Thursday, June 22, 2006

Random Stuff

We've always suspected that celebrity was a false illusion. These disembodied heads, spotted in a shop window near the Plaza only bolsters that belief.

Our good friend, artist Suvo is back after a suspension by the city for not buying the required (so they say) permits. The City is working on a new ordinance for street visual artists. A nearby copy of the U.S. Constitution would be a helpful reference when drafting a new code.

Tonight is another concert in the Plaza. To learn more about the concert series go HERE.

A. I.T.M. took a walk down St. George St. yesterday. Our cultural and historical heritage is maintained at a few government funded locations but the general impression is one of being in a mall. Birkenstock, factory art and phony , cutesy "pirate" gear ("Pirates Girls Have Big Chests") can all be found on St. George. At least the pirate near the Columbia Restaurant has a real pegleg. We know him in private life and yes, he is a real "scalawag".

Art In The Market advocates the right balance between economic development, sustainable tourism and heritage conservation which includes the prevention of undesired development. Picture Sarasota or Naples Florida. It seems that those communities have evolved into a haven for the wealthy to situate their second or third homes. Residents and working people get short shrift in terms of quality of life. The service jobs that the wealthy require are traditionally low wage positions. St. Augustine is in danger of becoming such a community if unbridled development continues. READ

Good intentions aside, the micromanagement of visual artists in the Plaza is not the answer to creating a desireable park. Colonial Williamsburg is an example of Cultural Heritage Tourism and complete control. Do we want another one? The "Disneyfication" of history may not be the answer. Do we want St. Augustine simply to be a laboratory or classroom for elementary school daytrips? We have much more here in St. Augustine. The contemporary and the colonial can co exist. We would like more nighttime adult diversions in the old quarter. Sangria was invented in Spain. We call for wine and song for adults. Give us folklorico in the form of flamenco and fiestas. Get a babysitter! "But what about the children ?!".This recent trend of "child worship" has baffled many of us. Even Dr.Benjamin Spock and Maria Montessori would not approve. Going to Key West? Sloppy Joe's has a kiddie Daiquiri and a Hemingway Balloon for Junior. No kidding!.

A final note on a conversation held with a local St. Gerge St. merchant who felt that "every dollar spent by a tourist in the low overhead Plaza was a dollar not going to St. George Street businesses". "We have so much invested in rent and need to get every dollar we can to make payroll, replace inventory etc." Perhaps, we say, they should hold this discussion with the landlord who seems to be getting high rents that may not be justified by the gross receipts. There always seems to be another wannabe merchant waiting to gamble that they can succeed where others cannot. The landlord benefits particularly when the lease states that all improvements and fixtures remain after the tenant has left. Bathroom Boutiques? Solar clothing that changes color in the sunlight? Another high end"factory art" gallery? Which one will be the first to go?

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