Category Archives: Tulsa

Dia De Muertes (Day of the Dead) at Tulsa’s Living Arts

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November 1st I got a kitchen pass from Heather and headed out to Living Arts in the Brady District to check out their Day of the Dead celebration. I first went two years ago and I thought it was wonderful.  Dia De Muertos (Dia De Los Muertos is a back translation from English I read) is a day where people in Mexico honor and remember their relatives and close friends who have died.

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Often the dead are remembered via Ofrendas (Offerings) which are altars built to honor the dead person. It may have photographs of the deceased or possessions and often contain favorite foods or beverages and if it is a child, a toy. Living Arts in their “Altared Spaces” Exhbit displayed Ofrendas made by people for their loved ones. In fact they solicit the public to put up Ofrendas.

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Some were for people who had a long life and many children and grand children.

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And others were for people who passed away way too young.

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They were all works of art.

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The Ofrenda above is for those people who died while trying to cross the border.

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I love the concept of honoring lost ones with an Ofrenda.

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Living Arts also had murals painted just for the event. I love them for their humorous macabre riff.

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Dancing skeletons

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Here is one in honor of dogs. Our dogs just don’t live long enough if you ask me.

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The murals are beautiful. Even the ones with gas meters in front of them.

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There was dance also. Ballet Folklorico Sol Azteca of Tulsa put on a great performance of folk dances.

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The costumes were colorful

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And the dancers were lively

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It was beautiful and I had a front row seat for some reason.

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And there was all sorts of other things going on. Food vendors, crafts, other performers. You can bet that I’ll be back next year!

Arkansas River Reflections

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View from the west bank of the Arkansas River here in Tulsa of some rowers in the late afternoon last Tuesday. Tulsa has an active rowing community and I see them often out on the river practicing. It looks very hard work to me.

Logan is in production on the play he is in at Clark Youth Theater, “Romeo and Juliet Live From the Underworld.” This is a musical version and … “Romeo and Juliet awake in the after life, confused and unaware of their deaths. With the help of those in the Underworld, the lovers watch as the events of their lives replay before them, eventually making peace with the choices that led to their demise.” The play is very different and I am glad that I saw it twice as I did not understand at all what was going on the first time.

It takes a little to get an ear for Shakespeare especially when done to rap rhymes in Iambic Pentameter. The kids are doing a great job. There are some really talented and accomplished actors among the teenagers. Logan has a small part and does really well with it.

Anyway that is it for now.

Walking to the Gym

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My old gym went out of business a few months ago. And so I rejoined a gym that I used to belong to until seven years ago. The gym is run by a Methodist church and just like a Methodist Church they still had me on their files and gave me my original member number back. When members show up you have to fill out the log, name, member number, time, and planned activity. We Methodists are fiends for documentation;

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Anyways its about a 3/4 mile walk from the office. I have noticed the past couple months that our homeless people are increasingly sitting down and laying down on the sidewalks. Just the left of the photo above there was a guy sitting down on the sidewalk blocking everything but about a foot wide strip of concrete. I walked right past him and he asked me how I was doing, Great! I said, and you? He was doing great also. I felt like saying, then get your butt off the sidewalk dude.

So what is up with sprawling on the sidewalks?

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Hey I crossed the street and come to Cathedral Square which is actually a City of Tulsa park. I love the fountain.

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And it has the fanciest wrought iron benches in town.

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And I came to my favorite tree. Sometimes I feel as old as it looks.

So, what did you do today?

Hit and Run – Downtown Tulsa

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I was taking a noontime stroll Thursday on 7th Street, not too far from the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Tulsa when I heard some yelling behind me. I turned around and I saw this guy, looked to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s running toward me chased my two other guys. They were yelling at me to stop him!! I had no intention of doing any such thing and wouldn’t know how anyways. Then appearing out of nowhere was a police car that passed within a few feet of me, and then stopped. The lead guy running basically run into the car and the policeman was out of car in a flash and told the guy, “Back up!!” And then “Turn around and puts your hands together behind your back!” I was impressed, the cop wasn’t yelling but he definitely had his command voice going really well. I thought he was doing his job in a very professional manner.

This was all happening within five feet of me which I decided was too close so I started walking on and I stopped and turned a couple times to see what was going on and I noticed the cop studying me really hard but I guess that I didn’t look like a criminal or anything so besides the middle level bureaucrat that I am so I just kept walking on, wondering, “What did the guy do?” I had wanted to take some photos of what was going but the cop had his hands full and I didn’t want to be a distraction to his task at hand.

