Monday, July 19, 2010
Location Location Location
Bad Writing. "On a late winter evening in 1983, while driving through fog along the Maine coast, recollections of old campfires began to drift into the March mist, and I thought of the Abnaki Indians of the Algonquin tribe who dwelt near Bangor a thousand years ago." Norman Mailer in Harlot’s Ghost by Norman Mailer, Random House, 1991. This, book, incidentally, was the first novel to cost more than $30. To the best of my knowledge, recollections rarely have drivers’ licenses.
Not far from where I live is a small house with a plaque over the front door that reads Harbor View. The nearest harbor, as far as I know, is about 12 miles away in
, the historic riverfront district of Washington, DC. The Harbor View house sits at the intersection of two medium-traffic roads and the view is that of a traffic light. I see the home owner mow his lawn, mulch his flower beds and fertilize his tomato plants. In the winter, he shovels snow like the rest of us. I’ve never asked him about the plaque. Georgetown
I’ve always wondered about the names of communities that have little to do with an actual natural site, places like River Front, Creek View,
Hillside or Wooded Glen. I live on Idylwood Road. It’s neither wooded, nor idyllic since a major arterial highway is only a couple of hundred yards from my back yard. It used to be called Lemon Road, named after the farmer who owned the land, but sometime in the murky past someone decided Idylwood was better than Lemon, and that was that.
A friend recently told me that developers are building ‘estates’ near her home. As far as I can tell, an estate is a particularly large, ostentatious house that shouts to the neighbors that you’ve got more money and less taste than they do. I’ve been in a few of them—four cropped up in my neighborhood several years ago after a half-dozen post-Korean war three-bedrooms were torn down—and I was taken by the fact that these new homes had bandana-size yards (though the owners all had little lawn tractors) and almost no furniture. There were a huge home entertainment centers with many speakers hung from the wall, a few pieces of leather-covered furniture, and a kitchen dominated by not one but two microwaves. Possibly to make sure you never run out of popcorn while you’re being entertained.
Just a few blocks from me is Crawfish Run. Aside from a culvert that acts as a storm drain, there’s no water to be found and, I imagine, no crawfish either. In a nearby community, there’s
Duck Pond Manor Drive but the duck pond was filled when it developed a leak that threatened a manor owner’s basement.
The best, however, is Sunset Hills, a county-run apartment complex situated in an eight-acre bowl of red clay and dust. Residents say there hasn’t been a sunset there since 1974.