Sunday, June 19, 2011

BENEVOLENT BIKERS; WOULD YOU RIDE FOR THE RIGHT TO QUIET?

THANK YOU TO RESPECTFUL MOTORCYCLE RIDERS


Before I get to the point of this article, which is about excessively and unnecessarily loud motorcycles and their operators, I wish to thank the motorcycle riders who actually respect the peace, or right to quiet and safety one has in one's own home. For the many who find loud motorcycle noise particularly obnoxious and downright frightening, we thank you for not altering your pipes illegally, or gunning your engines at three in the morning!


AS FOR THE ROGUE OTHERS



For those riders who do not care about respecting their surroundings and rights to reasonable peace, or have some sort of disturbing sense of entitlement or freedom. I have many questions and comments for you.

I wonder what pleasure you get out of unleashing acoustic terrorism on those who have done nothing to you? Those who may be ill, elderly, or even those who work daily--or innocent babies, all needing their sleep. What of the innocent animals who are literally terrified by your selfish, careless acoustic assault?

Sure, I know there are many kinds of noises in neighborhoods people deal with on a daily basis; many of which are just as irritating and unhealthy. Those such as boom cars or the relentless and non-stop operation of dirt blowers. Indeed, these in each and every one of themselves, can become excessive. But today, I am addressing one kind of noise of the most frequent noise offenders in neighborhoods today, and that is YOU, the Rice Rocket of Harley Hog.

Whatever the noise, you all seem to have in common one thing: And that is, some kind of low self esteem or lack of fulfillment in your life, that has you making such noises for attention or validation to compensate. Or, maybe it has something to do with something a bit below the belt! You have some twisted idea that you are allowed to do whatever you wish without regard to law, rules, or ordinance as you create an acoustic anarchy!

ROMANTICIZING YOUR BROTHERHOOD AS BENEVOLENT AND PATRIOTIC


As television helps perpetuate the romanticism surrounding the American biker these days with shows like "American Chopper", we also see the romanticism in local bars offering "Bike Night" or even more on television--on news reports showcasing how motorcyclists banned together to ride for a worthy cause or raise money for charity.

When I see this sort of propaganda, I really have to wonder: If many bikers ride for such great causes, claim to be such great patriots and caring individuals, then why are the majority ignoring their fellow human beings who do not wish to be continually subjected to their self indulgent need to make noise? Where is the "patriotism" in destroying the peaceful environment of your natural lands and natural heritage as you caravan in an endless line of noise through State Parks? How is it being a patriot to not care about the constitutional right to domestic peace and tranquility? You love your country, but spoil its air-scape with your noise, hold innocent people hostage in their own homes by denying them the right to enjoy a peaceful weekend afternoon.

LOUD PIPES DO NOT "SAVE LIVES"

What gives you, the noisiest bunch and many who are donning waving American flags on your bikes claiming to represent freedom, law and justice, etc. the right to break local noise ordinances, force communities to have to waste time and money just to deal with this new level of excessive noise? What gives you the right to break federal clean air laws in the beautiful country YOU say you LOVE, by illegally altering the pipes on your bike? You cannot claim your typical battle cry of "Loud Pipes Saves Lives" because there is no scientific evidence to support that claim--And, just go Google "The Hurt Report" and let the science of physics lay that outrageous claim to rest. This was a report featured in one of your very own pro-biker magazines.

Is it lives you really want to save? Or do you just want to be louder than the other guy? Is it your testosterone gone wild....or is it a lack there-of? If safety is what you really want, you may want to strive for a quieter community, learn how healthy that can be, and recognize that when we have lower noise in our communities, we do not have to be LOUDER than everyone else to be heard! If safety is what you really want, then don't ride drunk after hours--and get a helmet on too! Your extra caution, because you are the smaller vehicle will help too. If safety is what you want, then quiet down some. You will not go deaf, and instead, be able to hear what you need to hear around you, and so will the rest of us!

As for the loud pipes? No, they does NOT save lives and in fact can scare the hell out of a lot of people which can arguably shorten theirs. OR, you may scare a driver while you sneak up behind him with a sudden assault of loud, gut wrenching, brain splitting and ear ripping noise, causing him to swerve on the road and perhaps to hit you!

