Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Become Familiar With the Text

I love the City. I love everything about it. I love pre-paying at gas stations. I love the fact that you can run red lights and stop signs and unless you have a gun pointing out the window, a visible hostage, or are riding in a stolen car (even though they are not supposed to give chase anymore), the police will simply watch you because they have real crime to deal with. There's that city hum, all those noises blending and blurring into the same symphony: the sirens from the fire station on Magnolia, the garbage truck up the alley every Tuesday and Friday morning, the car alarms that everyone ignores. When I go to the bank, I hear four or five languages, some of which I cannot even identify.

Despite loving my city, I am not a city-lover. I grow tired of Chicago after a few days. NYC makes me want to tear my hair out and do shots of tequila all night so I'll forget where I am. I've lived in the mountains; I've lived in the cornfields; I've lived in several different states of suburbia (geographically and mentally); I've lived in other countries. The point is: somehow, oddly, incongruously, I like cities. Or at least, I like STL. My City.

But even more than loving STL, I love my patch of it: the South Side-- even more specifically, the area bordering Tower Grove Park. This is not shocking, we all have love songs in our heads for our own neighborhoods, for our own slice of the everyday. I just happen to rarely leave mine. But when I do, I exchange the South Side for the North Side, which oddly, I love just as much. The small corner bars and clothes shops made out of worn old buildings. The soul food eateries and fish stands. Driving past the Goody Goody Diner on Natural Bridge. The place up there that used to double as a realtor and a wig shop. I love St. Louis because each part has a story, has its own character and characters. I love driving and seeing what used to be and imagining what will be again. That is my text, everyday. I just interpret the stories a bit differently based on my mood.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

That Midwestern Thing

For anyone who knows me, I talk about this a lot. And now, it's here. I declared the STL Renaissance here the other night at about 3 a.m. while drinking beers with Duane in his old storefront bedroom. [It should be noted, by the way, that I am not the only one to think this, nor the first person. I simply have always had dreams of the Algonquin Round Table, or the Bloomsbury Group, and now that I have lived here long enough, I feel like we have our own thing going. Despite my being dogmatic, I am not dogmatic enough or peremptory enough to name it.]

...But it is; it's here. Even if no one else outside of STL knows it, even if it takes five more years for the rest of the country to even hear about it, and another decade for them to see why it matters, it's here. And I declare the South Side its epicenter.

I have started blogs before, and always given up. I have had no focus other than random musings. But the other day, I started thinking about the fact that this is the majority of what I talk about and think about-- in some form or another, both personally or professionally. So I am going to wage my electronic argument for St. Louis on these pages. Let everyone else weigh in. Let me be wrong if necessary. But damn it, let's at least consider the possibility that we are creating something good, something others can learn from. It's a process.

But, like it or not, the machine is already churning.