Monday, October 30, 2006

The Barcelona Chair

Designed for the German Pavillion at the Barcelona World Art Fair in 1929 , this_chair revolutionized modern furniture design. Nearly 80 years old, it is still modern by present-day standards. It served as thrones to the Royal Family of Spain.

Ludwig Mies van der Rhoe stated "It is almost easier to build a skyscraper than a chair." Being a fan of his work, I can more easily see his passion in works like this and in his residential works. Although wonderful, his skyscrapers don't reflect quite the same degree of genius.

Drawing Lines #2

What are Traditional Family Values? And why have so many independent thinkers allowed one group to assume ownership of this term?

I was born into a family that is as traditional as one could possibly be. My mother quit working outside the home when my oldest sister was born in 1963, and didn't resume until 1978, when I was in 3rd Grade. My father worked as hard as any willing man should, up until his retirement just a few years ago, and my mother will follow suit at the end of this year. I respect and honor both my parents for being such excellent role models. They deserve MUCH more than they are ever willing to admit. They taught all three of their children the most important lessons in life. And they did it with love. I grew up going to church, learning the value of education and hard work, and appreciating all of the blessings of a loving family. I know I certainly lived a childhood of priveledge, when compared to the childhood both my parents experienced.

My parents will mark their 50th wedding anniversary next year.

Now, I have a family of my own. I shoulder many of the same burdens of fatherhood that other men with children must carry. I am divorced, and though I no longer have sole custody of my children, I nearly leap at every opportunity I see, to spend time with those wonderful little souls. I never blink an eye when it comes to writing a check for over one-quarter of my net pay, made directly to their mother, once my nemesis, for my financial share in ensuring these kids' well-being. I never blink an eye at anything that is required for them, as I want them to have every possible advantage in life.

Do I emulate Traditional Family Values?

I know that I do. But many people would disagree.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Drawing Lines #1

As per the urging of O'Reilly, here is my first moral line drawn:

Nader tried this tactic in 2000. Asa Hutchinson basically plagiarized the same spot in his bid for Governor of Arkansas in 2006. It is poor political taste. For Asa... !l'impair fait deux fois!

Children are cute, yes. But it is in their original frankness and astuteness that we find their endearing qualities. Give them a script full of political rhetoric, and the pureness is lost.

Spinning on Oprah

Bill O'Reilly appeared on Oprah today, and I must admit I felt compelled to watch. I wanted to know if the guy would be able to contain himself in front of an audience that had free access to an open mic. Although he didn't become the irate and toddler-esque persona of his usual self, he still spat out his short and narrow blurbs to those few who still want to listen. Get ready for a spin.

A part of the disscussion involved a few key points that I do happen to agree with: 1) As a whole, this is a very uninformed public. 2) Fringe groups-on both ends of the political spectrum-are attempting to hold our country hostage with their agendas. NEWS FLASH...THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN HAPPENING! See the alarmist spin?

Mr. Bill states that the main problem with the cultural war we are experiencing in this country is the unwillingness of it's people to "draw a line and be willing to defend (your) beliefs," yet he claims that he is not a polarizing force within the public eye. See the personal spin?

Mr. Bill's FOX 'newscast' opens with graphics depicting his show as "The No-Spin Zone". That, in itself is "Spin". In my humble opinion, the spin is flying at near light-speed on his show (I can only bear to occasionally take it in short, small tidbits before I've had my fill) and can only appear to be spin-free to the extreme right-wing, and those who are easily swayed by his grandstanding tactics. And depending on how you look at it, the passionate right is either becoming less passionate or more realistic, because FOXNews is experiencing some of it's lowest viewership ever. Perhaps they are just in hiding. A couple of really good books slamming their cause can do that to any following. They'll be waiting in the shadows for '08, no matter how decently the DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS will treat their prodigy, Dubya.

