Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow was mugged for his sunglasses by a street-corner drug dealer near his home in San Francisco. "I could go to the cops," he writes, "but here's the thing: if I do, he'll know who did it and he might shoot me."

Speaking as a lifelong child of the suburbs, flee!

Nothing in my experience helps me understand people who trade muggings and other woes of urban life for the opportunity to live in a thriving, diverse community that lends itself to literature. Give me the safe, bland, quiet desperation of the 'burbs, where I can go to Barnes & Noble to buy a book about your interesting city experiences and read it over some Starbucks coffee.


I have a deal worked out with the gangbangers who live down the street: If ever I'm loading up a U-Haul that's pointed toward the suburbs, they're licensed to shoot me on-site, for I will already be dead.

Not that, after three years in Chicago, I know anybody who has ever been mugged. But let's say the tax for living in a culturally stimulating place is being mugged for $40 once a year. In comparison, the taxes for living in the suburbs are too high to count: You're "mugged" for an extra quarter or so every time you're overcharged at Starbucks; you're mugged for $1.50 a gallon every time you gas up the car you wouldn't need in the city; you're mugged for [cost incalculable] every time you sit at home and watch TV because you're not a five minute's walk away from a concert or play or watering hole or park or friend's house or funky restaurant or independent bookstore or ...

"Safety" is overrated.


I agree with you. I don't get the people that want to live in the city. As you said I'll jet sip my StarBucks and read the book! Nicely said.

I've lived in both the burbs and the city.

I don't know which is better.

But statistically - you're more likely to be in and die from an alcohol related traffic accident in the burbs then be effected by violent crime in the city.

At least as far as Philly goes. That's probably true elsewhere.

Great post though :) I love burbs vs city talk :)

Excellent point about drunken driving, Karl. Bars in the city don't have parking lots.

And you can still sip your latte in the big scary city. You can't spit without hitting a Starbucks here in Chicago, which is not to say I haven't tried.

I have three small children who are
third-generation suburbans, Luke. I don't
think you fancy city dwellers understand the
cherised way of life practiced by my nomadic
people. Our whole existence is devoted to
depriving ourselves and our children of
authentic life experience.

Frankly, I think it's a fair trade for never
being required to decide whether to call the
cops about the neighborhood drug dealer who
robbed me.

Gotta run. We're eating lunch at the Olive

But Rogers, whatever maims but does not kill them will make them stronger!

but if it does kill them, they are DEAD!

To hell with the suburbs. I've got the best of both worlds. I work in the middle of a ghetto and I live in the country. Thus, I can be mugged during the day while getting my latte at starbucks and lamenting the fact that uncommon grounds in Portsmouth, NH will always have better coffee, then drive home and be harrassed by a variety of indigenous rednecks. Frankly, Portsmouth gets my vote for character without the crime. Now, if I could just figure out how to get back there!

Or, you could do like me. Live in Los Angeles. The city is so big that where I live, I have a Buuuutiful mall, lots of
starbucks, nice plushy movie theatres, and wide lanes. And Border's and Barnes and Nobles.

But not to miss out on the finer things in life, we also have active and nasty gangs, arson, robberies, and drug use through the
wazoo. Police ride two per cars.

We also have the fancy restaurants and fancy artsy theatres, but in all honesty, if I'm going to spend any quality time, it'll be at the
local cyber cafe playing CounterStrike on Lan with a room full of crazed late teen and early twenty's who don't think twice at yelling "Damn I almost got killed!".

See, just like the big city...

Give me the safe, bland, quiet desperation of the 'burbs, where I can go to Barnes & Noble to buy a book about your interesting city experiences and read it over some Starbucks coffee.

Heh. Promise to buy my book of interesting city experiences when I finally release one?

I honestly don't know where is the better place to live. The burbs or the city. They both have a lot to learn off of one another in terms of quality of life, culture, and the environment.

They really do need one another to survive.

Olive Garden sucks :) We have a few of them in Philly and a couple outside of Philly. So darn.... generic ya know?

I'm kinda like David right now. I live just outside the city and travel in to work. Although I think soon I will be moving to my first house - inside of the city limits.

I'll buy that book.

I live in the forest and work in the Silicon Valley sprawl. Please don't ever deny me my daily dose of real life on Hwy 17. It's very diverse and stimulating...and dangerous too. I have the worst/best of all worlds. But I love my trees. And GG park just doesn't cut it.

