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On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tenseby David Brooks
Chapter One: Out for a Drive
So let's get in the minivan. We will start downtown in an urban hipster zone; then we'll cross the city boundary and find ourselves in a progressive suburb dominated by urban exiles who consider themselves city folks at heart but moved out to suburbia because they needed more space. Then, cruising along tree-lined avenues, we'll head into the affluent inner-ring suburbs, those established old-line communities with doctors, lawyers, executives, and Brooks Brothers outlets. Then we'll stumble farther out into the semi-residential, semi-industrial zones, home of the immigrants who service all those upper-middle-class doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Then we'll go into the heart of suburbia, the mid-ring, middle-class split-level and ranch-home suburbs, with their carports, driveway basketball hoops, and seasonal banners over the front doors. Finally, we'll venture out into the new exurbs, with their big-box malls, their herds of SUVs, and their exit-ramp office parks.
We could pick any sort of urban neighborhood to start our trek, but just for interest's sake, let's start at one of those hip bohemian neighborhoods, such as the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the U Street corridor in Washington, Clarksville in Austin, Silverlake in L.A., Little Five Points in Atlanta, Pioneer Square in Seattle, or Wicker Park in Chicago, where the free alternative weeklies are stacked in the entry vestibules of the coffeehouses, galleries, and indie film centers. As you know, the alternative weekly is the most conservative form of American journalism. You can go to just about any big city in the land and be pretty sure that the alternative weekly you find there will look exactly like the alternative weekly in the city you just left. There are the same concentrations of futon ads, enlightened-vibrator-store ads, highly attitudinal film reviewers, scathingly left-wing political opinions, borderline psychotic personals, "News of the Weird" columns, investigative exposés of evil landlords, avant-garde comic strips, and white-on-black rock venue schedules announcing dates by local bands with carefully grating names like Crank Shaft, Gutbucket, Wumpscut, and The Dismemberment Plan.
You look at the pictures of the rockers near the concert reviews, and they have the same slouchy, hands-in-the-jeans pose that Roger Daltrey and Mick Jagger adopted forty years ago, because nothing ever changes in the land of the rebels.
If you walk around the downtown neighborhoods, you're likely to find a stimulating mixture of low sexuality and high social concern. You'll see penis-shaft party cakes in a storefront right next to the holistic antiglobalization cooperative thrift store plastered with "Free Tibet" posters. You'll see vegan whole-grain enthusiasts who smoke Camels, and advertising copywriters on their way to LSAT prep. You'll see transgendered tenants-rights activists with spiky Finnish hairstyles, heading from their Far Eastern aromatherapy sessions to loft-renovation seminars.
In these downtown urban neighborhoods, many people carry big strap-over-the-shoulder satchels; although they may be architectural assistants and audio engineers, they want you to think they are really bike messengers. They congregate at African bistros where El Salvadoran servers wearing Palestinian kaffiyehs serve Virginia Woolf wannabes Slovakian beer.
Many of the people on these blocks have dreadlock envy. Their compensatory follicle statement might be the pubic divot, that little triangular patch of hair some men let grow on their chins, or the Jewfro, the bushy hairstyle that curly-haired Jewish men get when they let their locks grow out. Other people establish their alternative identity with NoLogo brand sportswear, kitschier-than-thou home furnishings, thrift-shop fashionista sundresses, conspicuously articulated po-mo social theories, or ostentatious displays of Martin Amis novels.
The point is to carefully nurture your art-school pretensions while still having a surprising amount of fun and possibly even making a big load of money. It is not easy to do this while remaining hip, because one is likely to find that a friend has gone terminally Lilith (denoting an excessive love of sappy feminist folk music) while others have taken their minimalist retro-modern interior-design concepts to unacceptable extremes, failing to realize that no matter how interesting a statement it makes, nobody wants to lounge around a living room that looks like a Formica gulag.
Downtown urban hipsters tend to have edgy alternative politics, or at least some Bennington College intellectual pretensions, and probably the New Yorker's disease — meaning that anything you might tell them, they already heard two weeks ago. You could walk up and tell them that the Messiah just came down from heaven and tapped you on the shoulder, and they would yawn and say they've been expecting that since last spring. But they are cool, and their neighborhoods are cool, and that counts for a lot.
