University Diaries
A professor of English describes American university life.
Aim: To change things.
Contact UD at: margaret-dot-soltan-at-gmail-dot-com

Read my book, TEACHING BEAUTY IN DeLILLO, WOOLF, AND MERRILL (Palgrave Macmillan; forthcoming), co-authored with Jennifer Green-Lewis. VISIT MY BRANCH CAMPUS AT INSIDE HIGHER ED

UD is...
"Salty." (Scott McLemee)
"Unvarnished." (Phi Beta Cons)
"Splendidly splenetic." (Culture Industry)
"Except for University Diaries, most academic blogs are tedious."
(Rate Your Students)
"I think of Soltan as the Maureen Dowd of the blogosphere,
except that Maureen Dowd is kind of a wrecking ball of a writer,
and Soltan isn't. For the life of me, I can't figure out her
politics, but she's pretty fabulous, so who gives a damn?"
(Tenured Radical)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Snapshots from Home

‘thesdan Cultures

“Few locations provide as much to see and experience as Bethesda.”

Paris? Istanbul? Cape Town? No, no place is quite as impressive as UD’s own ‘thesda, “a distinctive urban village inspired by the architecture and romance of Italy. Enjoy the charming piazzas, frescos and Palladian designs as you stroll to fine restaurants.”

Piazzas? Frescoes? ’thesda?

They’re part of a streetscape about to be created by the luxury resort/residence group, Canyon Ranch, right here.

This is only the second Canyon Ranch luxury spa residence in the country, and it’ll be built directly across the street from UD’s daughter’s school. One-bedroom $900,000, large units seven million plus.

UD finds plenty to ponder -- to scratch her head over -- in the publicity for Canyon Ranch Bethesda. UD, for instance, doesn’t think of granite as a stress reducer. Yet in listing your apartment’s “amenities and special touches to help you dispense with stress and enjoy life’s more uplifting moments,” Canyon Ranch starts off with “fine granite countertops.”

A local newspaper quotes a representative of the company: “If this were strictly a condominium, I would say to you it’s grossly overpriced.”

But that would overlook the “integrative team of physicians, behaviorists, therapists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists and nurses” on site. The local newspaper also describes “medical professionals on staff and medical experts available via tele-conferencing from the Cleveland Clinic.” Plus, there’s the “cooking and nutrition classes, massages, medical tests, [and] high-tech muscle analyzing exercise equipment.”

To top it off, the place is extremely exclusive. “[S]pa treatments, medical professionals, fitness classes and a gourmet restaurant [are available] almost exclusively to residents and guests,” says the local paper. Later, in the same article: “The Canyon Ranch wellness center, where all services and programs are held, will only be accessible to residents, hotel guests and possibly some non-resident members.”

The restaurant serves “fresh salads, filet mignon and lobster. The servings are not huge.” Three flakes of lobster meat for $65 sort of thing.

“You'll be thrilled every day with the fascinating surroundings of Canyon Ranch Living – Bethesda. It’s the perfect balance of sophisticated city life and private tranquility.” I’m very fond of my daughter’s school (same school I went to), but the word “fascinating” doesn’t fit. And however you spin it, the reality of the Ranch’s immediate surroundings is that you’re in the middle of a large corporate office park, framed by two commuter highways.