Lawrence, Kansas: The Rich Heritage

Lawrence has seen growth in the past, outside of the usual population growth, that is, houses. All such imposed growth projects have, to be kind, turned sour. All have involved one or all of a rich people’s consortium.

Let us start with North Lawrence.

North Lawrence is a working class area, a much maligned area in this town of rampant classism. In the 1990s, at the entrance-exit for I-70 on N. 3rd St., a shopping mall was built. Tanger Mall, Tanger Factory Outlet Centre. Tanger is an out-of-state company. And Tanger did absolutely no demographic study, for they opened a mall with nothing that would appeal to the people of North Lawrence or that they could afford. Indeed, people from Lawrence itself, south of the river, would not bother themselves to travel miles into and through unacceptable territory to get to what they could, in fact, access at the south end of town along Iowa St. and on K-10 through town, W. 23rd St. The Mall did not perform well and it was sold to a local consortium in 2000.

What the North Lawrence neighborhood most needed was a grocery store; this was not forthcoming. What they got from Atlanta’s Tanger family was a low-priced bookstore that was, in fact, not so low-priced and stocked with books that were of interest to south of the river residents; even I thought this store’s prices rather high. A pricey cosmetics outlet. Regularly priced clothing stores but no work clothes, leather goods stores; handbags were sold, too. No restaurants were forthcoming.

After the Mall was sold, Burger King put up a stand across the street. And appropriate strip malls were built all along N. 3rd St. with repair shops, multiple restaurants and a Dollar General that has done a smashing business. The Tanger Mall now houses DMV licensing, a State Police office—even the test prep centre failed. Many store fronts stand empty. Scotch Fabric Dry Cleaners rents a large store property every winter and gives winter clothing to the poor and needy.

There are, in fact, many such in Lawrence—and not limited to North Lawrence or even East Lawrence, another much misaligned section of the city. The deterioration of the Federal job situation has been exacerbated by the debacle-making programs of Kansas’ governor, Sam Brownback, making of a thriving town filled to the gills with students, a place of growing poverty where housing is much less than “limited” and the homeless become more numerous and filled to the gills with students, albeit the only Indian University in the country is not to counted.

The working and poorer classes still do not visit Tanger Mall except, perhaps, to get their driver’s licenses. There is nothing there for them. So, not only a loss for Atlanta Tanger, a loss for the rich consortium that bought it. But, hey, they have a vision. And the city collects taxes.

At this point, it might appear that the City Planners and their rich consortium buddies are not very successful or, for that matter, not too far-sighted. And you would not be wrong.

In the 1990s, the Riverside Outlet Mall was built. Fast food restaurants, a discount bookstore, clothing outlets, a few non-retail offices. Right along the Kansas (or Kaw) River at the north end of historic downtown, east of the Bowersock Dam and right at the point where Bald Eagles come to nest in season. For this latter, the riverside walk is closed to visitors, though bird fanciers with cameras flock to the area. A huge bi-level parking area was built up on street level. Yet success was short-lived and the stores closed. A test prep centre died a timely death, as did a telephone answering centre and, more recently—as in a month ago—the downtown Marriott Inn vacated the premises.

Down on the lowest level with entry from the lower parking lot off E. 7th St. is the Heartland Medical Practice, a God-centred practice with ties to the local Community Mental Health Centre, Bert Nash, that serves the poor with Behaviorist and drug therapies but doesn’t do a good job with the homeless or poverty stricken without insurance. WOW!, the horribly expensive and indolent Internet purveyor, is on the top floor. Not enough character-mauling comments can be made about WOW!’s CEO and the company’s offerings. Demograpics are here, again, of no interest at all to the capitalist mentality that only sees resources and profits upon profits, while the poor and the retired are put in the position of choosing food over medicine or vice versa; for, to find jobs any more, the Internet is necessary. And even then, people must spend money traveling back and forth to make interviews.

