What Can Be Done To Help Our Nation's Inner Suburbs?

In This Section

Vol 33 Issue 21

School Shootings

On May 21, Springfield, OR, 15-year-old Kip Kinkel opened fire in his high-school, killing two students and wounding 22 others. What do you think about the recent rash of school shootings?

Area New York Times 98 Percent Unread

NASHUA, NH—A copy of Monday's New York Times was discarded at approximately 6:40 p.m. Monday, with only two percent of its content read. "I skimmed the front-page headlines, and then I looked at the sports scores and part of a movie review," Times subscriber Hal Ruggerio said. "Then I chucked it." Among the features not read by Ruggerio were a Jeanne Kirkpatrick op-ed on the geopolitical ramifications of the nuclear race on the Indian sub-continent, a review of John McPhee's latest collection of essays, and the obituary of a former U.S. ambassador to Uruguay.

USA Original Movie Not That Original

LOS ANGELES—It was learned Tuesday that Brute Force, a USA Original Movie slated to air on the USA cable network this Saturday, is actually not all that original. "Despite its billing, this so-called 'original' movie is, in fact, remarkably similar to many other movies," said film critic Irwin Schloss. "From the mysterious drifter's encounter with the schoolteacher with a dark secret to the climactic waterfront chase scene, you've no doubt seen all this before." A USA spokesman defended Brute Force and noted that summer will be hotter than ever on USA, thanks to all-new, totally original movies like Bare Ambition, an erotic thriller starring Dana Plato.

Family Dog Ignored For 11th Straight Year

KLAMATH FALLS, OR—Brownie, a 12-year-old mixed-breed dog owned by the Wilcox family of Klamath Falls, reached its 11th year of being ignored Monday. "The first year or so we had Brownie, we paid a lot of attention to him and played with him constantly," father Mitchell Wilcox said. "But after that, the novelty of having a dog wore off, and we all started to ignore him, even the kids. Now, I suppose, we're just waiting for him to die." Experts predict that Brownie will tolerate two to three more years of disregard before attacking a family member, at which time he will be declared senile and euthanized.

Birthday Boy Admits Accepting Gifts

ARLINGTON, VA—Under heavy scrutiny for alleged improper conduct in connection with his recent 10th birthday, Arlington-area birthday boy Joshua Stern admitted to accepting gifts Monday, but vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the matter. "My receipt of these gifts was in no way unethical or improper. No special favors or perks were conferred upon Aunt Patricia in exchange for the Godzilla action figure," Stern told reporters. "Likewise, the Sony Playstation I received from my parents was an unconditional gift, wholly unrelated to my cleaning of the family garage five days prior."

New 92-Grain Bread Depletes Majority Of World's Resources

UNITED NATIONS—A report released Monday by the World Health Organization states that Hearthwell Farms' new 92-grain bread has depleted nearly 55 percent of the planet's resources. "One loaf of this mind-bogglingly wholesome bread contains enough grain to feed 4,000 dairy cows for 20 years. The flax seeds alone could sustain a small city for a year," the report read in part. "We're talking about some seriously grainy bread here." A spokesperson for Hearthwell Farms, responding to the charges of reckless resource consumption, said: "It takes a lot of grainy goodness to make Hearthwell's 92-grain 'Kitchen Sink' bread... The Hearty Sandwich-Makin' Bread."
End Of Section
  • More News
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Productivity

Scientists Posit Theoretical ‘Productive Weekend’

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Challenging long-accepted scientific convention, a group of leading MIT scientists published a report Thursday positing that, under certain rare and specific conditions, a so-called “productive weekend” is theoretically pos...

Sleep

What Can Be Done To Help Our Nation's Inner Suburbs?

MARIETTA, GA—The golf course at James J. Berner Park in this suburb of Atlanta is a little less shabby today, as city workers replace the worn-out putting greens on the back nine. The new greens, which will provide golfers with a smoother, more reliable putting surface, are the first upgrade for the Berner Park golf course since 1994 and the first for the park overall since the tennis courts were repaved in 1996. The renovation is part of a new, much-needed federal-aid project to help keep suburban parks afloat. But here in Marietta, as in so many other inner suburbs across the nation, it is a case of "too little, too late."

An aerial view of Marietta, GA, one of the countless American towns ravaged by suburban decay.

Though Berner Park's drinking fountains work, those in several other Marietta parks do not. Across town, Sprayberry High School is entering its 13th straight month without an afterschool intramural lacrosse program. Worse yet, the local middle school's computer lab has enough Macs for just 70 percent of the students. The remaining 30 percent will simply have to share.

America's inner suburbs are crying out for help, but their pleas are falling on deaf ears.

As Americans continue to flee older, once-respectable inner-suburb neighborhoods in favor of slightly more secluded communities on the outer borders of the suburban rim, more and more of the neighborhoods that are left behind have become wasted hellscapes, notorious for their potholes, shocking occasional inconvenience and, in some cases, slightly less-rigorous college-prep courses.

How could it happen?

"These days, I guess a lot of the affluent prospective homeowners are attracted to the high-prestige 'mansion-style' properties going up in the new subdivision developments outside town," says Fred Greer, 41, owner of a small frozen-yogurt shop in Marietta. "Plus the parking situation just hasn't been the same since the zoning codes went all to hell back in '95."

According to Greer, the pedestrian mall where his shop is located has recently seen a 2 percent rise in youth loitering, with kids as young as 14 scaring away potential customers with laughter, skateboarding, and even public smoking. And, if you ask Greer or any number of other people, the situation will only get worse before it gets better.

"As the infrastructure of our inner suburbs continues to crumble, more and more of the decent, property-owning folks who make up those suburbs will retreat to still-more-distant suburbs, perpetuating the cycle of decay," said Mayor Rick Yablon of Huntington Beach, CA, an L.A. suburb which, since 1995, has seen 26 percent of its residents flee to remote Orange County suburbs. "It's time the government stepped in and did something."

In the Long Island, NY, suburb of Cedarhurst, the opening of a new municipal pool has been held up three weeks due to chlorine-level problems. In Shaker Heights, OH, children are growing up not even knowing how to ride horses, as private summer camps become less and less affordable on the average upper-middle-class breadwinner's yearly salary of $85,000. In Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, some 80 local residences are equipped only with basic cable. Another 45 homes do not have adequate privacy due to a lack of fencing. Shockingly, a full seven do not even have hedges.

"These kids have football and wrestling uniforms that are three, four years old. We barely have enough customers to fill the steakhouses, let alone the art galleries and custom-frame shops," Yablon said. "In the past 10 years, our schools have gone from being factories for getting kids into Harvard, Stanford and Duke to mere places of learning. With my own eyes, I have seen so-called 'punk' kids spit and swear in broad daylight as they walk down main shopping venues. Home table-tennis addiction is rampant. We're dying out here, dying on our well-heeled feet."

Next Story

Onion Video

Watch More