Saturday, December 20, 2008

Zuzu's Petals As Rorschach Test

I never thought of the classic Christmas film It's A Wonderful Life as a possible Rorschach Test until I read this article from Wendell Jamieson in the New York Times.

When Jimmy Stewart's character, George Bailey, slides into such despair over his life in Bedford Falls that he wishes he had never been born, his guardian angel grants him that wish; we are introduced to the world-that-would-have-been, starting with a renamed hometown now called "Pottersville".

To me, the seedy taverns, "dancing girls" and casinos of Pottersville are meant to conjure up a vision of life empty of meaning, the kind of whirlwind distraction we are driven to when things are going wrong, rather than the stable foundation we seek when we decide we are ready to start living for the future... Unlike Pottersville, Bedford Falls is lined with not just houses, but homes.

For the columnist in the NY Times, however, his view is drastically different:
Not only is Pottersville cooler and more fun than Bedford Falls, it also would have had a much, much stronger future. Think about it: In one scene George helps bring manufacturing to Bedford Falls. But since the era of “It’s a Wonderful Life” manufacturing in upstate New York has suffered terribly.
On the other hand, Pottersville, with its nightclubs and gambling halls, would almost certainly be in much better financial shape today. It might well be thriving.

He also references an ealier column in Slate, which "rightly pointed out how much fun Pottersville appears to be, and how awful and dull Bedford Falls is."

He even noticed that the only entertainment in the real town, glimpsed on the marquee of the movie theater after George emerges from the alternate universe, is “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”
Now that’s scary.

There are many contrasts that one could make between the world of Pottersville and that of Bedford Falls. I notice that the NY Times writer skips the big one that I always see: there are no children in Pottersville. No wonder he finds a town so full of families as Bedford Falls to be so unnerving; for a guy who would prefer to spend his time drinking, while trying to get lucky with the dames as well as the dice, children would be a resented intrusion indeed upon this “thriving” paradise.

When George Bailey comes home to a sick child fretting over her dying flower, he improvises some parental medicine by pocketing his daughter Zuzu’s flower petals without her noticing. His life is a mess, but he still makes the time, and summons the ingenuity, to try and help his beloved daughter in her time of need. It’s likely that she never would have found about such a small gesture of kindness, just as it’s likely that while we’re alive we’ll never learn about all the small kindnesses, all the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf, by those who love us. Once we start sacrificing for others, however, the gestures made earlier for us become far more possible to imagine.

Isn’t it interesting that the “benefactor” who helped attract the nightclubs and “dance halls” in the alternative town of Pottersville has his name smack in the forefront of it all, so that everyone can know the “good” that he’s done for them... another contrast left unmentioned in the article.

Maybe someone who sees a better life to be had in a Pottersville instead of a Bedford Falls is someone who has yet to see how they are loved, and the many forms in which that love has been demonstrated. If I thought that nobody loved me I don’t think I would have a problem spending all my money on drinking binges with one-night stands, either.

Not everyone is ready at the same time for the humility required to give of ourselves selflessly; some are blessed with having been raised upon so much bedrock stability in their own Bedford Falls that they can easily see the value in, and the sense behind, sacrificial love. Others, like George Bailey (and me), needed a far longer perspective, even a great shock, in order to learn the same lesson:

Good doesn’t just happen, it’s made. And when you make a lot of it in your life, then it’s a wonderful life.


Dag said...

You might have noticed that the New York Times is facing impending bankruptcy; and at the same time, Covenant Zone is growing.

No wonder. Great piece, Charles. And the usual shameless shite from the NYT.

People know.

truepeers said...

For some reason, I've only ever seen the last few minutes of that film; still, I know the NYT is being insane.

At once it seems amazing that so much of the "intelligentsia" hides from the truth - even if it's only a "joke" that gambling is good for the economy. But maybe we need to do more to understand how difficult it is for people to find the spiritual strength to live the adventure that is humility, love, and their spirit of openness in all its uncertainty. Hollywood makes it seem too easy, as its films usually are sure to provide the hoped-for happy ending, and that is what turns the "cool" pseudo-intellectuals cynical...

There is always opportunity for a new realism in film that still finds ways to show the truth of Christian love and humility.

Charles Henry said...

