Love Notes

23 thoughts on “Love Notes”

  1. Johnny I’ve Traveled Many Miles, Seen Many Smiles, lived in Southern Cal for years. Don’t ever say you won’t live in a gated community, we all fantasize our lives, we all believe we will one day live in a tree house overlooking an azure sea in some tropical paradise, this I suppose is what gets us through the day, but this my friend is an insidious dream that helps sell FJ Cruisers and North Face gear and everything else. You have no idea where life will take you. Next time just say high to that neighbor looking at his feet, smile and say my name is Johnny and I just moved in with Kevin across the street, great little neighbor hood you have, what are the rules.
    Know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

  2. Urban form does have a real effect on neighborliness or perhaps, as you say a la Tiebout, different types of people just self select into different types of neighborhoods.

    To wit: Some moons ago in college I worked for an environmental group in Richmond, Virginia. We basically just went door-to-door begging people for money. When we went to the urban neighborhoods of Richmond like the Museum District and The Fan (which is truly a national treasure or urbanism), we would occasionally run into the odd conservative retiree or other such curmudgeon who declined to donate. But for the most part the people we encountered in the urban parts of Richmond were extremely friendly and receptive.

    In contrast, when going door-to-door in the suburban areas just outside of the city (Chesterfield County, etc.) we were met almost entirely with cold shoulders. One woman even protested that it was ***illegal*** for me to walk around her neighborhood and knock on her door. She met me at the door with phone in hand ready to call the police. I completely understand the desire for privacy, space, etc. What I don’t get – and never will – is the active disgust or hostility to fellow human beings.

    1. Cars and guns aren’t going away. I’m not convinced they’re the problem either. It’s the underlaying culture that’s the trouble.

      I have a car and I drive it once in a blue moon – mostly when I need to transport something heavy or go out to the suburbs or countryside. That’s about 2,000 miles a year – and most of that is completely discretionary. I could totally live without it. That’s very different than needing a car to function day-to-day and having car culture dominate the way I think about the world and define myself.

      I spent time in Switzerland visiting friends. Every adult male is REQUIRED to possess a gun. The Swiss feel that if every citizen is trained and armed in an organized and disciplined manner the country is safer. Notice the terms: trained, organized, and disciplined. They have a different culture so they have a different set of outcomes with their firearms. I was in Russia during the collapse of communism and middle aged women were buying guns off the black market (usually from military personnel) for personal protection. Making guns illegal doesn’t make them go away. It doesn’t necessarily make anyone safer either. It’s an emotional thing that circumvents rational procedures. I don’t own a gun because I’m clumsy and would probably hurt myself or someone I care about in a failed attempt to use it – otherwise I’d be tempted to keep a piece in a lock box in the closet.

  3. I am a lowly renter in a dense single family suburb. A very antisocial one, but as a lowly tenant I don’t feel the desire to know the neighbors anyway. (I tend to be antisocial). Anyway, I feel extreme annoyance when someone parks in MY space on the street. (My landlady has filled the garage with “stuff”*, so no garage parking).

    *I found an old school Western Electric telephone on the pile of “stuff”. Why it was there, I have no idea. 🙂

  4. Ohhhh….I would have left that little note back on someone’s door with a nastygram about how it’s not illegal to park on a public street. That drives me crazy. There would be public shaming involved back at those people if that happened to me. I have zero tolerance for that kind of thing. I would have also asked if they are concerned about speeding…..

    By the way, in my opinion, that’s not a suburb. That’s urbanism with wide residential streets. (just coined that term) I don’t mind it when people get all antsy about people parking on the street when it’s the kind of place where there are no curbs, sidewalks, etc. When it’s practically a culdesac I get the notion.

    Jim Kumon Executive Director

    Incremental Development Alliance

    612.875.1196 | Minneapolis, MN

    T: @incrementaldev @jimkumon

    FB: Small Scale Developers – IDA

  5. I lived in a neighborhood like this in LA. People called it the burbs, but it was so compact, it may as well have been the city– kind of like taking a tall apartment building and squashing it into these small houses side by side by side.

