Sunday, August 26, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
This exciting and prestigious event, held annually in conjunction with the
Kentucky State Fair, crowns world champion Saddlebreds in different divisions
each year. The show attracts people from all across the country and the world
including more than 2,000 horses competing for over $1 million in awards.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
If we hit 100 tomorrow, that will make six 100+ degree days during a single month, which would tie a record set in 1936. And we'd still have a week left.
As I switched the laundry and unloaded the dishwasher, I spent around 15 minutes listening to our local NPR station-- an interview with our mayor, Jerry Abramson. Is it just me, or am I truly jaded at this point? But do any of you get the cold sweats whenever you start to dwell on a politician that you think is a really good person? I know, I'm from New Orleans; I can't be expected to take my local politicians at face value...
He made jokes about the heat. Promised that in a week or ten days we'd be free from the misery-- if his office had anything to say about it. Also clarified that the heat-related death that I mentioned in an earlier blog entry might not have been as heat-related as the media set forth. Talked about the new arena plans and suggested that he was not 100% on board with the design-- he's hoping for a public ice-skating rink and reflection pool in the plaza. Also talked about his visit to NYC, and how effective it was when it came to recruiting potential business to the city. Frankly, his visit sounded much more productive than any of the visits that the NOLA mayor Nagin had in the months following Katrina.
I just liked the guy. And that, in and of itself made me feel very... uncomfortable.
this year's zombie attack will be held at bearno's on bardstown rd. at 9pm. with ONE SMALL STEP, IAMIS, and BUFFALO BILL and zombie films presented by LOUISVILLE FILM SOCIETY. this party is FREE and ALL AGES. the zombie walk will be held at dusk (8:29pm) at the corner of bardstown rd. and eastern pkwy. we will meet in the parking lot behind objects of desire at 8:15pm and head north to bearno's. please dress up and bring your friends. prizes for HOT ZOMBIE, GROSS ZOMBIE, and KING and QUEEN ZOMBIE in our costume contest, including free movie rentals from wild and wooly video !!!MOVIE NIGHT:we will also be showing shuan of the dead and HOT FUZZ at FLOYD THEATRE at U of L on sat Aug 25th at 6 pm and Sun Aug.26th at 8:30 pm!! and it's FREE to everyone!!
Monday, August 20, 2007
According to a co-worker and fellow OHNA member, the previous meeting was even worse. I can hardly imagine.
Forgive me, gentle readers. My civic awareness is somewhat limited to what I have read in neighborhood newsletters, newspapers, and online neighborhood plans. I read some time ago, early spring perhaps, that the OHNA was pursuing the idea of designating the neighborhood as an official Historic Preservation Neighborhood, I liked the idea, and I left it at that. Little did I know that this issue would pit neighbor against neighbor and sow the ugly seeds of conflict, lawsuits, clandestine dealings, and suggestions of impeachment.
The first I heard of the conflict was when “LANDMARKS EQUALS DEED RESTRICTIONS” yellow yard signs started popping up in the ‘hood. (Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that grammatically incorrect? It’s been grating on me. Landmarks (plural) EQUAL, right??)
Then I was gone most of the summer. When I returned, I got an OHNA newsletter that reprinted a letter from the attorney of a Highlands resident that was essentially a “cease and desist” order, demanding that any pursuit of the Landmark designation be halted. Signatures had been gathered; objections had been raised.
Further to that, several days later, I received an email from the OHNA president that despite the fact that they had “ceased and desisted” that the aforementioned resident was threatening a lawsuit and seeking, essentially, impeachment of the president of the Board.
Curiosity peaked and hackles raised by the belligerent and fear-mongering tone of both letters from the attorney, I decided that I would attend my first neighborhood association meeting tonight.
I sat in the hot auditorium of the Metropolitan Community Church, next to my coworker/fellow Highlander, and gazed in desperate sympathy upon the seemingly mild-mannered president, knowing that as he ticked off agenda items, he grew ever closer to the time marked “Community Concerns.” Park renovations? Check. Good stuff. Garden Club report? Sympathetic pregnant woman looked worried as though she might draw ire. September festival report? Sounds great. It’s a big deal.
The moment for Community Concerns came early due to the no-show of some council people and the LMPD guy who’s supposed to give a crime report. First hand up and my stomach churned. But it’s a reasonable older guy concerned that since the smoking ban Willy’s sidewalk seating has pushed so far into the sidewalk that his wheel-chair-bound relative can’t navigate past. Reasonable request. Reasonably handled.