Thanks Dag.
To give the writer due credit, however, he does make the effort to thank the high school teacher who introduced him to the film over twenty years ago.

If he's still able to express gratitude, I take that as a sign that he's not so far gone, with the potential to become a decent enough soul, who could someday work for a good newspaper.

Charles Henry said...

Hollywood makes it seem too easy, as its films usually are sure to provide the hoped-for happy ending, and that is what turns the "cool" pseudo-intellectuals cynical...

The old-fashioned "Hollywood Happy Ending" is in itself a Rorschach inkblot, isn't it... people will see it as either truth or falsehood, and should they reject it as false, well, what does that say about their observations of life.

For instance, the ending of It's A Wonderful Life doesn't necessarily imply that George Bailey's future would thereafter be without any of the pain and suffering he had been experiencing before. It just suggests that he now has been given some insight into how to find happiness despite the tragedies of life. He learns that the secret to finding happiness is to look for the Good in life; just after he finds it in the reactions of his children, the whole town finds it as well through reflecting on George's lifelong reaction to them. The chronology here is absolutely how life works: seeing the love between him and his children, he's made happy again, even before he had any idea of the existence of the basket of cash headed his way.

He finds his faith in a future filled with love to be a hoped-for wish that gets fulfilled almost immediately... which is very realistic, from my experience.

The Hollywood happy ending is a lot like going to church; you're not necessarily "cured" by the end, but you are helped, by being better taught how to see the world around you. The service concludes with you being more connected to the good in your life; it's a happy ending to one chapter, preparing you to begin the next chapter. The ritual makes you a little more capable of imagining yourself living in a moment beyond the suffering of the present moment, giving you the imagination to live with one foot in the mud of the present and the other tentatively dipping its toes into the cleansing pools of the future.

Happy endings aren't "real", in the sense that they don't in fact exist as tangible things... they are like the vanishing point off on the distant horizon, the point at which two parallel lines meet. They are the goal that we affix in our mind's eye, and they will be as real as any of the promises we make to others...
..or to ourselves.

Dag said...

didn't red the NYT piece, but I assume the writer is being "ironic." That's why I didn't read it. The Age of Irony rusted a long time go. It's time for the Age of Ireny now.

truepeers said...

The old-fashioned "Hollywood Happy Ending" is in itself a Rorschach inkblot, isn't it... people will see it as either truth or falsehood, and should they reject it as false, well, what does that say about their observations of life.

-Charles, you make a good and wise argument, but the problem I had vaguely in mind (although as I say I've only ever seen the last few minutes of the film, IIRC) is not simply whether people choose/wish to see the happy ending as true or false. We are mostly all inclined to want the happy ending (as even the depression or cynicism of the faithless shows). It is rather a question of how the film provides us a guarantee for that desire, one that we can really believe in.

As you note, it is a question of faith, but the problem is that we can't just choose faith, we also need to continually renew the objects or stories in which we put our faith. This is the challenge of "realism". We may all desire faith, but some of us may have trouble finding it. Where is the model, in this day and age, that just "works" for us?

You well argue that the film is only meant to be taken allegorically, that George is only being provided an "insight" to the key that is friendship, and not being given a guarantee of now living forever in lotus land (which wouldn't really be a happy ending, would it?). Still, that only raises the question of why an allegorical tale doesn't work for the cynical NYT...

The perceptive point you make Charles about George first turning to the kids before the friends come in with the bags of money does strike me as key. What better guarantee of a happy ending than realizing one is blessed with a bevy of beautiful kids? But from the perspective of the cynical NYT, maybe this looks too cliche. Sure kids may be angelic at times, but my problem today is I can't find a woman who wants more than one "designer child" at age 39 (spoiled brats!)... or maybe his problem is that he has four kids and they're so often devilish... It's not that I couldn't renew my faith in the little devils, because they do have their angelic moments, but I need a film that, at once, shows them more (apparently) interested in their ipods and video games than in me or in any future I can put my faith in, and yet still finds a way to the happy ending I can put my faith in...

