31: Hill Valley (Back to the Future)



Tim Cresswell wrote that “even a totally imaginary place has an imaginary form in order to make it place like.” Name one imaginary town so firmly embedded in American pop culture that isn’t named Hill Valley in 3…2….1… we’re going to assume you couldn’t do it.

A couple months ago, Tyler had this funny notion of how the Back to the Future trilogy detailed the geographic development of not only the fictional, oxymoronically named Hill Valley, but also collective perceptions of Everytown, USA through a multitude of lenses. In each of the three films, we see such now-iconic landmarks like the clock tower, Hill Valley High, the Twin Pines Mall at various stages of their growth into the landscape fabric behind Marty McFly, Doc Brown, Biff Tannen, and the other assorted characters. Fortunately, one Tree (Teresa of ‘Episode 25: Seattle’ fame) and one Inky (David, of ‘Episode 18: Chicago‘ fame) jumped on board with this idea, and now it’s becoming a reality.

And what better way to promote this… reality than with an appearance on ‘The Casual Geographer’? Well, we can imagine plenty of better ways, but that doesn’t mean this episode was any less fun. Grab your hoverboard, set your time coordinates, and hold on. Once you hit that play button, you’re “going to [hear] some serious s&#t.” Even if you don’t enjoy it, “your kids are gonna love it.” Is that enough references? Of course not, there’s no such thing as too much Back to the Future.

Produced by Tyler S. for Sonic Geography
Theme Song: “The Face of the Earth” by The Dismemberment Plan
Other Music Featured:
Huey Lewis & The News – “The Power of Love”
The Penguins – “Earth Angel”
Michael J. Fox (or whomever dubbed it) – “Johnny B. Goode” (Live at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance)

[Update 2016: We obviously did not plan for this to be the final episode. We ran into the end of that semester, and plans changed. I talked to Fernando from Episode 28 about continuing The Casual Geographer with his own show the next year, but he wasn’t able to. This book project that Tree and I were discussing gradually turned into an excellent panel discussion at AAG 2015 in Chicago, and a book proposal that we are still gradually working on a release for next year. Of course I’ll keep everyone posted on this website. – Tyler, August 2016]