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Sure, but we could move it into more useful waste of money, not resources like water. Maybe start a craze for intricate locally hand-crafted totem poles from locally grown woods.

The point about lawns was that in the 18th C (or whenever they originate - I forget) only the rich could afford them because they were labour intensive. Now almost anyone can afford them and they're not a good signifier of wealth at all: they've become a signifier of decency instead.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:09:33 AM EST
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The problem is that the underlying currency isn't conspicuous consumption, so much as freedom from the constraints of nature, and from the influence of others.

Western culture is predominantly solipsistic, and what's valued isn't so much the acquisition of stuff for its own sake, but the fact that the stuff signifies distance from the physical and social world.

This is what neolibs call freedom. It's not about politics or free speech, it's about doing whatever you feel like doing without having to pay any attention to the consequences for other people.

Success means never having to say you're sorry to anyone, for any reason.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:15:03 AM EST
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In Southern California, the signifier of decency should be having drought-resistant plants in your yard. But as you point out, to be decent you have to be high-maintenance.

Other examples of the "English lawn": the tennis court, and the football pitch. And then the "Scottish hills" that Golf is played on. Golf courses are even more obscene, with their fake river meanders and sand banks. Especially in California, Arizona or Southern Spain.

Re: football pitch. I used to be horrified by the thought of artificial grass (as is used for American football). Maybe that's actually a decent solution.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:20:49 AM EST
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Artificial grass is a decent alternative, assuming that the resource usage involved making it is sensible.

Golf is just an obscenity, except in areas where it's sort of close to the "natural" landscape. (Since the natural landscape in those parts of the world is pretty much trees coast to coast.)

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:31:58 AM EST
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Wikipedia: Lawn is well worth a read.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 09:28:52 AM EST
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Approximately 50-70 percent of American residential water is used for landscaping, most of it to water lawns.

Eeep.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 09:35:02 AM EST
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Well, I guess in case of need they can make lawn-salad.
by Fran on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 09:36:10 AM EST
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I like this one
Virginia Scott Jenkins, in her book The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession (1994), traces the desire to kill weeds historically. She notes that the current rage for a chemically-dependent lawn emerged after World War II, and argues that "American front lawns are a symbol of man's control of, or superiority over, his environment."
I think TBG is right and this is not entirely about status.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 09:42:00 AM EST
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No, some of it is our bizarre cleanliness/control fetish and/or our bizarre conceit that there is a dividing line between the natural and the human. But that doesn't need grass: gravel or something would do fine.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 09:47:01 AM EST
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