Why Do You Want To Bomb the Suburbs?

by William Upski

I say bomb the suburbs because the suburbs have been bombing us for at
least the last forty years. They have waged an economic, political,
and cultural war on life in the city. The city has responded by
declaring war on itself.
	Bomb the Suburbs is a message to people who live in the
city. It is a call to change your strategy. Stop bombing the
city. Stop bombing the ghetto. Stop fucking up your own neighborhoods
and taking your frustrations out on those around you.
	People who live around you are not the root cause of your
problems. The people who are most responsible for your problems don't
live anywhere around you and they donÕt intend to live anywhere
around you.
	Bomb the Suburbs means let's celebrate the city. LetÕs
celebrate the ghetto and the few people who arenÕt running away
from it. LetÕs stop fucking up the city. LetÕs stop fucking up
the ghetto. LetÕs start defending it and making it work for us.
	If we have frustrations, we should direct them to people who
don't have any real frustrations of their own, people who are so
fucking spoiled and so fucking isolated, they donÕt even realize
how spoiled and isolated they are.
	Of course we're going to get angry at our families, our
friends, that set over there, the teacher, the police officer. But let
us remember these problems wouldnÕt be nearly so bad if it
werenÕt for the everyday cowardice which causes certain people to
avoid the whole area where we live, hoarding their resources to
	For all the pain they've caused us, the suburbs deserve to be
bombed literally. WeÕre not going to do that. We just want you
fuckers out there to understand a few things.
	#1.  You have problems. One of your problems is that you don't
know how to deal with us.
	#2 You need to stop running away from your problems. It makes
them worse for us.
	#3 We're going to start making it worse for you. WeÕre
going to keep confronting you. If you run away from us, weÕre going
to keep coming after you.
	#4 You may be able to avoid us temporarily, but you will not
be able to avoid the thought of us. The price of avoiding us is the
fullness of your humanity. and we'll still haunt you with music, our
graffiti, and anything else we throw at you when backed into a
corner. Your children will cuss you out in language they learn from
	Gentle readers, please note, the title is Bomb the Suburbs,
not Bomb the Suburbanites. We don't hate you. We do hate the way you
behave, especially when it ends up hurting people like us and our
	You have been trying to tell us to change for a long time. You
lecture us about the social pathology of the inner-city and how we
need to become more like you. We need to move to the suburbs too. We
need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and abandon our
"undesirables" the way you abandoned us.
	We need to do this. We need to do that.
	We're not the ones who did the most to create the
problems. WeÕre trying to face the problems you left us
with. WeÕre staying behind and trying to make things better.
	We think the suburbs are what needs to be changed about
America. We think the suburbs are bad for America.
	Socially, they intensify segregation and mistrust. Culturally,
they erode the sense of history, narrow the outlook and dull the
imagination. Economically, they intensify inequality by isolating the
rich and poor. Then the poor lack access to good schools, hospitals,
businesses, police, transportation, city services, concerned
neighbors, and any of the things that would allow them to alleviate
their situation. The rich lack access to reality and any sense of
proportion. They run around in a comfort warp, taking everything for
granted and misusing what they have.
	1880-1980 was the century of the city. The coming century will
be the century of the suburb. We haven't even begun to imagine the new
suburbs-based America. City and country alike will be over-run with
parking lot architecture. Sidewalks, buses, trains, and other relics
of public space will continue to disappear. The distinctiveness,
character, and history of the landscape will be washed corporately
clean. Security guards and alarm systems will protect almost
everything (except for the lives of the poor). Downtowns will become
	The ghetto will continue spreading into the suburbs. Ghettos
of the next century will look less like the South Side and more like
the East St. Louis: Bankrupt little shanty-towns. Isolated, without
bus routes, libraries, or trash collection.
	Suburbanization is not only one of the most important trends
of the coming century. It is one of the most important metaphors for
where our heads are at these days. Everybody wants to go off with
their own group, do their own thing, cut themselves off from everyone
else, and cease to be accountable. Every possible sub-group now has
its own inward-looking magazine and organization.
	I want to live in an America without ghettos or suburbs.

The essay above is from Bomb The Suburbs by William Upski. To order a
copy, send $7 to the author at The Subway and Elevated Press Co.
POBox 377653, Chicago, IL 60637 

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