Naptown Roller Girls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Slideshow)
Who says you've got to be mellow on 4/20? The Naptown Roller Girls took to the track with an epic Vampire vs Zombie throwdown.
If you liked the '50s through '70s - which saw an increase in air pollution, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, plus traffic fatalities for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists - you'll love Congress’ new transportation bills.
On the other hand, if you like the trends of increased bicycling, walking and more mass transit, I suggest you get involved.
Two versions of what may potentially become new transportation law are making their way through Congress. The House bill is currently known as “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act,” or HR 7. The Senate’s version is “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”, or MAP-21.
I know what you’re thinking at this point: “Where are they coming up with these crazy names?” “What cool acronyms they make!” But it’s here where things begin heading south for anyone interested in bicycling, walking and even mass transit.
Let’s focus on bicycle growth in the U.S. and Indiana, so we know why we want the Senate or House bills to fail. First, you’ve probably noticed an increase in bicycling locally and nationally. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, commuting to work via bicycle increased 64% from 1990 to 2009 and in Indiana for the same time period the growth was 96% (6,150 to 12,059).
If we look at all trips, which the Census doesn’t measure, we would see an even larger increase. All one has to do is examine the number of bicycles parked at the Pedal & Park corrals in Central Indiana. Tom McCain, Pedal & Park program director, reported 5,029 bikes parked in 2011, up from 3,924 in 2010. If local trends match national trends, this increase can be attributed to safer and connected bicycle specific infrastructure that’s been funded through various transportation programs.
Now let’s get back to why MAP-21 & HR 7 may well spell disaster for non-motorized transportation and mass transit.
HR 7 would eliminate programs such as Safe Routes to School, which funds infrastructure (e.g. crosswalks, bike lanes, etc.) and non-infrastructure programs (safety programs, etc.) near and at schools; and Transportation Enhancement (TE) programs which help fund similar infrastructure and much more (the Monon was paid for in large part by TE funds).
In addition, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program would be altered considerably. This program can be used to fund non-motorized transportation in cities with unhealthy air quality — if the project can be shown to decrease air pollution.
Under the new program, reducing congestion would be prioritized over the reduction of air pollution.
While this may not appear horrible on the surface (i.e. automobiles moving at a consistent speed produce less pollutants than automobiles in stop and go traffic), it inevitably signals to traffic engineers to speed up traffic at the expense of other road users.
Indianapolis already doesn’t currently meet EPA standards for healthy air. Think more asthma and other associated lung disease and increased traffic fatalities for bicyclists, pedestrians and even drivers themselves.
The Senate’s bill, MAP-21, which will be brought to the floor next week, is not much better.
Walking and bicycling programs, while not completely eliminated, suffer disproportionate cuts in funding and increased competition from other transportation programs (e.g. road construction).
Take a minute to let your Senator and Congressman know how you feel by calling and then writing them a letter or email.
Kevin Whited is Executive Director of INDYCOG.
The night kicked off with the Warning Belles, Naptown Roller Girls' B squad, defeating Windy City Roller Girls team The Fury, 150-115.
In the "varsity" match, the Tornado Sirens overcame a slow first half to roundly defeat the Midwest Mega-Team, an irregular outfit comprised of members of several Midwest teams, by the score of 131-41.
Slideshow: Naptown Roller Girls vs. Midwest MegaTeam
Scenes from a January 2012 Naptown Roller Girls doubleheader at the Pepsi Coliseum.
Naptown Roller Girls debut (slideshow)
Body-checks and fishnets fly as the Roller Girls tear into their season 6 home opener with relentless fury.
The Naptown Roller Girls' varsity team, the Tornado Sirens, beat the Ohio Roller Girls by 100 points the last time they met before Saturday's bout at the Pepsi Coliseum. As it turns out, the Sirens were probably being generous during that previous matchup. By the time I had figured where to sit Saturday, the score was 59-9. When it was over, the Sirens had racked up a 191-41 victory.
