Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Miners club Otters

Last night's home opener for the City of Marion's new minor league baseball team, the Southern Illinois Miners, was a big hit, judging from the coverage in the Southern Illinoisan, which has a nice slide show accompanied by (asynchronous) interviews of fans by Caleb Hale (nearly drowned out by the sound of wind). Good job by Patrick Laxson, although snapshots of the people being spoken to would have helped. Les Winkeler contributed two articles: one about the stadium (with audio) and one about the quality of the team. And Robert Crow covered the game itself, which the Miners won, 9-6. . . . Hardly a 'clubbing', but a tip of the cap to Tom "Cap" Miller for suggesting the phrase "Miners Club Otters" in yesterday's "morning news watch" on WJPF-AM -- as a tee-shirt (but rejected for polically correct reasons).

The Miners will play the Evansville Otters again tonight. Then tomorrow it's the River City Rascals.

Will the headline read: Miners Throw the Rascals Out?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

News news

The Shawnee Net news aggregator is working again (without the Blogger RSS feeds, since they wouldn't work). But the latest version of Drupal has been installed (thanks to my man Peter, by his man, Mike) and I've been working on the "look and feel" during downtime at my Graydog gig.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stop with the bus, already

Puzzled by some (unpublished) comments I've received from readers, on Friday I put a makeshift petition on the counter for Greyhound passengers to sign, if they want the bus to stop on N. Washington St. instead of S. Illinois Ave.

The first two signatories are students, but customers come from other towns besides Carbondale, and from many walks of life (not just 'bums', as one commenter put it). We'll see how many sign before the City Council meeting June 19. I should try to get an online petition going too.

It seems some commenters are merely trying to stir up trouble and be negative, so I will not "get into to it" with them, or with my old friend Eric Deutsch. I apologize for using an unpleasant term for Eric -- a term which I would not have used, if not for the alliteration, and quasi-accuracy. Both of us will have a chance to speak on June 19, along with anybody else who wants to put a stop to the new Stop -- or give it a go.

P.S. to "Mrs. Patrick Campbell": What you see in Eric, reflects yourself. I always kind of liked the guy (as a local character), before I learned of his behind-the-back tactics. I'm going to address his public claims (and those of others who spoke at the Planninc Commission hearing on May 5) in a new blog about my Greyhound experience, beginning with a draft of my upcoming City Council presentation next month.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Field of controversy

Two different opinions on the recent demoliton of the old Carbondale high school field buildings. Peter praises the Arbor District for getting it done, but Bob issues "the sharp point of [his] complaint lamenting that it took a stabbing to get the City's attention to matters that he complained about a year ago.

Motorcycling to work

Gotta hand it to Southern Illinoisan reporter Caleb Hale. In his report Carbondale Celebrates Bike to Work Day, he even scooped me on this:
"David More, a community organizer of the event, said he would have biked to work Thursday, but his bicycle was stolen a couple of days earlier. He admits he forgot to lock it up outside his Greyhound bus station along North Washington Street, but said he's fairly confident the police will be able to recover it."
I wasn't going to write about it. Prob'ly shouldn't have told CH, or should have been more clear, because I didn't mean to imply confidence the police would recover it (although they could) since I did not file a report.

So, not confidence, exactly, but hope! The guy who cleans the building knows people "on the street" and I'll be looking too. I've gotten a bike back before (the same one!), so it could happen again.

Meanwhile, I'll motorcycle to work, and look for a used two-wheeler at a yard sale, or thrift store.

Bike training

This morning (Bike to Work Day in many U.S. cities) I caught up with one of the Amtrak engineers who rides a bicycle to work every day to tell him that the City of Carbondale has a trophy "with his name on it" -- for a rider who bicycles to work every day not just Bike to Work Day -- Thomas T. Pleasants ("TT").

TT puts his bike on the train, so he can use it when he gets to Union Station.

He's been riding to work for 14 years!

p.s. I like this title so well, I use it (with a different photo and text) in the Bike 2 Work blog, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spokes folks

The yellow jackets were out in force today, Bloggee. The co-founder of the Bike 2 Work Day event in Carbondale, Tom Riechman in the red listens to wife Mary Avery, Sheila Simon, and Stace England discuss the need for more bicycle lanes on city streets.

England won the trophy for long-distance ride to work, while the trophy for the organization with the most people bicyling to work went to the SIUC Microbiology Department for the second year in a row, inspired by Donna Mueller.

(Stace has a killer website of his own for his world famous music projects. He told me that the New York Times interviewed him this week for a story about Cairo in Sunday's edition.)

