POSTED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2008:
People of Green Country
Give ourselves a pat on the back. We are nice. Especially since we are new to town
Call it what you will: "T-Town," "America's Most Beautiful City," or "The Oil Capital of the World." It's Tulsa and "Green Country" to me. One of the first and most important things you learn about a city is what kind of people make up the city. It speaks volumes about what kind of place you're in. For me, it leads me to conclude that I'm in good hands. Good, green hands. I hope that isn't too awkward. I like green.
I've called Tulsa my home since the second half of 2007. One of the first people I met is an artist. We'll call him Steve. My girlfriend is also an artist. My knowledge of art consists of a high school art class and a couple of trips to art museums, most notably Chicago art museums. I like art, but my ability to analyze art is limited. My girlfriend could take my 10-year-old niece to an opening and the only difference between her reaction to the work and mine would be that I held a small, disposable cup of wine.
"That's nice. I like that one. Pretty colors." This is an adult's evening out with me when art is the centerpiece.
Sure, I've picked up on some buzz words. My girlfriend used Pavlov as a model. She told me, "Isaac, just say something about symmetry, color scheme or composition." I've learned that when I please her with a heady comment about the "symmetry" of a piece, I am rewarded with a small, disposable cup of wine.
"Drab. I'm bored by the monochromatic color scheme," I'll say.
"Isaac, would you care for white or red?"
"Isaac, what do you think about the composition of this one?"
"Oh, I don't know. The split complimentary color scheme is somewhat soft and inviting, but it seems a bit gimmicky. That circle thing looks out of place." Magically my glass is refilled.
I try. I try because I like learning new things. And, I enjoy free wine. Free wine or knowledge--it really is a toss up.
After all, how can you truly enjoy something you don't fully understand? For me that was always the problem with art. My parents aren't artsy. Rural Tennessee is home to more hunters than abstract painters. With the help of the Tulsa art scene, friends and loved ones, I'm slowly learning that art can be almost anything: boring, lazy, politically-charged, intelligent, idiotic, deep. Honestly, it has something for each of us if we are open to it and able to at least try.
Some of my favorite Tulsa galleries include Self, Living Arts and Liggett Studio, but don't put too much stock in what I say. Check it out for yourself. There's usually a gregarious crowd, some snacks, and a beer or glass of wine with your name on it. At one opening there was free Chinese food with fortune cookies. Another served Thai. If food, drinks, or people aren't your draw, then try checking out the work of Live 4 This or Eric Humphries. I'd say they both are marvelous in their own way. Live 4 This' work is tight. I love the brilliant color scheme. Eric's at first appears simple, yet the depth of his subject is satisfying. Again, the color scheme is eye catching.
It is intimidating-being new to a place and going out to events that you know nothing about. There's comfort for me in, say, a basketball game-no matter my location. I could be in the Ukraine and not speak a word of Russian, but being able to understand the game would provide some comfort. Luckily, I have a girlfriend who is thoughtful, considerate and an artist.
Our friend, Steve, is similar. Neither are pretentious or particularly judgmental of my elementary understanding. I enjoy their company. I'm okay with them, because they're okay with me. Their openness and patience allows me to be myself. It allows me to grow. I've even decided I have a favorite artist, although sometimes I mispronounce his name. This is when my girlfriend calmly corrects my error. Next time I'll be less likely to muck it up. I'm getting better. That's my comfort.
On a much larger scale... the ice storm and the reaction of Tulsans to the aftermath of the storm has made me feel more at home. Not having electricity or heat for a week in some frosty weather could leave almost anyone with hair wanting to extract it (except that you don't because that's extra warmth there), but story after story from Tulsans has displayed your willingness to give even in a time when all you feel like doing is wrapping up in a blanket or four. Neighbors helped neighbors. Those with shared. Those without were received with open arms. Times with this amount of distress measure who we are as a people. I am proud to be living in such a community.
Tulsa may have a cool aquarium (yeah, it's in Jenks), great restaurants, a lovely sky line and stylish art galleries, but without some good people and strong relationships it means nothing. Your home is much more defined by the people who make it up than the wood in the floors or nails in the walls. Sure a hot tub would be nice, but what's a great tub without some hot babes? I mean, good friends with whom you can share a laugh. Yep, I'd say I'm in good hands, Green Country. Just remember to correct me when I mispronounce Miami or Tahlequah, but do it in a kind, neighborly way. Be patient with me. I'll be less likely to miss it next time. Can we agree on that? It'd give me a lot of comfort and I'll be more likely to invite you over to unwind in my new hot tub.
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When the Drillers Go
County Commissioner has ideas what to do with soon-to-be-vacated stadium
By Randi Miller
Over the past several months there has been much said about the future home of our Tulsa Drillers. After many years as a tenant on the Expo Square property, which draws thousands of fans each year, no one can blame the organization for seriously considering the offers of a new location and new stadium. After all, the Drillers are one of the most, if not the most, successful sports organization in Tulsa County. One of the key reasons for their success is that the ownership of the Drillers, first under Went Hubbard and now Chuck Lamson, have had a business plan that has successfully mixed affordable family entertainment, good marketing, great players and staff, and a loyal fan base.
If we are to look into the future and see that a new home for the Drillers is a matter of when it will happen, not if it will happen, then how might this affect the property at Expo Square, which the Drillers now occupy, and what could be the future use of that property. Ultimately, this will be the decision of the five-member fair board known as the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority. There are several possible ideas on how the corner of 15th and Yale could be used or developed.
One option would be to keep the facility as a baseball venue. The Board could consider approaching the University of Tulsa to inquire if they have any interests in establishing a baseball program at TU and to use the stadium as their home ballpark. It's close to the TU campus and, being designed with major league dimensions, should need little retrofitting or capital expenditure, and there is plenty of parking.
We could also consider offering it as a host site for a regional NCAA tournament venue and possibly some youth baseball tournaments like the American Legion.
The Board could study the possible usage of the facility, with modifications of course, as a soccer venue.
We could consider using it for entertainment and hold more out door concerts throughout the year. With the Drillers gone, the scheduling of outdoor concerts would be much more flexible.
If there are no feasible ideas for retaining the stadium as a sports/music venue and the stadium has to come down, we could look to the private sector to develop a state-of-the-art family entertainment facility. Along those lines, perhaps there will come a time when the Fair Meadows Race Track is not the best usage of all the real estate currently used for the track, given that there are less than 30 live racing days a year and the rest of the time the property sits largely unused. If a good portion of the Expo Square real estate from 15th Street to 21st Street along Yale was cleared and opened for private development, it could create the perfect economic development climate to compliment the already great improvements happening at Expo Square.
Of course there will be other good ideas about the usage and development of Drillers corner if or when the Drillers say goodbye to Expo Square, and there's plenty of time to consider those and to hear from the neighbors around Expo Square. For now, let's just root for the home team and hope for the best for our Tulsa Drillers.
Randi Miller is Tulsa County Commissioner for District 2.
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