Loathed as I am to use an academic cliche, I must say there is a smell of "otherness" about inner city living, that I at once find titillating, and tiresome. I live in what someone other than me would define as inner city Newcastle. Blink and you’ll miss it. Nevertheless, this pocket of urbanity is an interesting case study in urbanity generally. Insofar as my embracing of town bikes is something I might not have done if I lived in the burbs, I do think ruminating upon aspects of living in town will be germane to this blog.
Our NYC home All U.S. cannibals live in New York All we saw though was a fun place to live
I gathered some insights into the condition of living "in town", while I was living in New York, of all places. I found myself in a place not unlike where I had come from, only scaled up by a factor of 50. Big enough to see, if you can see what I mean.
My mother came and stayed for a while and seized control of the tellie to watch Law and Order. If you have ever watched shows like that you will be able to finish this sentence: Serial Killers all live in the … Yes, they all live in the city. And cannibals live in…? If you said "houses" you do not watch TV, where cannibals all live in apartments. The U.S. is a nation of suburbanites, looking for a freak show, so that they may feel normal. In the country’s imagination, freaks aren’t like them or their neighbours. And if freaks must exist, the way god must exist, then those freaks must live in the city.
The world as viewed from New York
From Manhattan looking outward, the opposite is true, but then less than 1% of America’s population lives in Manhattan. Majority rules.
Farmers complain that city values and laws get thrust upon them in the country. Actually, they are suburban mores, and they don’t suit the country or city. I get annoyed that the city is seen as a place to go, rather than live. It’s a place to go and break glass, do burn outs, be entertained, get in a fight, avoid getting in fights. If suburban sprawl had never occurred, and everyone lived the way I do, particular neighbourhoods would be less likely to be picked out as special and worth going to for unusual purposes. I don’t like how we’re provided with suburban sized rubbish bins here, and don’t know why our rubbish can’t simply be collected more often. After all, our bins are quick to collect, given they’re laid out in 3.5 meter intervals (that being the frontage of our terrace houses). I don’t like living on a street made before cars were invented, in a country that is mad about cars. I don’t know why contemporary planning regulations, requiring for example that all apartments have car parks, should be applied in a so-called heritage area. Wouldn’t the heritage character be best served if we still applied regs from back then? I’m most annoyed that loop roads exist for no other reason that for bored suburbanites to come and do laps. I live on a peninsular. Dead-ends would be fine. My kids are at far greater risk from outsiders’ cars than our child eating neighbours.
In the end though, I love having so much to hate. I can differentiate myself from the masses this way, and reaffirm the egocentric sense I had growing up that I wasn’t like most other people. Like people who live on Manhattan, those of us living in town in Newcastle are bound by a sense that we live in opposition to mainstream society. There’s a strong sense of community. Making bikes part of our lives is an extension of that, something we do to our assert our difference from you all.