Archive for December, 2007

Locally Grown, at Kroger.


If it’s not every Friday, it is this Friday (14 December). “Jazz Mary” will be performing at the Brewery District Kroger, 150 West Sycamore, during lunch hour. Known throughout German Village from her gigs at G. Michael’s and Club Diversity, Jazz Mary combines electronics, piano and voice into a performance that’s entertaining and inclusive for the audience.

On Tuesday the 18th, she’ll return to Club Diversity, 863 South High Street, for “Kazoo Carols” which is said to be a heck of a lot of fun. Toss in a few martinis with an audience full of kazoos, and I’m sure it is just that.

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Columbus Sustenance

Last night’s smaller, but no less effective, group met for the second Social Media Cafe’ hosted by WOSU and COSI. There were new faces in the mix, too. Break out discussions included topics such as how WOSU can gather and produce more local content, creating training sessions for social media (blogs, podcasts),urban exploration, as well as the creation of a hyper-local food segment for WOSU.

In working with the group surrounding the gathering of more local content, we exchanged ideas about the programming we’ve seen and heard from other public broadcasters, such as DIY Portland, where locals present on most any topic where one can “do it yourself”. We tossed around ideas for podcasts, web content and radio programming. There’s a true desire to bring forth the voices of local residents.

I suggested that Columbus create a “media hotel” for visiting journalists and bloggers, where they’d have access to the technology needed to create or edit whatever they may be producing for their local markets. In doing so, might Columbus have the opportunity to gain more exposure outside of our traditional boundaries? For Experience Columbus, it would be an opportunity to learn more about what brings people here. For WOSU, a chance to discover unique items of news.

Downstairs, discussions about local restaurants and local food production, as well as a way to discover the “hidden” Columbus were taking place. Tim Eby, station manager of WOSU stated that he felt the over-all concept of all these discussions was “sustainability”. In other words, its how we sustain ourselves with regards to living, working, communicating, eating, growing, as well as the more current definition of the word as it relates to environmental issues.

During the post-discussion gathering, the concept of “sustenance”, came to light. While sustainability often echos the need to conserve, sustenance refers to the need to nourish, and the nourishment of our city, its places and its citizens, is truly the concept with which we’re working. When we nourish one another we create a community of richness. This is the desire of everyone who participated.

Daniel Fox of SKREENED suggested that the identity of Columbus is derived from everyone here, and not in how we compare ourselves against other cities. Walker Evans and Andrew Miller talked about why this young city is attractive and Lisa from Restaurant Widow maintains that living in Columbus offers her, as well as others, a chance to be heard and be involved, whereas in larger cities, doing so is much more difficult.

Columbus offers a higher degree of citizen participation because we are who we are, and this too, makes the city like no other. It too, nourishes our soul.

Please consider joining us for the next Social Media Cafe’. The date and time will be announced as soon as it is available.

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An Hour with Gordon

Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee will be a guest on WOSU 820 AM’s Open Line on Wednesday, December 12, 2007. President Gee will appear during the 10am to 11am hour and discuss education in America and goals for The Ohio State University. This will be President Gee’s first Open Line appearance since becoming the 14th president of The Ohio State University. The 11am to noon hour will feature a panel of Central Ohio school teachers discussing education and the art of teaching. Panelists will include 2005 Central Ohio High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year David Fawcett and 2005 Ohio Teacher of the Year Deepa Ganschinietz. During both hours, listeners will have an opportunity to question the guests.

The public is invited to be a part of this special live broadcast at WOSU@COSI by being members of a studio audience. There is no charge to attend, but seating is limited. Those interested in reserving a seat may contact WOSU Public Media at (614) 292-9678. This program will be videotaped for later broadcast on WOSU TV.

Individuals with specific questions they’d like to ask President E. Gordon Gee will have an opportunity to ask those questions at www.youtube.com/group/WOSUask between now and December 11. Some of the questions will then be chosen and posed to him during the 10am hour of Open Line on December 12.

