Reading the Highland Villager #111

[Send photos of "the Villager inaction" to blindeke@gmail.com]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]

Headline: Snelling Ave. bus rapid transit gets green light; Debate includes ironing out stop near dry cleaner [GROAN ALERT; most egregious headline pun of 2014 right here.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Note: when the article says "gets the green light," I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume they don't mean literally giving green signal priority to transit. That would be crazy in a town like Saint Paul.] Snelling Avenue is getting the first "aBRT" [i.e. quasi-BRT] bus line in the Twin Cities. Some people are upset. In particular, Macalester College who owns the bookstore [where Garrison Keillor lives] was upset, so Metro Transit moved the stop across the street to the dry cleaner. Then the dry cleaner got upset about losing the curb cut on one of his driveways. [BRT hot potato.]

Headline: Council seeks detailed study of feasibility of streetcars; Dream of streetcars won't die despite high cost projections
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council passed a resolution to keep studying streetcars. They also asked the Met Council to postpone aBRT plans for West 7th Street until a county study of the corridor is completed. [Should be soon, I hope.] Article includes recap of history of streetcar and West 7th transit debates, which are extensive. Best quote is from CM Bostrom: "This city runs on automobiles. That's just fact." [Well then, I better buy a car. That's gonna take a lot of postcards. Thanks in advance.]

Headline: New PED Director is an old hand at developing the local economy
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The city's Planning and Economic Development (PED) Department hired a new head, who used to work for the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative and SPARC, a non-profit development agency on Rice Street [I used to live mere blocks from there]. Article includes lots of biographical details. Article includes lots of glowing quotes from St Paul VIPs. Catchy term: "macro-micro approach."

Headline: St. Paul considers measures to address residential teardowns
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might restrict teardowns in Highland Park and Mac-Groveland, but not have a moratorium.

Headline: Proposals sought for downtown gateway
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The vacant surface parking lot at Kellogg and West 7th might get developed. Neighbors don't want a skyway there because it would block views of downtown. [Proof that there is a god!]

Headline: City proceeds with Marshall median without Mac match
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is building a [smaller somewhat more half-assed than originally proposed] pedestrian median on Marshall Avenue by the ice cream store that will still allow cars to turn into the liquor store even though some of the non-public money to pay for it disappeared.

Headline: Federation favors brewery move to West 7th tire store
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An abandoned tire store [near my house] will become a brewpub. [More proof. All praise the unmoved mover!]

Headline: St. Paul transfers deed for site of Rondo Community Center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city gave the site of a former VFW to a local group to turn it into a community center.

Headline: Work begins at Fort Snelling on housing for homeless vets
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Old historic buildings that used to house soldiers will again house old soldiers. [Frankly, this is kind of amazing. I'm getting real good vibes from this Villager, as if something or someone is trying to send me a sign.]

Headline: Palace Rec project may be raided again; City considers shifting another $91,000 to help finish the Jefferson and Griggs bike boulevards
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Bids for bike boulevards are higher than expected and the city is taking money from other projects to finish them. The Council Members whose districts affected seem OK with it because they've been promised that the rec center renovation will "move forward." The rec center funding had been cut previously to pay for fancy new sidewalks in Highland. [But let's just blame bikes and not mention "the Village."] The Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) committee voted against the shift and seems upset.

Headline: Budget cuts or tax increases? Mayor solicits public's help in closing $9.6 million gap
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has a budget deficit. Article includes quote from CM Lantry: "We have a gap every year, caused largely by inflation and salary increases."

Headline: Council and Coleman at odds over the extent of repairs for city streets
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The mayor wants to "mill and overlay" [i.e. repave] a dozen streets. The City Council wants to reconstruct them. [All I care about if if we reconstruct them, we do so with the city's new street design guide in mind, and explore traffic calming and/or road diets.] Article includes quote from city engineer: "the streets proposed for mill and overlay work are not in line for reconstruction anytime soon." [Seems like we're messing with the engineers, who know exactly which streets are in the worst condition?] Much of the money used for the potential reconstruction would come from a fund to repair stairways and for "bike, pedestrian and traffic safety programs", which the CIB committee is upset about.

Headline: Transit-oriented transformation planned for Midway Center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The strip mall at Snelling and University might become a "large-scale transit oriented development," provided they can find $40 million for parking ramps. [This story brought to you by The Onion.]

