Giving It All Away Two heirs to the Kauffman and Bloch families are extraordinarily committed to preserving their legacies.
NOVEMber 2008 VOL. 2, NO. 10 $4.95
Winds of Change
Economic and environmental development by wind energy
A guide to creating your own local â€œstaycationâ€?
TakeTwo, Grinders West, Czar Bar, Bikers Against Child Abuse
From all of us at Team Portfolio, congratulations to you and to everyone at Boveri Realty Group on receiving recognition from the Downtown Council of Kansas City for your ongoing commitment to the downtown area. We have been big fans of Boveri Realty and Urban Times for quite a while and know that this prestigious honor is well deserved. Kansas City once again has a downtown to be proud of, and itâ€™s due in large part to the efforts of people like you and your staff. Keep up the good work! Sincerely, Geri Higgins & Team Portfolio
Speak KC is your chance to be heard. We want to hear from you. This magazine is a cheerleader for KC to carry on the momentum that has finally begun in our great city. Share your thoughts about what we are doing right and how we can improve this place we call home. Please submit all letters and articles to email@example.com.
The Best Event I Never Saw
The last time I attended a political rally, John Kennedy was running for president and I wasn’t old enough to vote. By the time this goes to print (barring hanging chads and other misdeeds), someone will be the next president and the relentless ads and robocalls will, mercifully, have ceased. What I will hold onto is the way Kansas City came together on a glorious fall afternoon on the lawn at Liberty Memorial. After some creative parking on a strip of grass far below the mall, I trudged up countless hills, each one steeper than the other, with thousands of my fellow citizens. What we found at the top of the last hill was a line, snaking from all directions as far as eyes could see. However, this was no ordinary line. Oh no. People were happy to be in it! All kinds of people, walking and waiting for an hour or more simply to get to the end of the line. So what if you found friends way ahead? Nobody minded if you cut in. Try that at the airport or grocery store. Happy, smiling people everywhere—spontaneous dancing! The only angry words I heard came from the mounted police when they ordered a bunch of us off a wall where we’d scored a seat. For a few hopeful minutes, nobody stirred. I’m starting a sixties flashback. Civil disobedience! Stay where you are! But then they yelled even louder and made the horses snort and act scary. We caved. It’s 2008. Never did see the stage. Had to watch the news to see which tie was chosen. The whole thing was remarkable—the best event I never saw. Margi Dasta Westside, Kansas City, Mo.
Speak KC is your chance to be heard. We want to hear from you. This magazine is a cheerleader for KC to carry on the momentum that has finally begun in our great city. Share your thoughts about what we are doing right and how we can improve this place we call home. Please submit all letters and articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the PUBLISHER
Publisher / editor in chief
Christina Boveri email@example.com / (816) 606-1398 MANAGING EDITOR
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Welcome to change. I ask of you through this holiday season to reach out to those in need. We have experienced a slowdown, and now is the time to pick ourselves up and support growth. I had an interview last month with a very well-known publication, and somehow the spin on the article turned out negative. I asked the reporter, “What if we just all banded together (print, radio, TV, Internet) and only conveyed the positive? What would that do to our economy?” I have watched the effect the media has had on the community, and I think a lot of it is absolutely unnecessary. I am not trying to ignore the reality of what is going on in life, but I feel we could all focus on what we can do right and not what everyone else is doing wrong. The power of the people can do amazing things in this world, and sometimes we need to cover our ears to see clearly and not let the media affect our thoughts and our actions. We at Urban Times have been consistent in conveying the good and not concentrating on the bad. We have continued to educate and motivate our readership. I appreciate all of the positive feedback that we receive every month by letter and email from all of you. We have a couple of new things going on this month. Crystal, our managing editor, decided to add a crossword puzzle. The first person to send the completed crosswords to us will get a $50 gift certificate to one of our amazing venues in KC. The catch is that you have to read the current issue’s stories in order to answer all of the questions. Kudos to her. I like it. Also in this issue we have Grinders West and The Kemper opening up in the Crossroads, along with power brunching in the Kansas City Power & Light District. Hope you all enjoy. Just a reminder to our readers: We do a special holiday issue for December/January to give our staff a much-deserved break. Thank you, and let’s all do the right thing and create positive change.
Copy Editor Lucy Sutton Contributing Writers Ray Barker, Shanna DiPaolo, Gina M. Estes, Gloria Gale, Miun Gleeson, Lisa Waterman Gray, Mike Hurd, Alexi Kontras, Kevin Kuzma, Kathleen Leighton, Fletcher Lodestar, Diana Lambdin Meyer, Rachel C. Murphy, Melina Neet, Justin Robinson, Sally Wilson CREATIVE
Art Director Brenda Lyman Designers Laura Anderson, Luis J. Garcia, Dave Gilbertson, Dana Hill, Justin Kite, Rhianna Weilert Photographers Jonathan Hoke, Aaron Lindberg, Forrest MacDonald, Dennis McCormack, Phil Peterson, Charles Stonewall, Alistair Tutton, Jennifer Wetzel Web Design
360 Ideas ADVERTISING
For advertising inquiries please call (816) 285-8877 or email email@example.com. Urban Times Kansas City 1819 Wyandotte, Kansas City, MO 64108 www.urbantimeskc.com subscriptions
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NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
COVER PHOTOGRAPHED BY phil peterson
14 TakeTwo Gets the Shot Right
For 20 years, TakeTwo (T2)’s growth has been a microcosm of the Crossroads, where it began a journey it continues in its spaciously renovated offices not far from Urban Times’ offices. T2’s Teri Rogers has put Kansas City on the map with her focus on design-driven production that lures advertising agencies, LA film crews, and Fortune 500 companies alike.
16 The Czar Bar Power
the First Time and Scores a Film Project for Kansas City
is in its Ambiguity
The 100-percent locally owned Czar Bar is using the success of the Kansas City Power & Light District to create an atmosphere completely different from anything currently offered in the urban core.
18 Kickin’ It in Cowtown
A funny thing happened to Kansas City over the summer. KC was selected by an influential, New York-based business magazine as one of 12 cities to watch. Even for the cynics, such rankings create a bit of pride.
20 Just Head West
Hungry for something healthy in the Crossroads? The owners of Grinders have an option for you—just head west.
22 To Dine For
Brunch. The term is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch(eon). The Sunday brunch origin dates back to 1896, when servants would set out a buffet of cold items that would be self-serve for the rest of the house.
26 Urban Treasures
For a side of history with your purchases, check out Harry J. Epstein Co.’s four floors of inventory, where customers can find everything from professional quality American-made hand tools to grappling hooks and British marching compasses.
30 Tough Love
Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) is an organization that is dedicated to the principle that one of the rights of childhood is to be safe and protected. The members of BACA are indeed intimidating, but they are also tattooed teddy bears with hearts as big as their biceps.
Arts & Entertainment
58 The Kemper Comes to the Crossroads You remember it as Dolphin Gallery, but it now houses the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art’s newest location, Kemper at the Crossroads. And it opens just in time for First Friday.
60 The Universe at Your Feet
62 Rockstar 101
65 Winds of Change
life & style
70 Arterra: The Future of
The Voyage Solar System scale model now installed on downtown streets is more than just a new attraction to draw families downtown. City officials see it as a way to increase walkability. School of Rock is all about fostering a new generation of young musicians.
As our region faces the uncertainties of a changing world, wind energy provides the blueprint for modern environmental and economic development.
72 The Martial Artist
Kansas City native and martial arts expert Bryan Carroll offers his students young and old life-changing lessons. He juggles the needs of family life just as he’s hitting the big time as one of a select few individuals to compete in Chuck Norris’ World Combat League.
32 Harvey Girls: Ladies in Waiting
It was not the elegance of his restaurants, the quality of his food, or the tale of the boy from London that came to America and created a culinary empire that is the legacy of Fred Harvey. It was the prim and proper waitresses known as the Harvey Girls that will forever be his claim to fame.
74 Test Your Knowledge of Kansas City! Use the articles in Urban Times to find answers to the clues, then send in your puzzle for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge!
36 Living Downtown with Kids
Downtown Kansas City has sprung back to life, but it’s not only the Kansas City Power & Light District providing urban energy. There’s a youthful enthusiasm popping up as young families with children move downtown.
52 life & style
75 Downtown Kansas City’s
52 Giving it All Away
Almost everyone in Kansas City is familiar with the last names Kauffman and Bloch. But beyond the reputation and the good deeds that each family is known for are two heirs that are carrying on the family legacy on their own terms.
Movers and Shakers
life & style
80 Hustle, then Flow
84 Feasts of Nature
Call him what you want—inspired cavalier, romper-room sophisticate—Joe West is a maverick. This boy wonder has infused his curiosity and passion for food into the Delaware Café, a River Market mainstay.
39 KC Destinations
In an age when gas prices have skyrocketed, the economy has plunged, and the newest trend in travel is the “staycation,” it seems like people have given up on discovering new things. What most people don’t realize, though, is that there is much to discover and experience right here in Kansas City.
the Freight House District
Arterra brings a stylish modern sensibility to one of downtown’s most attractive established neighborhoods.
From music and theater to arts and festivals, we have you covered with a month full of great entertainment in Kansas City.
and Cuisine in Tucson
Rich, diverse cuisine combined with unique landscapes and plenty of activities to enjoy the outdoor make Tucson an ideal winter destination for Kansas City snowbirds.
88 Fletcher Lodestar
Our resident wordsmith calls it as he sees it—and pulls no punches.
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
profile A growing amount of that commercial work comes from outside Kansas City, which T2 is putting on the map with the quality of its work and professionalism of Rogers’ staff. The company’s website (www.t2.tv) gives clients and the curious alike a precise picture of the video and production excellence that takes place on a daily basis.
These days, a growing amount of the production work completed by T2 comes from working with West Coast and East Coast filmmakers. Springfield, Mo., native director Brent Huff recently chose T2 to assist in postproduction of his film Last Will, which is based on a true story and is being shot in the Kansas City area. On the same day that McCaskill stops in for the interview feed, there’s a meeting on an IMAX production, We the People; meanwhile, various editors and designers are at work on myriad high-profile projects, ranging from a Time Warner commercial to a corporate piece for Sprint Center shareholders. Recently, T2 has rebranded for ABC’s station ID, as well as that of the Hallmark Channel through the channel’s LA offices. “We do an awful lot of television and cable television rebranding. We did it for MGM Network, which is not even in the United States,” Rogers says. The MGM Network rebranding involved long hours and, probably, UN-caliber diplomacy, since 13 countries were represented in the rebranding. These days, a growing amount of the production work completed by T2 comes from working with West Coast and East Coast filmmakers. Springfield,
It’s a busy afternoon at TakeTwo (T2), the “design-driven production and postproduction company” in the Crossroads District. Engineers in the control room, waiting for Senator Claire McCaskill in makeup, check their Vivax link. T2 is one of a handful of companies in Kansas City that own the video software, which allows for remote feeds between a television studio and a control room via satellite. Within minutes, McCaskill is in place in the studio, where she answers questions from a CNN anchor. The interview is a brief one, and McCaskill is out the door moments afterward with a smile and wave to Teri Rogers, the CEO of T2. “If it’s going to be aired on a national news show, it’s likely going to be filmed here,” Rogers says. The trajectory of T2 has been a focused one for Rogers, whose staff has grown from 14 to 35 since transitioning from a video department for a Fortune 500 company in the late ‘80s. When that company, Payless Cashways, went
Mo., native director Brent Huff recently chose T2 to assist in postproduction of his film Last Will, which is based on a true story and is being shot in the Kansas City area. “The perception of just being in this facility made [the film crew] feel comfortable,” says Rogers, who is a vice chair of the Greater Kansas City Film Commission. Though her staff didn’t have a lot of film experience, per se, they did have experience with high-end commercials with big budgets. This and Rogers’ accommodating the visiting film crew by offering a location scout won over the LA crew; Kansas City beat out Michigan, which was the other contender for locale for the 24 days the crew will be shooting. “We knew that if we had the talent in KC and this facility in KC, we’d have the kind of caliber to change perceptions wherever we went,” Rogers says. “And that’s proven to be true.” Part of what makes the environment of T2 a pleasing blend of business and casual is its overhaul by Helix Architecture + Design. Rogers, knowing the atmosphere she wanted to create, had the building gutted. She also had the front of the building majorly changed to incorporate a balcony overlooking the burgeoning Crossroads area, and provided a meeting room and bar area that can be enjoyed by clients and by employees taking a foosball break. “TakeTwo has certainly evolved since it broke away from Payless,” Rogers says. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve had significant growth and improvement toward visual effects and motion design. It’s still pretty much a male-dominated field. It’s a technical field, and I have a lot of technical people who work for me—and surprisingly, most of them are guys—but the business is more women. I’d say the company is split right down the middle.” With Kansas City becoming an increasingly viable city for filmmakers looking for locations for their films, T2 is poised to enjoy the fruits of being the long-standing innovator of its design-centric production work. “We’re more of a visual city than anybody knows,” Rogers says. “And it’s an environment where people are excited to work with them.” For more information, visit www.t2.tv or call (816) 471-6554.
through some shakeup due to a hostile takeover attempt, Rogers decided to branch out by offering video services to other companies. “First, we went after work to cover our expenses; gradually, we became a profit center for Payless and we created a separate marketing identity,” Rogers says in the airy, uniquely renovated building the company moved into in 2005 from its previous building, also in the Crossroads District. The name TakeTwo refers to Rogers’ company being an outgrowth of a video department of Payless, which was called Take One. In 1998, Rogers bought the company with two business partners, but she became the sole owner in 2002. Building on relationships already developed through Payless, T2 has evolved into a design-centered company that takes both corporate and commercial work. Corporate—companies such as Sprint, Cerner, and Hallmark—represents a third of T2’s business; the rest is commercial.
WRITTEN BY MELINA NEET PHOTOGRAPHED BY ALISTAIR TUTTON 14
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
The Czar bar Power is in its Ambiguity
Written By Justin Robinson Photographed by Charles Stonewall
It’s just after sunset on a Friday night, and downtown Kansas City is already crawling with people. Although it will be hours before the masses head to the bars, it takes about 20 minutes before I find a free parking space near Truman Road and Grand Boulevard. The atmosphere in the urban core tonight would not have been seen there just 12 months ago and couldn’t even have been imagined five years ago. But as Sprint Center hosted its first NBA preseason basketball game, people soon realized there was a new reality in Kansas City. With the influx of nationally known restaurants, bars, and athletic events, there is no doubt that the heart of the city is beating loudly—and more importantly, providing life throughout its arteries.
