Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cranley Says...

The worst thing about John Cranley?  He totally ruined this song for me:

Cranley says I've come to hate my body
And all that it requires in this world
Cranley says I'd like to know completely
What others so discreetly talk about

I'm gonna watch the blue birds fly over my shoulder
I'm gonna watch them pass me by
Maybe when I'm older
What do you think I'd see
If I could walk away from me

Cranley says I hate the quiet places
That cause the smallest taste of what will be
Cranley says I hate the big decisions
That cause endless revisions in my mind

I'm gonna watch the blue birds fly over my shoulder
I'm gonna watch them pass me by
Maybe when I'm older
What do you think I'd see
If I could walk away from me

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cranley's Inaugural Ball: Live Entertainment Sneak-Peek!

Sources confirm that Gary Low will headline John Cranley's December 1, 2013 Inaugural Ball at Twin Lanterns, 6191 Harrison Ave. in Dent:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Streetcar Tracks claim their first Bicycling Victim

Our streetcar tracks are just a few days old, and they've already claimed their first 2-wheeled victim:

2 wheels good, 2 rails ba-a-a-a-d!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Whatever happened to the streetcar that visited Cincinnati in 2010?

Remember when this streetcar visited Fountain Square?:

Here is its story:

In February 2006, Škoda Transportation established an "exclusive technology transfer agreement" with Oregon Iron Works (OIW) to build streetcars meeting "Buy America" rules, and the two companies jointly prepared a detailed OIW submission when the city of Portland (owner of the Portland Streetcar system) issued a request for proposals in mid-2006 to build one new streetcar for the Portland Streetcar. In January 2007, OIW won a contract from Portland to build the prototype streetcar, to the Škoda design, and reported that it had established a new subsidiary, United Streetcar LLC, to perform the work.[24]

The United Streetcar prototype, number 015 in the Portland Streetcar fleet, was delivered on May 15, 2009,[19] but did not enter service until 2012. The car is model 10T, the same as Škoda-built cars 001-007, but features a slightly modified end design. Although the differences are relatively minor, car 015 is considered to be model variant 10T3, whereas cars 001-005 were 10T0 and cars 006-007 were 10T2.[25] Car 015, which carries a red, white and blue paint scheme and large "Made in USA" lettering along the sides, was presented to the public in a July 1, 2009 ceremony, at which Secretary Ray LaHood was the featured speaker.[26]

Car 015's entry into service was delayed by more than three years, not finally occurring until September 2012.[27] The main reason for the delay was a 2010 decision to replace its propulsion-control system – the electronic equipment which controls and coordinates the operation of the car's motors and other key operating components – with equipment made by Rockwell Automation, ofMilwaukeeWisconsin.[28] Although the car was complete and operable in mid-2009, it had yet to undertake the extensive "acceptance testing" needed to certify that it was safe for passenger service and would run reliably. Car 015's propulsion control system was made by Škoda, whereas all 10 earlier Portland streetcars—even the seven cars built by Škoda—had control systems supplied by Elin EBG, an Austrian company (and only installed by Škoda).[29]

 Acceptance testing began in late summer 2009, but revealed (unspecified) problems, and Škoda and Portland Streetcar were unable to reach agreement on resolving them.[29] This issue, together with a desire by PS, United Streetcar and others to increase further the U.S. content of streetcars built by United Streetcar, led to discussions between Rockwell Automation and the various interested parties in Portland on the possibility and feasibility of Rockwell designing a control system for the United Streetcar design.[29] In April 2010, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved a $2.4-million grant, to be matched by $600,000 in local money, to fund the replacement of car 015's control equipment with new equipment to be designed by Rockwell Automation.[30][31][32] Under FTA rules, the grant was made to TriMet (the region's primary transit agency), but TriMet only acted as intermediary in this instance, and it passed the funds along to the Portland Streetcar system's owner, the city of Portland, who administered the contract with Rockwell and the now-amended contract with Oregon Iron Works/United Streetcar. The change was expected to increase the overall U.S. content of the car from around 70% to around 90%,[32] and this helped win the support of federal officials to approve the $2.4 million in "research funds" needed to allow project to proceed.[30] 

