Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taco Punk has "stuff to sell" ... and I know some of you are looking to buy.

The bad news surely is the loss of a dream, but the consoling good news is that the good concept and operational methodology remain in Gabe Sowder's head, and can be reconstituted in the future ... or not; the food business is such an unpredictable thing, and at least when the Bank Street Brewhouse kitchen was closed, we didn't have to go through the sell-off of equipment and fixtures.

I'm posting this because I know for a fact that several New Albany restaurateurs are looking for items like these. Gabe can be reached via Facebook.

Everything must go at the former Taco Punk on East Market, by David Serchuk (Insider Louisville)

It’s hard to see someone’s dream go under, but it must be even harder for that person when the process of ending the dream is prolonged. This is the situation in which the former owners of Taco Punk on East Market now find themselves. The business has closed, but they’re not quite ready to vacate the premises, because there is still so much stuff left to sell.

The former restaurant remains filled with empty tables, along with the trademark red vinyl chairs and stools that filled the space. Though they held an open-house sale earlier today, there are many items left to purchase , said Dana Andriot, wife of owner and chef Gabe Sowder.

Creeping gentrification, international brands, a "criminal loss of patrimony" ... and Barcelona.

If the business of business is of such significance, then why aren't these small businesses eligible for the Unesco World Heritage List?

Historic Loss May Follow Rise of Rents in Barcelona, by Raphael Minder (NYT)

In the center of Barcelona’s scenic old city, a once-historic bookshop is being turned into a store for Mango, the giant clothing retailer. A maker of combs, founded in 1922, is now a big-name bag store. And a toy store, owned by the same family since the Spanish Civil War, has been converted into an outlet for Geox, the Italian footwear company.

The changes are more than the result of the kind of creeping gentrification that has reshaped so many cities worldwide. Here, and across Spain, historic districts are being transformed as tens of thousands of small, often family-run shops face the end of decades of rent controls this year.

It is not that the establishments did not know the changes were coming — they had 20 years’ warning. But slowly, now suddenly, that time has arrived, provoking 11th-hour resistance as small shops are pushed from historic districts by an inundation of international brands, which are virtually the only ones that can afford the staggering spike in rents.

The rapid turnover has spurred soul-searching and debate about just how far the city should go to protect its distinctive character in the face of the homogenization that accompanies the arrival of multinational chain stores.

The removal of traditional stores from the old city center, known as the Gothic Quarter, is “a criminal loss of patrimony in a city that is getting drowned by big money and international brands and is losing all sense of history, order and proper urban planning,” said Josep Maria Roig, the owner of La Colmena, a pastry shop founded in 1872.

Quite possibly the only reference to Florida Georgia Line you'll ever see in this space.

I'm a lifelong fan of creatively rendered written bile, and so this album review is immensely pleasing to me. Granted, I'm not a "country" music listener (we must always be wary of broad categories), though contrary to my reputation, I can find much to enjoy in it, especially when the music's traditional roots and folk veins are on display.

I wouldn't have imagined Florida Georgia Line to be something I'd appreciate. In this hilarious dissection, I've learned why. Or, as my pal Paul wrote: "These guys REEK of Bud Light, Roger."

The source blog comes with a thought-provoking mission statement: "When a culture's music is lifeless, that culture is bound for more trouble than just having nothing decent to listen to."

Yes, indeed.

Florida Georgia Line’s “Anything Goes” is the Worst Album Ever (Saving Country Music)

... And talk about going to the clichĂ© well too many times, there’s a song on this album called “Angel” that I kid you not is built around the often sarcastically-used pick up line “Did it hurt when you fell from the sky?” Any woman who hears this line coming from any man has my personal blessing to immediately spray them in the face with mace and knee them in the nuts. The idea that these knuckleheads think that this line is “sweet” just speaks to the depravity of self-awareness they suffer from in an irrevocable degree.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 44: The weekly Board of Works edition.

Last week, the Board of Works ventured the first of what are sure to be dozens of after-the-fact attempts to correct the multitudinous design flaws of Rosenbarger Allee, a.k.a. the Main Street Disprovement, Deforestation and Semi Trailer Non-Diversion Project by slapping a 25 m.p.h. speed limit onto the muddle.

Let's reiterate a point from yesterday's post, which took the novel position (for Nawbony) that proven traffic calming solutions from all across the country might even work here -- that is, if allowed to see the light of day by gatekeepers with shriveled imaginations.

... Many experts think it’s not as simple as changing the speed limits. Charlie Zegeer, project manager at the University of North Carolina’s authoritative Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) says, “Research shows that lowering a speed limit doesn’t work to slow traffic– it’s the roadway design that affects the speed.”

Oops -- that's strike 18; looks like Rosenbarger's out.

Meanwhile, the parade of merrily speeding tonnage continues. Enjoy the view.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I'm not suggesting these trees weren't dead or dying.

But can't the work crews at least clean up the sawdust ... or are we supposed to do that?

Seeds and Greens grand opening coverage in the Courier-Journal.

With the Gnaws and Trombone absent, presumably having its belly scratched somewhere in Steamboat Days, the C-J receives kudos for covering an important downtown New Albany opening.

