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Boomer Anthems: You Belong to the City and A Matter of Trust

Los Angeles
San Francisco
New York

During the years when I belonged to the cities, returning to New York by air at night mesmerized me during the long approach.  Sliding down over the Alleghenies from the west, curving in over the Atlantic from the South, or throttling back and easing off the Great Circle Route from Europe, the emergence of the vast sprawl of lights that defined the Hive always enraptured me. On moonless nights, after the humming hours held in that aluminum cylinder hoisted into mid-heaven, you saw the long continents of dark water or land dissolve into shimmering white-gold strands connecting to clusters of earth-anchored constellations that merged to expanding galaxies of towns, suburbs, and cities until all below was a shimmering web of man-made stars.

As you swept down still lower, these massive meadows of stars resolved to highways and streets, boroughs and neighborhoods, houses and buildings, and the yellow prongs of headlights darting under the streetlights. Then you were over the outer boundary, the runway blurring just beneath your seat. A bump and a bounce, engines reversing, weight shifting forward then back, and you were down and rolling towards the gate. If you were coming in from the Caribbean there was grateful applause for the pilot for the miracle of a safe landing.

You deplaned, grabbed your bags, hailed a cab, and soon lurched along the Long Island Expressway, part of those headlights hazed beneath streetlights you’d looked down on only minutes before. The meter clicked past $50.00, the skyline of Manhattan rose behind the gravestones of the vast cemetery, a bridge, and a toll and you were back in the Hive.

I loved the Hive across all the long years I lived within it. It was at once exciting and exasperating, densely communal and achingly lonely, empowering yet eviscerating, inspiring but degrading. The Hive never stopped coming at you and, on those days when your mental defenses were weak and your emotional shields wavered, it could shatter your soul. The same random evening stroll through downtown that would show you six people ambling along dressed as gigantic baked potatoes (complete with a pat of butter, gob of sour cream, and chives), would also show you a wizened bum so diminished that he would drop his trousers, squat, and defecate in the middle of the sidewalk as bond traders in bespoke suits and handmade English shoes stepped carefully around the spectacle seeing nothing, nothing at all.

An old friend with little use for it describes the Hive as, “Hell… with good restaurants.”

Yes. Yes. True that. Very true but then. . . well, it could also deliver — for gold or glory or God — moments like this.

From: The Hive and the Town

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  • Dirk April 29, 2022, 9:07 AM

    Henleys’ Actual Miles, hoping to reach “ Garden of Allah”, before the great wilderness camping trip departure.

    Billy or Glen, great stuff. Music is the language of the world!. Music is so much a part of my life, lots of hobbies, all include music, while playing with my toys.

    I noticed your worlds pretty much big city, in the publishing world makes sense. I also noticed Paradise and end in Paradise. Life is indeed good.

    Klamath falls is growing at an alarming rate, mostly Calif, their attitudes their politics have followed. Been here thirty plus years. We are seriously talking move, further south east.

    At our ages, no two story houses, and have to have hospital, within 45/60 minutes. Can see a metal building home, we build ourselves.

    I’m often reminded of just how amusing life and status can be. People see a big house, fancy cars, confuse those items with success. While I guess at some levels those items can be used as a measuring stick.

    Maybe I’m just really different. I see that what’s important in what’s happening inside. It’s the relationships, the love shared, the wisdom Shared is the most important. Houses, cars, fancy clothing or Rolex watch’s have zero to do with the quality of my life. Honesty is everything!

    Often it is folks with zero that I admire most. Their lives are un cluttered, bright articulate, wise, Worldly, without leaving their county. They get it, understand what’s truly important. Happiness isn’t for sale, happiness can’t be purchased.

    Happiness comes from within.

    We’re off, friends have a wonderful weekend.

    • ghostsniper April 29, 2022, 11:33 AM

      Just this morning my wife said, “Maybe we can get 300 acres and have a few “Ted’s Sheds” delivered to the site and we can do the plumbing hook ups ourselves as we get to it.” For us it isn’t the house but rather the location and proximity to others.