The Riverside Outlet Mall did not meet expectations. That is, yet another jaded enterprise by the monied consortium, together or individually.

The reason for moving the 9th & New Hampshire bus centre was precipitated by the building, still in progress, of monstrous block buildings reminiscent of 19th century Industrial Revolution architecture in an attempt, we are told, to make Lawrence into a big city, big cities having tall buildings. An apartment-business structure, the new Marriott Inn and an as yet unfinished block-long monstrosity take up three corners; the fourth is doctor’s offices, lawyer’s offices and local businesses, including a coffee shop and a bar, The Bourgeois Pig, that are well-attended and have been for years.

The idea of Lawrence as a big city is ludicrous enough without the old-fashioned, out-of-date architectural vision. The reason for tall buildings was a lack of space on the ground. Thus, with viciously high prices for earthbound expansion and, in fact, a lack of ground, there was only one way to go: up. But Lawrence is not a big city, nor will it ever be. There is little to no industry in Lawrence. There is little in the way of interstate much less intrastate business enacted here, outside of KU basketball. The only big town in Kansas is Wichita, in the south central area of the state not far north of the Oklahoma border, about 50 miles, and about 300 miles from Lawrence.

Topeka, the capital of Kansas, failed as a modern big city: it’s downtown area is more or less a ghost town. Kansas City, KS is bigger than Lawrence; but it is a bedroom community, most people crossing the river for work in Kansas City, MO, the famous Kansas City. It has tall buildings, albeit not many. Lawrence is only 30-40 miles from Kansas City, both KS and MO. There is no need of another big city in the area. There is, in fact, nothing to warrant Lawrence becoming a big city. For this to happen, there would need to be a major revamping of the RR stations, only one of which is used and passenger service only occurs in the wee hrs of the morning, twice, once from east, once from west. And the Greyhound bus station is a gas station out of W. 6th St., visited only once or twice a day and always headed to KC. That is, for instance, if you want to go to Salt Lake City, you must first go to KC and wait four hours or so to catch a bus going north or south before making a connection to get you, days down the road, to Salt Lake City. That is to say, there is no interstate connected travel in Kansas, much less Lawrence.

So, what is to happen to the unfinished old-fashioned building at 9th & New Hampshire? As it is, getting to and from the Marriott Inn which does big business at the beginning and end of the school year and during sports season, is not easy. Narrow streets and stop signs at every corner. . .and no directional signs.

Earlier this 21st century, the rich man’s business consortium destroyed shops up on the hill (The Hill = KU) and a dormitory in order to put in a high class hotel. This is filled only at the same times the Marriott Inn is filled. As not enough income was being generated, these rich investors managed to get pushed through a measure that allowed them to circumvent the law regarding tailgating on public streets: an entire block of Indiana St. is now cordoned off for home sports games so that tailgating income can be generated for the owners, nothing for the city. The private family owned housing across from the hotel be damned. That is, this high end hotel investment went sour, as the Tanger Mall and the Riverside Mall did.

Now that a K-10 bypass around Lawrence has been all but completed, these same rich guys want to build a strip mall at the southern city border in the name of garnering more income, more for themselves than for the city, of course. The reason for a highway bypass is to bypass business concerns and quickly get to the other side of town. So, why yet another strip mall? Is anyone thinking here? If so, only of dollar signs—and who cares if it sours? R. L. Stevenson wrote a good novel that illustrates this point, though it is perhaps more apt for the oil industry: The Wrecker. A wrecked business is worth more than the good business; the wrecking is built into the design.

One wonders what will happen next in historical, pleasant almost to a park Lawrence. Of course, the park-like atmosphere of Lawrence ends at W. 23rd St. where strip mall mid-America begins and proceeds west at the intersection with Iowa St. before growing exponentially south. Shopping, shopping, shopping.

Oh! But even worse is coming!

