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The musings of me

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Why Delaware has so much suburban sprawl.

I wrote this article for Reddit just for the hell of it. *** Someone posted earlier about the annoying amount of over-development and suburban sprawl in Delaware. I thought it would be interesting to go a little bit over the reasons why the system is set up like the way it is, and how the forces of suburbanization have made Delaware into the bedroom community it is today.   Wilmington developed at a steady pace throughout the 1800's- especially during the Civil War, which the du Pont Company really flourished as at the time they were known for gun powder. In 1864, a horse railcar line was developed around Delaware Avenue, which allowed for Wilmington residential development to expand out towards the "country", and leafy residential neighborhoods began to sprout. Note that this would be a continuing pattern for Wilmington's elite- building pretty "country" houses and pushing north of Wilmington.   Soon, the railroad came, as well as the trolley car. This allowed for Wilmington's first official suburb, Elsmere, which was developed in 1886 by Joshua Heald for working middle-class families. Though there were talks for Wilmington annexing Elsmere into their city boundaries, Elsmere had incorporated as its own town by 1909. Wilmington couldn't really do much about it, because they had a weak city charter and New Castle County government would thwart them time after time whenever they tried to expand their borders.   World War I and World War II brought continued prosperity to Wilmington, which reached 112k in population by 1940. Again, given that Wilmington had a weak city charter that made it hard for them to annex surrounding land into their city, a lot of residential development began to spill out of the borders of Wilmington, which was made even easier by the car. It was around this time that the prosperous North Wilmington suburbs were developed, originally for the du Pont company chemists and their families. (Think Alapocas, Greenville, Talleyville, etc.) Meanwhile, the more solidly middle-class suburban development continued out from Elsemere along the newly built Kirkwood Highway. Newark, which had been a relatively small town throughout most of its history, also exploded in population, going from just 6k people in 1950 to over 20k by 1970. The first wave of suburban sprawl began to hit the Newark area as areas such as Brookside were developed.   As the 1950's continued and gave way to the 1960's, suburban development and flight from Wilmington continued. There are a couple of factors for this. The first is that the building of I-95 required demolition of several city neighborhoods, which destabilized the entire area and also made it even easier for people who worked in Wilmington to commute from the suburbs. The second is that the G.I. Bill, which returning WWII vets were using to buy homes, strongly favored new construction in the suburbs as opposed to the older housing stock. Third, the returning G.I.'s and their wives would give birth to what is known as the Baby Boomer Generation. This cohort was so large that entire children-consumer industries sprang up. These G.I.'s preferred to raise their kids in their suburbs, continuing the suburban flight from Wilmington. Finally, the perception of Wilmington being unsafe stemmed from the Wilmington riots of 1968, which led to most of suburban Delaware turning their backs on Wilmington and never looking back. From the 1950's through the 1980's, Wilmington's population would drop from 95k in 1950, down to about 70k by 1990, which is more or less where the population has stabilized.   In the late 1970's, Christiana Mall began to be developed, which drove more development. The success of that mall meant that developers have clamored to build retail in the areas surrounding the mall since, hoping to capture that success as well- you see that today with the new Christiana Fashion Center. The building of nearby Christiana Hospital in 1984-1985 would also be a major driver of development in that region. Another biggie would be MBNA, which was founded in 1982 and became a massive behomoth of a suburban office complex in Ogletown.   Ah, yes, we can't forget about banks, which began a boom in Delaware in the 1980's due to laws passed in 1981 that were favorable to banks. This did in fact led to a lot of office development in Wilmington, but the Baby Boomer bankers preferred living in the suburbs to living in the city. I mean, there were some city neighborhoods that got revived (think 40 Acres/Trolley Square) but by and large the affluence that was being driven by the banking boom of the 80's/90's was going out into the suburbs instead of being invested into the city. At least, beyond the gleaming office towers. The next round of suburban development (the 1980's-1990's) would take place around the Bear/Glasgow area. Originally cheap farmland (this area was big on horses), it became known for townhomes and cookie cutter housing developments. On the more upscale side, the affluent developments around Hockessin began to pop up as well. Both of these areas were not incorporated, which meant that developers did not need to go through city laws/city councils in order to get their developments approved- just having to deal with the city. I grew up in Bear during the 2000's, and I remember my jaw dropping when someone told me that Bear had largely been the "country" back in the 80's. You can still see some remnants of its past (I remember seeing some horse farms close to Old Porter Road) but man.   Anyway, another really, really huge factor in the suburban sprawl deal in Delaware comes up in the 1990's. That would be the construction of Route 1. Originally built to bypass Route 13 and create a faster route to the beach, this would help the MOT area (Middletown, Odessa, Townsend) explode in population, as it was now a more convenient area to commute from. Middletown had 3k people in 1990, now it's up to over 20k, and that's just within the city limits. One difference in the suburban sprawl story of Middletown is that the mayor of the 1990's actually set this in motion on purpose, because Middletown was a dying farming town. The town began to aggressively annex surrounding areas so they would benefit from the building of the housing developments and strip malls. This would led to Middletown's population growing by 206 percent between 2000 to 2010. Not that there hasn't been some pushback- in 1999 Middletown residents rejected a school referendum purely as an attempt to stop the suburban development, but of course, it didn't really work.   Route 1 has been a major driver of suburban development all across the state for the past 20 years. I lived in Dover from 2005-2006, and I remember there was a lot of suburbs getting built around the former farmland. Downstate also saw a lot of this growth, particularly with the beach areas, although that growth hasn't extended out to the western part of Sussex County. One thing that began to happen, especially during that 2000's real estate boom, is that developers in New Castle County started talking about "re-developing" golf courses, nature preserves, and former office complexes, particularly in the more crowded part above the canal. One particularly nasty fight occurred when the Stoltz Company wanted to build a 13-story tower in Greenville at the former Barley Mill Office complex, and basically the residents banded together to sue them 'til kingdom come until those plans were dropped. Another really controversial move has been talk abut re-developing the Newark Country Club, which has been bandied about for at least the past 15 years but it keeps getting thwarted. I also remember there were some whispers about developing in Bellevue Park around this area, although I don't know if that came to fruition.   The Great Recession did put a damper for a while for suburban development in Delaware. Development has come back, but if you notice, a lot of what's getting built currently are townhomes aimed at seniors as well as apartment buildings. (Notably, the Newark student apartment buildings that everyone likes to bitch about.) You're not seeing as many plans for McMansion developments the way you would have back in the 90's and the 2000's.   Anyways... 1.) Delaware has always been a really convenient place to travel through when it comes to go to Philly, D.C./Baltimore, or New York City. This convenience has only increased with the building of roads like I-95 and Route 1. (Probably the new 301 is really going to jumpstart some new suburban sprawl as well.) 2.) Delaware has historically stayed away from compact urban development. Newark was originally a sleepy town that had a small college. Dover was small town until the 1970's. A lot of Delaware was rural for most of our history. (Still shocked at the thought of Bear being a sleepy little farming community as recently as the 80's.) Our only "big" city is Wilmington, and even when they had 100k residents, they weren't building tall apartment buildings- note the row-homes and townhomes. 3.) Developers like building on flat, open spaces, which Delaware had/has a lot of because we had so many farms. And we are largely on the Atlantic Coastal plain. 4.) Wilmington lost 40k people in the course of about 50 years, and been unable to entice people to come back. One interesting fact- in 1940, Wilmington had 112k people. Delaware itself only had 266k people. That means that over 40 percent of the entire state of Delaware lived in Wilmington in 1940. Now that percentage is down to about 7 percent! 5.) Government, especially in New Castle County, has a really, really hard time saying no to developers. There's also this mindset of not thinking ahead. I've learned in the Memories of Newark group that in the 1960's, the Newark City Council was floating the idea of building a by-pass that would have gone around the Main Street area. Sort of similar to what's going on right now with the 301, which is going to by-pass the current 301 that goes through Middletown. It was floated because at the time, Newark was booming, and the traffic problems we see today started to appear. However, the city council voted it down because they thought it was unnecessary. Today, the proposed bypass would be impossible because most of that land got developed, so Newarkers today basically have to pay for the mistakes that were made 50 years ago. And you see similar stories to that again and again- developers getting their way and our government not making them put in the infrastructure needed because they don't want to lose the development deals.   So yeah, there you have it. It's basically almost inevitable that Delaware basically is the way it is. We're basically just reaping what Elsmere sowed back in the early 1900's when they refused to become part of Wilmington because they didn't want to pay city taxes. TL;DR: Delaware's life as a suburban bedroom community is the result of forces that were set in motion as early as the 19th century. Edited...looks like people want some sources so here's a couple: "Corporate Capital- Wilmington in the 20th Century" by Carol Hoffecker, Temple University Press, 1983. Wilmington DE population Newark DE Population Dover DE Historical Population Delaware population figures Middletown DE Wikpedia Page Save Our County- Website for the group that fought the Stoltz Company tooth and nail over the proposed Greenville development Push for country park on former orphanage site remains strong, Newark Post Online 2017 West Main Street Residents Want By-pass, Newark Post Achives September 2,1994 Christiana Fashion Center's first phase on target, Delaware Business Times March 2015 Northern Delaware's Christiana Mall remains resistant to retail's rough patch, BisNow 2018 Banking Haven- Washington Post 1983 Middletown, Delaware Annexing Farmland- New York Times 1990 Market Street Renaissance- Out & About, October 2015 Developers Target Delaware Golf Courses January 2016 *** Growing up as suburban kid...I wouldn't have it any other way. I fucking LOVED hanging out at the mall growing up. I don't know if I would have liked being a city kid, or being in some small cow town or something.
 

