Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Let's Start a Fire

You may have noticed that the URL for this blog is 'books to burn.' When I created this blog, I wasn't sure what that meant. I just liked the way it rolled off the tongue. I liked how it was a little controversial. But I liked how it didn't mean anything and still carried a lot of imagery.

You see, fire is a powerful thing. It was something that separated us from the rest of the animals on this planet. It provides warmth and security, yet it still carries a destructive, terrifying power. What else can both comfort and destroy?

It also makes me think of two of my favorite cities: Chicago and New York. While there are a lot of ways in which the two cities are different, but there's one way in which they will always be separated in my mind.

For those of you who have been there, what happens in New York City on garbage day? All the garbage is piled up on the curbs as New York has no alleyways. One garbage day, you have to wade through trash to get to where you're going. For such an amazing, exciting city, it stinks--literally--to have to walk through garbage.

You know what happens in Chicago on garbage day? All the trash is behind the buildings and out of sight. The public doesn't have to see it nor do they have to walk through it.

Do you know why Chicago is able to put its trash in the alleys behind the buildings?

Because in 1871 Chicago burned to the ground and they were able to rebuild the city with a better plan so that people didn't have to walk through garbage.

There are days when I'd like to start a fire to burn everything to the ground so we could start over with a new plan and not have to walk through garbage any more.

I'm just saying.