On the first day of 2011, I wrote my first post for this blog. Four days and four years later, this is the last. The events of the past few months have put a squeeze on my writing time, and rendered the proposition of writing on this topic a bit more complex. Funding has been secured to establish an urban design resource for the city- the Chattanooga Design Studio. I've been asked to help get the organization up and running, and for the foreseeable future, that is what I'll be up to. I came to the conclusion that a personal blog on urban design couldn't coexist with this new position. I have reservations about my ability to continue writing without getting the new organization in hot water. (Starting a non-profit is going to be difficult enough without the handicap of my big mouth.) But before I go, there are few things to pay off:
-I started with a lament on the Declining Standard of Downtown Building. We might say that things have improved slightly since then. A number of big projects, however, are slated to being soon. The quality of this new development and the contribution to the public realm will show if we're back on track, or if the decline continues.
-From the first word of this blog until the last, the state of Alabama has had a representative in the college football national championship game (and the year before as well). “The last five seasons will go down as the greatest college football run for any state in the country in the entire history of the game. Five years. Two schools. Five national championship game appearances. Four national championships and one near-miss.” While the streak may be over, I don’t believe the ‘Bama dynasty is. We’ll be back.
-Coming in to today, I wasn’t sure how to pay off the cooking angle. Tonight’s dinner was a thunderbolt of inspiration. My cooking over the past four years has been all over the place- molecular cuisine with foams and spherification to asian inspiration, and offal orgies. Of late, I’m back to basics in the form of French classicism. Tonight I made a by-the-book béchamel a la Julia. I added too much pepper, and when I tasted it, I pulled an Anton Ego. This French mother sauce is made by adding scalded milk to a butter/flour roux. It turns out that this is the exact recipe that BaBa (and countless other Southerners) used to make the gravy of biscuit and gravy fame. Béchamel is nothing but a fancy word for gravy. I suppose I've always known this, but this was the first time I realized it. In a parallel universe I would've used this as a departure point for a post on the beauty of simplicity and the possibilities of variations on a theme- a mother sauce. In this universe, I'll simply say that the city is merely a series of variations on basic themes- get the basics right and the city will flourish.
The blog has been a tremendous experience. I’m not sure that I can convey exactly what it's meant to me, but it's been a very special part of my life. In the end, the best thing I can say about it is that it has been fun. When I grow old, some of my fondest memories will be of laying in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, soccer on tv in the background, the boys crawling on top of me, computer in lap, writing stories about Chattanooga. Thanks for reading, for your encouraging comments, your retweets, ‘likes’ and forwards. I may write again, but there's no telling when or what I'll write about. 'Til then… Forever and forever, farewell! If we meet again, then we’ll smile.
If not, then this parting was well done.