31.5.13

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Volatile

The hour should be the evening and the season winter, for in winter the champagne brightness of the air and the sociability of the streets are grateful. We are not then taunted as in the summer by the longing for shade and solitude and sweet airs from the hayfields. The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves. As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers, whose society is so agreeable after the solitude of one’s own room.

[Virginia Woolf, The Death of the Moth.]

[IWW organizers outside Chicago-Lake Liquors.]



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frogtown

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4. Jaywalk with caution. Jaywalking is a long, proud New York tradition, one that we would never dream of asking anyone to give up. On the whole, New York pedestrians are very good at looking into traffic, gauging how fast those distant cars are going, and timing their illicit walking to avoid getting hit by a car. Now you need to do the same to avoid getting hit by bicycles. Every time you think of crossing even though the orange hand is illuminated—or when you think of crossing outside the bounds of a crosswalk—make a point of looking for approaching cyclists. If your visibility is limited, don’t cross.

[this.]



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Werman: So it’s kind of like a trompe l’oeil, and I saw a picture in one newspaper. I’m a little confused because the door looked open.
Keenan: Yeah, it looks as if the door is open and inside you can see a well-stocked shop. It’s nothing of the sort. That door has been locked shut for well over a year because that particular business went bust this time last year, and that is an image to make it look as if everything is normal in the town and in the county, but unfortunately it’s not. The County of Fermanagh has suffered terribly as a result of the credit crisis and the resulting recession.

[this.]

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berlin
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bike tricks

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“Never really seen exercise as friendly/ but I think something’s telling me to ride that ten speed/ brakes are broken that’s alright* / tire’s got air and the chain seems tight/ hopped on and felt the summertime/ it reminds me of one of those Musab rhymes”

[this.]

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30.5.13

Reading the Highland Villager #85

 
[The Villager can't drink on the patio.]
[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 so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]  
 

Headline: New charter school will give nine vacant Fort Snelling bldgs. a $30 million facelift
Reporter: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The vacant historic buildings near Fort Snelling will become a school called the Upper Mississippi Academy, focusing on an environmental curriculum.


Headline: Historic Lex is sold, will close for summer
Reporter: Frank Jossi
Short short version: The [wood paneled, windowless, former Norm Coleman hangout] Lexington Restaurant on Lexington was sold [again]. [See previouspatio debate.] Article mentions “old world charm.” [This is where I went to dinner on my prom night.] The restaurant opened in 1935, converted from a previously existing pub on that corner.


Headline: CIB Committee’s top picks include Station 19 expansion
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Capital Improvement Budget committee released its rankings [Moses-like, commanding]. At the top were a fire expansion renovation, reconstructions of bridges on Kellogg downtown, fixing rec centers and parks. Article includes discussion about the removal of pedestrian and crosswalk improvements along the [bowtie-shaped corners of] West 7th Street.


Headline: Commission supports zoning changes for west Grand; New apartment building height limited to 45 feet
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission approved a city plan to change the zoning along a stretch of Grand Avenue near St Thomas, lowering height limits but expanding lot size by reducing building setbacks. The changes also expand the “minimum apartment uit size” to discourage four-bedroom apartment units. [Clearly trying to reduce “dorm-like” housing for college students. Also, I am still waiting to see myself quoted in the Villager. Hasn't happened yet.]

Headline: Wild Wings’ liquor license held up by parking lot concerns
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The sports bar proposed for Snelling Avenue is having trouble getting its liquor license because MN-DOT is worried about consolidating the entrances and exists of the existing parking lot onto Snelling Avenue. MN-DOT wants to keep the Ashland (non-Snelling) access, but the neighbors and city want to keep traffic to and from Snelling. [This seems to be the main issue. Curb cuts are, of course, bad for walkability. I’m not sure MN-DOT knows the kind of venomous snake they are dealing with here, viz. the neighborhood. God forbid anything happen to slow down traffic on Snelling Avenue.]


Headline: City allows Qdoba to build smaller restaurant with additional parking
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council overturned an earlier Board of Zoning Appeals decision about whether or not a proposed burrito place along Ford Parkway can remain smaller than is currently allowed. The smaller building will be built. [Burritos will remain the same size.] Article include quote from neighboring property owner: “[Zoning changes were ] done as part of a long term strategy to make Highland Village [sic] more accommodating to pedestrians and bicyclists and to promote denser developments and public transit use. Then when Qdoba, the first project to come forward under the new zoning is proposed, ‘They want to go back to the old way.’”


