Archive for City Scene

The wrong side of something

KitsuneRisu is here talking about Singapore, but it’s almost a Universal Truth:

Everyone has a place like that in their town (or the entirety of your country if you live in Russia), where there’s a whole shopping strip which is pretty cool and suddenly there’s just this one area emitting a black cloud of fear from it, like vicious anger-breath from the lungs of an irate mongoose.

It’s as sketch as the result of a crying elderly woman’s attempt to recall her mugger to the local police district’s new profile artist who doesn’t have a degree in good sketching. It was kinda like the north part of the Strip in Las Vegas. The further up you go, the more uncomfortable things feel, and suddenly you realise you’re standing in Circus Circus and there’s 15 wrinkled slot-grannies staring at you over their cigars and liter-bottles of rum, and everything has this weird clown motif that doesn’t carry.

Especially true where I live: the character of a neighborhood can undergo half a dozen changes in a single mile.

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Murrah plus twenty

If you were anywhere within four or five miles of downtown Oklahoma City on this date in 1995, it’s a pretty safe bet that you heard it. Felt it. First you wondered what; then you wondered why. We’ve pretty much settled the first question.

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A photographic addendum

Trini, my perennial companion for the Architecture Tours, sent me a folder full of pictures she’d taken on her phone during the 2015 Tour. A lot of the subjects we snapped were the same, but for no good reason I can imagine, I got no shot of the courtyard at the Buddha Mind Monastery. She did, and with her permission I bring it to you here:

Courtyard at Buddha Mind Monastery

This will embiggen with a click, but it’s about 2.5 megabytes: 4320 pixels wide.

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No place to dive

PB Jams is a little sandwich shop on 38th west of MacArthur, owned by Ashley Jiron. The other day, she was a bit unnerved to discover that someone had been Dumpster-diving on the premises: “I had noticed some bags, when I had taken out the trash, were torn open and some of the food was taken out.”

Someone else might have put up a sign saying Don’t Do That. She chose to do this:

Sign posted at PB Jams

“I think we’ve all been in that position where we needed someone’s help and we just needed someone to extend that hand and if I can be that one person to extend that hand to another human being then I will definitely do it,” Ashley said.

The sign, she says, will stay until the diver returns and takes advantage of her offer.

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Saturday spottings (dude descending a staircase)

The one spring event I do not miss in this town is the Architecture Tour, put on by the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and from 2007 through 2013 I had the singular delight of getting to take the tour with Trini. She begged off last year — family matters come first, after all — but she was by my side once more this time around, arranging the tour schedule and doing the navigation. (Which latter I should have heeded more often: the answer to the question “Which of these otherwise indistinguishable downtown streets is the one that goes one-way westbound?” is, um, the other one.) The eight tour stops resulted in a 92-mile jaunt, about half of which involved going to and returning from item number three. Without further ado:

1) 3341 Quail Creek Road

Bill Howard home in Quail Creek

A trigonometry test come to life, the Bill Howard home off Quail Creek Country Club is a dazzling array of irregular polygons, reflecting both Howard’s desire to blend into the nearby woodlands and his study under Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was built in 1970, but much of its interior pays homage to mid-century modern, which hadn’t been entirely forgotten by then.

2) 12713 St. Andrews Terrace

House of Good Taste by Edward Durrell Stone

What do you do if the demand for housing on a single block exceeds the space you’d expect to give to a top-rank residence? If you’re Edward Durrell Stone, you create a design that is oriented “inward,” that doesn’t sprawl across the lot. Stone introduced this idea at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, and sold plans for it nationwide under the name “House of Good Taste.” Restored last year, it’s simple but elegant.

3) 5800 South Anderson Road

Exterior of the Buddha Mind Monastery

Altar inside the Buddha Mind Monastery

The campus of the Buddha Mind Monastery, on a 20-acre site on the far southeast side, is oriented “inward” in a different way, in the hopes that the visitor will turn toward inner tranquility. The Abbess and her staff have made use of traditional Zen Buddhist themes, and regular classes are offered to novice and long-time follower alike.

