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?

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Dog Signage

German Village is dog territory.  It seems like 90 percent of the residents here have dogs, and whenever you go out for a walk, you’re likely to encounter every variety of canine, every form of terrier and shepherd and retriever, from mutt to pure-bred, out strolling our brick-lined streets.

And you’re also likely to encounter signs warning dogs and their owners to avoid answering the call of nature in the yards and flower beds of the non-dog owners among us.  Some signs are more polite than others, some use “please” and some just say “No!,” but the message is ultimately the same.

What, exactly, is the purpose of those signs?  If it is to encourage dog owners to be responsible in performing their poop scoop obligations, the signs seem . . . unnecessary.  Most dog owners accept the need to stoop and scoop as part of the price that must be paid for having a four-legged friend in the house.  And f a dog owner is inclined to ignore his/her general obligations in a civilized society, a mere sign doesn’t seem likely to change their approach.  So I’ve concluded that the signs really are just another example of the prevalent NIMBY phenomenon at work.  The people with signs know the dogs are going to do what dogs do — which is to produce dog doo — and what they really want is for dog owners to yank their canine friends away from the sign owner’s property so that they find their target in the neighbor’s patch of ground instead.

The signers are really saying that their property deserves special treatment.  It’s not a very neighborly thing to do, when you think about it.

The Accordion Factor

Today the Cap City half marathon and 10 K comes German Village. When the runners, walkers, and rollers reach Schiller Park they’ll be serenaded by a guy in lederhosen playing an accordion — because this is German Village after all.

It is a scientific fact that hearing accordion music makes you run faster.

The Random Restaurant Tour (XXVI)

The original Max & Erma’s restaurant was located only a few blocks from our place in German Village.  It closed more than a year ago, and now the space has been “repurposed.”  By day, it hosts a co-working venture, and as the cocktail hour approaches the space transitions to a place called Wonderbar that features food from Pierogi Mountain.  The other day, Kish and I dropped by with the Columbus Featured Artist to check out the new spot.

The bar itself will seem familiar to anyone who went to the old M&E, because they’ve kept many of the fixtures and oddities that made the old M&E bar memorable.  And yet, there is a decidedly different vibe.  Whereas the M&E bar was a place where regulars camped out for the night, Wonderbar seems to attract a much younger, more diverse crowd, and the bar area itself seems a lot more energetic and more fast-paced.  Many of its patrons appears to see it as a good place to stop for a beer or cocktail on their way to somewhere else, so there’s lots of movement and coming and going.

If you’re interested in pierogis or other food from Pierogi Mountain, you order from a window to and take a marker to your table to be served when the food is ready.  The three of us decided to share a sampler of every kind of pierogi, and I also got a dish of shredded chicken, dumplings and gravy.  Pierogi Mountain says its pierogis are great drinking food, and it’s not hard to see why:  if you want to establish a solid consumed-food “base” before going all in on a few drinks, you’re not going to do much better than doughy morsels stuffed with potatoes, cheese, and other goodies and topped with sour cream.  The chicken dish I got was in the same belly bombing vein. It was substantial stuff that all went down pretty well with a Wonderbar brown ale.

I have no idea how the co-working venture is going, but I’m glad to see the old M&E spot open again and contributing to our neighborhood nighttime options.

For Whom The Clock Tower Bongs

More than two years ago, the clock tower of St. Mary Catholic Church, located less than a block from our house, was struck by lightning.  It was apparently a massive lightning strike, because it not only froze the hands of the clock, it also affected the structure of the roof and the church itself — necessitating the closure of the church building and large-scale renovation work to repair the damage and allow the church building to reopen to parishioners.

220px-saint_mary_of_the_assumption_catholic_church_28c-bus2c_oh292c_exterior2c_springtime_2We’ve been following the reconstruction work with interest, because St. Mary is our neighbor and a key part of the German Village community.  At first, progress was slow, as money was raised and plans were developed, but then a construction crew moved on site and the pace of work accelerated.  Most recently, we saw the crew working on repouring and reconfiguring the outside entrance steps and then repairing the sidewalks outside the church — which indicated that the crews had completed the difficult interior roof and structure work and were getting close to finishing up and putting the church into a position to reopen.

