Thursday, April 17, 2014

SCOOP: The Freedom to Screech pavilion during Thunder.


"Hi, I'm a friend and supporter of Freedom Of Speech -- can you direct me to their reserved seats?"

"Of course, madam ... right this way."



ON THE AVENUES: Breakfast is better with kippers.

ON THE AVENUES: Breakfast is better with kippers.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Scoff if you wish, but I like to eat fish for breakfast.

Among the rotating selections from the cupboard at dawn’s early light are pungent smoked kippers and crackers; piquant pickled herring on buttered rye bread; and on special occasions, lox with the requisite bagel, cream cheese and just a light sprinkling of capers. On special occasions, just for garnish, there’ll be a garlic-stuffed olive.

Yes, there are repercussions to such preferences. From nowhere, impatient cats find me as I’m walking down alleyways, and they make an eager, impromptu parade. Some mornings I get in a hurry, forget to brush my teeth, and inadvertently breathe on a prim, proper, crisply suited banker – and he wilts, as though beaned on the noggin by a stray aesthetic revelation.

If it doesn’t render the banker entirely unconscious, I’ll breathe on him a second time. That usually does it.

It’s clear: I like deceased marine life in the morning. Captain Crunch isn’t even close. Pop Tarts need not apply. Eggs will do, when pickled. Breakfast fish is real food for real people.

Obviously, these dining strategies are best complemented by stiff, aromatic black coffee, such as that produced through the saving grace of our home Saeco espresso maker. As side orders, just for balance amid the oil, vinegar and brine, properly bitter orange marmalade on toast and the occasional serving of Greek-style yogurt with fruit work quite well. Indeed, pungency settles the humors.

Until the pallid likes of Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel grasp the eternal wisdom of gustatory treats like these, it’s hard for me to take them seriously as contenders for my early morning dollars. May these franchised monuments to white bread, Velveeta and decaf never, ever besmirch the shining shores of Scandinavia, where so many years ago I learned to eat breakfast right.

http://www.splendidtable.org/story/you-cook-with-capers-but-do-you-know-what-they-really-are

---

It was in Oslo, Norway, that I experienced pickled herring for the very first time, almost 30 years ago. Thanks to a tremendous, short-lived exchange rate in 1985, Scandinavia briefly became almost affordable, and when I stepped off the overnight train from Copenhagen to explore Oslo’s main station in search of a bite to eat, a handy restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet actually was reasonably priced.

For the budget traveler, buffets meant two or maybe even three meals, not just one. A clean freezer bag could be stuffed full of meat and cheese when no one was looking. I went for it, and during the course of gorging on the goodies, noticed three ceramic pots positioned behind the rest of the food.

My guess was jam, and with curiosity aroused, I removed the lid and reached for the spoon … which was a fork. It didn’t smell anything like fruit, and the funky aroma tickled my proboscis. I hadn’t ever eaten pickled herring, not once, but I knew what it was when the filet was impaled on the fork. It was love at first chew.

Later that week in Bergen, Norway, I treated myself to a culinary splurge. For three hours at lunchtime, a renowned local eatery ran an all-you-can eat seafood buffet for the equivalent of $15. Bearing in mind that my daily budget for lodging, meals and alcohol was $25, this was a budget-buster, but the fact that it has lingered in my memory three decades later attests to the correctness of the decision to abandon fiscal rectitude.

The buffet served as a rube’s introduction to smoked salmon, something quite rare in the rural, corn-fed Indiana of my youth. In 1985, I had no way of knowing the same-but-different confluences between Norwegian smoked salmon and Jewish lox (the latter cultural norms just as uncommon as Vikings in Baptist-laced Hoosierland), or the meticulous strategies for preparing such treats, which are every bit as traditional, proud and locally varied as American barbecue methodology.

I just liked it. A lot.

The summer of 1985 was a veritable appetizer, and an introduction to all things European. I was enamored of the continent, and have remained so these many years hence. Specifically, engaging in strange, subversive encounters with un-American methods of consuming fish became a thread running through subsequent journeys, from pie, mash eel and liquor (gravy) in London just last summer, ranging back to the snack tray at Suzanne’s wedding on the Baltic in 1996, which included a different species of eel, this time smoked.

But my single proudest moment came when I enjoyed the distinction of being the oddball foreigner who introduced my pals, the Copenhagen residents, to the grandeur of the Faergekro restaurant at Nyhavn (“new” harbor) in their own city.