      Due to recent intel, I have ordered, and will install soon these signs:
      KEEP OUT
      …along with LED light units with detection switches.

      Why is it that certain people just CANNOT leave other people the fuk alone?

    • Terry April 29, 2022, 3:14 PM

      Dirk, try a house with wheels. We did that for quite a spell. Get bored with an area, move in minutes and go somewhere else. Modern Gypsy style.

  • creeper April 29, 2022, 9:29 AM

    Big cities welcome their visitors with ramped-up levels of stress. The closer you get to a city the more wired you become. I knew it was time to leave Houston when my car started slowing down as it grew nearer.

  • gwbnyc April 29, 2022, 9:37 AM

    I leave La Guardia at night often, headed to Norfolk. One summer evening I was doing just that, the plane climbing from an easterly takeoff over the Sound then turning north and continuing the turn until aligned south. Manhattan just below as the maneuver initiated and progressed, lit by moonlight, the remnants of the western sun at that altitude, and the city’s glow below. It appeared as a finely crafted miniature of incredible sparkling detail. Early in the turn our home on 14th Street was plainly visible, then when swinging south the #7 line where it emerges in Queens was well defined, and I picked out the Court Square Diner in its stainless steel and neon glory.


    Then down-coast along the Atlantic.

    • Vanderleun April 29, 2022, 10:35 AM

      Great shot. Really great shot.

      • gwbnyc April 29, 2022, 12:40 PM

        it is indeed, wish I could take credit, but not mine. I have some I shot from the subway platform stairs in the background …*somewhere*.

        I would take the 7 from Times Square to that stop around 5AM to get to some stages by bus in Green Point, off and on, for years.

    • ghostsniper April 29, 2022, 11:39 AM

      I’ll have the Meatloaf, pleez.

      CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH With Lettuce. $7.45

      • gwbnyc April 29, 2022, 12:41 PM

        brother, they have it.

        • ghostsniper April 29, 2022, 1:56 PM

          I’ve been salivating so bad ever since I typed that, that I am going to make a meatloaf this weekend.
          A THREE pounder.
          2lbs of 80/20 and 1 lb of sausage.
          MAN!, I can’t wait!
          Nothing better than sawing off a 3/4″ thick slab of COLD meatloaf and slam it on a mayo slathered pair of whole wheat slices for lunch…warshed down with sweet tea, then a nice nap on the hammock on the porch afterwards.

  • mmack April 29, 2022, 9:52 AM

    Cities work as long as people in and around them can trust each other. Trust not to be robbed, trust not to be assaulted, trust not to be killed, trust our assailants will be punished if caught.

    Leftists and Democrats (but I repeat myself) have ruined and erased that trust. And hollowed out employment opportunities so that only the very wealthy and the very poor remain, and the very wealthy are getting a clue and leaving.

    My grandparents came from a dirt poor mining town in the Eastern US to Chicago, bringing my mother, aunt, and uncle with. My grandfather found good paying work in a factory and bought a modest home for his family.

    But that was another time and another America.

  • Linda S Fox May 2, 2022, 7:28 PM

    Loved that last shout-out from the pi$$ed-off old lady! Very NY.
    Cities are great when you’re young(ish). It’s only after middle age – if then – that you start craving the slower life – quieter, more relaxed, with space around you.
    I’ve lived in cities. Lived in the country, for a time. My previous home had an acre of land around it. Last fall, I moved back to a middle-sized city, a couple of blocks from Lake Erie. But, it’s not a crowded or noisy neighborhood – mostly settled folks. They are older, working, taking care of their lawns, not walking out late (I just came in from walking my dog, and the streets were empty – at 10 pm).
    A lot of the tempo of this place is due to not being crowded by people who are in a rush. When I’m out, other people smile and say ‘hi’. Of course, it helps that I’m often accompanied by my dog.
    Even when I visit my daughter in Chicago, people are generally pleasant. Maybe it’s the Midwest temperament – easy-going, neighborly, polite.