I should probably see It's a Wonderful Life before commenting further. How does that film guarantee its happy ending? What has to be given up, what sacrificed, to our desire for that ending? And can we accept that sacrifice? Was George's problem that he was deep in debt? Was the debt a reflection of his unwillingness, at times, to play by the rules of market society? Was it that necessity that was sacrificed? Was this a necessary sacrifice, a necessary and good opposition to the present, self-limiting, rules of market society? Depending on such questions and answers, we might better explain the cynicism of the NYT's ode to the gambling economy.... Do we have to sacrifice our sense of realism, and accept the film as meaningful allegory, to believe that George's friends have all this money to throw at him in the end?

If the cynic has one truth going for him, it is the recognition that we need good new films and/or other stories, that the old ones can't guarantee our faith forever. Similarly, he may recognize that the religious ritual - while something we need perhaps to appreciate more - alone is not enough: most Western people also need meaningful secular narrative art to operate in modern market society. (Jimmy Pattison, the self-made billionaire who claims he has only ever seen one film, excepted.)

Dag said...

World War One destroyed Europe. At the same time it "made" America. In Europe the elites turned to either Dad or fascism in response to their loss: collectivist elitist nihilism or collectivist populist paganism. America, a rural nation, turned to individualism. The sophisticates of Europe sneered; Americans rejoiced in the future. In America every day is potentially a happy ending. In Europe, every day is Hell on Earth. So what are the rural idiots of America so happy about? They just don't know what it's like to know, to be sophisticated, to have a "culture." Everything sucks. It's only luck and chance that allows one to live at all. Americans are too stupid to get it, unlike sophisticated Europeans. Living is ironic.

To be "smart" today is to be "European." If everything sucks, then only idiots are happy and optimistic. They just don't "know."

It's a wonderful life. Except for Europeans, who know better. Find a "European" who isn't stoned out of his mind and he'll probably tell you to endless degrees just how angry he is that Americans are happy. They shouldn't be. Look at all the harm they do, bush-hitler and so on being responsible for all the world's ills. And ya ya. Rusted to flakes.

Dag said...

My keyboard is sticky or something bad like that. Please read "turned to Dad" as "turned to "Dada." The art movement.

truepeers said...

I've seen unhappy Americans in my time, even some from rural areas. Did WWI destroy Europe? Well, there were some Brits and Poles and even a few French who said no in 1939-40, and there are even some today who want to fight. Who's to say they won't have a happy ending?

As for America, I recall that Sinclair Lewis hit a nerve with his character and novel Babbitt, just after the end of WWI. Businessmen all over America gave speeches at the Kiwanis clubs fretting over whether they had all become Babbitts.

In short, it's a human universal to be running out of one story and in need of renewal.

Charles Henry said...

Depending on such questions and answers, we might better explain the cynicism of the NYT's ode to the gambling economy....

Well, it's ironic that they view gambling as such a positive occupation, because both the Lionel Barrymore Mr. Potter character and the Jimmy Stewart George Bailey character (and Bailey Sr, the father who passes away earlier in the film) are all in the mortgage business... which is a form of gambling. A gamble derived from faith.

Potter gives Bailey Sr and Jr a hard time over the “riff raff” their Savings and Loan lends money to... the one factor that never seems to weigh on the scale when Potter decides how to use his resources, is the character of the recipient of the loan… the soul of the debtor. It’s only fitting, therefore, that the land development that the Baileys shepherd into being becomes, in the faithless world of Pottersville, a cemetery; a place for bodies without souls.

Do we have to sacrifice our sense of realism, and accept the film as meaningful allegory, to believe that George's friends have all this money to throw at him in the end?

The climactic shower of money is the reverse of the bank run that happened earlier in the film. That event contains a famous speech by Jimmy Stewart explaining to a panicked crowd of depositors how banks work, that their money isn’t in a big safe in the back room, “it’s in your house Joe, and yours, and your shop, and your business”… The small amounts that each give at the film’s end are entirely reasonable, since they’re all small change; we’re shown a few examples, such as the dimes from the jukebox, to establish the coin-by-coin, bill-by-bill provenance of the loan that saves him. It’s one of the many life lessons in the film: when everyone gives, even if it’s only a little, the end result is a lot. I used to organize similar “miracles” at work every year, asking my staff for only $5 each, and we would quickly accumulate enough to buy a surprise $100 gift certificate to the revolving restaurant downtown for the Most Valuable Team member. It was a gift that no single one of us could afford, but by working together we could readily achieve that pre-established objective. So I feel I can personally vouch for the believability of the film’s wonderful conclusion.

truepeers said...

