Re: Disciplinary Architecture

1

There's a park near(ish) here that's on top of a parking garage. If you don't work near there you'd basically never know it existed. You have to go up the elevator in the garage to get there.

I used to be mildly obsessed by the erosion of unrestricted publicly available space; not that this is a meaningful problem compared to those faced by the homeless or poor, but our hacker meet ups in the early '90s used to have a hell of a time finding a meeting spot where we couldn't get kicked out, which is why I first noticed it. Obviously this came up during Occupy, as well. Of course, by far the biggest (by area) category of restricted public space is roadways.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:47 AM
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1.last is also related to Ferguson, of course.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:54 AM
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The private-public space behind gated communities is depressing. Or not even strictly-gated, but where you have to sign in and be a member of the neighborhood. We went to our friend's neighborhood pool to grill and let the kids frolic in the playground and pool, and it was gorgeous and well-planned and so on.

It's not the presence of it in the upscale neighborhoods so much as the absence everywhere else, I suppose.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:54 AM
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Hilariously, that page has managed to format itself in such a way as to be impossible for me to read. There's a page, and the pull quotes show up, but the body text? It's there, I can see it when I select it, but it's invisible. White/white.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:56 AM
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Man when I lived in California the neighborhood I was in was just nothing but these giant not-very-fancy developments with private playground-ish facilities and pools and no sidewalks.

This also reminds me of the (hilarious) thread where a guy had an enormous fight with his homeowner's association over parking, and they ended up booting his car so he towed his car to his garage (on the property) and ended up holding the boot hostage (they cost like $30k, apparently) in such a way that the HOA was totally ineffective in getting back. Here it is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:57 AM
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This is not a terribly novel insight, but people who are super anti-government and anti-tax who are instead excited to pay a bunch of money to a HOA with its insanely restrictive, entirely extrajudicial, punitive policies confuse the heck out of me. And I think there are a lot of them!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:01 AM
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Anyhow one of the things I like about the Boston area (at least the more urban part) is that the land-use pattern mentioned hasn't really taken hold (mostly because there's not the available land, probably); our town has spent a bunch of money in the past few years building and/or refurbishing its public parks/playgrounds, to the point that people will come from other towns to use our playgrounds for birthday parties and so on, and it's terrific.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:02 AM
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Also, while I'm serially commenting, let me be the first to troll Halford when he wakes up by goin' all MIKE DAVIS MIKE DAVIS MIKE DAVIS BOO!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:03 AM
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Also aren't the people in 6 just racists?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:05 AM
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9: well, probably. But the idea that somebody would let racial fear and resentment warp their worldview so completely is per se confusing to me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:07 AM
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I once had thoughts on public space, but then I sold out.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:09 AM
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Weird phone.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:10 AM
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I was a fan of Cookie Crumb before he sold out. I now follow a new public space commentator, but you probably haven't heard of her.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:35 AM
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Not only racist, but complying with insanely restrictive HOA requirements comforts the intense social status anxiety. It makes them feel like they're proactively socially climbing. Government regulations about, uh, protecting us from exploding fertilizer plants are completely orthogonal to status anxiety.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:38 AM
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nstead excited to pay a bunch of money to a HOA with its insanely restrictive, entirely extrajudicial, punitive policies

Like many parents and/or prospective parents in the private school market, one of the not-often-mentioned marketing points is the suggestion (probably not very accurate) that you the paying customer/resident will be much more able to affect the policies and enforcement thereof in the smaller setting.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:57 AM
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I've never heard that as a selling point of private schools.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:01 AM
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I have, but maybe that's just fancy NY private schools full of crazily rich people.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:02 AM
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Maybe in the sense that the public system in NY is seen as too gigantic to respond to any individual parent? I feel like here, there's a belief that your little public school would love and respond to your input, as long as you've got the time and energy to back it up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:05 AM
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One thing that amused/frustrated me about the exurbanish area I used to live in was that a very high proportion of homes had some kind of playground equipment in the back yard - generally they were kind of lame, and a bit raggedy, and you would rarely see kids playing on the things - though they did appear as if they would have cost a few dollars when new.