Seeds and Greens opens for business, although City Hall wouldn't know it.

Come to think of it, were any Harvest Homecoming officials there on Saturday?

Seeds and Greens embraces farm-to-table living, by Jenna Esarey (Special to The Courier-Journal)

Seeds and Greens Natural Market & Deli drew large crowds during its opening Saturday.

Owner Stacey Freibert welcomed shoppers, proudly showing off New Albany's newest downtown business and offering samples of products and items from the store's deli.

Seeds and Greens focuses on high-quality organic, natural, and minimally processed foods, dairy, eggs and meat, house care items and homeopathic products. It will support local farmers, carrying only non-genetically modified products free from pesticides, chemicals and artificial preservatives.

Gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free foods are available along with vegetarian and vegan items."If you're taking a step towards a healthier life we want to be here for you," said Freibert's husband, Jeff.

Dear Mayor Gahan: Would you agree that these steps to slow traffic, deter distraction and promote walkability are all about PUBLIC SAFETY?

If so, then why are we undertaking to implement so few of these steps, and so reluctantly?

“These pedestrian improvements also improve motorists’ and bicyclists’ safety. It’s a win-win-win. Everyone’s safer.”

That word again ... safety.

You invoked it repeatedly to justify demolishing a historic structure, even after you'd received a legitimate and workable rehab offer from a contractor (I'll have the information about that soon enough ... ans what happened to the "salvaged" contents, anyway?)

Why does City Hall continue to ignore safety as it pertains to the streets?

Why must public safety as promoted on the city's own streets and sidewalks wait until Jeff Speck tells us what's already published here, and what has been known for many years?

Or should I be asking Adam Dickey these questions?

How to Restore Walking as a Way of Life, by Jay Walljasper (Project for Public Spaces)

The gravest danger to walkers as well as bicyclists and motorists is other motorists who drive dangerously. According to data collected by the New York City Department of Transportation from 2008-2012, “dangerous driver choices” contributes to pedestrian deaths in 70 percent of cases. “Dangerous pedestrian choices” is responsible in 30 percent of cases and joint responsibility in 17 percent of cases.

As the old saying goes, speed kills ...

... Many experts think it’s not as simple as changing the speed limits. Charlie Zegeer, project manager at the University of North Carolina’s authoritative Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) says, “Research shows that lowering a speed limit doesn’t work to slow traffic– it’s the roadway design that affects the speed.”

(list follows)

Every Day Fresh Kitchen's open house is Wednesday, October 29.

Gina Brown's Every Day Fresh Kitchen and her classes got off the ground in May.

Foodie foreshadowing & denouement: Class With Chef.

She's having a special night on the 29th.

Here's what's happening in the Every Day Fresh Kitchen

Save the Date -- October 29th


Come and take a free mini class with me! Join me at the Every Day Fresh kitchen at Destinations Booksellers, 604 E Spring, New Albany, Indiana from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Meet, mingle and learn about Every Day Fresh. I'll demo something sweet and savory ... maybe you'll be my Sous Chef, and get your hands dirty. Aprons and classes will be available for purchase.

Do me a solid and RSVP at classwithchef(at)gmail(dot)com

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seeds and Greens opens for business, although City Hall wouldn't know it.

Seeds and Greens Natural Market & Deli opened yesterday with a 9:30 a.m. ribbon cutting. I'd estimate the crowd to be 75, perhaps more. State Representative Ed Clere gave a short and appropriate speech, contrasting today's downtown with the situation only a few years ago.

Read about the building housing Seeds and Greens.

First, congratulations and best wishes to the Freiberts, and everyone who helped them put this ball into the air. We'll be shifting a percentage of our shopping to this locally-owned store.

Next, a side note: I'm often criticized for suggesting (and repeating) that the city of New Albany has no discernible economic development plan for downtown. Yesterday, City Hall offered a typically vacuous reply of sorts, because not one of its elected or appointed officials attended the Seeds and Greens opening.

That'll show me, won't it?

The inattentiveness doesn't end there. Zero council persons were spotted, and no political party chairmen or functionaries, though the absence of the latter surely qualifies as a blessing. In fact, Rep. Clere was the only elected official of any sort, unless I missed seeing someone.

City Hall constantly pleads monetary poverty when the subject of downtown economic development arises; the proper time-honored, good-old-boy tools just don't exist outside the industrial park, officials always repeat, indicating they remain mired in the same old abatement and direct subsidy rat trap inhabited by generations of "experts".

Shouldn't it be obvious by now that a chronic absence of creative thought and improvisational skill constitutes not fiscal, but intellectual impoverishment?

We got nuthin', they mutter ... and all the while, our one-way, auto-centric, plainly unsafe street grid remains a neglected afterthought, one seemingly incapable of principled adjustment until a paid consultant assuages municipal timidity with dollops of political cover.

Yes, of course Seeds and Greens has a parking lot, and people driving cars will come there to shop. But the speed with which they travel, the way the street grid is designed -- the overall downtown milieu -- is subject to immediate adjustment to reinforce the downtown commercial climate, not urinate on it.