Adulthood Sucks

Can someone make it stop? Please?

Ugh. I miss the days when I only really cared about the next party I was going to and whether or not I'd pass my classes.

Backstory:

I've been using Medicaid since 2015. I got rejected for this year because I made 61 cents over the limit. 61 cents.

So now basically I need to work less if I want to get my Medicaid back, or I have to buy insurance on the Marketplace. And I've got to get this all done by June 21st or else I won't be able to get discounted insurance on the Marketplace.

Although I guess it's progress that I'm now on the edge of eligibility. I mean, in 2014, I made like 2500 dollars total.   Anyway, I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks trying to work less, and then I'll re-apply for Medicaid. I really only care about this because I don't want to pay the tax penalty.
 

I Just Won Volunteer Of the Year at My Museum

We had our opening today and I got named Volunteer of the Year. Pretty proud of that. I have a plaque and everything. Nice cap to 5 years of service to them this May.   The immature, spiteful part of me wants to snap a photo of my plaque and send it in an email to the archives that canned me as a intern 4 years ago with the capture, "Fuck you", but gladly I've learned a lot in the past few years.   It's been a pretty gratifying experience in general. Volunteer work can really enhance a person's life if it's done right and at the right place.
 

The Eagles Win the Super Bowl!

Joy. Just pure joy. I'm sitting here in my living room (I decided not to go out because I honestly don't want to deal with crazy crowds) and I'm just savoring the moment.     I am so proud of this team, and I'll never forget this moment. E-A-G-L-E-S!!!