More details and a group photo are posted at the Bike 2 Work blog.

Inspired by my conversation with these local cycling luminaries, after snapping this photo, I obtained a domain name for the cause.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Walking the walk

Pounding the pavement today, peddling tomorrow's Bike 2 Work Day event at Town Square Pavilion (noon-1), I visited the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and met office manager Lisa Cardinale, secretary, and Meredith Rhoads, the director, (pictured here) who seemed more than willing to participate in the event.

It didn't take much conversation with Meredith (about 3 minutes) before I pegged her as a "gets things done" type. When I offered to take her on a walking tour of Town Square -- stopping by local businesses for an impromptu 'meet and greet' -- she jumped at the chance, keeping up with my pavement-pounding, stride for stride. I know the business owners that she met were delighted to meet her, and she learned a few things about some businesses nearby her office.

The last I saw her, she was considering riding her bicycle all the way from her parent's home in West Frankfort (26 miles) in order to win the distance trophy, although she has an extremely early start tomorrow (at the Chamber office at 6'ish) to meet the current crop of Leadership trainees for a field trip to the Leadership Conference sponsored by the Southern Illinoisan at JALC.

Maybe her entire group will bicyle over after their event a Logan.

And speaking of bicyling to work -- Another avid bicycler last night. One of the engineers for Amtrak, who rides to the station every morning he's in town, and hauls his bike to Chicago to have it there, as well. He leaves the motel at 6 tomorrow. I think I may try to meet him for a photo in the morning and quick interview, if I can get up that early. ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pushing Bike 2 Work Day

Been so bussy lately I forgot to give a plug to Bike 2 Work Day coming up this Thursday in Carbondale (Friday in most other cities.) As in the past, music will be provided by Darby McGrann and lunch prepared by a local restaurant; this year the Newell House, plus some fruit and drinks.

Bike 2 Work Day is a great excuse to get your own bicycle out of moth-balls and enjoy a morning ride. But even if you can not bike to work, the lunch is open to everyone who bicyles to the Town Square Pavilion between 12 -1 p.m.

Trophies will be awarded by Mayor Brad Cole to the organization that has the most people ride to work, as well as to the individual who rides the farthest. Plus one or two surprise awards!

So be there on "The Square" on Thursday if you can.

Happy pedaling.

Blook 'im, Dano

The winner of the 3rd annual Blooker Prize was won by Colby Buzzell for best "blook" of 2007 (a book inspired by his blog): My War: Killing Time in Iraq.

One of the judges says Buzzell's blook
". . . tells the reader what it's like to be a grunt fighting in the Sunni Triangle with more power and authority than the best embedded reporter in the world could manage. My War has been a cult hit in America . . . and it would never have been written if blogging had not been invented."
I can think of several things that would not have happened if it weren't for this blog, and it ain't done yet! (despite Peter the Grate's ingratiating push off the board! ;-)) My plan is to wait until after the City Council meeting, so we can have some closure about the bus stop plan. Then after that, I'll publish weekly updates of how my own blook is coming along, and maybe do some marketing, as Colby does.

But this is Carbondale, not Iraq, or Washington D.C. so my gems and good news may not reach as wide an audience as I would like to make the effort and cost of publishing worthwhile. I'm thinking about turning it into a Ph.D. dissertation, if I can find some qualified and civic-minded interdisciplinary faculty members. (Jon Bean? Terry Clark? Who else? The School of Journalism seems far out of touch with blogs. To my knowledge there are no blogs emanating from SIUC).

Truly, this town is blog-tarded as it is in certain other quality of life issues (not one first-class Italian Restaurant!?). Peter G puzzles over the fact that when he leaves town this summer, that I will be the only local blogger actively commenting on the local scene. Of course, other local bloggers have been going strong for years, like Tom and Shawn to name two. But without the relentless localness I've tried to give this blog.

Even so, I want my blook to have broad readership, outside the narrow confines of the city limits, especially since traditional publishers are scouring blogs for the first bestselling blook.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Caleb stops by; Dave can't stop

Got through my second week at Greyhound, making strides toward turning "the little station that could" into "the best little bus stop in Southern Illinois, south of Effingham," with the help of Richard here, who custom-made a ticket counter inside, and hung the sign above the door.

