Category Archives: Community

Shameless self-promotion


Remember a few months ago, when I told y’all I’d published a novel? I’ll be signing copies from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Annie Laurie’s Antiques, 536 Broadway in Cape Girardeau, as part of Cape’s monthly First Friday with the Arts promotion.

If you’ll be in the area, stop by and see me — and be sure to bring extra money for shiny objects, because Laurie always has plenty of them. (Remember that cool ’70s dining set I posted a few weeks ago? I bought that from her.) Make sure to check out the other downtown businesses, too — all the fun little shops and galleries stay open late for First Friday, and Minglewood Brewery usually taps a firkin of some interesting new brew they’re trying out.

I’ll have copies of both Greetings from Coldwater and Route 66 for Kids on hand Friday. If you’ve already read the novel and just want to come in and ask questions about it, I’m game to answer them (if I know the answers; Shirley is just about as enigmatic to me as she is to you), and if you wanted to get a jump on your Christmas shopping, this would be a good way to do it. If you don’t know anybody who wants a book, you probably know somebody who’d like something from Annie Laurie’s or its sister shop across the street, the Indie House, which is sort of an incubator for several artsy little businesses.

Bonus: I think Laurie is planning to have a food truck outside, so you can grab dinner while you’re there, and if you don’t see something you like, you can always cruise a few blocks to find good Cajun, great pizza, or amazing wings. Come visit us!


New things

We have two new things that I am excited about here in Cape.

1. El Sol. New restaurant went into an old Streamline Moderne building on Broadway. It’s not authentic, taqueria-style Mexican food — like, you’re not going to score tripas tacos for Sunday brunch or a bowl of menudo on a cold night — but as gringo-Mex cuisine goes, it’s pretty damn great. I’ve had the shrimp fajitas, which were good; the ceviche, which was good; and the signature guacamole, which is prepared tableside and is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Bring an extra buck or two to tip the guy who makes the guac. And if you figure out where he scored that little lime press he uses, send me the link, because it’s one of the handiest gadgets ever.

2. Dog Town Playground. Funded with casino money, it opened yesterday, and I went out to do a story about it today. We really missed Joe Station in Tulsa, and this is set up very similarly, with a similar crowd of dog lovers who don’t really care who jumps up on them, who has muddy paws or who drops a slobbery ball at their feet. Dog people are great, and there is absolutely no better place to learn about dog breeds than an off-leash park. You never know what you’ll encounter. At Joe Station, our collie mix and rat terrier used to romp around with a saluki, a Bernese mountain dog and a whole pack of Weimaraners. While I was at Dog Town today, I met a Keeshond, a viszla, a shiba inu and a schipperke.

I was particularly excited to see the Keeshond, as I’d never seen one before, although I was familiar with the breed as a result of the years I spent poring over the dog section of the World Book as a kid, daydreaming about what sort of puppy I’d like to have if Mom ever let me have a dog. (She finally caved when I was 12 and got us a beagle-corgi mix. Poor Stinky ended up being an outside dog and didn’t get as much attention as he deserved, but he was a good dog who might have been the best running coach I ever had.)


I need another project …

… like I need a hole in my head, but you know I am addicted to overcommitment and always have been, and besides all that, this particular project needs to be done.

My latest volunteer project is an online news service, sort of like Ron’s Route 66 News blog, except this one will focus exclusively on Southwest Tulsa. We don’t have much coverage here at the moment. The Tulsa World stopped publishing its Westside Community section in 2008, and Tulsa County News ceased publication this spring, so there’s nowhere for people to find out what’s going on around here, nowhere for local businesses to advertise to local people, nowhere for schools and churches and clubs and charities to disseminate information about their events, and nobody seems to be documenting the history of Red Fork in the 21st century as it unfolds.

With that in mind, on Aug. 1, I will launch the Southwest Tulsa Bell, an online community newspaper in blog format. Between now and then, I need news tips — lots and lots of news tips. If you’re in Southwest Tulsa, I want a copy of every press release your business sends out. I want to be on the mailing list for your church newsletter, your club newsletter, your kid’s school, and anything and everything else you can think of.

The Bell will be online at The site is under construction at the moment, so there’s not much to see, but feel free to sneak a peek at the basic template if you’re interested.

We’ll see how this goes.


