It was a good day for Thunder fans – Kevin Durant does OKC proud with his latest commercial for Nike (“Paint the Town”) and it looks like the boys will begin playing ball again around Christmas Day.
So what are we seeing in this commercial? It starts off with Durant driving northbound on Shields Boulevard just south of downtown, and we then see Durant arriving at the basketball courts attached to The Classen at NW 23 and Classen (as noted by one reader, however, because these courts are for residents only, it’s unusual to see anyone playing there. This conversation was followed by an invite by a resident and friend for my son and I to do just that).
The next stop in this commercial is an old wood frame church as captured in the photo above. I’d love to know where it’s located (my understanding is the whole commercial is shot in and around OKC). UPDATE: local filmmaker Clark Deal, who was on the crew for this ad, reports this was a barn near old Route 66 and County Line Road. The next scene is at an area school where seniors are gathered for some sort of night of board games and basketball. I suspect it’s Taft Middle School, but would love to get some confirmation (I can now report the outside shot was Taft and the inside was Olivet Baptist Church near NW 10 and Western)
It looks like the next game is played with Durant’s friend J. Cole, but the location of these courts, across from what appears to be an apartment complex, is a mystery to me (Deal says he has no recall of this shot either; don’t be surprised if it is not local). When we see Durant driving to his next destination, its on Broadway just south of NW 10 (the 1101 N Broadway Building can be seen in the shadows).
The next game is definitely in Oklahoma City. The First Presbyterian Church at NW 25 and Western Avenue is one of my favorite architectural gems, and one must be a huge hoops guy to have noticed the basketball court on the far side of the parking lot across the street. The next spot is a bit of a mystery to me as well – a Love’s Truck Stop – but I’m sure the folks who produced this commercial had no trouble finding a Love’s in Oklahoma City (I-40 and Council?). The final shot again shows the 50-story Devon tower and the downtown skyline in the foreground, only this time Durant is traveling north toward downtown on Robinson Avenue as it crosses the Oklahoma River.
This whole commercial, however, makes me think back to a post I wrote earlier this year on the lack of any public courts downtown – and how relatively inexpensive additions like this could really add to the quality of life in our urban core. Maybe now that he’s getting set to be paid again ole’ KD could team up with the team and make that happen?
The boys in the suits and the boys in the uniforms are apparently ready to kiss and make up. About damn time.
If you live, work, shop or play downtown, especially along Automobile Alley, my question to you is this: how important is it, if at all, for the city to create a “quiet zone” that would silent train horns and whistles along the BNSF tracks that run parallel to Broadway? Where would you rather see the city invest money dedicated toward downtown infrastructure – on a quiet zone where development has been taking place and where others would like to develop? Or on buying up property in Core to Shore south of the Myriad Gardens, where no development has taken place and no plans have been publicly announced to date other than the park to be built as part of MAPS 3? (if you dispute the current and immediate prospects for Core to Shore, please do so!)
I think most of us can agree this NBA stand-off with the players needs to end yesterday or rather, many yesterdays ago. Gotta love Kevin Durant, however, for continuing to show the love to OKC. His latest national Nike commercial is one of the best portrayals I’ve seen yet of the city, especially in such a short clip. I’ve thought, for the longest time, we are a big city with the soul of a small town. We’re not hicks, we’re not backwards or naive “Okies” as portrayed by some, nor are we the traditional definition of a “major league city” as some here aspire to as well. Yes, the commercial is probably all staged. But consider this: in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant really could drive up to a basketball court at NW 23 and Classen or at gathering of seniors and be warmly greeted, treated as a new friend, without a mob scene ensuing. Yeah, that weather-worn wood frame church is in Oklahoma City, as is the Love’s gas station and the lit up skyscraper hovering as Durant continues his travels.
Thanks KD. Hope to see you back on the court real soon.
“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly …”
Happy Thanksgiving everybody.
Tonight I lingered downtown with my sons. They’re seeing the downtown I’ve known and have come to know the past 20 years. I got a glimpse of the downtown of their future. And stepping back from all the debates, all the play-by-play coverage of all that’s going on makes for quite the moment of realization.
I saw a hair stylist chatting away with her customers next to Beatnix on NW 13; a yellow taxi cruising down Park Avenue; a couple of executives walking down Park Avenue; workers soda blasting the white paint off the gorgeous red brick on the old Braniff Building; preparations taking place for crowds expected to hit the new Myriad Gardens ice rink tomorrow.
