nikias instead of the other way around.

“The main problem is this institution does not have a Board of Trustees. Max has a Board of Trustees,” one faculty member said, to applause and cheers.

And:

Professor Gary Painter, who voted for Wednesday’s resolution as a senator for the Sol Price School of Public Policy, said the board and Nikias have become increasingly remote from faculty, students, staff members and others at the university.

“One of the issues the senate is grappling with is the fact that over the last decade or so there has been a greater and greater disconnect in governance between the president and the Board of Trustees and the rest of the university,” Painter said.

So I advise several student groups that have written letters to the Board of Trustees weighing in. They can’t figure where to send their ideas and concerns.

The Price faculty council penned a letter. We can’t figure out where to send it. Maybe we should have them send the letters to the LA Times?

And thus:

USC Provost Michael Quick said that the university’s senior leadership had not learned about the complaints against Tyndall until 2017. The university, in a secret deal last summer, allowed Tyndall to quietly resign with a financial payout.

Golly, our leaders just didn’t know. Of course they didn’t. In order to get their attention, the case had to involve a guy who got his jollies allegedly (cough) slicing young women with a scalpel and causing them pain during their pelvic exams.

Can you imagine just how toxic an environment can get for women and people of color when THAT GARBAGE takes THIRTEEN YEARS to get the attention of the people with power in an organization? Think about how much undermining, meanness, bullying, and abuse has gone unreported and undisciplined (and thus was encouraged) and ignored in that time.

If you need some more stories, I got ’em.

BTW, don’t tell me the President has a plan. The President has a plan that would further insulate him from the faculty. This is not the leadership we need.

Women’s crappy health care and meetings I shouldn’t have to attend

So manly men will likely read this piece and wonder “God, what does this woman want, anyway? She’s so emotional, that’s why women can’t be in charge.” (But guy who goes on a killing spree because a girl wasn’t nice to him, totally an outlier among men. Until, you know, tomorrow when another one goes to a school to shoot women, or today when a domestic abuser kills his wife or child in a temper tantrum.)

This story last night broke me. Trigger warning for survivors: it’s bad.

It occurred to me yesterday that one reason USC’s terrible health service provider went along predating on young women is, that along with institutional indifference, women’s care sucks, period (also due to institutional indifference). Women do not expect good treatment, at least not enough, at doctors. Our breasts are ogled and groped as well as smashed because “science.” You just can’t diagnose anything about our girlie parts without ramming stuff into them, and that stuff needs to be cold metal or the size of a toilet plunger. If men had pelvic exams, there would be an app for that by now.

So it is a little hard to tell the difference between abuse and care when it comes to women, but there is nothing “natural” about it even if examinations are vital, and in the case of USC’s sadistic doc, the abuse is obvious. I don’t know how his colleagues kept from running him down in the parking lot.

My heart is broken.

Abuse continues, all along the line. Every time we go through this at USC , my emotions come into a jumble as I remember all the crap I’ve experienced over the years.

I feel like USC for me has been an endless cycle of this stuff, with this revelation at student health the most egregious.

Yes, I am still awake because I am still pissed. This is my life, on endless repeat.

ME: hey, let’s object to and fix this sucky thing that USC just did to women.

USC: do you really know it’s sucky? After all, it mightn’t not be sucky? We’re Men You Know and We Men Know. Can you PROOOOOOVE it’s sucky? After all, we dudes don’t see anything sucky with it. Innocent until proooooven guilty you know. We can’t be bothered to change our norms so if you don’t have Matlock/Perry Mason levels of courtroom proof that you should be treated differently, we should ignore this problem and get mad at you for bringing it up.

Me: Oh, FFS. Maybe join the 1960s or so? I know the 2010s is a big leap, but maybe push yourself past the 40s?

USC: Watch your tone, be civil, bleh bleh bleh

Me: Growls and returns to my West Adams lair, blogs passive aggressively.

USC does something sucky towards women.

ME: hey, let’s object to and fix this sucky thing that USC just did to women.

USC: do you really know it’s sucky? Can you prove it’s sucky? After all, what about the men? They might break if they are told not to do stupid shit that is obviously, painfully unprofessional? The burden of proof is on you, you know? And how are you using your research time these days, young lady?

ME: Shakes fist at sky, returns to lair.

USC does something sucky towards women.

