Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Blurb for the 'Burbs

I was born in the 'burbs and I'll probably die in the 'burbs. In between I spent a lot of time trying to be authentic and sophisticated by living in cities where I took public transit and, when I didn't, often discovered that my car had been broken into.

Despite the fact that there haven't been shards of glass on my street since the recycling man dropped a Moët bottle after New Years, I still can't get over the habit of buying cars that look good with broken windows. Besides, I do drive into the city occasionally to see how the smug young urbanites (recently arrived from their parents' suburbs) are doing.

The suburbs get a bad name, and Hollywood producers never miss a chance to make fun of them from their aeries in Laurel Canyon. And now, with global warming and gasoline more expensive than microbrew, there's good reason to hate the manicured lands of the automobile addicts.

But here's why I love my 'burb and our bland little home, Casa Rancho, as we call it.

First, it really is a ranch house, sort of. We turned the lawn in the backyard into a Victory (over Safeway) Garden. Okay, we're not really surviving on our produce because onions, zucchini and jalapeños aren't basic food groups, but at least our jalapeños won't give us salmonella. In San Francisco all our backyard ever produced was fog, noise from the neighbors and a few cherry tomatoes that were supposed to be beefsteaks.

Second, I love this place despite the fact it's in much-mocked Marin County, where taxes are high and driving a 3-series BMW is akin to being on food stamps. (Break My Windows, Marin cars are telling us.) At least in Marin County we get something for our taxes. Well, don't ask me what, since there's no glass on the streets to sweep up. But at least it isn't San Francisco, which buys gas for hundreds of already overpaid high officials who commute in city cars. And neither is it Oakland where the city administrator hires all her relatives, and then warns the gangsters among them when a police raid is coming.

By the way, we do have gangsters in Marin County, and not just the ones who commute to the Financial District. Believe it or not, the previous occupants of Casa Rancho, on this cute little cul de sac, were dope dealers. Their crops, until our efficient little police force vacated the premises, were green and mostly grown indoors. On a hot day I can put my nose up to the repainted wall, breathe deeply, and, yes, get high on living here.