I was very sorry to hear of Cory's experience, but I also admire Cory's courage for sticking it out within the problematic, but ultimately rewarding milieu of the City, and for realizing that the good outweighs the bad.

Those who stick it out in the tangible hoods, surrounding themselves with real people and thoroughly sifting their fingers with the palpable problems of society live on the cusp of something very exciting, unabashedly honest, socially rewarding and, yes, sometimes quite perilous. They tap their feet to the beats of atonal possibilities that the upper-crust cellist working within in the tired enclave of C has never considered. They exact the roles in which it is essential for humanity to break the ice floe.

It's too bad that most lack the gonads to look reality straight in the face, to see the similarities between the darkest nightmare of a heroin-addicted prostitute proffering herself to an attorney unleashing his atavistic desires and the delectable models of Maxim magazine, eternally fuckable for the prickless johns fumbling the glossy waste within a soulless B&N; warehouse that sells only homogenity and absconding with innovation.

It is any wonder why Europeans are laughing their asses off?

It's kind of sad that the city-dwellers have this stereotyped image of the suburbs as a place where everything is the same and nothing ever happens. It's a big myth as far as I can tell. At least as big as the myth of the city as only true locus of culture and authenticity.

When I go outside, I see kids playing and people working in their gardens. I hear garage bands practicing in real garages. Right now I see preparations for Fourth of July block parties going on. I see volleyball and basketball games in the park. I see people restoring old cars in their driveways. I see people raising children. I see school carnivals. I see yard sales. I see libraries. I see art classes and dance recitals.
I see triathletes training for the Iron-Man. I see houses getting wired up with broadband internet connections. I see people drinking wine on their front porches enjoying the evening sunset.

I see people working to keep their community clean. I see local political battles over school redistricting and water quality. I see people shopping in local businesses and eating in small family owned restaurants. I see people going to churches of all denominations.

We have our share of eccentrics too. There's the lady who operates a tortoise sanctuary in her back yard. There's the old man I see each morning on the way to work who wears the old, but neat and clean three piece suit, as he rides on his bicycle wearing his wood working goggles and silver skateboarder helmet. There's the man who has covered every square inch of his van in quotes from the bible.

Mostly I see a community of people who are honest, hard-working and self-reliant. These are people who have interests and hobbies and jobs and families. They aren't selfish. Their whole world doesn't revolve around entertaining themselves.

They are diverse. Some are trendy and hip, others think culture is NASCAR and lite beer. Some are intelligent, others are stupid. Some have strong opinions. Others have strong opinions about lite beer.

These people have problems too. Some are drug addicts. Some abuse or are abused. Some are unemployed. There are gangs. Cars get stolen every now and then. Men who worked around toxic chemicals all their lives to provide a decent life for their family get cancer and die. They leave behind lonely widows who's children have run off to the city and never visit them. They have neighbors with dogs that bark all night.

We can go downtown and visit the same museums and attend the same concerts the city folks do. It's only a half hour away for christ's sake. We can leave and go home when night is done. We have multiplexes with all the same awful movies you get in the city. We can see the foreign and art-house films on DVD. We can watch them as we soak nude in our hot tubs.

The bottom line is, if you think the suburbs are boring, maybe you're just not looking hard enough. Or, maybe you're the one who is boring and all that wonderful stuff going on in the city keeps you from noticing this about yourself.

The 'burbs rock! Not all 'burbs are the same, but I'm willing to bet that one does not lose access to culture simply by living in the 'burbs.

Within Orange County, CA (where I live) there's a performing arts center, a playhouse, and museums. A 45 minute drive into Los Angeles adds to your cultural selection without adding gangsters, drugs, and general urban yuckiness. At the end of the night I get to go home to a clean, safe, and happy place.

Hey - don't want to weigh in on the city vs the burbs experience .... but please stay away from Starbucks! Support your local small coffee houses and get in touch your neighbors be it in the city or the burbs.

This argument is premised on mistaken assumptions. Not all cities are dangerous (or all parts of all cities). And not all suburbs are safe, although admittedly, you don't see crack dealers on the street corner (you hardly see pedestrians at all, and if you do, that's enough justification to call the cops on them alone).

I live in the central part of a city, and I feel very safe here.

Hmmm....cities are reality. Small towns and 'burbs area not. By that standard, I suspect that S.F is Disneyland compared with some of the real "real" places in the world. I belive that there are `7 Billion realities in the world. Mine is not in a large city.

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