Friday, December 31, 2004

photoblogging my way through the day

You've heard enough from me this year.

I'm going to sit back and enjoy my New Years Eve and leave you with the following pictures from my shopping trip to Raleigh on the 30th. Considering how dark it was when I took these, I thought they came out pretty good.

Happy New Year, y'all! I'll be back tomorrow.

Hudson Belk, Crabtree Valley Mall, Raleigh, North Carolina 12/30/04

Hudson Belk at Crabtree Valley Mall is 251,000 square feet on three levels and opened in 1972. This is one of Belk's flagship locations and its most productive store, sales-wise. It is also the largest department store in the Raleigh-Durham area.

The chandeliers on the portico are original and will likely be removed when a new upper level entrance is added to the parking deck. The parking deck was erected in 2003 and ruined the previously stately store facade.

You may remember that this store was home to the much-loved Capital Room cafeteria, which closed this year. The old Capital Room was located directly behind the chandeliers.

Hecht's, Crabtree Valley Mall, Raleigh, North Carolina 12/30/04

Hecht's at Crabtree Valley Mall opened this 180,000 square foot, two-level location in 1995. It was previously located in a smaller space in the mall it bought from the parent company of Thalhimers in late 1990. That store caried the Thalhimers name briefly and was rebranded in 1992. After this store opened, the old Thalhimers/Hecht's became Lord & Taylor, which is currently in the process of closing due to poor sales.

Poor sales has never been this store's problem, however, as it consistently is one of Hecht's most productive locations. It is also one of the chain's most striking architctecturally.

Hudson Belk at Triangle Town Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 12/30/04

This Hudson Belk store is the chain's newest under the hyphenated banner. Opened in August 2002 at Triangle Town Center, this 180,000 square foot, two-level store is an anchor of of the first totally new enclosed mall built in Wake County since 1979.

Design-wise, the store is done in Belk's 'millenium' style; substantially more contemporary than most of the chain's locations. A very similar design is used at stores in Durham (Southpoint) and Charleston (Citadel), South Carolina. A version of the design was also planned for the renovated SouthPark store in Charlotte, but was rejected as too contemporary, though many of the details of this store live on in the Neoclassical-themed Charlotte location.

Belk reorganized its corporate structure in 1998, replacing 112 seperate store corporations (!) with a single corporate entity headquartered in Charlotte. The Husdon family, half-owners of the former Belk Hudson Leggett corporation which controlled the Raleigh stores, became the largest non-Belk family stockholders in the new Belk corporation, which meant that while many of the other hyphenated names that typified Belk stores were retired, Hudson Belk remained.

There is a subtle nod to the new corporate structure, however. Contrast the sign on this store with the sign on the Crabtree store and you may notice the 'Hudson' portion of the newer sign is noticably smaller than it was on the older store. I think that Belk will probably remove the Hudson portion in the near future, as it is the last surviving hyphenated logo in an increasingly standardized company.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Corgishoe is the man!

The most spectaular shoe collection I've ever seen.

There's a fine line between obsession and appreciation... especially when it comes to collecting Nike sneakers.

Corgishoe smudged that line years ago.

Josh Rubin tipped me off to this sneaker collection: a historical document, if you will, on his website. I've seen some spectacluar things on the internet, but as a sneakerhead few things can approach the site of 2,100 (you read right) boxes of deadstock sneakers from old-school to cutting edge. I was awe-struck. You simply have to see it to believe it.

Anyone who thinks their sneaker collecting has gotten out of hand, take solace in the fact that you're not the only one, and there's somebody who's much more obsessive than you could ever be.

my neighborhood: independent research

Chris Harrie's blog 1/30/04

Chris Harrie is a consultant to the Independent research industry. He previously worked as a senior analyst at Retail Intelligence Group (RIG), an independent research firm that provides custom research and analysis on retailers and restaurants to the buy side.

Chris has also held the position of Senior Analyst at WorldCom and several executive positions in New York with Beaulieu N.V., a manufacturer of home textiles & furnishings based in Belgium. He was responsible for sales and marketing efforts covering the North American market. This led to extensive experience building relationships with merchants at major retail and wholesale companies, including Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot.

Chris received his BS from the University of Maine (his home state) and is currently pursuing his MBA at the University of Tampa. Chris holds a Series 65 Registered Investment Advisor licensce.

101 random things about, and by, me

  1. ‘Sesame Street’ rocks.
  2. My favorite cookies are Oreos.
  3. Most people say they like all kinds of music. I really do.
  4. My friends are some of the best people I know.
  5. I love New York.
  6. My favorite beers are Guinness and Yuengling.
  7. I love Martha Stewart.
  8. My brother gets on my nerves but he means well.
  9. I can cook some things really well.
  10. I don’t drive.
  11. Most people don’t understand me at first, but tend to get me after a while.
  12. I can’t swim.
  13. I am in love with the concept of elegance, though I’m a little clunky most times.
  14. My bass and I need more quality time.
  15. I have a mean streak.
  16. Girls always say I’m sweet.
  17. I love fried chicken.
  18. I am in love with Sarah Silverman. And Janeane Garafalo.
  19. I kind of look like Adam Sandler.
  20. I could probably sing if I tried.
  21. I have more shoes than most guys.
  22. I get bored easy.
  23. I can’t dance, but I like trying.
  24. I love fireworks.
  25. Popcorn with butter is good.
  26. I am proud of my nerdiness.
  27. I find Lawrence Welk entertaining.
  28. I have flat feet.
  29. I could spend all day in Barnes & Noble.
  30. Small talk is murder for me.
  31. I love department stores, especially really big ones.
  32. I like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts.
  33. I have no desire to go to Florida or California.
  34. I love being an architect.
  35. I like pancakes; just plain pancakes, margarine and syrup, nothing added.
  36. I like to write.
  37. I like to tell stories, but I’m increasingly bad at it.
  38. I like the mountains of West Virginia.
  39. I love Christmas.
  40. My friend Eddy Hicklin is the funniest guy I know.
  41. I have a special place in my heart for Tanglewood Mall.
  42. I give out too much advice.
  43. I dream in color primarily.
  44. I have a really good sense of direction.
  45. I hardly ever go to the movies.
  46. I’ve got a lot of books.
  47. I’ve only been truly in love once.
  48. I like fur coats on women.
  49. Smart women turn me on.
  50. I like ice cream so much that I’ll eat it in the dead of winter
  51. There’s a part of me that still lives in 1979.
  52. I have a hard time expressing myself.
  53. Sometimes I read tabloids in the supermarket check-out line.
  54. I have a Sears card and I like to use it to buy tools.
  55. There’s a method to my madness.
  56. Sometimes I think I’m destined for greatness.
  57. I love Godiva and Neuhaus chocolates, but I’ll settle for Hershey’s anytime.
  58. The other only two places I would like to live are New York City and southern Wisconsin.
  59. Wal-Mart is fun, but Target is cooler.
  60. There’s a part of me that wants to believe that Michael Jackson is innocent.
  61. I need to lose a few pounds.
  62. I’m a clotheshorse.
  63. I am a liberal, but I have a conservative side.
  64. I’m a little cheap, but I call it being thrifty.
  65. I miss Woolworth.
  66. No eggs, unless you mix them with something appealing.
  67. I’d rather see a Christian than hear about one.
  68. My mom is my favorite person.
  69. I love to shop, but I think I’m more in love with retail itself.
  70. I’m shy.
  71. I’m not crazy about music with lyrics.
  72. I’ve been a Steelers fan since I was 3.
  73. I would love to meet Walter Becker and Donald Fagan.
  74. I write myself notes all the time.
  75. I’m a Virgo.
  76. I’m a Pentecostal and I have felt the Holy Ghost at least once.
  77. Chandeliers are cool.
  78. I’m more like my dad sometimes than I’d like to admit.
  79. I’m a little uncoordinated.
  80. I’m too self-absorbed.
  81. I’m not a poetry fan.
  82. I wonder if there’s life on other planets.
  83. I still get carded in bars.
  84. I’ve become an Orioles fan as of late.
  85. I never grew out of that awkward teenage stage.
  86. Costco rules.
  87. I’ve started writing several books.
  88. I think Conan O’Brien is brilliant.
  89. If I were a Peanuts character, I would be Linus.
  90. I was obsessed with Barry White at one point during my teenage years.
  91. I shot a pig once.
  92. I sometimes use too many big words.
  93. ‘The Great Brain Goes to the Academy’ is a book that stuck with me.
  94. If I was an entertainer, I’d probably sing country music.
  95. I’m hipper than I seem.
  96. Good TV is always the stuff that gets cancelled.
  97. I used to do a Ronald Isley impersonation that cracked people up.
  98. I read too much.
  99. I watch a lot less TV than I used to.
  100. I was the credit card king in the mid ‘90s.
  101. Thanks for reading this list.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

