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How Would You Solve The Great Northern Problem?

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It’s interesting to note that Destiny and Great Northern opened close to the same time. From where I live, I’m about 10 minutes from each of them. I’ve gloried in the success of Destiny and worried about what looks like the demise of Great Northern. In my mind, both malls should be doing well, but they’re not.

gn01Many of the pundits believe that Destiny sucks the life out of any other mall in the area. I’m not sure that’s a fair enough statement. After all, Great Northern thrived for a very long time, and only within the last 7 years or so seemed to have fallen on the worst of times.

I’ll admit that on this one I might be out of my league, and there’s possibly no saving it. Yet, if I had my shot (and a little bit of money) here’s a few things I’d at least try to do with it.

1. The mall is missing a major anchor store in the old Bon Ton location, which hurts one end of the mall drastically. I’d take that space, chop it in half, and try to bring in two top tier exclusive garment stores, one for men and one for women. I don’t remember if there’s ever been a men’s store in the mall but having one of each right next to each other in a large space but not overly large would add some spice.

Having said that, since I’m not in the industry and hate shopping for clothes (plus a little older) I’m not sure who I’d try to bring in, but by top tier I mean exclusive, someone who’s not already in the area and is known for top quality items. Anyone have ideas?

2. The mall has only ever had one nice restaurant, which was Ruby Tuesdays. There’s also a food court that includes Friendly’s. In my opinion, with only the one food option, and in the area of the mall where there was little traffic, there was little driving people to consider it as a place where consumers could come to get a great meal and then shop… which is what Destiny has done in the new part of their mall.

If I had my way, I’d have had at least 5 to 7 restaurants in there. I’d have had a restaurant across from Ruby’s, two restaurants down by Sears, one by Macy’s and the other two… I’d have found places for them. Once again, something different than what we already have (one would have had to be Ruth’s Chris; please, someone get a Ruth’s Chris up here), maybe two or three of them being local. They’d all have to offer something different, which means ethnic I assume, not just being “comfort food” places.

The thing about that is it would get the people coming from Oswego County and the areas around Baldwinsville and Cicero and all parts in between to consider going there instead of bypassing it for Destiny; choice always does that.

3. The days are gone where I’m a major fan of live music other than a few major acts and symphonic music. Still, live concerts draw people, and weekends are the strongest time for malls to succeed.

Therefore, I’d create a space where I could have at least 2,000 seats for concerts, which would highlight local acts and up and coming national acts of all types. You wouldn’t only have to have the concerts on the weekends, but that would be a way to drive people to the mall. Also, a deal could be made with the newly created restaurants in the mall to have kind of a dinner and show package, which would benefit both sides.

If there’s not already a preexisting area (my original thought would have been to close a couple of the theaters and turn it into a show area) then move some of those cars that Fuccillo has sitting in a parking lot, build a showcase in part of that space while making sure it’s still attached to the existing mall.

4. This is a different type of thing, but it’d be what’s needed. I’d give not only the new residents but the existing residents a tax break. New residents would get 10 years while the existing folks would get 5. Destiny got a major tax deal that should be offered to other malls, and I think Great Northern could benefit from something like that.

That’s all I have for now, just to get started. I’m not sure if it’d be feasible but they’re ideas anyway. Do you have any ideas you think could help, or are you resigned to just closing another mall and leaving Destiny as the one and only place in the area?  

5 Takeaways From The Asia Food Market In Syracuse

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I’m going to own up to this right from the beginning. This is written from the viewpoint of someone who admits he’s not used to a lot of things. It’s kind of a tongue in cheek review of the new Asia Food Market on Erie Boulevard. I say that because I can’t actually review it, since… well… it’s easier to just have you read what I’m going to write below, which might explain it all. Five takeaways; let’s begin.

20150712_1605451. The first thing you notice is the “scent”. That’s a nice way of putting it. I walked through the doors and… wow! I wasn’t expecting that I must admit. I knew after a few seconds that it was the smell of fish; what kind of fish I couldn’t tell you since I’m not that kind of connoisseur. After about a minute I got used to it; I think we all learn how to do that, especially if we had parents that smoked at some point.

