Dayton to get WNBA team, BREAKING NEWS

Indiana Fever logo

The future Dayton Fever?

In a strange series of events, I learned last night that the University of Dayton is going to be a minority owner in a the Indiana Fever, which will be leaving Indianapolis and will play at UD Arena. UD’s investment will be the addition of air conditioning and a new parking garage, with first-floor retail space just West of the arena. Simon Properties will manage the garage and retail, and construction, in exchange for a dollar a year lease on the land. A similar tax abatement on the property as what GE aviation got will be fast-tracked through city hall.

The reason for the move? The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which was just passed in Indiana last week and the UD Women’s program recent run in the NCAA Tournament, coupled with the crowds of the first Four tournament.

While the Fever have been routinely drawing an average of 8,000 to 9,000 fans in Indy- since Bankers Life Fieldhouse holds 18,165, they felt a move to the more right sized University of Dayton arena (capacity 13,435) would increase the value of the ticket and provide a better game time fan experience- there being nothing worse than a half-empty arena.

In another potentially huge win for Dayton, there has also been talk of the NCAA moving its corporate HQ to Dayton according to high level sources, although the offices may be at Austin Landing.

There has been no indication that the Fever will change its name, but there is the possibility that both current UD Stars Andrea Hoover and Ally Malott are potential draft choices giving current UD fans like this writer the potential to continue following these two amazing talents as they go pro- in the same arena that they played their college career.

University of Dayton President Dan Curran has shown a willingness to enter UD into other business deals like the purchase of the Dayton Marriott, which was a key part of luring the WNBA team to Dayton. University of Dayton housing will also be provided to team players, since the WNBA season mostly coincides with the reduced summer student population- it’s described as a win-win for the university. The Fever will rely heavily on UD students in the Exercise Science program, and also partner with Wright State with its athletic training program. UD marketing majors will also have opportunities in the Fever marketing department.

UD has had the air conditioning plans in the works for several years, the system will be  geothermal, and cost estimates ran between $7 and $10 million.

Herb Simon, majority owner of the Fever, was impressed with the attendance at the First Four games over the last few years, realizing that Dayton fans will come out to watch teams that have no-connection to Dayton, although he too, was surprised when Dayton got to play on its home court.

The move will be for the 2016 season, with tickets to go on sale on April First 2016.

TedX Dayton- bravo!

TED talks started out as an invite-only exclusive party for the Illuminati. Technology, Entertainment, Design. But thanks to the web- everyone can go- forever into eternity. TEDx is allowing other places in on the fun. Think of it as the minor leagues- but, the reality is, everyone has a shot to become the next big viral thing- if you nail your subject.

Despite being a tech conference, I was a little relieved when the orders came to put away the digital devices – no tweeting, posting, etc. It allowed me to concentrate on what was being said- I took notes- the old fashioned way- with a pen and notebook.

So on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, a little over two dozen people took the stage and threw up their best, from Dayton, Ohio. Overall, everyone in the audience thought that today it was an awesome day to be from Dayton, Ohio- from the music and dance performances that broke up the talks to the neuroscientist trying to stimulate brains with electricity to help people identify the enemy in pictures taken by drones- nobody left thinking they’d not gotten their $50 worth and then some.

I knew or was connected to about a third of the people who took the stage- which is as it should be in a small town. The event ran like clockwork. I saw lots of people I knew in the audience- and quite a few I didn’t. I’m sure people who were there will continue to talk about a lot of what they saw and heard today- for quite a while. The interesting part is, once the videos go up- will any of them go “viral”- which ones will connect with people and become a minor legend? The beauty of TED is that even though it’s highly produced – there is always an element of surprise. To me, that’s the beauty of the day.

