Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Leisureville: A Book (and a lifestyle) Review

"Behind all the gated age-restricted leisure, ersatz architectural nostalgia, and nightly hanky-panky, what I saw in The Villages is a concerted effort by a segment of older Americans to find community--something that in today's turbulent world can be hard to chance upon, particularly for the elderly. Many Villagers simply don't care if they live in an autocratic fantasyland founded on a policy of segregation; they just want a place to call home, a geritopia where they can be comfortable among their peers.

Most of the Villagers I met were blissful--thankful that such a place existed and that they had been lucky enough to find it. Retirement can be a stressful stage of life. There's no script to follow for the decades between giving up work and reaching advanced old age. Private developers such as Webb and Morse are filling that void for some people, peddling a glamorized vision of serene, financially predicable leisure living in segregated resort-like communities. It's a powerful vision that has proved to be very appealing to a sizable segment of aging Americans."

So opens the penultimate chapter of Andrew Blechman's book based mostly on the place where I am staying this month -- The Villages in Central Florida. I strongly recommend the book to anyone who ventures near this blog. If you are a progressive, you really need to inform yourself about what is happening far from your door. If you're conservative, there are a huge flock of like-minded individuals congregating in a land not so far away. And for my very few readers who actually are moderates, this place is fascinating or creepy or both at the same time.

After yesterday's election, one might consider just how far apart the red and blue sides of this country are. The stark contrast is geographically played out here at The Villages. The residents and snow-birds dominate local elections. Republican candidates flock to campaign here, paying homage to the mass of aging, white, conservative voters.

There are so many aspects to this place: political, social, anthropological, even constitutional. Read the book, I promise you will open your eyes a bit wider at what the Boomer generation hath wrought.

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