Monday, May 28, 2007

Maple Ridge Memorial Day Run

Blogger: Mos Jef

So I was coaxed into running a 5k race this morning. One of my students from last year kept nagging about running with her in a race. I finally gave in today and participated in the Maple Ridge Memorial Day Run:

I think everybody should enter in one of these every once in a while. Even if you don't plan on running the entire race, you'll be in good company. Plenty of people stop to walk. It was like a Tulsa social event. Hundreds of people were there and it was fun. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. Maple Ridge neighbors set up tables to hand out water along the way. They clapped and cheered all the runners. I feel really good post-race. I may visit Oklahoma Runner occasionally and keep up with the Tulsa running scene.

I also recommend you go with two 14 year-old girls that call you an "old man" before the race to ensure you push yourself to the limit. I came in at 22:45 compared to their 25 minutes. Boo-yah! The only difference is they will be bouncing around, fully recovered in a few hours. Me? -- it will take 5 minutes to get out of bed tomorrow. I can't let this show at school tomorrow, though. I have to do an irritating victory dance in front of all their friends and pretend my legs aren't throbbing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mayfest Madness

Blogger: Natasha

Several members of the Tasha Does Tulsa crew headed to Mayfest Friday night after work. A few of us had already visited Mayfest 2007 at lunch or after work Thursday night, but we were ready for a second dose by 5 on Friday.

Mayfest 2007 was a special one for me, since it was Aaron’s first. Being an Arkansas boy who was transplanted in Owasso until age 18, when a long stint in the military seemed like a good idea, no Tulsan had ever expressed to him the fun that Mayfest can be. Since he doesn’t come downtown much even now, I was excited to introduce him to what the place looks like when it’s hoppin’.

So, not only did I get to expose my husband to the madness that is Mayfest, I also got to drag yet another Arkansas native and TDT person, Chris Bouldin, to Mayfest for the first time. He wanted to know what was the big deal with Mayfest, so we dragged him along with us. Party Brenda was also deflowering Mayfest innocents Friday night – she brought a Stillwater friend. There were some first-time jitters, but once we found beer, everyone was okay.

My favorite thing about Mayfest is the unhealthful but delicious food.

Here’s a run-down of what I ate/drank at Mayfest this year, starting with lunch on Thursday:

  • Indian taco
  • Crazy-huge cup of diet soda
  • Fried rice and chicken on a stick
  • Crazy-small bottle of water
  • Funnel cake
  • Fried ravioli
  • 1 Bud Light
  • 2 Coronas (in plastic cups, which was unfortunate)

Wow. Looking back on it, my Mayfest dining extravaganza wasn’t as impressive this year as it has been before. I’ve had fried onion rings, cheese on a stick, candy bar on a stick, and some kind of buffalo wings all in one night at Mayfest. But, maybe that was back when I was still in college and could handle that sort of thing.

Anyway, the best food I had at Mayfest this year was by far the Indian taco. I wish it had had some pulled beef mixed in with the beans, but I still ate the entire thing, which was approximately the size of my head. The cost? 14 tickets, or $7.

Brenda really liked the fried ravioli, which I thought was just okay. I mean, anyone can do fried ravioli. She also liked the fried pickles. I don’t understand the whole concept of fried pickles, so I’m just going to take her word for it.

The funnel cake was amazing, but it was too small to feed the seven people who leapt for it as soon as it came onto the scene.

I loved watching a huge crowd of Tulsans enjoy music together at sunset, even if I didn’t particularly enjoy the music itself.

Suggestion to all of you who plan to go to Mayfest next year: the best place to listen to a Mayfest concert is what Brenda called “the grassy knoll,” or the grassy area just north of the main water feature on Williams Green. Very romantic.

I wasn’t as dazzled with the art this year as I have been in years before. I don’t understand paintings of olives, or purebred dogs in martini glasses, nor was I stricken by the black and white photos of landscapes that resembled the desktop background on my computer. Then again, I’m not an art critic.

Something else: I understand artists are starving already, but does the art at Mayfest have to be so expensive? Can’t someone make something the Average Joe can take home? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to sell a small piece of art to a child with just a few dollars left over from lunch? Maybe I’m naïve, but I think that would be really cool.

My favorite moment at Mayfest:

Walking back toward the crowd looking for snacks and beer on 3rd street from The Grassy Knoll, I saw a little girl of probably 5 or 6 stop in her tracks.

She was walking with her head down, swinging her long pony tails from side to side. She glanced up toward the BOk tower. She looked again, this time more intently, her blond head tilted all the way back – she stopped walking. The little girl yanked her hand out of her mother’s and put it over her open mouth.

“Oh my,” she said, eyes glued to the top of the tower.

She couldn’t seem to hear her mother, who had walked on but wouldn’t retrieve her daughter. Mom’s hand was outreached.

