Friday, March 7, 2014

Reader Friday: Your Town

Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town. 
Ask the Dust by John Fante (1939)

Describe your home town: where you grew up, or where you live now. How has it influenced you as a person and as a writer? 


  1. The steel mill spreads along the waterfront like a benevolent disease, mixing fear with hopeful joy. A heart that beats with blood or gasps for breath, we wake every morning and bow to its greatness while cursing its existence.

  2. Seattle squats under heavy gray clouds. Cool and damp. People on the street hunched over with collars up, dreaming of warmth. But the real action is inside. Inside buildings and inside people.

  3. high school to college girls walking around in the summer time wearing nothing more than short denim cutoffs and string bikini tops covering the rest of their chests with button up blouses the sunsets remind me of the most amazing blend of pastels. as the night time temperature drops from 120 degrees Fahrenheit to a brisk 50 degrees.

  4. Now the sweet veils of mercy
    drift through the evening trees
    Young men on the corner
    like scattered leaves
    The boarded up windows
    The hustlers and thieves
    While my brother's down on his knees.

    Wish I could say this was mine but it is Springsteen's My City in Ruins. My hometown is Detroit. It was lovely to grow up in but now my heart is broken.

    1. I attended two colleges in Detroit in 1966, before going into the military. I lived downtown on Ferry Street. It was a unique time. The music scene was exploding. Clubs were open all night (Blind Pigs). Great jazz musicians played all over Detroit. I loved the Mermaid's Cave, a dark cellar club. Watching the sun come up behind the Detroit River and Canada was my favorite thing. While I was in SE Asia most of what I knew of Detroit burned to the ground. I never returned.

  5. Fort Scott, Kansas is an interesting place. Side by side with a faith that is fierce and heartfelt, is one worn more loosely, like a cloak of noblesse oblige. I worked on a charity project with three churches and one day lightly made the joke that the Apostolics do the work, the Presbyterians write the check, and the Methodists bring a covered dish. The laughter and nods told me I had hit it dead on. But all are part of a system that is as strong and resilient as the black soil of Kansas.

    However, behind the big trees, perfect gardens, and neat fences are all the problems of any city. Crime, greed, child neglect, betrayal, drug abuse, and despair can be found in the greatest Victorian and the meanest shotgun shack.

    For our absurdly attractive young people, you greatest asset or curse can be your last name. It seems to set a water mark that you cannot easily rise above or fall below without bringing the disappointment of the community onto your shoulders.

    People here generally believe a man should be free to do as he wishes with his own property, but why won't the damn government do something about those people down the street? That's what I pay taxes for!

    Strangers will stop to ask about your tomatoes and if you string a deer in your front yard oak tree, the likely reaction will be honks and raised thumbs.

    All in all, an easy place to live. My house and yard are big and I paid less than most do as a down payment. Two cars in front of me is a traffic jam and the local paper may lead with the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry. Yet, even after fourteen years, I'm not from here.

  6. "Boston: Meteorological cesspool of the nation." Credit goes to my dad for that one!

    1. And as a cultural hybrid who split her time growing up between Cambridge and South Carolina, I also get to claim Spartanburg, SC: "As time marches on, one town gets left behind."

  7. I grew up in a tiny mining town (population 600), isolated in the coastal mountains of British Columbia, over (or around) a mountain or 2 from Whistler. I was a big fish (at least in my mind) in a little pond. Then I moved to Vancouver at age 18 to attend university (UBC) and discovered I was just a grain of sand on a long beach! But I've lived in cities ever since and would never go back to small-town life. Too stifling, and not enough stimulation.

    1. I lived in Victoria for 27 years, Jodie...and skied at Whistler-Blackcomb.

      Yay, Canada!

    2. I lived on Vancouver Island for 2 years, Sheryl, and skied at Whistler-Blackcomb, too! Yay us! :-)

  8. How do you describe your home town when you don't really have one?

    Being an army child (not brat because we didn't live in PMQs), I've lived in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Oakville, Toronto, London, Germany, Victoria, Mexico (2 places: San Miguel de Allende and Cancun), and am planning to move to the beach in a year or so.

    When people ask me where I'm from, I have a hard time telling them. I say Victoria, BC, because that's where I've lived the longest, but it never felt like home to me.

    Fortunately, my growing-up home was my family - wherever my parents were, that was home.

    I guess you could say that my home town is wherever I'm living at this moment.

    All that moving around has made me, perhaps, more tolerant of different ideas and cultures than those who grow up in the same place and don't travel much.

    I've never felt displaced, but some locales have made me feel misplaced, as though I don't really belong in that culture or sub-culture.

    Living in Mexico has given me a sense of freedom from the shackles of local cultures, partly because ex-pats seem to be neither here nor there in a new culture.

    1. I've lived in a lot of different places and travelled a lot, too, Sheryl. It has made me much more tolerant of cultural differences! And I embrace change! I guess some people might even accuse me of being a change junkie! LOL

  9. I grew up in a small New Jersey town that I have no desire to revisit. The nicest place there was the park where I went ice skating in the winter. I can still smell the sawdust and hot chocolate from inside the boathouse. In the summer, we went there for July 4th celebrations or just to enjoy the lovely walking paths.

  10. I just came back from an estate sale at the home of Elmore Leonard. Although I grew up in the burbs, I have always considered myself a Detroiter. So did he, and since Dutch Leonard very literally wrote the book on Detroit--and another, and another--I won't presume to talk about it. At least not today.

    1. Wow, Barry. I'm reading your book and there is so much in there about Detroit. I was going to ask, but there it is. Estate sale. Whew. Whew.

      Another famous Detroit writer is Jon Jackson. I've read all his books. He lives right here in Missoula, Montana. Sometimes he gave a great class at the university on Hammett. We got to talk about Detroit and driving past the Algiers Motel on Woodard Ave. in the middle of the night. I lived at Six Mile and Woodward one time.

  11. I live in a postcard, click to look, likes its name, ALASKA, a land of peaks. You can see but you cannot know till you feel it in your lungs, your eyes, your soul

    Moose at my tulips last year
    Bear ate my neighbor's trash
    Eagle stands watch in his tower
    As Wolf prowls the perimeter

    Beluga's play like children,
    spinning and wheeling in their ocean pool
    Orca and Shark vie for food chain supremacy
    As Salmon flees both
    Only to run into Seal,
    whose playful eyes are a trap

    In Summer's long bright
    The Bird Clans sing through all hours and times
    In Winter's long night
    Chickadee, Jay, and Raven tend the trees
    Grouse and Ptarmigan harvest the snow seeds

    Sun smiles
    As Moon passes
    Aurora’s music enchants
    As we dance in its light
    And Air fills our
    Clothes of flesh
    Washes us
    With God’s own breath

    People work
    Children play
    Love is made
    Babes are birthed
    Heaven is here
    In my lungs, my eyes, my soul
    In this, my postcard

  12. My home town is very influential in my writing. In fact it is the setting of my WIP. It has quite a colorful history. It was the Dodge City of the Nevada Old West, although it is not one that you hear about at all. It is considered a "living" ghost town now. At one time it was the hub for the silver mines and there were over 76 deaths before one with natural causes. Now, there is a population of about 1,191, at least according to the information I found. It is a great setting for an old west murder..and that is what I'm doing. :)