This won’t be easy to explain, but I’m going to try.
In a movie I was watching last night, a character had occasion to pass by his local American Legion hall. That reminded me that my town’s American Legion hall, with its front yard adorned with real howitzers carefully modified so as not to shoot, is no more. Gone. Vanished. Torn down, paved over, not a trace of it left.
It has joined our Italian-American Club, our woodland, our spring of cool, pure, delicious water, our local farms, our Dairy Queen, and so much else, more than I can bear to list, in oblivion.
Now, you can’t just take away all these amenities from a small town without turning it into some kind of gulag. All the buildings that have replaced the real places are tall, featureless cubes.
This is why I think the powers that be in my home town are from another world. Because they can only imitate human life without having any feeling for it. That’s why the yards are so small on all the new houses, and no one ever comes outdoors.
To replace what they’ve torn down and paved over, our reigning space aliens plug in things and events they think ought to be part of small-town life, periodically blocking off Main Street so they can have a Classic Car Night or a Winter Solstice Festival or some other kind of celebration of something that you never heard of. These would be all right, I suppose, if they had grown here over time. But these are just plugged in. It’s not the same as a farm whose owners, once upon a time, fought in our War for Independence. It doesn’t make up for the little field of wild tulips they’ve destroyed.
So overnight these artsy Special Events spring up out of nowhere, because entities from Mars or Diomega Orionis IV think this is what a small town in America ought to look like.
At best they mean well, and are trying to install homey touches to replace what they’ve bulldozed away. At worst it’s entertainment for them. They watch us and go tee-hee.
Those old places were real; they belonged here.
The new ones aren’t, and don’t.