Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Well, I'll be...

Someone other than me wrote a column in the editorial pages of the Bulletin against having so many downtown street closures.

He makes good points, all the way through.

It will be interesting to watch the reaction.


Geoff said...

Plenty of us agree with you. This Saturday, at 6pm mind you, I tried to drive down Archie Briggs, but was stopped for 20 minutes to allow a bunch of aging narcissists on tandem bikes to conduct the slowest "race" I have ever seen. The riders were escorted by a caravan of police cars and motorcycles, whose occupants were no doubt being paid overtime for this vital law enforcement work.

Enough already. If festivals and races are so good for the hotel industry, let Ameritel or the River House build a track or fairground on their properties. Those of you who pay rent downtown should not be forced to subsidize others' playtime.

Duncan McGeary said...

Wow. I've been talking about this for years, and NO ONE has agreed with me.

Maybe they've finally gone too far.

Anonymous said...

His wife has a gallery on Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

Dunc...many of us agree with you in part. I own a business downtown and pay rent on a MUCH larger space than yours so I understand the general...street closures downtown kill our business. At the same time, these events are part of the character of the town, especially during the summer. I would agree that there are TOO many closures however, and I agree with your previous rants about the City handing out "additional" closure permits without seeming to pause and understand the impact it has on many of our businesses, and many of the closures are egregious (such as surrounding blocks obstructed with all the trucks and equipment necessary for a stage in front of your store). I am with you 100% on the callous way in which the events do not respect the affected businesses by keeping the sidewalk and view of storefronts open. At least the bike races leave the sidewalks mostly unobstructed and you can at least see the businesses.

Funny..while I appreciate not having to collect or pay sales tax..."events" in other sales tax states actually spread the benefit of the tourist dollars better. In those communities, while your store or mine may not benefit from a downtown event, at least the bars and coffee houses would be collecting revenue that benefits more that just those businesses.

And in response to Geoff...I am fairly certain that the event organization pays for the police escort and traffic control - I know that is how it works elsewhere. Easy on the public worker it for when it is truly justified.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Scott Linden's piece was good, but he was incorrect in saying the Old Mill District never hosts events.

Bend has indeed gotten more than a little ridiculous with its jock-worship. "A bunch of aging narcissists" pretty much describes the whole Lycra-wearing, fitness-obsessed population. People who can't or won't face the ineluctable realities of aging and death.

Duncan McGeary said...

Then I read Saturday's Bulletin, and there are the usual -- let's not rock the boat -- comments.

Wake up, downtowners.

Anonymous said...


They run until their dead, if they don't die of a heart-attack, then then they end up at a Bend hospital and die from surgery.

Bend is known for having more unnecessary surgery than any where else in the USA. Major black-list for all US insurance company's.

Best of all hamsters wear out their knees and this makes big bucks. Let's be honest, take away the 'events', and WTF would narcissists do in Bend?

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Bend is known for having more unnecessary surgery than any where else in the USA."

I don't know about that, but The Bull did a story a couple of years back documenting the unusually high number of spinal surgeries done here.

More orthopods = more orthopedic surgery. It's as simple as that.

I'm 65, and thanks to 40 years of non-running my knees and hips are in fine shape.

Anonymous said...

Geoff needs to take a deep breath, let go of his prejudices and chill out. Jeeze Geoff, 20 WHOLE minutes of your life was taken up waiting for some folks who were giving it their best. I bet you've never put the time and effort into racing a bicycle let alone keeping yourself in good enough shape to do strenuous exercise. The next time you have to wait 20 WHOLE minutes for one of the trains that run through Bend be sure to show your bigoted who's calling who a "narcissist"?) and narrow mindedness on Duncan's blog, OK?

Anonymous said...

"I'm 65, and thanks to 40 years of non-running my knees and hips are in fine shape."
But what about your heart? And I'm speaking of both your biological heart that, like any muscle needs quality exercise to remain healthy, and your emotional heart which, based on many of your comments on this blog, sure seems to be colored black. Chill out Bruce and recognize that we all share this world and one man's joy might be another man's pain (but for no longer than say, about 20 minutes).

Duncan McGeary said...

A lot of people feel like Geoff, and they don't come shopping.

Let me put it this way.

If I told you a 'regulation' restricted access to my business a certain number of times a year, but I was told that it "was for my own good," you'd probably think that was government intrusion.

But let it be for a 'public event' it's perfectly O.K?

I pay very high rent to be in a downtown district so that I can have access to customers.

A growing number of times per year -- steadily growing in days and hours -- that access is restricted.

Not only that, but we invite competitors for the dollar to set up in front of us, (who pay no where near the cost we do year around) and focus the attention away from us and toward the events in the middle of the street.

