After two week here, my wife and I have turned to our regular traveler’s conversation: Could we live in Paris happily?
This is all possible because France strives for a monoculture. Yes, there are lots of immigrants, and they have different ideas about what a proper society should be like, but the mere fact that this is a struggle – are you allowed to wear a hijab to school? – is an indication of how France views itself.
Now that we’re about to kick off week two of our French residency, the shine is coming off. We’re beginning to understand some of the realities of French life.
The big headline: Paris is a pretty easy place to be as a human. The streets are clean, the public transit is ubiquitous, car traffic is limited to 18 miles an hour, there are lots of little shops for just about everything you can imagine – everything is at a human scale.
It’s a big, diverse, cosmopolitan city with amazing public transport and bike lanes everywhere, and its Frederick Olmstead-designed Parc du Mont-Royal in the middle of the city is an incredible treasure.
In Chicago, public school is scheduled to start September 8, in just over six weeks, and the choices are not looking good.
None of us want to be here, but there’s more bad news coming just over the horizon.
I traveled to Philadelphia last weekend to visit my friend André Natta, check out the city and to attend The Roots Picnic, an annual music festival put on by the Philly-based band, The Roots, whom you might know as the backing band from The Tonight Show on NBC. I hadn’t been to Philadelphia since 2001, and I’d heard things had improved a great deal since then, so I was anxious to check it out.
What happens to Mayberry in the City when it becomes a place just for the well-to-do?