Oct. 8th, 2008

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Almost all of my time in the Bay Area has been spent living on the edge of ghettoes.  Because that's all I could afford.  I'm not an easy-going person.  I'm a worrywart.  So I've spent most of my adult life wrapped in tension. A stressball.  When there's no cause to worry, I worry. When there's cause, I worry like crazy. Since moving to the Bay Area, I've had my car broken into 3 times, car tires spiked once, been held up, been robbed at an ATM, been sexually assaulted 3 times, caught a guy redhanded (and foiled him) trying to steal my bike, caught a guy redhanded (and foiled him) trying to steal someone else's bike, and had my apartment burgled of just about everything that could be resold.

Now, it's not that those things don't happen in LA.  It's not even that they never happen in my small-townish suburb of LA.  But it's decidedly nicer here.  People don't litter everywhere.  People don't conduct every conversation at the top of their lungs.  People don't block your driveway because they don't want to walk the 5 extra feet a legal parking place would require.  People don't jaywalk while giving you the evil eye, daring you to have a problem with them.

I like that.

I miss the architecture here.  I like the architecture in Berkeley, too. That's why Berkeley felt like home to me.  But we seem to have fewer crappy apartment buildings here. And we DEFINITELY have less blight.  Berkeley City Council is way too PC to consider a "broken windows" policy that would treat vandalism and graffiti appropriately.  Anyway, there are loads of beautiful bungalows in this town.  And one thing they have that I *don't* see as much of up north is river stone.  The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arroyo_Seco_(Los_Angeles_County)">Arroyo Seco</a> runs through Pasadena and South Pasadena. Back in the day, that would have provided plenty of river stone.  You can see walls and pillars of Arts & Crafts-era houses that are constructed with stone taken from that bed.  But not just that.  There are really nice examples of many architectural styles.  My parents' house (before post-earthquake reconstruction) was a 1910 Mission Revival.  There are many nice Mission Revival houses here.  Ours had tile accents by Ernest Batchelder and other houses in this area have that, too.  There are the occasional Victorians.  They're "stealth" Victorians because few people down here go for the "painted lady" paint jobs, unfortunately. So you don't notice the Victorians right off the bat.  There are modernist places, for those who like that sort of thing.  There are a few Storybook Style houses around although not anywhere near as many as in Burbank and further west.  There are '20s and '30s cottages.  There are old "motor court" style apartment complexes..one of the few apartment building styles I actually like.  There's just loads of good architecture here as well as a few GREATS like houses built by Greene & Greene.  (There are some Frank Lloyd Wrights in LA but not in my parents' neck of the woods.)

I like that in most parts of town the utilities are underground.  No telephone poles.  No wires criss-crossing the streets and making it hard to plant trees.  And trees!  My hometown has won awards from the Arbor Day Foundation for years.  We have plenty of trees in this town.  Berkeley has a fair amount of trees, too, but not where I live. No street trees at all.  In fact, the sidewalk is hardly wide enough for two people to pass in some parts. No wonder you see wheelchair users out in the street rather than hazarding the sidewalk...   The street trees on this block are palms (meh) and Jacaranda (better).  Other blocks have oaks. There are many native California oaks in my hometown. We have a landmark oak (older than the United States) in our backyard.

And this is stuff I miss.

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