Author Topic: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.  (Read 12965 times)

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #90 on: August 07, 2014, 01:31:38 PM »
Ok so I am back in the saddle again.  I am being joined by a pretty excellent writer, Lionasoarus, who will also be liveblogging the Hemming Park experience.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

Lionasoarus

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #91 on: August 07, 2014, 01:39:43 PM »
Retired from stagecoach hold ups, I am Lionasoarus riding alongside Mr. Dare as we paint the Hemming Plaza experience for You. So many hold up the weight of self-imposed burdens when all We need to do is "Redefine and Realize".
« Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 03:15:44 PM by Lionasoarus »

Lionasoarus

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #92 on: August 07, 2014, 04:24:33 PM »
"Redefine and Realize"

An afternoon watering, still in its passing faze, lazily packs the air in hotter and heavier.

It drizzles lightly as clouds sail along their journey and the mid afternoon sun brings Us back to a full August day in FL.

Advanced Greco-Roman influence lears over a piece of southern History as Laughter and ease drift throughout Hemming Park.

The rain has passed and We are dry. SHADE-1 SOGGY-0 .

The song of naturally flowing water blends with a small breeze. I know that the electric box, harnessed and wired 15 ft up one of the bold oaks to my right, powers the multi-fountain to my left. The box is doubled as a post for a wirey squirrel to set atop and enjoy his takings of an apple core. He notices me almost immediately and stuffs the core behind the small space between the box and the tree and scurries down the stripes and paid dues into his planter full of goods.

Hemming Park is full of Life today. Chess players sharpen their swords and do battle in the distance as onlookers note strategies. I think I'll introduce myself...
« Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 03:16:11 PM by Lionasoarus »

Lionasoarus

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #93 on: August 07, 2014, 11:18:56 PM »
"Redefine and Realize"

I lean against the door of the coliseum as its weight tests my want to leave and am rushed by the mid afternoon's thick air. I now need the electricity passed by human bonding.

Before my eyes can adjust to the vibrant Life outside, Dare throws a camera into the mix and, after some thought, I rush to be the confident rookie. After a few vaguely interpretative shots I decide there must be a professional photographer near humoring himself, watching me like a child and I lose the confident charade all together. The skeptical gazes from a few of the card players in the foreground of one of my award winning photographs is Now in focus and I agree with their suggestive body language. --Here Mr. Dare, take this contraption back.

The side of Hemming Park bordering Laura Street hosts the densest gathering of chess, dominoes, and card players in the park and a camera does not work fast, or slow, enough to capture what is offered here.

About 20 feet separate Dare's shaded spot and a group of men who are playing dominoes. I ease my way towards the lure of friendly competition.

I sit at the closest edge of the bunch. 5 men sit around one of the picnic tables that nudges up against the edge of the mulit-fountain and carry the momentum of the park with them.

The 5 players range from 30 to 50+ years in age and seem charged by heat, maintaining unwavering composure.

A crowd laugh--- instigated by one of the onlookers--- sews them all together and I notice a toddler boy running around in no planned direction. He zigzags through the onlookers and dives in to hug one of the players. He detaches just as sudden as he flew in and uses his newest acquisition, The Run, to make it across the walkway to a family finishing up their meal.

I scan back towards my left and distinguish a chess game locked in a heated stare through the slams and smiles of the domino table. The game of strategy is in a tense showdown and the sounds of gears turning creates the metronome in which all things are paced.

On one side a long-haired, bearded older man peers onto the board behind a faded ball cap barely giving space between its bill and his nose and, with his back to the fountain and ear to the water, a well dressed bald man in his mid 30's is casting an ambiance. I am reeled in...
« Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 03:16:41 PM by Lionasoarus »

Lionasoarus

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #94 on: August 08, 2014, 05:55:26 PM »
"Redefine and Realize"

I hoist the sails and catch the breeze, cruising past the dominoes table.

One of the players most equipped for the smothering heat pulls a look away from his hand and throws me a nod. I think he caught mine in return before snapping back to dotted mathematics and spotty convo.

It is summer and everyone is enjoying themselves, collectively intensifying the enrichment of their experience.

As I hold fast and stand, a small grouping of card players in the neighboring shade entices my curiosity, flashing still frames of what has happened and reeling slide shows of what could be.

