Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I guess all I was going to say about Tappahannock was to pass along what my wife said about it. After all, with its low gas prices, large home lots with majestic older homes (probably as cheap as the gas) it would be a great place to live. Jen says, though, that it isn't a nice place to live if you are scared of your neighbors. I've never been scared of anything or anyone during my time in DC. I've walked around SE neighborhoods near the Potomac Ave. metro station, I've tried to hail a cab on the corner of W. St and North Capitol, NW. It has never really bothered me. But living in the middle of a sea of Republican Virginia red? Horrifying.

Hopefully some readers will be interested in discussing this further in the feedback section.

Finding a place to live and raise a family is tough in Blue America. I struggle with this. In a place like Chicago, you can do it if you can earn enough money for a house in a decent neighborhood and private school, or tutoring so your kids can get into a magnet school. Wave upon wave of yuppies depart the city as soon as their kids reach kindergarten age.

But I couldn't stand to live in a "Red" area, or close to a (white) megachurch. While I've argued there isn't a real estate "market" per se, supply and demand do effect land prices. Communities where you can get a large home cheap generally don't have many good paying jobs nearby, so the land is cheap. People buy them and spend 10 hours a week in a car, commuting. Anyway, all the little perks I like about urban life rely on high-density living: nobody eats sushi all that often, so a sushi place relies on having many people nearby that only go once a month. And big lawns mean low density by definition. So anywhere you have houses on big lots, you are unlikely to find sushi. I don't know why I am obsessed with sushi places as a cultural indicator, I think it was that Club for Growth ad about NY Times reading, latte-swilling, sushi-eating freaks. Tbe irony is that Club for Growth is basically Wall Street types - I don't know about their sushi consumption, but they lead the nation in snorting coke off of hookers' asses.

As for feeling safe, I really do have relatives who are nervous about the city and never come to visit because they are afraid of "crime" (in other words, minorities). I work in bad neighborhoods all the time and never have any trouble at all. On the other hand, a guy I know teaches at Roberto Clemente, the neighborhood high school, and he had a student killed by gang execution last week - two in the head, one in the heart. They rang the front door and asked his mom to leave, so they didn't have to kill him in front of her. She wont testify out of fear. So yeah, there's crime here, just like in Capone's day. But mostly they kill their own. We had 425 murders through Nov. 25, the least since 1965, still too many. But better than the Republican suburbs of Cincinnati. I would never go back, I prefer my rental cottage in Bucktown to a mini-mansion in Indian Hill any day.
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