Friday, May 30, 2003

Fast Forward

So what's the scenario of this movie "Save the Varsity"? Well, Mayor Brad Cole has a pile of documents on his desk...sorry i didn't snap a photo...including his handwritten notes from the meeting, as well as emails and letters from people who did not attend the meeting...."Demolish it" some said..."Don't close it" said others. The future of the Varsity Theater will occur somewhere in between those two extremes. But Brad isn't committed one way or the other to its being a motion picture venue (at least part of the time....), while some city residents feel very strongly that it should be. The Mayor's approach is "how can the city help Kerasotes divest itself of this property in a manner most beneficial to both sides." Those weren't Cole's words, but that was the impression I got. He doesn't have the answers right now, but is open to solution.. So if anybody wants to keep the spirit of The Varsity (whatever that is) alive, they better get going on a plan. Not just ideas, but a plan to make it happen, because neither the City nor Kerasotes will do it for them--and those seats were sold out of the Liberty Theater faster than it takes to rewind a reel of film. (Not really, but real fast). And the Varsity chairs may wind up that way, if we don't ask them very nicely not to dispose of them quite yet.

The building will be expensive to refurbish and keep up, including heating and air conditioning (Aur Beck, are you reading this?) and it needs a new roof. But as someone pointed out, everyone in Southern Illinois knows 2 or 3 roofers personally, so it shouldn't cost as much as some estimates. The interior work could also be done by volunteer labor. Of course, there should be project managers for each phase of the production.

And who would be involved in mounting this monumental community effort? Well, the Carbondale Stage Company is interested in the building, so is the Graylight Theater, and, uh, people who used to work as projectionists, and Hugh Muldoon's Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Varsity, and Van Anderson's V for Varsity Task Force. Plus several private citizens with sentimental attachments to the theater, all of whom seem to have in mind some kind of hybrid cooperative. I have my doubts about such an arrangement. But let me tell you...the sooner people decide what they want to do and present it to the city to present to Kerasotes, the better. At this point, Brad has the right idea--talk to the president of Kerasotes Theaters (a family owned company based in Springfield) and feel him out as to the company's desires.

The lesson of Normal Theater stands out. If you haven't yet, take a look at their website to see what can be done to a building much like The Varsity.

Sure, it would be a lot of fun to have a Carbondale community arts building, but it would require a tremendous amout of energy and money to bring it off successfully, to last for another 100 years, with community theater, second run movies, perhaps some kind of game (electronic or non) room, a small bar serving LOCAL microbrew beer and wine. (It'll be expensive so the students won't want to go there to get loaded.) The possibilities are inspiring.

Those who say demolish it may have a point, but they must tell us what they would replace it with. Unless it's a better idea than the Carbondale Cultureplex or some other name. Naming it could be a task force of its own. It should be the kind of place that will attract conventioneers and visitors staying in the coming downtown hotel.

Hotel? Do tell!

POOLing strings

I'm stymied. I can't believe POOL hasn't advanced its Swimming Pool for Carbondale project further than it has in the months since the idea was first advanced by means of petitions around town, which a couple hundred people signed--to build a swimming pool on the old high school fields. I'm going to ask one of my new friends on city council to speak to the School Board about the possibility of donating the land to "Greater Carbondale Swimming Pool, Inc." (which would be a corporation made up of the Recreation Dept at SIU, the Adolescent Health Center, the City of Carbondale, Carbondale High School, the Carbondale Park District, Kroger, Schnucks, feel free to add to the list.) Why not? The project would help make the city a first-class place to live and benefit its residents for years to come. An old fashioned swimming pool, with some slides and a diving board or two. Nothing humongous. There could be room for apartments or other residential and office space on the HS property as well, which would be all the more desirable because of the swimming pool. Why not? Somebody from POOL better make a presentation to the School Board fast. Or the project may be sunk.

I can't resist...

...writing this to her. Who?
She who writes me, too,
to say 'thank you' times two
for those times you did what you could do,
and helped me out more than a few,
and to those men who send me words to chew,
i'll just say simply thank you, too.

