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Monday, April 30, 2018

I WOULD HAVE BEEN ASHAMED TO NEGLECT A HUMAN BEING THIS WAY

WHEN I GAVE NEARLY A DECADE OF PUBLIC SERVICE 
WORKING FOR THE CITY OF MIAMI


William Jennings Bryan Park, thanks to our sacrificing the better part of 2 years of our free time, remains an oasis of greenery, safe place space, proper scale, 3 tennis courts, a reduced community center the size of a typical house in the area and a barrier-free playground.

The 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and other Mediterranean, Spanish Mission, Art Deco and other houses are a proud part of Miami’s past.

The old neighbors that hung on during bad times and the influx of new urban dwellers that are fixing up neglected houses are creating a neighborhood that could be almost as nice as nearby Coral Gables – at about half the housing price.

The economic and ethnic diversity is fabulous and enriching.

But a mentally ill person camping out on his family land with no power, water or toilet, is endangering the neighborhood.

Yesterday’s blog post went into deep detail about how the man allowed his family home to fall apart to the point where it was demolished to remove a health hazard.
But the government action stopped there, as countless City of Miami officials have claimed they are powerless to help this man or the neighbors around him.

When I posted this story yesterday, several people contacted me saying the man sounds like a candidate for the Baker Act – an involuntary commitment to a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment.

We reached out to countless city and county officials suggesting the same thing.

The Baker Act is no laughing matter, but it can be a tool to save a person from himself.
We certainly don’t view it as a as punishment, but as an act for the homeless (but living on his families vacant land) guy's own good.

Clearly he has severe mental illness.

My mom has had the same issue for 50 years, so it's not like we are hard hearted about the situation.

But the government folks charged with upholding our quality of life have left a lot to be desired.

A former government worker acquaintance -- who shall remain unnamed (and generally came off like a kind and decent sort) -- went there twice to try to talk reason into the man.

The staff person -- who darn well knew that insane guy was living in the house he inherited with zero FPL, zero water, zero sewer and a heard of bats, rats, roaches, birds, and other vermin....who poops and pees outdoors....who shouts at passerby -- said after a long chat with the man, he found him to have no mental issues at all.

I would say any one of two dozen of the man's life actions -- from letting a habitable house collapse around him with no utilities, to camping out for 3+ years through Hurricane Irma, eat you alive mosquitoes and bathroom conditions worse than a Viet Nam field latrine ditch -- pretty much nominated himself for removal from the lot and rehabilitation at a public-funded mental health center.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

THE HISTORIC BRYAN PARK NEIGHBORHOOD HAS A PROBLEM

WILL THE CITY OF MIAMI EVER FIX IT?


We have lived in the Shenandoah section of Miami for more than 15 years.

We have restored, with permits, a nearly 100-year-old house that was on the verge of condemnation when we bought it.

We had squatters in the house behind us and the beautiful park out front got a giant steel gate around it.

At first we thought it looked like a prison yard – but soon found out so many kids misbehaved after dark, that the short-staffed city had to find a way of closing down the park and locking out trouble makers till dawn.

We knew of some drug arrests and dealt with loud neighbors.

Slowly, the area rebounded.

We even had to fight the city, which I worked for at the time, when it wanted to turn virtually every inch of historic William Jennings Bryan Park into a tennis center.

This would turn a 2-acre oasis, in the city with the least amount of park space of any major American city according to the Trust for Public Land, into a virtually privatized tennis tournament revenue-maker.

It would create noise, traffic, parking, quality of life and other negative issues while chasing hundreds of families out of the park and its green grasses.

Finally, that battle won, we watched carved up illegal units being restored to single-family houses. Dilapidated small apartment buildings were lovingly renovated.

Property values started to reward the hard work both urban pioneers and longtime residents who suffered through decades of neglect from police, parks, public works and elected officials.
But a few years ago, we noticed a man squatting on his own property at SW 12th Street and SW 22nd Avenue.


He is so mentally ill, he allowed his family home to fall apart and get demolished by the Unsafe Structures Board.