Meanwhile, decent public playgrounds were few and far between. Basically, the public playground function had been privatized, whereas if you had taken all the collective money that was being spent on shitty backyard swingsets, it would have made for a pretty kick-ass playground that facilitated, you know, community interaction.

And parents wonder why kids won't play outside - its because none of their friends are out there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:06 AM
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20

Oooh, I really am so easily trolled by mention of Mike Davis. Such a bullshit artist. Or, like all great bullshitters, a guy with about 10% of a real point and a 90% coating of bullshit.

There are a couple different topics here -- the OP is about design of actual public spaces, which are very different concerns than HOAs, private deeded pools or whatever. My take on the specific topic in the OP is that, sure, there are some techniques rich people use to keep their neighborhood pocket parks private. But also worth noting that public parks largely taken over by homeless people are (a) also not usable public spaces (b) not great environments for the homeless themselves. A lot of the commentary on this stuff just ignores the latter part. It also way overstates the impact of architecture on this stuff vs just having public amenities at all. For example, one of the poster examples in bullshit artist Mike Davis' bullshit book was the then-new Hollywood branch library, supposedly horrible because it had cameras and angular benches designed to discourage the homeless. Instead, it's become a great neighborhood resource for lots of different-income people, ranging from homeless to high income, and has been a reasonably successful public space precisely because it is public.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:08 AM
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19 is true. Everyone we know has a play structure in their backyard. Everyone says "The only time the kids play on it is when they have friends over." We recently acquired a hand-me-down swingset, and it's the same thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:16 AM
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Maybe more time needs to be spent on fixing up the areas underneath overpasses.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:17 AM
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20: You're trapped in an elevator with Mike Davis, Bill Simmons and Cory Doctorow. You have a gun but no bullets. What do you do, hotshot? What do you do?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:33 AM
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Despite what that toddler book says, sometimes teeth are for biting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:53 AM
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You'd bite their teeth?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:57 AM
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That was a pretty good introducing-the-concept article. As it makes plain, the concept itself has been around for decades, among architects and planning thinkers. Colin Ward, the great British anarchist writer, wrote pellucidly about it about thirty years ago in Vandalism. I don't own a copy, but the title will suggest how much he analyzed vandalism as in part a reaction to brutal surroundings, often unintentionally so but not always. I'm not surprised that this way of thinking is current, and I'm encouraged by it.

Would somebody connect the dots to Mike Davis please? I didn't see the reference in the article, and I'm getting used to being completely out of it. It's as if I fell asleep on a non-prickly park bench thirty years ago, and the shotgun-armed police took no notice, and the snows came and went, and I've just awakened.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 9:01 AM
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26 -- there's some stuff in the vein of the article linked in the OP in City of Quartz.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 9:23 AM
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Nope. Very badly wrong.

Not Foucault's "discipline" but the move to Deleuze's Societies of Control

The site is a decent start.

Control Society History Logic and Methodologies of Control


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 9:36 AM
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1: Is that the public Google-related lot in Kendall Square that they tried to make private during a building acquisition/remodel?


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 10:21 AM
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29: yeah.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 10:33 AM
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31

Google didn't try to make it private; we just cut the size in half so we could build more office space and connect two of our office buildings (I'm a direct beneficiary, since I can now walk through that connector to my office instead of walking through the ground floor of the parking garage, which always felt like a deathtrap on foot). There's a tiny sliver of private park now on the other side, but it's kind of silly). From my observations - since I've been in the offices looking out on that park for years - the park gets way, way more use now. Even the people in nearby buildings didn't go there when it involved going down to the ground floor of their building, over to a parking garage, and five stories up.

The existence of the park was a concession to the city in the first place; I feel like it mostly demonstrates that the city needs to extract more useful concessions from developers.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 10:49 AM
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31.last: oh, surely. The only thing that was ever cool about that park is that 1) its existence was so mystifying and 2) it was always empty because nobody knew it was there or, if they did, cared to make their way through a shitty parking garage to get to it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 10:59 AM
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Sifu, you've probably mentioned this elsewhere, but how have you been transporting Zardoz in general? Is she old enough for bike trailers etc.? The one thing I regret about our daycare is that it's a 3-minute drive up a hill so steep that I can barely bike it with no trailer, and the street is so narrow (with fast traffic) that it might not be possible with a trailer either, assuming I developed the leg strength. All previous daycare (prior to 18 months) was walkable, however. In general, it was a really unhappy surprise how much our car use increased with a kid, even just one (kid, although also only one car).