Caleb Hale, the new C'dale beat reporter for the Southern Illinoisan, stopped by with photographer Chuck Novara to ask questions and snap photos for a story in Friday's paper that begins:
"When David More says he wants to put a Greyhound bus stop at 215 N. Washington St., what he really means is he wants to revitalize that area of Carbondale.
Isn't that great! Caleb knows what I really mean! That makes him a "New Journalist!" -- going beyond the traditional who, what, and where journalistic questions, with techniques of fiction, such as investing motives behind stated words or deeds.
'This right here is the future of downtown Carbondale,' More said, standing on the sidewalk in front of the gray building he hopes will serve as the city's next stop for bus passengers."
But Caleb got it right (except for the color of the building - which is light brown, not gray; and the counter Richard made), definitely capturing the spirit of the endeavor: revitalizing the 200 block of North Washington St.

It's going to be challenging, though, because not all neighboring property owners share my vision.

I heard on the street (literally) that one of them -- Eric Deutsch (Doitch) -- was stirring people up to speak against my application for Special Use Permit at the Planning Commission hearing on May 5.

Deutsch is an old hippie real estate speculator and property manager of low rent properties. He's also a partner in a Murphysboro internet provider. I used to call him "the Sandanhista Businessman" in the past because of his outlandish attire, but after learning of his backstabbing, I think douche (as in douche-bag) might be a better name for him.

Eric is the man behind the curtain of the Big Muddy Independent Media Center which up until a few months ago claimed to offer an alternative "to the mind-numbing propaganda of big news corporations" (quoting the BMIMC MySpace page, but the link to the main site has been dead for months.)

What Eric didn't mention in his testimony to the Planning Commission is the fact that up until mid-April of this year, Greyhound tickets were actually being sold at the BMIMC. When I took over, I made the decision to move across the street for sound business reasons that I explained to Eric's friend Aur Beck. So D-bag's objections smack of sour grapes.

Another local property owner who spoke against the proposal, Tom Egert, remains one of my local heroes. I've known him since before Longbranch Coffee House was a used clothing store! Tom also is responsible for starting public radio station WDBX , and Tropicana Vintage (behind Longbranch, but with a Washington Street entrance). He's done a lot for the community. I rarely disagree with Tom, so his suggestion that a restroom facility would be useful is well taken.

Same thing with architect Gale White, who sent a letter to the Planning Commission requesting that when the bus arrives, the ticket office be open. I need to speak to him about that, and explain some realities he may be unaware of, such as my need for sleep.

But to address the main concerns of the objectors, I've decided to lease the back of the building (where the bar stools and tables and chairs still set out) so travelers can wait, and maybe buy a cup of coffee or a sandwich.

Link to Caleb Hale's article

Monday, May 07, 2007


SIU's begin this week, but the NBA's don't start until June 7. I'm not sure when my final post to this blog will be. Perhaps today.

Since my recent milestone birthday, and the sudden passing of my friend Jim, I look at everything I do as preparation for my own future finals. No time like the present.

I've posted updates to Bike 2 Work Day, Marry the Mayor, and On The Square in their respective blogs. Bytelife also has been bobbing along (like a cork), thanks to Scott and the rest. Tom wrote a good post about the need for a place to "collect and enjoy" a nice day downtown.

When I do stop publishing this Dispatch, those will blogs will continue, along with Heartland Artland, Waiting for Colbert, and 9/11=.81.

Meanwhile, plans are afoot for a bus stop 'soup and sandwich' shop that the Carbondale Planning Commission will love, if they enjoy sandwiches like the one Steve Hirschberg made. The City Council hearing has been pushed back to June 19.

Maybe the Shawnee Net RSS feeds will finally be fixed and fully functional by then.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The future Mrs. Cole?

People wonder, now that the election is over, doesn't Cole have time to focus on his resolution to get married by the end of the year? Last I heard, a young woman from Nashville selected by the Marry the Mayor committee was coming to Carbondale to visit the Law School soon. Her name is Barbara, and she sent a funny and savvy video essay on why she'd like to marry Brad. I'll try to get it uploaded later today.

Of course, this blog will keep you posted with developments. So far, Blue Star Lines has offered to chauffeur the couple around town, as Two Doves chases after them, paparazzi-style.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bus stop stopped?

Should the Greyhound Bus be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at 215 N. Washington St? Carbondale City Planners think so, but the Planning Commission thinks not.

The Planning Commission is comprised of 10 people*, including Councilman Fritzler who sat at the end. Chairman Navreet Kang conducted the meeting and City Planners Rob Keehn and Angie Shimkus (no relation) were there to present information and answer questions. Also on the Commission a familiar face, Rhett Barke, who ran for City Council the same year as me, and will probably run again.