HOW YOU REACT WHEN EXPECTED TO SIMPLY RESPECT


Your defiance, arrogance, entitlement sense, lack of manners and consideration always manifests when asked kindly to not gun your engines in front of people's homes. You curse and lament that "You have a right" But then you whine like babies when you finally get a ticket. When you force communities and law enforcement to take a stand as you have tested their patience too long and too many times, you have the colossal nerve to complain.

You complain about the ticket after so many times being given the benefit of the doubt by having the local/federal noise laws and ordinances, NOT enforced. We hoped that you would have enough common sense and consideration, the cuddly teddy bears and riders of good causes you are, to do the right thing. Seems you have forgotten that your so called "right to make noise" will never supersede one's right to quiet in their own home.

IDEA FOR A CHARITY RIDE!

Indeed, the biker community often gets praise for its benevolence or patriotism. They have raised money and have ridden for many good causes. But there are many others as individuals and groups that have also done the same thing for many years, BUT without the noise. To the defiant and careless biker community" I have a final question for you. I appeal to your benevolent side and ask... Can you do a ride for the right to peace and quiet in ones own homes? How about a ride for the hurt you have caused many with your noise? Maybe this will get you to turn it down and discover the joy in quiet and what you are really doing. Maybe this will get others to see the dark side to your "hobby" Maybe you wont go deaf or force the rest of to...and maybe we will not be a drain on healthcare as a result!


THANKS FOR THOSE WHO GET IT!

For the respectful bikers out there who get it, you are thanked. maybe you can get through to the others who just don't get it! They truly give a bad name to those who do not engage in the pleasure of being loud, no matter who it hurts.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cleveland, Do We Really Need Gambling?....Or Kenny!

I hope that since many other casino operations offer entertainment such as live shows, that Cleveland's will create something similar by offering a chance to see some of the older performers like Kenny Loggins, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes... I noticed Kenny was performing at a casino in West Virginia, recently--and in previous years Harold and his Blue Notes were performing in the Poconos. This is the sort of thing other places offer and draws a more quality clientele. Maybe these kinds of shows can be offered at Quicken Loans Arena.

But entertainment is really not what I am going to focus on....I am more so, as in the past wondering if this whole casino bit is a good idea at all to place in a position to be some sort of benefactor to the city. I am not convinced that this is the best we can do for economic development, and certainly not the most creative, as casinos in this part of the country are becoming as common as another Wal-Mart!

The regional saturation component when standing alone, is enough reason why I feel ultimately the novelty will wear down, and nothing will be special about another casino. Surely not special enough to attract destination travelers with money to burn. We will never be a Las Vegas, nor should we strive to be, because we do not need to be. It is more likely the casino will attract mostly locals with little money, and many go hoke broker than when they came! Still, I hope that in the end, as reluctant as I am about this project, that it is not just about gambling and that other forms of entertainment, like Kenny, will be offered. Gaming can surely be part of some positive elements in a city, but not looked upon as "the savior" in typical Cleveland desperate fashion. We looked at LeBron James in this light, look where that got us...the manufacturing base...look where that got us! Maybe its time to not place all our chips on one number, for a change?


Not only will people be gambling, but so is the city as a governing unit, "gambling" under the daring notion that it will generate so much revenue and cure many ills. Again, this might be true, but the question remains: Should we place ourselves in a position where we have to depend on that which is related to fostering obsessive and dysfunctional habits, for revenue? I say no, let's not make a habit of relying on these industries.

It is similar to placing the tobacco and junk food industries in a position where they can claim to be some sort of benefactor to a community because smoking (sale of cigarettes) helped pay for a stadium--OR, because Coke, Pepsi, and Frito Lay chuck a few pennies back to the schools where they place their vending machines. We really should think a bit deeper and awaken ourselves to the fact that these are NOT benefactors in the long run. They're not because we must consider the trickle down repercussions resulting in fostering poor health which has been shown to be a drain on the economy and benefits only few financially. So, where we gain on one side in the short term, we still lose on another.

Gaming has its own associations with fostering bad habits that have people spending what they don't have in the hope of winning it big, and thus, creating financial chaos in the hoke life--which carries with it all that can affect family because of it. The classic "externality" the industry has removed itself from. The industry proclaims "people should gamble responsibly" Do "gamble" and "responsible" really belong in the same sentence? Such seems a classic oxymoron! Gaming industry's profits heavily rely upon IRRESPONSIBILITY! But let's face it, their profits depend upon people making insatiable, spontaneous, gullible, and irresponsible decisions. The profits, indeed, result from the irresponsibility they warn against in the first place!