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

My Life During the First Quarter of 2017

Wow, it's been awhile since I updated. I usually don't go that long with this blog. Hmm.   Winter was alright; early spring has been as well. My life has a general pattern right now- work, watching YouTube videos a lot, strolling Netflix, using my employee pass at the movies. On the weekends I have off, I usually will go into the city of Wilmington to catch either a play or a movie at either Theater N or Penn Cinema on the Riverfront. Possibly a beer or two every weekly or bi-weekly.   It's a big cry from my heady days as a young college student, but eh, it kind of works for me. I find lately that I really enjoying being solitary, and not having to expend the energy to be Fun Loveable College Slacker Party Boy anymore. (I can still be that guy every once in a blue moon, but I feel a lot more relaxed now.)   I do think a lot about where I'm going to go next. I've spent almost 2 years at this crummy (but ultimately easy and sometimes even fun) job being a movie concessionaire. Funny that Day 3 I was ready to quit; now here I am two years later at the same place. It's soul-crushing at times, but hey, a boy's got to eat, right?   I don't know what or where or how I'm going to go to that next place. I've gotten pretty comfortable treading water, and it all still kind of works for me.   The 5th anniversary of my grad school graduation is in May. Crazy, right? Thankfully, I did do volunteer work to keep my degree relevant, but I do wonder if I might wind up getting a certificate or something and doing something else. I have to see where things go. I find I don't feel a rush to get there.   In my late 20's, I was so full of anxiety about making things happen and breaking into my field. (I think that's why I had my breakdown when my internship fell apart 3 years ago.) I felt like I was on some kind of timeline.   At my early 30's, I just kind of feel...cool. I guess. Things will happen when they happen. Life has a funny way of dragging you into where you need to go and what you need to do.   Anyway, by some dumb mistake, I'm stuck watching a musical called Once at the DuPont Theater in Wilmington more than I planned on seeing it. I meant to get the Saturday matinee, but I accidentally bought the Sunday matinee. I then bought the Saturday matinee ticket and hoped I could get someone to buy the Sunday matinee ticket off me for twenty dollars off, but no dice.   It kind of sucks because I was planning on going to the season opening of the museum I volunteer with, but if I blow this off, I'm throwing 63 credit card dollars down the drain.   So yeah, it looks like I'll be seeing Once twice. ;-)

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

32 Candles

Okay, so tonight I celebrated my 32nd birthday with my niece who just turned 23. (She was born the day before my 9th birthday- I on December 7th and she on December 6th.) My family has been doing joint birthdays for us forever. This year, we were having it at Red Robin. So it's me, my mom, 2 sisters, 2 brother-in-laws, 3 nieces, and 2 nephews. One sister (the one with the daughter turning 23) and her entire family is basically on a vegan diet.   So me and my mom show up late, which is strike 1. I thought we were supposed to be there at 6:30, but it was apparently 5:30. Then my vegan sister bitches about my mom bringing an ice cream cake, which is strike 2, because she got this custom ordered vegan cake. I knew that would happen, so I asked my mom to get me just a small ice cream cake that would just be for me and maybe her and my non-vegan sister, and that would be it. She didn't listen to me, and instead got a larger cake that could serve 8-10 people and had my niece's name put on it along with mine. (Which I told my mom repeatedly before that the niece wouldn't eat because she's vegan.) Then my mom, who is braindead with social cues, decides to make jokes about my Vegan Sister's lifestyle, which again brought out her pouty face. Strike 3 happened when my mom didn't finish her cake, and the nephew that is on the Vegan Diet threw a hissyfit because his mother wouldn't allow him to eat the cake. The sister then just picked up a bottle of ketchup and squirted it on the leftover ice cream cake. She basically seemed to be starring daggers at me and Mom as we left.   I was pissed because so much of this could have been avoided if my mom had actually listened to me when I told her that she only needed to get a 4 person cake. The only reason why I asked was because I knew that otherwise I'd have to have the niece's vegan cake, and I wanted my own little non-vegan cake. I'm also just pissed that this stuff always seems to be a big fucking issue whenever we have family get-togethers, to the point where my mom actually hosted a secret Thanksgiving dinner not on actual Thanksgiving and didn't invite my Vegan sister and her family to. The problem is that her son (he's about to turn 5) throws all these little hissyfits about not getting to eat non-vegan food whenever we have get-togethers. Like tonight he kept staring at the Caravel ice cake in its box and then he tried pouncing on the leftovers of my mom's slice of the ice cream cake. So therefore the Vegan sister continually tries getting us to not bring non-vegan food to family events.   I kind of wish I had done what I did last year and just celebrated my birthday by taking up a train to Philadelphia and hanging out around Center City for an afternoon. FAR less stressful.   But yeah. I just feel pissed. Honestly, I didn't even give a shit about getting a cake. I'm just tired of feeling like I have to kow-tow to my sister's vegan diet at every single fucking turn, to the point of her trying to rope me into eating a cake I don't want to eat because it's "for everyone." That's why I tried having another cake brought in that would have just been for me.   And I just get tired of my mom not listening to me. She insisted on getting this bigger cake, that I knew was mostly going to go waste, and then snapped at me when I pointed that out to her. Then she admitted after we got home that I was right, and she should have gotten the smaller cake.   Anyway. Yeah, I don't think I want to do this kind of thing anymore, if it means having to go through THAT again. I'm 32 anyway- I really don't need birthday cakes and the candles and all that anymore. I won't have my next milestone birthday for another 3 years.

I think for 33 I might just go to Philly or Baltimore or DC or something. Who the fuck knows? What I do know is that I don't want a repeat of THAT shitshow.

