BEFORE WE BEGIN: Zip over to 25ToFly – if you weren’t planning to already – and check out one the most talented, honest, real bloggers to ever don a pair of mens’ long johns. Oh, and today’s offering is a guest post by a certain Niagara Falls resident…
Speaking of my hometown…
1. If I ever develop difficulty urinating, the greatest source of inspiration is only a few minutes away… Trust me on this: 50% of everyone reading this will have to visit the bathroom soon, guaranteed.
2. A stranger’s eyes will light up when I tell them where I live. It’s true, people love this city. For some, it inspires images of tacky tourist traps and rundown “Mom and Pop” restaurants, while others recall a treasured childhood memory of a family trip many years ago. Either way, mention Niagara Falls to someone and they’ll smile. I love that.
3. My geographic location rocks. My base of operations is an hour-and-a-half away from Toronto, forty-five minutes from Hamilton and less than an hour from Buffalo. We’re close enough to the action to make the trip worthwhile and far enough away to avoid the hustle and bustle of the “Big City” – and all its negative aspects. Like crime and rancid street meat. By street meat, I mean sidewalk vendors selling edible wares of questionable quality, of course, not young ladies standing on corners shouting “Hey, honey, you want a date?” to unsuspecting tourists. And yes, I said “hustle and bustle”. Live with it.
4. This city has begun to come into its own. We’re attracting Grade-A talent and events these days.Red Bull Crashed Ice. Nelly Furtado. Skywalker Jay Cochrane (I refuse to mention that other guy who gets enough press on his own, thank you.) And it occurs to me that referring to Cochrane as a Skywalker rather than a sky walker, may earn me the wrath of Disney. To which I say bring it on, Mouseketeers…
5. I met my wife here. What else do I have to say?
6. We have our own Comic Con. Finally! The Soup Nazi. Flash Gordon. You can’t beat fandom, in all its pop culture glory. Comic book conventions attract more than the usual suspects (although you’ll still be able to spot those souls who are having trouble adjusting to the harsh light of day beyond their parents’ basement) and now my hometown has entered the big leagues. Good work, Paul Tappay and Christopher Dabrowski….
7. Both the famous – and infamous – visit this city on a regular basis. Self-proclaimed bad girl pop singer Pink. Sly Stallone. Al Pacino. O.J. Simpson. We get the best and worst pop culture has to offer. I wake up every day knowing that this may be the day I come to work and see Gene Simmons’ tour bus on the valet deck or maybe I’ll walk by Pink as she struts down the hall in all her rock star glory. And I have.
8. There is never a dull moment living here. Ever. Even the quiet days hold the promise of encounters with:
- Hookers who prefer to be called “escorts specializing in the girlfriend experience”.
- Rugrats hopped up on sugar and Red Bull who literally bounce off walls.
- Out of control hockey dads who reek of beer and unrealized ambition.
- Hordes of cougars hopped up on Fifty Shades of Grey.
9. You can breathe the air and green grass is plentiful. I love big cities, but industrial cores wreak havoc with ecosystems. And an overabundance of housing developments mean you have as much chance of spotting lush green fields as you do of spotting Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at parenting classes… You can take a deep breath in my hometown without having to suppress the urge to vomit and we have a governing body that protects our green spaces with a military-like fervor.
10. Could I be The Hook anywhere else? Niagara Falls has provided me with love, a family, kick-ass friends – real and virtual – and above all, living here has allowed me to cut loose creatively.
I can’t comment on other cities, but this one plays host to some of the most fascinating individuals to ever lay their dysfunctional heads on over-priced hotel pillows. We get them all: the gamblers, the forbidden lovers, the corporate moguls and drones. Hockey families and Cheer clans gather here and spread their unique energies across our lands. We’re on the bucket list of those who find their time on this earth cut short by mortal frailties.