Thanks for that, Charles, makes the final scene understandable now. Next time I'm at the library I'll see if I can borrow the DVD.

Anonymous said...

hmmm. OK, as a hardcore lefty, I gotta say: loved your post. To me, those are all lefty values - connecting and caring for one another, putting people and community ahead of profits, and looking for the good in people. Whatever. Again: great post.

Charles Henry said...

Truepeers, you really should see that film. For decades "everybody knows" that Citizen Kane is supposed to be the greatest American film ever made, but for my money it's "It's A Wonderful Life" that truly deserves that accolade. It's the movie I would point a space alien to when such a visitor might ask me to explain what it means to be human. Introducing anyone to such a film is a highly humane gesture.

Citizen Kane has all the beauty of the inside of my computer; it's remarkably clever, technically sophisticated, and meticulously thought through...but it has all the humanity of a functioning clock. It's spectacular, but the spectacle only shines for so long before it fails to satisfy.

Wonderful Life, on the other hand, always satisfies. It is a living film, in that as you change, the film seems to change. You see it differently.

It was made by people who needed to renew their faith in themselves, and in their post-war world. (director Frank Capra spent the war being told by "the powers that be" that the right thing to do was the wrong thing to do, and vice versa, to the point that he had to steal footage in order to make his wartime "Why We Fight" documentary series... for a cocksure patriot like him, the kind of moral conflict that this experience put him through must have seriously shaken his confidence, given the surprising anecdotes that Jimmy Stewart relates about the making of the Wonderful Life film.) Capra, more than anyone, must have been able to see why the George Bailey character's despair needed the wise counsel that is granted to him. How many times must he himself have asked for answers to unanswerable questions of conscience...

Jimmy Stewart delivers a short monologue at one point in a bar, in the form of a prayer, that he said affected him as deeply as it tends to affect the viewer. The tears you see there are real, as he listened to himself say his lines during the filming of the scene, and (talk about a film changing on you) only then did their greater meaning become clear to him. I've always wondered if that one speech was the imcentive that, a year or so after the film, made him do a very unusual (and little-known) radio drama called "Mission Accomplished", for the high-profile "Suspense" anthology series. It surely must rank as one of the most harrowing plays ever put on the air. In it he played a World War II veteran trapped in a private hell, plotting revenge against American hospital staff whom he mistakes, in his delirium, for the Japanese POW camp guards that haunt his dreams.

Stewart seems to have wanted to make the Wonderful Life film to help himself exorcise similar demons left over from his own (considerable) wartime experiences, as well as the more pragmatic motivation of kickstarting a postponed movie career.

Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn down all the lights and treat yourself to a wonderful Christmas gift: watch It's A Wonderful Life for the first time. You've earned it!

truepeers said...

Thanks Charles. Others must agree with you: I just went to the library site to request the DVD: I'm sixth in line. Not bad for a 60+ year old film!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Wendell Jamieson here. I came across your post about my story, and thought I might respond.

First of all, like any writer would be, I'm thrilled that my story sparked such an interesting, passionate discussion. But I fear some parts of my story were taken the wrong way. This is no one's fault but my own -- when a reader misunderstands something, in my opinion, the fault is always the writer's.

So let me be clear: I LOVE this movie. Always have. I just think it is open to different interpretations. Surely, I'm entitled to my opinion. To me, it is quite dark.

I certainly prefer children to drinking and gambling. I have two small ones, and spend every minute I can with them. I've only been in a casino once, and I found it a little depressing. It just wasn't for me.

But I think the facts prove one of the main points in my story: manufacturing in New York State has suffered a great deal since the 1940s, while some places that base their economies on entertainment have thrived. I'm not saying that it is better -- though, in my opinion, Pottersville does seem like more fun than Bedford Falls -- I'm just saying this is current economic reality.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a great work of art, and, like all works of art, can be dissected and interpreted all kinds of different ways. Isn't it great that this film sparks such passion 60 years after it was released?

I wanted to start a discussion with my story, and boy did I!

Okay, now back to work. A Merry Christmas to everyone.

Wendell Jamieson

Dag said...

Merry Christmas, Wendell, to you and your family from me.

