Thursday, June 26, 2003

Moving right along

I'm moving into a new office this week, so my PC will be packed up for a few--so I'm taking time off to unpack boxes, and develop some projects. Look for further dispatches on or about July 4. Sooner if the spirit of mov(i)es me. Until then, keep the faith, hope, and

Salt and Pepper

Pepper Dibbix is holdin' a grudge
Against the white man, he's the judge,
"No pool," he says, because of the races--
Not backstroke or butterfly--but color of faces.
But Salty McDonut is free with his praises
He says to dive in, with all of God's graces.
Pepper and Salt, used to be buds,
Maybe again, with this little nudge.

POOL Lives!?

CCHS took bids on its old properties two weeks ago. They received no bids for Bowen Gym or the 1923 building. At one time, SIRSS (Southern Illinois Regional Social Services) had indicated interest in the building if CCHS would give it to them, but the neighborhood objection to prospect of having mental patients descend on the neighborhood was enough to discourage the organization from pursuing the property.

The Board did receive a bid for the property west of Oakland from a developer from Union County that the board is considering. Will they also consider donating for a swimming pool? One of the Park District Board members I spoke to today at the mall thinks they still might. Stay tuned.

Not for sale

But you can rent it "as is" for $900 per month.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"Save the Varsity" group goes Yahoo!

check it out . . . here.

REQUEST: I just noticed that some of the photos don't appear on the page when its loaded with Internet Explorer. Please let me know if this page doesn't load correctly on your computer. thanks

Meeting on Main Street

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to the Board of Directors of Carbondale Main Street about my idea for a "Greater Carbondale Market Fair" to be held on the first Saturday of the month, six months per year, concurrent with the Farmers Market, in the parking lot of Old National Bank (see below). I had to cool my heels awhile, because I arrived late, and the meeting had already started. The photo was snapped as I entered the room. I knew less than half of those gathered, but they all graciously smiled for the photo op. I briefly considered asking one of them to snap mine in return, but quickly decided to make it snappy instead. After my pitch, the board threw me some questions which I took a swing at answering, and I was encouraged to continue to develop the idea, and meet with the Board again next month. Not much time. The GCMF should be up and running by the first Sunday of September and continue for three months.

I didn't get everyone's name, but that's CMS Director Roxanne Conley, in front, and everbody else is either Craig Reeves (President), Bryan Black (Treasurer), Tom Redmond (Secretary), Bob Bleyer, Angela Boyd, Brian Chapman, Brenda Henderson, Lance Jack, Randy Johnson, Scott Thorne, Kay Pick-Zivkovic, Lee Fronabarger, or Kevin Clark. Sally Carter (Vice President, was not present) and there was a guy sitting in the far left corner, who didn't fit into the frame. I hope he still likes the idea.

Dancers Trunk to open soon

In a few weeks these three tired painters--Amy, Alex (the owner), and Jay-- will be selling dancing shoes, outfits and accessories in the shop between a tanning salon and Printing Plant copy shop in the Campus Shopping Center. Possibility of expanding to costumes around October. Seems like a good fit.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Another dome idea

The man who took the itch out of skin

Carbondale's Bob Presley, grandson of Makanda folk hero Wayman Presley, is an online entrepreneur . . . scratch here.

Monday, June 23, 2003

V 4 VarsiTEE

Rough design for the Save the Varsity tee-shirt. . . here.

Greater Carbondale Market Fair

I've been invited to pitch this idea to the Board of Directors of Carbondale Main Street--the idea for a monthly marketplace (to run concurrent with the Farmers Market during the months April-October) located on part of the Old National Bank parking lot. I imagine a banner coming down from the ONB sign with the words "Greater Carbondale Market Fair" in fancy typeface, like this. There are 26 spaces in the lot closest to the street. One space will cost $20 for out-of-town flea marketers and $15 to Carbondale residents. Something like that. Pricing details to be worked out by the Ad Hoc Citizens Committee of 3 Marketaires.

Tapping in or tapped out?

Just down the street a few doors from the ONB parking lot is arguably the Strip's biggest eyesore: the blighted American Tap building, which sorely needs a clean-up. I said I'd find out how much the owner wanted for the property. Still waiting to hear back from Home Rentals Inc. about the selling price. If it's fair and reasonable (say, what the owner paid for it, plus a few thousand more) I may have found a buyer--someone with other business interests in town, who'd turn it into . . . . What would you do with it?