Year after year, I see sales decline on those days.

I have seen no SOLID evidence what so ever that it helps business.

They pick the busiest weekends of the year to do this.

And tell me that they KNOW BETTER.

Duncan McGeary said...

Once upon a time, downtown Bend was struggling to come back from a horrible recession. (1980 - 1990). It was half empty and struggling to attract customers.

Some downtown stores banded together to fight this impression, and started holding special events to attract people.

And it was good.

And more events people stepped forward and asked for weekends.

And it was still good.

And then then downtown Bend vacancies began to fill, and the core attracted more and more businesses and customers and tourists.

And it was good.

But more event's people came forward and started filling the summer, and instead of helping sales, started hurting sales.

And it was not so good.

So a few retailers started to lobby not to END events, but to limit them. There are an endless number of events and charities and great ideas -- but there are a limited number of peak weekends.

And the city council agreed and set a limit.

It is this 'limit' that the council just so cavalierly tossed away.

Meanwhile, special events become "tradition" and they are impossible to get rid of -- in fact, they get bigger and bigger. The "Twilight Bike Race" becomes an entire day, and so on.

And still the events keep coming.

And most of the original retailers are long gone.

Duncan McGeary said...

So by now you have a tax supported downtown district, whose director's job it is to actually promote special events.

It's not Chuck's fault. It's his job description. Does he get Kudos for NOT coming up with fine and dandy events?

So now it's institutional -- a runaway train. The promotional tail is wagging the retail dog.

Viable businesses create viable downtowns -- not promotional events. Promotional events are leeching onto the viable downtown, and we let it.


On one side, you got an organization whose very job it is to create them. You have media who loves a good story and gets some advertising revenue, and who indeed actually create some of these events, you have the real traditions -- like the 4th of July Parade, who legitimize the other events; you've got the promoters who make money, the vendors who get to tap into a hot downtown without paying the year long rent, you got city fathers who think it's just dandy that we have so many events because it makes them look good and they think it makes Bend a Happenin' place, and the biggest lobby of all -- you, the public, who just want to have fun, and party into 4:00 in the morning and get slopppy all over the lawn and to about the killjoy neighbors who just want to get some sleep.

On the other hand, you have a downtown 1/3rd full of businesses that have been around for -- like 5 minutes who don't know any better.

You got a few who actually benefit, a bunch who get hurt slightly but don't want to rock the boat. You got a few grumblers.

And you got me: the only guy willing to speak out. And I'm marginalized as a crank, you know my "yearly rant."

So all the momentum is on the side of the promoters, and all the inertial is on the side of the retailers.

And it approaches a break point some time in the future --when enough retailers have finally had enough and say "ENOUGH!"

Or not.

I gave up.

Anonymous said...

Duncan - I agree with you that there are too many events in downtown Bend and I think that downtown merchants should have a greater say regarding downtown events.

But which events should not be held, or should be cancelled? I, for one, don't see the need for the annual Pet Parade. But some pet owners do and they look forward to parading their poor pooch, who is often dressed up like a fool of a clown, along downtown streets. What do I do? I simply avoid being downtown during the parade. If Geoff or Bruce or anyone else doesn't like the bicycle races like I do then do what I do when the Pet Parade happens. (I know, potential customers avoiding downtown during events is your primary complaint but you get my point.)

However, I do take exception to those whiners who obviously failed to read (or remember or comprehend) the wisdom of sharing in "All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten". And I seriously find offensive Geoff's ignorantly calling master tandem racers, "aging narcissists". So Geoff, do you call those who drive expensive, gas-guzzling "trophy" cars and trucks narcissists? Look in the mirror, Geoff and tell me what makes you so much better than those racers who put large amounts of time, energy and money to travel here to do what brings them joy. (And no, I didn't race - only because I'm not good enough.)

Bruce - I'm 64 and just rode my age in miles on my road bike on Labor Day. My ride didn't put any undue strain on my knees or hips but sure gave me great joy letting my still healthy body provide me with so much fun and joy. Riding my bicycles adds to the quality of my life and, according to most medical experts, to my physical and emotional health.

Care to join me on one of my shorter, "recreational" rides one of these evenings? Geoff (and Duncan), you're invited also. I'm serious. I will go as slow as you need to go but give road cycling a try and you might actually have a change of heart.

Duncan McGeary said...

As I said, the solution I struggled for wasn't to eliminate the events -- I love the 4th of July Parade, but could do without the cars -- or more than one bike race, or more than one festival, etc.

What I thought the downtown agreed to was a set limit. Even that was stretched -- races became longer, one day events became two day events -- and what I'd hoped for, a more spread out event schedule, with more events in the slower months when they might do so good -- the opposite happened (Unforeseen results of the limit) and they became even MORE clustered.