The same can be said for bad eating habits and smoking, when those industries pass the whole blame on being more personally responsible. While it is certainly essential to learn how to exercise more personal responsibility, what I do not want to hear are industries who profits depend on being irresponsible, telling us we need to be responsible! If we were, they'd lost a hell of a lot of business! But they know that bad habits are hard to break, especially those as in the case of smoking, where knowingly addictive chemicals are purposely added to get you hooked. So any industry that relies on its customer developing a obsessive habit, can proclaim such advice with confidence in knowing that it is unlikely that a grand enlightenment will overcome its followers.

I am straying away from the pointed question, though.... Back to the pointed question in the beginning: Should we place ourselves in a position where we have to depend on that which is related to fostering obsessive and dysfunctional habits, for revenue? Again, I answer "NO"...and follow with more questions that sum up why I say no: Do we want Cleveland to be labeled the fattest and most unhealthy city by traditionally anti-Cleveland publications like Forbes? The last thing we need is to become this publication;s exclusive target and punching bag.

How about the most financially crippled from gaming? Seriously, this sounds absurd, but Forbes has come up with just about every kind of list you can imagine!

Do we want myths about our city and region to be perpetuated even further, or have the myths actually come true which can result in a shunning or disinvestment in the city by potential stakeholders?

Finally, here is a question that just might result in revenue! How about good old fashioned home ownership and fostering neighborhoods that are attractive for such, like focusing on quality of life issues, safety, and clean environment and good schools? I know the gaming industry has posed as a benefactor to schools, but again, I ask....Do we want to have our schools reliant on gambling for the funding they need? We welcomed in junk food and this was just one part of many components that got us to an obesity level so shameful, that that the current generation of children may not outlive their grandparents! What are the costs?

Do we really want the gaming industry, despite the dark side we seldom hear of amidst all the hype, to be in a position to proclaim.. "The schools/city cannot survive without us...so we must get what we want!" (How did the planet survive before Vegas?!) Well, they're already off to a good start because they got what they wanted with the destruction of the pedestrian oriented city block, to make way for one which encourages less street foot traffic and more driving--that is, unless the design is altered. This might be appealing for the generation of obese we have nurtured.


At the beginning of all this , I mentioned that I hope the gaming scene will at least offer some quality entertainment at the Q. Yes, despite all the above skepticism, maybe a song by Kenny Loggins will make it all a bit more easy to digest. Perhaps "Celebrate Me Home" to remind us of how much establishing a good home life can contribute to making a great place in which to live and raise a family, and for that family to do the same! It happened before deals with gaming industry, tobacco or junk food, and I am confident it can happen again without them. Cleveland should not be so desperate as to whore itself out to anything in the name of "economic development" that comes along. Development at any cost can be costly! Maybe the last song can be Kenny's "I'm Alright" to remind Cleveland it can be alright without gambling!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

100 Year Old Columbia Building Coming Down For Parking Garage--Oh, I'm Sorry... I Meant To Say, "A Welcome Center!"

Despite his structure being in good usable shape.... We can say goodbye!


The Landmarks Commission, responsible for delaying demolition of the historic Columbia Building in downtown Cleveland to build a parking garage for a casino, has now given the go-ahead to demolish this handsome pedestrian oriented downtown structure, in favor of a more car dominated street scene. No one can be this short sighted to not explore ideas for saving the Columbia and incorporating it into a design which would satisfy parking issues for visiting guests with cars glued to their rear ends--as well as needs of pedestrians and people who actually LIVE downtown.

Making this even more difficult to swallow, is a planning commission that has not sold me on the idea that they have "looked at all possible alternatives..and none are feasible" , or so we have heard a dozen times! I cannot accept this bone thrown to the public.

Someone whom I have kept in contact with about this dilemma, name withheld, had this to say: "I am now convinced that The Landmarks Commission is nothing but a mascaraed; another puppet on strings. When they say that "none of the alternatives are feasible", that is nothing more than those strings being pulled. In fact, they are literally mimicking whatever the developer says. They do not actually fight a real fight for historic buildings in this city, even when they are a designated Landmark as this one is.

