Sunday, June 24, 2007

Steven Haynes, Carolyn Plochmann, Jon Qualls, and James Joyce in the same title

Over the weekend, I listened to the City Council discussion of Item 6-5 (available on the City's web site) about the bus stop prop; and saved each Council member's comments separately for further analysis. Particularly interesting were the ill-informed comments made by two City Council members, Haynes and McDaniel. I'll publish each City Council member's contribution in Graydog's Blog later today.

Meanwhile, to get away from the computer on Saturday, I went to the local artisans shop and art gallery at Rend Lake, and took-in Carolyn Plochmann's amazing paintings -- on display this summer -- a field trip for Art Lovers Trading Company, and the Heartland Artland blog.

After that, I caught my first Miners' game, which was fun, although I left before the men of Marion beat Slippery Rock, 5-4. Either way, the crowd was a winner-- there was always something fun going on between innings. And with big screen, you don't miss a thing. Ticket prices range from $4 for lawn or picnic table seating to $8 for box seat. Beers are 4.50. Unfortunately, only Budweiser products are sold. And it's a little confusing with no less than 3 mascots roaming the grounds. Is AutoCredit Man an authorized 4th?

Besides the stadium, the three mascots, the players, and graphics by Carbondale's Arthur Agency, what most impressed me was the interview with Miners' pitcher Jon Qualls, who loves to read instead of watching television, to have a life beyond baseball. He was tackling Laurence Sterne and James Joyce, no less, with somewhat less success than he had against the Sliders of Slippery Rock that night, scattering 9 hits.

Before he gets called up to the majors, Jon should check out local James Joyce scholar and baseball writer, Dick Peterson, SIU professor emeritus -- who literally "wrote the book" on baseball writing.

And maybe Jon could start his own blog? Maybe the Southern Illinoisan or the Marion Daily can enlist his contribution.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Council throws request under the bus

With Mayor Cole abstaining, and only Councilman Lance Jack voting in favor, Item 6.5 on last night's General Business Agenda went down in flames -- 5-1 against -- after the owners of D's Quick Shop (a take-out fish place on the corner of Oak & Washington St.), complained about the downside to letting the bus to stop next door to their business.

Hugh Williams spoke ably in favor, but no one else (it's always easier to motivate people to come out against something than in favor).

The only shock was seeing Councilman Joel Fritzler's new look (above left) -- like a totally different person -- with new eyeglasses and no moustache.

And while the vote didn't surprise me, I was floored (or rather hopped up from the floor!) when I heard Councilman Wissmann propose requiring the office to be open two hours before and one hour after each bus arrived! But Councilman Jack, doing the math, pointed out that this would mean offices hours from 8:40 a.m. - midnight, 5 days a week! Something physically and financially unreasonable for a small business.

In the end (but is it?) the experience cost me about $250 (which I can write off). But at least I tried to do the right thing. (I wonder if the City could have found a way to work it out more effectively behind the scenes. )

To those who would gloat at this 'defeat', I must say -- I'm completely satisfied with the outcome, since I did my best, and the Council's decision will make my job easier, for the most part.

So there. ;-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Between Hugh, me and Channel 3

I've decided to not attend the meeting tonight, but to delegate Hugh Williams to speak for me. I've known him since we ran for City Council in 2005. An old school attorney who can frequently be found at Longbranch. I am making this decision for personal reasons.
  1. The Council has probably already made up its collective mind. And there will be a lot of "haters" in attendance, whose arguments I've already heard.
  2. I emailed a 3 page PDF attachment with a brief history of Greyhound and a petition requesting that the Permit request be approved. But that ain't nothin'! The City has a 46 page PDF file, containing both a resolution to approve, and one to disapprove.
  3. I am indifferent to the outcome. Although from a standpoint of customer service, it's the right thing to do, ticket sales will continue at the current location no matter where the bus ultimately makes its stop.
  4. I can watch it on TV, on Cable 16 via MediaCom.
And speaking of TV, Channel 3's Jackie McPherson wants to do a preview interview at the ticket office later today, for the 6 o'clock news.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Venerable building gets facelift

They're finally removing the aluminum skin at the Newell House building. . . . The old "Bening Square" letters are being removed, and the windows will be replaced.

When the job is done, the building will be repainted.

The pigeons don't like it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

On the bus, or off the bus?

I was planning to hop on the bus, Gus - yesterday, for Denver - to bring my younger son back with me for a visit. Instead, I'm "off the bus" for reasons having nothing to do with the 20hr ride, or $128 round-trip ticket price.

So now, there's time to prepare an informative e-packet for the City Council members who will be meeting Tuesday night to decide the fate of "Operation 'Let The Bus Stop Here'."

And the title of this post refers to more than merely me not boarding schedule #4700 in front of Amtrak at 10:40 a.m. It hearkens back to novelist Ken Kesey, who coined the phrase. In the late 1960's he and a group of LSD-taking friends, calling themselves the Merry Pranksters drove a bus called "Furthur" (pictured here) cross-country from California to New York.