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The Trouble with Lawrence Kansas

When the good idea of a free state, a place for nigs to become humans, Lawrence put itself up as that place, even after the oft-remembered Quantrill Raid and Burning. But this is no more. One of the notable things about now-adays Lawrence, KS, is its modern racism, which includes Injuns and wetbacks or, more appropriately, spics, as well as blacks. I say “more appropriately,” because the illegal immigrants that make sure we get the wonderful things that keep the American Dream alive cannot pronounce a long e, as in “speak.” There are some Chinese, too, but as they feed us, they are okay. As it were.

But this is not the most notable element of disgust these days. No. The more notable thing about Lawrence, KS, capital of arrogance and Dunning-Kruger, has to do with the medical profession. To wit:- the medical profession in Lawrence, KS has lost all sense of itself as a service to Mankind and any ethical imperative that might obtain from the Hippocratic Oath, which has become more akin to the Hypcritic Oath. Here as elsewhere.

The first abrogation of ethics and dedication comes via the Business Model of Medicine, which is not about medicine at all but about money. And it cost me my doctor of 30 years who suddenly did not have time to hear my stories. Now, this may sound rather petty but my stories are context and history. I am what is known as a good historian when it comes to diseases and disorders. In order to make an appropriate diagnosis context is important. The more so as, in my case, reaction to medications is so variant to the PR of Big PHRMA. And yet, with the wholesale adoption of the Business Model of Medicine by the entire practice, this physician who was once held to be perhaps the best in Lawrence and most certainly the best diagnostician suddenly threw in the towel on her Calling, as she once told me doctoring was for her; she threw that, her soul, into the waste heap.

Apparently what is important to her and all other doctors who have adopted the Business Model of Medicine is getting home on time, at a reasonable hour. Yet with the mandated 15 minutes per patient, it has not dawned on her and the others that they are working more than they did before. Yes. We complained about the long wait in the office before being seen; but we could not ever complain about the care we got. Personal.

Now, with the Business Model of Mecicine it’s screw the personal, screw the patient: what is important for the Business Model of Medicine is profit; that is to say, money, money, money because money makes the world go round, it makes the world go round, that clinking clanking sound.

She does not like the Business Model of Medicine but she is whole-heartedly bound by it. And, so, I do not see her any more.

This has been a great loss to me. As it has been to others who do not like and will not tolerate so many of Lawrence’s physicians, now almost totally owned, more or less, by the private local hospital, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, a monopoly that is rated by a branding business as one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals. If it is, god help the hospitals of the country. A branding business like Truven charges a fee for a “brand,” a catchy phrase, a one-liner that is guaranteed to generate income. Easy in Lawrence as the hospital is a monopoly. What choice do we have? Especially the poor, who are not wanted in Brownbackistan.

Let me explain. The Kansas governor is Sam Dale Brownback, a man who is bought and paid for and is, thus, very heavily invested in privatization. So much so that he has stolen from the public education budget to finance his own agenda, that is, the investiture of the much worse education produced by the privatization of schooling. He also has privatized, to great State debt, the Medicaid program. This allows doctors to “opt out” of one or the other of the three private companies that require money to run, money on top of what the feds pay; that is, the State of Kansas must pay the company to operate its Medicaid coverage program. Thus, a great debt incurred by the State.

The fact that practices and doctors get to “opt out” of one or the other of the three companies, means not only that ethical imperatives have been thrown to the wolves often for the most petty of reasons, but also means that some people are left without medical coverage. Poor people. Poor people, to Brownback, aren’t deserving. They have not done any pulling of themselves up by the bootstraps. A great American social myth, mind you, but a good cliché to hide behind for the inhuman. For Brownback, as with the Tea Partiers and the Libertarians, the poor should be damned to nonexistence because “if you can’t afford to pay, you deserve to die.” This is highly ironic, for these kinds of American Patriots scream and yell about the horrors of socialism (which they do not understand at all) and communism (which is all about an ages old prejudice) yet their stance is Marxist, though Marx is much more human about being inhuman; to wit:- if you do not work, you do not deserve to eat.

