Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's One Of A Kind, All In Their Minds

An article in last Friday's Pioneer Press (I know, I know...I'm a little behind) informs us that the University of Minnesota regents are expected to approve construction of the new Central Corridor light rail line that pierces through the Twin Cities campus along Washington Avenue despite their long held desire for a different route to the north.

My reason for mentioning this article is not to re-express my feelings toward throwing money at a shiny new choo-choo train while our roads are literally crumbling beneath us. And I'm not going to throw a fit over the fact that the approved route will require that Washington Avenue, perhaps the main automobile corridor through campus, be closed to...yeah, you got it...automobiles. And no, I'm not going to blow my top about how bad the Minnesota Twins are this year because, you know, this is a piece about light rail.

No, what I'd like to point out is a quote located deep in the article from Frank Cerra, the University's senior vice president for health sciences, who is described by the writer as "...a man whose approval was seen as key for the regents to get on board."

According to the article, Mr. Cerra "heaped praise on the Washington Avenue route" and said "the car-free stretch would improve the quality of life on campus, which suffers from an abundance of concrete and a dearth of grass." Then comes the offending quote which reads as follows:
Nothing would please me more than to grab a cup of cappuccino, grab a Viennese hot dog and play a game of bocce on the way to work.
What a enormously Euro-pretentious thing to say. How about grabbing a cup of coffee, a Chicago dog and tossing a Frisbee around on the way to work you Europe worshipping little toad. For that matter, who eats any kind of tube meat other than link sausage in the morning and who in the hell has the time to play ANY kind of game on their way to work, let alone a game of bocce? Furthermore, how does one even make the mental leap from light rail and no cars to coffee, weiners and early morning ball games? It just doesn't add up.

This chucklehead's attitude is precisely why ridiculous ideas like our ill-conceived light rail plans, contrived suburban downtowns and soccer will never go away. Our decision makers and the people who influence them are completely obsessed with turning this country into Europe West, high gas prices and all. It seems that any idea that is floated out there, no matter how impractical and, in the case of light rail, downright disruptive it is, just has to be painted with the brush of Europeanness to win the approval of city council members, legislators and the unwashed hippie types who smoke clove cigarettes and, unfortunately, vote.

I'm getting tired of having my country's urban design ideas coming from a continent that can't even comfortably accommodate the simple task of using the restroom.

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