We sort of take coolness for granted because it is so much around us. However, coolness is one of those pervasive and revolutionary constructs that America exports around the globe. Coolness is a magical state of grace, and as we take our drive through America, we will see that people congregate into communities not so much on the basis of class but on the basis of what ideal state they aspire to, and each ideal state creates its own cultural climate zone.
In the hippoisie cool zone, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Lester Young, Billie Holliday, Jack Kerouac, James Dean, the Rat Pack, William Burroughs, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed never go out of style. Coolness is a displayed indifference to traditional measures of success. The cool person pretends not to be striving. He or she seems to be content, ironically detached from the normal status codes, and living on a rebellious plane high above them.
In the cool zone's nightclubs, you find people dressed and posed like slightly over-the-hill gay porn stars. You find that at the tippy-top of the status ladder, there are no lawyers, professors, or corporate executives but elite personal trainers, cutting-edge hairstylists, and powerful publicists: the aristocracy of the extremely shallow. Late at night in these neighborhoods, you find the Ameritrash, the club-happy, E-popping, pacifier-sucking people who live in a world of gold teeth caps, colorful scarfwear, body-conscious tailoring, ironic clip-on ties, gender-bending neo-vintage Boy George-inspired handbags, and green-apple flirtinis, which are alcoholic beverages so strong they qualify as a form of foreplay. In the cool zone, people are always hugging each other in the super-friendly European manner and talking knowledgeably about Cuban film festivals. People in the cool zone pretend to be unambitious and uninterested in the great uncool mass of middle Americans, but they are well aware of being powerful by example. Drawn by images of coolness, young people in different lands across the globe strive to throw off centuries of rigid convention in order to wear blue jeans.
Highly pierced social critics in downtown neighborhoods lament the spread of McDonald's and Disney and the threat of American cultural imperialism. But in fact, American countercultural imperialism — the spread of rock and rap attitudes, tattoos, piercing, and the youth culture — has always been at least as powerful and destabilizing a force for other cultures. It vibrates out from these urban-hipster zones, with their multicultural Caribbean Schawarma eateries, their all-night dance clubs with big-name DJs, and their Ian Schrager hotels, which are so Zen that if you turn on the water in one of the highly hip but shallow bathroom sinks, it bounces a cascade of water all over the front of your pants, making you look like you just wet yourself because you were so awed by your own persona.
Cities, which were once industrial zones and even manufacturing centers, have become specialty regions for the production of cool. Culture-based industries that require legions of sophisticated, creative, and stimulated workers — the sort of people who like to live in cities — have grown and grown. In hip urban neighborhoods, there are few kids, and those who are there are generally quite young (when the kids hit middle school, their families magically disappear).
Surrounding these hip young urban areas are neighborhoods with plenty of kids, but they tend to be disproportionately populated with poor people and members of minority and immigrant groups. They carry their own brand of cool. In fact, they define cool, but with few exceptions, they never get to cash in on it. So they are often trapped in no- or low-income jobs, because it's very hard to go from being a high school grad to being a senior editor at Details, no matter how objectively with-it you are, and most of the other jobs have fled the cities or disappeared.
Cities have made a comeback of late, because the world demands cool products and ideas, but as Joel Kotkin concludes in The New Geography, they will not come back and be, as they once were, the main arenas of national life. "Rather than recovering their place as the geographic centers of the entire economy," Kotkin writes, "city centers are readjusting themselves to a more modest but sustainable role based on the same economic and cultural niches that have been performed by the core from the beginning of civilization" — as generation centers of art, design, publishing, entertainment, and cool.
From the cool zone, we drive out of town, just across the city line, to the crunchy zone. Here one finds starter suburbs populated by people who regard themselves as countercultural urbanites, but now they have kids, so the energy that once went into sex and raving now goes into salads. They need suburban space so their kids have a place to play, but they still want enough panhandlers and check-cashing places nearby so they can feel urban and gritty.
Dotted around most cities — especially in the northern rim of the country, through Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Washington — there are one or two crunchy suburbs that declared themselves nuclear-free zones during the cold war, although some would argue that the military-industrial complex was not overly inconvenienced by being unable to base ICBM launch sites in Takoma Park, Maryland. You can tell you are in a crunchy suburb by the sudden profusion of meat-free food co-ops, the boys with names like Mandela and Milo running around the all-wood playgrounds, the herbal-soapmaking cooperatives, pottery galleries, dance collectives, and middle-aged sandal wearers (people with progressive politics have this strange penchant for toe exhibitionism).
