Saturday, April 22, 2017

From Pixels to Celluloid to Pavement – Erich

People often ask us where we are from. Naturally, we respond that we are from the United States. But in many English speaking countries, the citizens are already well aware of that. The moment we open our mouths, it is obvious. (It's not actually the opening of mouths, but the utterance of words that clues them in. I don't think they can tell from our dental work.)

So in those places, they say something like, "Yes, I knew that. Which state?" Well, that's a bit of a quandary. We tend to answer something like "Most recently Pennsylvania." You see, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is where we last had a "permanent home" as opposed to a "permanent address." But we sold that it-would-appear-less-than-permanent home. Now we have an address, namely that of my parents, but that isn't exactly where we are from.

Remember on tests when you had to read a paragraph and then answer questions? Sometimes they would say give the BEST answer, meaning none of the answers were quite dead on, but you had to deal with nuance. So while I might make the argument that I am a citizen of the world, I suppose the BEST answer to "Where are you from?" is Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In Lancaster, you find public works named for people who lived in Lancaster and did great things or in some other way achieved acclaim. There are, in fact, a street, a park, and a middle school named for James Buchanan. He lived in Lancaster and earned his fame by becoming the worst U.S. President in history. (In today's rather partisan society, I'm sure I could find plenty of Americans who would argue that Buchanan has been surpassed in his ranking by either Barack Obama or Donald Trump, depending on which side of the aisle those American find themselves.) Still, Buchanan was President, and he therefore gets things named for him.

Lancaster isn't unique in this regard. I'm sure most cities name their roads, parks, and buildings for the famous who once had humbler beginnings in that city. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that I find the same thing here in Derby, England.

What is interesting is that said famous person need not have ever existed. He, or in this case she, can be fictional.
Yes, here in Derby there is a street called Lara Croft Way. I didn't take a picture of the street itself, because it wouldn't look particularly distinct from any other street you can imagine. Now Lara Croft, of course, is the main character in the Tomb Raider video games. And later she became a character in a movie. And now she is immortalized in the name of a road in Derby.

But she is from here. I supposed one can't say she was born here, not in the traditional sense. But she was "born" here in the more virtual sense. Lara Croft was developed by a gaming company, Core Design, based in Derby.

When a new ring road around the city center was being built, the citizens of Derby were asked to vote on potential names for it. And the winner was Lara Croft Way.

I love that the city has a street named for its most famous video game character. But that's not the only great name in Derby. Check out this one, located right next to the Derby Cathedral.
It's sort of like a cheat sheet about what you are supposed to say after you enter the Cathedral.

There are many other great names too. There is Queensway and there is Kingsway. (They meet, though sadly there is no Princesway or Princessesway that issues from their junction. I guess they didn't have heirs.) There is a shopping street called The Strand, because can you really be a great English city without a "The Strand?" I suspect not.

And perhaps my favorite of all is the street with a name so matter-of-fact, it's almost poetic.
I guess that's my cue to exit this post. But you can probably guess where I'm heading. No, it's not Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That's where I was.

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