Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[LINK] "Into Oklahoma"

Over at the Power and the Money, Noel Maurer has an interesting post (with photos!) inspired by his recent visit to Oklahoma's second city of Tulsa. I've never been anywhere near Oklahoma, and it interests me that Noel finds Oklahoma to be at least as interesting and different from the US Northeast in its own way as Japan. There's the state's politics, for instance.

Oklahoma does have a Democratic governor, Brad Henry, who just vetoed a bill that purported to exempt Oklahomans from gun registration rules and background checks. He also vetoed a bill that would require all women desiring abortions to receive transvaginal sonograms (even after rapes) and force the doctor to describe the image to them. The legislature overrode Governor Henry, and now Oklahoman doctors cannot be sued for concealing birth defects from pregnant mothers. A bill to exempt the state from the Affordable Care Act just passed the lower chamber 71-27, and some lawmakers have begun to discuss creating a state militia separate from the National Guard.

The "only-in-America" sort of empty downtown that Noel describes is somewhat familiar to me, I think, in the way that Charlottetown stopped being as relatively bustling and busy in its downtown as it was when tourist season ends.

Downtown Tulsa is an only-in-America sort of dead. It isn’t a run-down dead, like Buffalo or most Southern small towns. And it certainly isn’t an abandoned dead, like Detroit. It’s just ... empty. The impression is of an old downtown now preserved under glass. Perhaps “undead” is the right word? The people are there, you just can’t see them. A disproportionate number of the few people you see appear to be unemployed long-haired (male) musicians toting guitars and Army-surplus clothes from before 1981. Most of the rest appear to be down on their luck or stealing a smoke. The storefronts are well-maintained, but manage to look vacant even when they’re not.

The fact is, of course, that downtown Tulsa is not dead in terms of office space. The energy companies that operate here want to be near their in-state bankers and someplace they can convince their out-of-state bankers to spend some time. They also want to be near their competitors and the petroleum club and nice hotels. (Which is why Holiday Inn was just renovated and the Hotel Ambassador a few blocks south of downtown proper is such a success.)

Now, to be fair, Tulsa is not downtown. Just a few miles away is a highly manicured upscale collection of shopping malls. It could be one of the nicer parts of California. Drivers are nicer than in California, save for a disconcerting tendency to pull right into the parking spot next to people who are pulling out, and the people at the post office know each other by name. The schoolyards are full of laughing pale-skinned children. A disproportionate number of billboards advertise gun shows and tattoo parlors.

There aren't any gun shows in Charlottetown, and the malls on the outskirts haven't hollowed out the downtown completely, but I think that there are some tattoo parlours.
Tags: cities, links, oklahoma, united states
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