Monday, April 21, 2008

specimin #1

Seattle is covered with town homes. I've lived in my current house for a few years and during that time three clusters of town houses and a small condo complex have gone up within the part of the city visible from my windows. There's another cluster being built as we speak. Each cluster has 6 or so identical town houses done in the prevailing style--beige pseudo-craftsman with blank white plastic-framed windows and crappy siding that is supposed to look like wood but doesn't.

I really don't see the point of living in a house if you don't get a yard, but I'm not necessarily opposed to the concept of town homes. That said, I loathe nearly every single one I see. I have thought hard about why.....
  • It's not the snobbery of the upper class---I'm a renter and I certainly don't make enough money to buy a pseudo craftsman piece of crap.
  • It's not an envy thing either--I don't have any driving desire to own a town home or lead a yuppie lifestyle. (In fact, I fear it wholeheartedly.)
Call me shallow, but in the end it comes down to aesthetics. I'm sure it's possible to build a nice looking town home, but the ones I see around town usually don't qualify. You can't slap some fake shingles onto the side of a building and tell me it isn't built on the same philosophy as a strip mall---minimum cost for maximum profit. They offer all of the amenities of an apartment and an aesthetic offense that equals a modern apartment building. The distinct disadvantage is that they don't house nearly as many people.

Poverty and I were walking home from our neighbors extended happy hour last Friday. We stopped at the gas station for a bottle of wine and as we were walking past the newest construction zone, Poverty grabbed my hand and suggested we explore.

I've spent some time lurking in construction zones at night with bottles of wine (what else does one do when underage). They always give me a gleeful romantic feeling---padding up dark stairways that smell of sawdust and rain.

I still enjoyed the smell of sawdust and rain, but this time I felt like I was undercover, looking for answers.

I looked at the plywood walls and the frames that had sprung up in just days and imagined the layers of drywall and plaster that will soon cover them, followed by the final touches--a flat screen TV, cheesy Target picture frames trapping smiling couples, obligatory art. I looked at my own house across the street with its kindly windows and missing shingles, its overgrown yard and bedraggled American flag, and I wondered how it would look to the people that will live in the insufferable and soulless plywood box.

I then began imagining how many town homes you could fit on our giant corner lot. One, two, three, four, five, six., seven...I came to the final answer to my question--I loathe these town homes because they threaten me. I imagine them eating up the city, swallowing the shabbiness, the bedraggled, the seediness, and then marching on in the name of progress, white-frame windows gleaming.


OCD OD said...

Ballard welcomes our condo overlords!

I don't understand why they can't build them to look more like victorian row houses from SF or brick ones like DC.

Beyond that, I just don't like house after house looking the same. Smacks of suburbs, it does. I also think they all start to look like the projects after awhile.

evilcat said...

Yeah they will, because they are built out of crap ass materials. I saw some kind of cool looking town homes in the international district the other day, so I know it's possible. They were made with real boards (imagine that!) instead of vinyl siding.