There is a wonderful tongue-in-cheek article in the Wall Street Journal today entitled "Weapons of Mass Construction" by Joe Queenan. In it he writes that a "McMansion the size of the Louvre is going up directly across the street from my house. Nine other monstrosities are also being deployed in what was a beautiful, empty meadow." He wishes that the economy is not dependent on the health of home builders. "... they are bulldozing whatever stands in their way and throwing up their eyesores. Throwing up being the operative term."
That is how I feel about the Mater Dolorosa project . . . a beautiful empty meadow being turned into a 49 house tract. Enough to make you want to throw up.
It really is a great article, and perfectly describes what we are facing in Sierra Madre.
You can access the entire article by clicking here.
Everyone knows that the health of the American economy depends a lot on housing starts. If the home-building industry is not doing well, the economy is failing. Life in these United States is a zero-sum game. We are all in this thing together.
I hate being all in this thing together. Or let's just say, I hate being all in this thing together with the home-construction industry. Right now, a McMansion the size of the Louvre is going up directly across the street from my house. Nine other monstrosities are also being deployed in what was once a beautiful, empty meadow. The field has been filled with backhoes and earth movers and building materials on and off for at least two years.
The projects, once begun, take forever to finish. The crew starts work on a house, then gets dispatched to finish another project in a different town, and then comes back. So it takes months to get the micro-chateaux built. It's like watching someone set fire to your neighborhood, then douse it, then come back and start the fire again six weeks later. You'd rather they just ruined things once and for all and got it over with. If you're going to sack Rome, sack it. Drilling, digging, dust and leveled trees have been our reality since 2011. It makes it very, very hard to root for the home builders.
I am constantly reading that young people are not buying houses at the pace needed to get the economy percolating. Well, maybe someone should tell the developers to stop building lurid, vile houses that no one can afford. Or to stop building lurid, vile, prefab, ticky-tacky houses even if people can afford them.
When the economy cratered in 2008 and my 401(k) got massacred, I wasn't as upset as I should have been because it meant that the McMansions scheduled to be erected across the street wouldn't get built until the recession was over. Four happy years ensued, without bogus cathedral windows and four-car garages and faux-Belgian cobblestones and Philistines for neighbors. This situation put me in the uncomfortable position of having to root against my own country. As long as the housing industry was flat on its back, life was good.
I really wish that the economy were not so dependent upon the health of home builders. I would love to root for these guys. I really would. But they build trash. They tear down adorable bungalows and build McMansions in Princeton, N.J. In Chicago, in Boston, in Los Angeles and even in little old Easton, Pa., they are bulldozing whatever stands in their way and throwing up their eyesores. Throwing up being the operative term.
Unlike the car guys, who build products that give me pleasure, or the pizzeria makers, who bake tasty pizza, or the clothing industry, which makes snappy shirts, fantastic trousers, fabulous anoraks and some pretty nifty chapeaus, the housing industry builds malignant, socially corrosive, architecturally putrescent stuff that I hate. The house-building folks fall into the same category as the leaf-blower, the weed-whacker and post-office guys. Ugh.