This is the question I have for the Business Model of Medicine: how can you appropriately diagnose a person’s disorder or disease in 15 minutes when you don’t have time for the personal or the contextual? This is, of course, a rhetorical question, for you can’t. People react differently to medication, Big PHRMA be damned, and the prescribing of medicine solely because Big PHRMA has said whatever is good is a prescription for trouble. But, really, who cares? For the trouble will take the poor fucker or the old fucker to the ER at the local monopolistic hospital which will wreak an amazing profit.

For me, who has had such trouble with medication side-effects, this is courting death. Indeed, I came close via an overdose of Lithium, though this is more to do with the Business Model of Medicine’s directive that all records of 10 yrs or older be set aside. Why did I suffer so? The necessary information that would have bypassed my toxic reaction and its attendant encephalopathy was 15 years old.

How many unavoidable problems and deaths could be avoided by having access to these records?

So it goes.

But this is not all. Concièrge Medicine has begun to seep, like a fast leaking faucet, into Lawrence medicine. Concièrge Medicine has no ethical base at all. It is even more money oriented that the Business Model of Medicine. Concièrge Medicine accepts no insurance, not even private. You pay a certain amount a month for coverage and access to the doctor. There are, of course, different programs all the way up to the, shall we say, Cadillac Program where you pay a high price for treatment. Concièrge Medicine is touted as medicine for all. However, with the least amount of coverage being around $40/mo, this touting is an outright lie. There are many people, all of them poor, who cannot afford such a fee. Oh, well, you know, they deserve to die, they can’t afford to pay.

There is a horrible capitalist mentality to this. Not that capitalism itself is a bad thing. But the mentality of money before anything else and develop, develop, develop is, somehow perversely associated with the American Dream, what led to The Dust Bowl and the present “drought” in California. Note: The Dust Bowl was called, for most of its existence, a drought. Interestingly, most of the Okies who made it to California were, in fact, Kansans.

These people, the doctors of Concièrge Medicine need to begin reading and paying attention to history, for not only are they willing disease and death on people for the Almighty Dollar, they are driving the end of the line, Crazed Caseys. The lies necessary to gain access to the American Dream eventually fall apart, as they did for Gatsby. And, as with every tragedy, the innocent are brought down as well. 

As Twain quipped, those who don’t read are more dangerous than those who can’t read.

So, in Lawrence, KS, the capital of the Free State, I am looking for a new doctor. Which, according to my immunologist, is what half of Lawrence is doing. I already ditched my long time doctor and I have ditched the doctor who practices by norms and averages and the graphs in her textbooks and whatever the hell Big PHRMA tells her and am now getting rid of one of the best doctors in Lawrence due to the petty refusal of one of the three private Medicaid companies, which could not happen under the Federal system. Am I having an easy time? No. Not at all.

No. I am not going to die. I will simply continue to cost the City and the State tons of money as it costs more than $800 just to pass through the doors of the private monopoly of Lawrence Memorial Hospital staffed by doctors who are more interested in saving their asses than in treating the admitted. . .and then come charges for the doctor, the drugs the tests and. . .whatever.

This, the medical deterioration of medicine into the pit of money hell, is the major problem besetting Lawrence, KS.

Wonder of wonder

And here I am again. At my site. And, suddenly, there are no uninvited, mysterious posts. My cut panorama, from the mountains, of a village in the dell is here. Have I effected this abrupt change? Or am I delusional? Hallucinating? Once, my family would have maintained the last of these choices, believing that I needed to get on meds to straighten out my thinking. What are we to make of the fact that the meds don’t work? That they were no good? That they were not needed? That I’m like uhh totally beyond help?

