On the Street

Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)

The first one came from Steve in San Luis Obispo, California.  Perhaps Steve will be the West Coast correspondent?  (Though in truth, there can easily be more than one for a state that large and convoluted.)


Steve writes,


hey - cool about the bike blog.

as far as west coast bike correspondent, SLO is a fairly bike-friendly town, so i may actually have some angles for you.

As of November of last year, I have been riding a new Trek commuter bike as part of the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Commission's Bike Forward program.

In order to get people to bike instead of drive, the commission subsidizes 20 or 30 commuter bikes every year (or every other year). So I'm taking part in that program. I ride to work almost every day - about 5 miles round trip.

And Bike Month is coming up in May and we'll be having a whole slew of events in SLO to celebrate. Here is a crappy little thing I did about one of the events last year:

I've attached a preview of a piece I'm working on for the show.

Oh and here is our Christmas parade."


The letters continued to roll in.

Longtime reader Michael from Austin writes,

"INSTANTLY better without the cat.  And somehow, they become profound comments on the human condition."

He is referring to this fascinating "remix" of the Garfield comic strip called Garfield without Garfield.  It leaves John the owner alone talking to himself. It just might be profound in moments, schizophrenic in others.


The last letter was actually delivered in person - an unprecedented 'tearing down of the walls' between writer and reader.  And by letter it was actually a mention of a Youtube video documenting the Halloween Bike Gang Summit II: Electric BOOgaloo

Watch, enjoy, invent drinking games...

La Paz Calling (Or, OTS Bolivian Correspondents Reporting In)

To recall, On the Street scored the services of the charming and talented duo of radio journalist Rux Guidi and (San Antonio's own) documentary photographer Bear Guerra.   They live in La Paz and have been documenting the complex culture of coca farming in Bolivia.  

Here is their blog through the prestigious Pulitzer Center in which they post updates of their work.  

The topic may seem esoteric but in fact is symbolic of other, larger global issues, many of which will be explored installment by installment.

Here is the first conversation via skype telephone.  In typical On the Street format it is somehow both casual and nuanced.  

Widow's Watch

In walking around the glorious Woodlawn Lake I noticed these women waiting for a ship to come in.  In New Orleans in the 9th Ward and other places along the tortuous bends on the river, occasionally rooms were built on the top floor of a house that looked out onto the Mississippi so that home alone women could watch and wait for their sailor to come back home.  Usually, this moment never came...

From this angle one can see the 'levy' holding the water up to its current height.  This looks more like a skate park or a location for a Larry Clark photo shoot, however the grafitti in the top left probably would have been restored if that was the case.

Looking west on the historic West End.  At one point a safe distance from the dangers of the city, and yet still within a 15 minute trolley ride from the lures of downtown.  And now, almost 100 years later, the drive is about the same amount of time, not including the time it takes to park and then walk, which could probably add about 10 minutes, but other than that, we've made huge progress.

A View From A Room (Aka a Reflection on HNP {aka Herniated Nucleus Pulpusos})

Outside - bicycles, rainbows, and unicorns.  Inside, I rested from an unexpected battle with lower back pain.  If after this point anyone is offended, don't blame me, blame my lower back.  

UPDATE: This is the last picture taken from the famed Lumix LX2.  For the following weeks expect a return to traditional, lame square aspect ratios.  And what a fitting foto to go out on - melancholy with a hint of what once was and what might be once again.  

Semi-Pro (Fully Another Case of What Could Have Been)

At one point in the film, Will Ferrel is building up his comic momentum and lashing out at another character.  He starts swinging his arms around.  It's sort of funny, but I knew for sure I had seen it in another one of his films.  I tried to remember what film it came from - was it Ricky Bobby?  Or was it from Old School?  I tried to remember his other films but they all blurred into one meta-skit.  The differences were eliminated.  The shark had been jumped.  The act is now over.

I'd like to think that I'm jumping the gun, but a preview before this film with Will Ferrell and John Reilly acting like middle aged idiot men children only later convinced me even more that Ferrell has gone on auto-pilot and may not be coming back.  He already did his Jim Carrey "Sunshine/Spotless Mind" moment last year with that film that no one remembers.  And what is the career path of other man child comics?  Jim Carrey has fallen off the face of the earth quickly and convincingly.  Robin Williams has found a niche but I'm not sure if Ferrell is willing or able to similarly pursue the sad clown route for longevity.

