Magazine | September 2, 2013, Issue

Keep Off the Grass

A rodeo clown in Missouri has been banned from rodeo-clowning for the rest of his life because he wore an Obama mask and subjected our president to ridicule. Tough break; rodeo-clowning is not one of those skills that transfer to other walks of life. Construction crews, for example: A big piece of machinery pops the parking brake and starts rumbling away, they don’t send someone with a painted face to wave his arms and distract it. On the other hand, waving his arms and distracting us is an adequate job description of the president.

I know what you’re saying: First they came for the rodeo clowns, and I said nothing, because I was not a — hold on, I am a rodeo clown. But even if you’re not, you have to wonder if the clown went too far. (Note: All clowns go too far, just by being clowns.) Let’s just agree that the mockery was not only wrong, it was horribly racist, just as cavils about Hillary Clinton’s tenure are sexist. (Criticism of Condoleezza Rice, on the other hand, is motivated solely by the highest principles.) It makes one wonder what you can criticize these days.

Simple: garages. Writing a while back at the website Gawker, so named for the car wreck of logic and rhetoric littering its intellectual-breakdown lane, Hamilton Nolan declared:

As the affluent flock into cities and the formerly tony suburbs turn to slums, you know what I’m not going to miss? GARAGES. Big old ugly garages that are the main feature of the whole ugly suburban house for some reason. Good news: garages have completely gone out of fashion, architecturally speaking.

Park on the street and scrape ice off your car! It’s the latest fashion. The author goes on to make clear that he HATES garages, which are a perfectly reasonable thing to have strong emotions about. As long as you say you HATE them in a bossy-pants style with lots of profanity, people who HATE THEM TOO! can feel righteous, and members of the Cretin-American community who wandered into his hip little prissy-snit can be shocked by his blunt truths.

Yawn. Well, it took a year, but he topped it: He hates lawns, too.

Garages are far less popular than they used to be, thank god. And now, it is time to take on the other suburban monstrosity that afflicts this great nation like a plague: lawns. Ban them.

Since hate comes from fear, he’s a Grassophobe, right?

The lawn as an emblem of Middle-Class achievement drives some people absolutely daft. Few things irritate a progressive urbanist like the thought of someone working on the lawn who doesn’t understand it’s a social construct. All those men pushing mowers over the verdant expanse, unaware that scholars have written entire thesis papers about the psychological effects of early-20th-century seed marketing! They look at their lawn and they think they like it. They have no concept of the new trend in natural grasses. No, it’s mow mow mow, edge edge edge, control. Men!

#page#Hatred of the burbs and all their ticky-tacky attributes is what Orwell would have called one of the smelly little orthodoxies of the Left, except that lefty workplaces are probably scent-free because someone erupts in hives if anyone in the building lathered up with Irish Spring. Oh, the Left will let you live in a detached house, if you simply must, but it had better be close enough to the neighbors’ that you can pass the salt shaker through the kitchen window if they ask. It had better have a porch so you can sit out front and wave at the rich diverse parade of people walking past with reusable grocery bags full of organic kale, listening to All Things Considered, which is doing a story on the problems facing rural gay Peruvian flautists. You shouldn’t be in the backyard grilling, because the carbon emissions and environmental impact of beef farming contribute to the rising of the sea and the inundation of Miami, which isn’t necessarily bad because it’s full of right-wing turncoat Cubans.

You shouldn’t have a big house and you shouldn’t have a car and you shouldn’t live in a suburb and you shouldn’t want what you want. Oh, they’d ban it all if they could.

Now, let me go squishy on the matter: Houses with enormous garages out front aren’t particularly attractive. Yes, I know: Aid and comfort to the enemy, right up there with Chris Christie missing the opportunity to give the president a stiff uppercut when he came to look at storm damage. RINO. But that’s just my opinion, and for some reason I don’t feel the need to convert personal aesthetic viewpoints into public policy imposed on others. If you want to live in an urban apartment so small that you go coffin-shopping just to look forward to the day when you can stretch out and have some elbow room, fine. If you want a suburban manse so grand you need a Rascal scooter to get around the master-bedroom closet, fine.

Well, you know what they say about opinions! Everyone has one, and they’re fun to drive into someone’s sternum in the checkout line when they’re crowding you. I would have liked to show the author of the screeds the crew that fixed a bad patch on my lawn. African-American crew chief, Hispanic workers. He would hate the job they did. Grassophobia = racism, obviously. It’s about time the author complained about golf courses, and criticized the president for enjoying the sport.

Look for that in 2017, when a Republican POTUS takes to the links.

– Mr. Lileks blogs at

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Keep Off the Grass

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