It's easy for me to write as if NYT copy is created ex nihilo, as if there are no "real" people involved in the effort. I assume you and others don't take that too seriously. You come across above as a pretty decent guy, as I'm sure some of those others at NYT are as well. There have to be at least a couple of decent people there, right!? So I'm being hyperbolic when I come across as hyperbolic.


Yeah, that dreaded word. You must see the infusion of gambling into an economy a little better than a quick "fix" that might feel good for a short time, similar to the so-called bailout we're experiencing recently (and perhaps the effects of for years yet to come.) It's a foundation of sand, at best. Charles' point shows a community that thrived for generations, one based on the best available model of the time, industry, and we see the remains of it to this day, rather than the remains of gambling and such had Pottersville been the case. What ruin would that have left us? So, I still think you must have been writing ironically.

"Manufacturing in New York State has suffered a great deal since the 1940s, while some places that base their economies on entertainment have thrived."

Yes, Nevada is still going strong, what with the gambling and the prostitution and the mental illness it stokes in those who go back home, to New York, for example, to continue their lives outside the "success" of Nevada. Never mind that there is no productive industry to support the closed circle of gambling in Nevada. Gambling doesn't create wealth. It only takes from those who had it.

"I'm not saying that it is better -- though, in my opinion, Pottersville does seem like more fun than Bedford Falls -- I'm just saying this is current economic reality."

We see the "gambling economy" all around us today, Europe itself being a prime example: a place where life is fun, at least for those who have money to toss away on the thrill of the moment; and there is the hope that the immigrants who enter en masse daily will eventually become productive citizens who will provide the lifestyle to which its ageing citizens have become accustomed; and that in the beauties of socialized living all will turn out to be perfect. Some gamble, and one that isn't looking too good for those of us not pouring money into the slot awaiting the big pay-off.

Having fun is fun, and it is today's pursuit. It's tomorrow's hang-over and the bills coming in that some of us consider worrisome.

Those feeling the Pinch at the NYT must be a tad uneasy, too, wondering just how long this party can last. Some, having camped out for an extended period in Alaska to see first hand the delights of Dog Patch, might think back fondly to a hill-billy town with lots of dogs running around, and they might wonder if indeed the hicks had something better after all. No, not too much fun to be had, not the real kind, the kind with operas and art museums and cocktail parties with smart people; more like the fun of being with family and friends and the open skies and the broad forests where one makes ones own fun with ones own hands and mind.

Yes, even Wasilla has its gambles. Ones children might turn out to be losers; ones mother-in-law might be a dope dealer; one might not be encyclopedically informed. Life is tough. But the beauty is that the tough keep on going when the pot runs dry. They continue making, and that "making" is a poetry in itself, even if not to the uninitiated.

Nancy writes above: "[L]efty values - connecting and caring for one another, putting people and community ahead of profits, and looking for the good in people...."

Those are not Leftist values or New York City values or values specific to anyone else or group. Hell's Angels have those values. The import of the problem is how we get there. Yes, gambling makes some people wealthy. Yes, Hell's Angels are psychotically loyal to each other. Yes, Pol Pot had a vision of a perfect Cambodia.

Life's a gamble. If one is a rational individual, the chances are better that one will only destroy oneself in the ugly process of self-destruction. And in the same pursuit of selfishness, if one is successful, others benefit by default. Which industrialist set out to make America a world power for a century? Not a one. He did his work to get rich, giving many the money in the process to go to 'Vegas to piss it away, should they so choose. Most don't. They put their labour's efforts into their communities buying homes and saving for their futures. They have kids. They live and they die and they suffer. Maybe it's not even fun for them. Maybe like it was for my family and for all families outside the rich in history, and excluding many of them as well, life was painful, nasty, brutish, and even short, with nothing much but the faint hope of Heaven waiting for them later. But they lived anyway, not necessarily in a state of hope for the future, most not recognizing such a thing as possible other than as a linear event at best. They lived for something they likely couldn't define: The Life.

Not fun, not a hope of riches. Wasilla, with the snow and the dog shit and the poverty and the welfare and the drunkenness and the seasonal work that comes, that's not most people's idea of a good life. Suicide rates are high in many rural areas, illiteracy is rampant, drug-addiction and alcoholism are common. The idiocy of rural living is a trap for at least some who would escape it if they could. The solution isn't to install gambling casinos along the Alcan but to bring more Modernity to the people, in the old, old form of "industry" as Ben Franklin understood the term. Less fun, more reality, hard as that is. Yes, more suffering and deprivation. More stinginess and scrimping and saving. Not more fun; more: No more fun. Life is hard enough without ruining what little good there is in it by having fun.

