Brock About Town: Mr. Roger’s Ped Mall

Illustration by Lev Cantoral

Is it me, or are tensions running especially high in Iowa City right now? No, it’s definitely not me — there is a decidedly gloomy air among the populace. I think it’s the weather. Every other day, there’s a torrential downpour, but it still never gets any cooler. (Take that, climate change deniers!) There are 237 Democratic presidential candidates to keep track of, the price of báhn mì is going up and there’s a big, muddy hole in the center of town.

Of all these problems, the last is the only one with a definite end date. The Ped Mall is supposed to be completely refurbished by November of this year. It may seem like a long time, but time flies when you’re decorating. The price we’ve paid for a sleeker-looking downtown with no loose bricks is several dozen whimsical park benches painted by local artists. I say we jazz the place up a bit in true Iowa City style: with a completely government-unapproved community art installation. Here are some of my ideas:

An 11-foot-tall PBR can, crumpled as if on the head of a freelance DJ who spins alt-pop-crustpunk and wants to make sure you know he’s doing this ironically.

A statue of Flannery O’Connor. She went here, right? She’s famous. Why not?

Yarn-bombing, but garbage cans instead of trees. At this point, I’m just spitballing. Seriously, anything’s better than another Herky statue.

And last but not least, a massive shrine to Mr. Rogers, patron saint of disillusioned millennials, who make up a majority of our population. Yes, this shrine will have candles and disturbingly personal memorabilia, but it will also have a box, much like the one you got this magazine from, except more … bedazzled. In this box, we will leave food and clothes and other supplies for those in need.

I think this is the best option, not just because I’m a goody two-shoes who still occasionally watches Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, but also because that’s who we are. Even though the planet is melting and there are seriously bad things happening around the country and we’re maybe a little frustrated with our own lives, Iowa City cares. Ugh, corny, I know, but I have to get it out there — you guys are great. And yes, this whole article was just me, buttering you all up so I can solicit some advice on my hair. It’s sooo frizzy, you guys. I might as well just be wearing a clown wig. What do I do?

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 267.

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


Harmony Festival

from Breathing Room Yoga
Cedar Rapids, July 17-18, 2021
Music | Meditation | Mindfulness

Tickets on sale now


Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.