Ballet in the Street

Do you wake up on your own
And wonder where you are
You live with all your faults

Other Stuff

October 2, 1998…
Nothing much going on today. We didn’t have school because it was a Fort Hood Family Day. For those of you who don’t know what that is it’s a day reserved for the soldiers stationed at the largest military installation in the free world to spend time with their kids. And, as I told Janel in Pensacola, young male soldiers plus high school girls equal lots of kids. It’s sad but true. That’s also a Metallica song. Oh, the wonders of words.

I didn’t really do much today. I started reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. Really good book. She puts into words some of my own thoughts and feelings. Let me recount some here:

When writing that the safety of neighborhoods start with the streets and that the only way to have a truly safe street is a have “eyes on the street” at all times, Ms. Jacobs writes:

“The incident that attracted my attention was a suppressed struggle going on between a man and a little girl of eight or nine years old. The man seemed to be trying to get the girl to go with him. By turns he was directing a cajoling attention to her, and then assuming an air of nonchalance. The girl was making herself rigid, as children do when they resist, against the wall of one of the tenements across the street.

As I watched from our second-floor window, making up my mind how to intervene if it seemed advisable, I saw it was not going to be necessary. From the butcher shop beneath the tenement had emerged the woman who, with her husband, runs the shop; she was standing within earshot of the man, her arms folded and a look of determination on her face. Joe Carnacchia, who with his sons-in-law keeps the delicatessen, emerged about the same moment and stood solidly to the other side. Several heads poked out of the tenement windows above, one was withdrawn quickly and its owner reappeared a moment later in the doorway behind the man. Two men from the bar next to the butcher shop came to the doorway and waited. On my side of the street, I saw that the locksmith, the fruit man and the laundry proprietor had all come out of their shops and that the scene was also being surveyed from a number of windows besides ours. That man did not know it, but he was surrounded. Nobody was going to allow a little girl to be dragged off, even if nobody knew who she was.

I am sorry–sorry purely for dramatic purposes–to have to report that the little girl turned out to be the man’s daughter.”

Now, that was only one instance in that book that struck me as being completely wonderful and right. That is the kind of place I would like to live. Where, although the people aren’t all in your business like in a smalltown, they do pay attention to what’s going on on the street and take care of their neighborhood. It’s kind of hard to murder someone when there are twenty people on the same street and countless others watching from the windows. I tried to explain this to my mother after reading this passage, but failed horribly. I also tried to tell her that a bar on your street is one of the best advantages because, after all the other businesses close, the bar is still open and continuously supplies people to watch the street until late into the night. My mom said that a bar also attracts a low-class crowd of people. I refuted this by saying that all kinds of people go to bars, including businessmen. And she said, that’s right, all kinds of people go to bars. So, as you can see, I failed horribly. But this is a great book. I highly recommend it to anyone at all interested in cities.

Don’t you love the life you killed
The priest is on the phone
Your father hit the wall
Your ma disowned you

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