what we searched for in 2004 on the 'net

  1. Paris Hilton A scandalously simple life...
  2. Janet Jackson Wardrobe malfunction of the year
  3. Nick Berg First of many hostages lost to terrorists
  4. Days of Our Lives Serial killing soap opera
  5. Political cartoon powerhouse
  6. Howard Stern Announces his upcoming switch to satellite
  7. John Kerry Presidential hopeful has hopes dashed
  8. Jessica Simpson Ditzy diva has marital mishap
  9. Olympics Athletes converge on Athens
  10. Hurricane Ivan Devastates the south and tomato prices
  11. Lindsay Lohan Teen actress has hit film and debut album
  12. The Passion of the Christ Gibson's controversial film
  13. George W. Bush Secures a second term in office
  14. Usher Tops the charts for much of the year
  15. Firefox Mozilla gets its browser on the playing field
  16. The Apprentice Trump's titanic reality hit
  17. Tara Reid Attempts to out-do Janet's booboo
  18. Mars Rovers Investigate the red planet
  19. Ashlee Simpson Lip-synching mishap on SNL
  20. Scott Peterson Found guilty of murder

my neighborhood: the hot librarian

The Hot Librarian's blog 12/29/04

I love The Hot Librarian. She was a recent visitor to my site, left a comment that intrigued me and I decided to check out her blog. I'm glad I did. I didn't see a picture of her, so I can't attest to her physical hotness, but I will say that she's a hell of a writer. Smart women turn me on.

This is how she desribed herself:

Describe myself in one sentence...yeah, ok, this is going to be the longest run-on sentence in the history of the world, because I like to talk, or type - whatever, because I have a lot to say, because I am very interesting and smart, as well as being, you know, hot and shit; oh, and I like to swear a lot too, sorry.

I am sarcastic, wanton, wise beyond my years and very lazy. I used to be addicted to caffeine, now I'm addicted to Jamba Juice. If it means anything at all, according to the Meyer-Briggs test, I am an ENTJ - which is a category that apparently less that 2% of the entire population falls into. Which means I am very unique and you need to know me, or those tests are a bunch of bullshit. Or both. I have very nice handwriting, but I can't even draw stick figures. I am shit at math.

Like I said, I love this woman's blog. I think you will, too. Please visit her site.

he's baaack!

Ken Jennings gestures during an interview in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004. Jennings, a software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah, the record holder for most money ever won on a television game show with 74 consecutive wins on "Jeopardy!" was defeated by Nancy Zerg, a realtor from Ventura, Calif. His final show airs Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

'Jeopardy!' to Hold 'Super Tournament'

LOS ANGELES (AP) - If winning more than $2.5 million wasn't enough, ``Jeopardy!'' whiz Ken Jennings will have a shot at winning an additional $2 million - but the competition will be tougher this time around.

Producers of the game show announced Tuesday a ``Super Tournament,'' which will pit Jennings in a final match against two survivors of a competition between nearly 150 past five-time winners.

Host Alex Trebek called the tournament the ``quest for Ken.'' ``

Ever since Ken started his amazing run, people have been speculating on how some of the past 'Jeopardy!' players would do against him,'' Trebek said in a statement. ``We're answering that question.''

Jennings, too, was anxious about the challenge.

``I can't wait to see who I'll be up against in the finals,'' he said.

Jennings earned $2,520,700 after a 74-game winning streak. He was beaten by California real estate agent Nancy Zerg.

The matches will begin airing in February or March, and the finals will air in May, said ``Jeopardy!'' publicist Jeff Ritter.

The third-place winner will receive $250,000 and the second-place winner, $500,000.

batting 1,000 (and counting)

Sometime today, I went over 1000 vistors on this blog. I'm not sure who the 1,000th visitor was, so the prize is my gratitude to you, whoever you are. And this picture.

Thanks again for making my little hobby part of your day.

your local superstar

The adidas Superstar 35th Anniversary City Editions

Why should the Air Force Ones have all the fun? In honor of the 35th anniversary of the adidas Superstar, adidas is releasing limited edition 'City' versions of its most popular shoe, a la Nike.

The design of the shoes is classic as always and the colorways are...interesting, but they're going to sell like hotcakes. Trust me. I like the Boston one a lot.

Thanks to Josh Rubin for the heads-up. Check out the adidas site here

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

my neighborhood: the construct | weblog

Daniel Scally's blog 12/27/04

I've mentioned Daniel Scally before, too. (see post) This is his personal weblog of many things: music, movies, technology, college life, and the wonderful internet. It's a great site and I think you'll find plenty to like about the construct.

my picks for top 2004 music tracks

After giving you the mass-market view, here are my top music picks for the year. Sound samples will open with Windows Media Player.

Steve’s Top 22 Songs 2004

1. Ch-Check It Out – Beastie Boys Listen
Hands down, my favorite single of the year

2. You’re My Everything – Anita Baker Listen
A fine return to form

3. I Can’t Wait – Sleepy Brown (featuring OutKast) Listen
This was so phat and catchy, I can’t believe radio didn’t drive this one in the ground.

4. Lean Back – Terror Squad Listen
Makes me think of New Jersey. I don’t know why.

5. How Does It Feel – Anita Baker Listen
The hook is irresistible.

6. Lover’s Ghetto – Angie Stone Listen
Can you believe she sampled the R&B group Dynasty? Damn, that’s reaching back!

7. My Boo – Usher & Alicia Keys Listen
2004’s power couple!

8. This Love – Maroon 5 Listen
Sounds like Muppet music, but cool Muppet music.

9. Little Red Shoes - Loretta Lynn Listen
I can’t say enough about this album, ‘Van Lear Rose.’

10. Move Your Feet - Junior Senior Listen
This was a great dance track, even if it came from the “Queer Eye” soundtrack.

11. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand Listen
Enjoy them now; they won’t be around for long.

12. Golden – Jill Scott Listen
So beautiful and life-affirming. I love this woman.

13. 99 Problems – Jay-Z Listen
The sample is what makes the song.

14. I Hate Everything – George Strait Listen
Much love to GS for doing country right for over two decades.

15. We Don’t Care – Kanye West Listen
His album allowed us to think outside the hip-hop box for once.

16. (tie) Me, Myself, and I – Beyoncé Listen,
The Closer I Get To You (with Luther Vandross) – Beyoncé Listen
It wasn’t truly Beyoncé’s year (but she had a hell of a 2003), but these songs were awesome.

17. Boston – Lalah Hathaway Listen
I love this woman. Where’s she been?

18. Soul Child – Maysa Listen
I love this woman, too. This is a great song.

19. Don’t Say Nuthin’ – The Roots Listen
It’s like the “Knight Rider” theme updated.

20. Float On - Modest Mouse Listen
Inescapable, but great anyhow.

21. Lola's Theme - Shape:UK Listen
House, anyone. It’s over the top, but I love it

my neighborhood: Chipped Ham Productions

Evan Cantrell's blog 12/27/04

My friend Evan Cantrell is THE authority on comics and science fiction. He's an architect by trade, but his knowledge of fantasy even trumps that. That's his son Ethan in the image.

