Friday, December 23, 2005

Sophisticated Urban Dweller

One of the travails of being a sophisticated urban dweller is the chronic shortage of parking. It's not just a matter of finding a parking spot every morning, no, you also have to worry about where to put the car at night. Somewhere that's legal, obviously, since freelancing just won't work on a long term basis. Not in this town, anyway. And somewhere where your car won't be skeletonized in minutes by some ragged tribe of meth tweakers. That would be a big plus, certainly.

So everything was all arranged. I'd found a nice parking spot in an underground garage, with round-the-clock security, and was renting it from a wonderful elderly lady who'd recently given up driving. Perfect. But then she passed away recently, and it's back to square one again.

Given the preceding two paragraphs, it must sound like I'm about to whine about city parking policies, or old people, or the unfairness of life in general. But that's not it at all. When I heard the news, my very first gut reaction was to think about my precious parking space, and I find that rather disturbing. I mean, I'm sure this happens all the time among us sophisticated urban dwellers, conditioned as we are by the ceaseless struggle over limited resources. Everyone, at some point, will regard other people as a means to an end. But completely give yourself over to that impulse, and... well, ok, you'll probably be named CEO somewhere, or elected to something important.

I'm sure I'll hear from the next of kin eventually when they sort things out and decide what to do. I can wring my hands all I want to, but they're the ones who've just lost a loved one, not I, and I'm not about to pester them over a petty little parking space.

[cue awkward transition to vaguely related subject.]

On a less personal note, and of more interest to the average sophisticated urbanite, are local blogs devoted to transportation and architecture, plus a post by a prominent local blogger bashing both of them. I came across all that stuff while hunting down this discussion about the ugliest buildings in town.

A few of my favorite ugly buildings, in no particular order:

  • Qwest building at SW Park and Stark. The grey concrete thing with tiny vertical slits for windows. You know the one.
  • Paramount Hotel. Cheap and tacky looking, even though it's a fairly expensive hotel. Many external architectural details are actually made of some sort of construction-grade styrofoam, believe it or not.
  • 200 Market Bldg. a.k.a. the Black Box. Looks exactly like all the other black glass box buildings that sprouted across the country in the 60's and 70's. I don't like any of them.
  • Portland State University has several winners, all built of the finest Soviet concrete. Among them, Ondine and the University Services Building really take the cake.
  • Park Place Condominiums. Brand new building of very expensive condos. The phrase "strip mall on its side" really fits this one, right down to the khaki stucco + red fake brick exterior. All the pictures I can find show it from its "better" side, such as it is.

Anyway, I swear I'm not going to spend all my time complaining about the city and the state. Really. I'm actually very fond of the place, believe it or not.

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