The multi-fountain's waves amplify behind me, though, beckoning for me to engage in the art of war on the checkerboard. I turn as casually as the day and face the water.

The Silverbacks (i.e. any older man that dawns the crown of wisdom or let's it majestically flow) has his ball cap firmly fastened and looks to be clinching morse code with an upright staff in his left hand. The slight hunch in his back created by inching closer... and closer is a sign that the water has seeped through the walls, pummeled past the door, and lifted his tread closer... and closer to the ceiling.

The sharp ping of the hammer on hot iron and scraping of a sharpening stone emanate from the opposing side of the board where The Black Knight has already begun his withdraw and puts in place only efficient moves.

Not long after I call awareness to their match, the Silverback's suspense is relieved. The  line stringing us all to his plight cut short by the crafted blade of the Black Knight. I have got to find a seat...
« Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 03:17:13 PM by Lionasoarus »

John P

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #95 on: August 08, 2014, 06:56:27 PM »
Uh, ok.

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #96 on: August 11, 2014, 06:54:42 PM »
I must say that the past few weeks have been wonderful.  Uncomfortably hot, often wet, but suffused with humanity.

Ive been joined often by interns, friends, and metrojacksonville people ----which I hope and suspect will remain true for the next couple of weeks as well.  They have been like travelers in a foreign land when they get here, but leave as part of the community.  And make no mistake about it.  Despite the slanderous and absurdly reductionist description of people in the park as 'homeless', its actually a community of interesting and engaging people.

Ive come to the conclusion that 'homeless' has become a code word meaning either 'poor' or 'black' when it comes to the downtown.  There are a number of legitimately homeless people downtown, truly.  But the park regulars are mostly poor or retired, and live in perfectly comfortable (if sometimes lonely) homes.

The heat will pass, and to be honest there is a certain enjoyment in watching the entire plaza scramble for cover when the clouds finally burst overhead.  Although I personally kind of prefer taking shelter in the Library, on occasion its just as enjoyable to wait it out under the Skyway concrete.

There is a smell of rain on brick that has its own signature.  A chalky, baked kind of wet smell that is pleasant and urban all at the same time, and it is a nice part of the changing park of the park's ambiance.

The park is full of people, all of whom have amazing stories, and are basically participating in the oldest activity of our species:  Hanging out in groups under the trees.

If there is one thing that has really stuck out is the deliberate and willful degeneration of the Park Services in Hemming Park.  The concrete areas are woefully unkempt, the multiple electrical outlets that Jerry Moran demanded be turned off stick out of the ground on little posts, and the pool over which Hemming surveys is nothing short of a disgusting scandal of  slime, hard water deposits and badly maintained water.

Of all the things that are most irritating in the park, I would say that the dead electrical outlets are the most grisly.  They look like little mechanical heads on stakes set out as a warning to rebellious electrical devices.

I was cut off in a call from Diane Brunet Garcia, (one of the Friends of Hemming Park and the outgoing Chairman of the Cultural Council) when my phone ran out of battery power.  I was literally surrounded by places that I might have been able to recharge, but thanks to Jerry Moran (If we have electricity 'homeless people' will be coddled into staying in the park) I might as well have been surrounded by the pillars of Stonehenge for all the good they were doing me.

I had to leave the park, go into the library and seat at one of the many tables in order to charge the phone.  I talked to Diane nearly 40 minutes later.

More than half of the seats in the park have been removed by the way.  Apparently the claim from Parks and Recreation that the city wasn't going to be removing them was little more than a bald faced lie.

This has had the effect of leaving all of the City Employees at the St James with literally no where to sit in the shade when they want to come outside for a smoke, a private conversation or a little time in nature.

As noted earlier, they end up shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot underneath the awning at the City Hall Building and then head back to their offices, electricity and air conditioning.

This has had literally no effect on the non rich people that Moran doesn't want hanging out in the park.  They simply sit on all of the wonderfully accommodating ledges (designed for this purpose) that are built into every part of the park.  What it did take away was a place for people to eat their lunches, and so now there are seldom any City Hall or Courthouse employees sitting for a quick bite during the day.