They just go through some "motions" hoping to make it look like they're putting up some sort of protest. Some who have protested this demolition are now looking at ways to improve the design of the garage. They were pleased with the large turnout of people who opposed the demolition of the Columbia, and lament that "just because they have lost this battle, that it does not mean we have lost the war." That, referring to taking more enthusiastic action in the future where other historic buildings may be threatened.

Maybe it doesn't "mean" we lost the war, but, I guarantee you -- we "lost" this war before it even started. This city's government wants only one thing -- someone spending money in this city -- especially a LOT of money, as developers do. They will sell the historic City Hall that they work in -- also a designated Landmark -- and allow its destruction, if the price is right. The situation here is thoroughly pathetic and thoroughly hopeless.


I could not agree with the above comments more. Still, how could there be "no feasible alternatives" It seems many who have attended meetings about the demolition did just that, present feasible alternatives! So what can it be? Why the rubber stamp go ahead? Hmmmmm.....WAIT!!!....maybe there are too many demolition contractors standing to gain by being given the promise they will get a job! No one in city government probably ever expected this much protest to this demolition so ramming it through would be a cinch, no worries. A few in the good old "good 'ole boys club" can make some fast cash. Sure I am speculating, but one must wonder!

I hope people will realize why it is treading a risky path to allow a gaming industry, parking czars, and a developer be in some kind of position to act as a big benefactor and pillar member of the community. It is as close to a real life "deal with the devil" example as one can get! It is a perfect example of how letting developers, parking lot kings, and some gaming cronies dictate city planning, as I have mentioned before, is like letting loggers dictate forest management!

With the demolition of Columbia, what they want, they get, no matter how bad it is to the vision of creating a pedestrian friendly city-scape. Maybe those who run the show are used to the parking lot scene anyway, so to them they see nothing wrong with this picture! Maybe it is the quicker and cheaper way for them. But what is cheapest for the parties involved in this fiasco is not always best for the many in the long term. Indeed, screw the resident or stakeholder which bares the brunt of the long term costs such as ruining an already walkable infrastructure in favor of more cars and creating a pedestrian dead zone!

It is not as if the developer of this project would have walked away from it altogether had demolition of the Columbia Building been denied by the Planning and Landmarks Commissions. On the Contrary, it would have forced a more thoughtful re-design. The city neglected to use this scenario as leverage that would demand a design that would have integrated the Columbia Building into the plan. Here was an opportunity to achieve the best design possible to satisfy everyone, wasted!

To the rest of the outside progressive city designers and planners in the world..looking in, this demolition and parking garage design represents the poster child of HOW NOT to design a city if you want to promote more pedestrian traffic at street level, create connectivity for such, and create economic diversity and a walkable friendly feel... However, if you want to promote more oil use, pedestrian dead zones, noise, a building that will likely start to look crappy in a few years with its faux frontage cheesy looking building materials.....and build the city for cars and not people..The demolition with the current parking garage design is brilliant. Textbook right out of the 50's through 70's!

Yes, I should mention that the more historically significant Stanley Block Building will be saved and restored, (not because the developers were not prepared to knock this down too!--another story.) but to see it juxtaposed with a strip-mall type building, might look as ridiculous or awkward as seeing a new Westlake-style Taco Bell sitting right next to Severance Hall, or Liberace playing piano in a hip hop show. I Would such a "fusion" work?

Seriously, we need to ask.. "For whom are we designing our city?" Certainly NOT for attracting stakeholders...And rather, for fly by night visitors. They come, they gamble, they POOP, they leave...and continue to say how wrong Cleveland gets everything from the comfort of their sprawl-burb home.

If this demolition of an already pedestrian structured infrastructure for a parking garage... Oh, I forgot to mention what they're calling it.. "Welcome Center" does not create the street pedestrian lively area with galleries, shops, businesses, restaurants, future retail, etc... In my opinion it will be a failure. Afterall, isn't this the scene Cleveland touts it wants to create?....A walkable, day and night city of choice? Well, if your only choice in life is spending your penny rolls saved in the pickle jar at a casino to help pay for repairing the bungee attached bumper on your rusted car, for more cigarettes, or hungry man TV dinners, then maybe this is a perfect design! (Sorry, I am getting a bit nasty, but I cannot deny the scenes I witness in these kinds of places!)

