Street Light Maintenance

Underground utilities and decorative street light posts and fixtures are good additions to historic districts or any area that strives to clean up its appearance. Wires and cobra lights attached to tall telephone poles aren’t exactly human scale or friendly. Hence, towns often seek grants for decorative light fixtures. Developments, strip malls, parking lots, etc. that seek to be more than just a row of stores adjacent to striped asphalt include landscaping and light fixtures in their designs. It makes sense, right?

However, as we all know, maintenance is an important element of the built environment. By casual observation, I’ve noticed that many decorative street lights soon become filthy, filled with dirt or bugs. And without regular cleaning, these otherwise attractive light posts are no longer attractive. See these examples below:




A quick cleaning would do wonders for these lights, don’t you think? And a better seal between the fixture and the light cover. Take a look at your town’s light fixtures the next time you’re out and about. What do you see? Perhaps it is time to make a recommendation to town officials that cleaning the lights should be added to the town’s work plan. Minor tasks like this easily fall off the radar, so a reminder might be all that is needed. What do you think?

Soapbox of the Moment

I love country music. I do not love Walmart; I don’t even like Walmart. So when I hear on the radio that certain artists are selling their albums exclusively at Walmart or editions exclusively at Walmart, it bothers me.

This is nothing new. Many artists have exclusive deals with Walmart or other big box stores. A June 2008 New York Times article discusses how Walmart is the largest music retailer in the country; thus artists want to be on good terms with the company. This giant chain can do the marketing and more than the record labels can handle; thus sales increase. Examples used in  the article are about Journey and the Eagles. Other examples of artists that sell exclusively or exclusive editions at Walmart include Garth Brooks, Sugarland, AC/DC, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, and Carrie Underwood. Here is a post from discussing the Sugarland + Walmart deals, and the negative affects an arrangement has on local record stores.

Granted, everyone has free will and the right to shop wherever they please. So artists can sell wherever they want. What bothers me about country musicians, in particular, is that so many sing of small town America, the good ol’ days, local places and people – essentially, the local economy and close-knit communities. Well, last time I checked, Walmart does not contribute to local economies. Actually, Walmart kills Main Street America, whether it’s in a large urban area or a small crossroads in the middle of America. So how can you sing about the greatness of America and then have exclusive deals with the idea/business practice that is killing it?

Sure, you could go ahead and make the same old argument that America’s poorer populations don’t have any other options besides Walmart and that the poorest groups of people live out in the middle of nowhere and need Walmart. You could say that, but that is a horrible generalization – it’s as bad as me outright denying it. Under privileged and poor sections of our population live everywhere, so it’s not a valid point here.

Nor is this a position of being a snob, someone who is above Walmart or the products they sell or of associating with shopping there for whatever social stigma you can think of. No, if I believe myself to be above Walmart, it is because I am above destroying Main Street America and contributing to the poor planning and suburban sprawl.

Back the point. What can we do about this? What did I do about this? Sugarland is my absolute favorite country music group. I was disheartened to find that one of their albums was sold only at Walmart.  I did not buy that one. Is that the answer? Probably not, but that was my stand on the issue. For now.

My bottom line? I’m disappointed in country music, as the lyrics and messages of the songs are clashing with actual practices of the artists.