Thursday, January 27, 2011
The Grand Avenue Mall is in decline. Back when it was in its prime, it was a wonderful mall, and was busy. Then over time, the mall started to decline. A friend of mine walked through the mall on a break form work, and the mall is about half empty, and the nationally recognized stores have left, and all that is left is local vendors with temporary occupancy permits selling hip-hop wear. She said she was almost embarassed to see store after store hawking sweats with "baby phat" plastered across the @ss.
Mayfair is at the height of its popularity. I have never been in that mall and not seen people walking from store to store. The stores are an eccectic mix of natinally recgonized names (Aeropostale, Hot Topic, Banana republic, Payless, three Starbucks locations - one in Macy's at one end of the mall, one in Barnes and Noble at the other end, and a standalone Starbucks halfway inbetween), and a few local stores selling everything from cheesy faux Egyptian home decor to Wisconsin-themed sweatshirts and cow-print aprons.
Milwaukee has been home to three malls that have died a slow, painful death. All of them shared certain characteristics that led to their decline. Each of them was in an upper middle class area that slowly declined as more and more rental and low-income properties moved into the area. The clientele of the mall shifted to a less affluent demoographic and the higher-end stores started to lose business. The middle class and upper-middle class shoppers changed their shopping routines and bypassed those malls so as not to have their peaceful shopping experience disturbed by people who do not share their values, sensibilities, morals or expectations of public behavior. Some would add skin color to that list, but I believe that bad behavior is bad behavior no matter what color your skin is.
Everyone would profit from understandign something that was understood by Benjamin Franklin: "I never doubted, for instance, in the existence of the Deity; that he made the world and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtues rewarded, either here or hereafter."
An event at Mayfair Mall a few weeks ago illustrates what kills malls. On Sunday, January 2, 2011, several large groups of teens engaged in acts of vandalism and disorderly conduct at the mall. During the event, which included thousands of dollars woth of damage to store's property and merchandise, an attempted armed robbery in the parking lot and a gunshot in the parking lot. Police were called, arrests were made and ticket were issued for disorderly onduct and retail theft. Apparently, the "flash-mob" was planned in advance and posted on facebook as an event.
Now an event like this doesn't automatically mean that a mall will die. What is important to the public perception of the mall, which then leads to the possible death of the mall, is the response of the mall to an incident. Mayfair Mall responded in a manner that I feel is appropriate, but perhaps a little minimalist. The mall had already had a Parental Guidance Required policy which required all minors to be accompanied by an adult on Fridays and Saturdays after 3pm. In the wake of the incident, the policy was expanded to include Sundays.
What was truly anemic was the response of the police. There were between two and three hundred people involved in the incident, but only "several" arrests. What really should have happened was massive arrests should have been made, and every last person should have had the book thrown at them ... the only question is: would they be able to read it?
Monday, January 17, 2011
My mother is in a nursing home recording hospice care as I write this. Yesterday, a pastor whom my sister is acquainted with stopped by to minister to her. I was there for the moment and I am profoundly glad that I was. He spoke words of comfort to her which really helped me in this time of stress. I haven't been to church in a while, and haven't actually belonged to a church in years.
His ministration is not the topic of this post, but rather, his ministration reminded me of a conversation I had with my best friend Mike some time ago about a topic that bugs me. That topic is religious liberalism. There are a lot of well-meaning Christians out there who are religious, but liberal.
In discussing the topic, I think Mike best identified the problem. The problem is that too many churches are out of balance. In order to be a balanced church, the church must believe and preach the whole of scripture. Many churches preach a feel-good gospel: 'God loves you and wants you to be happy, so you should have a wonderful relationship with him.' The problem is, half of the message is missing. That missing message is the fact that on our own, people are a spiritual mess, separated from God by our propensity to sin.
The unbalanced churches preach that Jesus came and we should be happy and joyful because of that, but they totally miss the fact that is is us, you, me, the person on the street, WE are the reason he came and was nailed to a cross in the first place. Why? Because we disobey God's commandments.
As a matter of fact, those unbalanced churches totally ignore preaching about God's commandments and man's sinful nature and the struggle we must live in order to live a good and holy life as a child of God. They reject the idea that some things are identified as sins by God, and they strive to preach a message that is welcoming to everyone, no matter who they are.