Rather than moving to a subsidized apartment, he camps out.
He has no toilet or shower, so he does all bodily functions out in the open on the trash-strewn lot.

We have complained for more than 3 years.

Nothing is done.

When I tried to take pictures to post -- maybe even to send to media to shame city into action – the crazed man ran out with his big dog and told me he was going to attack me for spying on him.

I was in public right of way in broad daylight -- had every right to do what I was doing.
I have no idea if he really had a knife, guns, trained attack dog.

I guess it will take an adult getting severely injured or kid mauled by his dog...before anyone at City, County or other agency lifts a finger.

While we fear him, this kind of life also is dangerous to this man.

How he survives bugs and heat of hot weather I'll never know.

His unsanitary conditions are dangerous to this community.

How anyone on his block could sell a house, for anything above half the true value, is beyond me.

It is dragging down the whole of Bryan Park area.

Crap like this encourages illegal units, illegal parking, loud parties, vandalism, theft and everything else that drags down a neighborhood of quality homes and good people on the rebound.

Commissioner Manolo Reyes campaigned on a platform of constituent service.

Our current mayor, who we like very much, was the district commissioner for our area.
One would think a new mayor, commissioner and city manager could come up with a good solution to this problem in all of about 10 minutes.

So far, we continue to suffer.

Not a thing is done.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

WALKER TO WHEELER -- 6


By Heidi Johnson Wright

Now that I’m over 50 and have had more than two dozen orthopedic surgeries, I use my chair from dusk ‘til dawn. The only time I’m out of it is to walk short distances several times a day. If I don’t, I get too achy, stiff and fatigued. This means that my co-workers sometimes see me up on my feet.

People are especially puzzled by someone who mostly uses a wheelchair yet sometimes walks. They think it should be an all-or-nothing thing. When you’re not in the chair, you’re bound to get smiles and comments like: “How nice, you’re getting better!” My typical response is to smile and nod, while thinking: “Fuck off, asshole! There ain’t no ‘getting better’ for me. New, healthy joints don’t just magically appear like leprechaun gold.”

But I refrain from such comments. I’m comfortable now with who I am: a virtually full-time wheeler. When I can’t get into a restaurant or book an Uber ride, I don’t find fault with myself. I place the blame squarely where it belongs: on a society that continues to devalue disabled folks by designing only for the temporarily non-disabled.  


Temporarily, did you ask? Yes, because karma is a bitch.

Serialized from New Mobility Magazine Digital

http://newmobility.unitedspinal.org/NM_Mar_18/#?page=34

Friday, April 27, 2018

WALKER TO WHEELER -- 5


By Heidi Johnson Wright

Part of me still bought in to the idea that to use a wheelchair was a sign of failure. Perhaps I simply wasn’t trying hard enough, wasn’t soldiering through the pain like I should. I’m ashamed to admit it, but on days I did take the chair to class, I hid it.

I would arrive early, find an adjacent empty classroom, park it there, then walk over to my class. That way, I could stride into my classroom as if nothing was wrong. (Or, as if nothing was wrong with me.)


Outside of class, I struggled to meet guys who could look past the chair and see me. I had lots of male buddies, but rarely did things progress beyond friendship. Then I met my husband. We fell hard for each other.

Before I got too far in, I secretly gave him a test to pass. The first time we went out together, I held his hand, making it clear to passers-by that the chick in the chair was dating the guy who walked. He gladly took my hand, even kissed me, and never flinched. He passed with flying colors, and we got married two years later. 

Serialized from New Mobility Magazine Digital

http://newmobility.unitedspinal.org/NM_Mar_18/#?page=34

Thursday, April 26, 2018

WALKER TO WHEELER -- 4


By Heidi Johnson Wright

I had to admit that the wheelchair’s very presence eased my mind. I was comfortable using it in my dorm. I lived in my university’s gimp ghetto: the only floor of the only dorm accessible to girls with disabilities. I was among friends.