2. Forget recognizing most things. I immediately knew I was out of my element. When I first walked through the doors I recognized half of the produce to my right. Directly in front of me were different types of Asian sauces. The only reason I know this is because some of the names I knew from Wegmans… just not a lot of them.

The thing is, since it’s an Asian market most everything you see is in some kind of Asian script. I used to speak Japanese as a child but I never learned how to read it. Thus, I couldn’t tell you if I was looking at Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, or anything else. I wouldn’t have even known what to ask for.

3. They serve food… but… Back in the mid 2000’s, I was walking around Chinatown for the first time when I saw what my mind interpreted as “dinosaurs” hanging in the windows. I figured out later that those were either chickens or ducks; I was never curious enough to get close.

Well, I had my opportunity on my visit here and… as soon as I saw whatever it was hanging by its neck I dropped my eyes and not only couldn’t look, but I couldn’t even contemplate eating anything there. That’s definitely a stupid American sensibility but I’m one of those people who won’t eat anything that looks like the animal it is. Therefore, I can’t even tell you what else they might have had on the menu.

20150712_155822What I do remember though was looking at a couple of the desserts. I remember the Hello Kitty cake, which is in the picture here, and what looks like those colorful macaroons I’ve seen on Instagram. I’ve always said I wanted to try one of those but after seeing the hanging bird… totally left my mind.

4. There are way more types of rice than what I ever knew. My original intention for going was because I wanted to buy whatever type of rice they use in Chinese restaurants to make their fried rice with. I was hoping that something would stand out and say “buy me”.

Instead, what I found was there’s at least 50 different varieties of rice, and that was just on the shelves in front of me. Goodness, my knowledge of rice is so limited! And almost all of them were in an Asian script, so I didn’t have a chance. I also didn’t want to be “that guy” who walked over to one of the folks working there and asking them the question… that not only didn’t seem proper, but I had a feeling that either I might not be understood or that I’d be given lots of different choices… then what would I have done?

Just to add this, not everything was written in some kind of Asian language, but based on what some things turned out to be I wish they were. Frankly, I’m thinking that if someone had been filming me they’d have enjoyed the facial double-takes I had with a lot of things. Such a stupid American…

5. The last thing that kind of shocked me isn’t that there were more than just Asians in there… though not lots. What shocked me was the number of Africans. I kept wondering if they knew how to read Chinese or Japanese or just recognized certain things. I’d say at least 25% of the customers that were there when I was were African.

Also, much different than Americans, I hardly heard any of them speak, even when there were more than 2 of them together. Goodness, I talk to myself whenever I’m in a store, and two or more of us together… there’s hardly any shutting us up! lol

I had no expectations going in other than I thought it might be kind of exotic. I guess that part is true. I can’t see myself going back, not even for the macaroons, unless one day I have a specific yearn for something. However, I’m thinking I might need to know what that something is first.  

“Would You Rather” Book Tag Tour – My Version

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Well, I guess I started it locally so now I’m going to do another one of these. The previous challenge of this type was called the Creative Blogger Award Challenge, and I included some local bloggers into the next version of the challenge. One of them took it up, Mark Bialczak, and now he’s turned the tables on me to do this one.

books002The tour’s task is to answer the questions below and then tag five other bloggers. Truthfully, it touches upon something I like, which is reading and books, so I’m thinking this should be a bit of fun; who doesn’t like fun? Since I already know two people I’m going to tag, I have some time to kill by answering these questions first. Here we go!

Would you rather only read trilogies or only read standalones?

I like standalone books but with a caveat. I love series because I like learning about a character and seeing that same character, or groups of characters, popping up in lots of books. It’s probably why I love the Harry Potter books so much; each book is a standalone but refers back to things that happened in previous books. The same goes for many of my favorite fictional characters. I like standalone books also, but not having to start all over in learning something about a main character is quite nice.

Would you rather only read male or female authors?