The abuse in families goes far beyond the parent and far beyond the physical. It is, in fact, worse to be beaten by language than by sticks, stones, switches, forearms, whatever’s at hand. Because of this, I tend to see  RD Laing’s rule of the abusive family to be the same as those for our abusive society, which he proposed: Rule A: Don’t. Rule A1: Rule A does not exist. Rule A2: Do not discuss the existence or non-existence of Rules A, A1 and A2. This allows the maintenance of a delusive world, which seems to be the be-all and end-all of the US, particularly the loaded, pitching Republican Party, in the name of the priority of the nuclear family. It’s a made-up world.

Jimsecor and I talk alot about made-up worlds, masks to deceive ourselves that everything’s okay, even while it’s much more like a deranged person’s cerebrations. A great heap of denial. Jimsecor as a writer makes up worlds, that’s his business; I, as editor, make sure he follows Poe’s verisimilitudinous guidelines. We know we are dealing in fiction as fiction. The abusers believe the fiction is reality and, in so doing, because they are hurting others, they are diagnosable delusional. The culture of make believe. At least Jimsecor is no longer relative. Society is another thing.

No one can blame him for wanting to escape this abuse, the delusion that he does not want to partake of. Matfield Green, KS is one of his choices. I’d prefer to be closer to civilization; but, too, I can see his reticence to let go of Rousseau’s Social Contract. I would, however, in a heartbeat accompany him back to China and the little known Linghu villagette in northern Zhejiang. One of his former students is from Linghu. He teases her no end, calling Linghu Zero Lake. Puns are wonderful, shi bu shi. Ling means, to the best of my knowledge, water chestnut. Water Chestnut Lake? There is a new town and an old town and a main road that might be 1/2 mile long. This student’s parents own the, THE grocery store in Linghu. And I use the term grocery store very loosely. Matfield Green’s about the same, though it has a cowboy bar, to give it color. Matfield Green is on the National Historical Record for its ranches. Indeed, much of Chase County, KS is a historic record, including the lost, abandoned, flooded out Saffordville. There was massive flooding in KS in 1951. Saffordville, along the Cottonwood Falls River, did not survive.

For lovers of ghost towns, Kansas is a bonanza. Perhaps Jimsecor (and me) will become part of the ghost town populace. Hopefully, any ghost town rummagers will arrive during one of his euthymic periods or one of his hypomanic periods. Ghost of a chance. Otherwise, I will have to run to their rescue as he will make them most unwelcome.

We are happy to say that we will be celebrating our favorite holiday, Holloween, in our new apt. Please stop by. Bring candy corn and hard liquor, as Jimsecor is a beer snob.

The problem with Wordpress

I am registered as Minna vaner Pfaltz, my pseudonym. I have a direct link to this wordpress account. But I am told, upon opening this site/page, that I am NOT Minna vander Pfaltz. Not only that but, upon opening my site, I find several posts from whoeverthefuck, articles I and Minna find utterly repulsive. But who to complain to?  Jeff the Happiness Enervator (I take liberties here) is not in the last interested because WordPress is never wrong. It cannot be. Anyone with half a brain could follow the given e-mail and find that, well duh!, it belongs to Jimsecor. What the hell is going on here? I’m sure that whoeverthehell posted to MY site has no idea where the title came from or what it means. How the hell did this happen?

This is my site. Mine and Minna vander Pfaltz’s. It does not belong to these other anatomic excretive valves. Yet they can post here and I cannot. (I went around the block to manage this.) I am told this is not my site and I must exit the program and enter via whateverthehell WordPress wants me to, though WordPress does not say just what it is I’m supposed to re-enter under. . . since I don’t exist and did not establish this page, though I can prove it.

Homer Simpson at his airhead blonde sorority sister cheerleader valley girl best has more sense.

