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Friday, December 31, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 12


DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


If you go:

• Randy’s Donuts: 805 W. Manchester Boulevard , Inglewood , 310-645-4707, www.randys-donuts.com

• The Getty Museum : 1200 Getty Center Drive, 310- 440-7330, www.getty.edu/museum

• The Hollyhock House: Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. , 323/644-6269 . www.hollyhockhouse.net

• Astro Burger, 5601 Melrose Ave. , 323-469-1924, www.astroburger.com

• Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Ave.

• Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. , 323-469-1181 www.hollywoodforever.com

• Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave. , 323-850-2000, http://wdch.laphil.com/home.cfm

• Santa Monica Pier, 310-458-8900; visit website for map and directions: www.santamonicapier.org

• Sowden House, 5121 Franklin Ave.

• Fred 62: 1850 N. Vermont Ave. , 323-667-0062, www.fred62.com

• Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St. , 323-933-9211, www.farmersmarketla.com

• Mulholland Drive: visit website for detailed descriptions of overlooks and maps:
www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=37

• The Palm: 9001 Santa Monica Blvd. , 310.550.8811, www.thepalm.com

• Avalon Beverly Hills , 9400 West Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills , 800-670 6183 or 310 277 5221; www.avalonbeverlyhills.com

• Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau: www.seemyla.com

Thursday, December 30, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 11



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Atomic Age Avalon

The Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills is a primo spot for dinner, drinks or parties by the pool.

Located in the tranquil oasis of Beverly Hills, this mid-century modernist property once was home to Mae West and Marilyn Monroe.

Now retro-cool and Sputnik-chic, this boutique beauty features outdoor dining at its blue on blue restaurant, named one of Food & Wine's "50 Best Hotel Restaurants.”

Grab a poolside table, order up some fresh, innovative cuisine and enjoy the hep-cat West Coast high life, a la Frank, Dino and Sammy.

Wright frequently writes about Travel, Wheelchair Access, Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com


TOMORROW: RESOURCES FOR WHEN YOU GO

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 10



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

You know you must be in West Hollywood when you’re at a table in The Palm so perfectly located, you figure the maitre d must have mistaken you for someone with money and a Q Score.

The service is impeccable and could this steak be any more perfect?

Hey, is it him?

It’s gotta be the Strikeout King, Sandy Koufax, at the next table.

You’ve already spotted Larry King and trophy wife du jour, and you’re pretty darn sure Hellboy, aka Ron Perlman, is across the room.

TOMORROW: Atomic Age Avalon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 9



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

On a Smogless Day, You Can See To…

Few experiences match the sublime joy of cruising the 24 famous miles of Mulholland Drive in the evening when the sun's rays turn a soft, buttery yellow.

You get that "only in LA" feeling as you wind along the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills.

You experience the same picturesque drive that has captivated land speculators in Model Ts, wannabe starlets in gunboat-sized `60s convertibles and the mega-wealthy in Maseratis.

They say the best views are between Encino and Hollywood, but any of the half-dozen overlooks inspire oohs and ahs with their views of everything from peaks, canyons and ocean to downtown LA and the Hollywood Bowl.

TOMORROW: Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

Monday, December 27, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 8



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Farmers Market in Faux City

From the street, it’s hard to believe that this landmark at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and 3rd Street was ever anything but urban modernity. Yet the Farmers Market began humbly in 1934 here -- on an open stretch of land ¬ as a motley collection of farmers’ trucks filled with produce and flowers.

Step inside and be awed by the variety of restaurants and shops. Magically, the market retains a certain feeling of quaintness that provides a nice break from LA’s mall culture. You can sample many cuisines here, but if you’re partial to Cajun, you can’t go wrong with the Gumbo Pot. And at Bob’s Coffee and Donuts, you can savor a chocolate iced cake concoction that will make you see the face of God.

Once you’ve had your fill of quaintness, you can get your consumerism groove on at the Grove, an open-air mall just yards away that includes a Nordstrom anchor and a 14-screen cineplex.

TOMORROW: On a Smogless Day, You Can See To…

Sunday, December 26, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 7


DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Black Dahlia Confidential

It had the makings of a cinema thriller: a young, pretty actress-wannabe and a horrifically brutal unsolved killing. The mystery of the Black Dahlia murder provides glimpses into the seedy underbelly of post-World War II Los Angeles, the LA of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, a city of lost innocence and broken dreams.

If you haven’t seen the Brian De Palma film or read the books, Beth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, was a Massachusetts girl with striking features who came to LA with movie star dreams. Her plans never materialized and, at age 22, on a January morning in 1947, her nude, severed body was discovered in a vacant lot. While the murderer has never been caught, one man named Steve Hodel believes it was his own dear old, now deceased, dad who did the deed.

OK, so it’s not a picture postcard image, but what would Tinseltown be if some of the tinsel didn’t scrape off now and then? Take a drive to the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood of LA to have a look at Hodel’s boyhood home, where he believes daddy committed the infamous crime. Built in 1926 by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, the Sowden House is an incredible example of an architectural style called Mayan art deco. Built from earthen blocks in a geometric pattern, the structure conjures up images of a temple. If you watched Cycle 6 of the TV show, America’s Next Top Model, then you’ve seen this breathtaking home from the inside as well.

Now that you’ve had your daily dose of architectural history, coupled with LA’s sleazy side, find a parking space on North Vermont Avenue and have a look around this neighborhood with a mid-century retro feel. The comfortably walkable streets are made picturesque with citrus trees. Browse the boutiques or nurse a latte at an outdoor café. If you’re ready for some hearty, hip diner fare, stop in at Fred 62 and order up a stick-to-the-ribs breakfast or maybe a chili burger.


TOMORROW: Farmers Market in Faux City

Saturday, December 25, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 6



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Peerless Pier

Although sunny SoCal has plenty of plastic (people, smiles, surgery) to go `round, you can still find some of those quaint, innocent thrills from another era.

Follow that epitome of Americana, Route 66, to its end and you’ll run smack dab into the Santa Monica Pier.

More than just a wooden boardwalk out over the majestic Pacific Ocean, the pier also plays host to the Pacific Park amusement park and Playland Arcade.

Your eyes will be drawn to the Byzantine-Moorish California architecture of the carousel building while you munch a carmel apple and go in search of skeeball and ringtoss.

Check out the he historic Looff Hippodrome, play giddy-up on that ornate merry-go-round and don’t miss that stunning Pacific Coast sunset.

TOMORROW: Black Dahlia Confidential

Friday, December 24, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 5



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Gehry Glitter

It used to be that Downtown Los Angeles architecture was symbolized by pointed, towering City Hall or the Italian-Renaissance-style Bradbury Building with its wrought-iron grillwork. But now the iconic downtown structure is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the sculpted, stainless-steel meisterwerk designed by that rock star of architects, Frank Gehry.

Surrounded by a landscaped urban park, the Disney shimmers in the sunlight like a desert mirage, its magnificent curves taunting the eye to make sense of its colossal dimensions. Yet inside it offers an intimate experience with hardwood walls and seating that surrounds the performance platform.

Like anyone else, you could undoubtedly debate deconstructivism architecture ‘til the cows come home, but lighten up. Check out the Disney for its sheer sheen of shiny metal.

TOMORROW: Peerless Pier

Thursday, December 23, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 4



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Graveyard Stomp

You’ve come all the way to LA, so you’re itching to catch some of that moviemaking magic. But you’ve also heard the naysayers claim that the Golden Age of Hollywood is dead and buried. Lucky for you, they’re right.