For my actual 32nd birthday I quietly had a celebration wacky wheat beer at Stewart's Brewing Company and then saw the Disaster Artist at Regal People's Plaza. That was nice. I'll just hold on to that. The next night, I met up with my friend Shana at Brio Tuscan Grill and had a few drinks before going to the holiday party at the theater. That was fun, too. I even got a handmade card from a few of the managers.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Halloween Loop 2017

Last night I went on the Wilmington Halloween Bar Loop, for my 4th year doing it. It was a really good time- I flew solo again and dropped about 59 dollars total on Uber. (My belief has always been paying 50 to 100 dollars on a cab ride is much, much cheaper than a DUI.)   I hit up Chelsea Tavern, Ernest and Scott Taproom, a Mexican bar, Trolley Tap House, Catherine Rooney's, and Trolley Oyster House. The Loop is no longer utilizing the buses as a free shuttle, so I decided not to hit up the Firestone Roasting House on the Riverfront like I did last year.    I stuck to a reasonable 6 drinks. My tolerance level is vastly reduced and I didn't feel like puking. I went as a Blue Barracuda from Legends of the Hidden Temple, which was fun. I did not think anybody would remember that show, but I got a shit ton of compliments from people that night about my costume. Two people even took a picture of me. One really cool moment happened when I found another guy dressed up as a Blue Barracuda. We joked about being each other's missing teammates, and people complimented us on being total randos that just happened to be teammates. LOL.   It was a fun night. Definitely better than last year, when absolutely only one person got that I was Dustin from Stranger Things, and I broke my phone when I dropped it at the Trolley Square Oyster House. I was lucky enough that I was able to hail a taxi, but yeah, it wasn't nice having to replace my phone.   I don't really do the party thing anymore, but it's fun to go back to your old party boy self every once in awhile.    

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Seeing the Partial Eclipse

On Monday, August 21st I got to see the solar eclipse. In my area, it was about 77 percent coverage, so just a partial one, but still incredible to watch. I got off work around 1:17, and drove over to the Glasgow County Park on Route 40. There's a little running hill where I went to the top and watched it with about 20 or so people. It was pretty cool- absolutely amazing to watch the sun turn into a little tangerine slice.   Definitely won't forget it, for sure.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Elders React To Young Photos of Themselves

In this episode of React, the elders of the show react to photos taken of them when they were young.   I thought it was pretty touching, especially the guy who realized that all of the friends that were with him in the mountaintop photo were all passed on.   And it was interesting watching them react to their 30's/40's photos and about how much energy they had...there's something I think is pretty cool about these particular decade's of one's life, and it kind of felt like they concurred to that theory I had. And it made me think, "Hey, I might not be 21 anymore, but I've still got some great decades ahead of me."   I do a lot of interaction with older people in my life due to my volunteer work with the local history museum. I really do get such a kick out of hearing where they've been and what they've done in life- my favorite volunteer was a man in his late 80's/early 90's who was a local artist and also fought in World War II.   It's also fun to picture what older people were like when they were young- some people have such a zest for life that it's really easy to picture them young, and some just seem eternally grumpy.   Anyway...that's pretty cool of FineBros to give the elders a platform on a space that tends to skew pretty young. As much as I like Smosh or Jenna Marbles, it's nice to see people over a certain age sharing their viewpoints and stories on YouTube.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Officer Shot, Killed At WaWa Store in Bear, Delaware

Freaky shit.   Officer Shot, Killed at Convenience Store in Bear, DE   This stuff happens, but there's something surreal about this one for me because I am very familiar with the store. I used to walk there all the time when I was a kid because I lived like a 10-minute walk there back then. I also pretty much always get my gas from that WaWa- I'm usually at that store at least once a week or two weeks.   This very pro-NRA conservative type posted a video about witnessing the shooting:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpy85ir4wcY   I can't even imagine how I'd react in that kind of situation.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Well, the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend is upon us...I guess my biggest "Thanks" is for the fact that I'm in generally decent health and I'm still gainfully employed, even if I'm not making too much.   I pretty much worked on Thanksgiving morning, and then I went over to my Vegan Sister's house for a Vegan Thanksgiving. It wasn't too bad. Then today my mother and I cooked dinner for my other sister, who brought her family over. We were able to facetime with my sister and niece who live in California. It was fun and generally low-key.   Right now I'm listening to some mid-90's music ("Crazy Life" by Toad the Wet Sprockett) and just thinking about the Thanksgivings when we were all kids (or just barely out of that) and we all basically lived together. Twenty years ago, back in '95 or '96, we all (me, my mom, my 3 sisters, my oldest niece, and a verging-on-ex husband of my oldest sister's) lived in this townhouse. I remember it being pretty fun- the turkey refused to cook because it was frozen, but we sat around and had fun and watched Winona Ryder "Little Women's" and played Monopoly after dinner. That was such a huge thing for us.   I miss that- everyone's kind of scattered off into their own thing and own lives now, and beyond that, Sister 1 and Sister 2 aren't talking over some dumb-ass issue I'm not going to get into, and we basically had this split Thanksgiving because of it. And my mom's 70 now and I'm realizing more than ever that I probably won't get decades more of memories with her, and some day making Thanksgiving dinner with her is going to be a memory that I'll have to hold on to and cherish because she won't be here. Maybe before my 30's are out.   But yeah, I miss those Holidays. I really do. I guess you just miss childhood in general, but I think back in that time, we had managed to come back together after the absolute hell that my dad had put us through. He was gone, we were all living together, my oldest sister was doing fun things like taking us to the zoo or the movies while the Smashing Pumpkins or the Goo-Goo Dolls played on her car stereo, and there wasn't all these adult concerns and adult worries and adult squabblings. A great Christmas present (I think mine for that year was a Goosebumps ice cream machine) and everything in the world was perfect for a moment. I don't get those moments any more.   Of course, things weren't perfect and I'm definitely looking through things with rose-tinted glasses (my mom's gambling addiction was still there, we could barely afford that townhouse, those 3 sisters still fought quite a lot, and the oldest sister was basically on the verge of dumping her first husband), but I still wish I could spend a moment back in Thanksgiving 1995/6.   What are some of your happiest Holiday season memories from your life?

