30 June 2008

The Debt Equals High Gas Prices

In a combination of two common threads on this blog, Ben Stein in an article in the NY Times says that the one sure way to reduce oil prices would be for the US to reduce the debt.

...The average private worker now earns very roughly $600 a week... gasoline might well account for close to one-tenth of his or her earnings. If the price of gas goes up 25 percent, the effect is serious...

...government can do little to make the price of oil fall in the short run, except, perhaps, for one basic thing: balance the budget. The world price of oil is denominated in dollars. The dollar is weak for many reasons, but a big one is the immense budget deficits run by our government. If President Bush and Senators John McCain and Barack Obama were to stand together in front of a camera and solemnly swear that they would balance the budget in four years, even if it required tax increases on people earning millions, the dollar would rise against the euro, and oil would fall in dollars.
Ha Ha Haaaaa! I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting on that press conference....That's as likely to happen as this water powered car I keep hearing about.

Courtyard at Vine and Liberty

At this busy intersection is a brick wall, and behind the brick wall, next to St. Francis Seraph, is this beautiful courtyard. The friars tend the garden and Brother Tim has rejuvenated the fountain, with fish:

[where: 1615 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

To the East, across Vine is the Elementary School and a residential building squeezed-in on the corner. The first floor storefront has The Canticle Cafe:
The Canticle Cafe is an informal outreach program of the Fransiscans. It is a place to cool off in the summer and warm up in the winter. They offer pastries and doughnuts, bingo, AA meetings etc..
[where: 1600 Vine and 14 East Liberty, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

Here is the auditor's map of the corner. Notice that the south side of Liberty was widened and buildings removed, and thus the lot lines are still visible on the map:

29 June 2008

Invincible Cities Photo Documentary

Camilo Jose Vegara has been taking photos of slums and gentrifying neighborhoods since 1969. He has been taking photos of some of the same places over the years and has now put many on this website.

27 June 2008

Analyst Predicts $7 Gas

In the Wall Street Journal:

...$200 oil in 2010, with gasoline at $7 a gallon.

... Saudi production promises of 200,000 barrels a day doesn’t dent the 4 million barrel-per-day decline from aging fields every year...

...Over the next four years, we are likely to witness the greatest mass exodus of vehicles off America’s highways in history...

...about half of the number of cars coming off the road in the next four years will be from low income households who have access to public transit.

...Europe has had decades to develop a society based on expensive energy. What will happen if Americans suddenly are forced to shoulder European-style energy prices — but without the European-style society to cope with them?

Civil vs Militaristic Urban Design

This rant is from an email list I am on. I have blocked a name or two to protect the innocent, but it is a continuation of a debate between some urban designers about the recent Supreme Court ruling on the right to keep guns in the house. This might me too obtuse for some readers of my blog, but I throw it out there anyway because there are some important themes:
....I ... disagree with the interpretation by the Supreme Court mostly on the grounds that it edges us further toward a personal property right vs. a civil right of the People (capital P) to bear arms for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a Militia, solely because it expands this uncivil architectural trend.

That is (for one example only), the guard rails, highway signs and type faces, turning radii, fences, scrub landscape and overpasses of the Eisenhower roadway system (and now much of our secondary road system) is far different aesthetically than, say, Britain’s. It has to do, first, with the role of arms in America, and not the turning radius of the Bentley. And this role has evolved, it has advanced, and it has, in fact, changed our built environment, whether you see it in your personal commute or not.

Why else is the national park service at liberty to have a completely different, more civil roadway designs? And the Parkway system in America, which for a time elevated automobile travel to a civil, aesthetic experience, was halted primary on the grounds that our highways must facilitate military maneuvers, as was rightly pointed out.

xxx has spent a lifetime fighting the DOT, which had become in effect, through their militaristic designs standards, an arm of the military, acting AGAINST the very second amendment rights of the People to be protected to live their life without intervention of the government.

We could look at the militaristic design of many aspects of America, and yes, WalMart is at the top of my list, and not just because they sell guns. They have physically removed civility, fulfillment, and joy from the marketplace. Also on the list would be public transportation infrastructure, public housing, post offices, airports, college campuses, and much else that the Federal government has built since WWII. These all veer toward utility with no delight.

