Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow Emerging See, The Daily Plebeian

The quiet of winter has fallen from the sky, it is a hushed manner that clashes as planes from airport just south of hwy 62, that the city has succumbed too. The ladies of the night that sauntered the streets near my house in Central Neighborhood have gone on vacation for the holidays. Yet the basement steps still have their light on, truth knows the crack is not far away. Darkness falls fast before people are done with work, and caution is expected on the road.

When this snow falls in the city there is a day or two of shock where people avoid the outside, the snowplows grind through the streets, and life emerges 48 hours later.

I attended the No Coast Craft-O-Rama at the Midtown global market, where many of the booths held delightful goods. I shall mark it on my calender for next year as well.
Awhile back I noticed that the Chicago Lake infamous bar Sonny's has closed down permanently. I remember a frequent night living on Columbus Ave and Lake St when bar close brought Riff Raff to stand around near their parked cars and holler at each other till the early morning about their sexual exploits.
I am not against Riff Raff altogether but it must be maintained and spread out, when concentrated it causes great displeasure. Sonny's is now gone the way of 'The Round Up' Beerhall on Lake Street and 2nd Ave, which closed down a few years back. These are sure signs of gentrification, a slow process yet noticeable if you have been a frequent visitor to Chicago Lake Liquors. Where the selection of 40 oz. malt liquor has gone down and the selection of wine and craft beer has gone up. The evolution of cities is hard to pin point yet its slow meander is seen in the small day to day activities.

I learned the Walt Whitman once wrote for a paper called the Daily Plebeian. I like that name and may perchance revisit it again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Darwin jumps the Shark

Recently I have had a renewed interest in the Civil war and the absurd nature it brought to the country.
Mainly the brutality of it all, the amputations, mortality, and prisons. Also the war brought death to a population that was thriving economically because of the slow brutal process of slavery, maybe it produced a small amount of karmic retribution.
There also is a push in transportation as mechanical evolution happens faster when lives are on the line. Naval vessels were produced often with metal when speed wasn't an issue, and when it was the Confederate blockade runner ships did a great job, and produced men like Rhett Butler.

Railroads were run 24 hours a day often moving supplies and men, a great advantage of the Union army who employed men of the biggest companies of the day like the Pennsylvania railroad's Thomas A. Scott.

But I would like to focus here on the Mule, a true brute of efficacy. If I had a bicycle company I would produce a tough steel commuter proletarian oriented bike called 'the mule'. When I learned in my younger years of the Mule, from the epic television series Grizzly Adams, which showed off a mule named '#7' who was often referred to as a burro (donkey in espanol). A mule is sterile, a offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. Not to be confused with a Hinny, which is the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Civil War Mule usage is documented here.

Now to segway, mules are beasts of burden and have been with humans for quite some time. but the are almost always infertile, excepts in rare cases. Why do they exist? Are they as cool as Street Sharks?

Will sharks one day be a species filled with asexual reproduction?

None of these matter,but if questions of Darwin were pointed to examples like the Mule, and shark reproduction, wouldn't his teaching gain a resurgence like the Fonz when he jumped the shark. Its asking to much for people to think and pay attention, unless others are. I care about Bristol Palin on dancing with the stars because others do, I heard customers at the restaurant talking about it so it must be important, just like the weather.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Daylight Savings Burning a Hole in your pocket.

The winter doldrums are fast approaching, and with the restaurant slowing I feel impelled to write in this as a seriously time consuming hobby.

I have settled into my house in the hood, the sporadic hollering and whistles outside have diminished form their frenetic pace as the Johns and Crack addled Nightwalkers go about their business. I sit back and kindly reflect on what has allowed me this fortunate situation.

I owe much of where I am to three things. The first being the love care garnished from those around me, second is food, and third is transportation.
I ride a bicycle and chose to forgo ownership of an automobile for the time being. The essentials of a functioning society tend to be food, shelter and transportation. The third most often needed to acquire the first and most sustaining of the three. There has been a disconnect for what is needed to what is wanted. A requirement mutated into a desire.

Food and transportation and inextricably linked, as plants that can be food for animals can be changed by many years of sedimentary compression into fuel for combustible engines that drive our cars. Both food and fuel are organic(the non branded kind) material, made of atomic bonds that when broken... release energy that can both fuel our body and our vehicles. The unique thing about humans is that using food as your fuel for means of transportation has a great multiplier effect.

Food tastes better when your body uses energy prior to consuming it. For example a person rides their bicycle to closest pizza place, in my case Jakeenos, they then ride home with said pizza to enjoy the glorious combination of crust tomato and cheese. The pizza will physically taste better to that person then someone who sat on couch and ordered the Pizza delivered to their house while not moving an inch.

The other obvious point is that using food as fuel allows people to stay more fit and healthy then they otherwise would have driving. A more fit person tends to be happier and energetic within their daily activities (broad generalization duly noted).

Now will come the end of the post where I commence to write a rhyme.

I eat my food bite after delicious bite
all them veggies keeps scurvy outta sight
blowing off the steam so the temp is just right
and like Goldilocks I know I can sleep tight
because I got my chow after riding my bike
locking up front of Cub, wiping sweat off the brow
not even caring I could smell like a sow
the feeling of my heart beat in this chest
made me appreciate the blood of life contest
day after day struggle making choices
go with the ego or the id, quieting the voices
ride a bike take the bus, live life on the cusp
from the edge the inside is bigger, more beautiful then I could ever discuss

Sage Herbaholic signing out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Hippie Socialism

I have moved recently, and my house came with an old Zenith stereo. This has allowed me to acquire the habit of listening to the radio. I like news radio, less talking heads, more back and forth, better moderators. Today they were talking about the new Consumer Protection Agency the U.S. Government established.

They were arguing about the nomination the head the bureau Elizabeth Warren, a supposed enemy of the banks and champion of the people.

The topic got off subject, but as I was sitting there thinking about the upcoming payments to the bank who owns my house, I realized something. Nobody wants to tell people where to spend there money, because America is free.

Freedom causes problems, then we institute taxes, like tobacco and alcohol.