Last week Kish and I were sitting outside, enjoying a night were the temperature had skyrocketed to the low 60s, when I heard the deep bonging of the St. Mary clock tower bell for the first time in a long, long time.  Of course, that meant that the clock in the clock tower had been repaired and was once again telling the correct time.  It was a welcome sound, indeed — indicating that our neighborhood was whole again.

Welcome back, St. Mary!

 

Rethinking The American Home

The New York Times has an interesting opinion piece on the annual effort of the National Association of Home Builders to present its vision of the “New American Home.”  Since 1984, the NAHB has built a New American Home somewhere in the United States.  The underlying concept is that, in the process, the NAHB will try out the latest building and energy technologies, consider the functionality of different floor plans, and innovate with new materials.

dji_0028-editBut what’s happened is that the New American Home has gotten a lot bigger and a lot more elaborate.  The first New American Home was 1500 square feet, but since then the standard has changed considerably.  The 2018 version, pictured at right, is close to 11,000 square feet, with eight — 8! — bathrooms and both an elevator and a car elevator in the garage.  The 2019 version will be 8,000 square feet with an “inner sanctum lounge.”  Prior versions of the New American Home have included amenities like a waterfall off the master bedroom suite.

The article wonders whether the concept of the New American Home hasn’t gone off in the wrong direction.  Rather than going for increasingly elaborate McMansions out in the suburbs, why not focus on condos, or smaller houses in urban settings?  Why build “homes” that exceed 10,000 square feet and have 8 bathrooms when American families have grown smaller, not larger?   These are all good questions in my view.

For years, home ownership has been a core part of the American dream — but that doesn’t mean the home has to be some sprawling monstrosity on an acre and a half of property in a gated community.  When immigrants came to the U.S. in the 1800s they built neighborhoods like German Village, where I now live — a neighborhood right next to downtown Columbus, where the houses are small (ours is less than 2000 square feet) and are placed cheek by jowl with commercial buildings and apartments.  It’s a great community, and just about everything we need is within walking distance.  We love the convenience and the neighborhood feel.

I like living in a smaller space.  We don’t need 10,000 square feet to rattle around in, and I wouldn’t want to pay what it costs to get that amount of personal space, either.  I think it would be interesting if the NAHB revisited the New American Home concept and tried to develop homes that are smaller, less expensive, and closer to the downtown cores, and don’t contribute to still more suburban sprawl.  Wouldn’t home designers welcome a challenge to build homes that don’t require endless space, where creativity is needed to make use of every square foot?

The Random Restaurant Tour (XXII)

In a community called German Village, there should be a German restaurant or three.  We’ve got Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, which has been a German Village landmark for decades, we’ve got Valter’s at the Maennerchor, and now we’ve got the Alpine German Restaurant and Bar, which opened recently in the building formerly occupied by the Juergen’s Restaurant and Bakery.

On Friday night Kish and I had our first dinner at the Alpine.  We figured a cold winter evening was a good time to try the place, because we’d only have to walk a few blocks to get there and because, let’s face it, German food is well suited to frigid temperatures.  The Alpine has a snug little dining room — I’d recommend making reservations if you’re going there for dinner — and offers a full range of German fare.  That means lots of different meat, potato, cheese, and bread dishes.  It’s what my grandmother would have called “stick to your ribs” food.

I’m a traditionalist, so I went for the veal weinerschnitzel with mushrooms, cheesy spaetzle, and a bread dumpling.  The veal was lightly breaded and tender, the spaetzle was like macaroni and cheese nuggets, and the bread dumpling was delightfully moist.  It was the kind of meal that encouraged you to get as many items as possible onto your fork and into your mouth at the same time, and it went perfectly with a full-bodied glass of red wine.  I ate every bit of it.  Kish got a cucumber salad and the goulash, which was too much for her to finish.  She took home the rest and I happily reheated it and had it for lunch on Saturday, and it was great, too.

I’m pleased to report that, after careful deliberation, we decided not to have dessert, because we’d already maxxed out the carb meter and wanted to demonstrate some semblance of moderation.  But I can also report that, with that meal under our belts, we were properly fortified — you might say Alpinized — as we walked home in freezing temperatures.