Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quite a Paradoxical Steel Town

So I went to a suburban mall this afternoon to buy a new watch, and ended up missing the bus back downtown. Suburban Hamilton is an area called The Mountain, a name which my office-mate Jessica from the interior of British Columbia considers laughable. But the suburbs are cleanly divided from the city’s interior by an escarpment that goes up several hundred metres.

Sick of waiting for another bus in the heat of August, I started walking in the general direction of my home with no idea if any of the roads back down the escarpment even had sidewalks. As it turned out, they didn’t, but I had no need to wait for another bus. Crossing the road before the highway-style street began, I walked through a small park with a modest stone pavilion, a series of bright grey arches covered in ivy along one side. Looking out the pavilion, I could see the road, as well as a sidewalk that ran along a thick grove of trees, protected from the road by a waist-high cement barrier.

I crossed the road at one of the gaps in the barrier, and after walking along the protected sidewalk for a few minutes, discovered a metal staircase that led all the way down the escarpment. It was deeply shaded by a canopy of trees and lit by old fashioned black streetlamps that needed to be on to light the way even in the middle of a sunny afternoon. It was a swath of dense forest in the middle of a busy road system, and a pedestrian was so deeply hidden that I couldn’t even hear the traffic until I left the woods and got back out onto James street.

Think of that when anyone calls Hamilton a dirty city again.
In other news, the latest Thomas Pynchon novel, Inherent Vice, has been released this week, though it'll be a while before I get around to reading it. It'll take me about a month to finish In Search of Lost Time, and then I have my courses starting again, that I'm taking and helping to teach.

Inherent Vice is a detective novel, basically, except that it's written by Thomas Pynchon. It takes place in 1970 in Los Angeles, with a stoner private detective Doc Sportello as the protagonist. This teaser trailer from Penguin Press (which might even be narrated by Pynchon himself) lays out the whole book for you, or at least as much as can be sanely summarized without actually reading it.

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