St. Louis vs. L.A.

On our honeymoon, my wife and I ended up stranded in L.A.  We didn’t see many sights, but we saw the hundreds of miles of sprawl on the way in.  The numbers don’t lie.  There are a lot of people living in L.A.  Roughly 10 million people.  That’s almost 1/4 of the people living in California and 10x as many as live in St. Louis.  A lot of people either choose to live in L.A. or choose not to leave L.A.  But how many are trapped either by circumstance or by ignorance?

It part it was the pushing and shoving, the five-hours stranded in line, but ultimately it was the L.A.P.D. bomb squad evacuating our terminal that forced our conclusion: we hate L.A.  Seeing celebrities and eating expensive food wouldn’t change our minds.  My best friend from 5th grade lives in L.A.  He hates it too.  Yet he stays.  Hollywood has a stranglehold on many innocent lives.  L.A. is big and busy without being the great city that New York is and possessing a certain sun-burnt superficiality that the Big Apple lacks.

And then there’s St. Louis, our some-time home.  It’s the biggest small town in America.  It’s small enough that I’m guaranteed to run into someone I know unexpectedly at most large-scale events.  It’s big enough to have a small, crappy version of whatever you want (as opposed to New York, which has the best version of whatever you want).  This is a great town with hidden glories.  The “City Museum” is an urban playground for grown-ups, with huge slides, a three-story outdoor jungle gym, and two sets of man-made caves.  Forest Park is larger than Central Park in NYC.  The art museum and zoo there are free.  So is the Shakespeare festival and the summer jazz festival.  The Cardinals and the Rams are worth cheering for.  And the gateway arch is the last great man-made monument.  St. Louis is one of America’s best kept secrets.

A friend returned to live in St. Louis after living in California.  He had decent job prospects and great wine, but there were two things that he especially lacked: a community of friends and places to think great thoughts.  Few things are more important in life and St. Louis provides a healthy context for both.

I don’t right this to convince you to leave L.A.  But if you’re already here, love where you are.

Published in: on August 5, 2008 at 9:14 am  Comments (6)  
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I washed off the wilderness but not the wildness, the dirt that untamed my soul.

Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 9:32 pm  Comments (2)  

Forest Feast

We pressed through thorn and spiderweb, darkness and rain, to the palace and to the feast, as any lumpy bed and paltry meal would be for such weary wanderers as we.

Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 8:46 am  Comments (2)  

No Majesty without Mystery

We swam through the green, roots and rotting logs our steps into the clouds.  The sunset found us on quartz boulders, Shining Rock in the shadow of Cold Mountain.  No postcard vistas for us, only glimpses through the mist with joy!  There is no majesty without mystery.

Published in: on July 29, 2007 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sagrada Familia

Mozart laughing

the scaffolding

of one hundred years crashes

up before my eyes


Snail and salamander

turtle and toad

and a legion of doves

fly out to meet me


Cave of the crucible

crucifix canopy

dying before me

even as You live


Holy!  Holy!  Holy!

All the saints

dance for You

rising with the harvest

to meet You in the sky


Sagrada Familia

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sunset over the Al-Hambra

Into the wind

above the haze

to the top

of the highest hill

every green and red

stretched to silver grey

over the palace

where my grandfathers’ ghosts

still walk


with each other


the light


Published in: on June 24, 2007 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  





in the way

that all women

are dangerous

but she

more than most

Published in: on June 21, 2007 at 3:50 am  Comments (3)