AQUARIUS: Most likely. PISCES: Most likely. ARIES: Outlook good. TAURUS: Outlook good. GEMINI: As I see it, yes. CANCER: As I see it, yes. LEO: As I see it, yes. VIRGO: As I see it, yes. LIBRA: Outlook good. SCORPIO: Outlook good. SAGITTARIUS: Outlook good. CAPRICORN: Outlook good.
This is a follow-up to "Hampden Slated For Parking Problems", a piece I posted a few weeks ago as preface to a community meeting where some residents were suggesting Residential Permit Parking restrictions for a significant portion of Hampden that would allow those without permits to park there only for 1 hour a day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In mid-June, nearly 200 concerned residents who are slowly starting to realize what an exclusionary, expensive parking scheme, as launched by a handful of other residents who mistakenly believe this will reserve parking spots in front of their homes for them (spots they mistakenly look at as "theirs) will mean for them all met in Keswick Adult Care to find out just what the hell is going on and why.
At this meeting, Councilperson Mary Pat Clarke, the driver behind this initiative, presented the restricted parking plan (roughly a 2 block radius around the Rotunda and Hopkins that resticts access to public city streets to 1 hour only, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless you are a resident who is eligible (and can afford) to purchase a city parking permit) as a "done deal" (like so many controversial initiatives are introduced - and, as usual, it's not. Proponents are simply trying to dampen opposition).
Residents who were just hearing about this for the first time were outraged that they were just hearing about this for the first time. Residents who had been quietly working on this scheme for months were outraged that their neighbors had finally found out about it and weren't happy.
"We've been working on this for months! Who are all these people and why are they here now all of a sudden," one organizer conspiratorially bemoaned.
It was a tense community meeting - with a not insignificant number of residents asking, "Well, what if we don't want this at all" or "Why do we have to do this" only to have their questions ignored by Clarke or shouted down by their neighbors.
The term "generator" was used to describe the supposed causes of the neighborhood's parking density. It was used to refer to the Rotunda (an incomplete project that won't come online until late 2015 at the earliest), it was used to refer to Johns Hopkins University (whose purchase of the empty Zurich building and garage has brought life back to that abandoned block), and it was used to refer to the 36th St. business district, The Avenue.
The one area, and the most siginifcant one, where the term "generator" was not used, was to refer to the residents themselves. Where low density homeownership over the years has become more dense as more people have found Hampden a more attractive place to live, this means that houses that traditionally had 1-2 cars now have 4-6 vehicles (it should be noted that these vehicles will be protected under the RPP plan).
When hysterical residents imagining a doom-like scenario as a result of Hekemian's Rotunda redevolopment demanded that we act now and install the RPP immediately, more rational residents who asked, "Well, why don't we just wait to see what happens years from now when that place actually opens" were not countered with a rational argument. They were shouted down with a "NO WAY!", as if their suggestion was somehow ridiculously naive.
The residents behind the RPP are also intent on overstepping their bounds and seeking to install RPP on blocks that, by law, are supposed to be free parking. Residential Parking Restrictions are only applicable along blocks that are residential. This is why you'll sometimes see RPP signs on one side of a block, and nothing on the other where that block rings a private non-residential, commercial or institutional building. Unfortunately here, residents aren't just happy with restricting access to their own blocks, they are seeking to expand RPP along other commercial blocks which they have no discernable claim to whatsoever. Clarke said that Hekemeian has already conceded them the commercial property along the Rotunda, and now the residents are taking aim at the several blocks of what would be free parking along Johns Hopkins' buildings too.
One point I've made about this sort of Residential Permit Parking is that it doesn't actually solve parking problems - it just creates more parking problems (for other members of your community) by pushing more cars onto fewer blocks and the result is often those blocks then seeking RPP. RPP spreads like syphilis in a community. And in fact, as if to underline this point, early in the meeting, a resident from the south side of 36th St., below where this RPP is being proposed, raised his hand and asked, "How do we get these parking restrictions on our block?"
During the meeting, the tradional petition process of getting RPP was discussed - as in why is Mary Pat Clarke drafting special legislation for RPP when there already is a process by which neighbors can get the restrictions (assuming they meet certain minimum thresholds)?
