What is there to say about the strange landscape of the urban Mountain West that doesn't sound ironic or dismissive? John Brinckerhoff Jackson wrote about it well, a generation ago. The problems and the systemic dysfunctions have metastasized since then. One symptom is traffic, and the amount of time a person needs to spend in a car to get to work or to accomplish any sort of task in a city like Colorado Springs. A section of the U.S. that might have benefited from what we have learned about urban planning over the last fifty years is politically, culturally, and temperamentally conditioned to rile at any mention of the the word 'plan'. So what they get is a mess, with all important decisions about the way people live their daily lives left up to the real estate industry. Why do Americans allow the real estate industry to shape, in the most basic sense, the way they live now? I rode out along E. Bijou on my bike, which felt a bit dangerous. Traffic moves very fast there probably because there are few places to stop. It is a worn-out part of town: strip malls and commercial buildings from the 50s-60s-70s. The newer and more "glamorous", if that is the word--or perhaps more 'branded'--sprawl happens further and further out to the north and east. Kind of like tree rings, except the inner rings of the community, with exceptions, seem to wither and die. They don't stay part of the organic whole. I met some great people on E. Bijou when I stopped to admire old trucks and cars. The late September sky was stunning, it shone like hard blue metal. To the West, the peaks of the front range were showing a dust of snow.
- Brooklin, Maine, United States
- We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.