Cody Perkins (top) and Chris Johnson from Country Boys
In addition to the discussion brewing on Gehry and the Atlantic Yards project, I've been obsessed all week with the latest Frontline special, Country Boys. You can watch the entire program from the web site, if you missed it.
There's something I love about this glimpse into the inner life of two boys, Chris and Cody, trying to grow up in Appalachian Kentucky. This gets more personal than I've been on this blog. I'm not sure if it's my own family's rural and humble roots (albeit in another country), or my own struggle to belong when I was growing up here as a new immigrant, or the experience of having to grow up quickly, which is typical of new immigrant children, and which intensified when my sister and I decided to stay in the United States while my parents decided to return to their home country, just as I started high school. I grew up in a privileged community, so watching Chris explain what it was like to pay bills and take care of the house while handling school work was the first time I saw my embarrassment, but in another, and completely different person.
The other thing I pay close attention to when I get a chance to get close to another life is how people live their days - how they get to work or school, what they do in their free time, how they get their groceries, run everyday errands, how they choose to get together and meet other people. I'm sure that what the two boys did was not entirely emblematic of everyone's lifestyle in Eastern Kentucky, but it was fascinating to see how hard it was for them just to see...anyone. And in a rural area where people are few and far between, it seems even more important that people who do live there have places to gather. This is a kind of revelation I experienced when I moved from a generally rural/suburban area to a more metropolitan area for the first time. In the city, through my everyday routine of walking to work, getting coffee and breakfast, getting groceries and schlepping them back to my tiny studio apartment, I realized that I wasn't as lonely as I had been in the suburbs, even though I knew absolutely no one in the city.
I don't think everyone needs to live in urban areas. I just think that we haven't been paying the right kind of attention to suburbs and rural areas, which should also address basic needs and in a socially constructive way. Regardless of environment - urban, suburban, rural - everyone needs to buy groceries, go to work, go to school, run errands, and see people every once in a while -- no matter who we are.
Posted by Shin-pei at 6:29 PM