Prototype streetcar 015 was transported back to the OIW factory, in Portland's southeast suburbs, in May 2010,[28] and it returned on April 30, 2012, now fitted with the experimental Rockwell propulsion system.[33] It began acceptance testing on the Portland Streetcar tracks in June[34] and was certified for service on September 21, 2012.[27] It entered passenger service the following day, September 22, 2012, the opening day of the new eastside line (CL Line).[21]

Meanwhile, the city has also purchased an additional five streetcars for the eastside expansion. A contract for these was let to United Streetcar in August 2009 and was originally for six cars.[35] However, in light of Portland's dissatisfaction with the Škoda propulsion control system, the city decided in 2010 to modify the OIW/United Streetcar contract for these cars, to substitute equipment from Elin for the originally planned Škoda equipment.[28][36] Fabrication of the streetcars had yet to begin at the time of that decision, but the change was substantial enough that delivery was delayed as a result, and the first cars are now not projected to be delivered until December 2012.[37] 

These five cars were not fitted with the Rockwell equipment, because the Rockwell system was still being designed at the time that production was beginning on the additional cars. If the city had waited for it to be completed, installed and thoroughly tested in car 015 before installing it in the additional cars, doing so would delay the completion of those cars too much, city officials indicated. These cars are United Streetcar model "100", instead of 10T3.[38] In 2011, production problems raised the cost of manufacturing of these cars, and as a result, the city agreed to reduce the number of cars on order from six to five.[36] These cars have been assigned numbers 021–025 in the Portland Streetcar fleet.[33] The first car (021) was delivered in January 2013 and entered service on June 11, 2013.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Spotting undercover prostitutes on McMicken St.

Schwart'z Point is one of the most intense 5-way intersections in the United States.  The streets and buildings converge in dramatic fashion, and somebody is always doing something a little suspicious.  

This past weekend I was treated the sight of these two orange cats doing some goofy dance and this ridiculous undercover prostitute all in one frame: 


For the benefit of Jerry Springer, should he be reading this, let's count the giveaways:

1. The sort-of yoga pants
2. The feigned text messaging
3. The too-healthy skin and hair
4. Location, Location, Location (Schwartz's Point?  Seriously?!)
5. The sort-of yoga pants

And what can't be seen from this photo is how sloppy her wave was.  It was like someone merely renting a jeep attempting the jeep wave.  I pity the fool who rolled into this trap!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why aren't we being warned anymore about the imminent collapse of the Brent Spence Bridge?

Last year I did a post on the sensational mailer sent out by "".  The campaign also included some completely outrageous radio spots, with kids singing "America's bridges falling down" to the tune of London Bridge.

Here was the mailer:

And here is now:

Here is what remains of the radio spot audio files:

But wait, the union is exploiting the most recent major bridge collapse:

...and here our question is partly answered.  Their fear campaign has left Cincinnati's airwaves and mailboxes because Kasich is determined to make his public-private partnership avoid union labor as much as possible.  It appears that this union has stopped warning of the Brent Spence Bridge's imminent collapse since it doesn't appear their members will be building it.  

Here we see a paradox of American life today: the unions want construction work and the easiest way to get it is through road and highway projects since they never require a public vote.  If public transportation were to suddenly be given the exemption from democracy that has been enjoyed by the highway lobby for over 50 years, we would no doubt see the unions back those types of projects.  But this union is unfortunately using fear to get unnecessary make-work projects funded.  


Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Streetcars Preferred Over Busses" -- article from 1925

Here we are reading the very beginnings of the disassembly of Cincinnati's original streetcar system -- specifically the circa 1925 consideration of bus service in place of streetcars on Ludlow Ave. in Clifton.  The occasion was the reconstruction of Ludlow Ave. from a narrow 2-lane country road to the wide boulevard still seen today (two fragments of the original Ludlow Ave. of course still survive to its north).  The streetcar company sought to save money on its street paving obligations (The Cincinnati Street Railway was required per its franchise to pave the space between its tracks, a foot to either side, and the space between double-tracks) by substituting busses.   This move would have transferred the cost of paving the center of the rebuilt Ludlow Ave. to the Park Board.  After considerable debate, streetcar tracks were built in the new Ludlow Ave., but only remained there for about 20 years.  