Still, I had to mentally sort out for myself exactly what relationship I would have with the chair. But the rules I developed for when and where to use the wheelchair were crafted not strictly by common sense. I was fighting a very personal inner battle about how I saw myself and how I wanted others to see me. There was something about planting my butt in that chair that seemed to lower my status as a potential friend and more importantly, girlfriend. The bottom line was this: wheelchairs were boner Kryptonite.

If I had a major spinal cord injury, I’d have to use a chair for mobility – there’d be no room for debate. But I inhabited a realm betwixt those who walked all the time and those who never did. There was no “how-to” guide for someone like me, or at least I’d never seen a book titled Sometimes Your Ass Walks, Other Times it Rolls: a Guide to the Wheelchair Netherworld.


It was all pretty ridiculous, since even when I was up and walking, I would never be mistaken for an able-bodied person. Standing or seated, I was still a gimp. But to a lot of people, a wheelchair is a prison, a sign of tragedy, a symbol of defeat. The chair is as a mechanism of freedom and empowerment that can make the difference between getting an education or not, holding a job or sitting at home, exploring hillside towns in Spain or never traveling beyond one’s front stoop.          

Serialized from New Mobility Magazine Digital

http://newmobility.unitedspinal.org/NM_Mar_18/#?page=34

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

WALKER TO WHEELER -- 3


By Heidi Johnson Wright

My pain and limited mobility made getting up from chairs or desks really tough. I often had to rock back and forth to get enough momentum to stand. I strained hard, holding my breath in the process. For a few seconds, my brain was deprived of oxygen to the point where everything around me got fuzzy and faint, making me feel like a spray paint huffer.

The rest of my high school years included multiple surgeries, rehabs, temporary parent-approved wheelchair use and striving to get back on my feet. It was an ongoing cycle of pain, shame and struggle to become mobile enough to go to college.
I bought into my parents’ belief that using a wheelchair equated with tragedy and failure. It was all I knew.  And when they moved me into my college dorm room during freshman week, I was a teary-eyed, nervous wreck. I was uncertain how much walking I would have to do each day.

What if the walking was simply too much? What if I had a flare or sudden pain that kept me off my feet? What if I missed too many classes and flunked out? My anxiety ratcheted up so much that I was vomiting each morning and crying every day. Finally, my parents woke up to the reality of my situation.  


After freshman year winter break, I returned to school with a very basic Everest & Jennings sling-seat power wheelchair. My parents made it clear that I must walk whenever possible. They felt certain that if I used a chair even part of the time, I would grow lazy and stop walking altogether.

Serialized from New Mobility Magazine Digital

http://newmobility.unitedspinal.org/NM_Mar_18/#?page=34

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

WALKER TO WHEELER -- 2


By Heidi Johnson Wright

My dad took me to school my first day back. The school administration suggested we come in through the loading dock, then pass through the boiler room. I was cargo to be unloaded, like a case of industrial-strength rat poison.

Most of my classmates had no idea I was returning to school at all, and I’d told only a couple of close friends that I’d be using a wheelchair until I regained the ability to walk. I could see the shocked looks of students and teachers as my dad and I entered the corridor.

I’d attracted plenty of stares and snickers before the surgeries, with my leg brace and crutches. But in the chair, I had reached a whole new nadir of gimpdom. Funny how sticking your ass in a 25-pound metal, vinyl and rubber contraption can bring about a new world order.

By the start of sophomore year, I was no longer using the chair. But six years of severe arthritis had transformed my gait from one of long, speedy strides to the side-to-side, slow waddle of a penguin. Three minutes was barely enough time for me to change classes.


To accommodate me, all of my teachers agreed to let me leave class a few minutes early. But that solved only one of two problems. The first was my slowness in getting from here to there. The second problem how to get from a seated to a standing position.

Serialized from New Mobility Magazine Digital

http://newmobility.unitedspinal.org/NM_Mar_18/#?page=34

Monday, April 23, 2018

WALKER TO WHEELER -- 1


By Heidi Johnson Wright

My first nine years, I moved like a charged particle: buzzing with energy, always in motion. Then the pain came. Within six months, the wildfire of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis had spread to nearly every joint in my body. The pain was horrendous. Its unceasing severity meant, within five years, that many of my joints were catastrophically, permanently damaged.

