KunstlerCast - Suburban Sprawl: A Tragic Comedy
James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and World Made By Hand, takes on suburban sprawl, disposable architecture and the end of the cheap oil era each week with program host Duncan Crary.
Every year James Howard Kunstler publishes his annual forecast on his popular blog. For this installment of the KunstlerCast, Jim gives us a sneak preview of some of his predictions for 2009. Topics in this show include: phony baloney money, new economies, home deliveries, oil shortages and price increases. Kunstler also talks about his 1999 predictions and thoughts about Y2K. Released: Dec. 25, 2008
Direct download: KunstlerCast_44.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:09am EDT

James Howard Kunstler explains the negative effects that empty building lots have on the urban streetscape. These empty spaces or "missing teeth" are dead zones that are repellent to pedestrians. But, at the moment, our car crazy society prefers to keep those dead zones for surface parking rather than to infill them with good urban buildings. During the second half of the program Kunstler speaks face-to-face with Troy, N.Y. Mayor Harry Tutunjian about what to do with the empty space that will be left behind after the city demolishes its current City Hall. Plans for the soon-to-be empty lot include an underground parking garage with grass on top. The mayor says that the lawn will allow access to the Hudson River and provide scenic views of the River from Broadway. Kunstler argues that the building lot should be completely occupied by a good urban building, like a new city hall. Released: Dec. 18, 2008

Direct download: KunstlerCast_43.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:11pm EDT

James Howard Kunstler joins host Duncan Crary for the Victorian Stroll in downtown Troy, NY. During this annual event, the city evicts the automobile from the streets and 21st century people discover how pleasurable it is to explore this 19th century urban fabric on foot. Kunstler believes events like this are rehearsal for the times ahead when Americans will be forced to re-inhabit their small cities and classic main-street towns.

Direct download: KunstlerCast_42.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:33pm EDT

James Howard Kunstler says the notion that Americans have a long tradition of being able to do whatever they want with their land is a fallacy. This false notion is really just the result of a propaganda campaign by the promoters of suburban sprawl and the real estate industry. In reality, there is a whole corpus of responsibilities, obligations and duties that come with land ownership in America that simply can't be ignored. Kunstler compares American attitudes toward community ownership with those in Europe.

Music provided by IODA Promonet. For information, visit http://kunstlercast.com

Direct download: KunstlerCast_41.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:08pm EDT

The Future of North American Shipping

James Howard Kunstler responds to a listener question about the future of water transportation in North America. There is a fabulous inland waterway system in North America that is going to become very important again. But, if we want to remain serious about trade in this country we are going to have to rebuild the infrastructure for water and rail transportation. All of those waterfronts where we've been building theme parks, condominium clusters and picnic grounds in recent times will have to make room for the warehouses, piers and sleazy accommodations for the sailors that are required by water transit.

Direct download: KunstlerCast_39.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:09pm EDT

JHK Reacts to the Election of Barack Obama

James Howard Kunstler shares his feelings about President-elect Barack Obama. For now Jim is hopeful that Mr. Obama can set a good example for decent behavior as he takes the helm of a functionally bankrupt government. In order to reform the systems of daily life that have to be fixed, it's important that Obama tells the truth to American people. Jim also addresses the high speed rail bond that passed in California. Lastly, a listener in Japan predicts how the Japanese will face The Long Emergency.

Promo music featured in this episode courtesy of IODA Promonet:

FerndorfHauschka
"Freibad" (mp3)
from "Ferndorf"
(Fat Cat Records)

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For more info about the music on this podcast, visit: http://kunstlercast.com

Direct download: KunstlerCast_38.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

James Howard Kunstler muses on the increasing irrelevance of the two political parties in America. Neither party seems to be truly facing our energy predicament and the coming obsolescence of suburbia. Yet this is with the complete connivance of the voting public, which is too heavily invested in the status quo.

Music featured in this episode courtesy of iodaPromonet.