I couldn't afford a mortgage if I owned a car. Nobody in the government is telling people to ditch their car. Yet according to this fun graph, Americans spend 17% of their income on transportation. Do the people getting foreclosed on all over america have a car and if so why isn't Obama telling them to rid themselves of the money pit? I think I remember, he needs the automotive industry to create jobs.

I like to think about politics in an anthropological way often, and prioritize thusly.
#1 Food
#2 Shelter
#3 Transportation
#4 Babies
These are the most needed things in society, and in the american society only one is in crisis... shelter. Housing should be helped by reforming food and shelter.
This is how I would do it.
If you look at the FUN GRAPH above, you could lower health care costs if you increased food costs, you lessen the transportation cost by making local food cheaper. Subsidize the neighboring farmers who are willing to travel to the city to sell their food cheaper then your average grocery.

Transportation- This is tricky but try to follow my naive logic, in New York and large cities on the east coast people spend more of their budget on housing, I wonder why that is?
They have better public transportation! Think if people could reasonably get to and from their daily destinations without driving. But then they would have to walk a few blocks to and from the stations, and that might make them healthier, cutting into the profits of drug companies, who like people fat and sedated.
If the money we used to bailout the car companies was put into building a transportation infrastructure we may end up ahead in the long run. But people can live in their cars, the singer Jewel did it, Mad Money's Jim Cramer did it, and Doc Paskowitz did it. So maybe the housing crisis is really an opportunity for people to experience the open road, like a mix of Little Miss Sunshine and Grapes of Wrath (a often excluded movie from the Road Trip genre).

But if we started telling people what to do that would take away the freedom of america, the freedom to be stupid, crazy, fat, lazy, and everything in between. We can't tell alcoholics not to drink because it causes health issues that cost money to the system, just like we can't tell the obese to eat vegetables. We can't tell people to sell their car, junk their TV's and the rid themselves of cable, or never use their expensive energy consuming air conditioner. We like our creature comforts and the ability not to sweat when the world gets hot. We ain't no third world country and we ain't going to live like one.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


This is what I have been doing, I live currently near the super block (liquor store, Shoe Store, Nail Salon, Gun&Ammo Shop, and KFC). I am moving into an abode 4 blocks west and 1 block south, where my distance to the joys of commercial american poverty are to be replaced with the honesty of Nightwalkers/Ladies of the night. The prohibition of prostitution is just another silly way to push it into the fringes, why not contain it in a flashy red-light district rather then allow it to exist in the periphery.
Being without the highpower of a motor vehicle I have been piling many of the large items into the back of the pedicab. It looks funny I am sure, but I don't pretend that I look normal myself. The utility of it is too perfect. Moving doesn't have to be a chore of fitting and arranging things into your SUV/Truck, your already putting it into the box that is your home, why put it in the box of your car. Especially when you have a convertible pedicab to cart it 5 blocks.

I have drafted a picture to go with a turtle riding a green bike that somehow looks like a battery and screams ENERGIZE.

Moving has tired me from the weekend rigors of the Pedicab, I have neglected all those thousands of people who unknowingly wanted a ride. Perhaps they should have called me. I did get to see all the rah rah of the Bicycle Film Festival, people joining the bike community to get the health benefits or just to feel like they are part of something. Minneapolis being the best bicycling city in america might just be a self fulfilling prophecy. I met a man who bikes to clients to give massages in his chair, pretty utilitarian.

If machines focused on utility more then design of bells and whistles I feel they could achieve greater evolution then what we see today. I use sometimes for this argument the sports car, which in the 50's and 60's was much different from your family owned vehicle. The sports car of today has much greater performance then those from forty years ago. If there had been as much focus on how to economically transport people in cars, we could have done the same, and ended up with something much better the the Prius. Look at the VW bus in the 60's and the best companies can do since then is the Prius and other small hybrid cars? I suppose you have to factor in the profitability push in car manufacturing, and why would someone make something less profitable.

On another note I found out that Afghanistan has a large deposit of Lithium that is used in much of today's electronics and the future electric cars like Tesla Motors.

I also went to Red Bull Flugtag this past weekend and took this snapshot of the world record breakers. Perhaps engineering is better developed in a non long term financial setting, but rather short term prize winning competition. I mean if the Flugtag can get people to build machines to fly over water after being pushed off a 40 foot cliff, then heck anything is possible.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tour De Fat

This weekend was the 2nd Annual Tour De Fat in Minneapolis. This year it was held at Loring Park rather then a Parking Lot. There was beer and bikes galore, general merriment accompanied by music and theatrical circus entertainment.

The event was sponsored by the New Belgium Brewery, one of the more socially conscious brew companies (at least based on the festival and the website) out there. The beer is decent as well and I quite enjoy the 1554 variety. The event was MC'ed by a rather well spoken gentleman who espoused the ideas of zero waste, slow food, slow life, less consumption.

It is good that the focus is on bikes within the festival, the largest alternative to cars as of yet for local transportation. Bicycles are inspiring in the way they make you think about fuel. Your heart is your engine, and your stomach is your fuel pump. If you want your engine to last as long as possible you keep it fueled with the highest quality Petrol, as far as cars go. If our fuel as bicyclists must come from the earth we would tend to care more about it. When you go to the gas station the only info you receive about your fuels is the octane rating, when I have filled up I never thought about if the gas came from skimmed oil off the Gulf of Mexico, or the Persian Gulf, or the Nigerian deltas, or even the pristine areas of Alaska. My concern was that it burned hot enough to power my heavy box of metal to and from destinations.

Transportation is just one of the disconnects we have today about connection in the chain of productions. Energy and Food I feel are the other two predominantly neglected areas when it come to recognition of where it came from. Food I feel is the closest in todays society to changing as people feel it's direct influence in mere hours of consumption. The sink holes and environmental effect of our energy consumption can take decades to be felt. Look at the town ofCentralia, Pennsylvania. A ghost town whose coal mining and mine fire in th 1960's led to thesubsidence of the land and desertion of the town. The materials we seek for new goods that are not found from recycled and reused materials often come from underground. Wood is somewhat a renewable resource, yet wood does not grow without sapping the land around it of resources. Plants will use the land and if harvested continually and non-stop without cycles of fallow land or crop rotations of nitrogen rich plants, regrowth will zap the land and lead to things like the Dust bowl.

