Fred has done it again.* This time he's discussing travel.
A year ago Violeta and I sat in a sidewalk cafe in Rome, a city of blowing exhaust, wretched traffic, and illegible graffiti spray-painted left and right. Talking was difficult above the blatt of trucks too big for narrow streets. Around the city ancient monuments slowly dissolved in dilute carbonic acid and turned gray from drifting soot. Italians, not particularly agreeable people, passed by in the international jeans-and-sweatshirt scruff that is less a style than an absence of thought.
The age of Mass Man is at last upon us. Globalization, with its attendant homogenizing, runs apace. Beijing begins to have traffic problems, like those of everywhere else. It also looks like anywhere else. An urban shopping mall in Guilin differs little from one in Tokyo or Georgetown or Nong Khai. Like supermarkets, they provide things people want at prices they will pay, and cannot be called evil. Yet they are uniform, drab, and somehow disheartening. Square ugly office blocks and square ugly apartment building appear overnight......
He almost makes it depressing.* And he seems to be longing for a time when things were more unique and most of us had less opportunity to travel.* He doesn't discuss limiting his travel, of course.* He is a curmudgeon, but he can write!
Here's the point of the entire essay: "There are too damned many people in the world, and they have too much money. They also have very little taste." Can't dispute that, can we?