Tuesday, April 11, 2006

(urban) renewal

In many a post I have come down strongly, viciously almost, against the suburbs. I have punched at them good and hard and I stand firm in my conviction that they lack soul.

But we are at the cusp of real-time spring and the cusp of spring does not, visually, bring out the best in cities, even small cities such as Madison.

I walk home from work and I am hungry to find a pleasing announcement of the season. No such luck. I see porches with student couches, I see signs that perpetually announce the transient nature of the housing around the university: Fall rentals available. There are always fall rentals available. No one stays more than a year before roommate hatred or school completion forces a move.

I want what every other long term downtown resident wants – stability. And property care. And yet, if all buildings around me put on a fresh face and started to call themsleves townhouse condos, I’d freak. And move on.

And so today I walk home, loving the warmth of the air, loving my light jacket, the absence of gloves, the light breezes… all good. And what’s this? Two blocks from my loft I come across an intersection which is abuzz with activity. Young people, fixing things, painting doors, chatting excitedly… I am at the corner that once housed the Polish meats and foods place.

Madison June 05 407
June 05

That sad looking place closed some months back, soon after I moved downtown. The new, young people working on scraping and painting explain that it’s going to be a flower shop. Cool! With a catering and special events emphasis. Oh. But still very much a walk-in place. Super cool. I think. Obviously this freshly painted spiffy place will not have a dilapidated porch with last century’s furniture on it. Or an ancient Coke machine dispensing overpriced fizzy stuff at the side. But will it have soul?

Madison Apr 06 219
April 06