Nope! Hmmm, I guess I should say something more so I’ll just say that in the genre’s I like to read I’ve been impressed by both male and female writers. Once you get into them, most of the time you have no real idea which gender is writing the books. Well, maybe not when it comes to Janet Evanovich but come on, Stephanie Plum is great!

Would you rather shop at Barnes and Noble or Amazon?

I’m a loyal B&N fan I must say. I love going to the bookstore and looking at all types of books. I never know what I’m going to walk out with and it might be outside of a genre I usually stick to. With Amazon, you’re usually looking for something specific. Sure, there are tons more choices online but it’s not quite the same as holding a book in your hands.

Would you rather books were made into TV shows or movies?

Wow, this is a tough one. Back in the day I’d have said TV without batting an eye. As I get older and don’t like watching TV I’d like to vehemently say movies, but I have to hold back a little bit.

The problem with TV is the stops and starts and commercials. The problem with movies is that, if you loved the book, you’re going to question why the director left this or that out, and sometimes they go in a totally different direction that leaves your head spinning.

In the end I’d have to lean towards movies I suppose…

Would you rather read only five pages per day or five books per week?

I’d rather read five pages a day if I had to do something on a consistent basis. Depending on the book, it could take 45 minutes or 5 hours to get through. I’d have the 45 but not the 5 hours every day, even if I was independently wealthy, since only reading books all day would soon feel like an unpaid job.

Would you rather be a professional author or reviewer?

Professional author in a heartbeat! Heck, I’ve written the equivalent of 3 books now and around 5,000 articles. Some of them have been reviews but I hate the analysis part and the having to be critical part. Sometimes I think critics think they have to always look for the worst in something, only to have the buyers make they look bitter.

Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?

Kindling beats KindleCreative Commons License Matt Brown via Compfight

I’d rather be a bookseller. That way, I could always pull out new books and, once sold, not have to worry about their condition again, let alone chase people down who didn’t bring them back.

Would you rather read only your favorite genre, or every other genre but your favorite?

Whew, that’s a tough one since I like a lot of different genres. However, if I had to give up my favorite genre then reading might not be fun anymore so I’d rather stick with my favorite at all costs. Man, I’d miss those Star Trek books… sigh…

Would you rather only read ebooks or physical books?

I have to admit that I love the ease and convenience of ebooks, something I never thought I could get into. Yet, when all is said and done, if I could store every book I ever bought and keep them all safe I’d rather have the physical books. I’m glad this question didn’t consider recorded books though. 😉

And now, time to name some folks. The first two are easy; the rest… let’s see who I come up with:

Holly Jahangiri, who started the original trouble with me on the first challenge, is getting named to this one because she’s an author and loves to write and read; her blog is called It’s All A Matter Of Perspective;

Krystal Thomas, my niece who loves books and writes reviews of them on her blog Krystalized;

Josh Shear, who reads a lot of books but writes on a bunch of different things. His blog is named after him;

Brian D. Hawkins, although I’m not sure where to link him (he came & gave me a link, which is below). His primary blog is about blogging, and he’s got a blog where he reviews books but that’s considered a business blog for him. I recently found another site of his that might work but I’m not totally sure. In any case I’m going to mention him and let him know, and if he decides to participate I’m sure he’ll let me know which site to link to.

This last one is even a bigger wild card but I need 5 right? I’m naming Phil Phren, who writes Still Racing In The Street. He’s more of an activist type and writes more about local things but he’s been known to go off the grid, especially where it concerns Bruce Springsteen. So, maybe…? lol

Whew, that was work! The last part, not the early stuff. Now we get to sit back and see what happens…  

My 40th Year In Central New York

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Today marks the 40th year I’ve lived in central New York, most specifically Liverpool. I don’t remember what time I saw the place we were going to live but we moved into Grenadier Village some time in the afternoon on this date, July 8th, which was just a few days after Arthur Ashe beat Jimmy Connors in tennis, spawning a tennis revolution of sorts for black players because that’s when I started playing tennis.

college graduation picture

college graduation picture

As much as I love central New York and Liverpool now, living here initially wasn’t all that great.

