Posts Tagged Indianapolis
Radio is a major part of many people’s lives, and I’ve come to realize that for many people, radio helps pass the day. Radio doesn’t help my day pass, but it does help me get the day started and has an effect on the kind of day I have.
For the first two years I lived in Bloomington, I listened to Rich Anton in the mornings on WTTS-FM, 92.3. I grew attached to this disembodied voice: he woke me weekday mornings with music, a tidbit of news and the weather forecast — including details about Bloomington.
Ultimately, what astounded me about Anton is how attached I grew to the voice. I’ve never met the man, and he was only involved in my life for two years; yet when he took the occasional morning off, my days were noticeably worse. The different voice on the dial was jarring — and the new voices didn’t necessarily do the same things in the same order.
I knew I was not going to do well when Anton announced last summer he was leaving the radio station. It was, for the first few weeks, as bad as I feared. I used to set my alarm so the first thing I heard was the news and weather, followed by music that would jar me out of bed and into the shower. After Anton left, it was anybody’s guess what voice would come across the radio waves and what time those voices would announce information.
That was until Jill Savage arrived. Savage was stability, but unfortunately the wrong kind of stability. Her voice was there every morning, at roughly the same time, providing information. But around that time I started to notice changes — subtle changes it took me a while to notice.
A radio station that used to serve both Bloomington and Indianapolis is no more, for WTTS now appears intent upon serving only Indianapolis. Although the studios are still located in Bloomington, there’s no more Bloomington weather and fewer Bloomington commercials. When they do appear, they sound out of place.
I’ll admit Savage is probably not to blame for these changes, but one thing is sure. It is no longer my radio station; it is merely a radio station, a spot on the dial that I now flip past. I can no longer listen to WTTS in the morning. I had to find a new radio station to call my own.
In Bloomington, this is no easy feat. Those of us not addicted to country music have a few sparse choices: B97, public radio and the Firehouse. I’ve had a few experiences with B97, and I listen to it every once in a while — such as when the Hoosiers are playing and I can’t be home to watch. National Public Radio has excellent national and local news, but it plays more classical music than should be allowed.
That left me with the Firehouse — WFHB — community radio. Community radio in Bloomington is truly special. The voices might not be consistent from day to day, and the music might not be consistent from hour to hour, but it is genuine and real. The people are local, doing radio for fun, and it shows through in their work and dedication. And they are local; this distinction is important to me, as I like to support local businesses and my community.
Although my old radio station still broadcasts from Bloomington, it might as well be in Indy for all the local news that gets attention. On B97, I know some of the voices are local, but much of it is satellite radio with some disembodied voice sitting in a room 2,000 miles away.
I miss Rich Anton. But for now, I have made a new selection from the radio menu, and I hope Bloomington’s community radio becomes an involved part of my life. The station volunteers will know they have been successful when I call with my pledge of support the next time they hold a fundraiser.
Bloomington is, without a doubt, one of the nicest cities in the state of Indiana, in most categories. But there is one place where Bloomington has managed to be more miserable and God-awful than Indianapolis: restaurant service.
There is a great deal of potential in Bloomington, very little of it even remotely fulfilled; the restaurants usually make a reasonable effort at food quality, but then when it comes to the wait staff, Bloomington restaurants fall flat on their faces.
One recent example comes to mind, a restaurant that I enjoyed in the past, but has now been struck from my list of places worth visiting: Sangamar.
After returning early from my spring vacation, I met up with Jay, one of my friends here in Bloomington, at Sangamar, 110 N. Walnut St. We selected the restaurant over the Malibu Grill because I had enjoyed meals at the restaurant in the past, but little did we know the evening was going to be a disaster.
We entered the restaurant at 6:30 p.m. Our food arrived on the table about three minutes before 8. It took them an hour to tell us our waiter had given us the lunch menu by mistake and the items we had ordered were not readily available and they were preparing our items especially for us.
A mistake that could have been corrected by informing us of the error when they saw what we had ordered was magnified into an agonizing hour and a half wait; and when we finally got our meals, we were informed that we would only have to pay the lunch price for the meal.
Very kind of them, but I told the woman who delivered this “good news” that I wasn’t sure if she had given me a reason to return for another meal yet, and she told me other people would come to eat at the restaurant, even if I did not return.
Certainly this example is a bit on the extreme side; service is rarely so bad in this town that I won’t ever return to the restaurant because if I vowed never to return to restaurants that gave me bad service in this town, my dining experiences would be limited to Laughing Planet, Soma and Nick’s English Hut, the three hangouts within my normal budget range.
I have had a number of mediocre experiences in this town when it comes to wait staff. For example, waiters at the Malibu Grill have taken longer than necessary to bring me food and drinks and the staff at Denny’s ignored me standing at the door waiting to be seated. (I never went back. I go to the Waffle House instead).
All of this leaves me in a quandary. Every once in a while, I want to have a really good dining experience: a meal where both the food and the service come together to make it all worthwhile.
Sad to say, I have to have those meals an hour north in Indianapolis, a city so dreadfully boring and pointless I actually prefer going to the dentist for a filling than taking the time to visit it.
It would be really nice if one day Bloomington could have a real sit-down restaurant that featured good food and a decent wait staff. Here are my suggestions for ways to try and change what is Bloomington’s biggest restaurant problem.
First, stop tipping the bad waiters — tipping bad service only encourages bad service. For example, Jay and I left no tip for our waiter at Sangamar.
Second, tell your friends about the really bad experiences you’ve had, suggesting they try alternatives to the worst spots in town.
