Ch-ch-changes: Part 2

I worked early yesterday morning and enjoyed a stroll through an empty downtown Iowa City with my camera. So let’s continue our tour of the “new” things in town.

1. No. 18. The site of the pre-tornado Happy Joe’s Pizza is now the home of one of the typical high-rises shooting up all over town. On the ground floor is No. 18. I initially thought the store front was a tanning place due to all the tiny rooms with individual doors. Turns out it’s not for tanning at all (Like we need another one of those)! It’s a karaoke place!!! According to this Patch article, the creation of this Chinese-style karaoke business was intended for the volume of Chinese students here in town, but it’s gaining popularity with Americans as well. It’s also an alcohol-free zone for those who are sick of the bar scene. Check them out if you want to get friends together for karaoke without all the humiliation of singing in public.




2. Veggies at the Iowa City Public Library. I am really pleased to see that somebody’s garden is doing well in this unforgiving heat. The ICPL has utilized the dirt that, in past summers, was habitat to flowers for producing food. The children’s garden is lush and full and sits right in the middle of the Ped Mall, across from the Bread Garden(not a real garden at all). The real garden is packed and proof that it doesn’t take much space to produce healthy, chemical-free food. It’s also a good illustration of how successful a raised bed garden can be. Do YOU have a garden? If so, why not? 



3. While we’re on the subject of the Ped Mall, I wanted to give a quick shout out to the artists adding to the interestingness of the downtown area. Many of you may have noticed the giant mural on the parking ramp at the corner of Burlington and Linn Streets. It’s huge, abstract and is already being defaced by assholes. Someone wrote, in chalk along the bottom, “I am a monstrosity”. I took that as it applies to the defacer, not the artwork itself. If you live somewhere that is lucky enough to have street art – don’t be a dick. If you don’t like something, you have the right to speak out, but don’t do it ON the art after someone has been commissioned to spend hours in the sun painting the side of a building. It says more about your character than their artwork. 



4. And on the subject of art/new art that has already been defaced, all the benches in the Ped Mall along College Street have been getting makeovers over the last several weeks. I think it’s great to live in a city that is paying people to do something artful, interesting and unusual. I took photos of the benches for the purpose of “laundry listing” them here. Some are cooler than others, and some have already been messed up by people (possibly kids, since the obviously defaced one is by the playground- though I don’t think a kid would rip a paper dolphin’s face off). Again, I say that people who deface public art suck. I’d like to see what superior art they could create….and if they can, why are they not? Are they worried someone will tear it up. Hmmm? Anyway, enough bitching about defacement. Take a peek at the designs. Which is your favorite?





Summer in (Iowa) City !

This post is from May 12th, 2012. Looking back on all the crazy-hot day’s we’ve had since then, I considered renaming this post “Simmer in the (Iowa) City. It’s 97 degrees at 8pm, as I sit here and type this. Simmer, indeed.

Another Finals week has come to a close, and there was no better evidence than the droves of drunken students/graduates flocking in the streets of downtown Iowa City last night. It’s a spectacle to see – as are many warm nights in this college town.  My cynical eyes beheld stretch SUV limo monstrosities, mini-dresses paired with perilous high heels, middle aged parents of graduates looking very out of place, but happy, as they bar hop –  and townies, trying to find a chill bar without being high-fived by multiple drunken strangers on the sidewalk.  I get the whole symbiotic relationship this town has with the University and I don’t wish it away. But as a long-time resident of this fair city (and as someone who has never played sandbags or been to a football game), I revel in the glory that is an Iowa City summer. So I am dedicating this post to my love affair with hot days and nights in this, the cultural capitol of Iowa.

The completely incomplete list of things I love about summers in Iowa City.

1. Free live music in the Ped Mall on Friday and Saturday nights. Even if you’re not into the band playing, there’s something about being downtown with the fountain splashing, eating street food, running into people you like but don’t see often enough, and feeling that there really is a huge community here that doesn’t involve thousands of transplanted students.

2. Laying in the sun in College Green Park, watching slackliners, listening to the swings creaking and basketballs rhythmically slapping the pavement. (I am interested in getting in on the yoga in the park that I’ve seen photos of on facebook. If someone reading is in on this, let me know when and i’ll be there.)

3. Summer affords all us car-drivers ample street parking downtown.

4. You can walk up to any bar in town, sit down, and order a drink without having to scream. Then you can drink it without a bunch of drunk 21-year olds slamming into you like it’s the Night at the Roxbury.

5. Barbeques, bonfires, and hanging out on porches. This sounds boring and midwestern, but with the right combination of people and intoxicants, this can lead to some of the greatest conversations of your life.
Grill Masters

6. Farmers markets. Saturday mornings, Wednesday evenings. I love me some Amish-made baked goods. I could eat tomatoes like apples. And please, please, bring on the Iowa sweet corn.

7. Being a short drive from the honest-to-God country. So when you get sick of being a city slicker, you can hop in somebody’s car and find yourself playing frisbee golf in the woods, swimming in some part of the lake, hiking some gorgeous trail or doing other things-that-shall-not-be-named under a pine tree.

8. Hiking in Hickory Hill park. I love that I can feel lost in the woods while in town.
Hickory Hill Park

9. Baseball at City Park. I ache like an old woman the next day, but it’s a good hurt.

10. Parties on farms at the edge of town. I need to find more of those to go to, now that I think about it.

11. Biking along the river.

12. Staying up all night and going for a walk at sunrise.

I’m sure if you’re one of the three people reading this, you’re likely also celebrating a bunch of these things. If you’re planning on doing any of the above mentioned activities, gimme a holler because I’d sure love to tag along.

Now it’s your turn. Leave me some comments. What tickles your fancy about summer in this metropolis?