Well, one Tower and one Emperor, in particular
It's been a while — okay, it's been nearly three-and-a-half years! — since I've written into this space.
Here, in chronological order, to warm up the trail for those who may have lost the fine scent of me, is what I've been up to and where I and my writing more often can be found these days...
I began this February 2007 essay with a meditation on a building in my hometown of Owensboro, Ky., that has been
a city landmark since opening
in 1963 as the latest frontier of the "empire" of restaurateur and local legend Gabe Fiorella, Sr. (1900-1977).
Most current and former residents of Owensboro are unaware that the 13-story building they call Gabe's Tower likely is the earliest-surviving fully cylindrical commercial or residential tower in the country.
This — together with the fact that, for the last 25 years, the building, while structurally sound, has suffered and deteriorated under a series of negligent owners (and, it must be said, negligent City administrations) — may help to explain why residents offered no real resistance to a demolition crusade launched by the current Mayor in summer 2012 and subsequently bolstered by demolition-friendly "reporting" and editorials from the local newspaper, the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.
So it was that, in August 2012, I launched the Save Gabe's project to raise awareness of the history and the plight of Gabe's Tower; to offer ideas for how the tower might by reimagined and restored as part of a larger strategic plan for the renewal of the tower's economically depressed and crime-troubled neighborhood; and to forge an effective "community of concern" amongst residents and architectural preservationists.
In connection with this project, I've written a series of 34 (and counting) essays and commentaries, which you can read here.
The Emperor's Bridge Campaign
I am the founder and
currently the president of a
San Francisco-based nonprofit, The Emperor's Bridge Campaign, that works to honor the life and advance the legacy of Joshua Abraham Norton (c.1818-1880), the eccentric
and visionary best known as Emperor Norton.
I launched the Campaign in September 2013 to leverage the strong positive response to my August 2013 Change.org petition to name the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for Emperor Norton, who set out the original vision for the Bay Bridge with three newspaper Proclamations in 1872.
The petition remains open. But the bridge-naming project has become a "campaign within the Campaign" — and we've built out a larger cultural-historical mission that includes a broad program of research, education and advocacy related to the Emperor.
The Campaign incorporated as a nonprofit in October 2014.
My writing for the Campaign includes all of the research, commentary and other items on our blog.