For the record, if we are to understand it, here it is: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This confirmed the People’s right to be protected, and to form militias to protect themselves, not to collect guns. The Bill of Rights nowhere gave us STUFF. The Bill of Rights was confirming God-given rights of action and control, not that we should all have rifles, or a chicken in every pot, or health care. It is NOT a property right. As we have covered previously on this list, the People are the Government ...

If we are to design our world as if the enemy has won, well, then, he has already won. And if this is the case, the right of the People to a protective Militia - strong enough that they can freely live in a civilized, non-militaristic society - has been infringed, or at least seriously compromised. This is NOT the Platonic or Aristotelian City I understand our best thinkers to be directing us toward.
-David R

Mr. Young

In an attempt to blog more about people, and less about buildings, here is a pic of a long time neighbor. Mr Young has lived in the Washington Park area of OTR most of his life. He raised his kids in the same apartment that he still lives in today. His wife died last year. He gets out every day at least once for a walk to get a paper. The walking and the steps help keep him healthy.
There are a lot of people like the Youngs in OTR, but you won't read about them in the paper.

UPDATE: I talked with Mr. Young today to get a little more backround on him. He was in the Fifth Division, Third Army during WWII. He was in the army from 1939-45. He was overseas for 4 years. He landed at Omaha and swept across Europe and met the Russian Army in Chekoslovakia. He describes walking across a field and Russian women in black boots with weapons strapped to their chests, popped up out of the grass. They offered him vodka.

He is originally from London KY (sister still there), and worked for an Italian Vegetable vendor on the riverfront for 30 years. He started making $1.05 an hour and ended making over $30k a year at the end (for a lot of hours per week)

NY Times: End of Exurb

Interesting collection of articles about the issues surrounding commute time, gas prices and home sales decline.

26 June 2008

Kids At Washington Park Pool

Some pics of some beautiful kids at the Washington Park Pool a few years ago:

More recent pic:

These kids love this pool, which is proposed to be demolished soon. Next year, CRC wants them to switch to swimming indoors at the Rec Center Pool on Findlay Street, where there is no sunlight, no visibility, and no diving boards. Our swim team deserves better. Our families deserve better.

Murals at 14th and Race

[where: 1328 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

25 June 2008

Presidential Candidate's Views on New Urbanism

Congress for New Urbanism has a summary of presidential candidate positions on issues they consider important.

McCain's Issues page makes no mention of urban policy, transportation, transit, or energy;

Blackness Urbanity and Jazz

By happenstance, I picked up Miles Davis' autobiography last month while in the library. I ended up reading more than half of it. It was fascinating on several levels. He lived in some of the most vibrant cities of the twentieth century, playing the most dynamic music.

Racism was a relentless burden for him. He found freedom in cities. He mentions a few times, about travelling across country, and how difficult it was for example in rural Indiana, and how East St. Louis, LA, Chicago, Detroit and New York were such liberating places. But also there were present the things that would eventually ruin some of these cities. Drugs, for example. Miles had a few years, 49-51 when he was a heroin addict. As in many things, the artists were in the vanguard, as drugs like this did not take-over cities for a few decades.

He writes a lot about looking sharp, dressing right. See this photo below of some of the top jazz musicians of the 40's in front of Mintons:
Mintons was north in Manhattan, near or in Harlem, and was black owned, I believe.

Further south in Manhattan, was a happening strip on Fifty Second Street:
Lots of cars and lots of lights. He mentions that many of these nightclubs were cramped, and not built for the purpose. Interesting how creativity blossoms in such places.

Here is Bird and Miles playing on one of these cramped stages:

He also mentions the Emmit Till murder. When this murder in the rural south became news in 1953, Miles was in the midst of a major studio recording. It affected him deeply. It also spurred activism in the urban black community. Coincident white flight accelerated at this time. American cities have not been the same since.

....Bringing it full circle to today. I just read this quote:
Obama will formally accept the Democratic nomination on Aug. 28, exactly 45 years to the day after King’s speech and 55 years to the day after 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi...

Now, for the first time in many decades, we may have a president who was raised and lives in a big city, and seems to believe in cities as liberating places. ...Unfortunately he also likes "smooth jazz".

