taking today off, and possibly tomorrow provided the paper doesn't aggrivate me too much.

See you all on monday.



It was 55 degrees when I woke this morning. And for the first time in 2 weeks, the windows were wide open, the air off. My nose unstuffy. And my sleep -deep. Not long enough, well - never long enough. But deep.

I took the dogs out for the morning constitutional, and nearly stopped dead on my stoop (yes stoop, thats what we northerners call your front steps). Between the clarity of the air, the clear shot view to the mountains to the north and west, and the coolness - I was in heaven. Then I got dragged down the stairs by the dogs.

Worry not, no tragedy ensued. It was your standard rousing walk with the boys. All 3 of us fighting the urge to come in and have breakfast. No, it was far too nice outside. But we, all 3, have other responsabilities. I have things to do, and the dogs - as all dogs do - have to get back to sleep. 18 hours a day is the average for most dogs I read somewhere. Now you know why they call it "a dog's life."

I was dismayed at the lack of content on the Roanoke Times website today. A story about how Roanoke is the 53rd sweatiest city in the nation. Fascinating. The wild kittens of Roanoke, another one of those issues that has been rehashed by every media outlet around. I remember SLS doing a poll not 2 months ago on the same topic. I have yet to be mugged by a cat however. Whereas in NY, being held up at claw-point was nearly a daily occurance.

No real "new" news today apparently. Most of last night's 11 o'clock news storys are the content for todays Times Online. Might just be a slow news day though, weather like this. Even the editorials are on cruise control. A piece on Terri Schiavo, which I cant bring myself to read - much like any story on the Runaway Bride - its overkill. The Medical Examiner in the case basically can't put a finger on what led to her state. However, and if you listened to the inflections in his voice and watched his mannerisims - he firmly believes that had she been properly cared for during those 15 years, this might have never become an issue. Clearly he believes Michael Schiavo should be charged with something, but in the absence of direct evidence of anything - he is powerless.

Must be tough to be a doctor, to see a patient who clearly could have, should have, would have been saved - if only things were done different.

The 2nd Ed. piece is on the Koran burning. On SLS yesterday, the reporter asked the Imam wether he considered this a hate crime. Of course, he said yes - which is true. But in retrospect, when all is said and done - this will be more a crime of blatant stupidity. Most who draw swastikas on Jewish temples, deface catholic churches, or wreck a mosque do so out of sheer stupidity. It takes reason to hate, logic - no matter how twisted - to strike out against a group for whatever reason.

This is more of a "Hey, look at me showin them mooslims somethin'. Payback for 9-11..." blah, blah, blah. Theres only the shallowest thought going on in that pool of intellect. Maybe if time allows later, I will post my memories of 9-11, and all that ensued. A warning if I do, it will not be kind. It will not be like the glorified memories it seems most of you down here have of 9-11. I am not trying to be rude, or untoward - but this has been a long time coming. Since Ive come down, I am constantly asked about it - only to hear the rememberances of someone who is looking at it through the veil of TV. I still have to correct inaccuracies in the story.

On second thought, Im going to save this till 9-11 itself. I think its more appropriate to do it then.

I'll be back later, with something. Its too nice to get all deep today.


Editorials from The Roanoke Times -An awakening of downtown life?

Editorials from The Roanoke Times -An awakening of downtown life?

This is the conceit of the press these days. We think its good, were going to support it (wether you like it or not), so you might as well support it too. Its no wonder most Roanokers feel powerless in the face of change. The Times portrays major movements such as the Condo-ization of downtown, the AMWV, and several other local issues it stoops down to pass judgement on as groundswells. Tidal waves of popular opinion and support, so you might as well shut up and get back to work, because your opinion doesn't count.

Theres one thing Ive always found interesting about Editorial pages, aside from the attitude. Why are most, and when I say most - I mean most across the country, editorial pieces unsigned. I have yet to see one in the Roanoke Times actually have a name attached. Are we to assume this is the opinion of the paper as a whole? Were that the case, the Times then needs to have its psyche checked out. To spit into the face of your readership, a good number of whom completely disagree with your editorials, is a tacky move.

A good newspaper supports its community. Provides it with unbiased news, both local and national. It editorializes logically, understanding when dissent becomes heavy-handed. And it makes sure its staff is personally responsible for the content they provide. And when I say personally responsible, I mean answerable to the public - the readership, the customers.

The whole notion of individuals hiding behind the Editorial page banner bothers me. There are 4 individuals listed on the Ed. banner. 3 men and 1 woman. Each has differing life experiences, each has different thoughts. Yet we are kept in the dark about which writer is which. And it is much harder to get an entire editorial staff replaced than it is to call for the termination of an individual who constantly rubs the community the wrong way.

Again, Im not saying dissent is a bad thing. Sometimes newspapers can give a different viewpoint on an issue, one which might cause people to think differently. The Times Ed. staff does not cause people to think differently - they demand it. They presuppose that you think one way, they admit not everyone does, and they tell you straight out - if you think that other way, your dead wrong.

I remember reading once a line, "those who think otherwise don't have Roanoke's best interests at heart."

If we had an option of a different newspaper, Im pretty sure the Times building would have withered and blown away after that one. It is not a newspapers place to decide what is and is not good for Roanoke, policy or otherwise. We, who have read other newspapers, expect better from our newspaper. Especially in a special community as such is Roanoke. This place is, by and large; a very faith-oriented, hard-working, diverse yet cohesive place. Issues such as Victory Stadium, while appearing large and unweildy, actually fall to the back burner for everyday life. They are diversions, gripes, something to grumble about. But for the Editorial page of the Times to constantly focus on the truly meaningless distractions, rather than focus on the governmental and community problems that lead us to these distractions - that is where the problem comes in.