By ninth grade, my school day was exhausting. Most of my energy was spent dragging myself from point A to point B on crutches. The effort I put into short bursts of locomotion ground me down to a nub.

The simplest, most sensible solution would have been for me to use a wheelchair for mobility. But at that point in my life, it was unimaginable. Wheelchairs were acceptable for the profoundly disabled and the elderly only. If you drooled, wore diapers and spent your day making potholders, enjoy your seat on wheels. But if you were capable of anything more, you better get your ass up and move.


That same year, my ankles became so painful I had no choice but to have both of them surgically fused. My rehab was a long, painful slog to regain the ability to walk. It left me no choice but to return to school in a wheelchair.

Serialized from New Mobility Magazine Digital

http://newmobility.unitedspinal.org/NM_Mar_18/#?page=34

Sunday, April 22, 2018

From Vacancy to Vitality Presentation

at APA National Planning Conference


PlusUrbia’s Juan Mullerat, APA, will present solutions that prove even our densest cities have room to grow without demolition.

He will be part of the From Vacancy to Vitality panel presentation at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in New Orleans.

The program, featuring examples from PlusUrbia Design’s work in Little Havana along with examples from New Orleans’ Canal Street, — will take place at 8:30 AM – 10 AM CDT on Tuesday April 24.

Professionals attending will learn how new planning approaches can remove regulatory barriers and provide incentives to conserve valuable older buildings and encourage reuse and infill.

Mullerat has spoken at the last two APA Florida annual conferences. PlusUrbia has been honored with national, regional and local APA awards, the highest honor in the profession.

https://plusurbia.com/vacancy-to-vibrancy-presentation-at-apa-national-planning-conference/




Saturday, April 21, 2018

HOCKING HILLS -- 6

OHIO HEARTLAND 



Hocking Hills — $410-$500

• Hocking Hills – Ash Cave & Conkles Hollow (free admission); 740/285-6842, parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills


• The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls (Redbud ADA cabin — big enough to split cost with second, nondisabled family sleeping upstairs — from $170 low season, Sumac accessible cottage — smaller than cabin — $40 cheaper per night than Redbud); 800/653-2557, innatcedarfalls.com


• Hockhocking-Adena Bikeway (free admission); athensohio.com/wheretoplay/hockhocking-adena-bikeway-2


• Lake Hope Lodge (Sunday brunch $15); 740/596-0601, lakehopelodge.com


• Washboard Music Festival (free admission); 740/380-2752, www.washboardmusicfestival.com


• Nelsonville Music Festival ($75 one day admission); 740/753-1924, nelsonvillefest.org




Listed first after each destination name is the approximate cost for three days, two nights including lodging, six meals, park admissions and gas money to drive between attractions.

Friday, April 20, 2018

HOCKING HILLS -- 5

OHIO HEARTLAND 


The Hocking Hills area, at the foothills of the Appalachians, has no shortage of roots music. 

Every year, from Friday through Sunday of Father’s Day weekend, the downtown streets of Logan come alive with the celebration of the washboard as a musical instrument. 

Everything from jug bands to Dixieland groups play the Washboard Music Festival in the hometown of the Columbus Washboard Company, the only remaining washboard manufacturing company in the U.S.

Over four days, usually in late May or early June, the Nelsonville Music Festival offers multiple stages of music along with local art vendors, food and a beer garden. 

The eclectic list of past performers — Wilco, The Flaming Lips, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, John Prine, Dinosaur Jr., Yo La Tengo, George Jones and Gogol Bordello — is a slice of Americana in itself.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

HOCKING HILLS -- 4

OHIO HEARTLAND 


While the majority of the glacier-carved area’s state park trails are too rugged for the average wheelchair user to negotiate, the quarter-mile paved trail to Ash Cave is very wheelchair-friendly.

Commencing at accessible parking spaces, the trail ends at a massive shelter cave and 90-foot waterfall. 

The Conkles Hollow Gorge Trail extends a half mile from the parking area on Big Pine Road into the upper end of the gorge, below a waterfall.

