...unprecedented numbers of college graduates are flocking back to ‘parents’ empty nests’, just as we all thought we had got rid of them!
I have travelled on to Missouri, beginning my third contribution to kiwiboomers, on a balmy evening on the patio outside Arcelia’s Mexicana - the longest established and possibly the best Mexican restaurant in St. Louis. On my second visit, my waitress remembered me - even though tipping does not come easy to me! It must be a good restaurant as a vanload of St. Louis Metropolitan Police just stopped by - presumably not looking for illegal immigrants!
In contrast to NW Ohio ( I did a guest lecture at Bowling Green State University, where I did my PhD in the 1980s), St. Louis has a very different population mix. I have been taking the MetroLink, the light rail system which runs through downtown and out to the airport (just $US3.50 one way). Auckland city planners may do well to look at this system. I am often the only white passenger but the atmosphere is unthreatening, and I have overheard some great conversations. It is interesting, however, that Black American youth persist with the ridiculous fashion of lowering the crotch of their pants around their knees.
Because I have headed south, it is now even hotter and reading of snow drifts in Central Otago (on xtra/Yahoo) seems a little strange. The little device I carry informed that temperatures reached 36C here today, on America’s longest day of the year.
In one of the dafter events of the week, the Vatican issued a set of “Ten Commandments” for car drivers, which ranged from directives that “Thou shall not kill” to “Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin’. Try giving AUV owners the latter directive! What is missing from these ‘Commandments’ are the more critical questions for Americans, such as: Is owning a car really necessary? Or is owning more than one car an expression of waste and greed? Or is that car journey really necessary?
The relentless torrent of cars and trucks on American highways (most visible when you fly into a city like Los Angeles or Chicago) makes one worry about dwindling oil stocks, and the almost complete domination of the auto in American life. The Census Bureau report also reports that more Americans than ever are driving alone to work, as car-pooling and public transport use further declines.
You don’t hear much talk about conservation here, and the price of regular-grade gasoline is going down (averaging just below $US3 a gallon), despite the rising international price of crude oil. Meantime, George Bush is pushing nuclear power because ‘it doesn’t put carbon into the atmosphere’), and grain prices are reaching new levels because of the expanding bio-fuels industry. Even so, the US auto industry continues its slump. In the mid 1980s the Big 3 manufacturers (Chrysler, Ford and General Motors) had 80 percent of the US market; now it is less than 50 percent.
There is more bad news for environmentally concerned baby boomers. Apparently, unprecedented numbers of college graduates are flocking back to ‘parents’ empty nests’, just as we all thought we had got rid of them! This may well be a global trend, threatening to disrupt the carefully-tended domestic environments many babyboomers have grown used to!
On other matters, I have managed to catch Flight of the Conchords on HBO but I do fear that they may be too subtle for many American viewers ( one example - when Conchord Jermaine gets dumped by a newly-acquired girlfriend, she mutters that she “really wanted an Australian, anyway”). With Black Sheep opening in New York this week, Eagle vs Shark in some cinemas, and No.2 (retitled as Naming Number 2) opening in July, the New York Times recently wrote of a ‘New Zealand invasion’ but that is rather too optimistic. Cinemas across the nation continue to be dominated by mainstream popcorn fare such Spiderman 3 and Shrek 3 .
Signs of anti-war sentiment continue to pop up (see photo from the front garden of a stately home on Hickory Street in St. Louis), and Alan Sorkin (The West Wing) continues to take dramatic risks with his new Studio 60 on Sunset Strip.
I head home in a week, after the National Media Education Conference and Research Summit, in downtown St. Louis. I arrive back in New Zealand on June 29; the very same day the the much-touted iPhone is launched in the US. I guess that I will just have to wait like everyone else for it to arrive in New Zealand.