Now time to draw some lines of my own...since Mr. Bill is of the opinion that we all need to do it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Countrysexuals Are The New In-Crowd

I'm not by any means a television fact, I don't watch much of it. But a new series I've happened upon as of late now has me as a regular viewer. MenInTrees. The general gist of this show: A psychotherapist and radio personality (Anne Heche) flees NYC and a cheating husband, to Elmo, Alaska. Pull "Northern Exposure" from the memory banks...make the transplant female and 90% of the town male lumberjacks...and there you go.

I realize it's not completely original, but I was ready for a new show on Friday night. Long gone are the days of Dallas, and not since has anything of quality aired in that time slot. ABC finally raised a whole generation of children on their cutesy-candy-coated family oriented run of TGIF* shows, and now the grown-ups can have a leisurely Friday in front of the tube.

In last night's episode, Marin (Heche) is visited by her sisterLiz from NYC. After showing her around the town, they end up in-of all places-the town's bar. Liz makes the following observation:

"Do you smell that? It's the smell of men and flannel!"..."I'm so tired of Metrosexuals-give me a good Countrysexual who just smells like he's supposed to smell...Like a man. And flannel!"

I was rolling in laughter.

*TGIF did include ONE show that I enjoyed: Hangin' With Mr. Cooper.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Two First Best Friends

I don't often bring my two sisters to tears, but this poem I wrote about them in 2003 did:

My Two First Best Friends
We are born into our world
We develop and we grow.
Make friends from our acquaintances~
The people that we know.

I know I am luckier
Perhaps than most of you,
For I still have my best friend
My best friend came times two.

The oldest has dark hair and skin
The next is fair, no doubt.
But by the time it came to me,
The pigments fizzled out.

I was born into this world
With both already here
Often they protected me
And helped to stave my fears

We three grew together
At that time we did not see
How precious was our youth
But perhaps now, we agree

I know I was luckier
Perhaps than most of you,
For I still have my best friend
My best friend came times two.


Meet my sisters Elizabeth and Kathy (center to right). This photo was taken on Easter Sunday, 2003. My divorce had become final on St. Patrick's Day, just days before. Very fitting, in my opinion, since Patrick is my first name...hence the "P" I place in my name. Since Patrick is also my Dad's name, I have always gone by Alan. I also thought it very fitting to be on St. Patrick's I was now ready to celebrate and get to know the real me I had been estranged from my whole life.

I was very sick in the photo, having just been diagnosed with pneumonia. Divorce can take a nasty toll on an individual. I was also carrying 50 lbs. of weight I had gained during that time.

Daddy's Little Princess

This little girl has me wrapped around her finger. She celebrated her 6th Birthday last week, and we had a special date to mark the occasion. (The picture of her above, was taken recently during her school's open house.) She had her choice of restaurant, and how we would spend some one-on-one time together...a treat I offer each of my three children on their birthdays. It makes them feel so special to have that alone time with me...and I get to soak up each tender moment and focus solely on them.

Six years ago, I was in a very troubled relationship with her mother. I knew that the end of our marriage would be coming soon. I also knew that I would then be given the opportunity to deal with my own personal internal battle. And I was scared to death. I knew I wanted to try my hardest to make the marriage work, but a marriage takes efforts of both parties. I felt that if I gave my vows the most effort I could muster and the marriage inevitably failed, I was then entitled to deal with myself on my own my own time.

It's been four years now since I first cracked-open my closet door. Through all the ups and downs, one part of my life remains permanent and gives me a sense of grounding. It is my children. I credit them, and the undying love I have for them, in helping me make realistic and responsible life choices since coming-out.

Happy Birthday Lexi!

I love you,

Spencer's Corner 1940's

I've lived in Hot Springs for several years and never really knew why an area of downtown was called 'Spencer's Corner'. That was the case until I found this photograph. Spencer's Corner is so called-because of Spencer's Cigar Store. It occupied a space that is now home to a Subway sandwich shop. The yellow building in the photo above is now gone...down to it's basement level, and provides the central plaza that unites several more restaurants and businesses, such as The Brick House Grill, Hot Springs Brau Haus, Garbanzo's Restaurant and Tapas Bar, Salon Muzu Muzu and Christopher's Bridal Shop.