But first things first. Who wants to chase the ghosts of silver screen sirens on an empty stomach? Since LA is all about car culture, consider some dashboard dining at Astro Burger, the landmark, unassuming burger stand where Hilary Swank famously scarfed one down in front of paparazzi -- still in her designer gown -- right after winning her second Oscar in 2005. Consume your made-to-order veggie or traditional burger while piloting the rental past nearby Paramount Studios, the last major studio still in Hollywood. Look for the gorgeous entrance gate with the elegant cursive font spelling out “Paramount Pictures.”

Just around the corner is your final destination, so to speak. It’s a place perfect for stargazing. Did we happen to mention it’s a cemetery?

Hollywood Forever is the final resting place for a galaxy of stars. Nestled on several acres off busy Santa Monica Boulevard, the old cemetery is but a blur in the corner of the eye to most of the thousands of motorists who rush by. Though plotted in the epicenter of Hollywood, the stars gathered here aren’t dashing away into a waiting limo.

Rudolph Valentino, dead more than 70 years, still gets fresh red roses on his crypt every day. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, the mobster who put Vegas on the map and became part of the movieland scene, is at peace in a surprisingly modest space in Beth Olam Mausoleum. Mel Blanc, the man who gave a voice to Bugs Bunny and so many other Warner Brothers cartoons, rests beneath a headstone with a simple and apropos epitaph: “That’s all folks.”

One last note: while at Hollywood Forever, turn to the north and look up. You’ll catch a glimpse of that great American icon: the Hollywood sign.

TOMORROW: Gehry Glitter

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 3



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Frank Lloyd Rites

For oh-so-many reasons, the City of Angels isn’t always what it seems, making it a delicious trompe-l’œil waiting to be deciphered. Sitting atop majestic Olive Hill off Hollywood Boulevard, is the beautifully restored Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, Hollyhock House and its stunning views of the Los Angeles basin.

Wright built the Hollyhock House for an artsy heiress back in the early’20s, dubbing it California Romanza style. Whatever you call it, it’s a captivating marriage of home and gardens, transcendent and timeless.

There is a small gift shop plus a gallery with film about Hollyhock House that runs continuously. Visit at the right time, and you can attend a lecture or performance in the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.

TOMORROW: Graveyard Stomp

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 2



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Modern Museum Marvel

LA may be America ’s pop culture capital, but it has its share of real culture, too. Get your dose by heading to the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains that spectacularly overlook the Pacific Coast Highway, the Getty has a magnificent collection of European paintings, drawings and sculpture, as well as European and American photographs.

Not only is the collection exquisite, so is the structure and grounds.
Architect Richard Meier used 1.2 million square feet of beige, fossilized travertine stone to construct the museum. The stone plays with that famous SoCal sunshine, creating brilliant beams or subtle glows, depending on the time of day.

Access is via a Space-Age feeling, smoothly gliding tram that takes you from the lower level parking to the museum at the top of the hill. If you’ve worked up a hunger after enjoying the collection and visiting the gift shop, there are four places to dine, from a full-service restaurant with excellent fare to a picturesque picnic area.

TOMORROW: Frank Lloyd Rites

Monday, December 20, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA

By Steve Wright

Your plane has just touched down on the tarmac and you’re jonsed to start exploring.

Once you’ve made that all-important pit stop in the terminal, grabbed your bags and taken the wheel of your rental, you realize you could use a little picker-upper. And nothing delivers quite like sugar.

What’s that giant levitating tire over there just off the 405? No, it’s a donut ¬ a 22 foot donut, to be exact. Soon you’re waiting in the drive-through line to place your order for ambrosia in the form of mind-bendingly tasty crullers and glazed with sprinkles.

You know you’re in LA when you’re munching on Randy’s Donuts at 3 a.m., drinking in one of the finest examples of mid-century Googie architecture west of the Rockies.

Los Angeles: the very name conjures up so many images, often contradictory. Splendor and seediness. Glamour and grime. Class and kitsch.

TOMORROW: Modern Museum Marvel

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 6

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright


IF YOU GO:

Prices start at $35 per person for a four-hour sightseeing cruise. An eight-hour sightseeing cruise is $50 per person. Two-hour sunset cruises are $20 per person.

Fishing charters cost $250 for a four-hour trip for up to four people, or $350 for an eight-hour trip for up to four people. Additional people are $75 apiece and the boat can accommodate up to a dozen people.

Tranquil Adventures is at 225 Upper Matecumbe Road in Key Largo, which is just a couple blocks off the famed Overseas Highway and less than an hour’s drive from Miami International Airport.

Phone Captain Mick at 305 451-2102 or 888 449-0697.

The website is www.tranquiladventures.com

Wright frequently writes about Travel, Wheelchair Access, Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 18, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 5




CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright

Although Tranquil Adventures prides itself on providing outstanding accessibility, the trip out on the glistening waters has little to do with all the gear that makes it accommodating to people with even severe disabilities.

The trip is about gawking at luxury yachts and sponging boats.

It’s about looking at the last of the little trailer homes on the canals and the giant multistory million dollar houses that are displacing the shacks and trailers from the Keys.

It’s about coasting up the mangrove and seeing a great bird of prey, or a silly-looking pelican, sunning in its branches.

It’s about a stop for Cuban coffee at a mini marina over by the drawbridge.

It’s about tying off in a backwater canal and fishing for snapper.

It’s about docking at a fish joint and going inside for grilled grouper wraps and blackened tuna tacos.

It’s about getting a therapeutic massage around six and watching the fiery orange sun kiss the water’s edge at eight o’clock sunset.

It’s about catching a little fish and deciding to throw him back.

It’s about the relaxing feeling that comes over you when you see Captain Mick at the helm, barefoot and shooting you one of those knowing winks that says “heck yes this is paradise down here in Largo.”

It’s about new friends, old jokes and cold beverages under the Keys’ perpetual summer sun.

TOMORROW: IF YOU GO RESOURCE INFORMATION

Friday, December 17, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 4



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright

That Captain Mick also has snorkeling gear and knows the safest places in the Keys to do it in.

With his boat-mounted lift that lowers people into the water from the deck of the boat, he has enabled several mobility-impaired snorkelers.

For those with better range-of-motion, Captain Mick has a pair of sit-on-top ocean kayaks. It’s fun to watch him scramble up the ladder to the roof of his boat, manhandle a bulky kayak, then drop it into the pure blue waters. He can even use the hydraulic lift to ease a kayaker down into his watercraft.

The roof of the boat and its retractable awning provide excellent shade for wheelers and other landlubbers that haven’t quite acquired that Keys-brown tan that seafarers like that Captain have developed.

Better than all the lifts, ramps and improvised gear, is the down to earth conversation with a boater who truly loves the Keys that he has called home for nearly two decades.

Captain Mick loves to tell a big fish tale and see if the gullible rube believes a giant tarpon can be caught with a hollowed out detergent bottle.

He loves to tell a few dirty jokes, then blame them on the Internet (he’s just reporting the news, repeating the emailed groaners that friends send him.)

TOMORROW: THE BEAUTY OF THE FLORIDA KEYS

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 3



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright

Captain Mick is an improviser. Since pontoon boats don’t typically have a restroom on board, he has come up with the next best thing – an onboard portable flush toilet, shower curtains for privacy and a CD-player for turning up the music to provide an additional layer of sound privacy.

The Captain also loves to improvise tours. A morning run to the reef might morph into an evening cruise that puts you in position to view one of those picture perfect Florida Keys sunsets.

The great thing about Captain Mick’s creativity is that it launches personally tailored accessible journeys.

He is well aware that far too many tours aimed at the disability market deliver tame, boring, one-size-fits-all group tours.

Captain Mick doesn’t like that.

If you want to fish in the morning, sightsee midday and swim in the late afternoon, he can do it.

If you want to clean the fish you caught and fire up the portable grill aboard the 28-foot Malesh, he’s ready to gut n’ grill.