Respite Care Blog

The Center for Respit Care has a blog. I have heard that they do good work.

24 June 2008

Outer Continental Shelf Drilling Again

As a follow-up to Chabot's continued mantra of more drilling as the solution to our oil dependency, see this interesting post:

...amount of oil in the offshore zone in question is about 16 billion barrels. If we assume that it would take about ten years from the day of authorization to get to peak production and that most of the oil is pumped out over 30 years, this would translate into a bit over 1 million barrels of oil a day.

That would be equal to about 1 percent of world production in a decade. If we assume a long-run demand elasticity of 0.3, this would imply a drop in world prices of approximately 3 percent. In today's prices, we would be looking at a drop in the price of a barrel of oil from around $135 to $131. If this were passed on one to one in gas prices (this is long-run story), we might expect to see a drop in the price of a gallon of gas from around $4.00 to around $3.92 a gallon.

I guess it is similar calculus for ANWAR since Chabot claims it has 16B barrels also. Prices are not going down, unless demand is significantly reduced or the dollar gains a lot.

I'm going to try to quit posting about oil, because I think city living is good, even if oil is cheap and endless. To me, the cost of gas doesn't really figure in my personal decisions. However, maybe to some readers it does.

Herb Alpert Spanish Flea

Marzon Brass Quintet, from the rear:

Vine Kroger Organic

More examples of the Vine Street Kroger attempting to sell to a higher income demographic:

On a side note, most organic milk seems to be ultra-pasteurized (cooked at a higher temperature). The ultra-pasteruzation gives the milk a very long shelf life, but does kill all life in the milk...

23 June 2008

Beta Moms

I just heard the term Beta Mom, for the first time. Not that we spend a lot of time thinking of our parenting methods, but Alpha Mom is not our style. My son is developing in different ways than I had intended, but he seems pretty happy. His life is not a completion of mine. It is his own.
Our children are people—not projects. We get to the finish line.
It’s OK to chill out a little bit and let your kids be independent, and individuals, and revel in who they are.

—René Syler, former CBS TV news anchor and author of Good-Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting
How about you?

Woodframed Building Striptease

I'm not sure what they are doing with this building along Vine Street hill, but it is dramatic to see it naked and stripped of it's aluminum siding:

Okay Already

I think this means OUPS was called and you have an ok to dig from the: gas (yellow), electric (red), water (blue), and telephone (orange)...

Is This the 20th or 21st Century?

McCain is thinking like it is still the 20th century. He thinks the solution to high gas prices is a better car battery and subsidies for ethanol. Does his proposal attempt to solve the problem, or only the symptom? Are gas prices the problem, or is our auto-dependent sprawling pattern of development and lack of public transit the real problem? Ethanol and electric cars are only treating the symptoms, IMO.

Live Music is Life

I was reticent, but the great thing about a partnership, a married couple, is that each has their strengths and each nudges the other along, so...

Sunday evening, warm, not much going on, and wifey says lets take the kids to a bar and get drunk.. Well, no it wasn't really that, it was more along the lines of we don't have any food prepared, lets get a burrito at The Comet, and see a little Bluegrass on the side.

And we got there too late. Music starts at 7:30, and next time, I think if we have the kids, we will try to arrive before 7, so that we can get a seat, and have a bite before the music starts.

Mr. Cunningham leads a great, no pretentions band. They are focused on skill and having a great time. There were maybe half a dozen kids there last night, so I think they are welcome. The band rocked.

I could see the kids just soaking it all in, the howls and whistles from the crowd to the fast fingerwork of the mandolin and banjo players. They may have also noticed the rude bartender, the old man dozing, or the frayed jeans of the guitarist... or the smells, or the lightning in the window behind the band, or the laughing, the clapping, or the harmonies, or even the feel of the wood floor as they sat. What is life if not experiences like this? Life is not experienced through a TV screen or windshield. It must be tasted.

The Beauty of No Car

See this quote from CS Lewis.