ME: don’t….just don’t….don’t…..

USC: Can you come to a meeting with fully all the dudes on the faculty that have prompted just about all the complaints you have (unjustly) fielded over the years to discuss this so that all the dudes driving everybody nuts can decide what ought to be done about all the dudes driving everybody nuts?

ME: ENDLESS SCREAMING

So now I am being called to a meeting with the dudes, even though I am on a 9 month contract and this time is meant to be mine.

If I do not go, I let women down. If I do go, I will have to listen to men neither trained nor empathetic enough to know why the gyno doctor isn’t an “isolated problem.” Given a choice between hitting my head against that wall more and having one of my toes cut off with a bolt cutter, I would need to ask which toe.

Misogyny is endless. Endless.

(3…2…1….cue Twitter comments like “oh, I think your point would be heard so much better if you moderated your tone. You don’t want to be shrill…endless…endless…endless.

An Open Letter to the #USC Board of Trustees on Believing Women

Dear Board:

In general, I have not commented at length about the individual cases, as I don’t have firsthand knowledge of them, nor have I examined evidence. You all seem to think this is about an incident or two, which is why you dismissed our heartfelt plea with “Give Nikias a chance to fix it.” After all, he chucked a plan at us yesterday.

As a planning professor, I love plans. And yes, there are some good things in that plan, but take it from me, who as practitioner saw many a plan made only to die on the vine: plans to create more just conditions are only useful when those with power are committed to the well-being of people they lead.

This is not a commitment that President Nikias has ever espoused as a leader. He has been focussed externally. He has emphasized rankings, winning, status, and more winning. That was exciting and effective while we were building, but we should see now that it had a dark side to it, too.

Its dark side is that sexual abuse was beneath the gaze of those in power at USC. President Nikias and you on the BoT seem to think that abusing women on campus can be fixed with a few tweaks here and there. I can’t blame you: one of my own colleagues likened the abuse of women at USC to “fixing a pothole” in a the LA Times yesterday. Really? Sexual abuse is like a pothole? The ignorance on display is staggering.

What has happened at USC is not a series of a few, isolated, unfortunate events, like potholes. These disclosures are a disaster, more on par with Hurricane Katrina, and I doubt we have reached high tide yet.

I was in a meeting with funders yesterday. Guess what they wanted to talk about? Not my project, that’s for sure. I am fielding question after question from students who had been thrilled to be admitted here and now regret turning down UCLA or Berkeley to come here. As a faculty member, my job serving students and doing funded research becomes nigh on impossible as long as we have scandal after scandal after scandal. As a donor, albeit not an important one, I don’t want my money feeding lawsuits and gropers instead of students.

At USC, I myself have experienced firsthand what can only be described as an environment uniquely toxic towards women. While misogyny is everywhere, my experiences with gender discrimination at USC have been especially bad.

I have tried to serve as an advocate, buffer, and oasis for students and nontenured colleagues and staff in that mess.

When I appealed to authority, I was told to ignore it. I was told junior faculty are to be seen and not heard.

Year after year, I cajoled. I educated. I fought. I was scolded for my “tone” and to be “civil” when my frustration with bad treatment of female graduate students boiled over.

I got very, very tired.

I shouldn’t be spending my time on this when we want to be the best university in the world.

My story is one of dozens I have heard over the years, and it is certainly not the most egregious. We have not hit bottom yet, I suspect, with what is g oing to come out in the media.

So for all the protesting from these administrators they “knew nothing” about this or that, it’s because they chose to know nothing about the problems of the people they led. The organizational structure at USC ensures they will hear nothing.

When that’s the environment you create, the only recourse desperate and abused employees have is to go to the LA Times.

USC requires another transformation at this point. Can President Nikias do it? I admire President Nikias tremendously. He has been a bold, audacious, and effective leader on multiple fronts during his tenure. He is a remarkable scholar in his own right.

But I don’t think he has the skills and mindset for this particular institutional challenge. President Nikias has never espoused an interest in the inner workings of the university he’s represented. He has excelled at external relations. He’s instructed his deans to spend their time on external relations. He likes to mix it up with the wealthy and famous, and he’s done all of these things in service of enriching the institution. I understand and appreciate that.