It is paved, very easy for wheelers to roll along and is an absolute must-do with the deepest gorge and the highest cliffs in the Hocking Hills. 

The Hockhocking Adena bikeway is a paved, level bike path located on the old Columbus and Hocking Valley Railroad bed.

It runs from the Nelsonville Historic Square Arts District 22 miles south into Athens, home of Ohio University.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

HOCKING HILLS -- 3

OHIO HEARTLAND 


Lake Hope Lodge offers another dining opportunity focused on locally-sourced comfort food. 

The accessible lodge, located in a state park, has a famous Sunday brunch with made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits, cinnamon rolls, brisket hash, pulled pork, smoked turkey and berry cobbler with fresh whipped cream. 

Lunch and dinner feature scratch made soups and chili, grilled Ohio chicken, beef brisket, fried catfish and wood-smoked ribs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

HOCKING HILLS -- 2

OHIO HEARTLAND 



At the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, one can linger outside, day dreaming on the porch swing and taking in the wooded vista, or come inside to the aroma of cedar and a plate of homemade cookies on the kitchen table.

Take a seat in the cozy living room by the gas fireplace. Forget the distraction of television — there is none in the cabin, but it does have wi-fi for those who cannot entirely unplug from civilization.

The spa, meeting place and dining room are all accessible. Breakfast includes fare such as: fresh fruit, homemade granola, Applewood smoked bacon, potato scallion soufflé and house made muffins or breads. 

Seasonal lunch and dinner features soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees ranging from crispy striped bass to spiced rack of lamb.

Monday, April 16, 2018

HOCKING HILLS -- 1

OHIO HEARTLAND 


Sometimes the place of lodging is simply a small room for sleeping. 

Sometimes the place of lodging is the attraction.

The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, in the heart of the Hocking Hills, is such a place. 

Longtime innkeeper Ellen Grinsfelder created this accessible paradise when she invited a friend who uses a wheelchair to do a walk-through.

The result is wonderfully accessible accommodations nestled along a gorgeous, wooded ravine where the nighttime sky dazzles with its display of heavenly bodies so bright that visitors feel as if they’ve entered a brilliant cathedral of stars.

A roll-in shower, with grab bars and space enough to allow sufficient room for both a wheelchair user and personal care attendant, is the main feature of the Redbud cabin. 

The cabin itself is big enough to live in, with a full kitchen, sitting area and accessible bedroom on the first floor reached by a ramp.

Kitchen items — flatware, silverware, tea bags, salt and pepper, even flashlights — are located where they can be accessed from a seated position.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

EXTREME PREJUDICE AND BIGOTRY

TOWARD PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES




Why is it that people are so quick to want to strip away the rights granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Why is it if one thing goes wrong – say one law firm of ambulance chasers slightly abuses the ADA’s intent in a lawsuit…

Or one construction project screws up its wheelchair access…

…and otherwise fairly smart, rational and compassionate people want to dump the ADA?

How is it that every other thing on the planet has flaws and unintended consequences, but people can accept those imperfections?

If we treated flight like the ADA, the first time an airline plane crashed, we’d ban all flight forever.

The first time a person committed fraud, we close all the banks and stuff our money under the mattress.

Medicine would still be in the dark ages, because the first surgery, antibiotic, etc. that didn’t work perfectly, we’d shut all exploration into those fields for eternity – because, gasp, a percentage of people die in surgery or have bad reactions to pharmaceuticals.

Why is it that everyone reading this agrees it is nonsense to stop a good thing because it has a few warts, or because it doesn’t work perfectly 100% of the time?

But otherwise right-headed politicians, leaders and everyday people read about one case of possible ADA abuse, one case of a cheap skate business owner (falsely) claiming they went broke modifying their building.

And everyone is ready to strip away the only civil rights legislation, weak and watered down as it is, ever enacted to help 50+ million people with disabilities.

WTF.

It makes no sense.


