The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #68954   Message #3550834
Posted By: GUEST,Grishka
19-Aug-13 - 05:14 PM
Thread Name: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
Subject: RE: Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky?
Thanks for your long explanation, Joe. Now, if the song is about really affluent persons (in 1962), as Jeri confirms, why would they live in prefabricated houses of shoddy material? Is that only meant allegorically, like "All flesh is but grass; all human masonry is but ticky-tacky"? Thus Q, Lehrer, the Wiki author and many other critics misunderstood the song with its pejorative word ticky-tacky?—
I think that the song "Little Boxes" actually helped to change California urban planning for the better, and much of the sameness of California housing tracts has disappeared.
It may even have had a worldwide effect - quite an achievement! Nevertheless, the song is not primarily about disastrous urban planning, but about its grateful (?) customers: these turn out "all the same" themselves, giving up their individual personalities. This, Jeri, is certainly a criticism, thus a reason to take offence. I do not think Mudcatters such as Stim would recognize themselves in that description, since they do have "a life" and individual hobbies. (Besides, Stim, I do not think that in any society "everyone is going to wind up getting pretty much the same thing", not even in the former Soviet Union, let alone in California.)

If we assume the "real ticky-tacky" hypothesis, I imagine parents working hard, and living in modest housing in order to save every dime to send their children to good universities. But the song seems to suggest that the parents have those lucrative academic professions themselves, which contradicts the hypothesis. I tend to agree with Jeri that there is a little mistake in MR's concept.