I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But It’s home to me and I walk alone

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk alone

I’m walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line of the edge
And where I walk alone

Read between the lines
What’s fucked up and everything’s all right
Check my vital signs to know I’m still alive
And I walk alone

Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Sometimes I wonder whether I’m alone in my view of the world. It can be a lonely road. And since I spend 2 to 2 1/2 hours per day on the road, I can’t help but observe what seems to be going on outside the windows of my car. I didn’t quite capture everything I wanted to say in my 30 Blocks of Squalor post from the other day. In order to reach the 30 Blocks of Squalor, I need to travel about 8 miles along Route 3 (West Chester Pike), once known as the William Penn Highway. It cuts through the heart of Delaware County and the towns of Broomall, Havertown and Drexel Hill. I grew up in a similar town in Delaware County called Collingdale and my high school Monsignor Bonner was in Drexel Hill.

These were all blue collar middle class working neighborhoods in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. They were the first suburbs of Philadelphia. The people in these communities were the backbone of the country. They worked in the factories, built the buildings, drove the gasoline trucks, and created communities. When I drive through these towns today, it is clear that something has gone awry. I notice the little things. I wonder if anyone else notices, or if I’m just walking alone.

As I drive on West Chester Pike I pass strip malls, restaurants, and banks with large clocks like the one pictured below. I can honestly say that every clock I pass has the wrong time. Some are off by 10 minutes, others are broken and aren’t even functioning. How hard is it to have a huge clock over a strip mall provide the right time. It’s as if no one gives a shit anymore.      

West Chester Pike is dotted with schools and hundreds of retail establishments. Every school has its name over the entrance and most of the retail establishments have neon signs to advertise their names. You would think that the most basic concept of having the signs properly spell the establishment’s name would be the least the owners could do. But, I passed multiple locations like the two pictured below where letters are missing and lights are out on their signs. It’s not as if it is rectified next week. They are left this way for months. No one gives a shit.

As I’ve noted numerous times before about potholes and holes dug by government workers to fix pipes bursting below the thin layer of blacktop, the roadways are filled with environmentally made and man made holes of varying sizes. You would think that some government union employee making $100,000 per year with a golden pension plan could at least put a freaking orange cone in front of the holes. But no, cars either hit these hazards at full speed and destroy their suspension or traffic comes to a grinding halt as cars are stopped and cutting each other off. The government doesn’t give a shit. 

When I was a kid we had very little organized sports. There was some, but we didn’t depend on parents to drive us around to our activities. We had a playground, baseball fields and basketball courts right down at the end of our street. When we were 4 or 5 we went to the playground and used the swings, sliding boards, and merry go rounds. From the age of 10 to 22 we played pickup basketball games on the two basketball courts for hours at a time. Full court games, one after another. Those were good times.

It seems like every playground and basketball court I pass on West Chester Pike and even the one in my old neighborhood, the hoops are missing or broken and the swingsets don’t have swings. Rust and decay permeates everything. Local communities don’t give a shit about the kids anymore. The community doesn’t exist.

Is it just me walking along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams? Does anyone else notice the stench of decay? Does anyone else see the disintegration of working class communities? Do you see what I see?


  1. In game theory lies and selfishness, the willingness to throw others under a bus, usually wins.

    In the end no one gives a shit.

    We are getting there.

  2. Full Court basketball? I see your vertical leap at 1 1/2 inches, tops.

    Look, municipal government drones don’t care any more than federal government or school district drones – they want to get paid regardless of whether you have to pay more taxes, and, by the way, the union rules prohibit the unsupervised placement of cones. Everyone knows that the rules surrounding the placement of cones must be collectively bargained with the aid of numerous sleazeball attorneys.

  3. Robmu1

    Before I met Avalon I was 170 pounds, full head of hair and I could play full court basketball for 3 hours straight. Today, I would pull a hamstring getting out of the car at the basketball court.

  4. What’s orange and sleeps 3? A street department truck! What the hell do you expect in the land of the dull and home of the dysfunctional? The sad part of the Walmart People photos is that they are more the rule then the exception these days. I remember when children said “yes sir’ and “no sir” to their elders, not “yo, dude”. When people could make change without using a calculator, when people dressed nicely for church, when nice girls “didn’t”, when mothers could bake and cook. Sure we had a shit war, protests and hippies, but in general people wanted to achieve, success wasn’t villified and most folks were embarrassed to be on assistance. We’ve gone from a world of “The Right Stuff” to one of “Idiocracy”.

    Course that’s just my opinion.