URBAN TIMES november NOVEMBER 2008
One of the most recent recipients of the transfusion is my destination tonight: Czar Bar at 1531 Grand Blvd. That is just one block south of Sprint Center, where a few other locally owned businesses are starting to give birth to a sort of new district in the city. The part of Grand where Czar Bar is located was “flakey” just three years ago, according to General Manger Tony Davis. Now he’s able to watch the birth of his first establishment largely due to the development that he’s currently trying to distinguish himself from. “Would you be here without the Power & Light District and the Sprint Center?” I ask Davis. “Absolutely not,” he replies. “This used to be a blighted area; now it’s thriving. In the urban core, you used to have to watch yourself during the day.
“I love dive bars, but I wanted to step it up in here from a typical dive bar,” says Czar Bar General Manger Tony Davis. Now, people are walking dogs at night.” As I walk into Czar Bar, without a dog, it honestly is nothing like I expected. Then again, with a name like Czar Bar, what should you expect? Nothing, according to Davis. “It’s a Russian name, but obviously we’re not a Russian bar,” he says. “We want to make it ambiguous. What does the name mean to you?” “No comment,” I reply. Although it’ll have live music, Czar Bar does not want to be a typical rock bar. Although it’ll have a DJ and dancing, Czar Bar does not want to be referred to as a typical dance club. Although it’s designed to resemble a Chicago-style bar, you’re not going to find deep-dish pizza there either—which, as a pizza connoisseur, is disappointing to me. “I love dive bars, but I wanted to step it up in here from a typical dive bar,” Davis says. As we sit and talk, a band is setting up and getting ready to play. Davis says Billy Smith, who has a lot of connection within the music scene, is in charge of booking groups. “He has deep ties into the booking industry,” he says. “I think people will be surprised at who we have here from time to time. There may be artists you don’t expect to see in a room this size.” I can’t even nail Davis down on what type of artists. Czar Bar and its owners seem to be all about ambiguity and avoiding labels. Davis is expecting a more eclectic type of atmosphere, something that you would not see a block up the road in the area that’s almost responsible for Czar Bar’s very existence in its current location. “It’s going to be something very different here,” Davis says. The first difference from many of the locations in the Kansas City Power & Light District is that Czar Bar is 100-percent locally owned. The bar hopes to reach the more cultured, individual, and art community crowd. Also targeted is anyone who likes to think out of the box. While the atmosphere is much more relaxed and unique than the locations I’ve visited up the street, will that be enough to compete? Davis says he believes so, that he has a good team and isn’t scared of competition.
“If you feel fear, this is the wrong business to be in,” he says. If it’s the right business, it’s hard to think that after talking about it for six or seven years, right now is the right time to actually open it. Czar Bar opened in early September, and since that time, you may have heard of a little economic crisis, credit freeze, and free-fall of the stock market. Davis says the economic woes definitely are not helping right now, but Czar Bar is still getting good crowds in the evenings. He does find comfort in one thing. “I think in good times, people like to drink; and in bad times, people like to drink,” he says. Drinks are flowing at Czar Bar Monday through Friday from 3 p.m., and doors open at 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, visit www.czarbar.com.
Upcoming Music at Czar Bar: 11.04
Grand Buffet Election Party
Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist Tour with Army Navy, The Takeover UK, and The Shys
The Goodfoot Motown Soul Music Revue
11.14/15 Fling movie premier weekend with very special performances 11.19
Cast Offs and Scarlett Garnet Fall Fashion Show (with Hope House)
november NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
the downtown Kickin’ it in Cowtown beat WRIT TEN BY mike hurd
A funny thing happened to Kansas City over the summer. KC was selected by an influential, New York-based business magazine as one of 12 cities to watch. That part is certainly cool enough. It’s exhilarating to be recognized by objective thought leaders. Even for the cynics, such rankings create a bit of pride. But this recognition goes beyond that. The rankings did not compare Kansas City against other cities in the region. And they didn’t remind us once again that we’re in one of the smaller metro markets in the nation. No, this listing was different. Kansas City was selected in June by Fast Company magazine as one of 12 “hot spots” to watch worldwide. That may seem like no big deal for some other cities, but it’s new terrain for Kansas City. All too many of us who call the cowtown home harbor somewhat of an inferiority complex about how we are perceived nationally—much less internationally. It’s not that Kansas Citians don’t have pride, we’re just swimming in Midwestern humility. Oh sure, we like to boast of being a majorleague city, but the franchises that earn us that distinction—the Chiefs and Royals—absolutely,
Kansas City was selected in June by Fast Company magazine as one of 12 “hot spots” to watch worldwide.
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
unequivocally, perennially, and possibly permanently suck wind. Historically, we like to point to breakout, highprofile developments, such as the Truman Sports Complex and Kansas City International Airport, as feathers in the city’s cap. And when they opened in the early 1970s, they were. And yet, there we are on the A list. Fast Company, the epitome of business-hip, ranks Kansas City alongside cities such as Bejing; Barcelona, Spain; Seattle; Calgary, Alberta; Doha, Qatar; and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on its 2008 Fast Cities. This is such new turf for us that I bet I’m not the only Kansas Citian who had to visit Google Earth to figure out where Doha actually is. The June issue of Fast Company introduced readers to its two Cities of the Year, as well as the 12 cities—KC included—that are at the tipping point of greater things to come. “The great urban theorist Jane Jacobs wrote about ‘cities of exuberant diversity,’ and in our 2008 Cities of the Year, London and Chicago, we have two stellar examples. They and our 12 cities to watch are no utopias (we’re still looking). But amid economic uncertainty, they’re vibrant, creative, and growing,” Fast Company reported. “These hot spots, these Fast Cities, are full of life and bursting with diversity—in race, in culture, and in business.” Senior Editor Jeff Chu acknowledges that Kansas City may seem like a surprising choice, but his team of writers and reporters researched dozens of cities before making their decision. So, what makes a city fast? “It’s kind of loose term. ‘Fast’ means creative and vibrant and economically dynamic, but there are really some things you can’t quantify,” Chu says. “It’s the virtues of a city that make it a place
Mike Hurd is a columnist for the Urban Times. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kansas City is receiving accolades because it is embracing and celebrating its own unique voice, culture, and attitude. The ol’ Cowtown is new again and still kickin’ it. where people want to be. But it goes beyond its own borders. A Fast City is also a place that has influence in the broader world. It has reach in terms of its citizens and what they are doing.” Chu credits the revitalization of downtown as one of the essential reasons the magazine selected Kansas City for its list. “A $9 billion redevelopment is restoring downtown KC’s shine with the new Sprint Center and Steven Holl’s glorious expansion of the Nelson-Atkins Museum,” Fast Company reported in June. “The Missouri city also anchors a new animalhealth corridor—a bovine Silicon Valley—that’s home to more than 120 bioscience firms. The hope is that this old cowtown’s new spin will boost job growth and keep young people from seeking greener pastures.” Kansas City is receiving accolades because it is embracing and celebrating its own unique voice, culture, and attitude. The ol’ cowtown is new again and still kickin’ it. To learn more about the Fast Cities, make plans to hear Fast Company senior editor Jeff Chu at the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Friday, Dec. 5, at Sprint Center. For details, check out www.downtownkc.org.
Written by Shanna DiPaolo Photographed by Jennifer Wetzel
The walls may be an electric shade of blue, but Grinders West is all green— the light fixtures, the kitchen appliances, the water heater, and even the menu. A new restaurant in the Crossroads District, Grinders West opened in October at 415 East 18th St. and lends an eco-chic, health-conscious vibe to the neighborhood while building on the Grinders brand. In the four years that Grinders owners Anton Kotar and Stretch have operated their original Grinders restaurant, they’ve seen the business expand along with the Crossroads District. The dim, cozy space, crammed with tables and funky memorabilia, is popular with locals and tourists alike for its extensive beer selection and homemade pizza. In 2007, the pair turned the abandoned lot behind the restaurant into a successful music venue, attracting popular artists such as Wilco and G. Love & Special Sauce. Now Grinders is a onestop destination for pizza, beer, and rock ’n’ roll, with people flocking to the neighborhood during the annual Crossroads Music Fest. Even with a restaurant full of regulars and a successful summer festival, Kotar and Stretch aren’t ready to slow down. The two noticed a lack of East Coast-style delis in the area and decided they should open one, expanding into the empty space next door. “A lot of our regular customers are in here every night,” Kotar says. “We want to offer them a healthy alternative.” That meant building a restaurant with an environmentally friendly philosophy and a fresh, nutritious menu. Grinders West is sleek and open, with light streaming in from the street and an emphasis on a modern aesthetic.
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Poured-concrete floors sparkle with shards of blue glass from Stretch’s Skyy Vodka bottle collection. The tables function as display cases, filled with creations from local artists. The west wall features a larger-than-life light installation with LED lightbulbs blinking patterns of color every few seconds. The other light fixtures throughout the restaurant are fashioned from recycled materials and use compact fluorescent bulbs. An energy-efficient water heater provides the restaurant with hot water on demand, and solar panels collect energy to power the neon sign outside. A gleaming stainless-steel kitchen stands in the back of the restaurant, open to the dining room. The menu is a spin on a neighborhood delicatessen— offering soups, salads, sandwiches, and pasta. Customers place their orders at a counter, customizing each dish to their personal taste. “We have a full salad line, with a rotating list of homemade dressings,” Kotar says. “All of our pastas and soups are made in our kitchen.” Those in a hurry can take their meal to go, and a full-service deli case gives busy customers the option of ordering MSG- and trans-fat-free meats and cheeses to carry home. Grinders West serves alcohol—but think wine, not beer. “We’re not going to have anything on tap here,” Kotar says. “This is a neater atmosphere.” The idea isn’t to draw customers away from Grinders, but to attract more people to both restaurants and, ultimately, to bring larger crowds to the
Crossroads. “We love Grinders,” Kotar says. “But we want to give everyone more options. This will give them another place to go.” The new space fits seamlessly into Grinders’ philosophy of providing Kansas City with a place for specialty beers and live music. Kotar and Stretch envision Grinders West as a VIP lounge during summertime concerts. “We want to turn the restaurant into box seating,” Kotar says. “People can host parties in here
while the band is playing; they can order drinks and appetizers and rest in the air conditioning. We’ll have secure parking for them, and a projection system will broadcast the concert.” Those not fortunate enough to have VIP access during a show but not wanting to fight the crowd at Grinders will have the option of grabbing a quick burger, brat, or beer from Grinders West. The windows facing the venue will open into the kitchen for an easy vending area. Kotar says he hopes the added options will translate into larger crowds. “The scenes of Grinders and Grinders West will draw in different people and ultimately benefit the venue,” he says. Regular restaurant service and VIP concert seating will be just two functions for the multipurpose space. Grinders West will also be available for private parties and corporate functions, as well as catering meetings and events. Eventually, Kotar and Stretch would like to offer cooking classes and other events to the community. They hope these efforts will benefit not only their own restaurants but other Crossroads enterprises as well. “I’m not sure how it’s all going to work together,” Kotar says. “But you gotta love it. I like seeing the plan come together.” If the plan consists of running a popular business, providing Kansas City with good food and music, and drawing more people to the Crossroads District, it’s working. For more information, visit www.grinderspizza.com.
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
Bristol Seafood Grill
Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge
On a Indian summer Sunday morning, guests to the Kansas City Power & Light District are waking up to sunshine, a mild breeze, temperatures in the mid 70s, and a feeling that almost no one wants to be inside. On one of the last warm weekends, the Bristol Seafood Grill patio on the south side of East 14th Street, between Main and Walnut in the heart of the district, is getting warmed up by noon. The Bristol opened its doors for brunch in August, and business is steadily improving. True to its heritage, diners can expect to enjoy the freshest ocean fare, meticulously prepared and presented with imagination, style, and simplicity in an elegant yet easygoing atmosphere. The restaurant is beautiful, decorated with an urban feel; it’s spacious with lots of room to sit. There are tall ceilings, a prominent bar, an open-display kitchen, matching wood tables, and a sense of elegance. The Bristol Seafood Grill delivers a rich and indulgent dining experience, offering seafood flown in daily from both coasts, quality wine selections, and an ever-changing chef’s repertoire based on the day’s catch. Specialty menu items include Maryland Crab Cakes, its signature sweet drop biscuits, decadent desserts, and one of the Bristol’s fresh seasonal selections such as live Maine lobster. On the brunch fare: Wild Mushroom Quiche ($11.50); Seared Salmon Benedict with poached eggs, Atlantic salmon filet, hollandaise sauce, and potato griddle cakes ($14.50); or Sweet Potato Pancakes or French Toast Napoleon with honey butter and Vermont maple syrup ($11.50). To drink: Mimosas and Bloody Marys. The crowd: Upscale, lots of couples, groups of friends, and out-of-towners. Recommended dish: Crab & Spinach Omelet: jumbo lump crab meat, spinach, red onion, tomato, cheddar cheese, and asparagus ($13.50), served with potato cakes, fresh fruit compote, a homemade cinnamon twist hot from the oven, and the signature biscuits. This omelet melts in my mouth. It is absolutely delicious. My friend enjoys the filet mignon, mashed sweet potatoes, and grilled asparagus. We also sample the Smoked Duck Trap Salmon appetizer. Michael Jacobs and Brad Douglas, of Midtown, choose to eat indoors. This is their second time to the brunch before heading to an event downtown. Both say the meals are excellent and they love the contemporary urban atmosphere. A la carte brunch is served Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The full menu, which is printed every day, is also available until 4 p.m. Reservations are accepted online or by phone.
Just around the corner, Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge serves up Sunday brunch with a touch of Southern hospitality from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Maker’s Mark is an innovative and upscale restaurant with a hip and swanky lounge subtly emphasizing the world famous Maker’s Mark bourbon brand. First-time visitor to the Power & Light District Dave Karnes, from Shawnee, Kan., is enjoying brunch with his 10-year-old granddaughter Brooke. The two make several trips to the full brunch, which includes a carving station, an omelet bar, Belgian waffles, salmon croquettes, whiskey-glazed salmon, wild rice pilaf, grits, roasted herb potatoes, Brussels sprouts, succotash, biscuits and gravy, and slow-cooked barbecue brisket marinated in Maker’s Mark bourbon barbecue sauce and topped with crusty fried Vidalia onions. “Our approach to brunch is to incorporate Kansas City feel with Southern charm,” says Jason Wiggin, sous chef. “We offer a laid-back environment where customers can come in relax, watch a little TV on a Sunday afternoon in a family-oriented atmosphere.” Wiggin says its all about the Southern hospitality, comfort food, and feeling welcome. Along with brunch is an extensive Bloody Mary bar with all the extras. Recommended dish: Made-to-order omelets from the chef and a big slab of honey-glazed ham. I hear the biscuits and gravy are excellent, but I’m just too full to eat them. The brisket is tender and has a wonderful flavor. The Belgian waffle is smothered in butter and real syrup from Vermont and has a hint of cinnamon. Coffee refills are prompt. Added extra: Smooth live jazz featuring the Gerald Spaits Trio along with Charles Perkins on the saxophone, flute, and clarinet and Danny Embrey on guitar. We catch some guests toe-tapping to the music. The servers are laid-back and accommodating at the same time. In fact, they talk up how the restaurant is packed and lines form at lunch and dinner. The crowd is eclectic—from couples to groups of friends enjoying jazz to families, both inside and outside. Brunch runs $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children 12 and under. Reservations are accepted online or by phone. For more information on Bristol Seafood Grill, visit www.bristolseafoodgrill.com or call (816) 448-6007; for information on Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, visit www.makersmarkrestaurant.com or call (816) 442-8115.