Evan's website, Chipped Ham Productions, is fairly popular, but he doesn't get a lot of visitor feedback. Anyone who puts as much effort into his hobbies really deserves some.

I can only suggest, of course, but it would be a great idea to visit his blog, post a comment or two, and have a little Chipped Ham.


From left: Viginia Tech 2005 Sugar Bowl polo, Seiko diver's watch, Bela Fleck CD.

This is what I got for Christmas, along with cash. Not a lot of stuff this time, but there was some thought put into it.

Monday, December 27, 2004

single file: 2004 top hits

If you like Usher, Alicia Keys, Linkin Park, OutKast, Tim McGraw or Keith Urban, you just had one hell of a radio year. They dominated a year of music that wasn’t particularly interesting, but somewhat memorable.

2004 saw the return of rock, the rise of crunk, more rap on the pop charts, and a renewed interest in country music. Record sales rebounded after years of decline, and CDs began selling for less than $10.00 again! Those two things could be connected.

This is the somewhat official top single list from the Roanoke Times, via Billboard magazine.

Top Pop Singles
1. Yeah! – Usher (featuring Lil’ Jon & Ludacris)
2. Burn – Usher
3. If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
4. This Love – Maroon 5
5. The Way You Move – OutKast (featuring Sleepy Brown)
6. The Reason – Hoobastank
7. I Don’t Wanna Know – Mario Winans (featuring Enya & P. Diddy)
8. Hey Ya! – OutKast
9. Goodies – Ciara (featuring Petey Pablo)
10. Lean Back – Terror Squad

Top Adult Contemporary Singles
1. White Flag – Dido
2. The First Cut Is the Deepest – Sheryl Crow
3. 100 Years – Five For Fighting
4. Drift Away – Uncle Kracker (featuring Dobie Gray)
5. Forever and for Always – Shania Twain
6. This One’s for the Girls – Martina McBride
7. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Michael McDonald
8. Unwell – matchbox twenty
9. Calling All Angels – Train
10. You Raise Me Up – Josh Grobain

Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles
1. If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
2. Yeah! – Usher (featuring Lil’ Jon & Ludacris)
3. Burn – Usher
4. Diary – Alicia Keys (featuring Tony! Toni! Tone!)
5. Lean Back – Terror Squad
6. You Don’t Know My Name – Alicia Keys
7. Jesus Walks – Kanye West
8. Me, Myself, and I – Beyoncé
9. Slow Jamz – Twista (featuring Kanye West & Jamie Foxx)
10. Confessions, Parts III – Usher

Top Modern Rock Tracks
1. Megalomaniac – Tonic
2. Numb – Linkin Park
3. Just Like You – Three Days Grace
4. (I Hate) Everything About You – Three Days Grace
5. The Reason – Hoobastank
6. Last Train Home – Lostprophets
7. Cold Hard B---- – Jet
8. Breaking The Habit – Linkin Park
9. Lying From You – Linkin Park
10. Slither – Velvet Revolver

Top Country Singles
1. Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
2. Remember When – Alan Jackson
3. You’ll Think of Me – Keith Urban
4. When the Sun Goes Down – Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker
5. Letters From Home – John Michael Montgomery
6. American Soldier – Toby Keith
7. Mayberry – Rascal Flats
8. Suds in the Bucket – Sara Evans
9. Watch the Wind Blow By – Tim McGraw
10. Days Go By – Keith Urban

my neighborhood: TimCity

Tim Anson's blog, 12/27/04

Since I have the power of image-posting on my site now, I decided to take you on a walk around the 'neighborhood.' Our first stop is TimCity. I've told you about Tim before, but for those who haven't been to his site, the image above is what it looks like. He's a cool guy, and I think if you like this site, you'll love his , too

Sunday, December 26, 2004

fancier feet

Shoe by John Lobb

For most men, footwear obsession starts and stops with athletic gear. We covet the Nikes of LeBron James, or Bode Miller's Atomic ski boots. But the Venetia leather used in Berluti laceups? Whatever.

That may be changing, at least for some of us.

Click the link above to view full article.

renovated tripod

the 'new look' at the Tripod website

I did some updates on my other website at Many of the things you will find there have been discussed or posted here , but it gives the casual visitor a chance to find some of my better writing and things of interest without serching this entire weblog. Enjoy

happy 'shoe' year

My shoe collection.

I decided to put my shoe collection online. Check it out.

Friday, December 24, 2004

now online: New York 12-11-04 photos

A view of the massive Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This was as close as I could get because of the crowds.

I put the pictures of my December trip to New York online. Check it out

more sound samples for the jazz mix page

I added several new sound samples to my Jazz Mix page. Eventually all the albums will have sound, but it takes time to find everything online.

Last-Minute Shoppers, Like Lemmings to the Mall

Holiday shopping at the former Belk store at Savannah Mall

Did you know last-minute shopping was this bad? As of Sunday, with six days to go, 12 million people still hadn't started their holiday shopping, according to the National Retail Federation. And 75 million more still had a quarter of it to go. (more)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

what's christmas without 'ham?'

Check out my friend Evan's Christmas message:

Merry Christmas from Chipped Ham Productions

8-year-old gets makeover

Phillips Place shopping center, Charlotte, NC

The grandfather of Charlotte's mixed-use villages -- Phillips Place -- turns 8 next year in a SouthPark market ready to blossom with new competition. (more)

swoosh, they're gone: Air Jordan XIII Retros sell out in a hurry

Air Jordan XIII Retro (from eBay)

Early Wednesday morning, holiday shopping was all about the shoes. The black and red Nike Air Jordan Retro 13s, to be specific.

Teens, parents and even grandparents started lining up outside Westfield Shoppingtown-Citrus Park in Tampa, Florida about 4 a.m. for the chance to buy the $150, limited edition sneakers that were scheduled to debut four hours later. (more)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

all dec'd out

This is what the Christmas tree looks like fully decorated. See, I told you it would get better :)

naughty and nice

Department Stores Discover That, Um, Sex Sells
Mainstream stores like Bendel's and Saks Fifth Avenue are borrowing the looks and merchandising strategies of Frederick's of Hollywood.

In 2004, Prim Looks Foretold the Mood
Conservative clothes found eager adherents on both sides of the party divide in 2004.

saved by wal-mart?

Center court of Regency Square, Richmond

Could help be on the way to stimulate sales at Richmond's struggling Regency Square?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wants to put a small -- by its standards -- store in the Parham Plaza shopping center just north of the mall. It would open in 2006.

The store would be built on the site of a vacant Kmart, which has been closed since spring 2003. (The building has been home to a variety of retailers since the early 1970s.) (more)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

dry pits win

Future historians of American magazines will no doubt remember 2004 as the year when an armpit with feet became a major sex symbol.

Read more @ 2004's Sassy, Trashy, Gassy, Flashy Glossies

yesterday, today and tomorrow

A generation-spanning collection of articles on kicks:

Yesterday - The 'in' shoe: The Chuck Taylor sneaker is an American classic — except …
[Chuck Taylor] can't be described as flashy, his sole is a bit dense and sometimes his tongue hangs out. But I love him just the same. Or, rather, I should say I love them just the same. As much as anyone could love those timeless, no-nonsense, patch-on-the-side canvas basketball shoes known as Chuck Taylors. (more)

Today - Tongue-Wagging Shoes
A trend toward retro-styled, lower-cost sneakers arrived with the down economy over the last few years. Prices and sales of basketball shoes fell faster than a front-row Pistons fan. The average price per pair of basketball shoes was $53.98 for the 12 months ending Nov. 1, down from $56.20 last year and $60.04 the year before, according to NPD Group. Total U.S. sales are down 9.4 percent this year, and the number of shoes selling for more than $100 has dropped every year lately.

