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May 12, 2016


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Wish you could have been in Phoenix last night; “the Resistance” showed up in large numbers (around 50 or so folks on a weeknight!) for the #JanesWalk honoring Jane Jacob’s legacy in the Roosevelt Row neighborhood. We traipsed all around the district and pointed out the changes being made, from bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and shade trees being installed to the mixed-use residential projects restoring density to downtown Phoenix. It was really encouraging to see the progress being made downtown, esp. with adaptive reuse projects of older buildings, but obviously there’s still a long way to go—we walked past the abandoned dirt lots on 5th & McKinley and mourned the loss of what might have been a historic district before the houses were razed. Still, the folks leading the Janes Walk tour encouraged people to photograph and document the older, historic buildings that give a place character with the hashtag #ThisPlaceMattersPHX for Historic Preservation Month. I even rode the light rail (WBIYB) back home to Tempe.


Like so many books, I used to have “Life and Death…” and now apparently, I don’t. So I’m going to have to do this from what I remember. My memory of Jacobs and parks was that she took a very “squinty eyed” view of parks. Mostly they are dead spaces. A park, to be an asset, must have traffic – and lots of it. (My observation – albeit a limited one - is that most city parks are worse than dead spaces. They are anti-civic. They are nice place to hang out if you’re a bum or drug dealer or crazy; mostly they are just places to avoid).

With regard to the Deck Park: at present the situation is almost hopeless. The best you can hope for is that in ten or twenty years from now the neighborhoods will develop around it and make it a real asset.

With regard to “The Resistance”: I see very little difference between them and the “Robert Moses Crowd”; just a power block with a different “vision”. I don’t mean to imply that they are evil. I don’t think the “Urban Renewal Crowd” thought that they were being evil either.

Your observations are indeed limited WKG.

i know. It's a real limitation.

Trevor, "THE GOOD NEWS", nice post. Nice effort. Keep up the good work but maybe U need to consider ramping up your concerns for history and preservation a little more.
A I belive the $$$$ developers are stringing you all along on Roosevelt and the rest of the Desert. From trying to build more homes for old white folks in places like Herford and Benson, AZ and drain the San Pedro to throwing up poorly ugly constructed edifices in "Downtown " Phoenix and to charge ridiculous prices to occupy such sterile space. Hopefully young folks like U can make a difference. So keep stuggling. Later I gotta go pet my cactus.

Wkg, we need parks, as transients, Vietnam vetetans, the mentally ill and other such folks that seem to offend you need places to hang. Reminds me of the day people known here wanted to arrest panhandle as they were scary people and bad for our image.
Phoenix has South Mountain Park one of the largest city parks.The only draw back is it is overused by our huge population and severely underfunded. Fortunately Arizona has may great parks. Again purposely underfunded as the developers and their greedy friends try and remove them from National and State status to private enterprise. I always look forward to your posts but would suggest to assist your kowledge base you come in August so we can go camping in Organ Pipe and go to some Desert spots in California to look at Jousha trees. Then we can pop into the California Hotel in Todas Santos Mexico and hang out with some Cartel macho dudes and a few American fugitives. And get a Corona and a Green Chili Cheese Burger at Shut Up Franks. And maybe a visit to Maria's Cantina. Hasta Luego.

Speaking of the Dead, some are still breathing. Read Democrats to Clever by a Half. By Robert Parry.

@Cal: sounds like a cool agenda. But August and desert are two words that don't belong together. The real issue is getting there; it requires one or two things that I loath. Getting on a plane or driving across Texas. Can't make myself do either.

It turns out that I do have J.J.'s "Death and Life...". I gave the first half of chapter five a quick read. It's preety much as I remembered. Now it's important to remember she's talking about city/urban parks. She calls most of them failures. More because the neighborhood that abuts than the parks themselfs. A good park is like a good sidewalk.

I liked "Death and Life ever since I read it 40 years ago. I think here book "Cities and the Wealth of Nations" is even better; even if it is ultimately depressing.

Well Jack Kerouk U aint. The greatest music in my world is the sound of rubber on the road. "I'M ON THE ROAD AGAIN." Texas has some great parks, also. Maybe your idea of a park is something less than 4 acres.
Sounds like you have been reading "A Good Day to Die". Might I suggest U stay home in the depressing drearyness of your climate and curl up with "A Sand County Almanac ". by Aldo Leopold

@Cal re “Well Jack Kerouk U aint.”: You’ve certainly got that right. I consider more than 15 minutes in a car to be a long ride. The only modes of transportation that I enjoy are those that you can smoke, drink, eat and fuck on. About the only mode that qualifies these days is an ocean liner…(or the “Cal Express”).

Re: “Maybe your idea of a park is something less than 4 acres.” Nope. But the topic was city/urban parks – the Deck Park in particular. The only compelling reason (other than people) to visit Phoenix I can think of is to visit the Botanical Garden.