Direct download: KunstlerCast_37.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

In this special video podcast edition of the KunstlerCast you can watch and listen to the second half of a commentary track that James Howard Kunstler and Duncan Crary recorded for a soon-to-be-released DVD called The Story of Sprawl. The DVD is being produced by Planetizen.com. Kunstler and Crary comment on The City a 1939 film with a narrative written by the great 20th century generalist Lewis Mumford. In part 2 of the film Mumford pitches the idea for "green cities," but these green cities look an awful lot like suburbia.

For information about this film and to watch a version without commentary, visit www.kunstlercast.com

Direct download: KunstlerCast_36_Video.m4v
Category:Vidcast -- posted at: 3:54pm EDT

In this special video podcast edition of the KunstlerCast you can watch and listen to a commentary track that James Howard Kunstler and Duncan Crary recorded for a soon-to-be-released DVD called The Story of Sprawl. The DVD is being produced by Planetizen.com. Kunstler and Crary comment on The City a 1939 film with a narrative written by the great 20th century generalist Lewis Mumford. In part 1 of the film, Mumford provides a nostalgic view of rural small-town American life in contrast to life in the harsh industrial cities and among the towering skyscrapers of New York. Mumford urges viewers that we can build better environments to live in, especially for our children. But we know where that line of thinking led us to: suburbia.

For information about this film and to watch a version without commentary, visit www.kunstlercast.com

Direct download: KunstlerCast_35_Video.m4v
Category:Vidcast -- posted at: 1:49pm EDT

This is the audio only version of KunstlerCast #35. There is a video podcast version of this episode as well.

 

In this special edition of the KunstlerCast, James Howard Kunstler and Duncan Crary recorded a commentary track for a soon-to-be-released DVD called The Story of Sprawl. The DVD is being produced by Planetizen.com. Kunstler and Crary comment on The City, a 1939 film with a narrative written by the great 20th century generalist Lewis Mumford. In part 1 of the film, Mumford provides a nostalgic view of rural small-town American life in contrast to life in the harsh industrial cities and among the towering skyscrapers of New York. Mumford urges viewers that we can build better environments to live in, especially for our children. But we know where that line of thinking led us to: suburbia.

 

To watch the video podcast or to watch the original film without commentary, visit www.KunstlerCast.com

Direct download: KunstlerCast_35_Audio.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:43pm EDT

James Howard Kunstler is not a hope dispenser to passive consumers of hope. But ultimately he believes that life is moving into a more favorable phase, even if it will be difficult to get there. In this show Kunstler responds to a listener call about our moral responsibility to do the right thing and fix our country. He talks about the importance of cultivating joy in one's life and doing meaningful work. He also shares his thoughts on Sen. Barack Obama's hopeful message and discusses how his own mood has changed since he first wrote The Geography of Nowhere.

Music featured in this episode courtesy of iodaPromonet.

Direct download: KunstlerCast_34.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

James Howard Kunstler comments on the Great Bailout of 2008 and how we got into the current financial crisis. As the U.S. manufacturing economy withered away, Americans sought to gain wealth by getting something from nothing through Ponzi scheme investment algorithms. By assuming liability of bad mortgages, Congress may be in position of attempting to prop up the value suburban houses. But Kunstler believes the housing values will continue to go down, no matter what happens. And the truth is that we shouldn't want that devaluation to stop because we need to reach a point where the median price of a house is equal to the median income of the average America. The true damage may yet to be seen. Kunstler also explains his meme that the GOP is the party that wrecked America.

( 11 MB | 24:00 mins.)

Direct download: KunstlerCast_33.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:21am EDT

James Howard Kunstler addresses the proliferation of tattoos on the American main street. He thinks the fierce looking tattoos on young Americas are actually a sign of how deeply insecure we are as a nation. They're also a form of "non-conformist-just-like-you" consumerism. Jim also takes on the hip hop costuming that has invaded the mainstream and has made young men look like oversized babies and violent clowns.

 

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( 14 MB | 17 mins.)