“Mommy, look,” she said, walking now to take her mother’s hand.

I didn’t get to hear the rest of what transpired, but I did get to see the first spark of a little girl’s dream.

The day before, when I had lunch with my mother and her mother at Mayfest, Mom mentioned that at Mayfest 2003, she and I walked up and down Main Street as I told her my worries about where my college and career plans would take me. I had just dropped out of architecture school to pursue a degree in English, which took me from a very structured school/career trajectory to one with virtually no guidelines. To call me a scared and confused college sophomore would have been an understatement – I was terrified, and I was looking for road signs.

I was downtown at lunchtime with my Mom, and I was surrounded by this beautiful environment at the center of where I had always lived, but that I was just then able to really see, since I’d been away for a while.

The buildings looked old and a little run-down, and I thought the streets and sidewalks would be a little more hectic. But, there was this exciting energy downtown that seemed to say, not only had big history taken place in this city with the now-vacant sidewalks and dark windows, but big things were about to happen again if only Tulsans would put together the pieces, do the work.

No revelations on the direction for my life came to me that day. Like most y.p.’s I know, my life plan still hasn’t been presented to me on a pretty little velvet pillow. But, after being presented with a slew of other options since Mayfest 2003, I chose Tulsa as the setting for my life as I begin a career. A big reason is my passion for the potential of downtown, which was sparked at Mayfest the summer before I turned 20, though Tulsa had been my home all my life.

Tulsa has had plenty of dreams. I’d like my generation to be the Tulsans who actually build something from all those plans. We could give our daughters a city that stops them in their tracks.

Live From Tulsa, It’s Friday Night!
And now, a transcript of the TDT Interview with Party Brenda on Friday night at Mayfest 2007, 9:45 p.m.:

*Unintelligible screaming and laughing*

TDT: Tell us about your Mayfest experience.

PB: Huh?

TDT: You’ve gotta be serious for a second.

PB: I’m nervous. You should ask me again when you’re not holding that [recording device] to my face. *nervous laughing* Okay, never mind, ask me. I’m ready.

TDT: What did you do at Mayfest?

PB: What did I do? I think the appropriate question is, “Who did I not do?”

*laughing and unidentified voice yelling, “Hell, yeah!”*

PB: Wooo!

*Several people announce they’re leaving the interview to find funnel cake*

TDT: What was your favorite part of Mayfest?

PB: John.

TDT: Who’s John?

PB: He’s the vendor at the Greek Gyros place.

TDT: What’d you like about him?

PB: Who?

TDT: John! What’d you like about John?

PB: Well, we shared a nice, fried weenie on a stick.

TDT: What was your least favorite thing about Mayfest?

PB: The cattle.

*Unidentified person says, “There was a running of the bulls? Where?!”*

TDT: The cattle? What cattle?

PB: *Makes mooing noise* That one, right there.

*laughing from the crowd*

PB: Not you, lady.

TDT: Okay. Are you going to come back to Mayfest this year?

PB: Yeah. Every day.

TDT: How many times have you been?
PB: I was here Thursday for happy hour…and beyond. I danced with my shirt up over my head, and I got a nice henna tattoo. I have no idea what it means. They said it was a Capricorn symbol, but that’s bullshit. I know that the Capricorn symbol is a goat. My tattoo is a W-ish.

TDT: Let us see it!

*PB shows the crowd her new henna tattoo*

PB: Does that look like a goat to you? Baaa!

TDT: What’s your favorite food at Mayfest?

PB: The fried ravioli was like heaven to my taste buds. Except, on the way up, it was not so good. I blame the fried pickles for that. I think the ranch was bad. *points at passersby* Don’t eat the ranch.

TDT: Okay…

PB: *to the passersby, still pointing* Totally not worth my ten coupons!

TDT: Anything you’d like to see happen at Mayfest in the future?

PB: Ha! Fire.

*someone says, “Hey…yeah!”*

PB: I mean it. A nice fire pit would be just delightful, I think. Think about how many hippies would gather around that thing. Think about it.

TDT: Where would you put this fire pit?

PB: Right here is pretty good.

TDT: Where are we…we’re at fourth and main.

PB: Yeah, fourth and main. Right outside Arby’s.

TDT: Anything else you’d like to say?

PB: Party on.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Weird and Ugly Buildings in Tulsa

Blogger: Chester
(Photo credit: Chris Bouldin)

Hello? It’s Chester, finally. Today I managed to convince Natasha, who thinks she’s the boss of everything, to post my eloquent critique of eight weird and/or ugly buildings in Tulsa. She said something about being afraid I'd write something “crass,” but I didn’t pay attention to what else she said. Who actually uses the word “crass” anyway? People who can’t be trusted to feed you every day, that’s who.

