As I continue to sew up the final details on the next Tulsa Blogger Meetup (squee! Look for an announcement within the next couple of days), I realized that for anyone looking for a variety of interesting online reading, Tulsa's blogosphere provides.
At last count, Tulsa was home to more than 100 blogs, and those are just the ones to which I've been alerted and subscribe. Needless to say, then, in the pages of Tulsa blogs, there's something for everyone.
Check out this round-up of my favorite posts written by Tulsa bloggers over the last couple of weeks. If everyone gets a kick out of this (leave a comment or e-mail me to let me know what you think), I'll see what I can do to start putting together a weekly version of this list. Not only could it prove to be your one-stop shop for insider information on what to do in Tulsa, but it'd also encourage excellence in local blogging.
And that, pals, would benefit you, me and our little dogs, too.
Own it, Oklahoma
Check out this post from the Michael Bates-penned Batesline.com on the nightly (except Sundays) production of our namesake play Oklahoma! out at Discoveryland, west of Sand Springs (a city that, like Tulsa, straddles the Arkansas River, found a 10-minute drive west of downtown).
The play proved to be an unsung treasure, Bates wrote, and Discoveryland is showing its age.
"Here is an attraction that last year drew visitors from all 50 states and 57 foreign countries, an attraction that capitalizes on one of the most widespread and positive associations people around the world have with the state of Oklahoma. Hundreds of millions in Tulsa County taxpayer dollars have been spent on attractions that are supposed to bring in visitors to spend money, and yet no one thought to put a tiny fraction of that money toward maintaining and improving an attraction that already draws visitors from around the world."
Which follows from what Bates recommended to Mayor Bill LaFortune's visit summit in 2002, also something he's been pushing since the Convention and Tourism Task Force in 1999:
"I get the impression than some civic leaders are embarassed by our oil heritage, our Cowboy and Indian roots, and the strength of religious belief here -- so our tourist brochures trumpet the ballet and Philbrook and Utica Square, and downplay things like western swing music, the gun museum in Claremore, and ORU. When a German tourist comes to Oklahoma, he doesn't want to see the opera, he wants to see oil wells, tipis, old Route 66 motels, and tornadoes. Some adolescents go through a phase when their greatest longing is to be just like everyone else. If we're going to set ourselves apart, we have to stop trying to blend in as a modern city like every other, stop treating our quirky folkways as things to be suppressed and hidden, and celebrate them instead. It's nice to have the same cultural amenities as every other large city, but it's the unique qualities that will win the affections of our own people and capture the imaginations of the rest of the world."
And you know what? I agree.
But, I'd take what Michael is saying one step further: What I think makes Tulsa worth a visit is the juxtaposition of our historic cowboys-and-indians-and-Route-66 stuff with our world-class museums, our award-winning theatre and ballet companies and our upscale shopping options, etc., etc. Also in the mix is this quirky and funky collection of local businesses and landmarks, some of the most outstanding architecture in the world and residents who are famous worldwide for friendliness.
If we single any of this out and hold it up on its own in an attempt to get visitors to pack up and head for Tulsa, we're missing the boat, really.
Because where else can you get the largest collection of western American art in the world, one of the largest collections of art deco architecture in the world, the quirkiest landmark in the U.S., the adopted home of the guy who dreamed up that long highway we like to call Route 66 and gun shows and rodeos every weekend, all in the same town? Tulsa's it. And that, in my mind, is what we should be selling in our tourism brochures.
Dig his politics or no, Batesline.com is unfailingly good food for thought, and Bates has been an integral part of Tulsa's blogging community since before Tulsa even really had a blogging community. If you're not reading, you should be.
This post from Brian Franklin, owner of DoubleShot Coffee Company at 18th and Boston, defies description. All that I can think to say is that it involves 1/32 of an inch, our business permits systems and a skewered apartment. If Brian ever writes a book based on the stories he tells in his blog posts, I hope this one makes it in.
Looking for Love in All the Right Places
It takes someone like my friend and TDT columnist Erin Conrad to not only think to shoot a newly engaged couple's photos at the Cherry Street Farmers' Market, but to execute it in such a refreshing and uplifting way. If you're not already following Erin's series here on TDT, get thee to the archives post haste and see what you've been missing.
The 44th annual Porter Peach Festival is upon us, and how better to get worked up for the occasion than by visiting my friend Amanda Emerson at Have Spork, Will Travel and baking up her Peach and Blueberry Galette. This recipe will work just as well when you've returned from Porter over the weekend with a whiskey barrel's worth of peaches. Not that I would know anything about this.
Sometimes Irritated Tulsan makes me gasp and turn beet red, all alone here in my cluttered study where I do most of my blogging. But most of the time when I read IT, I laugh my ass off. In his latest post about the new QuikTrip stores that have landed in T-Town over the past several weeks, he wrote:
Tulsa’s top reason to not live in OKC got toppier.
And I snorted. Get the rest of the post here. And you can't call yourself a true QT fan if you're not reading IT's reviews (complete with towering photos) of the nommy-noms available there.
Customers as Billboards
David Rutkauskas, CEO of Tulsa-based Beautiful Brands International (the parent company for the likes of Camille's Sidewalk Cafe and Freshberry Frozen Yogurt), has a new blog, and I thought that his post on satisfied customers as advertising would be of particular use to the local business owners TDT works to champion:
Too often, I’ve been to businesses where they could care less if you were there or not. Most often it’s the case of a poorly trained staff that has NOT been taught the art of pleasing customers.
We've all had this experience, and it's doubly heart-breaking when it happens at a locally owned business. Make it easy for us to shop local, y'all. Be nice, smile, and create an experience for the customer that he won't be able to find anywhere else. Your advertising makes a promise, and if you can't deliver that promise once the customer is in your store, all of that pretty money you spent on that billboard on the side of the busiest highway in Tulsa could have just as well have been used as wallpaper. Or coasters.
Or, really rough toilet tissue.
Dinner at the Farm
I've seen Tulsa's mommybloggers writing a lot about bucket lists lately, and I've gotta admit, I have a bucket list of my own. On it is a farm table dinner at Living Kitchen, a farm in Depew, Oklahoma, with a presence at Tulsa's farmers' markets. Owner/farmer/chef extraordinaire Bibi Becklund hosts these dinners monthly, each on a different, seasonal theme. She wrote about the dinners before the event that celebrated the garlic harvest, and last week's lavender dinner was the place to be for local foodies. Becklund calls August's dinners Oklahoma Dreamin', and they feature a bounty of okra, corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. The complete calendar can be found here.
One of the only reasons I run is because Shawna Simpson of Moving 4 Life impresses the hell out of me. Her journey from life as a sedentary, overweight mom to an medal-winning marathon runner inspires me to get off my butt when the couch feels extra cushy. She wrote this post about the value of something about which I'm passionate: The power of a pretty bra. Ladies, the power is real. Let Shawna tell you all about it.
Knit Yourself South
Did you know that this city is full of artsy-crafty people? And did you know that Tulsa has its very own yarn store? It's true - actually, we have a few, but my all-time favorite is Loops in swanky Utica Square. Loops has news - they're expanding into southtown, and a few lucky (and creative) yarn lovers have the opportunity to win an evening of sneak peaking at the yarn store's new digs.