Scooter Wars

There’s a new scooter in town. Now “Spin” has joined “Bird” and “Lime-S” in providing the cool contingent of Columbus with a short-distance travel option that allows them to zip around town while striking chill poses that typically feature bored expressions.

The fact that a third scooter company is muscling in on the territory of two other competitors tells you that Columbus has a significant appetite for scooter travel. As a non-scooter rider, however, I wonder what the basis for the competition is. The scooters all look pretty much the same, so is it price? Or do scooter riders have the apps for all scooter options in their town and simply grab whatever happens to be nearby when they feel the itch to scoot — which would suggest there’s room for still more companies to come into the market until the sidewalks of Columbus are saturated with scooters.

As a pedestrian who has already gotten used to dodging scooters and walking around scooters coolly left wherever their diffident riders feel like it, I’m not exactly looking forward to that.

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Trashy Behavior (Update)

Here’s what happens when you leave a bunch of trash on the sidewalk, as these folks did a few days ago. First the pickers go through your stuff, and they don’t exactly care whether things get put back in a neat and tidy way. Then the dogs and other critters get into the bagged up garbage and spread it around. Then the debris starts blowing around the street, and before you know it you’ve got a disgusting eyesore that is getting worse by the minute.

You can compare this picture, taken after I got back from the office today, with the “before” picture I posted a few days ago. When Kish and I saw this scene we got out our own trash bags, bagged up the debris, cleared the sidewalk, picked up the scattered trash and garbage, and stored it in the dumpsters. Other thoughtless people may not behave in a neighborly way, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow their lead.

Trashy Behavior

German Village is known for its picturesque brick-paved sidewalks and streets. But when people leaves overflowing dumpsters and piles of discarded items on the sidewalks, to the point where you can barely squeeze by, it tends to interfere with the charming vistas.

It’s a scene that we’ve seen more and more lately.  Sometimes, as with the photo above, it seems to be people who are moving out, and apparently just don’t want to cart a lot of unwanted items to their next destination.  Other times it appears to be people just getting rid of broken furniture or other junk, and not particularly caring how they do it.  Maybe the people think that the trash pickers who periodically visit German Village will swing by and take away items that they think they can use.  But whatever the cause or motivation, it’s always unsightly, and it gets even worse if the rains come.

It’s not neighborly behavior, it’s trashy behavior — and it shows a total lack of consideration for neighbors and other German Village residents.  Would it really have been so hard for the people getting rid of their trunk and moccasins and clothing items to put the stuff in their car and take it to a Goodwill box or Goodwill store to be donated and reused, rather than left on the sidewalk?

Rhythm On The River

Last night we joined Dr. Science and the GV Jogger and checked out the Rhythm On The River festival at Bicentennial Park on the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus. ROTR is a free event that featured a full day’s worth of musical acts. We arrived in time to listen to the last two acts — The Ides of March, who had a hit in the ’70s with “Vehicle,” and ’80s MTV staple The Fabulous Thunderbirds. It was a fun event on a beautiful early June evening.

If you’ve never been, the Bicentennial Park Amphitheatre is a good place to listen to live music. We lugged over some chairs and set up on the wide lawn in front of the Amphitheatre; even though we got there late there was plenty of room to find a good spot and get set up. The only drawback to a late arrival was that most of the food trucks were either sold out or besieged by very long lines. We endured a reasonable wait and picked up some excellent grilled cheese sandwiches from the Momma Can Cook food truck then settled back to enjoy the music.

As I enjoyed the music wafting by on a pleasantly warm evening and looked around at my fellow festival-goers, I thought about the value of a community festival like ROTR. It drew a very diverse crowd, and all of us sat together on a pretty green lawn, sharing a fun mutual experience. People who brought kids watched them play in the fountains next to the park, and everyone had a good time. It seems like the kind of thing cities should want to encourage.

A New Take On An Old Favorite

One of the great things about the current American foodie culture is the willingness of young chefs to reimagine classic dishes in new ways with new ingredients. Hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, chili, and macaroni and cheese — among countless other staples of the American diet — have been recreated in inventive and delicious ways.