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:16am EDT

This July, oilman T. Boone Pickens told Congress that James Howard Kunstler is worth listening to and that he's right on about the mistakes we've made in America regarding our use of cheap oil. In this program, Kunstler discusses the "Pickens Plan" to use wind energy and natural gas to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil. Other topics include Shai Agassi's Better Place plan to make electric cars viable. Kunstler also answers a listener's question about purchasing a new car.

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KunstlerCast_28.mp3
( 23 MB | 32:00 mins.)

Links:
http://pickensplan.com
http://energyenvironment.tv

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:38pm EDT

This installment attempts to explore America's anti-urban bias. Topics include: environmentalists and the human habitat, suburban style housing projects in the ghetto, white flight, and Ralph Kramden's apartment in The Honeymooners tv show. James Howard Kunstler also gives advice to those of us who are required to visit the burbs to see our families.

[Note: one curse word.]

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KunstlerCast_27.mp3
( 18 MB | 26:00 mins.)

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:38pm EDT

How did the granola crunching nature-loving hippies of the 1960s become the gas guzzling, McMansion dwelling, suburban yuppies of today? James Howard Kunstler reflects on his own generation. Kunstler also shares some of his own groovy stories from the Age of Aquarius.

[Note: This episode mentions sex, recreational drug use, and includes some curse words.]

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KunstlerCast_26.mp3 ( 18 MB | 25:30 mins.)

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

Frederick Law Olmsted is most noted for designing Central Park in Manhattan. His method of landscape design now serves as the main model for how we design parks in America. But James Howard Kunstler believes that our ongoing attempts to replicate the Olmsted park have created many urban parks with serious shortcomings. Kunstler also warns listeners not to ask for "green space" in their towns because "green space" is an abstraction. Instead he urges people to learn the vocabulary of landscape architecture to be able to ask for specific park features.

Learn about our theme music, join our mailing list and discuss this show at www.kunstlercast.com

<b>Direct Download:</b> <a href="http://media.libsyn.com/media/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_25.mp3">KunstlerCast_25.mp3</a> ( 19 MB | 27 mins.)

Direct download: KunstlerCast_25.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:13pm EDT


James Howard Kunstler continues his walking tour of one city block in downtown Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a classic Main-street American town. We resume the tour on the corner of Division Street and Railroad Place, where a major urban infill project has produced a brand new urban street that is well defined on both sides by five-story high buildings, with dignified frontages, ground-level retail space and apartments above. Kunstler points out some architectural problems and weird transitions but he's mostly pleased by the new buildings in this neighborhood. As we leave the new urban street, things completely fall apart when we encounter the results of the urban renewal schemes of the 1960s. Most of the 20 acres in front of us is surface parking, occupied on the fringe by inappropriate suburban buildings.

[Note: Use Google Street View to follow along with this program. Visit: http://maps.google.com and enter this address: 402 Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Cross Broadway, head up Division Street and turn left at Railroad Place.]

www.kunstlercast.com

<b>Direct Download:</b> <a href="http://media.libsyn.com/media/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_24.mp3">KunstlerCast_24.mp3</a> ( 14 MB | 20 mins.)

Direct download: KunstlerCast_24.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:06pm EDT

James Howard Kunstler often describes Saratoga Springs N.Y. as a classic Main Street American town. In part one of this special program, we take to the streets of Saratoga to experience the sense of place in this small city. Kunstler brings us from the busy sidewalks along Broadway to a sidestreet leading to a major urban infill project. He explains the urban sensibilities of the 19th century structures, points out the boneheaded decisions of the 1960s one-story development, and the promising efforts of mid-1990s new urbanism.

[Note: Use Google Street View to follow along with this program. Visit: http://maps.google.com/ and enter this address:   402 Broadway  Saratoga Springs, NY 12866]

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KunstlerCast_23.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:45am EDT


James Howard Kunstler explores the consequences of handicap access laws and codes, and how they have unintentionally promoted suburban sprawl throughout much of America. In many instances, developers feel it's easier and cheaper to just build one-story buildings rather than multi-story handicap accessible buildings. These laws can also discourage the retrofitting of second and third story retail space in old "Main Street" buildings as well. So while handicap access codes may make it easier for some people to use our built environment, they can also indirectly make it more difficult for those do not own a car.