The daily herring buffet is a highlight of western civilization. At least ten varieties of pickled herring (with sour cream, curry and Madeira sauce, among others) are offered, along with dense dark bread, butter, and garnishes like raw egg, onion and caper berry. Whole smoked herrings are carved from the bone and replenished.

Beer is available, as well as Akvavit (Scandinavian schnapps), with the wonderful northern custom of providing house-made infusions of herbs and spices for flavoring the firewater and washing down the tasty pickled and smoked morsels.

You can spend whole days in a joint like this, and one time in 1989, I did just that, starting a tab at Faergekro for lunch, and finally arriving back at my temporary Danish doorstep in a taxi, pea soup fog choking the street as well as the inner recesses of my cranium, fully tempted to join WC Fields in asking: “Was I here last night, and did I spend $300?”

(Whatever the words for “yes you did” are in Denmark)

That’s good. I thought I lost it!

"Walkability - planning from the sky vs. designing on the ground."



It's a video: Walkability - planning from the sky vs. designing on the ground, from Gracen Johnson; as recommended by Bluegill.

St. Marks UCC: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stained Glass Gallery: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.


NABC beer dinner at MilkWood tomorrow (April 17) or city council? You know the answer.


At the Potable Curmudgeon blog, I mentioned an NABC beer dinner at MilkWood. The menu is above, and the story link below. As of 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, a few seats remain available. This one's looking epochal already, so consider skipping the city council meeting and joining the party.

Halfway to LCBW, all the way with NABC to MilkWood this Thursday.

New Albany's streets: Screwed by design. Why?


The YMCA is on the south side of Main Street, with parking on the building's west side. Feast BBQ and The Exchange (sorry, but the Hour/Tower/Shower of Power doesn't count) are on the north side of Main. Soon, across W. 1st Street on the north side of Main, there'll be the Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli, and of course the antique store already operates on the corner.

A half-block to the north are the municipal parking lots where the farmers market probably should be, if we were in the habit of thinking and acting in the interest of multiple usage.

The are multiple traffic lanes at W. 1st and Main in the approach to the stop light at State, and people crossing the street from the western parking areas more often than ever before. All that's missing is a crosswalk, as can be seen in the photo. I'd just bounded across after being cursed by a driver who'd be forced to wait an entire 10 seconds for my passage.

As it pertains to rationalizing the city's street grid, there are two 800-lb gorillas perched downtown. One is Padgett, which uses East 4th and Spring as its private driveway for maneuvering block-long heavy equipment from its site, which quite simply is increasingly obsolete in a revitalizing urban context.

The second is QRS (formerly Riverside) Recycling. Heavy trucks formerly bound for QRS from the east now divert from Main Street and barrel down Spring, unimpeded by the city's non-enforcement regime; meanwhile, those approaching from the interstate thunder past downtown businesses on State before turning onto Main at a point just to the left of the view in the photo. Of course, Main also serves as the conduit to the casino.

Naturally, when called upon to address the section of Main most in need of a refrofit, the city is devoting its time and resources to the residential stretch of the street in front of John Rosenbarger's house, picking winners in one neighborhood, and shifting pressing issues elsewhere (monster trucks on Spring), thus dully ensuring that the counter-productive situation with unregulated heavy truck traffic downtown will be downplayed for another decade or three.

Of course, we are perpetually assured that somewhere behind closed doors sans public input, this problem is being carefully studied -- but let's leave Democratic Party central committee bowling events out of it.

In the meantime, any number of calming and enforcement measures might be deployed to improve street scenes like the one depicted above. But in New Albany, we've only gotten one design issue right: Our streets are designed for chaos, and chaos is what they produce, on a daily basis.

Does it have to be this way?

"(Intimidation) is exactly what drivers are counting on when they barrel through marked crossings."


Earlier this week: Crosswalks.

This 2013 story of a pro-active police "sting" operation targeting drivers who disregard crosswalks (Toto, we're not in Indiana any more) yields delicious nuggets, which I've pulled below.

When walking New Albany's increasingly dysfunctional, plainly unsafe arterials, the foot traveler's first obligation when walking against one-way traffic is to be on the lookout for drivers who approach on side streets and look only in the direction of oncoming traffic, not the other way. At this point, most of the time they've already violated the crosswalk space (if any). Perhaps three drivers out of ten pay heed to walkers or crosswalks.