One less blight spot

Those two ramshackle buildings on Washington St. at Walnut have been demolished...razed to rubble...bulldozed into submission to make way for a new vacant lot. The property was purchased by the guy who owns Italian Village. Maybe Carbondale's best Italian restaurant will expand and be renamed Italian Town.

Meeting with the Mayor

Brad Cole
Later today, I'll be meeting, with Brad Cole to discuss the Varsity Theater situation. I think it is interesting that one of the business owners on the same block as the theater thinks it should be demolished and turned into a park. But considering all of the community groups and committed individuals who showed up at Tuesday night's meeting (see below) that's not going to happen ... is it? Would you like a nice photo?

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Cole tries out for Varsity

Following Tuesday night's meeting, Mayor Brad Cole intends to send a report of some kind to the suits (my term, not Brads) at Kerasotes Theaters, and also give a report to City Council at next Tuesday's meeting. After that, it's going to be up to the residents of Carbondale to cheer VERY LOUDLY for Brad as he runs down the field of downtown redevelopment, with the ball of opportunity up his sleeve. (You can never find a good editorial cartoonist when you need one. )

I am hoping to meet with Mayor Cole to discuss possible scenarios at his earliest convenience. Until then, save me an aisle seat. No, save ALL the seats.

You can read Ken Seeber's account of the meeting. . . . here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Save the Seats!

About 100 people showed up at a special meeting called by Mayor Brad Cole last night to get input from residents about what to do with the Varsity Theater, now that Kerasotes Theaters has closed that venerable downtown institution. Many good ideas were put forward, and everyone agreed it should continue as an entertainment venue... Brad and Carbondale Main Street director Roxanne Conley took notes as about 25-30 people told them what to do with the building. No one, unfortunately, told them HOW to do it ... To learn that, we may have to turn to the experience of the folks in Normal, Illinois...and Murphysboro. ... to be continued.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Now Playing at the Civic Center

Tonight at 7 p.m., Room 108 -- a meeting with representatives of Kerasotes Theaters, owners of the recently closed Varsity Theater, to discuss possible future uses of the building with filmgoing residents of the city. Bring popcorn--pass the word, or box, as the case may be.

Link to related reading . . . here.

Monday, May 26, 2003

to be or not to B. Cole


I don't know how I missed this hyphenated comedian's appearance here.

B. Cole'

I have no idea what that apostrophe is for, but you can buy beads ... here.

B. Cole

Will be master of ceremonies at this morning's Memorial Day service in Carbondale. Period.

Speaking of punctuation marks

Murshid's colon: behind the keystroke

The local Sufi sheikh, Din Dayemi (aka, Murshid) uses a colon to spell e:mail, which I have no problem with, but find it curious, and can't resist a good title. I think it must be how they spell e-mail (or email) in Germany, because Murshid spends a lot of time there, where he's very popular, the David Hasselhof of gurus, offering a unique blend of two spiritual traditions: Ananda Marga and Sufi Islam, with some good old fashioned rock and roll included in the mix.

Here in Carbondale, his organization turned the Longbranch Coffee House from a funky, comfortable hangout, into an upscale, comfortable hangout offering live entertainment and a full service gourmet restaurant menu. A large farm in Cobden supplies the community with fresh organically grown vegetables, a permaculture project is growing, and the Dayemi organization has a recently released CD by Murshid and his band, Majnun.

So what does all this have with the spelling of e:mail? I don't know. I couldn't find it in a Google search in English or German, but notice that typing it does not require moving the right pinky finger to insert a punctuation mark between the 'e' and the 'mail'. So it's more efficient, i guess. And it may reflect the guru's teaching style. Use what is at hand. Don't reach up for something that is right under your nose. Am I reaching here? If you think so, send me an e*mail message.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Writer to speak at Service

Harry Spiller, author of many books about war memories, including Scars of Vietnam; Vietnam: Angel of Death; Pearl Harbor Survivor: An Oral History; and Vietnam POWs, will be the keynote speaker.
run it up the flagpoleThe flag of the U.S. will be raised in honor of the service personnel who have died in the recent Iraqi conflict, and the National Anthem will be sung by Cedar Thibeault of the local group "Sassyfras," which has a webpage.