Nike, Reebok and Adidas hope that's changing. This fall, they've released enough sneakers endorsed by players to outfit a team, none priced below $99. Today, the top-selling basketball shoes in the country are the Carmelo 1.5 by Jordan (a Nike brand) at $119, and Nike's Air Zoom 2 LeBron at $125, named for last season's top rookies. (more)

Tommorow - Basketball legend works his 'Magic' with shoppers
Magic was in the air Sunday at two local Meijer stores.

About 750 admirers lined up in Cascade Township to meet basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who was launching his "Magic32" brand of footwear and apparel. He also appeared at the Rockford Meijer.

The former Michigan State and Los Angeles Lakers star greeted admirers with his trademark smile as they lined up with "Magic32" merchandise to be autographed.

Most fans seemed pleased with the apparel, especially given the attempt by the company to keep it affordable. The sneakers are priced from $40 to $60 and are of a quality that, company representatives say, soon will inspire NBA players to wear them in games. (more)

on target, at north hills

UPDATED with new mall website info. Please scroll down.

Artist's rendering of new North Hills Mall. Target is near the center of the picture, at the tower with a red sign near the surface parking lot. JCPenney is is the large beige building towards the upper left. The Lassiter at North Hills is at the top.

While in Raleigh yesterday, I got a chance to visit the new Target store at North Hills. Not only is the store of their latest prototype, showcasing some of their latest merchandising techniques, it is also located in the ‘basement’ of the shopping center, under a multiplex theater and accessible from the main shopping level via elevator.

The unique arrangement was necessary because of an extremely tight building site. North Hills is hemmed into a small but lucrative triangular site between the 8-lane I-440 Beltline, the six-lane Six Forks Road and the busy Lassiter Mill Road in north Raleigh, one exit north of the massive Crabtree Valley Mall.

North Hills is built on the former site of North Hills Mall & Plaza, a small enclosed shopping center originally opened in 1966. North Hills was the first mall in the Raleigh-Durham area and was generally the most upscale until the mid-‘80s, when nearby rival Crabtree Valley (opened in 1972) began to court higher-end national tenants. North Hills began to lose stores and much of its luster in the mid-‘90s when a increasingly competitive local market needed larger and more flexible store spaces than the half-million square foot mall could provide. The final blow to the old North Hills Mall was when Dillard’s pulled out in 2002 for a store nearly twice as large at Triangle Town Center, ten miles away.

The owners of North Hills created a new Main Street-style development on the site of the old mall. The still-successful JCPenney store is all that remains from the original center and it now connects to stylish streetscapes and pedestrian walkways with the theater and Target serving as anchors along with Penney’s. A number of locally-owned and national tenants round out the new shopping center. North Hills Plaza, across Lassiter Mill Road from the mall, underwent a simlar recnfiguration, becoming the upscale Lassiter at North Hills.

The preponderance of synthetic stucco and anodized aluminum storefront and the square-ish Penney’s building lend a certain inauthenticity to the ‘new’ North Hills but it is an improvement compared to the dated, slightly gloomy mall it replaced.


New North Hills Website Online

A lot of people have visted this page looking for information on the new North Hills. As a public service to anyone and everyone looking for more information on North Carolina's first 'midtown' district, I invite you to check out the freshly redesigned North Hills website at

Monday, December 20, 2004

a bathing ape comes to soho

UPDATED! - please scroll down

Photo: Chiaki Tskumo/AP Photo

Nigo, 33, Hustler of Hip

A decade ago in Tokyo, Nigo was a fashion student, stylist, and DJ who couldn't find streetwear that was quite tough enough. So—like any good style mogul in the making—he designed his own, famously borrowing his signature slogan—"Ape shall never kill ape"—from that Charlton Heston cult classic. Nigo's well-cut, strictly limited stock became the object of frenzied desire among global cool kids and formed the basis of a mushrooming enterprise that now includes boutiques in Japan, London, and New York; a Tokyo-based hip-hop label; consulting agreements with Louis Vuitton and Pharrell Williams' Billionaire Boys Club; a sneaker deal with Reebok; and A Bathing Ape cafés and hair salons. One look at the ultra-cool perma-line outside the new SoHo store, and it's clear that Ape knows exactly what Ape is doing.

a bathing ape comes to soho

Nigo, a Japanese fashion designer, features bright shoes at A Bathing Ape, his first American store.

The first American outpost of A Bathing Ape, the urban street wear chain that has been wildly popular in Japan for over a decade, just opened in SoHo in New York City.

IT was not the chic designer dresses in the entrance of the Kirna Zabête boutique or the lingerie-clad mannequins of La Perla that stopped foot traffic on Greene Street in SoHo last Monday afternoon, but something a bit more, ahem, pedestrian: sneakers.

Twelve pairs — in vivid, whimsical color combinations like robin's-egg blue and yellow and Baskin-Robbins pink and brown — were circling around in a storefront window on what looked like a miniature baggage carousel, and a small crowd of hipsters and tourists had gathered to watch.

"Those right there are the hottest ones," said one wide-eyed young man, pointing at a pair in lime green and black. He and his fellow gawkers were standing in front of the first American outpost of A Bathing Ape, the urban street wear chain that has been wildly popular in Japan for over a decade, the day after the store's opening.

It was a scene that Nigo (pronounced NEE-go), the soft-spoken, 33-year-old designer behind the Bathing Ape line and Japan's reigning king of cool, had seen many times before. "They're like eye candy," he said of his creations.

The SoHo Bathing Ape is the 16th store in Nigo's ever-expanding empire, which began in 1993 as a hole-in-the-wall T-shirt shop in the Harajuku district in Tokyo and now includes clothing outlets across Tokyo and in Kyoto, Osaka and London.

Read more here

UPDATE January 14, 2004

Designer Nigo and Pharrell Williams at the opening of A Bathing Ape in New York on Monday (Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

Kanye, Pharrell, Mos Def Celebrate A Designer With Sole

NEW YORK — It would seem a lot of people on hip-hop's A-list have a shoe fetish.Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Mos Def, the Roots' ?uestlove, Common, Faith Evans, Clipse's Pusha T, Spike Lee and a host of other tastemakers and fashionistas braved the cold and rain Monday night to celebrate the opening of A Bathing Ape in New York's Soho neighborhood. (more)


UPDATE January 19, 2004

A Bathing Ape, Soho, New York. These shoes are on a rotating mirror-base in the display window. I find that when choosing shoes, I need to see them not only rotate, but reflected as well.(photo by kenyee, used by permission,

Additonal info on A Bathing Ape, New York courtesy

address: 91 greene st new york ny 10013

telephone: +1 212 925 0222

map: click here


UPDATE January 20, 2004

Get your Bapes Online from

Part of the A Bathing Ape selection at 1/20/05

Sunday, December 19, 2004

billion-dollar finish line

[B]usiness observers credit the leadership of the Finish Line for learning from those stumbles, enabling the company to weather changing fashion trends, competitive pressures and other challenges to reach a key milestone: In the fiscal year ending in February, the company expects to surpass $1 billion in sales for the first time in its 22-year history.

Since the company's humble beginning in Speedway [Indiana], Finish Line has expanded to operate 564 stores in 46 states. This fiscal year, analysts expect the company to report sales of $1.2 billion and profit of $58 million to $60 million.

Read more @ Billion-dollar pace

my Christmas tree, so far.

This is my Christmas tree, so far. I put somewhere near 800 lights on it and I still need to put some ornaments and bows on there. The picture doesn't really do the tree much justice, but it's not done yet, anyway.

peebles in lawrenceville gives up the fight

Shoppers in Brunswick County, Va. are counting down not just the number of shopping days until Christmas but the number of shopping days until the end of an era.