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Utterly Disgusted Right Now

So over 40 million people decided to hand over control of the country to a racist, homophobic, sexist xenophobe who starred on a realty show.   I fucking blame the DNC for failing to connect Hilary with the voters.   Just disgusted. Completely and totally disgusted. I think I'm done with caring about politics. May God help us through these next four years. Or actually, may god help Trump when the working class straight white males who voted for him realize that he isn't actually going to bring back manufacturing jobs.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Stranger Things

I finally broke down and got Netflix so I could watch Stranger Things, which is kind of like an homage to 1970's/1980's sci-fi teen fantasy movies/books. It's about a nerdy group of middle school friends in small town America 1983, when one of the group goes mysteriously missing.   Some big nostalgia factor- aside from being set in '83, it's also got 80's teen stars Matthew Modine and Winona Ryder. Winona especially turns in quite the performance as a single mom slowly but surely coming apart at the seams as the horror of realizing her son has gone missing.   I'm on the 4th episode currently- it's been pretty true to the early 1980's setting other than some anachronisms, like playing "Hazy Shade of Winter", a 1987 song, or someone calling another person a "douchebag", which is more late 90's slang. I'm pretty thrilled by that- nothing's more annoying than watching a period piece where they completely bungle the setting and don't get it right, like 'The Carrie Diaries". But yeah, watching the show, they really get that "First-Term Reagan America" ennui right, with the girls in the prairie blouses and long tartan skirts and the guys in tight jeans and pattern/colored polo shirts and the way the cars/houses look. Still lots of traces of the 70's, but slowly fading out.   The soundtrack has been pretty fun- they played one of my favorite songs...the melancholy .  Anyone else watching it?

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Music Monday- Summer Of '69 By Bryan Adams

Alright, this is my offer for Music Monday...a nice little uptempto pop rock song about nostalgia and the beauty of youth:
Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams   A snippet of this is currently playing on the advertisement screen at my work; I think as part of some classic 80's playlist. I started singing along to it, and my co-worker Devan, who's this funny sarcastic Mormon, looked at me and said, "Well, you can actually remember 1969, can't you?"   Ooh, burn. I flipped him off. Then, I started laughing hysterically, and thought about all the times I'd say stuff like that to Adam when he was 30-ish and I was 23-ish, similarly to the current age gap between Devan and I. Only I'm on the wrong side of it now. LOL.
But yeah, I was like, "This song was a big hit the year I was born so I feel an affinity for it," and he was like, "Well, I have a brother who was born in 1989." Nobody there knew the song, and I realized it's because 80's nights and 80's parties just aren't really a thing like they were back when I was 21. And MTV/VH1 aren't airing retrospective 80's music videos anymore like they did when I was growing up.
Anyway, it made me laugh and it made me think, "Wow, karma is a BITCH."

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Obscure Oldie- "fascination" By The Human League

The Human League were an 80's British synthpop band, best known for their 1982 monster hit, "Don't You Want Me." They had some other, lesser-known songs, including this top 10 hit from 1983:     Man, Phil Oakley rocked the hell out of the 80's androgynous look. And this is just a song that would be fun as hell to dance to.   The thing of note about them is that the two female back-up singers/dancers were just ordinary teenaged girls that Phil found dancing at a night club, and asked him to join a band.   Any of you guys remember this now-obscure oldie?

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

His Casual Acquaintance (Revised)

I wrote this story awhile back, but decided to revise it and clean it up a little. Tell me what you guys think!   ****
I have this friend, Greg. One day, he talked to me about a curious encounter with someone that still gives him the creeps.
When Greg was a young boy in his teens, he went to high school in the South. Greg had this friend Barry. Barry was this really hot guy, so much so that, "The sidewalks just sizzled under his feet." As a popular guy, Barry would throw parties that all kinds of people went to. This was how Greg got to know David.   David was a cute guy with long blond hair that came just off his shoulders. David seemed nice enough, but was also led pretty easily by other people. He was friends with Barry, so Greg would see him a lot socially at various parties that were being thrown at various houses. Both David and Greg had long hair. According to Greg, having long hair back then meant you were into smoking pot, or you were at least sympathetic to those that did. Greg didn't smoke at that particular time (he had a couple years earlier), but David did, and they both had a few things in common that led to small talk while they partied. Nothing too heavy or serious. Greg just remembers David would bale out of the parties at one point to take care of some business, whatever that was. He never seemed to stay late, and always excused himself to leave for something.   Hanging out with David was always pretty normal and followed that same pattern- small talk about life, David lighting up a joint while Greg drank, and then David leaving for whatever it was that he did. Except one night during a lull in conversation, Greg noticed David staring at him intensely.   You know that instinct thing? Well, Greg described the feeling as being there. He had that feeling once before- Greg was hitching a ride, and the guy who picked him up kept talking about going to a party. The whole thing kept getting weirder and weirder, so he excused himself when they hit a stoplight.   That feeling was back in full force when Greg noticed David staring at him. It gave him the creeps, and that's when Greg decided that it would be for the best that he didn't get too close to David.   Anyway, Greg didn't spend his summers in Houston, where he lived at the time. Instead, he spent them in Portland with his godfather. So late one summer up in Portland, who does Greg see on his t.v. but his casual party buddy, David Owen Brooks. He and another teenager, Elmer Wayne Henley, had assisted a local Houston man named Dean Corll in raping and murdering up to two dozen young boys over the past couple years. Their M.O. was to invite boys over to a "party", overpower them, chain them to a board, and torture them before killing them.   One night in August 1973, Elmer Wayne Henley finally put an end to it and shot Dean Corll, and everything unraveled after that as they helped the police begin to dig up the bodies. It made national news, and every night another detail, another victim was revealed. They mostly buried their victims under a boat shed, or in various beaches around the area. Forty years later, they're still trying to identify victims, and it's believed that the true victim count is much higher than 28.   Before you ask, Barry wasn't a victim, and Greg never met Corll or Henley. Brooks insisted that he only watched the murders but never participated. Didn't help him that much- he's still serving time in jail, likely for the rest of his life.   Greg said of this this period of his life, "In some ways, it's better to not be drop-dead attractive. Any more attention from the guy, I coulda been in that boat shed."   I don't think Greg gives himself enough credit though- I think Greg had strong "instinct", whatever that is, and that David likely knew that about him, which is why he never targeted him.   In any event, Greg was lucky as hell that he was never invited to a private party with that particular trio of people. Thank god David was never more than his casual acquaintance.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

