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September 27, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-27

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

OPINION

re Alkir'gau t ailg

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON GO
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
Being a
conservative Republican
in Massachusetts is
a bit like being
a cattle rancher
at a vegetarian
convention."
- Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney,
addressing the Mackinac Republican
Leadership Conference last Saturday, as
reported by The Washington Post on Monday.

COHN DALY THF MICHI fN DALY

1 0#10

The clover's greener on the other side
EMILY BEAM LOOKING FOR AMERICA

From Minnesota
to New Mexico,
Americans love
their lawns. But the uni-
form sea of two-inch
green stalks that washes
over subdivisions across
the country is hardly
natural or necessary.
Lawn care has become
a national pastime, and
each year, Americans waste billions of dol-
lars and their limited free time in a never-
ending struggle to maintain the perfect lawn.
In the Southwest, lawn maintenance is no
less than absurd given that drinking water
in often in short supply. And in places like
Michigan, where water is plentiful and the
climate is temperate, grass is still impractical
and time-consuming, and lawn maintenance
harms the environment through lawnmower
emissions, toxic fertilizers and pesticides.
Grass is expensive, it constantly gives way to
hardier plants (commonly known as weeds),
it's always thirsty and it grows too tall for our
tastes. We have shown that we can create a
yard greener than nature would permit pretty
much anywhere we want - but that doesn't
mean we should.
Why are Americans in love with their
lawns? Heaps of research exist on the psycho-
logical and sociological motivations behind
lawn care - how the American lawn repre-
sents man's triumph over his environment and
how humans are evolutionarily inclined to like
grass, invoking reminisces of man's early days
in the savannahs of East Africa. But even if
our instincts are truly calling us to cultivate

the land and romp through open fields, they
hardly explain how a desire to cultivate turned
into a full-blown obsession.
It wasn't always like this. Perennial grasses,
the types we use on lawns, are not native to the
United States; even the celebrated Kentucky
bluegrass originates from across the Atlantic,
most likely brought over by French missionar-
ies in the early 1600s. Neatly manicured lawns
started showing up in the mid 1800s, only
embraced by the wealthy trying to imitate the
European aesthetic of open but ordered spaces
- grass was a way of showing off that your
family had money to spare.
Grass gradually worked its way down to the
middle classes, but not on its own - garden-
ing associations, lawn-care industries and even
the U.S. government shoved the importance of
an immaculate lawn down citizens' throats
for decades. For instance, in "The Lawn: A
History of an American Obsession," Virginia
Scott Jenkins highlights that since the turn
of the 20th century, "shaming neighbors into
decent behavior by example has been a persis-
tent theme of horticulture writers and advertis-
ers." The U.S. government got involved during
World War II to promote lawn care as a worth-
while hobby that would help out the cause by
keeping citizens at home, saving gas and wear
on tires. Jenkins writes, "Homeowners were
exported to keep up the home front (literally
the front of the house) for the morale of those
at home and of loved ones in the service." I'm
sure the thought of a fresh-cut lawn await-
ing their return was the inspiration that kept
American soldiers going. Following the war,
all these efforts finally paid off when the mas-
sive exodus to cookie-cutter suburbs permit-

ted grass to solidify its place in the American
psyche.
These days, we don't need the government or
the lawn-care industry to push us to take care of
our lawns - grass is more than well ingrained
in American suburbia. But while close-knit
communities are replaced with neighbors who
have never met, the 1960s image of children
playing in the front yard is fading - only
accelerated by cranky homeowners who want
to keep those damn kids off their front lawn.
The uniformly green lawn, so often taken to
the extreme, has come to represent the excesses
of American society and the triumph of appear-
ances over the pragmatic. Rather than spreading
yet another bag of fertilizer, that time would be
much better spent actually enjoying one's yard,
even if it's riddled with a few weeds.
There are hundreds of other groundcovers
that are superior to grass. Take clover. It's just
as soft and almost as durable, it rarely needs
mowing and it produces charming lavender
flowers each spring. Keeping up a lawn that
meets the American standard requires fertiliz-
ers and the occasional pesticides, while clover is
nitrogen-fixing, improving the soil as it grows.
Unfortunately, the resident who decides to try
out a "lawn alternative," whether by planting
something else or turning his yard into a gar-
den or basketball court, can be assured of more
than a few angry phone calls. With subdivision
associations keeping close watch to make sure
that no rebellious resident dares to let his lawn
grow a little scraggly, even loosening up a bit
may be too much to ask.
Beam can be reached at
ebeam@umich.edu.

