Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Life Of Illusion

To a large number of Lexingtonian's, image is everything, from the self-claimed title of "Horse Capitol of the World" to how we perceive our downtown to be. Lexington residents treasure image over actions, illusion over substance and appearance over meaningfulness every day. It shows on a daily basis, from the cars that we drive to the places that we lay our heads to sleep.

To the casual observer, the phrase "Horse Capitol of the World" would indicate that a large portion of the residents deal with horses. The horse industry is a factor in the local economy, but I would venture to guess that most folks in Lexington have little or no interaction with horses other than a few simple bets or boxing the Exacta a few weeks a year. I dare say that less than 1 in 5 residents have been on a horse more than a handful of times in their lives.

The highlight of many Fall and Winter weekends is the fashionably late arrival to and the slow procession down the aisles of the UK football and basketball games, followed by the early escape prior to halftime and the and of the game. Really this was a much better show when UK was a much more mediocre team. Then there are the after the races/before the game dinners/after the game celebrations at the name clubs and restaurants in Lansdowne or Hamburg. Coach Billy G would hang out there even when he wasn't winning.

And then there are the places that we live and the how we get to where we have to be. The many gated or semi-gated communities(not so much for the security, but for the prestige) and the estate lot developments that peer out with disdain to those lesser subdivisions with their "cheek by jowl" houses and their standard street cross-sections. Some of our more elite neighborhoods have streets so narrow that you can't get two SUV's to pass if there are cars parked on the street, and all the autos may not fit in the garage and driveway. I sometimes cannot believe all the luxury SUV's that traverse our roadways, in addition to the standard SUV's and vans and the plethora of pick-up trucks. The sheer number of 4x4's around and the rarity of them ever being off-road, is staggering.

This is not to say that all Lexington residents can live like this, I certainly can't, but the small percentage that do--have an influence on all of us who don't. The educational and cultural systems constantly reinforce that anyone can attain whatever they can dream of, and if that were true, then the percentage of those having all those "good" things would be increasing.

Those who act in the manner written of above, do so because they can afford it and certainly NOT because it is the right thing to do. They won't ride to work with the masses nor will they blend in with the other on the road if they can prevent it. Rank does have its privileges.

I see from this morning news, that Lexington is rated #6 in the US as a place to raise our kids. So says the publication Children's Health. And on the other hand, Kentucky is listed as #1 in the abuse and neglect of our children. One of these is right and the other is illusion. Which is more likely to be shown in the Visitors and Tourism guides. The recent Affordable Housing Study says that we need to densify and diversify our residential areas, especially within New Circle Rd, yet the landlord around UK who are trying to do so are destroying the neighborhoods(granted they are doing it on the cheap and dirty). Some think that UK should be doing more for the students, but that would remove the free market values and be done in the exact same areas by a de facto arm of the government.

This is but a sampling of the illusory life that is Lexington, Ky.

1 comment:

Ahavah Gayle said...

Illusions, indeed. I am looking forward to the World Equestrian Games, not because I think it will be good for us, because that's not likely to be the case. (In real life these types of things don't actually add anything real to the Main Street economy).

No, I'm waiting for all of the Europeans from real "world class cities" to come here and either 1) laugh, or 2) be extremely annoyed at just how lacking in "world class" amenities Lexington actually is. Lexington has often imagined itself to be something that it is not - a holdover from the "Athens of the West" days, I presume. Those days are long gone. Lexington is a wasteland of sprawl and mediocrity.

Worse, Lexington is a band of self-centered people living in proximity instead of a community. The word "stratified" comes to mind, but that might be too generous. These spoiled brats ride mass transit? You're kidding, right? These people don't even know what a "world class city" looks like, much less how to be one.