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(DV) Gordon: Ethanolaburbia







by Aaron Michael Gordon
May 8, 2006

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You know, I’m really annoyed at the utter lack of imagination regarding America’s switch away from non-renewal energy sources. Now mind you, I’m not surprised, in that only a fool underestimates the stupidity of the American Public and their right to SUV® (a registered trademark of the eternal American Way Of Life, all rights reserved.) But everyone seems to think that the switch from oil to ethanol will require a significant shift in land usage regarding farms that make food. Check out articles critiquing Brazil’s successful ethanol program.


Now, don’t get me wrong: Brazil does indeed have issues with their ethanol production. They are competing for space with agriculture, and they are now producing a monoculture crop of sugar. Like China, Brazil is a developing world power, and so their environmental waste disposal is a bit behind. And, of course, there is even more pressure to develop the fertile lands of the Amazon for energy and food, since they’re now competing for the same plots of land. This issue, paired to increase in demand, is the primary wrench thrown in the “use ethanol” machine here in the United States.


Well, I have a solution that will make everybody happy. We don’t have to switch out our “food fields” for “gas fields.” We have plenty of wasted land throughout the United States that could easily be used for ethanol production. It’s called suburbia, and it’s the answer to our ethanol problem. Don’t believe me? C’mon, you’re an American, use you imagination and dream with me! Think about it: a womanizing alcoholic convinced a nation of white supremacists to send a man to the moon in the 60s. That’s a nation that dreams big. And drunk.


So take a long gulp on your chardonnay and dream. Look around your suburban sprawl. Chances are, if you’re living in about 90% of the United States, you live in a variant of the non-walkable car culture that’s taken America by storm since Levittown. Mine for example, is a slice of the three-county, hurricane-lovin’ South Florida megapolis. And just this morning, I got in my car and drove to a Starbucks . . . located in a mall called “The Walk.” Not even kidding. You all know you do a variant of the same activity . . . and outside of all that traffic and parking annoyance, you all know this pampered isolation, this perfect automotive separation, is what we, the people, want.


Which is why I think it’s foolish for the environmentalists to continue to push for “walkable communities.” Have you been to an American mall recently, guys? Americans are fat as hell, and contrary to coastal elite opinion, it doesn’t seem that most Americans are ashamed of their girth. I was recently in Orlando, and it doesn’t get any fatter and prouder than that. It’s almost as if patriotism, religion and the buffet have combined to produce this new mentality: “Jesus wants us not to walk and to eat like pigs while driving our sport utilities from one food trough to the next.”


If you, like me, believe this “way of life” is obscenely stupid, congrats . . . you may be alone in a field of grazing Americans, looking for that next all-you-can-eat breakfast. Or you may have seen one of those new, huge teenaged girls wearing the belly shirts showing a gut Nell Carter would have been proud of. Perhaps you’ve been baffled at the praise heaped upon celebrities, who have the “courage” to drive themselves from the craft services table to the surgeon for some gastric bypass on their hiatus. Joan of Arc has nothing on Star Jones, honey.


The American right to drive is entirely intertwined with the American right to eat poorly made food is massive quantities. Like it or not, you’re not getting them to give either up, ever. So, unless we find a solution to the biofuel question, we, the people, are always going to choose environmental degradation over conservation. These are dumb and inactive people, people! Which is why I think the solution to all of this mess is the lawn and the parking lot.


You heard me. There are a lot of people out there who never use their vast, suburban lawns for anything beyond standing by a grill, eating some slaughterhouse cattle while the capillaries in their legs pop. You don’t have an obesity epidemic with a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Well, we need their lawns now, and they need the rent money, no? Between skyrocketing property taxes and gas prices, a monthly “field” fee might seem very attractive to a lot of people. Or even a great many housing developments.


And really, what changes here? The same poor immigrant folk who have been trolling away landscaping bushes could be chucking corn, sugar and switch grass. Don’t worry, they still won’t talk or look at you, whether its gardenias or crops. And America’s great immigration policy continues on. The only real change is in what you put in your gas tanks on your way to the enclosed arenas that we consider “public space” these days . . .


. . . except that you’ll walk a lot less, because the parking lot is gone. That’s right. Businesses have high property taxes too, and they’ll want in on this “land-lease” policy. Have you BEEN to a Wal-Mart recently? The parking lot is always crowded, even though it’s the size of Rhode Island, and everyone has to walk from their car through the heat of asphalt. The sacrifices we, the people make to keep sweatshop labor in business are huge, I tell you.