The invocation and benediction will be offered by Pastor Norman Greer of the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
Other participants will include VFW Post 2605, Company C of the 31st Illinois Volunteer Infantry, the Daniel H. Brush Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 514, and Carbondale Girl Scouts. Where are the Boy Scouts? Ample seating will be provided for the amplest of sitters.

Gleaned from the press release the city sent out last week.

Remembering Memorial Day

Woodlawn Cemetery plaque
There's a ceremony tomorrow at Woodlawn Cemetery, home of the first-ever Memorial Day Service. Click on the plaque at right, to read the text.

The sarcophagus has an interesting story behind it...A woman from the South was visiting Carbondale during the Civil War, but she became ill while on her visit and requested that she not be buried in Yankee soil if she died....She wasn't.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Long weekend

Currently redesigning the functionality and content of the Shawnee Network home page, so the photo changes whenever the page is reloaded, and "slide shows" of local people, places, and things, via separate links. The Directory page also needs updating. I'll try to have it done by Monday at the latest. Ha.

A Different Drummer

Someone asked me today if I was a follower of Thoreau, the 19th century American naturalist, who wrote "if a man does not keep step with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer." Well, I heard a different drummer tonight...The Southern Illinois West African Drum Ensemble at Booby's Beer Garden, drawn by the hypnotic beat while on an evening bicycle ride. The door-dude let me in to snap a few photos, and tap my toes awhile.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Mean Streets? or Main Street?

Mean, as in penurious, or down-and-out, like the image presented by the old American Tap building at left, or LaRoma's on Carbondale's once vaunted "Strip."

I don't know what can be done with the Tap, since it's a Henry Fisher property, and everyone says he's happy to let it run down because he doesn't like "the city" (meaning the government, i suppose). I haven't asked Henry personally, so maybe I should, if he'll talk to me. I'd like to tell him, he could be Donald Trump, instead of Donald Dump, by giving something back to the city-- a rentable American Tap building. Either that, or tear it down and put up and build another international restaurant, perhaps African.

The remaining unoccupied properties on Illinois Ave. are LaRoma, Rally's, China Palace (old Bleyers), Discount Den (formerly a drug store), the Laundromat/pool parlor next to Kaya. There's a list at Carbondale Blight Spots. Don't be surprised if one or two other businesses don't drop off the map before Fall. On the upside, some new restaurants are opening, but there's still a serious need for basic goods and services downtown. What more can be done?

Everyone says that since Freshman are allowed to have cars, and McDonalds moved into the Student Center, and Wal-Mart was built, and the train station was constructed, and the Civic Center property was acquired, downtown hasn't been the same. No wonder.

It reminds me of the movie "On the Waterfront" ... remember?...the scene between Marlon Brando (a washed-up boxer) and his brother Charley (Karl Malden), except it's the Spirit of the Strip talking to his brother a City Planner, "I coulda had class and been somebody. Real class. I coulda been a contender! Instead of a bum, lets face it, which is what I am....with a couple of bucks and a one way ticket to Paducahville."

Can the City of Carbondale make a comeback? Some good news is Harbaugh's is expanding, and Kaya Restaurant has opened down the block.

Greater Carbondale Free Market?

I submitted a message on the comment form that I wanted to speak to the director, Roxanne Conley, about the concept of a Greater Carbondale Free Market, to be held on Saturday mornings, and located at the ONB parking lot, and mentioned that I've been writing about it in the Carbondaley Dispatch. Would Carbondale Main Street be interested in helping to make it happen?

It would be great to have it up and running before the students returned. It would be like a surprise for the kids under the Christmas tree, and the tree would be the one in the Old National Bank parking lot.

There is one fly in the ointment, though. The owner of the furniture across the street is afraid that people will come and sell furniture and not have to pay the high rent that he does. So, there could be a clause in the table space contract that no more than two or three couches or dinette sets can be sold at the Free Market. This may seem counter to the spirit of free market, but still ...the furniture guy and his wife are about to have a hard summer, with exorbitant rent and slow business, so the extra traffic in the neighborhood on Saturday morning could help him, so the ointment doesn't have a fly in it at all, and should be applied liberally to the face of downtown.

