Cities, Continued

Rest well, Dr. Scholl

In response to a request for elaboration about yesterday’s list of cities I might like (or hate) to live in, I’ll offer the following bits of info on what I do or don’t like in a city. And if some of this sounds familiar, that’s because it is, but I don’t think the original essay is posted anymore…

I like cities with a distinct urban “feel’, but this is a subjective thing. Some people think “urban” means Times Square in New York or Union Square in SF, but I’m more inclined to give that designation to ares like the Outer Mission or Brooklyn. I like a little grit and a certain reality. I don’t do tourist traps nor malls…

I also like cities to have texture. By texture, I’m not referring to successive waves of gentrification which have turned interesting working class neighborhoods into cutesy little boutique zones. Texture refers to a mix of building ages and types. It means things like diners and hardware stores rather than shops selling nothing but ironic greeting cards…

I don’t like places which, like so much of the sunbelt, appear to be nothing but stucco and plastic, all of it seemingly erected last week. I’m not fond of “upscale” places, nor of large and visible “gay neighborhoods”. These places tend to be exceedingly boring and bland and superficial, and full of similarly boring and bland and superficial people I don’t want to share the sidewalk with…

I like places with enough of a literate and collegiate presence to support good bookstores and good, cheap restaurants, but without that annoying and overpowering “college town” syndrome. That’s also why I tend to like bigger cities; they can absorb a large university presence without being overwhelmed by it…

I like places where transit is a viable option, but not the only one. I’d like not to have to drive, but I’d also like to be able to do so when I feel like it. I like some density, but not so much that it makes completing the simplest task a nightmarish challenge…

I am completely unconcerned with being around a large “gay community”, nor do I care much about “cultural opportunities” like the opera, the ballet, etc. I judge a city based on its good and cheap restaurants rather than its four-star “fine dining” experiences. I want a five dollar meal, not a five dollar cup of coffee. And I’m more worried about having an easily-accessible Target or Wal-Mart than a Macy’s or a Bloomie’s…

And when I get bored with the city I’m in, I’d like there to be lots more within easy driving distance…

Hope that begins to clear it all up…

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