Clarke had no clear explanation to this - but they are now, retroactively, I guess, going through the petition process. In the context of the meeting, it should be noted, that this process was intentionally obfuscated. Clarke announced that neighbors will be coming around to get you to sign on whether you want 1 hour restrictions or 2 hour restrictions. It wasn't clearly pointed out that neighbors don't have to sign the petition at all and that, legally speaking, if blocks can't meet a 60% threshhold, they don't fulfill the city's minimum requirements for RPP (which, I suppose is where Clarke comes in with her legislation). The whole thing seems very sketchy and may be open to future legal action. It's even more troubling that while Clarke is spearheading this initiative, she could not tell us how many parking spaces this is effecting.
This is a parking meeting, so there were a lot of irrational attitudes on display. For example, one resident, shaking mad, unironically yelled, "I did not pay several hundred thousand dollars for my house on 37th just to not be able to park in front of it because of the businesses on 36th St." This reminded me of the residents who move to Fells Point and then complain about the bars. That he paid several hundred thousand dollars for his house was the tip-off in the flaw of his complaint - he moved here after the 36th St. business district took off - if not, he would have paid the $60-$80,000 rate houses were going for in the late '90s.
I shouted back, "And why is your house worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? You're welcome!"
There was a lot of Old Hampden Xenophobia Syndrome (OHXS) on display. In fact, a woman I used to live next to, and thought of as friendly, said something to the effect of, "I've been in Hampden all my life. But now all these new poeple are moving in, invading my neighborhood, and changing everything and taking away all the green space. This isn't what I want," (I'm not sure what she meant about taking away the green space). I wanted to ask her, so those two years I was living next to you and we were neighborly, did you really just think I was some kind of asshole the whole time?
Hampden has worked very hard for years to overcome its troubling and embarrassing history and reputation as an exclusionary community where old school residents are hostile to and unwelcome to new people coming in. Unfortunately, these newly proposed parking restrictions move the neighborhood dramatically backwards in that regard. And that attitude was on display at the meeting.
There were typical gentrification complaints, "There ain't nuthin' for me on that Avenue anymore." It's just sad that people still feel that way. At this point, it speaks more about them than it does levy any sort of legitimate criticism of gentrification. But this attitude was squashed (hopefully once and for all), when Hampden resident and business owner Debbie Falkenhan got up to speak.
Deb said, "I think y'all know me, I'm Debbie Falkenhan, I live on Roland, I own Falkenhan's hardware, and I've lived here all my life, and I don't want these parking restrictions. Now I understand some of you feel like there isn't much on the Avenue for you..."
At that point, there was a smattering of applause from Old Hampden, thinking they knew where Deb was going with this.
"I just want to say to you all, get over it. There is more to do on 36th St. than I can recall. I remember what the Avenue looked like in the '80s, and it was a real shithole. None of us want to see that come back, so you need to get over it."
The place erupted in applause save for a few scowls from the scolded.
Then Clarke took a very biased straw poll about who wanted what kind of restrictions and here are the results: Most want 2 hour restricted parking. Then 2 hour restricted parking. Then, after someone called out how about NO restricted parking, that got the third most amount of votes. And then last was the currently proposed 1 hour restricted parking.
I can only wonder what the results would be if Mary Pat had started with No Parking Restrictions and worked her way down. I suspect free parking would have ranked much higher - regardless - it ranked higher than what residents are currently proposing.
The meeting ended with Clarke selecting block captains responsible for gathering petitions even though she was drafting custom legislation for this? I'm still hazy on that. But step #1 is very simple, if you don't want the RPP - don't sign the petition.
But there are a few small points of irony that should be pointed out as we move forward.
Johns Hopkins University, when they first took over the Zurich building and its adjacent parking garage, offered residents the ability to rent spaces in that garage and from what I understand, not a single resident took advantage of it.
Some of the people most vocal and active in trying to get this residential permit parking scheme adopted have parking pads and/or garages that they aren't using for parking.
And finally, when I was a part of Parking Task Force 1.0 - we tried to bring reverse angle parking all the way up Roland Ave. This is something the new Parking Task Force has just revisited and were told the residents won't allow it. This would have meant a dramatic increase in the number of parking spots in an area where they are now looking to expand Residential Permit Parking because of perceived parking density. In other words, they could have had nearly 100 spaces (by Parking Authority's count) nearly 10 years ago but didn't want them. But now, they want to restrict the public's access to these streets to 1 hour a day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Clearly, when we talk parking, we are not having a rational conversation.