A visit to the Queen

Downtown flea market in ONB parking lot

Spoke to bank manager, Jeff Spieth, who said he'd certainly consider a proposal for leasing the part of parking lot facing Illinois Ave. to the Greater Carbondale Free Market on Saturday mornings. Of course, he wants to see it on paper. None of this electronic wizardry. Next stop: Carbondale Main Street.

The value of a good mascot

King Neptune the PigHis tombstone reads: KING NEPTUNE, 1941-1950. Buried here, King Neptune, famous navy mascot pig. Auctioned for $19,000,000 in War Bonds, 1942-46, to help make a free world." Ben Gelman tells the whole story

Perhaps the Bush's war machine will tap the services of an Armed Forces mascot (do they have any?) to sell the current version of bonds. For that matter, the peace movement could do the same, perhaps using an emu.
Emus were the geese that laid the golden eggs for awhile in the late 80's early 90s. People paid small fortunes for them. Even for the eggs! But, the emu market crashed and left thousands of emus out of work. For awhile there was talk of a movie being filmed here in Carbondale, featuring an emu in the role of mascot, but it was replaced by a goat in the script, and, to my knowledge, the film was never shot. The script lies dust-covered in the barnyard of broken dreams. So emus are looking for some work besides just providing oil and meat for one-tenth of 1% of the population.

Every movement or team worth its salt needs a mascot, and since the peace movement has none, here's an olive branch of an idea: Just as the Navy auctioned King Neptune the Pig during WWII and raised $19 million, the Peace Coalition could similarly auction Emily Emu (or Imogene or Emmett or Emile) and sell "Peace Bonds." If it worked in WW II, it will work in WWWII. Read more about the value of emus, click . . . here.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Following up on the bouncing plates

I've got more plates spinning than a circus performer at an all-you-can-eat restaurant...and they're full on top of it! To make it easier to follow, I'm going to create easy to update web pages for each project or concern:

1. POOL--There's a short press release from POOL, that needs updating.
2. Blight Spots--Reposted this page today, but with Gusto's moving out at the end of the month, it will need revising soon.
3. V for Varsity -- I have a feeling that The Varsity is going to need more than a webpage. Nevertheless, here's a start.
4. Downtown Saturday Flea Market -- Speak to Spieth at ONB.
5. Restaurant reviews...The best restaurants in Carbondale--and vicinity. No advertising, just delicious flavor.
6. What else?

The Going of Gustos

To a new commercial location, between Carbondale and Murphysboro. Closing shop on "The Strip" after 32 years (3 or 4 locations, including this last one, between McNeill's Jewelry (also out of business) and Sound Core). Apparently business in the virtual world is picking up at Gustos website, while downtown traffic has trickled to virtual stop. ... I discovered this yesterday, speaking with Van, the owner, who is agreeable to a tee-shirt promotion, along the lines of that suggested below. The exact wording and design of the shirt needs to be worked out. (see below).

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Now playing at The Varsity

Important meeting next Tuesday night at the Civic Center ... All the background you need to know is . . . here.

In a statement, Mayor Cole pledged to try to keep "The Spirit of Varsity" alive for years to come, which means showing films some of the time. Perhaps along the lines of the Normal Theater. If you have ideas to share or are curious, go to the meeting, and stay tuned.

Since his name begins with the same initial as The Varsity, I wonder if Van at Gusto's would lend his name and product to a fundraiser. Read on.

Will Van give Varsity old COLLEGE try?

Did you know that the COLLEGE tee-shirt design is sold exclusively at Gustos? John Belushi had it custom-made for himself, when he was in town in the seventies. I'm not sure how much time he spent here, but his brother Jim attended SIU for 4 years. Anyway, here's the idea: a limited edition tee-shirt, with a message on the back that reads:

If you're reading this shirt, it's because someone cared enough about keeping the Spirit of the Varsity Theater alive to buy and wear it, so the building can be renovated.

