You Can’t Go Home Again

Well, maybe Thomas Wolfe was wrong; you can go home again but you may not recognize the place.

I took a detour on a recent trip to Long Island to have a look at the old neighborhood, Carle Place. Many of the houses in town were among the early phases of Arthur Levitt’s building blitz that changed the landscape of Long Island. It was 19 acres of Levittown before there was a Levittown.

In my day Carle Place was fairly uniform: small colonials and capes with wood shingles and big sturdy trees. Now every other house has been renovated beyond recognition in a style best described as Nassau County Italianate. Think the house in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

It’s a riotous melange of stone, curved driveways, and strangely elaborate landscaping with a heavy emphasis on weird poodle shaped bushes. It’s like the kids from Growing Up Gotti were hired on as the official architects. The tidy little houses have been dressed up in a velour tracksuit, heavy gold chains, a pinkie ring.

You can’t really codify good taste, and if you tried to explain why it all just doesn’t work you wouldn’t get far. You’d best just turn away and fuggedaboutit.

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