TOMORROW: KAYAKING

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 2



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES: Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo

By Steve Wright

Michael “Captain Mick” Nealey isn’t your blood-kin, but he’s the next best thing. He has taken his love of the sea and his half-century worth of insights into being a person with a disability and created Tranquil Adventures.

The operation is so laid back, you almost forget that Captain Mick isn’t your uncle, so you will have to pay him for the use of his chartered boat. But whether you go out for a half day or a full day on the waters, you’ll soon feel like your skimming over the shallows in the company of a favorite relative.

Captain Mick has the perfect attitude for a fishing (or sightseeing, it costs less to sightsee because you don’t pay for fishing bait and tackle) guide. And he is actively angling for the disabled travel dollar.

The minute you call him, he gives you directions to park on the part of his little
Key Largo lot that gets you closest to the gate, which leads to the dock out back of his home. He wants to make sure you don’t have to negotiate any unnecessary distances in your wheelchair

TOMORROW: FISHING WITH CAPTAIN MICK

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES: Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES: Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo

By Steve Wright

What could be better than having a friendly, storytelling uncle with a boat in the Florida Keys?

How about an uncle who has a ramp- and lift-equipped pontoon boat that is perfect for wheelchair users?

It gets even better. This uncle doesn’t just have accessibility equipment, he has insights into the needs of disabled sightseeing and fishing cruisers, because he has post polio syndrome and sometimes uses a wheelchair for his own mobility.

And best of all, this uncle knows every inch of Key Largo from the reef to the bay to the gulf to the mangrove-lined backwaters to the mansion-lined canals. He’s an expert angler and he’s figured out all kinds of ways of rigging fishing poles and equipment to accommodate even high level quadriplegics.

To add icing to the cake, he has a portable ramp that provides access to the docks at the little out of the way fish joints – so you can get fresh Keys seafood in your belly even if you don’t catch enough to grill on board the boat.

And uncle’s subtropical hideaway is located less than an hour’s drive from one of the largest airports in the world, with thousands of convenient flights connecting you to this neck of the woods from just about anyplace.

Add in a hydraulic lift that can lower disabled swimmers into the warm, gentle, shallow waters off Key Largo and an on-board massage table – the uncle, of course, is a licensed massage therapist – and the deal becomes too good to be true. Surely this uncle character is a mythical being. No one person could offer so much appealing to disabled seafarers, could he?

TOMORROW: MEET CAPTAIN MICK
The website is www.tranquiladventures.com

Wright is a Pulitzer-nominated writer who lives in Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 12

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

IF YOU GO:

Gallerias Pacifico, Calle Florida and Avenida Cordoba, 54-11-5555-5110. http://www.galeriaspacifico.com.ar/_ingles/home.htm

Bice, Avenida Alicia M. Justo 192, 54-1-315-6216.
http://www.bice.ws/BICE.html (click Latin America, then Buenos Aires buttons)

Michelangelo, Calle Balcarce 433, 54-11-4342-7007. http://www.michelangelotango.com/home.html

Plaza Dorrego and San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo church both are near the corner of Avenida Defensa and Calle Humberto. No phone or website.

Recoleta Cemetery, Junin 1790, (no phone number and no official website, but check out privately-operated): http://www.recoletacemetery.com/?page_id=8

Café Biela, Avenida Quintana 600, 54-11-4804-0449. http://www.labiela.com/eng/menu.htm

Alvear Palace Hotel, Avenida Alvear 1891. 54-11-4808-2100.
http://www.alvearpalace.com/v2/home.php

Pizzeria Guerrin, Avenida Corrientes 1368, 54-11-4371-8141, No website.

Pizzeria Banchero, Avenida Corrientes 1300, 54-11-4382-4669, No website.

Hotel Ibis, Hipolito Yrigoyen 1592, 54-11-5300-5566. http://www.ibishotel.com/ibis/fichehotel/gb/ibi/3251/fiche_hotel.shtml

Café Tortoni, Avenida de Mayo 825, 54-11-4342-4328. http://www.cafetortoni.com.ar/index_ingles.html

Home hotel, Calle Honduras 5860, 51-11-4778-1008. http://www.homebuenosaires.com/home/

La Baita, CalleThames 1603, 54-11-4832-7234.
http://www.labaita-restaurante.com.ar

Buenos Aires’ official city website with extensive listings in English:
http://www.bue.gov.ar/home/index.php?&lang=en

Destino Argentina, upscale travel information in BA and beyond:
http://www.destinoargentina.info/#home_html

English-speaking tour guide Alan Patrick’s ramblingly informative website: http://www.buenostours.com/

Pro-accessibility foundation website (for advanced readers – 100% in Spanish):
http://www.rumbos.org.ar/

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 11



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Sadly, the public Subte (subway) transit system is not accessible at all. The bus system is a collection of private operators who are required by law to be accessible, but are slow to add low floor entrances or retractable ramps.

Because only a fraction of buses are completely accessible, your best bet is to catch a cab. There are thousands of them in the city and the key to safety is to have your hotel, restaurant or attraction call for an officially-licensed radio-taxi. Many drivers are more patient, professional and courteous than cabbies in the States.

The prices can’t be beat --you’d be hard pressed to spend more than the equivalent of $5 U.S. on any in town cab ride. If you get a centrally-located hotel such as Ibis, it is quite possible to see a good chunk of the historic BA without needing transit.

Curbcuts are getting better and better on the major streets and avenues. The endless cafes, wide sidewalks, thriving nightlife, gorgeous architecture and engaging pedestrian activity -- plus a strong power chair and proper pacing -- could equal a fabulous week of new discoveries every day in Buenos Aires.

TOMORROW: IF YOU GO RESOURCES

Steve Wright’s goal is to explore the culture and accessibility of ever Spanish-speaking nation within the next decade. His wife Heidi is an Americans with Disabilities Act expert who has used a wheelchair for 35 years.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 10


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Buenos Aires’ urban core – from La Boca to Barrio Norte to Belgrano to everything in between -- is lined with parrillas (grill-centric restaurants) barbecuing up every part of a cow and then some.

To say Argentines love beef is like staying the Atlantic is filled with saltwater.

The intoxicating aroma of the charcoal-fired grill could convert the most avowed vegetarian into a carne-craving carnivore.

For the ice cream lover, Buenos Aires’ strong Italian heritage has generated gaggles of gourmet gelato shops.

Speaking of La Boca, there is no prettier picture in BA than beautiful pair of Tango dancers in front of colorfully painted corrugated metal buildings.

The barrio is worth about an hour’s visit to drink in all the pageantry and color palette.

The shops are hard to get into and tacky, the restaurants are more historical sizzle than steak and the entire neighborhood outside the small touristy strip is populated by unsavory characters.

TOMORROW: SUBWAY AND BUS LACK ACCESSIBILITY

Friday, December 10, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 9


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Palermo, which is so big it has numerous sub-areas known as Palermo Hollywood, SOHO, Chico and Viejo.

Palermo is where the cool people dine, drink and design.

The eclectic portions of Palermo have lots of cutting edge fashion boutiques, low key outdoor cafes and high energy bars and nightclubs.

Because of its international popularity, Palermo has more menus in English and more service workers versed in “Ingles” than other parts of the central city.

There also are large, peaceful urban parks and four restaurants on every corner.

A great gastronomic day in Palermo includes breakfasting al fresco in the interior courtyard of Home (a small boutique hotel that has a well-ramped entrance and features barrier-free guest rooms), lunching and dining late night at La Baita (dreamy décor and flawless homemade pasta.)

TOMORROW: Buenos Aires’ urban core – from La Boca to Barrio Norte to Belgrano

Thursday, December 9, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 8



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Avenida de Mayo stretches west from Casa Rosada to the second most important government building, the Congreso – modeled after the domed U.S. Congress.

