People often marvel at Central Park. “Imagine,” they say, “a giant park, right in the middle of the city!”
What do they want to find? The biggest intersection and conglomeration of service stations?
Moving from the outskirts of New York to the centre the number of cars on the road starts to lessen. The vibe starts to come from the footpaths and buildings, not the car horns and traffic. It’s as though the din of the crowd is giving way to the band on the stage and a few feet can be seen to be tapping. Then in a crescendo the park opens before you with every reason for living: skating, cycling, a museum, girls in bikinis spread out on the lawn and Simon and Garkunkel half way through singing Late in the Evening. The city builds and delivers a climax.
Reaching the centre of most other cities is like walking in on the sound guy when he’s just setting up, with a mic in one hand saying one-sue one-sue, and a bonus size can of red bull in the other. You thought as you were approaching the centre that you were approaching the action, but no. All you were getting nearer to were the bowsers, drive-in-bottle shops and places to grab greasy chips.
I’m lucky that my home town, Newcastle East, where I’ll be returning, is on par with Manhattan, in my humble opinion. I’ve lived on the Upper West Side and stayed in the Meat Packing district plenty of times in recent years. I know what New York has to offer, mainly connections with any kind of likeminded person. I’ll admit the pickings are thinner in Newcastle, but it has this: night-life and surf beaches, right next to each other. Here’s an old photo, from when a coal fired powered station and rail shunting yards separated the city from Nobbies Beach:
We’re coming now to that classic doctrine of place makers’, that you pile incongruous functions all in one place and let them all spark from each other. Newcastle could do even more. You know the obligatory tricks!
Launceston has been my firsthand lived experience of an average dump. This experience has been something I have had to put myself through, during a strong enough time in my life that I wasn’t at risk of throwing myself from a high window. Through the experience I have learned there are no such things as incompatible functions. Mountain bike parks needn’t be discretely located over the hills where they don’t bother the patrons of the cafes, who in turn don’t have to be hidden from rowers, who in turn don’t have to be ten miles away from where the kids have made a rope swing. Actually all of this stuff can be piled up.
My goal when I’m back in Newcastle is to see mountain bike flow trails built in King Edward Park, as yet another incongruous backdrop for wedding photos. As for Launceston, my goal is to get out alive. I’ve got until nearer to the end of this year to say bye to all the lonely places one must head, out of town, should one wish to partake of this embarrassing thing called recreation. How depressingly lonely! What an inside out view of the city and what makes people happy!