An example:

Must we wait for a traffic study to slow traffic and put crosswalks at the corner of Main and W. 1st?

Apart from when the city winks and hands its infrastructure to Harvest Homecoming's junta each year, the city does control its streets and sidewalks. The city can alter these so they're conducive to better business. Right-sizing, completing, calming, converting streets ... slowing traffic speeds, enforcing crosswalks, enhancing walking, biking and a human-scale district ... all these factors are favorable for the new generation of downtown independent business, major pieces of which might have been commenced years ago.

City government taking action to improve business prospects.

That's economic development, isn't it?

Why, then, isn't any of it happening?

"The End of an Error," 20 years later.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana

Back on April 10, I was considering a special pub opening today to mark the occasion. Let's just say that it slipped my mind, but providentially, yesterday's iPhone photo deletion marathon provided a needed last-minute jolt.

Perhaps a special Sunday pub opening day on October 19?

Regular customer EN took this photo at the Public House yesterday. It's hard to believe that while so much has changed, this sheet still remains taped and tacked to the beam behind the bar after almost two decades. It's almost like a shrine, except that for the most part, generationally, Eddie LaDuke is forgotten. Not for me. It's a daily remind: Never promote otherwise capable sports writers to positions anywhere outside the sports department. Doing so simply cannot end well.

But there's always Bill Hanson. As Erich Honecker was to the Berlin Wall, Hanson is (and always will be) to the News and Tribune Paywall. When he's finally gone, perhaps another printout will be merited.

May it remain affixed proudly, another 20 years.

Serchuk on Louisville's "most disturbing team," the Zulu Cannibal Giants.

While it cannot be said that the details are surprising, it still comes as a jolt to realize this took place in the 1930s, not the late 1800s.

“Pandering to white America’s worst attitudes and most stereotypical views of blacks, the players entertained fans between games with various ‘comedy’ acts including staged fights with spears and shields along with a crap game featuring loaded dice and players brandishing razors.”

Serchuk does a fine job with offensive material. Who knew any of this?

One begins to think that Insider Louisville might actually be worth it -- and then someone has an orgasm over the Dunkin Donuts national chain, and you want to smack them upside the face with your localism stick.

Foul ball: The Zulu Cannibal Giants, Louisville’s most disturbing team, by David Serchuk (Insider Louisville)

As baseball’s playoff season begins, controversies about professional sports are all around. Specifically about the names and images of teams, both in baseball and professional football.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ten years ago today, a book was sold.

Earlier today, we stopped by Destinations Booksellers, and Randy Smith said that 10 years ago, on October 18, 2004, he sold his first book at the store.

Congratulations are due, but the happiness goes beyond New Albany having and supporting an independent bookstore for decade, during changing times not always favorable for the genre.

Randy and Ann are our friends, too. That's the most important thing.

I've known Ann for a long time, but we first met Randy and his wife as a couple at an open house at Moser Tannery around the time the bookstore opened. They've done more than sell books. They've been an incubator for progressivism, ideas and ideals -- for thinking. Nowadays there's a coffee shop, bars and a brewery for fostering subversion.

Ten years ago?

We had nuthin'.

Concurrent with the advent of Destinations Booksellers, I began dabbling in blogging. My first post was on October 22, 2004, but it wasn't until George W. Bush was tragically re-elected shortly thereafter that I realized how futile it is to debate national issues when local affairs are far more capable of being influenced by direct participation.

Roughly 8,000 posts later, it occurs to me that I may have been profoundly mistaken. Either way, without people like Randy and Ann, and of course non-bookselling others too numerous to mention here, it isn't clear how we ever could have survived New Albany's mind-numbing numbness of mind these past ten years.

Thanks, Destinations. You've helped make this unreconstructed, dirty river town bearable. Now, if we could just stuff it into the tub for a good scrubbing.

There'll be a downtown merchant meeting on Tuesday morning, October 21.

It's at 8:30 a.m. at the Culbertson Mansion, which I can attest is a great place to have a meeting. These gatherings are monthly, and rotate between downtown locations.

Minutes from the last meeting will be posted here as soon as I receive them.

I'm reading between the lines, but I don't think this is the "Harvest Homecoming follow-up" meeting mentioned by city officials. The city-organized meetings are every other month, and take place at The Exchange. The next one should be in November, and WILL be interesting.

At the same time, next Tuesday's merchant chat would be a good time to talk about Harvest Homecoming, wouldn't it?

(Stay tuned for September meeting minutes below)

"The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs".

But is Dave Matthews reading?

The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs, by Charles Marohn (The American Conservative)

In his recent column, “Why Suburbia Irks Some Conservatives,” the prominent urban geographer Joel Kotkin creates and then slays a number of straw men in defense of suburban development patterns and all that is right and good in this country. This, unfortunately, is a lament that too often goes unchallenged, ceding a large swath of the American experience in the process. It is time for conservatives to confront the true nature of the suburbs.

America’s suburban experiment is a radical, government-led re-engineering of society, one that artificially inverted millennia of accumulated wisdom and practice in building human habitats. We can excuse modern Americans for not immediately grasping the revolutionary ways in which we restructured this continent over the past three generations–at this point, the auto-dominated pattern of development is all most Americans have ever experienced–but today we live in a country where our neighborhoods are shaped, and distorted, by centralized government policy.

