Urban Planning

Monologue from The Cruise (1998)

The image makes me think of this conversation with this woman the other day. She was this fastidious Judaic type woman in very sexual slacks and we were talking about the grid plan. And I made the comment that the grid plan emanates from our weaknesses—this layout of avenues and streets in New York City, this system of 90 degree angles—to me the grid plan is puritan, it’s homogenizing, in a city where there is no homogenization available. There is only total existence, a total cacophony, a total flowing of human ethnicities and tribes and beings and gradations of awareness and consciousness and cruising. And this woman turns to me and goes, “Well, I never even thought of that,” she goes, “I can’t imagine it. Everyone likes the grid plan.”

And of course the question is like, “who is everyone?” I mean, it’s just what I had said. Whoever that is under the white comforter cuddled up with 34th st. and Broadway, existing on the concrete of this city, hungry and disheveled, struggling to crawl their way onto this island, with all of their imagined rages and hellishness and self-orchestrated purgatories… I mean, what does that person think about the grid plan?

Probably much more on my plane of thinking, my gradation of being, which is like, let’s blow up the grid plan and rewrite the streets to be much more a self-portraiture of our personal struggles rather than some real estate broker’s wet dream from 1807. We’re forced to walk in these right angles. I mean, doesn’t she find it infuriating?

By being so completely legion to the grid plan, I think most noteworthy is this idiom, “I can’t even imagine changing the grid plan.” She’s really aligning herself with this civilization. It’s like saying, “Well, I can’t imagine altering this civilization. I can’t imagine altering this meek and lying morality that rules our lives. I can’t imagine standing up on a chair in the middle of a room to change perspective. I can’t imagine changing my mind on anything. I, in the end, can’t imagine having my own identity that contradicts other identities.”

When she says to me after my statement, “everyone likes the grid plan.” Isn’t she automatically excluding myself from everyone? “How could you not like the grid plan? It’s so functional! Take a right turn, and a right turn, and a right turn, and there’s a red light and a green light and a yellow light. It’s so symmetrical!”

By saying that everyone likes the grid plan, you’re saying “I’m going to relive all the mistakes my parents made, I’m going to identify with and relive all the sorrows my mother ever lived through. I will propagate and create dysfunctional children in the same dysfunctional way that I was raised. I will spread neurosis throughout the landscape and do my best to recreate myself and the damages of my life for the next generation.”