Plaza Congreso, the best public green space in all of BA, is the location of Hotel Ibis.

Ibis serves wheelers with low rates, multiple accessible rooms, two spacious elevators and an efficient lobby café.

Mayo’s leafy blocks are populated by European-influenced Beaux Arts and Art Nouveau confections such as the Gallic-styled, statue-topped La Prensa building, the towering Dante’s Inferno-inspired Palacio Barolo.

Fabled Café Tortoni is 150 years old, fully accessible and drenched in enough atmosphere and history to justify its pricey coffees, pastries and sandwiches.

Back on the streets, you will note that BA’s sidewalks have the good (a 21st century initiative to install lots of curbcuts in a city that never had them), the bad (the economic crisis has resulted in lots of broken concrete and loose pavers – but none too burdensome to traverse) and the ugly (Portenos let their dogs poop everywhere. With so much beauty to look up at, you will neglect to look down and will roll through a pooch plop – it happens to everybody).

TOMORROW: Palermo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 7



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Plaza de Mayo is home to daily political protests (a tradition through democracy and dictatorship alike) and the famous Casa Rosada.

Casa Rosada is Argentina’s White House, except Rosada means pink – but the latest paint job looks more adobe baked brick in hue.

Whatever the politics and shade of pink, Casa Rosada will forever be known as the edifice where actress turned First Lady and spiritual leader of a nation Maria Eva Duarte de Peron stood on a balcony and enthralled the masses with her socialistic ideology.

TOMORROW: Avenida de Mayo

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 6



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright


Avenida Corrientes is a book lover’s, pizza gobbler’s, people-watcher’s paradise.

Indeed, 95 percent of the books are in Spanish, but it doesn’t take the vocabulary of Jorge Luis Borges to appreciate lavish architecture, art and photography books en espanol.

There are chains, independents, deep discount and specialty bookstores too numerous to count.

Almost all have zero step entrances and the majority have aisles just wide enough to maneuver a wheelchair through.

Once you’ve fed your literary mind, feed your panza (belly) with pizza overflowing with mozzarella, ham, sweet red peppers and green olives.

Buenos Aires legends Pizzeria Guerrin and Banchero are side-by-side on Corrientes, with Guerin’s perfect crust and by-the-slice options edging out the equally historic Banchero next door.

Watch the endless flow of well-dressed, well-toned Portenos (port city dwellers) on parade.

TOMORROW: Plaza de Mayo

Monday, December 6, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 5


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Recoleta, where the beautiful cemetery is one of the top attractions in all of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires.

Arrive early for perfect morning light and to beat the cruise ship crowds that stampede past the gates in search of Eva Peron’s grave.

Evita is here – in one of the least pretty graves on one of the narrowest pathways.

Visit her at the Familia Duarte tomb if you must, but spend the bulk of your time wandering the wide, level pathways past architectural wonders.

Recoleta is the final resting place of the rich and it’s plain to see that each one tried to out do the other with fabulous sculpture, museum-worthy stained glass and intricately detailed Art Deco, Art Nouveau and classical architecture.

A simple ramp at the entrance provides easy access and virtually all of Recoleta is barrier-free.

When you exit the cemetery, make a beeline to La Biela café for its picturesque outdoor dining, its well-maintained accessible restroom and its bountiful breakfasts.

Refueled and relaxed, don’t forget to browse at the Rodeo Drive-caliber shops along Avenida Alvear.

Stop at the 5-star Alvear Palace Hotel for tea service in Belle Epoque-style elegance before departing exclusive Recoleta.

TOMORROW: Avenida Corrientes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 4


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

San Telmo, where tango is king.

Michelangelo’s tango show takes place in sumptuous 1849 building fitted with an elevator to access the upstairs performance hall.

The show is at once beautiful, moving, touristy and expensive.

The wines are excellent and the food is surprisingly flavorful for dinner show fare.

For free outdoor tango and one of the most authentic open air marketplaces going, head to Plaza Dorrego on a Sunday morning.

The cobblestone streets are tricky, the crowds a bit thick and the curbcuts a bit fewer and farther in between in this historic area, but San Telmo is accommodating enough to make it part of your itinerary.

San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo church dates to 1734 and is made readily-accessible by a large ramp in front.

TOMORROW: Recoleta

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 3



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Puerto Madero, the once abandoned and formerly unsafe port area where new meets ultra modern.

The old working waterfront has been redeveloped into restaurants and lofts in restored brick buildings.

A wide pedestrian promenade is smooth and accessible.

Try Bice for handmade pasta and excellent service.

A spectacular pedestrian bridge by famed architect Santiago Calatrava is a perfect barrier-free link across the water to ultra modern buildings with artsy bars and pricey bistros.

TOMORROW: San Telmo

Friday, December 3, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 2



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Micro Centro, where pedestrian-only Calle Florida’s avenue crossings are perfectly-graded for wheelers and most shops have level entrances.

Gallerias Pacifico feature upscale shopping, famous murals, and elevator access to every level.

The super-clean, very accessible public restrooms are worth the visit.

TOMORROW: Puerto Madero

Thursday, December 2, 2010

BUENOS AIRES’ BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS



BUENOS AIRES’ BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

You want European charm.

You want a perfectly-located hotel with wheelchair-accessible digs, a pair of roomy elevators and an airy restaurant that has plenty of space to maneuver through.

You seek a thriving city with sidewalk cafes, plazas, diverse neighborhoods, round the clock pedestrian-oriented activity and barrier-free access to plenty of shopping and attractions.

You can’t afford Europe’s rising Euro that trims your dollar by a third. But what if you could get that barrier-free modern hotel in the center of the action for 10 nights and pay less than $600?

What if you could linger over a lavish brunch at a famous café for $12? And wouldn’t it be divine to commit dietary sin with a belly-busting artisanal pizza with all the toppings and a big cola – all for about 11 smackers?

You can do all of this and more in Buenos Aires. Argentina was one of the wealthiest nations in the world in the 20th century and much of its grand, French-influenced architecture was built in that era.

Sadly, the beginning of the 21st century dealt a crushing blow to the economy. Things have stabilized a bit, but the U.S. dollar still commands a whopping three pesos to one dollar exchange rate.

If you pass by the endless third rate leather shops aimed at tourists and hold out for a cheap cab ride to Villa Crespo, the merchants there will sell you some of the world’s finest crafted leather – at an exchange rate of nearly 3.4 pesos to the dollar if you pay cash.

Virtually every hotel, shop and restaurant has someone with basic English skills, but it’s a lot more fun to learn some Spanish – just don’t call it that. In Argentina the speak Castellano.

In espanol, pollo (chicken) is “POY-yo,” but on the streets of Buenos Aires, it’s “POY-joe.” The famous avenue named for the fifth month of the year is Avenida de Mayo (MAH-joe, not MY-yo.

For the next 11 days, we will take you on a tour through Buenos Aires.

TOMORROW: Micro Centro

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NEW YORK'S TAXI OF TOMORROW TO FEATURE WHEELCHAIR ACCESS



NEW YORK'S TAXI OF TOMORROW TO FEATURE WHEELCHAIR ACCESS

When it comes to picking New York's Taxi of Tomorrow, Karsan, based in Turkey, has won us over by proudly playing up its wheelchair-accessible universal design in both its RFP and its press releases.

When the three finalists were announced, Karsan's press statement proudly mentioned its "fully accessible vehicle promises to revolutionize the taxi passenger experience in New York City," right in the opening line.

"The Karsan design would allow New York City to be the world’s first city with a fleet that would be 100% accessible and compliant with the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)," Karsan's statement continues.

While disability advocates in New York and beyond have lamented that Taxi of Tomorrow proposals from Ford and Nissan would have to be greatly retrofitted to accommodate people with mobility and other impairments, Karsan says its model is ADA-accessible right out of the factory.

