Little shop of understanding

07/09/2012 § Leave a comment

I attended a school music recital this week. One performer sang ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ from Little Shop of Horrors (here’s Ellen Greene in a video from the 1986 movie). She played it for laughs, as is typical. It’s kind of a twee vision — ‘A picture out of Better Homes and Gardens magazine’.

But I’ve always found the song rather poignant. Sure, it may not seem like much of a vision. ‘A matchbox of our own/A fence of real chain link.’ If Audrey’s going to dream, why not dream big?

And I should also share that, when the movie came out, the song very nearly described my family’s house. We were in a tract house in a very green suburb, with chain link fences separating all the houses. I couldn’t say Dad loved to mow and weed, but it was certainly part of the cycle of chores. Mom did get Better Homes and Gardens and did cook from Betty Crocker cookbooks.

Plastic on the furniture is a different matter. We didn’t do that, but I had run across it. IIRC, plastic dust covers are one of the markers of anxious suburbia that Dean MacCannell discussed in ‘Orange County, Yugoslavia’, a chapter in Empty Meeting Grounds.

Anyway, that’s all on the way to making my point. The lines that really choke me up in the song are the end:

Far from Skid Row
I dream we’ll go
somewhere that’s green.

As much as Audrey’s vision seems so small and so plastic, it’s better than the life she has.

Planners and economists should remember that not everyone is comfortable. Not everyone is focused on #FirstWorldProblems. Sometimes, all it takes is a funny little song to remind me.

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