The industrial revolution was really a time for people to learn how to take lots of mass from beneath the earth and put it on-top. A good photographic tour of this is found in the work ofEdward Burtynsky. His documentary Manufactured Landscaped is pretty decent as well, and hisTED talk also a good time killer.
There is no connection to the oil we take from the ground to the push of a gas pedal, or the turning on a light switch to the dirty face of a coal miner.

Food we can see, we don't see the run off of the pesticides, unless we look at the dead zone of thegulf of mexico, a term called eutrophication. This word isn't well known yet, but time and crisis will show us in the future, duh duh duh duh...
This happened to Lake Como in St Paul not to long ago I seem to remember but can't find the internet source to be sure, but it probably isn't as worrysome as the evil Millfoil. My god, how dare species attach themselves to things and move around to try and keep themselves in a good position for survival. Invasive species, you should be snuffed out, while we humans should be the only species to inhabit every corner of the earth. How dare you try and play OUR GAME.

Here is a interesting site about aquatic insects in the water of Minnesota area lakes.

Bus consumption can be beautiful as I saw when giving this guy a lift to the gas station and then his car at Tour De Fat, a 62 Galaxy.

Funny that on the day of the festival, that the Isenhauer 94 Interstate was closed due to some awsome bridge rehab.

Bakfiet Wedding

Where's Narwaldo
Band ends festival with "Hold me closer Tony Danza"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day

When this country was founded, we commonly think words like freedom. But the largest freedom granted this country was the economic freedom. The 4th of July, is one of the largest most festive days of the year in our country, the creation of documents regarding civil rights are celebrated with a boom in the sky. Lives were lost in the War of Independence so that the producers, bankers, lawyers, large land owning farmers and owners of mills and factories could pay Britain the mother country nothing. The taxes imposed by King George did not fit the needs of those selling the goods being imposed upon. Take for instance Boston the tea party... lets just look at Tea at that time. Drinking water came from rivers back before sewers in areas without a well. Cities like London near Westminster ham polluted the Thames and the people in control needed a way to flavor and sanitize the water, Tea was thusly used to hydrate and keep good health. A highly prised commodity, tea became taxed, then it was sometimes called a tariff.

This tea was in the possession of British trade ships, if the US bought the tea it would flood the market, if the tea was dumped it would become more valuable on the colony. Sam Adams, whose father was a Minister and a Merchant, a man of the cloth both holy and green. He started a bank that issued currency to people could borrow against their land ownership. The true owner of the land then became the bank, like today with a mortgage where when the bill isn't paid the house gets sold to someone else after they foreclose. So the Adams family partly owned all the land in the area. The British government didn't like Gomez, couldn't stand his mustache , or Sam's father (Sr), and took back the land by dissolving the bank and making all issues of currency payable in Silver and Gold, some of which would be taken from the Adams Family... duh duh duh da 'snap snap'.

Thus the tea party, then the war, and the Anthem, and Valley Forge, and stories for Mel Gibson to make heroic movies about. The lore of the 4th of July is wrapped up in a big box of stars and stripes.

Lets step back from that box, why is Independence day not a day to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, when true freedom was granted to the people of our country, when the tyranny of our own government came toppling down. When the keys to the castle were given to the people who really one the war, not the soldiers, but the ones who made it possible for them to win. The people who made the guns and cannons, who took ore out of the ground and laid railroad tracks to ship those soldiers and weapons across the land. The states that tried to buck the tyranny of Lincoln, needed to be stopped. Yet that day is celebrated not with a Holiday, there is no national civil war day, the most decisive period in the history of our country.

I apologize for that claim with no factual basis for the labeling of 'most decisive', yet it felt appropriate to mention that our country is cyclical, challenging every hundred years or so the powers of its government.

What is the Government? In 500 words.
The government is anyone who gets paid from the money taken out of your paycheck, the government is the decider of budget, a annual amount of money collected in taxes, like a weekly allowance you receive over the course of Fifty Two of them. They 'The Govt' employ people through a budget, this is done at both the National and State Level, states rights are still being tested in the Supreme Court like issues of Gay Marriage.
The Government spent the most amount of money on Defense spending. The money received by the government goes to different areas of the economy, but the area with the biggest budget is Defense. And if the old sports adage that 'defense wins championchips' them we must be The All-Time champs, our defense is good if we don't count things like Oklahoma City, JFK, The Bonus Army as terrorist attacks. Our offense is pretty sweet as well, having been at war for most of the past 50 years as we built up arms for a possible war with communist countries. Like two jocks pumping iron in the weight room, seeming who could have the best arms possible, its not about winning on ideals and the philosophy for the best way to govern people. It was about the arms, and MAD.
Arms cost money and we never got it back after the fall of the Berlin Wall. There was never a huge drop off of money to the defense department. We had the wars from the death of Tito and the reign of


The war is paid for by us, you and I, we are the source of the money. Our paychecks could be itsy bitsy payouts of every government employee. If we wanted to celebrate the true meaning of independence day and the revolutionary war, we would do it April 15, the day we write the government a paycheck and they then immediately spend it with us absent mindless signing off on their use of power. The people who pay the biggest chunk of money to the government are the wealthy, if we broke down the President's paycheck and the payroll of the other Elected Bodies much of it would come from the moderately wealthy. The Bottom of the class triangle might pay a bigger portion of their area, but when your triangles area is crammed into a ghetto the size of a housing project, there is less to contribute/pay to the three triangles branches of power.
That triangle gets constructed on April 15th, the day we celebrate the meaning of Independence, we pay our taxes and therefore we get to vote on which rich person we elect into office.

