Sunday, March 2, 2014

Castles in the sky


by The Urban Blabbermouth
I chanced to drive through one of the ritzy, rich, neighborhoods in my city.  I have not passed through this neighborhood in years since I have no money so I have no reason to go there.  I saw lots of new construction.  They were building what we now call McMansions.  I was in awe of these new mansions.

Where did that name McMansions come from? Possibly a reference to McDonald Big Mac hamburger sandwich.  That is supposed to be the king of hamburgers.  Not really sure of the allegory here.  Eat big burgers full of fat and cholesterol so you can have this big house?  Seems like the beer commercials with all the pretty girls, drink this brand of beer and you will attract all the pretty waitresses in this bar.

McMansions are built, not bought.  You have to buy what was already a mansion in the first place for probably a million dollars, then tear it down to build your McMansion for another two million dollars.  Where does all that money come from?

I must say, the architecture is not all that imaginative.  All the McMansions, really ALL, look like they were imported from someplace on the Mediterranean Sea.  They are all this pink brick, stucco, villa, kind of building with huge windows and huge french doors every where.  It's strange to see that style from a hot country here in the Northeast in middle of thirty degree winter.  Must have some huge heating bills, but I guess that if you can afford that kind of house, heating bills are not your problem.  And those huge windows?  What's with that?  We live close to each other, not much space in between houses.  Why would you want such large window so that you neighbors can see you wandering through your house doing your business?

Most of the McMansions have no yard.  What used to be the front lawn and the backyard is now filled up with house.  The McMansions are so much like big box retail stores but with some fake architectural accoutrements hanging off them to minimize the big box look.  

I suppose that I should not be so surprised that this style is so popular.  It's not the first time that architecture has been imported en masse from the Mediterranean.  After all, we have many, many buildings in the city built some one hundred years ago in the Greek temple style.  The temple style has been mostly preserved in bank architecture.  Look at your bank some time and you can see it.  Guess the bankers did not read that verse in the Bible about Jesus and the money changers in the Temple.

So who lives in the huge McMansions?  I do not know.  I do not hang out in that neighborhood.  Too rich for me.  But as a single family building, I imagine that it is one family.  Imagine a home where each person in the family can have a suite of rooms for themselves and for the servants too.  Of course there are servants.  You did not think that a family who can afford a McMansion would be cleaning and cooking for themselves?  Their time is too valuable, used up making more money to pay for the McMansion.

If I won the lottery and joined the ranks of the McMansion rich, I hope I would have better taste than that.  Maybe a huge English Tudor from the Cotswold or one of those English Lords' castles like the ones I saw on Downton Abbey.