South Parker Elizabeth Rasmussen and her sisters in Good English kick off TedX Dayton 2013

South Parker Elizabeth Rasmussen and her sisters in Good English kick off TedX Dayton 2013

The first one was listening to my neighbor and her sisters play a short set to open up the show. Elizabeth Rasmussen and her sisters, Celia and Leslie have a band called “Good English” and while I doubt they’ve played too many gigs at 9 a.m., it was cool to say, hey, that’s my neighbor, as the curtain rose.

I’m not going to run down every speaker- but, as someone who prides himself on trying to make others think, these were the things I really liked. Chris Wire talked about thinking without depending on a smart phone and Google. I’ve always been of the mindset that memorization of facts isn’t always as important as understanding concepts and being able to apply them. I always figured I could look something up- I just never expected it to be as easy as my iPhone plus Google- Chris did an awesome job of encouraging people to search for new answers- to show the value of creativity in answers- even when you have to punt. I thought this was particularly pertinent today- as I had to read in the Dayton Daily news how once again, some “leader” in Dayton is touting us as a distribution/logistics hub. Yawn.

There were some inspirational stories that were built to play on heartstrings- I was born poor, but look at me now, wasn’t worthy of a TED talk, although it was a perfectly nice story. However, there was one thing that I did agree with- “champions work together”- something Dayton needs to learn. We do a great job of finding faults with people in this town- “you’re not black, you’re too smart, you’re Jewish, you’re suburban, you’re urban” some sort of way to divide us- instead of bringing us together. This topic came up more than once. Dayton needs to be able to be proud- and if all the 1,000 or so people there today could take the pride they felt today out into the community- we might have a good start on things.

But, I wanted to stick to surprises- things that made me think. Marta Wojcik from Poland asked  “is a place worthy of being the vessel of your memories”- and was talking about nostalgia for comfortable touch-points to your past. She surprised me by talking about creative place-making- vs. our treating our buildings and heritage as disposable. She celebrated the arts- and artists and designers for the ability to create unique things in our community as compared to our penchant for sprawl. I thought of all the people I met in my last campaign- and the memories they shared with me of growing up at Mallory park pool- or at the Roosevelt center- or before that the school- and to think we’ve undone those vessels for what? Finding out later that she was the director of the Westcott House in Springfield took a bit of the wonderment of her presentation out.

Hearing a guy named Roosevelt (and yes, he’s related to the president by the same name) get up and talk about Abe Lincoln as the answer to our modern dilemmas of the divergence of wealth and poverty and the earth and ecology was a reminder that there have been seemingly daunting challenges in the past- that visionary leadership was able to steer a course to a solution, even if it did entail the deaths of more Americans than in all our other battles put together. Learning from history so we don’t repeat it is always thought provoking.

Instead of hearing the same old STEM nonsense- listening to Dr. Nathan Klingbeil explain that by eliminating conventional math prerequisites to get into engineering they have created more engineers, just by approaching the process with an integrated approach. Calculus is only one part of being an engineer- solving problems creatively is another, and Dr. K demonstrated that by taking a different approach, they could have dramatic changes in graduation rates for engineers at Wright State.

When Judith Ezekiel took the stage, I was totally unprepared for her discussion “Changing race”- talking about cultural racism in a way that forced the audience to self-examine. Jewish, black, rich, poor, educated- all the issues wrapped up into one. If there is one talk I’d want to listen to again, and be able to pause, rewind, replay- it would probably be this one. We have race issues in Dayton and if there were someone who could lead the discussion in a meaningful way- I’d put Judith in charge in a heartbeat.

Another surprise came from Justin Howard, proprietor of the Black Box Improv Theater on E. Third St in the Cannery. Although I despise the idea of TedX being used as a commercial for a business- which several people did, Justin demonstrated his passion for improv by winging the whole thing- including pulling an audience member out (we wondered if she was a ringer) and launching into an improv skit with a word shouted out from the audience (me- with blasphemy). Why Justin is doing his thing in Dayton was because he thinks Dayton is a city that’s “blank and ready to go.” He also cautioned us that “no one in Dayton is important”- which I thought was the perfect thing to be said during this day of celebration of Dayton- that we have to start bonding together and championing our city- together.

