View Full Version : Question for Blackbelt Jones, but anybody can reply
The Urban Politician
November 15th, 2004, 07:26 AM
So now you've been out of DC for a few months. How is it like being back in Chicago? Any comparisons, now that the hype is gone?
And for other forumers who have lived in other cities and have come to Chicago, do you have any comparisons you would like to offer? Silverlake is not allowed
The Urban Politician
November 17th, 2004, 01:42 AM
Dissed by the Blackbelt
November 17th, 2004, 01:50 AM
lol... well, having lived in Miami, Detroit, Boston and Syracuse... I would say that it's great to be in Chicago at last. It compares favorably to all of the aforementioned places (but... duh... we already knew that). Boston is the only one that should even be mentioned in the same breath as Chicago... but, I've enjoyed all my experiences (save for Miami).
November 17th, 2004, 04:31 AM
Dissed by the Blackbelt
Sorry UP! I don't get much time on the boards these days (working like a damn fool, I is), and I just now saw yer post. :)
The Mrs. and I do not miss DC one damn bit.* We do not miss the 24/7 presence of bums in the poorly maintained parks, the shockingly random acts of lethal violence, the soulless government drones that clog the 12 story (!) sawed-off city canyons, and the crap selection at the 17th Street Safeway. And we certainly don't miss all the assholes driving Lincoln Stretchys sporting Don't-Mess-With-Texas bumper stickers.
As for Chicago? Man!!! We LOVE the skyline, the parks, the good eats, the hustle, the bustle, the cheaper cost of living, the Reader, the... well, we just love it!
I promise to give you a more thoughtful breakdown, but I wanted to post a quicke in your thread to let you know I saw it.
PS... And thanks for asking UP! It's always nice to be missed. Though I haven't been all that active, I enjoy reading your posts a great deal. So: when is your bad-self moving to Chicago?
PPS... And just what is it with the number of forumers that have this weird DC-Chicago connection???
* OK, so ya caught me being verbose. The two things DC does better than Chicago: cleaner public transit (which I guess I will gladly trade for the ELs' relative accessibility. Hey, we sold our car after six weeks here!), and The Washington Post, bar-none our favorite newspaper. :)
November 17th, 2004, 04:35 AM
Boston is the only one that should even be mentioned in the same breath as Chicago... but, I've enjoyed all my experiences (save for Miami).
Yeah, I would agree with you 110%: Boston is aces.
I noticed that you had an affinity with Northern cities (even Detroit!), but not for the "tropical paradise" of Miami. What didn't click with you there?
The Urban Politician
November 18th, 2004, 04:35 AM
^Do you really mind the homeless people in DC's parks that much? I'm not a fan of homelessness or anything, but parks are for all people, including the poor. I don't mind it as long as there aren't too many.
For example, I love the chess-players of Dupont Circle's park. Many of them are homeless, and I've spoken to them. Some of them are actually very intelligent and interesting people (although many are also crazy or have a drinking problem)
November 18th, 2004, 08:22 AM
Blackbelt - Not really sure what drives my disdain for the south. I think there might have been some strange switching going on at birth; a hockey player who hates the heat and lives for the winter - born in Miami? Something's amiss I tell you!
At any rate... I just generally like the vibe more from older, northern cities. There's one thing that the residents of places like Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta and Houston will never have, no matter how much money they spend: history. It's the amazing and unique manner in which each and every northern and mid-western city grew up that provides for its unmistakeable sense of place. Something that the aforementioned municipalities seriously lack. I've always found that I could be standing in the middle of Tampa and not be able to tell the difference between it and Raleigh. Whereas Boston, NY, Philly, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc etc etc each have a very distinct feel that's all their own.
November 19th, 2004, 03:28 AM
^Do you really mind the homeless people in DC's parks that much? I'm not a fan of homelessness or anything, but parks are for all people, including the poor. I don't mind it as long as there aren't too many.)
Well, there are the down on your luck homeless and street eccentrics with whom you can share a good laugh…
…and then there are squatters, bums, drug addicts, aggressive panhandlers and the mentally unstable. Yes, many of these are people with problems, and I am sensitive to that fact. But DC, of course, doesn’t have the ability to treat them (how many shelters have closed over the past six years?), prosecute them (how corrupt, unprofessional, and down-right lazy is DC's police force?), or help them (how many city-run social programs are left after getting audited for squandering the city's federal handouts?). So where do they go and what do they do?
For me, it boils down to this: a city is in real trouble is when it can't control its public spaces. And outside of the federally funded National Mall, DC is out of control.
Seriously, would you layout in the side parks of Scott circle to enjoy the (poorly maintained) scenery at noon? Would you stroll through Malcolm X after dark? Have a picnic in Franklin Square? Have you ever seen how many bums call Franklin Square home? Driving past that place one Sunday afternoon, I stopped counting at 20....
And up and down 14th street, 18th street, Mass Ave, K Street, M street, outside Union Station... it is a never-ending parade of people aggressively asking you for money. Go in to a CVS? Well, not before you walk past three or for people "opening" the door for you and then telling you to "fuck off" when you don't give them “a dollar or two.”
And what is DC's solution to this? Well, in Scott Circle, they ripped the west-side benches out so the bums would stop sleeping on them (leaving the concrete piling behind however... classy). So what do the bums do? They sleep in the fucking shrubs, reducing them to stumps! Which, come to think of it, kind of went with the chewed-up lawn and piss–stained statuary.
I too believe that parks are for the public. But most every non-federally controlled public space in DC is on permanent loan to squatters, bums, and aggressive panhandlers. AWFUL for the tourists (I am sure you have seen the look of mortification on the face of your average Japanese or German tourist… not to mention Joe Middle-America… when they come face to face with the street circus that is DC’s vast population of bums), but unacceptable for full-time residents.
For me, it's about quality of life: theirs AND mine. And all the infill projects in the world can't change the fact that DC simply does NOT have its shit together where it really counts. Am I glad that the "new" downtown is fleshing out, and that the 14th and U corridor are returning to a hey day? You bet. But does that make up for the fact the city can't pave rods, fix sidewalks, pick up trash, or keep the parks clean, safe and usable for its citizens? No damn way.
Chicago is like day to DC's night. Does Chicago have squatters, bums, and aggressive panhandlers? Of course! Does Chicago know how to manage them AND keep public space truly public? An unequivocal yes.