Thursday, November 29, 2007

sands of time

Yesterday's mail contained an envelope of beach sand from New Jersey (sent by a boyhood friend at my request) for Victor DeGraff to use in a sand painting of Lucy the Margate Elephant, a national historic monument which stands at the beach in Margate, NJ. My friend assured me the sand was authentic, and joked he added extra seagull poop for good measure.

The idea for painting Lucy the Elephant using beach sand was inspired by the sand painting created by Mr. DeGraff of the recently demolished Stage Company building. What makes the painting unique is the building is colored by actual brick from the building, authenticated by the artist and Mary Jo Hanes, of The Stage Company and Sue Mills of Art Lovers Trading Company.

It took ages to set up a process to fill all the orders we expect to receive, but with the help of Larry Weatherford (the dean of Southern Illinois sign & design), a way has been found to make prints of Victor's original sand painting on sand paper! The building in the sand print is also hand-colored with pulverized brick.

A representative of The Bank of Carbondale has agreed to display the original painting, and take orders for prints. It's a fun(d)raiser for the Stage Company. One-third of the $120 price will go to the Stage Company; one-third to Sands of Time, and one-third to Art Lovers gallery, which underwrote the project.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Looks like I'll have more time to write this blog, since the Amtrak train to Chicago is leaving one hour earlier each day -- at 7:30 a.m. instead of 8:30. -- which means, after driving the crew to the station (my early morning job 4 days a week), I'll have an extra hour to write before opening the Greyhound office at 9:30. Also, reduced hours at The Hound: two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, yields a nice chunk of mid-afternoon time to edit what I've written, or work on other projects, such as my blook, where currently the chapter on the Tuscan Lodge is being written.

My trip to North Georgia for Thanksgiving was fantastic. My two cousins are cool. I should call them coolzins. The older one's retired and grows organic stuff to sell at market, living in a log cabin with picture window view of Blue Ridge mountain tops. Her younger sister lives nearby, with her own porchside mountain view, and her husband's blacksmith shop. Judy makes wind-chimes and other "touchable art' which happens to be the name of her business. Ginny calls her business Two Tiger Lillies. Neither has a web site, but we're working on that.

Driving to and from Georgia on the interstate, I listened to The Eagle's Long Road Out of Eden (2-disc CD) a couple of times. The band's first new music in 28 years, it's remarkably good -- a worthy follow-up to 1979's The Long Run. On Sunday night, all four Eagles were interviewed by Steve Croft on 60 Minutes. Among other topics, the band's controversial Wal-Mart marketing strategy was explained. Bottom line: the music's great and it's the top selling CD in the U.S. and several other countries, according to the band's website.

So what's hap'nin' on the local scene? A few new faces here and there. I'll write about them soon. And Scott Thorne is sticking with it at Bytelife (along with Gadfly and the other commenters). Too bad Peter the Great isn't still around to stir things up, but his spoon is long since he commented on my Tuscan Lodge project recently all the way from Corvallis, Oregon, where he's started a new blog. Peter also gives us food for thought in a Thanksgiving post about SIU to his Carbondale biz blog.

So I'm back, the Eagles are back, and Peter is back.

y'all come back.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A new chapter

Now that steps have been taken by the City to save the Varsity Theater, the next building on our agenda to preserve Carbondale's history should be the Tuscan Lodge.

I'd like to put together a pamphlet about the building (if there isn't one already), for fundraising purposes.

Someone wrote in a comment to Carbondale Bytelife that there have been "at least 16 benefits" for the Tuscan.
The historic Tuscan Lodge belongs to the African-American Masonic Order, who has owned the building since 1903. The group has had at least 16 benefits to raise money for the restoration of the facility.
That's a lot of benefits. I've never heard of any of them. So what's the latest?

Some denizens of the 200 block of North Washington St. are planning a hip-hop/jazz musical benefit for the building, on the property immediately behind the Tuscan Lodge, closing that one block of the street on that day.

I'll be visiting Development Services later today to glean some details about for the new chapter.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One building saved; one remains

Yesterday's State of the City speech by Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon contained a dramatic announcement: the Varsity Theater has been given a new lease on life due to the efforts of Cole and others working behind the scenes.

I was so excited about the news that I stopped in WDBX at the suggestion of Tom Egert and Paula Bradshaw to tell the station's listeners.

In Cole's words:
Several people are responsible for making this happen. First, of course, the Kerasotes family and Kerasotes Theaters company should be thanked and thanked again. Also, we should thank Trace Brown and Charlie Brown and Associates for doing a thorough inspection of the property and detailing an appraisal that makes it financially worthwhile for the company to donate it to us. And, without a doubt, all the people that have supported me behind the scenes (pun intended) to work with the property owners to get to this point… that specifically includes people like Blanche and Fred Sloan and Trish and John Guyon.
People like them, yes, but not people like me -- or Rob Gallegly and Bob Streit, who worked tirelessly on SAVE. But every time I visited the Mayor's office, I'd ask about the big V. And Cole checks out this blog occasionally, and he may have read the last sentence in my blook teaser chapter about the Varsity Theater. It's time for a new sample chapter. . . . But what?

