Past, Present, Future


This is the time of year that everyone takes to Facebook and Twitter to say something to the effect of “Good-bye and good riddance 2012, you sucked. Bring on 2013”. I, for one, will not be among that crowd. 2012 has been one of the best years of my life. I’ll not bore you the details as I’ve done enough of that here during the course of the year. I will say that if 2013 is half as good as 2012 was, I’ll be the happiest sonofagun in the Tennessee Valley. Of course, ‘Bama winning next week would go a long way toward making that a reality. Unfortunately, according to the national media, our lowly boys have no such chance against the awesome might of Notre Dame.


Last week, the family and I packed up the family truckster and headed down to spend Christmas with my folks in Montgomery. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I have become a Scrooge (or Grinch if you prefer). I have nothing against Christmas, I’m all about celebrating the birth of Jesus. But I do think the whole thing is overblown and over-commercialized. Even then, the whole ordeal serves in a purpose since the week gives us a chance to reset, visit loved ones and it gives our society a common point of reference.  Despite the fact that I can acknowledge and appreciate the event, for some reason when it rolls around I get a bit crotchety. This year was no exception. On the bright side, the boys had a good time and they seemed to be genuinely appreciative of their several tons of Ninjago Legos and ‘Bama paraphernalia.

My Christmas mood notwithstanding, the trip was melancholy for another reason. After years spent teaching dance to the youth of Montgomery, my folks are hanging up their pointe shoes and retiring to the mountainous West. This, coupled with Baba’s passing earlier in the year, means that my life-long ties to my home state are essentially broken. Of course, those ties can never be truly broken, but they are from the standpoint that there is no longer a base there; I no longer have a “home” in Alabama. This makes me sad. To be clear, I’m not upset with my folks. After teaching ballet in Montgomery County Public Schools for more than twenty years, they have each earned the right to do what they want in retirement (not that they need my approval anyway). They both love the big mountains, snow, and lack of humidity out there, and I’m very happy that they’re going to a place that they love. For them, home means retiring to a place in the mountains, not remaining in central Alabama.

It is the thought of home that I will miss, not their house (ya’ll might guess my thoughts on a garden home in a homogenous development in a 10th ring sub-urb). My gloominess is a psychological issue. The state of Alabama is still there. Montgomery is still there. So, in a sense, nothing concrete has changed. The saying goes that home is where is the heart is. I’m not sure that I can totally agree. My home is in Chattanooga, and my heart is here. But when I think of the word “home”, my first thought is of Alabama. To be truthful, I’m not as in love with Montgomery as I once was and I can’t envisage a scenario that would lead to me moving back there. I have absolutely no desire to leave Chattanooga, but Alabama is never far from my thoughts.


Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation was one of the inspirations for this blog. Kuntlser wrote Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere – books that influenced me heavily as a planning graduate student. Every year he offers a post with predictions for the upcoming year. This year he offers a very well-reasoned, but depressing (shocker) outlook on the future. I will again bite his style by offering predictions for the New Year. My predictions, however, will (primarily) be limited to issues affecting urban design in Chattanooga. Looking into my crystal ball for 2013 I see that:

-Andy Berke will become our next Mayor. This is a very good thing.

-Marginal progress will be made in making the T-Dot design for US-27 suck less. It will, however, still suck and we may well have to drop the “Scenic City” moniker. The TDOT lack of understanding that cities consist of more than highways never ceases to amaze. They are PROUD of what they have done to us- witness their website celebrating the three dozen+ massive concrete retaining walls that are the new reality of our downtown.

-The local architectural community will (continue to) step up. I don’t think we’re quite ready to see a boom in downtown building just yet, but there will be some action. I think the Urban Design Challenge indeed challenged our designers to raise their game- it also reminded our development community of the breadth and depth of talent to be found here. There won’t be a ton of new work, but what is built should do us proud.

-The Downtown Design Guidelines will be adopted. Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to say that this will be a good thing. I will say, however,  that there is at least the possibility that it won't be a bad thing.

-I will continue my personal boycott of downtown establishments that show disregard for good urban design. I'm not going to share my list as it now includes some locals in addition to the chains. The bad news is that the list is growing...the good news is that from a culinary standpoint I'm not missing anything.

-Like it or not, I will continue to blog for at least one more year.

-As mentioned earlier, the press is doing everything they can to convince people that Notre Dame will beat Alabama. They have pulled all manner of statistics to make their case. I will make a prediction for the game using my own statistical analysis (that is about as solid as what the DB’s on TV are using). My analysis is based on the last opponent of each team – Georgia and USC. Alabama proved to be 4 points better than Georgia, Notre Dame was 9 points was better than USC. The link between these two teams is Georgia Tech. Georgia beat Tech by 28, and Tech just beat USC by 14 (Sun Bowl). We then know that ‘Bama is 4 better than UGA, who is 28 better than Tech, who is 14 better than the Trojans, who are 9 worse than the Irish. This means that Alabama is 37 points better than Notre Dame.

My prediction: ‘Bama 49  UND 12.

Happy New Year!!

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