Sunday, August 25, 2019

Andrew Luck has some money. He took back his life. More power to him.


"No one else besides the NFL is stupid enough to keep engineering ways to sustain an unsustainable game."

Andrew Luck's description of the cycle of injury, pain and rehab sounds a lot like the current state of cancer-ridden capitalism, except that "rehab" hasn't really occurred. But good for Luck; human rationality is such an elusive thing.

What Andrew Luck Means, by Drew Magary (Deadspin)

.. They want you to enlist. They want you to serve your team for God and country. That is the blueprint. The NFL has always been in love with its war metaphors. So it’s fitting that the league now finds itself existentially lost when trying to deal with the consequences of REAL human wreckage—of players discovering that this sport will kill them, and it will kill them faster the longer they play it. The NFL doesn’t want players like that. They want something beyond mere passion. They want players too obsessed to see the danger, or to feel the pain. They want you, pardon the expression, brain damaged. Andrew Luck knew better than to give his entire life to this league. He won’t be the last. In some critical ways, he is merely the first.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A belated accounting of my year in music for May and June.



It's the song by the Smiths, as performed by Johnny Marr at Glastonbury. New Albanians know it as Team Gahan's response each time I write about them.

It's axiomatic: The music of my life means much more to me than it does to you, a statement of even greater relevance given that I ceased being an arbiter of musical trends at the dawning of the age of rap and hip hop three decades ago.

However, if you're of like mind I may have been listening to something of interest -- and vice versa.

As noted previously, there has been a great change in procedures during 2019. Finally I've acquiesced to streaming, most often experienced via a nice pair of noise-blocking headphones. My CD purchases are perhaps 25% of what they were before, limited to what I enjoy the most.

Unfortunately I'm as susceptible as ever to forgetfulness, and this is why the following brief rundown of albums and music from May and June is so late. First, snippets from the handful of CDs acquired during these months, followed by links to musical musings.

The Amazons … Future Dust



Bruce Springsteen ... Western Stars



Sammy Hagar & the Circle … Space Between



Bastille … Doom Days



Yeah, well, I liked Van Hagar, and I like Sammy's new album with The Circle. Fight me.


ON THE AVENUES: Let's lift our voices for another verse of "Talking Seventh Inning Blues."



Four decades later, Disco Demolition Night has not aged well.



What Steve Resch has in mind for the Jimmy's Music Center building downtown.



I'd rather read Elton John's autobiography than watch the biopic.



Jazz master Sidney Bechet was born on this day in 1897.



I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say ...

Charles Marohn went to Paris and learned a lot of simple things that elude us in America.


"I’m not suggesting it would be easy or straightforward for North American cities to become Paris, but as my friend John Anderson has said many times, we don’t need to be Paris, we just need to be a slightly less crappy version of America."

I've trimmed this down a bit, hoping Marohn doesn't mind that I've left his five central observations intact.

---

The Streets of Paris, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

1. Street Trees
Especially here in my hometown, I’m constantly hearing how we can’t have street trees, largely for maintenance reasons. The leaves drop and mess up the drainage. The roots damage the pipes. They are in the way for people in wheelchairs. Car drivers will hit them. And my favorite: If we ever need to widen the street, they are in the way.

And, of course, there is the persistent criticism of street trees: They won’t grow. My response to all of these criticisms has been to point to amazing places full of street trees and say, “If they can do it, why can’t we?” Paris is full of street trees, and it has been doing it successfully for a lot longer than any modern North American city has existed.

2. Ubiquitous Bollards
In the United States, our civil engineers often insist on a clear zone on each side of the street. You can ‘t place anything in the clear zone because, by the theory of Forgiving Design, if an automobile is driven off the driving surface, the sudden stop from hitting a fixed object will harm the driver and any passengers of the vehicle. This thinking is rightfully applied to highways and areas where we want traffic to move fast without the potential for conflict. When we apply Forgiving Design to local streets, though, we get absurdities like breakaway light poles along sidewalks. There isn’t a clearer statement of the North American engineer’s values than that.

I actually encountered an engineer once that didn’t allow a sandwich board sign because of the hazard it presented to automobiles should they strike it.

Needless to say, Paris has gone far in the opposite direction. Seemingly everywhere a vehicle could operate at speeds that would injure people, they have erected obstacles to keep the errant car from striking a human. Absorbing the kinetic energy of a collision is the responsibility of the car and driver, not the people walking along the street. This is cheap, easy, and really effective.

3. Narrow Streets
In the United States, we use transportation funding as a mechanism to address public safety concerns. Our fire departments often operate on the theory that if you can respond to an emergency quickly, the public is safer. European countries have a much different approach, one that emphasizes prevention over response time. Here in the United States, we require wide lanes, wide shoulders and wide clear zones along our streets so that emergency response vehicles travel unhindered to any emergency. The concept of a clear zone is ridiculous in Paris.

I’ll note that you are far less likely to die in a fire in a European city than an American one. Ditto a traffic collision. Two of our classic Strong Towns memes apply here.

4. Slip Lanes
When a design prioritizes building wealth in a place instead of moving traffic, the basic geometry of the public space shifts. In terms of wealth creation, I really like how this street is designed. There is human space on the edge; wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side and meet a pair doing likewise coming from the opposite direction. They are protected by bollards along the entire stretch. Then there is a one-way slip lane for drivers seeking a place to park a vehicle — these lanes are constrained to ensure slow speeds. Then there is a parking lane, although with a decent amount of that space given over to scooters and bikes. Then a boulevard to provide some vertical framing for the street in the form of street trees and nice lighting. The center has two driving lanes with opposing flow, and then it all repeats along the other side.

For cities that want to make their stroads into wealth-creating streets, this is a great cross section to utilize.