Of the other chapters in the table of contents, none have the community-wide interest, and on-going drama of the Varsity Theater closing The only thing close to it, is the Saluki Way development, which I have mostly ignored in this blog, because others are on top of it.

How about a chapter on the Tuscan Lodge? The old building on the corner of Washington and Jackson St. is the next landmark building in desperate need of restoration. . . . For the past few months, I've been working on a project that would benefit this restoration effort: a hip-hop, blues, and jazz music festival on the property behind the building, and a street fair in the 200 block of N. Washington St. . . .

A few weeks ago I met with Megan (no relation to Brad) Cole, director of Carbondale Main Street, about CMS co-sponsoring the event in the Spring.

Perhaps Larue Love, and other owners of the Tuscan Lodge should contact the Guyons or the Sloans for a hopeful push.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Eagles have landed . . . at Wal-Mart?!

The Eagles band and Wal-Mart in "Strategic Marketing Partnership." According to the release, the company's sustainability agenda (PDF doc) -- was an important reason for the band's decision.

And over at Starbuck's other baby boomer icons, like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Annie Lennox, have exclusive deals with the world's largest coffee corp, where CDs are sold at stores and online. The independent music stores are unhappy about this, and I don't blame them, but that's life in the world as we know it. Will REM be next?

I bought Long Road Out of Eden yesterday at the big Wal, and listening to it now, and happy to say, it's great. As I write this, Track 10 is playing, and there are ten more to go. I don't have to open shop at Greyhound this morning, so I have time to blog and catch you up on things.

Track 10 is called "Do Something" ... a song with a message. "Don't wait to long, even if it's wrong, you gotta do something. It's not over, no it's never too late."

Track 11, "You Are Not Alone" ....

The thing that makes The Eagles great is catchy tunes, wise lyrics, distinctive vocals and harmonies.

End of disc 1.

Disc 2 starts off with the title track: "Long Road out of Eden." I think this may be the music I listen to while I finish my blook. I wonder if Starbuck's would be interested in an exclusive one year deal for Carbondale After Blog.

Of course, many pundits questioned the Eagles-Wal-Mart exclusive one year deal, when it was announced. But it's turned out to work pretty well, the album is #1 in the U.S. and other countries. And it also turns out the other music stores have found a way to get around the exclusive: buy them at Wal-Mart for $11.88 and sell them for $18.99, reports Rolling Stone.

Reviews of The Eagles first studio album in 25 years have been good, although not everyone's a fan of this group in these hip-hoppy, flip-floppy, times. The review by Chris Jones at gets it.

And, if you like The Eagles, you should get it, too.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Time, it Changed

I stayed up 'til 2 a.m. on Saturday night, to watch the time get automatically turned back on my computer, catching up on YouTube and other video sources, like which has six different takes of the ‘Don’t Tase me, bro!’ scene when University of Florida student Andrew Meyer aggressively asked questions of Senator John Kerry in September.

Meyer was wrestled to the ground and "tased" (or "tazed") with an electronic stun gun) in a shocking use of police force at a democratic enclave.

Because the tase phrase has entered the cultural lexicon, I got to wondering if TASER was a brand name like Kleenex and Xerox? Say yes? Bullseye! According to CBC News In Depth:
"TASER stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle, from the Tom Swift series of children's novels written in the early 20th century, including Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle. The real stars of the series of science-fiction novels were potential advances in technology. Who makes them? Arizona-based Taser International makes virtually all of the 'stun guns' being used today. In fact, Taser is the brand name and the technical term for a stun gun, a conductive energy device, or CED."
The word is a shoo-in for the next edition of the next dictionary.

Speaking of brand name product promotion, Stephen Colbert recently noted candidate Sen. John McCain's "triple cross promotional pander 720" when McCain told the Smith & Wesson folks he will "follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell, and I will shoot him with your products." Isn't that a great phrase?! Give Osama a cigar, while you're at it, John.

Colbert took dead aim at this, of course. Especially since his campaign coverage is being sponsored by Doritos -- the "Hail to the Cheese Campaign Coverage" of his campaign for President. The money can not go to the campaign, only to the coverage of his campaign.

Of course, now that Colbert has been kept off the ballot in South Carolina, the nacho cheese flavor of the crunchy Dorito snack is moot.

But, speaking of campaigns, a ghost from Carbondale's recent mayoral contest showed up at Greyhound this afternoon, Kyle Raccio, who I thought was a pseudonym. In fact, Kyle is a freshman at SIU, majoring in Political Science. He volunteered for Sheila Simon, and now supports Hillary Clinton. To further his education in political science, I offered to give him a paperback copy of Restoring the American Dream by Robert Ringer, which was setting on the bookshelf by the ticket counter (a political manifesto for Libertarian philosophy). But Kyle declined, since he is a confirmed left-wing Democrat, unlikely to change into a right-wing freedom ringer, like Judge Andrew Napolitano, who lets loose a blistering tirade against the Patriot Act's abridgement of 1st Amendment rights, in a recent FOX-TV editorial. A Nation of Sheep on YouTube. Worth watching. Much-digged. It's short, but not sweet.

Perhaps if the 1st Amendment had a corporate sponsor, Freedom of Speech, brought to you by McDonald's.