Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Darker Side of The Burbs

When I was growing up, there were a few 'main drags' that seem to go from one extreme of the world to another and then back to normal. Roads with names like Linden or Merrick Boulevard or Jamaica Avenue or to an extent Northern Boulevard; they all start in one place that looks somewhat normal through areas where even the rats carry machine guns and the stores look like they are preparing for a hurricane and then head towards the beginning of the strip malls and fast food joints every 100-200 yards [ok a little extreme but you get the ides]

Reason why I mention this is that here in Portland [also known in some quarters are 'Moscow on the Willemette'], we have such a street. Well let me rephrase that: there are a few roads that go from the light to the dark and back into sunshine, but the one near where I live is just one really good if not strange example of this. 82nd Street is one of those streets. Granted it does go by more of its fair share of strip and large malls [Clackamas Town Center is part of this and it is a nice place when the children are in school], but it also because it is on the fringe of the city, it qualifies as a street in the burbs. And as such it goes from homes to sections of town that no self-respecting mutated cockroach would want to reside back out to sections where there is light. Well, artificial light from the strip malls, the buddy-buddy credit car dealerships, pawn shops as well as payday loan shops; you get the general idea.

The other component to this are those who occupy this 'street of broken dreams and beer bottles' and that tends to be another part of the darker side of this. So much so that even some of the bus drivers I know of are not happy about doing the runs that come out here. If it is not the methheads that are a part of the landscape, it is those who would be great guests on any 'instant justice' programs that seems to clog television these days. And this is equal opportunity: black, white, hispanic, oriental, male, female you name it - all sorts of are a part of this wonderful tapestry. The same type of tapestry that makes for some wonderful columns, radio rants and work for those men in blue. As in emergency room workers as well as cops.

Not all is from the shallow end of the gene pool. There are some decent folks here, who live in this almost forgotten by civility land because the rents are low and the stores are nearby for goods. But it is just that when one rides the bus or walk around this street they get the sense that somehow the world just went off its axis and is now a land of severe extremes. So much for the burbs that was predicted at the world fairs.

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