Friday, August 6, 2010

Bridges of Cuyahoga County

The finalists selected for the design of the new Innerbelt Bridge into downtown Cleveland were released this morning. In keeping with the absurdity of their department's policies, ODOT has given interested citizens nine whole days to provide their input on how they'd like their city skyline to look for the next 50 years. The three designs vary considerably, and each has its own positives and negatives (except for B, keep reading). You can link here for pdf's of each.

This is from Bridge Proposal C, a shot looking downtown (you can vaguely see Jacobs Field behind). I really like the modern look of this span, unfortunately it's only over this section that we see the suspension effect. The rest of the bridge seems inordinately bland:
Bridge B is terrible, an affront to anyone driving, looking, or living within 100 miles of it. The premise seems (to me) to be, let's build a bridge that shows absolutely no continuity with the existing bridges (see the blue Lorain/Carnegie bridge behind) and is utterly lacking in any aesthetically definable feature.
I'm very torn about Bridge A; on the whole its appearance is the most compelling, and the interior lighting at night is beautiful. On the other hand, it doesn't have the striking design component of Bridge C.
If I were to fathom a guess, public opinion in this relatively un-progressive burg will favor Bridge A (and remember, I'm basing this solely on the released renderings, all other factors unconsidered). What will actually be constructed is anyone's guess, but with our string of luck in the CLE, it will wind up looking like the ugly stepchild of Bridge B, while Bridges A and C will be built in Miami.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rip Van Hobo Awakens

So it's been a few months, I've been busy. Plus, I'm sure you found other spellbinding things to read on the interwebs. To recap the past few months: it was cold, then it rained, then it warmed up, now it's hot. Up to speed?

I felt compelled to write a little something in response to the unabating flogging that my dear city is taking in newspapers (they do indeed still have those, in some places) and in just about every other media outlet. What is it that makes people think they know anything about Cleveland just because they can crack wise on all the proverbial chestnuts this city has endured? What do they know about our neighborhoods, our traditions, our devotion? The short answer is, nothing. Nor do they care, because it's easy to put someone else down to make yourself feel better. Sticks and stones and all that...

To be honest with you, I'm tired of it. And pride or not, it's time for a re-appraisal. This has begun in earnest (one would hope) with the drastic overhaul of county government. Whether it will usher out generations of corruption in public officialdom is too early to call. But, with any luck, it will inspire a new generation of leaders whose worldviews are shaped more by renewal and reclamation than recidivism and relapse. But this is too broad in scope, and already getting boring to write about.

Here are some concrete and uninvited opinions for what I think can help Cleveland:
1. Cut your already considerable losses and tell MMPI to get the hell out of town before we sink any more taxpayer millions into the pie-in-the-sky medical mart. I still don't understand why anyone thinks this is a good idea. We pay for the whole enormous mess, then give ownership to a company out of Chicago. Then, we pay them to take care of it for us, and we give them a tax abatement. Am I missing something?

2. Take that Lakefront Plan that everyone worked so hard to put together out from under the table leg it's been propping up and PUT IT INTO ACTION! If there's one thing that could benefit our image and please ALL the people of the region, it's intelligently developing public spaces on the freaking water that (everybody now) "is our greatest asset". I've got news for you, unless you're capitalizing on it, it's not an asset, it's a waste. And if I could spend time at a beach that looked more like Huntington and less like Edgewater, I would.

3. I don't know how, but tear up some of those god-awful surface parking lots blighting downtown and put in some green spaces! Maybe a park with a pavilion and stage, maybe a place where people can rent bicycles to explore the city. I don't know, anything is better than asphalt jungle as far as the eye can see.

4. Tear down about 10% of the housing stock in the city. It's obvious we're not the same sized city we were even 10 years ago, and we've got an overabundance rundown ramshackle housing that does nothing but lower property values and incite crime.

5. Support burgeoning local gardening and farming efforts with grants, inexpensive land leases, and internships for local kids. Though the availability of fresh produce across the downtown and east side has increased of late, it should remain a focus to provide nourishing sustenance to the people. All the while instilling skills and work ethic and promoting a healthy lifestyle in the urban core.

6. Put a damn bike lane over the Innerbelt Bridge. So let me get this straight, you're going to spend half a billion dollars to replace the only main thoroughfare linking the City with the southern inner-ring suburbs and beyond, and you refuse to add a measly bike lane? Perhaps you've noted the success with which cities like Portland and Boulder have had in incorporating this green, healthy, and desirable (among potential residents) subgenre into their cities. Why on Earth would we continue to push for less interaction, less exercise, fewer options for people?

I guess I could go on and on, but there are many others who put forth many more compelling arguments than me. I just hope that for our sake, and for the future's, the right people are listening.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I can vouch for the sentiments expressed in the following preview, although everyone knows I'm pretty biased. Anyway, if you've ever been curious to go to a Phish show, but couldn't bare the thought of all the weirdos, DON'T GO TO THE MOVIE THEATER ON APRIL 30TH. That is all.

PHISH 3D - IN THEATERS APRIL 30TH from Phish on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Last Leg

Got a call from the Unknown this morning (Tuesday). Literally, that's what it said on my caller id: "Unknown". Very mysterious, though I had a feeling it was originating from somewhere in Bolivia. Sure enough, Katie had hijacked a greenhouse in the heat-like phone booth to check in. Was she safe and sound? Yes. Was she well rested? Sort of; between new surroundings, a racing head, and the hotel television in the background, she didn't get much sleep.

She did meet up with Dorinda, the doctoral-getting, China, Paris, Montana, Bolivia-living guide of guides who is showing Katie the ropes, as it were. It sounds like she's done more in her life than most people could even hope to do. She currently resides in Independencia and will be working with Katie during her stay.

She said the food had been good; cafe con leche (espresso with steamed milk) and bread baked with cheese for breakfast. Lunch yesterday was a vegetarian melange of various.... vegetables, I guess. Plus fava beans, she did mention fava beans.

The forecast looks to be pretty predictable (and warm). A far cry from the snowstorm brewing maliciously outside my window, but a welcome change I'm sure.


It's now Thursday, sorry for the delay. Spoke briefly with Katie just a moment ago and she is safely in Independencia. The dreaded bus ride was largely as anticipated; hairpin turns through the Andes Mountains, etc, with one rather harrowing twist like a cherry on top. Apparently, as they were crossing through a pass, the earth above (and ahead) of them let loose, disgorging a mass of dirt and rock that rumbled down the mountainside and across the road ahead. The landslide caused a rather lengthy delay, until a bulldozer could be brought into service and clear a path through the rubble. During the wait, as passengers caught some fresh air outside the bus, another smaller slide sent rock shards and other debris in their direction, as they quickly raced across the road to avoid the collapse.

Now, however, things have taken a more leisurely pace, and Katie has settled into her room at the local hostel. For the kingly sum of $15 a night, she is guaranteed a private bathroom, a real luxury in itself. She said that outside her room there are peach trees, and all that surrounds is green and lush. She and Dorinda made a peach crisp for dessert last evening, in fact, direct from the trees out back. She hopes to have internet access via the local school intermittently, so anyone reading that would like to send her a message are encouraged to say hello.

Now she will be getting down to business, teaching the local women (and men, I guess if they're interested) in weaving and spinning on a wheel (I mean like spinning yarn on a wheel, not like a weird game show or anything). Also, dying textiles using natural dyes, and whole host of other textile related 'things' that I don't have the vaguest idea how to do or explain.

She wishes everyone could see what's she's seeing, but alas, we'll have to wait for the pictures...

(No word on if she'll bring us back stylish hats.)