Perhaps I wouldn't be in such an ill mood towards Will Ferrell at the moment if he hadn't just ruined the chance for a real film about the ABA.  The ABA was the 70s, at least in terms of basketball.  It was a fly by night pro basketball league that tried desperately to get swallowed in by the NBA.  In that sense the ABA was something between the USFL and the brief nation of Texas.  The both tried to be independent but knew that failure would be inevitable if they were left on their own.  (Luckily, after 10 years of losing battles to Mexico and Comaches, Texas was brought in to the Union.)

Now that Semi-Pro has been made and failed, the chance for a film that actually explores the bizarre magic of the ABA is very small.  A book about the ABA called Loose Balls is a fascinating read.  San Antonio figures prominently in the history of the league.  San Antonio has its own moment in Semi-Pro as well but the actual history and weirdo charm of the league is put in the background for Will Ferrell to perform his charms.  Woody Harrelson and Andre3000 actually put in semi-legit performances.  It's as if they didn't know the film was a total farce.

Ferrell came across as comic relief from a larger film.  The problem is that his comic relief was the film.  Unfortunatley, there was no relief from the comic relief.  Again, this may all be my lower back talking but I think I'm right about this one.  Ferrell plays an untalented ball hog on a bad team. There's an analogy in there for how it compares to the film as a whole but I'll leave that for others to extrapolate.

The Death of the Dungeon Master

A few days ago Gary Gygax, the father of Dungeons and Dragons passed away.  It's not for me to dive into his larger legacy, though I do remember an obscure dice throwing/role playing game called Boot Hill or something like that.  A close relative was into these games hardcore.  Observe this foto of a lightswitch.  Oh wait, my camera doesn't work.  My back pain gets even worse, sub-heading by sub-heading...

In the next week or so expect an interview with On the Street insider Menudo Terremoto Williams as he breaks down the fantastic nexus between Dungeons and Dragons and the Spurs Tim Duncan.  Menudo is the foremost online authority on this topic.  Stay tuned.

Super Tuesday II/Republicans As Swing Voters for Hillary, aka the Right Wing's Last Revenge

All these topics and more are covered in another conversation with On the Street Mountain Time Zone Correspondent Congressman Al.

Listen, listen again, and again...

The On the Street Starbucks Sprawl/Gentrification Factor©™ (Or, An Open Letter to Saytown Lowdown and Other Urban Geographers)

Tired of giving the milk away for free, I've decided to trademark, copyright, whatever a unique tool for analyzing urban development and urban geography.

The Sprawl index does exactly like this...

Greater Metro Population minus City Poplulation divided by # of  Starbucks Equals Sprawl Factor.

While marinating on that, consider this seemingly similar but vastly different index...

City Population divided by # of Starbucks equals Gentrification factor.

Let's plug in some local numbers.  (Keep in mind a huge problem exists because of outdated data since the 2000 census.  Though the municipal population has been a given a more recent estimation, no similar numbers exist for the Metro Area population.  Hence, as scientists, we (I) will stick with the 2000 numbers.  If my research shames the census into updating their census more quickly then so be it.)

The cold, hard facts:

1. San Antonio Metro Area Population = 1,592,383

2. San Antonio Municipal Population = 1,144,646  

3. Number of Local Starbucks = 55 (within a 20 radius)

Sprawl Factor = 1,592,383 - 1,144,646 divided by 55 = 8140 (plus change)

Gentrification Factor = 1,144,646 divided by 55 = 20,811.745

The beauty of this is that Starbucks spends millions (I'm guessing) on figuring out where to open a store, as well as how many stores overall to open in a given area. They've done all the research for us.  I'm just adding a simple (though copyrighed and trademarked formula) to more easily use these numbers.

Clearly, there is gold in these numbers.  I need to run some errands so I'm not going to be able to fully crunk the numbers.  Also, if any urban geographers want to take me to task for my methodology, such as why I didn't separate municipal Starbucks from Sprawl™© Starbucks, then please feel free to do so at your own risk (of looking foolish.)

I See A Darkness

Back pain plus the loss of a camera somehow equals this video/song...

And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio.  As always, to be continued...
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