Presenting eight weird and/or ugly buildings I found in Tulsa on the Internet when Tasha wasn't hogging the computer:

  1. Diamond Tower
    “A box covered in nipples” is the best way to describe this architectural mega-disaster on South Boulder between 17th and 18th Streets.
    The seven-story, windowless building was built in 1957 for famed televangelist Oral Roberts, who claimed he spoke directly to God.
    Unfortunately for Roberts, architecture asceticism and potential resale value weren't often topics of conversation. After a brief early '80’s stint as a Southwestern Bell district headquarters, the building was abandoned. No wonder.

    2. University Club Tower
    This 32-story, 377-foot building at 1722 S. Carson Ave. resembles a lime green beer can wearing a concrete sombrero, complete with an antenna. I had a fish friend back in the tank at Wal-Mart who said the building looks kinda like a syringe. Anyway, the sombrero-wearing syringe is now home to hundreds of Tulsans who apparently find living in beer cans charming and homey.
    The structure was developed in 1966 by Dick Wheeler, who also happens to be the developer of the aesthetically challenged Camelot Hotel (see number five). Coincidence? I don't think so, Tim.

    3. The Mabee Center
    The 10,575-seat Mabee Center, 7777 S. Lewis Ave., has since its opening in 1972 played host not only to Jesus mega-meetings, but also to concerts, high school and college graduations, and Oral Roberts University basketball.
    The arena is an elliptical cable-suspension structure and bears the name of John Mabee, the Tulsan credited with the founding of the Mabee Foundation. Mabee died in 1961, fortunately before witnessing the golden eyesore resembling a robot’s head that would later bear his name.
    Surely not many Tulsans have managed to avoid subjecting their eyes to the Mabee Center during the past month, thanks to graduation ceremony obligations. Here is some late-arriving advice: looking directly at the Mabee Center has been known to cause temporary blindness, dreams of robots, and embarrassing Transformers commercials reenactments.

    4. CitiPlex Towers
    The CitiPlex Towers were built after a 900-foot Jesus kindly urged Oral Roberts to erect the City of Faith Medical and Research Center, a massive, pro-bono hospital at the corners of 81st Street and Lewis Avenue.
    The building, comprised of 2.2 million square feet of converted office space on 60 floors, was completed in 1981, and served as a hospital for a mere eight years before closing in 1989. Someone is remodeling large parts of the first floor, which joins the three buildings. Judging by the way the place looked through my fish bowl when Chris Bouldin took me on a walking tour, I decided that perhaps the founding of Tulsa hospitals should be left to nuns.
    Though the building was commissioned with the noble goal of saving lives, the sight of the structure is partially blamed for the 1985 death of Hollywood-legend Rock Hudson.

    5. Camelot Hotel
    Built in 1965 and condemned in 1996, the Camelot Hotel, an eight-story, 330-room hotel that wishes it was a castle, came complete with a moat, drawbridge, guard towers and spacious lodgings for the future boarding of Tulsa’s most famous natural resource, the homeless.
    Though abandoned, the building still stands at 4956 S. Peoria Ave. The Tulsa Industrial Authority recently struck a deal for the remediation and demolition of the structure with The Maharishi Ayur-Ved University, which has done nothing
    since it bought the hotel for $1.15 million in 1993 to improve or renovate the property. Unfortunately, cross-legged humming and positive thinking cannot save the Camelot or its giant signage – which would actually be kinda cool if it weren’t positioned right next door to a major interstate highway. Anyway, this fairyland is due to be razed later this year. The drive through Tulsa to Oklahoma City (who’d want to do that, anyway?!) will be more pleasant for it.

    6. Reynolds Amphitheatre
    The city of Tulsa boasts over 40 miles of Arkansas River shoreline, which features the worst in sights and smells.
    From gravel plants in the south to oil refineries and tank farms to the north, a float down the river in Tulsa today would be enough to make a colorectal surgeon dry heave. I sure as heck wouldn’t trade my small, unkempt home on Tasha’s desk for freedom in that stream of stench and sadness.
    Of all the man-made structures gracing the banks of the river, the Reynolds River Parks Amphitheater located in River Park West is certainly one of the most hideous.
    The combination of a chocolate-brown river, the smells of stagnant water and goose droppings only add to the lovely experience of staring at this thing, which resembles a zit at high-noon with room for tap dancing, during concerts on the river in the middle of summer, when mosquitoes swarm and the temperature doesn’t drop below 95 until 2 a.m.

    7. International Tower
    Built in 1970, the International Tower at 5200 S. Yale Ave. is the only six-story building in Tulsa that carries the regal sounding title, “tower.” Methinks someone is compensating for something – or, maybe he’s just being honest and having a little fun. That’s probably it, now that I think about it.
    The structure features the tall, narrow windows normally reserved for much taller buildings - which could double as arrow slits if the clan from the Camelot threaten to steal International Tower maidens - and an exterior of drab, cut-rate red brick.
    The landscaping is just as breathtaking. The giant, spherical bushes do nothing to better pronounce the puny glass entrance.
    As they say in the real estate biz, “it’s a must see.”