22 June 2008

Washington Park Pool Pic


A Metropolitan Strategy for America’s Future

... we need to promote strong cities as the backbone of regional growth. And yet, Washington remains trapped in an earlier era, wedded to an outdated “urban” agenda that focuses exclusively on the problems in our cities, and ignores our growing metro areas; an agenda that confuses anti-poverty policy with a metropolitan strategy, and ends up hurting both.

...we also need to stop seeing our cities as the problem and start seeing them as the solution. Because strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America. ....I’ll appoint the first White House Director of Urban Policy to help make it a reality.

...Let’s re-commit federal dollars to strengthen mass transit and reform our tax code to give folks a reason to take the bus instead of driving to work – because investing in mass transit helps make metro areas more livable and can help our regional economies grow. And while we’re at it, we’ll partner with our mayors to invest in green energy technology and ensure that your buses and buildings are energy efficient. And we’ll also invest in our ports, roads, and high-speed rails – because I don’t want to see the fastest train in the world built halfway around the world in Shanghai, I want to see it built right here in the United States of America.

....Now is not the time for small plans. Now is the time for bold action to rebuild and renew America. We’ve done this before. Two hundred years ago, in 1808, Thomas Jefferson oversaw an infrastructure plan that envisioned the Homestead Act, the transcontinental railroads, and the Erie Canal. One hundred years later, in 1908, Teddy Roosevelt called together leaders from business and government to develop a plan for a 20th century infrastructure. Today, in 2008, it falls on us to take up this call again – to re-imagine America’s landscape and remake America’s future. That is the cause of this campaign, and that will be the cause of my presidency.

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
U.S. Conference of Mayors, Saturday, June 21, 2008, Miami, Florida

21 June 2008

Handbags and Gladrags

Been listening to this on vinyl and my wife noticed it is the theme song for The Office (British version).

They told me you missed school today
So what I suggest you just throw them all away
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old granddad had to sweat to buy

Our vinyl version is by this 1970s icon.

Hope VI and Crime Wave

Hope VI was/is a HUD program that did things like demolish housing projects in the West End. As residents were given vouchers, they moved to other neighborhoods (like Westwood). According to this article in the Atlantic, this deconcentration effort has led to a sprawling crime wave.

..they .. merged his computer map of crime patterns with (her) map of Section8 rentals. ... the match was near-perfect. On the merged map, dense violent-crime areas are shaded dark blue, and Section8 addresses are represented by little red dots. All of the dark-blue areas are covered in little red dots, like bursts of gunfire. The rest of the city has almost no dots.

Betts remembers her discomfort as she looked at the map. The couple had been musing about the connection for months, but they were amazed—and deflated—to see how perfectly the two data sets fit together. She knew right away that this would be a “hard thing to say or write.”

There is a lot more in the article, including video. If you are interested in housing programs and urban crime, this is a must read article.

20 June 2008

Music in Gazebo Sunday 1pm

Don't forget to stop and see the concert band in Washington Park Gazebo this Sunday, 1-2. The bands scheduled for the next few Sundays:

June 22nd Marzon Brass Quintet
June 29th Anderson Clarinet Ensemble
July 6th Queen City Five
July 13th East O'Bryonville Trombone Choir
July 20th 16 Mile Brass

Paglia: Sebelius as VP

...I've come to feel that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is Obama's best bet. She is a polished public presence who epitomizes that cordial, smoothly reassuring, and blandly generic WASPiness that has persistently defined the American power structure in business and government and that has weirdly resisted wave after wave of immigration since the mid-19th century. An Obama-Sebelius pairing would be visually vibrant and radiant, like a new day dawning.

Alliance for Transport Fundraiser

ALLIANCE FOR REGIONAL TRANSIT June 26th from 5:30p to 7:00p in Arnold's Courtyard, 210 East Eighth Street, Downtown Draft beer, wine and a food buffet will served Please RSVP to millvalley@aol.comPlease send your check in the amount of $30.00 to: Alliance for Regional Transit 2055 Reading Road, Suite 220/230 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 The Alliance for Regional Transit is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) Ohio corporation formed in 1999 to make the civic case for higher-level public transportation in Greater Cincinnati.

