Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why yes, I am in a bad mood... thanks for asking.

So I'm reading this interview with the MATA planning director Tom Fox by Tim over at "I'll meet you at the Station" and I got distracted by a number. Tim apparently solicited questions from his readers (bravo for crowd-sourcing), and put together a really solid list of questions for Mr. Fox.

The general theme of the answers came in the form of "we're working hard but we need more money." This didn't come as any great shock to me; I work for the state. Budgets are tight all around and I get that, but then Mr. Fox actually quoted a dollar figure.

The thing standing in the way of the Cordova/Downtown light rail line is $17 million dollars. Our mayor wants to piss away $175 million dollars of our tax money for a football stadium in a city that already cocked up its bid for a professional football team and has been thoroughly screwed on the other two professional sports venues built here and you mean to tell me that the only thing standing in the way of this desperately needed bit of public transit is a measly $17mil?

And before somebody takes me to task for the "desperately needed" bit because they think people in the 'burbs all suck, I've got to get something off my chest: I'm sick to death of this "us versus them" crap between the inside-the-parkways crowd and everybody else in the MSA. Cordova and Collierville need downtown and downtown needs Cordova and Collierville, no matter how much both sides resent it. If Memphis were doing as well off from the Midtowners' money as they and their never ending stream of press releases would have us believe, then Main Street after dark would look like Vegas and not a pan handlers convention.

That said, do I wish there were less sprawl? Of course I do, but I also wish I had a tree that grew gold bricks... fat lot of good that's doing. We have to work together starting with the Memphis that's here, not the Memphis we wish we had.

In his critique of this notion of the Creative Class that we're supposed to be attracting in droves and that will apparently pave the streets in platinum and make jewels fall from the sky, a good friend of mine brought up the point of what he called "legacy Memphians." His point being that, ok fine, we bring all these super hip people here with all their super hip techno VC and the people who are already here and broke are still here and broke. WTF are we supposed to do for them?

(Speaking of critiques, if you haven't read fearlessvk's skewering of this myth of the Creative Class go do it now... right now... I mean it... I'll wait...)

But taken a step further, sprawl is also a part of "Legacy Memphis." Ignoring it or making fun of it isn't going to make it go away. We still have to be neighbors after we're done snarking about each other on our blogs.

My foul mood this afternoon aside, I'm not saying there aren't good things happening in Memphis because God knows there are lots of them, but they are having to happen in spite of our divided-and-politically-conquered natures. I freely admit to being a newb (I made 5 years here in December), but Steve Cohen's partisan rant aside, the Charles Jordan talk a few weeks ago was the first time since I've lived here that I felt like I was part of a community that was actually interested in doing something.

And by community, I don't mean Central Gardens, I don't mean Raliegh, I don't mean Hickory Hill... I mean Memphis... all of it.

Like it or not we're all in this together.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Save the Date: Physics, Wright, and Bosch

I promise I will write a real entry soon, but in the mean time:

TONIGHT at 7 p.m. in the Psych Auditorium at the University of Memphis, Alan Lightman will be presenting a lecture entitled "The Physicist as Novelist." From the press release:

"For more than 20 years, the Memphis-born Lightman taught physics and astronomy at Harvard University. He is now an adjunct professor at MIT, where he teaches in the writing and humanistic studies program. Lightman has been recognized for his writing by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has twice been a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in the fiction and non-fiction categories."
THURSDAY, March 1 at 7p.m. in the Meeman Journalism Auditorium, Michael Hatt, head of research at the Yale Center for British Art, will be giving a lecture "Speech and Silence: Richard Wright’s Twelve Million Black Voices." From the Press Release:
"Wright's third book, published in 1941, gives voice to the struggle of black Americans to find a place in a society closed to them. The feelings of the book are intensified by Depression-era photographs by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Arthur Rothstein. The lecture in the Meeman Journalism Auditorium is free and open to the public."
Also THURSDAY at 7, Henry Luttikhuizen, professor of art at Calvin College, will present a lecture "Through Boschian Eyes" Thursday at 7 p.m. at Rhodes College. Again with the press release goodness:
"Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) is noted for his meticulously painted compendiums of monsters and demons meting out grotesque punishments in vast allegorical landscapes lit by hellish fires.Serving both devotional and satirical purposes, Bosch's work, filled with references to folklore and religious symbolism, grew out of the intense social and political tensions of his time. The lecture in the Blount Auditorium of Buckman Hall is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Lillian and Morrie Moss Endowment for the Visual Arts."

For those who may be interested, I've started sharing my events calendar via iCal Exchange. I don't go to everything on there (it would be physically impossible), but I put things on there that I find interesting just to remind myself of what I could be doing if Amber weren't so sick and I weren't working so f!@#ing much.

The iCal file itself is here if you'd like to subscribe to it, and the pretty HTML version is here.

I've also (just as an aside) been thinking of writing a back end system for the software that drives iCal Exchange as sort of a public service so that local organizations could easily syndicate their event dates the way blogs syndicate stuff, but I've got to get out from under my day job first.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Two views of Claus Oldenburg

Here's the other one.

(you can get closer to it in Google earth....)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dancing about Architecture

I'm entirely to tired to say anything sensible about it, but I just wanted to point out a interesting bit of conversation happening over at the Lantana Blog for those of you who haven't seen it. Good stuff, conversation... we need more of it.

Sunday, February 04, 2007