The tea party wants to make a difference, boycott the 4th of July and start celebrating the 15th of April. Make 'Henry David Thererou' your grandest image of a freedom fighter. Celebrate George Washington Carver more then you do George Washington, promote the idea to love every work/occupation you do, even if it is working for peanuts. Shun big pimping and spending G's on nightime explostions

Remember the grandeur our countries slaves must have felt when we declared Freedom and broke the bond of The Mother Country, the largest Empire upon which the sun never set. Remember their same emotion as you gaze up into the sky and feel the boom rattle in your chest.

I think the american anthem would be more fun if it was Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee"
This is what people do to excersize freedom. March against a Law they don't like for MayDay.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

City Beautiful. Roger Miller passes away.

Much of my love for this city of Minneapolis is fostered by the people within it, those who migrate here and those who are reared and continue its progressive tradition. One of the first times I was pushed to think about a city in a broader context was in my 'City in History' class taught by an energetic professor named Roger Miller. I was informed in an email from the barber shop I frequent Diamond Horshoe. Roger was also a customer there and the owner wished his customer to pass on some good vibes to the family.

Within his class I was introduced to the works of Lewis Mumford, a noted historian of urban development. The city is a living breathing entity, as adaptable as the american constitution in the hands of presidential legal staff. There is an idea too that the space belongs to the people who occupy it. The spaces not owned and operated by private entities are best suited as gathering places for the citizens. Many European cities have grand sweeping plazas that are often near landmarks, or buildings of religious/governmental importance. Many famous protests take place in or near these areas, most recently the Tiananmen Square protest comes to mind, for it attracts attention from passersby and the powers that be that operate the buildings surrounding the space.

Minneapolis no longer has such a place but before the gentrification of the Gateway district there was Bridges Square. Located where the intersections of Hennepin, Nicollet, and Washington would converge. It had a large arched building, tables and chairs for people to sit, as well as public restrooms. There once was the first light-post of the city, reaching high into the sky and lighting up during the night it was a symbol of our modernism.

Now all we have are our parks, which serve as gathering places for things like festivals and our city sponsored modern day drive-ins "Movies in the Park". The use of these spaces was much greater before the advent of the mind numbing 'boob tube'. There were even community sings that drew thousands of people during WWI, events like this even helped discover national singing talents the Andrews Sisters. Yet now people have expensive baseball stadiums paid for with tax money, and tickets so pricey that most of the tax base don't see it as a priority to go to a game.

But like new stadiums, cities grow and shrink, The Gateway district, maybe the future of Metrodome. Areas change demographics shift, people stop having children or have another 'Boom Boom Generation'. All of this is how I think about the public spaces, much thanks to my former teacher for exposing me to such thoughts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The vibrancy of Minneapolis

The city of Minneapolis holds many titles, one of which according to the statistics of off shoot is the second largest per capita community of GLBT in the country. The most common way one would notice this would be through the abundance of the pride flag. Which is emblazoned across porches, windows and many signs of religious congregations throughout Minneapolis.
The reasons for how and why the GLBT community here has become a staple of the city are without a doubt varied and intricate. Yet much information is being compiled and processed in a archive here on the University of Minnesota campus at the Jean Nickolous Tretter collection. St Paul also has a library dedicated to the topic of GLBT issues, the Quatrefoil Library.

My personal experience of sexuality came from being reared in the conservative heartland of our state, Stearns County and the city of St. Cloud specifically. This area is the constituency and main voting block that has re-elected congresswoman Michelle Bachman. While the values and emphasis of importance of family that I was instilled with are without a doubt a stronghold of my personal identity. Theses same values are often only extended to those people who we identify with. Growing up I felt a glaring irony in people who often espoused ideas of selflessness and communal charity, yet would show contempt for those whose social beliefs differed from theirs. I was lucky enough to have many adults around me give an example different of that. Something more tolerant and akin to the oft uttered phrase "condemn the sin not the sinner." My parents themselves showed variety in the example they set. One showing a Dorthy Day like belief in religious values lighting a path to a caring and harmonious existence of humanity. The other parent countered with what I took to be as a agnostic hands off approach, always playing devils advocate to my burgeoning rebelliousness. Leading me the believe that to hold to certain ideas too radically can shut you off from others who hold valid and differing opinions.

This active versus hands off approach to the leading of lives, and our own personal role in humanity was conflicting yet helpful to my current mindset. Giving me a joyfulness in living within the diverse community of Minneapolis. Where one is just as likely to see a Muslim Somali woman dressed in headscarf walking with her children around town as you are to see a gay couple walking adoringly hand in hand. (see play idea at bottom) In the minds of many who live in and around my hometown both sights would be an affront to their beliefs of how things ought to be in America.

I have come to see through personal experience and my believe that history shows there are no social indicators to what is correct or what should be pursued. From the Spartan tradition of older male sexual mentor-ship to what some would call savage tradition of physical manipulation of facial orifices or East Asian foot binding. Cultures develop and flow/adapt to survive, yet some don't. Societies collapse or are suffocated by new and sometimes invading ideas. Humans as a species are not static and thus all kinds of humans must be celebrated.

Science and the bible would say that the lack of ability to procreate make homosexuality a confusion of humanity. Yet propagation has been only one factors in the evolution of species, many of whose forms have no sexuality at all. Many beautiful plants are neither male or female, many of earths critters create beautiful asexual reproduction (like these two slugs). So as the Twin Cities enter it's second largest summer event known as TC Pride Week, we can reflect upon it's history/locality, and celebrate the diverse and fluid nature of human sexuality.

Minneapolis evolving as a milling town there was a much greater population of single men working the mills to make their fortune as the frontier was being pushed, one could make the assumption that circumstances such as these give men more acceptance in indulging feelings normally suppressed in older times. Similar to the cause of rumors about what went on in the Navy. Much more information can be found at

To embellish the stereotype of gay culture we can see in the Twin Cities the production of large amounts of theater, according to my favorite source "Wikipedia" second only to New York per capita in productions. A thriving art scene found in museums like the MIA, The Walker, The Weisman, The Minneapolis Russian Museum of Art, and a plethora of art galliers and artists that are on display at the many art fests throughout the city like Art-A-Whirl and the Uptown Art Fair. As well as fostering trendy 80's dance music from artist like Prince and the chart topping Funkytown.

