Sunday, November 21, 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!


farmlady said...

Oh my. This is not what I had in mind when I said I wanted to "hit the road". I would take "Slab City" over "Sun City" any day.... or better yet, no city at all.

Bob said...

There's NO pen or notepad in that brightly colored "Hawaiian" shirt. Careful.

Dixxe said...

I can see why some people may think that is the good life, and it probably is for those who have nothing left to do...BUT BORING--sorry but I see it as boring, and IT wouldnt take me one day to make TONS of waves there--like a sunami

Boonie said...

Sigh. This post confirms my worst fears: that the King of the Kodgers is in fact a closet bourgeoisie, or even worse, a False Prophet of Kodgerism. Hopefully you will redeem yourself in the next post.

Anonymous said...

Was the lady a saleswoman for the place? Or did you know her from before?

I'm always skeptical of these sorts of things. Was the 2 weeks a free vacation with the sales pitches as your fee? All too often, those are especially nice but the reality if you buy is quite different. Sounds like the entry fee is reduced but you say nothing of the recurring costs. Those can be the killers and are often fairly hidden. These sorts of places are having a lot of problems in this weak economy.

Randy said...

Ah Boonie you misunderstand me---I go get the experience--savor it--think about it--show it, write about it and then LEAVE. Two weeks seemed about right---
And Dixxe: What sort of Tsunamis?
Anonymous: The Lady is a personal friend---she found it humerous to be confused with a salesperson.
Farmlady: Really? The Slabs over Sun City? (see: THE MOST FREE PLACE ON EARTH ) I've just gotten an update on the place--the trend this year is downhill--slight increase in unsavory characters---the savory bunch holds steady.(they are the LOWS---LONERS ON WHEELS)

Anonymous said...

To enjoy the sojourn and then leave sounds more appealing to me than buying into such a place. Fun for awhile but all that uniformity and conformity is not my style. well, except for lots of dancing. There's something primal in the appeal of dancing.

Jim said...

Such places usually cause me great grief in short order. Invariably, there is a 'small town' mindset which quickly becomes 'small town politics' -- the powers that be always composed of those with their own lives so perfectly in order there is nothing left for them to do but screw with everyone else!
Those are the times I am exceedingly glad I can just fire up my rig and mosey on down the road to some other place. Surrounding oneself with only like-minded souls is surely one of life's greatest cop-outs. Their environment may offer some sustenance for physical health, but mental health? Not so much.

Tadeusz Deregowski said...

There's something about these places which creeps me out- it's the same with shopping malls and closed condominiums.

To me they are sterile environments because they so highly controlled. It seems that nothing can happen in them by chance.

I can't imagine they are good places to get ideas or to really feel alive.

Paxie Panicker said...

Having a camper at Lake Norman, here in NC, I am seriously envious of the golf cart. Nothing else. Of course all the crazy wonderful rednecks I camp with would think I'd become a little "uppity" LOL

Mine is plain and hunter green, but it does have a back seat!!

Anonymous said...

Any group that is this homogeneous makes me wonder - why? and how long will it last? what happens when "others" move in?