I’ve met them all and I could spend every waking moment of whatever remains of my life documenting these encounters and still never scratch the surface. When my parents’ marriage crumbled in 1982 and my mother packed us up and moved us out here, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a quiet, withdrawn kid whose world had been reduced to ash, and all I wanted to do was bury my nose in comic books and forget the outside world ever existed.
But this place drew me out of my shell. I got on my bike early one morning and I didn’t return until supper – if you were a parent, you could allow your kids to do that in those days and be assured they’d actually return. And in the hours in-between?
I rode to one end of the city and back. I journeyed to one of God’s most magnificent creations, Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was an explorer. A hero. I was anything I wanted to be.
I knew I was finally home.
- A Photo Essay: Niagara (wanderthemap.com)
- Red Bull ice event big draw in Niagara Falls, Ont. (bizjournals.com)
Niagara Falls here I come! One day. Oops, just peed my pants typing that.
Your comments always make me smile! Freak.
Hook…thanks for the viewing and comment love on my blog. I will follow you on Twitter when I can. (I am at a “Follow Limit” right now) My Twitter handle is @RealDumbasNews. I’ll also add you to my main blogroll.
Thank you, my new friend!
I look forward to scanning your work more closely soon.
I’ve been to a few places in my life, but Niagara Falls remains my favorite place ever. I only stayed on the American side once. I’ll visit the attractions this side, but the Niagara Falls experience is best in Canada. Most of my trips have been in the spring to coincide with the tulips. My one fall trip was glorious. Sigh. I love Niagara Falls. ♥
I was so engrossed in remembering all the wonderful experiences, I forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed reading how moving there changed your life, and then you stayed. 🙂
Now I really have to visit. Tulips you say??! Oh, and of course the Falls, why else, and Hook.
Jennifer, the tulips at the Falls are plentiful in the spring, but they are spectacular at the Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture, which is just north of the Whirlpool. There is a Butterfly Conservatory as well. You really must go; it’s all quite an experience.
I just knew there was a reason to visit other than the vast quantities of falling water. Now I know, and it is definitely on the to do list. Of course a visit to Hook will be up there…
The last line says it all. Awesome post. 🙂
Ad yes I had to pee, I just woke up…
You’re never boring, Jennifer!
I spent a good few days in Niagara Falls several years ago, and loved every minute of it! Fabulous place!
It certainly can be!
One day I will visit Niagara Falls and mark it off of my bucket list 🙂
We’ll be lucky to have you…
It is so wonderful to hear of people who love where they live instead of them wishing to be elsewhere…
What can I say? This is home.
Been there twice already. Important stepmarks 🙂
Thanks for sharing your passion, Robert!
Thanks for sharing your praise!
Niagara Falls is definitely on the list of locations on MzSusanB’s “Just Visiting This Planet” world photojournalism tour–date yet to be set. We probably won’t stay at your work, though, we’re more the Super-8 type.
Understood. Have fun!
Please adopt me and shower me with Becca-type praises…I’ll buy your book twice
The family – except yours truly – is in the midst of the worse bout of flu we’ve ever seen, but I’ll share my love for you soon. Promise!
We were all puking the friday before Xmas thru the wed after Xmas! I hope they all get better soon.
And I just bought your book – but not to get praise – just to read 🙂
I love you too – in a platonic way, of course!
It shipped yesterday…. I’ll have to send it to you for signing 🙂
And of course…
Cool essay! You should send a copy to newspaper/local magazine – or that radio station?
(and hey – all that roaring water: it’s soooo loud! How much fun is that!)
I imagine it will run on my Bullet News Niagara column soon…
And yes, the roar of the Falls is pretty cool!
This post is my all time favourite. I think it should be the opening page of your next adventure into publishing….!
Not a bad idea…
This is a a love poem story dedicated to your Niagara. How nice. And excuse me. I need to use the bathroom.
I’ll wait for you!
Number 1 made me piss on my phone. Why would you implant subliminal messages such as that in your blog?
Um, cause it’s rude?
Nice and sweet !