What ensued was far from reasonable. Lawyer stood up and asked to make some motions before the membership. Lawyer for the OHNA countered that the by-laws say that motions can only be made before the Board and are not up for membership vote. Only elections are up for neighborhood vote. Shouting followed.
Lawyer read her motions anyway. The same one that were in the email letter. No more pursing the Historic Preservation status. Board countered that they had voted unanimously AGAINST pursuing the Historic Preservation status last week. Huh. Okay, issue over right? No no no no.
Motion to impeach president for misconduct. More reiteration of the motion about ceasing the pursuit of the Preservation district. Shouting about distrust for the board. Something about “absolute power corrupting.” On and on. Inability to get appropriate records of membership from the board. Hollering about funds mismanaged. More harping on the pursuit that had already been abandoned. Insulting of wives. Suggestions of conflicts of interest because Board President is married to the head of the September festival. People standing on chairs. Aforementioned pregnant head of the Garden Club speaking so passionately and tearily that I was sure her water would break right there. Shouting about the fact that all these folks show up only to bitch when the usual OHNA meeting attendance is around a dozen folks. And so on…
Okay, my two or ten or fifty cents…?
The basis for the lawsuit is that the president of the OHNA wrote an editorial in the neighborhood newsletter recommending going on with the Preservation status even though the cease & desist letter had been sent. But the newsletter was at the printers when the letter was received. And, as he said, it doesn’t matter anyway because he’s entitled to his opinion. I agree with that.
Is the OHNA board in the clear? Not entirely. It does seem as though they’ve made it very difficult to get vital information to people with civic concerns, like the roster of the OHNA membership and the by-laws of OHNA. That’s not good. And while I don’t excuse them for it, it seems to me that they serve the neighborhood for FREE (correct me if I am wrong!) and that it takes a lot of time to get such stuff organized. And, let’s face it folks, we pay EIGHT DOLLARS A YEAR as dues. We can only expect so much.
On the issue itself: I am a newcomer to the neighborhood, but I am a homeowner, a taxpayer, and an OHNA member. And I bought my house specifically because it is 101 years old. In fact, when I told my real estate agent what I was looking for, #1 on my list was: “must be an older home, preferably MUCH older.”
I did not buy my historic home for the sloping floors, the invasion of mice during the winter, the fact that I had to rip out cabinets and rewire my kitchen just to install a dishwasher, the fact that I can’t hang heavy artwork on the crumbly plaster walls…
I bought my historic home for the beautiful bones that all older homes have. And yes, I bought it for the status—I like to be able to say that my house was built in 1906. I like to lie awake on sleepless nights and think of all the people who have lived in my home. And I like that I can glance up and down my block and see homes that also have stood for a hundred years or more. I came here from New Orleans. I grew up in New England. I am accustomed to cities and neighborhoods with historic weight. I’d sooner go back to apartment living (hopefully an apartment in a historic building) than live in new-built home. I accept the responsibilities and extra cost related to living in a historic home.
Likewise, I accept the responsibilities related to living in a historic neighborhood. I know that if the Historic Preservation designation passed, I would have to fast-track fixing up my falling-down garage. And I know that I could never house my plastic pink flamingoes in my front yard (they can be resplendent in the back). Those responsibilities are a trade-off for the security of knowing that my neighbor cannot pave over her front yard (you can laugh, but when my ex-husband and I bought our home in NOLA, the front yard was concrete—we immediately ripped it out). A trade-off for the security of knowing that the landlord can’t tear down the four-plex across the street and turn it into a modern McMansion. And I believe that the benefit for having to keep my house looking nice and saving my kitschy inclinations for more private displays is raised property values—which I could use… big time.
No matter what I believe, I know that some of my neighbors behaved deplorably at this meeting. Battle lines were drawn. What appalled me the most was the lack of civility shown by the anti-preservationists. If I had come into that meeting on the fence about the issue, there would have been nothing on God’s green earth that could have compelled me to take their side. I could never ally myself with those who engage in personal attacks and blatant fear-mongering. What a shame—this may be an odd thing to say, but what a shame that their point of view has to be represented publicly by inarticulate shouting and name-calling. If they have a valid objection, it would have benefited all of us had said objection been voiced reasonably and without melodrama.