Written By Sally Wilson Photograph provided by maker’s mark bourbon house & lounge
Brunch. The term is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch(eon).
The Sunday brunch origin dates back to 1896, when servants would set out a buffet of cold items that would be self-serve for the rest of the house. 22
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urban report a wedding registry there with his fiancée told Urban Times about the store. Although most customers are men, Steve says, female iron and sheet-metal workers come in for tools of the trade, and some women purchase items for the men in their lives. Many international customers have learned about Harry J. Epstein Co. through the Internet. Jori created the company’s first website about eight years ago while he attended college in Seattle, and he continued his web work while attending and then graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute. Steve credits another longtime employee, Sue Mayer, with “figuring out how to get the world to find us, and now [we get] many orders per day.” Internet customers have plenty to choose from too; the website has gradually expanded from four or five pages to 700. Online business has been so good, in fact, that the Sackins have stopped attending semi-annual conventions for surplus dealers. The company often deals with customers in Australia and England, and occasionally, it works with people in Hong Kong, Norway, and Indonesia. Others come from Canada, England, and throughout Europe. The Sackins filled a big order to Bulgaria in September while working on another big order for a Thai customer, and they sent World War I army helmets to a South American customer. They also watch for great opportunities such as the 5 tons of wrenches they bought from a man in Dutch Harbor, Ala. Despite a customer base that spans the globe, Steve says he has was only had one recent payment issue with a customer. “He was a Saudi customer who was sometimes slow to pay, but he always paid,” Steve says. “[One time] his credit card didn’t work and he said, ‘Use my friend’s credit card.’ A lady from Texas called us about the charges.” The customer then gave him the card number of a different friend, who also contested the charges. In the end, the customer made good on the bill, and there haven’t been any problems since.
treasures From the third-floor windows at Harry J. Epstein Co., there’s a clear view of transition in the urban core. Yet the basement foundation has supported this massive hulk of a building since the late 1800s, and some of the company’s inventory came from World Wars I and II. In 1930, Epstein ran a pawnshop on 8th Street. Ten years later, he moved the business to its current location across the street, in the 301 building. By that time, he was selling plenty of American-made tools and had scooped up a huge cache of cavalry spurs from the U.S. government. Today, the inventory fills four floors—each one a staggering 5,000 square feet, packed from floor to ceiling. “Harry eventually started doing this, scrambling to make a living, during the Depression,” says his grandson, Steve Sackin. Steve remembers working for $1 a day when he was 10 or 11 years, following in the steps of big brother Ken, with whom he currently runs the company. Epstein’s great-grandson, Jori Sackin, is the company’s web wizard and jack-of-all-trades. Although most of Harry J. Epstein Co.’s sales are still professional-quality hand tools with a specialty in mechanics’ hand tools (primarily American made), the inventory here is enormous. “We buy lots of closeouts and sell to other stores,” Steve says. There’s everything from bayonets to British marching compasses to ophthalmologic testing devices used in the 1940s to reverse periscopes that examined the bottom of B-52 bombers while they were in flight.
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For more information, visit www.harryepstein.com or call (816) 421-4752.
Today, the inventory fills four floors—each one a staggering 5,000 square feet, packed from floor to ceiling.
WRIT TEN BY Lisa Waterman Gray PHOTOGRAPHED BY DeNNIS McCormack
Customers can purchase emergency bombshell lights used by East Germany during World War II, Swiss cartographers’ field desks, antique dental picks and field telephones, grappling hooks, and even 1945 bomb tethers from a fellow who used some to secure plants in vineyards. There are leather saddles cracking with age, construction-grade ladders of every imaginable size, hundreds of screwdrivers and cast-iron skillets, large water coolers, and handles for machinist hammers. Military-issue blankets lie near new leather tool belts. When a friend contributed a sculpture to an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project in this area, Harry J. Epstein Co. donated the materials. When a Civil War movie was filmed in the metro area, movie staff picked up a truckload of items from the store that would help set the scene. “You have to wait for deals,” Steve says. “[One time] Jori bought a governmentsurplus fire suit because he saw a rapper who was wearing one. [And] we bought a clamps inventory from some Germans yesterday.” But buying out an inventory doesn’t necessarily mean it sells quickly. The Sackins purchased 20,000 wrenches from one supplier in 1989, and some of them are still left. When Bonney Tool Co. liquidated in 1997, the Sackins purchased many of their tools, dozens of which remain in their original red boxes that line a basement wall. Approximately 25 percent of the store’s sales are retail; the rest comes from Internet business, tradeshows, and people who work in construction. Most customers come through word of mouth. In fact, a fellow who created
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
WRIT TEN BY Gina M. Estes photographed BY AARON LINDBERG
You might have caught a blurred glimpse of the BACA logo on the back of a leather vest worn by a muscle-bound, tattooed, do-rag-wearing biker as he rumbled by you on the streets of Kansas City, his loud bike stirring up unwarranted fear fueled by biker movies and amplified by the seemingly hostile symbol of a white fist emblazoned on his back. Fear that stirs up images of Pee-wee Herman wearing big white shoes and dancing to “Tequila.” Allow me to dispel your fears and calm your overactive imagination. Allow me to introduce you to the organization known as Bikers Against Child Abuse, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to create a safer environment for abused children and to remove fear from their daily lives. The group is dedicated to the principle that one of the rights of childhood is to be safe and protected. Through emotional support and physical presence, BACA stands ready to shield these wounded children from further abuse. The organization’s logo is one of strength and compassion, and it is indeed meant to send a clear message. The fist stands for its opposition to child abuse. The color white signifies the innocence of children. The red background is a 30
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reminder of the blood of children that has been spilled. The chains represent the chain of abuse the group is breaking. The skull and crossbones is a warning to abusers. BACA does not condone violence or physical force in any manner; however, if circumstances arise making members the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, they stand ready to be that obstacle. BACA was founded by John Paul “Chief” Lilly, a licensed social worker whose work with abused children made him aware that there were gaps in the support of these children during the healing process that needed to be filled. The two most important provisions were for their therapy and their safety. In many instances, the offender still continued to access and wound the child, and many abused children did not qualify for therapy funding. Chief witnessed children too frightened to provide enough information for the case to be pursued, and he knew there was a direct link between feeling safe and the child’s ability to come forward. Chief’s encounter with one particular 8-year-old who was too frightened to leave the safety of his house sparked an idea. Chief began to include the child in his biker circle of friends. Within weeks, that same child—armed with the confidence and sense of safety his new friends provided—was able to play outside again.
In 1995, the idea to rally the biker community in defense of children was realized with 27 Utah bikers assembling to visit wounded children and adopt them into their new biker family. The word spread quickly to other bikers, and BACA chapters began to form across the country. “BACA represents the idea of protection through strength,” says Grier Weeks, director of PROTECT, The National Association to Protect Children. “We’ve worked with them in the California Legislature, and they were incredibly effective. It’s important that vulnerable children have strong friends.” The Kansas City, Mo., chapter of BACA was formed in June 2002. The group’s efforts have recently received media attention due to an especially high-profile abuse case in the Kansas City area. It was this coverage that made me aware of the heartfelt dedication of Bikers Against Child Abuse. I, too, had seen the patch on the back of male and female bikers—many who happen to frequent and work at one of my favorite places, Knuckleheads Saloon. I was not aware of the details of the group’s mission until I witnessed members escorting a young girl into court to testify against her abuser. I have never been prouder to know someone, and I relayed that sentiment to my friends Bravo and Spike the next time I saw them at Knuckleheads. Curious to know more, I attended a monthly BACA meeting. I was greeted with hugs by members with road names such as Mad Max and Krazy Karl. It was easy to see that their hearts were as big as their biceps. Bravo later told me that they always hug “hello” and “goodbye” every time they see each other because they’ve lost a lot of their biker family to accidents. “In the world we live in, you just never know if it will be the last time you’ll see someone,” he said. The meeting ran like a well-oiled machine, making the importance of the organization’s mission and the serious nature of its tasks very evident. I learned that prospective members must pass a background check and are required to attend meetings, rides, and court appearances in a yearlong evaluation process that ends in membership only if there is a unanimous vote from BACA members. And to ensure that their conduct is in keeping with the safe and gentle implementation of their mission, the
members receive training from licensed mental-health professionals in issues relating to childhood trauma and abuse. The chronology of the group’s process is strictly dictated. Referrals are received from parents, guardians, child-care agencies, and law enforcement. Once it is verified that the case is in the system and there is initial contact with the child, the members schedule one of the most important and rewarding things they do: the adoption process. The adoption is a rally of support to honor the child. Children are presented with their own BACA vest, made complete with the addition of their very own new “road name” patch. Children are also given a teddy bear and several other small gifts. They are told that they are now part or the BACA family and BACA will be there under any circumstances. They are now part of a brotherhood and are no longer helpless, powerless, or alone. This gives the child a sense of security and belonging and is known to work wonders. If the children are afraid, BACA members will escort them to school, on errands, or to court appearances. They will lend their support by being present in court. They will camp outside the child’s house if that is what it takes for the child to feel safe. The meeting wrapped up with the reading of a few letters of thanks from grateful parents and grandparents. One BACA mom put it best: “BACA is a single strand of barbed wire between hell and happiness.” I can see that. Like the barbed wire around a rancher’s cattle, it isn’t as pretty as a white picket fence, but it has the strength and rough edges needed to get the job done. The hugs began again between these tough guys and gals who share a love of motorcycles and a need to create a safer environment for children. They are policemen, EMTs, software developers, corporate executives, construction workers, moms, and dads. And they are proof that things are not always as they appear. For more information, visit www.bacausa.com or contact the KC chapter at (816) 520-0991. november 2008 URBAN TIMES
Harvey Girls Ladies in Waiting
The Harvey Girls managed to bring romance, charm, and refinement to an area of the country where mayhem was commonplace. WRIT TEN BY gina m. estes photographed by Dennis McCormack
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Fred Harvey is credited with civilizing the American Southwest. His Harvey House restaurants brought quality food in large portions at a reasonable price to the travelers on the Santa Fe railroad. By the late 1880s, you could find a Harvey House restaurant every 100 miles along the line—making Harvey House the first chain of restaurants in America. When dining cars began to appear on trains, the Santa Fe railroad contracted the Fred Harvey Company to operate the food service on the dining cars as well. Advertising boasted, “Fred Harvey meals all the way!” It was said that nothing escaped Harvey’s notice. His strict foodquality and service standards were welcomed by travelers who had been discouraged from making the journey westward due to the treacherous dining conditions at the roadhouses along the way. Harvey set his tables with silver, fine china, and Irish linens. And they were set properly or overturned by Harvey himself.
“Oh, the pretty Harvey Girl beside my chair, A fairer maiden I shall never see, She was winsome, she was neat, She was gloriously sweet, And she certainly was very good to me.”
—Written by S.E. Kiser
Experience a piece of history with a visit to the Harvey House Diner at Union Station. Surprisingly enough, it was not the elegance of his restaurants, the quality of his food, or the tale of the boy from London that came to America and created a culinary empire that is the legacy of Fred Harvey. It was the prim and proper waitresses known as the Harvey Girls that will forever be his claim to fame. The Harvey Girls have inspired songs; books; and, in 1946, a movie starring Judy Garland, Angela Lansbury, and Cyd Charisse called The Harvey Girls. That movie introduced American movie audiences to the Johnny Mercer song “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” The stories vary, but it seems fair to say that Harvey was fed up with his rowdy male wait staff. They had a tendency to fight with the customers and arrive for their shifts drunk. Their behavior led to Harvey’s decision to only hire the more civil gender to work as the wait staff in his restaurants. Advertisements were placed in newspapers throughout the East Coast and Midwest: “Wanted: Young women, 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive, and intelligent, as waitresses in Harvey Eating Houses in the West. Good wages with room and meals furnished.” If hired, they were given a rail pass to their destination, $17.50 a month, room and board, and a uniform. This was considered a very generous income for the late 1880s. In addition, they were required to sign a six-month contract, agreeing not to marry and to abide by all company rules during the time of their employment. The ads were well received by young women who were more than willing to leave the protection of their homes for adventure, freedom, excitement, and hopefully romance. The Harvey Girls, as they quickly became known, were housed in dormitories and assigned a house mother. They received training in social etiquette and the finer points of prompt and courteous service. The supervision was strict and dismissal swift if the girls were to break one of the many rules. Curfew was at 10 p.m. Absolutely no makeup was to be worn. No gum chewing. Hair was to be conservatively styled, covered with a hair net, and tied with a regulation white ribbon in place. The Harvey Girl uniform consisted of a black skirt no more than 8 inches from the floor, a long-sleeved blouse with a crisp “Elsie” collar, a well-starched apron, black opaque hose, and black shoes. In an ensemble befitting a nun in a time when it was said there were “no ladies west of Dodge City and no women west of Albuquerque,” the Harvey Girls managed to bring romance, charm, and refinement to an area of the country where mayhem was commonplace. Gentleman callers were permitted to call at specific hours in wellchaperoned parlor rooms but required to leave their six-shooters at the door. Historians have noted that even the wildest of Western characters changed
Absolutely no makeup was to be worn. No gum chewing. Hair was to be conservatively styled, covered with a hair net, and tied with a regulation white ribbon in place. their ways and could be seen escorting a Harvey Girl to church on Sunday. It is believed that more than 20,000 marriages took place between the Harvey Girls and the farmers, ranchers, cowboys, and railroad men that were their customers. Many of these first families of the West honored Harvey by naming an estimated 5,000 baby boys Fred or Harvey. Cowboy humorist Will Rogers said, “He kept the West in food and wives!” More than 100,000 independent and hardworking women were Harvey Girls from the late 1880s until the 1960s. Many consider their time working in the restaurants the most memorable experience of their lives. Their stories remain with their children and grandchildren. Stories of young women with an adventurous spirit. Like the time when Kathleen Irene Pearce overheard a soldier talking about the harmonica he forgot to pack. Kathleen could not let the young soldier go off to war without a harmonica, so she ran to the drug store and bought him a new one with her own money and hurried to the train platform to deliver it. Touched by her gesture, he thanked her with a kiss and said, “I’ll never forget you!” I have a feeling many men said that exact thing to many a pretty Harvey Girl. I also have a feeling it is true.
