Monday, October 27, 2008


Aren't we all doing it for the kids/future generations? Whatever we're doing?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Metro Adventure

Last weekend, a few of us headed out on a Metro Adventure to Maplewood for lunch and MacKenzie for some thirft store shopping. Maplewood was a really cool place with a nice Main Street/shopping area. There were quite a few locally-owned restaurants, specialty shops, boutiques, and a bike store! The bike shop had bubble gum pink grip tape. There was also a cool spice shop that sold $70 saffron and a DJ store that had strobe lights and sound equipment.
We had lunch at this Cuban restaurant, Boogaloo. It was sosososo good. The picture below is of their bar. The seats are suspended from the ceiling and swing around a bit. When we're old enough to get drinks, we'll come here for sure.
We took the Metrolink to Shrewsbury:
And then, we took the bus to the thirftstore.

All in all, a good time. You should ride the Metro.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Prop M

Why Public Transit is A Social Justice Issue (and Why You, as a caring person, should care about proposition M)

I don't own a car. I guess, if I changed the way that I budget my money, I could be privileged enough to own an automobile. But some because of finances, and some because of personal responsibility, I choose not to own a car, and to avoid driving as much as possible. For me, this is a choice. But for so many others in our community, there is no choice. Public transit is their link to the rest of the community. This isn't just the disabled and the poor. What about the elderly? Youth? Others who have made a choice to live a life without personal transit?

Public transit is not just about being able to get to the baseball game or to the Landing for a night out. It's about getting people to jobs when there aren't any near home, and to the doctor when there isn't an adequate clinic nearby. It's about going to work in a way that doesn't damage the environment. It's about interacting with your neighbors!

We need public transit. Even if you don't ride it, we still need it. Proposal M will raise $80 million annually for Metro, which will prevent service reductions, fare increases and employment cuts and allow for expansions of MetroLink and potentially the development of Rapid Bus Transit for the St. Louis region. Metro provides an invaluable service to our community, and we must support it. A YES vote for Prop M is a YES vote for St. Louis.

-Miz Metrolink

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hope or Hype

The leaves in St. Louis are just starting to turn. It's almost as if they know it; the chilly winds of change are blowing. The sort of symbolism I see in these leaves makes me hopeful, but they foreshadow the unknown, something new and different. And I think we all know this. Or at least, we hope that a few speckled and crunchy leaves actually signal the coming of autumn and not some fluke coldspell followed by another six weeks of summer.

Saturday morning marked the third time I had seen Barack Obama speak and although his speech was pretty standard, this appearance was of such monumental proportions that it meant so much more than usual. The settings for the speech were epic in both magnitude and proportion; excitement and anticipation ran high, you could feel it in the air. I had never really seen so many hopeful and positive faces on a chilly saturday morning. These faces were framed by the stout towers of downtown St. Louis on one side and the Arch and Mississippi River on the other. And in many ways, this speech was the sort of speech I have always been dying to see: a major figure, speaking within a monumental architectural setting, to a vast crowd of adoring fans. It's the stuff of movies and history, the sort of stuff you only hear about, but never witness. But saturday, I witnessed this vast specticle of a political event and was left quite impressed by the sheer humanity of it all. On that beautiful St. Louis day, 100,000 people came out to listen to a person share their vision for the future. And they did so hoping and praying that his vision would indeed come true, with the awareness that his ability to fulfill that vision was in their hands.

But I feel a certain sense of anxiety over the whole situation. What if we lose? What if the message we're all fighting for simply isn't enough to enough people?

But then again, what if it is?



Saturday, October 11, 2008

Old peeps

I started reading this book Heat Wave about the heat wave that happened in Chicago summer of 1995. It talks about how certain groups of people were more prone to dying in a heat wave because of lack of social attachments and other factors that can't really be expressed in numbers all that well.
One of the first factors the book discusses is the increase in single (divorced, widowed, never married, etc.) elderly individuals that live by themselves in cities. It's a developed country trend in recent years; I saw a television program about how a ungodly percentage of Japanese households will become single persons older than 70 within a few years, not to mention Italy's crisis over its upside down age pyramid. The book talks about how a lot of elderly folks don't have children or resources that can take care of them daily, have health issues already that prevent them from traveling outside the home, and fears the urban environment due to crime presented in mass media that might be the only source of information about the outside.
The book goes on to talk about cultural communities that managed to keep each other alive, among other things, but I haven't read those parts yet. The descriptions in the book is sorta terrifying, because it makes me feel like there are a whole bunch of people living by themselves that don't talk face-to-face with a person for weeks at a time, can't grocery shop on their own, and feels content in that type of situation. I'm not going to pretend I understand everyone's feelings or rationale for doing what they do (because I don't), but it feels like modern isolation in its most extreme.
My friend Natty does this program at WashU called S.A.G.E. where they visit senior citizens around the city once a week (I think the program changed a bit this year, so they're doing more tasks for individual old people, not so much fun activities for a group). I think the elderly peeps really enjoy the visits; if you've ever visited your grandma or grandpa, I think you would understand.
Two of my favorite people in the world are my grandma, who makes me yummies and cat pouches, and my grandpa, who can talk with me about architecture and politics and sumo (he's 80 this year). It's ridiculous how much wisdom and knowledge and sheer experience old people have. It's not just the scariness of lonely seniors, but the loss to the rest of society where older people lose touch with their community and young people can't benefit from their wisdom. I'm not sure how, but family ties and programs like S.A.G.E. that connects young with old seem like a very good idea in terms of fostering healthy community life and passing on priceless experience.

hug your grandma
(also Antonio is an old person, according to the cartoon above from here)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We're not good Christian people

We three were walking down the street yesterday morning, and this small lady just comes up to us and asks for a group hug. It was really sudden, so Antonio and I just went for it, and DJ patted her on the back. Then she offered to sell us a freaky movie on a DVD. She just needed money for food.
It's difficult a lot of times how people begging need to be creative to get people to give them money. I tend to just give money away because 1) I don't need the money I have in my wallet at that moment and 2) if you have the guts to go up to a stranger and ask for money (AND offer a freaky movie in return), then you're pretty bomb in my book. Those are probably terrible reasons for me giving money to people, but it's also hard for me to understand how my voting or working for certain organizations can help the same people in a direct way. It seems like bureaucracy gets in the way of resources that people need from getting to them. There are certain places and organizations (Centenary that FeedSTL works with, What's Up magazine, St. Patrick Center/McMurphy's Grill) that affect homeless or needy people in a direct and constructive way, but waiting for policy change is so frustrating and seems indirect.
It might be that I'm impatient (even if I'm officially the patient one) and rather hand someone money than not, saying handing out things doesn't help the poor, and policy changes will be able to deal with the poverty problem in a better and more efficient way.
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