On that legendary journey, (marvelously recounted by Tom Wolfe') the phrase "you're either on the bus or off the bus" as a metaphor for group consciousness was popularized.
"The idea was to put individual differences aside and work as a group. . . an attuned group. Those who weren't attuned were seen as rocking the boat, disrupting the trip. These were the people who were considered 'off the bus.'

The metaphorical meaning of 'You are either on the bus or off the bus' is '
You are either attuned to the group consciousness or you are not attuned to the group consciousness.' . . ." (boldface added)
What is Carbondale's group consciousness? Is it fragmented? Can you be off one bus, but on another?

I hear a lot of people are "up in arms" against letting the bus stop at 215 N. Washington St., led by Margaret Nesbitt and her brother. "You don't know the power of Ms. Nesbitt," someone said. "She's lived in town a long time, and she has standing the community." Actually, I did hear what the owner of the fish shop on the corner of Washington and Oak St. had to say, standing before the Planning Commission. I was not impressed by her arguments. This is the same woman who opposed the construction of the building for WDBX, across the street years ago.

Quite a few others who support the move will not be in attendance (whereas the opposition will be out in force!) I think Jim Skinner, the blind blues singer will be in the house that night. . . . Maybe he will sing the blues to City Council about having to walk 6 blocks to report his missing bags.

Have a Happy Pappy's!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Date update

Yesterday, I heard from Barbara Ebert, star of the "Future Mrs. Cole(?)" video on YouTube -- a nice email message with some photos. Apparently she and Mayor Brad Cole (of Marry the Mayor fame) met for their "dream date" over the weekend, including meals at Harbaugh's and Tom's Place, where the photo below was snapped. What they did between meals, Barb didn't say; only that "he was a perfect gentleman and I truly enjoyed getting to meet him."

Wouldn't you know it? The man who's a self-professed perfectionist would be a perfect gentleman. But look more closely at the photo below of the two of them "acting silly" before dinner." Is a perfect gentleman ever silly?

What caption would go here? (click photo to enlarge) Barbara's saying something like "Are you going to be a perfect gentleman all night?!"

Was there a "Love Connection?" According to the future Mrs. Cole(?), they "do not have another meeting planned thus far, but . . . will keep in touch."

A third photo from the date is posted at the Marry the Mayor blog.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cole's goals

Is it boring, with the students gone for break? You wouldn't know it from Brad Cole. The other day I spoke to him about my upcoming request for a special use permit for the Greyhound bus to stop at Washington St., and other matters of interest to us both. He listed as his chief goals for his next term, the following.
  • an innovative improvement for the budget process.
  • safety center at the former site of Lincoln Jr. High
  • retirement neighborhood/community
  • varsity theater development
  • intermodal transportation center
The intermodal center touches a nerve close to home with ol' Graydog. But it's not gonna happen anytime soon. It took the City of Champaign 10 years to build its intermodal center. And Cole and the City Council think the new Police headquarters is more important, so it may take a few years to get the ball rolling on bus-train-cab headquarters.

Carbondale's most eligible bachelor (excluding Darby McGrann) didn't mention Barbara Ebert, "the future Mrs. Brad Cole," which struck me as a bit odd, since he is on record that his resolution for 2007 was to get married by the end of the year -- and here it is June, already, and he hasn't had a date yet! True, he had a short-lived affair with a married woman, but it ended rather abruptly on April 17.

The future Mrs. Cole's winning video essay is posted on YouTube. She's supposed to be in town this month, and Curt at Two Doves and Kara at Blue Star are looking forward to giving the future lovebirds first class treatment.

And speaking of dates, Les Winkeler compares the baseball Miners team and Fans to dating teenagers: "you just don't know how it's going to turn out."

And if it doesn't work out between Barb and Brad, "Handsome" Lance Jack, City Councilman and bon vivant, is still standing in the wings.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A trophy and a possibility

Looks like the server problem has been fixed, so I can keep this blog updated as the Shawnee Net news aggregator is streamlined, and the sources are updated. This morning I read an actual page at breakfast - about the Miners' third straight loss.

But good news about the Cleveland Cavaliers "rising up" to the next level of the NBA playoffs. I'm a big Cavs fan because sometimes I adopt a cavalier attitude about things like the proposed new Greyhound bus stop.

I've spoken to some key people at the station about the possibility of selling Greyhound tickets in the same building, including Mr. Thomas T. Pleasants, a conductor, who received his Bike 2 Work trophy belatedly this morning. I also spoke to other Amtrak employees over the weekend about the possibility of sharing space. Without going into details, the upshot is it ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Amtrak has other plans, it seems. However, the City may have some leverage to encourage an "intermodal" approach, like they have in Champaign and other cities.