Dinner & Bikes 2015

Please join us on Tuesday, May 26th, 2015, from 6pm to 9pm at MatchBOX Coworking Studios for a traveling road show of vegan food and bicycle inspiration. Joshua Ploeg will delight with a vegan and gluten-free buffet dinner. Elly Blue and Joe Biel will co-present films, a talk, and slides about groundswell movements, incidences where people demanded and implemented better neighborhood and bicycling conditions.

The event is followed with a book signing and time for questions, discussion of local issues, and perusal of the traveling bookstore.

We expect attendance expected from an array of biking enthusiasts from Greater Lafayette, Indy, and Chicago, and will be talking about planning, laws, safety, trails, streets, infrastructure, and our roles in the community.
When we held the biannual event in 2013, it was quite a show. Don’t miss it.

$15, Advance tickets online, includes dinner.
$20, Cash at the door, includes dinner.
Children 12 & under are free with a paying parent or guardian.

Purchase tickets here.

Beer and wine by The Spot Tavern.
Venue provided by Matchbox Coworking Studio.
Hosted by Think Lafayette.

With support by Bicycle Lafayette.


Lions, Tigers, and Bears!: A Walking Tour

Greater Lafayette will be home to a menagerie of whimsical art this summer.

The first batch — 40 “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!” painted by local artists — will be brought to the community by the Art Museum, the Bob Rohrman Auto Group and many local sponsors. They will be stationed in time for the ‘Round the Fountain Art Fair, Saturday, May 23. The second group, called The Zoo —30 award-winning life-size critters created from recycled materials —are sponsored by the City of Lafayette and Regions Bank. They will join the herd on June 5.

unnamed (4)Although the bears will be introduced formally to the community at the ‘Round the Fountain Art Fair, all of the animals will be installed in advance of the May 15 Gallery Walk in Downtown Lafayette. That evening, the Art Museum will operate a welcome center 6-9 p.m. in the Bison Financial Building, 9th and Main Streets, to provide information and family activities.

In the past, the museum-sponsored event has produced frogs, hogs and dogs.

This year, a new feature will include an interactive iPhone app (Art Museum of Greater Lafayette-Events), developed by Cellaflora, a software development company in West Lafayette. The app will provide a walking map to help users locate each of the art pieces and provide information about the artists and business sponsors.

The bears’ territory will run from the 9th Street entrance to the Art Museum through the Downtown to the top of State Street hill in West Lafayette. The walking bears stand 4 feet tall and more than 5 feet long. The seated bears are the same height and 3 feet in diameter. The fiberglass animals were produced by Cowpainters LLC, of Chicago, which has assisted with more than 500 public art projects.

The Zoo art is the work of artist Dale Teachout, of Royal Oak, Mich., a top finalist for the Grand Rapids Art Prize 2014. The sculptor made the life-size animals using reused plastic, metal, rubber and other materials rescued from landfills. His art will be on display until Sept. 8.

At the end of the summer, the bears and zoo animals will be ready for adoption by their sponsors. Those not sponsored will be auctioned at the “Zoo-bilee Celebration”, which is open to the public, Oct. 3 at the Rohrman Toyota showroom.

State Street Redevelopment Project Unveiled

In a joint presentation between Purdue University and the City of West Lafayette, city engineer Dave Buck discussed in great detail the eminent redevelopment of West Lafayette’s State Street Corridor.

Wabash Landing and State Street boulevard
Proposed street scape for West Lafayette’s new State Street Corridor (click to enlarge)

During the Purdue Road School keynote, university president Mitch Daniels gave Purdue’s seal of approval for West Lafayette to form a public-private partnership using the unique Build Operate Transfer concept of project financing.

Mayor John Dennis made some brief remarks, before introducing Buck’s technical briefing, by saying: “we need to ensure bike and ped traffic is respected.” The mayor’s ultimate goal is to “unify our two separate entities” and welcome the university into the boundaries of the City of West Lafayette.

As Dennis mentioned on WBAA’s “Ask the Mayor” last week (as well as during last year’s planning meetings), he doesn’t want to wait around to get started on this “once in a lifetime opportunity” to re-imagine the city. He has even changed Daniels’ mind after the Purdue president initially “laughed out loud” about the project.