John Belushi went to the Varsity Theater in Carbondale, and bought the sweatshirt he wears in "Animal House" at Gusto's (pictured on the front of this shirt). What isn't generally known is that he might have had pizza and beer at Quatro's Deep Pan Pizza at its original location."

Sure, it's long, but people will be standing in line for movie shows, and it gives the people behind them something to read. Suitable graphics can be added. (Maybe a Varsity Theater backdrop.)

Other business that were open at the time could also get in on the act. He could have had beer and pizza at Pagliai's as well, I guess. The same night!

I don't know, maybe it's a bad idea. I'll ask Van about it later today. And the owner of Quatros. Have a design ready for the meeting next week. Give it the old college try.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Sufis sound heavenly

They call themselves "the world's greatest pick-up band," but that's not true--Majnun (originally named 'Sufis from Hell') has been practicing for years to hone the honey sound the band delivers on its debut CD. Available at music stores and other shops around town. More on Majnun (the band and the CD) later in this blog, if it is the will of Allah.

signed, "Professor 80's"

Activity participated in by some

Alternate headline: Garden gets rain, things get green

I just noticed that the photos for this blog aren't showing up on Internet Explorer, although they're fine on Netscape. Mr. Thorpe is nearly 100 years old. You may recall the photo of him shovelling snow last winter, but in the Spring, pruning a bush is not so strenuous, and more satisfying. You can see him tending to the garden plots he's planted near my own (picture at right)-- looking good after eggplants and carrots were thinned and replanted.

Spinach and green beans planted Saturday. Can you see the purple iris blossom (the dot of purple) in the botton left of the photo? Probably not, if the image doesn't appear on your screen.

Monday, May 19, 2003

The new movie theater

Being a "big event" person, I should have attended opening night of the new Kerasotes movie theater in the University Mall, the night after the closing show of The Varsity. Matrix Reloaded is currently showing and it got good reviews and should be an excellent big screen show. I hear the stadium seating is nice, but I won't need it. Save me a seat in the front row.

The old movie theater

Next Tuesday, May 27, in Room 108 of City Hall, at 7:00 p.m., representatives of Kerasotes Theaters will meet with city officials and citizens who wish to offer suggestions for the future of this landmark building on Illinois Avenue.

This Wednesday, there will be a meeting at the Interfaith Center to plan what to say.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

A Farming Class Hero is Something to Be*

May 9 was St. Isidore the Farmer day in Spain, but we Americans don't have any farmer heroes, except perhaps John Deere or the old McDonald's dude before he started selling burgers. Well, here are two nominees: Patrick Sweeney and Steve Smith--with 40 years combined experience in organic farming in Southern Illinois between them. They both migrated to here from large metro areas in the seventies--and both have grown to love their work here in Little Egypt.

This week was slim pickings at the market, but Patrick had some lettuce the size of a cheerleaders pom-poms and Steve offered spinach, rhubarb and asparagus.

*apologies to John Lennon

A good location for a public outdoor swimming pool

Bleyer Field from Linden St.The CCHS School Board is advertising for bids on two tracts of property (A & B) across from the gymnasium, on Oakland Avenue. Tract A includes two tennis courts, a practice field and Bleyer Field. That is where the Public Outdoor Swimming Pool should go, in the opinion of POOL (People organized against only lakes).

You can more about the School Board's plans in Linda Rush's article ... here.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Chair man of sidewalk unseated by bike rack

Rory Jaros has been a fixture outside the Co-op for years. On a nice day, you'll see him at work. Well take a picture (I did) because he won't be there much longer.

In fact, as I write this, he may be packing up his tools and wood and chair and moving to another spot. It came as a surprise to him. But it's no surprise that his chairs made from "found wood" cost more than a fancy couch you'd find at a furniture store. Look at his website.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Cole tries out for the Varsity

Supposed to be meeting with representatives of Kerasotes Theaters in Carbondale this week. Yo, Task Force--here's a task for you to tackle: Block for Brad as he makes his pitch to the boys at Kerasotes, and puts the ball in their court, not taking off the gloves, or padding his sentences, but jumping every hurdle, as he sprints downfield for a downtown redevelopment touchdown. Read the Linda Rush's article in the Southern Illinoisan.