You have to remember that crunchy suburbs are the stoner versions of regular suburbs. All the status codes are reversed. So in a crunchy suburb, all the sports teams are really bad, except those involving Frisbees. The parking spaces are occupied by automobiles in need of psychotherapy because they are filled with self-hatred and wish they were Danish wood-burning stoves. The locals sit around on the weekends listening to Click and Clack, the self-amused NPR car-repair gurus who tell other crunchy-suburb people how to repair a crank shaft on their 1982 Honda Civic — the one with 285,000 miles and a Darwin fish on the bumper, next to the sticker attesting to the driver's tendency to practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.
The true sign that you are in a crunchy suburb is when you come across an anti-lawn. Crunchy-suburb people subtly compete to prove that they have the worst lawn in the neighborhood, just to show how fervently they reject the soul-destroying standards of conventional success.
An anti-lawn looks like a regular lawn with an eating disorder. Some are bare patches of compacted brown dirt with sickly stray pieces of green matter poking out, the vegetation version of Yasser Arafat's face. Other anti-lawns burst forth with great symphonies of onion grass, vast spreads of dandelions and crabgrass, expanding waves of depressed ivies and melancholy ferns — such an impressive array of weed life uninterrupted by any trace of actual grass that you can only conclude some progressive agribusiness makes a soy-based weed enhancer/grass suppressant, with special discounts for Nader voters.
When you are in these neighborhoods — maybe you've been invited over for a backyard stir-fry — you might want to ask for terrible lawn-care secrets, but you get distracted by the housepaint issue, which is another moral dilemma for crunchy-suburb residents. Painting your house exterior colonial white or production-home beige would, in these areas, be the moral equivalent of putting a National Rifle Association sign in the front yard. So crunchy-suburb residents again fall into two categories, starting with those who choose to paint their house every decade or so, but do so in such bright New Age colors — lavender, cobalt blue, fuchsia, or purple haze — that no one can possibly doubt the Buddhist bona fides of the people who live inside.
The other camp regards exterior housepaint in the same way they regard makeup, as something that was probably developed using animal testing. Centuries go by without any fresh coats, and the run-down drabness of the exteriors is highlighted only by the peace signs made out of Christmas lights that pop up around holiday time. The roofs in these homes tend to undulate in great waves and warps, because the residents either cannot afford roof repair or reject the rigid uniformity of straight lines, unchipped shingles, and the whole symmetry thing. The front porches are rusted and cracked, buried under sedimentary deposits of former lawn furniture picked up from neighborhood thrift shops (crunchy-suburb residents are not really into material things, but strangely, they still can't manage to throw anything away). The settlement in these homes is such that if you put a marble in the middle of a living room here, it would pick up so much speed as it rolled downhill that it would bore into the philosophically named housecat if she happened to be standing in its path.
The nice thing about these crunchy suburbs — aside from the fact that 96 percent of all children's book illustrators live in them — is that their residents are so relaxed. The ethos is almost excessively casual. While these folks might regard it as unusual to show up for a dinner party in anything other than black jeans and Birkenstocks, a suit and tie not made from hemp won't bend them out of shape. In other words, you may not really be part of their culture, but if you come to one of their towns, they will still welcome you. They may have little direct knowledge of anything that happens outside the nonprofit sector, but they tend to be genuinely warm toward new people. Tolerance is practically their profession. The cool zone is built on exclusion and one-upmanship, but the crunchy zone is built on inclusion and open-mindedness.
To their credit, the crunchy zones represent the last bastions of anticommercialism. The world used to be dotted with cultures that rejected the marketplace mentality. There were agrarians, old-family aristocrats, artsy bohemians, southern cavaliers, Marxists, Maoists, monks, and hoboes. But now the marketplace has co-opted or overrun each of those subcultures. Now, if you want to live an anticommercial lifestyle, or even a pseudo-anticommercial lifestyle, crunchiness is just about your only mode.
