A few minutes ago, I extracted a few "Bad Subjects -- Business Etc." folders for transport to one of the filing cabinets in the garage. In one devoted to business from the first year -- 1992-1993 -- I found preliminary notes for my piece "Making Sense of Seattle," written in March of 1993:
Just as the aesthetic practices of Modernism must be defined in relation to the mass culture it wards off/reacts against (Jameson), so must the contemporary 'alternative' scenes be defined in relation to exurbia/'Edge Cities' whose soul-lessness, community-lessness (Edge City intro) they counter/belie/etc. . . In opposition to this soul-lessness, such 'alternative scenes' (S.F. hippiedom as early example -- American already suburbanized) have primarily offered either college-towns or, increasingly, urban cores as their centers (note irony in picking Seattle for bands originally from Everett or Aberdeen!). As the urban core becomes less and less a 'center' (place to which people commute -- see Edge City intro), it finds itself a source of a new 'alternative', not as in the past, to itself (Modernism -- the city reflecting on itself = self-reflexivity), but to the multiple cores of exurbia that have robbed it of its centrality! Hence even NYC can be a source of 'alternative authenticity' in this new paradigm.We're still in that world, to a large extent. But there have been greater efforts made to imbue exurban cores and micro-cores with at least a simulacrum of urban life. Certainly, the Borders/Barnes and Noble/Starbucks consumer culture has penetrated a lot deeper and wider into "middle America" than was the case in 1993. It's no accident that Barnes and Noble cafés often have that mural of 20s-era artists -- the mural alone could be a dissertation, given its initial maleness and subsequent multiculturalization -- associated with the self-reflexive urbanity of Modernism. To some extent, the exurban caramel mocha sipper with a "Microsoft Office for Dummies" book open on the table is supposed to identify with the images of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Eliot, and Faulkner in the mural.