It is slightly less of an issue when walking in the same direction as one-way traffic; the walker is more likely to be seen, although at times, as for me last week, and the egregiously obese male Kentuckian in the SUV, the walker is seen, and the driver violates the crosswalk anyway.

Over the past half-century, cars have claimed the streets, and cities have acquiesced. As I continue to point out, having one city official out of 20 not wedded to his or her car, and who walks or bikes, and attitudes toward civic pro-activity when it comes to walkability might be immeasurably heightened. What we can do as walkers and cyclists is reclaim the streets, even inches at a time. Perhaps some day the city can be compelled to join in.

Police Stings for Drivers Who Don't Yield in Crosswalks: Does It Really Work?, by Sarah Goodyear (Atlantic Cities)

... Well, actually, pedestrians are not endangering the drivers just as much, and everyone involved knows it. That intimidating fact is exactly what drivers are counting on when they barrel through marked crossings. And when pedestrians are crossing in crosswalks – which is where the Fort Lee police are doing their thing – you, as a driver, are supposed to be watching out for them and traveling at a speed that will enable you to stop in time to avoid hitting someone.

The problem is that roads in much of the United States are engineered for speed. Straight, wide, free of any obstacles, the modern American thoroughfare sends drivers the clear message that this is their domain, over which they should reign undisputed. Bright yellow signs with silhouetted figures and white lines on the asphalt can’t begin to convince people behind the wheel of anything different, not to mention some rule from driver education that they forgot as soon as they got their licenses.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Applying the Bloomington solution to New Albany's farmers market.


From New Albany to Bloomington. Ninety miles, and at least that many years.


Let's go right ahead and spend lots of money on the farmers market.

But let's not do it at the current location.

Rather, let's do it in a way that has multiple uses and has potential ripple effects, serving higher purposes beyond temporal paybacks to the same old suspects.

Let's move it down to the city parking lots shown above, thus improving what frankly are perennial, decrepit eyesores. They'd be daily parking lots just as they are now, except on Saturdays and Wednesdays (in season).

Meanwhile, the corner of Bank and Market could function as a pocket park until sold some day for infill. The city's parks department could run both farmers market and the future infill pocket park.

DNA would be out of the equation, and could return to doing whatever it is that a New Albany Main Street organization is supposed to be doing ... like selling real estate in Georgetown and Jeffersonville. What it should be doing are things like this: Mission Pedestrian.

We'd be moving the center of farmers market gravity a few blocks west, which is good for Westendia. Putting some love into this area might encourage Schmitt Furniture to uncover its windows. Furthermore, there'd be a natural affinity between the farmers market and the forthcoming Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli.

It wouldn't be the parking garage, with all its nasty oil spots and shadows and spiders and snakes.

It makes sense to me. What about you?

A theory of river towns, civic assets and underperformance.

It's remarkable how at various points in their lives, New Albanians glance around them and remark, "well, we're just a dirty ol' river town, and things will never change here."

Seems Aaron Renn has heard it, too. Bluegill recommended this essay, and it's a stimulating read. It may actually be less of "it's in the water" than bad habits learned during two hundred years of practice.

On the Riverfront, by Aaron Renn (Urbanophile)

Thursday I took a look at my “Cincinnati conundrum,” namely how it’s possible for a city that has the greatest collection of civic assets of any city its size in America to underperform demographically and economically. In that piece I called out the sprawl angle. But today I want to take a different look at it by panning back the lens to see Cincinnati as simply one example of the river city.

There are four major cities laid out on an east-west corridor along the Ohio River: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis (which is not on the Ohio River, but close enough. I’ll leave Memphis and New Orleans out of it for now). All of these are richly endowed with civic assets like Cincinnati is, having far more than their fair share of great things, yet they’ve all been stagnant to slow growing for decades.

Mission Pedestrian: "Our mission is to improve the pedestrian environment in Santa Cruz."


The web site of Mission Pedestrian (Santa Cruz CA) includes the classic Declaration of Pedestrian Rights, but it goes considerably further than that. For resident New Albanians, it's a model for action; the introductory "Who we are" reminds us of the importance of clear, concise mission statements. Just imagine if Develop New Albany spent more time doing this, and less time touting real estate in outlying areas. Although I've linked to this site previously, reminders never hurt.