19.3: the idea of kids refusing to play outside is hilarious to me -- we're lucky if we can keep ours in the house for more than 2 hours. Our half-duplex is small, though, and somehow the in-home daycare manages to contain her for an entire morning. But I still don't know how the hell we're going to pottytrain her given that she won't stay near a potty for more than half a morning/afternoon before begging to go to the park. It's a function of our public parks being so generally nice that our lifestyle is like this, I suppose.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:03 AM
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33.1: walking, with her in either stroller or carrier. Daycare is only about a mile from here, and my lab is only like a quarter of a mile past that. Supermarket is also about a mile. In general, we only drive when we're going someplace out of town. I do want to get my commuter bike set up so she can ride on it but it hasn't felt terribly urgent, since the walk is easy enough and is about the only exercise I get these days. We'll see how things go this winter; last winter I was definitely happy enough to drive to daycare and park on the street around there when the sidewalks were particularly shitty, but that won't be an option this year (our resident parking for that town is no longer valid).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:07 AM
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Dreamy. I have to stop being such a wuss about biking. I should put a kid seat on my newly-rebuilt mountain bike and just force myself to use it more, since it's really not clear what that year's worth of assembly labor was worth if not something practical like that.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:13 AM
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35: I'm thinking I'm going to get a kid-a-pult (this one) and replace my drops with swept-back bars. I'll probably need to put some gears on there, too, as we live on a relatively steep (that is, steep for Boston) hill and it's already a mild pain in the ass to get up it on the fixed gear while 1. fat and 2. carrying my messenger bag.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:17 AM
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Having the kid up front on the bike is huge. This is the one we used, and I can't recommend it enough.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:29 AM
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the idea of kids refusing to play outside is hilarious to me -- we're lucky if we can keep ours in the house for more than 2 hours. Our half-duplex is small, though, and somehow the in-home daycare manages to contain her for an entire morning.

The difference - and this obviously isn't universal - is that you're going with her outside. (I'm guessing, since she's not yet potty-trained.) I think many kids find it more dreary for them to wander outside on their own or with siblings, since they don't feel like there's something to explore. Or at least, it takes more drive to want to head outside on your own.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:35 AM
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Li'l k., who will be 3 a week from today, is already creeping towards the upper weight limit for a lot of those bike seats, I see. Wonder if I could get her on a trail-a-bike yet? It could go either way -- she loves the Burley trailer, which is kind of a PITA, but is still pretty wary of her giant Skuut bike, which continues to be huge and intimidating (supposed to fit a 2-year-old but her feet even now barely touch the ground -- I think they changed the geometry at some point and the newer ones have lower seats).

38: yeah, I'd believe that, although I also think her personality is part of the overwhelming outward drive. There's a middle school right next to the Rockridge BART station, and the first time I saw it I thought: Jesus, if I had spent eighth grade next to a BART station I would have gotten expelled in short order for disappearing to the city during every recess. (I tried my best at the time, wandering around the suburban void until I was rounded up, but never successfully made it to any part of California.) Judging by early evidence, it's probably for the best that the local middle school is nowhere near the train.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:47 AM
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We used to go out into the yard and try to start fires. We were learning useful skills like how to fail to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together and how to reach the high shelf where dad kept matches.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:58 AM
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I'm thinking I'm going to get a kid-a-pult (this one)

Rather than follow the link I'm just going to assume that you're launching Zardoz to daycare with some kind of trebuchet.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 11:59 AM
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41: the (mostly not fair) knock on kid-in-front seats is that they will indeed act like a trebuchet if you get in a wreck, hence the nickname.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 12:03 PM
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43

I know a man with a blog! http://architectures.danlockton.co.uk/


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 12:04 PM
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44

