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Our Enchanting Olde Ruins


boilerplate local legislation lays our myths bare

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.

At the end of The Grand Budapest Hotel, the primary character is discussed years after his murder. They dwell on his vocation and the world generated about it. "To be frank,"says one, "I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it. But I will say: he certainly maintained the illusion with a marvelous grace." It's a touching scene that actually pulls the rug out from under the movie's conceit, since that illusion was one the movie had asked the audience to believe existed once not that long ago. Later, the recipient of that remark looks around at the dilapidated old hotel soon to be demolished. "It was an enchanting old ruin," he later writes. "But I never managed to see it again."

There are many old ruins in our lives with the mythology intact to which we cannot bid farewell. We fondly cherish the belief that once they made sense, were important, and existed as recalled. The Lost Cause of the Olde South. Communism. Religion. The American Cowboy and the Noble Savage. The Chicago Cubs. Various tales and aspects of our respective families and our world.

The Daily Camera reports today that the Council came close last night to demanding all trash within the city be recycled. It's not an unpopular viewpoint, and I suspect has bipartisan support. Currently, the City requires anybody who legally transports trash to at least offer both residential recycling and composting to its customers, and eighty percent of Boulder residents so subscribe. Business, the biggest producers, have not had to participate. But as soon as next year, all Boulder businesses could be required to recycle and compost and all residents be required to have trash service. Illegal dumping is going to have big penalties as well. No exemptions for renters, either. The Council ordered staff to come up with an ordinance the city would vote upon.

Boulder currently recycles about half its residential waste, whereas 28 percent of businesses do, far better than most cities. At the Council session last night, some CU students said they want to recycle and compost as their apartment buildings and don't want an exemption for rental housing. If true, that removes an excuse landlords can and will use against any expense tied to themselves.

This is all to the good, but I would like to see government at every level try to stem the production of useless crap destined almost at creation for landfills. Phone books, 3rd Class mail, pointless over protective packaging, and newspapers and magazines.

Phone books are so small now that it isn't just the aged who have difficulty reading them. Finding numbers on the internet is easy and cheaper and often free and cell phone numbers, the primary ones, aren't in local books. So, what's the point at all? None, really. Today's phone books, advertising methods, college degrees, and jobs are little more than an homage to the past.

The Post Office gets most of its income from 3rd class mail and advertising supplements shoved into your mail box. Hard to say who benefits from that, since Amazon and Google have revolutionized retail business. The young get near everything from their cell phone. Atop phone service, they get mail, news, music, radio, advertising, movies, tv shows, do their shopping on them, plan and record their lives. They can virtually attend concerts and the sound they receive - while not yet as mesmerizing as being there in person - is far better than the crappy sound systems early pop stars and audiences endured. In any case, it's all getting technologically better and at faster rates every day.

The America I grew up in was conceptualized on capitalistic and perpetual growth, consumption and waste. It did not look back except to fictionalize our history and to periodically deify individuals, generally to profit off them. We left a huge mess we are now dealing with. How we view it and how we see the future is very different from how we did merely a half century ago. So much of the daily life activity of my youth is gone today, pointless.

So many traditional working models of daily human life are in ruins, and most not as enchanting as Wes Anderson's metaphor for Europe in the Grand Budapest. So much of today's life - including certain vocations and college degrees - is nothing more than homage to a world long gone that................... actually never existed, and so should be recycled as fiction.