Category Archives: oklahoma city

One Great City: OKC!

I haven’t been back in New York for two weeks, yet Oklahoma City and the wondrous long vacation of the winter holidays already feels far away. I suppose part of it is the quick shift from lazing around my parents’ house watching football and drinking scotch, to returning to the hectic life of subways and 9-5 work days in New York. It was great to have such a long visit to Oklahoma, and I did find time for some adventure, which will all be recapped soon. I thought I would start with some photos from wandering around Oklahoma City, beginning with this shot of the Devon Tower at night. It’s astonishingly tall for Oklahoma City, like some sort of alien ship that plummeted into the center of the city. It’s still not quite finished, but it’s at its final height, dwarfing the surrounding buildings.

Right across from the Devon Tower is the newly renovated Myriad Gardens with its Crystal Bridge. For the holidays, there were changing colored lights inside the greenhouse. Although it was quite cold (luckily no blizzards like in past Christmases), there were people out wandering among the lights and ice skating in a small rink in the gardens.

The best lights, of course, were at Chesapeake. The natural gas company meticulously covers all the trees on its campus with lights, creating a sharply illuminated forest.

Here is another view of the Chesapeake lights.

My parents and I visited the State Capitol building while I was in town (always a fun and free attraction), and explored its empty halls. Everyone, including visitors, it seemed, was on vacation. Here are some iPhone cheating photos I took with the Hipstamatic Disposable camera app:

Although the Oklahoma State Capitol was designed with a dome, it didn’t get a dome until 2002, over eight decades after the rest of the building was completed in 1919. The money that was originally going to fund the dome was diverted to WWI, and the dome that is now standing was finally funded with private donations. The colors are meant to mimic the blue skies of Oklahoma and the vibrant hues of the Indian Blanket, the official state wildflower.

The Oklahoma State Art Collection in the capitol building is pretty impressive, with works by Okies like Ed Ruscha, Woody Crumbo, Nan Sheets, and Doel Reed. The metal animal mask shown above is by Ken Little.

Here’s an exterior shot of the capitol, where you can just make out the American Indian sculpture that stands on top of the dome. It’s called “The Guardian,” and although he might look small from here, he is actually 17.5 feet tall. He also makes the Oklahoma Capitol five feet taller than the US Capitol.

In addition to “The Guardian,” there are a few other statues on the grounds of the capitol, including this dynamic cowboy sculpture.

I’ll end with a shot of Lake Hefner, which was built in 1947. Yes, this lake was built. Most lakes in Oklahoma are manmade, and Hefner was set up as a city reservoir. It’s popular with windsurfers and kite boarders because the wind on the plains just never stops in Oklahoma City.

More Oklahoma posts soon!

NYE in OKC with the Flaming Lips, Yoko Ono, and Phantogram

Apparently there’s nowhere I’d rather be on New Year’s Eve than in Oklahoma City with the Flaming Lips, because that’s what I’ve done for the past four out of five years. (Read about 2009/10 here and 2010/11 here.) (The missing year is when I celebrated NYE on a bridge in Paris, but that’s another story.) The Flaming Lips’ NYE “Freak Outs” can always be counted on for plenty of confetti, lasers, ballons, and hordes of happy people dressed as animals.

This year was extra special, because opening was not only one of my favorite bands from NYC, Phantogram, but Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, playing with the Plastic Ono Band. I will get to that surreal element in a moment. First, Phantogram was AMAZING. I’d actually not had a chance to see them live, and they sounded great and there were plenty of strobe lights. If you’re unfamiliar with their music, start with their 2011 song “When I’m Small” and their 2010 “Mouthful of Diamonds” (which was on my favorite songs of 2010 list). Play them at your next party and everyone will love you and probably dance.