Basically, sharrows suck, so naturally New Albany plans more of them, so we can be "bike friendly" on the cheap.

Back in May, we sneered at another of John Rosenbarger's signature megalomanical muddles.

Rosenbarger giveth and He taketh away; thus shall autos be glorified at the Beechwood intersection with Charlestown Road.

 ... Useless bicycle lanes originally marked just a few years ago, which start and end nowhere, and that never were calibrated to guide a cyclist through an auto-centric intersection, now will be rendered even less useful than garden-variety useless ... with the compounded uselessness occurring just a few blocks from Monon Street, where there'll be a brand new park not connected in any way, shape or form to any non-automotive form of transport.

The intersection reboot is complete, and last night I noticed that it includes a new, dramatic step to resolve the bicycle friendliness issue mentioned above. Previously nonsensical and disconnected bicycle lanes now are routed through the automotive cluster muck by means of a sharrows symbol painted on the street.

Like a nightmare, it all came back to me: The city official in August, whom I quite like as a human being, but have never even once seen riding a bicycle, assuring me that New Albany's way forward to status as a red hot, bike friendly town was to have sharrows everywhere instead of more costly measures to actually achieve something.

At their very best, sharrows are a component, as the excerpt below makes clear.

However, in the absence of other (better) street use reform measures, the sharrows notion is little more than propagandistic palaver. Main Street's freshly minted conceptual catastrophe is a fine example. On a street already sufficiently wide to incorporate bicycle paths amid narrowed traffic lanes, we've opted instead for a median and wider traffic lanes, which will speed traffic rather than calm it (speed limit reductions notwithstanding), thus rendering sharrows both useless and potentially dangerous to bicycling novices who don't yet share a general contempt for sharrows as a municipal cop-out.

So what do we intend to do with our opportunity? Talk crap, paint symbols on the asphalt, then move on to build a dog park.

That's the New Albany way, and it's dead wrong -- at some point, probably literally.

Want to Increase Cycling? Sharrows Won’t Cut It, by Angie Schmitt (Streetsblog)

Shared-lane stencils for bikes, a.k.a. “sharrows,” definitely have their place in a balanced and healthy street system. But these friendly reminders to drivers to share the road have their limits as a tool to boost safety and create more inviting streets for biking.

A study by the LA County Bicycle Coalition [PDF] showed that sharrows do little or nothing to encourage new people to take up cycling, the way bike lanes and cycle tracks do.

That’s why communities should not rely on sharrows when more effective interventions are called for. Unfortunately, Sam Ollinger at Bike San Diego says her city has fallen into this trap:

In the last year, San Diegans have seen the increasing number of shared-lane markings, also called “sharrows.” Sharrows are appearing everywhere: Adams Avenue, Park Boulevard, Broadway, El Cajon Boulevard, Grand Avenue, Voltaire Street, Chatsworth Boulevard, Hotel Circle South, Pacific Highway and more. However, these sharrows are being used as a cheap band-aid instead of implementing real change on our roadways that would increase the number of people riding their bicycle for transportation or recreation.

For starters, San Diego’s Bicycle Master Plan recommends sharrows on roadways that are too narrow for bike lanes. Sharrows are recommended on roads that have a minimum width of 14 feet. Bike lanes are recommended on roads that have a minimum of 15-17 feet. El Cajon Boulevard, for example, has three travel lanes in each direction – it has more than enough room for a bike lane.

So how can the City of San Diego increase the percentage of people who ride a bicycle? A recent report [pdf] from the Mineta Transportation Institute, an institute that was established by Congress to research “multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues,” concluded that in order to attract a wide segment of the population, a bicycle network’s “most fundamental attribute should be low-stress connectivity, that is, providing routes between people’s origins and destinations that do not require cyclists to use links that exceed their tolerance for traffic stress, and that do not involve an undue level of detour.”

VeloLab, an indoor training center for cyclists ... in New Albany.

I ran into Tim a few months ago at Quills, and he told me all about his project. Then I got busy with outdoor beer events season and completely forgot about it.

As many readers know, I used to do a great deal of bicycling, most of it in the urban area, and often as a commuter, peddling daily in short bursts. In 2010, I rode more than 5,000 kilometers, and never had a trip as long as 40 miles.

The last two years, walking has become the central theme for me when seeking to avoid driving. The plan is to ease back into the saddle next year, in which case VeloLab may well come in handy.

More importantly, an indoor training center has the potential to become a bicyclist's community center ... and it's a rehabbed space. Tim's pushing a lot of buttons, which is the object. Best of luck to VeloLab.

Indoor cycling training center opens in New Albany, by Bill Francis (WDRB)

A Southern Indiana high school teacher has opened an indoor training center for cyclists and it's a place to stay in shape during the upcoming cold winter months.

Tim Harbison has been riding bikes since he was kid. "It's fun to ride your bike, it's great exercise," he says.