Third, tell your friends about the good experiences you’ve had in town. I never would have known about the Limestone Grill (the one beacon of light in the up-scale Bloomington restaurant category) if friends had not told me about it.
Finally, for all the restaurant owners out there, most of you do a really great job with the food, so it wouldn’t hurt to focus a little bit of attention on service. Good food and good service will make your restaurant the hottest joint in town.
I am quickly closing in on the first anniversary of my Hoosier experience and can honestly say that Indiana is the state I now choose to call home. In fact, I am seeking out Indiana experiences in order to ensure that I’m ingrained in the Hoosier lifestyle.
Last fall I listened as Hoosier politicians told me all about Hoosier values and how they supported them. Unfortunately, nobody ever bothered to define them for me, so I took that to mean that I should do the things that other Hoosiers do.
Obviously, I’ve gone to a few Hoosier basketball games. Near as I can tell, the only people who haven’t been to a Hoosier basketball game are babies who have been born since the end of the basketball season in March.
I also made it a point to attend the Little 500. I was fortunate enough to be sitting right behind the Sig Eps. When they won the race, I immediately felt like I was a proud Hoosier, and why not? The team I was sitting behind won the race that defines IU in the minds of bicycle racers across the nation.
Another proud Hoosier tradition is going over to Brown County and touring the state park when all the leaves change color. I found the fall leaves to be spectacular, although I found the fact that people in Nashville, Ind., are able to charge for parking in their tourist trap a bit galling.
But I have to admit that I’ve failed the Hoosier values test in one critical category. I cannot stand car races. Simply put, I have no clue why anybody would ever want to go to the Indianapolis 500.
In fact, Sports Illustrated ran a story about a crash at another race this year and then had its credentials withdrawn for a day or two until the race officials had a change of heart. Ironically, this freedom of the press issue might be the most exciting story to come out of the Indy 500 this year.
Before anybody accuses me of being completely ignorant about the sport (they would be 90 percent correct), I want to point out that I went to the Speedway on my very first trip to Indiana, two months before arriving in Bloomington.
I took the little bus around the track listening to a recording about the history of the Speedway, while at the same time looking at all the seats and looking at the golf course in the middle. I have to confess it was very impressive seeing row after row of bleachers. Eventually, we made our way around the track to the finish line, where the bus came to a halt. I got a little thrill when the voice on the recording talked about the significance of the bricks.
The thrill did not last very long. I realized that most people who pay to see the race never get to see the finish line. They’re doomed to learn the winner by listening to announcements. They can never be sure who is in first place unless they check the gigantic rotating informational boards. Simply put, auto racing is a boring sport to watch and it is joined at the Speedway by the only sport that is possibly more boring to watch — golf.
After we finished listening to the recording, the bus started up again and chugged its way around the rest of the track and back to the museum. I spent the next hour and a half looking at the cars on display and looking at the visitors to the museum, who were obviously racing fans.
It was then that I realized I do not understand and will never understand auto racing and will never be a full-blooded Hoosier. I can assure you that come race day, while all of Indiana is on its way to the race track, I will be heading in the opposite direction. Look for me on the shores of Lake Monroe or at some other relaxing spot. I just hope the rest of you have as much fun as I do.
Every time I take a trip by plane, my friends can count on me to make the same comments on the way to and from the Indianapolis Airport. It is the worst airport I have ever had to use.
The complaints about the airport can be divided into three main areas. First of all, the runways are too far away. Secondly, the terminal is, for the most part, run down and depressing. Finally, it surprises me that I’ve never once had an accident while accessing the terminal through the maze of roads.
You might think that I’m kidding about the first one, but every single time I’ve arrived or departed from the Indy Airport, the airplane has spent a very long 15 minutes taxing to nowhere or at least the start of the runway. I’ve taken a couple of flights where the time spent taxing around Indianapolis was a quarter of the total time the airline projected for the trip — and we still landed early at the destination.
And it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re coming or going. On my most recent trip back to Indianapolis, at the end of my spring break vacation, the lady sitting in the seat next to me observed that it was almost as if we were landing in Illinois and driving back to Indianapolis.
The second complaint, concerning the terminal, seems to be in the process of being rectified. Most of the time I fly United, but for spring break I headed out on US Air and was pleasantly surprised to find a clean and fresh-appearing concourse. They were also in the process of laying new carpet in the terminal.
These are great improvements and should be undertaken across the entire complex with great speed. Having once spent some time on concourse A, I can testify that it is a dingy dumpy place that looks like it was last painted in the last century.
Finally, the roads that one must drive on when going to the airport are dangerous. Traffic headed in different directions around the airport intersect at the same level and in a couple of spots with only stop signs and no stop lights. This seems to me to be a recipe for an accident. Somehow I’ve always managed to escape without being involved in one or ever seeing one.
But there is a ray of hope. I saw on the news after I returned from my spring break trip in the middle of last week that the airport is considering building a new terminal. I hope they quickly move from the “considering building” stage to the “actually building” stage quickly. According to the news, the proposed site is on the south side off of I-70, somewhat closer to the runways.
Once they build the new terminal, which should alleviate all three of my complaints about the current airport, Las Vegas can reclaim its rightful place as my least favorite airport on the planet.
I once spent two hours, between midnight and 2 a.m., wandering through the Las Vegas airport waiting for my connecting flight. I also saw the worst job in the world while sitting there: an elderly woman was wandering amongst the slot machines in the middle of the concourse wearing a change belt and making change for people who needed to scratch their gambling itch while waiting at the airport.