When asking my friends about what they liked and didn’t like- Dr. David Shuster came up more than once. He took the stage wearing one blue latex glove- and I kept thinking why the Michael Jackson impersonation. Toward the end of his talk he rolled up his black t-shirt and started sticking himself with the acupuncture type needle as a demonstration to make his point. That apparently grossed them out a bit. Oddly, I ran into him on Saturday at the 2nd St. Market- I was wearing my TedX t-shirt, and he stopped me and asked me what I thought. The needle wasn’t what bothered me, it’s that he started out saying that his field- Electrodiagnostic medicine, wasn’t well respected or liked by some. I told him there was no need to start with a negative (a lesson learned on the campaign trail the hard way) and that he hurt his credibility more than helped it with that lead.

I was totally unprepared for SSGT Deondra Parks who shared her story of sitting in a bookstore when a neo-Nazi came in and started shooting black people before shooting himself as his way of “celebrating Hitler’s birthday.” Her strength projected into the audience, her story of forgiveness and triumph was powerful- yet, for some reason, she didn’t get a standing ovation- while the “white woman who was born poor” did. Odd. This is a woman who could teach us all how to roll with the punches and come up on top.

I enjoyed the talk and piano performance of Steffin Johnson, a Stivers grad and now adjunct piano instructor- but, again, he started with the dismissal of a stereotype- that just because he’s a black piano player people expect him to play Fats Waller or boogie woogie. He asked can you tell a person’s color by listening to the music? I once walked out of a Dayton Daily news editorial board session when I asked them to retract a line in a review of a “G Love and Special Sauce” album that started out with “listening to this album, one could hardly believe that they are white” or some such nonsense. I didn’t want to be “endorsed” by a paper that thought you could tell what color someone was by the kind of music they made- they endorsed Bootsie Neal and Dean Lovelace and dismissed me as a crackpot. So much for taking a stand in Dayton, Ohio. Thank you Steffin for bringing this subject up and for the marvelous performance.

I was mesmerized by my friend David Stoneburner’s son- Dillon “Stoney D” with his dance moves as we returned from the “cookie break.” His performance won’t change my life or make me want to learn how to “Pop and lock”- but, it was amazing to watch.

I understand that everyone has different trigger points- and that some ideas connect better with others and that this is just my opinion- but, the last speaker, London Coe of “Peace on Fifth” was the one who gave me a new way to approach what I’ve been trying to do on this site and in my campaigns for office- she said we need to “Date your City.” Go out and explore the wonderful things, meet the people and share and celebrate the talent that we have here. It was the perfect ending to a day full of inspired presentations from the best that stepped up and it was the rallying cry for a city sadly short of pride. We have a lot to love in Dayton, we just have to stop dwelling on the negatives which are so easy to point out as I watched A.J. Wagner do as he self-destructed his campaign talking about Dayton as a dying city.

Dayton is awesome. And, next year at TedX I hope to be on stage. This was Dayton at its best.


Get your butt kicked in 2012

David Esrati- starting boxing at Drakes Gym Dec 2011

David Esrati the first day of boxing at Drake's, Dec 2011

Nope, this isn’t a post about my 2012 congressional campaign, I’ll win that. This is about those resolutions you made last night while swinging from a chandelier yelling “I love you, man!”

Yep, Americans love to head to the gym every January on a quest to lose weight and get in better shape. Most of the time, by March, we’re back to the same old routine and rationalizing why it didn’t work… again.

Last year I made major changes to my life. Net result, down 15 lbs., feeling better and sleeping sounder.

First up was cutting carbs. Even though I used to live on bread, pasta, pizza and cereal, it turns out that my body works much better without any of them. It’s not been easy- and, you will still see me eating a burger on a bun or a Skyline 4-way with onions, but thanks to the support of my partner in life, Teresa, we’re eating a lot more organic vegetables, fruit and local, grass-fed beef.

