Mark Scott

"the best damned poet in the business"

I Dream of Denver by David Brooks


Urban planners are human. They have dreams
that Americans will taste the fruit of over-consumption
and repent. They’ll move back to the core.
They’ll ride bicycles more,
build smaller homes and buy tinier fridges,
rediscover denser ways of living
and the joys of superior beer.

Americans look over the next horizon.
They don’t want to go Dutch.
Amsterdam is a wonderful city,
and so is New York,
but Americans never want to live there.
Americans want to go west forever—
Denver, San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco,
Phoenix, Portland (but not Sacramento).

You get an image of the American Dream:
a garage filled with skis, kayaks, hiking boots,
gloves, balls, life-jackets, gas cans, etc.
These are places (except for Orlando)
where the boundary between suburb and city is soft,
where social structures are car-dependent and spread out.
They promise friendliness and service-sector employment.
They’re neither traditional nor atomized.
They’re not especially blue or red.
They offer the dream of having it all,
open spaces and mudrooms and casual wardrobes.

The incorrigible nature of American culture
may slowly refine itself through espresso,
but it still loves the drive-thru.
It will disappoint urban planners,
but there’s one impressive result:
Americans may be gloomy and afraid,
but their vision of the good life is clear.
That’s one commodity never in short supply.

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