    8. Creek Nation Casino
    One would think that in exchange for my weekly mission to binge drink myself numb while mindlessly shoving $20 bills into a “Wheel of Fortune” slot machine from my domestic, watery prison that the Creek Nation Casino could give me a more exotic environment in which to wager away my goldfish sadness. But, no such luck.
    Just a drive by this dreadful building at 1616 E. 81st St. is enough to make me long for the semi-attractive backroom casinos and speakeasies of the prohibition era. The structural statistics of this place are guarded like the gold in Fort Knox, but who cares. I don’t have to know how many square feet of gaming fun is inside to know that no one tried to make this ugly metal building look like something else besides an ugly metal building. Guess local casinos and churches love metal buildings like little girls love Troll dolls – they’re so ugly, they’re cute. The girls must collect them all.

That’s it for me for today. I’m off to try to convince Tasha to either increase the vodka-to-water ratio in my tank, or to take me to Sushi Train for some grub. Later!

All photos thanks to Chris Bouldin, except for the link to the Lost Tulsa Flickr site.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just A Little Dreaming

Blogger: Natasha

Here's a photo of the intersection at Main St.
and Fifth at around 11:45 this morning:

I know what you're thinking: Where IS everybody?! Shouldn't Main be bustling with hungry people at 11:45 a.m.? I thought so, too.

Chances of rain today may have caused downtown Tulsans to work through lunch, or to go downstairs or someplace to the in-house cafeteria. Even so, I count only seven people in the foreground of this photo (I didn't count the people in the background because I don't have super-sonic vision, but I bet there are 12-15).

Folks, I have a dream:

Ah, yes. A downtown densely populated where a diverse workforce gets out-and-about for a bite to eat at lunchtime. Yeah, people are driving, but they're probably just going to go pick someone up to take them to Caz's or McNellie's.

See that little green person back there by the tree? That could be you.

Mayfest starts Thursday and runs through Sunday. Yay! Mayfest is my favorite Tulsa festival. I love that all the weirdos, pretty people, kids and leisure-starved folks get to come hang out in the same place and cause a little ruckus together. And, simply being around each other is good for us all.

Perhaps Tulsan/Tulsa enthusiast Mos Jef said it best:
Come out and enjoy Mayfest. Tulsa's events will only get better if you support them as they already exist.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday Morning (and Mothers' Day) on Cherry Street

Blogger: Natasha
(Photo credit: Sarah Nicodemus)

Cherry Street Farmers’ Market
This morning was the first Saturday morning in a very long time that I didn’t sleep in until some un-Godly hour that I’m too embarrassed to specify.
What made this Saturday morning any different? I was on a mission, that’s what.
Step 1: Trip over fan cord en-route to turn off alarm clock, which read 6:45 a.m.
Step 2: Sleep through shower and pretty much entire grooming process, since I don’t remember getting ready to leave the house.
Step 3: Chug a cup of coffee before setting out for Cherry Street Farmers’ Market at 15th and Peoria.
Step 4: Arrive at CSFM. Smile and chatter non-stop at The Husband 1.0 for the entire trek from the car to the first booth in Lincoln Plaza about how awesome this adventure is going to be.
Aaron and I decided to go to the farmers’ market today because we decided to make baskets full of locally-grown veggies and local crafts for our moms for Mothers’ Day. I feel pretty safe in saying that here, since I’m pretty sure my mom has read the blog maybe once since it started, and Aaron’s mom is scared to visit and find I’ve started a porn site, since the name of the blog harkens back to a member of said movie genre.
Items we were crazy enough about to buy at CSFM, in order of purchase:
  • Purple passion asparagus: Curiosity forced me to ask the vendor what was different about purple passion asparagus as opposed to plain ol’ green asparagus. The answer? “It doesn’t give you as much gas.” Two, please.
  • Lavender plants: Aaron’s mom, my mom and I can’t get lavender seeds to grow, for whatever reason. I think starter plants will green their thumbs.
  • Toffee and strawberry/raspberry mini cheesecakes: The salesman at this booth (sorry, but I was naughty reporter today and didn’t get the vendor’s name) was by far the most charming of the vendors with whom we did business this morning. Pretty sure he could sell ice to Eskimos. He gave us a taste of his toffee; we nearly passed out. It was true love.
  • Romaine lettuce, broccoli, and some type of colorful lettuce-looking stuff that the vendor person said was a “perennial spinach:” The colorful lettuce-looking stuff is gorgeous – reds and oranges and greens, oh my!
  • Lavender soap (sorry, soap lady at Pearl Farmers’ Market, but I couldn’t find you at CSFM – I’ll catch you later, I swear): We bought one that’s just lavender-scented, and two others blended with ylang-ylang and chamomile. I heart all that is lavender.
There was this really cool bluegrass band at the edge of the market that played one of my all-time favorite church songs, I’ll Fly Away. I got to sing along to that as I soaked up the sunshine, petted people’s dogs, sniffed live herb plants and talked to anyone who would talk back to me. I was one happy girl.

