A Flaneur鈥檚 Nemesis: Suburban Patio Man

Two details from the morning news stream disconcerted me gloomily as I rode to work with my car pool. David Brooks鈥 latest reification of the U.S. Everyman brand reduced it to one nervous, order-seeking archetype: Patio Man. 鈥淗e鈥檚 happy with the new street-scape shopping area where he and his family can stroll before a movie,鈥 Brooks says. 鈥淗is ideal neighborhood is Mayberry with BlackBerries.鈥 Then NPR鈥檚 Scott Horsley described John McCain鈥檚 latest campaign swing through suburban Missouri, where he avoided cities and sought out new developments in cornfields with a 鈥渞etro small town鈥 feel.

Strolling on a faux street-scape with that retro small-town feel? This might be as close as most of America gets to fl芒nerie. It鈥檚 the kind of fake walkable neighborhood you have to drive to, then park and stroll. It could be a scene from The Stepford Wives. From this blind flaneur鈥檚 perspective, it鈥檚 a 21st-century incarnation of Henry Miller鈥檚 air-conditioned nightmare.

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