    1. You make a valid point about how the desire for a fully detached single family home in a highly constrained and expensive market typically results in homes that may as well be apartments. There are good neighborhoods with suburban homes with land and privacy and greenery. There are good neighborhoods with apartments in vibrant walkable Main Streets. The compromise halfway between the two is possible – and in evidence in older parts of the city circa the 1920s – but not common in new construction.

      I was born in LA and lived in several different areas. Where are you?

        1. I was born in Westwood, lived in various parts of the San Fernando Valley when I was little (Topanga Canyon, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills, etc. back in the late 60’s and early 70’s) as well as Anaheim in Orange County. We moved A LOT when I was a kid. Then we lived in New York (Queens) and then in the suburbs of south Jersey for a while. I then returned to LA on my own as a teenager and lived in Santa Monica (back when an apartment right on the PCH was actually affordable – I worked at the Santa Monica Place Mall – among other things…) with stints in Culver City, Miracle Mile along Wiltshire, etc. I know the LA of that era very well. But that was a long time ago. I have relatives who migrated out to the Antelope Valley – Palmdale, Quartz Hill, Lancaster. They all aspire to live in Santa Clarita. I’m entirely too familiar with that landscape.

          I’ve now lived in San Francisco for more years than I’ve lived anyplace else.

  6. I don’t leave little notes, but I also for some reason don’t like the neighbors continually parking in front of my house. Maybe, mostly, because they’re not parking in front of their own house, or even more than one car in their own driveway.

    Also, they routinely turn their car around in my drive after 10 PM, despite being like 100 feet from the end of a cul-de-sac.

    Phew, pet peeves. Glad I could get that off my chest here where they will never see it.

    1. My interpretation of this situation is simple. People who self select to live on a cul-de-sac do so because they want privacy and space away from other people. They perceive the public space in front of their home as de facto private space and they resent the imposition of strangers there. “I paid $X for this great house in this exclusive neighborhood and now I have some bozo parking on top of me!” HOAs and gated communities solve this problem by making it illegal and towing people who don’t park in a driveway or inside a garage.

      I really, really, really want people who like that arrangement to live in a fully privatized enclave. I finally reached a point where I will not visit people who live in a gated community. I just tell them straight up that we can meet in a public place, but if there’s a guard and an entrance procedure I just can’t be bothered.

  7. My mother had a neighbor like that once in an apartment building. As her hatred for the neighbor began to boil, my mother knew of only one way to rid herself of the growing blackness inside her. She determined to love the woman and began leaving her tiny little secret gifts for her at her door. My mother never really loved the neighbor, but she stopped feeling anxiety and anger about her.

  8. I lived in the city and had my neighbor across the street from me do this. She worked in a heart hospital and was one of the rudest, passive aggresives I’ve ever run into. Seems harder and harder not living near people you can’t work with unless you have unlimited amounts of $. People seem to be getting angrier and angrier and more shut in as the days pass.

  9. I feel your pain Johnny. My wife and I have lived in our home for nearly 34 years and although our neighborhood isn’t as you describe your friend’s, it has in some ways similar feels. Our daughter and her family live exactly 2 miles away and her neighborhood is so many degrees friendlier. It’s people who are that way, not the homes.

  10. Wow, those passive aggressive note leaving neighbors suck. My neighbors are all lovely people on my street, but my friend, who lives 4 blocks over, has neighbors that like leaving those kinds of notes. The level of neighborliness seems to change from street to street in our neck of the woods. I’d hate to live in an entire suburb of uptight people.

    I wonder what the demographic is of the neighborhood your friend lives in. My assumption was older (50’s+), upper middle class and white. What do you attribute all this Uptight-ness to?

    1. Every location consists of a self-selecting population. Some people like to be left alone. Others want to embrace a sense of community. I don’t need other people to live their lives to my preferred standard. But I won’t live near people I can’t work with.

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