I had thought that I would be able to kind of talk and cover the business lunches and administrative groups that were common around noontime (and who used to patronize boomtown when we were in Hemming Park) but the removal of the tables in the shade had the single effect of driving away people who ate at the tables.  Thunderously stupid in my opinion.

In two moves, Jerry Moran managed to drive away two large groups from the center of town:  People under thirty who use handheld mobile devices and connect via social media on their cell phones and tablets avoid the place because of the lack of recharging or reliable wifi, and people who buy and eat lunch at tables (virtually the entire business community) were driven out in great numbers when the merchant pressured the city into removing the tables.

There are a few tables in front of Chamblin's, and they stay busy, but unlike the old park tables, one wouldn't sit at them unless you were buying something from Chamblins.  The nice thing about the public tables was that you could bring your own lunch if you liked, or three people could get food to go from three separate places but still eat together.

Not anymore.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 07:03:38 PM by stephendare »
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #97 on: August 11, 2014, 07:11:09 PM »
One of the surprising things is just how much romance, courtship and drama is taking place at all times in Hemming.  Long romantic narratives of unrequited love, star crossed attractions, people at cross purposes and moments of hedonism and lust.

Lots and lots of couples (and the occasional threesome) mingle in the park every day, and the politics of sex and love are as intermingled with the experience of the park as the Daily Migration * see above posts on this subject or the government bell whistles for lunch and close of business day.

There are also a lot of children who are part of extended families.  There are children with their mother(s), and in some cases children with their father(s).  Even amongst the homeless people or the residents of the emergency shelters there are entire family groups.  In fact if you look back a few pages, Ive already printed a few photos.

But the interconnected skein of romance, spurned lovers, exes and potential new directions is so complicated and layered that truly Shakespeare would be transfixed by it.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #98 on: August 11, 2014, 07:46:07 PM »
There is also a list of places where couples seeking 'privacy' will frequent.  I think it would be in bad taste to publish a map of them, a conclusion that I came to the moment that I completed the graphic for it.

But I think that there is something to be said about the sheer science and logistics of the 'private spots'.

With the steady increase of video cameras, opened businesses, and demolished buildings, its actually pretty rigorous coming up with a place where coitus is even possible, much less extended love making.

When we lived at the Loft on 47 West Duval, in fact, there was a famous video recorded by one of my nightclub owning room mates during an arts event being hosted at the old space.  Our loft was where the library parking lot stands now, right about the same level as the third level of parking is.  Across the street was a back alley to the MOCA (an alley which no longer exists) and a slight stairwell down into a fenced area that afforded darkness on a street with many street lights.

Unbeknownst to the couple who ventured into the 'Private Spot', my room mates were having a large but fairly sedate event upstairs that was also being videotaped.

Into the spot the two crept and then to the surprise and spellbound attention of a fairly large crowd of urban hipsters, these two very  homeless people began to have some of the most agile and energetic sex that anyone had ever witnessed.  Positions simply not contemplated in the Kama Sutra, and nearly superhuman displays of balance and strength.

The highly athletic sex happening in the private spot was punctuated fairly regularly by the man pulling up his pants and then creeping back to the opening into the alcove and looking penetratingly both ways for any sign of oncoming traffic.

But it was downtown at night in 2000, so there wasn't much chance of another living soul coming by.  Nevertheless, one can never be too sure, and his suspicions were proven correct.

If only his intuition had been keener.  He might have looked up.

Had he done so, he would have seen a very rapt audience of impressed young people still processing the acts they had just seen performed and rooting for him that no one would interrupt the fireworks in the dark.

This went on for nearly an hour, all of which is caught on video.  I got to see the video in question later, as I was actually away on a business meeting in Greece for this event.  There is a certain hilarity in the proceedings, because during each of his security checks, you can see (and hear) dozens of people lined up against the windows actively saying "Don't look up!" followed by lots of giggling and shocked exclamations.

When they tore down the old building over there, that 'spot' disappeared due to the new architecture.

I think it was the first time that many of us realized that even homeless people have sex.

Over the years, I've found that almost no one ever really considers this.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

IrvAdams

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #99 on: August 11, 2014, 08:54:38 PM »
Excellent posts, Stephen. What about the expensive group of professionals that were hired to turn the park around? Is that a no-go now? Unbelievable they disconnected the electric and removed the chairs and tables, effectively running away the one group they would supposedly cater to.