Why not get rid of the parking lot? Build some parking garages out in front of the door and nobody has to walk! We are that much closer to saving $0.03 on Twinkies. The rest of the lot is now a field, is now an active solution to the fuel problem. To say nothing of the environmental one. Or even, and perhaps most importantly, an aesthetic one.


Think about it: why do people move to suburbia? To conduct a life in the country, obviously. To be removed from the big bad city, while retaining the benefits of take-out. But suburbia isn’t really the country, anymore than sitting in traffic for most of the day is the bucolic “American Dream.” Well, we’re not going to get rid of traffic at this stage of the game, but we might be able to bring a little bit of that rural reality to the endless malaise of suburbia. Take all the unused lawns and oversized mall parking lots in the country. That’s a LOT of land! Then take every exhaust pipe on every car in the United States and have them begin to emit water vapor. That’s a lot of moisture to replenish our fresh water supply. And, it’s just the plants themselves, the mere existence of green that people want to see, not a specific plant or tree. Who needs an oak tree when you have a corn stalk? Let’s get the trees back to the indoor mall courtyards where they belong! It’s hot outside of Abercrombie and Fitch. We need the shade on the way to the food court.


Is this a perfect solution? Of course not. Is oil? But it’s a beginning, and it’s a way to get the American-as-overeating-driver vote. Gasoline isn’t going to get any cheaper (especially now, since the oil companies have figured out that we’ll pay $3.00 a gallon for it) and neither are property taxes collected to support our far-flung, car-required civilization. Contrary to far-left belief, suburbia isn’t going away overnight, and history has proven, that we’ll choose “living in our own filth” over “cleaning up the air,” time and time again. This isn’t exclusive to Americans, either. The deeply dumb English in the 19th century lived with the piss-water Thames for decades without doing anything about those pesky, fatal, waterborne diseases. And, of course the smell.


Therefore, waiting for the market on oil to collapse this petroleum-dependent system isn’t the answer many Greens would like it to be. Americans will bake oil out of shale sands, squeeze it out of coal and invade country after country to get under their sand. And, you know, a massive, systemic collapse just sounds less fun than it seems “anarchy” T-Shirts aside.


Consider Ethanolaburbia a first stage in the reinvention of the American Way of life. Every 70 years or so, the United States completely builds a new infrastructure, a new box where the free market can operate. Like when we shifted from Industrial Revolution cities and railroads to our current automotive system. It’s long past time to begin that process, and I think Ethanoloburbia is a great way to begin it.


In addition, everyone can come to the table on this one. Suburban homeowners will have an income to offset property tax on their McMansions. Fast food can stay in business. Environmentalists get Kyoto Protocol credits as parking lots become CO2 sinks. Car companies can continue to do business. Fat people can continue to drive. Farmers can continue to grow food, while all of suburbia grows the fuel. Even Jesus likes power, so I’m sure he’ll bless the initiative (provided we don’t allow any gays to touch the crop, of course.)

We’ve sent a man to the moon, turned countless swamps into golf course communities, and built a city of sin in the middle of the desert. Why can’t we reach this pie in the sky? This is a success waiting to happen, and here’s why: no sacrifice. George Bush had it right way back in 2001, when he encouraged us to shop. We, the people, aren’t going to give anything up, ever. We’re always going to want more energy, not less. More food. More mobility. More cable television. So, let’s give them the more that they want, and make them pay less for it. More for less? Sounds mighty Republican, no? Without all that pesky smog and quasi-religious bullshit. Just some good old-fashion conservation (from the word “conservative,” pre-political bastardization) and business sense. I’m sure there’s a very smart Rove-in-training just waiting to spring this on the stupid American populace. Here’s to your success! We’ll all be toasting you from the couch as we numb our minds with satellite television in blissful, blessed obesity.


Truly, the meaty will inherit (and possibly save) the earth.


Aaron Michael Gordon is an award-winning advertising writer. Working in South Florida, Aaron has written and produced countless television, radio, print and web-based advertising. In addition, Aaron is a freelance writer and a playwright. You can see some of his other work at jimhillmedia.com, realityblurred.com/exposed and Freezerbox.com, and at various stages throughout the country.

Other Articles by Aaron Michael Gordon

* Questioning The Twinkie
* Evolution and the Space Dog
* Psychotic America: Feeling The Heat