  5. I live in st. louis. I’ve been noticing the exact same things going on in the communities here. You are not alone. A couple of months ago I read an article that confirmed my suspicions about businesses here – the author claimed that more and more businesses are being shuttered here also. Also in other articles I’ve read about how infrastructure in much of the south is disintegrating or being closed off (roads and bridges). I agree that it doesn’t take much to care for the little things. I think the American people as a whole have become (dangerously) apathetic because of this recession and incredibly and increasingly spoiled throughout the past few generations of Americans. I recognize that you are neither – stay that way – there are people out here who need and appreciate what you are saying – you are not alone.

  6. Ditto…I grew up in Fox Chase. Now I live in whiteurbia. Nobody dares venture out without a ride somewhere. In fact, the cops would probably pick your ass up if they find it wandering outside the lines. It’s really sad what we’ve become…little islands of activity separated by holey blacktop that nobody has the time/taxes/money to repair. Shit, I remember working in Newtown Square in the 80s and it was really amazing…like living in a country club. And all of the places in between Philly and there were active, busy, bustling might be the word.

  7. I love that song. Why is this not a featured article? It is damn good.

    What it boils down to is, all of these things you mention, all of this dysfunction. It is someone else’s problem. Always. The sense of community is gone. The drive to do more than the minimum is gone. Driven out of us by bureaucracy, maybe. Go out and replace that basket ball hoop yourself and you are likely to get fined for not following some safety regulation.

  8. It’s everywhere. But the thing is, we have every ability to change it. We just don’t.

    We could hold our elected officials responsible for our taxpayer dollars, and insist they stay in our communities. We could demand that potholes get fixed, that parks are maintained and that our communities are safe. If elected representatives don’t meet our expectations, they should get voted out. Until the election, hound them with letters, calls, newspaper op-eds. Their #1 fear is losing the next election. It’s a powerful weapon.

    We also have our own two hands. We can get out there and scrub, and paint, and repair. We could stop doing business with retailers who don’t maintain their property. Instead, we sit inside, enthralled by the technology that brings HDTV into our living rooms, listening to music and surfing the Internet. We’ve bought the paranoia the MSM delivers into our homes every night that going outside is too dangerous, that letting our children play in the park is dangerous and negligent. We laugh at the online doomsdayers who say the world will end in the next few years and hide in our homes looking for more evidence it’s coming, instead of getting out and making the most of whatever time we have left.

    WE have the power to stop it. It’s not even all that hard. It’s like digging out after a big snow storm; you clean your parking spot, and then the car in front of you. Then the one in front of him. After awhile, people come out to dig out their cars. And on down the line until the street is clean. Other people stay inside, screaming that the City should do it for them, that it’s not their responsibility. But the City never does. Eventually, those who started walking alone are walking together, and they feel great, because they’re taking matters into their own hands. They have the power, not the government, not the media, not the damn iPod.

    And we can do it everywhere — not just digging out, but cleaning up. Tearing down the old, regrowing grass on blighted land. Making our worlds a little less dreary, block by block. No one’s going to do it for us. Not the politicians, not the media, not the corporations, not the FSA, not the lazy.

    And, frankly, what legacy are we leaving our kids if we don’t? Crumbling infrastructure isn’t going to get better. A model of sedentary behavior in front of a television or computer? Or someone who cares about their community, who invests their own time and sweat, to make it better? Someone who takes their kids fishing, instead of watching Tiger Woods play yet another round of golf?

  9. Entropy Rules.

    And the slow crumbliing that you are seeing can become rapid at a moment’s notice. Multple authors and speakers, Niall Ferguson among them, have posulated that civilizations, empires, etc., can collapse quickly, with the right catalyst. Look at Egypt.

    The analogy I like the most, is the seemingly stable equilibrium of a pile of sand. Add one grain of sand at a time, and the pile gets bigger. There comes a point, however, wherupon adding another grain of sand, a collapse of the pile takes place: an avalanche of sand. Sometimes the collapse is small, sometimes huge. And all it took was one grain of sand…

    Collapse in this case doesn’t necessarily mean a Road Warrrior-like scenario (although I am partial to Fallout (the game)). Rather, Collapse means going from a state of high complexity, to one of lower complexity, one that takes less energy to maintain. This idea is right out of Kunstler’s writings. But, it really is right out of the physical laws of thermodynamics, when you get down to it. After all, Entropy Rules.

  10. It reminds me of the scene in the movie Patton when George looked over the battlefield and noticed the carts that the Germans were using. He knew it was only a matter of time and that is how I feel in my daily travels and observe the same thing in my neck of the woods.

  11. The fluoride and pharmaceuticals in the water and the genetically modified foods tinged with mercury have really started to show in the apathy, laziness, and ignorance of the average american.

  12. There was absolutely no trash on the sidewalks in my lower middle class neighborhood when we were growing up. If there was a piece of trash or a soda can, you picked it up and put it in the trash can. Drive anywhere today, from the 30 Blocks or the sidewalks along West Chester Pike and you see this.