Mission Pedestrian

Who we are

Mission Pedestrian is an organization of residents, business people, and neighbors who live and work in Santa Cruz. We support safe, comprehensive, convenient, accessible and attractive pedestrian travel ways.

We believe vibrant business districts and livable neighborhoods facilitate foot traffic between businesses and between homes and businesses. Our mission is to improve the pedestrian environment in Santa Cruz.

We encourage you to use this web site to arm yourself with useful information, voice your opinions, share ideas, and build a strong, supportive, pedestrian advocacy community here in Santa Cruz.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Indie icons, Bloomington-style.

There is ecotourism, sex tourism, sports tourism, alco-tourism and perhaps even just plain tourism. There also is root-for-the-home-team tourism, and so understandably, Bloomington boasts quite a few establishments that vend Indiana University-themed wearables and souvenirs of seemingly infinite variety.

One such shop is on Kirkwood, and we usually peek inside to examine the close-out rack. By doing so, I noticed something different – at least to me.



Apologies for using all caps, but emphasis is required.

THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT.

Of course, Indiana University itself is the big kahuna, but here is an example of iconic independent local businesses openly declaring their status as icons, and justifiably so; think of all the former students coming back to the places they frequented in simpler times.

Indie icons. I like it.

On that "drunk mouth-breathing hilljack," and a reminder that Harvest Homecoming draws ever nearer.

The comment below was posted on Facebook, and while my friend LF refers in this instance to her home in downtown Jeffersonville during Thunder Over Louisville, it might also describe the wonderful, recurring sensations to be experienced "In the Heart of the City" during New Albany's four-day-long Harvest Homecoming, coming this October whether we want it or not.

As a side note, the city of New Albany continues to insist that it stands ready to arbitrate the increasingly burdensome HH presence in downtown New Albany, and has a person in place for just such a pro-active thrust.

Mind you, the city hasn't done anything to date, but hey; it's only April, and we have $19 million in parks projects on the periphery to finish prior to next year's election.

Yawn. Take it away, Jeffersonvile resident.

Ahh, the joys of living downtown. Some drunk mouth-breathing hilljack walking by on her way into the event zone, slurring about how she's already had so many beers - pushing a stroller - trips over her own feet and breaks a flip-flop. Starts cussing like a sailor, tries to balance her beer on my fence, it spills everywhere - her, baby, my yard. So she's hanging out barefoot in front of my place while her Mexican companion heads in the opposite direction, probably to walk to the Dollar General to buy her a new pair of shoes. A fairly accurate representation of 75% of the people who have walked by so far. Most of them multitasking by casing the contents of my car as they pass. #Thunder baby!

On the farmers market in Bloomington, and how smart things make us look dumb.


Here's an interesting tidbit: The Bloomington Community Farmers' Market is run by the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

As I've noted following past trips to Bloomington, the farmers market takes place on the grounds of City Hall's parking lot, which as you can see, implies a commitment to multiple usage that died in New Albany shortly after the Scribners landed and began performing their unique style of Jimmy Buffett karaoke minstrelsy in the Ohio River mud.

It is striking that while we speak of ways to operate the farmers market in New Albany as though it were entirely divorced from the remainder of our downtown infrastructure (Bicentennial Park, Amphitheater, et al), Bloomington's farmers market is wholly integrated -- run by a city department, situated astride a bike path, connected in myriad ways with the city around it, and sharing a parking lot with the equivalent of our City-County Building.

As usual, I already discern the objection of the Know Nothings: But Roger, Bloomington is different.

If so, the primary difference is that Bloomington is smart, and New Albany is dumb. Really, really dumb. We seem to like it like that, so hit it, Joel!

If it suddenly ended tomorrow
I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son of a bitches
I've seen more than I can recall

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Crosswalks.


In Bloomington, the big downtown pedway crosses a street roughly a block away from the farmers market.

It can be seen only partially in the photo, but there is a temporary sign in the street reminding drivers that state law commands yielding to pedestrians.

In my walks around New Albany, I see numerous places where signage and more clearly delineated crosswalks might randomly catch the attention of distracted motorists. It isn't just the ones rolling through stop signs and refusing to look both ways on our unsafe one-way streets. It's also the ones who see pedestrians, and continue on, anyway.