Next was Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band, featuring Sean Lennon. Feel free to arch your eyebrow here, because yes, Yoko Ono of all people was playing at a New Year’s Eve concert in Oklahoma City. I’m not exactly a Yoko Ono fan, but it was pretty awesome to see her freak out Oklahoma City, and I mean that in the positive way, although it did involve a lot of screaming. Later in the evening, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon (yes, that’s John Lennon’s son), and the Plastic Ono Band came back to take the stage with the Flaming Lips and played “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Can I just say how awesome Sean Lennon’s voice is? Wow:

Is your heart brimming with warmth? Awesome. Then enjoy this group sing-a-long to “Give Peace A Chance”:

Oh right, listen to Scott Booker read the mayor’s declaration that the day be Yoko-Lahoma Day first. Do we celebrate that every year now? I feel like December 31 is already a holiday of some sort…

About halfway through the Flaming Lips’ headlining set, the clock struck midnight (although it looked like 11:55 pm to me, but we were on Wayne Coyne time). There was a torrent of balloons and confetti and confetti filled balloons.

And there were then even more balloons! And we continued to celebrate with more Flaming Lips songs and more John Lennon songs, including “Strawberry Fields”:

And a cover of “She’s So Heavy” that seemed to go on for about half an hour while remaining awesome (it may have been more like 15 minutes, so much smoke and lasers and bass and I lost track of time):

Are you spacing out yet? Freaking out?

Of course, the Flaming Lips played a lot of their own music as well, music that somehow never gets old. They ended the long night with their beautiful “Do You Realize?.” And there’s no other way I’d rather start and end my year than in a shower of swirling confetti with friends singing along with Wayne Coyne to that song:

Awww, that’s what we all look like from stage. Or from the perspective of Kliph Spurlock. Happy 2012 you all!

[PS, it’s a new year and a new blog theme! I’m still experimenting with it. What do you think?]

Oklahoma Rising

As you all probably know, I hail from the great state of Oklahoma and therefore take my holidays there. This past weekend I flew to Oklahoma City for Thanksgiving and, along with consuming much food and zoning out to a Pawn Stars marathon,  I got some time to catch up on the city. Even though it’s only been a few years since I lived there, the city has changed, and continues to change, at an astonishing rate. The most visible change is the Devon Tower, photographed above. It dwarfs all the other buildings downtown, appearing to be twice as tall as all of them. Wild! I do hope they have some sort of bar or restaurant on top and are prepared for tornadoes.

Across from the Devon Tower, the Myriad Gardens were looking quite spiffy, with lots of new landscaping and a shined-up Crystal Bridge. Of course, it being on the cusp of winter, the landscaping was mostly in shades of brown, but it was still way more pleasing than the overgrown jungle that used to have the run of the place.

The Crystal Bridge greenhouse was looking great inside as well. The panes of glass were actually clear! It made such a difference and really opened up a space that used to be rather dreary. The plants looked pleased as well.

There were a lot of lovely flowers dotting the interior gardens, including some lovely orchids. It was great to come in from the cold to the humid space.

We ventured down to the Oklahoma River, where this new Chesapeake Finish Line Tower was gleaming like a monument to Oklahoma modernism.

Right alongside it is the striking Devon Boathouse, also newly completed, and looking like some sort of starship.

Later we saw all the OKC sights again, this time in lego form! Above is the Myriad Gardens and Devon Tower in the Oklahoma Lego Cityscape.

There was even a lego Oklahoma City Memorial.

There were a few inaccuracies… unless there have been some robot battles on the Colcord Hotel that I don’t know about.

We made two trips to the Oklahoma City zoo, hoping to see the new baby tigers. Unfortunately, it was rather cold both times (and very windy and rain for one) and not ideal weather for small creatures. However, the big cats seemed to be just fine.

This sleeping leopard was also out. I wonder if the cats have heated rocks? They seemed to be drawn to them like a housecat who sleeps over the heating vent.

Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips recently opened a gallery called the Womb. It was closed when we went by, but I think the best art was probably on the outside.

I also stopped by Untitled [ArtSpace] where I used to work.

And we visited the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, which has this towering Dale Chihuly glass thing in the window.

On the Friday of my visit, we drove to Tulsa and tailgated before the TU vs. Houston game.

Alas, no win for Tulsa. But it was fun nonetheless, even if the wind was strong and cold.

The time did come for my return to NYC. But the winter holidays are soon and I’m looking forward to spending some more time in Oklahoma. Although for now, New York is awfully festive.