18 June 2008

Kaldis End of an Era

Just as the history of the Country can be said to go through eras, so can a neighborhood. OTR eras could be marked by it's immigrants, German, Appalachian, Black, Activists, Bohemians etc... or maybe the divisions could be original construction in the nineteenth century , to a growing population into the 20th century, then a slow but steady decline after the wars, resulting in large government plans for urban renewal in the 60's. Then there was the period when activist or grassroots social movements of the 70s and 80s dominated the neighborhood. Kaldis was the center of a phase, which was concentrated on Main Street rehab apartments, nightclubs and art galleries in the 1990's ending in the 2001 riots.

Now it happens that the next era of OTR, what I'll term, the era of Condos, is pushing Kaldis out. The building they lease is about to be renovated into condos, and the elevator must eliminate the Kaldis kitchen (what little of a kitchen they had) and thus Kaldis is looking to move, probably out of OTR. I suppose the Coffee Emporium has already replaced Kaldis as a non-bar coffehouse hang-out, a so-called third place, but I still think the neighborhood needs more places like the original Kaldis, ...a place with long hours and a casual atmosphere not dominated by alcohol.

What will fill this void?

Movies on the Square 2008

We saw Cars this past Saturday, and had a pretty good time. The beer was cold, and they had juice boxes with wine in them, but no popcorn as promised. Next time, I guess we need to bring our own popcorn.
The Square was about as crowded as it could get and still be comfortable. A Reds game had just let out before the movie started, and the weather was perfect for strolling.

Each time I go, I am suprised that the movie watching works, even with lots of people walking around and traffic noise, etc.. I was pretty skeptical about a giant TV screen, but somehow it does seem to work.. When we are on the Square ice-skating or other events, we don;t even notice it, but when we are there to watch a movie, the people there for other events don't intrude on the movie.

The remaining movies are:

June 21: Hercules; My Big, Fat, Greek, Wedding
June 28: Spy Kids; Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery
July 5: A Bug's Life; Independence Day
July 12: Robots; I, Robot
July 19: Jimmy Neutron - Boy Genius; Batman Begins
July 26: The Goonies; Pirates of the Carribean - The Curse of the Black Pearl
August 2: Aladdin; The Mummy
August 9: Mulan; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
August 16: Mary Poppins; Mrs. Doubtfire
August 23: James and the Giant Peach; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
August 30: The Little Mermaid; Splash
September 6: Rudy; The Waterboy

I think we will go again this Saturday for Hercules. If any families want to meet up, send an email to mike at citykin dot com.

No Gas Postcard and Chabot Redux

Chabot called again last night. I heard 6 people ask questions before I had to hang up. One was about illegal aliens, one was about the wasteful farm bill, and the rest were about high gas prices and the Communists drilling our oil on the outer continental shelf, from Cuba. People are in complete denial about peak oil and ever increasing gas prices, and Chabot is enabling them by saying he can lower them if only they would mail him their gas receipts. He will deliver them to Nancy Pelosi to intimidate her into allowing a vote on more drilling.

Chabot also wanted listeners to key-in their vote on "whether terrorists held in Guantanamo, captured in Afghanistan should be allowed the same right to appeal their detention as a US citizen". He was whipping up the callers, because of course who wants to be soft on a terrorist? The only problem with his line is that many of them are not terrorist!

On a related note, here is an interesting postcard from 1941 about gas shortages:

Back of card:
Says: Heard you were back in Cincy well I'm up here at Indian Lake. What a place. 15 girls to 1 man. I'm dating a blonde from Georgia. Give Jim my best. -Bob Spoerer

17 June 2008

Optimist Headlines

Don't I wish.

111 Year Old Park Plans

Pages from the 1907 Kessler Plan found here. Washington Park proposal:

Park plan at East McMicken, Back and Walnut:
The name of this park is eluding me at the moment. Both plans show pools, and although the parks never resembled these plans, they did both get swimming pools.

16 June 2008

Ross Perot is Back

...with his infamous charts, demonstrating the fiscal straights this country is in:
Notice how the debt was actually going down there during Clinton, and so modest in retrospect during Carter, and the steepest rise when the GOP had control of Congress and the Presidency...

In his Father's Day speech Sunday Obama talked a lot about responsibility and sacrifice. I like that. We shouldn't be living beyond our means. It is a sickness to expect something for nothing or to expect that some one else will pay our bills.

