Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's new word: Narcotecture

Been tracking a new blog started in January now up to 34 posts. The writer has a leisurely, discursive style that makes for comfortable reading, a welcome relief from the turbulent, stress-filled stuff I usually encounter. Dr. Bob, The Anchoress and 3 Quarks provide recreational reading, but they and others tend to be light on recreation and heavy on challenges. jwm's world famous blog (yes, all lower case) is a roadside park along the information super-highway. This morning's post, "Toxic Nostalgia," described a walk home from where his car was left for repair.
(The last two lines of this post are also worth keeping: It isn't the days that were better then; it was the eyes that saw them. It's not the traffic on memory lane that gets you down, but the reflection you see in the storefront windows. Nicely said.)
The scene is in Southern California. Here is the part with my new word:

The Heights incorporated into its own city some years back, and the lot restrictions shrunk from five acres to one, and now I believe it's smaller than that, but I'm not sure, and I don't care to look it up. What you see when you look up to the heights now are big ass mansions: narcotecture in its most ostentatious, and obtrusive manifestation.

isn't in Merriam-Webster Online (yet) but a Google search gets over five hundred hits.
It's very descriptive. No one can mistake the meaning of a neologism combining architecture with narcotics. It may not be as poetic (or obscure) as white lobster, but from the looks of a Google search it spans the globe, starting in Afghanistan, of course, but popping up in Africa and South America as well as the good old USA.

(Something about the very use of this word is a sad commentary on what many still call a "war on drugs." The phase is slowly going out of fashion because the same people who want to pump the notion of "war" also enjoy using terms like "victory." They can't bring themselves to articulate or come to terms with the reality of "defeat" but if the so-called "war" on drugs is really a war, it's had plenty of time to declare defeat or victory. The same semantic dynamic applies to the term "global war on terror" or "war on terrorism" which is neither a war nor a remedy for terrorism. A post I put together a couple of weeks ago addressed that abuse of language. In the UK General Sir Michael Rose saw through the charade in 2006 and called for the impeachment of Tony Blair. But that is not the subject of this post. As usual, I digress. Please excuse.)

I'm reminded of another word used some time ago in a Fortune Magazine article to describe a pretentious style of architecture found in Atlanta's upscale neighborhoods. Paying homage to how much wealth is connected with the only soft drink permitted to be mentioned in this town, it was called "Roco-cola." That was before Internet Days, but I found evidence that at least one person other than me remembered.

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