My mother, who died in 2004, was aware of the things poor families needed. So throughout the year she would look out for useful, "poor family things" at garage sales and thrift stores. I remember her excitement at buying a set of knives, spoons and forks " all for just 25 cents. At the end of the year, she would donate it at the church on Ninth and McKinley. One night, she was met with hostile, racial insults from the family that was receiving her useful gifts. She was glad she could help and paid it no mind. The family thanked the church and thanked God, but sadly they were not aware of the "invisible hand" that made it all possible.
Last month's Gazette's Ghouls Gone Wild Halloween parade was spectacular. Our segment, the "March of a Thousand Flaming Skeletons," had participants from across America, plus a few that came from England. One young couple had even traveled from Tasmania. They had seen us play in Australia earlier in the summer and decided to make the trek.
I can't know what they expected OKC to be. The night before the parade, I saw them at the movie theater in Bricktown. I thought to myself, "What will they do?" And my wife, Michelle, pointed out that there were plenty of art galleries, bars and restaurants all within walking distance. And she was right. Bricktown and the very route that the Halloween parade takes " from MidTown, then east on 10th Street, then south down Broadway " has all been transformed in the last 10 years.
My knee-jerk reaction was still rooted in my experiences of playing in Bricktown back in the late 1980s. Back then, it was a dark, desolate old warehouse district. It was kind of dangerous and forgotten. It seemed like one big fire could have easily destroyed the whole area. I was stopped by the police several times asking what was I doing there. The only people who visited that area of town were drug dealers. I remember a friend of mine even found a human skull by the railroad tracks. And Broadway, back then, was also an endless line of empty warehouses. It's hard to imagine that now.
Seeing everyone downtown was quite a thrill. It reminded me of times I've been in Chicago on Michigan Avenue or in Austin, Texas, on Sixth Street. People everywhere, out and about, drinking, socializing, dressed-up and experiencing something that, not that long ago, just didn't happen in downtown OKC. And maybe it's no longer this strange dead zone that it had become by the early 1990s. And this is the part where the awareness of the "invisible hand" comes back into our story.
MAPS certainly isn't the only "invisible hand," but its list is impressive. MAPS has brought us the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, renovations to the Myriad (now the Cox Center), improvements at the state fairgrounds, the Bricktown Canal, new trolleys, improvements at the Civic Center Music Hall, improvements to the Oklahoma River and construction of the Ford Center.
But the best way to see this awareness of the "invisible hand" is through our own experiences. If you've done anything downtown or consider the things it has to offer " if you like these things and think they are cool " these have connections all the way back to the first MAPS vision.
Please urge everyone you know to vote "yes" for MAPS 3 in Tuesday's election. Urge them also to seek out the truth and not be misguided by any bad hype.
"Wayne Coyne, Oklahoma City
Coyne is the lead singer and co-founder of The Flaming Lips.