Texas may have some great parks – but from what I have seen Texas is one flat, treeless, featureless brown expanse of nothing.

The Music Museum if a must-see also, wkg.

Botanical Gardens is very well done. I'm a member and go there regularly to promote for more Sahuaros. The Music Museum is very well designed. On occasion I assist in delivering fresh organic produce to thier kitchen. Phoenix City South Mountain Park is hundereds of acres. Other city parks are also very large. Obviously U have done little on the ground exploring. Texas is a beautiful place. Your stated compulsive sexual oral substance abuse routine seems boring and lacking. I would find it tiring.

whg, it's interesting that someone from a place as misunderstood and underestimated as Birmingham, Alabama, would make such blanket dismissals.

Both Texas (really several states and many kinds of topographies) and Phoenix offer much to visitors. Time does not allow me to make a list.

But I guess we should be glad you visit this blog considering your lack of interest in its primary theme.

Traffic stays strong but plenty of commenters have gone away. Or maybe I'm not being compelling enough in the subject matter.

I ordered Dark Ages Ahead-hope it doesn't depress me too much as I am very comfortable in my old age in Tempe.Look forward to discussing it with bloggers.Any suggestions for book groups to discuss these type of topics in East Valley?

Start one at Changing Hands Bookstores.

Commenters have gone away.

Fitting for a Phoenix focused blog, a city that churns population like few others. Front Page articles a daily good read. Subject matter well presented and clarifying comments not needed.

@RC: Yes you are correct. Texas is a big state with a lot of different geographies. East Texas is flat, green, has lots of trees and is featureless. I’ve heard the Big Bend is very scenic.

When it comes to scenic wonders, Arizona has that is spades. I guess everyone has the Grand Canyon on their bucket list. There was a magazine in my youth called “Arizona Highways”. I would just drool in wonder. To compound that, when my aunt and cousin from Tucson visited us (my cousin was an absolute Goddess – tall, built, blue-eyed – the works. Uncle Hayes, her father, didn’t come. But he was a commercial pilot) I was convinced that Arizona was paradise and inhabited by gods.

My mom and dad, upon his retirement, drove from Cocoa Beach, Fla. to La Jolla (near San Diego) to visit my mom’s best girlhood friend. I asked dad about the trip, he said “if we go again we’re flying to El Paso and driving from there. I can’t bear to drive across Texas again.” But I’d put the trans-Florida (my home state) Pensacola-Jacksonville-Miami trek on equal footing; 700 miles of flat, green, featureless nothing. If you simply must go to Florida - fly. Better yet: figure out a reason that you don’t really have to go.

Reflecting on all this, I put in a series of calls last night to old friends/family from Florida. My question: with regard to Florida, have things over the last twenty years gotten better, worse or stayed the same. They all said “it has mostly been down hill”. Jacksonville probably improved. Otherwise mostly for the worse – much worse. As an aside, the parallels between Orlando and Phoenix are striking. If you want to experience concentrated awfulness, you can hardly beat Orlando.

Back to Texas: 27 million people think it is nifty. It attracts people from all over the country – particularly from Cali and Az. Another 20 million think Florida is good. Aside from the people in jail, the rest live there on purpose.

I don’t want to be dismissive of Phoenix. Almost five million people live there on purpose. I’m sure there a lot of amusing things to occupy ones time; no doubt some primo Mexican food. (Sorry Cal – but the availability of food that tastes great weighs heavily on my mind – which is why I will suffer the travel discomfort to spend time in New Orleans.)

Let me be dismissive of B’ham. It is misunderstood; and to be honest I hope it stays that way. I can’t only think of a couple of reasons to visit – a good botanical garden and urban revitalization being two. But it’s not worth the effort. It is a city that has definitely gotten better in the last twenty years.

Back to the main topic and apologies for the digressions. I’d forgotten just how good “Death and Life…” is. I reread chapter five and I think I’m sucked into reading the whole thing again – for about the fourth time. I great think about JJ is that she takes off the rose-colored glasses and looks at things as the are – not how we hope they should be.

A question to all. I know very little about Phoenix. Just about everything I do know is via this site. Has the Deck Park been the success that you hoped that it would be. I keep getting the feeling that it hasn’t.

Jon, Im just getting around to reading your posted here's on Jane, good stuff. Plus I Wikipedia her.

WKG, I been to New Orleans, stayed in the slave quarters. Enjoyed all the food except those french buns in the AM. Best hamburger I ever ate was in a bar in New Orleans. Almost as good is the green Chili cheeseburger at Shut UP Franks in Mexico. Florida, almost wen to jail in Key West trying to out drink some guys from Germany. Great Cuban food even at the Miami Airport.
So load up your car with a cot, a sleeping bag and a beer cooler and put on some Sixto Rodriquez, Sugar Man music in the DVD and head out. We will keep an eye out for you, she said!

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