I'm failing to picture what happened to the park in 1/31/32 to transform it from terrible to mediocre.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 12:53 PM
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44: you can get to it from the google building, rather than via the parking garage, I think. I dunno. I've only been there once.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 1:01 PM
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||

Hawaii's teacher for kindergarten is named Ms. Janky. (Spelled slightly differently but unmistakable pronunciation.) I wonder if that affected her choice of which age to teach.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 2:30 PM
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I see this has already become a kid/bike thread, but the article in the OP is typical of a lot of writing about urban design by architects (and landscape architects). There's certainly something to it, both in general and on this particular topic, but the focus on design above all else tends to lead to an implicit narrowing of the options to address issues. In this example, if the problem your city has is lots of homeless people hanging around the parks (which as Halford says is definitely a problem for everyone, including the homeless themselves), there are more options than "design the parks to be uncomfortable for the homeless" and "design the parks so other people can easily keep an eye on the homeless." You could, for example, try to reduce the number of homeless people by giving them homes. That's not really a design intervention, though (although I suppose someone has to design the homes if you build new ones), so it doesn't tend to show up in discussions like this, but in the real world it's been very successful.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 2:48 PM
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43: there are some really interesting things on that blog! The project on expressing energy use using sound I sent along to an audio engineering maniac, I suspect she'll find it very cool.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 3:45 PM
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49

47: Putting in spikes and buying bus tickets to other cities sounds so much cheaper.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 4:49 PM
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I had a nice view of the garden, now I can only see the small private google slice.
There used to be a guy there who went on the balcony (separate from the park) every day at 3:30pm and did blindfolded tai chi with a pair of nunchucks. He stopped a couple years ago though.
We have two Yepp Maxis for the older kids. Holds the large almost 5 year old no problem, ever works for the almost 10 year old if he keeps his feet up. We have adapters for those on the back of our regular bikes and on the xtracycle. I think we have about 10 different configurations we use between cargo bikes, bikes with seats, tandem, trail-a-bike, and the kids riding their own.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 5:25 PM
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49: Sounds like you'd be a natural for a career in local government.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 5:30 PM
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You'd be surprised how often the bus-thing comes up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 5:36 PM
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Even SF does it - although the local program, I recently learned, only sends people to places where they have a connection and sponsor who can be checked in with. (SF is, of course, a popular destination for other cities to ship people to.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:06 PM
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Business idea: Fraudulent sponsor of homeless bus passengers


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:12 PM
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"Did your boss get ethics but your funding remain set by the inhumane? Call Uncle Hick's House of Hobo Relations."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:23 PM
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I can't keep doing math for a living when I get old.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:33 PM
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57

it's the concussions, isn't it?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:39 PM
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Alcohol. I never hit my head, except the once when I broke a windshield with it. And the other time when a sign on a steel post hit my head.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:41 PM
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oh, well that, too


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 6:49 PM
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I've been trying to explain to my kids the need to protect their brainpans.

they don't seem to get it


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:00 PM
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You could double your profits by running a hobo-placement extortion racket on the back end. "Nice city you got here. It would be a shame if a bus full of hobos should happen to take residence in your public parks...."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:05 PM
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Don't say that part aloud please


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 7:13 PM
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I found a great customer for you tonight. He sprained his wrist last week getting run off the road by a semi, then made the decision this afternoon to chase his painkillers with vodka, then went to the connivance store for some smokes, where he managed to destroy an entire display of bakery items and pull down some candy racks as well.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 8:54 PM
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That wasn't John Cole, was it?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 9:24 PM
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64: If it was it would explain why he (apparently) didn't then get shot by the cops.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-17-14 9:30 PM
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46: Ms. Fatsy was teacher of the quarter at the junior high a few months ago, so clearly it's not always an impediment.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 3:33 AM
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Ooof, that's a tough name.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 3:42 AM
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I've been thinking about trying to get a bike seat for xelA. Currently, though, he's such a nightmare to strap into the buggy/stroller, that I'm wary of even being able to get him in one. London roads, too, although I think the route to his nursery can largely be done along residential streets.

We got him a wee scooter, which he is currently tentatively using in the house, but isn't skilful enough yet to use outside. He refuses to wear his crash helmet.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 3:43 AM
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