Tag Archives: kansas city

A letter to Detroit

Dear Detroit:

Congratulations on your depiction in Chrysler’s ongoing series of commercials that highlight the longtime contributions of the Motor City. Heck, the debut ad during the Super Bowl even made me tear up! And on another note? Best use of an Eminem song EVER.

But I’ve got a little problem with your most current ad in which your fair city is identified as the Paris of the Midwest. See, here in Kansas City, we’ve long been called the Paris of the Plains thanks to our abundance of scenic boulevards, our hundreds of fountains and a rich jazz history that permeates the core of Kansas City’s roots.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not one to step on a soapbox without doing a little research first. And I see that your booming industries in the 1920s prompted publicists to coin your European-inspired moniker. It’s a connection that makes perfect sense when tied to your recent ad campaign that strives to portray Detroit not as a desolate, struggling, industrial wasteland, but instead as a city that again teeters on the brink of massive change and inspiring redevelopment.

For now, I’ll refrain from making snarky comments when the aforementioned commercial airs. Because I also live in a city that’s been fighting to overcome decades of damage and isolation. And I can appreciate an all-consuming sense of regional pride that was likely poured into this advertising campaign.

Paris, je t’aime. And Detroit? You’re not so bad yourself.

Photo: Flickr.com/mk_b


Saturday in the City

One of my favorite things about living in the River Market is being a short walk away from the City Market. On Saturday I began my weekly tradition of stocking up on produce, bread, spices, flowers and whatever else catches my fancy–or appetite!

Combine that with one of my other favorite things, taking photos with the Instagram app for iPhone, and you’ve got the makings of a great day.

There are no words for how much I love this city. What a gorgeous skyline!

Imagine my delight when I stumbled across my favorite flower, the incredibly fragrant lilac! I told the cheerful vendor that I thought it was way too early for lilac blooms, but he said the recent warm weather had encouraged their growth. These will be on my must-purchase list until they’re out of season!

Other than that, R. and I attended an amazing wedding on Saturday night (congratulations C&J!) and spent the weekend planning–and implementing–our Great Loft Reorganization of 2011. It’s going to be a lot of work, but the results will be worth it — and we’ll have an excuse to throw a party!

Hope you had a great weekend, too – isn’t springtime in Kansas City the best?!

Identifying inspiration

Bennett Schneider. Photo by Katy Ryan Schamberger.

I stumbled on a great blog prompt today courtesy of my brilliant friend, Brenda Bethman.

Q: Who inspired (and inspires!) you to write?

Some of you who have been with me for awhile know that, late last year, I stopped blogging on my personal site in favor of setting up a more Kansas City-centric presence, both as a way to promote Moon Kansas City and to share my general passion for writing and the city.

The transition has been a bit tough, because I find myself unable to wax poetic on a variety of topics. I created this blog with a vision, and I don’t want to stray from that original thinking.

Yet when I read the aforementioned prompt, I realized that, of my many inspirations, Kansas City is a huge one. Sure, I wrote a book about the city, one of my biggest and best achievements to date.

Aside from the book, much of my day-to-day writing revolves around the city, whether I’m profiling an individual or business for Kansas City Woman, or writing on local businesses for KC Business, or compiling a DIY City Guide for Charles & Hudson.

Case in point: Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours taking photos for KCW at Rimann Liquors. I also stumbled upon Euston Hardware, and spent time gathering information, photos and chatting with the manager for the DIY City Guide. I left both businesses feeling inspired by the wonderful entrepreneurial community that seems so prevalent throughout the metro. I capped off the day with an insanely good lunch at locally owned BRGR Kitchen + Bar in Corinth Square (nothing like a freakishly advanced head start on Moon Kansas City, Second Edition, right?)

I find these bursts of inspiration strike regularly–as I’m strolling through the shops in Crestwood, wandering through Westport, exploring Prairie Village or marveling at the diversity of businesses and restaurants along 39th Street.

The tough thing about Kansas City is that so many of the great shops and businesses are spread throughout the metro in little pockets, so it’s sometimes difficult to find what you’re seeking. Yet that’s what makes Kansas City such a great adventure. I’ve lived here for 6 years and find something new every day. Each time I make such a discovery, my love of Kansas City deepens and I can channel that energy into my writing.

So thank you, Kansas City. I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

Why Kansas City Needs To Save The Plaza

The Plaza's balcony building, 47th and Broadway, is at risk for demolition. Photo by Katy Ryan

While grabbing a quick Saturday morning breakfast, the front page Kansas City Star headline immediately caught my eye.

“Irate Plaza fans object to plan”

“Irate?” I thought to myself. “Why would people be angry about the construction of a new office building near the Plaza?”

Now that I’m fully informed, count me among the city’s seething masses. Law firm Polsinelli Shughart has proposed a demolition of the 1920s building at 47th and Broadway (commonly referred to as “the balcony building”) and the Neptune Apartments on 46th Terrace. The replacement? An 8-story glass structure that retains none of the Plaza’s signature Spanish architectural elements, a towering eyesore in the heart of the historic neighborhood.

