Republished from The Blogazine.
I drive America every summer. Its emptiness is an escape from the hypersocial day-to-day of London and Milan. A rest stop is the opposite of a café. A freeway is the inverse of a high street. Junkers, off-ramps, food stamps, big skies and Evangelical extremism. Skinny dipping in Kansas creeks, Polaroids, parking lots, backroad singalongs.
The temples are the dead malls. They are Meccas. Massive monoliths. Sun-baked carcasses on the contracting edges of once-swollen cities. Surrounded by endless square miles of painted, partitioned pavement. Victor Gruen's bastard babies, once auspicious and buzzing, driven to death by genericness.
They are the casualties of capitalism. They are stunning, stern and impossibly quiet. Festooned with rusting logotypes and label scars from once-proud enterprises. Bullock’s. BEST. Montgomery Ward. Dead innovators. Passed away populists.
‘Cause on the surface the city lights shine
They’re calling at me, come and find your kind
Sometimes I wonder if the World’s so small
That we can never get away from the sprawl
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there’s no end in sight
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights
- Arcade Fire, Sprawl, 2011
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