This weeks celebration is the third largest in the nation of it's kind and will continue to grow as the benefits of living in such a great city spread. I have decided to get in on the action and created a T-Shirt for sale spreading my business and love for Minneapolis Diversity.

If our species never evolves into the beauty of slugs we should at least note that our current quid pro quo is only temporary and that shifts of beliefs/social norms are underway.

On an somewhat humorous note I have been fostering the idea of writing a play concerning the "Don't ask don't tell policy" and the comments of Iranian President Mamoud Ahmadinejad. Where president Obama creates a covert super squad of homosexual lovers in the homage to Spartan thought. Their mission is to topple the Iranian fascist regime, and in turn celebrate sexual freedom with a dance party in the streets of Tehran.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I drink it up, the legacy of our usage, and the future of our milkshake

Last night I attended Policy and a Pint at the Uptown Theater on Hennipin ave. The crowd was packed full of other bicycling enthusiasts. There was a air of cool and alot of rah rah rhetoric from the speakers. The most engaging of which was David Bryne, who touched on the essance of a city and the positive experience of being engaged with the streets rather then merely riding ontop of them in a car. He expressed his opinion of city design and showed pictures of thinkers like Buckminster Fuller who I mentioned in my last post. City design isn't a new thing, and it's too bad none of the three local speakers talked about the Grand Rounds and Horace Cleveland. This man and his vision similar to that of Fredrick Law Olmsted helped pave the way to allow Minneapolis to be the great bicycling city that it is today. The trails and paths we have are in existence because of our parks that allow for great non motorized traffic. The Grand Rounds is the best example. The third speaker Jay Walljasper did make good points about spacing, the ability to engage in your neighborhood with the community is decided around how close you are to them. He commented upon the streetcar history which dictated the spacing of our city through WWII. The streetcar made things walkable after the connecting stops, forcing a person to move through the city without motor for some part of the way.

What they didn't comment upon is the financial side of transportation. When gas prices go up people talk about the expense of driving, not when gas is cheap, because we fail to incorporate the future costs to health and environment within the price. Bicycling is cheap and so is public transportation when you incorporate in on a mass scale. Yet public transportation faces funding issues constantly. Always the media covers the issue and mentions costs, proposed budgets.

What I would have liked to know and perhaps should have asked is it possible to secure funding Mass Transit based on future increased tax revenue. This is how much of our park land was aquired, as the Parks Board estimated increased property taxes of surrounding areas of parks into the budget (this got them in trouble in the depression era, but depression is trouble no matter how you slice it). One could look at the increased land value along the Hiawatha corridor as an example.
Mass Transit does so much better when it is done with a profit motive. Our own Thomas Lowery (for whom Lowery Ave and Lowery Hill are named) was highly profitable in his Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company. He was first a Real Estate businessman, and profits came as land was purchased prior to building the lines, and then when people saw the advantage of living near those rail lines the land value increased and was sold at a large profit. Not a new technique and one extremely profitable for national railroad barons who got land cheaply through federal land grants. Increasing the wealth of men like our own James J. Hill. The Rapid Transit Co. was one of the premier urban rail lines in the U.S. and maybe not extremely profitable(especially after the attraction to autos and their ensuing dominance after the depression) but it is if you factor in things like taxes from land value.
In my recent visit to New York people informed me that rent and real estate within the city was somewhat scaled to the proximity to major transfer stations where departure to all parts of the city can be found within a couple square blocks. If urban centers are to grow as some predict, there is hope that we can use examples of transit systems already in place near dense areas to deflect the congestion that comes with vertical residential growth.

There was mention by the moderator at Policy and a Pint of our average winter temperature, Minnesotans love to talk about the weather here, and our bicycling resilience despite the cold. When exiting the theater we were greeted to a beautiful orange/sepia sky bursting with clouds. To which one in our group responded that a storm must have passed and the recited the adage "Red sky and morn, Sailors be warned

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Nice Ride" Blue Cross taps into bicyclists pick up line

I attended the Break for Breakfast event at Peace Coffee HeadquartersAdd Image, The food was decent for free, and the tofu scramble was hearty. The bicycle community is growing here, there is no doubt about that. This day coincided with the Launch of Nice Ride a bike sharing program already going in Montreal and Paris. My hope would be that people buoy the popularity of such program into actually owning their own bicycle. There is a blog that tracks all the programs of bike sharing around the globe, it is informative enough but I think this program should be more of a stepping stone rather then a means to an end.
Congestion of traffic is mostly due to the fact that automobiles evolved as four seat machines. What I tend to see in traffic is one person driving around in the automobile. If there were more motorcycles and scooters the congestion would be almost nothing in our population center. In dense populations where traffic is horrible, as I witnessed in Jakarta, motorbike are the preferred speedy method. If our goods were shipped as inefficiently as we do our people in cars the price would be noticeably more. I mean look at the horrible design of Costco milk carton in the Upper Right, but such a design is produced in the name of shipping efficiency. Perhaps we should look at the automobile design of Buckminster Fuller, The Dymaxion, much more compact, and what do you know, designed with efficancy in mind getting 30 MPG's in 1933. Look how far we have come.

Space has never been much of an issue in our manifest destiny country, yet it will be more and more, as our resources are depleted and we focus our lives to live more simply without the luxury and abundance of space. Perhaps we will even have Standing Bars for our nightlife in the future as they do now in Japan. That would help twofold, you would burn more calories to have yourself be smaller and the floor space would be saved from over sized chair to rest your tokhes on.

But there was plenty of seating at the Break for Breakfast, the hosts of the event being well prepared. Our own Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak stopped in with his daughter to show his pro-bicycle stance. I was sitting along taking in the scene, finishing my coffee, when two others sat in the circle of chair and started up some chatter. Unfortunately one of them wanted to promote her political stance, as she had just landed a job with Gubernatorial candidate Entenza. While he may be a decent guy, I should have cut her off and said I only support 3rd party candidates in statewide and national elections. I think Dayton should run as a 3rd party man myself, he already has the money and name recognition. Yet he should run dressed in a fur cloak and scepter. The heir to the fortune of Target Corporation, he could hearken back to our history of electing the wealthy businessmen of our area. Like the Washburn's before him, yes the same Washburns whose W is represented in WCCO, and are the founders of General Mills. Whose philanthropy has given us the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, located on Cadwallader Washburn's former Estate.