Email Councilman Nick Mosby and tell him how you feel if he is your representative because these restrictions will be felt by homeowners and businessowners in that district as well.
Keep aware of any parking-related community meetings. Join the Hampden Community Council if you are a resident, or the Hampden Village Merchants Association if you are a business, and make your feelings known to them.
Talk to your neighbors about what's going on too.
And finally, don't sign any petitions you don't agree with.
Comments: Nolen Strals: Devo. Kiss is utter bullshit. Kiss vs Devo is basically "dumb vs smart"
John Houser III: Devo is what people think others want to hear but deep down we all know its Kiss.
Tex Ramone: KISS would win, only because their legal team would issue a cease and desist letter to Devo before the battle even started. KISS would then find a way to somehow merchandise Devo as a KISS product and sell it back to their fans.
Tex Ramone: Bad news: KISS just took this whole comment thread and printed it on a ringer t-shirt. It's now available on their online shop for $24.95
Edward Fox: Devo is the academic answer. Kiss is the emotional answer.
J.t. Dockery: Pointing out that KISS is commercial is kind of like pointing out a porn star's tits are fake: obvious. I think Gene once said "I sell out every night I walk on stage." Gene is gene, indeed. But for everybody that wants to make whiny snob noises when KISS gets brought up, I firmly believe if KISS called it quits after the third album and never made ALIVE, music snobs would speak of them as a seminal influence on the early NYC punk scene. But again, I can't address this question with an either/or reality principle. I say to you, truly, that KISS seems like something DEVO would dream up if KISS didn't exist already.
Boson KaChun AuPerkins: Devo of course. They did the soundtrack to the neuromancer videogame Stacey Wachter: Devi. .. Devo. Stupid auto correct. Rahne Alexander: I think it was BAM magazine in California that had a years-long letters column war over who was more influential, KISS or Bob Dylan. In that battle, as in this, I will go with Devo.
Joel McLemore: I was too young to really remember KISS at their peak, I mainly knew of them through LICK IT UP and afterward. By then they seemed pretty tired compared to the other bands, and I was really into metal back then. Anyway, so yeah, Devo.
John Frizzera: Devo never sang Cold Gin, so I gotta go with Kiss, after all I did serve in the KISS Army John Venable: Really, has there ever been a band more cynical than KISS? It's a big part of what I admire about them.
Chris Holland: Hmmm no talent gimmick band that are masters of marketing, or a one hit wonder weirdo band? Guess the KISS marketing machine wins this one
Dan Taylor: Tough call but my Mom never banned DEVO so I have to go with KISS. Especially on The Demon's birthday.
Josh Seip: Devi ... DevO
Johnny Riggs: Kiss lyrics are the single worst lyrics on the planet. Devo were a million times smarter. And despite the fact that the first Devo LP is genius, I've probably listened to the first three KISS albums more.
Brian Mitchell: Who can name the members of DEVO. Mark Mothersbaugh and who else? I think most people of that generation can name the original members of Kiss. I vote Kiss
Scott Huffines: Unlike most of the Facebook one-worders, I've actually thought about this all day. I've crossed paths with Gerry Casale three times in my life. Imagine if Kiss had failed. Gerry would be that version of Gene Simmons. His cynicism has lots to do with never "making it" other than a few coked-out years in the '80s.
Michael Marshall: DEVO made much better albums. KISS made much better album covers.
Edit Barry: Had KISS ever asked, "Are we not men?," they would've won this one
Marla Kanefsky: No comparison. "I wanna rock all night" to DEVO!!!!
S Dwayne Bruner: DEVO only because DEVO doing KISS covers would rule more than KISS doing DEVO covers.