Minna vander Pfaltz and James L. Secor

Changing over

Those familiar with labelleotero are now here. Talesofthefloatingworld comes about from problems that would not fix.This is the fix for the lovely, incomparable and very numinous Minna vander Pfaltz, whom Jimsecor might call a Familiar. I occasionally let him mount essays and whatnot here and he tells me there will soon be an update on the ludicrous happenings in Lawrence, a town that fits Dunning-Kruger to a T. Truly an oddity considering KS’s governor, Sam Dale Brownback, a nobody til he married publishing money, played toady to Bush II and got hysterical over a mole on his back and apparently saw God. Not quite like seeing the Fairy King over a mushroom hood but certainly of the same fantastical nature. Jimsecor is extremely cynical and disgusted over Brownback’s harrowing encounter with death via mole, as he himself bled out in 1999. He does not talk about this much, only to say he got no enlightenment, which may be a kind of enlightenment nonetheless. I have followed Jimsecor since we first met across the country and into Europe and Russia, and thence to the Far East: Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong (which many Americans believe is China; it is not, though China’s governors want it to be for good capitalist reasons).

Along with this new blog site comes a new apt, albeit not really ours yet. Nevertheless, the promise is there and the money is rolling in, kind of like Sisyphus pushing his stone up the hill. It is on the first floor, given there is a ground floor, for which we are not totally thrilled as our wheelchaired friends cannot visit and I fret over his falling down the stairs (Jimsecor is a fall risk, managing 2-3 episodes/yr). But it is larger than the present dormitory type room and much more open and bright. Jimsecor will be able to set his office aside, in the second bedroom; I prefer to write on the kitchen table so I can yell at the cat for strewing my papers hither and yon as he scrambles over the polished oak surface in chase of. . .whatever it is cats see. We will have to line the balcony with something to keep the little g-kids from falling off.

Speaking of g-kids. . .Aurora, now 2, was born on Jimsecor’s birthday. As he has no family, she and her brothers and sisters have been a boon to him. Me, too, when he lets me get in the mix. There is a picture of her taking a bath. She cannot say her name, managing only “Rora.” Very headstrong, full of “No” and, though indulged, not spoiled by her grandpa. But we do not get to see them often enough. Isn’t that the way it is?

Jimsecor will be undergoing TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an attempt to gain some kind of control over his treatment resistant depression. Without such control, he is tossed about like a rat in a cage as his moods swing into and about his person. Before returning to the States in 2010, from China via a stop in Liverpool, his Bipolar I was not so disruptive. Since returning, he has spent half the time not writing, the publications coming right at the beginning of the 2 1/2 yr dry period. This is the last resort. Please, gods and goddesses, let it be successful! I will not abandon him as family, friends and lovers have; but living with an out of control Bipolar I is not rosy. I think, though, I handle it better than Zelda did F. Scott’s; however, Jimsecor’s not a raging alcoholic. If there is no resolution, we will be going to live in a “populated area,” either here in KS or in China, where he does have family: adopted girls. And students he is still in contact with.

“Populated area”: a ghost town has no people in it. A populated area has some. Very some. Matfield Green, KS has 49, a cowboy bar and a grocery, along with an artist’s retreat and a couple ranches on the National Historical Register. Linghu, Zhejiang, China has a main road of 1/2 mile and is the hometown of one of his students; her parents own THE grocery store. There is an old town along the polluted canal and out a ways from the “town” centre is Gu Jia Michelle’s grandparents’ house, where she was raised. Jimsecor would like to have indoor plumbing put in and move in; Gu Jia is somewhat resistant to the idea, believing he won’t be able to manage on his own with his (and my) slim Chinese ability. I wonder because Linghu is 45 minutes by furious bus over both paved and unpaved road from Huzhou, the nearest big town. I think the nearest town period. We both would like to move to Whorehouse Meadows, OR but it is not a town, just a beautiful spot of greenery in an otherwise arid area where, once, whores were housed in tents to keep the RR workers content.

And that’s about where we are at the moment, with me taking care of the mundanities of life and the editing and other business concerns, all of which frustrate the hell out of Jimsecor. I don’t mind. Jimsecor is my populated area.

The dishes await.