4) 1315 North Broadway Place

Mayfair Apartments

The Mayfair Apartments, located north of Automobile Alley, are a working definition of splitting the difference: the exterior is pure 1930s, the flats — we visited a fourth-floor walkup, and I never want to hear the words “fourth-floor walkup” ever again — utterly contemporary, and the common areas Somewhere In Between. Several visitors seemed ready to sign a lease for one of the 16 units right then and there, though none of us could imagine how we’d get furniture up and down the narrow stairs.

5) 309 Northwest 13th Street

309 Monterey

This postwar Chrysler-Plymouth dealership, now the home of the Oklahoma Public Schools Resource Center, retains the exterior garage doors, but individual offices inside are created out of thirteen repurposed shipping containers. Architect Brian Fitzsimmons, a regular on all the Tours, is happy to show his work.

6) 828 Northwest 8th Street

828 NW 8th St

You can’t have an Architecture Tour without something in SoSA, the South of Saint Anthony district, and here’s the first of two residences therein. This one, from Ken Fitzsimmons’ Task Design, sits on the corner of 8th and Francis, close to the center of gravity of new development in this area, and is designed to fit in both with the new contemporary houses (think “vertical”) and the original pre-1930 housing stock (think “weather-minimizing features”).

7) 925 Northwest 8th Street

925 NW 8th St

Just one block away, and literally right on the corner at Classen, is this Not Really A Shed house; the slope of the roof serves as counterpoint to the slope of the street. The floorplan is Z-shaped, arranged for maximum bedroom light in the morning and as little heat from the setting summer sun as possible, and is about two and half times deeper than it is wide.

8) 30 Northeast 2nd Street

30 NE 2nd St

This is the one non-permanent structure on the tour: once again, stacked shipping containers, occupying a space just across from the Aloft Hotel, which is scheduled to contain office space with above-average amenities and, downstairs facing Oklahoma Avenue, a “gourmet corn-dog” eatery, and what’s a downtown without gourmet corn dogs? Ten years from now, they say, this will be dismantled and rebuilt somewhere else.

Photo credits: 1) Doug Howard; 4) Sam Day; 5) Joseph Mills; others by me (which can be seen in larger size on Flickr).

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Take a walk on the West side

Oklahoman scribe Brianna Bailey this week is walking the entire length of Western Avenue within city limits, which runs from about NW 199th to SW 179th. This is an epic walk, about twenty-seven miles, and you can scarcely blame the paper for scheduling a stunt like this, since it gives her, and her employer, an opportunity to interact with a staggering number of small communities along the way, and besides the Tulsa World did something like this last year.

A single example of said interaction:

I need hardly point out that Bailey is the one in the walking shoes.

The #walkonwestern hashtag will be running all week. After two days, she’d gotten to NW 41st, near where VZD’s used to be, losing me a side bet. (I figured she’d knock off around the Chesapeake campus, a mile and a half to the north.) It’s not been an easy trip, with temperatures about ten degrees above normal and wind, if not howling, certainly growling a bit. Besides, the dearth of sidewalks in the exurbs meant occasional stretches of wet dirt. Mud. Red mud, of course.

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Cartographically incorrect

One of the first Judgmental Maps I saw, about a year ago, was a depiction of Albany, New York. (I advised Roger, who seemed amused; he definitely thought it was worth posting about.) It occurred to me that I perhaps should do one about this town, but I never quite got around to it.

Fortunately, someone else did:

Judgmental Map of Oklahoma City

Notes: (1) Not approved by Steve Lackmeyer. (2) You can embiggen this to about twice as wide, but it’s 1.3 MB worth of data. (3) Yours truly is slightly closer to Overworked Nurses than to Lesbians. Go figure.

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Not yet a destination

Ben Felder is beginning a series in the Oklahoma Gazette on local urban neighborhoods, and about halfway through the middle of the first installment is a point I’ve tried to make:

“The collaboration between the public-private partnership is vital,” said Grant Soderberg of Square Deal Capital — Soderberg is also an investor in The Windsor Hills Station Shopping Center, the hub of the growing Windsor District in west OKC. “Simple investments in lighting, road improvements and other things from the city can make a huge difference in a neighborhood’s revival.”

