Saturday, March 24, 2012

A brief comment on Hipsters, Consumerism, and Pro Wrestling

About ten years ago I read an essay which discussed the semiotics of prewar professional wrestling in Paris, France. I have thought back to that essay frequently, but couldn't remember its title or author. But this morning while reading this I stumbled across a mention of "...Le Monde où l'on catche, a serious consideration of tag-team wrestling" by Roland Barthes (in my decade-long search, I mistakenly thought the essay was written by Baudrillard).

I might return to the matter of pro wrestling at a later date, but after following a few Roland Barthes links I stumbled upon this quote:
To hide a passion totally (or even to hide, more simply, its excess) is inconceivable: not because the human subject is too weak, but because passion is in essence made to be seen: the hiding must be seen: I want you to know that I am hiding something from you, that is the active paradox I must resolve: at one and the same time it must be known and not known: I want you to know that I don't want to show my feelings: that is the message I address to the other.
Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. "Dark Glasses," sect. 2, A Lover's Discourse (1977, trans. 1979)


And BAM, there you have it -- identification of the underlying motivations of hipsterdom, decades before the phenomenon took its current pernicious form in the United States.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

OKI's 1970's plan for the Wasson Rd. Railroad

I put together last night's post very quickly, and forgot that I had this late 1970's drawing of OKI's light rail plan, which envisioned use of the Wasson Rd. railroad:
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[Click Here for a much larger version of this map]

This was OKI's first light rail plan, and it dated from the late 1970's, after the abandonment of the CL&N railroad through Walnut Hills and Norwood. This plan also envisioned use of Cincinnati's old subway tunnel beneath Central Parkway, with an extension dug under Clifton Heights to Martin Luther King Drive near the UC library.

OKI's late 1970's light rail plan contrasted wildly with its Washington Metro-style rapid transit plan drawn in 1971:
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[Click Here for a larger version of this map]

This plan consisted of at least ten miles of tunnels and twenty miles of aerial construction. In today's dollars it would cost between $5 and $10 billion to construct.

This plan illustrates the importance of the Wasson Rd. railroad -- part of what makes it so attractive is that it misses Hyde Park Square. Why is this important? Because Hyde Park Residents would likely prevent the construction of any high rises near Hyde Park Square, and without increased density, the extreme expense of tunneling beneath the area cannot be justified. Meanwhile, the Wasson Rd. line will be much less expensive to construct (even if a tunnel is required), AND Rookwood Commons, Hyde Park Plaza, and light industrial sites along Wasson could eventually be redeveloped into higher density residential and commercial properties.

Both of these drawings, along with about 150 others, appear in my book.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Hyde Park's $100 million Bike Trail

OKI has planned to incorporate the Wasson Rd. railroad into a regional transit plan since the 1970s. After Norfolk-Southern abandoned the line in 2009, a plan to convert it into a paved recreational trail appeared in 2011. The problem with this proposal is that there is not enough space for a double-track railroad and a paved rec trail on the available 30 foot right-of-way in the area between I-71 and Paxton Rd.

From www.hamiltoncountyauditor.org:
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This means if we are to have both the transit line and the paved rec trail, the line must be built in a cut-and-cover subway tunnel between its bridge over I-71 and the Hyde Park Kroger, a distance of about 6,500 feet. For certain, an underground station would be required at Edwards Rd., and if the tunnel must be extended as far as Marburg, at least one more underground station. Although such a tunnel would conflict with few utilities, and no building underpinning would be required, it would add at least $50 million to the project cost, and perhaps $100 million or more.

This drawing shows the tunnel with dashes, and station locations in white:
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Here are photos I took in 2007, when the line was still active. As is obvious from these photos, there is hardly space for a parallel railroad track (the existing tracks would be removed and new tracks built to either side), let alone the 40-50 feet necessary for a double-track line and a 10-foot rec trail:
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Near Paxton Rd.:
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These photos of the gulch east of Paxton show that retaining walls will be necessary along Wasson Rd. and/or the private land south of the ROW in order to double-track the line. The rec trail could probably be built here at street level, with a railing at the top of a retaining wall down to the tracks:
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I'm seeing a manhole down there on the right. Does a utility line cross the line at this point or does it parallel the entire line? If so, add another $10 million to the tunnel cost:
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Ault Park:
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Ault Park:
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Ault Park:
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Passing over Red Bank Rd.:
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So in summary, by increasing the cost of the Hyde Park section of the Wasson Rd. transit line by $50-100~ million, the tunnel means miles of construction east of Red Bank Rd. will be temporarily sacrificed. Does this mean the line gets to Fairfax but not Mariemont? Mariemont but not Terrace Park? There's no way to know that today. But considering the glacial pace at which rail transit projects proceed, the neighborhood left without service might wait a decade or more.

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