Many, many leaders are suited for one challenge and not another. There is no shame in this, not really, if the result is greater growth. Personal loyalties notwithstanding, we need a president who thinks about employees and students now, not just their successes, but their struggles here, too. I agonized over signing the letter to you yesterday because I love USC, and I do not want to be disloyal. Protecting a president is not the same as protecting the institution, and our goal, including his, should be the latter.

Los Angeles, gondola talk, and Sophronia

Ok, this is going to be one of those somewhat contrarian posts that whiners attribute to trolling, but I assure you, I am sincere.

I suppose the gondola idea has gotten sufficiently mocked that I probably shouldn’t bring it up again, but I want to talk about fun transit and Los Angeles. For those of you blessed enough to not be in Los Angeles’ urban political soup, the idea came from former Dodgers owners to create a airborne gondola from Union Station to Dodgers stadium. It’s a bad idea for mobility: Gondolas, funiculars, sky rides–all these things are pretty low capacity, and stadia events all have terrible peaking problems where lots of people leaving at the same time clog up systems around the stadium. A gondola would be a mess. Anybody who has ever been on BART after an A’s game cheek-by-jowl can attest to the problem.

Andy and I are going to see the Dodgers tonight, and we’re driving…in our convertible Beetle. That car is so fun to ride in, it’s not even funny.

And that’s what I want to talk about. Los Angeles has the tendency to be…no fun…except for cars. And transit riders deserve some fun, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve bus surfed, sliding down the center aisle of a bus, when I was young. I still sit in the bendy bit of the extended buses so I can slide around with the little kids also enjoying the bumps and slides. Walking is often fun, and biking is terribly fun, but both are more fun when one doesn’t have to fear getting squished by a car.

A gondola going *somewhere* in LA could be a gorgeous experience. It’s impossible to take in all of LA from any view, but I’d hazard the very best view of LA is on Mulholland Drive. So to see the city from anything other then ground level, you have to drive, or take an airplane. Again, don’t get me wrong: there are some great views of LA from the Getty, from the Griffith Observatory, from Baldwin Hills, from Mt. Lee, etc. But those require you to be able-bodied, save for the Getty and Griffith, and except for Baldwin Hills, all those show you one part of LA–mostly the north and west sides.

East LA is really, really lovely, especially in the morning light, and the only place I can think of to see it is from the top of the City Hall (did you know there is an observation deck there?) And you won’t see it at dawn. Are there other East and South LA vistas I’ve missed? Let me know.

My point is that streetcars and gondolas are often treats more than workhorse systems, and expensive treats, I grant. My students are much harder on all these things than I am, and I think part of that is a somewhat Puritanical approach to planning for transit in LA. I suppose they are right: the “thou shan’t have any gondolas until you have completed a world-class commuter rail system” approach, ie “No desert until you have eaten your broccoli.” (yech) People can be so serious and scolding about cities, especially about whimsical things or cute things, when we face so many real problems, like traffic deaths and homelessness, that need to be solved.

But I guess I think that smiling and fun in cities are terribly important; what’s the point of saving lives if those lives are meant to be lived at work, in uniforms, the everyday? Why can’t the everyday be delightful? (Again, I often find delight on bus, but … it’s not inherent to the experience.)

Which brings me to one of the most insightful (to me) parts of Calvino’s Invisible Cities: Sophronia. All of Calvino’s cities are named after women (that’s interesting in and of itself), and Sophronia is no different. Dictionary.com reports that Sophronia as a name”:

fem. proper name, from Greek sophronia, from sophron (genitive sophronos) “discreet, prudent, sensible, having control over sensual desires, moderate, chaste,” literally “of sound mind,” from sos “safe, sound, whole” + phren “midriff, heart, mind”

Discreet, prudent, sensible. Calvino’s Sophronia is made up of two halves. One half is a carnival, with a circus, rides, and delights. The other half is full of banks, clocks, and regimentation. Calvino’s narrator, Marco Polo, tell us:

One of the half-cities is permanent, the other is temporary, and when the period of its sojourn is over, they uproot it, dismantle it, and take it off, transplanting it to the vacant lots of another half-city.

But Calvino always make you think, and the city that stays is the carnival, not the workaday city. Instead, the later is pulled up, concrete and all, and goes off to travel, only to return a year later.

What a city that would be. It reminds me of Gordon Lightfoot and his Pony Man, whose ponies live on candy apples instead of oats and hay.