Boris Johnson to Re-open Rivers

This guy Boris thinks big. I hope he can make some of it reality:

Forgotten tributaries of the Thames, long buried under London’s concrete, may be raised to the surface under plans by advisers to Boris Johnson, the mayor, who want to revitalise the city with more water features and open spaces.

They believe that unearthing stretches of buried rivers and creating new parkland could help to cool the capital, which can get markedly hotter than the surrounding suburbs.

.....“When these rivers are opened up I think Londoners will be absolutely amazed. They [the rivers] have been there all the time but you never see them.”
...Adorning London with nature and new open spaces is part of Johnson’s idea to improve the capital’s quality of life to help it to remain competitive.

... “Boris’s big theme is quality of life because if London is to compete with the emerging cities of Shanghai and Mumbai, this is what is going to differentiate us. This theme of livability is going to resonate through a lot of the changes in planning and development policy.”

Ideas being floated include closing streets to traffic to create “cycle superhighways”, diverting roads and knocking down buildings to make public spaces.

.... plans for a tree-lined pedestrian promenade linking Primrose Hill in the north of the city to the Embankment via Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square. It would be modelled on Las Ramblas, a boulevard in Barcelona.

Las Ramblas is one of the best urban spaces in the world. Isn't it great that a mayor can openly dream about replicating successful places like this?

Operatic Drumming

Before each performance of Madame Butterfly they have Japanese Drumming in front of Music Hall:

Budapest Postcard 1959

On a more positive note, I found this postcard from Budapest of Móricz Zsigmond Circus in the same store as the Indianapolis postcards.

I scanned this one because it exhibited some good urbanism: Contiguous five-story buildings, shaping a positive outdoor public space, and lots of public transport:
At the time of this photo, Hungary was under Soviet control for a decade, but most of what is seen in this photo pre-dated WWII.

Back of card with hand-writing in Magyar language...Notice the stamps feature Communist Modern Buildings:

Same place today. And, look here to see the changing streetcars at this traffic circle, from 1900 to today.

14 June 2008

Indianapolis Lynching

For Juneteenth, here is a scan of a postcard I recently found of Riverside Park Pavilion in Indianapolis.

Front of Postcard, looks innocent enough:

But then you read the back and maybe feel sick to your stomach:

Since it was never mailed, there is no postmark, and I am unsure of the date or of the lynching referred to therein.

If you cannot read it, it says:
This is where they lynched a negro the other day. They don't know who done it. I guess they don't care much. I don't, do you?

Update: There are some postcards with this one from Indianapolis. They have the same handwriting and are dated 1911 to 1921. They are adressed to Mrs. George Brown, Cedar Grove, IN, and signed, - your son John

Modern Architects Ruin Cities

An article about Leon Krier in the City Journal:

Krier (says): “Humanity lives by trial and error, sometimes committing errors of a monumental scale. Architectural and urbanist modernism belong—like communism—to a class of errors from which there is little or nothing to learn or gain. . . . Modernism’s fundamental error, however, is to propose itself as a universal (i.e., unavoidable and necessary) phenomenon, legitimately replacing and excluding traditional solutions.”
You must, Krier says, “build in such a way that you and those dear to you will use your buildings, look at them, work in them, spend their holidays in them, and grow old in them with pleasure.” Krier suggests that modernists themselves follow this dictum—in private. Modernist vandals like Richard Rogers and Norman Foster—between them, responsible for some of the worst acts of destruction in our European cities—live in elegant old houses in charming locations, where artisanal styles, traditional materials, and humane scales dictate the architectural ambience.
such (modern) buildings use no architectural vocabulary, so that one cannot “read” them as one does classical buildings. The passerby experiences this as a kind of rudeness. Modernist buildings exclude dialogue, and the void that they create around themselves is not a public space but a desertification.