He recently opened VeloLab in what was a vacant building at 227 West 7th Street in downtown New Albany.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Must we wait for a traffic study to slow traffic and put crosswalks at the corner of Main and W. 1st?

Look at the asphalt. There's something missing, eh?

Looking clockwise ...

Yeah, it's that whole walkability thing ... so much easier to talk about than actually buy a damned can of paint -- or heaven forbid, erect four-way stop signs to slow the 18-wheelers.

On April 16th, I asked a question about this same vicinity.

New Albany's streets: Screwed by design. Why?

The YMCA is on the south side of Main Street, with parking on the building's west side. Feast BBQ and The Exchange (sorry, but the Hour/Tower/Shower of Power doesn't count) are on the north side of Main. Soon, across W. 1st Street on the north side of Main, there'll be the Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli, and of course the antique store already operates on the corner.

A half-block to the north are the municipal parking lots where the farmers market probably should be, if we were in the habit of thinking and acting in the interest of multiple usage.

The are multiple traffic lanes at W. 1st and Main in the approach to the stop light at State, and people crossing the street from the western parking areas more often than ever before. All that's missing is a crosswalk, as can be seen in the photo. I'd just bounded across after being cursed by a driver who'd be forced to wait an entire 10 seconds for my passage.

At Tuesday's Board of Public Works meeting, City Engineer Larry Summers and Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson (the latter also a board of works member) made interesting remarks in the context of the board's mirthful vote to lower the speed limit to 25 mph on the irreparably botched East Main Street Improvement, Deforestation and Semi Trailer Non-Diversion Project.

“Since we’re putting in crosswalks in more places, we’d like it to be a better place for pedestrians and a safer place overall,” Summers said.

“The city does have the authority to [change the speed limit] without a traffic study,” Thompson said.

Okay, let's see. The YMCA, The Exchange, an Antique Mall and now Seeds and Greens. Three street corners of activity, tailor-made for walking.

Now, if we don't need a traffic study to implement a half-ass, doomed-to-non-enforcement speed-limit solution to a $2 million project political fluffery boondoggle that contradicts every walkability tenet about to be handed to us by a rock star studier of traffic (Jeff Speck), then do we really need one to paint crosswalks where W. 1st meets Main?

Or are we just too "us" for that?

Look, Ma -- it's that big tent with no good beer inside it.

It's called the Swill Unlimited Tent, right?

Or maybe I'm thinking of something else ...

The NABC Weekend: Slept off the HH hangover? It's time for more beer.

Let's begin with a tremendous welcome for Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli (207 W. First Street in New Albany, near The Exchange), which will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday morning with a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. There'll be food samples, door prizes and a chance to look around. The market will close at 5:00 p.m. We're very happy to have this new option.

Before, during and after your Seeds and Greens inspection, here's the weekend beer list at Bank Street Brewhouse for rehydration.

The NABC Pizzeria & Public House has started periodic pourings (Wednesdays and Fridays) of Franconian lagers via traditional gravity-dispense (Anstich) kegs from breweries in Bamberg’s Franconian hinterlands. These come to us from Starlight Distribution via Shelton Brothers, and are a yearly ritual. The beer for Friday, October 17, is Weissenohe Altfränkisch Klosterbier. It will be tapped at 3:00 p.m. and won't last long. For more information, visit the NABC web site.

Today through Sunday (October 17 - 19), Jeffersonville is reviving its Steamboat Days civic festival, and NABC's Hoosier Daddy and Black & Blue Grass will be on tap at the Craft Beer Garden, operated by our friends at Cluckers.

Tonight (Friday, October 17) is one of our favorite annual events: LIBA Louisville BrewFest, held at Louisville Slugger Field. According to LIBA, “This Louisville celebration of local, independent brewers, independent businesses, and independent thinkers will shelve uniformity and celebrate our uniqueness.” NABC's Community Dark and Hoosier Daddy will be joined by Action! APA in the VIP slot.

Through October 25, open Thursday through Sunday each weekend, ReSurfaced: A Pop-Up Plaza on Main takes place at 615-621 West Main Street in Louisville.

Thursdays 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fridays 11:00 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturdays 3:00 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Sundays 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Here’s the idea, courtesy of the city of Louisville: “The first initiative in the ReSurfaced movement is to take the currently underutilized space behind the facades of 615-621 West Main Street in downtown Louisville, and create a six week long pop-up beer garden, outdoor cafe, and event space beginning on September 19, 2014.”


NABC has two locations in New Albany. Our original Pizzeria & Public House near IU Southeast offers a pizzeria-style food menu, NABC’s beers of proven merit and a list of quality guest beers. In downtown New Albany, our taproom at Bank Street Brewhouse no longer prepares meals, but you can pair NABC drafts and bomber bottles with delivery food, carry-in or the contents of your own picnic basket.

Devil's Rock night club is opening on Main Street.

Did you know that Preston Arts Center is still a location in which one can "Shop Downtown New Albany", even though its Indiana branch's doors have been closed for three years?

Ditto for the Vintage Fire Museum, no longer located in New Albany, but in Jeffersonville.

It says so right there on Develop New Albany's web site. I suppose these entities are grandfathered into their present categories owing to previous incarnations and membership pay schedules.