Headline: HRA approves another $750K for former Jamestown Homes in Summit-U
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is financing a renovation for 73 units of affordable housing on Centrral Avenue.

Headline: Highland Village should have new improved streetscape by years' end
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The shops at Ford and Cleveland will get fancy new sidewalks soon. [Thanks to taking money from the aforementioned rec center?] They seem like they'll be nice. Some people are upset about the assessments.

Headline: Fort Snelling State Park reopens as cleanup continues from June flood
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The river was high.

Headline: City clears way for new Davern sidewalk
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A street where a lot of kids almost get hit by cars because it doesn't have a sidewalk will have a sidewalk soon, despite the protestations of the historic preservation commission (HPC). The city will try to avoid cutting down trees. [A good policy.]

Headline: Council turns down Getten Credit's appeal
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A strange quasi-bank will not be allowed to relocate into a residential neighborhood even though "many people know and like the Getten family." [Strange, I'd always assumed the name was a weird pun, like "Yo, I'm getten some credit right here."]


*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Pleasant

But physical technique, Robbins pointed out, is merely a tool. "It's all about the choreography of people's attention," he said. "Attention is like water. It flows. It's liquid. You create channels to divert it, and you hope that it flows the right way."


[Carriage houses along Maiden Lane, taken for this piece.]



*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***

*** ***


*** ***


*** ***

*** ***

*** ***

*** ***


*** ***


*** ***

*** ***
09/20/0811:30aSt. PaulMN353515MN . LSFGray Buick, no HCAP id. Mail driver should no sign of need for HCAP stall use, and gave me a hard time when I questioned his need for the stall.


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***

*** ***


*** ***

*** ***


*** ***


*** ***

*** ***

*** ***

*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***

*** ***

*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***



Best (Urban) Articles from The New Yorker

[New Yorker covers love bikes.]
About two years back, my father got me a gift subscription to The New Yorker. I've been relatively diligent about keeping up on it, believe it or not.

Now that the magazine has opened all its articles to the public to read for free (for a short period), I thought I'd share some of my favorite bits that are vaguely interesting if you're interested in cities.

These are all the ones that jump out at me, and what I remember about them without going back and looking at them again.

[In chronological order.]

David Owen, Why Purell is Everywhere 3/4/2013

I guess it answers a question.

David Owen, Watch Where You Step in Florida 3/18/2013

All about Florida sinkholes, which are common there because of the unique geology. This story has some amazing details of all kinds of things coming up out of the ground! Worth a read if you're interested in Floridian eschatology, as I am.

William Finnegan, The Miner's Daughter 3/28/13

Long profile of an incredibly wealthy and secretive Australian mining heiress and magnate. You wonder where copper comes from?

Sean Wilsey, Open Water 4/22/13

Amazing true memoir of a guy who worked as a Venetian gonodlier. It has islands and gondolier codes and stuff. So cool.

Jennie Erin Smith, A State of Nature  4/22/13

OK, so there's this one tiny bit between Panama and Colombia where the roads in either direction don't go. It's kind of amazing that there's this gap. Read all about it. It sounds wild.

Douglas Preston, The El Dorado Machine 5/6/2013

History of people searching for "lost cities" in Central America. Very Indiana Jones. Great read.

Tad Friend, Crowded House 5/27/2013

This is a funny story about people trying a mythical great apartment in New York City that a scammer keeps promising people but never delivers on. It reads kinda like a Seinfeld episode, involving the apartment being rented out to multiple people at the same time.

Larissa MacFarquar,  Last Call 6/24/13

Story of a Japanese Buddhist monk who specializes in talking to people who are about to kill themselves, which is a big thing in Japan. Poignant and illustrates something about our / Japan's individualized culture.

John McPhee, The Orange Trapper 7/1/2013

Great short memoir about a life long hobby collecting golf balls outside golf courses. Very well written and interesting to think about fences and edges and golf.

Calvin Tompkins, Ed Ruscha's L.A. 7/1/2013

A short bio piece about a famous L.A. artist, talks a lot about L.A. in the 70s and 80s and the state of the art scene. Ruscha is the one responsible for this hilarious painting...

