Cities Aren’t Loud, Cars Are Loud

I read the title of this post on the Internet. It resonated with me. Sure there are things in the city like constructions and crowds that can be noisy, but really the noise is primarily cars. But as I was thinking about this it isn’t just that cars are loud, and we separate this and apply to the city, but also everything that is wrapped up in our obsession with cars and how much we love to hate cities because of our largely avoided institutional racism.

I am all about unpacking my historical programming. It is one of the central purposes of my life for my remaining years. Part of this work is about unpacking how I viewed big cities like New York early in your life due to the programming I received from Hollywood, family, and friends in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of this programming is driven (pun intended) by our belief in the automobile, and for me, isolated in the woods as the result of my parents’ flight from urban areas.

New York City isn’t that loud. It is when you first come here, but once you get to know your neighborhood, you are able to separate out what the noises are. It is mostly cars. It is the engines, the horns, and screeching tires. Which I feel are all outward expressions of the institutional anxiety, fear, and racism that people in those cars possess. Think of what cities would be if cars were limited to a handful of arteries, and the rest of the streets open to walking and bikes.

We have an unhealthy relationship with the automobile. We have an irrational relationship with cities, because of our unhealthy relationship with cars. Everything is out of whack. I have fallen in love with New York City, and fallen out of love with the automobile. This is something that is changing my relationship with this country. I want to walk. I want to experience it. I don’t want the isolation of an automobile anymore, no matter how far and fast it will get me.