Monday, April 28, 2008

Sister Cities

Seven months in Detroit have reminded me that Philadelphia's problems are not problems. They're irritations and warnings more than problems. Overall things are working well.

For a more cautionary tale see one of my other blogs,

(I may return to Philly in a few months or I may not.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Reviews

At another of my blogs,, and with a soon-to-be-announced new one, I've returned to my original focus as a writer, when in 1992 I began a literary review zeen called New Philistine. That focus-- that goal-- was to reinvent the book review. In future months, ambitious attempts will be made here and elsewhere to do the same.
THE QUESTION of new styles of book reviews involves Philadelphia. For seven years America's most exciting literary movement was based in Philly. The book people at the city's largest newspaper, by shunning this movement, missed an opportunity which would've benefitted themselves and their paper greatly.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What About New York?


For those considering moving to NYC, my own brief experience:

I was going to move to New York City instead of Detroit. I had a job lined up. I began searching for an apartment. The only thing I could afford was an illegal basement apartment. I looked at a couple of such; one in Queens, one in Brooklyn.

Because of pipes, only a person shorter than 5'7 or so could stand up in the Queens place without hitting his or her head. I didn't relish forever crouching.

The Brooklyn basement apartment was in Crown Heights. (Calling either of these "apartments" is being generous. They were holes in the ground.) This one was about the size of a small bathroom (the bathroom itself was down the hall), or a walk-in closet. A bed-- no room for anything else. There were no windows. A Soviet-style prison cell. The landlady wanted two months rent cash up front. Though the room was obviously off the books, she wanted credit and bank info so she could do a credit check. She was suspicious of my job info, looking over recent pay stubs from Philly. I sat on the bed and began filling out one of her forms while she stood in the hallway with the door open. (The room wasn't big enough for both of us.) Though it was September, a mild day, I was sweating profusely in the windowless room. There seemed to be no air. It was difficult to breathe. I wondered what it'd be like in July.

"You can buy a fan," the woman said.

To push around the room's hot air? This was an underground dungeon.

"The previous tenant was here six years," she told me.

"Oh yeah?" I returned. "Who was he? Quasimodo? Phantom of the Opera?"

I moved to Detroit.