But don't worry the opulent residents of this state have no reason to protect their personal interests when in office, they will fight tooth and nail for the common man. As demonstrated in the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's still spring

This past Sunday was balmy as I took to the mean street of St. Paul for Grand Old Days. I pushed my cab up and down Summit Ave for the better part of four hours. The name summit brings ideas of a mountain top, yet here in the Heartland of the midwest, there are not mountains only hills and slopes. Yet when the weight of humans is cargo (we are dense creatures, mostly water but have you ever tried carrying water? Very dense) each gradient is felt in the thighs.
The benefit of going uphill is downhill speed, and this cab can go downhill very well. At one pint when departing west from Snelling Ave I shouted to the riders "hold onto your hats, this is the fun part."

I also happen to pick up Steve Seel a DJ on The Current who was in a hurry to intorduce a band a half mile or so down the road. The shuttle there is infamously bogged down by the other thousands of people looking for a place to park along Summit. Necessity is the mother of invention and huzzah there I was inventing a fun new way for him to get to where he needed to go. He then mentioned such a ride on his radio show the next morning, I was sleeping and resting my muscles, but a lovely soul passed on the shoutout and I was proud to have had such a prominent figure take a ride.

As Business heats up with more and more festivals, there is also a scampering among the animals. The one at war daily with the automobiles. Here is one more casualty I spotted on Freemont Ave and 31st st south. One day I hope to have shown a light on these horrors much in the way Matthew Brady did.

The Boxelder's look as if they are in formation to mount a counter offensive, southside beware.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Broom with a View

Last night was the one night a year when people are free to climb into the tower (witches hat) atop Prospect Park. When I pulled the pedicab up the hill the scene was packed with people engaged in fundraising and family friendly merriment. The neighborhood engaged in a Ice Cream Social to raise money for something or other. The main draw was the view, the retreating ice glaciers have left a Moraine in the area just east of the University of Minnesota.
These are wonderful high points in a rather flat city and offer a spectacular view or both Minneapolis and St. Paul. People lined up for hours to get a peek. The line reminded me of an Amusement park thrill ride without the stanchions and rails to help the weave of people. My friend and I sock wrestled to fill the time and perhaps hope the line would move faster when everyone say the violent discontent it was causing.

The line did not move further or faster. We gave up as our other compatriot had seen the view and said that while a good view, not a hour and a half wait view. There were perhaps throughout the night a thousand or so if not more spectators for this beautiful scene. Nature creates these high points and we are subconsciously attracted to them like earthly tourists. This is our cities Grand Canyon and it only is open one night a year.

The high points of the city are also great for property value, as many affluent neighborhood spring up on such sights like Prospect Park, Lowry Hill, Linden Hills and the old Whittier neighborhood of where the MIA now sits.There is also a correlation to proximity to water in many affluent areas, something our ancestors may have had a better understanding of, a more primal instinct of where to set up living quarters. Water hold a spiritual place in the soul of humanity, in the baptismal font, in the tidal flood plains where sea faring animals will nest. We feel it sitting on a beach or watching a waterfall sometimes, and in our daily lives there are tinges of it speckled through our day.

The trinkets of running water that people keep bedside on upon their desk, purchased at 'peir 1' or Sharper Image perhaps reflect a hangover from this instinct. Curvy roads also help detract from non residents moseying through the high altitude areas, this can be seen in low areas where property values are also high like Brynn Mar and Tangletown neighborhoods. These are the place you show out of towner's, where prospective emigrants my want to come live.

The beauty of our natural world is there, but the beauty of it's people I find in the grunge of where I live near. the places you don't show prospective movers.

You don't show them Chicago Lake intersection, or Broadway Avenue as it streaks through Northwest Minneapolis. The boulevards of litter and chicken bones from a nearby KFC. The empty Newport Cigarette packs and Funyun bags that I kick around before walking up the front steps. Places where an occasional gunshot rings out the realities and struggles of urban living, that all is not well with humanity, but their is beauty there as well. In the poetry of strife and hope for a better tomorrow.

I digress, the night went swimmingly and I ate my fill of Ice Cream. We coasted down the moraine to quieter streets of Seward, and filled up on conversation and fellowship.

Later though I took a birthday drive along Calhoun for a co-worker celebrating their day of coming into existence. It reflected well the hub bub of the uptown drunkenness that I encountered after in picking up rides. A bit near Two AM I picked up some longtime residents of Mpls, and the asked for a stroll along Lake of the isles, I though why not two lake rides in one night. The day was filled with nature, these lakes more man made, not the original swamp land that had existed when the St Anthony Falls started to be exploited and created a metropolis around it. These lakes are the workmanship of dredging and molding, a vision of both Theo Wirth and Charles Loring.
These two gents behind me smoked and conversed in pure merriment as the peacefulness of such a last night. The recommended DJ smirks as a local hip hop talent that I should check out.
All in all a good evening.

This is Uptown on a Friday in summer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Future of Cities

I saw this Ghost Bike while wandering around Brooklyn while visiting my good friend. I was pleased with the amount of biking in NYC, but with the ease of the trains, walking seems like such a simpler choice. Maybe folding bicycles are big there? But I didn't see too many more there then I do here. The driving there is nuts, not as much as I had seen in Jakarta but the congestion seemed almost as awful, but faster due to a planned grid system.

The Ghost Bike makes me think about cars and death. Automobiles are the most likely weapon people own that they could kill someone with, and the possibilities of that happening are so much more real as people drive everyday and begin to take it carelessly and text in the meanwhile from here to there. Most automobiles are huge pieces of metal that fling themselves along our ribbons of concrete and asphalt propelled on the remnants of fauna millions of years ago. Yet there is a lack of caution at the amount of damage they can cause. There is drivers ed, and every so often people are jolted by the death of someone they know by car accidents. These are few instance where people wake up to the destructive power these amazing machines can produce.

