Sunday, August 22, 2010


Lately I've been thinking about cities. The recognizable architecture, say the Brooklyn Bridge, from the ground or the air you see the bridge and you KNOW it's the Brooklyn Bridge. Interestingly there are those historians who say that if this bridge was not built Brooklyn would have been New York City instead of just one of the five boroughs.

Oahu has one city, Honolulu. Most of the almost 1.3 million population of all the Hawaiian Islands is located in Honolulu. For reference Denver County is 600,000; Los Angeles County 9.8 million. I don't spend much time there, but the second city, Kapolei is close, walking distance to my front door. All the fast food you could dream about (is that more accurately referred to as a nightmare?). Suburbs spread everywhere I guess.

For the first time in recorded history, more people live in cities than in rural areas. Sort of a watershed moment really. For example, do we really need to teach our children animal sounds? Will they ever hear a cow moo? We don't eat cow or pig or sheep, rather beef, pork and lamb. In fact we eat food we could never grow. Do grapes grow in Honolulu? It cost me $8 for a bunch of green grapes this week so I certainly hope I was paying for transport as well as product. I know I can pick a mango or a papaya from a tree in any block, in any direction just here in our sub-division, right, sub-division not farmers market or roadside stand.

Cities are what I remember when I travel. Berlin is not like Munich. LA and San Francisco are VERY different. Chicago is the quintessential American city to me. Various ethic groups, mid-western in sensibility, rolling green lawns in front of large homes, political corruption of a local and national scope. New York is much more international. Los Angeles is so the West Coast--what have you done for me lately. Houston colloquial and quasi-southern.

Chicago. Now that's American. People help even before you ask for help say with directions. When downtown looking for coffee shop or a copy center, just look lost and someone will offer a suggestion (now it may not be the BEST suggestion but the sentiment is certainly worthy of recognition).

Good food. Again, not New York but Rick Bayless Mexican (in the middle of the USA) is to die for. Korean -- yum. And, of course, that beef. Only those from Iowa claim it's better there.

Fashion. Michigan Avenue, the miracle mile has some mighty fine shops and the ladies can really get it together. When you have winters like Chicago does you get to have GREAT winter attire. The "L" makes walking in those shoes possible, too.

Geography. Lake Michigan in the late Spring and Summer. Need I say more. It's beautiful. Beautiful. However, I've been there in late Fall, Thanksgiving and the wind and cold is, well it can best described by Jack. When I took him along with me for my evening walk (the sun was not yet set) after just 10 minutes he sat in the middle of road and would NOT proceed. Until I turned around to head home he would not take another step. It's cold. Really, really cold and I'm talking about the time of the year before it gets REALLY cold.

Cities have distinct personality and unique pleasures, much like people.


Gabriella said...

Great post. I will be backin Chicago this October, it never gets old. Miss you. G