It’s life. Nothing spectacular. But nothing insignificant, considering the “dead” downtown I remember some 25 years ago.
This week I’m asking some difficult, tough questions of some of the folks who have helped make this magic a reality. I’ve done stories that have caused them some discomfort, and what’s to come won’t be any more enjoyable. I like these people – I respect them. And I hope they know that even as I throw what I’ll readily admit are pretty fast hard balls.
This Post Has Absolutely Nothing to do with Downtown, Real Estate, Business or Oklahoma City *or maybe it does?
My only purpose in posting this at all is to prove that yeah, Jimmy Webb is a brilliant song writer, but he does have his shame too.
When John Hefner worked a brief stint as a young man in The Oklahoman newsroom, the rules were pretty clear. The reporter got to report and write the news, the person being covered … well, they got to read the stories written by the reporter in the morning paper like everyone else.
In 2011, the rules seem to be changing on a daily basis. With blogs and social media, the wall that once stood between a reporter like myself and regular readers came crumbling down. We talk. We communicate. We exchange ideas.
My latest story on First National Center details concerns by Hefner and a slightly larger tenant, Devon Energy, about the upkeep of the property and the safety of its elevators. But thanks to the advent of “new media,” this blog also provides an opportunity to a guy like John Hefner to tell his own story. And as you’ll soon discover, John is still a pretty decent writer ….
REASONS THE HEFNER COMPANY, INC IS LEAVING THE FIRST NATIONAL
BY W. JOHN HEFNER
In occupying a suite on the 25th floor of the First National Center since early 1999, the employees of The Hefner Company, Inc. have seen the building in the hands of three different ownership groups, but will not be sticking around for the next one.
“Our last hope was that with Milbank Real Estate going into bankruptcy, we would get a new owner who would be both able and willing to make vital repairs and restoration to this historic structure. However, the bankruptcy drags on to no avail, and we have made irreversible plans to move elsewhere,” said W. John Hefner, company president.
The elevators continually malfunction, stopping on floors not selected, going the opposite direction, and even not working. “On Thanksgiving Day 2010, I had to come downtown quickly to get something I had forgotten. It took a security guard to get the elevator system to even come to life. He took me to the 25th floor and held the car. I was back in a flash. The doors did not just close – they slammed shut, and we were taken up to the 30th floor where operations stopped. We clawed open the doors, held them open for each other so we could get out, and they slammed shut behind us. We walked down 30 flights of stairs,” Hefner recalled.
He added that since that time, while he has seen repairmen from two different companies work on the system from time to time, on-going-bugs plague the system. “I have asked the workmen discreetly and have learned that some of the 1956 technology (when the elevators were converted to automatic from manually-operated) remains as ‘some’ vacuum tubes are still in place. That pre-dates transistors, and I can’t believe vacuum tubes are even available. No wonder there are problems,” he said.
The Hefner Company, Inc., by pure coincidence, leased the exact suite the company had occupied in the years of 1949-1956. Some of the same furniture was returned, and the situation seemed good.
But, Hefner said, his first meeting with the Milbank management went sour when he asked Raymond Yashouafar, Vice-President of Operations and Simon Barlava, Asset Manager, if they paid their bills on time. They became angry and red-faced. “They said they were highly insulted, and they stormed out. At the time, I thought I made a grave error, but since then, I read in the newspaper from time-to-time about vendors filing suit for non-payment, and I have talked with vendors I know who told me about difficulties collecting.
“What is especially egregious is that the thick marble floor at the Robinson entry was jackhammered out, and cheaper flooring was put in. Yet, straight above that floor one can see the original art-deco paint on the ceiling is peeling badly. That goes ignored. Even new carpet for the elevators cars would have been an improvement, but it did not happen.
“I have written letters to the men in California, and I have yet to receive a response. Meanwhile, the commercial concourse has been partially torn out, but not completely finished. Here, wood paneling was removed, and white sheetrock was installed. It has been three years! The bottom line is that these landlords have hurt themselves and not helped stabilize a downtown Oklahoma City landmark,” he concluded.
With all the uncertainty about the building’s future, poor decisions being made with expenditures, and his employees being highly concerned about getting stuck in the elevators, the company is leaving for good.