I like big, complicated games. I’ve started to get more into tablet gaming as it’s started to suck less, but even there I tend to be drawn to games that are really pretty complicated in their own right – complex puzzles, thoughtful stories, stunning artwork. However, sometimes a simple idea is executed so perfectly that I just need to marvel at its brilliance for weeks on end and tell everyone I know about it. So here are the so-simple-they’re-genius games you need to know about:
Nidhogg: Named after some Norse god or monster or something that I can’t be bothered to look up on Wikipedia and which has essentially no bearing on the game, it’s a basic side-scrolling PvP fencing game that takes about ten seconds to learn; I would describe both the controls and the graphics as somewhere between Galaga and ExciteBike in terms of complexity. I won’t ruin the game by trying to describe it, because it will sound lame, and it is AWESOME. Just get it from Steam, or come play it with me, because I will never ever ever get tired of this game. It is also surprisingly good as a spectator sport at parties – if you ever wanted a crowd of people cheering as you throw your pixelated foil at your opponent and cover the ground in cartoon blood, this is your chance.
Spaceteam: Would you like to pilot a spaceship? Do you enjoy yelling at your friends? If so, download Spaceteam to your smartphone immediately. You and a few pals form a team connected via the magic of the interwebs to co-pilot a spaceship, and all you have to do is follow the instructions and not crash. Sounds easy? Guess what – it turns out that neither you nor your friends are very good at following instructions. Each of you has a console crowded with random nonsense dials and buttons, some of which periodically break off, as commands scroll across your screen – some of which are for your console, some of which are not, and some of which need to be executed simultaneously. You frantically shout out commands to your teammates while trying to listen for your commands and also repair your constantly breaking panel. In addition to being a lot of fun and full of goofy little tidbits, it’s a great way to get seated at restaurants more quickly! The developer is running a Kickstarter campaign to support his next couple of projects (he’s posted a thoughtful video on everything he thinks is broken about mobile game development funding, if you’re into game dev politics), so if you don’t mind trying to figure out the conversion between Canadian and US dollars, check it out before it closes on July 6.
Thomas Was Alone: This is, hands-down, the most thoughtful and moving game ever created about the deep inner life of squares. And I mean literally quadrilaterals – like, colorful shapes with four 90 degree angles – not some euphemism for nerds. It’s a puzzle game in which you control rectangles of various sizes, each of which have different ways of moving and interacting with the world which must be used collaboratively to complete each level. There is a rich and surprisingly touching story overlaid on the puzzle game via voiceover. The premise is that each shape represents an artificial intelligence accidentally generated in a computer system; the storyline follows their growing awareness and sense of self as they explore the world and develop feelings about their own purpose and each other. I find a lot of games which are either a puzzle game with a half-assed story, or a great story with lame puzzles, but this one does both brilliantly. It’s available on several platforms, but I thought it was well suited to the tablet experience, so I recommend iOS if you have an iPad.
So, I passed a few election signs this week. One said, "Vote ____, less government."
That's kind of like going to a job interview and saying, "Pick me! I'll do less work."
If he wins, no doubt in four years, his opponents' slogan will be, "Give me the job, I won't even show up!"
The big real-to-life issues however, seldom go addressed. Our very lives and the well-being of our families are at stake, yet no one talks about it! I'm of course, referring to the spike in demon possession.
Demonologists are saying that the number of possessions have gone from 1 to 300, "a rise of 300%!"
Actually, that would be an increase of 30,000%, but these guys attack other-worldy beings, not numbers. I've been informed that this is probably a result of the weakening of the boundaries between the physical and spiritual realm and has absolutely nothing to do with any soon-to-be-released movies and/or TV series.
Demons and/or otherworldly spirits are found in almost every culture. Possessions can occur from beings from every corner of the globe. This presents a lot of problems. Initially, the demonologist has trouble identifying the type of supernatural force they are dealing with. There's also the issue of foreign entities taking away perfectly good possessions from more-than-willing and capable American demons.
On the positive side, there's a good chance that we'll get at least a couple of reality shows. Can't wait for the tie-in with the demonologist and Sasquatch hunters, or perhaps the UFO detectives. I fully expect to see a possessed Bigfoot, escape alien abduction and need an intervention to stop hoarding berries and salmon.
Oh well, sorry to cut this short, the Devil made me do it!
Obvious Child is a a new "romantic comedy" written and directed by Gillian Robespierre. It's about a twentysomething comic played by Jenny Slate who gets pregnant after a one-night-stand and chooses to have an abortion. Of course, the movie is also about more than that, but you can imagine that such a "radical" plot development will freak the fuck out of a certain extremist segment of the American public.
