Apr 18 2005

Preface To My Remarks On Town Lake

I am about to make some remarks about the trail around Town Lake, but I must preface them, for the sake of comparison, with a brief reminiscence of my quarter-century exile in St. Louis, Missouri, Gateway To The West.

Towergrove_pagodaIt was not without its charms.

For example, at some point in St. Louis’ checkered past–I don’t know when, but it was a long time ago–anyone with any money at all got the fuck out of there. The city was left to rot in the ooze of poverty, crime, and crack that boiled up in the vacuum left by the money. One of the results of this was that you could get a beautiful 3-story Edwardian mansion on the South Side for about $42. That’s what I did, and it was great, once I turned a blind eye to the daily shootings.

Besides cheap mansions, another perk was Tower Grove Park. This Victorian oasis, within cat-swinging distance of the muggings, Vietnamese noodles, and Bohemian revels of scenestery South Grand Ave, is 300 acres of absolutely weird and breathtaking beauty. An abridged catalog of its virtues would include whimsical water-lily ponds, whimsical antique pavilions, a whimsical sailboat lake surrounded by whimsical fake Greek ruins, and a few miles of winding, picturesque footpaths (also whimsical). An Early Romantic opium dream, is what it is.

And here’s the best part: it’s completely deserted! Many’s the crisp morning I would saunter through the brume in that park, drinking deep of nature’s bracing elixir, and never meet another human being, except for the ghost of Shelley. And many’s the crisp morning I would muse: if a spinster aunt were to swing from the trees wearing nothing but an iPod and a smile, and no one were there to see it, would it still be illegal?

And then I foolishly moved to Austin.