Anywhere, U.S.A.

Going through any airport in the United States is an experience in soul-deadening sameness.  Every airport has the same features, the same stores, the same signs, the same walkways, the same arrival/departure boards — in short, the same everything.

Why is this so?  Is it because airport designers and managers believe that most Americans are so immersed in consumer culture that they cannot exist if they ever get more than 50 yards from a Sbarro, a generic newstand, or a sticky, crowded food court?  Is it because airport designers are engaged in a giant cover-your-ass exercise, figuring that if they create an airport that looks like every other airport the county board or city council that floated the bonds won’t complain?  Or do they honestly believe that there is only one way that an airport should look, and feel, and that is all we are going to get?

Magazine ads used to feature mock envelopes with the address “Anytown, U.S.A.”  Small towns, however, always had their own unique features, foods, and local stores.  Airports don’t.  Most pictures you take of an airport — like the picture accompanying this post — look exactly like every other airport.  (In this case, it is Houston.)  It’s sad, and makes you feel like you really aren’t going anywhere at all — just to another bland stop on the sameness express, where every airport has the dash and spice of a mouthful of phlegm.

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