Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday Morning in Downtown Mesa: Groundbreaking for the Metro Light Rail Extension

We were privileged to attend the groundbreaking for the first Metro light rail extension in downtown Mesa this morning, an important step in improving the East Valley's mass transit system, rejuvenating central Mesa, and getting some of us out of our cars.
The canopy over the event at Robson just north of Main Street, where the four new stops (Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street, Mesa Drive) of the first light rail extension will run, made things cooler but it made our dumbphone pics basically indecipherable.
No disrespect is intended -- we will be having a talk with our camera -- and we were impressed with the speeches of Mesa's visionary mayor Scott Smith; Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta; Mesa Councilmember and Metro Board Vice-Chairman Dennis Kavanaugh; the gentleman from Valley Transit Constructors, which will be building the project; the event's MC, David Schwarz, executive director of Friends of Transit; and others.
Michelle Moyer and the Take Cover band supplied the music,
and there was a lot -- really a lot -- of food
for the crowd that attended the event, which started at 8 a.m.
We got a "METRO Breaks Ground" pin, the first in a series of six "Mark the Milestones" pins that will end with the grand opening, sometime in 2015. And then, hopefully, the light rail will be extended to Gilbert Road and beyond. We have fantasies that someday the light rail will come all the way out to Apache Junction and extend to many other parts of the Valley, transforming the area into the kind of urban environment more and more people seem to want to live in.
As a kid growing up in postwar New York City -- inshallah, we're heading back there next week -- we saw the choices for urban development in what's probably a simplistic way, with Robert Moses and his large-project, highway-driven environment (if you haven't read Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker, you should) one one side and on the other, the street-life, neighborhood ethos of Jane Jacobs, as explained in The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
For us, downtown Mesa is the one of the places in the East Valley in which we feel most comfortable, because it's walkable and it's got at least the start of a street culture that can attract what Richard Florida calls the creative class.
With at least three colleges coming downtown, along with other projects -- thanks to Mayor Smith and other enlightened leaders -- the light rail extension can really provide a way for a city with more people than Cleveland, Miami or Minneapolis to become something better than it has been. We're hopeful "Building a Better Mesa" is more than just another slogan.

2012 Best of the Capitol - Best Elected Officials: Greg Stanton & Scott Smith from Arizona Capitol Times Video on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Richard Grayson's "SPRING IN GAINESVILLE" Now Available as Trade Paperback or eBook at Amazon Kindle Store

This week Superstition Mountain Press published Richard Grayson's Spring in Gainesville. It is available in a 210-page trade paperback edition for $11.99, as well as an e-book published by Art Pants Company available at the Amazon Kindle store for 99 cents.

The promo stuff says in part,
Richard Grayson has been keeping a daily diary compulsively since the summer of 1969, when he was an 18-year-old agoraphobic about to venture out into the world -- or at least the world around him in Brooklyn. His diary, approximately 600 words a day without missing a day since August 1, 1969, now totals over 9 million words, rivaling the longest diaries ever written.
But Grayson is not merely an eccentric with graphomania. His nonfiction has appeared in PEOPLE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE ORLANDO SENTINEL, THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC, THE NEW YORK POST and numerous other periodicals. ROLLING STONE called Grayson’s first short story collection, WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK, published in 1979, “where avant-garde fiction goes when it becomes stand-up comedy,” and NEWSDAY said, “The reader is dazzled by the swift, witty goings-on.”
Grayson’s other short story collections have also received acclaim. LIBRARY JOURNAL called LINCOLN’S DOCTOR’S DOG (1982) “excellent” and said of I BRAKE FOR DELMORE SCHWARTZ (1983) that “Grayson is a born storyteller and standup talker.” THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW said Grayson’s I SURVIVED CARACAS TRAFFIC (1996) was “entertaining and bizarre” and “consistently, even ingeniously funny."
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY called Grayson’s THE SILICON VALLEY DIET (2000) “compulsively talky and engagingly disjunctive”; KIRKUS DISCOVERIES termed Grayson “an audacious and wickedly smart comedic writer” in its review of HIGHLY IRREGULAR STORIES (2005); and THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, reviewing AND TO THINK THAT HE KISSED HIM ON LORIMER STREET (2006), said, “Grayson has a fresh, funny voice.”
Grayson’s sixteenth compilation of diary entries, SPRING IN GAINESVILLE, alternates among his three spring semesters as an over-40 law student at the University of Florida. Taking place from 1992 to 1994, and coming after FIRST FALL IN GAINESVILLE, Grayson's diary from his first semester of law school, SPRING IN GAINESVILLE gives the reader a unique, thoughtful and idiosyncratic perspective on the day-to-day process by which American attorneys are made.
Grayson has published the first six volumes of the diaries of his late teens and twenties as THE BROOKLYN DIARIES, featuring SUMMER IN BROOKLYN: 1969-1975; WINTER IN BROOKLYN: 1972-73; SPRING IN BROOKLYN, 1975; AUTUMN IN BROOKLYN, 1978; MORE SUMMERS IN BROOKLYN: 1976-1979; and A YEAR IN ROCKAWAY, 1980.
The second six volumes of his diaries have been published as THE EIGHTIES DIARIES, which include SOUTH FLORIDA WINTERS, 1981-1984; LATE SPRING IN SUNRISE, 1982; WEST SIDE SUMMERS, 1984-1987; INDIAN SUMMER: PARK SLOPE, 1985; SPRINGTIME IN LAUDERHILL, 1986; and EIGHTIES’ END: AUTUMN, 1987-1989.
The book is also available on Scribd and Lulu for free online reading.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Evening in Chandler: Chandler Bash of the Century Centennial Celebration at Tumbleweed Park

We took Loop 202 to Tumbleweed Park early this evening to catch a little of the latest event in the city of Chandler's centennial celebration, the Chandler Bash of the Century.

Friday Evening in Downtown Mesa: 35th Birthday Party for Arizona Museum of Natural History

At 6:30 p.m. today we were back in beautiful downtown Mesa, walking up Macdonald past the music fans waiting online at the Nile Theatre to just north of Main Street, where the wonderful Arizona Museum of Natural History was holding its 35th birthday party, with the street in front of it blocked off for many fun activities for kids. Free admission brought scores of families inside the museum to see its many fascinating exhibits.
More coming. . .
We had a great time and learned a good deal at the Arizona Museum of Natural History this evening, and we're grateful we got to attend its 35th birthday party.
And we're sorry we didn't invite it to ours in 1986.