Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons, part III

I was re-reading the "Home" chapter in Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons a few nights ago, and decided that I have enough material for another post.
  • Rod Dreher draws his line of demarcation between pre and post-WWII US houses. "If the Mississippi River rose in my hometown and washed away all the houses, aside from the human aspect of the loss, history would mourn only a small fraction of the structures lost in the disaster--and nothing built after 1945. How come?" I think Dreher's being a bit too hard on post-war houses. "Midcentury Modern" is awfully trendy these days, and there are a lot of people out there who see real beauty in ranch houses. In fact, there's a whole magazine called Atomic Ranch, featuring funky restored and reimagined ranch houses. I agree that the exteriors of ranch houses can be depressing, but a good ranch house will have a strong indoor-outdoor connection, excellent natural light, decent storage, and be moderately sized.
  • While we may idolize the exteriors of classic American homes, all too often the interiors are dark, chopped up, and have no storage at all. Also, the design of one-of-a-kind houses can be really stupid. Our post-war rental, for instance, has two baths. One can only be accessed by walking through either of the kids' rooms. The other bath can be accessed either by walking through the master bedroom or the dining room. Cozy!
  • As I mentioned earlier, being a crunchy con doesn't preserve you from being materialistic. You just wind up being materialistic about different stuff. Here's one of Dreher's interview subjects: "I'll have my house paid off before McMansion owners start making principal payments, and I have lots of resources for better things, like taking the grandkids out for Bohemian Weekend. Last year, we spent a weekend at the art museum, checking out the graffiti wall and eating weird food. You can't blow a hundred bucks on Indian food, lattes, and authentic Thai if you're worrying about making a $2,400 mortgage payment."

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