The New Mobility

By Williams, Patricia J. | The Nation, June 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

The New Mobility


Williams, Patricia J., The Nation


A recent article in the Washington Post described some suburban high schoolers preparing for their proms by spending nearly $3,000 to rent an H2 Hummerzine, "complete with six TVs, a DVD player, strobe lights under the leather seats, a faux fireplace, a fog machine and a disco ball." Sushi bars are optional. I was pretty judgmental when I first heard this. Three thousand dollars that could be better spent, I mused, taking a lobbyist to lunch. Or learning lessons with William Bennett. Or providing a week's worth of groceries for thirty children of minimum-wage earners whose promised tax credits were axed in the wee hours before the new tax law was passed. Young people these days ...

Upon more sober reflection, I began to think that perhaps the wise promgoer would be best advised to apply the three thou as a down payment toward outright purchase of said Hummerzine. If the tax laws are not kind to poor families, they do provide breaks for those who buy six tons of vehicle (or more, with sushi bar). And where there are bars, sushi or otherwise, I believe city ordinances mandate that there be restrooms. Park the sucker in a good school district, throw in some loft space et voila! wretched excess turns into reasonable real estate.

But the aspirations of the teens quoted in the Post were strictly short-term. They said they wanted to feel like queen-for-a-day, J-Lo-for-a-night. It was interesting, this choice of Hummerzine as bulletproof pumpkin. It was curious, this figuring of tank as magic coach. Perhaps military-style vehicles have been romanticized more than I appreciate, in music videos and Fox war montages (according to one poll, 75 percent of undergraduates say they trust the military to "do the right thing" either "all of the time" or "most of the time"). Or perhaps it's some kind of post-Columbine chic of the semper paratus.

Whatever Hummers might symbolize to promgoers, they make me think of the Malthusian prognostications of grim futurists like Samuel Huntington and Robert Kaplan. From this genre of predicted global anarchy, there has emerged a trope of the stretch limousine as cocoon inhabited by wealthy First Worlders while desperate, ragged Third Worlders tap at the darkened windows begging for tossed favors. Don DeLillo's latest novel, Cosmopolis, takes this image for a ride, so to speak: The banker-narrator glides through the hardscrabble canyons of Manhattan, periodically descending into the tumult of street life then retreating back to the limo, his soundproof, air-conditioned matrix. In the end he goes broke, has to hail a cab. The moral is clear: If he'd had sufficient fire in the belly to begin with, he would have had a Hummer.

Perhaps it's just me. I do feel as though we have entered some kind of alternate universe, some game concocted in a cyberwar-zone. It's as though the Bush Administration is using Kaplan and Huntington as templates rather than cautionary tales. It's as though they've set out to map The Coming Chaos into being--throwing out the rules of diplomatic engagement, launching "pre-emptive" war, turning ally against ally, magically transforming the federal surplus into a multitrillion-dollar deficit, consolidating the major media outlets into a singular right-wing bullhorn of rage, degrading the environment and upgrading the secret police. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The New Mobility
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.