"The environmentally friendly car is fully accessible and ADA-compliant without any need of retrofitting or additions," Karsan's press materials state. "It has an automated ramp for wheelchairs on either side, specially-designed wide doors that open up to 90 degrees, and keyboard and Braille communication for the hearing and visually impaired. The design is flexible and will accommodate public input or any revisions of the Taxi and Limousine Commission."

The winner of the TLC's competition will be announced early next year and will have the right to exclusively provide the standard taxicab for 10 years. Officials expect the new vehicle to be on the road by the fall of 2014

New Yorkers can go online, see the three finalist designs and vote on what they want to see in the next official taxi.

The winner will be announced early next year and will have the right to exclusively provide the standard taxicab for 10 years. Officials expect the new vehicle to be on the road by the fall of 2014

We strongly recommend that all disability advocates, not just New Yorkers or frequent visitors to the city, visit the Taxi of Tomorrow website at:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/media/html/news/taxioftomorrow.shtml


Also, click on the Taxi of Tomorrow Survey (you don't have to be a New Yorker) and sound off on the need for the City to choose the Karsan model, or if it picks Ford or Nissan, to demand that those makers meet or exceed the ADA access designed into Karsan's proposed model:

http://nyc.gov/html/media/html/contact/taxi_of_tomorrow_survey.shtml

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NEW YORK'S TAXI OF THE FUTURE TO FEATURE WHEELCHAIR ACCESS



NEW YORK'S TAXI OF THE FUTURE TO FEATURE WHEELCHAIR ACCESS

When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to work directly with the auto industry to design a taxi cab specifically for New York City, he wisely made sure that wheelchair access is a core requirement of the "Taxi of Tomorrow."

Today's fleet of more than 13,000 taxis is made up of 16 vehicle models from nine different manufacturers. Fewer than 250 of the cabs now on the road can accommodate a wheelchair user.

When the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) put out a request for proposals (RFP) for the exclusive right to make the Taxi of Tomorrow, it emphasized that it was seeking vehicles that could easily accommodate people with disabilities.

"The TLC is committed to providing taxicab and car service that is accessible to all New Yorkers, as evidenced by the fact that accessibility is an explicit specification of the Taxi of Tomorrow request for proposals," Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky told us in an exclusive interview.

The competition to manufacture New York City's next taxicab has been narrowed to three finalists: Karsan USA, Ford Motor Co., and Nissan North America Inc.

As frequent visitors to New York, who have suffered because of inadequate cabs that cannot accommodate a wheelchair user (and whose shoddy trunks have damaged a stowed manual wheelchair), we are thrilled with accessibility being a key requirement.

While all three finalists claim to have wheelchair access, only Karsan's proposed model features a wheelchair ramp as a standard piece of equipment.

Some disability activists have railed against the fact that if Karsan isn't chosen, full accessibility will be a promise, not a designed reality, from either Ford or Nissan.

We strongly recommend that all disability advocates, not just New Yorkers or frequent visitors to the city, visit the Taxi of Tomorrow website at:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/media/html/news/taxioftomorrow.shtml


Also, click on the Taxi of Tomorrow Survey (you don't have to be a New Yorker) and sound off on the need for the City to choose the Karsan model, or if it picks Ford or Nissan, to demand that those makers meet or exceed the ADA access designed into Karsan's proposed model:


http://nyc.gov/html/media/html/contact/taxi_of_tomorrow_survey.shtml

TOMORROW: K
ARSAN IS PROUD TO BE ACCESSIBLE

Monday, November 29, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: CROSLEY Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation -- part 4


Lewis Crosley

CROSLEY
Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation


Powel and Lewis Crosby also led the way toward more affordable home refrigerators and freezers -- buying the patent that allowed their brand to be the first with shelves -- a long-standard feature that was both innovation and domestic godsend when unveiled.

Lewis, who had served with the Amy Corps of engineers, even worked on secret projects with the military to develop technology used in the European theater when the U.S. joined in the WWII battle.

Powel, who was always obsessed with the automobile, had crossed paths with the legendary Carl Fisher and his Indianapolis Speedway during Crosley's booms and busts as a young entrepreneur.

That obsession led Powel to sell the Crosley companies in 1945, so he could rejoin his consuming desire of being a major builder and seller of compact cars.

Always ahead of his time, Crosley was developing cars that could get 50 miles to the gallon -- at a time when a gallon of gas barely cost 20 cents.

Though some rival dealers -- particularly Nash with its Rambler -- had success with compact cars, Powel Crosley might have been too far ahead of his time.

A half century before hybrids and Smart Cars, Crosley was spending his millions on innovative engines, gas mileage and small car affordability.

But America, finally free of WWII and its rationing of everything, was ready to show its wealth and power...right down to the everyman who was willing to spend more for big engines, long fins and powerful sedans that commanded space and attention on the vastly expanding network of roads to suburbia.

Never able to satisfy his craving to be America's No. 1 automobile innovator, Powel Crosley died in 1961 at the age of 74 -- perhaps the most unheralded great entrepreneur and developer of consumer goods in the 20th century.

Lewis Crosley, the publicity-shy, gentleman farmer, younger brother Crosley lived all the way to 1978.

Living till a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday, Lewis got to witness back-to-back world series championships by the Reds, under the guidance of the recently deceased Sparky Anderson and the on-field excellence of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and other stars.

Hometown heroes and world-class industry innovators, the Crosley brothers finally get their due in McClure's riveting ($24 hardback, Clerisy Press) 21st century publication: Crosley.

Wright is the author of more than 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.

RESOUCES:

http://www.crosleybook.com

http://rustymcclure.com/novels/crosleybook.html

Sunday, November 28, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: CROSLEY Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation -- part 3


Powel Crosley

CROSLEY
Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation


By Rusty McClure with David Stern and Michael A. Banks

Review by Steve Wright

Together, the brothers Crosley teamed to sell their famous radios to consumers around the globe.

They didn't invent radio, nor were they the first to sell them. But the strived to make radios much less expensive than the others on the market.

Author McClure dubs this Powel's business model of selling to "the masses, not the classes" -- a method of selling under-priced, well-built products and profiting on a high margin of sales.

It is little wonder with this Model T-like business plan, that Powel himself put his formidable public relations and marketing skills toward creating a national image as "the Henry Ford of Radio."

To program those radios, and to have a means of advertising their product over the air waves, the Crosleys created one of the first radio stations in the nation.

WLW, right from the start, became a giant in the industry. Along the way, it launched the careers of the Mills Brothers, Doris Day, Andy Williams, Red Barber and countless others.

To this day, WLW is one of the most powerful and popular AM radio stations in America and it continues to create larger than life on-air personalities.

It also is flagship of the Cincinnati Reds, the team the Crosleys saved during the depression by purchasing the basically bankrupt local team.

When attendance was sagging, Powel fought with baseball's tradition-bound old owners and commissioners and eventually won the right to hold the first-ever night baseball game in 1935.

The brothers Crosley had earlier pioneered another mainstay of pro baseball -- the broadcast of a live game.

The Crosleys owned the Reds for nearly three decades, guiding them to a World Series victory and changing the name to Red Legs during the Cold War intensity of the mid to late 1950s -- when Red sounded a bit too communist to a city that had forced the changing of streets with German names all the way back at WW1.

TOMORROW: Automotive Dreams & Unheralded Legacies

Wright is the author of more than 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.

RESOUCES:

http://www.crosleybook.com

http://rustymcclure.com/novels/crosleybook.html

Saturday, November 27, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: CROSLEY Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation -- part 2


Author Rusty McClure

CROSLEY
Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation


Impacted greatly by their father's loss of fortune, home and status during the Great Panic of 1893, the Crosley brothers formed a bond that only could be broken by death.