The Coffee House on Cherry Street
After Aaron and I rushed home to put our perishables in the fridge, we met Party Brenda and her husband Kyle for brunch at The Coffee House on Cherry Street, 1502 E. 15th St.
Aaron ordered an everything bagel with what I think he said was chive cream cheese, and I bought a slice of something-and-basil quiche. We also bought café mochas. Brenda and Kyle had just coffee, I think.
Aaron didn’t say much about his bagel, but my quiche was pretty good. A little heavy on the onion for my taste, but the crust rivaled my grandmother’s (shh! she doesn’t need to know that). Neither the bagel nor the quiche was enough to fill us up, so Aaron sent me back for sausage rolls. They were pretty good, especially since they were the cheesy kind and the bread was pretty, but they still didn’t compare to the sausage rolls at Teri’s. Oh well.
I didn’t arrange brunch at The Coffee House on Cherry Street because I was hungry, though. I go there because the coffee is good, the people who work there don’t get freaked out that I like to talk (the owner of the CHCS is completely awesome – more about her in a second), and the atmosphere is conducive to overhearing other people’s conversations.
I want to talk about Cheri Asher, the owner of CHCS, for a second. When I was standing in line for sausage rolls, she came out from the back with two pies fresh from the oven, one on each arm. As she was putting them into the display case by the cash register, the customer in front of me was talking about how cool the coffee shop was and asked who was the owner. Before she’d finished unloading the pies, Cheri jumped right in, introduced herself and shook the guy’s hand. They talked for several minutes, since Cheri asked him if he’d been in before, what brought him to Cherry Street, and joked with him about new ways to make the CHCS grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich (which sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard, by the way – I’m definitely going to try it next time I’m there). Not only do I see Cheri talking to or serving customers herself, even though it's obvious she employs a small fleet of workers, every stinkin’ time I go to CHCS – we all know now how Natasha feels about business owners like this - but she is nice enough to let my church group meet at her establishment every Tuesday night to talk about questions we’re too scared to ask in church (i.e., what’s with “once saved always saved,” what’s up with Jesus being the only way, why do bad things happen to good people, etc.). After all, not every business in Tulsa is open to hosting a group of college-age kids who will probably pray together amongst its customers. Cheri is, so I hope Tulsa does right by her.
What I mean when I say the atmosphere is conducive to overhearing other people’s conversations is, it’s easy to meet new people in places like CHCS where the seating is arranged less like that in a restaurant and more like that in a living space. As such, it’s easy to strike up conversations with people you don’t know. When I’m at CHCS, the space makes me feel like I’m having coffee in my house, and that all my friends have decided to come over to hang out. Not all coffee houses desire to foster communitas like that, if you know what I mean.
Kyle got to play the Jumanji board game that lives on the top shelf of a bookcase at CSCH and do the crossword in the back of this week’s Urban Tulsa; Brenda got to muse at this red collage (Study in Red, she decided to call it) on the wall; Aaron and I read the new local rags, Spektrum and Square magazines (both serve the y.p. demographic, with Spektrum focused on bringing culture at the macro level to Tulsa, and Square focused on cool places cool people go to have a beer or five and to forget college is over and that the real world has set in), all while basking in the sunlight coming in through the French doors that face 15th St. and the snippets of conversation coming from the patrons around us that made us feel like all was well, everywhere.
Kyle said, “I could stay here all day.”
"Didn't you already say that?"
"Yeah. I guess I did."

None of us got to stay all day. However, we’re checking our schedules now for a day when we can.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Felini's, Teri's and Tulsa's Farmers' Markets: A Day in the Life Downtown

Blogger: Natasha
(Photo credit: Sarah Nicodemus)

9:06 a.m.
When life is going 90-to-nothing and you work in downtown Tulsa, at least there are places around to go for some quick but sincere human contact.
I strolled into work yesterday morning at about 9 a.m. After I ground some beans from Tulsa’s own DoubleShot Coffee Company and set them to brew (sorry, Brian, but only one other person in my office enjoys French press coffee – they don’t know what’s good for ‘em), I headed to my favorite downtown breakfast spot: Felini’s Cookies at 9 E. Fifth (I would link to some press praising Felini's cookies, but the Tulsa World likes its cease-and-desist-linking-to-us-in-any-way-even-if-its-for-a-good-reason letters way too much).
Since by 9 a.m. what I think are the best jalapeno sausage rolls in town were long gone, I decided to give their cinnamon rolls and blueberry cake muffins a try. Though I was pretty sad my usual choice with two mustard packets wasn’t available, the cinnamon rolls and muffins were…fabulous. Can I say that again? Fabulous. I’m going to use cinnamon rolls and blueberry cake muffins to break up my downtown breakfast routine now, for sure.