Yes automobiles are amazing machines, and they will always have their small purpose and niche within the world, but there need to be better recognition of the benefits of investing in alternatives where absolute auto freedom is needed. Most of us want to just get from here to there, as long as we can do that and look the same as we did leaving the house people are pretty satisfied. As a biker I am not satisfied, with the amount of 5 seat or larger cars I see driving around with 1 person in them. The way people don't see the perils of talking on the phone and driving at the same time.

The next MPR/Citizens league sponsored Policy and a Pint is titled

Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around

I have already procured tickets and plan to hear what has to be said, and I hope to heck they mention the amazing projects of Living(woonerf or Home zone) Intersections being attempted in Europe, where the car is a guest and the priority goes to walkers, then bicyclists, and then public transportation. Last should be cars and autos. The thought by many drivers is that roads were made for us. Historically roads have been around much longer then cars, longer even then bikes. Romans build roads before the death of christ, so roads are a development of humans moving more then cars needing a path. Many times I have heard a person yell from a car "get out of the road" or "Use the sidewalk". These people probably don't realize that bicycles pushed for the creation of roads long before cars were more then a novelty. The League of American Wheelmen pushed for road creation from legislators.

Bicycles never became the dominant paradigm of transportation, sadly now law enforcement officers who are only doing there job are stopping bicycles from going where they like and confining them to the rules set out for cars not to kill each other. The heartbeat of red and green lights stop the crashing flow of metal boxes, yet bikes could weave through each other like the soft cross weft of yarn. Even a roundabout, more similar to water percolating through dirt then the jumpy stop go of streetlights provides a more bicycle friendly alternative. Yet bikes are lawfully thought to follow the rules of cars, even written in is the need to stay to the side of the road. to be a little blasphemous I'd say bicycles are the Rosa Park's of transportation. When the danger bikes pose are almost non existent, the need for such rules seems silly, and bikes will almost never experience the trauma of an accident where they were the cause of sending someone to the hospital by smashing into them on a bike.

I saw this cool contraption in NYC as well, this dog was pretty cute.
The Picture at the top...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I like to think change is generational. Sayings like "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" are somewhat defeatist but hold water in their observation. Bicycling holds its future in our youth. Normalcy is what you grow up with, and children who tend to think and live within their own experience are usually constrained to a couple hundred mile radius of their home. Therefore I hope that the youth of Minneapolis will continue to forsake the world of the automobile as they grow older.
The turnoffs of bicycling can be the humid heat of Minnesota, many adults shun the thought of arriving to work laced in sweat. Children of a certain age are oblivious to their appearance and hopefully the dirt and sweat that go along with bicycling will be as innocuous to future adults as a ice cream stain on a t-shirt is to a four year old now. The joys of riding a bike for adults may be as good if not better then the joys of ice cream for children. Also for those of you weight conscious out there more bicycling equals less guilt in creamy indulgence.

Today as I walked through South Minneapolis after visiting the delightful new coffee shop along Chicago Ave South City Cafe I passed by the south facing side of the prison designed High School of south. I was surprised and excited to see the bike racks so crowded that the street signs near there had also been contracted as a hitch-n-post. The future looks bright as I made my way to past and on to the area of the Midtown Farmers Market where my bearded brother will be selling the fruits of his labor from Laughing Stalk Farmstead.

Perhaps if the future bodes well and the Gulf Oil Spill wakes people up to the destructive behavior of what many feel is our way of life the pictures above will have a better correlation, both will be overly massive creatures that were unsustainable in the changing environments of earth.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BP Oil Spill- Not at all as catastrophic as the extinction of what was the most populace bird in North America.

The headlines like the deadlines are never good, approaching every minute in our media saturated world. We feel stressed slightly by them but let them pass after we have met them, like a anxious wave to a neighbor, whose dog you wish could learn a little obedience. Pass on by, environmentalism should reach a peak with something like this BP Oil Spill but maybe it won't. Maybe we will pass on by with no Silent Spring, no shot in the dark to awaken our sleeping sense. We, the people who buy oil and its products, so solemnify to swear to blame Companies that produce a good that is linked to destruction, rather then ourselves who use and consume the good they provide.

Hmm seems like a stretch, I think maybe it would be too much guilt, growing up catholic was hard enough. But if I lived in the 1800's I wouldn't feel connected to the deaths of coal miners either when I stepped on a train to travel. I would expect that luxury, and I'm not going to purchase and then ride a horse more a week just to travel. Nope not when there is a steam engine train to take me there in less then half the time. But my purchase of the ticket is not linked to the inevitable deaths that happened in the 1800's that happened to men who willingly go down into the earth to dig out material to power my trip.
No lets blame them the companies whose workers die on the job, the companies who spill the oil. It's not my fault if I drive and want energy to fuel my air conditioner. This is America and I do what I want.
Unfortunately people who think of these freedoms to indulge in opulence as an American right, are getting a slimy coastline, their America is stained black with sludge. No matter how Red White and Blue you think our country is, it is not without blame. Our country developed with the destruction of the environment, wildlife dwindled, trees were needed for buildings and fuel and ties of railroads that had to be replaced frequently. The headlines talk about the worst environmental disaster, but they must mean the most rapid, because how does the killing off of the passenger pigeon even compare. Yet that was a slow less media heavy covered topic, the oil spill is not a century in the making unless you see the invention of the combustible engine as the impetus of this disaster.
Sorry lets not blame the people running the engines, just those who provide the fuel to run them.

Speaking of fuel, passenger pigeons helped fuel another atrocity that our country put up with for a long time just like we do our oil consumption, except is seen as a much greater impact of our nation's humanity. Slavery was hard work and protein was important to fuel for it. There was one sure easy source of protein to help fuel your slaves and the developing agrarian economy, the humongous flocks of birds that some written accounts would describe as blocking out the Sun.

Passenger Pigeons. RIP
Good thing your friends the Bison made it through that rough patch of time.