Please share this with a dozen people, so we can pull our heads out of our collective asses when it comes to being so prejudiced against the ADA.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

CAJUN COUNTRY -- 6

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA


Listed first after each destination is the approximate cost for three days, two nights including lodging, six meals, park admissions and gas money to drive between attractions.
Cajun Country — $420-$500

• Breaux Bridge, breauxbridgela.net

• Café des Amis (breakfast from $10, lunch/dinner entrees from $17); 337/332-5273, 
www.cafedesamis.com

• Poche’s Market Restaurant and Smokehouse (plate lunches for $12); 800/376-2437, 
www.pochesmarket.com

• Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site (admission $4); 888/677-2900, 
www.crt.state.la.us/louisiana-state-parks/historic-sites/longfellow-evangeline-state-historic-site

• Maison des Amis (rooms from $125); 337/507-3399, 
www.maisondesamis.com

• Staybridge Suites Lafayette (suites from $140); 800/238-8889, 
www.staybridge.com

Friday, April 13, 2018

CAJUN COUNTRY -- 5

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA



St. Martinville, about 15 miles from Breaux Bridge, pays tribute to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, “Evangeline,” about the heartbreaks encountered by the Acadian people’s expulsion from Canada and grueling resettlement in Louisiana.
The Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site visitor’s center has outstanding accessible restrooms. The first floor of Maison Olivier, an 1815 plantation house, is wheelchair accessible. 
The entire Attakapas Trail, named for the Attakapas Native Americans that inhabited the area before the Acadians, is paved and accessible.
Maison des Amis as limited access in one of its rooms.
The grounds of this bed and breakfast right next to the historic district are accessible. 
For a 100 percent accessible room, book one of three rooms with roll-in shower at the Staybridge Suites in Lafayette, about 11 miles from Breaux Bridge.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

CAJUN COUNTRY -- 4

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA


New Iberia, about 25 miles from Breaux Bridge, offers the accessible Bayou Teche boardwalk between Weeks Street and the Duperier Street Bridge — behind the Shadows-on-the-Teche historic attraction. 
City Park has a new, accessible deck on the water. 
Main Street itself is packed with historical buildings, served by accessible sidewalks with curb ramps. 
Spanish Lake, just a few miles out of New Iberia’s center, features five accessible fishing piers on its main levee road.
Bayou Carlin Cove in Delcambre, about 15 miles from New Iberia, has a new boat dock/fishing pier constructed to be wheelchair accessible.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

CAJUN COUNTRY -- 3

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA


Breaux Bridge is the Crawfish Capital of the World and Café des Amis serves ‘dem mudbugs in eggs for breakfast, in po boy sandwiches at lunch and as crawfish pies and platters of half etouffe/half fried crawfish for dinner.
For less formal dining in a barrier-free setting, head to Poche’s Market Restaurant and Smokehouse for spicy boudin, cracklins, fried catfish, fried shrimp, crawfish etouffe and weekend barbecue plates.



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

CAJUN COUNTRY -- 2

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA


Saturdays mean zydeco breakfast, from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., every Saturday except those that fall on a major holiday.
They don’t take reservations at Cafe des Amis, so come early. 
Crowd in on the sidelines and drink a dirt cheap, stiff Bloody Mary while watching a great harmony of sweaty bodies dancing up a storm to zydeco, a purely American music that started in rural Louisiana in the early 20th century.
Twirl to the sounds of accordion, fiddle, drums, guitar, bass and vest frottoir – a percussion instrument fashioned from pressed, corrugated steel and worn over the shoulders.
Beignets, biscuits and andouille cheese grits highlight a menu that also features couche couche (Cajun cereal made of cornmeal and milk with syrup and sugar) and the inimitable oreille de cochon (boudin-stuffed beignet dough shaped like pigs’ ears with powdered sugar) —  mmmm. 
After breakfast, roll over to swampy Bayou Teche. 
Check out the 19th century buildings and visit Breaux Bridge Antique Mall. It’s your typical musty, shelf-stuffed place — with some aisles accessible and a few too narrow to negotiate by wheelchair.



