That’s the question being asked by the New York Times today as it notes the opening of Dallas’ latest arts icon.
In 1992 The Oklahoman invited readers to contribute guest columns in which they would look ahead 20 years. I found this one item by Bill Murphy of Bethany worth reading now that we are indeed almost 20 years later:
Having lived in the metro area since 1925, I have seen its best, and its worst of times.
The last two decades can only be described as “marking” time.
Not without cause. We were subjected to closed-meeting urban renewal that produced only urban destruction. These city officials proceeded to remove the last remnants of a central population, thereby, nullifying the need for central services, forcing total suburbia.
By day our city is a bustling activity of drones gleaning nectar dollars, only to return to their suburban hives at sundown, leaving a naked city.
To compound our dilemma, we continued to elect officials with delusions of further taxation being the prime motivator to rebuild our rubble to hide the scars. Gentlemen, we do not raze empty slums just to erect empty ivory towers. The panacea “Galleria” project failed because investors develop services where there is a readily available market, and we utterly destroyed our central market. This city will never again see a permanent downtown population.
The ineffective leadership was never more openly displayed than the current (Mayor Ron) Norick/(Oklahoma County Commissioner F.G. “Buck”) Buchanan-led task force planners who would earmark two-thirds of the $231 million project for cultural niceties – projects that are non-revenue producing and will require continuing tax support.
These are liabilities, not assets, and it is illogical to assume we are going to bundle the kids for a wild night at the freebie downtown library, or a branch museum when the real thing will be as near as Norman.
Enough of past nightmares, we must look to the future with just cause, we have lost faith in our city leaders’ ability to serve the needs of the people and their city. What can we do? We can identify the cause, determine the solution and mandate corrective action.
First, we are divided into two opposing factions. On the one hand we have the emotional element that has given up, typified by the comment of Doug Zavodny of Edmond, and I quote, “If a project beyond basic community/government services can’t attract private financing, then why should I as a taxpayer underwrite it? ” On the other hand, those thinkers with communal concern, say, “Wait a minute, that vacant land is my land, my tax money purchased and destroyed it, and I have a vested interest in making it productive. ” Both factions ring of truth. This is why we have marked time for two decades. We have become victims of our own stalemate.
For the first time we can speak in open forum; this media has invited we the people to detail our metro visions for tomorrow. We must respond by vocalizing our desire to shape our own future.
Those who embrace logic know that it pays dividends to repair, paint and present a neat landscape before marketing a piece of real estate. Therefore, presenting the barren waste of our inner-city to prospective developers indicates graphically that we are not capable of united community action, and don’t particularly care. We have neglected to prepare this property for market.
If we cannot produce a resident population, let us produce a transit population: tourism. How sweet the virgin manna of the tourist dollar. The influx is above and beyond the capacity of the local producing economy, and tends to relieve the burden of taxation.
We had a unique beginning, a unique heritage, and have a unique culture. We are “good old boys” clad in ropers and jeans. We love horses, horse racing and rodeos. We love to paddle canoes, toss bricks and cow chips, two-step to fiddles, eat barbecue and attend our many “cultural” festivals. We also have a Native American culture not found in any other state. This is precisely what tourism demands – entertainment. How?
Mr. Mayor, we the citizens do hereby mandate the inclusion of the entertainment portion of planning on the February ballot along with the defense facility, to be activated only if the defense facility is not awarded this city. Otherwise, the one-cent temporary sales tax, not to exceed three years, will automatically be activated upon completion of defense needs.
My vision for the five-year interval: we will have completed the canal and riverfront projects, built the new all-sports stadium and converted the Sheraton property to a conference and meeting center.
The 10-year vision reveals a tourist mecca, with a theme park, riding stable/trails along the river (lake) tourists riding canal barges, eating patio style along the extended Bricktown theme canal. And a wise investor has built a grand hotel on the “Galleria” site, with a 100-lane pro-bowling class alley in the basement filled to the wee hours. On the second floor (there will be) a grand ballroom with supper club-bar and an adjacent restaurant. The first floor? A mall to serve the needs of the populace.
The 20-year vision? The big league, of course. Should you fail to close ranks and mandate change, what you see is what you get.
It’s that simple.
I still can’t get over that Kristen Vails, Main Street director for the Plaza District, one of OKC hippest urban hot spots, can’t come up with a good list Halloween music.
So here it is, a list of 20 cool songs and it doesn’t include The Monster Mash:
Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo
Weird Science by Oingo Boingo
Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf
Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult
Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.
Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell
Thriller by Michael Jackson
This is Halloween by Danny Elfman
Warewolves of London by Warren Zevon
Witchy Woman by The Eagles
Hotel California by The Eagles
Time Warp, Rocky Horror Picture Show
All You Zombies by The Hooters
Hell by the Squirrel Nut Zippers
Pet Cemetery by The Ramones
Halloween on the Barbary Coast by the Flaming Lips (gotta have our boys on the list)
Highway to Hell by AC/DC
Hell’s Bells by AC/DC
Twilight Zone by Golden Earring
I Put a Spell on You by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
I arrived late for a noon lunch appointment downtown today. I’m glad I did (and thanks to Kim Searls and Jessica Gonzalez for helping me get some photos of the wonderful chaos we encountered!)
So what’s this all about? It’s about the reorganized Oklahoma City Ballet, which first captured our attention a couple months ago with a great performance outside City Hall. Today the ballet folks paraded down Park Avenue to promote their latest production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Great stuff guys.
The Oklahoma City Ballet will hold three performances of old pumpkinhead at 7 p.m. Oct. 30, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 31.
Here’s the rundown of the show:
Based on Washington Irving’s spooky tale of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, Bram Bones and of course the unforgettable Headless Horseman, this full length ballet is sure to be a new Halloween favorite for the entire family. We’re promised the show will boast beautiful sets, costumes and an original score composed by Emmy award winning composer Lanny Meyers played live by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
1. Roger Daltrey’s visit at ACM@UCO last night is now being mentioned on The Who’s website. One comment: UCO was only able to snag a member of the third greatest band in rock history? Not sure you folks are trying hard enough. (I KID! I KID!)
2. Pete at www.okctalk.com has set up a cool webcam of the Devon tower site that captures minute-by-minute snapshots of the project.
3. Some of the coolest things I’m hearing about today I can’t share yet. But if this is the sort of activity that happens in downtown OKC during the depths of one of the worst economies in our country’s history, I can’t even imagine what will happen when recovery hits.
And this is what makes covering Nick fun. He’s not going to give me anything when it comes to figuring out what he’s up to with his big block of property west of the new Devon tower site. If I want the story, I’m going to have to do a lot of work to get it.
So we know he owns some buildings that he certainly won’t tear down, and has indicated as much – the One North Hudson Building was formerly the Black Hotel. Nope, that’s going nowhere. He also likely knows he’ll have a huge fight on his hands if he tries to tear down the neighboring Auto Hotel.
But what about the old Carpenter Sqaure Theater? Or the Lunch Box? He won’t dare upset downtown’s power players by closing the Lunch Box. But would he move the cafeteria and tear down the lovably worn out building?
And would he dare tear down the Union Bus station if he were able to acquire it?
I don’t know. But we do know Nick has done some great historic preservation projects:
Provide insight at the sort of development Nick Preftakes does and how it might reflect on what he might do downtown? Or what’s being contemplated with downtown streetscapes?
There was a time when celebrity spotting in Oklahoma City meant seeing Barry Switzer enjoying bbq at a local restaurant. Maybe you saw Bob Hope during one of his stops at the Skirvin. But lately with the addition of the NBA and world class concerts at Ford Center, we’re starting to adapt to the chance of seeing Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas eating at Mickey Mantle Steakhouse, seeing Kobe Bryant or Shaq at Hooters, or seeing Eva Longoria and Tony Parker enjoying a meal at Trattoria Il Centro.
But when you hear from very, very good sources that the legendary Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, is teaching a class at ACM at UCO in Bricktown – a mere two months after the school opened its doors … well, it’s at times like this we realize we’re entering new unchartered territory. I said from the very beginning that this school of rock would be bigger than landing a Hard Rock Cafe, and I meant it.
When was the last time you visited visited a Hard Rock Cafe and saw Roger Daltrey? Or anything of note other than a $12 burger? A shotglass from a Hard Rock Cafe also costs what – $12? But for a group of aspiring musicians pursuing their education in Bricktown, tonight’s class, without a doubt, is priceless.
UPDATE: The Oklahoman’s George Lang has an excellent write-up and photos here.
What urban street lighting have you seen in other cities that you think OKC should look at for its downtown? I have the same question in regard to street furniture and bus shelters. This is no joke – speak up now and share photos or else accept what’s coming your way.
Much has been said and written about the legacy of the city’s original Metropolitan Area Projects. The Greater OKC Chamber has a new study out reporting more than $3 billion in related investment. I don’t know anyone who disputes MAPS having had a huge economic impact. But I’m curious how people might respond to seeing the Oklahoma City National Memorial included on the list.