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Sunday in Cobden

On Sundays, you can go to the Cobden Museum and then have lunch at the Yellow Moon Cafe, which has best sandwiches and shakes since the Pomona General Store. The privately-owned museum is "a nice place to visit" as the brochure states. Among the displays are Indian artifacts, pottery, and other items of local history. The Moon has recently added a good selection of microbrew beer, and features live entertainment on weekends.

Where'd the pun go, Jerry?

I don't have any friends named Jerry, or any "fat cat" friends either, and until last night had none named Don. But actor, producer, and culture-preneur Don Elwell won me over with some hilarious pun-schtick on the topic of goats and sheep, etc. He creamed me, no pun intended, so I later challenged him to a public pun-off for charity-- on stage at Mungo Jerry's--one of these days. Open to all challengers. Winner take awe.

All's well that Elwell

Don Elwell is quite the busy New Age guru these days, with Mungo Jerry's Fat Cat Cafe, the Greylight Theater, a New Age bookstore, 2nd Annual Renaissance Faire (to be held at Riverside Park in Murphysboro this year) and now he intends to turn the abandoned Logan elementary school building into an upper division accredited college. More about Don's activities later. It's time to Mungo!

In the olden days, there was an actual St. Mungo, who was said to have been an associate of St. David, the patron Saint of Wales. Nowadays, there's a St. Mungo's help for the homeless in London. Back in the sixties, there was (and still is) Mungo Jerry, the good-time rock & roll band, and the Mungo that got it all started, Mungo Jerry's Fat Cat Cafe in Murphysboro, Illinois.

Bowdens take a bow

Billie and Mark Bowden wowed 'em at Mungo Jerry's Saturday night. These guys sound like the Everly Brothers, if Willie Nelson had a brother. They even have a website . . . here.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Money spent well

Not just flushed down the drain. (For one thing, it will make a public outdoor pool at the old CCHS football field possible.) Read the DE story.

Land of mystery

The Council met in closed chambers about some land that has come available, or something. I couldn't get a satisfactory answer from anyone I asked. My out-on-a-limb prediction is that it involves the old CCHS fields, and that the Council is secretly acquiring it in order to build a swimming pool and recreation park there, along with some home or apt. construction. Of course, it could be another parcel or land altogether...or several of them in a complicated land swap. Let's see...Virginia Ave. and Waterworks for the Makanda Boardwalk. Whose roll?

Baltic Ave.

One of the great Carbondale success stories is the area where Tres Hombres, Neighborhood Coop, Longbranch, Jovanellas, WIDB, Tropicana, Aunties wings, the barber shop, Mexican grocery. It's really a happening neighborhood. But just around the corner, its Baltic Ave. Can't those buildings be put to productive use? I plan to meet with the owner to ask just that.

Will Henry dump his dump now that he's in the dumps?

It's old news that notorious Carbondale landlord, Henry Fisher, has been convicted of a sex crime with a minor, but I wonder if anyone has asked if would sell the forsaken American Tap building at a better price than he was asking. It might make a good place for the African American museum (while they dream about moving into a wing of the renovated Varsity Theater.) I wonder how much he's asking for the property. Only one way to find out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Feeling philanthropic?

Maggie Flanagan can help. The Southern Illinois Community Foundation explains how. . . here.

Or you can give your money Shawnee Network to provide affordable computers and training to a largely e-literate region. For more information, click here.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Antique Tacos?

Kevin Smith, owner of Auntie's Wings, next door to The Tropicana, has always insisted on "Auntie'" being in the name of whatever business leases the space, so Ernesto Tomas (owner of the Mexican grocery store) agreed, even though he was puzzled that Kevin had been serving "antique" chicken wings. It shows how earnest Ernesto is about opening a restaurant that he was willing to advertise turn-of-the-century tacos to do so. Luckily for everyone, however, Auntie's Tacos opens this week, serving fresh authentic Mexican cuisine. As long as Kevin's building stays rented as a restaurant (or perhaps a lingerie store--Auntie's Panties) the name stipulation ought to work.

Mexican Wal-Mart?

Don Camila Mexican Grocery has a lot of stuff besides groceries imported from south of the border, manager Ernesto Tomas's little shop has outgrown its current location...and is moving to the old Nutrition Headquarters building on Jackson St. after a new roof is put on and other improvements made inside.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

A Day of Achievement

For African Americans, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. Usually observed on June 19, in Carbondale it was held yesterday in Attucks Park . . . I snapped some photos for their website . . . here.

Smells for sale

To quote one Mayor Brad Cole's favorite sayings: "Business goes where it is needed, and stays where it is wanted"--in this case next to the barber shop on Oak St., where Idris Siddiqi set up shop when another purveyor of olfactory delights had already set up a table at the Juneteenth celebration in Attucks Park.

