What are the advantages of living in a city?
The chief advantage to living in a city, as opposed to on the farm or the moon or in the heart of children everywhere or upon a piece of flotsam tossed about by the fickle sea, is that of transportation. Nearly every city in this great and meretricious nation has cleverly designed massive-transit systems: Broad-shouldered Chicago has its elevated train. New York New York, the Big Redundancy, has its "sub ways." Babylon by the Bay, San Francisco, has its capricious and ill-favored MUNI. These all greatly enhance the quality of life for their residents, as each allows both the impecunious and those who mislike the driving to travel freely, with the additional benefit of having a set period during the day in which they do co-mingle, allowing free exchanges among their unique bacteria and mental disorders. WHile I was walking the breadth of this nation over the past year I rode a subterranean train in old Washingtonia Deca. I marvelled at the nearness of the wealthy and the poor. Nowhere else — save possibly hospitals, cemeteries and "massage" brothels — do the varied classes Americanum meet with such frequency and fervor.
The secondary advantage to living within a city — as opposed to a suburb or a penitentiary or on a flotilla of zeppelins — is one of density. Whereas when one lives in the "sub-urbs" — as I recently did, co-habitating in the warren of Warren, Michigan — I found that it did take a great deal of time to walk to a market or a shop where one might purchase hygiene products for those who are special in his or her life. In a city these establishments are often very near, as the population is dense and can support many commercial and retail establishments, even those of questionable value and dubious intent. These conditions also allow specialty businesses to grow and thrive, whereas the scattered populations of the suburbia or the tundra only allow those merchants offering staples and a wide variety of wares to stay in business. Density, in short, allows for specialization. Specialization is why insects rule this earth: When a group specializes they become quite adept at their task. Thus, density breeds excellence. Quod erat demonstrandum
Tertiarily, cities offer great opportunities for amusements, both at sanctioned public events and as offered by the random and anonymous passers-by, who are ofttimes amusing and loud. Cities are where one tends to find concert houses, opera houses, and museums of varieties artistic, historical, scientific and anatomical. There are restaurants from every dry nation, movie houses abound. Theatres — where humans display pantomimes, dumbshows and delightful puppetmanship — thrive and even turn a tidy profit. Great feats of strength, endurance and pharmacology are displayed in the sporting stadiums — which are primarily located within great terrestrial cities. Vast sculpted parks provide ample fodder for the imaginations of your milk-suckling young, and the much-needed strength and agility training which will ultimately draw the line between the eaten and the eater. In short, I quote my mighty-teen-typist Jarwaun, who notes, "Cities got all the mad-crazy goings on."
As I write this from my glass-and-concrete palace atop the Renaissance Center of Detroit, I am struck by how many of my comments fail to apply to this city, my adopted home. We have no massive transport — save a failed monorail and an inadequate bus system. The density is gone, fled to suburban refuge from the terror of poverty and racism, only to leave in its wake the very most terrifyingly racist poverty. And the amusement to be found is only that of one's own making, augmented by the hateful schadenfreude of watching the very weakest struggle mightily. Mine is a Dead City, but still she has her advantages too ethereal and spiritual to name. I must ponder these further, but as an opening foray into the thicket of why it is I do love and cleave to my Motown, my D-Town, my Hockey City U.S.A., consider that singular truth taught by the Great Farmer-Framer of the Constitution, Mr. George Washington's Carver:
It is from the husks of the dead that all life Arises. The corpse is the fecund primordial womb.
Until Then I Remain,
The Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson