Rochester, NY 23:40 ETZ

Still searching for free internet… two ISPs on wifi here – but they charge! Damn them…

Young man, a father with divorce not final and two kids, going to MI to see his little kids before he heads south to GA, looking for work. “No work here in NY” he says to me.

Kid beside me, a history major at Wesleyan, headed home for the summer – quiet, unassuming; reading some socialist doctrine.

Half-asleep a few hours ago, a large group of thirty-plus elderly on a trip together (that just got off in Rochester), walking down the aisle to dinner. Mind you – this train has been over 60% full… Older man in the group mumbles “and George Bush thinks no one rides the trains”. Seems from Rochester that occupancy is now over 90%.

The darkness of night is hiding what I see from the train. How we as a society have let our infrastructure and construction deteriorate so much. I understand that the view from the tracks is likely to be less new than other areas – because today people don’t want to hear the train rumbling through. But still, it brings me to the significant discussion raging within the Boston Society of Architects for several years – how this society in the 1950’s, changed the way it lives, with the major attribute being the elimination of the front porch, which led to the diminution of a pedestrian lifestyle.

Is this a societal snowball from which we don’t recover? Beginning with that element, combined with the advent of and increasing consumption of mass media into our attentional diet, the ‘need for speed’ in our collective psyche, the establishment (or is it now entrenchment) of electronic communications – are we headed into an oblivion of personal detachment, a moronic flailing of meaningless search for insignificant community?

God – I hope not.

A mother of three young young children on board earlier – no ring on the finger. The couple that witnessed my daughters and I crying our goodbyes – married 27 years and headed to Bermuda to relive their honeymoon. A guy my age in my row, traveling from Boston to California for a convention – never to fly again, by choice – knows every detail of this rail line, who owns what track, where the tracks go, you ask – he knows. The Amtrak coach attendant who got into Amtrak by accident, a late 30s Chicago woman – friendly, helpful and personal. Little vignettes of improbable and totally temporary community.

Back to the deterioration of what I see of the landscape – it is depressing that we’ve let so many fine buildings deteriorate so far. Our roads are shit, our electric utility infrastructure inadequate, and our bridges falling into rivers. This mad rush of consumerism for personal things and abhorrence of taxation will be our own causation of demise as a free republic.

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