I took most of my photos from the area known as the Suicide Seats, and no wonder — you’re just a few feet away from the action, where you run the teeny chance of having a scrum of roller girls go careening into you. Incidentally, I can attest from experience that this is officially scarier than photographing the Indy 500.
I spent a good chunk of the second half shooting from the nosebleed seats, and if you're ever at a bout, it's worth trying both the high seats and Suicide Row. Up close, you can virtually feel the collisions as they happen; up above, it's a bit more detached, but you can really sort out the kind of high-speed chess game being played with the strategy.
As for the game — well, the score says it all. Seriously, it was the kind of massively unbalanced rout that one normally associates with the Harlem Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals, or possibly anyone in the world versus the 2011 Colts. I think Curtis Painter sent a condolence card. Whatever the case, it certainly sets a pace for a exciting season, though we can only hope future opponents will prove slightly more competitive. In the meantime, make with the clicky above and check out all our photos of last weekend’s game action!
You can see the Naptown Roller Girls during a charity appearance at the Indy Choruses “Tailgate Skate” fundraiser on Glen Arm Road at noon Nov. 27. Their next home bout is December 17.
Geocaching on a Sunday afternoon (Slideshow)
Veterans and newcomers alike gathered at an introduction to geocaching, learning all about the phenomenon that's essentially a worldwide, high-tech treasure hunt before setting out to find a few caches hidden especially for the event.
Geocaching! Sometimes referred to as a high-tech treasure hunt, where the whole world is your gameboard. Millions of caches — or, to keep with the metaphor, hidden treasures — are located in plain sight around the world, with thousands in Marion County alone. It’s easy enough to get into — all you need is a GPS receiver - which most smartphones have these days anyway - a login to geocaching.com and some time. Overcoming the addiction is a lot harder.
Veterans and newcomers alike gathered at the southside's Resurrection Lutheran Church last week for an Introduction to Geocaching event, with a variety of special caches hidden for the occasion.
What I love about geocaching is that it applies Super Mario logic to the real world. It’s the cheat codes of reality. Wander around, jump on the right platforms, walk in a circle in just the right place, and poof, you have a box of swag. Or maybe a sliver of a plastic container just barely large enough to fit a tiny list of names. Then again, you’re not doing this for the toys — spend ten bucks at a party store and you can get more knickknacks than you might find in a year of caching — but for bragging rights and fun. For that matter, when you take something from a cache you’re supposed to leave something of equal value, which is why most geocacher’s travel kits have anything from plastic toy soldiers to little trinkets they made themselves.
Imagine trying to do this with 2001 technology and a GPS receiver and a bunch of numbers. The advent of iPhones with satellite tracking and Google Maps integration has made geocaching a lot easier, but in the end, it comes down to your eyes.
“The margin of error in a GPS receiver is still several feet or more,” says Mitch Philips, who assembled the event. “Once you get close, you have to rely on your eyes.”
I joined geocaching veterans Jennifer Hagerman (7,500 finds to her credit) and Adam Vibbert (6,090) as they led a team of families and newcomers around the site searching for caches.
“I love going somewhere new,” Vibbert says. “A lot of times you’ll come across a place only the locals know about. There’s always something new and interesting.”
Check out the photos above for the team’s adventures, and look for more in-depth geocaching coverage in an upcoming issue of NUVO.
Video from the Circle City Classic 2011, which brought high school football and raucous marching bands to Lucas Oil Stadium last weekend.
Indy Scream Park (Slideshow)
The haunts come out at Indy Scream Park this Halloween.
Indy Scream Park
I don't give five-star ratings to haunts very often, but Indy Scream Park more than earns it with a massive undertaking that is well worth both the price and the drive to Anderson. This is the adults-only, summer blockbuster movie thrill ride of the season, with buckets of blood and gore, high intensity and plenty of imagination.
Indy Scream aims to bring major bang for the buck, with five haunts that seem to go on FOREVER. Their backwoods, hillbilly-flesh-hunters haunt alone is a borderline classic, the neon house is some of the best use of 3D I've yet seen, and their zombie-themed corn maze is an imaginative delight. It's not precisely a maze, as the twists and turns are actually linear and you won't get lost, but it brings you into one diabolical scene after another, punctuated by a menacing billowing fireball lighting the way every so often.