The Peebles Department Store at the corner of Main and Hicks in downtown Lawrenceville, the original store - or as one local resident put it, "the mother store" - of the venerable chain, will close Dec. 31.

The closing does not affect the other 32 Peebles stores operating in Virginia, company officials said, but it certainly will affect Lawrenceville, which has been struggling to revive its downtown business district.

Read more here

Saturday, December 18, 2004

stream of consciousness

My friend Evan posted this and I thought it was interesting:
I saw this over at Near Mint Heroes and thought it might be a fun little game.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

Loss of wings most probably occurred in a beetle species that colonized a windy island. - The Revised & Expanded Answers Book edited by Don Batten, Ph.D.

the art of jordan

Planning a trip to Denver for NBA All-Star Weekend? Maybe you should.

The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver is planning a cool exhibit to coincide with the game. In conjunction with its exhibition, "Will Boys Be Boys?" which examines adolescent masculinity, the museum will lace up a salute to Michael Jordan's sneakers. "20kickz: Off Court @ MCA."

The highlight of the exhibit is the unveiling of the long-awaited Air Jordan 20. As if you needed another reason to go to the art museum?

For more details click here or contact the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver

Friday, December 17, 2004

on the (adidas) 1

One of the coolest products on "Get Some" (see post) was the Adidas 1 running shoe, scheduled to be launched in March 2005.

A computer chip in the heel enables the Adidas 1 to take up to 1,000 readings per second, enabling it to adjust and readjust comfort level based upon changing support needs. This supposedly will create the ideal cushioning and support at every moment the shoe is on your feet.

The production is limited and the shoe is expected to retail for around $250.00.

"get some"

On "Get Some," MTV2 takes a look at some of the coolest new products for 2005, from gadgets to music, from fashion to home entertainment. Click here for a quick glance at most of the items presented in the show, and a few others well worth checking out. For more information, you can check out the manufacturers' Web sites by clicking on the photograph of the item.

"Get Some" will air on MTV2 on Friday, December 17 at 8 p.m.

on a historical note

Here's a couple of retail history sites I found:

Retailers from Woolworth to Wal-Mart
The guy who did this website describes it best:
This site is just a small overview of how retail changed over the past years with pictures, facts, local stories [New England] and more. You can learn about store chains that you never or barely knew, you can share your comments, pics and story with us, we have many links, shopping centers overview, towns descriptions, retail news update... is a site about supermarket history and architecture, roughly covering the period from the 1920s to the 1970s. It is NOT a site about current supermarket issues and locations, except in historical perspective, and it is not connected with nor owned by any supermarket chain, past or present.

The webmaster grew up in Greensboro and he devotes a large portion of his site to grocery store history in that city. I knew many of the places he mentioned. On a side note, I think this is the same guy who did the article on Carolina Circle Mall, but there is not a connection made on his site.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

the shopping news

It's nice to know that in the 'season of giving' that narcissism and procrastination are top headlines. Click on the titles to read further.

Dear Santa, I Want . . . Oh, Never Mind. I'll Buy It Myself.
The holidays, it is generally accepted, are a time of giving, of sharing, a period when a spirit of generosity sweeps the land.

Behind the snow-globe fantasy, however, lies another, slightly skewed portrait of the seasonal altruism. For a lot of consumers the line appears to be blurring between giving and receiving. And the person one seems likeliest to shop for come December is, increasingly, oneself.

Malls will do anything to attract men
After years of hearing stories of men's dislike for shopping and propensity to wait until the last minute and buy whatever they see when they walk into the store, the marketing team at University Village brainstormed innovative ways to help the stressed-out (or lazy, or notoriously last-minute...), gift-giving guys and their expectant gift recipients.

The Eleventh Hour Pub, complete with food, top-shelf spirits and beer from The Ram Restaurant and fully outfitted with plasma-screen TVs showing the weekend's must-see games, is staffed with Personal Shoppers available to help men select the perfect gifts from a catalog of participating University Village stores.

The Personal Shoppers then handle purchasing the gifts, get them wrapped, and have them delivered to the table. There is no cover charge to get into the Pub and the Personal Shopper services are free.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The jazz mixes…

A music fan, some free time, and a CD burner can make a lethal combination.

In 2003, I decided to start creating my own mix-tapes featuring contemporary jazz music to share with my friends and co-workers. Before I stopped in 2004, I made five of the compilation CDs. They're actually pretty good, I think, and the people I gave them to seemed to like them.

Check out which songs I used here.

hump-day updates

A lot of new information has come up on stories I brought you in previous posts. To find out more, click on the titles above the reports.

ODB was on drugs? Naw!
The death of rapper O.D.B. was deemed an accident by the medical examiner, who said Wednesday that he died from the combined effects of cocaine and a prescription painkiller.

O.D.B., whose legal name was Russell Jones, died at a Manhattan recording studio Nov. 13. He died ``as a result of intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and Tramadol, a prescription painkiller but not a narcotic,'' said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office.

"The manner of death is an accident,'' she added.

Related: The Sad Passing of Ol" Dirty Bastard, ODB's Funeral

Hello, I must be going...
for the first announcement click here, for the team naming click here
Baseball fans in the nation's capital might not have long to cheer their new team.

The District of Columbia Council voted 7-6 Tuesday night to approve legislation that would finance construction of a ballpark. But it contained a provision that could cause the baseball commissioner's office to reopen the search for a long-term home for the franchise.

The legislation was amended to require private financing for at least half the stadium construction costs, a provision not contained in the September agreement between baseball and Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Related: Talk about retro, They're the nationals...for now

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

music: wilco, r. kelly, marvin gaye

Some random thoughts on music...

'I Am Trying to Break Your Heart' -- Wilco
I couldn't get the words 'I Am Trying to Break Your Heart' out of my head. Sometimes these things just come to me and and I'm unable to stop thinking about them until I look them up. The internet is a life-saver in this regard, as the library is hard to get to sometimes.

By doing a Google search I found out where I heard the words from: it's the title to the movie about the Wilco album 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'. This album was turned down by Wilco's label, Reprise Records, as unmarketable and Jeff Tweedy and company refused to change it on artistic merits.

Nonesuch Records eventually released the record, and it became the the critical favorite of 2002. While 'Foxtrot' did not make Wilco a household name, it definately led to a substantial amount of recognition for these guys.

Depending on who you ask about the film 'I am Trying to Break Your Heart,' it is either a portait of a underated band or an infomercial. I haven't seen it, so I officially have no opinion, but if you want to find out some more for yourself click on the links above.

I'm just glad I figured out what it was.

What Is Soul? Not R. Kelly. Not anymore.
While I was on the Wilco article at Slate magazine, I noticed another couple of articles that pegged my interest. One was on R&B singer R. Kelly and his new album 'Happy People/U Saved Me.'

I have respect for R. Kelly's musical talent though I'm not a fan and I think that his personal actions are deplorable. But he is interesting to read about, so I read the article reviewing the album.

The reviwer, Tony Green, makes many interesting points about Kelly's approach for this double album. He describes the neo-soul 'Happy People' as 'a soul album that you refuse to let into your soul.' He describes the tracks as evocative of feel-good Seventies soul but lacking in actual emotion.

The gospel-tinged 'U Saved Me' is viewed with a more critical eye:

'Though U Saved Me has some fairly gorgeous moments, Kelly impresses you as a wayward soul not quite sure of the direction of his spirit. That's at best. At worst, he comes off like a slick con man throwing a spiritual pity party; about as convincing as O.J. wearing a dashiki. '

'Using religion as the last line of defense is a sure sign of depravity—true believers, as a friend once said, use it as their first. For Kelly, who has been referencing his gospel roots all his career, to decide to give his life to the Lord at this particular point seems just a bit convenient.'