Soderberg also said that part of the success of The Windsor District is that it continues to serve many of the low- and middle-class community residents who lived there before revitalization efforts began.

“There is a difference that needs to be made between low-income housing and problem housing,” said Soderberg, noting that many working-class residents benefit from recent commercial growth.

Windsor Hills Station sits on 23rd just west of Meridian; in general, 23rd is the boundary between upscale and down. Neighbors from both sides shop at the Crest Foods store at the eastern edge of the shopping center.

About a decade ago, I wrote about a neighborhood closer to downtown:

Now the roads through there aren’t great, and I suspect the rest of the city’s infrastructure is probably an upgrade or two behind schedule, but this struck me as a relatively nice, if obviously not at all upscale, neighborhood. (I spot-checked a couple of houses for sale, and you can still buy in around here for thirty-five to fifty-five thousand.) Professional worriers, faced with a few blocks like this, would undoubtedly start screaming “Blight!” and calling for intervention. And indeed, there’s room for improvement, starting with what appears to be, at first glance, a higher-than-average crime rate. But I am becoming persuaded that the kiss of death for any neighborhood comes at the exact moment when the studies and the surveys and the recommendations start coming out and the focus shifts from “How can we make this area better?” to “How can we get these people out of here?” I, for my part, am loath to tear up an area of affordable housing just because it’s not pretty.

And visitors are often perplexed that upper- and lower-income tracts sit side by side, all across town. A lot of this is simply a function of who did the development, and when. My own neighborhood was developed in the 1940s by Clyde B. Warr, who was relatively, but not ostentatiously, bucks-up; however, we don’t have a full-line grocery store — a Target just up the road comes closest — so often as not, I’m shopping at that Crest store in Windsor.

Addendum: Back in the days when this sort of thing mattered, there was a Windsor telephone exchange covering this area: it reaches just far enough north to include me.

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Creativity awakened the wrong way

Sir Ken Robinson, a couple of years ago, boiled down to a single paragraph:

Robinson has suggested that to engage and succeed, education has to develop on three fronts. First, that it should foster diversity by offering a broad curriculum and encourage individualisation of the learning process; secondly, it should foster curiosity through creative teaching, which depends on high quality teacher training and development; and finally, it should focus on awakening creativity through alternative didactic processes that put less emphasis on standardised testing, thereby giving the responsibility for defining the course of education to individual schools and teachers. He believes that much of the present education system in the United States fosters conformity, compliance and standardisation rather than creative approaches to learning. Robinson emphasises that we can only succeed if we recognise that education is an organic system, not a mechanical one. Successful school administration is a matter of fostering a helpful climate rather than “command and control.”

And presumably it would help if the youngsters got enough sleep. Sir Ken Robinson, last night:

The powers that be were profusely apologetic.

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Turning every which way but out

Some of the folks I follow on Twitter were grousing earlier about sparse turnout at today’s City Council election. And they weren’t kidding: at 5:07 this afternoon I shoved the 207th ballot into the machine. A couple of thousand people live in this precinct; not all of them are of voting age, obviously, but still, that’s not all what anyone — other than the winner, of course — would call wonderful, especially if there had been as much dissatisfaction with the incumbent as I was led to believe. As local auto mogul Jackie Cooper used to say, “Go with the name you know,” and lots of people do. Pols depend on it.

Addendum: From the Gazette’s Ben Felder:

Population of each of the city’s eight wards: around 75,000.

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Cooperation

Like many of you, I’m pretty much in an anti-incumbent mood right about now, and with City Council elections coming up tomorrow — the first day with non-horrible weather in some time, which is a twist — I get another chance to act upon that particular impulse.

I had kind words for Major Jemison early on: he’s definitely on the side of the angels, and I have no doubt that he could fill this spot on the horseshoe with a measure of gravitas. But his insistence on robocalls Every. Damned. Night. has soured me on the man, or at least on the men behind the man, and I worry that if he’s going to take advice from the kind of people who think a Jayne Jayroe endorsement is worth something, he might be susceptible to all manner of bad ideas once sworn in.