Periodic enforcement would help, too, as would the habit every two decades or so of actually charging drivers who injure and kill walkers and cyclists.

"Capitalism simply isn't working and here are the reasons why."

Food for thought on a breezy Sunday, as hangovers from the annual Thunder circus dissipate.
Capitalism simply isn't working and here are the reasons why; Economist Thomas Piketty's message is bleak: the gap between rich and poor threatens to destroy us, by Will Hutton (Guardian/Observer)

Suddenly, there is a new economist making waves – and he is not on the right. At the conference of the Institute of New Economic Thinking in Toronto last week, Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century got at least one mention at every session I attended. You have to go back to the 1970s and Milton Friedman for a single economist to have had such an impact.

Like Friedman, Piketty is a man for the times. For 1970s anxieties about inflation substitute today's concerns about the emergence of the plutocratic rich and their impact on economy and society. Piketty is in no doubt, as he indicates in an interview in today's Observer New Review, that the current level of rising wealth inequality, set to grow still further, now imperils the very future of capitalism. He has proved it.

It is a startling thesis and one extraordinarily unwelcome to those who think capitalism and inequality need each other ...

Which prompts the other important question: Must we be branded in the first place?

About New Albany, the recently affixed green banners downtown say: "The Heart of the City."

Meanwhile, the city's advertisement in last week's SoIn reads: "New Albany: It's where you should be."

Interestingly, the city's previous ads, which have run for the past two years, note: "More to Explore."

With the horrendous, ludicrous, be-Dudgeoned "Come to City" always hovering in the city's collective memory of atrocities, the preceding slogans constitute another wave of someone's earnest effort -- who or what this someone is suggests the first of several vital questions -- to brand New Albany.

That these efforts invariably sound old and dated provides clues as to their origins.

What these geriatric wordplays seem to have in common is the perennial lack of participation in the branding process on the part of any of those (businesses, citizens) who are about to be branded. No matter what is said by the many who object to their exclusion, or how often it is said, the non-transparency continues ... again, and again.

Thus, as a Twitter reader perceptively wrote: "It's tough to market a brand when you have multiple entities pushing multiple brands."

He then countered with two suggestions of this own:

"New Albany, the Heart of Where You Should Be"

and

"New Albany, no mob of young people here!"

Maybe no mob of young people, but plenty of white-skinned motorcyclists traveling in groups ... and they're the ones who scare me the most. Those costumes ... just terrifying.

Reader MC subsequently embraced the melting pot approach, and synthesized an amalgam:

"Explore the heart of New Albany. It's where there is more to come."

Even the newspaper editor got into the act; SVH suggested:

"New Albany. Better than Regular Albany."

This got the juices flowing, and these ensued:

"New Albany. Old politics."

"What Happens in Inanity, Stays in New Albany."

"Come for the Heart of New Albany -- Stay for the Liver."

"New Albany: Deep in the Heart of Bad Sloganeering."

I persist in thinking that Dave Thrasher's classic take is the best: "New Albany: We're All Here Because We're Not All There." But this idea from old buddy LB isn't bad:

"New Albany: Home of New Albanian Brewing Company."

That works for me!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"These aircraft ... are normally used to do stuff like carry troops, bomb buildings and kill people."

Back in 2007, Lucinda Marshall said it so well in LEO that I needn't elaborate, apart from this stellar Michael Parenti quote from Against Empire:

Official Washington cannot tell the American people that the real purpose of its gargantuan military expenditures and belligerent interventions is to make the world safe for General Motors, General Electric, General Dynamics, and all the other generals.

I'm off to Bloomington, Indiana. Let's hope the planes aren't audible there.

Connected Diss: Thunder air show sends the wrong signal

The thing I love most about Thunder Over Louisville is the annual opportunity it affords every man, woman, child and dog in the Metro to get a feel for what it must sound like to live in a country that has been invaded by the U.S. military. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fireworks and the wonderful sense of community that brings hundreds of thousands of people and picnic baskets to the Waterfront. It’s the afternoon of strutting our military stuff that makes me uneasy. Clearly an event this large is a major part of the image that this community projects, and an examination of the message that it delivers is long overdue.I can hear it now — oh, lighten up, it’s just a show, go eat some burgoo … The problem is, these aircraft that roar over the city during the afternoon of Thunder were not designed for family fun. While there is a civilian component to the Air Show, most of what we see in the skies — the bombers, tankers, fighters and the like — are normally used to do stuff like carry troops, bomb buildings and kill people.

