Saturday, January 29, 2011

Boomer generation running into a transportation "no win"

I was channel surfing the other night and landed on a PBS show that caught my interest.
The show was talking about how the Boomers were growing older by the day and since most of them (myself included) live in suburbs we're running into a problem.
Suburbs are not known for their mass transit because since the 50's the mode of transportation has always been the car.
As the Boomers have aged our modes of mass transportation have not kept up with a massive generation of people that have always placed the family car as the only form of transportation.

Be it lack of foresight by local and state governments, or just an unwillingness to get on a bus or light rail, Boomers approaching 65 or 70 are finding that living in the suburbs can become an increasingly inconvenient and difficult problem with no convenient mass transit.

I've been complaining for 25 years about the lack of a decent light rail or subway in my home city of Denver, which is similar to most U.S. cities in the west in the fact that local governments spent millions on study after study examining trains and light rail in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere and then never progressing beyond studies to actually build a light rail or some form of good public transit.
Now we have an aging generation, the largest in American history, with no decent way for them to get around and since everything in the burbs is not within walking distance older people are forced to drive or depend on their children.

This is a serious situation as gas prices are predicted to rise through 2011-2012 possibly to as much as $4 a gallon. While many seem to think high gas prices are "good" for America causing us to drive electric cars, biking to work, or riding mass transit, in the western U.S. this is just not realistic. Particularly as the Boomer generation ages.

Older workers and those just retiring will be faced with massive gasoline costs monthly and in the weakest economy in 50 years calling this situation "good" for America is heartless and hypocritical.
Mass transit must be improved in the suburbs of most American cities and governments AND the private sector must find a way to do it or we're going to have in 20-30 years a lot of house bound retirees and older workers with no way to get around and living in sub standard conditions.

Remember, I'm Just the Sax Player

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Tron Legacy" as a Christian Metaphor

A couple of years ago I rummaged through a collectors toy store and found an old VHS copy of the original 'Tron" Disney film from 1982 not expecting that either of my boys would like it, but surprisingly, my then 11 year old watched it transfixed and then watched it several times over the next week or so. My younger son has been anxiously awaiting the new "Tron Legacy" Film so we headed to the multiplex today for his 13th birthday.
The original "Tron" was not a fav. of mine I have to admit, mostly because watching bad acting with guys in white knit suits and hats that resembled olympic hockey helmets with lights on them was too nerdy for me even in '82.
The Idea however of "Tron" did have a fascination for me and quite a few of my musician, electronics geek pals. Where I parted company with them was because of the incredibly bad special effects that were available in that decade.
As my son and I got our 3-d glasses on (for an extra $4 I might add) I knew this film was going to be much different. What I didn't expect was a lesson in using high tech film as an analogy for Christian theology and allegorical biblical storytelling.
The original Tron held a cult fascination for geekdom because a human, in this case Jeff Bridges gets zapped into his Computer by a laser and he navigates a digital, microchip world populated with "Programs" that look like humans that can be evil or good. (They also get to ride the coolest digital motorcycles seen on film).
"Tron Legacy" takes the concept quite a bit further when the son of Jeff Bridges enters his fathers computer grid world once again looking for his dad and also his own identity, which has escaped him since his fathers disappearance.
The Christian analogies hit me about half way through when the "son" comes back into the digital world to save it from the evil clone created by Jeff Bridges. The father obviously loves his son and is willing to sacrifice to save both worlds. Another metaphor is satan disguised as Jeff Bridges clone program (eerily made to look like Jeff Bridges of 25 years ago with incredible CGI) created to make the digital world more perfect, but then maliciously takes over with the ultimate goal of "perfecting" not only the digital world but the real world as well.
I think Disney's writers are also trying to make a statement about those that attempt to create a perfect world through force even if it cannot be done to the detriment of society. The analogy to totalitarian regimes of the past and present is very obvious to this moviegoers eyes.
To this believer, the allegory was inescapable. Whether Disney's screenwriters had this in mind or not is hard to say, and that could be a topic for a whole different blog.
Jeff Bridges (the father) sums up well what we can take away from "Tron Legacy" in his statement "I'm sorry, I was trying to create perfection... But it was right in front of me the whole time".

Remember, I'm just the Sax Player. :)