"i Had A Dream I Kidnapped You And Kept You Forever" In Another Medium

Awhile back, I wrote a story about a scary occurrence that happened to my friend Jack. You can read about that here.   Anyway, the story has been read by Unit 522, a YouTuber who specializes in reading creepy stories. He did it in a collaboration with HauntingStories. Check it out here: (the story starts at the 5:24 mark)     I think he did a great job with it. Such a crazy, creepy tale.

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methodwriter85

 

"I Had A Fantasy That I Kidnapped You And Kept You Forever."

I have this close friend, Jack, who relayed to me a pretty terrifying tale of something that happened to his friend a long time ago. My mentor, Jack, is now a retired former HR community college guy in his mid- 60's.   Thirty years ago, however, Jack was working as a bartender in a bar in Portland's gay community. That's how Jack met Randy. Randy was a good-looking, well-spoken customer in his mid-20's...pretty attractive 80's preppy type. Randy lived close to Jack, and the two went on a couple of dates for a few weeks. Randy was relatively new to Portland, having moved there a few years ago after his parents in small-town Connecticut flipped out about him being gay and tried to commit him to an institution.   They were dating casually- just hanging out at Jack's apartment, going to brunch at a local cafe, seeing movies together...that type of deal. About a month into this, Jack was shocked when he discovered that this clean-shaven college graduate was working the streets of Portland as a hustler. You see, while we think of Portland as being a hipster haven now, back in the 1980's, there were a lot of seedy elements to the town, and that included the gay underground prostitution scene.   The revelation about Randy's "career" happened this way- Randy called Jack one night and asked him if he could come over. He showed up at Jack's apartment, pretty distressed.   Randy confessed to Jack that he was a prostitute, and then relayed a wild tale about something that had happened to him the night before with a client. He refused to name who it was, but told Jack that it was a very prominent local businessmen- someone that was very high-profile in mid-1980's Portland. The client was into S&M/bondage stuff, and Randy had seen him about once a month for a year. The previous night, after they concluded their scene, the client said to Randy, "I had a fantasy that I kidnapped you and kept you forever." He asked Randy if he wanted to live here with him.   Of course, Randy said,"No way", and the guy got angry. The chauffeur drove Randy home, which was in hindsight a huge mistake. The client now knew where he lived.   Earlier that evening Randy was headed home, but before he got to his apartment, Randy noticed his client's limo parked down the street from his building. Randy noped the fuck of there and ate dinner elsewhere. But when he went home, the limo was still there with the chauffeur sitting in the car.   That's when he decided to go over to Jack's place and confess everything. Randy was completely terrified now- he tried to laugh it off as some dumb joke, but the fact that the chauffeur had spent hours parked in the same spot a few blocks from his apartment building was scary as hell. Randy begged if he could stay in Jack's place for a few days so this could die down. Even though Jack was totally surprised and pretty confused about all this, he let him stay at his place until a few days later Randy called him at work and told Jack he'd decided to go back to his apartment. Randy said he'd call Jack later in the week about a movie they were planning to see that weekend.   Jack never heard from him again.   When Jack went to his apartment building a few days later to check on Randy, the building manager said that Randy had moved out. After that, there wasn't much Jack could do- Randy didn't tell him who the guy was, and he didn't know much about Randy's background except for some vague idea of where he came from. And this was, again, the 1980's- policemen were not going to make a big deal about some male prostitute that went missing.   Jack kept hoping that he'd get a call from Randy at some exotic locale, but as days turned into weeks turned into years turned into a quarter-century, he's stopped expecting that call.   Hopefully, Randy just skipped town...maybe he ran all the back to Connecticut, found some sympathetic family member who helped get him on his feet, and he's put all of this behind him, and he's just some regular 50-something guy now with a regular career and regular concerns.   Or maybe he's not.   And Jack will never know.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Talia Jane- Entitled Millennial Or A Martyr For Today's Economy?