Another major change was portion size. What most places call a portion is really two. Bringing boxes home and sharing entrees is almost mandatory now. Saves money, stretches the good food and keeps the weight off.

And while I’ve been hitting my rowing machine, weight bench and running – the most amazing gym experience I’ve ever had came at Drake’s Downtown Gym- taking his boxing classes. As someone who went through Army basic training, Airborne school and the Special Force Qualification course, I can tell you it doesn’t match them- but, it’s as close as you can come for an hour a day without signing your life away to god and country.

From the Drake’s website:

Drake’s Downtown Gym is a full service fitness facility. We open at 6am to serve our downtown Dayton community and early risers. Although we are known for our boxing classes and focus, the gym offers a variety of fitness training opportunities. Our wide range of equipment includes treadmills, bikes, elliptical and other machines that can get your heart pumping. We also have a variety of strength and circuit training equipment, not to mention a great free weight room.

Our gym appeals to those who are serious about working out and not worried about all the frills you find at other facilities.

via About the Gym — Drake’s Downtown Gym.

For $65 a month you can take unlimited boxing classes. All you need to invest in is a pair of hand-wraps (under $10 and available online or at Drake’s- sometimes). Bring a full squeeze water bottle, a towel to wipe your sweat off, and a big dose of humble, because you will be brought to your knees- or at least working them out, in a full body workout which will help redefine your physique and your attitude (hitting a heavy bag like it’s your least favorite person does have a cathartic effect).

You should also dress for the weather- even though it’s inside, I think the only heat generated in the building is off the bodies of the patrons.  I’ve also not utilized the locker rooms since I’ve already experienced the primitive amenities of a field shower at Camp Mackall and have no desire to repeat that joy, but feel free to try them and let me know.

Memberships start out at least half that of the Downtown YMCA, and for $65 a month you can get unlimited beatings, I mean classes which in 30 days, if you go religiously, will have inches off your waistline and definition in places you long since forgot existed. You also will get to hang out with a true Dayton Original, John Drake, who has crazy, brilliant ideas like closing off the street and throwing up a boxing ring and having a party under the stars.

A few tips if you go: show up early to get your hands wrapped and to be ready on time. No whining- of any sort. If you can’t do something- at least be doing something else- at all times, this ain’t a place to lollygag.

So, if you decide to go, tell them Esrati sent you, and then you can have a real reason to curse me for 60 of the hardest minutes of your day. Happy New Year.

Hottest ticket in town: Olive, an urban dive

Olive, an urban dive logoI just got back from a tasting at Olive, an Urban Dive. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many delicious, amazing, different bites of food in my life. 30+ tastes of dishes- with two rounds of Jeni’s  Splendid Ice creams in between.

I took photos- with the iPhone, but I’m here to tell you – pictures aren’t worth 1,000 words- tasting is the only way you’ll believe me. The food was fresh, fine, simple, wonderful, awesome.

Starting next week- you can try to get in for lunch. Dinner won’t start for another few weeks- start making reservations now. Here’s why: The place is TINY. 35 occupancy- including the crew- and the food- is so fresh- when they run out- it’s gone. This will be the hottest ticket in town- guaranteed. One caveat- I have no idea what the prices will be- but, for the experience- it will be worth it.

Olive soft opens for lunch July 5th M-F 10 a.m.-3 p.m.!

These are our planned upon hours! We are not open full schedule yet!
phone/reservations 937.222.DIVE (3483)
dining room/patio seating/carryout:
Monday-Friday 10-3 lunch
Saturday & Sunday 10-3 brunch
Thursday-Saturday 5-midnight dinner
olive: 416 east third st., dayton, oh 45402
via when & where – Olive,  an urban dive.

