Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pomp and circumstance, and binkies, too

Children: I am honored to give this commencement address today on this hallowed occasion — your graduation from pre-school.

What a journey it's been for you. Potty training. Threading small beads on a string. Naming six to eight colors and three shapes. Understanding that breakfast comes before lunch. I'm going to make this speech short because, according to National Network for Child Care, you have very short attention spans.

Class of 2008, you'll often hear commencement speakers pull out all the old clichés. They'll tell you how you can "change the world." I'm not going to tell you that today. I'm going to share with you an even greater prospect: You can change your underwear! Yes, it's true. Please, sit back down. Gerald, please give Tommy back his chopsy-whopsy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What would Granville Hicks think?

Despite the unsettling amount of growth in Berkshire County in recent years, it pales in comparison to that of other parts of the country where countless small towns have been drawn and quartered or swallowed up whole by strip malls, discount box stores, interstate highways and new housing tracts.

Last week, I spent several days in northern Virginia and couldn’t wait to get back to the Berkshires where our small towns remain relatively intact. Just outside D.C., literally tens of thousands of new houses have been built in the last 10 years in a smear of freshly minted suburbia spreading out to an endless horizon. It’s a bizarre landscape. Everything seems built from the sky down and appended strangely. Amidst all the new construction, you see an occasional barn silo, like a sad, shell-shocked sentry, aged and obsolete.
I couldn’t help but wonder what Granville Hicks would make of all this.