Discovering Parma, Many Years Hence

Søren: "We have discovered the ruins of an ancient city, sir - a “Parma” - and due to its
diminutive central core, it had been spared devastation by any invasive onslaught, either by
nature or by man. The City remains... remarkably intact."

Croce: "Parma? Parma, of the Emilia Romagna - the noble city with the Romanesque Cathedral
and the octagonal Basilica? The great works of masonry and marble, the ancient crypts and

Søren: "No sir. This is another Parma. Parma of Ohio."

Croce: "What can you surmise about the inhabitants of this land?"

Søren: "Apparently accumulating far more household items than they can either use or store in
their own domiciles, they commit vast resources to storehouses, repositories of items with
seemingly no value."

Croce: "Describe these storage buildings..."

Søren: "Hideous. They lack proportion, artistry, detailing, and material expression. It is as if
they intended to express the utilitarian aim of volumetric accumulation of excess material goods
in the most loathsome form conceivable. Blocks of cement and metal, imprisoning naught but
unused furnishings, appliances, and lawn care apparatus."

Croce: "It is stunning that no responsible authorities holding jurisdiction existed in their time to
prevent this. No effective zoning provisions, no demands for aesthetic compliance. What
further exploits do you report?"

Søren: "If they were not amassing useless goods, they tended to be refueling. Mind that the
wheeled vehicular conveyances of the day generated (and thus acquired) filth nearly the
moment their wheels hit the road. But this did not prevent the drivers, grit and grime upon
their hands, from seeking nutriments from the selfsame location where they sought petroleum
for their vehicles. So, into these centers, appallingly bright and decorated as they were with
glistening primary colors, arrived patrons seeking a variety of meats kept in stasis under
infrared lamps, and soon laden with cheeses and relishes - meals with ample caloric intake but a
veritable dearth of any nutrition. These were coupled with libations bearing unusual monikers
- such as a "mountain dew," a drink with no real semblance of a mountainous origin or any
actual dew therein.

Croce: "How hideous. They took their meals in the same place they serviced their machines."

Søren: "It gets better.

"Though they have nary a concern for maintenance of their own bodies, these are a people
horrifyingly obsessed with the ritual ablution of their automotive transport units. That is to say,
there seems to be a veritable preponderance of "auto wash centers," replete with conveyors, and
brushes, applicators for various soapy foams, advanced chemicals, and rinses."

Croce: "Goodness. Did you get a count?"

Søren: "These docks number roughly three to four for every vehicle in the municipal area,
approximately one for every man, woman, and child. Clearly, these peoples believe that a
vehicle unlathered for more than a day would be tantamount to a form of religious
transgression. But sadly, the centers themselves - though clearly defined in function, contribute
no respect for architectural context, no concern for beauty or artistry."

Croce: "Truly: We bear witness to the denouement of this civilization."

Søren: "But wait - there's more. Yes, we witness excesses in auto washing, but even these
measures were in vain. For though the ritual cleanses made the vehicles shiny in hoods and
panels, they did precious little to thwart the vast quantities of sodium chloride that were

dispersed among all interstates and local roadways. These salts, upon encountering the steel of
a vehicle's underbody, did instigate great corrosion, an exchange of electrons manifesting in an
iron oxide, which effectively deteriorated the vehicles from below. Only frail, brittle wrecks

Croce: "Yes. In the parlance of their times: RUST. These Ohioans... their thinking processes... I
daresay they defy all measure of logic and reason."

"These places you describe, such pale achievements. What a tale of the utmost grief and woe.
So different from the other, aforementioned Parma, the one on further shores. Did the denizens
of this Parma, Ohio express beauty with any artistry, with any eloquence, with any depth of
feeling? In their time, had any one arisen to address this plight?"

Søren: ".... Well ..."

"I must divulge that some did. But these were in generations long past. Many of those great
works here were in service to Faith, and rendered in masonry, timber, and concrete. Certain
works devoted to nature, and some libraries, repositories of knowledge, are also memorable.
But most civic projects in Parma were not remarkable, and in their day had been effectively
value-engineered to oblivion. Nor were the planning processes here particularly enviable, as
the best uses of land were rarely considered. The City would have done well to direct its
resources, public and private alike, towards remarkable, prodigious, and monumental designs -
visionary projects that represented the City, and conveyed great meaning over vast, even
innumerable, generations."

Croce: "Well spoken."

Volume 16, Issue 6, Posted 8:14 AM, 06.01.2024