Open Line is a live, call-in public affairs talk show hosted by Fred Andrle. Programs feature national and local leaders/experts with topics ranging from politics to the media, globalization to the environment, health care to the economy, and popular culture to religion. Open Line is also available via a live stream at www.wosu.org. Links to a podcast and archived shows are also available at www.wosu.org/radio/radio-open-line. Open Line airs Monday through Friday from 10am to noon on WOSU 820 AM.

WOSU Public Media is community-supported, nonprofit, noncommercial public radio and television stations licensed to The Ohio State University. For more information, visit wosu.org.

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Passing the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, where streets had been narrowed with barricades to accommodate increased pedestrian traffic, 8th Avenue was much easier to navigate. The walk to 25th Street was delightful on this crisp cool evening. Thirty-some-odd blocks in New York goes by quickly.

Eighth Avenue has been cleaned up considerably. The Port Authority was bustling, as usual, and a bit further down, crowds of commuters dodged in and out of Penn Station and lines formed for whatever was happening at Madison Square Garden. I tried to imagine how the post office must have looked when it was sitting amidst the large, empty tracts of land that would eventually be built upon.

I stayed with a friend in Chelsea. He’d made plans for us to spend the evening at Havana Central, a fantastic Cuban nightclub in Times Square, which was under the management of his brother. After warming up with a couple of glasses of exquisitely aged rum, we headed north, on foot, where the pedestrian traffic around Madison Square Garden had grown tremendously.

No lines and no waiting as his brother escorted us into the bar. Completely packed, we had to turn sideways to move through the crowd. Delmar’s favorite bartender mixed up martinis for us as our table was prepared. The band played a set, then the disc-jockey played a set, for the private party being hosted upstairs. The sound level required speaking directly into one’s ear. Cuban music got the crowd feeling the groove.

The chef sent out a small platter of appetizers. Cuban sandwiches with ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese with pickles and mustard. Chicharrones de Pollo, wonderfully tender pieces of chicken which fell from the bone, along with Camarones con Coco (coconut dusted shrimp with pineapple fufu).

Everything here allowed one to be transported, at least for an evening, directly into a 1950’s Havana nightclub. Even the manager resembled Ricky Ricardo, with a fine dark suit and crisp white shirt. He worked every inch of the club, chatting with guests, and directing the staff.

Following dinner, more martinis at the bar, while listening to various spanish accents, as well as the accents of the couple seated next to us that was visiting from Belgium. The band continued.

On Saturday I moved to East 43rd Street (the E to the S, then a couple blocks on foot from Grand Central Station) to visit with my friend Roch, who’d arrived that afternoon from Rome. The pre-war building was part of Tudor City, where eleven residential buildings and an over-street park create a peaceful urban oasis. The roof-top garden presented a view of the Chrysler Building, as well as the glass curtain-wall of the U.N.

Pam Ann, the Australian comedian, was performing that night in the East Village, so we cabbed down 2nd Avenue, as Roch informed me that the city was extending the original subway line down 2nd. It came as a surprise that New York would continue building it’s subway system. A heavy-rail line is in the works from Grand Central out to JFK. Imagine that investment!

I’d reserved a table for the show at Joe’s Pub, part of the theater complex where Pam Ann was performing. Still, we had to wait in line outside, with everyone else. The long-johns I’d purchased at a dollar store in Chelsea took away only some of the chill. The temperatures had dropped dramatically, and the hour wait caused the crowd to huddle close together.

Following the show, we hopped on the 6 back to Grand Central.

Snow had fallen overnight. I made my trek to the Dunkin Donuts on the corner while Rock checked the JFK traffic. Everything seemed to be running on schedule. At 3:30, we were back at Grand Central. The 6 to 51st Street, then a transfer to the E, out to Sutphin Boulevard, where we transfered to the AirTrain for an additional $5. Built over the expressway, the modern carpeted and upholstered train towers over the traffic below.

