Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Planned Community Street Names

I think I may be having a rare change of heart. I use to be an enthusiastic supporter of these monolithic, ginormous cookie cutter planned residential communities. The kind that dot my suburban southwestern landscape like so many prarie freckles. People may poo-poo them for the bland sense of conformity, the lack of flavor and imagination, the artificiality. But I like to think that I saw past all that. These communities are convenient. They're centrally planned. They're kid-friendly. They have round the clock maintenance staffs (staves?) They have tennis courts. Homeless don't even try to set up shop. And usually, there's a monthly community newsletter - complete with a crossword puzzle that is delightfully non-taxing.

I've lived in a few of these places now. Very few complaints. But just a few weeks ago I had a bit of a rude awakening. I was driving out to a friend's house in a different part of town. As I exited the boulevard and entered the well-manicured driveway of the residential community, I picked up my handwritten directions. Left on... Redwood Ash... Redwood Ash... not Crimson Clover... not Elk Lake.... okay Redwood Ash. Now a right on Pine Glen..... hmm, not Sprucedale.... not Jade Cliffs.... not Sleepy River....

Then suddenly, unexpectedly, the truth hit me. "Wait a minute! This is all bullshit!"

Elk Lake? There is no lake, and there are no elk! Jade Cliffs? Wrong and no! Pine Oaks Bluff? There is no scenic bluff! There is no oak! And my friends.... there ain't no pine!

(FYI, this is Las Vegas valley we're talking about. It's nothing but parched, level, featureless desert scrub)

If a street is called Emerald Vista, does a person have a right to expect that somewhere in the vicinity there might actually be an emerald vista? If yes (and that's my position), doesn't that mean that streets with names like Emerald Vista should be relatively rare, seeing as how naturally occuring emerald vistas are somewhat hard to find?

And if you have three consecutive streets with the names "Cedar Forest", "Summit Point" and "Sea Palms", doesn't that put the lie to the whole idea that the street is named after some kind of organic natural feature?

I mean, let's be honest here. There are some ground rules that go into naming streets. You can name your street after a person - that's always a good choice. I live close to Jimmy Durante blvd and that's fine by me. Back east you could always use some local Indian word. Or hey, just make one up. Tuscalanat, maybe. Or Scatiteegwa. Out here it's even easier; you got "mesa", you've got "verde", you've got "paseo" - throw in a few caminos and you've got yourself a street.

But if you're going to go the time honored route of picking some feature out of the environment and naming the street after it, then by God, don't lie to me.

Because now I see what's going on. I never knew it before my little epiphany the other day, but now I know. These street signs are ADVERTISEMENTS. They are a marketing tool! They don't just exist as a handy navigational aid, as they have for hundreds of years. No, they're doing much more. They're saying "Hey chump, wouldn't you like to live here... on Balsam Creek? ... We know you know there isn't a creek, and that there isn't any balsam wood for hundreds of miles in any direction, and yet... Balsam Creek! Yeah! You know what I'm talking about!"

The fake-0 street names exist solely so that someone will be marginally more tempted to purchase property. How f'd up is this?

Sometimes, as all greedy deceitful marketers do, the street namers accidentally tip their hand.
Every street name I've mentioned so far is an actual, confirmed street name from the particular community I visited that weekend in Summerlin, NV. But here are a few more that caught my eye:

Winter Teal - Shouldn't this be part of a description for a v-neck sweater? How is it a street name?

Knox Gold - Yep. Knox is actually an adjective. Bet you never knew that. You probably thought it was a noun. Specifically, the name of a guy from the revolutionary war for whom Fort Knox was named. No, it's an adjective. It means "a goldish, gold-like color".

Prime View - Here they just gave up. They couldn't be bothered to withdraw one more stupid name from the endless reserves in their asses and so they just put the selling point directly in the street name. They could just abandon the facade now and name all the streets "Perfect for Kids" or "Pets Welcome" or "Sunday move-ins must be approved".

So I think I've now realized the folly of my support for the giant soulless residential planned communities. From now on I'll treat them with the same suspicion and distrust I have for everything else.

Okay, one more: Hawk Bay

Cause you know how the hawks like to hang around sea level.

(Update: 10:50 pm - Well okay, I guess the seahawk does. Point taken.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, how very vapid. Perhaps leaving the suburbs which so delight you would expand your horizons quite a bit. Also, I happen to live on monterey bay, and there are more than few hawks here.

Rowsdower said...

Yes, okay, I already admitted it, I goofed! The problem was I was actually sort of thinking of condors. (of course now someone's going to say "hey, what about the surfcondor?")

On the other hand, this is the first time I've been lectured on expanded horizons by someone boasting that they live in Monterey. You want to expand on that?

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