Unusually, the same web site still lists Cafe 27, the Main Street bistro that closed a couple months ago. The successor to Cafe 27, Devil's Rock Night Club and Concert Venue, is nowhere to be found on the site, even if DNA itself still touts real estate listings in Outer Timbuktu.

The newspaper gets to the very bottom of it here. Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Floyd County Health Department prepped for Ebola.

(Jerod Clapp of the Gnaws and Trombone inadvertently contributed to this article)

Two patients in the United States have contracted Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and while these cases are very far away from Indiana, the Floyd County Health Department says it is taking measures to lay the groundwork for pervasive local panic by expanding control over every aspect of your bodily fluids.

But first, during a webcast by carrier pigeon with health care providers across the state on Friday, Gov. Mike Pence addressed the concern of how to prepare for Ebola in Indiana.

“At this time, we have no reported cases of Ebola Virus in Indiana,” Pence said in a release. “Therefore, there is a heightened sense of urgency for us to continue to pursue our other strictly antebellum right-wing political initiatives. Obamacare has been a cause for considerable concern in the Republican Central Committee, and we are continuing to manage this emerging disease.”

“Our preparations for Obamacare and Ebola alike also will include ongoing guerrilla warfare against marriage equality, seeing as these and other outbreaks of infectious pestilence give me confidence that God is speaking to us in tongues that I, among others, can plainly comprehend. The professionalism, dedication and fundraising expertise demonstrated by our loyal GOP yes-mean and women will see us through this political crisis.”

“My hyperbolically loyal flunky Diego will now answer your questions – unless they have to with actual diseases and medicine, of which we know nothing.”

Meanwhile, hospitals and health departments statewide are cooperating on procedures for a response to patients who may display symptoms of liberalism, loyalty to the President and Ebola, but Dr. Tom Harris, health officer for the Floyd County Health Department, says the risk in Southern Indiana is fairly low so long as temporary beer-pouring permit holders continue to be closely monitored.

“We’ve alerted Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services to raise awareness as to proper hot water hand washing procedures for temporary draft beer handlers,” Harris said. “Symptoms of filthiness include backtalk and appeals to the Attorney General over words in a statute – like we give a damn about that!”

According to Harris, “If someone comes in and says they intend to touch a beer tap, we have protocol to intervene.”

Julia Hayes, the FCHD’s Justifier of Contrived Local Interpretive Beer Handling Measures, says her staff is working on screenings of any person entering establishments where the owner bitches all the time.

“We have a close relationship with the state epidemiologist, and we continue to receive daily updates on the latest temporary permit applications from our paid snitch in the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission,” Hayes said in an e-mailed statement. “We are educating staff continuously as we create brand new rules from thin air, because if we can’t cite them for Ebola, we can get them for e-coli. After all, both these words begin with the letter E – and that’s no coincidence when it comes to beer fee tiers.”

According to information from FCHD, Ebola is among the many diseases transmitted from person to person through craft beer being poured at temporary tapping stations not subject to the collection of yearly health department protection monies.

Harris also said the risk of pouring craft beer without both properly inflated charges and the accompanying burden of purely imaginary regulations could damage his department’s self-esteem, as well as its body fluids, including sweat, saliva, blood and semen.

“The psychological symptoms of bleeding or bruised egos is very real to us,” Harris said. “They occur in well over half the documented cases of Baylor scoffing at our selfless professionals. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if that degraded alcoholic brought Ebola to America to inject into his swill.”

Harris said the FCHD has been in touch with local 911 operators, helping them develop a set of procedures for snitching on anyone opening a bottle of beer without asking his department for permission.

See also:

At Eater Louisville: "Floyd County Health Department Uses Bank Street Brewhouse to set 'Foodborne Diseases' Photo Shoot."

ON THE AVENUES: The fruitless search for adults in county government.

Dr. Tom plays his Goebbels card. Can Neidermeyer be far behind?

ON THE AVENUES: "Kneel and Kiss My Ring, You Degraded Alcoholic."

ON THE AVENUES: When the whip comes down.

ON THE AVENUES: Chocolate covered frozen banana republic, or "understanding" Harvest Homecoming, our peculiar institution.

ON THE AVENUES: Chocolate covered frozen banana republic, or "understanding" Harvest Homecoming, our peculiar institution.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Love him, hate him, or anywhere in between … but you simply cannot deny that John Gonder is a New Albanian civic rarity.

Gonder is a Democratic Party member and an elected official of a certain age who nonetheless is capable of breaking free and thinking independently. He is aware of the outside world, and comfortable in this apostasy. Generally speaking, he surveys terrain situated outside his party’s perennially self-delineated Dixiecrat box. Less often than I’d like, he is an essayist, and invariably his thoughts are witty and articulate.

I’m told that John Gonder currently is on the “shit list” maintained by the ruling circle. This is an honor and a distinction, because when one insists on being a progressive thinker in this benighted locality, they sure don’t record your name with a pencil.

