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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

One of the last things I anticipated when we moved from Brooklyn to Buffalo was the lack of urban anonymity that characterizes life in the Queen City of the Lakes. In our last Brooklyn apartment, where we lived for nearly a year, I saw our downstairs neighbor exactly once, from the back. I liked it that way, and I am sure he did too. It was a walk-up, but we'd have pretended that we didn't see each other if there'd been an elevator, too. It has been 17 years, but I'm still a little surprised at the degree of interaction that folks at this end of the state reckon is appropriate. I've come to appreciate it, I guess-- it is mostly friendly, and well-intentioned. Maybe it is a little pathological to buy a newspaper from the same person every day for years and not know his name, but there are still moments when I'm taken aback by friendly and well-intentioned. I've managed to reach the point where I say "good morning", or waive when we drive by a neighbor. I'm a friendly guy, but getting a phone call about the color we are painting our house still comes as something of a surprise. Dylan, of course, retreated to Big Pink after his motorcycle accident. In "Chronicles" Dylan describes how he moved to Woodstock because he was seeking privacy-- I guess that's too much to expect when you live in a pink house. The funny thing is that the color isn't really the issue-- when we painted the last time we went with a slightly lighter version of the staid blue the house had been when we moved in, and what we heard was, "Are you really going to go with that?". It's not the color, it's the need to comment, and although I suppose the comments are made in a kindly spirit, you know what? We like the color, we think it'll look cheerful, and it is solidly in the tradition of old Victorians like ours. I actually would have liked something a little closer to Big Pink, but A. dialed it back a little. When it's done, I'll post a picture. I can't wait to see it in the snow.

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