Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Lot of Croc?

Add to the list of urban myths - alligators live in Manhattan's sewers, etc. - the one that might actually be true about the man in Washington, D.C., who  chose to live for two years in a homeless shelter so that he might spend every day reading (for free, of course) in the Library of Congress. Needless to say, the library does not normally cater to unemployed people without a fixed address but there is no reason why a determined soul can't apply for a card allowing him access. At least to access books that do not circulate. There is no information about his choice of subject matter. Presumably he was boning up or catching up, hoping to get ahead in the world.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Booked or Spooked

No, not booked as in jailed - but ordinarily someone leaving a bookstore without paying for an item might end up that way. This is rather a story that might be labeled 'morals for a modern city' - when a customer discovers that by mistake she has walked out of the store with a book she didn't pay for.
And then returns the book she didn't pay for. (She had bought another one, paid for one, and then found there were two different titles in the bag.) Understandable perhaps; it can happen if a clerk who is processing the credit card puts two books in the bag but in a moment of forgetfulness only remembers to charge one of them. It can happen...
When later the 'free' book got returned, the clerk minding the register remarks he never has had such a thing happen in all his years on the job. Never has someone voluntarily returned an item that wasn't paid for. So think about this: that it must be very easy in some independent book stores (not willing to pay for surveillance) to lose a lot of stock that way. Think harder: what are today's morals if someone decides to keep the (accidentally) stolen goods?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wild in Wausau

Ever think about skyscraper windows? Where they are born and how they are made? Without them  would anyone ever consider going into such a building, much less live in one? Wausau, in north central Wisconsin, is where many of these highly engineered products are created. Wausau Windows and Walls sends customized windows on the company's own semi vans regularly all over the country, including such prestige campuses as Notre Dame and Stanford and beyond.  What the company won't agree to handle are private homes, even those of a lavish sort, where owners are apt to take the word 'custom' to lengthy ends. A load set out  recently for the highest building currently under construction in lower Manhattan  - 99 Church St., a Four Seasons Residence with multi-million-dollar pied-à-terres that are virtually castles in the sky.
The city of Wausau offers a lot more than cheese curds and craft beer for anyone wanting to live in or visit a well-planned  urban space by a river  called the Wisconsin, which flows  eventually into the Mississippi. A nearby mountain, whose granite rocks are a billion years old, has numerous ski trails. Lakes in winter offer curling and skating. The downtown center square can boast one weekend in summer of creating what could be the world's largest sidewalk art painting done by locals. A Calendar of Events for summer months takes up two pages single-spaced in a free  - "Wausau works for you!" -bulletin. It's a friendly environment, blessedly free of gentrified inner Washington,DC's blight of what seems like an invasion dry cleaners and nail salons on every block.
Most unusual of all perhaps is the unlikely location on a hillside of a railroad stations that copies almost to perfection an older one more conveniently placed on operating tracks below. Both were built decades ago by what was then the Wausau insurance corporation, famous for its iconic symbol advertised on 'Sixty Minutes.'  The station in the sky was built for its entertainment value. To add to its veneer of authenticity a few yards of track were added along with an aged caboose. No telling what adventures were possible there; it might make a great children's play park now.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Metro Etiquette continued

After the recent horrific killing - a knife! an everyday object! - in daylight in a crowded Washington Metro train perhaps the struggling transportation authority in charge should institute public advisories on how to handle such events. Do we collectively, in whatever car we find ourselves, go in a group to dismember (excuse me, disrobe...or overcome....) the assailant? Obviously if anyone on the car that day had a knife of his/her own perhaps it would have been useful to try a fencing match. But something in the way of rules could be posted: Start screaming all at once (as well as text 311 and 911 and anywhere else you can think of),  start running and kicking and acting up - acting just as crazy as the literally crazed attacker seemed to be. Be prepared for the worst.
Perhaps this: bring with you each time you enter the system a small concealed tube of pepper spray and use it judiciously when necessary. But aim carefully.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What's In A Word?

There's no telling where the word urban will turn up these days. Fashion powerhouse Donna Karan now seeks a niche with something she calls Urban Zen.  Turns out (Business pages say) it comes with a foundation attached and may be the compensation for giving up the name brand that the French luxury empire LVMH once acquired for $143 million, according to reports.
Here is her pitch, if you can decipher the print.  It's mindful living with a wardrobe attached:

Urban Zen is a philosophy of living by Donna Karan. It is the calm in the chaos of life. A way of giving. An effortless dance of emotion, personality and lifestyle. Timeless. Seasonless. Endlessly expressive. A connection of mind, body and spirit. Touched and inspired by cultures and craftsmen from around the world.
Our stores offer a unique collection of luxurious women and men’s apparel, one-of-a-kind jewelry, handcrafted leather pieces, artisan furniture and home decor, as well as other soulful objects of desire. Urban Zen’s products are developed in partnership with artisans who align with our soulful economy mission.