Thursday, May 31, 2012

Piss-U-Off LiteratureTM

What is it?

1. A novel that is badly written by someone who made (I can't use the word "earned") at least six figures for it.

2. A book that tells you you’re raising your kids wrong, and if you don’t follow this exact formula, they will end up as criminals, junkies, or ne’er-do-wells forever dwelling in your basement.

3. Any and all Ann Coulter books.

4. Any book titled [Fill in the city] Then and Now.

I encountered more than a few examples of #4 at the library not too long ago. You will find these books in the local history section, and they are also common in souvenir shops all around the country.

Why are Then and Now books Piss-U-Off LiteratureTM? The authors don’t mean to make people angry. They just want to show us how cities and towns looked like in decades past as opposed to today.


Of all of the cool-looking buildings of Then, 90% (at the least) do not exist Now.

If you don’t believe me, pick up any given Then and Now book. I’ll wait…see, I told you so.

American architecture started its aesthetic decline in the late 1960s, and it’s hard to think of any building erected in the last fortysomething years which has a fraction of the grandeur and optimism of the palaces large and small of the past.

In California, many of the old buildings were casualties of earthquakes and/or earthquake codes. I understand, of course, that sometimes a building had to come down for safety’s sake – especially in the days before effective retrofitting. But was it necessary to replace something beautiful with something ugly and boring?

I don’t want this to be a Piss-U-Off BlogTM, so I will not show too many examples of Then and Now. Just this one.

This was the Tustin High School building. If your high school looked like this, it would inspire you to study harder to make it proud.

Unfortunately, this school was demolished in 1966 due to earthquake codes. Here is what Tustin High looks like now:

It wouldn’t even inspire grass to grow, would it?

Why couldn’t the Tustin city fathers (and they were fathers back then) rebuild the new school to look the same as the old one, only with better materials? Well, no one asked me. (If they did, all I could say was “goo.”)

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