Monday, April 9, 2018

CAJUN COUNTRY -- 1

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA


Cajun doesn’t get any more authentic than life in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
Named for the wooden footbridge built over Bayou Teche by Acadian pioneer Fermin Breaux, the tiny community is famous for music and food. 
Both can be had every Saturday morning at Café des Amis, in the center of town. 
A ramped entrance leads into a decent-sized bar, restaurant, stage and dance floor. Zydeco is the big draw, as it has been for years.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

DEAR GOSSIP EXTRA: IF YOU ARE GOING TO COVER DISABILITY ISSUES…

…PLEASE LEARN THE TERM “USES A WHEELCHAIR FOR MOBILITY”



Dear Jose Lambiet.

Thanks, I guess, for covering issues concerning people with disabilities.

No thanks for using inaccurate, archaic language when doing so.

You should be ashamed of using the phrase "confined to a wheelchair."

It is demeaning and just plain inaccurate.

My wife uses a wheelchair for her mobility. 

I have been with her for 30 years and promise you she does not sleep, shower or enjoy earthly pleasures in her wheelchair.

Why is it if you drive a sedan 10 miles to cover a story -- because walking that far in the heat is inefficient -- you are using your sedan, not confined to it?

But if my wife picks the liberating machinery known as a wheelchair -- because it is more efficient than walking on legs weakened by arthritis and surgeries -- she is not being efficient.

She is "confined to a wheelchair" which sounds dreadful, like it's a prison, something to be ashamed of.

You also very recently had a story about “wheelchair-bound (transit) riders” and noted the person “suffers” a disease.

Must we be so negative?

Would you say a member of the LGBT community, who is suing over discrimination, “suffers” from being gay?

Would I read that an African American person, fighting for the civil rights they deserve, is “confined” to being black?

I think not.

Jose, when you are ready to leave WWII era hurtful stereotypes in the past, I shall enjoy restoring my faith in you as a journalist

Examples:

Nov. 12, 2015, bylined by Jose Lambiet:

CBS 12 managers have made the life of a longtime employee confined to a motorized wheelchair miserable after they switched the popular video editor’s schedule then refused to accommodate his extreme handicap, according to a new lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County circuit court.

March 21, 2018, bylined by Jose Lambiet:

LAWSUIT: Bus Drivers Failing Wheelchair-Bound Riders!
… retired truck driver who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease..

Saturday, April 7, 2018

MONUMENT VALLEY -- 6

UTAH-ARIZONA


Monument Valley — three days, two nights cost: $400-$500

• 
Monument Valley Tribal Park (entry fee is $20 per car, up to four people); www.navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm

• The View Hotel (accessible room with roll-in shower from $150); 435/727-5555, monumentvalleyview.com


• Goulding’s Lodge (lunches from $12); 435/727-3231, www.gouldings.com/dining-room


• Goosenecks State Park (free admission); 435/678-2238, utah.com/goosenecks-state-park


• Valley of the Gods (free admission); utah.com/monument-valley/valley-of-the-gods

Friday, April 6, 2018

MONUMENT VALLEY -- 5

UTAH-ARIZONA


The Moki Dugway — just northwest of the Valley of the Gods — is a staggering, graded dirt switchback road carved into the face of the cliff edge of Cedar Mesa. 

It consists of three miles of steep, unpaved switchbacks that wind 1,200 feet from Cedar Mesa to the valley floor. 

This white knuckle route provides breathtaking views of some of Utah’s most beautiful sites. 

But nothing compares to Monument Valley. 

Poets, priests and great writers of prose have failed to coin words worthy of the spiritual feeling that overtakes every person who gazes upon its majesty.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

MONUMENT VALLEY -- 4

UTAH-ARIZONA


Nearby attractions include Goosenecks State Park, a half-hour drive from Monument Valley.

It features a paved road that ends at a scenic overlook with amazing views about 1,000 feet above the winding San Juan River and switchback formations the river carved out of the rocky area. 

Another half hour from Goosenecks is the Valley of the Gods.

A 17-mile dirt and gravel road, passable in a family car when the weather is dry, winds through the valley.

