The Entropy community is a scattered group. For this Sunday’s list, we asked Entropy contributors to describe the neighborhoods in which they live.
I live in an abbreviation—Upperco—which is short for Upper County. There must have been a lot of fires here at one time since our zip code has four voluntary companies. The roads—some fifteen—are named for churches, mills, and geography such as The Church of the Black Rock Road or Falls Road or Gorsuch Mill Road. One neighbor makes corn. Another makes milk. Another is retired but her daughter is in advertising. Three factories in town make business suits, tools for Black and Decker, and coffee cups for 7-Eleven. Mary Price delivers our mail, and her sons Frank and Ed help us make hay. On our ground horses are born and old ones are buried and the injured ones are rubbed. I sometimes tell people I get kicked for a living, but these beasts are my religion and I don’t mind a bruise if it comes from a four-legged God.
I’ve just moved to Cedar Falls in eastern Iowa and am in love. I walk any time the weather’s above 30 degrees, and it’s been a pleasantly mild winter. I live in a neighborhood of ranch homes ending in cornfield. Fifteen minutes from my apartment, there‘s a nature preserve split by two rivers, so when it’s not February, I hike/bike along the water–I’ve seen my students inner tubing down the river. Once I encountered a very territorial raccoon and had to offroad around him. Also, do not forget your mosquito repellent in October. If it’s a weekend, I bike over to the farmer’s market on Main Street. Main Street has kept out the chains: there’s a historic hotel, a local coffeeshop, live theater…I sound like the tourism board. It’s a well-kept secret, this place.
I live in Atwater Village, in Los Angeles. Every morning, I go for a walk along the LA River with the baby. We are surrounded by horse stables, so there are often horses walking along the river too. It’s a stretch of river that has a lot of green. There is a white crane and a grey crane that are often waiting for fish or flying around from one tree island to the other. There is a turtle. Today there were a lot of butterflies and crows. It was warm this morning, but I wore a sweatshirt anyway because I miss the cold. We walk under electric towers and try to circumvent horse poop. Griffith Park is on the other side of the river, and it is really green these days because of all the winter rain. Today there were a lot of joggers, one other stroller and mom, and a few horses. The sun always feels like it is very low in the sky. Maybe that is winter in Los Angeles. It is snowy and icy in Queens, where I am from. Half of me wishes for seasons, half is grateful to be able to walk every morning along a river in a low sun with gorgeous, golden horses. I wait for gray days.
Dennis James Sweeney:
I live at the top of the only hill in Corvallis, Oregon, right next to a natural area with a mile-long walking loop. It’s foggier and rainier up here than in the rest of town, but I get this about 100 feet away from my door:
There’s a man I always run into when I go for a walk there. We call him the Owl Man. He has this thing he does where he asks you whether you have seen the owl that lives up in yonder tree (he points). Regardless of what you answer, he’ll talk on and on about it until you walk away, even if he’s met you before and done the same thing three or four times. It’s sad and a little weird. But it wouldn’t be the forest without him.
I live in Cambridge, MA, right off Mass. Ave., between the Harvard and Porter T-stops on the red line. More importantly at the moment, I live in a winter wonderland where the snow banks are taller than the Celtics and where the sidewalks have been reduced to one-person-wide icy walkways. Rumor has it more snow is coming too, for this Sunday and Monday. Though everyone has been euphoric about the Pats defeating the Seahawks, this past week when Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow the people of Boston and Cambridge were full of rage.
I live in North Hollywood, CA. The Brady Bunch house is down the block. There are good walks into the hills, odd spots and old studio bungalows.
I live in Dallas, Texas, in a rental which is the top half of a house, over what used to be law office but is now a real estate firm. I think. Since they took the yard sign down I haven’t been totally sure, but the same folks still come to work there. It’s one of those cool, historic Tudor houses with painted brick and a big covered porch out front, where we (mostly) enjoy watching the parade of human spectacle that is the Henderson Avenue social scene. In the last decade, this neighborhood has transitioned from a dicey, well, flat-out dangerous, area into one of the major entertainment districts in town, though it’s still a block-by-block thing today; there’s an abandoned property behind us and two doors down. Ours is one of only a handful of houses where people actually live on Henderson Avenue, as most of the rest has been converted to commercial or been bulldozed for upscale restaurants, trendy bars, and douchey bars, with their attendant sea of valet parking attendants on the weekends. But there are still a some great neighborhood hangouts and local shops too, and we’re right in the heart of the city, on the northern outskirts of the downtown area. It’s a weird place to live but I love it, even as the drunk SMU frat boys yell unintelligible things at each other in the wee hours while they’re kicking my trash cans, even when girls in glittery tank tops pound on our front door demanding to see Carlos and then skitter off into the night when we yell at them from the porch to go away, even if some jerk in a giant pickup truck does donuts in the open field across the street and nearly knocks over all the blue-and-orange metal trees in the site-specific art installation that just appeared there one day.
But there’s a lot of good theatre too, like when the guy who walks the block selling cotton candy and stuffed animals is the one who ends up saving the glamour girl who gets her five-inch heel stuck in the broken sidewalk. You just never know what’s going to happen around here, and the certainty of constant surprises is both stimulating and comforting in a way. And now, bittersweet. The corporation who owns most of the street already has recently bought our house, and the rest of the ones on our block, to tear them down for mixed-use residential and retail. The open field across from us will likely become that first, our new landlord says, so we might have as long as six months or a year left here. They’re actually being quite fair and kind with us so far, and I’m thankful for that. But soon enough the bulldozers will come for this side of the street, and it’s sad to think about the fact that we’ll be the last persons ever to live here. I feel an odd responsibility to the house now, like I just want to water and appreciate that small tree in the parking lot that a previous owner saved by paving around it. I want to be worthy of this house, live my best life here in tribute, while I can.
I currently live in Silverlake in Los Angeles, a neighborhood typically known for hipsters, great cafes, the Elliot Smith wall, and rising house prices. I happen to live in a small, quiet pocket where it’s still mostly working-class families. It’s quite hilly so I get a nice workout just from walking around the neighborhood. There’s a donut shop/chinese food place around the corner and a super cute coffee shop with a nice patio for working, reading, and hanging out. There are often nice views of the moon at night, tall palm trees against blue sky, the Griffith observatory, and views of surrounding neighborhoods when driving around the hills. The other day I saw a palm tree off in the distance that bad broken from the formation of his friends and was veering out into the center of the road, as if to get a better view. Near my building there are many squirrels who seem busy all the time, one I see almost every morning very cautiously and intentionally climbing vertically down a brown fence. Also, there is a skunk who is often sighted in the parking lot or front area, and once I came home to find him waiting for me at my front door.
I live in River Hills, a northern suburb of Milwaukee, but only twelve miles from downtown. I have five wooded acres of land that surround me, and my writing studio is on the second floor of the house, so I stare out into the woods (seems to be a theme developing here?) for inspiration. Daily I see a wide variety of critters: deer, geese, fox, squirrel, coyote, chipmunk. And tons of birds. These are my companions and I treat them with reverence and awe.