I love how that green car seems to be freely whirling around the corner at Central and Bridge. I usually get caught by the traffic light that is now there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oh my gosh-konong....Koshkonong?

I had a delightful evening with the chillren tonight. I love being the parent who can get away with letting them watch tv too late, eat cereal for dinner, and stay out till dark-thirty on their bicycles (of course, as long as they stay within hearing range of my voice out the kitchen window). I am stern with homework and such other things, though. They cannot do ANYTHING...snack on ANYTHING...until homework/projects/reading is all done.

Tonight was especially meaningful to me, because their Mum and StepDad were up in MO for his final job interview. He got the job. They are moving. My time I have with my kids living within a 20 minute drive is dwindling more quickly than I had thought. His job will be in south-central MO, in a moderate small town, West Plains. However, with their love of country, they are looking for homes in an even smaller town, just 10 miles past the AR border. Koshkonong.

I am happy for them...although I do feel other very mixed emotions. It will take me time to sort through all that I am thinking about right now. But I surprisingly don't feel bad...I have no knot in my gut(which is a tell-tale sign of danger for me)...and I'm not worried.

For now...I am okay with this. And also for now...I have three precious kids to tuck-in and kiss goodnight.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Has It Been Fifteen Years Already?!?

HotSpringsDocumentaryFilmFestival is looking to be quite impressive for 2006. The growth of this festival "has been marked by a number of major breakthroughs in resource development, including substantial grants from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Arkansas Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts." Many visiting members of the Academy and documentary film-makers now equate THIS festival as the 'Sundance of Documentary Film'.

In addition to many public and private donors and volunteers, celebrity guests showing consistent support have included: Geraldine Chaplin, Eleanor Coppola, Alan Ginsberg, Connie Stevens, Tippi Hedren, and Brenda Vaccaro.

Looking at the list, I am most interested in watching a short film from Turkey: INamedHerAngel.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Adieu To One Majestic Lady

Announcements now make it official: the Majestic Hotel and Spa will soon be closing its doors. For 124 years, this regal landmark has served as anchor to Central, Park & Whittington Avenues. It is at this point that Central Avenue gently bends its way between Hot Springs Mountain & West Mountain, becoming the city's main North-South artery. Although not quite as grand as her younger sister three blocks to the south, The Arlington, the closure of The Majestic will end its long history of one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in Arkansas, if not the entire Middle-South.

As seen in the 1912 postcard above, The Majestic had undergone a massive expansion in the early 1900's. Subsequent additions to this original wing were added twice, with the middle wing now acting as the hotel's current main entry. This can be seen in this poorly executed
colorized postcard to the right , by locating the large striped awning at street level.

Exact news of what the future will bring to these landmarks remains sketchy at the moment, but many have assumed, or presumed, that the buildings are being sold by Southwest Hotels, Inc. in Little Rock to an unnamed investor, and will be renovated for future sale as condominium lofts. Although I am saddened to see this regal hotel end its legacy of service, I am extremely pleased and hopeful to see more housing being made available to those who desire downtown real of them namely, being ME.

Details also point to the demolition of the newest wing, and perhaps the most visible looking up Central Avenue. Long ago have the twenty feet tall cursive characters denoting this wing as "Lanai Towers" been removed from the build-
ing...the brick beltline that divides the parking deck from the hotel rooms and balconies above.
I cannot seem to find exactly when this addition
was complete, but from the mid-century flavor,
I would say it could easily be pinpointed to the
late 1950's.

Of course, with real estate being a prime asset
along this narrow valley, I would hope that a
tasteful parking deck will take the place of
Lanai Tower if it is indeed to be razed.
I cannot comprehend luring new residents to downtown without ample parking being a consideration. I personally know of downtown residents living nearby, who rent monthly spaces in the Lanai Tower parking deck...simply to get their cars off of the street.

I haven't heard of any more plans in months for the once envisioned traffic roundabout where Central Avenue, Park Avenue & Whittington Avenue all intersect, but perhaps that will become a reality now. Traffic sure does bottle-neck there...and that would be a great solution to ease traffic flow. The fountain, although not that spectacular, would make the perfect centerpiece.