I’m pretty sure that the last time I checked my list, it didn’t mention anything about gawking at coldly modern architecture better suited for a downtown or suburban setting. The Plaza’s design uniformity is one of many factors that has contributed to the district’s iconic status, inviting comparisons that range from Santa Barbara to a picturesque Spanish village.

In a city that continues to struggle with finding–and promoting–its identity, permitting the blatant banality of the Plaza is nothing short of a sucker punch. Even if you, personally, don’t have use for the Plaza, you can’t deny what it’s done for Kansas City, both in terms of tourism and civic pride.

Polsinelli Shughart should be commended for committing to expanding within Kansas City, yet setting what could be an incredibly risky precedent is not the way to demonstrate a continued commitment to the city.

And on that note, I’d like to address something with Plaza owner Highwoods Properties. How about getting the Plaza listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Kevin Collison reports that this designation will place building and development restrictions on the Plaza, resulting in Highwoods’ reluctance to pursue this matter. Yet what’s more costly over the long-term? Missing out on some prospective development revenue, or attempting to recoup a devastating loss once the Plaza morphs into an unrecognizable strip area, devoid of character, history and meaning? You decide.

Reasons I love Kansas City, #5: City Market

In all of the excitement surrounding my book release, you may be thinking that I abandoned my “Reasons I love Kansas City” countdown.

Not so, my dears! We’re going to keep the party going, this time with the City Market.

Photo by Rob Schamberger

Celebrated as the largest farmers market in the Midwest, the City Market is a fresh food lover’s dream. The perimeter of the market is lined with wholesale produce sellers and various specialty food shops and restaurants, including an authentic Italian deli and Middle Eastern restaurant + grocer. The middle aisles are generally populated by local farmers, gardeners and artisans offering everything from homemade pasta to crafts.

I’ve been visiting the City Market for years, even before I lived in Kansas City. I can remember walking longingly through the aisles, lamenting the drive back to Columbia that prevented me from buying fresh flowers and anything requiring refrigeration. So when Rob and I moved to the River Market last year, we spent our first morning wandering the market, buying everything in sight and sipping freshly squeezed strawberry lemonades.

In addition to the amazing food selection and prime people watching, I love the market because you never know what you’ll find. Magicians, musicians, food demonstrations, garage sales–the market has a fun, eclectic vibe that’s hard to find elsewhere in the city.

But above all else, the City Market is home to the Holy Grail, or as I refer to him, The Spice Guy. Follow your nose to the impressive line-up of fresh spices, available by the scoop at insanely low prices. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recommended Al-Habashi Mart and its spice selection, especially for people like me who need hard-to-find Indian and other ethnic spices.

Now that market season is picking up, I feel that balance and order has been restored to my life. There’s nothing I love more than starting a Saturday morning with a leisurely stroll around the market, returning home with bags full of produce, spices, flowers, bread and anything else that catches my eye. If you haven’t yet been to City Market, don’t make any plans next weekend and stop by. This is one of the true jewels in Kansas City and it deserves to be treasured.

New in town: Liberty Belle KC

I made a happy discovery today while on the hunt for nursery decor with Jamie at Urban Mining Homewares and Good JuJu. On the backside of the building that houses Good JuJu is Liberty Belle KC, a family-owned vintage shop that, like the aforementioned boutiques, is only open the first weekend of the month.

Inside Liberty Belle KC, a treasure trove of antique, vintage and second-hand goodies awaits, arranged in several areas that include a few individually owned booths. Searching for a kitschy plush chair or a retro, wall-mounted telephone? Done and done.

Those who know me well know that I’m drawn like a magpie to shiny, glittery things–in fact, this obsession with sparkle is a running joke within my family. So imagine my delight as I encountered Junie’s, one of the vintage booths within Liberty Belle KC that’s bursting with all sorts of finds: jewelry, fabric flowers, knick-knacks, furniture, bird cages and more.

Head to Liberty Belle KC this weekend for the unofficial opening, and be sure to mark your calendar for the first weekend of May, when Liberty Belle celebrates its grand opening. And when you go? Bring cash or your checkbook. Debit and credit cards are only accepted at certain booths.

Lust list recap: Chez Elle Creperie

So I mentioned in my last lust list posting that I had a craving for oozy, gooey crepes from Chez Elle. After several long, torturous weeks, I finally ventured to the adorable Westside bistro last week where I had what was, quite possibly, the best breakfast I’ve EVER. HAD.

Paris crepe and iced latte, Chez Elle Creperie.

Just look at that! Fresh from the crepe pan, a perfectly cooked crepe that conceals Nutella and bananas, two of my favorite foods in the world. (Side note: my love for Nutella is so great, in fact, that I have a self-imposed ban on the chocolate spread in my house. I lack the discipline to portion it out over a couple weeks, and instead can destroy a jar in two or three days.)

And to accompany, a perfectly made iced caramel latte, which hit the spot despite the day’s cold, gray weather. I’m already planning a return trip, thanks to Chez Elle’s mouthwatering array of sweet and savory crepes–and don’t even get me started on the homemade pastries!

Consider this lust listing a sweet, sweet success!