As some of you may know, I am never wrong. From time to time I process new information and adjust my position- but this is quite different than being wrong. It occurred to me this week that perhaps in some parallel universe somewhere I might always be wrong (oh, the horror). What a strange universe that must be- cats and dogs living together, UT with a good football team, a decent Chinese restaurant in this town…
But what If I was always wrong? (I know that this is far-fetched and strains credulity, but bear with me.) If I was wrong, then the blog might look like this….
(cue Wayne’s World doodly-doo, doodly-doo, doodly-doo, doodly-doo dream sequence)
I don’t consider the US-27 expansion project a ham-fisted return to Urban Renewal-style, big-government intervention. I think that buying a couple of seconds for the traffic passing through our city is more important than the quality of the built environment that Chattanoogans live with everyday. The original US-27 project served to segregate African-American neighborhoods from the urban center where other people worked. Why not- land uses should always be segregated. I can’t imagine that this project doesn’t have to reinforce that segregation, but could be used instead to knit the city back together. I love the few dozen (33 to be exact) stark concrete retaining walls that are replacing our vegetated slopes. I totally buy in to the comment from the TDOT representative that the walls will be “almost art”. I mean, it’s a concrete retaining wall designed by engineers and built by a massive government agency using federal funds – how can that be anything other than beautiful? (In this universe I probably also really like concrete formed to look like something else- stone, brick, etc.) Yes, I think that government traffic engineers in distant cities know what’s best for our city- and if they think that transient cars are more important than the businesses, people, and built environment of our city, then I believe them.
“Those” Chain Restaurants
Dude, in this universe, I am so stoked that we have BWW, Applebee’s and Chili’s in their current forms. That we have these kick-ass chain restaurants downtown means we’re like a real big city, brah. Of course, these bostin joints have their signature appearance, so it makes sense that they would do that downtown- how else would we be able to recognize them? One-story buildings Kick. Ass. It’s easy to see what’s happening in there and you don’t have to mess with stairs and stuff. Those building are, like cheap, so when they’re done and Dollar General wants to move in, it’s like totally on. Have you seen Buffalo Wild Wings – that’s fuckin’ architecture bro – like it’s an immaculate ochre cube with a black and white checkerboard on it, and patio with shrubbery, whaaaaaat! And Applebee’s is my shit bro- fuck the Fourth and Broad intersection anyway, that’s for cars. Brah, I could so totally crush an Ultimate-Tablegating-Sizzlin’-N’awlins-Fiesta-Lime-Chicken-Skillet-Slammer right now, and wash it down with a cool MGD 64.
Design Guidelines are great! They take all the uncertainty and pesky creativity out of design, how neat and convenient is that? The authors of the guidelines all have plenty of experience in private practice actually designing things, so they know their stuff from experience rather than by theory (or copying other sets of guidelines from other cities). Also, the board charged with enforcement will always act in a principled manner to preserve the letter and spirit of the guidelines and will never bow to pressure from politicians or big businesses. Every big box and chain outfit that comes here will understand the rules and willingly change their corporate standards to meet the guidelines rather than try to find a work-around. Clearly, our community has had such an unwavering commitment to sticking to our guns on design guidelines that no entity would ever dare assail them. If we can just get guidelines adopted for downtown all of our problems will be over.
The Role of the Community
It is not possible for any gathering of citizens to provide any meaningful input on the form of the city they live in. The public realm is government property and as such should be the exclusive domain of traffic engineers, and various other bureaucrats who know what they’re doing. Trust me, the government always knows what’s best for us from the standpoint of city-building. Just look at the American landscape from 1960-2008- it is beautiful and sustainable, and this is all due to governmental mandates in the form of zoning codes and transportation design standards. I think everyone should go back to their Swanson dinner in front of the TV and leave the built environment to the professionals. (I’m sorry, joke or not, I actually threw-up in my mouth a few times typing that).
Alabama v. Notre Dame
(Note: By the time most of you read this, the actual game will have been decided, but for the record, this was written the day before the game.)
In no universe can I foresee a scenario in which Notre Dame beats Alabama. However, I have a sense that in another universe I predicted that ‘Bama would win by 37 points. Sorry, I don’t think the Tide will cover the spread. If you consider that ‘Bama lost to Texas A&M by 5, A&M beat Oklahoma by 28, and the Irish only beat Oklahoma by 17, then you will find that Alabama is 6 points better than Notre Dame. My prediction: Alabama 6, Notre Dame 0.
So there you have it, a glimpse into world in which I am not always right. It isn’t very pretty is it?