So, this Yelp employee named Talia Jane complained about her salary on a blog post. Then she got fired. Stefanie Williams, a writer and fellow Millennial with about 5 extra years of life experience, ripped into her with this invective.   To add on to this dogpile, a Gen Xer with 7 years of extra life experience ripped on Stefanie Williams for her own sense of entitlement and jumping to conclusions about someone's life. Here it is:   36-year Old Gen Xer DESTROYS 29-Year Old Millennial Who "Ripped" A 25-Year Old Former Yelp Employee by Sara Lynn Michener   It's an interesting debate- what is a living wage, and why do so many people who are college-educated and employee with big companies having to struggle with making ends meet?   Should companies have the responsibility to pay their entry-level workers enough money to live in cities that have cost-of-living?   Another question I have- what happens to San Francisco (and other cities like it) if young people can even afford to live there?

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Me Before You Movie Trailer

The trailer for Me Before You just dropped...it's pretty good. If you're not familiar with the story, it's based on a book written by JoJo Moyes. It focuses on a young woman from a small town who becomes a hired caregiver to a recently-disabled man. It stars Emilia Clarke (Games of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games). Here's the trailer:     I read the book once for a library book club...it was a pretty engrossing read. The set-up seems like an insipid romantic dramedy, but it manages to be much better than that. Punched me to the gut, I'll say.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Fleeing Your Student Loans By Going Overseas?

In a time when high student loans and a shaky economy have made it harder for borrowers to pay them off, some Millennials have found a solution...flee to Europe and never live in the U.S. again! The article below talks about the young Americans who are making their life overseas in the hopes of being free of their student loans.   Meet the Americans Who Moved To Europe to Bail on their Students Loans   Honestly, it's a definite fantasy of mine...escaping my student loans. I have fantasized about faking my own death, and then moving to Canada to live a debt-free life as a bohemian actor named Justin Baroque in Toronto. I also have dreams of traveling back in time to 2005, and convincing Young Jeremy that it's not really worth it to live on campus at a 4-year college, and that he'd be better off going to community college and living at home for two years before transferring to UD.   That part of me finds these people pretty cool, and with a lot of chutzpah to be able to chuck it all and live a new life somewhere else, free of the burdens of their old life. The other part of me thinks it's pretty irresponsible, and that a big part of being a grown-up is living up to your responsibilities. When you took out those loans, you said you'd pay them back.   In my case, I've focused on paying back the private student loans...haven't really touched the federal ones yet. I originally owed about 5k to Wells Fargo, spread over four loans. I'm now down to one loan totaling about $1,883. I mean, 3k is nothing, really, but I'm pretty proud of it regardless, especially given how spotty my employment has been. I'm hoping that I can get my loans forgiven a couple of decades down the line, but I'll definitely try my best to honor my commitment here.   I mean, really, it's the only commitment I have in my life. If I can't handle one, I don't think I'd be able to handle all the other ones that you're supposed to take on as a mark of adulthood (marriage, house, etc etc) so I figure it's character-building.   So, do you think it's okay for people to escape their student loans by fleeing the country? Is it something that you would do, or something you'd encourage your kids to do? Sound off below!

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Snowed In Thoughts & The State Of Me In 2016

So, I'm stuck in this blizzard hitting the East Coast right now. I'm alone in the house, as my mother is staying at the nursing home she works at.   I've got some beef stew roasting, thoughts of brownie-making in the future, and a belief that I will likely chase some shots of rum with hard cider while I watch some movies.   Alone with my thoughts, I thought I'd go over where I'm at right now, as a newly-minted 30-nothing, and where I want to be, and the general confusion I still have.   First of all, I feel closer to myself than I have in a long time. I got hit with such devastatingly depressing things in a very short time period- unable to get a job for all of 2013, my very close friend dying at the end of 2013, the humiliation of my failed internship in summer 2014, the turmoil of the weekend where I went to my friend's memorial in August 2014, and watching a hospice get set up in my house while my mother's elderly live-in boyfriend died of cancer at the beginning of 2015. (And then watching as my mother realized that he left absolutely nothing for her and didn't do anything to help her get past it.)   That took A LOT out of me. I'm still not the happy-go-lucky, cheerful guy thrilled at all the new life experiences that I used to be, but I'm getting a lot closer to him than I was for a solid year and a half of my life. I joke around again. I'm able to be silly again. And though I still get these little grief attacks, when I get sad thinking about lost friends and lost opportunities, I'm able to get past it after a few hours as opposed to just staying in my house refusing to go out or live. I feel so much more like me than I have in a long time- a little wiser, a little more weary- but still me. It's a relief after feeling like Pod Jeremy for the past year or two.   As for my current state of life, working in a movie theater retail job kind of sucks. I'm being bossed around by teenaged managers, and when I'm cleaning up some garbage spill, I just think to myself, "I'm using my 80k education for THIS?" On the other hand, it is steady work, and I'm keeping up with my bills. It's also kind of fun, in some ways, to be around so many young people. I get a kick out of being the "old guy" to a bunch of those whippersnappers who were born in the mid/late 1990's, and I love getting to see so many movies for free. I also think it's been great "social training", because on some days you have to deal with a big mass of people and you need to make pretty quick judgements about reading their mannerisms and facial expressions in case one might be a bit testy.   I'm making some tentative plans for employment that actually fits a grown-up, but eh. I don't know. That's where my confusion is. I still really want to work in a museum, but I know that in order to do that, I need to leave Delaware. And I'm thinking a lot about what alternative plans I might be able to make.   Right now, I'm thinking about two paths- either finally deciding to go for the PhD in history and going on the professor track, or perhaps considering a career in something like urban planning, a topic that has always interested me. I don't think I can bring myself to go for another bachelor's degree- it'll be either a master degree or finally going for that PhD.   I'm just not sure yet. And I feel like I should have this figured out at 30, but I don't. I look at my old high school and college friends who are settled down, with careers and families and houses and mortgages...I don't know. Some ways I envy that, but in other ways, I'm glad that my life path is still kind of a big unknown at this point.   Sometimes I feel like a dried up, old man who is stuck in some dead-end life because of so many things that he screwed up, but other times, I feel like a young man still with a lot of his life ahead of him, even though his 20's are now in his past. A little while back, I had this really great conversation with a random stranger at the bar who basically told me, "You don't know what you want to do with your life yet, but you're young and that's okay. At 45, you won't be, but for now, you're still young and you've got a lot ahead of you."   I do know the life I want for myself- I'd love to live in some efficiency apartment in some city, maybe a microcondo, I actually love the idea of living in something like the Arcade in Providence:     Not sure what else...I just know that I'm not really jonsing for some kind of happy suburban existence with a husband and 2 kids and a dog. Not really my bag. I want something difference...just not sure yet.   I think it's okay that I'm not sure yet, despite a lot of people who tell me that I need to have a "real job" and "real life" now that I'm 30. I'll figure it out.   I think, anyway. In the meantime, I just want to enjoy where I'm at and do what I can, in little ways, to prepare for whatever's next. I've got a whole new decade ahead of, you know?