New Albany's one-way street grid is safe and works just fine -- says no walker or biker, ever.

Yesterday I walked from my house to the downtown branch of my bank. My route took me south on 11th Street, then westbound on Market Street, toward the center of the city.

While crossing 9th Street, I noticed movement over my left shoulder. It was a car, moving in the same direction as me, which of course means that it was traveling the wrong way on a one-way street. This apparently had yet to dawn on the driver, as she was slowing and lowering the passenger window to ask directions of me.

I motioned her onto 9th Street to get her off Market, and learned that she had come all the way from Vincennes -- seven blocks, driving the wrong way in broad daylight. At this juncture, she was trying to find the Kroger on Charlestown Road, having gotten lost at the road closure on Grant Line.

The experience left me thinking about how much one sees, hears and feels while walking. I've walked or biked to work as often as possible for a very long time, close to 20 years. Concurrent with this, generations of City-County Building workers have driven to work; probably 100% of them, 100% of the time, or if not, then a number only slightly below it. Even the ones living close by -- say, on Main Street -- probably have driven to work most of the time, haven't they?

So, to put it succinctly: How do they know what walkability and bikeability could possibly be like?

How many of those Bicentennial paving stones/seat cushions/white bread cookbooks are left unsold, anyway?

The Green Mouse was fairly lit at the time, but he thinks he heard Bob "CeeSaw" Caesar talking mayoral politics, in the sense of asking around, probing, seeking input into possible candidates to support against the sitting mayor come 2015.

If true, the first OLL (out-loud laugh) comes right here.

Really?

To begin, there's an implicit presumption that CeeSaw's support in any political race, from precinct toilet scrubber all the way to the third floor, is worth something. During a political career predicated on self-gratification, that's unlikely. You have to give to get, Bob.

Then there's the fact that CeeSaw, who often boasts of his fiscal rectitude, has voted with Jeff Gahan most of the time since Gahan took office. Is Caesar falling off the 63% bandwagon because of the mere possibility that someday, the counter-productive one-way street conveying impulse diamond shoppers to his front door might bring the exact same customers from two directions instead of one?

(That's right. He believes this to be a bad thing)

Rest assured, there'll be challengers to Gahan by the time we limp into 2015. A far better question for the here and now is this:

Can we find someone to knock out CeeSaw in the 2nd? 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why must the city of New Albany wait to take control of its own lawless street grid?

Over at The 'Ville Voice, Jake makes a comment quite applicable to New Albany's seemingly unreformable one-way street grid. It begins innocuously ...

Hoping to slow traffic and make the ride easier and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, city officials are putting a handful of local streets on a “road diet.” 

 ... before honing in for the kill:


Since these streets aren’t used by East Enders trying to speed through what they perceive as the ghetto, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal. [C-J/AKN]


That's the essence of it: Those who don't actually live there, complaining vociferously because they've been slightly inconvenienced during the daily speed-through.

And yet, even as we await the forthcoming Jeff Speck street study, the city of New Albany is unable (read: unwilling) to so much as attempt enforcement when it comes to daily ordeal of phenomenons such as the escalating heavy truck traffic on Spring Street.

Granted, an attitude of "let's wait for Speck" is reasonable if (a) the study he produces will be taken seriously, apart from the sniffing of Democratic Party grandees -- by no means assured given the terrified timidity of the ruling elite -- and (b) if it means waiting just a bit on political patronage projects like the farmers market payback.

But the current daily situation on Spring Street is patently unsafe, and getting more so by the day ... so, must the city "wait for Speck" to discharge its bare minimum obligation to ensure that its citizenry isn't squashed like bugs on an unregulated arterial street?

Or must we wait ... again ... for uncounted years? The city can take control of the streets as they are, right now, anytime it chooses. It does not choose.

Why is that?

One fine day on 13th Street.


And it was Thursday the 10th, not Friday the 13th.

The sign, of "council at large" vintage, appeared suddenly on the verge. Someone must have been cleaning out the garage, and thought it would be clever to frighten passing motorists.

I can attest to it startling a passing pedestrian (me), but as a friend noted when I asked whether England Doug will run for mayor yet again in 2015: As long as he has a pulse, that's what he'll be telling all and sundry, whether or not he actually does."