You should send this link to your Chamber of Commerce!
Great idea, Susie! Thanks!
I love this post. Makes me want to go back for another visit to Niagara!
I’ll be here!
We just drive through Buffalo every year, see the sign that says “Niagara Falls” and then comment about how we maybe should stop sometime. Hey, maybe we will after that inspired post.
I’ll be waiting…
I’ve never been to Niagara Falls but I can relate to the thing about people’s eyes lighting up when you tell them where you live – I had that when I lived in Las Vegas for a few years, well I still get it when I tell people that I USED to live in Las Vegas, and not just the folks back here in the UK, people in the States do the same thing too. I think it’s all to do with living somewhere that people think of as a vacation destination rather than a place to live.
I think you’re right.
I love this! It’s so great that you appreciate where you live so much! When I told my mom I wanted your book for Christmas she told me that Niagra Falls during the winter was one of the most beautiful places she’d ever seen. With a smile on her face. You’re so right about that. 🙂
Of course! Thanks for being such a great friend and fan.
*sound of flush*
You so make me want to visit Niagra Falls again. It sounds beautiful the way you talk about it. I’ve been once, but I was too young to remember it.
Time for a return visit, I’d say! We have plenty of big trees for you to hug!
>I knew I was finally home.
– The grass may be greener across the fence, but if we doff the monocle of unnecessary envy, we’ll see the flowers are far more fragrant in our own backyard.
As I read through your list, the following post from another blog I’ve RSSed popped into my head.
‘Why Comparing is Stupid, and How to Stop’
You will never have to worry about the above (i.e. comparing unnecessarily) because you are too busy appreciating the goodness that’s piled high on your own plate.
Great stuff, Hook!
Dankie*, Tom! [Yeah, I’m showing off the Afrikaans I DON’T know. 🙂 ] Many, many years ago, I used to be similarly blinded (and blindsided) sometimes.
*Thank you, Google!
Once again, you’ve made my day, Kate!
When I was there I didn’t get a chance to spend much time there. Now I want to go back. Enjoy it for me Hook.
I’ll do my best!
I would leave a comment but I have to PEE!!!
Well comment when you get back then!
It’s so interesting to me that you reminded me of a bellman from Niagara Falls long before I had any idea where you were from.
My wife and I had this epic bellman who kept me from running out and jumping over the falls.
It was a bad trip. A hell of a bad trip, where everything had gone ass-wrong. Anyway, it wouldn’t make any sense, but he was the only thing about the whole trip that was cool.
I seriously doubt that you’re really him… he was originally from the South, and he worked at a hotel on the Stateside.
He was, like I’m sure you are, quite, polite, confidently helpful and funny. And he didn’t seem to be disheartened or unprofessional about my pitiful, little, miserly tip. Jesus.
Anyway, keep up the good work Hook. Sometimes it’s the small things you do for the people you forget that can turn a person’s trip around.
Well said! Great input!
Niagara Falls, ON is a beautiful place. I went to university in Niagara Falls, US, which is a hole in comparison, but Canada has done it right. You are certainly right to be proud of your city. I haven’t been back in a while but when I do come back for a reunion, I plan to visit Niagara Falls, ON.
We’ll be happy to have you grace our fair city.
Great post Hook. I do miss the view from the 9th.
I hear you!
I visited Niagara Falls when i was about 12. It was really cool, but I’d like to visit again as an adult so I can appreciate it more. I loved the Maid of the Mist ride and everything, but I’d like to be able to see more.
We’re ready when you are!
It’s nice to find a person with such passion for his town. I think that’s far too rare.
#5 was sweet! and #9..yes how can anyone not love nature!? there is so little left of it.
Nice piece, visited Niagara Falls twice, have family in Toronto and London. Love the place!
You have exquisite taste, my friend!
Love the old Niagra Falls. I grew up in New York, Long Island area and we got to go there once. I tried to get in a barrel and go over the falls, but my parents wouldn’t let me. 😦