cities, suburbs, localities and towns
Best-known city in the Netherlands, regarded as the capital even though there is no seat of government there. Colourful history spanning seven hundred years. 100km of canals and even more kilometres of bicycle paths. Legal pot smoking in "coffee shops". Sex workers in red-fluorescent-lit windows like manicans in a shop front, charging €35 for a blow job. My home for the second half of 2002.
Capital of the American state of Texas, and an oasis in that part of the country. University town. Hot, humid summers, apparently mild winters. Lots of cool bands and student culture.
Leafy suburb in Sydney's greater north-west. Still touched on some semi-rural areas as recently as the early 1990s. Young, blonde-bricked houses with lush lawns. Lots of trees but mostly shrubs. Quiet cul-de-sacs. Stifling lack of public transport outside of commuter hours. My home for the first half of the 1990s, and my parents' home today.
The Bay Area
Greater San Francisco, USA.
One of the main drags of Berkeley. Crowded with market stalls, cheap health food, expensive junk food, cool music shops, broke uni students, and tonnes of Californian alternative culture.
Just like Newtown, only with apartment buildings instead of terrace houses and there aren't really very many immigrant families.
The most amazing city in the world. A circle, a few kilometres in diameter, containing ten blocks that close in on a mile-wide desert playa, dotted with vibrant, modern art. The most progressive city I've ever lived in; its society operates on a "do absolutely anything you want, just consider your neighbours and the environment and do it to the utmost" principle. Dusty beige streets alive with bicycles and colourfully-dressed naked people. Lit at night by fire, neon, EL wire, LEDs, computer screens and gas lamps that are ceremoniously placed upon their elegant wooden posts at dusk. Disappears, leaving no trace, every year at the end of the Burning Man festival. My home in 1998, and again in 1999, and 2000, and 2001.
San Francisco's GLBT district. Hilly, eccentric and beautiful. Freshly painted two- and three-storey Victorian houses and apartments flanked by dozens of cafes, scores of restaurants and an abundance of gay bars. My home for most of 2001 (although the photo is of me there in 1995!), and one of my favourite parts of town.
Cross the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and you're in the East Bay. Oakland is the main OBD, but it likes to think that it's a metropolis of its own. Berkeley doesn't give a stuff. It's certainly different from the Peninsula, though—it's warmer for a start, and the rent is much cheaper too. It's also much harder to find food there at night. But it's still a great area, and the Oakland Hills give spectacular views of both sides of the Bay.
Inner-western suburb of Sydney. Gradual dips covered by beautifully restored 120-year-old terrace houses, with most of the inner-suburban charm left intact. Interesting and community-minded inhabitants, even if they are a little bit yuppie. The Valhalla Cinema. Glebe Markets. Harbour views. I'd love to live there some day.
Small town west of Amsterdam. Cute, mildly-yuppie shopping district by day; totally dead at night. Trenches rather than canals, but still picturesque. My home in October 2002.
Capital of Victoria and narrowly ahead of Brisbane as being Australia's second-largest city. The number of rainy days makes it known as the rainy city, even though it actually has a lower annual rainfall than many other capitals. As a child I was fascinated by its special traffic lights for trams, and because it was where the cartoon/variety television show, Hey Hey It's Saturday, was produced. As an adult I feel I have more community there than in my traditional home town, Sydney.
The coolest, perhaps only cool part of Sacramento. Approximately a dozen by a dozen blocks of Victorian fourplexes, occasionally displaced by an interesting bar, restaurant, cafe, shop or theatre. My home for most of 2000.
The Mission District
Downmarket but interesting part of San Francisco. Brightly coloured but often shabby three-storey apartment buildings on flat ground, criss-crossed by rows of restaurants and neighbourhood centres. Art. An entire neighbourhood given a bad name by one or two crack whored blocks. Heavily gentrified during the Dot Com Boom. Spanish still a second official language. One of my social centres.
Inner-western suburb of Sydney. Light hills covered by blocks and blocks and blocks of 100-year-old terrace houses, sprinkled with pubs, corner shops and small parks. Long streets of interesting shops, community centres, cafes and restaurants, but McDonald's went out of business. Global capital of diversive community, where immigrant families with small children smile and say g'day to big scary leather dykes as they cross paths. Slowly and sadly being yuppified. One of my social centres.
Straight up from downtown San Francisco. Restaurants and hotels. Parks with amazing views. Cable cars used by regular commuters during peak hour. Four-story apartment buildings line mind-bogglingly steep streets. My place of work for the majority of 2000.
The leafy, hilly part of Oakland, an "East Bay" suburb of San Francisco. Steep, narrow roads wind through either leafy old suburbia or sqeaky-clean yuppie suburbia, depending on where the 1981 bushfires passed. Magnificant views. Deer. Extravigant houses crazily built on steep slopes. No public transport. My home for the first half of 2002.
Southern neighbourhood in Amsterdam. The city's cultural melting pot. Trams connecting all parts of town. Albert Cuyp Market. Everything that Amsterdam is known for is here—canals, diamond warehouses, even a mini-red light district. My home in August and September 2002.
Small city in California's Central Valley in the United States of America. Mostly harmless. My home in early 1995, and again from mid-1998 to late 2000. I got better.
One of the largest cities in California, and one of the few truly unique cities in the United States of America. Four or five million people in the metropolitan area. Diverse neighbourhoods and mostly progressive people. Wild, rolling hills in the City, breathtaking mountain ranges in the suburbs, parks and bushland everywhere. Over half a dozen major bridges over the Bay. Widely known for its GLBT culture and earthquakes. One of my favourite cities in the world. My home from late 2000 to date.
Far southern suburbs of San Francisco, including San Jose and the Silicon Valley. Expressways, freeways, sprawl sprawl sprawl, but with some nice parks and walking trails in the mountains and by the bay. Feels a bit like LA, really, but with a lot less pollution.
South Bay suburb. Typical. Location of Dreamland Beta.
The largest city in Australia, and the capital of New South Wales. Four or five million people in the metropolitan area. Vast urban sprawl contained by national parks, mountain ranges and the Tasman Sea, but decorated with national parks and bushland. Half a dozen major bridges and tunnels go over and under rivers and the beautiful harbour. The Sydney Opera House. The 2000 Olympics. A city of glass and steel complimented by sandstone and history. Inner suburbs of terrace houses and small communities, middle and outer suburbs of red roofs, hills hoists, swimming pools and "quarter-acre" blocks. Widely known for its GLBT culture and bushfires. The other of my favourite cities in the world. My only home for most of the 20th Century, and a regular home in the 21st.
The central neighbourhood of Ryde, Australia's third settlement. Somewhere between Sydney's inner west and mid north. Major arterial roads cross rolling hills with deep red bricks and bright red terracotta, surrounded by hearty lawns. Shopping centres and community buildings. Mediterranean couples retire as South-East Asian couples move in around them. As middle as middle-class gets. My home for most of the 1970s and 1980s.