by Kim Thomas
I don't love what is going on right now in our city. There are a few things that I'm miffed about, but first and foremost, I don't like knowing that my former neighbors at Park Plaza are still breathing the dank dust from the demolition of the Dame Block, razed for the erection of the Webb Brothers' wet-dream-turned-nightmare, the dreaded CentrePoint project. What a disaster.
It's truly an embarrassment to me to have visitors, or anyone from out of town drive around that block of downtown. In fact, I wouldn't let my niece and nephew past Broadway when they came up from South Carolina to visit me recently. When I was showing them around, I somehow found ways to circumvent Vine, Upper, Lime and Main because of that ugly square splotch of mud and gravel that sneers at me, I swear, every time I drive near it. No, I'd rather take my friends and relatives to the defunct basketball museum and tell them what used to be there, buy them some chocolates from Old Kentucky Candy and steer them west, to the promising growth in the Distillery District. So, the basketball museum's closed; an entire block of history's been destroyed, and we now have ostentatious parking meters that look like R2D2's on meth. No. I don't like what's going on in our town lately at all.
It's not anything to boast about, this living in Lexington, not anymore, not unless Keeneland is running or the Cats are winning. It used to be you could take the kids and dog and stroll through Farmer's Market on Vine Street on Saturday mornings. Just last year, you could learn all about the beloved Basil Hayden, the first UK All-American when his story was proudly displayed at the basketball museum. Now, I have to actually search for fresh, locally grown vegetables, and if I want to see any remnant of basketball history, well, I suppose there's always Adolph Rupp's imposing white marble gravestone at the Lexington Cemetery. It is not by choice that I live in a void, but I do. I go to work. I go to church. I walk to and frequent my three blocks of eating and drinking establishments...and I go home.
Living in a void brings to mind the Greek phrase horror vacui – the intolerability of no-place-at-all. Like so many other American communities, we here in Lexington are approaching that horror vacui. Writer Steve Weigand from Sacramento echoes that sentiment, "And from the Brave New World of the Internet comes the following new term. “Generica: fast food joints, strip malls and subdivisions, as in ‘we were so lost in Generica, I didn’t know what city it was. Generica isn’t just a California phenomenon or just a city or suburban phenomena. Generica is happening everywhere and I would suggest it is at the heart of the challenge of economic development. Generica undermines our sense of place, of evolution, of ownership, of identity and of community."
Somebody give me a shoe, or let's ALL take off our shoes and throw them. Throw them at anyone who helped broker the deals that have pocked the downtown landscape, throw them at anyone who looked the other way while Lexington's future was bargained away for a 40-floor high rise that will be nothing more than an eyesore. If you don't have a shoe worth throwing, why don't you consider a run for council yourself next time? We need people who love Lexington and want to help our little burg meet itself at the physical and metaphorical crossroads where we have found the crash site that is our apparent future. It's time to think about that future and what we bring to the table. And bring it.