September 23, 2005


Supersize Strollers Ignite Sidewalk Drama (STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM, 9/22/05, NY Times)

ONE recent evening during rush hour on a Washington subway, Jose Rivas found himself cornered by a giant stroller, with no clear path of escape. "She saw us," Mr. Rivas, 33, said of the woman pushing the buggy. "She looked at us. She was basically like: 'You better find a way to get out. It's not my responsibility.' "

When he tried to step around her to reach the door, her look became a glare. The confrontation was like a battle, he said, and the weapon, a long, army-green-colored stroller.

Christopher Peruzzi, 39, of Freehold, N.J., has also had to dodge baby strollers - especially those that are "double wide or triple long" - usually in stores, and he doesn't like it either. "They're blocking off products you want to get to," he said. "I find this particularly annoying in Barnes & Noble and Walden Books. I'm here to read. I'm not here for your kid to slam into me."

Pricey, supersize baby strollers like the Bugaboo and the Silver Cross - nicknamed Hummers - have been derided as symbols of yuppie extravagance. (They cost upward of about $700.) But some critics now say that size is not the only problem. What's worse, they say, is the way some parents use them to bulldoze their way through public places.

"I liken it to the SUV experience," said Elizabeth Khalil, 28, a lawyer in Washington. "It's just your mission to mow down everything in your sight because you can."

Critics - many of them people without children....

An often missed subtext of Blue State and European hatred of SUVs is that there are families in them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2005 5:34 PM

I have to admit that I used to use my twin stroller the way he's describing. It was fun.

Posted by: Brandon at September 23, 2005 6:02 PM

I find this particularly annoying in Barnes & Noble and Walden Books. I'm here to read.

Talk about speaking an unwitting truth.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 23, 2005 6:10 PM

A couple of summers ago, actually is was just before 9/11, we were at Palavas, a beach near Montpellier in France, where my son has an apartment. When we went to a nearly amusement park, parked there in the middle of all the little French kiddie cars, was a huge American SUV. It really looked like a 400 lb gorilla sitting in a kindergarten classroom.

The storm of anger and indignation it caused among the natives was priceless. We were asked if there were many like it in the U.S. and we had to honestly reply that they were everywhere. The frogs just couldn't stop sputtering.

I was so proud to be an ugly American and looked around for the owners to thank them for the most pleasant moments of our trip to France, but alas we didn't see them.

Posted by: erp at September 23, 2005 6:12 PM

Subtext? Seems to me it's pretty darn open...

But seriously, what kind of sucker would pay more than about $30 for a stroller? (I'll make an exception for those with multiple births...)

Posted by: b at September 23, 2005 6:23 PM

"Yuppie extravagance?!" Did he actually use the Y-word? Geez! I haven't heard that word in maybe 20 years. We comics are pretty attuned to common usage. We notice which words convey a lot of meaning and when they eventually lose that meaning, that punch. We sometimes use them in constructing jokes... use them for economy. But we know when to abandon them. Since we make our living using the language, we get a good handle on social trends, viewed through the lingo of the day.

"Yuppie" was all the rage in the mid to late 80's. But it faded rather quickly and was then pretty much deemed unusable. (Woe to the comic who continued with any bit that was seen as "yuppie bashing.") It just wasn't relevant any more... it didn't stir anyone's passions... perhaps even the last holdouts had become yuppies of one sort or another!

To hear these geeks and losers try to stir up any kind of animosity against young (or not so young!), upwardly mobile professionals in Manhattan--in 2005 America-- sounds as dated and as quaint as a Flock of Seagulls greatest hits album.

Those who winge about giant strollers on the subway probably also yearn for the pre-Giuliani, urine-soaked, crack-on-every-other-corner NYC of old.

Posted by: Brian McKim at September 23, 2005 6:34 PM

I googled the NYT broad b/c the hostility towards children reminded me of the article the Times published last year about the woman who aborted two of her triplets b/c she didn't want to have to buy the big jar of mayo at Costco.

Anyway, turns out that was a different broad, but . . .

I did find out that this one seems to be the queenbee of vapid style pieces at the NYT -- she did one on "girl crushes" that's worth looking into. (Mmm, 20 year old women with crushes on other 20 year old women, I think I saw that movie)

and I also discovered that she's a Colgate alum.

One of yours OJ.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 23, 2005 6:46 PM

For some reason the parents I see who inconsiderately block everyones way with huge strollers all do so while pushing the stroller with one hand and yapping on a cell phone with the other.

Posted by: carter at September 23, 2005 6:51 PM

I pretty much subscribe to all of OJ's views on the importance of families, etc. However, I also live in DC. The moms in NW DC and near suburbs and their $800 strollers do sometimes exhibit an annoying sense of entitlement. However, it's usually in the parking lot of Fresh Fields and not on the Metro. More annoying to me is that they've still not scraped the Kerry stickers off of their Range Rovers. David Brooks has written on these near suburbs and contrasted them with the new 'burbs further out.

Posted by: JAB at September 23, 2005 7:13 PM

An often missed subtext of Blue State and European hatred of SUVs is that there are families in them.

Which is a good thing, since we need cannon fodder for the oil wars to secure the crude that SUVs gobble so ferociously.

The anti-anti-SUV crowd likes to avoid the plain fact that shlepping one's family or cargo around town in a minivan or station wagon works just as well, but uses LESS FUEL, is SAFER for both those inside and those outside of the vehicle, and pollutes less.