So I turn to James Cooper, who, poor fellow, had to endure a chat session with me at the doorway one weekend. (This makes about the fifth candidate in twelve years who’s had to deal with me in bathrobe mode.) He’s appallingly young, but I figure I can overlook that, especially since my own advanced age has manifestly conferred no wisdom on me. More to the point, he’s willing to deal with specific points in preference to grand generalities: he told me that he envisions the next round of MAPS, for instance, gradually moving northward with extensions of the streetcar line, and he’s willing to spend some serious dollars out of the next set of the city’s General Obligation Bonds to finish up the largely undone sidewalk work in this part of town. If that sounds like he’s favoring his own ward at the expense of others, well, that’s what we pay our guy on the Council to do, and it’s not like we’re paying him a whole lot ($12k a year) either.

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Opening salvo

City Council elections are the third of March, and I expect a deluge of mail and more phone calls than I can possibly answer, even if I were going to answer them, which I’m not. And if you’d asked me after the filing period ended in January, I’d have said that basically it was a two-man race, between incumbent/loose cannon Ed Shadid and OCU professor James Cooper, and it was just a matter of which one strikes first.

First strike, in the form of the first mail flyer and the first phone call, came Tuesday, from Major Jemison, senior pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church. He’s about sixty, I’d guess. And he has credentials out the wazoo, as the jrank.org Major L. Jemison Biography reports:

A political activist, an innovative church leader, and a bridge-builder between African-American denominations, he has addressed a great variety of issues that are central to the development of the modern black church. President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention since 2002, he stepped into a position once held by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In 2003 Jemison was recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the 100-plus most influential figures in black America.

He has, of course, retired from that position by now. And his issues page looks almost like my issues page, especially with this paragraph:

The last four years have seen bitterness and divisiveness infect the business of the council, where before there was unity and collaboration. Major Jemison seeks to restore the council to a positive working environment where disagreements are handled professionally and each council member works together in the best interests of the people.

So far, I’m liking what I’m hearing.

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Improper use of force

The Thin Blue Line gets thinner, but better:

The Oklahoma City Police Department has fired an officer accused of rape and other misconduct last year.

Daniel Holtzclaw was arrested in 2014 in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym in northwest Oklahoma City… Police say Holtzclaw stopped women, threatened them and made them expose themselves and perform sexual acts. He pleaded not guilty to 36 counts of sexual assault.

An example:

One alleged victim was a 44-year-old woman who says Holtzclaw pulled up next to her, found a crack pipe, and told her “you know you could go to jail.” She says Holtzclaw then forced her to perform oral sex.

The Department has made public the letter dismissing Holtzclaw [pdf], which contains this statement by Chief Bill Citty:

Your offenses against women in this community constitute the greatest abuse of police authority I have witnessed in my 37 years as a member of this agency.

Words unminced.

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Among the local delicacies

Michael would like you to know that he did not actually sample these on a trip to the Bricktown Brewery’s Remington Park outpost:

Appetizers menu from Bricktown Brewery

“Even my stomach has limits,” he said.

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Sooner than you’d think

I went public with this Saturday, once I had something to work with:

It was received well in the tweetstream, for the most part. I left the second part of the story unspoken, since it hadn’t come to fruition just yet.

Monday night it did: the school board voted 8-0 to change the teams at Capitol Hill High School from “Redskins” to, well, almost anything else. This didn’t go quite so smoothly, but ultimately I have to agree with board chair Lynn Hardin:

“We all have feelings about this and whether it’s right or wrong we have an obligation to be sensitive to our community,” Hardin said. “Once you know the truth, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. So we might as well address it and figure out how we can proceed.”

I have no doubt at least some of the folks who sat in on the meeting were also thinking about Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins, though if you ask me, the truly hurtful word in that name isn’t “Redskins.”