Amid the organic cauliflower stands and Moosewood Cookbook-inspired dinner parties, you'll find people suspicious of technological progress, efficiency, mass culture, and ever-rising affluence. The crunchies don't let their kids watch much TV, they disdain shopping malls, they prefer the small and the local and the particular and the old to the powerful and the modern. In any normal political taxonomy, they would be called conservative; though they are progressive on civil rights and social issues, they shelter the idiosyncratic, ethnic, and traditional institutions from the onrush of technology, homogenization, efficiency, and progress. But in the U.S., political orientations are defined by one's attitude to the free market, and the word "conservative" has been assigned to those who defend the free market, which of course is not a conservative institution. So crunchy towns tend to be associated with the left (though Rod Dreher of National Review has emerged as the champion of the Crunchy Cons — the pro-life vegetarian high-church Catholics who can their own preserves, care too much about zucchini, home-school their kids, and read Edmund Burke while wearing Swedish clogs).
Crunchy people also tend not to have a lot of money, and some of them actually don't care about it — they aren't merely pretending they don't care. Maybe you wouldn't want to spend your life in towns where half the men look like Allen Ginsberg, where the chief dilemma is whether to send the kids to Antioch or Hampshire College, or where Celtic folk/bluegrass songs intersperse with Phish anthems on the teahouse sound systems, but it is kind of interesting to be in a place in which the holy dollar has lost its divinity.
As we drive farther, we begin to notice that the houses are getting bigger, the lawns look professionally manicured, and the driveways tend to be filled with Audis, Volvos, and Saabs. In these upscale neighborhoods, it is apparently socially acceptable to buy a luxury car so long as it comes from a country that is hostile to U.S. foreign policy. Soon you begin to see discount but morally elevated supermarkets such as Trader Joe's. Here you can get your Spinoza Bagels (for people whose lives peaked in graduate school), fennel-flavored myrrh toothpaste from Tom's of Maine, free-range chicken broth, gluten-free challah, spelt-based throat lozenges, and bread from farms with no-tillage soil. (What, does the dirt turn itself over?)
Trader Joe's is for people who wouldn't dream of buying an avocado salad that didn't take a position on offshore drilling or a whey-based protein bar that wasn't fully committed to campaign finance reform. Someday, somebody should build a right-wing Trader Joe's, with faith-based chewing tobacco, rice pilaf grown by school-voucher-funded Mormon agricultural academies, and a meat section that's a bowl of cartridges and a sign reading "Go ahead, kill it yourself." But in the meantime, we will have to make do with the ethos of social concern that prevails at places like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
You get the impression that everybody associated with Trader Joe's is excessively good — that every cashier is on temporary furlough from Amnesty International, that the chipotle-pepper hummus was mixed by pluralistic Muslims committed to equal rights for women, that the Irish soda bread was baked by indigenous U2 groupies marching in Belfast for Protestant-Catholic reconciliation, and that the olive spread was prepared by idealistic Athenians who are reaching out to the Turks on the whole matter of Cyprus.
The folks at Trader Joe's also confront higher moral problems, such as snacks. Everyone knows that snack food is morally suspect, since it contributes to the obesity of the American public, but the clientele still seems to want it. So the folks behind this enterprise have managed to come up with globally concerned stomach filler that tastes virtuously like sawdust ground from unendangered wood. For kids who come home from school screaming, "Mom, I want a snack that will prevent colo-rectal cancer," there's Veggie Booty with kale, baked pea-pod chips, roasted plantains, wasabi peas, and flavor-free rice clusters. If you smuggled a bag of Doritos into Trader Joe's, some preservative alarm would go off, and the whole place would have to be fumigated and resanctified.
You usually don't have to wander far from a Trader Joe's before you find yourself in bistroville. These are inner-ring restaurant-packed suburban town centers that have performed the neat trick of being clearly suburban while still making it nearly impossible to park. In these new urbanist zones, highly affluent professionals emerge from their recently renovated lawyer foyers on Friday and Saturday nights, hoping to show off their discerning taste in olive oils. They want sidewalks, stores with overpriced French children's clothes to browse in after dinner, six-dollar-a-cone ice-cream vendors, and plenty of restaurants. They don't want suburban formula restaurants. They want places where they can offer disquisitions on the reliability of the risotto, where the predinner complimentary bread slices look like they were baked by Burgundian monks, and where they can top off their dinner with a self-righteous carrot smoothie.
