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It's the middle of the summer, a time to be happy and free from the toils of life. So how come I can't wait to go back to school?

Like many students, summer finds me out in the suburbs much of the time. And, not surprisingly, when I spend too much time in the outer limits, my mind starts to race with furious comparisons to the city. In honor of the giant step backward that many of us must make when the summer rolls around, I present evidence of the suburbs breeds discontent:

MTV as real life

If you have ever ventured into a suburban shopping mall, you know what I'm talking about. It's as though you're living inside the T.V. screen, and the only channel you can get is MTV. The entire youth population has turned into one giant pop star. Apparently, when a suburbanite reaches the age of 13, they are handed a form forcing them to choose which pop star they will dress like for the next seven years. Options include Kid Rock, Eminem, Britney Spears, Destiny's Child and a few others whose personal style have come to dictate what is and is not "cool."

Mass-produced housing

The only skill necessary for becoming an architect in the suburbs is the ability to wield a cookie cutter. Every house looks exactly the same. Most missing children in the suburbs are found not to have been kidnapped; they just became lost trying to find their house. Due to existing rules in many areas which keep home owners from painting the exterior of their houses certain colors, the only distinguishing factor available is your car. And, truth be told, there isn't much originality in that department either. SUVs have spread through the suburbs like a bad disease.

Smoking as a federal offense

If I've learned anything, I've learned this: never run out of cigarettes at three in the morning if you live in the suburbs. While in Los Angeles you can pretty much walk a block in any direction and find a cigarette vendor, finding cigarettes in the suburbs is like searching for the Holy Grail. It's near impossible. I discovered this while walking over a mile trying to find a grocery store. Forget about 7-Elevens ... they don't exist.

Even if you manage to find cigarettes in the suburbs, smoking is no pleasurable experience. You get stares that would make James Dean turn over in his grave. You'd swear you killed children or something every time you discretely take a puff.

The Time Machine Effect

Every time I travel the hour out to my mom's house in the suburbs I find that in truth I have really traveled back a decade. All around me I see people living in the early 90's. If it weren't for the teeny-boppers at the mall, I'd swear I was living in 1991! Technology seems to have left these people behind. I see women wearing shorts that literally make me shudder. Men are still sporting mullets; apparently they don't realize that mullets became a faux paux when I was still in elementary school.. Teenage boys wearing boxers pretending they are regular shorts, where I can see things that are supposed to be private. The air itself is stale, as though nothing has changed in 10 years.

Multiplexes

When I go to see a movie in L.A. I expect to sit in a damp theater older than I am with only four shows playing. I've come to love that; such an atmosphere defines the moviegoing experience for me. But going to the movies in the suburbs is like going to an amusement park. Since malls and movie theaters provide the only entertainment out there, both are taken to whole new levels. If a theater doesn't showcase at least 20 different films at a time, it's looked down upon.

You can expect to sit in plush seats, arranged amphitheater style. The screen is five stories high. People often arrive at the theater two hours early so that they can play arcade games in the lobby. And I'm not talking about one dinky Mario Brothers game either. They have enough games there to keep a kid busy for an entire day. It's capitalism at it's best.

Children's sports teams

Every major leaguer should come out of the suburbs with the amount of practice kids get out there. A family's entire existence is often centered around their child's sports team. Little League is like God to these people; lose a game and you're going straight to Hell.

Every kid on the block plays something; their ability to hit a ball determines their status as a suburban dude. Forget about going to the park on the weekends; do it and you'll be sorry. The parks are taken over every weekend by young sluggers and their families. Without a team shirt on, you'll stick out like a sore thumb.

The radio station monopoly

When in L.A. I'll often complain that there aren't any decent radio stations and swear that the only station I can depend on is the oldies station. My attitude does a 180 when I go out to the suburbs. Compared to the stations out in the suburbs, KROQ seems like music for the gods. If it isn't coated in glitter, those stations won't play it. The stations consist of pop, pop and more pop. Well, OK, they play some rap, too.

Turning on the radio is futile, it only leaves you feeling angry. You start wondering if there is some secret conspiracy going on; perhaps the biggest pop acts have gotten together and bought out the air waves? After all, what other explanation could there possible be?

With this evidence, how could a suburban-bound student not want to go back to school as soon as possible? Sure, school involves classes, work, waking up before noon and many other undesirables, but what can I say? School is home sweet home to me.

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