Marlins Park

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David Foster Wallace

Image Credit: Steve Rhodes

I’ve always loved the moment in David Foster Wallace’s “Big Red Son” when he praises Las Vegas for being the least pretentious city in America. What an astute thing to say. Who among us could have looked at, for example, the Bellagio’s famous fountain, Paris Las Vegas or the Venetian and describe them as not pretentious? (The Wynn complex wasn’t built yet, but everything interior designer Roger Thomas has done there since confirms Wallace’s point.) The irony Wallace is highlighting, of course, is the fact that these institutions pretend to be nothing other than what they are: spaces smartly designed for people to come into and enjoy wasting their money. They don’t pretend to be otherwise. No Vegas weekender sees the Paris’ Eiffel Tower and looks for the Louvre, because that structure isn’t there to trick people into thinking they’re across the ocean: it’s there to encourage people to luxuriate in their extravagance. Wallace makes this point, I suspect, because deep down he was worried that a certain degree of pretentiousness in modern American culture is fostering a strong undercurrent of cynicism. With all the naïveté of Wallace’s ideal citizen, I’m hoping the Miami Marlin’s new stadium, aptly named Marlins Park, isn’t a great example of what Wallace was worried about.

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