I'm delighted to read Gonder’s typically measured reasonableness about Harvest Homecoming, especially since at the moment, the bruised and battered downtown landscape is littered with decapitated straw men, while those politicians willing to speak for attribution mostly mimic the stenographer’s pure drivel as they muster the forces to repel this latest incursion of elitism threatening our most peculiar of institutions.

As previously noted, Harvest Homecoming is the “third rail” of New Albany politics, and as a reminder, this is a metaphor deriving from mass transit rail systems, in which the third rail is the conductor of electricity and as such, quite hazardous to the touch.

third rail

A dangerous area of discussion, a point at which the mere mention of a subject result is disaster. Commonly used in politics.

Somewhat uniquely among the purported local “leadership” cadre, John Gonder is willing to grasp the third rail and challenge the 800-lb gorilla, albeit it with a gentler touch than I’ve been able to muster.

A Moveable Feast

... Since Mr. (Jeff) Cummins welcomed ideas, and since the Tribune has elevated the festival topic to wider discussion, it seems the future of the festival and the continued health of the downtown revival could be best served by making the Harvest Homecoming a moveable feast, migrating from one part of downtown to another, as conditions change and dictate. New Albany's downtown was benefitted by the stimulus of the Harvest Homecoming in the festival's early years. I believe the festival still is a net plus for the city, but it could be a greater contributor to the city which welcomes its pitching of the tents each year at no small cost to the taxpayers.

Creative suggestions like Gonder’s fully mirror many others offered here and elsewhere, to the effect that the festival might alter its configuration of booths to acknowledge modernity, and avoid interfering with existing year-round businesses.

Alas, the councilman’s fundamental rationality – moreover, the combined rationality of every single one of us who endeavors to imagine contemporary ways of thinking and acting outside traditionally constraining municipal boxes -- probably isn’t enough to compel the leaden weight of Harvest Homecoming to willingly concede even the first ounce of hereditary privilege, and this shouldn’t strike anyone as particularly unusual.


Having been given carte blanche for 46 years, Harvest Homecoming as an institution has not been compelled to justify its existence, or to prove its worth with facts, as opposed to feelings. It simply is, and must continue, and like any entrenched bureaucracy, it will not surrender voluntarily what it regards as “earned” territorial rights.

Consider the attitude of just one Harvest Homecoming functionary, the festival’s reigning "head honcho" (as dubbed not by me, but by the Gnaws and Trombone). When given the opportunity by the newspaper’s ever accommodating Chris Morris to address downtown business owners prior to his business model’s annual downtown takeover, Jeff Cummins promptly elucidated an intriguing Tao of the Homecoming Harvest.

I want to try and get downtown merchants to understand what the festival is all about.

I cannot stress this point often enough: It’s about downtown day-in, day-out downtown investors and stakeholders being compelled to “understand” Harvest Homecoming’s annual footprint, and not the other way around.

Later, during a Facebook discussion about Harvest Homecoming’s and the city’s ill treatment of Wick’s Pizza, Cummins barged into the room.

Do not speak about what you do not know as being fact. Speculation makes one a fool … The back and forth on social media, 3rd party conversations and assumptions accomplish nothing. Go direct to whom you have the issue and discuss it face to face … Don't play games, it's wasted unproductive time spent. Ask the question.

With Cummins on the “direct” line, so to speak, I prompted him to introduce himself to those who didn’t know him, and provided a link to the aforementioned newspaper article. Then, I asked him two questions.

Does Harvest Homecoming understand what WE'RE about? In the past, I've observed Harvest Homecoming officials telling people that they could not distribute handbills amid the booth area. Now, it seems to me that this is perfectly legal -- freedom of expression, if you will. On what legal basis can the city "lease" free speech on public right-of-ways to a private entity?

The head honcho was ready with his answer.

Not going to debate on here. You have a large tendency to misconstrue what is said to suit your needs.

Which places me in a league with ... Harvest Homecoming. So much for demanding that we ask questions, but unfortunately, it gets even worse.

Given that debating is unworthy of a head honcho's time, Cummins remains eager to remind those 52-weeks-a-year downtown business stakeholders that the fault for booth day disruptions is theirs, not the festival's. From Morris’s fluff piece:

Cummins ... conceded that some businesses fare better than others, but added that some establishments do more to prepare for the thousands of visitors that come to New Albany by adjusting their product offerings for the event.

Businesses just like these, as reported on Fb:

The business I work for will have to close during those days and send four employees home with no pay.

We do 33-50% less business during the week of Harvest Homecoming. Great success.

I lose money every time HH comes to town. We move a lot of equipment and usually can pull up to my building to do so. Because of HH I'll use the alley to get as close as I can. One of their officials came into my store and began screaming and cussing at my employee, "Who's F***ing van is in alley, move it or it will be towed." We had to throw him out. Now, he did this while customers were in the store. And of course when I proceeded to move my vehicle I was severely cussed at and threatened. This is only one negative incident. There are plenty more.

Well, who are you going to believe? Your own eyes, experience and balance sheet, or the head honcho?


Or, for that matter, the mayor.

The leadership of Harvest Homecoming has been “adaptive and accommodating” and tweak the festival by offering new events in recent years, Mayor Jeff Gahan said Monday.

