Friday, November 04, 2005

i had 506 miles to think about this

I just returned from a work trip to Fresno, the point of which was to seek out creative writers in California’s Central Valley. There are many, but let me tell you, they’re not naming the streets of their cities.

In addition to the usual letters and numbers (which is practical if not exciting), Fresno has streets named Tulare, Mariposa, Merced and Stanislaus. If you spend a large portion of your work life staring at a map of California, you know that these are names of California counties. I’m cool with that. Themes are nice. There was also an Olive, and I think local flora is nice too.

But in taking a less direct route home (so I could meet my fourth grade teacher in Porterville, a reunion that fell somewhere between nerve-wracking and heartwarming), I discovered that the towns of Tulare and Visalia and Porterville also have streets named Tulare, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus and Olive.

Well, I’m pretty sure that they do. Because of the repetition I started to feel a little insane, and now I can’t remember whether I drove down Merced Street in Tulare or Tulare Avenue in Merced. I know for sure that I took Tulare in Fresno to a highway that turned into Tulare in Tulare.

As I was mentally chastising the Valley for its laziness, I realized that LA has an Olive and a Mariposa. Are these names just that good? Is this a case of Larry, Darryl and Darryl? (That’s a Newhart reference for you youngsters.) I’m curious whether other regions have similar name-repetition issues. Or, if these street/county names are really so fabulous, whether, say, Atlanta is full Merceds and Mariposas too.

One other road trip note: Buy Fiona Apple’s new album, Extraordinary Machine. It’s, well, extraordinary.

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