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
WRITTEN BY Kathleen Leighton PHOTOGRAPHED BY Phil Peterson
Sean O’Byrne got lost one day and ended up finding the neighborhood of his dreams. “It was 1997 and I was driving back to my midtown office, and I realized I didn’t know where I was,” he says. “I ended up on Jefferson Street on the west side, and there were all these beautiful Victorian homes. Those houses just grabbed me. They were boarded up, but there was a spectacular view of downtown. I immediately thought this would be a great place to invest, and also to raise kids.” It turned out to be an excellent move. O’Byrne and his wife, Deanna, ended up buying a 125-year-old Victorian home with eight bedrooms, nine fireplaces, massive staircases, and intricate architectural detail. They established camaraderie with other young homeowners in the area who worked evenings and weekends fixing up their homes, talking over beers late into the evening about their hopes and dreams. Then they started having kids. “Eleven years ago, there were no kids on this block,” Sean says. “Now there are 12. We have put gates in our fences so the kids can run up and down the street and play with their friends. It’s really great.”
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The perception of many people is that downtown residents are mostly empty-nesters or young, single professionals. They don’t think of the urban core as being a vital area for raising a family. “Our kids [daughter Delaney, 7, and son Navan, 4] are so much more culturally enriched because they go to art openings, we shop in the River Market, we walk up to the Blue Bird or Pizza Bella to eat,” Deanna says. “Between the downtown library, Science City, and Crown Center, we walk or bike everywhere. So besides the culture, they’re getting lots of exercise, too. That’s an added bonus.” Erin and Jonathan Arnold live in a condominium near the River Market with their two sons, Maxwell, 3 1/3, and Liam, 2 1/2. “It’s been good here,” Erin says. “There’s a lot to do. We walk over the pedestrian bridge and watch the trains. They really love that. Jonathan works very close by, so we visit his office, and there’s so much construction going on. The boys love to watch that.” They also visit the downtown library and meet up with other families in the dog park. Every Saturday morning, they eat pancakes and then wander
Sean and Deanna O’Byrne and their children (daughter Delaney, 7, and son Navan, 4) enjoy an afternoon of play in downtown Kansas City. through the City Market, sometimes stopping for lunch at Café al Dente or one of the other neighborhood restaurants. Renee and Sam Jones live down the street from the O’Byrnes. They bought the home Sam’s parents sold when they decided to downsize. “We used to live in Raytown and spent seven or eight hundred dollars a month on gas,” Renee says (the couple operates two Scooter’s Coffee Houses downtown). “Now our commute is just minutes. I think downtown is a great place to raise a family.” The Joneses have three children: Ashlyn, 7, Greyson, 5, and Peyton, 3. They find plenty of things to do in the neighborhood. “There are several great parks near here that we ride our bikes to,” Renee says. “We have a tight-knit community here, and everybody watches everybody else’s kids. There’s a diverse group of kids here, and we really like that.” The nearby Screenland Theater runs G-rated movies many Saturdays, and it’s an easy walk there from the Joneses’ house. The fountain at Crown Center is a popular place on a hot summer day, and the many art openings in the Crossroads are kid-friendly. “We’re very excited about the downtown grocery store,” Renee says. “And I don’t think people realize how many parks are down here. Tell everyone that there really is grass growing downtown!” Like that of the O’Byrnes, the Joneses’ home is more than 100 years old. The third-floor ballroom serves as a huge playroom for the kids, and street carnivals are common. “Some people have the misperception that this neighborhood is dangerous,” says Sean O’Byrne. “We’ve never had our house broken into; we’ve never even heard a harsh word spoken. We truly have a front-porch neighborhood. No one sits in the backyard; everyone is out front, chatting and watching the kids play.” Now the O’Byrnes have a front-row seat to watch the progress of the new performing-arts center as it’s being built. “Growing up in a small town, I heard all these stories about going downtown in the ’40s and how it was always hopping,” Sean says. “I just love the heart and soul of downtown. When we bought this house in 1997, there were some signs that downtown was coming back. That’s happened now, and I love it. It’s just a great place to raise a family.”
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
life & style
WRITTEN BY RACHEL C. MURPHY PHOTOGRAPHED BY jonathan hoke
city, state, zip
In an age when gas prices have skyrocketed, the economy has plunged, and the newest trend in travel is the “staycation,” it seems like people have given up on discovering new things. What most people don’t realize, though, is that there is much to discover and experience right here in Kansas City. We may take our diverse city for granted; Kansas City has long been a mecca for people looking for something new and interesting, the cultural locations and events that bring us together. Here are just a few examples of the wonders that lie just beyond our doorsteps.
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NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Standing stately on Emmanuel Cleaver II Boulevard is one of Kansas City’s claims to fame in the world of fine art: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The building, an artwork in and of itself in the neoclassical style, was built in 1933 to house one of the finest collections of art in the Midwest and, indeed, the country. As the collection grew, it expanded to focus not only on European masters, but Chinese art from the 10th through 13th centuries and, later on, sculpture and modern and contemporary art. Last year brought the next era in the development of the museum as it was expanded with the addition of the Bloch Building, which houses the museum’s collection of contemporary, African, and photographic art. And with them come a spate of exciting new exhibits of exquisite quality. Currently open are three exhibits of note. Art in the Age of Steam runs until Jan. 19 and features the work of notable European and American artists in response to the revolution of steam-train travel. Far from being a set of paintings admiring the smooth lines of locomotives, this exhibit explores the ramifications in art and in life of a world that was suddenly made smaller and the
culture of travel. With works by Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Albert Bierstadt, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, and Camille Pissarro, this exhibit gives a visual journey through the expansion of not only a transportation system, but the minds of people as they began to explore the world. The second exhibit currently inspiring audiences is that of experimental photographers Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. Their work—a quizzical blend of photography, painting, sculpture, and performance art—tends toward the apocalyptic, featuring the strivings in vain of a man trying to save his world from complete destruction in a variety of situations. While it’s dark, the exhibit never sinks into complete depression. Michael Cross is in the middle of his American debut at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. A renowned British designer, his Resting Places Living Things exhibit will turn the perception of how to experience art on its head. With spaces built into the walls for you to lean comfortable and a floor that is not flat, but rolling and hilly, he challenges you to become ensconced in the art and fully experience it. Admission to the Nelson-Atkins is free. Tickets may be needed for special exhibits.
left: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, in the foreground Crying Giant (2002) by Tom Otterness; Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum Purchase made possible by a gift from the Kearney Wornall Foundation and the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation); photo by Dan Wayne.
For more information, visit www.nelson-atkins.org.
above: Café Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; photo by Dan Wayne.
The new kid on the block in the Kansas City art museum scene is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Located at 44th and Warwick, this white, angular building with spiders crawling up the sides opened in 1994 with the dedicated mission of being the catalyst for a lively discussion of modern and contemporary art. Its permanent collection started with a gift of 100 works from Bebe and Crosby Kemper and has since grown to more than 1,000 pieces encompassing all styles and forms—including painting, sculpture, photography, installations, and prints/works on paper. The names of the artists read like a laundry list of modern art’s most talked about and influential players: Dale Chihuly, James Croak, Tomoko Takahashi, Robert Mapplethorpe, Alfred Stieglitz, and many more. Current exhibits span a number of subjects. Anthony Lepore presents Restoration, a collection of his color photographs. Using a large-format field camera, he captures a variety of intimate moments within human relationships as well as humans connecting with nature in various small ways. In addition to the art for the eyes, there is also art for the stomach at the Café Sebastienne. Far from being a lackluster museum café, Café Sebestienne has been named one of America’s top restaurants eight years in a row by the Zagat guide. Chef Jennifer Maloney blends her culinary expertise with the season’s best produce to create beautiful seasonal menus that will finish your museum experience with panache. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is also expanding, opening a new space in the more organically grown arts district, the Crossroads. The
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Kemper at the Crossroads will open with an exhibit on Dec. 5 of new paintings by Jack Hughes. Hughes is known for his vivid use of color and dreamlike imagery of the subconscious. Upcoming exhibits in the new space include new work from several innovative artists. Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher present Reel to Reel. This installation piece integrates audio and video with more tangible components, creating a truly interactive experience for the viewer. The interaction seems to explore the ever-changing relationship between film and music and humans and the technologies that we create. Johanna Billing: Taking Turns is a display of her video work. This Swedish artist is known for her record label, Make It Happen, and her works on film and video of autonomy and routine and human responses to it. Admission to the Kemper is free. For more information, visit www.kemperart.org. NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
Steamboat Arabia Museum
The National World War I Museum
Kansas City has had the distinction for the past 82 years of hosting the only memorial commemorating the fallen heroes of World War I. Standing sentinel over midtown at 26th Street, Liberty Memorial has been the only marker for the dead that defended us in our first foray into mass global conflict. After a massive fundraising drive in 1919 that yielded $2.5 million in two weeks from Kansas City and all over the country, the land was dedicated and the 217-foottall tower with an eternal flame was constructed. With halls for museums on either side and sphinxes representing memory and future, the memorial, designed by Harold Van Buren Magonigle, was built. A 400-foot-by-13-foot frieze depicts the journey from war to peace. Over the years, the memorial fell into structural decline; in 1998, Kansas City passed a half-cent sales tax increase to restore the tower and its foundation to its former glory. In 2006, the National World War I Museum opened to the general public. Located underneath the memorial, the museum features 30,000 square feet of exhibitions, research areas, and archives of the war. Dedicated not only to the history of the war but to stimulating discussions about the ethics, objectives, and tactics of war, the museum presents extensive and interactive exhibits that draw you into the conflict with not only tales of strategy and tactics, but stories of the soldiers that were on the ground. Designed by world-renowned museum exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the museum takes a subject that is difficult to fathom and makes it a subject of discussion and conversation for young and old alike. The museum is still accepting artifacts from the war and provides research space for those who want to delve deeper. A 12-minute video introduces the patron to the war theater and provides the setting for further exploration. The architecture of the museum and the memorial reverberate with the kind of patriotism that still inspires the American people to stand up for what is right. As the quote from President Woodrow Wilson on the east wall reads, “The glory of America gives deeper than all the tinsel, goes deeper than the sound of guns and the clash of sabers; it goes down to the very foundation of those things that have made the spirit of man free, happy, and content.” General admission for the museum is $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens, $4 for children 11 and under, and free for active-duty and retired military.
Everyone has their history. Memories shrouded in the haze of time, stories that have grown and changed over the years. Kansas City is no exception. The difference here is that we have an accurate record of the way life was so long ago, when the West was still wild and the Missouri River provided life and liberty. More than just history, we have proof. We have the Steamboat Arabia. The Steamboat Arabia was a side-wheeler steamboat that was heading north on the Missouri River when she met her brutal end in 1856. After a stop off in Kansas (what is now Kansas City, Mo.), she hit a snag at the Quindaro Bend. The log just below the surface of the river tore through the hull of the ship that was carrying 130 souls and 200 tons of cargo. Some said that there was contraband as well. The ship sank within 5 minutes, but all the passengers escaped with their lives—with the exception of one mule that was tied to the deck. All the cargo was lost. After several attempts to salvage the ship, the treasures were written off as a loss until 1988. In the 132-year span between sinking and salvage, the Missouri River had changed course and the ship was found, nearly intact, in a farmer’s field in Parkville, Mo. At a depth of 45 feet, nearly all of the cargo was perfectly preserved. Since its discovery and salvage, the treasures of the Steamboat Arabia have been moved to an interactive museum in the River Market. With a reconstructed paddlewheel spinning in the lobby, a trip through the museum is truly like a trip back through time. Perfectly preserved boots, dresses, canned goods and bottled foodstuffs, and medicines and elixirs line the shelves, looking like they were made yesterday, not dug up several years ago. With a film that explains the topsy-turvy history of the ship, you are transported back to a time when survival was not guaranteed and the goods around you meant more than just quality of life. Some of the foodstuffs are still edible, and you can see some of the alleged contraband that they were transporting—flint rifles and gunpowder flasks to the American Indians. It’s a good reminder that Kansas City has a bit of an outlaw past, even as we grow past it. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $11.50 for senior citizens, and $4.75 for children 4-12. Children under 4 get in free. For more information visit, www.1856.com.
For more information, visit www.theworldwar.org.
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City Union Station Everyone loves a comeback story, and that is truly what Union Station is. Built in 1914 as a train station, this echoing building was once one of the busiest train depots in the country. It is estimated that at its peak, 1 million people passed through its 850,000 square feet. The clock tower in its main hall became a meeting point, and its diners were a resting place for weary travelers. Union Station was host to several historic events, from the only time that all five of the Allied Forces commanders from World War I were together for the dedication of Liberty Memorial in 1921 to the Kansas City Massacre in 1933. And then, like so many things, it fell into disrepair. With the death of train travel in the later half of the 20th century, the need for a central train station was no longer. Union Station sat empty for years. It finally closed in the 1980s and started a pastime of dodging wrecking balls. After years of dormancy, a bistate tax—the first of its kind—started funding the renovation process that ended in 1999. The station now houses Science City, an interactive science museum that’s fascinating to kids and adults alike. It also hosts the Gottlieb Planetarium, the KC Rail Experience, and the Regnier Extreme Screen.
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In addition to the activities inside of the station, Union Station is once again a working train depot. Amtrak returned in 2002. Pierpont’s at Union Station brought elegant dining back to the building with a selection of fine steaks, chops, and seafood—not to mention one of the best-stocked bars in town. There are also more casual dining options, such as the Harvey House Diner and the Fast Tracks Deli. Union Station also hosts traveling exhibits. Currently showing is Dialog in the Dark, a sensory experience that lets you get a taste of a world without sight. Also running is The Tsar and the President, which explores the parallels between Russia’s Tsar Alexander II and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. While all of the new life and business is inspiring, nothing is more breathtaking than the building itself. With its soaring ceilings and marble floors, you can still hear the whistle blowing and the chatter of a million people as they move across the country in search of the next big thing. Soldiers returning home from war, the Harvey Girls making them a little more comfortable or just giving them a shoulder to lean on. Even the rat-a-tat-tat of gunfire as you walk by the bronze sign commemorating the massacre stirs the memories of a time long past that’s alive to us only in movies and photographs now. Luckily, this building lets the whispers live on.