How to have a good day

Here is how to have a good day:

1. Download a bunch of songs from Sesame Street.
2. Program your iPad to wake you up with the Pinball Number Song by the Pointer Sisters.
3. Play your Sesame Street songs while you’re in the shower.
4. Wear a nerdy math-joke T-shirt and a long, multi-layered skirt that swishes around every time you take a step. (Skirts that move when you walk are fun.)
5. Start your morning by finishing up a time-consuming project you’ve been dreading for weeks.
6. Watch your student teacher transform an entire lesson with one minor, proactive adjustment made on the fly to get the kids back on-task when they start to drift. Bask in the knowledge that everybody is having a lot of fun learning.
7. Listen to some of your students engage in a spirited but good-natured argument as they work together to write a detailed, accurate explanation of a difficult concept.
8. Quickly analyze the source of the flames and respond calmly and appropriately to prevent the kitchen from burning down when dinner spontaneously combusts for no apparent reason.
9. Salvage dinner.
10. End your day at a coffeehouse you haven’t visited in ages, discussing Route 66 with well-connected people who are organizing a grassroots community development project in your neighborhood.

I’m pretty sure that Pinball Number Song thing was the key. Well, that and the fact that the weather continues to be awesome. There were irises coming up in the flowerbeds around the coffeehouse, and my neighbor has daffodils coming up.

Oh, and for the record: It is 24 days until Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, 38 days until I report to the bleachers at Reed Park, 78 days until Noise Nation reports to Coca-Cola Park, and 83 days until I report to the berm at OneOK Field.

Hope your day was good, too.


Sunday in the park with dogs

We have a weekly routine at our house: Every Sunday afternoon, weather permitting, we load Song and Riggy into the Dreamcar and take them over to Joe Station Bark Park for a good run, then drive through McDonald’s and get them each a double cheeseburger off the dollar menu on the way home.

Joe Station is one of my favorite places in Tulsa, partly because our dogs enjoy it so much, and partly because it’s a terrific example of what can happen when dedicated volunteers decide to do something positive for their community. The city provided the land — an old baseball diamond about a mile west of downtown on Charles Page Boulevard — in 2008, and volunteers took care of the rest. It’s a great success story for anybody interested in grassroots community development.

The only time I’ve been out there when it wasn’t busy was during a Bedlam football game, and people are generally really good about keeping an eye on their dogs and following the park rules to keep everybody safe. It’s also a good educational resource, as you can observe all sorts of dogs (we’ve encountered everything from salukis to shiba inus romping with the more common Labs and pit bulls) and ask their owners questions about temperament, grooming, exercise, etc. Our trips to Joe Station will almost certainly influence our decision next time we adopt a dog.

Great, great resource, and just another reason Tulsa rocks.


New project

I need another project like I need a hole in my head, but Blake Ewing, who is basically Tulsa’s answer to Joe Edwards, is pushing to revitalize the Route 66 corridor through Tulsa and help businesses capitalize on their Mother Road connection. He’s trying to find ways to get Route 66 travelers to come through town on the old road instead of bypassing Tulsa on I-44.

It’s a small contribution, but I’m planning to use one of my hobbies — geocaching — to support that effort. There are plenty of caches in Tulsa, but very few along the Route 66 corridor. Ron and I scouted several good possibilities this afternoon, but I’d really like to get the businesses along 66 into the spirit of the thing.

With that in mind, I am officially requesting assistance with this project: If you own a business on Route 66 in Tulsa, and you would be willing to host a geocache on your property, please post a comment and let me know how to reach you.

For those unfamiliar with geocaching, it’s basically a sort of treasure-hunting game in which participants use GPS devices to locate hidden “caches,” which are waterproof containers that are placed outdoors, camouflaged to match their surroundings, and contain a log for finders to sign. Larger caches also include small souvenirs, toys, or trinkets for trading.

The advantage of hosting a cache, of course, is that it brings additional traffic onto your property, which is why I’d like to place as many as possible outside businesses along Route 66 here in Tulsa.

If you’re interested, all you need to do is comment on this post, telling me the name and address of your business and the best way to reach you, and I’ll do the rest. (To reduce the risk of your cache being found and vandalized by “muggles,” or non-geocachers, your comment will not appear on this post; instead, I will contact you privately to arrange for placement of your cache.)

If a Route 66 business owner outside of the Tulsa area would like help placing a cache, I can do that, too, but someone who lives in your area will have to be responsible for registering and maintaining it.


AWOL terrier

I need some assistance from my readers today. Our black-and-tan rat terrier, Riggy, apparently escaped from the backyard this morning through a small gap between the fence and the house. A little black dog who’s used to spending most of his time in the air conditioning really doesn’t need to be out running around in this heat, so if anybody sees him, I’d appreciate it if you could grab him for me.