Felini’s is locally known for the quality and variety of its cookies. But, as TDT photo guy Chris Bouldin has said, “I would be happy if I could just sit here in my chair [at the office] and have the ladies at Felini’s come over and shove a continuous stream of sausage rolls into my mouth.” So, if you like Felini’s for lunch and a cookie, try the breakfast. It’s so good, you’ll say strange things about it.

So the morning grub at Felini’s is, like I said, fabulous. But, you wanna know why I, along with the rest of the folks in my office, go to Felini’s nearly every single morning for our wake-up food? Because the ladies there are so personable.
Almost every time I step in their little shop I hear one of the two ladies I’ve seen working there greet a customer by name. Small paper sacks with names scrawled on them line the top of the warmer where they keep those out-of-this-world sausage rolls, waiting for the customers who order the same breakfast every day to pick them up. When I come in really early, one of the ladies there asks me when the other people in my office will head over and if she needs to pack sacks for them. I always assure her they’ll be around, but even if I told her to go ahead, she wouldn’t have to ask what names to put on the bags – she already knows.
I love to deal with people like that in the morning, and they make me proud to share the name “Tulsan” with them. The way they treat me and their other customers makes me feel special in a downtown of 35,000 people. Dare I say Felini’s is “comfortably cosmopolitan?”
Sitting down at my desk with a Felini’s sausage roll – or, in the case of today, a half a cinnamon roll and half a blueberry cake muffin – and some freshly brewed DoubleShot Coffee was definitely what I would call doing Tulsa, downtown-breakfast-on-a-weekday style.

12:01 p.m.
Anyone else notice how lunch time comes suddenly when you’re hard at work? At around 11:00 a.m., even though I don’t have windows in my office, I can feel downtown start to move. Since we had a deadline yesterday at work, several of us wanted to stick close to the office for that mid-day shot in the arm. On days like that, there is nothing more soothing to the nerves than the artery-hardening cuisine of Teri’s Coney Island, 3 E. 5th St.
I swear the Teri’s people put some addictive chemical in the chili, because our staff can’t stay out there for less than two days per week. My office pals’ favorite items include the three coney special, the Frito chili pie and the brisket sandwich. Though I normally opt for the three coney special, today I decided to give the brisket sandwich a go.
So good. So. Freaking. Good. If I had been at home, I would have needed a cigarette and a nap afterward.
The ladies who work at Teri’s (I wonder why I see more women than men working at restaurants downtown, but that’s a topic for some other blog) always let us joke around with them. They’re great. My favorite part about going to Teri’s for lunch, besides the food, is the brightly-colored picture frame behind the counter that says, Weenie Queen. Makes me laugh every time. My second favorite part about going to Teri’s is the fake wooden coney that sits on the ordering counter. Someone in line is always putting it on a friend’s tray and saying stuff like, “Order up,” or, “Are you sure that's what you ordered?” Then everyone in line gets to laugh off a little bit of stress from the morning at work.
I love laughing with people who are standing in line together. It’s a lovely sort of community, even when you’ve all come to the conclusion you’ve been waiting much longer than necessary for whatever it was you thought you needed. It’s easy to build camaraderie with people in lines. You’re forced to stand closer together than any other situation might dictate, and you’ve got to stay close together for an indeterminable period of time. Might as well be friends and make fun of stuff as you edge toward freedom.
Sincere human contact is available at downtown Tulsa restaurants like Felini’s and Teri’s. Even when you get the hankering for a mushroom charburger from Billy’s on the Square, popcorn chicken from Arby’s, or a teriyaki chicken sandwich from Subway, going to those places won’t fulfill your need to get around some people other than the ones you’re in the office with all day long.
When the day demands it be mushroom burger day, though, I’d better realize it either before 11 a.m. or after 1 p.m. Billy’s gets crazy-busy - and rightly so, since the food is fantastic. I don’t mind standing in the line that sometimes stretches along the north side of the dining room and out into the entrance vestibule to get the fantastic Billy’s mushroom burger.
What I don’t get from Billy’s, though, is the camaraderie of the line, or the conversation and looks of warm recognition from the person at the register. In fact, the ladies (again!) at the registers at Billy’s are almost always snippy and unsmiling. They just bark whatever you ordered into the microphone, swipe your card, and give you a piece of paper with your order number. Most times, especially when I have to dig in my wallet for a second to find my debit card, the register ladies have already moved on to taking the order of the next customer in line.
I’m not a person who critiques the attitudes of restaurant workers without ever having worked at a restaurant. I worked for Mazzio’s at the call center for nearly three years after school, and I worked at the Panera on Cherry Street for a couple of years during high school and college. Maybe the Mazzio’s experience doesn’t apply directly to what the ladies at Billy’s have to do everyday, but what was expected of me at Panera during the downtown lunch hour certainly does.
Wanna know what I learned during my time at the very busy corner of 15th and Utica? Nothing puts out a customer more than attempting to take the order as fast as possible without looking up from the cash register to smile. Makes people wonder why they didn’t just go to McDonald’s, because that’s where people when they don’t care how they’re treated. They just want some food, not to mention a meal at McDonald’s would be at least $5 cheaper than one at Panera.
I guess Billy’s has been around for quite awhile now, so I can’t say the way the cash register ladies treat the customers affects their bottom line. I love how Billy’s is involved with Mayfest and probably a lot of other cool local things, but all I know is that I’d eat there a lot more often if I could have a laugh with the person who takes my order every once in a while. Shoot, we could even talk about the weather. Anything. Just do something to remind me I’m in the Midwest – Tulsa, specifically - and not in some giant city where I’m nothing but an order number.