Mayor Cole's day job?

The one he had before he ran for mayor--but had taken from him by the new Gov. Blagojevich--with Illinois State Central Management Services (discussed below)--and the Civil Service Commission to which he is appealing (see below), are explained in great detail ... here. In case you're a curious young lad or lass.

Bye bye, Baba

Baba Shop
Now, you can satisfy your soul with gifts marked down up to 50% since the little gift shop (behind the Longbranch Coffee House) owned by the local Sufi community is going out of business. Even with all the birthday gifts and cards that the Sufis are always buying for each other, it wasn't profitable enough to keep open. Instead, the Branch's "Back Room" will be expanded, and maybe the kitchen, also.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Souvenir popcorn and posters

Last night at the VarsityAlthough the last night of the Varsity was quiet, there wasn't any popcorn left when I arrived at 9:25 for the last show ("Identity" a multiple-personality murder thriller) because some guy (not me) bought three big trash bags full of "souvenir popcorn" for $350, then tried to sell some to me for 25 cents a kernel, do you believe it? At that rate, I could only buy 10 pieces, which didn't last past the opening three frames.

Back to Normal

The City of Normal, Illinois also had a movie theater close, but it was renovated and now flourishes. It was also owned by Kerasotes, and Carbondale architectural firm of White & Borgnoni performed the painstaking job of restoration. Maybe they could do the same for the Varsity Theater in their home town.

You can read about the Normal Theater . . . here.

Give him "Liberty" or give him "Varsity"
I was going to call this blog "Local cyber dudes snap each other's photos for their websites on the porch of The Tropicana" because Eric snapped mine at the same time I snapped his. We were going to have race to get the photos posted. Eric's website is
Eric Deutsch with camera
When the Liberty Theater in Murphysboro closed, Eric Deutsch negotiated with Kerasotes Theaters to try to show 16 mm. films, but the attorneys wouldn't hear of it. Eric is a website and real estate developer, as well as a passionate film aficianado, and the newest member of the "V the Varsity" task force, along with "Mr. Mike" Ricci and me, so far. The Task Force agrees that an artsy/trendy/coffeeey/snacky establishment that showed only older films would make money. But apparently, Kerasotes doesn't want any competition, which is understandable . .

Therefore, the New Varsity could show only films two or three years old. Also, instead of looking at it as competition, Kerasotes become a partner with the City of Carbondale (through Main Street, perhaps)... and some private business interests...Or the company could relax its "no films shown in the old building" rule. Kerasotes should be made to understand that such an establishment would not compete with first run movies and, if they joined in profit participation, would not be in competition at all.

At work on Cyberdale After Dark?

Nice to see the other weird Harold (H.B.Koplowitz, author of Carbondale After Dark) still at it . . . here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

V for Varsity

Many people are wondering what will become of the Varsity Theater after tomorrow night's final show. Although the company may not want it to be turned into an "art house" or "second run" theater, such a use would not compete with the Mall movies, because it's a different market altogether. Hopefully, the boys at Kerasotes Theaters in Springfield/Chicago will come to see it that way. What do you think? Would you be willing to be on a "Save the Varsity" task force? I'm not hard to contact. Here's a tricky trivia question for you: what will be the last movie shown? Answer: the last movie to start will be Identity (an ingenious thriller starring John Cusack and other good actors) at 9:40 p.m. But the last movie to end will be Bend it Like Beckham about 11:40 pm. Save me an aisle seat.

M is for Mayor, J is for Job

Brad Cole has a hearing coming up before the Illinois Civil Service Commission that might enable him to return to work for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, says an article in the Southern Illinoisan.

C is for Civil, S is for Service, and C is for Commission

What is it? I couldn't find anything helpful in a Google search

Monday, May 12, 2003

Meet 'em and greet 'em at the Arboretum

The Carbondale Park District is holding an open house from 5-7 p.m. TONIGHT at the Civic Center to discuss the "draft master plan" for Marberry Arboretum.