Are you ever really too old for toys? We all remember our favorite dolls, building sets, board games, and miniature trucks. And at the Toy & Miniature Museum, located on the UMKC campus, you can see them first hand. With fine examples of teddy bears from the early 1900s (originally named after Teddy Roosevelt), model train sets, and more than 1 million marbles, there’s something for everyone—if they’re willing to go back in time and be a kid again. More than just focused on popular toys, the museum has a large collection of miniatures: dollhouses and other scale models ranging from simple to exquisitely complicated. More than average dollhouses, there are models of palaces and tepees and everything in between. The museum boasts one of the largest collections of toys and miniatures in the Midwest. The museum’s newest exhibit, open now, is Pieced with Love: Girls and Doll Quilts of the Victorian Age. The exhibit, which features the collection of Mary Ghormley, has great examples of the workmanship that young girls put into their doll quilts and the training ground for what has become a great American folk art. It’s more than just a display; you can also try your hand at quilting yourself, with an interactive design component. In cooperation with the exhibit, there will be a number of workshops, such as the quilting workshops for girls and miniature ornament workshops for everyone. There’s always room to be young—or at least young at heart—at the Toy & Miniature Museum. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and $4 for children 4-12.
For more information, visit www.unionstation.org.
For more information, visit www.toyandminiaturemuseum.org.
If you’re anywhere in the KC area, you know that Thanksgiving night isn’t for watching football or taking a tryptophan-induced nap. It is the kickoff of one of the most important parts of the holiday season: the Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony. The holiday season doesn’t begin until that countdown happens. Originally started 79 years ago with a single strand of lights over a doorway, the Plaza lights have become a holiday tradition. Now miles of lights line the Spanish-influenced architecture of the Plaza, highlighting towers and rooftops in a distinctive skyline of wintery luminescence. The lighting ceremony itself has become more than just the flip of a switch. The show now features world-class musicians, local and national celebrities, and one surge of power that illuminates the Plaza from that point until the following January. The event has grown to accommodate more than 100,000 people dancing in the streets. The event also marks the beginning of extended shopping hours at the shops of the Country Club Plaza. There will be musical performances on the main stage from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. This year’s event will feature Kansas City celebrity David Cook, last season’s winner of the hit show American Idol. At 6:30 p.m., Cook will flip the switch, and the revelry rages on. There are important things to remember for the Plaza Lighting Ceremony. The streets will be blocked off in part, and parking is sometimes an issue, so arrive early to make sure you are in position to see when the moment comes. Hot chocolate always enhances the experience, and it can either be brought or purchased at Lattéland or Starbucks. And don’t forget to grab a loved one and welcome in the season with those closest to you. It’s Christmas, Kansas City style. You don’t want to miss it.
18th and Vine Jazz District Kansas City is known as many things—a rail town, a cattle town, a barbecue town. But so much of our heritage lies in song: We are a jazz town. And the historical 18th and Vine Jazz District commemorates that legacy. The 18th and Vine area was originally the dividing line of racial segregation. With African Americans not allowed to travel farther south than 27th Street, it became a hub of commerce, music, and life for a section of the city that was developing a new kind of swing. The Kansas City sound was defined during the golden age of jazz in this area, at places such as the Panama Theater, the Gem Theater, and the Lincoln Theatre. Once the city was integrated, though, the area lost its potency and lay dormant for many years until a massive revitalization project brought renewed interest to the area. Now the block is home to the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, as well as the Mutual Musicians Foundation and the office of the African American newspaper The Kansas City Call. The American Jazz Museum provides unique insight into the world of jazz. During the 1930s and 1940s, some of the greatest names in jazz performed in halls in the area. Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Julia Lee, and Charlie “Bird” Parker all performed and hung out at one of the area watering holes at one time or another. The museum documents these
For more information, visit www.countryclubplaza.com.
contributions through memorabilia, recordings, and history at user-focused displays. More importantly, the museum still operates the Blue Room, a working jazz club that hosts musicians four nights a week. As the art form continues to change and grow, the Blue Room continues to be an incubator for new and established talent. Also part of the museum is the Gem Theater, which hosts national touring acts and local talent through its Jammin’ at the Gem series. There’s no way that your toes won’t tap as you enter a world where music is king—the world of 18th and Vine. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum traces the history of baseball from the time when the sport was segregated to the time when it was integrated. Some of baseball’s greats were from Kansas City, such as Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil, and the museum commemorates their contribution not only to the game, but to the developing world of integration and their communities. The museum’s interactive displays and extensive artifacts set it apart as one of the finest history museums Kansas City has to offer. For more information, visit www.kcjazzdistrict.org, www.americanjazzmuseum.com, and www.nlbm.com.
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
The Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony
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Giving It All Away
Two heirs to the Kauffman and Bloch families are extraordinarily committed to preserving their legacies. WRIT TEN BY KEVIN KUZMA photographed BY phil peterson
Arranged on a carpeted spot just inside the main entry, the sitting area in the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation building near the Country Club Plaza is no more than five by five. Guests and job applicants can sit in four leather seats around a cylindrical table at knee height and pull literature from an upright magazine rack slotted with company newsletters. This might seem like an ordinary place to find inspiration for one of Kansas City’s most dedicated philanthropists, Julia Irene Kauffman. But despite all of the life-size statues and bronze busts in her father’s honor, all the plaques and posters, or even the immaculate grave site in the floral garden across the street from the foundation building, this is where she comes to be closer to his spirit. On the wall above the seating area is a flatscreen television that plays a lobby video all day long with scenes narrated by Kansas City entrepreneur, sports legend, and philanthropist Ewing Kauffman. His life cycles through in still photos—in color and in black and white. He’s shaking hands with classroom teachers and children. He has his arms in the air on the field at Kauffman Stadium. And he’s smiling in them all— her father, the way she remembers him.
“I like to go down there—it’s not far from my office—and listen to daddy’s voice in the morning,” Julia Irene says. “It’s inspiring.” Some employees at the foundation still refer to Ewing as “Mr. K” and even talk in respectfully hushed voices as though they were walking up a funeral parlor sidewalk to his wake. Several long-term employees say that his photos on the walls and his voice coming through the video give him a real presence that makes it easy to forget he’s not a contributor to the organization any longer. That it is probably the biggest compliment that can be paid to Julia Irene, who is the chairperson and CEO of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. The organization was founded by her mother, Muriel, and is entirely separate of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Since her parents’ deaths, Julia Irene’s mission has been putting their fortune to good use by funding
Life-size statues of the Kauffmans stand near the immaculate grave site in the floral garden across the street from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation building.
Some employees at the Kauffman Foundation still refer to Ewing as “Mr. K” and even talk in respectfully hushed voices as though they were walking up a funeral parlor sidewalk to his wake. Kauffman portrait (left) provided by Vleisides Photo Studio; family photo (below) provided by The Kauffman Foundation.
philanthropic projects, such as the construction of the new $358 million performing-arts center near the Kansas City Power & Light District. The time commitments and the monetary decisions to preserve a prominent family legacy are extraordinary. But children from Kansas City’s most prominent families soon learn from their parents’ perspectives that real generosity goes beyond merely writing checks. Tom Bloch, for example, has chosen to go in an entirely different direction than his father, Henry Bloch, by leaving behind a career at H&R Block, the tax-preparation giant founded in Kansas City, to become an innercity teacher. Still within the framework of their family legacies, both Julia Irene and Tom are stepping out, somewhat, from prominent names to truly define their families’ commitment to giving. Both the Kauffmans and the Blochs rose to prominence in Kansas City in the 1950s and 1960s, not only financially but also socially. Their rise to the upper echelons of society depended on more than just a good business sense or leadership abilities. There are other ramifications that keep families among the elite, says social scientist Richard P. Coleman, who has studied Kansas City families and authored a book on the city’s establishment. Coleman says that most people that aren’t above the realm of the upper-middle-class struggle to understand the challenges facing an elite family or its heirs. He says they think becoming an elite family is just about money, but there are other important criteria. “The kind of ambition that someone has is a factor,” Coleman says. “You can’t insult people. You also have to have the ability to say the right things. You can also lose standing if you turn out to be a bore and you’re not as much fun to have at the dinner table as some other people. You might rise to the establishment if you’re not as much fun to play bridge with.” Most Kansas Citians relate Ewing Kauffman with the sporting world. In 1968, he and his wife bought the Kansas City Royals baseball team as an
Julia Irene Kauffman (with her parents above) has come to embrace the philanthropic responsibilities that her parents set out for her. Their passing promoted her into a role she doubted she could serve in, she says, but she eventually learned to take decision by decision without losing focus of her parents’ wishes. expansion franchise. The couple owned the team until Ewing’s death in 1993. During his ownership, the team won six division titles and two league championships, and it made the magical run as underdogs to a World Series Championship in 1985 that captured the city’s imagination and in many ways, as the city’s last professional sports championship, still does. Julia Irene has come to embrace the philanthropic responsibilities that her parents set out for her, but it was a struggle initially. Her parents’ passing promoted her into a role she doubted she could serve in, she says, but she eventually learned to take decision by decision without losing focus of her parents’ wishes. Her straightforward, tell-
it-like-it-is approach comes from experience and seeing much. She has led a highly public life. She’s also a grandmother who has grown up well-to-do and with a constant in-house education on what it means to be generous. Her parents taught her to hand out candy on Halloween at an age when sweets are among the most important things in the world. And while she played in the living room, Ewing and Muriel mapped out philanthropic and arts organizations at the dining room table that still stand to this day. Her mother’s dying words instructed her daughter to see that a performing-arts center was built downtown. Julia Irene’s role is to oversee NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
“It’s a great responsibility,” says Tom Bloch. “My father in particular was not only a great success in business, but a great civic-minded member of the community. … He felt giving back to the community was an obligation.” above: Thirteen years ago, Tom Bloch was the CEO of H&R Block, which was cofounded by his father, Henry Bloch, and his uncle, Richard Bloch, in 1955. Tom was making a lucrative salary while at the wheel of H&R Block when he decided to step down in 1995 to teach math to underprivileged kids. Through one-on-one connections with students, though, was how he found a way to best show his care for the community, he says. opposite: Tom Bloch’s career in education has been just as impressive as his corporate work. He cofounded Kansas City-based University Academy (UA), a college preparatory charter public school now serving more than 1,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Photo provided by Tom Bloch.
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the performing-arts building’s development as chairman of the board of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Now the sparkling new facility is approaching completion, and it will soon be home to the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet. Just before Ewing died in 1993, Julia Irene says, he told her not to intrude in the business doings of Marion Laboratories. “I said, ‘Yes, sir,’ and I still say, ‘Yes, sir,’” Julia Irene says. “And why not? He was a smart businessman successful in everything he did. He knew what he was talking about, so I’ve kept my nose out of that company.” Muriel was a businesswoman in the pharmaceutical industry. In her name, more than $10 million in contributions have been made to St. Luke’s Hospital since 2004. The organization has donated to a range of private and publicly funded projects, and social service organizations, from the Boy Scouts (Ewing was an Eagle Scout) to Powell Gardens and Harvesters Community Food Network. Julia Irene says her family was committed to Kansas City because Ewing traveled the country
and couldn’t find any place that felt more like home. “My father used to say that Kansas City is the last livable city in the United States,” Julia Irene says. “I agree. There are lots of other beautiful cities, but those are big and clogged. Our residential areas are residential areas—and not just Mission Hills; I’m talking about places like Prairie Village—have small houses and pretty streets and are beautiful areas. In some towns, when you cross the tracks, you’re really on the other side of the tracks.” Kansas City has remained the home of the Bloch family since it was founded here more than half a century ago. In an age when companies are taking jobs overseas and relocating to cut costs, H&R Block is instead regarded an institution in Kansas City. The company’s decision to build its headquarters in the urban core gave a key boost to downtown’s continued redevelopment. To date, the H&R Block Foundation has distributed about $40 million to charitable programs benefiting arts and culture, community development, education, and health and human services. But the company leadership’s commitment to the city seems to run deeper than a business philosophy. H&R Block’s connection to Kansas City is thick, says Tom Bloch, and living in this city with his last name is no small burden. “It’s a great responsibility,” Tom says. “My father in particular was not only a great success in business, but a great civic-minded member of the community. He set the example for all of us. He felt a great sense of debt to Kansas City. H&R Block was started here and it was successful here. He felt giving back to the community was an obligation.” Thirteen years ago, Tom was the CEO of H&R Block, which was cofounded by his father and his uncle, Richard Bloch, in 1955. The family changed the spelling of the company name to “Block” to avoid mispronunciation. Today, the company operates 12,500 retail tax offices in the United States, plus another 1,400 abroad. Tom was making a lucrative salary while at the wheel of H&R Block when he decided to step down in 1995 to teach math to underprivileged kids. Until that time, he’d risen rapidly through the company ranks. He was elected president of the tax operations in 1981 and then president of the corporation in 1989 after overseeing the company’s innovative practice of filing tax returns electronically to the IRS. When he was promoted CEO in 1992, the company seemed to be on a steady course. But behind the business success was an unsettled feeling, Tom says, a need sometimes even common to regular office workers to feel
inspired to do something they feel passionate about for a living. Tom says he was different somehow within the Bloch family and “fortunate enough to walk away from a lucrative position and make the sort of decision to teach.” His abrupt and unusual job change became an attraction with the media, landing him spots on Oprah and The Today Show, among others. Those shows yielded moments for him in front of national audiences. Through one-on-one connections with students, though, was how he found a way to best show his care for the community, he says. “The operative word is ‘caring,’” Tom says. “You want what you’re doing to make a difference. That probably sounds corny, but I think that is the ultimate test. In my case, education is the most important area of interest for me. In the long term, I think it’s the most urgent problem facing our country today.”
above: Kansas City has remained the home of the Bloch family since it was founded here more than half a century ago. In an age when companies are taking jobs overseas and relocating to cut costs, H&R Block is instead regarded an institution in Kansas City. The company’s decision to build its headquarters in the urban core gave a key boost to downtown’s continued redevelopment.
Tom’s career in education has been just as impressive as his corporate work. He cofounded Kansas City-based University Academy (UA), a college preparatory charter public school now serving more than 1,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The book he authored, Stand for the Best: What I Learned after Leaving My Job as CEO of H&R Block to Become a Teacher and Founder of an Inner City Charter School, documents his journey from high-profile CEO to cofounder of University Academy and the long road in between. Since 2003, all but two students graduating from UA have gone on to attend college, which might be the most extraordinary feat for the urban school. As successful as the move from a corporate tower to a brick-and-mortar school building has been, Tom says, to walk away from the path his father left for him was a risk. “It was a major factor in my agonizing—and it really was agonizing to make the decision to become a classroom teacher,” Tom says. “Everyone thought I was nuts. I was worried that I’d regret it. I wondered if it I would ever want to reverse it, but I finally decided to follow my heart.” Heart is what the Kauffman and Bloch families are all about. Their donations to Kansas City have made a lasting impact, but what’s made them endure are not the enormous amounts of cash that have channeled into the city or even the impressive projects. What’s made those families’ legacies live on are the heirs who had the benefit of learning about generosity from parents who understood how to really change people’s lives and make a city’s already great spirit of giving greater. NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
arts & entertainment
THE KEMPER THE CROSSROADS
There’s a nice symmetry to a longtime, well-loved art gallery becoming the downtown space for a longtime, well-loved contemporary art museum.
