Wednesday, 5/1/02: More From the Starving Children Lobby

Spending way too much time on honking. No doubt about it.

Got a great e-mail from a guy named Ed who found this web site filled with photos of Japanese SUV spare tire covers. Apparently, the Japanese have turned the rear ends of their SUV's into a medium for bizarre pigeon-english environmentalist messages such as: "4WD with the feeling of nature and the sense of urban having a wide range of activities as daily space" and "My goal is to experience the natural beauty of earth." This is so far beyond ironic I'm not even sure what to call it. I guess it's just Japanese.

Got another great e-mail from an angry fellow named Joseph who lives further down Clinton Street, close to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway "hardly as trendy as your little corner by Pacific St." Joe really doesn't like honku. In fact, I he hates it. And me too.

Joe thinks that if I don't like my neighborhood the way it is, then I should move. It kind of reminds me of conservatives who, towards the end of the Vietnam War told peace protesters (pretty much half the country by that point) "Love it or Leave it:" If you have a problem with America, move to Canada or somewhere else. It's interesting for me to have this reaction pointed in my direction. It feels more like Joe and his ilk are offended simply about the activism of honku rather than anything having to do with the actual issue of traffic noise. Joe even says that the noise down on his part of Clinton Street bugs him too.

"Why do you live in Brooklyn?" Joe asks. "You have put an enormous amount of time and energy into complaining about noise coming into an area you feel is your own... Why not find a place to live that is acceptable to you? A nice suburban subdivision offers the controlled environment where these problems never occur."

He goes on: "People like yourself I see as a much bigger problem than traffic could ever be. You cannot have it both ways. You may think you are clever, but if you have all this time and energy, I would recommend helping some real but less pleasant issue like starving children."

Ahhh, Joe. What can I say? There are definitely a few people out there who agree with you that honku is a complete waste of time and energy and worse -- that it's actively offensive. I might even be one of them. But I don't want to move to a suburban subdivision. I mean, shit, if you hate traffic, the suburbs are the last place you want to live. I really like Brooklyn and my neighborhood here. That's one of the main reasons I bother to work on the problem.

But if I were, as Joe suggests, actively working on the "starving children problem" (which somehow keeps coming up in comparison to the "traffic noise problem"), wouldn't Joe just be offended by that activism too? Especially if it put the problem in his face or demanded something of him personally. I wonder.

One of the things that has been really worthwhile about this whole honku waste of time is the realization that anyone anywhere -- but especially in a big city like New York -- can look out their window and find something that they want to work on, change, or encourage in their neighborhood, and just go for it. And even if it doesn't make results or get attention, the work itself is surprisingly fun and satisfying.

So, Joe, if we've got starving kids lolling about on the sidewalk down on your part of Clinton Street (which, by the way, I think is much more trendy than my part): Talk to us! Put it out there. Tell us what we can do. Why just put all your time and energy into bitching about us working on the honking problem in our neighborhood? Be an activist too.

-- Aaron