Dan talks about strip-mall culture and cynicism which got me thinking about my recent trip to upstate New York

New Orleans is a pretty decrepit place. Factions fighting the “disney-ification” of the French Quarter fight with those trying to clean it up (or put in chain restaurants). But the outlying areas (Metaire, Slidell) are pretty much “big box” stores and strip malls.

When we drove up to New York on the east coast, we took Highway 81 for a significant part of the way. The areas we drove through weren’t falling apart, but they weren’t strip-malled, either. Every once and a while, we’d hit a sizable area and Alexis would say “Looks like Slidell”. Which is sad. (Of course, not all places were like that. Harrisburg, PA was nice, for instance).

Dan says … if I can’t see flaws I assume you’re being dishonest up-front. Which I can certainly relate to. When I was in Ames, IA for my friend’s wedding, I hung out in a dive of a coffee shop (and no WiFi, thankyouverymuch) instead of the nicer places. It was more fun to watch the people there.

But, Dan goes on: Is anyone else plagued with this? I wonder what opportunities I’m missing, what products that claim to be ‘new and different’ might actually be, and whether this blind hatred of the glossy is holding me back. and goes on to ask Anyone found a good compromise?

Well, I wouldn’t consider it a compromise, and I doubt Dan would appreciate this approach, but traveling with kids is a good way to look at things through new eyes. True, they had too much appreciation for “Cereal City” (definitely not my type of place), but their view of things was almost always new and helped me to appreciate even chain bookstores.

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