People in these churches, because they are not taught that moral absolutes exist tend to be politically liberal. They embrace everyone because they are supposed to be vessels of God's love. They want to show everyone love because Jesus showed everyone love. They forget that Jesus preached judgement and repentance as well as love. Love is only one-third of the message, and like the three branches of government, each of the three parts is equally important, therefore balance is important. Only when you are in balance can you truly walk straight.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Saturday, January 15, 2011
One of the first principles of conservatism is basic human freedom. People should be free to smoke, or not smoke, as their personal desire happens to be. As a conservative, I am politically opposed to smoking bans that are enacted by state and local governments.
What bothers me though, is the severe lack of politeness and etiquette of many smokers. I have friends who smoke. I will hang out with them while they are standing outside smoking, and most of my friends are understanding that I don't smoke and would prefer to not inhale their used carcinogens. They always stand downwind, and exhale their smoke to the side so that it is blowing away from me. Kudos to you my friends!
The ones who bother me are the ones who don't even try to be polite about it. They stand upwind, they exhale their smoke directly at me (not in a malicious way, they just don't respect my right to remain as smoke free as possible).
I make it a point to not frequent locales which are smoky. My state recently enacted a statewide smoking ban, and while I am enjoying the fact that I am breathing clearer air than I did before the ban, I am against it. I simply cannot support a law passed by the state simply under the auspices of "we will protect you from yourselves, and everyone around you a, by prohibiting X." I am actually appreciating that I can attend more after-work functions with my colleagues because the most common locations of these gatherings is now forced, by a state mandate, to be smoke free. However, I honestly don't believe that they should be forced to do this. If the facility is smoke-filled to the point that it bothers me, I can simply vote with my feet and leave. I am as free to not smoke as people should be to smoke.
That being said, I do not believe that the taxpayers should pay to treat smoking-related illnesses. Medicare and Medicaid dollars should be used only to alleviate the pain of these diseases, and not attempt to cure them. Every person who exercises their right to smoke does so in the full awareness of the health risks involved, and thereby assumes the liability and responsibility for the negative consequences.
I am leery of government power, especially when it is used to limit the freedom and choices of the people. Perhaps a less intrusive government would be smaller, cheaper and more efficient, and all of those people who get paid from tax money will, instead of being tax consumers, become tax PAYERS.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
So during the summer, I forgot to send in my registration renewal for my car. I kept meaning to do it, and I kept forgetting. Eventually, I ended up getting pulled over and issued a $175 citation. I put the citation in the visor of the car. I planned to send in a check for the fine, but I kept forgetting, kept forgetting ...
So finally, I realized that I needed to go into the courthouse and make the appearance since I ran out of time to mail it in. I got up early, drove down to the next county where I got pulled over, and made my appearance. I showed them my renewed registration, and they dismissed the ticket. Sweet!
Now, I am not saying that we should all go around forgetting things. I mean, honestly, I am sure that I should have remembered, but in the end it worked out ... this time. Next time, I might not be so lucky, so perhaps I should make sure that there is no next time.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
In Lynnwood, Washington, Phoenix Jones is on patrol. He has his eyes open for evil, and he is prepared to fight it. Only Phoenix Jones is not a cop, he is a real-life "superhero." He and some friends have formed a group called the "Rain City Superhero crimefighting movement."
He doesn't have any extraordinary powers other than his courage and willingness to put himself in harm's way for his fellow citizens.
His most recent exploit was chasing away a would-be car thief, caught in the act of breaking in to a car. You can read about the story and see the video here.
In our society, we have a serious lack of herores, super or otherwise. Celebrities and atheletes eschew the positions as role models that their successes thrust upon them, living lives that seem more to be cautionary tales rather than as people that parents would want their children to emulate. Sadly it takes a guy dressed up like a comic book character to make us realize there are still hereoes among us. We just can't see them, because they blend in with the rest of us.
The police officer who keeps us safe, the fire fighter who rescues people with no regard for their own safety, the doctor who saves lives of strangers. They are all heroes in my book, and now we can add Phoenix Jones.