...Krier’s “ten-minute rule,” meaning that it should be possible for any resident to walk within ten minutes to the places that are the real reason for his living among strangers. The rule is not as demanding as Americans might think: Paris, Rome, Florence, Madrid, London, and Edinburgh all conform to it, as would the American suburbs if they grew as Krier suggests—as separate centers in a “polypolis,” so that people could work, shop, relax, and worship in places close to home. Good urban planning does not mean creating distance between people in the manner of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ocean-to-ocean suburbs, but bringing people together in ways that enhance their enjoyment of the place where they communally are.
... “By creating cities, we create ourselves. When we despoil our cities, we despoil ourselves. Our most cherished memories will henceforth generate the poison of regret, of irretrievable loss, even of hatred of what we prized most. We then flee from the world and from ourselves. A beautiful village, a beautiful house, a beautiful city can become a home for all, a universal home. But if we lose this aim we build our own exile here on earth.”

13 June 2008

Chabot Telephone Town Hall

Does everyone else in this Westside district get these weekly (or even several times a week) calls from Steve Chabot? Are these things really effective? Every time I've listened in, I mostly hear older people complaining about either prescription drug costs or gasoline costs.

One caller says: "Hi, my name is Debbie D___. I'm frightened by this Nacy Pelotski or whatever her name is. She has her head stuck in the sand. She ain't paying attention to the issues." Chabot was graceful and tried to get her to be specific, but all she could say was gas was too expensive. Chabot said send him letters so he can pile them on Pelosi's desk, and demand a vote on drilling in ANWAR.

He talked a lot about the need to drill in ANWAR and how this would wean us from Middle East Oil. Then he goes on to say that ANWAR has 16 billion barrels of oil. Well, as I was sitting an listening, I googled and found out that the US in 2000 consumed 6.6 billion barrels of oil! So ANWAR has reserves for 2.3 years worth of US consumption? Is that what all this fight is about? How does 2 years worth of oil wean us from Middle East oil? Am I missing something?

He also said that Cuba is conspiring to drill our oil on the Outer Continental Shelf. I hadn't heard this before, but somehow I think there is more to this story than he implied. Update: here is a link to a NY Times Story on the issue.

He repeated several times how bad the illegal immigration problem is, which is understandable, because this is a big issue with his constituency, as demonstrated by the callers. He said that "illegal immigrants get benefits meant for citizens, without paying for them." I don't think this is true, because they pay property taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and they won't even get Social Security, but they pay into it.

Then he complained about phone messages that say "for English press 1 for Spanish press 2". Now that was lame.

I stayed on the phone for maybe 45 minutes, which is longer than ever before, and I also for the first time, requested to ask a question, but the time ran out. Maybe next week.

I would really like to know how many people listen, and for how long. The calls seem to be a successful campaign tool.

UPDATE 6/17/08: McCain Makes Statements on Drilling:

McCain: "We have proven oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels (on the continental shelf) ...But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. And I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use,"
McCain said environmental controls were strong enough to permit safe offshore exploration, although the Republican governors of Florida and California -- both McCain supporters -- dispute this.

But at the same time, McCain opposes drilling in "pristine" areas such as Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, putting him at odds with many in his party.

David Macaulay at the Library

David Macaulay, author of "Castle", "Pyramid" Cathedral, etc, will be at the library tomorrow at 2pm.

I wish I could go, because I love his books, but I have other plans tomorrow.

Jimmy Swaggart Album

Would you buy a record from this guy?
Circa 1977

12 June 2008

Google Streetview Active in Cincy

via morristsai Looks to me that the photos are about a year old.

Washington Park Summer Series

Queen City Concert Band leader, Jeff Evans has organized a series of six performances this summer in Washington Park Gazebo. They start this Sunday:

June 15th Queen City Concert Band
June 22nd Marzon Brass Quintet
June 29th Anderson Clarinet Ensemble
July 6th Queen City Five
July 13th East O'Bryonville Trombone Choir
July 20th 16 Mile Brass

Music starts at 1pm each Sunday. Bring lawn chairs.

Jeff wants to get concert bands out in the parks for more events like this. And no better place than the Bandstand in Washington Park. I hope to attend many of these.

Designated Play Streets

We had similar a similar issue in Cincinnati last year when the City Manager proposed banning ball-play on City Streets. Today, the news is about one specific street near Cleveland, that residents want to designate as a 'play street".

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- A group of Strongsville ...parents want to post signs warning cars that children are playing nearby and they want to make it legal for their children to play in the street.