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

His Casual Acquaintance- A Halloween Story

Awhile back, a fellow GA member told me the story of a party buddy he used to have, and a curiosity surrounding him late one summer that still gives him chills to this day. Here's the story:   His Casual Acquaintance   When Greg was in his teens, he went to high school in the South. It was the early 1970's, and his hair was long- all the way to the back. Back then, having long hair meant that you smoked pot. At least the old folks thought you did, anyway. It was a sign that you weren't willing to confirm to regular society.   Greg had this friend Barry. Barry was this really hot guy, so effin' hot that as Greg put it, "The sidewalks just sizzled under his feet." As a popular hot guy, Barry would throw parties, and that was how Greg got to know David.   David was a cute guy with long blond hair that came just off his shoulders. Greg described him as someone who was kind of easily led, though. He was friends with Barry, so Greg would see him a lot socially at various parties that were being thrown at various houses. They both had long hair, and back then it was a sign you were into smoking pot, or were sympathetic to those who did. Greg didn't smoke at that particular time (he had a couple years earlier), but David did, and they both had a few things in common that led to small talk while they partied. Mostly, Greg just remembers David would bale out of the parties at one point to take care of some business, whatever that was. Nothing too intense, really- just some regular party buddy talk and then David excusing himself for some reason or another.   Except one night, Greg noticed David staring at him, hard. Like, that eyes-in-the-back-your-head kind of feeling came over Greg.
You know that instinct thing? Well, Greg described the feeling as being there. He had that feeling once before- Greg was hitching a ride, and the guy who picked him up kept talking about going to a party. The whole thing kept getting weirder and weirder, so he excused himself when they hit a stoplight. So that feeling was back and Greg knew it'd be best if he didn't get too close to David.   Anyway, Greg didn't spend his summers in Houston, where he lived at the time. Instead, he spent them in Portland with his godfather.
So late one summer up in Portland, who does Greg see on his t.v. but his casual party buddy, David Owen Brooks. He and another teenager, Elmer Wayne Henley, had assisted a local Houston man named Dean Corll in murdering up to two dozen young boys over the past couple years. One night in August 1973, Elmer Wayne Henley finally put an end to it and shot the guy, and everything unraveled after that as they helped the police begin to dig up the bodies. It made national news, and every night another detail, another victim was revealed. They mostly buried their victims under a boat shed, or in various beaches around the area. Forty years later, they're still trying to identify victims, and it's believed that the true victim count is much higher than 28.   Before you ask, Barry wasn't a victim, and Greg never met Corll or Henley. Brooks insisted that he only watched the murders but never participated. Didn't help him that much- he's still serving time in jail, likely for the rest of his life.   Greg said of this this period of his life, "In some ways, it's better to not be drop-dead attractive. Any more attention from the guy, I coulda been in that boat shed."   I don't think Greg gives himself enough credit though- I think Greg had strong "instinct", whatever that is, and that David likely knew that about him, which is why he never targeted him.   In any event, Greg was lucky as hell that he was never invited to a private party with that particular trio of people and that David was never more than his casual acquaintance.

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Movies That Make You Feel Like A Little Kid

So, my movie theater ran the Back to the Future trilogy last night, in celebration of Back To the Future Day. I wasn't able to see the first two, but I did get to see the third movie...and I gotta tell you, after Doc Brown and his wife Clara fly off in their time travel train with a content Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker, I just felt like a happy little 9-year old kid again. I'd never gotten to see the movies in theater because I was either a baby or a toddler, and there was something just magical about seeing the whole thing on the big screen. For a couple of brief minutes, I had a big smile on my face and all my concerns and worries were gone for a moment.       I also had a similar reaction to see Beauty and the Beast when they ran it in the theaters back in 2012.   So what's that movie for you?

methodwriter85

methodwriter85

 

Target's Only Plus-Size Male Model Strikes A Bull's Eye For Body Positivity

Found this feel good story about a male plus size model showing that beauty doesn't have to come in just one size!   Target's Only Male Plus-Size Model Strikes A Bull's Eyes for Body Positivity   Pretty cool story. I mean, I grew up with that whole Abercrombie and Fitch aesthetic being pushed, and it's cool to see guys who don't fit that mold still being held up as being attractive.   I do have to hand it to Zach Miko for refusing to fit into conventional beauty standards and just being like, "This is me, I won't become a gym rat" and still being damned attractive. (In my opinion.)

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