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Living in less-than-fashionable neighborhoods in California and Arizona

If you want to start an argument, just try to describe any neighborhood that isn't expensive, or even middle class. OK, you start, I'll wait. Yes, I suppose "affordable" is as good a term as any. I lived in those types of neighborhoods, both in Arizona and in California, through my twenties. It was a choice I made, driven mostly by my anti-social refusal to share an apartment, or a house, and that I didn't have enough money for anything more, mostly because a big chunk of my income I used just to keep my car alive. And I like to describe these neighborhoods as "less-than-fashionable", a term I like that I learned from "A Funny Thing Happened to Me On The Way To the Forum". The main character introduces his neighborhood, with a wry smile, as "less-than-fashionable". I knew what he meant. There were some shady characters around, including a house of ill repute, in his neighborhood.

To me, the first neighborhood I where I lived in Phoenix was just affordable. I don't recall being nervous there, although there were definitely some dangerous things going on around there. No one said anything critical of my choice of neighborhoods until I moved to a particularly "less-than-fashionable" one in Tempe, and a friend of my absolutely gasped, wondering what in the world I was doing there. It was affordable, what can I say?

In California, the less-than-fashionable neighborhoods where I lived gave me an insight into places that I know a lot of "middle class" people have never seen. And yeah, it was kinda rough. But it was what I could afford. To give you some idea how "less-than-fashionable" one particular neighborhood was, nowadays the west part of the neighborhood has an entirely different name. If you look at a map of the San Fernando Valley, look at West Hills - it was just part of Canoga Park when I lived there.

The extremes of wealth and poverty that I saw in Los Angeles is part of what drove me out of there, and back to Phoenix. Many of my California friends consider all of Arizona to be "affordable", if you know what I mean. It's a snooty attitude, but I let it ride.

Image at the top of this post: At a "less-than-fashionable" neighborhood in Tempe, Arizona in the 1980s, on Wildermuth Street.

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