ginia’s 220, 301, or 360 lately?)rnJust outside Blacksburg, the tightlyrnpacked line of unsold cars, fast-food outlets,rnservice stations (which don’t give service),rnand ticky-tacky shanties stand doorwayrnto doorway as cars move bumper tornbumper. Passing what used to be a lovelyrnarboretum, I reach the humbled intersectionrnof 460 and 116: I call it IndigestionrnJunction, from the cluster ofrnfast-food outlets spliced with used cars, arncemetery, a huge bowling-alley complex,rnand automobiles pouring in and out ofrnthe nearby Wal-Mart and Big K-Mart.rnSoon, I’m at another jumble where 460rnmeets 1-81: This speed-death trap is sornsploged that the governor stationed halfrnof the state patrol ears there. On Sunday,rnFebruary 21, 1999, they gave out overrn100 speeding tickets. Wlio can say howrnmany they missed?rnI dodge in and out of truck convoys,rnyearning to get to the Route 50 exit—arntwo-laner in Northern Virginia throughrnPaul Mellon country that has resisted everyrnsploge attack (at least until 50 hitsrnFairfax Count)’). Mellon might well bernthe Virginian of the Centiiry, not only forrnhis philanthropy but for keeping a wholernarea safe and civilized: playing a majorrnrole in restoring Monticello, preservingrnthe landscape, being a responsible Virginiarncitizen. He cared.rnPaul Mellon graced 91 years of thern20th century. Had he lived longer, hernwould have faced another formidablernproblem —the speculative constructionrntaking off near Dulles Airport. A new super-rnsploge threatens Mellon’s NorthernrnVirginia; nearly 8.5 million square feet ofrnoffice space (as much space as in downtownrnMiami) is being built, financed byrnmillions of “speculative dollars.”rnFairfax County already has twice asrnmuch available office space as the downtownrncores of such cities as Boston, Philadelphia,rnHouston, Dallas, and Atlanta.rnWhere will this building boom land us?rn”You never really know,” a key Virginiarndeveloper, Chris Walker, admits. “It’srnsort of like the stock market.”rn”Spec ” construction is a dicey, take-achancernscheme that can bring in bigrnbucks —or fall flat (as it did throughoutrnsoutheast Asia) and leave environmentalrnniglitiuares. But even successful megaexplosionrnresults in crowd culture, witiirnits traffic jams, bankruptcies, legal battles,rnjunk mail, flimflams, virtiial reality, andrnhonking horns. Push, shove, and curse; itrndoesn’t help. Join the crowd in this bravernnew vorld, and lose your identitv’.rnBeware the glut, not only of cars, paper,rnand electronic information, but alsornpiles of garbage. Would you believe thatrnVirginia receives 5,000 tons a day fromrnNew York City, dumping it onto land adjacentrnto one of our most precious spots,rnWilliam Byrd’s Westover Plantation? Irnhad intended to go see for myself—but Irnhaven’t the stomach for it. Instead, I takernExit 156 off of 1-95 into historic PrincernWilliam County to visit Potomac Mills —rnwhich my “fact sheet” describes as a “super-rnregional mall encompassing 152rnacres featuring live potted foliage.” Irncould shorten that hyperbole to onernword: sploge.rnPotomac Mills—a 1.7 million-squarefootrncenter with parking spaces for overrn9,000 ears —”aggressively markets” notrnonly domestic travel, but also (again,rnquoting my fact sheet) “internationalrntourism concentiating on UK, Germany,rnSouth America, Brussels, and Amsterdam.”rnCome one, come all—get yourrnfree shopping bags and discount couponrnbooks with a value of over $400! Hungry?rnThere are 23 eateries (an appropriaternword), shopping-cart rentals, andrnhard floors “most conducive to walking.”rnAnd, of course, spending.rnAre there any malls like this in otherrnstates? “Oh yes,” a well-rehearsed tourrnmanager assures me. “We have malls inrnmajor cities all over America, and plan tornexpand. Who knows —we might buildrnone near you. Where are you from?”rn”Blacksburg.”rnShe drags out her map. “Never heardrnof it. Wliat’s it near?”rn”Roanoke.”rn”Is that near Richmond? Oh. Here itrnis, just off 1-81. Well, someday we mayrnput a super-mall between Roanokernand—where did you say you live?”rn”Never mind,” I reply, walking quicklyrnaway. Puzzled, but still smiling her perpetualrnsmile, she hurries back to herrnpack.rnIs there a future for Virginia’s past? Ofrncourse —if we help to defend, explain,rnand preserve it. Groups like the PreservationrnAlliance of Virginia can play a keyrnrole. They have a daunting task. Nearlyrn40 percent of those living in Virginia todayrnare non-natives; since World War II,rnwe have grown ten percent every tenrnyears. It is estimated that, bv the yearrn2030, Virginia will have a population ofrnover eight million. What will the “Virginiarntradition” mean then?rnThe wheeler-dealers, splogers, andrnmailers will dismiss my case as sentimentalrnand nostalgic. “Get a life,” they willrnsay. “Get off your narrow backroads ontornthe Information Highway. Think tomorrow!”rnI have tried, and I’ve found a good dealrnof misinformation and virtual nonsense.rnI’m worried about today. I side with formerrnUniversity of Virginia President EdwinrnA. Alderman: “We Virginians arernsometimes laughed at for our sensitivenessrnto local things and our pride of state.rnWe will not be laughed out of thesernthings.”rnOf course, we must seek middlernground, accepting some change and inevitablerngrowth. But we will take ourrnstand and remember our heritage. Ourrntraditional state song (“Carry Me Back tornOld Virginia”) is gone, but the birds stillrnwarble sweet in the springtime. We intendrnto keep Virginia green. We will notrntrade our white dogwood blossoms,rnblushing redbuds, and masses of mountainrnlaurel for 30 pieces of silver.rnI find my car in the auto jungle andrnhead home. To avoid 1-81, I cut off onrnold Route 11 and travel through Salem,rnShawsville, and Elliston. Later on, Irnmight just go to Blacksburg’s communityrncenter, Abingdon’s Barter Theater, andrnGalax’s Fiddler’s Convention. As I pullrninto my driveway, a sassy blue jay chirps arngreeting, and Edward, our gaudy goldenrnretriever, comes running out, tail wagging;rnIt’s good to be home.rnMarshall Fishwick is a professor ofrnAmerican Studies at Virginia Tech.rnLIBERAL ARTSrn. . . BUT I WAS JUST A KIDrn”Britain’s Scout Association blastedrnveteran rock star Elton John . . . forrnstaging a raunchy dance routine witlirnmale strippers dressed as cub scouts.rn”The flamboyant star, singing at arn10th birthdav party for the gay rightsrngroup Stonewall, was accompanied byrnsix teenage dancers who peeled offrntheir toggles, caps and scout uniformsrnto dance in their underwear.rn”A spokesman for the Scout Association,rnBritain’s best known boys’ club,rnsaid: ‘We are disappointed a star of EltonrnJohn’s caliber participated inrnsomething that was so lacking inrntaste.'”rn—/ron; Rmten (November ?(j, J 999)rnAPRIL 2000/39rnrnrn