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So I walked a block west until 7th street diagonals into 6th street and I saw all sorts of firetrucks, fire rescue trucks, sheriff’s deputies, and policemen right near the county courthouse so I meandered down there and got up on the plaza of the adjacent police headquarters building and asked some ladies who were there also supervising the action what happened. They said a guy in a car ran into a truck and then took off on foot. So I’m guessing that was the dude the policeman caught a few minutes earlier.

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Despite all the emergency vehicles there, I didn’t see any ambulances so I am hoping that nobody was seriously injured. There hasn’t been anything on the news either.

My theory is that the great majority of criminals are just not very smart. It takes a real dummy though to take off on foot from an area with the highest concentration of law enforcement officers in the city.

Anyways that is the most exciting thing that has happened to me all week. What about you?

Downtown Update

Downtown Construction

Sometimes it seems that different sectors of the economy out of synch with each other. The energy industry has gone down the tubes (although indications are that a recovery is in progress) and the building industry in Tulsa is booming. Looking out a window at work there are three different projects going on. The closest one is a new hotel going up. There are several hotels going up downtown now.

And then if you follow the street alongside the hotel you can see that they are extending the street to the high rise on the right. That is our former city hall that has been converted to a hotel. Part of the deal with the hotel to meet code is that they needed a street going to it because the city likes hotels to have two streets for firetrucks and such to use. It is a pretty expensive road project because it is on top of a parking garage.

And then just this side and to the right of the hotel is on lazy  $50 million renovation of our Central Library. From what I can tell they are going to store most of the books off site and put in lots more computers. I’m sorry but I think what they are doing is turning our library into an internet cafe for the homeless, methheads, and K2 addicts. Also, the library’s director hornswaggled the board of the library into giving him a paid four month leave of absence to get his PhD. The guy makes over $170,000 per year plus a $450 a month car allowance, plus, plus, plus. He makes more than the Governor of Oklahoma! Do you really need a library director who is gone for four months? Poor use of taxpayer funds I think.

Oops, I digress, what is happening where you live?

A Vision for Turkey Mountain

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Tulsa voters will get their chance to secure Turkey Mountain Wilderness Area‘s future on April 5 this year by voting for a huge bond issue that includes $6 million for purchasing land from private owners. Land that almost got turned into an outlet mall last year. The public rejected that proposal but the land is still privately held and zoned for smaller development and it is only fair for the owners to be compensated and they are willing to sell at their acreage.

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Turkey Mountain is a hodgepodge of land owned by the River Parks Authority, the George Kaiser Family Foundation and private landowners. Park users have the run of the place and we need to start moving toward consolidating the ownership and management. We don’t need to wake up one day to see a gas station going in.

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So I’ll be at the polls on April 5 voting for the bond issue.

Previous Posts on Turkey Mountain

An Update on Turkey Mountain and Helmerich Park

Simon Properties Withdraws Proposal to put an Outlet Mall on Turkey Mountain

Lunchtime Walkabout and an Indulgence

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Lunchtime Monday was cold but I grabbed my camera and went walking for just a few minutes. I got to what I call the “Old Chamber of Commerce Building” and took a photo of some of the Bas Relief sculptures on the facade. They are in kind of an art deco style and there lots of images in the panel.  The one above of a mother and child is my favorite.

Oil Capital Bas Relief

Right next to it is a depiction of Tulsa’s role as the “Oil Capital of the World” way back int eh day. It’s got and oil well obviously as well as refineries, pipelines, tank farms, trucks, railroads, and airplanes.

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I went walking around the corner over to Holy Family Cathedral and saw this door labelled Porta Sancta. Of course, not being Catholic, I had to google it and it has to do with Pope Francis declaring a Jubilee Year of Mercy where believers are to learn about and practice mercy in the daily lives. The Porta Sancta has to do where a believer who meets certain requirements can  receive an indulgence where an “..indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven…” It all starts by going through the door which is open at certain times. The church’s web site describes it.

I don’t really understand it but you know, we could all use a little a mercy in our lives right  and we could all practice a little lot more mercy also toward others. (And by the way if I’ve got any of this wrong, please let me know!)

And then it was time to get back to work.

What did you do today?

Update on Turkey Mountain and Helmerich Park

There is a lot of news these days of interest to those in the Tulsa area interested in preserving green spaces and wilderness as wells as the financial health of our city.