Friday, June 13, 2003

A Delyteful show

Last night's Sunset Concert rocked, but the tall man of metal in the background showed no interest in joining the dancers outside Shryock Auditorium to the sounds of The Kinsey Report. Would it be too much to put the statue on a swivel base, so the graven image of SIU's best-known President, Delyte Morris, could face in the direction of the library that bears his name or gaze at the Sunset Concert band occasionally?

editor's note: the guy in front in the black shirt put his hand in his pants as i snapped the shot, so I "doctored" it out...I hope he doesn't experience sexual dysfuncion as a result. . . . the statue of Morris doesn't have a crotch.

V is for Varsity

At one end of the field, at the Interfaith Center, the "Save the Varsity" group lead by team captain Hugh Muldoon; at the other end of the strip, Van Anderson's "V is for Varsity" team. The ball has been kicked off, and Hugh "Crazy Legs" Muldoon scampers down the field of screens behind a bevy of idealistic blockers, and Van "Silk Screen Man" Anderson tackles the task of printing tee-shirts for the cause. The jester on the sidelines in a cast of thousands, cheers and wonders if either side will

Show them the money!

Them, meaning Kerasotes Theaters. One of the practical steps give by Bob Shapiro was to restore climate control to the building, asap, because the sudden change from heat and humidity to freezing cold will be very hard on the building. Also, if Kerasotes were to LEASE the building, the building could maintain its "grandfather" status, and not have to be up to current building codes. Even so, restoring the old building will be very expensive, and city residents may not wish to spend the money to save it.

Who will pay the bills for keeping the building climatized? Are there cheaper alternatives?

And speaking of cheaper alternatives!

The intersection from hell

That's not Satan on the island where the traffic signals control the Mill St. -Illinois - University intersection. It's Bill Grizzell a 37 year employee of Illinois Department of Transportation, who tells me that the reason why the traffic signals are so slooowww now is the auto-sensors are turned off (because of yet more roadwork) and the machine has been calibrated to change at set times, and it's difficult to calculate this due the many directions and size of the intersection.

Please stop and look from both ways before advancing to the stories below.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Varsity Blues

I attended a meeting of people desiring to "Save the Varsity" at the Interfaith Center last night, along with about 25 others, including Gail White and Bob Shapiro, both of whom have relevant experience. Hugh Muldoon conducted the meeting with Roberts Rule of Order precision. One important topic was the petition, which reads:
We, the undersigned, feel that it is in the best interest of Carbondale and the region to preserve the Varsity Theater as a multi-purpose venue for films, theater, concerts, lectures, conferences, classes, exhibits, recitals, and the like. We support a community-wide effort to save the Varsity and we urge our public officials and fellow citizens to actively join in this effort.

The group hopes to have thousands of signatures by August to give to City Council. I didn't sign it, because of the phrase "and the like," which I don't like.

Both Shapiro, whose Maiden Alley Cinema achieved a years long effort to build a community arts facility in Paducah, and White, who told the group about his work for the Normal Theater, both gave the group EXCELLENT advice (which I'll go into in a future blog) but no suggestions were made of ways to follow up. Noticably absent was anyone from Carbondale Main Street (which DID put on a fun Brown Bag concert yesterday afternoon.) So the group agreed to form a sub-group to come up with ways to organize the main group, and get more people to sign the petition, and have another meeting in a few weeks. Sounds like a plan. Doesn't it?

You can read Hugh's fuller account . . . here.

Afternoon Blues

behind larryblcb
Big Larry and Code Blue entertained a small, but appreciative crowd at the final concert of the Brown Bag lunch series. I suggested to Carbondale Main Street director, Roxanne Conley, that maybe the city could get a backdrop for the bands next year, since it would improve visibility and sound. She seemed to think it was a good idea.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Cole considers Varsity options

Mayor Brad Cole has been on the job for a little over a month, and by far the biggest problem he's had to deal with is the closing of the Varsity Theater. "At least we've had no natural disasters or fires resulting in loss of life," said the pragmatic young mayor. "Compared to those possibilities, the situation with Kerasotes seems relatively benign."

So what IS the situtation with the theater chain, anyway? According to Cole, the company has sent its own property assessment team to learn the condition and value of the building and fixtures. Brad HAS ask them not to remove the seats (as happened at the Liberty Theater in Murphysboro). But since it's private property, the Mayor's hands are tied (can you see the rope?). Yet local residents and film aficianadoes who want to save the venerable theater are planning to make a proposal that the theater chain can't refuse. There will be a meeting tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at the Interfaith Center (where else?) to discuss it.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Cheap gas

I considered calling this blog "Gas Wars," but since the price has remained the same for a few days, it's just about 10 cents cheaper than anywhere else in town. You'll recognize the signs.