However, each brother's reaction to their prominent attorney/investor father's virtual bankruptcy was as different as day and night.

Lewis remained a rock -- living in a walk-up apartment building when his brother was living the millionaire's life. Lewis was frugal, grounded, balanced to the point where even though he did the work of dozens of me, he was always home to his family by 5.

Powel was the risk-taker, the gambler, the one ready to leap off the tall cliff in hope of bighting onto the brass ring before falling into the abyss below.

Powel suffered many a setback in his 20s, losing large sums of cash and blowing up opportunities to the point where no one in the family could have imagined him a wealthy and powerful man just a few years later.

Through the 500-page historical journey, McClure puts a very human face on every twist and turn.

Before we see a single black and white image of Powel in the pages of Crosley, we see a powerfully-built and driven man using every bit of his 6-foot-4 frame to dominate, business deals, press events and even clashes with the highest ranking members o Washington D.C.'s government power elite.

Lewis, also over 6-foot-tall and as capable man as one ever born in the hills above the mighty Ohio River, is warmly portrayed as the rooted family man with the soul of a Midwestern farmer, not a captain of industry.

Powel, the true moneymaker and leader of the brothers, was a family man too -- but flying about the U.S. to work hard on business and play hard at sea and he hunting range didn't exactly mean he was home for dinner at 5 every weeknight and around play father and husband on the weekends.

Nevertheless, he was crushed by the death of his first wife and the eventual lost of his namesake son (Powel III) and grandson (Powel IV.)

TOMORROW: Innovation & Selling to the Masses, not the Classes


Wright is the author of more than 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.


RESOUCES:

http://www.crosleybook.com

http://rustymcclure.com/novels/crosleybook.html

Friday, November 26, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: CROSLEY Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation



CROSLEY
Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation


By Rusty McClure with David Stern and Michael A. Banks

EDITOR'S NOTE: Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving Sales, the Kick-off to the Christmas Shopping Season...whatever you want to call today, it is the No. 1 day that revolves around the American consumer. In honor of innovative consumer goods -- through boom times and depressions -- we launch a four-part series today that examines the lives of Powel and Lewis Crosley. The Cincinnati, Ohio brothers were great leaders in the early 20th century development of affordable radios, home appliances an even radio broadcasts into the homes of millions of American consumers.

Review by Steve Wright

Among the great names of American entrepreneurs, innovators and success stories of the Industrial Age, Crosley is lost.

Though not as wealthy or influential as the Rockefellers, Fords, Carnegies or others, brothers Powel and Lewis Crosley made their mark on the early American consumer age -- let they are fairly anonymous even in their home state of Ohio, not even a half century since their deaths.

I spent the first 35 years of my life in Ohio. My grandparents very well could have had an old Crosley radio.

I listened to superstation WLW, 700-AM and enjoyed the pageantry of Major League Baseball's home open played in Cincinnati -- a decades-old tradition in tribute to the first professional franchise in the history of America's Pass Time.

I may have vaguely heard that before WLW was bought up by a giant conglomerate, that a local Cinci family had owned the powerful, 50,000-wat radio station.

I'm sure my avid following of baseball history must have uncovered some mention of a Crosley Field -- the fabled old home of the Reds/Redlegs.

But it was abandoned and demolished by the time the Big Red Machine was terrorizing the National League from the early to mid 70s at the sterile confines of the new Riverfront Stadium on the Oho River.

To give the Crosley name its proper place in 20th Century American history, Ohio author Rusty McClure -- son of Ellen Crosley McClure, the daughter of Lewis M. Crosley, the surviving direct descendant of the Crosley brothers.

Crosley (Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation) escapes the pitfalls that could have swallowed an author writing his family's own history.

But McClure, along with David Stern and Michael A. Banks have produced a highly-readable book worthy of its New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestseller status.

In Crosley, we meet brothers Powel and Lewis. Powel, older by two years, was the dreamer, schemer, restless innovator who used his boundless energy to tap into emerging American consumer trends before they became trendy.

Lewis was the steady, quiet brother -- a gifted engineer who guided a team of fellow engineers, designers, assembly line workers and others.

He was the rock-steady, can-do cog that oversaw every aspect of production -- whether the item being produced was a radio, automobile, large appliance, radio station or piece of equipment to help the Allies win World War Two.

TOMORROW: A brotherly bond & putting a human face on greatness

Wright is the author of more than 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.

RESOUCES:

http://www.crosleybook.com

http://rustymcclure.com/novels/crosleybook.html

Thursday, November 25, 2010

SAVE MIAMI'S HISTORIC WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN PARK


It is unconscionable that the City of Miami would even consider paving over this little angel's paradise to put up a parking lot. But that's exactly what will happen if Bryan Park's green space is ripped from the grasp of the public that has played on it for nearly a century -- and handed over to a tennis club that will kick out families and pave over everything for tennis courts, club house and parking.

SAVE MIAMI'S HISTORIC WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN PARK

On this Thanksgiving Day, we have a lot to be thankful for as residents of urban Miami's historic Little Havana neighborhood.

While Calle Ocho is famous around the world, an unsung little two acre park five short blocks south of SW 8th Street is under siege.

For nearly a century, Historic William Jennings Bryan Park has served as a rare urban oasis for the working class families of Miami.

In overdeveloped town with the least amount of park space of any city in America, Bryan Park is an asset the should be duplicated in dozens of other neighborhoods aching for open space with a green, grassy play field to serve thousands of children and families.

Sadly, a small group of politically-connected tennis players are lobbying hard and forcefully to pave over the entire park to make it there personal tennis club.

The idea of taking away public land for one privileged group is ludicrous, but the tennis lobby has frightened many people into signing petitions in favor of the tennis center -- by falsely telling them that if the park isn't given over to globe-trotting tennis teams, it will be abandoned and taken over by gangs and violent criminals.

We live on Bryan Park, we see thousands of children and families playing and exercising on the one acre of green space left in a park already half paved over with tennis courts, hitting wall, park office and playground equipment.

We will fight the good fight to protect this park for the people.

We hope readers will forward this link and tell city officials to protect neighborhood parks.

If tennis players want a private club, they can secure sponsors, grants, public private partnerships and other means to build their compound on a piece of commercial land large enough to accommodate the parking, traffic, lighting, noise, stormwater runoff and other impacts that are out of scale for the tiny houses and narrow streets of the Bryan Park neighborhood.

We trust that the Honorable Francis Suarez, the Miami District 4 Commissioner who represents our area, will honor his commitment to preserve the rare and valuable green space in the beloved Bryan Park.

We trust the Mayor of Miami, who used to represent this area when he was a Commissioner, will honor the will of several hundred Bryan Park residents who signed petitions against the tennis center five years ago -- and were lead to believe that they had successfully protected their park forever.

We trust that the Miami City Administration and remaining four City Commissioners will hear the voices of hundreds of thousands of City residents who have voted again and again to preserve what little green, open space is left in the Magic City.

We trust that other neighborhoods throughout the City will join our cause for preservation, just was we will come to their defense when needed.

We trust this threat to parkland for children will be resolved before the press -- television, radio, newspaper and on-line - will be forced to expose the piggishness of tennis backers who would toss kids into the street to pave over a playfield for a single-use sport and the foolishness of anyone who would support such a land grab by the few to the severe detriment of the many.

We trust that the hardworking people of the Bryan Park neighborhood -- many of them immigrants to this country who believe in a Democracy that protects their public park from hostile takeover and preserves their right to play soccer and flag football, to fly kites and play catch, to bring their toddlers play safely and freely on the green urban oasis that is Bryan Park -- will not have their park stolen from them.