Amen to that. I can't do his review true justice so I suggest you read more here.

"Let's Get It On" … Again
Marvin Gaye is another artist I have respect for, though I'm not a fan. His life was so much of a train wreck and the music he produced from his pain was so good that you can't ignore him, though.

I hasd no idea until I read David Ritz's article in Slate that there was a remix out for the seminal classic 'Let's Get It On' from the 1973 album of the same name. Remixers Paul Simpson and Miles Dalto have layered on a groove called steppin', a style of dance music born in Chicago and popularized by R. Kelly's mega-successful single "Step in the Name of Love."

I usually hate seeing people messing with classic works, and 'Let's Get It On' is about as classic as you can get in Seventies soul. But the remix, at least the part I heard of the song, was actually pretty good. After seeing R. Kelly trying to resurrect the ghost of Marvin to to cover up his own pedophilia in a feel-good vibe, it's nice to actually hear the real deal.

The review is better than me talking about it so please read more here.

Monday, December 13, 2004

this list rocks

Irish rockers U2, R&B singers The O'Jays and soul balladeer Percy Sledge are among five musical legends to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the foundation's 20th annual induction ceremony next year, the organization announced Monday.

The Pretenders and blues guitarist Buddy Guy will also join the organization's Class of 2005.

Also, Frank Barsalona and Seymour Stein will be inducted in the non-performer category.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation will hold its induction ceremony March 14 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

Read more here

Sunday, December 12, 2004

helmet hair

Ever wonder what NFL players' hair looks like with the helmet off? Okay, probably not. But if you do, I found this page at Sports Illustrated showng selected players' wild hairstyles. Not suprisingly, my favorite is that of a Pittsburgh Steeler, safety Troy Polamalu.

What? You thought I was going to say Ben Roethlisberger? Hell of a quarterback; yes. Bad-ass name; check. Hair icon; not even close.

Back to Polamalu. Here's what he had to say:

"I last cut my hair three years ago. Indirectly, it's part of my heritage -- there are a lot of Samoans with really long hair. I don't worry about getting it yanked on the field. It would be the best hair pulling ever: They could pull my hair out on an interception."

Come to think of it, he did look like one of The Jets! I know they're from Tonga, but check out their picture as opposed to his.

Read more about the hair at Head Cases: What's Under My Helmet

Saturday, December 11, 2004

homer simpson gifts

Shelley Blackmon and her husband, Donald, have a term for bad presents -- "Homer Simpson Gifts."

"He would give Marge a bowling ball with his name on it," says Blackmon. "Something you would buy for someone else but you would use."

Bad Christmas gifts. We've all gotten them. We've all given them. Whether it's the Chia Pet that someone thought was 'so cute' or the exercise video when you're feeling self-conscious about your weight, we've all wanted to wring someone's neck about their gift-giving choices.

When I was in the third grade, I had a teacher that I really liked: Mrs. Hedrick. When Christmas time came around, we passed out presents in class and I was excited to give her my gift, which was picked out by my mother, seeing as I was only 8 and probably would have given her a He-Man doll, Lego bricks or a Care Bear.

My mom is a talented semstress and upholsterer who used to make her gifts back in the day and also sell them for Christmas money. From year to year, she used to make different crafts like refrigerator magnets shaped like butterflies, polo-style shirts and earrings out of this stuff called Friendly Plastic.

That particular year she made lingerie.

I should have seen it coming when she asked me to find out what dress size Mrs. Hedrick was. But I didn't.

You should have seen the expression on everyone in that class's face when after I insited she open her present there at school and she found a slip and panty set inside the wrapped present box.

It was funny as shit thinking back on it, but I can understand why she was embarrassed because I was too. I can't imagine what I'd have done if someone that wasn't Mom or Grandma gave me underwear. nowdays, it would be a little wierd unless I was intimately in love with someone.I vowed from that day on to have a hand in whatever was given in my name.

Even after embarassing mrs. hedrick in 1983, I still have screwed up gift-wise over the years. I wishI had a list before like this one I found at What not to buy

Friday, December 10, 2004

one less retail fungus among us

The Athlete's Foot's company ownerd stores are closing. Yesterday, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankrputcy protection, listing assets of $33.6 million and liabilities of $39.4 million.

The franchised stores supposedly are not being affected by this descision, but the company-owned stores will liquidate in the very near future.

What does that mean for the averge sneakerhead? Overall, it means one less place to shop, but in the interim, a good chance to pick up some kicks for cheap.

Read more @ Athlete's Foot Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

Thursday, December 09, 2004

dude, where's my language

A linguist from the University of Pittsburgh has published a scholarly paper deconstructing and deciphering the word "dude," contending it is much more than a catchall for lazy, inarticulate surfers, skaters, slackers and teenagers.

Scott Kiesling says in the fall edition of American Speech that the word derives its power from something he calls cool solidarity - an effortless kinship that's not too intimate.

Cool solidarity is especially important to young men who are under social pressure to be close with other young men, but not enough to be suspected as gay.

In other words: Close, dude, but not that close.

Read more @ Linguist Deciphers Uses of Word 'Dude'

can you hear me now?

I bit the bullet. As much as I despise cell phones, I decided to get one for my weekend trip to New York and for emergencies and trips otherwise. It’s a Kyocera and I got it though the Virgin Mobile pre-paid service [insert virgin joke here :) ].

I’m going to meeting some friends in Manhattan that are coming in on the train, and it’s a lot easier to have communication on hand than it is to look for a pay phone or rely on others. The phone is certainly nothing fancy, but it does what I want it to do and it has a lot of features that are kind of cool, like downloadable ringtones and rudimentary video games like Tetris.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

the importance of the nike dunk

Sometimes in the sneaker game we get caught up in the fashion aspect of the shoes rather than the stories behind their importance and design, which are the things that make them truly great. I said something similar to this in a recent post, but I have a printed ally on the subject with substantially more sports knowledge: Bret Dougherty

I ran across an article of his in a web search where he talks about the sporting origins of the Nike Dunk and really brings home the point about wel-designed shoes succeding in performanance and aesthetics.

Check it out at Preserving the Nike Dunk

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

hot air

I started thinking about Reebok the other day and their recent simultaneous promotion of two products featuring The Pump technology: the new Pump 2.0 running shoe and the old-school The Pump Bringback. Newspaper articles labeled the 2.0 as the greatest sneaker innovation of the year, though actually Adidas and Nike scooped Reebok on the technology forefront by introducing the new laceless T-Mac 4 and NikeFree running shoes, respectively, not to mention the new computer controlled Adidas runner due out at the end of the year.

Though the new Reebok shoe is certainly noteworthy, and the old Pump was a revolutionary concept when it came out in 1989, it’s all still the same technology story they’ve been telling for 15 years. They haven’t done anything truly new since they introduced DMX misdsole technology in the early ‘90s. That’s a long time without a new idea.

I started wondering if there were any truly new ideas at Reebok these days, and if not, then why. I also wondered why the press was making such a big deal over the 2.0 when all it is was an improvement on the late ‘90s Pump Fury runner.

I came to two realizations as I pondered these questions. One; long before other companies jumped onto the ‘retro’ bandwagon, Reebok was at the forefront, mainly because other companies had out-researched them, and selling retreads of old designs was the easiest way to rake in the dough and still remain relevant. Two; due to the sudden growth of rival New Balance, specifically their classics and cross-training line, Reebok had a serious contender for the ‘non-athletic’ portion for the shoe market. Enter the two heavily-promoted Pump models, offering a brief respite from sliding sales with a mild technological stance.

From those realizations, I came to another insight: Aside from The Pump, apparel contracts, and a dominant position in middle-market department stores for sentimentalist designs, there’s not a lot going on at Reebok.