The plan, which cost $14,000, suggests taking Carbondale New School property and using it as a parking lot, wiping out a lot of the trees, setting up a series of individual gardens, building a visitor center and/or amphitheater etc. etc., for a mere $1.6 to $1.9 million. But, as Richard Grant points out, "We don't have any money to do any of this." Well, duh. The consulting firm partner will be there to entertain comments. (Afterward, at 7, at the "real" Park Board meeting, they will one mo' time vote on whether to build the clubhouse at Hickory Ridge. Is it just me, or does some of this resemble Oz??? )

If they really want to do something, why don't they just label the trees? Or keep the poison ivy off the trails? I'll bet they could do some cool things for a lot less than $1.6 million. Maybe even some POOLthings.

Read the full story in the Southern Illinoisan. Obviously, the reporter has spent some time walking the Arboretum's paths.

Where's the POOL?

I haven't heard much from POOL (People Organized against Only Lakes) lately. Time is running out to make a deal with the School Boards for the property. Maybe the Park District should focus on building a swimming pool instead of parking lots at the Marberry Arboretum. There's enough parking there already.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

The Mother of all Mothers' Days

Julia Ward Howe
That's Julia Ward Howe, social reformer and poet, who made the first suggestion for a Mother's Day in the United States. In 1872, she suggested it be on June 2 and that it be a day dedicated to peace. She sponsored Mother's Day meetings in Boston for several years, and people in other towns began to do the same. A friend emailed me Howe's declaration, and I posted it ... here.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Who's the Light being in the dark wig?

Who IS that wigged man?
This is an experiment. I snapped this photo at Sufi Park. I've never tried this before...Roll your mouse over the image and see what happens. Alhumdulilah! That's the spiritual leader of the Carbondale sufi community at right. You can call him Dean, or you can call him Murshid, just roll that mouse over the image. It may take some time to load. As I said...this is a first.

And speaking of firsts, Murshid and band, Majnun, has just released its first CD--years in the making. I'll give it a listen, and write a review for you. In the future. Insh'allah.

Sufi Park Fun Raiser for Kids

A fundraiser for orphans in Bangladesh, with old fashioned apple-bobbing and face-painting, and the main event a puppet show. Some photos:

Where is he now?

This morning, Professor 50's was in front of the back of the Public Library. Also known as Harry Klein, the aging hipster ruled the music scene before Nightlife began publishing, and Harry opened "Second Chance" records, which is now the Verizon cellular phone outlet, next door to Rosetta News. I "hooked him up" with an email address, so if you appreciated his work in the old days, or want to encourage an old fogey to get "with it," send him an email message. Maybe he'll make a comeback as "Assistant Professor 80's". To contact Harry click here.

She's no Chauncey Gardner*

But new City Council rep Sheila Simon (no relation to Art Garfunkel) will do her best to weed out wasteful programs in the city budget, while her daughter rakes in the profits from a lemonade stand in front of the new Carbondale Community Swimming Pool**.

*The name of the main character of Jerzy Kozinski's novel and subsequent film Being There, which paved the way for Forrest Gump, but that's another story.

**The part about the lemonade stand and the pool is just a pleasant fantasy--so far.

Ready for Rental

The old "Charley Pickles" restaurant and Southern Illinois Gem Company building on Walnut St. (across the street from City Hall) has been repainted a wonderfully warm brown, and refurbished inside by the new owners. There have already been inquiries and will be rented in a jiffy, no doubt. I'm thinking law office. I wonder what other businesses have been located here since it was built. This would be an interesting research project.

Last Picture Show?

I stopped by Mayor Cole's office again today on my rounds about town. He had just spoken on the phone to the President of Kerasotes Theaters in Springfield, IL, letting the theater chain know that the City of Carbondale will do whatever it can to maintain the theater as a viable entity on Illinois Ave. At this point is uncertain if Kerasotes will put the building up for sale or lease. The idea for a "dollar theater" or "art film house" has been suggested, but the Springfield giant isn't likely to permit competition with it's new 8-plex in the Mall. Time will tell. According to an article in today's Southern Illinoisan, the "company [won't] decide what's going to happen to the theater after it closes. Company managers meet once a month, and no decision is likely to come before the June meeting."