So when we visited Ambrose and Eve for dinner last night and I saw Beefaroni on the menu — that’s right . . . Beefaroni! I to try it. Beefaroni, plopped out of the can with the smiling face of Chef Boy-ar-dee on the front, warmed on a saucepan on the stove, and served in a bowl with perhaps a sprinkling of Kraft grated Parmesan cheese on top, was a favorite food of my youth. With tiny, chewy logs of pasta, a curiously sweet tomato sauce, and miniscule shards of some kind of meat, all served piping hot, Beefaroni was a perfect, simple “stick to your ribs” meal. Plus, it had a great commercial featuring throngs of excited kids sprinting home for dinner while singing “we’re having Beefaroni, beef with macaroni. . . . ”

Our waiter described the Ambrose and Eve version as what Chef Boy-ar-dee might have come up with if he had gone to culinary school. After I got over the jarring concept that Chef Boy-ar-dee might not have gone to culinary school, notwithstanding the fact that he sported a chef’s hat and called himself a chef, I found the Ambrose and Eve version to be an excellent successor to this favorite of my youth. It featured excellent rigatoni rather than doughy pasta logs, a very delicate sauce that was chock full of finely minced beef, and a generous topping of Parmesan cheese that promptly melted into the sauce. My only complaint was that it was served with a fork rather than a spoon, which I could have used to more effectively scrape the sides of the bowl in order to consume every scrap.

When we left the restaurant, I half expected to see the kids from the ’60s commercial running toward the restaurant, and I found myself wondering when a brave foodie chef is going to tackle coming up with a modern version of Whip ‘n Chill.

Monkey Head On A Bridge

When you walk to work, moving to and from the office at a deliberate pace, you notice things that speeding drivers simply don’t see — like this curious, colorful monkey head that has recently appeared on the Third Street bridge over I-70.  It looks to be made of carefully painted clay, and it is affixed directly to the concrete on walkway side of the bridge overpass.

What’s the significance of the purple monkey head?  I freely admit that I gave that issue some thought as I walked by, but my analysis hasn’t gotten very far.  The head has the telltale xs on its eyes that have long been a cartoon artists’ way of indicating death, drunkenness, or unconsciousness, but other than that, I found nothing to tell me the backstory of the monkey head, or why it was placed on the bridge.  Google searches for drunken monkey, dead monkey, and unconscious monkey didn’t turn up anything particularly helpful, either — although the searches did cause me to become aware of the scientific theory that the human taste for alcohol has deep evolutionary roots that go all the way back to our primate ancestors consuming overripe, fermented fruit as a primary food source and the fact that the Caribbean island of St. Kitts is also known as the Island of Drunk Monkeys because of the alcoholic likings of the green vervets that were brought to the island in the 1700s.  Alas, there doesn’t seem to be any connection between these stories and the purple monkey head on Columbus’ Third Street bridge.

Perhaps the monkey head is the start of some artist’s project, a la Christo, or some clever marketing campaign, where similar heads have been positioned in other parts of town and, after some kind of buzz is generated by curious people like me, we’ll learn that the monkey heads are advertising the introduction of some new restaurant or bar or rock band in the Columbus area?  Or maybe the monkey head is a tribute to someone who met his maker on the bridge.

Whatever the backstory is, I’m intrigued by the monkey head on the Third Street bridge.  I’d be interested in any theories about what the monkey head means, and why it is there.

Good Neighbor

This sign appeared recently on the telephone pole at the corner of Livingston Avenue and Third Street, on my walking route to work.  At first I didn’t notice it, but when I read it I thought about what a nice, neighborly thing it was for a dental office to give up one day of paid work in order to offer a free filling, a tooth extraction, or a cleaning to someone who just couldn’t afford dental care otherwise.  And the people offering this free benefit were serious about letting people know about their effort to give back to the community — Kimberly Parkway, where the dental office is located, is miles to the east of the German Village location of this particular sign.  I imagine that similar signs could be found at many locations in our city.

In the hurly-burly of our lives in modern America, we sometimes tend to forget, or take for granted, the nice things that people do for each other.  We really shouldn’t.  There are still a lot of nice people in the world who are willing to help others and donate some of their time in doing so.