Unless one lives north of I80 or in a rural area, an SUV is about self-image, not utility.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 8:08 PM


How many kids do you have?

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2005 8:15 PM

I have to agree with Michael on the utility of SUVs. Unfortunately, most of us (hello John Kerry) can't afford a quiver full of autos for every eventuality. I would bet that many of the SUVs you see on the road - at least here in Utah do get used in situations where nothing else will do - just not very often.

Our little family gets by with a Sentra and a 2wd Nissan pickup, but we are severly limited in where we can go (look at Richfield, UT on a map sometime and note the big chunks of land without paved roads).

Posted by: Jason Johnson at September 23, 2005 8:20 PM

Here in Cambridge I go running around a local reservoir, and the most distressing part is when someone pushing a twin SUV stroller passes me. These ones have big wheels, shock absorbers, and the babies always look comfortable.

Posted by: pj at September 23, 2005 8:49 PM

Many so called "SUV"s are built on car platforms as are most minivans and station wagons. The 3 categories are morphing into eachother and mileage is changing as well. Lexus has a new hybrid SUV that gets in the 30s.

JJ above points to areas where real SUVs, built on truck platforms with decent ground clearance, are needed. They also come in handy in bad weather, etc. Back when I worked in the auto industry we targeted such vehicles to 3 segments, the biggest of which was 'large rural family.'

I live in a near suburb of DC. The typical 'yuppie' lawyer family with 2 kids has something like a Lexus or Infiniti SUV. The only ones on truck platforms are Range Rovers. I think they came standard with Dean stickers, Kerry was an option. I guess these folks are hypocrites. Ironically, the few 'out' Bush voters in my precinct seem to drive Volvo wagons. I remain in the closet.

Interestingly, when I signed up for the emergency wireless alerts in our county, one of the few questions they asked was "do you have a 4WD vehicle and are you willing to help out in an emergency". I volunteered my 12 yr. old 2DR Explorer.

Posted by: JAB at September 23, 2005 8:51 PM

Mr. Herdegen, you are right. Families prefered stationwagons, which were removed from the market by the fuel standards. The SUV's were an end-run;
classed as trucks, the fuel standards didn't cover them....
As to the strollers with attitude, I imagine that
the area of the country covered by the article has had a quiet little war between the eco-nut singles and the "breeders" for some time now. I don't know
how far that ignorant concept has traveled, but I have heard "breeders" a few times here in Virginia.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at September 23, 2005 9:54 PM

Not only are we guilty of using a double stroller for our twins when they were younger, we also had a 2 child Burley and a jogging stroller for 2. Let's hear it for utility, power and safety!

Posted by: Dave W. at September 23, 2005 10:27 PM

Real families drive mini-vans

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 10:52 PM

Around here if you have a real family you need a 15 passenger econoline - not a minivan.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at September 23, 2005 11:49 PM

erp, I'm with you.

One of the proudest moments I experienced while living in Madrid occured during the opening of the Spanish Cortes (their parliament).

All the bigwigs turned up for a parade, including the remaining few old Francoist generals wearing their South-American-dictator style finery, peaked caps, and mirrored RayBans.

And the generals ride of choice?

1972 Cadillac convertibles, which were escorted down the street by an honor guard of a dozen Spanish military policemen mounted on Harley-Davidson Electro-Glides.

The earth shook with the sound of gigantic, gas-guzzling, chest-swelling, honest-to-goodness American iron.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at September 24, 2005 1:46 AM

I was asking a friend of mine about her Ford Excursion. She has 10 kids with the youngest 2 years old, so I don't know if they are planning more. (Well, they're "real" Catholics, so maybe planning isn't the right word).

Apparently last summer they bolted another seat in the back and drove with the whole family to Quebec and back from here in B.C. She said it was one of the best experiences in her life. The kids did not fight once. In her words, the trip had been blessed by the Holy Spirit.

Now, if you've ever seen a Ford Excursion (think 1 ton long box crew cab pickup), then maybe she just couldn't hear them fighting all the way back there, but it does illustrate O.J.'s point.

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 24, 2005 2:50 AM

I don't mind people buying SUVs.

They are really annoying in one respect in that they block your view of oncoming traffic at intersections.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at September 24, 2005 3:22 AM

I don't have a problem with SUV 's; however, I do have a problem with SUV's with only one person in the car when it is driving around. A couple of weeks ago when Katrina panic caused gas to spike up, I stopped at a traffic light and looked at all the other vehicles around me. There were about a dozen and only one had more than one person in it (including myself- my weak defense is that I drive a Saturn SL that gets 30+mph).

Posted by: pchuck at September 24, 2005 10:11 AM

"if you have a real family you need a 15 passenger econoline - not a minivan."

15? I like my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth every once in a while.

Randall: An econoline can hold more people and is cheaper to opperate.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 24, 2005 11:06 AM

HD- You brought a tear to my eye.

Posted by: erp at September 24, 2005 1:44 PM

I doubt a diesel Excursion costs more to operate than a van and vans aren't as good for pulling trailers -- they have horses. A number of other friends drive those vans, but four wheel drive is important where they live up in the hills.

Of course it probably cost more but money is no problem for those folks. They are a living testimony to Psalm 126 and 127.

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a might man, so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." (Ps 126:3-5)

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 24, 2005 6:24 PM