No matter what the long-term future brings, the last movie to screen at the Varsity Theater for awhile will be Bend it Like Beckham" which starts at 9:30 and ends at 11:40 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13. It's a funny, heartwarming film about a young woman soccer player and the difficulties she has with her family.

Open door policy

I decided to test candidate Brad Cole's promise that after he was elected Mayor, his office door would always be open. So far, on two surprise visits, it was. I'll check with the clean up crew to see if it is left open over night as well.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Electric news to dwell on on a slow news day

Shane drills holes for wiringI just found out a half-hour ago that a electrician is coming in an hour to rewire my dwelling. Many people live in apartments, some in houses, others stay in haciendas, domiciles or "cribs". Me, when I'm not out and about, I dwell. On things to write my dwelling--which is supposed to be rewired this morning by Mitchell Korando, who keeps plugging away, and his wirey assistant Shane, pictured here in front of, and at work on, my dwelling, later this morning.

Although the upheaval caused me to miss a couple of hours worth of work, I gained about a half a pound of valuable wood chips where holes were drilled to run the wire through in June. I also learned that Korando Electric has a website, so I added it to the Directory under "E".

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Warning: Do not attend this meeting

Mayor Brad Cole, first day on the job

On his first full day on the job, Mayor Brad Cole has called a Special City Council meeting for:

Tuesday, May 13, 2003
7:00 p.m.
Room 103 of the Civic Center
200 S. Illinois Avenue

Unless you are a member of City Council, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, attend this meeting. Here's why:

The meeting will be convened in open sesssion and the roll will be called, and then a motion will be passed to hold a closed session, and the meeting will be reconvened in open session in order to adjourn. So it would be possible to attend the meeting for a total of . . . oh . . . about 30 seconds. Oh, wait, it now takes the City Clerk longer than that to call the roll. So the public could only be present for about one minute! (Sounds like my kind of meeting.)

Speaking of the City Clerk...

What's wrong with that picture?

Did you see the photo in the print edition of Carbondale Times showing Mayor Cole being sworn in as Mayor? Where's the swearer-inner? I'll try to scan and post it, here.

Around the blog

I've sent invitations to some other good writers in town to contribute to this blog in their own name, or pseudonymously, if they prefer. Either way, if I don't get some help, I'll have to stop, even though I'd prefer to continue writing along with others. If I sent you an invitation, please accept, and help this great experiment in community communications to continue. If I did not invite you, but you'd like to contribute, let me know.

Good luck to new Council persons Sheila Simon, Steven Haynes, Lance Jack and Chris Wissmann, who join Margaret Flanagan and Corrine McDaniel and Mayor Cole in the expanded 7-person Council.

Interesting times

Newly sworn-in Mayor Brad Cole made an interesting speech last night drawing on the Chinese chestnut about living "in interesting times," giving those in attendance a lesson in literary etymology and civic pride. From the tenor of his remarks, one gets the feeling that Cole means business for the city, much like Prince Hal turned into King Henry V, in Shakespeare's most fair and consistent play of that name, in which one of England's greatest heroes brought technology-based companies to France in the 14th century. As always at City Council meetings, drunk and disorderly Falstaff-types will be shown the door.

I myself looked for the door during the cake break, cutting out of the meeting before the serious business was discussed, but on the way home, as I turned the corner at Illinois Ave (51 N) and Main St. (13 W) where a discount furniture store was recently located, I saw the new proprietors of that building gathered out front on the step, as if waiting for someone to come by and snap their photo, which I did, as I steered my vehicle with my other hand negotiating the turn.

New restaurant on the corner of Main & Illinois

outside what will soon be GrendelsAnita Pate and her husband, Matt, along with the cook, "Che", and waiter Mike will be teaming up with a true master chef to offer "upscale" decor and entrees, like their other restaurant "McCleland's Bistro" in Murphysboro, but with an expanded menu. It will be named "Grendel's" but don't look for any fricasseed monster on the menu, except maybe on Halloween. They shouted all this out to me as I sped by. They hope to have the restaurant open in June. It's true.