I’m not saying these things about Reebok to hate on them solely. I think that for what they do, they do a decent job. Plus several other companies have an innovation gap as well, including K-Swiss. But it brings about an important point:

In order to be considered a good athletic shoe company, you have to advance your technology as well as please the fashion and comfort camps.

Nike and Adidas have invested millions of dollars into creating shoes that both athletes and fashionistas can agree on. They have made a case for their products by making them work for athletes and that dedication is given back to them as love by consumers. The good designs of old become the casual favorites of a new generation, because they still work.

These companies do not rest on their laurels. Nike still makes the Air Force One, but it’s also cranking out innovative technology like Shox, IMPAX, and the various Air systems. Ditto for Adidas, which is still selling shell-toes, but is also pushing a3 and ClimaCool technology to those who need it. Even New Balance and Asics are still delivering the goods for the athletes with Absorb foam and IGS stabilization systems, respectively.

Reebok’s goal with the Pumps is to make sneaker buyers want to pay more than $100 for shoes again, something the industry began to loose back when that same company charged $175.00 for a gimmicky overly-heavy shoe that couldn’t perform back in 1989.

By raing the prices of seemingly everyday things like sneakers to an aspirational level, you create a short-term demand, but you can also create cynacism, especially if the product people paid a lots of money for is just a gimmick. The Pump became the poster child for excess, prompting parents to stop trying to outfit their children in the latest high-tops. That in turn helped deflate the market for high-tops specifically and sneakers in general in the early '90s.

Charging a premium price for exclusivity with marginal results doesn’t work for long, and yet Reebok keeps trying it. The slow-selling Iverson line has recently begun copying the looks and price of old Jordan brand models with clunky technology and as such, the people who buy Iverson models are doing it out of their loe for Allen and not for the shoes.

The only Iverson model that moved in round numbers was The Question mid-high, and that has been retread continuously for almost a decade, even seeing a diamond-encrusted edition this holiday season. It’s like they’re running on a hamster-wheel.

Despite my rant, the situation at Reebok may not change anytime soon and they have no compelling reason to change, because they’re still making money. But it stands to reason that any company that sells sizzle and not steak cannot be a serious contender for the hearts and minds of sneakerheads. No one collects L.A.Gears or Troops.

Monday, December 06, 2004

rocket man monday

Elton John, 5 Other Stars Honored in D.C.
Rock legend Elton John, opera diva Joan Sutherland, conductor John Williams and actors Warren Beatty, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were honored Sunday with a star-studded tribute at The Kennedy Center. The six recipients of the 27th annual Kennedy Center Honors were saluted for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. (more)

Motley Crue will stage reunion tour in 2005
Bad boys of metal Mötley Crüe will be shouting at the devil at a stadium near you some time in 2005, says the band's manager, but it's still in the works. (more)

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones Official Site
Few bands fuse genres and styles as effectively as Bela Fleck and The Flecktones. These guys have been cranking out some of the coolest jazz-funk-bluegrass-classical-you name it music of the last couple of decades. Their website is just as cool as their live show with all kinds of interactive features.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

a matching pair

Doug Rutsch from the Sacramento Bee wrote two artcles that I liked about sneakers and sneakerheads. Check these out:

Taking a shine to shoes
Some teenagers' collections of footwear are incredible feats

Eric Lam walks around with his head down, checking out shoes, ready to talk to anyone wearing legit old-school Jordans or Air Max 95s with wild style. He can spot fakes from a mile away.

And if you think those sweet $30 New Balance "kicks" you picked up at an outlet store are gonna catch his eye, keep dreaming.

Get your kicks
Seven sporty-shoe favorites that let guys leave duct tape behind.

Sure, you can go through [life] with only one pair of shoes - you can even take pride in it, duct taping them until they literally fall apart. New shoes are not for everyone.

But a lot of guys are getting shoe crazy. While women's shoe stores have always been a shopping center staple, most malls now have a couple places that cater to men's shoes as well. And with increased selection comes difficult choices. Different brands, colors, styles - and a big price tag.

This is no impulse buy.

Calm down. With research and a good sense of style, you can get the freshest pair of kicks in school.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

shoe marketing, video games and evil chain stores

Stories like thse are the reason I created this blog. All from

Air Jordans
What changed leisure footwear forever and created the wonderful, hideous behemoth of contemporary consumer culture? It's gotta be da shoes.
Related: Check out some of MJ's footwear and notable shoes of the past at

With its canary-yellow Everyblob hero, its masterfully simple design and its abstract realm where even death was a cheerful event, Pac-Man brought video gaming out of the bars and into the malls.

On sale at Old Navy: Cool clothes for identical zombies!
What a deal! Crush your individuality at state-of-the-art chain stores!

NorthPark: bigger but still old-school

One of the first malls I knew by name when I was in elementary school I learned about in a '60s era modern art book. The mall is NorthPark Center and it was a gleaming white beacon of modernism when built in 1965 outside Dallas. I remember thinking it was one of the coolest buildings I'd ever seen. I've never been to NorthPark, or Dallas for that matter, but I always wanted to visit this place that seemed to me like the ultimate expression of"real' modern architecture in a retail concept.

In some ways, my love for SouthPark was bolstered by its formerly striking resemblence to NorthPark. In their orignial versions, the two malls were very much like each other. Even today, they have some of the same tenants and serve the same kind of upsacale market. From a design standpoint however, SouthPark changed dramatically over the last five years: turning into a postmodern Neoclassical mix, while northpark still looks the same as ever: restrained but elegant.

I always assumed that it had been changed from its original design, as malls often are. I was relieved to find out by visitng their website that things have only changed there in the gross square footage of the building.

"NorthPark's best accolade is that it isn't a trendy center," said Lance Josal, who heads the Dallas office of international architect RTKL Associates Inc. "It isn't bending to each passing whim of retail design.

"NorthPark has a cachet, and it is renowned throughout the retail industry," he said. "It's not as much about what they did but what they chose not to do."

When developer Raymond Nasher leased a cotton field on Northwest Highway from the Caruth family, the property was at the edge of town. He had to strong-arm some retailers to go into Dallas' first "climate-controlled" shopping center.

The merchants weren't all convinced that a "mall" could lure tenants away from street-side shopping and downtown stores.

The doubters were left in the dust, and NorthPark became one of the top shopping centers in the country in sales volume. NorthPark still generates about $550 per square foot in annual sales and is expected to be one of the top five retail centers in the country when the expansion is complete.

Through it all, the mall has remained under the guidance of the Nasher family, which has taken a special interest in preserving the center's integrity in design and leasing.

The Dallas Morning News recently published an article on the evolving state of NorthPark Center, highlighting a renovation that will add a new Nordstrom store, additional shops, and an interior garden. to my relief, unlike at SouthPark, the building will still be recognizable as NorthPark, with the same white brick, clear glass and concrete floors of the original design.

Read more @ Update in store for NorthPark. Also check out NorthPark's website

postcard from the big apple

I sent this out to my friends, and I thought I'd share it with cyberspace...

Steve’s Thanksgiving Visit to New York City
November 27, 2004

The first part of the trip was largely uneventful. We left beautiful downtown Bonsack at 11:30 PM Friday night and made a stop in Lynchburg to pick up the other half of the passengers. We then went north on US 29, east on I-66, around the west side of the Washington Beltway, and then onto I-95 North and the New Jersey Turnpike and through the Lincoln Tunnel into midtown Manhattan. Save for a futile and amateurish attempt by the bus driver to find a Cracker Barrel in New Jersey without looking at a store locator or paying attention to the numerous billboards along the road, the ride up was decent, though I couldn’t sleep at all.

We arrived in Herald Square around 8:30 AM. The city was desolate, to my surprise. Most of the stores were still closed and the streets weren’t very full. Save for a 2 story inflatable Grover (official “spokes-monster” for the holiday) on the Macy’s marquee, there was little else of note going on. So I decided that we should go uptown to Bloomingdale’s, since we only ate there last time.

