Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You mean I'm not just a plain ol' loser?

Just when you think you've grown out of labels they invent a new one. The Grup. This was actually a pretty interesting article to me. Having been a retail buyer/marketer (my corporate gig) I learned all about predicting behavior. You had to have the right mix of product at the right time for the right person. It was amazing how predictable people really were. It was my first introduction to trendspotting on a macro level. And as it turns out leaving the corporate job was part of a trend as well.

Here's a small sample of how it works. You hear a song on the radio and say to yourself, "That sounds different and unique and like someone I'd like to hear more of. That Norah Jones really appeals to me. I'm going to go to the store and see if they've heard of her." You get to the store and there is an endcap featuring her that month. The radio station (one of hundreds owned by the same company) is playing her cd all over the country at the same moment. To you it is a very personal connection with an artist. To a record store employee you are a drone coming in just like dozens of others that day asking if you've heard of this jazzy female singer named Norah Jones or something like that.

We all think we are special in our world that we have created and we make decisions on our own that shape who we are. Then we wake up one day and find that we are one of millions just like us. Enough so that they create a name that describes us. I guess it's kind of comforting knowing that so many of us are heading in the same direction and are not alone. What the hell is 40 going to look like? 50? Impossible to imagine! But we're going to get there as a group like good little drones wearing our uniform of Echo and the Bunnymen t-shirts and Chuck Taylor All Stars. Just don't expect us too early in the morning. We like to sleep in a little.

photographic updates

It's still very much a work in progress but here are a couple of shots of where we stand with the house/project.

We built some shelves into the living room to add character and seperate it from the dining room.

Here's a shot from the family room through the dining room and into the flex room which is off of the kitchen.

One thing we did was open this doorway up wider and add French doors. It gives us the choice of closing off the back of the house or opening it up. We like choices. That's probably why we have so many lights on dimmers.

A Revolution by the People

Urban areas of the country have been experiencing a boom over the last decade. My guess is it's cyclical. People like myself had parents that grew up in the city and moved to the suburbs for all the usual reasons that I don't intend to go into. Their offspring grew up in safe environments with good schools and not much to do. We couldn't walk anywhere worthwhile. It was too far to ride our bikes to anything enjoyable. Now that we are old enough and able to live where we want we've decided to move back to the cities.

Suburban areas are feeling the new vibe of urban living as well. Many older suburbs are reviving their Main Street and building urban style housing. Subdivisions are being built with sidewalks, streetlamps, center courtyards and thankfully garages in the rear off of alleys.

The great thing about St. Louis' rebirth in particular is that it has been instituted by individuals. People, couples, families moved back into the city for reasonably priced housing stock. They renovated houses and brought back streets and neighborhoods that had been written off for dead.

Big time developers followed the little guys. They came in and took on high profile projects. Turning old warehouses into lofts, and former offices into high end dining. These guys get the press. These guys get a pat on the back from the mayor and their day in the sun for being so forward thinking and "saving" our city.

I wish I could post a picture of who actually is saving this city. The picture would be a group shot of thousands of regular people. They'd be wearing their weekend work clothes and holding their power tools and smiling. Smiling because they are proud of the work they've done.

All things being cyclical (including this blog) I just hope that the flight to the suburbs will be a little less harsh the next time around. If we can put into practice some of the truths we've learned about urban living in the last few decades maybe people will have a more difficult time deciding where to live because they have so many great options.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I went to St. Patrick's school for 8 years as a child. The girls had to wear green polyester pants or skirts and a green vest with a white shirt. The boys were more fortunate in that we had a choice of wearing blue, brown or green slacks in solid colors and a solid color shirt. I went to a University whose colors were green and white also. I sort of burned out on the color scheme. It's taken me some time to get over my fear of "the wearin' o' the green". I'm over it now and my Irish Grandmother would be proud. Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Barack Obama for President

I realize that people think he's too young and that he is just in his first term as a Senator, but then again people voted for George W. Bush proving that "people" can't be trusted. It's time for Obama Americans. It's time!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Collecting is the new Betamax

I came to the realization today (millions came to it eons ago I'm sure, but I'm a little slow) that collecting hasn't been fun since the internet took off. There used to be great fun in hunting. Maybe it filled a primal need. The hunt is dead. eBay was the killer.

The most obscure item can be Googled in seconds and is for sale by someone somewhere. It's not fun because everyone can be so easily educated on collectibles that you can't find that secret treasure. Oh you like to collect funiture from mid century designers. Well that little junk store has some but they know the value because they saw them on eBay. A few years ago you could pick up that chair for $25. Today you have to pay $500. You want to pick up some Blue Note jazz records at that dusty old record shop. Well the owner sold them all on eBay for a fortune to a collector in Hong Kong. Little old me is now competing with industry moguls in Tokyo for that cowboy Pez and I can't afford what they can pay. It's not fun I tell you.

Other than that the goddamn interweb rules. Where else can I download 15 live versions of Barrel of a Gun by Guster?

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I have a few quirks. I don't think I'm in need of medication, but there are a couple of things that seem fairly unique about me. One of those things is that I notice Michigan license plates. I moved from Michigan to STL in October of 2001, but I still spot Michigan plates on cars from a mile away. I saw 4 today. 1 this afternoon and 3 within 10 minutes this evening. Somebody tell me the connection. It's not like it's a State that Borders Missouri. In the summer I see many Michigan plates on I-44 going east and west. Usually older people with an RV going to Branson. But who are the others? What are you doing in my neighborhood? Students? At SLU or Wash U? Is there a big recruiting element that travels north and brings us Michiganders down here? I want to chat with each one and find out their story. Now that behavior would require medication.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

We're in!

We are now living in our new house. It isn't finished. I hope to have it finished soon and not drag it out too long, but we love it anyway. We still need kitchen counters, and until we have counters we can't install our sink and until we install our sink we can't install our dishwasher and until we install our dishwasher we have to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. Not that great.

I also need to tile the master shower (about 300 sq feet of tile). So until that is completed we are using the guest bath which has a clawfoot tub/shower and a small sink. Again, not exactly ideal, but in a month or so all of these things will be completed and we'll forget the hardships we first endured.

Other than that those couple of things we are thrilled to be in. The plan put together and modified oh so many times over the last year came together nicely in the end. I struggled with the monochromatic color pallette, but love the sense of calm it gives. I had a hard time choosing to paint the doors black (we loved our stripped and refinished doors in the old place), but the black (kind of ebony really) gives weight to the doors in a lovely way making them seem heavier and thicker than they even are. The removal of walls, widening of doorways and addition of double french doors gives balance between the modern desire to have open floor plans and ability to comparmentalize and hide my stuff.

We are very happy with our new neighbors/buyers of our former home. We couldn't have handpicked people any better. It was such a concern for us but just proves that you shouldn't worry about things out of your control. It will work out.

As rooms are decorated and arranged I'll be sure to post photos.