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KunstlerCast_22.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:52pm EDT


In preparation for the Fourth of July, Jim and Duncan celebrate the God-given right of every American to convenience, Cheez Doodles and happy motoring pleasure. Jim says convenience is the product of a particular set of circumstances that are coming to an end in this country. The diminishing returns of American convenience are apparent in things like Baluchitherium sized-people, short attention spans and road rage. This program includes other rants against cell phones, Trustafarians and the miracle of email. *Note: some cursewords

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KunstlerCast_21.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:48am EDT

Religious activists are praying at Washington DC gas stations for cheaper fuel. James Howard Kunstler says that type of neurotic behavior isn't much different than the behavior of cargo cults in the South Pacific. The concept of getting something for nothing is widely accepted by American culture, and religion, too. But Jim feels spirituality in America might one day evolve into something worthy of more respect than the Jiminy Cricket, consumerist culture of today's suburban mega churches.

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KunstlerCast_19.mp3


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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT


Asphalt has become the default paving solution in America. And it's helped turn even side streets into mini freeways. It's ugly, it's bad for the environment and it might not be so cheap in the near future as the price of petroleum-based products rises. In this show, James Howard Kunstler discusses the aesthetics, the qualities and the practicalities of other paving materials. Jim says the built environment in America is so full of empty gestures that the sidewalks end after only 60 feet. But he has been to a place in Michigan where cars are not allowed. And the streets are wonderful. **Note to re-broadcasters: curse word at 1:22 mins.

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KunstlerCast_18.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:39am EDT


A listener from San Francisco, who admits to suffering excessive civic pride for his hometown, asks James Howard Kunstler to critique The Golden Gate City and to speak about some of the other places in America that Jim actually likes. Kunstler acknowledges that San Francisco does a lot of things right. But it bends over for the car, and many of the streets are poorly detailed. He also warns that the city's plan to erect seven new skyscrapers is ill fated. We close the show with the seven or so cities in America that Jim likes best. 

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KunstlerCast_17.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

A listener from New Zealand asks JamesHoward Kunstler what peak oil holds in store for his island nation. The picture isn't pretty. Kunstler says the Kiwis better watch their backs. China, Japan and even Australia could all pose threats to New Zealand as they face shortages in the new energy future. At the end of the program, a cast of listeners sounds off. We hear from a black man in Queens who is not African-American, a former Long Island nanny, and an urban planner from Canada who asks Jim to lay off the planners, dude.

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KunstlerCast_16.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT


A listener from Canada asks if small cities will be willing and able to absorb more people after peak oil makes big city life problematic. James Howard Kunstler believes that many small cities across North America are waiting to be reactivated. These places would benefit from having more people living in them. But in order to prepare for returning populations, they will need to return to a much smaller increment of development.

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KunstlerCast_15.mp3


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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:10am EDT

James Howard Kunstler takes questions on personal rapid transit, sustainable green buildings and the happy motoring program in America.  He also scolds us for us referring to ourselves as consumers. This show is the result of a special collaboration between The KunstlerCast and Planetizen, the online network for professional planners.

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KunstlerCast_13.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:49pm EDT

A listener from Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. wants to know about the ethics of gentrification. What happens to the poor people who get pushed out of the cities when wealthier people move in? James Howard Kunstler addresses how abnormal it is that American city centers are primarily inhabited by poor people. Jim and Duncan also touch upon the racial dimensions of gentrification.

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KunstlerCast_12.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:17pm EDT

When James Howard Kunstler isn't railing against suburban sprawl, he's painting it. Vincent van Gogh painted the peasant sleeping by the haystack because he was living in a landscape populated by people. Our landscape is populated by cars. So, as a sur la motif painter of our time, Jim's subjects include cars on the road, gas stations and the industrial ruins of America's manufacturing past. Making this landscape legible on the canvas is a challenge, but it's also dangerous! An angry manager once told Jim that painting the Burger King is not allowed.