I hadn’t been on the subway in years, but it’s easily the best way to move around in the city, rats and all. One cool thing you can get these days from the MetroCard vending machine is an all-day pass. You get unlimited subway rides for $7.00. Considering the train is $2.00 each way, it adds up quickly to pay for individual rides. We got on at Penn Station and were supposed to get of at 59th and Lexington, but I screwed up on where we were and we ended up at Rockefeller Center, 10 blocks away.

No matter. Rockefeller was a great place to stop, if a bit crowded. I guess by the place being on TV all the time, that makes it all the more popular whether stuff is open or not.. We checked out the NBC Experience, very open and busy, where people can buy all kinds of NBC related crap and take a studio tour of “30 Rock.” We missed out on the tours (too early) and though a Conan O’Brien shirt was tempting for me to buy, we left empty handed.

I managed to get some cool pictures of Rockefeller Plaza, despite the crowds. It’s a lot smaller than it seems on TV, and having half of Iowa there didn’t help any. I wish I could ice skate because those people looked like they were having a ball, despite the ‘90s pop-heavy soundtrack. I guess if you’re enjoying yourself, it doesn’t matter if Ace of Base is playing.

On to Saks. I had an American Express gift certificate (that I got for spending too much money on my Green Card) and I decided to get my Mom an early Christmas present: Prada fragrance. Saks Fifth Avenue has the best customer service in the city, but it also has the most cut-throat fragrance sellers, too. While I was buying my mom’s stuff, I got accosted by this other fragrance Nazi that offered me something like 10 fragrances in 3 minutes. If I wasn’t having my purchased wrapped, I wouldn’t have kept standing there. When I did get my stuff, I left as fast as I could.

Despite the overzealous salespeople on commission, Saks is still one of the coolest stores in the city. They were having a sale like you wouldn’t believe: 30-40% off just about everything affordable. I could have cleaned up, but I was a good boy.

I went back in to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to see if I could make my interior pictures that failed to come out in September work this time. It’s such a beautiful and dark place that it doesn’t always work photography wise. Using the digital camera, I was much more successful this time.
I’ve always given short shrift to Trump Tower on my trips because I think it’s over-rated and just a little outré. But it’s still a cool building and I got a great shot of the place, even though my head was practically on the 5th Avenue sidewalk to get the shot.

Adjacent to Trump Tower on 57th Street is Niketown. Me going to Niketown is like leaving Whitney Houston around crack unattended: something bad might happen. It almost did. The bad and good part about a store like that is that they have EVERYTHING, and all in my size, too. I restrained myself and only bought one pair of Air Force Ones, the Independence Day series in red, white and blue. It was sold out everywhere else.

Lunch was at Fred’s, a great restaurant in Barneys New York at Madison and 60th. We got in without a reservation, and I’m happy to say it was the best $40.00 lunch I’ve ever had. Okay, so it’s the only $40.00 lunch I’ve ever had, but I wasn’t going to let this place pass by as many good things I’ve heard about it. I had an Angus burger, Estelle’s Chicken Soup (recommended), a Sierra Nevada Ale, and café latte to finish.

Boutiques are plentiful on Madison and 5th Avenues and we went to several. Ralph Lauren has one of the most striking at Madison and 72nd. It’s a former mansion and it’s like a Polo catalog come to life. Giorgio Armani’s store, also on Madison, is severe and elsegant, the perfect showcase for the goods he sells. Takashimya is a Japanese department store on 5th Avenue that’s easily one of the coolest stores in Midtown. It’s next door to Fortunoff, a massive jewelry and gift store that someone forgot to tell it wasn’t 1978 anymore. The design of the store would have made Weezy Jefferson very proud, but the merchandise thankfully was up to date and cool. Also highly recommended: Bottega Veneta, the World of Disney and Salvatore Ferragamo.

Columbus Circle is a part of the city I’ve never been to, even though it’s only a few blocks form Bergdorf Goodman. I took a picture of the new mall and office towers there last time without realizing what they were and so I decided to check the place out. After getting a little twisted around on the subway, I figured out where to get off and we checked out a well-designed mall with so-so tenants and I got an excellent picture of the place at twilight.

We started heading back downtown as the sun set. Getting off in Penn Station near Madison Square Garden we went to the busiest place in midtown: Kmart! Yes, Kmart. They may be dying in the suburbs, but in Manhattan the place was jumping. It’s a lot like the Kmarts at home except that the store is split onto three levels (one leading to the subway) and has substantially more cool merchandise than they do locally.

We still had a couple hours so a trip back to Rockefeller Center was in order, though honestly I would have preferred Times Square. I saw the Plaza aglow with light and fuller than ever with tourists frustrated that the Great Tree wasn’t lighted. After getting some shots of the tree again and one of Saks in full holiday dress complete with electric snowflakes, we went back up to FAO Schwarz which was impossible to get into earlier that day.

Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. The store I loved so much a few years ago had changed owners and now is more about parents impressing other parents with what they bought their kids than what kids might actually find fun. It was nice, but it was sterile.

It was getting near time to go, so we went back downtown to Herald Square and browsed Macy’s, Dr. Jay’s, the cheaper-than-dirt Conway store, and the Manhattan Mall, along with one of the biggest Modell’s Sporting Goods I’ve ever seen at the otherwise lackluster Herald Center. It was only a short time before we were at our hotel in New Jersey, where we slept and left from the next day to go home.

The traffic coming back to Virginia was enough to make you pull your hair out. We ended up stuck in traffic for at least two hours with very brief respites in Delaware and in Manassas before coming down US 29 back to Lynchburg and Roanoke. Here’s a tip. If you need to stop for a rest and are thirsty, don’t stop at the Manassas rest stop: there are no vending machines period. And this is at an official Virginia Welcome Center! I voiced my frustrations to the attendant, and she said they’ve been complaining about it for years too with no result. Your state tax dollars at work!

Anyway, other than being tired and needing about two days of rest to recover, it was all worthwhile. And in two weeks I get to do it again! Until next time...

Friday, December 03, 2004

a pop-culture mix

Check out the following websites and reports:

All-Cereal Restaurant Opens in Philly
How's this for thinking outside the box: a cafe with jammies-clad servers pouring cereal day and night, topping it off with everything from fruit to malted milk balls, and serving it in "bowls" resembling Chinese takeout containers. It's all cereal. Seriously.

Stuck On Stuckey's
Stuckey's was a chain of convenience stores that ruled the roadsides of the South and Midwest for several decades. The stores in the company's heyday featured a "classic [steeply-pitched blue] roadside roofline, complete with (remember this?) the sillouette of a horse drawn carriage with the words 'PECAN SHOPPE' beckoning you off of the asphalt snake to spend a few dollars on roadside art."

The webmaster of this offbeat site is a self-described "confirmed Stuckologist." Complete with anything and everything you'll want to know about the Stuckey's chain, Stuck on Stuckeys is highly reccomended. The vintage '60s radio commercial playing in the background of the home page is reason enough to check it out.
See also: Stuckey's Official Homepage

Hard to believe, but the once mighty Howard Johnson's retaurant chain is down to eleven locations. To relive some of those fried clam memories, check out HoJoLand, which is a extensive retelling of the company's story, complete with pictures of old sites and news on the surviving restaurants.
See also: America's Landmark: Under The Orange Roof
Kevin F. Sherry recently cleaned out his wardrobe, which, due to his pack rat nature, was crammed with clothes he hadn't worn in more than a decade. Among the discarded were 25 sweaters that can generously be described as "hideous." Or, as one critic put it, "Bill Cosby would not wear this." Kevin's defense? "I worked at Marshalls in North Olmsted, Ohio, during high school and got a 15 percent discount. It was cold. It was the late '80s." The horror, the horror.