VIEWPOINT
David Lynch and his new-age cult

By HANs KUDER
If you missed the opportunity to hear David
Lynch speak at the Power Center on Sunday night,
don't worry. I can summarize the entire event with
one word: bullshit.
Lynch is, of course, one of the most prominent
film directors of our era. But the genius behind
Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive
(among others) didn't come to the Power Center to
speak about his film career.
Rather, he came as the figurehead of an orga-
nization that is billed as an educational revolution
but which comes off as a new-age cult. Indeed, he
only spoke about his films and creative life when
asked, and even then he would quickly change the
subject to the aims of his "David Lynch Foun-
dation for Consciousness-Based Education and
World Peace." Yes, an organization with that
name actually exists. Stop reading for a moment
to let that sink in.
Are you weirded out yet? It gets worse. The

entire evening was filled with propaganda. From
the DVDs and "informational brochures" given
to everyone in the audience to the excessive use
of new-age buzzwords (Expanded! Deepened!
Unity! Wholeness! Transcendence!) to the down-
right creepy tone taken by John Hagelin, quantum
physicist extraordinaire, I felt like I was listening
to a Sun Myung Moon brainwashing session.
Throughout the evening Lynch and his
guests - John Hagelin and Fred Travis, both
hailing from the cultish-sounding Maharishi Uni-
versity of Management - besought the audience
to consider an education system built upon the
foundation of transcendental meditation. Such a
system would, they argued, give students a greater
depth of knowledge and bring peace to the world.
When asked how he would rigorously test and
analyze the implementation and products of such
a system, Lynch, of course, changed the subject.
But buried within all this unfocused, inarticu-
late rhetoric was a statement that sealed the deal
on this whole cult thing. Lynch offhandedly men-

tioned that he wants to raise $7 billion (that's a B!)
to create a permanent organization of about 8,000
meditators to literally "manufacture" world peace.
Supposedly, that many enlightened people medi-
tating around the clock could pump out enough
peace to offset every single act of unspeakable
violence and hatred in our world. Forever. I was
appalled that the audience wasn't laughing in his
face at that point.
Admittedly, the three speakers did raise a few
very valid, apropos observations. Travis made a
good argument for severely questioning the stress,
sleep deprivation and drug abuse found at our
nation's top universities, and Hagelin took a jab at
the Bush administration, which is always appreci-
ated. Most of the audience, however, came to hear
a marvelous film director speak about creativity.
Instead, they received more than an evening's fair
share of Grade A BS.

Kuder is a Music and
Engineering sophomore.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

0

Think it's tough being gay?
Try being conservative
To THE DAILY:
"Coming out" as a conservative at the Universi-
ty is as arduous, if not more so, than coming out as
gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In a lopsided
microcosm like the University, "left-wing intellec-
tuals" have enough clout to persecute and punish
conservative thinkers for their beliefs in regard
to otherwise subjective matters. College Repub-
licans did not attempt to belittle the struggles of
the LGBT community throughout the country, but
rather tried to parallel their struggle to be open and
proud on campus.
It sickens me to see someone like Kirk
Burkhart (LGBT community faces hatred, conser-
vatives don't, 09/26/05) attack such a worthwhile
cause as Conservative Coming Out Day. There
is no clearer proof that Republicans face an ines-
capable social stigma on campus than Burkhart's
verbal assault. From a self-professed "tolerant"
can o ~c ormm:-t onma: c th+k nil1aatnnc

hypocritical opposition at the University than the
LGBT community can attest to.
Scott Cackowski
Engineering sophomore
University must not
tolerate racism
To THE DAILY:
I decided to use my precious time to write
this letter after reading Monday's Daily (Suspects
dispute hate crime, 09/26/05). Firstly, it amused
me that the 20-year-old suspect, who was clearly
underaged, was playing beer pong and know-
ingly drinking. And the fact that he knew he
was going to get a minor-in-possession was even
more hilarious. Secondly, I do not know whether
the urination took place or any racial slurs were
used, but these two students might have been
drunk; I do not know if I would buy their words.
Anyway, I will leave this case to the authorities.
nt ;i tavn rP nniimoltythey ohnnird not ren-

Should we question our own curriculum?
How much has the race and ethnicity require-
ment helped students to understand and live
with each other without bias and prejudice? Is
the University's admission policy really effec-
tive in creating an environment where diversity
triumphs? Or are we just embracing the term
"diversity" without understanding it?
Chin-Swan Liew
LSA senior
Conservative Coming Out
Day blown out of proportion
To THE DAILY:
All right, I've had enough of this. We (conser-
vatives) have one small, peaceful event in hopes
that some campus conservatives will come out of
the woodwork, and we're met with an onslaught of
criticism (What Closet?, 09/26/05). Is it honestly
that big of a deal? I mean, come on, you blow this
entire "coming out day" out of proportion. Are
you ranll s enerate tn attack conseArvatives

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Amanda Burns, Whitney Dibo,
Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Eric Jackson, Brian Kelly, Theresa Kennelly,
R 3;i Dv -alra, Mrncn Fp uir d R1cAll n Mlrn nwrnnsri .BrianSlarde I . Lauren

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