... Neighbors began to question the safety of a cul-de-sac as a playground.

Parents want to make the cul-de-sac a designated play street. While that is allowed in Strongsville, it is not allowed in the state of Ohio...

Morning Disruption


Just spent several hours getting my 18 year old car towed and am currently making funeral arrangements (for the car). Blogger allows you to schedule posts ahead of time and one accidentally went up for an hour or two this morning while I was waiting for the tow truck. Please ignore that previous post, as it was not ready for prime time.

Fort Washington Model

At the Natural History Museum, they have these models of early Ohio settlements. Fort Washington, the first European settlement in Cincinnati:

Nearby is a Fort Ancient era settlement model. Similar:

11 June 2008

Driven to the Brink

How the Gas Price Spike Popped the Housing Bubble and Devalued the Suburbs.

Read the PDF here. By Joe Cortright, CEOs for Cities.

Interesting Streetcar Facts

Some interesting facts learned yesterday at the Streetcar Forum sent by friends at Protransit:

* Portland's total electric bill for its four-mile, double-tracked streetcar line is around $150,000 per year -- about as much as power as 50 to 100 houses with a total population of, say, 200 to 300 people might use in one year. But that $150,000 worth of electricity moves 3,600,000 people per year on the Portland Streetcar. Kind of puts it in perspective.

* Nine percent of the passengers on the Portland Streetcar have nontraditional mobility. They are in a wheelchair, on a motorized scooter, pushing a stroller, pulling a shopping cart or luggage, or they have a bicycle.

* Before Tacoma opened its streetcar in 2003, a diesel bus served the very same route. The annual ridership on the bus route was 178,000 passengers. The ridership on the Tacoma Link streetcar traveling the same route today: 800,000 passengers.

There will be a fundraiser for Protransit June 26th, 5:30 at Arnolds, 210 E. Eighth Street. More info on this later.

10 June 2008

Ken Griffey Jr Church Sign


More on Jim Webb

Article on Jim Webb in the New Republic ends with this:
Webb is supposed to be Obama's opposite: the angry white politician to Obama's mild-mannered black one. But, oddly, Webb has something fundamental in common with Obama. Both men felt ill at ease at elite schools, leading them to embark on quests to rediscover their ethnic identities in their twenties. Both deepened these discoveries through writing. And both came to their identities as outsiders--as admiring anthropologists of the identity rather than people for whom the identity was organic from birth. This explains why Webb can celebrate anger without succumbing to it. It also helps explain his appeal to Democrats. Like Obama, he is not simply a member of a group historically important to the party; he is someone who embodies that group, someone who has turned that group's narrative into his own. Webb--who, in our interview, defended Obama against charges of cultural elitism made by people "trying to cut Barack down"--has shown appreciation for the similarity between their projects. "If [the Scots-Irish] could get at the same table as black America, you could change populist American politics," he told Joe Scarborough last month, "because they have so much in common in terms of what they need out of government."

Thanks to their analogous symbolic roles, Webb and Obama have one more politically important and bizarre similarity: They appeal to the same voters, wine-track Democrats who come out in unprecedented droves to vote for a black man or a hillbilly white because they want their party to be bigger than themselves. While you'd expect Webb to attract poor, rural beer-trackers, in his 2006 Senate race he didn't do any better than the previous Democratic candidate had among Appalachian voters in southwestern Virginia; instead, he was propelled to victory by Northern Virginia suburbanites--Obama's base.

In the end, if Obama picks Webb to be his running mate, it will probably be more on the basis of their affinity than on Webb's power to win white votes--or Webb's capacity to balance Obama's laid-back vibe with some pugnaciousness. It will be a unity-loving, proud-to-be-black man acknowledging just how much he has in common with an anger-loving, proud-to-be-white one.

Ezra Klein says the fascination for Webb is a kind of Liberal self hate, but that he really offers more than that.

Jim Webb's OP Ed in the Wall Street Journal in 2006 about class warfare.

Update: New article saying that Webb's sympathy for the Confederacy is a problem.

Moderne Flag Poles

These aren't the best photos, but I just noticed that there are these two flag poles in front of the Museum Center/Union Terminal, and that they are kinda cool:

east, west

north south