Headline: More funds obtained for office, mini-golf plans at brewery
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The planned artsy mini-golf course for the Schmidt Brewery redevelopment project got some money from a national arts foundation.


Headline: Residents find favor with plans for developing Victoria Park; Dedicated soccer fields are not part of the mix
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Once the planners dropped the soccer fields from the plans for the park at the old industrial fuel tank site in the new neighborhood between West 7th and the river, everybody seems happy. [Boo soccer fields filled with people! Yay little-used green grass!]


Headline: St. Paul OKs $798,000 in STAR funding for cultural projects
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: St Paul is giving money to people for festivals, outdoor pianos, theaters.


Headline: Lowertown street assessment case sent back to lower court
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Downtown churches and other non-office building properties are suing the city over street assessments. It’s taking a long time.


Headline: Hazelden’s longtime plans for West End expansion continue
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Hazelden [the up-scale addiction treatment center] is building a new clinic complex along West 7th. [Imagine the uproar if instead it was an addiction center aimed at poor people.]


Headline: Ballpark petitioners make last pitch for reusing Gillette bldg. [Pun!]

Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The [crazy] people who want to save the [ugly, windowless, 3-story] industrial building in lowertown and [magically] transform it into a baseball field [with lots of parking, of course] are still at it. [Soon the wrecking ball will put an end to this conversation like a good period.]

28.5.13

TCSidewalks Live: Noteworthy Dives of Old Fort Road Bike/Walk Tour

This Friday, 6:30PM, at the corner of Randolph and Hamline.

Q: Huh?

A: This is a bicycle/walking tour taking place in Saint Paul called "Noteworthy Dives of Old Fort Road."

Q: What is a Dive Bar?

A: Cleanly defining a dive bar is difficult, precisely because dives are not very clean. It's a bit like Justice Potter Stewart's definition of obscenity. Here's what we know...

Windows - These are a minus. Dives eschew fenestration. What happens in the dive, stays in the dive.

Staff - Ideally, there's only one staff. Maybe someone works in the back. The more staff, the less divey.

Regulars - A must. When you walk into a dive, people should stop talking like in a wild west saloon and look at you a bit funny. Unless you are a regular, you really don't belong. 

Daydrinkers -Yep.

Pull Tabs - 90%. Meat raffles are also good. Best is when there's a pot of some sort of free food sitting on a table.

Nonchalance - Dives can't be trying too hard to make money. If they are, they're not dives any more. No fancy menus. No fancy paint jobs, etc.

Cleanliness - Nope.

"Craft Beer" - Nope, unless its brewed within a mile or two of the dive.

Food - Greasy or nothing. Heggie's Pizza is the hallmark of a dive. 

Q: What is Old Fort Road?

A:
This is the old name for West 7th Street, which used to run from downtown Saint Paul to Fort Snelling. This street is ancient, and has the greatest stretch of dive bars in the Twin Cities. We'll be going up West 7th Street from the "brewerytown" area (by the old Schmidt brewery to downtown Saint Paul) hitting up about six dives along the way. (For comparison, the Minnesota Historical Society's lame "west end pub crawl" is only going to two dives on their $20 tour.) 

Looked at through the lens of everyday life, the dives of Old Fort Road are the most historic thing in this city. These are places that defy so-called progress, places that pass down from owner to owner. The names might change, the beers might change, the decor might change, the kinds of jobs might change, the patrons might change, but the dive lives on. 

Q:
Do I need a bike?

A: No! Not really. These dives are close to each other, certainly stumblable, if you don't mind walking a bit.

Q: Can I come for part of it, but not hang out with you the entire goddam time?

A: Yes. I will be tweeting locations, there will be a quasi-schedule, and you can always call to find out where the tour is at. Come just for one dive, or enjoy the whole diving expedition.


22.5.13

Twin City Street Musicians #11

[Guitar. T station, Somerville MA.]


[Chinese instrument. Harvard Square, Cambridge MA.]


[Bass and guitar, West Bank Campus, Minneapolis.]


[Guitar. Santa Monica Pier.]


[Guitar. Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis.]


[Guitars. West Side, Saint Paul.]

[Guitar. Rice Park, Saint Paul.]