The Scale of the Place

Documented because it’s a lovely passage, and because the other two cities I’ve lived in (D.C. and San Francisco), never seem to earn this kind of breathless observation:

“Thomas Kurton tells Thassa Amzwar to pick a meeting spot anywhere in the city. She laughs at the blank check. This city has forests in the northwest big enough to get lost in. To the south, black neighborhoods the size of Constantine that white people never enter. Convention centers with the look of fifties science-fiction space colonies. Warehouse districts full fo resale contraband peppered with refrigerated corpses. Cemeteries a hundred times the length of a soccer pitch, with gravestones in forty-one languages. There’s Chinatown, Greek Town, Bucktown, Boystown, Little Italy, Little Seoul, little Mexico, little Palestine, little Assyria…Two Arab neighborhoods—the southwest Muslims and the northwest Christians—where people from a dozen countries congregate to eat, recite Arabic poetry, and mock each other’s dialects.

She has my problem: too much possibility. A thousand parks, four hundred theaters, three dozen beaches, fifty colleges, fifteen bird sanctuaries, seven botanical gardens, two different zoos, and a glass-encased tropical jungle. Meet anywhere? The scientist doesn’t realize the scale of the place.”

Richard Powers, Generosity: An Enhancement

3 responses to “The Scale of the Place

  1. Chicago, I presume?

  2. The mention of Bucktown first tipped me off, and then when I re-read the other references more closely they all made sense. Though fifteen bird sanctuaries seems like a stretch.

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