But of course they have. Third rails tend to be that way, don’t they? And then there’s John Gonder, doggedly daring to channel the late Bobby Kennedy:

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

Or an even better one, far less often quoted:

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.

Politically, John Gonder is completely outnumbered by the "C" and "D" students, by the adults who weren't elected to student council as students and missed the prom, and consequently shall be punishing us forever more for these omissions, by the big fish who find the meandering currents of the small pond much to their liking, and by the grandees of Gonder’s own arthritic Democratic Party, in which he might well be the only Floyd County dues-paying member who could reside anonymously in Massachusetts without being regarded as a Ted Cruz-caliber interloper.

Billy Joel was right, and honesty is such a lonely word, indeed.

Harvest Homecoming isn’t about the parade, the booth placement, elephant ear vendors from Keokuk, roving carnies, Chinese-crafted trinkets, corn hole champs, pay-for-play monopolies or even the true believers among attendees, whom even I have little desire to offend; after all, I never said I wanted it to end, only to adapt.

Rather, it's all about the power – this minor league, small potatoes, penny ante power, but power just the same.

That’s right: Harvest Homecoming graciously welcomes any and all ideas, so long as it is understood that nothing whatever can substantively change, and these ideas, once received, are daintily flicked into nearby wastepaper baskets once the petitioners have departed the vicinity.

I understand it perfectly, Jeff Cummins.

It’s rather like a one-party, one-festival state, isn’t it?

The new location of Keg Liquors in New Albany will be 4304 Charlestown Road.

It's old news by now, but as a follow-up, here's the official "new location" news from Todd Antz.

We've made it through the paper work stage of moving our liquor permit for our New Albany location, and now its on to the manual labor of moving a store, and building it all over again. We're also happy to announce the address of our new location, 4304 Charlestown Road, in New Albany. Our hopes are to be open by the end of October, or the beginning of November. Here are a few pictures to show you the construction of the new location. We thank everyone for their patience during this transition.

Damage on the facade of a favorite downtown church building.

I'm not a believer, but it doesn't mean there is any lack of merit in historic religious architecture. The First Baptist Church building at the corner of 9th and Spring is my favorite such structure in town, reportedly dating from the 1860s. While walking on Tuesday, I noticed falling stone, and that's too bad. Let's hope it can be repaired.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Harvest Homecoming as "third rail" of New Albany politics.

Metaphorically, a regular reader observed: "Harvest Homecoming is the third rail of New Albany politics."

It is a reference derived from railroads. The track for a railroad has two rails, but there can be a third rail:

A third rail is a method of providing electric power to a railway train, through a semi-continuous rigid conductor placed alongside or between the rails of a railway track. It is used typically in a mass transit or rapid transit system, which has alignments in its own corridors, fully or almost fully segregated from the outside environment. Third rail systems are always supplied from direct current electricity.

One way to be seriously injured or killed by a subway train is to be standing on the tracks. Another is to touch the third rail and be electrocuted. Consequently, the metaphorical third rail of politics:

The third rail of a nation's politics is a metaphor for any issue so controversial that it is "charged" and "untouchable"; any politician or public official who dares to broach the subject will invariably suffer politically. The term is most commonly used in North America. The "third rail of American politics" is often said to be cutting Social Security; the "third rail" of Canadian politics is said to be public health care or advocating an overhaul of the pension system.

The Urban Dictionary concurs:

third rail
A dangerous area of discussion, a point at which the mere mention of a subject result is disaster. Commonly used in politics.

"Social security is the third rail of politics. Step on it and you're dead."
-The West Wing

With this in mind, consider these words by Mayor Gahan, as offered by the newspaper.

The leadership of Harvest Homecoming has been “adaptive and accommodating” and tweak the festival by offering new events in recent years, Mayor Jeff Gahan said Monday.

George Orwell's newspeak just got a hometown boost. There'll be more on this topic tomorrow in my ON THE AVENUES column.

World Exclusive: NAC unveils plans for Monument to the Idiocy of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

It's the ultimate in anti-tolling chic.

Non-ironically, the idea for the anti-tolling monument comes from 2013, and the run-up to Downtown Displacement Days.

OMG: Prague artist beats me to the punch ... I mean, the finger.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 43: Board of Works eyes lane widths, flips coin, and voila -- a new speed limit.

Yesterday the Board of Works got serious about public safety, voting to reduce the speed limit of the area comprised by the East Main Street Improvement, Deforestation and Semi Trailer Non-Diversion Project to 25 mph.

Would you like this one, JeffG?

First the New Albany Board of Works voted to build a street designed to facilitate highway speeds. Then they voted to reduce the speed limit on that street to 25 mph. Um...

All pretense of intelligibility has been abandoned, and I know my frequent references to the ongoing disconnect are disturbing to some. But what should be disturbing is not the messenger, but this: New Albany is about to receive street grid rationalization recommendations from Jeff Speck. They cost a pretty penny, and the much ballyhooed Main Street work contradicts the theory and practice of almost all of them.

Main Streeters, you got your project, and it's the wrong one ... and meanwhile the rest of us got -- that's right.

Let's look at the parade of non-diverted trucks, shall we?