Don't let the headlines fool you, your much bigger of an environmental disaster then the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
Oil goes away like the sweat on my brow when I blast my AC. Genetic specialization it almost impossible to get back.
I guess we'll settle for your cousin the city pigeon, he eats the trash on the street so rats can't get to big.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I have returned from the most populace city in america, and have thought about how cities are stories. There is evolution to them. Where people are, their space upon the grid of gravity that encompasses us, at those specific places, goods and services are sure to follow. Like the ancient crossing paths of camel routes, places where phrases like "he ain't work worth his salt" and "These people are the salt of the earth" originated, cities have becomes homes to people and the spaces between them have been filled by others doing work. From the smallest hydrant to the most giant stadium all space gets filled for a use. We use our own population and the populations outside the city who want to interact with what we do or make.

Space is an interesting concept, Gene Roddenberry called it the final frontier but it is really just more of whats between us rather then a outward space. Cities fill it with materials and along come it's history. The city is made up of the people in it, the Dwellers who live down the block are a good example. When people live they have to eat and sleep to remain living, yes I am including drinking perhaps I should say obtain sustenance rather then eat. I work at a Restaurant, one that provides mighty fine sustenance, I do so because people visiting or living in the city chose not to cook for themselves. Therefore the space of that building is a restaurant, it was once a automobile service station. This is an example of how space evolves and takes different uses, like the old buildings downtown.

The people is where I would like to look today. Most people think of this town and state as Scandinavian 'don't cha know' , it is actually more German then anything according to historical data. But the names of the past, of the forefathers are not the most German or Scandinavian sounding, Pillsbury, Washburn, Loring. That is because the new immigrants filled the spaces of the owners. Workers worked in the mills but along with that had to come auxiliary goods and services. The people creating the things and stuff used in between the mills and their houses. The Swedish Institute is a good example of someone prospering from auxiliary services. As the entrepreneur Swan Turnblad created a Swedish language publishing dynasty and set up house in the mansion on Park Ave. Turns out people wanted to know more about the world, and in days before television it was the newspapers informing the masses. These auxiliary services, are made for the people who make the things that are shipped out of town, the Millers, and nowadays the corporate machines of Target, 3M, General Mills, and Best Buy. The spaces are filled the more people there are, the less gaps in space, for our space becomes prized. I realized in New York our abundance of space here in Minneapolis, and what gorgeous space it is.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day- Week

Pedicab ride on the Greenway this afternoon spotted this woman who was riding her bike back from school. She was showing her students her art bike that she made form MayDay Parade last year. Made from Bamboo and Paper Mache this Bee bike was visually stunning, her helmet called out 'Bee Green'

This earth day on Thursday I should be out in full force, my energy restored after running in the Earth Day Half marathon this past Saturday in St. Cloud. I learned from my first race since High School that perseverance make many things possible, discomfort is temporary, and memories tend to last longer then the aches.

Ride on, biking is serious Bee's-niss, hardy har har.

In the first edition of what I will call Pedicab Pugilism, my attempt to document the battle waged daily on the mean street of Minneapolis by the Murderous machines that brazenly bombard our streets with lethal speed.
This poor cat I shall call Mr Buttons lost the battle of 34th st S and Oakland.
RIP MR BUTTONS, Unknown ---04/19/2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bread, Gardens and Historical Hindsight

Today is Thursday and were it not so cold this morning I would have ventured to Franklin street bakery to buy the dollar loaves of old bread. This is the steal of the city, a deal for all those early risers to take the time to sort through the racks in hopes of scoring a Marble Rye. The bakery is one of those few industries still maintaining a 3rd shift, an economic driver, because everyone needs to eat, and their surplus is our gain. The bread is delicious and a great palate for sweet jam and peanut butter. The owner of aforementioned bakery Wayne Kostroski has been recently awarded a James Beard Humanitarian Award for his work with Taste of the NFL.

The importance of bread has been ingrained in me since my early catholic youth chanting the verse of the Our Father. Give us now our daily bread... but I disagree with the next part of leading us into temptation, sweet baked goods are an amazing production of temptation. The favorite of which is a visit to 'A Baker's Wife', whose goods procure a spot of drool at the side of my mouth. Bread in my opinion should be either heavy, hearty, and nutritious. Or light flaky and full of butter and or sugar . Wonder bread only makes me wonder why people buy an item that can be smashed down into something the of a softball. A good example of this is found in the documentary 'How to cook your life' featuring Edward Brown whose book "Tassajara Bread Book" is considered required reading by many a baker.

The importance of bread as a object of society perseverance dates back to the Roman Era, annona civica, these distributions helped keep to a small degree people from revolt. Hungry people can be driven to extremes, as I have witnessed working at a restaurant how moods shift based on the level of blood sugar. Minneapolis is known historically at the Mill City, it's first baseball team was the Minneapolis Millers who played at the area now occupied by the Metro Transit Building at Nicolette Ave and 31st St, also one of the more stunning building downtown is the old grain exchange building where men used to buy and sell with the fury of those now on Wall Street.
Therefore bread in ingrained, ha ha ha, in our local culture. Food is the second only to water in human survival, we have plenty of water in the land of 10,000 lakes, and bread is readily available but not often at the 99 cent price at Franklin Street Bakery. When exploring the history of food in this fair city, I stumbled across the Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment, where conscientious objectors of WWII were placed into service, to test C rations and the ability to reintroduce food safely to starving POW's.(see interview #1 and #2) The most public institution of starvation prior to David Blaine's starvation over the Thames River in London.
One of the most stunning revelations found in the first interview is the smell of flour coming from the mills making hunger more present.
WWII created a focus on food that hasn't yet been seen. When the fight is thought to be for the freedom of the globe, every action that can help our cause is introduced including growing food. Victory Gardens came of age during war time, grow food to create less strain on our food supply to our troops. One of the oldest still operating victory garden is located in Minneapolis, The Dowling Community Gardens was started as a victory garden. Food is in our blood if you believe you are what you eat.

Further exploration of the effects of WWII on food production will come when I write about the Braceros Program.

Eat up