Sunday, 21 November 2010


A VISIT TO THE COMFORT CAPITOL OF AMERICA: Sun City and its sisters! See them to believe it----6 Huge, visionary inspired, retirement communities----each a small city---scattered across the desert north and west of Phoenix---with names that, surprisingly, match their essence: Sun City---Sun City West---Sun City Grand---Sun City Festival---Arizona Traditions---and---Happy Trails. I have decided to penetrate to the heart of one of these architectural lotus blossoms---breathe its perfume---splash its crystal waters, commune with its gentle citizens--- test its effect on my head and heart. I have done so!---here is my report: I have friends in cushy places----Meet Jo---who has agreed to host my two week stay in Lotus Land.
We begin with a superficial tour of its perimeters. She wheels out her golf car--t---marvelous, zippy electric vehicles. (costing about $11,000)
Can you see the name--Sun City Festival---The latest community built.
Typical Landscaping.
Can you see my trailer stashed behind the fire dept on a vacant lot.
I slowly acquaint her with my lifestyle. Who Knows, she might enjoy a trip with me.
She loves her splendid kitchen---That's real granite countertops. The rest of the house is equally luxurious. No neighborhood eyesores anywhere here---and no children---and no noise.
She takes me dancing.
And to festivals.
And Nightclubs---this one--- Dominic's was loads of fun. Almost everyone gets up to dance. I guess older folks ---more conscious of sand falling in the hourglass have finally cast aside stifling self consciousness---to rise up and boogie. (See the pen and cards in my pocket--I take notes--for you)
That lady in Green is in her eighties--wow could she dance--an inspiration.
A daytime dance lesson with a neighbor. They are showing me the steps to "The Madison." (I finally got it)
On another day she takes me to the Clubhouse.
Everybody seemingly has one of these electric carts.
Manicured like the gardens of Versailles
A huge roomful of workout gizmos. Older folks here seem amazingly healthy--seem determined to be fit and active to the end.
In the water too---a string of ladies--"never gonna grow old"
You think luxury like this is only for the rich. It isn't! I was surprised at the modest fee for club use.
Here is the middle class---generally the good-sense middle class that saved and worked--as couples to buy a home here. Current prices start around 150 and go to 400. The question I'm asking myself is whether this busy, glitzy lifestyle is more likely to shrink or expand your soul.

A pickleball (downsized tennis)tournament---drawing hundreds from all the other Sun Cities.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Deep thanks to my pretty host--I had a great time.
Sun City in all its incarnations is urban sprawl at its finest--and most extreme. (the world cannot be housed this way--not enough resources. In a future blog I will show you its antithesis--Arcosanti) But for now I celebrate this highly evolved community. It has morphed from simply housing---to themed community---to retirement community to full blown lifestyle. It's walls, location, price and covenants effectively keep out the riff raff----clustering in---the best of middle class retirees. Everyone here is (almost certainly) clean and civil---every house obviously of the same species---yet showing interesting individuality. Club houses are pleasure palaces---with programming as full as summer camp. IT IS ALMOST ENOUGH---security, order, amusement. What's missing is GRAND CHALLENGE---which cannot be engineered or programmed---but personally discovered. I think no one can be deeply satisfied till they are working on the frontiers of something---even small somethings.
My lady friend smiles knowingly as I tell her I am leaving---she has understood me!

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