Here are some images I took over the past week while trying to kick that Sub-Saharan virus I attracted while walking across the desert in five-inch Jimmy Choo heels.

Back on the homefront, I took a wander around a model of New Urbanism called Haile Village Center.  The community was built along principles of “traditional town planning,” which means that everything one could want in their daily life would be found within easy walking distance.  The project, which never really took off, resulted in vacant homes and condos and storefronts.  After 7 PM, it is mostly deserted.  It resembles a movie set, although with its mix of New England Colonial, Southern Plantation, Mediterranean, and modern influences it would be hard to say what sort of movie might be filmed here.  I am thinking something starring Benjamin Franklin, Errol Flynn, and Jimmy Carter.

The Village Center is supposed to be the hub of the larger Haile Plantation, a much more successful New Urbanism project, but it failed to attract residents for reasons that are fairly visible.  Its streets are narrow and its parking facilities are minimal.  The layout gives the idea that driving is discouraged, which is a main tenet of New Urbanism, and yet everything you need on a daily basis is not within walking distance.  Another drawback is a lack of acreage; row houses sit so close to one another that you could look across to the neighbor’s kitchen to see what he was cooking for dinner, if you had a neighbor.  Chances are the house next door is vacant.

The supermarket is farther than a five-minute walk away (try a 40-minute round trip) and unless one took the bus, it would be difficult to get that twelve-pack of Negro Modelo home under one’s own steam.  To compensate for this, the center had a combo deli/market, but it has recently closed.

At present, you will find a couple of informal restaurants, a jeweler, a gift shop, the only store in Gainesville that carries Marimekko, a bank, and realtors with lots of listings.  I am not convinced that anyone actually lives in the Village Center.  There might be a handful; the few times I have breached it at dinnertime I felt as if I were trespassing. 

As is often the case with this type of development, the Village Center has won a design award.  It’s a pleasant enough place as far as eye appeal goes, and I don’t suppose you have to worry about the neighbors dealing drugs or stealing your laundry off the line. Still, I feel defeated by the convenient bourgeouisie of New Urbanism and think it needs to come with its own instruction manual.  Where, for instance, is one supposed to park one’s second car?

The restaurant to the left of the picture had two diners in it when I took this picture last Thursday at 7 PM.

A front view of the same restaurant.  A few seconds later, a jogger ran by with a dog.

This street houses a farmers’ market that temporarily swells the population by 200 persons. I keep forgetting when it is.

If you’re into Marimekko–the Finnish textiles company that was at its American zenith in the 1960s–this is the place to buy it.

An example of stylistic contrast.  Note stucco walls and woodframe construction of home in the back.

Look closely.  There is a ballet class going on behind the blinds.  I snapped a few of these, trying to frame the young Asian dancer, but the ballet mistress noticed me and I felt it was in my best interest to move along.

The famous horses of Haile meandered over and then ignored me when they found that my palm contained only grass.  This was the second time in one week that I stepped on a fire ant mound.  The only thing that works to ease the pain is an herbal balm from the Wangphrom Herbal Center in Thailand.  You can buy it on eBay.