A few tips- they will always have takeout. You can’t call it in. Every third ticket- takeout will slide in- so you may have a chance even if you don’t get a seat. The carryout containers and the utensils- are all biodegradable.

They are only taking cash or check during the first few weeks. After that- MC/Visa. No AmEx.

Monday – Wednesday nights- the place is available for rental- pick a menu- have a party with your 29 best friends.

They have parking- and bike racks.

And the most important part- the sign says “WYMPEE” and isn’t going to change anytime soon. Get over it. Corner of Wayne and E. Third St. Across from the Cannery.

All the ingredients are local, fresh, organic. Everything is made in the tiny kitchen- it’s so tiny- they didn’t have room for a dishwasher- they do it in a 3 compartment sink. Bring your own booze- since our illustrious state won’t grant them a liquor license because they only have- shock- 1 bathroom.

Everything is recycled, composted, ecologically sound. The music is all local- through the iPod jukebox. They have a huge following on Facebook and Twitter and battled city hall for at least a year to pull this off.

I liked everything I ate- but, some favorites- the Garlic Butter Burger Slider, Fried Leeks (onion rings for foodies), Fried Mozzarella, the Kabobs, Spanakopita, the grilled cheese and tomato bisque, the raspberry cheesecake, Hummus sandwiches, felafel, the Greek salad, Olive chicken, sweet potato fries…

I’ve already booked a pair of lunch dates- you should, too.


Dayton Pecha Kucha vol 7- Thursday June 30th 2011: FREE!

Pecha Kucha Dayton logoThis Thursday night- if you don’t have anything else to do- come down to Pecha Kucha and hear me speak for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds while displaying 20 slides in a PowerPoint deck.
You can also hear 8, infinitely more interesting people the same night. And for the first time- this is FREE.
PK night is run by two very talented South Parkians: Matt Sauer and Jill Davis- both of the “creative class.”
Matt is an architect with Rogero Buckman Architects– the people who do the cool LiteHouses on Patterson, the Cooper Lofts, the Firefly Building, the Cannery, inside of Therapy Cafe and Boulevard Haus as well as the sculptures and buildings along Riverscape. Jill is a talented writer, who used to work at Design Forum before recently hanging her own shingle- a link to her site to come.
Here are the details from their press release:
Volume 7 at Yellow Cab, June 30, 7:30PM

PK Night is back!  Join us for Volume 7 at 7:30PM Thursday, June 30 at 700 East 4th Street. Sponsored by Dragonfly Editorial, this time we’re at the Yellow Cab Building, home of Dayton Creative Circus. Come and hear 9 presenters who’ve distilled their ideas into 400 seconds of fast-paced inspiration. Beverages and snacks provided..

Presenters include: Kevin Harris, artist, presenting “Tread,” drawings and prints combining traditional and digital art media, mind and body, eye and hand, camera and computer, printer and press. Kevin teaches Drawing and Printmaking at Sinclair Community College. J.T. Ryder, freelance writer, presents “Variety Is A Dirty Little Secret” or how he brought together diverse performers, musicians and artists to create the Dirty Little Secret Variety Show. Variety Is A Dirty Little Secret.” Wanting to bring together diverse performers, musicians and artists, J.T. finally had to give up hope on conning someone else into doing it and created the Dirty Little Secret Variety Show. David Esrati, community activist, blogger, ad agency owner and persistent candidate (for either city commission or Congress) will present “The end of coin flip politics” and let you vote on how we could give you the ability to elect the people you really want to run our country in the future.

Actress Megan Cooper will tell of life without a car, restaurateur Kimberly Collett will share the ongoing saga of Olive, Kidtee Hello will treat us to her strikingly beautiful photography, Patrice Hall of RealArt will share her experience of SXSW, and Jeff Opt, Creative Circus, will explain how we all ended up at the Yellow Cab building listening to him and drinking beer.

It should make for a fascinating evening. Hope to see you there.