The sandy, bumpy, often steep drive is usually deserted — and that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

MONUMENT VALLEY -- 3

UTAH-ARIZONA


The View, the only hotel on Navajo land, features an accessible room with a patio that opens up to the majestic valley. 

The room, with a roll-in shower and private balcony, starts at $150 per night. There is an on-site restaurant and trading post for supplies.

Local dining options are limited to the restaurant at the View, or the dining room at the famous Goulding’s Lodge just outside the Tribal Park.

Goulding’s barrier-free trading post and grounds are a perfect backdrop for feasting on a menu of Navajo frybread with a side of beef stew, spicy pork green chile or chili con carne.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MONUMENT VALLEY -- 2

UTAH/ARIZONA


Monument Valley is a 30,000-acre Navajo tribal park established in 1958 located on the border of Arizona and Utah within the 16 million-acre Navajo Reservation.

The barrier-free visitor center has clean restrooms, an air-conditioned gift shop and excellent observation areas for breathtaking views of the iconic Mittens and Merrick Butte. 

The visitor center building has a small elevator that takes wheelers up to the second story observation deck.

A 17-mile loop road winds along the valley floor among the rock sentinels that tower 400 to 1,000 feet above. 

The road is raw and unpaved, but that’s a good thing because it slows traffic to a nice leisurely pace.

Monday, April 2, 2018

MONUMENT VALLEY -- 1

UTAH/ARIZONA


Desert solitude and silver screen-worthy rock formations — that’s what drew legendary Western movie director John Ford to Monument Valley. 

The heavenly scenery and fresh air will draw you to the corner of southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona.

It is especially engaging in late October, when the mercury rarely exceeds 70 degrees — even in this arid desert climate.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

MY WIFE WOULD LIKE TO RIDE HER WHEELCHAIR INTO HEAVEN

OBSERVATIONS ON THE DISABLED AFTERLIFE 




What's wrong with this picture?

A whole F—king lot, that’s what.

You see, my wife has used a wheelchair for mobility for 40+ years.

It’s a liberation device, not some prison-like ball and chain.

Able bodied people don’t get that.

This illustration, of Stephen Hawking walking into heaven. It’s pure BS.

So you say, “maybe the cartoonist was well-meaning, he/she only wanted to show Hawking free of pain and confinement.”

I say, if that’s what you think, your opinion toward people with disabilities is as bigoted and dark ages stupid as thinking a black person would like the be referred to as “a credit to his race” or a Jewish person would feel all warm and fuzzy if they overheard you saying “they are so good with money, they can make a dollar bill scream.”

I hope, even in the backsliding Neanderthal world of POTUS 45, you all cringed at the two examples above and saw them for what they are – intolerable, inappropriate stereotypes…and worse.

Well, when a person with a disability sees that image of Hawking, they see the not so subtle meaning.  Only when you are dead and ridden of your disability, are you a truly whole, complete and heaven-worthy person.

That is disgusting, wretched, wrong-headed.

Still disagree?  Okay, this for every person of color.

Say you are African American. Would you feel all gratified if a cartoon depicted you shedding all your black skin into a pile…because you truly could only be pure enough to enter the vast, joyful afterlife with white skin?

If you are Jewish. Would you rush to forward a cartoon to all your friends – that shows you casting off a star of David and setting fire to the Torah…face beaming with joy as you glance at the Christian cross. Because you must shed your faith to be worthy of the only true heaven?

If you are part of the LGBT community. How happy would you be to see an editorial cartoon of a gay person renouncing who they are…and gleefully running into a wedding scene of one man and one woman – joining a “holy” union so they can finally defeat the evil, ghastly, dirty, filthy horror that it was to be gay or  transgender? Would you not be gravely offended by folks believing the only way you could walk up those sacred steps to the promised land was if you renounced your LGBT ways?

If I haven’t showed you the soul-crushing hatred that ableism visits on people with disabilities each minute of each day, them I give up.

You are beyond hope.


For those of you that now get it. Please go forth in a world made better by diversity and know my wife is part of the rich tapestry of life…wheelchair used for mobility and all.