Three people spoke against, and three expressed concerns. Of the three who spoke against, two didn't make sense: Mrs. Nesbitt and her brother. In fact, the opposite of what they anticipate would happen.

Another very vocal opponent was "Dr. M. Stall", who seemed a bit het up about the whole thing. She should have just spoken to me, and I could have allayed her fears or cured her ignorance. But her whole approach was negative. She hasn't read The Secret, obviously. Like me and Rhett B., Ms. Stall ran unsuccessfully for City Council a few years ago.

The planning commission didn't do a good job of involving people in interaction. The structure is spelled out step by step in front of the Chairman. The whole thing with the microphone and big table.

The other comments came from three men whose business savvy and real estate acumen I respect: Gale White, Tom Egert, and Eric Deutsch, each of whom owns property across the street from the proposed location. Tom and Eric spoke in person, while Gale submitted a letter. I didn't hear what they said as being against, but offering constructive advice.

One concern was shelter for passengers, and facilities for when the bus arrives. One possibility would be to have a restaurant in the back. There is plenty of space, since it used to be a bar, and there are still tables and chairs and public bathrooms. So it's possible.

I plan to postpone the June 5 hearing at City Council until June 19, during which time I can try to speak to Mrs. Nesbitt, the fried fish queen, and perhaps with the estimable Dr. M. Stalls -- after addressing the concerns raised by Gale, Tom and Eric.

Rob K. says I can push the City Council hearing back for one meeting, but more than than that, and I have to reapply for a permit (and pay another 200) again. In addition, the City is charging a fairly reasonable rate of $50 per month to lease 2 spaces.

Today, Richard Carpenter built a counter. I want to have the office spiffy by next week. Currently, the office is in bivouac mode, with dial-up connection and hand-written tickets, but some friends and neighbors have stopped by to give support for my venture on "the Levee." Even Sheikh Din gave his approval as he was leaving (not by Greyhound) for a conference in Austin with a priestly guy named Thomas Keating.

We all agree (even Thomas Keating, if I asked him, I am sure) that that 215 N. Washington is not the perfect location. Inside the Amtrak station would be best. But until there's an intermodal center in town, this location will do nicely. If I do decide to take it to City Council on June 19, I'll try to bring some friends along, to give the viewers on Channel 16 a show. ;-)

*The list on the City of Carbondale website lists John H. Baker (Chair), Navreet Kang (First Vice Chair), Carolin Harvey (Second Vice Chair), Michael Brazley, Lee Fronabarger, Gayle Klam, Rhett Barke, Katherine Hall, Janet Lilly, Joel Fritzler (Ex-Officio)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May B it

It's going to be fun attempting to transform the 200 block of N. Washington St. into a happening place. A man can dream. To dream, perchance to nap each afternoon.

I might be able to accomplish all of these in my office down the street, on the second floor of the Newell House building (Suite 2B, opened only a couple weeks before Greyhound barked up my tree). From what I hear, the Newell House building is going to get a facelift. (Bening Square to you old-timers, but the original name was Newell Hotel, I think). Dan Terry (who owns the building) also bought the former Herald Printing building and has been renovating it for events and art shows. It would be cool if he could put apartments above the restaurant.

I decided to add the bus gig to my plate because Marshall McLuhan included transportation as media, and the business is steady, so eventually my investment will pay off.

By end of the month, I'll hire someone else to do the day-to-day business, so I can focus on selling local art, finishing my blook and developing one or two additional projects, the most immediate being Bike 2 Work Day, coming up on May 17.

By the end of the month, I'll stop publishing to this blog, too.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Levee levity

I heard from an SI reporter today about story on the Greyhound venture, which I appreciate. But the office is far from ready for a close-up. Only a few hardy travelers have found their way there. The sign isn't even up yet. The regional manager has promised to bring a new sign, but he has left me hanging for two days without a ticket printer or high-speed internet. Oy. Leave the driving to them.

Standing on the sidewalk outside the office, looking across North Washington (known for years as "The Levee") I can see a lot of possibility, because it's so blighted. It's like landing on Baltic Avenue in Monopoly. What can be done except for paint?

Charley Greer has done a great job refurbishing the old Cadillac Lounge bar into a Urban boutique, with some pretty nice stuff. The rest of the block may follow suit.

WDBX is trying to expand, and I hear that Jessica of Rosetta Books is moving across the street, into the Tropicana space behind Longbranch, which has both front and back entrances, including one on Washington. And the former home of the Big Muddy Independent Media Center may also find a new tenant, if the bus stops there.