Saturday, October 30, 2010


If you haven't seen Dog Day Afternoon, quit procrastinating. I won't unleash any spoilers, but before you read further, understand it is a film about a bank robbery.

Watching it, I was struck by changes we've seen since 1975, the year of its release (the events depicted went down in '72).

Mr. Pacino and Fredo try holding up a small Brooklyn bank. Although the bank is mom-and-pop-sized, it is stacked with employees. Nowadays, thanks to innovations like ATMs and online banking, even major Manhattan banks don't carry such top-heavy staffs.

Yet when the camera shows the street in front of the bank, you notice the parking meters they had then are like the ones you see now; nearly four decades later. There has been no inventiveness on the parking meter front. Steve Jobs stubbornly refuses to release an iPark.

The reason for this stagnation? Banks compete, parking meters are government enterprises. Government enterprises mean no price mechanism, no market feedback, no competition. The closest thing to a parking innovation a municipality seems capable of is making parking harder and less legal with barnacles like school zones. Hence, parking remains a constant migraine, while banking keeps getting simpler. Thankfully, parking in front of a bank is far less necessary, thanks to improvements like online banking.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keep Louisville Boring

Louisville, KY is a hard town to pronounce, and an even harder town to visit. Appropriately, it brings to mind another hard to pronounce word; ennui.

Louisville is a desperate, colorless misuse of pavement. It's a gas station that doesn't know it. A place that just kinda happened.

An unhealthy mist hangs over the city. I suspect it's a fog created by the nitrate-heavy sweat the locals produce after feasting on the local grub. Before visiting Louisville, I'd never heard of a major sandwich shop running out of wheat. I have now. I guess in some cities, there is a last call for wheat bread. In a place where the grass is all blue, not even the horses can eat green.

And should you want to escape across the Ohio River, you're escaping to...Indiana. I hear Phillip K. Dick was going to work this into one of his novels, but was afraid no one would believe it.

One night I was directed to an area called FOURTH STREET LIVE. Basically, it's a dismal food court made super dismal by the blare of droning peasant music. You might say it's a meat market where both the food and women are rancid.

Although Halloween was still a ways off, a number of ladies were dressed as trampy devils. This failed to improve FOURTH STREET LIVE. How can a college town herd half-drunk, half-dressed college chicks into a central locale and still manage to be boring? Louisville makes it possible.

Of course, there is no accounting for taste. I'm sure some guys enjoy spending their Saturdays being sized-up for a brawl outside a Taipei Express.

After the disorienting brush with FOURTH STREET LIVE, I browsed the city's hipster section. Like all hipsters, the ones in Louisville come off as apathetic; only there, they really mean it. Not much use for irony in a town where the joke is on you. So I guess if you're looking for something different, Louisville's hipster sincerity is a rare attribute, though I don't see that as a fetching chapter in a tourism guide.

On the flipside, at least you can be sure that what happens in Louisville stays in...oh wait, nothing happens in Louisville.

The real promised land is my Twitter feed:!/greatMikePayne