Turkey Mountain Topaz Glow Dizzy Late Afternoon Sunlight

Maybe the most exciting news is that two local powerhouses, QuikTrip and the George Kaiser Family Foundation have given the Tulsa River Parks Authority a loan for $5.6 million to purchase 150 acres of land on Turkey Mountain, presumably including the 50 acre tract that Simon Properties wanted to purchase to put in an Outlet Mall. That deal fell through in September when Simon announced that that the were going to put the mall in  the suburb of Jenks. Money to purchase the 150 acres is expected to be in a bond issue to be submitted to the owners within the next year. Reported separately Friday, the Jenks Planning Commission appproved Simon Properties’ plans for the outlet mall. 

A family of hikers on Tulsa's Turkey Mountain

The bridge loan is great news. Until the land was in the public’s hands, it was at risk of development. This puts it out of private hands and into the River Park Authorities control.

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It is pretty rare in Oklahoma for people to fight city hall and win. City hall is not happy. Our mayor Dewey Bartlett got people riled up in November by pitching a proposal for a restaurant on the mountain. It didn’t go down very well.

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Mayor Bartlett was probably a little sore at losing the sales tax revenue from Simon’s mall to Jenks. Cities in Oklahoma are financed primarily by sales taxes and with the downturn in the energy industry and the rise of internet sales, sales tax collections are struggling. Friday, the mayor announced a job freeze  because of decreased sales tax collections. The city has been working hard at attracting national retail stores to Tulsa to increase sales tax collections. Some of us wonder if all we are doing is cannibalizing existing businesses but we are generally okay with smart development.

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Helmerich Park, or not a park, just been used as a park.

So now we have a new controversy over green space, this time concerning land in a city park, Helmerich Park, on the Arkansas River that the city is wanting to sell to a developer for a shopping center. Not a mall, just a moderately bigger than average strip mall type facility as far as I can tell. The problem is that you can’t sell land in a city park without going through a process involving the city council. The outdoor equipment retailer REI is expected to be the anchor tenant. To its credit REI has announced that it is not coming to Tulsa until all legal questions over the legal status of the proposed site have been answered.

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The volley ball courts at Helmerich Park. Note Turkey Mountain in the background.

So the city’s attorney has come up with this claim that the park is not really a park. It is just land that has been used as a park. So we are probably headed to court to settle this. It is very complicated because of claims that money was donated to the city to purchase the land to be used as a park in perpetuity.

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Acccording the city, this is not a park

The city wants to move fast to keep the project on tract, and a bunch of citizens are wanting to slow down and figure out this whole thing about what it means to say that land is not a park but is being used as a park. Plus we are trying to make sure that once land elsewhere in the city, like Turkey Mountain, is preserved as a park that it won’t be “unpreserved” by some fancy legal footwork.  And of course we are also concerned about the city getting enough money to pay for services and keep our police and fire departments staffed up and with the equipment they need to keep the city safe.

So now we are going to have another real life Quality of Life vs Development controversy in Tulsa.

Check out information from Smart Growth Tulsa Coalition. Among other things, they have a link to a video of our present Mayor Dewey Bartlett stating the land for the park will never be sold.

Facebook Group: Save Helmerich Park

Channel 6 Television story on the Bridge Loan

Channel 5 Television story on Tulsa deciding to sue for right to sell land in park

Tulsa World Newspaper story in 1991 announcing brand new Helmerich Park

Channel 2 Television story back in August where city announces they sold twelve acres out of the park

 

Boomtown Downtown – Condo Conversions

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At lunch yesterday I took advantage of the perfect sunny cool weather and put on my big funny looking high spf hat and took a stroll over to the east side of downtown to see what was happening. It has been a long cold winter and I hadn’t been exploring as much as what I usually do.

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The east side is booming with condo construction. Both new and conversions. Downtown Tulsa is now a cool place to be ever since the BOK Arena went in several years ago. I don’t know what came first after that, cool bars or condos but it is amazing the housing that is being built that accompanies the explosion of bars and restaurants. It wasn’t that many years ago that Michael Buble at a concert here joked that he left his hotel to check out the local action and all he he saw were tumbleweeds blowing down the street.

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There is growing pains of course. The city has again started enforcing parking laws and the residents downtown are complaining. I’m told that parking in not prime areas averages about $70 per month. It may not sound like much to you big city folks but people in Oklahoma think that free parking is somehow in the Bill of Rights. A codicil of the Second Amendment I think.

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The other thing is that the smaller the condo the bigger the dogs the owners have and there is not enough places for the dogs to go relieve themselves and I see people trying to coax their oversize dogs into small planters so the dogs can do their business. Something is going to have to give on that.

Anyway, it is great to see new construction going on downtown and people moving in and making it their home. I really do think that a strong downtown is vital to any city.