Buck presented to a packed Fowler Hall in Stewart center. Here are some key takeaways:

Key Facts About State Street Redevelopment Project

  • Proposals due November 2015
  • Construction Begins April 2016
  • Upwards of $100 million estimated cost
  • Bicycle and walking paths on a two-way street from the River to US 231
  • State Street roundabouts at Tapawingo Dr, and River Rd
  • New Williams St south perimeter parkway to connect with Harrison St.
  • Full and/or partial reconstruction of N. River Rd, W. Stadium Ave to McCormick Rd south, to Airport Rd. to US 231 to complete the rest of the perimeter parkway.
  • Extend Cherry Lane to US 231 in order to ease congestion for football traffic and make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Major one-way to two-way conversions of sections of N. Russell, Waldron, N. University, Marstellar, Sheetz, W. Wood, Pierce, S. Chauncey, Northwestern, and N. Grant streets.
  • Project complete December 2018

Redeveloping State Street into a real city street is an ambitious and long overdue project. Here’s hoping West Lafayette will finally make its mark as a Class II Indiana city.

More information and reference documents available at statestreetwl.com

State Street redevelopment map
The State Street Corridor Redevelopment Project will make dramatic, swift changes. Plans include the creation of a perimeter parkway by extending Williams Street to Harrison Street. More dramatically, the project will transform old State Road 26 into a vibrant two-way corridor with separate biking and pedestrian paths from the Wabash River to US 231. (Click to enlarge)


Check out the State Street Master Plan Wednesday

Purdue president Mitch Daniels and West Lafayette mayor John Dennis will present the master plan for West Lafayette’s State Street corridor Wednesday, March 11 at 2 p.m. in Purdue’s Fowler Hall. This Purdue news release has all the sexy details.

This is the first big public roll out of the $80+ million State Street plan, and it’s going to get a red carpet treatment. The Purdue Road School is a huge transportation conference held annually at the PMU and Stewart Center. Politicians, civil engineers, and many professors will be in attendance. Check it out if you get the chance!

Fulks helps celebrate 20 years of Friends of Bob with excellent set

Thank God for Friends of Bob.

Through the peaks and valleys that is the Greater Lafayette music scene, the local music co-op has delivered at least a few top notch national (sometimes international) acts a year that would never come to our area without them.

When the scene was really hopping around 2007, 2008, Friends of Bob was there. When things have been not so hot like the last few years, Friends of Bob has been there for us.

This month, the co-op celebrates 20 years. But the presents were for us Jan. 23 with the triumphant return of Chicago country music king Robbie Fulks. The tall, lanky singer-songwriter last played downtown Lafayette in 2001. Fourteen years later, Fulks has more gray on his head and a more traditional sound. Fulks has traded in the “alt country” tag.

Backed by a stellar band, Fulks and his acoustic guitar reminded the few hundred in attendance at Duncan Hall how lucky they are to get such a show.

Robbie Fulks
Robbie Fulks

Fulks has delivered his brand of country music — lyrics mixed with humor, a soaring and unique voice, tremendous musicianship — since the 1990s. These days, Fulks is backed by fiddle (Shad Cobb), mandolin (Don Stiernberg) and upright bass (Chris Scruggs, Earl Scruggs’ grandson).

The throwback sound and presentation was perfect for the intimate and historic confines of Duncan Hall. It sounded fantastic and the audience was hot all night, especially after the first handful of tunes. With that wry sense of humor, Fulks looked like he enjoyed being back and was always a step ahead of the crowd with friendly jabs and humorous stories. He was on fire all night.

Most of Fulks’s set was mined from his 2013 record, “Gone Away Backward,” which displays the traditional instrumentation seen on-stage at Duncan Hall. However, he did pull from his first run with Bloodshot Records with the amazing ballad “I Just Want to Meet the Man.” This jilted lover tune builds and builds and paints a dark, desperate picture of a man waiting outside of his ex’s house while her new flame is in it. Fulks, of course, makes the situation hilarious. It takes jealousy to a new level, and it was perhaps the tune that got the best response of the night.

Fulks’ band all got huge pops when it was their turn to take the mic. Scruggs paid tribute to the recently passed Little Jimmy Dickens with an excellent take on “Country Boy.” Scruggs’ bass chops were given a chance to shine several times in the evening. Stiernberg’s mandolin had to take rhythm duties as the bass was given leads often. Scruggs, who I saw sit in with BR549 in 2006 on guitar, fiddle and pedal steel, was a good get for Lafayette, and Fulks is a smart, smart man to get him in the band. A piece of trivia: A young Avett Brothers opened for BR549 at that show. I remember nothing about them that evening at The Vogue. Now that the Avett’s are set to headline Elliott Hall of Music on April 17, they will have to work overtime to outdo Fulks’ set.

Thank you, Friends of Bob.