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Breeders: Safari

Unfortunately I missed The Breeders tonight at The Southgate House Revival.  I don't know if they played this song or not, but I think this song and its video are intensely entertaining: 

I don't think this video was played on MTV at all.  If it was, it was only played a few times, which is a shame, since I think it's one of the best examples of the attitudes of the times for those who were the intended audience of this music.  I didn't see it for the first time until it was posted on Youtube in 2007 or 2008.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ironic Slot Machines

Who are the geniuses behind slot machine themes?  That's right, your social security check is about to vanish:  

Another disturbing view from the new casino -- the suckers wasting time waiting in line to get the money they're about to throw away:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

New UC Law Building Renderings

See how easy that was to get you to click on this link?

UC likes to remind us about its award-winning starchitecture (as a friend in art school once commented at a student film festival, the films with the most cuts always win "best editing"), but perhaps it should be modeling itself after venerated Harvard Law:

...which appears to have modeled itself after the Lindner School of Business:

The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus. In single file they eased around the orange I-beam sculpture and moved toward the dormitories. The roofs of the station wagons were loaded down with carefully secured suitcases full of light and heavy clothing; with boxes of blankets, boots and shoes, stationery and books, sheets, pillows, quilts; with rolled-up rugs and sleeping bags; with bicycles, skis, ruckksacks, English and Western saddles, inflated rafts. As cars slowed to a crawl and stopped, students sprang out and raced to the rear doors to begin removing the objects inside; the stereo sets, radios, personal computers; small refrigerators and table ranges; the cartons of phonograph records and casesttes; the hairdryers and styling irons; the tennis rackets, soccer balls, hockey and lacrosse sticks, bows and arrows; the controlled substances, the birth control pills and devices; the jurik food still in shopping bags--onion- and-garlic chips, nacho thins, peanut creme patties, Waffelos and Kabooms, fruit chews and toffee popcorn; the Dum-Dum pops, the Mystic mints.

I've witnessed this spectacle every September for twenty-one years. It is a brilliant event, invariably. The students greet each other with comic cries and gestures of sodden collapse. Their summer has been bloated with c riminal pleasures, as always. The parents stand sun-dazed near their automobiles, seeing images of themselves in every direction. The conscientious suntans. The well-made faces and wry looks. They feel a sense of renewal, of communal recognition. The women crisp and alert, in diet trim, knowing people's names. Their husbands content to measure out the time, distant but ungrudging, accomplished in parenthood, something about them suggesting massive insurance coverage. This assembly of station wagons, as much as anything they might do in the course of the year, more than formal liturgies or laws, tells the parents they are a collection of the like-minded and the spiritually akin, a people, a nation. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Enquirer's Hall of Shame

I ran across this scan from 2011.  Probably the single most ridiculous item The Enquirer has published so far regarding the streetcar project:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Your own reflection in digital camera LCD screens

I ran across this photo on The Cobrasnake's website:

When digital cameras first appeared one of the weird things I noticed was the way your own image is reflected in the screen while reviewing photos.  4x5 cameras or any view camera with a ground glass also did this, but not as vividly, and also any lens does it when you turn around the camera, but that's not what I'm talking about.

As much as I'm still periodically spooked by my own image reflected in a digital camera's screen, I was spooked much more the first time I saw a print large enough to see the reflection of the photographer in a subject's eyeball.  Specifically, my photo teacher at UT made about a dozen 30x40 prints of environmental portraits from 4x5 negatives where you could see him, in eyeballs the size of baseballs, standing next to the tripod-mounted view camera used to make the photographs.  Details to either side and behind the photographer were visible as well.  I immediately recognized that this deeper illustration of the context of the photograph changed the context of the viewer of the print.  