The rule in these pedestrian-friendly town centers is "Fight a war, gain a restaurant." You'll find Afghan eateries, Vietnamese restaurants, Lebanese diners, Japanese sushi bars alongside dining options from Haiti, Cambodia, India, Mongolia, and Moscow. And this is not to even mention the Cosi-style casual dining spots offering shiitake mushroom panini sandwiches or the gourmet pizzerias serving artichoke, prosciutto, and brie pizzas (which can also come with a black-bean topping). When you stumble across Teriyaki Fajita Salad du Jardin, you realize it is possible to cram so many authentic indigenous cultures together that they've created something totally bogus and artificial.
Ozzie and Harriet would find it odd that their old suburban town center now has a vegan restaurant for feminist reproductive-rights activists and their support circles, but these inner-ring suburbs are sophisticated places. They are the home of the upscale urban exiles — affluent sophisticated types who disapprove of the suburbs in principle but find themselves living in one in practice. Like the crunchy suburbanites, they disapprove of the sterility of suburban life, the split-level subdivisions, the billiard rooms, and the blueberry bagels. But unlike the crunchy suburbanites, these inner-ring people just happen to have landed jobs that earn them a quarter million dollars a year, darn it, and they somehow moved into recently renovated Arts and Crafts mansions with an Olympic-sized Jacuzzi in the master-bathroom spa, the emblem of their great sellout.
The people who live in the inner-ring suburbs are hard-core meritocrats and the chief beneficiaries of the information age. This economy showers money down upon education, so the fine young achievers who went to graduate school and got jobs as litigators and mortgage-company executives can now live in towns that are close to downtown theaters and concert halls but also filled with houses big enough to support a kitchen the size of Arkansas. About 15 percent of American households now earn over $100,000 a year. There are over seven million households with a net worth over $1 million. This nation, in other words, now possesses a mass upper class, and many of these folks are congregating in the upscale archipelago of such places as Bethesda, Maryland; Greenwich, Connecticut; Tarrytown, New York; Villanova, Pennsylvania; Winnetka, Illinois; San Mateo and Santa Monica, California; Austin, Texas; Shaker Heights, Ohio; and the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina. In the mornings, there are so many blue New York Times delivery bags in the driveways of these towns, they are visible from space.
Back when the old WASP elite dominated these places, they were rock-ribbed Republican. But the new educated elite has brought new values and new voting patterns. In 1998 National Journal studied the voting patterns of the richest 261 towns in America and discovered that the Democratic share of the vote had risen in each of the previous five elections. In 2000 the Democrats went over the top. A Democratic presidential candidate carried the area around the Main Line, outside of Philadelphia, for the first time in history. And the first Democrat ever won the area around New Trier High School, north of Chicago. Once Republican strongholds, the inner-ring suburbs have become Democratic zones, thanks to the influx of the educated and affluent cultural elite, with their graduate degrees, high incomes, and liberal social values.
These places have their good and bad features. On the downside, they are strangely insular. Though the people here are in most ways well informed, and often can name the foreign minister of France, they tend to live in neighborhoods where everybody has a college degree (only about a quarter of adult Americans do), and they often don't know much about the rest of the country. They might not know who Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are, even though these men are among the nation's best-selling authors, with over fifty million books sold. They often don't know what makes a Pentecostal a Pentecostal, even though Pentecostalism is the most successful social movement of the twentieth century, starting in Los Angeles with no members a hundred years ago and growing so fast there are now roughly four hundred million Pentecostals worldwide. They can't name five NASCAR drivers, though stock-car races are the best-attended sporting events in the country. They can't tell a military officer's rank by looking at his insignia. They may not know what soy beans look like growing in the field. Sometimes they can't even tell you what happens in Branson, Missouri, though, as sort of the country music Vegas, it is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. On the other hand, they are really good at building attractive and interesting places to live. This is, after all, the red-hot center of the achievement ethos, and while few people in these neighborhoods have fought in wars, many have endured extensive home renovations.
So if you are in an inner-ring suburb, you are likely to be amid people who have developed views on beveled granite, and no inner-ring dinner party has gone all the way to dessert without a serious conversational phase on the merits and demerits of Corian countertops. People here talk about their relationships with architects the way they used to talk about their priests, rabbis, and ministers. Bathroom tile is their cocaine; instead of blowing their life savings on narcotic white powder, they blow it on the handcrafted Italian wall covering they saw at Waterworks.
The sumptuary codes in these neighborhoods are always shifting. Highly educated folk don't want to look materialistic and vulgar, but on the other hand, it would be nice to have an in-house theater with a fourteen-foot high-definition projection screen to better appreciate the interviews on Charlie Rose. Eventually these advanced-degree moguls cave in and buy the toys they really want: the heated bathroom floors to protect their bare feet, the power showers with nozzles every six inches, the mudrooms the size of your first apartment, the sixteen-foot refrigerators with the through-the-door goat cheese and guacamole delivery systems, the cathedral ceilings in the master bedroom that seem to be compensation for not quite getting to church. Later, when they show off to you, they do so in an apologetic manner, as if some other family member forced them to make the purchase.
Inner-ring people work so arduously at perfecting their homes because they dream of building a haven where they can relax, lay aside all that striving, and just cocoon. They have deep simplicity longings, visions of having enough money and space so they can finally rest. Yet you know they are wired for hard work, because they feel compelled to put offices in every room in the house. Mom has an office in the kitchen, Dad has an office off the bedroom, the kids have computer centers near the family room, and it's only a matter of time before builders start installing high-speed Internet access in bathrooms. That dream of perfect serenity and domestic bliss will just have to be transferred to the vacation home.
Inner-ring people tend to have omnivorous musical tastes. They're interested in zydeco and that Louisiana dance music they heard on Fresh Air, even if they do tend to drift back to Melissa Etheridge and Lyle Lovett. They prefer independent bookstores, and they bend down and read the recommendations in the staff-picks section. That's how they stumbled across Anita Diamant, Paul Auster, and Wally Lamb before they got really popular.
If they are not perpetually renovating their properties, inner-ring people are off on allegedly educational vacations improving their minds. When Christopher Columbus returned from the New World, he didn't go to Queen Isabella and say, "Well, I didn't find a trade route to India, but I did find myself." That, however, is exactly what highly educated inner-ring people are looking for in a vacation. They go on personal-growth Greek cruises sponsored by alumni associations, during which university classics professors lecture on the Peloponnesian wars while the former econ majors try to commit adultery with the lifeguards.
As you sit with them intimately in their reading alcove (not the one in the master bedroom suite; rather, the one beside the office, near the nanny suite) they tell you about the weeklong painting seminar they took with Comtesse Anne de Liedekerke in Belgium, the cooking seminar in Siena, the tiger-watching adventure in India, or the vineyard touring week in Bordeaux. When they put all this hard-won knowledge to work by using the word "geometric" in reference to a cabernet, you want to applaud their commitment to lifelong learning, but you are distracted because your butt is shaking as a result of the eighteen-inch woofer their architect cleverly embedded in the built-in divan you are resting upon.
When people in their twenties are surveyed on where they want to live, more of them answer inner-ring suburbs than any other place. It's easy to see why. These places combine the sophistication of the city with the child-friendly greenery of the suburb. The people here are well educated, lively, and tolerant (unless you want to, say, build a school in their neighborhood, in which case they turn into NIMBY-fired savages ripping the flesh from your bones with their bare hands).
As you drive out from the inner-ring suburbs, you find yourself on these eight-lane commercial pikes with strip malls up and down either side, a Taco Bell every four hundred yards, and so many turn signals and left-hand turn lanes that crossing the street is nearly impossible because you never know where the cars are coming from. These avenues are just about the ugliest spots on the face of the earth. You're stuck at one red light after another, with views of fast-food drive-through lanes, grungy convenience stores, storage-center warehouse facades, and more fluorescent-lit nail salons than the mind can comprehend. The strip malls have names like Pike Center or Town Plaza, because no one even bothered to think up a distinctive title. Every half mile or so, in between the car lots, cell-phone stores, and discount mattress outlets, there will be a lone five-story office building that has all the aesthetic charm of a sixty-foot water heater. Turn onto a side road, and you may find yourself in one of those suburban light-industry districts where, after a few years, everything comes to look like the inside of an auto garage. Most upscale suburbanites come to these neighborhoods only when they are selecting
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