Category Archives: Downtown Diary

Overnight Parking–Providence City Council

The Dreaded Orange Tag

From all the fuss on the internets I thought there would be a crowd at City Hall where a plan for citywide resident permit parking was on the agenda.

I went to a very crowded and contentious meeting several years ago where the Summit Neighborhood Association had scores of people lined up to oppose resident overnight parking. I had all my arguments ready this time, but there was no one to argue with.

About fifteen members of the public were there, several of us took the signs handed out by a supporter. Since we were not allowed to speak, we held them up.

For two hours.

I did not see any parking opponents, for what that’s worth.
The acoustics were terrible and I heard very little of what the City Council members said, although the chairman kept pointing his finger at the man who was describing how the plan would work.  It was kind of like watching a silent movie without captions.

I had a lot of time to think–approximately 120 minutes, but who’s counting?

One intense internet brushfire going today concerned the $100 fee for the proposed permit. A new tax. How dare they?

But it’s actually a money saver, here’s why–

If you have a space on your property to park your car, you don’t need to buy a permit. Just keep on parking your car in the same place.

If you don’t have a space and are renting, and you pay less than $10 a month, that’s awesome. What a good deal. Don’t buy a permit. Keep on renting.

If your parking is not secure and convenient, you are probably paying much more than $100 a year, and getting the occasional parking ticket as well. You’ll save money with a permit.

I’m not unbiased. My house was built in 1918 and it was assumed you’d just hop on the trolley if you needed to go anywhere. Maybe you could park your machine on the street if you could afford one.

Those days are gone, but the houses remain. More meetings are planned.

Shovel that Sidewalk

ProJo.com has an article about the snow-covered sidewalks. You can be ticketed for not clearing the sidewalk in front of your property.

Most of the people on my street do the right thing, but then you come to a wall of snow where someone didn’t, and you have to walk in the street. Or drive very slow because lots of people are walking in the street.

I hope we make it to thaw without someone getting hurt, it’s a mess right now. The plowing went okay on the main streets, the side streets are passable but snow-covered. Bus shelters are unusable, I keep seeing people standing at crosswalks and realizing they are waiting for the bus.

Take care, it’s supposed to warm up a little by Wednesday.

Happy Birthday, Umberto Crenca

I Voted

Criss Cross Band

I took time off from a busy work weekend to celebrate Umberto Crenca’s 60th birthday at AS 220 with music by the Criss Cross Orchestra.

That’s Obuamah Laud Addy at the drum and my friend Phil Edmunds  of The Gnomes is playing pipes– it’s a kind of Afro-Irish mix.

There’s a show up, art from Crenca’s new book, ‘You Can’t Call Your Own Baby Ugly’.

You Can’t Call Your Own Baby Ugly features several bodies of work, including the large scale mixed media trptych’s Devolution, the Free Mickey series that examine copyright and copy wrong, Dis Dat Dees Does, and Bert’s Head, of off the wall sculptural paintings of the artists’ influence and imagined self, plus a whole lot more. Exciting show with well over a 100 works of art representing at least a decade of focused, engaged art-making.

Bert’s opening reception is also the book release of : “you can’t call your own baby ugly: the doodles of Umberto Crenca” The book contains hundreds of doodles and drawings Bert has done over the last ten years on scraps of paper, conference agendas, and hotel pad paper, documenting the artist’s ceaseless flow of creative output. Signed copies will be available at the opening.

Bert will be giving an artist talk on November 19th at 5:30 p.m. that begins Main Gallery at 115 Empire St. and will end at the As220 Project Space at 93 Mathewson St.

I’ll say his work is unsettling, definitely not dull. That band was good– everyone was out on the floor dancing. I’ll look for them around town.

Live From the Liberty

The Liberty is now boasting a new sign by Brent Batchelder that is a work of art in itself. The Liberty will be the featured diner on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network tonight at 11. The mood of the day is ‘cautiously optimistic. But it’s almost closing time. Stop in at 7am Tues-Fri and the mood will be sunny side up.

Sebastian Ruth, founderof Community Music Works on Westminster St., just got a MacArthur genius grant. Congratulations, local boy!

Nicole is the fourteenth named storm of the season, but from where I sit the coast is clear. Better get back to work now.

Water Tower

Plainfield Street

Driving through Johnston yesterday, just enjoying the old buildings and businesses that haven’t been replaced by chains. 

What are water towers for, anyway? Tom Sgouros probably knows. He has a fascinating lecture about the relationship between landscape, water and taxes.

Tom Sgouros ran for treasurer, but sadly dropped out. I was going to vote for him. He wrote a book called, ‘Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Rhode Island’, and you can find him here.

Hurricane Barrier

Hurricane Barrier

The hurricane barrier in Fox Point is framed by the new bridge over Rt. 195.

NOAA reports todaythat tropical depression 4 is moving west across the Atlantic. I just enjoy the beauty of the city at dusk, but the hurricane barrier is a reminder of the power of nature and the vulnerablity of cities on the coast.

MORE: Jef Nickerson of Greater City: Providence sends a link to hurricane barrier pictures he took, including the inside. Way cool.

UPDATE: Tropical depression 4 is now tropical depression Colin on track to spare the Gulf of Mexico but possibly to come up here.

Off Mineral Spring

On Woodlawn Avenue, just a short walk from Mineral Spring with its strip malls and endless rush hour, is this cemetery. It is green and quiet, and some of the older stones are worn by rain and lichen to a kind of Zen namelessness. They all face away from the road, perhaps to where the road used to be.

It’s a good day for bumper stickers. ‘Beholder on Board’ What’s that supposed to mean? And ‘Adult Child of Alien Abductors’. Does that get you a discount on a rocket to Mars?
This little patch of green won’t be disturbed, but the rest of the area is a sea of parking lots with islands of elderly housing and condos. You have to keep an eye out for scooters and people with canes bravely crossing the three lanes of Mineral Spring to get to the bank. It would be a great place for some urban planning for walkability, with its concentration of people who can’t or shouldn’t drive.

From The Hot Club

One of the best urban sunsets is from The Hot Club. Traffic was light today and the humidity has let up– I’ll live.

Three of the suspected home invaders on Federal Hill were quickly caught. Let’s hope they catch the fourth. Good thing. It’s surprising how many people leave doors unlocked and it’s sad that we all can’t just do that. Anyone who shoots at a baby needs to be locked up, and I don’t mind paying for that. Release a couple of non-violent offenders and we’ll come out even.

It’s a nice evening. I saw a hot air balloon drifting East, don’t know where they will land. I’m working the weekend, but only for a few hours and there’s going to be some serious art and music, so it’s looking good.

Downtown Diary– Cumberland

Cumberland is a remote, largely unexplored territory, at least by me, but it was actually settled a while ago.

There are so many fascinating historic buildings along Mendon road that I wish people would drive a little slower. Here’s one of them, St. Joseph Church.

There are blocks of beautiful brick mill workers houses that I couldn’t capture a sense of. Also, there were a lot of people out and I didn’t want them to think I was a spy. Maybe I’ll drive by there again some day.

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