EMAIL MIAMI CITY COMMISSIONER FRANCIS SUAREZ AND TELL HIM TO SAVE BRYAN PARK AND THE LITTLE NEIGHBOHROOD AROUND IT -- fsuarez@miamigov.com

OR PHONE COMMISSIONER SUAREZ AND TELL HIM TO SHOW GREAT LEADERSHIP BY FINDING A PROPERLY-SCALED SITE FOR A TENNIS CENTER -- (305) 250-5420


Please forward the link to this blog posting to everyone you know who cares about parkland preservation in America.

To help our cause, please contact me at stevewright64@yahoo.com


Politically-connected tennis supporters would pave over the precious green grass --used by this and thousands of other families dependent on this respite from the concrete jungle - to sate their piggish hunger for a tournament-caliber tennis complex.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

SAVE MIAMI'S HISTORIC WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN PARK


This family, playing on the green playfield, will be tossed out into the street if the City of Miami paves over Bryan Park to turn it into a tennis club.

HISTORIC WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN PARK:
AN URBAN OASIS THAT MUST BE PRESERVED


On the eve of Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful here in our 1920s home in the heart of Miami's fabled Little Havana.

This year, we launched this unique blog on land use, planning, sustainability, wheelchair-access and travel.

While all of our articles have been global, we regret that we must dedicate some space to a very local concern.

For the second time in five years, a group of selfish tennis parents are trying to rip an historic little park from its working class neighborhood -- so it can be paved over as a tennis club for the exclusive use of a handful of elite tennis players.

This bullying attitude toward any and all users of the green space at Bryan Park nearly succeded in destoying a rare urban oasis.

A group of valiant activist residents shamed city officials into doing the right thing five years ago and Bryan Park was spared.

But now the threat is greater than ever, so we present these bullet points that lay out the reasonable and just case for preserving Bryan Park:


• Miami has the least amount of parkland of any major city (according to the Trust for Public Land) and needs to be creating more grassy playfields, not less.

• Pavement is not park land. Tennis courts can only be used for tennis and only a few people can play on a court at a time.

• Bryan Park's acre of grassy play space is an urban gem because it can be used for dozens of things -- including soccer (hundreds of kids practicing or a full-out game with portable nets), flag/touch football, kite flying, playing catch, exercising on a soft surface and many more impromptu games not restricted to a specific playing field.

• Bryan Park is the perfect blend of space right now -- half is active with tennis courts, a hitting wall, barrier-free playground, comfort station, park benches and tot lot. The other half is heavily-used open space.

• Bryan Park is entirely surrounded by small single family houses. A tennis center would overwhelm it with parking, light, hours of use, traffic and other issues when a semi-private club takes over a park.

• If the thousands of kids and families who use the green play space are driven from a park paved over for the exclusive use of tennis, they will have nowhere else to go.

• If City leaders work wisely, they can located a tennis center on any of the dozens of commercial sites that would not suffer from pavement for courts and parking, a clubhouse, grandstand and other impacts.

• Southwest 13th Street already floods frequently. Covering the western half of Bryan Park with impervious surface would cause very damaging flooding of the small, single story homes along the park.

• A tennis center would completely take a nearly century old park and urban oasis of play space away from its working class neighborhood.

• In a democracy, the government does not take away the peaceful enjoyment of thousands (everyone who uses and enjoys the safe green grass) for the benefit of the few (tennis -- a single use sport that forever destroys the green space whether it gains, or quite possibly loses interest and players in the years to come.)

• If there is a groundswell of support for a tennis center, then the tennis supporters should work with pro tennis, tennis associations, sponsors, foundation grants and sources to generate funding for location that would not take away park land and negatively impact a low-rise neighborhood with narrow streets and little parking.

• A tennis center would be ripe for a public-private partnership. If such a partnership cannot materialize -- and none of the above funding sources can be tapped -- then there is not enough support behind a tennis center to justify its construction.

• The Bryan Park neighborhood has already compromised greatly. For more than half its long life, the park was a wide open green and play space with no pavement within its two acres.

• Over the decades, neighbors have compromised again and again while a comfort station, basketball courts (later tennis), enlarged playground and hitting wall were built over the green play field.

• Neighbors of Bryan Park are simply asking to preserve the half the park that hasn't been altered from its intended use as open space.

• Many residents are so tired of being promised their park would be saved (like we all were promised five years ago) then put under siege again, that they simply stop coming to meetings to protest.

• A decision to pave over a park cannot be made simply because a few dozen tennis coaches and parents want it to happen and the old neighborhood is too bewildered and battle scarred to fight.

• Preservation is a legacy issue for an elected official with a legacy surname. Protecting an historic park and finding an alternate, properly-scaled site for a tennis center is hard work. A young commissioner with a bright future will prove himself by establishing a track record of going the extra mile to create such a win-win solution.

EMAIL MIAMI CITY COMMISSIONER FRANCIS SUAREZ AND TELL HIM TO SAVE BRYAN PARK AND THE LITTLE NEIGHBOHROOD AROUND IT -- fsuarez@miamigov.com

OR PHONE COMMISSIONER SUAREZ AND TELL HIM TO SHOW GREAT LEADERSHIP BY FINDING A PROPERLY-SCALED SITE FOR A TENNIS CENTER -- (305) 250-5420



TOMORROW: A Thanksgiving Day essay that tells the real story of our beloved Bryan Park.

Please forward the link to this blog posting to everyone you know who cares about parkland preservation in America.

To help our cause, please contact me at stevewright64@yahoo.com



Bryan Park is in a very old neighborhood with small, single-story homes that flood when it rains. This picture shows how bad the flooding is after ten minutes of rain. If the acre of grass is foolishly paved over, can you imagine how many millions the bankrupt city will be paying to homeowners for willfully contributing to the flood hazard?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THE GREAT RESET: HOW NEW WAYS OF LIVING AND WORKING By Richard Florida -- PART 3



THE GREAT RESET: HOW NEW WAYS OF LIVING AND WORKING
By Richard Florida


Review by Steve Wright

Author Richard Florida is a big fan of alternate transportation -- anything from bicycles to safe pedestrian routes to better local and regional trains.

Florida reasons that even if more people are telecommuting, they still will benefit from the ability to conduct commerce by transportation means far less costly and restrictive than the automobile.

The Great Reset says young people, the innovators who will drive our human creativity-based new economy, already are forming new attitudes toward ownership that are less centered on houses and cars.

Florida makes said connectivity will be key to our economic future. He envies European and other nations that are far ahead of the U.S. in terms of high speed rail.

He states that Boston-New York-Washington have already become a super-productive mega-region because of relatively fast trains that connect the densely-populate cities.

Economic figures prove our that these mega-regions have a much higher economic output per capita when compared to sprawled areas.

Florida believes high speed rail could be a key toward reinvigorating the Great Lakes/rust belt region.

Chicago and Pittsburgh -- cities that have successfully shaken off their industrial pasts to become high-tech, high creativity centers -- could help uplift their still-struggling post-industrial neighbors, such as Detroit and Cleveland, with high speed rail connectivity.

Secondly, rail connectivity within the mega-regions.

There are the fast trains along the Boston/New York/Washington corridor that have allowed Washington, in effect, to become a commuter suburb of greater New York.

If you buy into Florida's theories, it is extremely disheartening that several governors and other politicians elected earlier this month are making noise about rejecting billions of dollars of transit funding.

Whether you accept all of Florida's ideas or not, you will enjoy his wit, vigor and clear writing that turns the most mind-numbing of economic research into a feast of thought for the future.

We highly recommend The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive the Post-Crash Prosperity.

Wright is the author of 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.