I actually had a different vision for this part of the city...perhaps a bit more in line with promoting a healthy and more economically productive and diverse population that does not need The Lone Ranger to come in and "save the city" (Ie: MedMart, Casino) The current design of the garage that will replace the Columbia Building is so counter productive to the above described scene many would like to see downtown...as well as so counter productive to promoting a more sustainable city--also something that Cleveland is supposedly trying to achieve.

I cannot say much positive about this demolition/parking garage scenario, but I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is that if more opposition to demolitions as witnessed with Columbia happened every time city fathers partner with very un-creative developers and those with a lack of vision in quality city planning, then just maybe there would be a bit more caution exercised in how we lay out our city's future designs. Maybe there would be more demand to achieve everlasting appeal, purpose, and style--And in the spirit of a more sustainable future and economy that can spawn from such--there would be more demand in keeping the pedestrian in mind first, the car second! So, looking forward, maybe the opposition can/will result in the changing of the current design of the garage.


Here are a couple good quotes online today that reflect the immediate disappointment and dissatisfaction for this terrible design.



"At the end of the day it's not about "preserving the past" its about allowing lower prospect to continue a mixed use model that encourages people to use and live in the city and not creating a two block auto oriented dead zone for people who want to stop in for a couple hours and leave. Mixed use is "building for the future"... not lining our streets to make things easiest for temporary guests."



"I'm feeling quite depressed this afternoon. I just can't comprehend that we are tearing down this building for a parking garage. A parking garage for the folks of Streetsboro and Madison and Lagrange. The same people who talk crap about this city any chance they get won out. Congratulations to all those who comment on Cleveland.com, you are the true winners. You can now come and dump your quarters in my downtown while you laugh at what a terrible city this is from the comfort of your close parking garage and safety of your gerbil tube that "elevates" you above the dirt of the city.Another fine day of Cleveland politics. Still much work to be done ahead about final designs."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Galleria--Downtown Cleveland--New Vision and Life!

The Galleria
1301 E. 9th Street
216-861-4343


A photogenic and uniquely designed multi-use facility in Downtown Cleveland's business district--within a 10 minute walk of many attractions, including The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Playhouse Square, E. 4th Street District and many others.

This cheerful space resembles a giant green house with its all-glass barrel-vaulted arched ceilings measuring some 80 feet high and stretching for an entire city block!

Essentially, the inside of the facility is an indoor street. In here you will find an eclectic blend of small local art galleries, clothing shops, a Hungarian heritage museum, the Gardens Under Glass Re-source Center (featuring eco-related ideas and products which promote sustainable living and local indoor year 'round growing of produce.), a full service restaurant, indoor/outdoor park-like food court--and a variety of businesses including a full service bank and more.

The facility also hosts a myriad of major events, such as weddings, banquets, concerts, dances, wine tasting, farm markets, and fund raising functions. If you're feeling tired, the property is a fantastic space to take a leisurely stroll, or sit down and read a while and escape the noise of the city. The Galleria brings the light of day inside no matter the time of year!

* Hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Served by Cleveland Metropolitan Region Transportation Authority, and the free B-Line Trolley Bus which runs every 10 Minutes/7:00AM to 7:00 PM. Close proximity to major hotels, new convention center and interstates. Climate controlled, secure, well lit--underground parking garage off Lakeside Avenue.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

CLEVELAND STOREFRONT ART-- Making Broad Brush Strokes!

Cleveland Storefront Art's, "Adopt-a-Storefront" program---a vacant window makeover initiative targeting historical storefronts with efforts to make them more marketable through art--has caught the eye of a few area media sources as featured in the below links!

Hopefully, this program will continue to rescue empty storefronts awaiting new discovery for business that is functional to creating more pleasurable and safe walkable environments.

Additionally, the program helps foster recognition for local artists, and inspires unique new business to locate in one-of-a-kind business spaces. There are many benefits to a program like this to help establish a more positive atmosphere in any neighborhood. By "adopting-a-storefront", those who display art in windows maintain the fronts on an ongoing basis, and thus, help to encourage better storefront routine maintenance!

See the links below to see how the program has gained attention!


http://www.flickr.com/groups/clevelandstorefrontart/


http://qualitychatter.com/2009/09/storefront-makeover-opporhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giftunities-for.html



http://www.ideastream.org/news/feature/38489


http://erin-obrien.blogspot.com/2011/01/window-dressing.htmlLink


http://www.freshwatercleveland.com/features/storefrontart011311.aspx