WRITTEN BY Kathleen Leighton
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is spreading its innovative wings and opening a new location in the heart of the Crossroads District, which enjoys the unofficial distinction of being ground zero for local art galleries. Kemper at the Crossroads will open on Friday, Nov. 7, with a free public reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., anticipating a huge First Friday crowd and offering an innovative installation. “The space is a canvas itself,” says Rachael Blackburn Cozad, director and CEO of the Kemper Museum. “It’s a clean, open space that has more of an urban feel to it, but it will have a fair amount of glass and open space, which will feel unconstrained.” The configuration of the space can easily be changed. Blackburn Cozad says she wanted a flexible nature for the gallery, with temporary walls coming in and out depending on the nature of the current exhibition. The changing composition will be helpful for those who remember the space as Dolphin Gallery, the art gallery that was housed in the space at 19th and Baltimore for so many years. “So many people associate the building with the Dolphin that it was difficult to strike a fresh identity in the public’s eye,” Blackburn Cozad says. “That’s one reason we decided to move the front door from Baltimore to 19th Street. It just made more sense with the flow of traffic, and with Michael Smith opening two places on 19th, it seemed logical.” The first phase of renovations encompassed the new entryway, light renovations to the primary gallery, and the creation of a “flex space” for exhibitions, programs, and special events. The new exhibition gallery measures 2,400 square feet, and the flex space adds 1,740 square feet. A small lobby space of 400 square feet will connect the two spaces. Kansas City-based KEM STUDIO is overseeing the renovations to the building. 58
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Arts patron Shirley Helzberg says the Kemper is a splendid addition to the Crossroads area, bringing a new presence to the burgeoning heart of Kansas City’s impressive visual-arts community. “The Kemper has an impressive record of support and encouragement for contemporary artists, and it makes perfect sense for it to be in the center of one of the most amazing arts districts in the country,” Helzberg says. “Its institutional vision will no doubt expand the diversity and depth of the art experience in the Crossroads in a most positive way.” “The Crossroads is a great area for us,” Blackburn Cozad says. “We felt like it would be a very exciting opportunity to reach some new audiences. There seems to be a big contingency from other counties who come to First Friday and also the Power & Light District. We can showcase the work of emerging artists in Kemper at the Crossroads, and the more established artists will be in our other locations.” The Museum’s two other buildings—the signature Gunnar Birkertsdesigned Kemper Museum at 4420 Warwick Blvd. and Kemper East at 200 East 44th St.—are located in the Southmoreland neighborhood next door to the Kansas City Art Institute and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, northeast of the historic Country Club Plaza. “It would be fantastic to have light rail running down Main Street so people could easily visit all three locations,” Blackburn Cozad says. A visiting-artist apartment upstairs from the new gallery is a significant addition. Many times, the Kemper brings a visiting artist to town and they’re here for two weeks or more. Hotels can be costly, so this will allow the museum to save that money and put it back into programming. “It’s not super-luxurious,” Blackburn Cozad says. “But a lot of contemporary work is about the installation, and many times artists wish they didn’t have to
Photo courtesy of KEM STUDIO .
go back to their hotel at night. They’d rather work all night, like they do in their studio at home. So if they’re staying in the building, they can work whenever they want.” Kemper at the Crossroads’ first exhibition will be Reel to Reel, a collaborative project by Texas-based artists Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher. A room-size sculptural video installation, Reel to Reel incorporates realtime video and sound components that create a multisensory experience in the gallery. Co-organized by the Kemper Museum and the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, N.C., the exhibition is on view Nov. 7, 2008, through Jan. 11, 2009, at Kemper at the Crossroads. “The thing about the Kemper and its collection and exhibition program is we have a strong collection of modern work, and that lays the groundwork for the more contemporary artists,” Blackburn Cozad says. “Our proximity to the Art Institute is great, because the students get an understanding of what led to this moment in time. Not all contemporary museums have a strong core collection. We have such a strength and depth in our offerings.” There’s a nice symmetry to a longtime, well-loved art gallery becoming the downtown space for a longtime, well-loved contemporary art museum. “We’re very excited about being the first institutional organization in the Crossroads,” Blackburn Cozad says. “We hope more people will come down and contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhood.” Kemper at the Crossroads will be open beginning Nov. 8 from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m. on Fridays, and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free.
Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher, Reel to Reel, 2007; wood, aluminum, Plexiglas, electric motors, LED lights, light bulbs, wire, miniature surveillance cameras, custom electronics, felt, plastic, guitar strings, effects modules, tuning machine heads, vinyl records, record player stylus, video projector, computers, audio mixer, audio amplifier, speakers, video fader; dimensions and duration variable. Photo courtesy of the artists.
For more information, visit www.kemperart.org.
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
arts & entertainment
Their generation and ones to come can now travel lightyears in the expanse of a few city blocks and experience endless wonderment on sidewalks where office buildings block out the sun.
The Universe at Your Feet Voyage model is a familyfriendly attraction that increases Kansas City’s walkability.
WRIT TEN BY Kevin Kuzma Photographed by dennis McCormack
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Outside the Central Library, on the cement steps near the main entrance, students from Clarke ACE Middle School stand unevenly spaced, chatting, as though they are taking a smoke break. Wearing black jackets and black ties, the boys from the predominantly African American school are the tail end of a larger group that have already entered the building but then got holed up while their teacher cleared their arrival. After a few minutes, a female student near the doors relays the teacher’s direction, and the 12- and 13-year-olds fall immediately in line. They step through the collection of doors and onto the library’s marble floors that turns ladies wearing heels into tap dancers, then ride two elevators to join city leaders for the official launch of the Voyage Solar System exhibit. The new display gracing downtown streets, Voyage is an immense model that illustrates the space between the planets and the sun in a fashion not so far removed from the smaller versions that hang in science classrooms across the United States. At a much more immense scale, the exhibit runs for a mile from 13th and Baltimore to just outside Union Station. Each planet and dwarf planet in the model has its only stanchion that is 8.5 feet tall. Those stanchions feature a scale model in which the planets and their larger moons are etched inside glass. There are also full-color storyboards on the displays that provide information about the planets. City officials are banking that the exhibit, which was a $500,000 gift donated by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, appeals to more than just families and school children who load minivans and school buses to visit downtown for a day. They are hoping Voyage adds a measure of walkability that the city has lacked and various improvement projects have sought to correct. “We’ve done a lot of renovations in downtown Kansas City, and we felt starting out [the exhibit] at the library would be a good deal,” says City
Manager Wayne Cauthen. “And if we could go all the way to Science City, that would also be good. That was one of the reasons why we picked Baltimore. We wanted to have traffic in areas other than the entertainment district and things of that sort.” Cauthen’s remarks help open the private luncheon at the library that officially welcomes Voyage to the city streets. About 200 people fill tables in the Helzberg Auditorium to hear city officials, scientists, and Kauffman Foundation representatives describe the exhibition’s potential impact on the urban core and a tie-in education program that will make the universe and its wonders accessible to students from elementary school to high school in area classrooms. Voyage originally opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2001. Kansas City is the second city to install the exhibit, but its version will be more complete than the original because it will include two new stanchions: one for the new planet Eris and one called “Explorers.” The “Explorers” stanchion, installed near Union Station, pays tribute to the Voyager probe and other tools and technologies used to explore space and the solar system. Fittingly, the luncheon becomes an audienceparticipation-driven science lesson led by Dr. Jeff Goldstein, center director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, who created the Voyage exhibit. He explains what he views as the real wonders of celestial studies to the crowded hall. “You’re a part of this thing [the universe],” Goldstein says. “It’s a part of you. You also recognize that something the size of this [he points to his head] can ask questions of it and pull back the veil of nature and see how she operates. We have the ability to explore and understand. We’re born curious, and the avid exploration is satiating that innate human curiosity.”
Goldstein’s goal is to see 100 replicas of the Voyage scale model permanently installed in communities worldwide. The ACE children are enthralled by Goldstein’s presentation. To illustrate the moon’s distance from the Earth, they count aloud while he walks out the 30 widths of the globe that represents the space between the two. When the speakers are finished, scientists and city leaders walk the path from planet to planet—a trek that, with the true distances, would take several lifetimes depending on the speed of the traveling vehicle. The trip is quite different on Earth, but the fascination is no less than if the voyage were actually taken in space—at least among the kids who walk its course. Their generation and ones to come can now travel light-years in the expanse of a few city blocks and experience endless wonderment on sidewalks where office buildings block out the sun. For more information, visit www.voyagesolarsystem.org.
arts & entertainment
1 0 1 r a t s k roc . s e s u o rh e w o p k c ro k n u p s pint-sized students into
School of Rock turn
“Did you bring your earplugs?” “Logan, those are chick glasses.” “I’ll be the next Steven Tyler who wears girl stuff.” “It gets dangerously loud.” “Can we play ‘Give It Away’?” It’s dizzying chorus of conversations before the start of band practice. By all accounts, this is a typical practice room. Broken drumsticks litter the floor, an oversized American flag serves as the dramatic backdrop, and the sophisticated lighting gives off a flood of fluorescence. But this is not your typical band. These band members chew on Starburst, have bed times, and grumble through homework—and some are less than 5 feet tall. The sign on the door aptly captures it all: “Parent Free Zone. Beware of Wild Students at All Times.”
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Written by Miun Gleeson Photographed by Phil Peterson
Welcome to a jam session for juniors at the School of Rock, where local kids get to live out real-life rock-star dreams. The Paul Green School of Rock Music is a performance-based interactive music school for students ages 7 through 18, with 42 schools around the country. General Manager Mark Ballard brought the franchise to Kansas City last October for its nationwide reputation. With 70 students currently enrolled, all budding musicians are welcome, “no matter if the kid is the second coming of Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix or if they just got their first drum kit,” Ballard says. These rock-stars-in-training receive private and group lessons and eventually perform at venues throughout the city at the end of each season.
Welcome to a jam session for juniors at the School of Rock, where local kids get to live out real-life rockstar dreams.
Students are taught lessons in timing, rhythm, and of course, the all-important instruction in kicking over the mic stand for dramatic effect. Before the start of rehearsal, kids will be kids— plenty of candy consumption, friendly ribbing, and bouncing off the walls (probably from the candy consumption). Once they start their set list, however, it’s strictly business. As the band plays classic rock ‘n’ roll hits such as “I Feel Good” and “School’s Out,” the kids become true musicians—working off each other, unfailingly critical of themselves, meticulous in their performances, and remembering to rock out in between. Ballard talks fondly about one of his students, who is “the cutest darn bass player you’ve ever seen who can lay down some Red Hot Chili Peppers.” That bass player is 12-year-old Michaela Davis, who possesses a self-awareness and confidence that belies her age when she talks of how she overcomes performance jitters. “I just go up there, and once I play the first song, you get through it,” she says. Thirteen-year-old drummer Logan Sutliffe— who is donning the oversized Steven Tyler-esque sunglasses on this particular day—joined the band because it offered something distinctly different. “Our school band is not that great,” he says. “This is actually fun. This is what I love to do.” The resounding sentiment among the musicians is that being a part of School of Rock provides an exciting alternative to the monotony of regular lessons. “[Many of the students were] bored with music and were resisting practicing and going to lessons because they say, ‘My lesson is just half an hour sitting on a stool, learning “Ode to Joy”’ or whatever,” Ballard says. “Those kids just come in and
go, ‘Oh, my God, this is great! I can’t believe there are other kids like me!’ It’s like their Disneyland.” During each 13-week season, the students work hard and are expected to learn every song on their instrument. Slack off, and you’ll hear it from your fellow bandmates. “The kids are probably harder on each other than the teachers are,” Ballard says. “They say, ‘Dude! How come you haven’t learned your part? We’re all waiting, and you’re holding us back.’ Happens all the time.” School of Rock puts on three shows each season. This year, the students will do KISS: Full Tilt (full makeup!) Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (all of the hits), and the More Cowbell show (yes, a takeoff of the hilarious Will Ferrell skit from Saturday Night Live). Each show is carefully selected for its intrinsic educational value. “Every show we do is to teach [the kids] some aspect of rock ‘n’ roll and that is evident in their lesson plans,” Ballard says. “[For example], the punk-rock show teaches performance values to help kids come out of their shell and how to be a rock star.” Like all great rock bands, these musicians are quickly gaining notoriety around town. “It never fails that when we go play a venue, they always say—and I am not just saying this—‘You are the best musicians we’ve had in here. Not just the best kids, but you’re the most entertaining act we’ve had—and not just because they’re cute, but because they’re awesome,’” Ballard says. Serious, dedicated, superbly talented—and, OK, it’s pretty darn adorable when the musicians rocking out are barely taller than the mic stand. Just don’t call them cute to their face. For more information, visit www.schoolofrock.com/kansascity. For tickets to upcoming shows or enrollment, call (816) 842-7625.
