broadsideblog

Posts Tagged ‘city living’

Losing My Neighbor — Sigh

In behavior, business, cities, culture, entertainment, urban life, women on September 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm
Neighbors (1920 film)
Image via Wikipedia

Last night we had everyone on our end of the hallway in for dinner, nine of us in all. (Four couldn’t make it.)

The event? My next-door neighbor — who moved into her apartment weeks before I moved into mine in 1989 — is moving. Sob.

She’s low-key, friendly, down-to-earth. Her laughter peals through the walls. She’s let me crawl across the balcony several times over the years after I locked myself out. Last winter, I went onto the balcony in thick snow — barefoot (don’t ask) — and the terrace door slammed shut, locking me out. The windows were firmly shut.

Thank God she works at home, was home and let me in through her terrace door. With not a word of “What on earth were you doing in snow barefoot?”

Anyone who has shared walls or a floor with others for decades knows wayyyyy too much about their neighbors. The man downstairs begins every single day with coughing and spitting so loud you’d think an ambulance was iminent.

Diana has heard many “discussions”, as she discreetly termed them last night, from our home. Yesterday morning required 15 firefighters from four towns to pry open the elevator doors and let out one of our floor’s eldest residents, trapped for an hour. Two of her neighbors stayed with her the whole time shouting encouragement.

So we toasted her and gave her a card and reminisced about all the comings and goings over the years. Our new neighbors, a couple with a young daughter moving from Queens  — as Emily said sternly to her new colleague in “The Devil Wears Prada” — have some mighty big shoes to fill.

Luckily, she’s only moving a 10-minute drive north.

Here’s a fun piece in yesterday’s New York Times about some of the city’s friendliest apartment buildings.

Do you like your neighbors?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Five Easy Adjectives — Can You Describe Your City Or Town In Only Five Words?

In cities, urban life on March 12, 2010 at 5:34 pm
This is a stitch made from three photos. Taken...

Where the Blue Jays play...The CN Tower in the background.Image via Wikipedia

Can you describe your city or town in five words?

Here are some attempts to do so for Toronto, where I grew up and lived until I was 30.

From the Toronto Star:

Star blogger Tonika Morgan was on vacation in the United Kingdom last week when she was asked to describe Toronto to those who have never visited the city. She struggled to find the words. What she came up with initially was “fantastic, a great mix of people and we have a CN Tower.”

I prefer some of the sardonic comments she got:

overpopulated, underfunded, expensive, polluted, home: Sorry fellow Torontonians, I lived the first 20 years of my life in Toronto and absolutely loved it…… I_think_I_know_all

underdeveloped, out-of-date, expensive, dysfunctional, mediocre: underdeveloped, out-of-date, expensive, dysfunctional, mediocre… codeman

A Little Aliteration: Dysfunctional, divided, delusional, debt-ridden and doomed.… CanadianBiker

1.city 2. with 3.crippling 4.inferiority 5.complex: Sorry, but Toronto is not as relevant as everyone imagines that it is. Sure, it has size going for…… Snas

I left Toronto in 1986 and go back 3-6 times a year to see family and friends, and occasionally, editors.

I’d pick: overpriced, diverse, workaholic, gray (winter skies), changing.

One of the oddest ongoing features of Toronto, and one of the reasons I was happy to leave, is the crazy price of buying a home, certainly a freestanding house. Toronto house lots are often postage-stamp sized and it’s not uncommon, in many neighborhoods, to look right into your neighbor’s windows from barely six feet across a shared alley or driveway. And the prices! It’s “normal” for people to bid way over asking — like $50,000 to $80,000 — not the $5,000 or $15,000 more typical in other places.

I live north of New York City….expensive, crowded, sexist, dynamic, divided. I now live in Tarrytown, a town of 10,000 on the Hudson River: funky, fun, affordable, diverse, historic.

I’d love to hear your five words about where you live.

Do You Love Or Hate Your City? Noisy? Expensive — Or Consolingly Filled With Friends?

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2009 at 8:50 am
An easychair is set up next to a window overlo...

Shanghai...your city? Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Do you love your city? Hate it? Feel neutral?

I grew up in Toronto, a city many find lovable today, less so when I left 20 years ago. Today, some compare it to Houston in its flat, endless sprawl and unlovely architecture. I’ve been to Houston and Houston doesn’t have Lake Ontario and its lovely little islands a 10-minute ferry ride away — or, perhaps most crucially, my history. Cities are collections of roads and buildings and parks, more or less polluted, more or less pleasant, with fantastic/lousy public transit systems.

It’s the smaller, more intimate charms that may bind us to our cities of origin or choice. I love Toronto’s many funky old diners, dating back to the 1960s, 1940s, even several — often used as film sets between customers — from the 1930s. I miss its enormous, lovely, generally safe parks and its deep ravines, memorialized in Margaret Atwood’s book “Cat’s Eye.” I love the indoor St. Lawrence Market, one of the world’s best, an enormous hall filled with every possible food, the peameal (“Canadian bacon” to Americans) bacon sandwiches a favorite classic.

But most of all, I miss my friends and the history we have. I’ve also lived in Montreal, London and Paris and have spent much time in Manhattan, just south of where I live. I love visiting Montreal, but I loathed living there: long, bitter winters; nasty French-Anglo relations; insanely high taxes; corrupt police; lousy libraries and hospitals; high crime rate and potholed roads. For a long weekend, terrific! But I have a small soft spot for it, having met and fallen in love with my ex-husband there. I adore Paris, but as much for the life-changing fellowship year I had living there as for its famous, well-known charms. Its streets are filled with memories for me.

Here’s an interesting piece from The Guardian on why we love, or hate, where we live.

How do you feel about your city or town? What makes you love or hate it?

What Makes The Perfect City or Town? David Byrne Gives The WSJ His Wish List

In culture on September 13, 2009 at 6:25 pm
Sydney Cityscape

Image by t3rmin4t0r via Flickr

For musician David Bryne, the perfect city would combine Osaka’s robot-run parking lots with the Minneapolis lakefront, detailed in this Wall Street Journal story.
The photo here is of Sydney, a city of terrific physical beauty but not a city I liked very much, preferring — loving — Melbourne, divided by the Yarra River, a slower-moving city of neighborhoods. What does it for you — history, scale, great public transit, lots of parking, low rents?
Here’s some of my perfect-place mash-up: quick, easy access to countryside within 20 minutes, (Montreal); an enormous, covered farmer’s market open year-round (Toronto); narrow, twisting cobblestone streets (Manhattan’s West Village, and many others); safe, plentiful city cycling (Amsterdam); the scent of orange blossoms in spring (Seville); duck confit (Paris), blue corn enchiladas (Santa Fe, NM) fab BBQ (San Angelo, TX — my sweetie’s three votes); funky 1930s-era hammams (Paris); snow-capped mountains on one side of town, ocean the other (Vancouver); freshly-made chocolate-filled churros (Mexico City); galloping through the hills of Griffith Park at sunset, dancing to blues at 9:00 p.m. (Los Angeles).
What combination would make up your perfect city or town? Or are you already living in it….details?
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,715 other followers