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Because BlueHawks wasn’t happening

The announcement that the Oklahoma City RedHawks of the Pacific Coast League will be renamed “Dodgers,” what with the team being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization — common ownership, and there’s a farm-club deal in place — did not go over well on Twitter, although some of us tried to temporize:

One common argument was that there is no history of dodging here in the Big Breezy. I demurred:

I don’t think this mollified anyone. Meanwhile, owners of the Iowa Cubs were not available for comment.

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Lots of emptiness

Most cities have something resembling parking mandates, usually saying that there must be some formula-derived X number of spaces provided in a surface lot, based on the anticipated worst day of the year. About five years ago I quoted a member of the Tulsa Board of Adjustment on how these things tend to reinforce one another:

“A shopping center will have 10 different uses, and the zoning code looks at each use individually and applies the parking requirement on the assumption that each use could need its minimum parking at the same time… When it comes to parking, we look at every piece of property as if it’s on an island.”

Which is utterly ridiculous in a strip mall, even if there are people lazy enough to park near JCPenney at one end, shop, and then drive the 1500 feet to the T. J. Maxx at the other end, and unfortunately there are.

Tomorrow being among the worst days of the year, I figure this is an idea whose time has come.

Join us this Friday for #blackfridayparking, a nationwide event to draw attention to the ridiculousness of minimum parking requirements.

Minimum parking requirements are often justified by the notion that there needs to be enough parking for the peak shopping day. Under that theory, America’s businesses are required to set aside large amounts of land and make enormous capital investments in asphalt and concrete for the sake of a few hours each year. If the theory were true, parking minimums would still be a bizarre misallocation of resources. Unfortunately, our ability to predict peak parking demand is woefully inadequate.

What #blackfridayparking exposes is the systematic way in which cities across the country do harm to our businesses, our neighborhoods and our economy by enforcing arbitrary parking requirements. This practice needs to end.

If the next question is “But what if I have to walk?” feel free to give ’em the old sideways glare. It’s not a violation of your rights if you can’t park within 50 feet of your destination.

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Where it all goes (’14)

The property-tax bill has arrived, and the bank will cut them a check on the 30th out of my depleted escrow account. Fortunately, while the amount isn’t exactly trivial, it’s smaller than it was last year, the result of stagnant property values and an unexpected decrease in the actual tax rate. As always, the county treasurer has sent along a manifest showing what this sum is being used to fund, and last year’s numbers appear in [brackets]:

  • City of Oklahoma City: $120.39 [$126.58]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $462.53 [$478.05]
  • Metro Tech Center: $120.39 [$122.50]
  • Oklahoma County general: $90.78 [$94.52]
  • Countywide school levy: $32.26 [$32.77]
  • County Health Department: $20.18 [$20.50]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $40.52 [$41.16]
  • Total: $887.04 [$915.88]

This year’s millage is 113.84, down from last year’s 115.70. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.)

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Meanwhile, a couple of miles away

Of late, Western Avenue has been known for medium to upper-crust eateries and cute little shops and brick walls.

The walls have been addressed here:

The final touches were applied late Sunday, in preparation for Taste of Western Thursday evening.

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The new water rates

They go into effect today, and there was a slip included with my water bill detailing the changes. There are only two tiers, but they’re simple: (1) 10,000 gallons or less; (2) more than 10,000 gallons. Up to now, it’s been a flat $2.65 per thousand, but no more:

  • Today: $2.73/1000 gallons up to 10,000; $3.14/1000 gallons thereafter.
  • October 2015: $2.81/1000 gallons up to 10,000; $3.32/1000 gallons thereafter.
  • October 2016: $2.89/1000 gallons up to 10,000; $3.50/1000 gallons thereafter.

There will also be small increases in sewer fees and the base customer charge. The bill I received yesterday, for 2000-gallon consumption, was $56.05; under the new rates next month, it would be $58.11. (This assumes there’s no increase in the price for trash-collection service, since none was mentioned in the announcement.)

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And they said it couldn’t be done

“Have you noticed,” the pundits point out, “that you’ll never see workaday Muslims denouncing the atrocities routinely committed in the name of Allah?”

