“Iconic” is a word overused by a profession (our own) that seems to find an iconic this or that on every block. Yet it’s hard to otherwise describe Stage Center in downtown Oklahoma City, said to be an iconic piece of architecture that must be saved primarily because it’s an iconic piece of architecture.
That it’s not much else except an unused, deteriorating structure on a valuable piece of land is self-evident. No one has come forward to rescue this John Johansen-designed building that opened in 1970 and is featured in architecture textbooks.
The New York Times reported in April on a slew of Modernist buildings reaching middle age and showing signs of decay. Slapping the “iconic” label on such structures won’t save them. That takes cash and determination, the kind that rescued the Skirvin Plaza Hotel but not the International-style Downtown YMCA building.
The Union Tank Car Dome, a spitting image of the Gold Dome at NW 23 in Classen, was completed in Baton Rouge, La., in 1958, in the heyday of geodesic dome guru Buckminster Fuller. Its unique design and links to a famous designer didn’t save the dome. It was demolished in 2007 after years of disuse. Stage Center has reached that phase and could be next on the list of “iconic” structures to fall.
Here’s the ironic mixed with the iconic: Stage Center was part of a downtown redesign plan that resulted in the demolition of historic properties that would surely be called “iconic” today.
Dogs. Is there nothing they can’t smell?
We ask because of news that the state’s only bed bug-sniffing canine has been dispatched to Tulsa to check out the books and the furniture in the downtown library. Ms. Liberty Belle, a beagle, will do the sniffing.
With recent outbreaks of bed bugs in the hotels of New York, trained dogs have become the front line (no pun intended in relation to flea treatment) for detection of the blood-sucking parasites. A New York Times story in 2010 placed the accuracy of the dogs at 97 percent for finding the bugs or their eggs.
Tulsa’s library will get a scent scan from a beagle whose ability to read is somewhat limited but whose snout is worth a thousand words.
Two things stand out about “The Andy Griffith Show,” whose namesake star died this week at age 86.
One is that even today, the series that ran from 1960-68 is still funny because its humor was timeless. There were no topical jokes that require an understanding of events of those times. Instead the laughs stemmed from the various adventures of the characters — Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee and the rest.
The other takeaway from the show was the decency of Griffith’s character, Sheriff Andy Taylor. Andy always found a way to make others feel good, even if they had done something hurtful to him. The episode where Barney runs for sheriff is a prime example.
Griffith had film success before the series debuted, and more TV success with “Matlock” afterward. But nothing approached “The Andy Griffith Show.” Longtime friend Craig Fincannon said the role of Sheriff Taylor “put heavy pressure on him because everyone felt like he was their best friend.” Not a bad legacy.
Note to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber: The top personal income tax rate is 5.25 percent in Oklahoma, not 5.5 percent. That’s something a chamber of commerce would want to get right on a website touting the area’s low tax burden. The mistake is included in what is otherwise a first-class website called ABetterLifeOKC.com, designed to give new residents and those considering a move here key information about amenities. Given the hoopla over hosting NBA championship games, many are getting better acquainted with the city. Last year the website drew 11,000 visits and more than 8,000 unique visitors. The chamber also has a “Better Life” blog and an email newsletter. It says Boeing and Continental Resources were among corporations using the program to inform relocating employees about what the city has to offer. What the city doesn’t offer, fortunately, is a municipal income tax.
Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman Archives
The excitement of having the NBA Finals in Oklahoma City has impacted more than one workplace as employees, amped up for the game, have been a little distracted. Now some are concerned the NBA Finals could impact the coming primary election, which would occur the same day as a potential seventh game of the series. We think that concern is misplaced. The polls close at 7 p.m. while the game starts at 8 p.m., and citizens can vote early. Those who are serious about voting will do so. Those who claim a game kept them away from the ballot box were never serious in the first place. Some poll workers may miss part of the game, but we have faith in their professionalism. And we’re optimistic the Thunder will make this discussion irrelevant by winning the series early.
The Salvation Army began giving away box fans this week to help Oklahoma City residents cope with the heat that’s sure to come this summer. Those eligible for a fan must be 62 or older or have children younger than 6 months in the home or be disabled with chronic conditions such as emphysema or cardiovascular disease. Oh, they also had to provide a photo ID for all adult household members, along with proof (such as an electric bill) that they live in the city limits. The majority of those who would need a fan are low-income residents. They, and senior citizens, are among the groups that liberals say are being put upon via passage of Republican-backed laws requiring voters to show identification at the ballot box. The Salvation Army’s rules for this good cause help fan the flames of rebuke to the overheated arguments against voter ID laws.
Nicole Soto had no chance. Just 3 months old, Nicole died last weekend of starvation. Her parents told Oklahoma City police they “forgot” several times to feed the girl, who weighed just 3 pounds when she died — less than half her birth weight. The parents did find time every day to smoke dope, though. They admitted as much to investigators. The father, 20, is a known gang member, according to police. The mother is just 19. Nicole has two siblings, who are 22 months old and 3 years old. Both have now been removed from the family’s apartment, which police said was filthy and roach-infested. Would that this were a rare story in Oklahoma. Instead it’s all too common. During fiscal year 2011, about 66,500 child abuse or neglect cases were reported to the Department of Human Services. Of those, 8,110 were confirmed.
Once upon a time, advertisements for junk food were part of Disney programs for kids. But in 2015, such ads on TV, radio and websites will be banished from the Magic Kingdom. The Walt Disney Co. announced new nutrition guidelines today, furthering a 2006 initiative to make food at its theme parks and resorts healthier. “The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives,” CEO Bob Iger said. He hopes to influence not only children but also companies. Though advertising revenue may initially decline, Iger’s goal is for companies to eventually create products meeting Disney’s standards. Ultimately, individuals and families make the decisions about what food to purchase and consume; government attempts to set the menu aren’t the answer to our nation’s health challenges. Disney’s effort at self-imposed corporate responsibility and media pressure is a fresh approach. We hope this change will help children live happily, and healthily, ever after.
AP File Photo
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s obsession with other peoples’ health has taken a new turn. Bloomberg, who has pushed a number of initiatives while in office including banning smoking in restaurants and parks and prohibiting artificial trans fats in restaurant food, is now attacking soft drinks. He proposes a ban on the sale of nondiet soft drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. Public health officials nationwide are “wringing their hands” over obesity, Bloomberg said. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something.” The city’s health board must approve the idea, a near certainty given that Bloomberg appointed every member. But our guess is it’s less likely to hold up in court. One obvious challenge: its arbitrariness. Why is a 16-ounce soda OK, but a 20-ouncer isn’t?
Above: Various size cups and sugar cubes are displayed at a news conference at New York’s City Hall, Thursday, May 31, 2012. (AP Photo)
A blogger in San Antonio has a suggestion for those in his city who may look down their noses at Oklahoma City: Stop it. Robert Rivard, a former longtime newspaper editor in San Antone, wrote this week that his hometown would be wise to “use the occasion of this exciting series against the Thunder to learn more about the 20-year metamorphosis of Oklahoma City as we labor toward our own transformation in San Antonio.” Rivard recounted our city’s growth as a result of MAPS and its many successes since the Murrah Building bombing in 1995. “San Antonio has more to work with: We are bigger, more economically and culturally diverse, and have a richer history than the Sooners,” he wrote. “But Oklahoma City has been working longer and they’ve done so with greater unity. Just about everyone in Oklahoma City seems to understand that a more vibrant downtown means a more vibrant city for all. We are not there yet.” The full, very flattering, article can be read at therivardreport.com.
Photo provided by Cooper Ross