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
WRIT TEN BY ALEXI KONTRAS
As the gateway to the Great Plains, Kansas City was once on the frontier of urban evolution, a place that combined elements of the old cities of the East with an open Western attitude. It was a place where innovation was commonplace, a city with a complex history that nonetheless grew up enjoying the benefits of the latest technology: Our streetcar lines, broad avenues, and ornamental art deco skyline all contributed to the feeling of a place that was prosperous and up-to-date. The future once happened here. Now, at a time of tumultuous national politics and global economic crisis, this region finds itself at a crossroads. The gravity of upcoming shifts in the global economy and the natural environment can be met with the fear that accompanies the unknown or the optimism that can fuel great change. In Kansas and Missouri, our vast capacity for wind energy, and the rebirth of regional innovation, provides a powerful reason to remain optimistic. Kansas City has an opportunity to again be a place where a vision of the future is nurtured. The current state of wind-energy production in the region is developed more intensely than many people recognize. Kansas is ranked the thirdwindiest state in the nation behind Texas and North Dakota, and wind farms will be producing 1,000 megawatts of power by the end of 2008â€”making it one of only seven states to reach the 1,000-megawatt plateau. For reference, 1,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity can easily power more than 300,000 homes with local, natural energy. Wind farms are located in a number of counties and continue to be created, including the new Smoky Hills Wind Farm in Lincoln and Ellsworth Counties 20 miles west of Salina, which was developed by Lenexa-based TradeWind Energy and is located on what may be the most energetic site of any wind project in the state, according to TradeWind. At its phase II build-out at the end of 2008, the Smoky Hills farm will produce 250 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power about 85,000 Kansas homes. Surprisingly, the entire wind farmâ€”including turbines, access roads, and utility buildingsâ€”only occupies 2 percent of the available land, making wind farms a truly efficient form of land use for rural Kansans who can benefit from a lease payment for the placement of the turbines and the continued use of valuable farmland. With advantages such as these, the future of regional renewable energy looks bright, given careful crafting of state and federal energy policy.
november 2008 URBAN TIMES
An example of the effect of such policy can be seen in Missouri, which is ranked 20th nationally for wind potential. Missouri recently celebrated the opening of a new wind farm near King City in the northwest corner of the state, where the highest potential for wind energy exists. Now operational, the Bluegrass Ridge wind farm recently sold electricity to offset all energy use at Schlafly’s Art Outside 2008 in St. Louis—home of Bluegrass Ridge’s developer, Wind Capital Group—effectively powering the art fair with clean Missouri energy. Due to the fortuitous location at the hub of wind resources in the region, the Kansas City area can play a role in providing power to other cities and states. The Bluegrass Ridge project was helped into reality by the creation of wind maps documenting wind flow in Missouri by the state-financed Department of Natural Resources and the extension of the federal production tax credits (PTCs) passed in the national Energy Policy Act in 2005. These tax credits enable companies to defray the cost of renewable-energy investment by allowing a tax write-off for such projects. The PTC and other state and federally backed policies in Kansas and Missouri, such as the Missouri wind maps, have allowed for tremendous growth, but they are at risk; the PTC is set to expire in 2009. “Kansas is in a position to greatly benefit from our wind resources. Extending the PTC will increase stability in the market, which will allow more wind projects to go online in a timely manner,” says TradeWind CEO Robert Freeman, explaining the need for progressive energy policy and the PTC. Support for an issue that provides both environmental relief and large-scale economic development through natural green power is more difficult to find in this country than one might think. State and federal backing are a must if wind energy is to reach its full potential here. James Roberts—who spends his time lobbying for such support as statewide coordinator for the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy (GPACE), based in Topeka, Kan.—says he believes progressive policy can nurture a powerful movement here. “Wind energy is not only the most promising economic opportunity staring this region in the face, it’s also an issue that our generation stands poised to conquer and benefit from,” he says. Given a strong current state of affairs for regional wind energy and a friendly political environment, just what is the potential for the industry in the
future? TradeWind Energy believes that 7,000 to 13,000 megawatts is possible in Kansas by 2020 or 2030, surpassing all state needs. “Of that, Kansas might use 3,000 megawatts for itself and export the rest to other states,” Freeman says. “Kansas has the potential to be a strong wind-energy exporter.” He says that selling power to other states can be an added benefit to such a large-scale build-out. During construction, 11,000 or more people would be employed in the creation of wind farms and utility lines, and nearly 2,000 permanent jobs would be produced once the farms become operational—bringing $152 million annually to local economies, according to TradeWind. Missouri’s potential ceiling is lower than that of Kansas, but it could nonetheless produce a significant amount of its own clean wind energy. “Missouri should think in terms of hitting a 15 to 20 percent [of its own energy needs] target,” Freeman says. “Exporting is probably not an option, but the state would not need to acquire wind energy from other states.” In both places, the future potential far outpaces the promising present, stretching out across the Midwestern prairie. “Both states have the potential to contribute a considerably larger quantity of wind power than they currently have in their portfolios,” Freeman says. With the ability to produce power from an abundant, clean resource while preserving agricultural land and producing lasting economic development, wind power is here to stay. The question that remains is how deeply we want to pursue this potential economic and environmental game-changer. In our bistate region, wind energy captures a vast and truly local resource and provides guilt-free power using modern technology to harness the power of an age-old idea. Kansas City, too, can embrace the challenges of the modern world while taking advantage of our timeless resources. The future once happened here, and it may well again, if this region decides to lead the charge into a brave new world of clean energy and sustainable agriculture—a world that is arriving quickly at the feet of the sleek vertical turbines that dot our fertile landscape. For more information, visit www.tradewindenergy.com, www.gpace.org, and www.windcapitalgroup.com.
november 2008 URBAN TIMES
life & style
WRITTEN BY ALEXI KONTRAS images provided by Helix Architects
Nestled among the stout brick buildings of Kansas City’s bustling past, the old Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railroad depot sits long and low, watching the transformation of its namesake Freight House District. Trains rumble along nearby tracks while diners enjoy al fresco delights. From an historic industrial neighborhood to a center for the arts and now a vibrant residential community, this slice of the Crossroads in downtown KC has reinvented itself a number of times. Arterra, a mixed-use project by Copaken, White & Blitt (CWB) and Harris Construction, moves it into the cutting edge of urban housing. Located on one of the last empty lots in the area, Arterra is designed to woo buyers with sleek design and custom finishes, putting a unique spin on downtown lofts in Kansas City— the benefits of new construction. Thanks to a wide variety of ancient industrial buildings, this city has been blessed with a number
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
of historic loft conversions, adding residents at a rapid pace and maintaining a strong, gritty character. The Freight House area has become one of the most complete neighborhoods downtown, with a mix of restaurants, galleries, and creative businesses complementing the nearby loft dwellers. A new, multi-million-dollar streetscape plan recently added fresh sewers and sidewalks, green trees, and modern streetlights to an area that is popular with downtowners and regional visitors alike. It is into this mix that CWB and Harris Construction decided to place Arterra, a truly contemporary alternative to the warehouse loft conversions found nearby. “Arterra is being built
on the last available blank canvas within a popular live, work, play area in the Freight House District,” says Hunter Harris, principal of Harris Construction. “And we will have a very exciting, architecturally stimulating building that is surrounded by turn-ofthe-century brick industrial buildings.” The developers hope to offer the kind of modern flair and boutique style that savvy travelers might find in a W hotel, as well as chic retail space on the ground floor. Designed by Helix Architecture + Design and built with large quantities of glass and steel, Arterra will no doubt stand apart from its historic neighbors, and that is part of its attraction. The project’s advanced sense of design extends to its environmental footprint as well; urban infill is
an inherently green pursuit, and qualifications for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification are being examined. In a city that is quietly embracing the seductive contrasts of modern architecture, Arterra will be the first of its kind downtown, providing the Kansas City loft market with a truly contemporary design. In addition to its unique take on residential design, Arterra will feature a number of benefits specific to a new construction project. Large outdoor living areas, for example, are an amenity that each of the 50 units will enjoy, and secure underground parking will be available. Natural light will be plentiful throughout the building, illuminating spaces that were designed for modern living from the beginning. “We were able to start from scratch,” Harris says, “and we started with the floorplans, which dictated how the building would be designed. All of the bedrooms will have floorto-ceiling glass, and every unit will have an outdoor room that is over 140 square feet, which is about the size of the average master bedroom in a typical condominium.” This outdoor space, generally in the form of large balconies extending from the building, is a major selling point downtown, where such space is rare and provides the opportunity to enjoy a bit of fresh air along with the architectural pleasures nearby. Aside from natural light and outdoor space, perhaps the greatest benefit of new construction is the ability for buyers to customize their new homes. “Our biggest reason for going forward with Arterra is that there are a number of people who want new construction,” says Jon Copaken, principal of Copaken, White & Blitt. “Almost everything downtown has been rehab or renovation type of projects, which are great and really neat spaces, but nobody has had a product where they can really design it they way they want it.” Copaken and Harris hope to offer that ability with customizable floor plans, finishes, and the like, with the idea being that buyers will be able to have complete control over the look and feel of their living space. As the Freight House District continues to mature into a cultural and residential hotspot, Arterra’s developers hope to break the mold of traditional historic condo conversions within its boundaries. Using modern materials and green design techniques, it promises to be a unique addition to an old neighborhood that has become a center of downtown life and a confident, contemporary example of what is possible with new construction residential projects downtown. For more information, visit www.arterra21.com.
“Arterra is being built on the last available blank canvas within a popular live, work, play area in the Freight House District,” says Hunter Harris, principal of Harris Construction.
life & style
the martial artist 27-year-old Kansas City martial arts instructor Bryan Carroll’s outgoing cell phone message gives callers a big picture of his busy life in one brisk sentence: “I’m either training or hanging out with the twins.” The training is endless, and it seems to inhabit his every waking second. Consider this: Carroll works one full-time job downtown at the Jackson County jail as a corrections officer. Two days out of the week, he runs an adult modern martial arts course at Belton Community Center, and he teaches karate to youth at Boone Elementary in south Kansas City two days a week. Thursday through early Sunday mornings, he works as dress-code enforcement for the Kansas City Power & Light District. He does all of this, he says, for his kids. Andrea O’Neal, site director at Boone, met Carroll six years ago. “Parents and students love him and love the program,” she says. By her estimation, Carroll has taught approximately 300 students over the past six years. Both Carroll and O’Neal used to be at Phyllis Wheatley Elementary in Kansas City before coming to Boone a year ago. “Bryan’s really positive,” she says. “He can relate to parents really well.” And as for 2 1/2-year-old twins, one boy and one girl, his love for them is obvious. Their names are tattooed on either side of his neck: “Sukari” on his right for the girl (meaning “sweet” in Japanese) and “Tylan,” for the boy, on his left. Today, both of Carroll’s parents are at the school babysitting them. Carroll is thin, lanky, slightly tired, but energetic and motivated. You get the feeling he’s always moving. Dressed crisply in blue jeans fashionably spotted with bleach, a white sweatshirt with the sleeves pushed up, and spotless white tennis shoes, with a thin and neatly trimmed beard, he looks both older and younger than he is. A tattoo of Japanese fighting sticks, nunchucks, is on his right forearm. After school has formally ended for the day, Carroll stands at half court in the school gym and lines up six kids straight in line with him. All are quiet as he brings in another group and calls them up by grades. There are 30 total, kindergarten through fifth grade, dotting the gym floor. Suddenly, the class begins. “The next person to say ‘shut up’ will have to do pushups until your arms don’t work,” he says. Silence follows.
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Written by Ray Barker Photographed by Jennifer wetzel
“Boxing is a martial art; ju do and wre stling are martial arts,” say s Bryan Carroll. “[It’s all] expre ssion of the human body. I love the beauty of it.”
“Martial arts is not ju st a sy stem of fighting. It’s a way of life,” say s Bryan Carroll. The first stance is announced, and the kids tuck their thumbs in as they punch. The respect Carroll frequently talks about—the respect he exudes—is in the air. “We are creatures of repetition,” he says. “The more we do something, the more we learn it.” Off to the side by the stage Carroll’s kids loll around on their backs, on their stomachs, chattering with their grandpa. At one moment, one asks innocently and clearly, “Daddy? What are you doing?” “Teaching,” he answers back. Blue and red mats are fetched and tossed dramatically onto the gymnasium floor and unfolded. Students take turns doing takedowns. One blonde girl cleanly tackles a boy and stands with a small look of triumph on her face, arms crossed, smiling. To an observer, it becomes clear Carroll is an excellent teacher—organized, demanding, instructive, and serious. “There ya go! That’s it!” he says, clapping excitedly as another student executes another perfect takedown. “Martial arts is not just a system of fighting,” he says. “It’s a way of life.” And the kids repeat this as one voice, before heading home for the weekend. Carroll became interested in martial arts through a mythical, almost movie moment. His father, a minister, was always encouraging his sons to sing in the choir. But notably, he knew his boys well enough to bring home the classic Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon. “At night time, I’d sneak out and I’d turn the VCR on and imitate everything [Lee] did,” Carroll says. “After 13 years of that, I had my first trainer.” The trainer told him he moved like he had been practicing martial arts his whole life. He has regularly competed in tournaments since then, and he has “got trophies all over the house” for placing in them. A thoughtful call from a friend alerted Carroll to tryouts for the World Combat League (WCL) in Kansas City. The WCL was founded by action star and martial arts expert Chuck Norris three years ago. Currently there are eight main teams in the United States, and Kansas City recently received a grant to become the next team. Known as the Kansas City Bombers, they’ve been practicing for the past month or so, according to Carroll. Scheduled fights will occur outside of Kansas City approximately once a month with unscheduled fights in between. Perhaps most importantly, they’re guaranteed at least one show to be broadcast on the sports cable channel Versus. The Kansas City Bombers will have their first show Nov. 14 at the KC Xtreme Couture gym in the Sports Lodge in Independence, Mo. One can’t imagine this kind of success coming to a guy more deserving of it than Carroll, who—between his four jobs—puts in more than 70 hours a week; whose interest in the martial arts affects him so deeply, he sees it in all aspects of recreational sports. “Boxing is a martial art; judo and wrestling are martial arts,” he says. “[It’s all] expression of the human body. I love the beauty of it. It’s just beautiful.” NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
Test Your Knowledge of Kansas City! Use the articles in Urban Times to find answers to the clues below. Once you have filled out the crossword, send to: Urban Times at 1819 Wyandotte Ste. 200 Kansas City, MO 64108 for your chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Makerâ€™s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge!
indulge and business retention Photographs provided by Shotbee Event Photography and The Downtown Council
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
Oktoberfest Photographed by Charles Stonewall
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Eco Couture Bridal Show Photographs courtesy of VanDeusen Photography and Gallery
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
Hilloween Photographed by Shotbee Event Photography
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Hilloween Photographed by Shotbee Event Photography
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
WRIT TEN BY GLORIA GALE photographed BY forrest macdonald
Call him what you want—inspired cavalier, romper-room sophisticate—Joe West is a maverick. This boy wonder has infused his curiosity and passion for food into the Delaware Café, a River Market mainstay. With youth on his side, this 22-year-old makes juggling the multifaceted world of running a restaurant seem like child’s play. He would be the first to admit it’s anything but.