Anti-ISIS demonstrators in Oklahoma City“Never” is a long time. And yes, yes, I know: taqiyya. But once in a while I feel like I ought to be giving someone the benefit of the doubt, so this smallish demonstration yesterday at one of the busier intersections in town — on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania at Northwest Distressway, putting it squarely on my route home — was ever so slightly heartening, especially in a town where mosques are occasionally defaced by persons unknown.

From Red Dirt Report:

[T]he majority of signs held by the pro-peace crowd at Northwest Expressway and Pennsylvania Avenue by Penn Square Mall, were to drive the point home that terrorist group ISIS is not a representation of Islam, as some held the sign saying “ISIS DOES NOT REPRESENT ME!”

The rally was largely led by CAIR-OK and their executive director Adam Soltani and Imam Imad Enchassi. Both have spoken out against Republican legislator John Bennett of Sallisaw, who recently made very bigoted and inflammatory remarks against Muslim Americans and has since refused to back down or apologize for his hurtful, hateful statements.

“Hurtful” and “hateful,” verbally anyway, are turning into this century’s Frick and Frack.

I admittedly didn’t get really good looks at most of the crowd, but I didn’t see anyone giving off an aura of “Kill!” Our old friend Jennifer James took photos for RDR, and they look similarly benign. And the planners were astute enough to bunch everyone together, unlike the usual approach for demonstrations at this intersection, which is to take over two, even three, corners; this creates a sense of unity.

Update, 23 September: A response from Charles Pergiel.

Update, 26 September: Then again, civilized people do not engage in beheadings.

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Shaken and bestirred

The little City News insert that comes with Oklahoma City’s water bill this month has a section this month that five years ago would have been inconceivable. Topic: “What you should do in a large earthquake,” and this is the suggested routine:

Drop, Cover and Hold On! It is the safest action to take during ground shaking. There are three steps:

1. DROP to the ground,

2. Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table,

3. HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

This will probably not work (1) with something other than a desk or table (2) in a tornado.

Quakiest earthquake ever recorded in this state was 5.6, and yes, I noticed it.

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Highway to Hellman’s

This is the Centennial Fountain in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown:

Centernial Fountain in Bricktown

It is not a public bathing facility:

Officers reported finding Jorge Arturo Perez, 23, soaking wet and breathing hard in the city fountain.

Perez told the police he was taking a bath in the fountain and was washing his hair with mayonnaise.

Said the Fark submitter: “Well, they hope it was mayonnaise.”

[insert Miracle Whip joke here]

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Saturday spottings (closer to home)

Doing as little as possible this weekend sounded like a pretty good idea to me, which may explain why all of today’s Spottings took place within one mile, from NW 43rd to NW 56th along May Avenue.

Late last year, the city announced a major repaving project along May, at a price tag of just under $1 million per mile. The section closest to me is done. There was, however, some additional unscheduled repair: shortly after completion, a sinkhole, roughly 1.3 lanes wide and just under a third of a block long, opened up on the west side at 44th. It pretty much had to be the refurbed roadbed, as the curb didn’t go much of anywhere. Admittedly, it wasn’t as exciting as, say, the car-swallowing monster at the National Corvette Museum, but so far as I know, May has eaten no cars — or bars, or guitars — and the hole was patched this week.

On the other side of the street, there’s a narrow strip of parkland that marks the western edge of the Mayfair Heights neighborhood. In recent months, it’s been made narrower, thanks to the addition of an actual sidewalk, something unheard of in what used to be a deep-suburban zone. All the concrete is in place; there are still a few road cones south of 47th, but it’s essentially complete from 36th to 47th.

Finally, there was this real-estate transaction:

SDI-Enterprise Plaza LLC from 1999 Enterprise Plaza LP, 5600 N May Ave., $10,450,000.

You might suspect that this involves a parcel called Enterprise Plaza, and indeed it does. It’s a property that I hardly ever notice; it’s tucked away in a corner behind the Holiday Inn Express. (The map at the link is wrong; the property is northeast of the May/Northwest Distressway interchange.) And the price — $110/square foot for Class B, or maybe B-plus, office space — seems a little steep, but then the County Assessor values it at $9.5 million, including the four acres of land on which it sits, so maybe this is just my eyes bugging out for no good reason: I’m manifestly not used to the idea of something just up the street from me selling for $10 million. (Incidentally, the previous owners had bought it for $6.1 million from TIAA-CREF back in 1999.)