Road work

All along Highway 51 S. from campus to Pleasant Hill Rd. . . . widening and resurfacing, including the entrance leading to McAndrew Stadium and the Student Center.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Return of the Terrier

Perhaps the best home-grown basketball player Carbondale ever sent to the NBA, Troy Hudson is back in the town where he grew up to host his annual 5-on-5 Tournament for local kids, while he visits mom, Cynthia, and the rest of his family and friends in the City of the Dome (aka, Carbondale). Now with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Troy's numbers are getting bigger as his game matures.

In searching for his photo, I found a website that Troy (or someone) had posted, promoting him and his products, but the site is down now; perhaps because it violated NBA licensing agreements. There are links to photos of the now non-existent TroyHudson.Net website . . . here.

You deserve a Winery Tour today

At the new McDonald's on Hwy 51, South of Pleasant Hill Road, the Tour begins--which explains the wine bottles from local wineries on display. Good deal for both sides. Let's see those thick(burger)-heads at Hardees top it with a tour of the Copper Dragon!

Friday, June 06, 2003

I got together with long-time editor of Nightlife, and newly-elected member of Carbondale City Council, Chris Wissmann today at Harbaugh's Cafe, to talk about business developments downtown, including this stunning development: the old La Roma building has been leased by an outfit from Murphysboro that wants to . . . . if I told you, it would take the fun out of it, so I'll give you virtual guessers an opportunity to guess as well. I'll tell you next week. Hint: there's already something like it on the strip.

If you see Chris, ask him.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Moon over Cobden

Kudos to Yellow Moon Cafe in Cobden for their internet savvy and savory java. See upcoming events . . . here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

POOLing resources

A growing group of residents of Carbondale, tired of driving their cars to out-of-town lakes in order to sunbathe and swim, are ready to take the plunge and vote for a public outdoor swimming pool in town.

According to a recent press release from POOL (People Organized against Only Lakes) the organization has a petition signed by hundreds of local residents, indicating support from a wide cross-section of the community, including university and local government officials--the kind of support necessary to bring the project about.

He wants a public outdoor swimming pool ...NOW!

POOL needs a less menacing poster child than Otis Armstrong,* whom POOL has chosen to sell the public swimming pool idea with the theme "BUILD A POOL SO I CAN STRUT MY STUFF AND OGLE THE CUTIES". Instead, POOL needs someone like Steven Haynes or Lance Jack to stand on the high dive of public opinion and cannonball into media awareness, or Sheila Simon (in a stylish one-piece and matching bathing cap) doing an eye-pleasing swan dive into the warm embracing liquidity of financial backing for the project.

Can it be done for under a million bucks? $963,751? How do Gail White and Bill Borgnoni look in swim suits? Will the School District donate the land on which to build? These and other questions may be answered at the next meeting of POOL on Monday, June 22, at The Newman Center. For more information contact Mary.

*The part of "Otis Armstrong" played by Mark 'Busdog' Robinson. The views of Otis do not necessarily reflect Mark's views, which are better reflected ... here.

That's the ticket

At last night's brief Council meeting, a man named Elbert Simon, ranted about a laundry list of items, including a parking ticket, which City Manager, Jeff Doherty finally said he'd pay out of his own pocket, just to get the unhappy man to sit down.

And on the "V is for Varsity" movie set, veteran activist Hugh Muldoon's Save the Varsity team is circulating a petition to do just that, and Mayor Cole promised to keep the group informed of his conversations with the Kerasotes Theater company.

The meeting was over before sundown, according to my source, but the movie is just beginning.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Mayors drink juice and coffee, chew fat

This blogging business gets old hat sometimes, and speaking of old hats, Marion Mayor Robert Butler met with a hatless Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole at a summit meeting at Marion Steak & Shake yesterday, the likes of which has not been seen since ... (choose one)

a. Harry met Sally
b. Napoleon met his Waterloo
c. New York Met, Mike Piazza
d. Dillard met Butler

Butler is so outrageous--he gets carried away with the sound of his own voice and pontificates forever. But Brad got off some good one-liners of his own, and both agreed to "spare no effort" to get better service from MediaCom. Something that should have been done a long time ago, Butler says, although the elderly Mayor stops short at picking up a banner and crusading, in order to spare some effort. (I'll bet Brad Cole would gladly pick up a banner and crusade, if it would make Carbondale a better place to watch television. What mayor of the best city in Southern Illinois would not?)

You can read more about this historic meeting . . . here.