So, being a fan of the awfulness of many ONE STAR reviews, I have collected a number of them here from IMDB for your reading enjoyment.
"If Satan were a movie critic he'd likely give the abortion-themed romantic comedy an enthusiastic 'two horns up.'"
"This movie is a film about a skank who gets knocked up and has an abortion. Her child's corpse, which is stabbed and sucked out of her vagina, is sold as medical waste and ends up as fuel for power plants in the Northwest US."
"I felt dirty just from watching this skank on screen. In real life... we have names for people who cannot control their sexual behavior."
"I see only one woman has reviewed this, so that partially redeems women, who seem largely responsible for this mess."
"Self-pity is not a redeeming quality. There is no indication whatsoever as to why the guy falls for her, other than the fact that she seems to be available and drunk."
"So…after spending almost two hours of my life, what's my takeaway here? Abortion good, hard work bad? Some guys will date almost anyone?"
"If this was indeed about abortion, as some seem to think, it doesn't get much air time…Jenny says 'I thought about it' and leaves it at that. We have no indication as to what thoughts entered her mind. The guy has no say. Really?"
"And I'm sorry, but why the title? 'Obvious Child'? Who's the child? Jenny? If it's the aborted baby, why on earth is he/she obvious? And if it's Jenny, are we supposed to celebrate that fact that she's 28 or so and totally clueless? Is that a good thing?"
"The opening monologue by a comedian about the nature of her womenly parts should have been the first clue. The movie couldn't go downhill since it started at the bottom already."
"The constant crude language wasn't all necessary and did not endear us to the character."
"A fun look at infanticide..."
"This is a piece of baneful propaganda designed to seduce viewers into believing that the termination of a pregnancy -- to employ the widespread Orwellian euphemism for this tragic act -- is really no big deal. In fact, according to writer-director Gillian Robespierre's deplorable film, an expansion of her 2009 short of the same title, killing a baby in the womb can serve as the gateway to a bright and fulfilling future."
"Robespierre treats the taking of innocent human life as something between an unpleasant necessity -- on the order of having your wisdom teeth removed -- and a rite of passage."
"With Donna on the operating table, drugged and largely oblivious, smiling dopily as the machinery of death quietly gears up, the soothing sight is meant to convey how painless an abortion can be, at least for the mother. A better interpretation of the image, however, might be to see Donna, at that moment, as the embodiment of a society lulled to narcotic indifference by one of the oldest, most convenient and most destructive falsehoods in human history -- namely, the idea that some class or category of human beings are not in fact human, and that they are not therefore endowed by their creator with rights of which no individual and no government can ever legitimately deprive them."
Given the opportunity, I would vote for Heather Mizeur again. And I hope I get that opportunity.
The Annapolis "wisdom" (is that the local equivalent of "Beltway Wisdom"?) was that as a Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate, she didn't really have a chance -that she was just "too out there for the mainstream," which I suspect is homophobic code.
She was just too liberal, the establishment would have it, but I'm not sure why. She wasn't calling for forced unions in all workplaces or mandatory abortions or taking eveyone's guns away or whatever it is mythical, extremist liberals are supposed to think that scares the so-called "mainstream".
Out of all the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, the only one who bothered to take the time to speak to me was Mizeur. She came my place of business (largely because she wanted access to the Hampden Village Merchants Association - an organization I'm proud to be the President of, but sadly, the HVMA doesn't exist to offer access to people running for office), and despite me not being able to help her in the way she wanted, she still talked to me for a few minutes, listened to my concerns, and I liked her. I knew I was voting for her right away, I just didn't know HOW I was for her. Would I work for her the way I have other candidates? Would I try to persuade others? Would I endeavor to rally the vote? Or would I just show up and vote for her? I mean, I have a lot on my plate (don't we all these days).
But when Mizeur selected Prince George's County Pastor Delman Coates as her running mate, I had my answer. In a projected, low-voter turnout election, her winning would would depend on getting out the vote - and after her selection of a running mate, I was only so comfortable spending my time to work to get her elected. And if, as a progressive, she dampened my enthusiasm, it seemed reasonable to assume she did the same to others.
