Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Tale of Three Camdens

I always liked Camden Town in London even if it made me feel old and terribly untrendy. Camden is grungy and edgy and full of street markets with New Age clothes and girls with dreadlocks and nose rings. The pubs are raw and ready and one strep away from spit and saw dust.



There are the catacombs which are not catacombs but grimy old railroad arches that host a dazzling array of the weird and wonderful accessed on the rickety Northern underground line. There are the railroad lines and the canals and the skeletons of heavy industry that has been refashioned as arts venues in cases such as the Roundhouse - a former railroad turntable converted into a theater. I visited it once to interview the director longer ago than I care to imagine. When the same sex marriage ban was overturned in England, Camden raced to be the first place to hold a ceremony.

Camden made me think of fuzzy nights out; the mingling of smells, beer on the pavement and the remote hope of bumping into Damon from Blur.

When I found myself in rural North Carolina reporting on the trivial doings of Camden County, I rued the comments of my friends who made the London comparison. Camden was and still is a backwater. Its politicians looked at me as if I had fallen from Mars and some of them made a policy not to speak. My backside bears the scars of long nights on the hard benches of the court house, listening to their deliberations about landfill applications.



Although I have left it behind I am still haunted by the lonely swamps of Camden and find myself driving on its empty roads.

Then there is another Camden where I might think twice about setting foot in. Survey after survey highlights Camden, New Jersey as the most dangerous city in America.

"The first thing you notice about Camden, New Jersey, is that pretty much everyone you talk to has just gotten his or her ass kicked," reported Rolling Stone.



Camden is Detroit without the saving factor of tall buildings to avert the eye. It's drugs and gun shots and unemployment and racial tensions.

"It's an un-Fantasy Island of extreme poverty and violence where the police just a few years ago essentially surrendered a city of 77,000," the magazine reported.

Suddenly those quiet swamps don't seem quite as depressing.

BTW - good luck to all of you who are doing the A-Z blogging challenge. Thanks for the mention Jean about how my piece about not being bothered to do the A-Z Challenge, inspired to do it and good luck to Juliette for doing it on err umm doors. Also good luck to my old pal Mark who has taken the plunge from his Greek Island...


13 comments:

  1. Every now and then Russell has to make a delivery in Camden and I dread it. He knows not to leave his truck under any circumstances and gets out as fast as he can. A couple times he was texting me descriptions of all the hookers walking by, hoping to god none of them knocked on his door.

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    1. never good being knocked up by a hooker JoJo - sounds like a scary place.

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  2. Is it the choice of the name? I began a company - too many years ago to count, and called it RMS, Inc. - when I told a friend that the name had once been used by another company that went out of business - he said don't use it - it's cursed. He might have been right - my company Resource Management Services, Inc. was over before it began. Although, I blame other factors, maybe it's all in the name?

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    1. na Yolanda - sure it was just the name :)

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  3. Camden, Maine is pretty nice...

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    1. oh for real - sounds worth checking out

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  4. I bloody love Camden town, it's my favourite place ever. I think I might go soon now you've made me think of it and have some noodles whilst sat on a parked scooter! Want me to get you a t shirt?

    Thanks for the good luck! It's your fault I ever did this in the first place :)

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    1. tis really Juliette - will have to check to see how you are doing. Yes will hold you to the T shirt.

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  5. This kinda makes me want to visit the English one :)

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    1. Thanks for visiting Lena - it's a cool place.

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  6. Gotta give creative credit where it's due. ;) I've never been to any Camden so thanks for the tour of the available options.

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    1. yes Jean always glad to be a tour guide :)

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