Sex as the universal constant. I totally agree. It also shocks people that it occurs often in retirement homes among the elderly. Sex always finds a way, that's why there's so damn many of us  :)
“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still”
- Lao Tzu

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #100 on: August 12, 2014, 10:05:40 AM »
The Friends of Hemming Park are deciding on who to hire for the executive director position at the moment.

And the funding for this effort is winding its way through city hall as we speak.

Yes it is pretty unbelievable that one lil ole, ill natured Moran has managed to make the park so uncomfortable/undesirable for any length of time for the majority of the people in the city.  The future is plugged in, electronic and wirelessly transmitted. The collapse of the suburban strip mall model means the return of the city square and open spaces, but in our town, one merchant has been allowed to agitate conditions that make a return to the core as difficult as possible.


Really?  No electricity and no tables?  Smooth move, exlax.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2014, 12:46:23 PM by stephendare »
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cowford

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #101 on: August 12, 2014, 10:54:30 AM »
Love the artices.  Keep them coming! 

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #102 on: August 12, 2014, 12:16:24 PM »
Love the artices.  Keep them coming!

Thanks cow ford!  Its really been enjoyable.  And really when you get down here and you kind of participate in the area, its comforting and very warm.

From the romantic intrigues of the Alpha boys to the ongoing rivalries in backgammon and chess, its engaging and very real.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

ssky

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #103 on: August 12, 2014, 12:24:14 PM »
Stephen,
Very much enjoying your Liveblog!  It is a truly fascinating perspective that has rendered me unable to pass Hemming Plaza without scanning the crowd for faces you have photographed, trying to spot the Alpha and Beta families, etc.  Just two questions after reading your latest entries: Why do you think Jerry has so much influence over City Council, or whatever the Powers That Be, as it pertains to Hemming? It seems like there would have to be more than a consensus of one for such drastic measures to be taken. Also, is it necessary to call him a moron? Really does not seem to fit with the style of this very engaging, sensitive and introspective blog.
Thanks, and I second Cowford: "...Keep them coming!"

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #104 on: August 12, 2014, 12:36:54 PM »
sorry, that was a misspelling. Moran.  not Moron.  My apologies.

Well, i guess you could start with the fact that its been going on for more than 10 years.  Moran made himself into quite an ass about a decade ago when he started harassing and personally insulting people who asked him for money (a simply 'no' usually suffices) 

As a result, his front door became the number one destination for people wanting to make a statement with their urine or poop.  Turns out you can't harangue people and chase them around calling them names, when they are going to be sleeping a block away from your door without some pushback.

So Moran installed cameras and sent everyone in City Hall a video of a man shitting on his door step under the pretense of a 'christmas card' and used the city hall mailing list to do so.  It resulted in Youtube getting banned by City Computers for a while, and with so many of these pretty egregious videos he's been banned from youtube himself under a number of screen names.

He never mentioned why someone would shit on his door in the middle of the day.  Just made out as though it was the way things are downtown.

And don't get me wrong.  There are problem individuals downtown.  I think that a person who shits on a doorstep to prove a point should face some personal consequences.  But I also think the same thing for a guy who peppersprays a bunch of kids standing outside of another downtown business, pepper sprays people in the face repeatedly for walking to close to his trucks and shoots shotguns off downtown to prove what a badass he is to old homeless guys.

For ten years he has demanded that the rest of the city pay these poors back for the way they act towards them, and never seems to realize that when you act like an ass, there will always be a new set of people who just dislike you personally.

Having been involved in the downtown for a while, there has almost never been a discussion about hemming park that wasn't hijacked with a discussion about how the 'homeless' are ruining downtown, and that they are a 'problem' that needs to be taken care of, including one infamous meeting in which Moran attempted to sway the committee into 'rounding them all up and putting them into some kind of 'concentration camp' so that they can be taken care of"  (the words concentration camp were predicated by little air quote finger signs)

He was behind the drive to turn of the electricity, and he was personally the driving force behind closing the park at dusk for the first time in its history.

And don't forget, we all followed along with the hemming park committee over his campaign to have the chairs and tables removed.

A person doesn't have to be strong to be powerful, ssky..  Just persistent.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love