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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.


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