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You may have already heard this

Dan Longerbone addresses the national media:

We don’t have anything distinctive like the Empire State Building or Independence Hall. No Gateway Arch, no Sears Tower (sorry, Willis Tower), a serious lack of beach and certainly no mountains. It’s easy to understand that someone who’s never been here might be at a loss to picture the place; rust belt, corn, something something football. That’s because people who come here aren’t after photographic memories and never have been. No, a lot of people who visit end up staying here because of quite another type of memory.

Sounds like something we’d say in the OKC, doesn’t it? (Except maybe for that stuff about corn.) Actually, it’s about Columbus, Ohio, a place with maybe a smidgen more of a national image, but which is earning respect.

And stop me if you’ve heard this one:

The public-private partnership is such that the rather conservative editorial page of our daily paper backed an income tax increase on people working in the city; that half-percent increase was approved by voters during the recent economic downturn.

The three and a half stages of MAPS were sales-tax increases — the city doesn’t have an income tax — but the rather conservative editorial page of The Oklahoman has been very supportive of MAPS over the past two decades.

And there’s this:

The construction of the interstate highway signaled the arrival of rapid suburb development in central Ohio. In order to protect the city’s tax base from this suburbanization, Columbus adopted a policy of linking sewer and water hookups to annexation to the city. By the early 1990s, Columbus had grown to become Ohio’s largest city in both land area and in population.

And now, it’s the 15th largest city in the nation. (We’re 27th, though we have almost triple the space.) They must be doing something right.

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That’s all I can Stanley

From these pages eight years ago:

In the context of Oklahoma City, David Stanley Ford is an automobile dealership at 39th and May.

Elsewhere, David Stanley Ford is a playwright, who has written an American historical drama I’d love to see: The Interrogation of Nathan Hale, in which the man who regretted having but one life to lose for his country reveals the last secrets of that life.

Since then, David Stanley the Ford dealer has sold out and acquired a Chevy store across town; he has long owned the Dodge dealership in Midwest City, which now carries all four Chrysler Group brands. And, reports the Lost Ogle, he’s been in deep doo-doo of late:

David Stanley Chrysler Jeep Dodge agreed to pay a $350,000 fine in March of 2014 for allegedly violating eight state regulations designed to protect consumers from misleading advertising practices.

According to this document that is just hanging out on the server at BartlesvilleRadio.com, the violations include deceptive, inaccurate and bait-and-switch forms of advertising.

The commercials in question ran in January 2014 and offered eye rolling, too-good-to-be-true, only-Grant-Long-would-fall-for-this deals that offered to pay $18,000 in the car buyer’s credit card debt if they bought a car.

If you have $18,000 in credit-card debt, why are you even thinking of buying a new car? Not that anyone at the dealership is ever going to ask you such a question, of course.

This story got no local coverage until TLO broke it, which just goes to show you:

That’s actually some delicious irony right there. While our TV news channels send their “In Your Corners,” “I-Teams” and “Consumer Watchers” to track down the contractor who didn’t finish a flooring job and ran away with some old lady’s hard-earned $1,000, the car dealership that advertises during the commercial break is using bait-and-switch advertising gimmicks and other deceptive tactics to lure consumers into high interest, ripoff, life-ruining auto purchases and loans. I guess never forget who the for-profit media really serves.

If you’re the audience, you’re the product: the station sells you to an advertiser. Your role is to shut up and keep watching and keep buying.

Perhaps David Stanley Ford ought to write a play about that.

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Immovable objects

I was still puzzling over this, four hours after the fact — it happened on the way home during Friday rush hour — and finally I decided to toss it up here.