6:10 p.m.
Anyone else been enjoying the grand openings of the local farmers’ markets during the past couple of weeks? There were several in the area last year, and this year there are at least 2 more – the one downtown on Williams Green, and the one at The Pearl District at 6th and Peoria. Both are pretty small gigs, but both represent really great ideas. I love the idea of being able to step out of my office building and walk to a farmers’ market to pick up lunch (the Downtown Farmers’ Market opens at 10:30 and stays open until something like 1 p.m.) or something to cook for dinner (The Pearl opens at 4 and stays open until the early evening).
After work Thursday evening I went to The Pearl Farmers’ Market. Parking is no problem, and since the market is set up in Centennial Park, shoppers get to walk on nice, soft grass rather than hot, stinky blacktop. The contrast of what looks sort of like a gypsy market with the downtown high-rises peeking through the haze from just about one mile away was pretty encouraging. Finally, a place I can go to un-wind after work and not have to sit on a barstool.
Yes, I got to go to the farmers’ market after work on a Thursday. I got to browse local veggies and baked goods at 6:30 p.m. rather than a.m., and the trip didn’t mess with my weekend plans. I picked up the most wonderful hummus (made by The Palace Café on Cherry Street), and I’m going to start stalking a lady there who makes her own soap. I couldn’t buy any yesterday, but I’m hot on her trail for some lavender scented soap.
In fact, I really liked talking to the soap lady. She answered my questions and didn’t seem irritated that I gave her the third degree on how to make soap. She didn’t even seem mad that I asked all those questions and couldn’t buy anything (side note: farmers’ market vendors don’t usually take debit cards. D’oh!). She was ready to tell me anything I wanted to know about how to make soap, which made me feel really welcome. She exuded pride in her craft.

“I picked this for you,” said the little blonde girl hanging out with the soap lady as she handed me a clover flower.
“Thank you!” I slid the flower behind my ear.
“How does it look?” I asked her.
“Really pretty. Wanna know which soaps are my favorites? This one smells almost good enough to eat.”
I hope that little girl returns my heart to me someday, because I’m gonna miss it.

There was this guy Foster (heard the Palace Café guys call him that) who had scones, muffins and cheesecake. He was nice to talk to also, even though he wasn’t as nice about my not being able to buy anything. He gave me a tour of his booth full of yummy-smelling baked goodies, and his brand of flirtatiousness made me want to buy one of each he had rather than run for cover – a rare quality in a salesman. Props to Foster.
The Palace Café guys were really nice, too. They had the thing closest to what I was after to put with dinner that night, so I spent the sole $5 bill I had in my pocket on their amazing hummus. They also gave me a tour - this one complete with which products were their most popular, which were organic, and which came with their take-home, fully prepared dinners – and argued with me about the weather. Since one of the guys had the nerve to battle me on whether or not it was too humid outside, I will buy more stuff from on my next trip to that farmers’ market. I enjoy a friendly battle, and that guy made a happy memory for me that I will associate with the delicious hummus at The Palace Café. Double bonus.
The Pearl Farmers’ Market is a small-time show right now with what I would guess is 10-12 vendors, but the market manager told me musical acts are scheduled to play at the market later this summer. The market will feature not only foodstuffs and bath/beauty products, but also booths of information on sustainability and buying local.
The Pearl Farmers’ Market is open every Thursday evening from now until October from 4 to 8 p.m. Support it. It’s a great way to end a day working and eating downtown.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Word on the Street, Vol. 1: We Have a Winner!