When I knew we were moving back to the Syracuse area (we’d lived here from ’66 to ’69) I thought we were going to be living in North Syracuse. That’s where I’d gone to elementary school for a few years when we first lived on Taft Road, then on Hancock Field. I thought I’d run into a few people I knew back in the day, and it eventually happened, but not as soon as I had hoped.

Instead I ended up at Liverpool High School to start 11th grade, which was both a curse and a blessing.

It was a curse because Liverpool was not only NOT welcoming to black people, but to people who it didn’t consider as “residents”. By the time I graduated the best friends I had were all people who had moved here within the two years I went to the school, and years later those are most of the people I still talk to for the most part. At the very least these are the people whose politics mirror mine; not sure what that says about the Liverpool HS I went to at the time.

The reason I said it wasn’t welcoming to black people back then wasn’t because anyone was mean to me for being black. It’s that, out of a school of over 3,800 students, if there were 50 black people it was a miracle. And most of them didn’t know what to do with me either; yeah, I was kind of a social misfit.

I really was young once

I really was young once

That was the curse part. The blessing part was that I got to totally reinvent myself once again. Being a military kid, every time I moved I got to become someone else, exhibit a different part of my personality.

Before I left Maine I was someone who most people thought was pretty talkative but a pretty good athlete. When I got to Liverpool I realized I was still pretty good, but there were a lot more people I had to go through to be even somewhat recognized.

I only went out for one sport, my senior year when I went out for the baseball team. I didn’t make it… because the coach pulled me into his office, said I was better than the guy he had but that guy was a sophomore on a team that won the championship the year before and I was a senior and he didn’t think it would be fair for me to sit on the bench behind someone I was better than; so be it.

Merobyn2Regardless, I achieved a lot of stuff in high school anyway and went to school in Oswego; what a blast! I support SUNY Oswego as often as I can and visit a few times a year, heading to Wades or what we called “the stands”, and I love driving around seeing all the changes. But mostly I love visiting and looking at Lake Ontario… wow! I remember going out to look out over the lake in springtime to watch the Northern Lights, something an astronomy major showed me freshman year that many people living there still don’t know about.

Other than college I’ve lived in Liverpool my entire adult life, one apartment over another. I’ve never found a compelling reason to leave. Everything I could ever want is within 10 minutes of wherever I’ve lived in this city, whether it was considered the town of Clay or Salina.

Now I live on a street that, when I first moved here, I had the sneaking suspicion that the neighbors called each other to tell them to come out and see “what’s” riding a bike up the street because it happened more than once. And, oddly enough, people we don’t know know that we live in this house; just sayin’… lol

Merobyn7Yet, I love it. I share a backyard with Wegmans, live less than a couple of miles from Onondaga Lake, 10 minutes from both Destiny and Great Northern, have all kinds of restaurants (though not a good Chinese restaurant anymore; sigh…) and fast food places, a library and a Barnes & Noble… if it wasn’t for visiting other people I know I’d never have to leave.

But I truly love all of central New York. I love telling people when I travel where I live, and I love to talk about the snow, the Dome, the mountains, the lakes, the food, the Orange and the soft ice cream; did you know that there are few places outside of central New York that have a lot of soft ice cream places? I mean, what’s up with that?

I’ve lived in a lot of places, visited way more, but I can’t think of any other place I’d rather live than here. I feel sorry for those who complain about this place; it’s on them. I hope I never have to leave; I hope no one I like leaves either. 😉  

Creative Blogger Award Challenge

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Every once in a while I’m open to a little bit of silliness and fun; that’s what this is going to be. Of all things I got nominated for what’s called the Creative Blogger Award.

Creative-Blogger-Award-2015Before you go congratulating me on it or anything else, let me tell you that, in its own way, it’s more of a meme than anything else. In essence, someone gets nominated, has certain criteria they’re supposed to follow, and part of that criteria is nominating other people and informing them that they’ve been nominated, with hope that they’ll participate. Obviously no one is obligated, and it’s my bet that at best one person “might” do it… though it’s doubtful. lol

Let’s get the rules out of the way first, so no one can say that they didn’t know what they were supposed to do:

1. Thank and post the link of the person who nominated you;   2. Share 5 facts about yourself to your readers;   3. Nominate 10-20 blogs and notify them;   4. Post the rules so others know what they are (which I’ve just done).

