Matthew Petro

Coffee is my energy drink of choice.

Affordable urban downtown?

The Phoenix metropolitan area doesn’t have a financial/professional center downtown like many older metropolises do. Most of the big business is spread out across the Valley, clustered around smaller epicenters (Scottsdale, Chandler, North Phoenix). Also, most of the high-dollar housing areas are in suburbs, such as Scottsdale and PV. Since a lot of the moneyed class in the Valley all live and work in suburbs, CenPho has been left as a fairly cheap place to live. Sadly, it also hasn’t been a place many have wanted to live until recently. Gentrification as begun along the light rail corridor, but CenPho definitely isn’t an expensive and exclusive place like San Francisco or Manhattan are.

The lower housing prices in downtown mean that it’s revival is starting on a fairly affordable base of lower cost of living. Rising costs are certain to follow, but they won’t approach the high levels of older, denser cities. The very wealthy will stay in their mansions in Scottsdale, PV, Fourntain hills and Carefree. This means that Phoenix will wind up with a vibrant urban core mostly populated by middle-income people who want to live in that environment…the artists, technogeeks and professional people who love the exchange of ideas and creativity fostered by great city living.

I have a lot of hope for CenPho.


Filed under: Interesting Thoughts, , , ,

Cargo cult development

Last night I attended the very rockin’ Ignite Phoenix 4. One of the presentations was by CJ Cornell, who talked about entreprenuership and how cities hinder instead of help it. A main point in the presentation was that cities practice a form of cargo cult development, in which they try to force a Silicon-Valley-like growth explosion to happen by giving out incentives, building “reasearch parks”, etc.

I’d also been talking with Bully Bjorn about the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District and some of the issues surrounding it’s development. It struck me during CJ’s presentation that Jackson St. and other developments like CityNorth and Westgate are another form of cargo cult development. Cities believe that they can create an entertainment “destination” by simply putting up a bunch of shiny new master planned retail, residential and office building. They miss the point that people are the heart and soul of any kind of great urban center.


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Light fixture blocking out the natural light

The ceiling

The ceiling

Above my cubicle at work is a standard drop ceiling with obnoxious fluorescent light fixtures. Through a gap next to the fixture directly above my desk, I can see up to the roof of the building and directly into the skylight which is up there. Yes, skylight! How ridiculous is it that natural light is blocked out by ceiling tiles and fluorescent lighting?

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The Future

The cool part about the unimaginable things the future holds is that we can’t even begin to imagine how cool they will be.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Filed under: Interesting Thoughts,

Cable “news” shows

Last weekend, Tracie and I spent our time in Flagstaff with her grandmother. While her grandmother is a fabulous person and fun to spend time with, she has a habit of leaving the TV on, tuned to Fox News all the time. This often drives us crazy. Is there really that much of an audience that wants to hear the same “news” regurgitated hundreds of times a day and hear hype-mongering rants from ratings-seeking personalities?

After listening to this a while, I can’t see how any of it is constructive. None of what is said is meant to achive a meaningful dialog amongst  people with differing viewpoints. My thoughts on this subject were really summed up by something Obama mentioned on the “Inside the Obama White House” special which NBC aired this week. He said that the cable news channels are like WWE wrestling. All of the personalities have their predictible roles to play, and all of the discussion really doesn’t shed any new light on an issue or educate the viewer in any way.

This is one reason I don’t miss having satellite TV at all.

Filed under: Life's Adventures

Going to Flagstaff

Yesterday I headed up to Flagstaff to meet up with Tracie and spend time with her and her grandma. Since Tracie was already up there, I decided to take a US Airways Express flight, instead of driving our other car up. I’ve lived in Arizona for many years and spent 5 years going to school at Northern Arizona University, but I had never flown to Flagstaff until this. Strange but true, right?

The 3:10 to Flagstaff

The 3:10 to Flagstaff

The flight left Phoenix at 3:10, giving me ample opportunity to laugh about it being the 3:10 to Flagstaff and comparing it to the Russell Crowe/Christian Bale flick “3:10 to Yuma”. The plane was a little 37 seat Bombardier Dash 8. These are twin-prop puddlejumpers that find all possible turbulence.

The flight left a couple of minutes late, but got in the air quickly. I was happy I wasn’t a nervous or nauseous flyer, as hot afternoon air above Phoenix is pretty bumpy. I was sitting next to a really nice guy named Joe, who was a little unhappy with the turbulence. He did well on the flight though, and we chatted through most of it, which I think helped keep his mind off of things.

I was totally surprised at how fast we got to Flagstaff. I’m used to a 2+ hour drive, even from my house on the north side of town. We were in the air no more than 35 minutes before we landed. The flight was scheduled for an hour, but I was off the plane by 4:00. It was almost disorienting to go from the frying pan of Phoenix to the cool mountain air of Flagstaff that quickly, but it felt so good.

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Time Machine