Exiting I-44 westbound at Classen puts you on the Classen Circle, which is no longer even slightly circular, and gives you a quarter-mile of This Is Not A Ramp before you discover you’ve gotten yourself into the southeastern terminus of the Northwest Distressway. The light was yellow, and I chose not to floor it; after all, there’ll be another green in a couple of minutes.

There wasn’t. The usual pattern for this light ignored westbound traffic entirely for a minimum of three cycles. Something was apparently stuck. Off in the distance, I could see a fire truck, probably from Station 17, heading east; it turned in at 50 Penn Place. That’s odd, I thought; Station 11 is probably closer. Then again, Station 11 probably couldn’t get there because of this damn stuck light.

At which moment I looked towards the rear, and stuck about three car lengths behind me in the left lane — I was in the center — was another fire truck. Station 11, I reckoned.

Now the lights along the Distressway aren’t synchronized worth a damn, but I could swear I’ve seen one or two of them temporarily disabled to make way for emergency vehicles. Is it possible that both engines pushed the magic button, a third of a mile in advance, and their signals managed to screw with each other?

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Dysbranding

So far as I can tell, this is serious:

People are going to shart when they see that.

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Hindmost being taken

Tickets for a Civic Center Music Hall presentation of a Black Mass go on sale today, and, well, the event is not going unnoticed:

A group called Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is holding a Black Mass at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21. The permittee for the event is Adam Daniels, a registered sex offender. The Civic Center is owned by the city and funded by a foundation that includes a city government official and the head of a Catholic hospital on its board. The event has been condemned by the Archbishop of Oklahoma City. (I first read about this on Fr. Z’s Blog.)

The group itself seems to be sort of anti-Zoroastrian:

Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is about freedom from any religion that chooses to bind you to some type of dogma the forces you to restrain your natural animal instincts. They say desire and “sin” move you away from the ultimate consumer of souls through fire. Ahura Mazda is the slave driver that forces laws onto mankind that completely against man’s nature. Only through spiritual and chaotic destruction of this enslavement, will one become spiritually free from not only mortal/ethical enslavement, include freedom from Atar which is the Holy Fire that will consume your soul to recharge Ahura Mazda. The truest form of freedom is brought about by evil speech (blaspheme). 3 ways define the human existence: thought, speech, and action. Knowing that mankind is judge off this paradigm, does it make sense to inhibit your animal desires because some “God” said they were evil? No, the inhibition is to build internal pressure, like a teapot without a valve. Upon death this gives the Ahuras (angels) that much more energy to consume as they live off of pain and blood. Thus requiring sacrifice and becoming a mayrter.

Which I suppose is being (accidentally?) like a martyr, only with bells on.

I note here for record that I do follow the BaphometOKC Twitter account, though this is mostly for amusement purposes.

If you object to this sort of thing, Dawn Eden suggests some ways to make your objections heard. Attendance will not be high regardless, simply because the event is booked for the downstairs City Space Theatre, which is geared to Equity Waiver/Showcase Code-sized audiences: fewer than 100. Last time, apparently, they drew zero.

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Wetter up

The city hasn’t published the new water rates yet, though William Crum of the Oklahoman has been keeping tabs on them, and the new proposal as a whole sounds plausible to me:

Significant provisions include:

  • A pricing strategy that produces 5 percent more revenue each year, with an overall reduction of 4.3 percent in water use after five years.
  • A three-year plan to increase the charge to hook up a new home — known as the “impact fee” — from $100 to $1,000, in $300 increments.
  • A strategy to make sure surrounding communities pay equitable rates for water bought from Oklahoma City and that they share in system improvement costs.

Crum reported yesterday:

The average customer, who uses 7,000 gallons of water per month, will pay $19.11, up 55 cents; a customer using 15,000 gallons would pay $43.00, up $3.25.

This indicates the implementation of usage tiers: the more you use, the higher the price per thousand-gallon unit, which is consistent with the city’s ongoing water-saving program.

Most of the time, I’m billed for 3,000 gallons a month; sometimes it’s just 2,000. I figure I’m probably using 2,700 or so. I expect the new rates, which will undoubtedly include tweaking of service, sewer and refuse fees, will go into effect in October.

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