With newer computers and tablets, the screens tend to be much more vividly reflective than older screens, and before we turn on the device, we see ourselves for a moment.  Again, I hate that it happens, and suppose I race to turn on the screen in order to minimize the amount of time I am reminded that I am possibly wasting my time browsing the internet or whatever.  Or at the very least am bothered that I might be wasting brain power worrying about the implications of seeing one's reflection in a new type of device.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why has the Internet gotten so boring?

When I was in art school in the 90s, I half-seriously proposed carving websites in stone and then burying them, since I recognized then that the early internet would be lost.  Like most things I said in classes back then, I was laughed at but I had a point that has since been validated. 

My prediction was correct but for the wrong reasons -- I was sure that the design of websites would change in unpredictable ways, but I didn't predict that the way websites would be consumed would change from desktop computers to...phones and tablets.  Or that this switch to phones and tablets would change the pace with which people consumed content.  Or that phones and tablets would turn people into passive consumers of the internet rather than active participants in it (other than their personal profiles, of course). 

Luckily, started crawling the web sometime in the late 90s and has partially saved many of the old websites.  Many of the images are gone, and you can't click on .wav files or quicktime movies.  But the sense of the early web's lawlessness is there, especially that of this particular specimen, the (former) home of the imaginary Orgasmonaut Band:

This sort of intensely creative thing (at least on this scale) doesn't happen anymore.  I mean, this guy - whoever he was - spent a lot of time putting this website together.  

But the other thing I'm sensing lately is that the internet is "flattening" all media.  What I mean is a photograph is the same as a painting is the same as a podcast is the same as a video.  It's all looks and sounds and feels the same now, which means it all means the same thing.  

Given these changes, I feel discouraged from creating a traditional website and so should you.  The smarter move now seems to be to create something in a traditional form, then invite others digitize it (through photos or their own commentary), or at the very least link to it.  A shared link acts as a referral, rather than the modern-day equivalent of the email blast, which is the first-person Facebook or Twitter post.  And like the email blasts of old, people are getting so many social media posts now they can't possibly pay close attention to many of them.   

I mean, just imagine here in 2013 how many Twitter retweets I'd be getting if I was digging up stone tablets with early Geocities websites carved on them.  Instead I'm just writing this blog post that'll maybe get 100 views.  

Sign My Guestbook!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

See the Spanish-made streetcars coming to Cincinnati

The Cincinnati media keeps running this dorky drawing of the CAF streetcars we have ordered:

Here is high quality video of CAF streetcars very similar to the five that will start arriving in Cincinnati in late 2014:

The CAF streetcars are in concept similar to the Skoda vehicles in Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, and Washington, DC.  However Skoda is swamped with orders so we ordered from CAF, which is located in Zaragoza, Spain.  

I've been to Zaragoza, if driving past it on the highway counts as having been there.  It's a city of about 700,000 located about halfway between Madrid and Barcelona.  

Here is CAF's plant on the outskirts of Zaragoza:
[Click for larger image]

And here is a crop of that same image -- you are looking at the roofs of new streetcars and light rail trains:
[Click for larger image]

As should be obvious from these satellite images, CAF has a pretty big operation and manufacturing Cincinnati's streetcars on time shouldn't be a problem.  Unfortunately the Made-in-the-USA stipulation of the Federal grant awarded to Cincinnati means the streetcars must be assembled somewhere in the United States.  That somewhere is Elmira, NY, home of CAF USA.  The half-finished streetcars should be on their way across the Atlantic Ocean around this time next year and will arrive in Cincinnati for testing sometime in late 2014.    

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Red Feathers -- New Rock & Roll from Columbus

The Red Feathers are a new band playing in Columbus.  They are fronted by Brad Dotsun, a rock & roll buddy of mine from Ohio University.  We had numerous lengthy, thorough, and in-depth conversations about Iggy Pop & The Stooges upwards of ten (yikes!) years ago, and it appears that he has now taken on an Iggy Pop-esque persona and assembled a band around it.  

Bring it to Cincinnati, Brad!

Also, in other rock & roll news from around Ohio, We March played the second of a two-show reunion at The Summit in Columbus on Saturday, Feb 2.  It rocked so hard for whatever reason Blogger is not letting me link directly to the youtube video, so click on this: