20 June 2008

Chronicling the Last Days of Rome

I often felt that I was witnessing the peak of our societal indulgence while reporting and writing Leisureville, especially as something called "Peak Oil" rumbles inexorably towards us, ready to crash our hedonistic party. When oil hits $200-$400 a barrel, I think there won't be so many Villagers waving their "right" to societal secession, segregation, endless leisure, and a low-paid service economy to, well, service their every need. Come Peak Oil, communities that can't cooperate with others, let alone communities that can't produce anything of any real value ... their days will be quickly numbered. The 45 pools will close, the 4 dozen golf courses will grow shaggy and unplayable, and there won't by any Mexicans around to manicure their gardens (and apparently sleep with lonely older women -- see entry below).

Here's a doozy of a link. I think you'll understand what I'm talking about and you'll also understand what James Kunstler said about my book on the jacket:

“Andrew Blechman’s account of the rampant unreality that has become the normal condition of life in Florida’s child-free retirement ghettos is fascinating. The generation that enjoyed the greatest economic boom in the history of the world is going out with a bang—the sound of society blowing up in our faces. Blechman has a laser eye for the tragicomic absurdities of all the fun, games, and wild sex in theme-park senior villages where Oz-like control is exercised by the developer and his minions. His mordant report from a strange land is consistently interesting.”

—James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency

BTW, I highly recommend anything written by Kunstler. He's a visionary. And he throws great parties. www.kunstler.com




Anonymous said...


The more I read the hype about your book, the hyperinflated, excessively defensive comments by residents, or family members of residents of The Villages, the more several thoughts come to mind for me:

First: While I think retirement should be an enjoyable time for any and all who have the means to make that happen for themselves, the apparent egotistical, "me first" attitude that thrives in segregated communities like The Villages, Sun City, and other similar places is a sad, sad example of the emotional and familial disconnect plaguing our culture. As young parents, and young families, are increasingly finding themselves without the emotional support of the older generation of parents/grandparents I can't help but believe the ramifications will be unforgivable.

For generations-thousands of years, in fact- "family" has been a multi-generational experience. And now, largely in our independent, self-serving American culture, the right to drive golf carts, live away from the cacophony and chaos of young children, and spend time and money on "me, me, me," is becoming disturbingly pervasive in certain circles.

Of course, this is not the case everywhere. Individuals and families still DO exist who value the idea of raising young children in close proximity to their grandparents. But the example set by these select (selective?) communities--embodied in your portrayal of The Villages--only encourages this continued disconnect.

I hope your book reaches far and wide. And that the readers who find themselves most offended by the messages and ideas presented in Leisureville, will take a good look at WHY they are offended. The truth is, after all, often very hard to swallow.

Kimmelin Hull
author of A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood

Andrew D. Blechman said...


As far as I'm concerned, you are spot-on. I look forward to reading your book. I suspect my readers might enjoy it as well: A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood

Best Wishes,