Surrounded by tocsins

Remember when we ignored the alarms and all this happened?

On a walk through the streets of your town, your eyes will see mainly the sooty, blackened exteriors of buildings. You will almost have to give up the pinks, the yellows, the pastels you love in fashion. Dark colors will be most practical when clothing gets so dirty so quickly. Nylons, according to current evidence, will pop.

Home furnishings and interiors will have to be painted, cleaned, washed all the time. And because of the constant cleaning and the naturally corrosive quality of dirt, things will have to be replaced more often. Think what that will do to your budget.

The crisis in nature may even creep into your personality. Some experts say that there will be general depression and melancholia in a dangerously polluted environment. Large amounts of exhaust from cars can cause drowsiness. Lethargy and sleepiness will be common. Imagine what it will be like trying to do anything, or even to think clearly, under these conditions.

From “When the cities run out of breath…” by Carol Botwin, in American Girl, October 1968. According to Botwin, failure to answer the alarm would guarantee that this lovely little dystopia would descend upon us in — 1980.

I think I’d remember someone’s nylons popping.





5 comments

  1. McGehee »

    2 October 2007 · 11:26 am

    Imagine what it will be like trying to do anything, or even to think clearly, under these conditions.

    It might explain the voting habits in places like New York and L.A.

  2. Mister Snitch! »

    2 October 2007 · 4:27 pm

    Today someone asked me if the 7 fireplaces in my building ‘worked’. I had to explain that, yes, they worked if you wanted them to. But they were designed to burn coal, and heat the house. That was their function, before natural gas. When it got cold, you brought a shuttle full of coal up from the cellar and loaded up each of the seven fireplaces. Maybe you even kept some nearby.

    So your house became black, both inside and out, from this stuff. Not to mention your lungs. And our cities WERE black. Pittsburgh, where coal not only heated homes but made steel, was the blackest of all our great cities.

    All that changed with petroleum alternatives: Heating oil and natural gas. Our cities (and lungs) got a lot cleaner. Yet we have clowns with no sense of history writing stuff like the gibberish you published in this post. And asking me if my fireplaces ‘work’. Yeah, they work. Run them for a month and see how you like it.

  3. Andrea Harris »

    2 October 2007 · 4:53 pm

    It seems odd to us now that it never seemed to have occurred to anyone that we could ever find cleaner alternatives to dirty fuels, and that we would be able to clean up our environment not only without reverting to some mystical cleaner technology-free lifestyle (in the real world the less technology you have the dirtier your environment is), or people dying in huge masses, but instead improving our lifestyle to the extent that ordinary working-class people can own multiple tvs and cars and nice designer furniture. I see that same short-sightedness in today’s “Aaaghhhh! Climate Change!” crowd.

  4. David Fleck »

    4 October 2007 · 8:48 pm

    Why on earth would nylons ‘pop’? What does that mean?

  5. CGHill »

    4 October 2007 · 9:21 pm

    I’m guessing “fray at high speed, creating obvious holes in fabric,” but then, I’ve never witnessed this phenomenon, and God knows I spent lots of time in 1968 observing nylon.

RSS feed for comments on this post