  13. I blame lawyers. OK, they are not solely responsible, but they contribute to the problem. Go ahead, put up that swing. As soon as some moron falls off and busts their noggin, you’ll have a swarm of lawyers at your door suing for installing such a hazardous device. I work for a state DOT-I’m here to tell you, liability rules every move. And the “safest” move is usually to do nothing.

    Yeah, most bureaucrats are worthless (at best-and a hell of a lot of them are what, lawyers?), and yes, society as a whole has given up caring. But look at lawyers in this country, per capita, over the years, and tell me there isn’t a correlation. As Don Henley observed “Ol’ Billy was right”.

  14. /* When I drive through these towns today, it is clear that something has gone awry. I notice the little things. I wonder if anyone else notices, or if I’m just walking alone.*/
    No, you are not walking alone. America has become a 3rd world country due to our politicians and outsourcing of the guts of America. Paradise Lost. There are many more of us walking this road so you do not walk alone. My beloved country sold out by the politicians. Every country eventually declines to insignificance. When the Twin Towers fell in 2011 I knew the decline of America was well under way. To the best of my knowledge it started in 1986. Used to be 1) Rich, 2) Middle Class, 3) Poor. Now: Rich, Poor. Now I read of Vatican slush funds that has much wealth of the leaders of this country tucked away. I am old enough to remember JFK, Bobby Kennedy, people who changed the world and sought justice and equality. Our politicians pulled the life support plug on America when they shipped the manufacturing out of America. Now, the software, chemical industry, etc are all gone. Reminds me of a quote from the move Monty Python and the Holy Grail when some says: How do you that is the King? Easy, he hasn’t got S*&^ all over him. You do not walk alone.

  15. SSS

    I added the video just for you. I will convert you to a Green Day fan. Before long, you will be wearing eye makeup.


  16. Admin

    Punk rock band Green Day has some provocative and thoughtful lyrics, true. Zero music creativity.

    Tell you what. You and Avalon listen to Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You.” I don’t even particularly care for country music, but the total simplicity and beauty of her musical talent shines so brilliantly in this song. And no one, no one, has ever sung about unrequited love better than Patsy. God took her way too early from us. She was 30.


  17. Thinker,

    There is much truth what you say. The unfortunate reality is that those who try to help get zapper. Quite recently, somewhere in the Land of the Free, a couple using their own money, donations from restaurants, etc., were feeding homeless people. It took about a year before TPTB realized it — and shut them down because they didn’t have a license from the city. Nor could get one because of the regs. One example of many.

    We went through a Cat 5 cyclone here, exciting! And the locals were doing the cleanup, helping one another, as soon as it was possible. Meanwhile, the Disaster Management Plan went like this: the State Emergency Service claiming they couldn’t sent their people to the stricken areas because it might not be safe. There was a radio plea after the cyclone has passed for the shirt mayor, or any of the councillors to contact the authorities, because no one had heard from them. We had elderly people in the seaside village who should have been evacuated, due to flood, storm surge, etc. There was NO plan. Someone in another small place, Crystal Creek, called the radio station:, “~they~ can’t find us on the system anywhere … no water, no power … ”

    From Friday through the weekend, we locals had piled up all the “green waste”. The first council workers I saw was on Monday, using their big machinery to collect half of the beach that now resided in the park and take to it the dump. Watching them ‘work’,. I thought, “They walk like zombies!” A week since we did the cleanup, untold piles are still on most of the roads. Massive ones. The people rallied to the cause, but where was the support?

    Not from the government Disaster Management Plan, that’s for sure. But they got plenty of photo-ops.

  18. Chosing a clip to dot the “I”s is another feature I welcome.
    Metallica, [my fav`s] even have a piece regarding gold. They are great musicians !
    Second comes The Doors, James D Morrison even beats guys like Axl Rose, Prince,
    or (may rockers show mercy), Lars Ulrich.

  19. Novista,

    I feel for you… I’ve lived through situations like that, too. The thing is — and we’ve known this since Katrina — we cannot expect our government to help us in these situations. All the more reason to develop a sense of community so we can band together in extreme circumstances. And to teach our kids to do it, so they have the experience for what awaits them during their lifetimes.

    I read about the couple you mention. Yes, TPTB will try to shut us down. But again, there are more of us than there are of them. Over time, we can remove politicians who don’t use common sense in dealing with these situations. Or we can demand that THEY take care of it, if they won’t let us (The People) do it. In your case, you just did it. And far better than the government could have.

    I refuse to give up. If there’s one thing that matters to me, it’s leaving a legacy of action, rather than inaction.


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