RESOURCES

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Great-Reset-Richard-Florida/?isbn=9780061937194

http://www.creativeclass.com/

Monday, November 22, 2010

THE GREAT RESET: HOW NEW WAYS OF LIVING AND WORKING By Richard Florida -- PART 2



THE GREAT RESET: HOW NEW WAYS OF LIVING AND WORKING
By Richard Florida


Review by Steve Wright

Author Richard Florida writes that we must admit that the U.S. is a service-based, not factory economy, so we must work to convert low-paying, unrewarding service jobs into middle class careers that engage workers as a source of innovation.

Florida, the director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, cites some innovative companies that empower even their lowest level retail workers and provide them with the opportunity to be rapidly promoted.

Florida, founder of the Creative Class Group, also believes the American Dream should no longer be homeownership -- it should be mobility.

Mobility, he said, can be achieved by making more people renters instead of homeowners.

Florida states that research proves that government policies incentivizing home ownership can actually be detrimental to the new economy.

He said a family underwater on its home loan is unlikely to sell at a huge financial loss to move to another region or state for better job opportunities.

But that is exactly what it must do in the era of the Great Reset and if more people rented, they could pick up stakes and more to prosperous regions much more quickly and easily.

While he is a progressive known for praising cities that accommodate gays, artists and other urban pioneers, Florida is no fan of the lion's share of the Obama
Administration's stimulus billions being spent on road projects.

Florida said road building is a short-term fell good, not a long-term plan in an era prolonged austerity in which many families will not be able to spend tens of thousands of dollars per year on a two or three automobiles.

He writes that it is better to focus on transportation infrastructure that is not automobile-centered.

Florida prefers big spending on airports, because most of these essential transit hubs for business in America have fallen into disrepair and our nowhere near as efficient or innovative as their foreign counterparts.

TOMORROW: PART 3 -- SALVATION THROUGH TRANSPORATION, INCLUDING HIGH SPEED RAIL

Wright is the author of 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.


RESOURCES

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Great-Reset-Richard-Florida/?isbn=9780061937194

http://www.creativeclass.com/

Sunday, November 21, 2010

THE GREAT RESET: HOW NEW WAYS OF LIVING AND WORKING By Richard Florida



THE GREAT RESET: HOW NEW WAYS OF LIVING AND WORKING
By Richard Florida


Review By Steve Wright

Class: our assignment today is to read 200-plus pages written by an economist who takes us back to the Great Depression of the 1930s and Long Depression of the late 1900s to find answers to what ails us during the Long Recession of the early 21st century.

Sounds about as enticing as sock drawer rearranging or dental work, doesn't it?
Trying to decipher the thoughts of an economist could be a painful exercise in these painful times.

But not if the economist is Richard Florida, author of the highly readable bestsellers The Rise of the Creative Class and Who's Your City?

Florida is an urban thinker who urges us to get past our handwringing over lost factory jobs that are never coming back and peak home values that are not going to rebound.

He would rather that we use the current economic collapse as a catalyst to motivate ourselves to finally focus on a future dependent on creativity, human capital, mobility and innovation.

His The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive the Post-Crash Prosperity calmly and clearly tell us that all the bailouts in the world will not save manufacturing in America.

The Great Reset (Harper Collins, $26.99 in hardback) also explains that while foreclosures are gut-wrenching, we never were better in an era of artificial wealth that inflated the price of a concrete box condo in the Miami sky to half a million dollars when its true value was likely half that.

Florida argues that Americans have to understand that a manufacturing-based economy has been declining for half a century and we can no longer expect to measure prosperity in terms of automobiles being made in Detroit.

TOMORROW PART 2 -- MOBILITY, THE AMERICAN DREAM


Wright is the author of 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.

RESOURCES:

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Great-Reset-Richard-Florida/?isbn=9780061937194

http://www.creativeclass.com/

Saturday, November 20, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: AMERICA'S MAYOR JOHN V. LINDSAY AND THE REINVENTION OF NEW YORK -- PART 3



Lindsay's creation of the Urban Design Group brought in dynamic young planners to look at open spaces and zoning as a way to preserve and enhance city life.

He strengthened Community Boards to give them power to review neighborhood land use issues before a decision could be made by the City Planning Commission or forwarded to the City Council for final approval.

The urban gem that is today's SOHO is a result of the Lindsay administration's work to preserve the old industrial structures and allow them the right to be adapted for residential, artist loft and other modern urban uses.

Lindsay lead a bicycle brigade to Central Park on a car-free Manhattan street -- decades before the New Urbanists and others have battled for bike lanes, wider sidewalks, better transit and other elements of the physical city unburdened from car dependency.

Though many New Yorkers labeled Lindsay as a failed dreamer, history should be much kinder in how it evaluates the soulful and energetic fighter for equality and livability.

Lindsay revolutionized urban planning and reminded us that urban cities -- even when they were on the verge of becoming unlivable from the mid 60s to mid 70s -- are places to be celebrated, enjoyed and energized.

For its fair examination of his triumphs as an unflinching urbanist -- especially to the benefit of the economically and politically disenfranchised -- America's Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York ($29.95 paperback) deserves hallowed space on the book shelf of anyone and everyone who cares about cities.

Wright is the author of 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.

RESOURCES

http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15260-0/americas-mayor

http://lindsay.mcny.org

http://www.thirteen.org/lindsay/video/full-program/fun-city-revisited

Friday, November 19, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: AMERICA'S MAYOR JOHN V. LINDSAY AND THE REINVENTION OF NEW YORK -- PART 2



BOOK REVIEW: AMERICA'S MAYOR
JOHN V. LINDSAY AND THE REINVENTION OF NEW YORK


By Steve Wright

Lindsay, the consummate reformer, scored huge victories in the area of empowering blacks and Hispanics -- greatly rising the number of minorities in the upper, middle and lower ranks of New York government.

He also created mini City Halls throughout the boroughs and neighborhoods to give a voice to millions who were previously ignored by their government.

Perhaps Lindsay's most courageous act in 1968 when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. A shirt-sleeved Lindsay walked the streets of Harlem well into the night, mingling with tens of thousands of justifiable outraged people, and simply repeating the words "I'm sorry" while pleading for calm.

In an era of the 60s when Watts, Newark and dozens of other cities burned and rioted, Lindsay succeeded in keeping the most densely-populated city in America from erupting in violence -- because the people knew he cared and because it wasn't the first time the WASP mayor had walked the streets passionately listening to the protests and concerns of poor and minority neighborhoods.

While many cities responded to downtrodden neighborhoods by simply bulldozing dozens of city blocks in the misguided urban renewal programs of the times, Lindsay worked to preserve and invigorate the urban fabric of historic, yet crumbling neighborhoods far beyond the influential reaches of Manhattan.

In an era when many believed the solution to America's big cities was basically abandoning them for the suburbs, Lindsay's charisma kept alive the passion for urban living.

Though the press chided him at the time for a comment that New York was "Fun City" at a time of so much economic, labor, racial and political strife, Lindsay was one of the very few big city mayors who were visionary enough to see cities as great repositories of wealth in the form of diversity, cultural offerings, public transit, density and walkability.

While Robert Moses had spent decades tearing down affordable housing, turning parks into sterile places and pushing superhighways through livable neighborhoods -- idolized Jane Jacobs fought and defeated the Power Broker over his plans to destroy parts of Greenwich Village with freeways -- Wagner put the brakes on wholesale block clearing of New York's neighborhoods rich and poor.

TOMORROW PART 3 -- LINDSAY THE URBAN VISIONARY

Wright is the author of 5,000 published articles on urban life, architecture, public policy, planning and design. He is active in working to make sure universal design, which provides barrier-free access to people with disabilities, is incorporated to the essential and rapidly-evolving practice of sustainability.

RESOURCES

http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15260-0/americas-mayor

http://lindsay.mcny.org

http://www.thirteen.org/lindsay/video/full-program/fun-city-revisited