John Seabrook, The Beach Builders 7/22/2013

About how much work it takes to rebuild the beaches destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and whether we should even be rebuilding those towns any more. Kind of wistful look at Jersey shore towns.

Julian Rubinstein, Operation Easter 7/22/2013

This one was literally unbelievable. There are people who spend their lives stealing the eggs of endangered birds in the U.K. So wrong! So strange.

Sarah Stilman, Taken 8/12/2013

Civil forfeiture is when police take your stuff when they pull you over. It's straight up extortion and happens all the time in the South. Heartbreaking piece.

Ian Frazier, Walking Normally: The Facts 9/9/2013

The funniest thing on this list. Trust me, you're gonna laugh your ass off.

Rachel Aviv, The Imperial Presidency 9/9/2013

Article about the controversial president of NYU, who has been buying up swaths of Manhattan and opening up a branch in Dubai.

Andrew Marantz, The Unreality Star 9/16/2013

OK I didn't actually read this one, but it looks good about surveillance culture and paranoia.

Calvin Tompkins, A Sense of Place 9/23/2013

If you're into architecture, this is about the guy who did the African American museum in D.C.

Josh Eells, Night Club Royale 9/30/2013

Apparently there's a huge electronic dance music (EDM) scene in Las Vegas now, which is the only think keeping that city from blowing away in the wind. 

Akash Kapur, Rush 10/14/2013

Fascinating story about a big highway being built through a tiny village in India. A lot changes! Learn about roads in India.

Ian Frazier, Bus Ride 4/14/2014

The most dangerous bus in New York is the B46, which Frazier rides from end to end. The quotes from the bus driver are amazing.

Burkhard Bilger, Auto Correct 11/25/2013

Short bit about the Google robo-car.

Calvin Trillin, Mozarella Story 12/2/2013

Lovely ode to an old store in Little Italy that sold handmade mozzarella for like forever. Really well written, of course.

Ian Johnson, In The Air 12/2/2013

Air pollution in China is amazing. Seriously crazy what their cities are like.

Emily Eakin, The Civilization Kit 12/23/2013

Guy in Missouri that is trying to build his own tractor (and all other machines) from scratch.

Elizabeth Kolbert, The Red Light 1/27/2014

All about traffic jam politics and Chris Christie. Pretty hard to believe that New Jersey politics revolves around traffic jams, but it does.

John Colapinto, The Real-Estate Artist 1/20/2014

Artist who is attempting to revive a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, one of the country's largest and poorest black ghettos. Really interesting if you're into Chicago.

Dana Goodyear, Death Dust 1/20/2014

About a plague of crazy disease-inducing dust in California's central valley, another incredibly poor part of the country. Really depressing and mysterious.

Paige Williams, Drop Dead, Detroit! 1/27/2014

Bio piece on this one right-wing asshole who has been in charge of the burbs north of Detroit for years, and made his living cordoning off the white suburbs from the black city. I didn't know this history, but it explains a lot.

Jon Lee Anderson, The Comandante's Canal 3/10/2014

The president of Nicaragua is trying to build a second canal and the Chinese are helping. Incredible, really.

Evan Osnos, Chemical Valley 4/7/2014

Another really poor place, West Virginia, and how deeply rooted the chemical industry is there. it's so hard to imagine people drinking the water and taking showers during the chemical spill, and the government doing nothing about it.

Ian Frazier, Blue Bloods 4/14/2014

Unbelievable stuff about horseshoe crabs. I didn't know anything about horseshoe crabs, which live in on Long Island. I guess I really like Ian Frazier.

Sarah Payne Stuart, Pilgrim Mothers 5/5/2014

A nice memoir about living in Concord, MA, and how strange the old puritan culture is there.

Dale Russakoff, Schooled 5/19/2014

Long and interesting history of school reform in Newark involving Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg. Really. Reforming schools seems almost impossible.

Sarah Stillman, Get Out of Jail Inc. 6/23/2014

For profit work programs is when courts take your money for life when you don't pay parking tickets. It's straight up extortion and happens all the time in the South. Heartbreaking piece.



Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #95

The confrontation under the interstate overpass...

... from the finest capoeira / inner city schools film of the 90s, Shelon Lettich's (1993) Only The Strong.

Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #94

Pee Wee doesn't sell Francis his bike even though it's his birthday...

... in Tim Burton's (1985) Pee Wee's Big Adventure.