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xl5er

Futurama in UTAH?

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Been meaning to write this final Futurama In chapter for... years. Turned out so lengthy I figured it an imposition to force my musings on you guys w you know, hobbies, families, lives. So I decided to be brief. Hope I succeed. 

Fall 2017 I almost drove the rental car off westbound I-40 out of Albuquerque. Kept turning to ogle the Sandia Mts glowing orange in my wake. Through the windshield and the rearview mirror the setting sun reflected off the heavy metropolitan traffic. This busy city was no longer Bugs Bunny’s wrong turn backwater but sparkling steel and glass. Always had a personal manifest destiny thing w the American West so I was loving this direction of travel into the clear sky desert of Bobby Troup. 

Wasn’t til later I realized why I was so enthralled. The scene reminded me of the final Futurama diorama as the ride climbs out of the modern city of lights into the mtns and desert landscape vista, IIRC, also of the setting sun. 
 
THAT left a HUGE impression on 7yr old me!

I had left Miami. If I can’t post the pics, Google Miami Metromover. The city is basically, not just a Kenner Girder and Panel building set, but the one w the Sky Rails! 
 
 
I swear, the Arquitectonica and other design firms musta grown up as I did because the tracks penetrate buildings and station platforms are built inside. 

When I arrived in 1981, Miami was the low rise city of Elvis’ Clambake where I saw a bald eagle steal a fish from an osprey right over the port of Miami, now a crowded city itself w cruise ships as horizontal skyscrapers. I could pull off a road anywhere and catch a lobster and a beer. Not legally of course, but there were few fences back then “protecting” us from the ocean. 

Dozens of construction cranes are visible as far as the eye can see from anywhere downtown and have been for, well, as long as I can remember; 2012 or so. The entire downtown is being transformed into an intermodal transportation hub w Richard Bronson’s trains to Disneyworld and, I just found out today, to the Port. The amount of bribes that must’ve taken is mind boggling. Serious voting w pocketbooks against Florida soon being underwater.

So, between the Miami City of the Future and the ribbon of highway to the golden west, I have to admit, at least for me...

The Future is here. 

Sure, no jet packs, but the dystopian future of Blade Runner was set in November 2019. That didn’t happen either.

Moved to little St George, Utah, half a year ago. It’ll be Las Vegas someday. I-15 will be a solid corridor of subdivisions from LA to Salt Lake. I’ve been assured we have 11 1/2 years until the planet is uninhabitable. But I have lots to appreciate in the meantime. 
 
No trains ever ran here. But the freight trains visible from anywhere else out west are so long and come so often as to be almost continuous, again like the Futurama diorama. I can obtain any good or service.
 
Between sushi, the internet, and the technological dreams that did come true, this place is not tumbleweeds and dust. Life here is not sacrifice and deprivation, but opportunity and recreation. I don’t feel betrayed by a world of tomorrow that never came, like so many gripe about. 
 
I have seen the Future. Back in NYWF 64-65. Now I’m living it. 
 

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Wonderful post!  You sparked a memory for me:  Kenner Girder and Panel.  

For a long time I have been trying to remember the name of that 1960s toy.  I received a set as an anonymous Christmas gift when I was seven  or eight and I loved creating "modern" buildings with it.

 I could never find any sense of interest in assembling plastic models of WWII air planes or ships and all I did was manage to glue pieces to my hands, to  the carpet, to the table, to my shoe and once or twice to my younger sister.  

And erector sets were equally ridiculous.  Even at the age of eight I understood that real men risked tetanus and played with sharp edged metal and small screws that, when not properly repackaged, would pierce the shoeless feet of unsuspecting adults but I hated them.  The only toy more stupid than an erector set, however, was a wood burning kit but that's a different tragedy all together.

But Kenner Girder and Panel made perfect sense. Holy crap. Pieces easily snapped into place and those plastic panels looked just like a brand new 1960s bank building right in my  own town (replacing two grand old Victorian homes which a few of us thought might be haunted).    Kenner Girder and Panel had no sharp edges, no screws, bolts or burning hot surfaces.  It was a simple assembly and provided the remarkable opportunity to add additional sets to create an entire modern city.  It was instant urban renewal in a box.

It's interesting what triggers one's memory.   Your story about the new world you've discovered and how it sparked memories of the Futurama is wonderful.  I do wonder, however, how massive population growth from LA to Salt Lake will be remotely sustainable.  Where will the water come from?  If there is economic salvation for the Northeast and the Mid West it will be the nearly endless supply of fresh water.

In any event, thank you for taking me back more than half a century to when I built modern cities on my bedroom floor.

 

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Wow, hadn’t thought of the wood burning kit in ages. Also had Erector sets, Lincoln Logs. 

Kenner also made this hydraulic kit where you built a maze of tubes and pumps, valves and tanks, ostensibly mimicking some chemical engineering process. Never had. 
 
One of my nabe kids was a few years older. His dad designed toy boxes! What a deal! Natch, dad brought home the toys he worked on, Kenner among them. I was there for hand me downs when he grew out of them. 
 
Ironically, Utah’s austere National Parks are turning rustic Moab and Hurricane into relative megalopolises. Since I’ve been here long stretches of empty roadside desert now have underground utilities laid in, waiting for anticipated demand to catch up. Freeway overpass beams are stacked up in middle of nowhere, and large roadsigns face empty desert where soon enough graders and dozers will be prepping ground for highways leading into new towns. 

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Lincoln Logs!   Have you read The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid by  Bill Bryson?   He is a proud baby boomer born and raised in Des Moines.  A prolific writer, he has authored  some off the best books I've ever read.  The Thunderbolt kid is a hilarious account of his childhood.  

One chapter is devoted to the toys kids had in the 1950s and early 1960s.  His memories of Lincoln Logs is particularly funny.. He recalls how he and a classmate (about third grade) had to make a project for some lesson in class and they built a simple cabin with the logs.  However, it didn't quite fit the assignment and they decided to color the logs.  His friend, for some reason, knew that if one decided to pee on the logs it would bleach them white.  You can guess what the two kids then did.

To make matters worse, Bryson recounts his teacher's fascination upon seeing the white logs and asked the kids how they did it. Neither gave an answer and this  really sparked the teacher's curiosity and he actually took one of the logs and (gasp) licked it and announced the logs had to have been bleached with lemon juice.  You can imagine what went through the ten year old minds of Bryson and his buddy.

Bryson is a wonderful writer and his Boomer memories are brilliantly presented.  The chapter about American food in the 1950s is hilarious and is  combined with brilliant social history.  His other books are equally fascinating.  








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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