A fast, sure study, West started mastering intricate and methodical culinary skills at 16, cooking for Debbie Gold’s and Michael Smith’s 40 Sardines. While in high school, West entered Chef Robert Brassard’s culinary program at Shawnee Mission’s Broadmoor Technical Center, which sparked his drive to learn more. Then, up to his elbows in honors, he graduated from Denver’s prestigious Johnson & Wales University with a degree in culinary arts. Enthused and ready, he launched into working with some of the best and the brightest stars in gastronomy—including Chef Bryan Moscatello, a 2003 Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef at the four-star Adega Restaurant + Wine Bar; James Beard Award winner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine; and Kevin Taylor of the four-star restaurant Kevin Taylor. Under the tutelage of Kansas City’s own Colby and Megan Garrelts, West honed his culinary talent further in their Bluestem kitchen. “I credit both of them with teaching me how to navigate the business and constantly make improvements in my skills,” West says. Now at the helm of Delaware Café at 300 Delaware Street, with its turn-of-the-century ambiance, West consistently tries to push the boundaries—never losing sight of traditional French application that underscores his craft. Bringing his lively, inventive spin on seasonal dining, West is perfecting his own twist on New American cuisine. He offers us a recipe for warming up those chilly nights ahead. For more information, visit www.delawarecafe.com, call (816) 842-0303, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maple-glazed Pork Belly Tacos 1 pound Berkshire pork belly, whole 1/2 cup grade A maple syrup 1 tablespoon maple sugar 6 sprigs of thyme 8 small corn tortillas For garnish: Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) Pumpkin oil Cilantro leaves Goat cheese 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2. Season pork belly on both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Place in oven and cook until dark golden brown, or about 35 to 45 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, place sprigs of thyme on the pork belly. 3. Let pork belly cool for about 15 minutes, cut it into small cubes (1/4-inch), and sauté in a pan over medium-high heat. 4. Once the pork belly is crisp, drain excess fat and then add maple sugar. Cook for 30 seconds. 5. Add maple syrup to finish and place in warm tortillas. 6. Cook the pepitas in a little bit of pumpkin oil over medium heat. Once they darken and puff up, set aside. 7. Add pepitas, cilantro, and goat cheese to the tacos as desired. NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
11.01-12.20 The Original Art Flea Market @ 1522 Holmes 9 a.m., originalartfleakc.com 11.08 The Jolly Trolley @ The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art 1 p.m., nelson-atkins.org 11.08 Dickens of a Celebration @ Tuileries Plaza 5 p.m., tuileriesplaza.com 11.12 Chamber Morning Schmooze @ Zona Rosa 8:45 a.m., kcchamber.com
PetUtopia @ Boulevard Brewing Co. 5:30 p.m., iidamidamerica.org A Family to Call My Own @ 2131 Washington 6 p.m., downeysidekc.org Anthony’s Restaurant 30th Anniversary @ 701 Grand Blvd. 5 p.m., kcanthonysongrand.com
4th Annual National Family Week Celebration @ Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art cornerstonesofcare.org 11.20 2008 Community Treasures @ Hilton President Hotel 6:30 p.m., community-christian.org 11.21
11.16 Painting America’s Promise @ The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art 2 p.m., nelson-atkins.org 11.16-1.5 Urban Culture Project presents Emerald City @ Project Space 12 p.m., urbancultureproject.org
Sinbad @ Ameristar Casino 7 p.m., ameristar.com 11.22 Pendleton Heights Second Annual Historic Homes Tour @ Pendleton Heights 1 p.m., pendletonheights.org 11.29 Tree Lighting @ The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art 3 p.m., nelson-atkins.org
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints @ Arrowhead Stadium 12 p.m., kcchiefs.com 2008 Tour of Gymnastics Superstars @ Sprint Center 6 p.m., sprintcenter.com 11.23 Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills @ Arrowhead Stadium 12 p.m., kcchiefs.com 11.29 Kansas Jayhawks vs. Missouri Tigers @ Arrowhead Stadium 2 p.m., coasttocoasttickets.com 12.06 Big 12 Football Championship @ Arrowhead Stadium 7 p.m., coasttocoasttickets.com
URBAN TIMES november 2008
New Kids on the Block @ Sprint Center 8 p.m., sprintcenter.com 11.13 Coldplay @ Sprint Center 7:30 p.m., sprintcenter.com 11.15 Kelley Hunt @ The Blue Room 8:30 p.m./10 p.m., americanjazzmuseum.com 11.15 Celine Dion @ Sprint Center 8 p.m., sprintcenter.com Jackopierce @ The Beaumont Club 8 p.m., kcclubs.com 11.18 Jazz Poetry Jams @ The Blue Room 7 p.m., americanjazzmuseum.com Celtic Thunder @ Sprint Center 8 p.m., sprintcenter.com
11.06 Harriman-Jewell presents Emanuel Ax & Yefim Bronfman @ Folly Theater follytheater.com 11.06-11.28 A Tuna Christmas @ The American Heartland Theater ahtkc.com 11.09 Beethoven Lives Upstairs @ Yardley Hall at the Carlsen Center of JCCC kcsymphony.org 11.11-12.28 Seussical @ Coterie Theatre coterietheatre.org 11.20-12.28 Christmas in Song @ Quality Hill Playhouse qualityhillplayhouse.com
11.19 Jim Abel @ Starbucks on the Plaza 6 p.m., wordsandmusic.us 11.22 Mudvayne @ Uptown Theater 6 p.m., uptowntheater.com 11.29 Sons of Brasil CD Release Party @ The Blue Room 8:30 p.m., americanjazzmuseum.com 11.30 Carnegie Arts Center presents Alash Ensemble @ University of Saint Mary 6 p.m., leavenwortharts.org
kc live! events
Alvin Ailey @ The Midland by AMC 7:30 p.m., midlandkc.com 11.15 College Football Live! @ Power & Light District 11 a.m., powerandlightdistrict.com 11.22
Rick Springfield @ The Midland by AMC 8 p.m., midlandkc.com 11.26 Thanksgiving Eve Event @ Power & Light District powerandlightdistrict.com 11.29 Al Green @ The Midland by AMC 8 p.m., midlandkc.com
11.21 Friends of Chamber Music present Konstantin Lifschitz @ Folly Theater follytheater.com
theater, dance, & classical music
11.21-11.22 Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano @ Yardley Hall at the Carlsen Center of JCCC jccc.net 11.21-12.28 Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You @ Unicorn Theatre unicorntheatre.org
11.22 The Vienna Boys Choir @ Leavenworth High School leavenwortharts.org 11.22-12.27 A Christmas Carol @ Spencer Theatre kcrep.org
Cooking Light magazine named Tucson one of the top 10 healthiest cities in the country in 2007, based in part on the exercise and fitness opportunities for its residents. The city is consistently ranked as one of the top five bicycling cities in the country with more than 325 miles of wellmarked bike lanes and trails. WRIT TEN BY DIANA LAMBDIN MEYER Photographed by Bruce N. Meyer
All I order for breakfast is a bowl of sliced fruit with some granola and yogurt, but suddenly, I feel like a genius. “Excellent. Fabulous,” our waiter pronounces. My husband orders pancakes with a side of bacon, and he, too, is verbally awarded the culinary equivalent of a Ph.D. “Oh, very good.” Mark is an excellent waiter—attentive and outgoing without being intrusive, while making our simple choices for breakfast in Tucson, Ariz., appear to have the relevance of creating peace in the Middle East. But there are a lot of good waiters in Tucson. That’s because there are a lot of good restaurants in Tucson. This is where, 10 years ago, owners and managers of some of the city’s best restaurants came together to form Tucson Originals, an independent buying group that has since become synonymous with rich, diverse cuisine served in
intriguing settings. The movement has grown to a national phenomenon in 12 cities, but the 38 members of Tucson Originals continue to set the bar for distinctive dining experiences. Although Kansas City no longer has an affiliated Originals organization, active efforts remain in places including Birmingham, Ala.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Houston; Louisville, Ky.; Naples, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; San Diego; Sarasota-Manatee, Fla.; Minneapolis-St. Paul; and Mt. Washington Valley, N.H. But back in Tucson, one of the original Originals is a family-owned restaurant downtown called El Charro Café. It was here on a hectic night in the 1950s that a cook accidentally knocked a couple of burritos into the deep-fat fryer. The expletive uttered eventually was condensed and became “chimichanga.” Times being tough, the cook covered the mistake with sauce and introduced a new dish that is now served in
Feasts of Nature and Cuisine in Tucson 84
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
Mexican restaurants around the country. Everyone who visits Tucson must make a stop at El Charro for an original chimichanga. Another must-do dining experience is at Janos Wilder’s restaurant, simply called Janos. Because of intriguing cuisine created by this James Beard Award-winning chef, and one of the best views of the desert sunset in all of Arizona, Janos is frequented by celebrities from around the world. After they’re gone, Janos writes the name and date the celebrity was here on the bottom of the chair. Don’t be afraid to turn over your seat to find the name and date of those celebrities who warmed your seat before you. For a complete list of the Tucson Originals member restaurants, visit www.tucsonoriginals. com, and make it your travel goal to visit as many of them as possible. But after all of that eating, you’re going to need some exercise, and Tucson is a great place for it. Cooking Light magazine named Tucson one of the top 10 healthiest cities in the country
This is where, 10 years ago, owners and managers of some of the city’s best restaurants came together to form Tucson Originals, an independent buying group that has since become synonymous with rich, diverse cuisine served in intriguing settings.
in 2007, based in part on the exercise and fitness opportunities for its residents. The city is consistently ranked as one of the top five bicycling cities in the country with more than 325 miles of well-marked bike lanes and trails. In addition to being great places to enjoy the sun, the city’s 120 parks highlight roses, butterflies, sculptures, and botanical gardens. Six parks are set aside for dogs and their owners to play leash-free. A good place to invest of day or more of your travel in Tucson is at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a remarkable facility on the west side of the city that is home to 300 creatures and more than 1,200 species of plants, helping those of us who aren’t familiar with desert life to better understand the beauty that requires a bit more effort to find. Most of the museum is outdoors, which reveals itself along two miles of winding trails past huge saguaro cacti, the towering, multiarmed unofficial symbol of the American West. The Sonora Desert is the only place on the planet where the saguaro grow, living as long as 200 years as they slowly reach heights of 50 feet or more. The saguaro produces massive white flowers in the spring, the official flower of Arizona. Their existence is so unique to this part of the world that two units of the National Park Service are dedicated to their protection here. The park contains the largest saguaro forest in the world, and in the right light, their presence and frequency might remind you of a scene from Star Wars as marching clones advance on their prey. A nearly endless number of hiking trails allow you the opportunity to really get out and feel the desert, the cacti, and the soil. Of course, stay on the trail and take plenty of water, because even in the cooler winter months, this is the dry desert, and those of us from the Midwest can become dehydrated very easily. And
On a hectic night in the 1950s in a family-owned restaurant called El Charro Café, a cook accidentally knocked a couple of burritos into the deep-fat fryer. The expletive uttered eventually was condensed and became “chimichanga.” Times being tough, the cook covered the mistake with sauce and introduced a new dish that is now served in Mexican restaurants around the country. Everyone who visits Tucson must make a stop at El Charro for an original chimichanga.
URBAN TIMES NOVEMBER 2008
if you hear that telltale rattle indicating you’ve disturbed a snake, back up and head in the opposite direction. January through March is the best time to explore the desert southwest, when temperatures are in the 80s and wildflowers bloom. Don’t go in the summer. The Tucson area averages 85 days over 100 degrees, and dry heat or not, it’s hot. The towering saguaro naturally creates a backdrop of artistic inspiration in the Tucson valley. Those images, along with the faces and spirits of the Native Americans of the region, are the defining forces of the works of Ted DeGrazia and his Tucson landmark, Gallery in the Sun— another must-see/do with part of your travel time in the city. Had he lived beyond his death in 1982, DeGrazia would be 100 years old in 2009, so stop by his gallery to enjoy the year-long birthday celebration. DeGrazia was friends with Kansas City’s Thomas Hart Benton, who painted one of DeGrazia’s portraits on display at the gallery. The gallery that now contains more than 15,000 pieces of DeGrazia’s work was also his home, so wandering
The towering saguaro naturally creates a backdrop of artistic inspiration in the Tucson valley. Those images, along with the faces and spirits of the Native Americans of the region, are the defining forces of the works of Ted DeGrazia and his Tucson landmark, Gallery in the Sun—another must-see/do with part of your travel time in the city. through the various buildings, gardens, and chapel on the grounds provides an enlightening look into the lifestyle of a man renowned for such things as mining the gold used for fillings in his own teeth. In addition to the exhibitions of DeGrazia’s work in multiple locations, urban travelers will enjoy shopping in places such as The Lost Barrio. This three-block stretch of red-brick warehouses is home to international importers that offer everything from Mexican blankets to African barn doors to Swedish antiques and Ming Dynasty altars. A few blocks away, the 4th Avenue shopping district, near the University of Arizona, is home to the most eclectic collection of shops, restaurants, and bars in the city. For more information, www.visittucson.org or call (800) 638-8350.
NOVEMBER 2008 URBAN TIMES
Beach Time WRIT TEN BY FLETCHER Lodestar
We have had a lot to think about lately. There is so much information that has been coming at us. It has been something of a deluge. We have been on critical status, with so many demanding impressions. It’s like we’ve been glued constantly to our weather channels watching imminently dangerous tornadoes that surround us. The confounding thing is that this alert state has been going on for months. It is exhausting. Recently, I have come across quite a few people commenting that they have distanced themselves, wherever possible, from the endless headlines surrounding us. They have made a determined decision to take an exit from the information highway. They have chosen to avoid, or to significantly limit, their exposure to media. I don’t believe that we’re seeing the start of a new Luddite culture. Instead, I view it as a smart group of people choosing to take a simple and healthy vacation. You need only remember being high and remote in the Rocky Mountains or out on a Midwestern farm to imagine calming quiet and to recall some treasured opportunity to slow down and think simply. A long stretch of warm and empty beach makes it nearly impossible to contemplate derivatives or to be worried about pundits and policy statements. Can’t you feel the relief? It’s a renewing and stabilizing experience. You have the chance to feel and develop your own personal thoughts. We can’t always get away physically. We can, however, give ourselves the space in our lives to
create much of this same experience. Just shut it off, change a few patterns, and get more selective about what we feed ourselves in the way of information experiences. After all, we are what we consume. Kansas City is something of an island. We sit out here squarely between east, south, north, and west. Saddled between the plains and forests, we are the heart of fly-over country. Sometimes we hear KC referred to as a fly-over city, and it rattles our collective ego—but in many ways, this is true and not so bad. Much of what is presented as happening on the coasts and in our larger cities does not impact us in the same way. Our distinct location makes it possible to embrace a more affirmative approach to life. As the biggest small town around, we have remarkable connections to one another that allow communication, support, and resourcefulness that is unique. We know one another, or we almost always know someone who knows the other. The seven degrees of separation are reduced to two or three. Be good to yourselves out there, and find good to share with those you encounter. Just as the experts and opinionaters create a version of reality, so do you. We can’t alter what others present as the truth, but we can select our preachers and share generously our rendering of the sermons that inspire us. Grab your version of an exciting or inspiring novel and head off to that place where your head can adjust. Think twice, though, about taking the computer along. You just might get sand in the keyboard.
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November issue of Kansas City magazine about urban news, culture and entertainment