And meanwhile we got a town with no institutional memory, and we got most businesses and people who have been here for five minutes and take it on faith.

Right now. The events we have are the events we have. If one falls away, it can be replaced. No extra hours or extra days.

I'd take that bargain.

And a few years or months from now another city council will forget there was ever a problem and someone will approach them with a cool idea -- and out the window the agreement will go.

Geoff said...

Just to circle back, neither my wife nor I own a business in Bend. I'm pretty fit, and I have no problem with those who enjoy riding childrens' toys into their dotage, so long as they don't interfere with me. If the event organizers paid for the police escorts, that's as it should be. I still agree with Duncan that events have become too frequent and too intrusive.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"But what about your heart?"

Thanks for asking. The physical heart is okay, as far as I know. Blood pressure is in the teens, total cholesterol was under 200 and HDL was 74 as of a week ago, triglycerides low.

As for the "emotional heart," it's not as black as you think it is. Maybe a lot less black than those of people who furiously stifle all their "negative" thoughts and present a constant smiley-face to the world. Living in denial takes an emotional toll too.

Do you think America's cult of "positivity" has made us a happier and healthier nation? If so, I refer you to the statistics on depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, violent crime ...

Anonymous said...

"I have no problem with those who enjoy riding childrens' toys into their dotage, so long as they don't interfere with me."

Geoff, that's really big of you. I'm totally sure Olympic athletes who race bicycles would absolutely agree with you that they are simply riding children's toys.

Why is it that I would guess that virtually everything is bad if it might "interfere" with you? I can't imagine how miserable Life must be for you with all of those interfering things.

And I sure hope you don't play that childish game called golf now or into your "dotage" as that would be, well, pretty damn hypocritical.

Bruce - Life is both good and bad, up and down. Dwelling on the bad is as destructive as trying to live with phony positiveness. Find space in the large middle zone so you can point out the crap but acknowledge the positive. Life is too short to live in one camp all of the time. Happiness is not a bad thing. Really.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"I have no problem with those who enjoy riding childrens' toys into their dotage"

Ha! SNAP! I like your style, man.

"Life is both good and bad, up and down. Dwelling on the bad is as destructive as trying to live with phony positiveness."

Couldn't agree more. But phony positiveness has become the mandatory mode in America. And I believe this is often very destructive, both to individuals and the society. I recommend "Bright-Sided" by Barbara Ehrenreich for some astute insights into this subject.

"Happiness is not a bad thing. Really."

Again, I couldn't agree more. I'm all in favor of happiness -- real happiness, not fake happiness. But you seem to assume I'm unhappy because I'm not grinning like an idiot all the time. You really know nothing about me.

Anonymous said...

Bruce - I'm not assuming anything. You know that old saw: "assuming makes an ass out of you and me" so I make every effort to not assume. But I do disagree with you that I know nothing about you. I've read many of your posts - and you've posted lots - so I've got a modest understanding where you come from. I do wish you the happiness you {unconsciously?) seek and hope you find it when you get to do what you so desire which is to permanently depart less-than-perfect Bend.

P.S. I'm disappointed that neither you nor Geoff or Duncan have apparently yet to take up the generous offer to share a happiness educing bicycle ride.

Duncan McGeary said...

I'm anti-social.

The other guys don't have an excuse.


H. Bruce Miller said...

Anon. 10:22: The persona I adopt in my blog is not "the real me," although there's some truth in it, i.e., I'm sick and tired of Bend's endless winters.

Also I'm tired of the endless babble about Bend being "paradise," and I like to poke holes in that delusion when I can. I really believe that if Bendites spent a little less time patting themselves on the back and gushing about how they live in "paradise" and a little more time honestly appraising this town's strengths AND weaknesses, they might have a better chance of developing public policies that would achieve lasting and sustainable prosperity.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"And you got me: the only guy willing to speak out. And I'm marginalized as a crank, you know my "yearly rant."

Just what I was talking about -- the cult of "positivity" results in anybody who says anything "negative" (i.e., honest) getting ostracized. And so delusional thinking continues until reality demolishes it, as it always does in the end.

We need more cranks in this town. In this country, for that matter.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"I, for one, don't see the need for the annual Pet Parade."

There's no "need" for any of these events; we have them because they're fun. At least the Pet Parade only ties up downtown streets for half a day on one day of the year.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"but give road cycling a try"

I did quite a lot of road cycling when I first moved here, but gave it up because the local roads got too congested and dangerous. After being deliberately run off the road twice by mouth-breathing redneck imbeciles in pickup trucks, I quit.