Once on JFK property, the madness of the “international push” sets in. Inbound flights from Europe have arrived and the outbound passengers have begun to fill the terminals. Its always pure hell here at 5pm. Two and a half hours before departure, I wandered Terminal 2 and 3, watching people and catching bits of conversations. Terminal 3 is the former Pan Am terminal, and it simply cannot handle todays crowds. Terminal 2 is newer, and I’ve been passing through here since 1983, on every trip to (and through) JFK. Renovated once again, probably the fourth renovation I’ve witnessed, it’s still sub-standard and chaotic.

My flight home departed an hour late, but arrived in Columbus just 30 minutes past schedule. A great weekend, but always a drag getting home from New York.

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Nearly 10 minutes had been eliminated from the ride into Kew Gardens since the last time I rode the Q10. Brooklyn and Queens busses now arrive and depart in front of Terminal 4 at JFK rather than stopping in front of each building. While it would have been faster to take the train at Howard Beach via AirTrain, I thought it would be nice to have a walk through the “old neighborhood” and take the train in from Union Turnpike, instead.

As the bus left Ozone Park, there was standing-room-only. Twenty minutes later, I was in the heart of Kew. Thirty minutes in all, to get from the airport to a great neighborhood that hasn’t changed all that much since my last visit. The corner grocery had been replaced something with a more modern interior.

Within a block of my old apartment, and really, within a couple blocks of everyone in Kew Gardens, most everything is available. A couple banks, a couple bars, a couple deli’s, the Chinese take out, the pizza place, the diner, the dry-cleaner, the bakery, a movie theater, Dunkin Donuts, the nail place, a barber, the Jewish market, a non-Jewish super-market, the synagogue and adjoining school, a Laundromat, a 7-11, a liquor store and a newsstand, which now boasts, in Russian, that it carries Russian magazines. It’s also possible to book a Baltic cruise from this place.


Despite all of this (and more) fitting into a narrow retail strip not more than two blocks long, Kew Gardens has never seemed cramped. Main arteries such as Lefferts and Metropolitan Boulevard are lined with mid-rise apartment buildings from the 20’s and 30’s. Behind, single-family homes, sometimes duplex’s, are nestled onto tiny lots, also from the same era.

Adjacent to the Long Island railroad station, larger homes, considerably larger, comprise a few blocks that offer the feeling of an English village. Within three-blocks of the corner of Lefferts and Metro, virtually every type of housing option is available. I could live here again.

Coffee and a donut at Dunkin Donuts gave me a chance to take off my hat and gloves for a few bit. I was hoping to see “Viktor”. Every morning I used to come here, and most every morning, I’d see a tall young man hanging around out front. Levi’s and a leather jacket, his black hair was slicked back and sideburns down to his jaw line framed his face. He wore cowboy boots and drove a baby-blue Chevy El Camino, which he managed to park right in front all the time. The El Camino, that was his baby.

The kicker here was that this American icon, who I’d suspected was from Brooklyn, only spoke Russian. He’d come to chat up the Russian girls working here. He may have lived in Brooklyn. A slightly mismatched scene from the Lords of Flatbush that I enjoyed watching whenever it was present, I’d hoped to catch another episode.

It was time to head into the city. Five blocks to the subway station on Queens Boulevard, the E train, an express, had me into Manhattan within another thirty minutes. The entire afternoon’s travel cost $2.00 using the Metro Card, where bus and train transfers are offered within two hours of the initial fare purchase. The temptations of the holiday windows along 5th Avenue got the best of me, so there, I headed up to the street. Cool and crisp, the evening was perfect for walking. I managed to catch a glimpse of the tree at Rockefeller Center, and then decided to head over to 8th Avenue, where the pedestrian traffic was faster moving.

What a delight to be car-free again.

In a few hours, I’ll have to pay to get it out of the parking lot at Port Columbus. Parking at Port Columbus will cost more than my combined ground-transportation costs here.

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