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KunstlerCast_11.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:41pm EDT

Is raising children in suburbia a form of child abuse? What happens to developing people when public space is the berm between the Wal-Mart and the K-Mart? When school looks like a maximum security "facility"? When parents are chauffeurs? James Howard Kunstler addresses these topics and speaks of his own experiences growing up in the suburbs of Long Island and in Manhattan.

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KunstlerCast_10.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:16pm EDT

James Howard Kunstler is one of the most vocal critics of modern urban planning. So it's only fair that in this show Jim fields some questions from the professional planning community. First off, the planners want to know how Jim answers to critics who challenge him on his lack of professional credentials in the planning and architecture fields. Next, a planning professor wants to know: what is the most important thing that cities can do to most improve the quality of the built environment? This show is the result of a special collaboration between The KunstlerCast and Planetizen, the online network for professional planners.

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KunstlerCast_09.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:57am EDT

When James Howard Kunstler wrote The Geography of Nowhere, it was to give people "the vocabulary to understand what's wrong with the places they ought to know best." In this installment we run down a few choice Kunstlerisms, like "parking lagoons" , "nature Band-Aides" and "patriotic totems." Kunstler also tells us why the depressing topic of suburban sprawl is also really funny.

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KunstlerCast_08.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:55pm EDT

A listener from Flagstaff, Ariz. wants to know what fate awaits his town in the post oil future. The verdict from Jim? At least it's not Phoenix, but most of Flagstaff looks like the service road around Newark Airport. The caller also asks about the new Honda hydrogen fuel cell car, which reminds Jim to bash so-called environmentalist Amory Lovins' fantasy to keep the motoring scene going at all costs.

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KunstlerCast_07.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:14am EDT

Ya seen one town in America ya seen 'em all. But that's because they're all mandated to look that way! James Howard Kunstler tells the tragic story of zoning codes in the United States. At one time, zoning was a rational response to unpleasant conditions of the newly emerging industrial city. But the fanatical level to which zoning became worshiped by public officials has reduced urban planning from an art form to the mere administration of curb cuts, signage and statistical analysis of traffic flow. *Note to re-broadcasters: curse words at 8:48 mins.

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KunstlerCast_06.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:24pm EDT


How and why did Seattle build that hideous new public library? asks one listener from that city. James Howard Kunstler tells us how cities get hoodwinked into a status fashion contest to have a museum or library built by one of the celebrity architects of the day. Rem Koolhass, Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman and others are deliberately designing these disastrous, anxiety-inducing mothership UFOs in order to mystify people into thinking they're supernaturally brilliant. And then we're stuck with these Gillette Blue Blade-clad fun houses for decades.

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KunstlerCast_05.mp3
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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:49am EDT


A listener from Columbus, Ohio shares the bad news about two proposed downtown parking garages. Even though James Howard Kunstler thinks the happy motoring scene in America is on the way out, he explains how to design a better parking garage with first-floor retail, a central lightwell and taller ceilings. The Europeans have a better solution, though: the car club.

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KunstlerCast_04.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:06am EDT


James Howard Kunstler reads from World Made By Hand, his new novel based on the post-oil future.  Published by The Atlantic Monthly Press, World Made By Hand is set in upstate New York in the not distant future. It is a fictional account of the ideas based in Kunstler's nonfiction book, The Long Emergency.

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KunstlerCast_03.mp3
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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:07am EDT


James Howard Kunstler describes the impending end of cheap oil, which he calls The Long Emergency. Suburbia is a living arrangement with no future. Things are going to get pretty gnarly in the big cities, too. But small cities, that exist at a scale that can be rebuilt, are the places of the future.

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KunstlerCast_02.mp3
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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:05am EDT

James Howard Kunstler rips on drugstores: the one-story, junk food- dispensing boxes that masquerade as buildings on America's street corners. Topics include: monocultural zoning; big retail vs. mom & pop; separating the business programming from the container that it comes in; and the destiny of these awful structures after the cheap oil fiesta is over.

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KunstlerCast_01.mp3

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Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00am EDT