  The person I have to thank is Holly Jahangiri, a writer and blogger and all around smart person; yeah, I’ll give her that. I’ve not only interviewed her on my other blog but I interviewed her on YouTube also, and it’s both the most watched video on that channel and has the most comments. Just sayin’…

Next, I’m supposed to share 5 facts about myself. This one is a little harder than the others because a few years ago I did a post on my other blog where I gave 100 facts about myself, which I can also blame on Holly because she did it first. Good thing she didn’t ask me to jump off a bridge, though she did try to convince me to eat nasty fried bugs (nope, that’s never happening…). Still, that was 3 years ago, so let’s see what I might have that’s new:

1. Late at night on September 13th, 2001, after almost 60 hours straight of watching TV, turning channels to find out whatever I could about the tragedies on the 11th, the only way I could break away from it all was to put on the movie Independence Day, starting at the scene where the president makes the speech to the pilots about to launch an attack against the aliens.

2. The reason I won’t go see another Jurassic Park movie is because I saw the original at a midnight showing at 12AM Friday morning. It was so powerful an image in my mind that I didn’t sleep for 3 days (I sense a pattern here) and had to go see it again the following Monday, during the day, to get it out of my mind.

3. The very first song I wrote, back in 1979, actually placed in the top 600 of a song contest 3 years later out of 25,000 entries. It’s the only time I ever entered anything I’ve written into a contest.

4. I used to teach voice at the old Metropolitan School of Music in the early 80’s, unofficially. I had two students and never had either of them pay me for it. Neither were ever going to be professional singers, but both wanted to sing a little better.

5. It’s true that you shrink as you get older, as things start to settle based on health and, of course gravity. I’ve lost an inch over the last 10 years; I hope it stops there.

Three down, one, or ten depending on how you look at it, to go. I could have written this post on this blog or my other blog (I’ve only been referencing one other blog because the other 3 wouldn’t have worked for this…) but decided to write it on this blog because I’m going to nominate many people from the Syracuse area to participate. That’s why I mentioned earlier that I don’t think many will do it but hey, why not put it out there right?

Anyway, I’m going to mention the names and link to people and then, when this goes live, I’ll let them all know, best I can, that I did this. Who knows; someone might even comment on this post. Let’s begin:

1. Joanna Giansanti of Giansanti Design, in hopes that maybe it’ll inspire her to start writing on her blog again;

2. Chris Malone, The Infinite Abyss(es), because I think he’s a brilliant writer who hasn’t written a new post in a while;

3. Stef Noble, stefnoble, who’s presently working on a 30-day blogging challenge and might decide this is worth giving a shot;

4. Mark Bialczak, whose eponymous blog is truly entertaining and might find this kind of fun;

5. Renee Benda of Bendiful Blog, one of the original organizers of our local blogging in-person meetups;

6. Troy Swezey of Troy Swezey v2.0, who has two blogs but this one probably fits best; one of the best commenters on my other blog;

7. Brenda Lee of My Girly Parts writes on a lot of topics for adult women, though I tend to go to her blog & comment on stuff (often the only male there lol);

8. Josh Shear, another eponymous blogger (by the way, that means the blog is the same as their name lol), who I’m definitely thinking won’t do this but it’ll still be fun mentioning it to him;

9. Adrienne Smith, another eponymous blogger who’s not going to participate since her focus has changed, yet I think people should visit her blog;

10. Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out, because he’s been writing a lot time, has lots of writing challenges, and might think this is one worth taking a shot at… or not… :-)

I was right; that was the hardest part to do but I did it. Now it’s up to those of you I named to decide whether you’re up to the task, want to be up to the task, don’t care and want to be left alone, or say later “I didn’t know you mentioned me” when I’ve told you on Twitter that I did. Oh yeah, if you do decide to take on the challenge, copy or download the image on this post so you can use it on yours; after all, it’s an award! For now, onward & upward.  

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