P.S.: Wear good shoes. You don't want flip-flops on as you're running for your life down a dark gravel path with a madman on your tail.
IUPUI Regatta 2011 (Slideshow)
In its third year, the IUPUI Regatta attracted over 100 teams to compete in a half-mile canoe race. Despite cool weather, spirits were high as teams participated in this good-natured race.
Hoosier Outdoor Experience (Slideshow)
The Indiana DNR hosted its annual Hoosier Outdoor Experience at Fort Harrison State Park this past weekend, providing heaps of free fun for the whole family.
The Hoosier Outdoor Experience, held last weekend at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park, is the kind of thing that makes me ask, not for the first time, where the heck was all this when I was a kid? Bow hunting! Firearms! Horseback riding! Off-road vehicles! Rock wall climbing! (Even if my son seemed more interested in bouncing up and down on the safety rope than actually climbing.) I don’t hold anything against my parents, but I bear a certain grudge against the world for not having earlier generated a horse/riflery/archery/motorcyle/wall-climbing/smores-cooking fest half an hour from home and doing it free of charge.
Fort Ben, by the by, is a great experience in and of itself. Seemingly endless hiking trails and a truly prodigious playground with a slide carved into the side of a hill. These things matter when you’re eight, I assure you.
The big flashy stuff I already mentioned, but a good chunk of the event was dedicated to somewhat more low-key outdoor activities, from flint-knapping to cooking s’mores in solar stoves. Even if the volunteer who informed me the stove could melt chocolate in a minute was being recklessly optimistic. The event also features enough hands-on stuff to keep the just-barely-walking toddler set entertained, which I certainly appreciated.
Incidentally, if you should happen to think such things are not spectator sports, clearly you have seen the reaction of a bunch of born-and-bred city kids who suddenly learn the horse has a mind of its own. It is quite frankly a testament to the skill and dedication of the Indiana DNR that this event has been carried off for several years without casualties.
All sarcasm aside, this was a Swiss watch of a fine-tuned event. Shepherding 15,000 people through everything from horseback riding to firearms, all for free, is no small thing, and from my point of view they neatly handled everything from the parking lots' buses to the complicated pas de deux of signing waiver forms, keeping everything orderly in line, and squeezing a four-year-old into a motorcycle before packing him off to the course.
And if you weren’t there this time around, haul yourself out next year. Don’t forget your kids; it’s a better excuse to climb the rock wall if your son or daughter is with you. Plausible deniability, you know. Anyway, enough from me; scroll on up, make with the clicky and check out the Pogue children and friends enjoying themselves at the event.
Taking those first steps into the Indiana Convention Center during GenCon, I always get the feeling I'll need a second pair of eyeballs just to observe it all. I'd probably fit right in.
My eyes were immediately grabbed on Friday by Cardhalla, a competition to build the strongest standing card castle held in the convention center's lobby.
Each year GenCon attendees of all ages spend hours constructing these architectural feats from donated cards, only to have them destroyed in the “Fall of Cardhalla” by a mass of coin-hurling nerds. This year's Cardhalla was the largest yet.
Some contestants choose to build the basic framework ahead of time. A model of Big Ben, built by the maker of last year’s pagoda, took 40 hours to build, five minutes to assemble and even less time to destroy.
The first two throws for the Fall of Cardhalla, which took place Saturday night, were auctioned off for charity. This year’s first throw went for $1,300 (up from $600 last year), and the second one for $450. The change that was thrown amassed to $1200. Both the throws and coin money went to School on Wheels, an organization that gives educational aid and school supplies to underprivileged children.
The clean-up afterwards was finished in just a little over 30 minutes.
“We have an army of slave labor — I mean volunteer workers,” said one volunteer.
Of course, laborers don't have to be forced to help out — anyone who helps clean up can keep whatever cards they want.
