• Johnson County,KS: Then and Now

    Today’s trip to the past of the Johnson County,KS takes time travelers to historic downtown Overland Park.

    Then:Voights Building
    Black and white photo of the Voights building at 80th and Santa Fe Dr. taken from opposite corner showing intersection of the two unpaved, dirt streets. There are two men sitting on bench outside of drugstore. A horse-drawn carriage is parked on one side of the building and an automobile is parked on the other visible side. The building itself is brick with striped awnings over the windows and doorways. There are several large windows at the store front. The window behind the men on the bench says “DRUGS.” Also visible in this picture is a wooded “Rail Road Crossing” sign, a telephone pole, a tree, and another brick building in the background.

    Apparently Voights Building (1911-1927) burned in 1927 and was rebuilt as a one story building where law offices are today; we also find out that it was located at the North-West corner of 80th and Santa Fe. Another mention of the historic building is here.
    And here is what it looked like today:


    This look at the past was brought to you by the Kansas City Lunch Spots : Where Lunches and Spots Meet In The Open. Also sponsored by: My Job: Weekdays Off, WTF. Additional financing by: Old People: We Were There When the Old Building Burned.
    Previous posts here and here.

  • Food Crumb-skiy

    There are so many websites covering all things food around this town that another one is hardly needed, however, I feel it’s my duty to continue with the coverage of cheap foods and places that don’t rip you off.

    I recently visited La Cocinita Mexicana – a place where my friend Chimpotle has been grazing lately gaining fat for upcoming winter hibernation. This place is located in a usual Johnson County strip mall so despised by people looking for “character” from across the county line. I am happy to admit that I never ate in Mexico outside of the buffets of Cancun so I will not be judging authenticity of the food, it looked Mexican to me and everyone behind the counter was speaking Spanish, which is the case for many restaurants around here, including Chinese. The owner/manager/chef XX was extremely enthusiastic and insisted that we try a variety of fillings before we made our selections. He mentioned several times that they are better than Chipotle, I would have to agree. Two large tacos, one good tamale and a Mexican pop – little over $7, that’s my kind of place. Both tacos – beef and chicken – were pretty spicy, with good amount of filling and plenty of toppings we chose from the topping bar. I’d definitely go there again for good food, low prices, friendly staff. Plenty of seating is available.

    Speaking of Mexican food, I finally bought salsa mix from Bebo at the City Market. I see Bebo at the Market every Saturday and he frequently calls into local radio shows never forgetting to plug his products after every conversation. A co-worker recently brought some excellent salsa to work and it was apparently made with one of the Mama Socorro’s mixes made by Chef Bebo (see I can play that “chef” game too).

    Chef Bebo

    Chef Bebo recommends to mix one package with a 28 OZ can of crushed tomatoes or a similar amount of chopped fresh tomatoes and let it set for 1 hour or overnight. Mine is doing it right now. Chef Bebo is offering other spice mixes and prepared salsas at the City Market and many local grocery stores. Here is another review of his products.

    Lastly, as if this being the Best Kansas City Blog of 2008 and recent presidential elections were not enough to make you think that the secret communist takeover of this country is going on as planned, Russian vodka now has its own billboard over I-35.

    “The Russians Are Coming” is so 1966. The Russians are already here…

  • Behind the Iron Curtain: Photos

    Some photos made in the USSR when the Iron Curtain still existed periodically circulate around the Internet. This set is a pretty good compilation without confusing Russian text. Some people react with nostalgia, others with hate. It was a controversial time and as it moves further into the past people tend to forget the bad and only remember it to be simple, happy and care-free. It wasn’t, but it’s nice to think otherwise. Take a look for yourself (click on Lenin to see the rest).

    Here are more photos although some are the same.

    Some more a here, here, here, here (these are made by National Geographic’s Dean Conger)  and here.

    If you have any questions about the photos, please submit it together with a link to the photo in the comment section.

  • May Day The Right Way

    May Day is coming up and since you are unlikely to participate in a proper celebration that looks like this…

    … you may want to be at the Pistol where the Peoples Liberation Big Band will be scoring the silent movie “Battleship Potemkin“.

    The great Soviet silent film “Battleship Potemkin” will be screened with live music at 8 p.m. May 1 at the Pistol Social Club, 1219 Union in KC’s West Bottoms. Tickets are $10. Sergei Eisenstein’s acclaimed 1925 spectacle is about the mutiny of the crew of a Czarist ship. The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City will provide the accompaniment. Members are Jake Blanton (guitar), Brad Cox (pianos, accordion), Carl Bender (alto saxophone), P. Alonzo Conway (percussion, bassoon), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), Rich Wheeler (tenor sax), Brenna Hayes (baritone sax), Patrick Ketter (oboe, English horn), Michael Stover (slide guitar), Jeffrey Ruckman (pianos, accordion), Sam Wisman (drums), Forest Stewart (horn in F), Stephanie Bryan (trombone) and John Wirt (trumpet). The original score was written and arranged by Conway, Cox, Harshbarger and Ruckman.

    I was never a fan of this movie mainly because I miss the dialog, there is no nudity and dramatic music that substitutes for the soundtrack gets old really quick, but it features one of the most-known sights in my city – the Potemkin Stairs.

    The stairs were designed to create an optical illusion. A person looking down the stairs sees only the landings, and the steps are invisible, but a person looking up sees only steps, and the landings are invisible. A secondary illusion creates false perspective since the stairs are wider at the bottom than at the top. Looking up the stairs makes them seem longer than they are and looking down the stairs makes them seem not so long.

    I suggest getting properly liquored up for the deeper understanding of this masterpiece.

  • Old Photos: I Witnessed History

    I was recently discussing old age with the Methuselah of the local blogging community and he noted that due to my (relatively) short lifespan, which is quickly finishing off its 39th year, I missed a lot of history. I can’t argue with that. Unlike some people I don’t remember the invention of the telephone, Hindenburg disaster, and the Dust Bowl. But even in my soon to be 40 years I’ve seen things.

    On the morning of August 19, 1991 I was eating breakfast and watching news on my TV (something like this) when the announcer reverted to the official voice they used when someone died and announced that due to the health reasons M.S.Gorbachev can no longer perform his duties and  the control of the country is being taken over by a State Committee of the State of Emergency. This was the beginning of the 1991 Soviet coup d’état attempt. People had different reactions to the events; I for one wasn’t surprised at all: many people weren’t happy about Gorbachev’s reforms and were hoping for some form of reversal, and this was just what they were asking for.

    This is what their first press-conference looked like (in Russian). For a group of conspirators they acted too strange and spaced out. Some of them were not exactly well-known before the events.

    The coup was over in 3 days with the press and the army refusing to support the conspirators and suppress demonstrations in Moscow and other places.

    Gorbachev returned to Moscow but never regained his full capacity and the USSR was over before the year’s end.
    One might say that right there over my breakfast I witnessed the beginning of the end of the country I grew up in. Recently I had a chance to find out how these events were covered in the American press. After the the putsch was over the Kansas City Star combined all of its coverage into a special insert.

    Here is the rest of it (all images are mostly readable if you click on the slide-show)

    18 years later people still argue if this was the right way to go. At that time it probably couldn’t go in any other way, but every forum is overloaded with people mourning the loss of the USSR – the superpower.
    I witnessed it then and thanks to one of my readers had a chance to revisit it now from the other side of where the Iron Curtain used to be.
    More videos of the American news coverage.