Square Donuts: the Family Express Gateway to Purdue

A rendering of Family Express the CEO calls "iconic"
A rendering of the new West Lafayette Family Express, with a design the CEO calls “iconic” and “bank-like”

After 10 years of false starts and a failed development opportunity, the new northern gateway to West Lafayette and Purdue University is about to be an “iconic” gas station and convenience store. For a back story, read  Dave Bangert’s column: Family Express’ ‘iconic’ plan for old Smitty’s 

The CEO of Family Express has the audacity to call their design “iconic” and “bank-like”. A few important observations: this is a 2.4 acre lot in a residential area. That’s a lot of asphalt and bright parking lot lights. Have you seen how bright Mike’s Car Wash is shining down the residences of Huron Street? This development has huge issues, including environmental ones. What happens if neighboring Go Lo is run out of business by a shiny new gas station? With massive fuel tanks buried in the ground, once a property becomes a gas station, it is always a gas station. See 9th and Ferry downtown as an example of a filling station that vacated while the property sat empty for years and eventually became… another gas station. What happens if Family Express fails as a business? Again, once and always a gas station with hazardous tanks potentially wasting away and leaking into the ground. It is nearly impossible and/or prohibitively expensive to revert a lot from a gas station to another use. This is the North entrance to Purdue and the city of West Lafayette has spent a lot of money on Northwestern Avenue upgrades “with fingers crossed” that the right things will come along. Well, crossing fingers isn’t enough, particularly in a legal sense. There needs to overlays, a master plan, architectural guidance, and proactive planning in general for city development. I don’t fault Family Express. They bought a property that was already zoned Neighborhood Business and are holding up their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits. However, I do question the West Lafayette city leadership, West Lafayette Development Office, and the Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission. Where is the planningLaissez faire governance leaves us with investment property creeping into historic neighborhoods, monstrously out of scale buildings in single family zoning, and a West Lafayette neighborhood hoping for a a mythical, benevolent developer to come save the day. You can’t just hope the free market will do the right thing for our neighborhoods. What about storm water runoff? Already a major issue in the city, 2.4 acres of concrete and asphalt are going to compound the problem of combined sewage overflows. What about the issue of transparency with Northwestern Heights neighborhood association and surrounding areas? Where is the city leadership when it comes to explaining a deal falling apart (Lor Corp plan) that, albeit not a perfect one, at the least was a mixed use development that could’ve had a lasting, positive impact on the neighborhood. Finally, can you even imagine the traffic jams on game day with tailgaters waiting to gas up and buy supplies? Family Express certainly can. And that’s why we are staring down the face of their square donut gun.  When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Zounds! WL’s Rick Thomas reflects on recording early Indiana punk rock royalty

This is part one of a two-part profile on Dow Jones and the Industrials – Purdue’s greatest punk rock band – and Rick Thomas, who played a major role in the band’s recorded history.

The summer of ’78.

Two like-minded students from Purdue University move into a house on North Salisbury Street.

Bonded by an affinity for Brian Eno, experimental electronic music and recording such sounds, Rick Thomas and Brad Garton would not only share the gas bill and rent; they would share in the foundation of Indiana punk rock recording.

The basement of this two-story house would become ground zero for historic Indiana recordings by Purdue punk legends Dow Jones and the Industrials and Bloomington’s The Gizmos, the granddaddies of Indiana punk. The subterranean, wood paneled punk paradise was a makeshift studio and headquarters for Zounds Productions. The classic Gizmos/Dow Jones “Hoosier Hysteria” spilt LP and the Dow Jones seven-inch were recorded in this house where Thomas still lives in. Some of the famous “Red Snerts” compilation by Gulcher Records was also taped in this basement.

That Dow Jones seven-inch, “Red Snerts” and “Hoosier Hysteria” would join Zero Boys’ “Vicious Circle” on the Mount Rushmore of Indiana punk rock records.

Thomas’ recording expertise had a hand in the Dow Jones sound. The recordings are unmistakable. In the first few seconds of each track, you know it’s Dow Jones, which consisted of Garton on keys, bassist Chris Clark, guitarist and lead vocalist Greg Horn and drummer Tim North. The band’s willingness to experiment with Devo-like electronic sounds helps keep the sound fresh 35 years later.

After Dow Jones’ run ended in the early ‘80s, Garton pursued digital music at Princeton University, where he is currently a professor of music.

After earning his graduate degree in theater sound design, Thomas stayed on at Purdue as an employee, then instructor and now professor in Purdue Theatre.

In the video below, Thomas gives a tour of his – now remodeled – basement to show where Hoosier punk rock history (and hysteria) was created.

Purdue, Lafayette & West Lafayette, Indiana: All things Weird, Wild, and Interesting in the Arts, Music, Food & Culture.