Rather than allowing his hand-crafted fire-breathing dragon to be destroyed by ruthless coin tossers, one artist, Juan Martinez, is selling it in the GenCon Auction, the largest game auction in the world. Martinez sold his 2010 card castle, modeled after a scorpion, for $150 and a twinkie. No joke.
Jeffrey Hammerlund, GenCon’s Auction Organizer since 2007 and a gamer since the '60s, saw me photographing and made it his personal duty to show me around. He informed me that last year they raised $27,000 auctioning off anything and everything that relates to the gaming world. Hammerlund said he even auctioned off a hug from his niece, a “goth model” for $35 last year.
“We’re going to sell another one from her this year,” he said.
GenCon provides 96 hours of activity without halt. There's never an unscheduled moment during the 4-day convention, and gamers could subsist on concession foods for the whole weekend without ceasing their play. But for those who feel the need to unstrap their Rock Band guitar and get some real grub, nearby restaurants like the RAM provide a special GenCon menu.
With returning appetizer items such as the “Pyre Troll Tenders” (wings), “Battle Mage BBQ Quesadilla” and “Retribution Nachos”, the RAM is a great place to grab a beer (I tried the Primal Porter: delicious) and sit down for some grub without leaving the comfort of the gamer world.
This is where I met Jeff VanVlymen, resident of Greenwood and GenCon veteran, who was kind enough to offer me a seat at his table in the crowded bar section. VanVlymen has been coming to GenCon since its earlier days in Lake Geneva, when the crowd was much smaller and less diverse.
“I used to go when it was 2,000 guys and one woman the size of a house who was more popular than Pamela Anderson," VanVlymen joked.
As Cosplay, an Anime and Manga-inspired of costumed performance art, has become more popular, more and more females have started showing up for GenCon, according to VanVlymen. However, he says that the gaming convention remains the “mecca of geekdom."
“The city loves this convention because it has the largest number of people and the fewest arrests, “ VanVlymen said. “People are here to have fun, and that’s what makes GenCon different than most conventions.”
GenCon 2011 (Slideshow)
Photographer Kris Arnold captures all the glory of GenCon, our favorite annual convention of gamers that overtakes downtown Indy every August.
With 19 cyclists competing for the bragging rights of being the fastest and bravest in Indianapolis, the streets of downtown became the course for the 2011 Wild in the Streets; a production of Goldstar Cycle Courier with support from Indy Indie Artist Colony.
Defined as an unsanctioned Alley Cat race, it gave cyclists a chance to experience the thrill of maneuvering traffic of downtown to race a package from one end of the city to the other—giving them a look into the underground lifestyle of a courier.
Check out the highlights from the race, cyclist competition, and the show that featured photographs, artwork by cyclists, and crashed bike equipment. Next week, see NUVO for a feature on Goldstar Cycle Courier and the Mass Ave Crit.
2011 Wild in the Streets (Slideshow)
Goldstar Cycle Courier Company hosted this years "Wild in the Streets," an unsanctioned Alley Cat race simulating a days work for a courier. Indy's Indie Artist Colony also had a gallery supporting the race and lifestyle of a courier.
The second annual celebration of bicycles took place on Saturday, May 7, at City Market.
IndyCog and Sun King Brewery partnered on the annual 2 Wheels 1 City, an event that grows in proportion to the number of bicycles on the street these days. In other words, the attendance exceeded last year's inaugural 2 Wheels 1 City, as evidenced by the overflow parking of bikes in the Pedal and Park space.
The crowd was treated to music by the Leisure Kings and Sarah Grain, and numerous competitions were held, from tiny tricycles to bicycle jumps to tire-changing contests.
Fat Sammies mobile food truck provided nourishment, and Sun King brews kept the crowd buzzed and smiling.
Don't forget: Bike to Work Day is next Friday, May 20, on Monument Circle, from 7 a.m. on... See nuvo.net next week for an update.
[A+E] Film + TV
[A+E] Visual Arts + Museums
[A+E] Festivals + Parties
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, Rock
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, DJs + Dancing, Rock, Pop, Markets + Cooking