Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Many University of Chicago students and alumni are also bloggers, as it turns out, and this week they're airing an old pet peeve: why you can buy anything in the world you want to in Hyde Park, as long as it's a book (joke courtesy of Jacob Levy). Will Baude thinks U of C'ers are too intellectual to create the demand necessary to support anything but book stores. Phoebe Maltz says they just want to appear intellectual and they'd buy a new miniskirt in a neighborhood store if they could. Jane Galt and Jacob Levy put an end to all this navel gazing: it's the rent-seeking dynamic, stupid (note to us plebians: this means "zoning").

Zoning or no zoning, the secondary effect of creating this bookstore-topia is that anyone who can possibly swing owning a car does so. There are lots of good bars, stores and restaurants a short car ride away.

The Warrior Monk and I are both alums. I drove an ancient Honda Civic that was so rusted that you could see the street whiz by through a little hole in the floor. In the winter the locks froze open and you had to be careful when taking a turn because the driver's side door had a tendency to swing open. The Warrior Monk's Buick Regal sported a back "window" consisting of cardboard secured by duct tape. The plastic on its steering wheel column was gone, but that's another story.

I have always been amazed at how zombie-like the cars appear on Chicago highways and streets. Now when I visit I'll think: I wonder if it's the zoning?


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