Oh - and a side note about the P. 1 headlines today. Now I will grant it was below the fold, everything above the fold was local. But the bottom left corner, headine "Do the news media ignore minorities who disappear?"

Ok- listen, first off its an AP story. As is the Schiavo story, but thats a high value story, so I dont have a problem with that being on the front page. But the story on disappearing minorities? Well, that could have been a bit further inside the main section - like where the rest of the article is contained - on page 8. Or, considering its a media story - stick it back in the Extra section. That section could always use a touch more padding, and that section should be where the media stories are located and debated.

And for design ideas for the new Wicktory Stadium, how about looking at what Steinbrenner is doing for the new Yankee Stadium. A truly stunning design, yet classic.

Allright, enough..


I would like to take this moment to talk about real estate

Allright, wake up.. I know this is not the most fascinating of topics. But bear with me here. I have a little expertise in this.

Ya ready?

Back in the days of my youth, on the local main street, which housed a few bars - a few restaurants - a grocery store & department store which were started by the man who eventually sold the concept of a general large-scale department store to R.H. Macy. It's a fairly historic street in most regards. It was an utter business failure. No one went shopping on Main Street after the malls opened, after the mega-supermarkets opened. There was a theatre there, which for 26 of my 30 years on the planet - was closed. Well, closed to the public - if you werent afraid of heights and were a kid you could easily get in. They finally tore it down to put up a gazebo, about 20 sq. ft of grass, and a medical clinic.

Since I never remember it being open, I did not consider it a great loss. Interestingly though, as soon as the gazebo went up - the drug dealers showed up. No idea as to why though.

Anyway, above a good majority of the storefronts on the street were what we called Taxpayers. Being that property taxes were so high (currently, a 1,750 sq. ft. house on 40x100 lot roughly $7-8k) usually the rent from the apartments went to pay the taxes, utilities, and part of the cost of the store beneath. Not that the stores were getting off easy. Rent was well over 2k a month on a 1k sq. ft. space.

But what wound up happening, over time - the renters finally gave up on the street - refusing to pay rent that high for badly maintained, small apartments. Well, that killed off some of the storefronts. Fast forward to 2 years ago or so - they revamped a good number of the apartments. Re-landscaped the street. Yadda yadda... There were 850 sq. ft. apartments lining the street.

Heres a current example of the renters market in Valley Stream, NY. Where I grew up. These apartments are one block off the main street.

- Studio, 1 bath, 500-588 sq. ft., $1075-1095 a month. No pets, nothing included. $75 a month extra for parking.

-1 bed, 1 bath, 736-900 sq. ft., $1250-1475 a month. Parking still not included, still no pets, still no utilities.

Now I've got 990 sq. ft. here, and Im paying nearly 3/4ths less than that *thank heaven*.

And dont say, well you make more in NY. Rated to the market, you actually make less up there than you do here because the value of a dollar is higher down here.

Now, back to my original point. I like the idea of living downtown in a nice apartment, condo- Im not a fan of condo's but thats just me. But heres the kicker, apartment prices are so high on main st. that no one is renting, the storefronts cant afford to stay in business. So the main street area has not bounced back, its still in the state of disrepair it was 10 years ago. As a matter of fact, looking up the listings for Valley Stream, I found that the first restaurant I ever worked for is going to be torn down and a 3 story apartment complex put on its site. There is not room for that much parking there. But thats not Roanoke, so lets get back to the focus.

Playing rentals with downtown can be a wonderful thing. But the prices have to be scaled properly. You are still looking at an area with no grocery store, no department store, I dont believe I have seen a drug store - so your looking at having to travel for everything. Yes, you can walk to the market and do your grocery shopping for the most part, but not as a whole. And should you have a need for Nyquil at 3am, driving to Walmart or Kroger while sick can be quite a chore.

The prices Im seeing listed for rent on all these renovated spaces downtown, while still not the frightening NY prices, are still pretty bad. If you are looking for CEO's, executives, CFO's and the ilk to populate those buildings, then fine - keep them high. Just remember theres only so many people like that to go around. The majority of people who would like to live downtown, will not be able to afford it at those rates.

Keep downtown liveable, don't go crazy with the pricing. Remember these people still require parking in most cases, groceries, the simple things that make a location all the more convienient. Just watch the money.


"The art museum is not being built on top of our mountains. Instead it is preserving Roanoke's natural beauty by being built in our downtown."
I HIGHLY disagree. I would say, looking at the attached photos, that the beauty is allready there. We dont need to add a block of glass and steel. We should be enhancing, not "entrancing." Plus, that parking lot probably generates a nice bit of revenue for the city. Posted by Hello

LILEKS (James) Matchbooks (James, its not Matchbooks...)

Important Screedblog! A Must Read! 2 Thumbs Up raves The Roanoke Times! Its about Gitmo, Guantanamo, torture-o, and better care than your HMO-o.


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Scum.. any idea what we can do with them when we catch them?

which hotel again?  Posted by Hello

Hard choice...

I feel like I should make a post today, but it seems like the Art Museum stuff is still being read. So Im kinda torn, I dont want to bump the AMWV stuff too far down the page, but I dont want to leave my regular viewers hanging...

decisions, decisions....