Connecting and caring for one another, putting people and community ahead of profits, and looking for the good in people.

I can't put it better than that. That kind of attitude doesn't come from having fun. There's no gamble in it. That kind of attitude comes from living in a nation free of oppression from the state, a nation that allows one to act as a free individual in pursuit of ones own desires, whether that be the pursuit of fabulous wealth or even gambling in Las Vegas.

America is not the nation it was, and I see that as a failing far worse than closed factories. America is not the free nation it was when I was a young man, not so long ago after all. Closed factories are not a problem for people who work, for poets who make. Closed circles of thought and futures are a failure. Not a return to the communalism of the feudal ages, but a forward movement into further Modernity. More freedom. More failure, more hardship, more hurt. And then, if one survives, which many do not, one might win sometime, win of ones own accord, a triumph beyond imagination. And then there will be work and life for many more to do more still.

Freedom is a terrible thing. We used to have more of it in America. I'd like to live to see the rerun of more of it yet. I look for "again." I look for "return." I look to Greek to see that the word for both terms is "palin."

My Christmas story, briefly:

Every night at sundown the doors of the prison would open to let in the local rich guys so they could pay off parents who had their families living with them inside. The men would come in and pick and choose the children they would rape that night, the cries of kids echoing throughout the complex till dawn.

That was the life of a child there.

One day a boy of six or so found a piece of shiny blue blue ribbon. He held it and cried for joy at having some beautiful and silky shiny thing.

It is indeed a wonderful life.

Charles Henry said...

Hi there Wendell, a Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Thanks for your comment, and for taking the time to clarify your appreciation for the film.

You’re right, of course, that when it comes to certain matters, everyone is indeed entitled to their own opinion. Your comment, however, leaves me all the more baffled by the article you wrote, and how you arrived at your opinion.

Your description of the film being about “growing up and relinquishing your dreams” is, like much else in your piece, half-true; like the proverbial glass half-empty/glass half-full, I think you relentlessly choose to see only the hole, rather than the bounty occupying the other half.

Yes, it has its "dark" side, but if Frank Capra had been after a less catchy title, in a fit of whimsy he might have named the film "When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade"... since that sums up the lesson of the story. There have to be lemons in there in order for the recipe to come out as lemonade. I don't understand the fixation with the unhappiness within a film that to me overflows with happiness.

When the high school rivals try to sabotage the dance by opening the doors to the pool, people make themselves enjoy their problems with such willpower that it even impresses the saboteurs, who join them by diving in themselves. Well, if that "dark" incident hadn't happened, George Bailey might never have walked back with the girl that he later married, he might not have had the opportunity to make his "lassoes the moon" comment. Mary had a terrible time that night, and yet she chooses to remember mostly the good of it: George's positive attitude. No wonder they are attracted to each other...

So, to answer the question you raise early in your NY Times article... Yes, this is the promise of adulthood, practiced in childhood: the willpower to adapt, to survive, to choose to see the good about life, and embrace it. It's about "ask[ing] your father: he knows" [the sign that young George Bailey reads when he wonders what to do about the pharmacist's instructions]... a child takes things literally but an adult sees the deeper meaning. Young George never does get to ask his father about the Right Thing to do, so he asks himself, what would dad tell me, what would dad do... and he does that. He gets two results: a beating, then a hug.

I would write about the hug. Your article repeatedly chooses to write about the other half of such scenes.

Finally, I'm very glad to hear that you are taking your son to see the film in a theater (somehow I didn't notice that point in my first read of your piece). I do hope, however, that the fixation with the negative doesn't rub off on your boy. I hope that someday he asks himself "what would father do", and that you'd be proud of the response that he comes up with. I hope that it's similar to young George's: seeing the good, not just the bad, and celebrating the wonder of the good in life.

Findalis said...

I'll take the Bedford Falls over the Potterville any day of the week. Pottervilles are fleeting, with no stability to them they eventually fold and die. Bedford Falls finds a way to thrive, even if it becomes a Bedroom community, it still thrives.