Riggy weighs about 17 pounds and looks like what you’d get if you crossed a Doberman with a Shrinky-Dink. He was not wearing a collar when he left, but he is microchipped. He’s fidgety and very friendly, so he’ll probably come right up to you and lick you half to death if he crosses your path. If this happens, please grab him and let me know where to pick him up.

Songdog would especially appreciate it if you could help bring his best friend home, as he misses him terribly and has done nothing but wander around, looking lost, since he disappeared.

Here are a few pictures of the Rig-Monster:

Come home, little prodigal. You don’t need to wander around in the far country by yourself.


People will come

View from the top of the Ferris wheel. Out in the distance, past the flash and glitter of the midway, lie the lights of the refineries that built southwest Tulsa; at left, cars approach on historic Route 66.

This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

— Terrence Mann, Field of Dreams

I saw something beautiful this evening.

For the first time since I began traveling Route 66 a decade ago, I saw the parking lot at Crystal City shopping center filled with cars.

A small carnival is in Red Fork this weekend, offering a midway full of food, rides, and barkers.

Almost everything you remember from the parking-lot carnivals of your childhood is there: the carousel …

This thing sort of frightens me.

… the Ferris wheel …

… the scary rides …

… the baby ride with the little glittery cars that carry bewildered toddlers in slow circles while their parents encourage them to smile …

… the corn-dog stand, the cotton candy, the funnel cakes …

… the win-a-goldfish game, the shooting games, the balloon dart game …

… the game of chance with the little numbered ducks that float by (every duck guaranteed a winner) …

… the strongman game with the sledgehammer and the bell …

… the weight guesser …

… it’s all there. The only thing that seems to be missing is the Tilt-A-Whirl — unless, of course, this Toy Story-themed contraption is some newfangled hybrid of the Tilt-A-Whirl and the tubs:

Ron and I grabbed our cameras — my Rebel, his Flip — and headed over to document the fun after dinner.

As I stood on the midway in the golden light of early evening, watching the crowds and waving to a student who’d just called my name, a snippet of dialogue from Field of Dreams popped into my head — something about what was and could be again — and I suppressed a sudden urge to burst into tears.

This, I thought, shivering just a little in spite of the warm spring air, must have been what Red Fork was like when Route 66 was young. This must have been what it was like when the Zingo was in the parking lot and everybody came to Crystal City to do the weekly shopping. This is what it could be again.

Red Fork is coming back. I can feel it. And people will come. People will most definitely come.

It’s going to be a very good summer.


A more positive spin …

… on yesterday’s rant:

To counter the constant negativity from the hipper-than-thou crowd, I decided to start using my Twitter account again. At least once a day, I am posting a reason to love Tulsa. Any time I mention something good about Tulsa — either a reason to love it, or something I’m enjoying at the moment — I’m using the hashtag #tulsarocks. ‘Twould be excellent if I could get a little meme going with that, non?

What are your favorite things about Tulsa?


Pet peeve

I’ve been hearing a lot of discussions lately about what could be done to make Tulsa a better city.

As this is more or less a local-interest blog, I’d like to put one of my ideas out there and see where it goes.

I think we could make Tulsa a better city if we rounded up all of the insufferable, whiny, self-indulgent hipsters who make a habit out of running down the community where they live and shipped them to New York or L.A. or somewhere else that’s likely to be more patient with their nonsense. (Better yet, ship ’em to Chicago. I’d love to see what would happen if they started slagging that city to one of its residents.)

Seriously: I am sick to death of this ludicrous notion that Tulsa would suddenly become the Magic Kingdom, with a soaring economy, a zero-percent unemployment rate, and choirs of angels floating above its gold-paved streets, if only we could provide more entertainment for unmarried twentysomethings.

Let me get this straight: The solution to all of Tulsa’s problems lies in attracting people who are either too lazy to bookmark Tasha Does Tulsa, too illiterate to glance at Urban Tulsa Weekly’s calendar of events, or too socially inept to strike up a conversation with a stranger without the assistance of several overpriced cocktails?

Forgive my skepticism.

There’s no question that Tulsa benefits when bright, creative, energetic young professionals move into town. What community doesn’t? But in a vibrant city full of restaurants, nightclubs, museums, coffeehouses, live music venues, professional sports teams, festivals, conventions, parks, college campuses, special-interest clubs, and dazzling Art Deco architecture, a bright, creative, energetic individual ought to be able to find something to do.

Those who can’t probably won’t be missed much.