Blogger: Natasha
(Photo credit: Sarah Nicodemus)

Congratulations to Steven Roemerman on winning Tasha Does Tulsa's first ever Word on the Street! He plans to redeem his winnings at Tulsa's own DoubleShot Coffee Company, downtown at 18th and Boston. I'd say that's a great plan.

I have no other news except to say the TDT crew is starting to live it up summer-style here in Tulsa, and we plan to tell you all about it - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Word on the Street, Vol. 1

Blogger: Party Brenda
(Photo credit: still Chris Bouldin)

Ugh. Party Brenda is not very good at partying in the mornings – especially after a night at McNellie’s.

That’s okay – I’m awake now, and there is nothing I can do about it. If the rain hasn’t washed away the Word on the Street, here are the clues to where it’s at:

First clue: I am near the point of much controversy, disappointment, wait-and-see and especially media coverage during the past year.

Second clue: I’m in midtown Tulsa, and local residents used to complain about how much noise I made after sundown because some people were trying to sleep (see the first post of Tasha Does Tulsa if you wanna know how I feel about that).

Third clue: If you’re a native Tulsan in your twenties or early thirties, you probably have many childhood memories here. I know I do.

Fourth and final clue: The word on the street is at 36 degrees 8 minutes 6 seconds North, and 95 degrees 56 minutes and 5 seconds West, according to Google Earth. Natasha’s husband said you can Google this set of coordinates and find the exact location of the Word on the Street.

So, that’s how Word on the Street is going to work. Whoever finds the Word on the Street and posts it to this blog first gets a $20 gift certificate to the Tulsa-based restaurant or coffee house of his/her choice.

Chester's word of the day
: Go!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Wisdom, prizes and anticipation: You're in Tulsa

Blogger: Party Brenda
(Photo credit: Chris Bouldin)

As some of you may already know, I, Party Brenda, am known for my sage advice.

I received the following E-mail from a faithful follower of my advice column last week:

Dear Party Brenda,

So much is going on in Tulsa right now, and things seem like they’re going to get worse before they get better. What’s your advice for Tulsa right now?

Sincerely yours,

Connie Commuter
Broken Arrow, Okla.

Since I imagine many people in Tulsa would have asked me the same question if only they knew my personal E-mail address, I decided to answer the question here so all of you could partake of my sage advice at once.

So, here’s my response:

Dear Connie Commuter (and Tulsans who long for my personal E-mail address):

Since most people I know are paying attention to the road construction in Tulsa and pretty much nothing else going on in the entire city, I'll assume you're griping about that, too. I know everyone is kinda freaking out about all the road construction, especially in downtown – but, chill out. Downtown Tulsa will be a rockin’ place for it in the long run. I mean, don’t you think it’s about time some work started happening down there?

My advice to you, Connie, is to just keep on partying. There is so much to do here – concerts and art shows, festivals and killer local restaurants (especially the one that can supply Party Brenda with more types of beer than she can even think about) - not to mention the random, friendly transients. It's not that there are more of them in Tulsa than in any other town - ours just walk around a lot, I bet. I'd wager you're seeing the same ones all the time. Anyway, we have got to have some of the nicest homeless people around. One of them said, “Bless you,” to Natasha when she sneezed during her walk to work the other day. And, they’re right here in Tulsa! Who could ask for anything more?

I also would like to point out that if you do make it to your downtown destination, even if it is by detour, you’ll be safe to party. There is a lot going on downtown, but it's nothing you can't handle. But, don’t drink and drive – call a nice Tulsa cabbie. They can take you home, safe and sound. It’s either one of them, or it’s the police, especially now that they’re talking about setting up shop someplace downtown – but, from what I can tell, they don’t always take you home, per se. Hang in there, Connie, and thank you for sharing.

If you really need for me to hand-feed you something safe and not too overwhelming to do this week, you can come hang out with me. This Thursday, I’ll be partying with the dueling piano guys at the Full Moon Café. The tortilla soup at Full Moon is cheesy-licious, and you can have a full evening of fun with Party Brenda for under five bucks.

Party on!

Party Brenda

Something else I want to inform readers out there about is the Word on the Street.

Here’s how it’s going to work. I’m gonna give you a clue about a certain location in Tulsa. If you go to the right place and find a word chalked on the street, sidewalk - just whatever is under your feet (hey, that kinda rhymes) - be the first to comment that word to the post that gave you the clue.

Your reward for knowing the Word on the Street? A $20 gift certificate to the Tulsa-based restaurant or coffee house of your choice.

I’ll post the first clue on Tasha Does Tulsa Friday morning at 7 a.m. central time. Happy hunting!

And oh yeah: Party on, Tulsa!

Related Posts with Thumbnails