My suggestion on the issue? When in Post-Katrina New Orleans, neighborhoods had to decide whether or not they would put their efforts into creating a neighborhood plan for neighborhoods that had been, effectually, destroyed by the hurricane, they went door-to-door and asked people if they wanted to come back. The OHNA should employ an impartial service to survey the neighborhood, door to door, member of the OHNA or not. Ask every homeowner (frankly, renters should have no say) if he or she wants the Preservation district to go forward. Do not rest until as close to 100% of the homeowners have been polled. And then go forward OR NOT as per a majority.
Shame on all of them. The board dropped the ball on some issues certainly. But few people deserve to be spoken to with such disrespect and lack of regard for civility... it was a truly embarrassing display. I have vowed to attend as many OHNA meetings as I can henceforth. And I will do all that I can to keep the shouters OFF of the board.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Today was my third visit to Quills in the past week. In a moment of weird concordance, I spent 18 minutes listening to Bryant Simon's excellent lecture on Starbucks and its popularity from this year's TASTE 3 convention. And while I dug the lecture and totally buy into his observations about the safely hip and artistic "brand" that Starbucks has forged, it begs the question: hasn't that brand been seized upon by just about every coffeeshop-- corporate or mom 'n pop-- that's opened in the past decade?
- Safely hip-- not hip enough to be alienating. Quills? Check. Great graphics on the logo and frequent-buyer cards. Bulletin board full of alt-culture happenings.
- Artsy so you don't have to be. Quills? Check. Fanciful bird and feather related art on the walls. A gorgeous photo series in the women's rest room. Fantastic alternative music on the sound system.
- Archictureally eccentric. Quills? Check. Industrial pipe-and-duct-baring ceilings. Dark walls. Mansion library style built-in bookshelves with intricate moldings. Window-seat-ish nook for reading.
- Fosters intellectual atmosphere. Quills? Check. Issues of the Economist and Paste readily available. Stock of books definitely on the literary end of the pop-lit spectrum.
No slight against Quills intended. In the end the Starbucks-Quills-Highland-Heinie Bros. question remains one of which of these attempts at artsy-feelgood-eccentric-intellectual-hip coffee-serving establishments best meshes with your own balance of the aforementioned attributes. Quills just happens to mesh best with mine.
In my experience:
- Highland is more hip-alt.
- Heinie Bros is more hippie-feelgood.
- Days is more mature.
- Starbucks is more boho-bobo-yup.
And Quills, for me, is just right. Beautiful to look at. Quiet. Good tunes. Free WiFi (enjoyed by all aforementioned establishments except Starbucks). Good coffee. Roommate says good food. A bit off the beaten path. A bit more expensive than Highland, which has been my coffeeshop of choice for the past year. But worth it to avoid the sometimes-less-than-desireable crowd that tends to congregate at Highland, particularly in nice weather.
Note: they've been having AC issues there, and at times the place is quite hot. Quills would benefit from installing outside plugs for computer users.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I'm sorry. I am. But it's 8:12pm, and it's 99 degrees! I'm not moving, but I'm sweating. I'm wearing next to nothing, and my little something is dark with sweat stains.
At 4:13pm today, the temperature in Loueyville topped 103-degrees, making this officially the hottest day of the summer. I was not around to see it; I was stuffing down popcorn and sitting in the blissfully cool Baxter Theater watching a matinee of Stardust. (Good stuff, by the way. I never cease to be impressed with how versitile DaNiro is. Loved the wicked Extras reference when Ricky Gervais said, "You having a laugh?" Charmed that no matter how much older and more gorgeous Claire Danes get, you can always see a little Angela Chase in her worried eyes.)
But I digress... I got home from Saratoga Springs a little over a week ago, and every day that I have been home it has topped 90, mostly topped 95, often with a heat index over 100. I tried to find out how many records we've broken this year-- I think more than 3 since I've been home-- but frankly, my little brain is like a fried egg. I googled for around two minutes, came up with nothing, and then gave up.
Tomorrow the forecast is for 101.
Today, by the way, was the first day back at school where I work.
I think the USPS should honor the creator of central air conditioning with a stamp. We should have National Air-Conditioner Inventor day and get the day off, preferably in mid-August. Fried egg brain served me better this time: Willis Carrier invented modern electrical air conditioners. Bless him and all of his decendants and all of his ancestors and... huh, irony? The first air-conditioner was installed in a house in Minneapolis! Not stinking hot El Paso. Not furnace blast Phoenix. Not inside-of-a-dog's-mouth New Orleans.
On a sober note: yesterday, Louisville suffered it's first heat-related death. A man died from heat stroke on the side of the road. The heat is not just bitch-worthy, it's deadly.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
She's home now and will be back to entertain and enlighten soon!