It was more than me being a staunch believer in the separation of church and state and not being comfortable helping to elect religious leaders to public office, regardless of how progressive those leaders might be (but to be perfectly honest, that was a not insignifcant part of it). I'm not saying I would vote against all religious leaders for office, but when their bona fides for being #2 in line behind the governor is bascially just being the Pastor of some megachurch in the county - I can't help but think a better running mate was out there somewhere.
But more importantly, her choice also struck me as calculated, cynical, and just plain wrong, See, Mizeur is gay. And there are a whole lot of "religous" people in Maryland who still may not be comfortable voting for a gay person. So if she has a religous leader running with her, the flawed strategy goes, those bigots might feel more comfortable voting for her. This never works.
The problem is that the people who are going to hate Mizeur for being gay are not going to temper that hate because she's running with Coates. People don't usually vote FOR the running mate, regardless of who it is - at least not enough to win elections.
People are, however, sometimes turned off by a running mate. (Just ask John McCain.)
If voters feel the running mate was a bad choice, it makes them wonder about the capacity of the candidate to make wise decisions on important things. And in my case, while it didn't stop me voting for the ticket, it also didn't inspire me to jump aboard the Mizeur train whole-heartedly (although I did more rallying than I thought I would) and actively campaign for her.
I'm confused as to why Maryland candidates for governor select running mates in advance of the primaries anyway. Wouldn't it make sense to go through the primaries and then select running mates after the votes are tallied, perhaps to build bridges, form coalitions, etc?
But I didn't nag people to vote for Heather like I could have. I didn't do all I could to urge, plead, or beg people to vote for Mizeur. The most I did was let people know via social media how I was voting and encouraged them to do the same (and most let me know they were voting the same way). And I forwarded a few links. And one on one, I told people who I was voting for and why, and tried to convince them to do the same. I simply wasn't comfortable doing all I could to get the candidate I liked elected. I don't mean that my efforts could have gotten Mizeur elected, what I mean is that if I felt uncomfortable going all in with Heather because of her choice of running mate, there were probably others like me who felt that way too.
Regardless, for brief period of time yesterday, deep in my heart, I hoped Mizeur was able to inspire others in a way she didn't quite manage to inspire me.
By nature of the "Baltimore Bubble," it seemed possible. Everyone I spoke to who voted, to a person , all said they voted "Mizeur." And I let myself think for a moment, in a smaller version of the same way I feel that first minute I buy a Powerball ticket, that anything is possible. That there are really only two ways things go, the way you want or another way - and given my poor math skills that means there's always a 50-50 shot.
Heather could have won, but she didn't.
Yes, I like her policies.
Yes, she sounded like the most reasonable Democrat running (as I said when I urged people to listen to this interview). In the context of the primary, Brown came off as an empty-suit, a non-entity. And Gansler - a spoiled county frat dude. And one of Gansler's field people (who looked too young to vote) tried to convince me that this was Bush/Gore/Nader all over again - I didn't want to know who he thought was Bush and who he thought was Gore. It was just too ludicrous to be lectured about Nader voting by someone too young to have been through it.
Heather has been the only politician I have heard who does more than just pay lip-service to small business - she acutally had a plan to help small businesses (similar to one I've been trying to get politicians to listen to for years). She wants to legalize pot (which, at this point, most of us see as an eventuality). She wants affordable education. She believes in a living wage and equal pay - all things reasonable, compassionate Marylanders should believe in.
That her pragmatism sounds "extreme" to some old Democrats is disheartening and indicative as to why many people (until recently, me included), prefer to remain "Independent" even though not being able to vote in Maryland Democratic primaries severely limits your participation in the electoral process.
But in the end, from my perspective, Heather lost because she made some bad decisions. Not decisions that chased me away, but not ones that inspired me either. Could she have won? Who knows. Could she have won the general? Who knows.
She had an opportunity to energize Maryland progressives in a way Virginia's Brat energized Tea Partiers. But instead, she comprompised, like so many liberals do, with a key decision, and she ended up paying for it.
I hope that Heather continues in local politics. I'd like the chance to vote for her again. But if a progressive is going to pull an upset, they need to try harder than that to motivate a cynical and exploited-feeling base.
I'm sorry, Heather Mizeur. I would have very much liked you to be our next governor.