During the 2008 elections it seems that this little word was being used quite a bit, whether it was referring to the policies that were being introduce by one candidate or whether it was name calling, the word same was being used a lot. Senator John McCain was unpleasantly tagged McSame as many thought his line of politics to be just another copy of the Bush policy but we won’t focus on that today but rather on another “American” reality, that is, the sameness of the United States. Since this is a travel blog we will talk about mainly the US landscape and what has become of it, sadly.

About a week or so ago, my father sent me an e-mail linking to an article called The Sameness of the American Commercial Landscape and it got me thinking. The article is from The Strange Death of Liberal America blog and focuses on what the author calls “Gasoline Ghettos”, that strange yet familiar cluster of hotels, motels, restaurants and gas stations that all seem to creep up on every town like a stalker that won’t ever leave you alone. The truth is that everywhere you go in the US everything looks the same and if you are lucky enough to visit the small villages trying to resist this “sameness” trend you’ll realize that even then the Wal-Marts, Best Buys, Pizza Huts and other “sameness” proliferators are not far off.

About a day or two after my father referred me to the article, my brother and I watched the movie The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, and within the first few minutes I was reminded of what I had read in the article. Unwittingly, this film portrays just how “same” the landscape of America really has become. From the car lot to the checking in at the Hacienda Courts scene (think checking in to a Days Inn, Comfort Inn or La Quinta and you’ll know what I mean), everything is something that immediately reminds you of one or another town or city in the US you’ve been to because they are all the SAME! Just check out this shot of the car lot on the movie set:

{photo from TVGuide, all rights reserved}
That looks like any of the millions of lots you can find virtually anywhere in the United States and guess what folks, they all look the same. I couldn’t find a picture of it but on the film they even had the blow-up gorilla doll like the ones I’ve seen at some of the car lots in Bradenton, FL right on the main strip, otherwise known as Cortez Road. Let’s not stop there though, take a look at housing in America and that’s another “sameness” battle come to life. No more gorgeous and unique houses or buildings in mainstream America today! The new homes being built lack uniqueness and beauty, they all look…the same! Check out where I used to live in Florida:
Palm Cove in Bradenton, FL
The apartment complex I lived in where everything looked exactly the same. Now look at this:
The Springs at Palma Sola
Not exactly the same but there is an odd familiarity to these places that makes me believe that going inside one of the condos will prove that the layout is pretty much…the same! Many more places and houses can be found like this throughout the US and the saddest part of it all is that we are becoming so conditioned to seeing them that they are now like second nature. It’s disheartening to see the lack of creativity we have in our country nowadays and the corporate mentality. Seeing these things makes me think of the propaganda people were fed here during the Cold War about how the housing and everything in the Soviet Union for the Soviet man, woman and child was…wait for it…oh, that’s right, THE SAME! Ironic, isn’t it?
There are still some places here and there (mostly along the East Coast) that have tried to maintain their unique identity but it is almost impossible not to have those big corporations muscling their way into these towns and cities. I hope that more places will start rescuing their landscape and restoring it to the uniqueness that was once treasured in this land but it will be a difficult and costly battle. Even so, with community meetings and good planning things can change. Let’s see what happens in the future! Still, let’s have no more of that same stuff, it can get quite boring!