5. Shared Space Intersections

Finally, I’m a huge fan of shared space intersections—intersections that lack traffic markings, including stop signs or traffic signals—and I ran into a great one in Versailles. With tired kids and wife, I didn’t get to linger as long as I would have liked to, but in the short time I was there, I did see the humane mingling of humans and vehicles induced by slow speeds and the more chaotic design.

The idea of a chaotic design is anathema to everything North American engineering practice stands for, yet when drivers are less sure of their own path—let alone the path of others—they do remarkable things like slow down, look people in the eye, and yield. It’s a beautiful thing to watch; it’s just too bad there are so few examples here in the United States.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: What we know about Harvest Homecoming's new Harvest Hops Beer Festival.


In large measure, what we know about the first-ever Harvest Hops Beer Festival is that it will be held on October 12, 2019 at the "SUP" Party Tent located at 100 E Water St, New Albany, IN 47150.

When a regular reader asked, he received this answer.

New this year is our Harvest Hops, which will be held on Saturday, October 12th from noon - 4:00. It will be held in the SUP party tent at the riverfront and will feature domestic and craft beers as well as a fall cider and pumpkin beer bar. We're really excited about it!

We know the festival involves Monarch Beverage Company, Indiana's largest wholesale beer distributor, and that Tisha Gainey (Tailspin) and Todd Antz (Keg Liquors) are among the organizers.

In short, a fine pedigree and I'm happy to see it.

For many years, numerous people encouraged Harvest Homecoming to think along these lines. Four years ago when there was a brief, failed effort to mount "Biers on Parade" on behalf of the restaurant and bar association (itself a non-starter for reasons beyond the scope of this rumination), some of us discussed with Harvest Homecoming's management this very idea of a beer festival within the larger event.

In retrospect, neither entity was ready for it at the time, but several important developments have occurred since then. Keg's Fest of Ale moved to New Albany, which I think brought the right people together. Monarch offers a tremendous inventory for a beer festival like this. Perhaps most importantly, generational shift continues within Harvest Homecoming's leadership ranks.

During a Facebook chat, Tisha said we have Harvest Homecoming's chairperson Courtney Lewis to thank for being the impetus behind the inaugural Harvest Hops Beer Festival.

As such, let's all thank Courtney for getting it done. I'm looking forward to see the format for year one.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Alternative Politics: "What if David White had run as an Independent instead of in the Democratic Primary?"


Nick Vaughn indulges in a harmless bit of alternative history. Meanwhile, here at Resistance Central, we can't help speculating about what might have been in a different place and time.

If Mark Seabrook had mounted a mayoral campaign in 2011, wouldn't Jeff Gahan be a forgotten former councilman by now?

And as a bonus, the city would be solvent. The mind reels.

Before we return you to inspiring views of the Market Street Beautification that the Descendent of Benito Mussolini Built, read Nick's thoughtful analysis.

Alternative Politics: New Albany’s Mayoral Race

Instead of tackling a big question with many moving parts, I am going to tackle a smaller question and look at the 2019 New Albany Mayoral Race. The question: What if David White had run as an Independent instead of in the Democratic Primary? The answer: well, it depends. One thing that makes alternative politics a little bit easier to analyze is because we have numbers and data to look at.

While there are most certainly intangibles behind each and every vote, for argument’s sake I will be ignoring that and just looking strictly at the numbers. I’ll also throw in some of my own analysis and opinion to make the answer to the question a bit more interesting.

Let me know when 1Si and the Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority get serious about mobility solutions like this one.


I'm delighted watching as the drivers shriek. Now that's entertainment. Shouldn't we be contemplating "regional" development strategies like this?

A Car-Centric City Makes a Bid for a Better Bus System, by Aaron Renn (CityLab)

Indianapolis is set to unveil a potentially transformative all-electric bus rapid transit line, along with a host of major public transportation upgrades.

Let's skip to the conclusion.

The credibility of transit in Indianapolis is already low, so the city really has to execute on the rollout. It also has to deliver an increase ridership, not just improve the operating characteristics of the system. That could be a tall order: The Red Line is going live at the same time as the new fare system, and as a new CEO is taking over the helm at IndyGo. IndyGo is going fare-free for a month when the Red Line launches, is recruiting temporary customer service volunteers to staff stations, and has arranged a grace period for ticketing bus lane violators (police will only issue warnings) until drivers in Indy figure out the new traffic pattern. Still, there are a lot of balls in the air, with much to potentially go wrong. Over the summer, the city announced a year-long delay in building the next two BRT lines—an inauspicious development.

But if Indianapolis can make its new system work and draw more riders, it would represent something all too rare in the U.S—a capital-light model for improving transit in a car-centric city. If warranted, light rail can always be added later, but as IndyGo’s Horne says, “The bus system is the backbone of any good mobility network.”

Sherman Minton Refusal: The two-way street grid stays as it is, jack, and if we're smart we'll double down on walkability.


In about a year and a half, the city will face a very big challenge over a period of up to four years. The Sherman Minton Bridge repair regimen will be terribly disruptive, to say the least.

The saddest part of all this is the timing.

At precisely the point when we should be talking about improving Jeff Gahan's lacklustre, lowest-common-denominator approach to making New Albany's densest urban areas more walkable and bikeable, by sensibly slowing traffic and incrementally curbing the automobile imperialism that reigns hereabouts, instead we're about to spend the next five years talking about nothing except cars and the "right" of drivers to impose their wills on the cosmos.

Well, no. Not exactly. Already I've heard hints from the car-centric to the effect that the only way to cope with the coming disruptions is to "temporarily" re-revert downtown streets to one-way traffic -- you know, so drivers and get from one end of town to the other more quickly.

Nope.

Principled community leaders (and candidates in this fall's election) need to state cleatly that Gahan's street-grid baby steps -- while too laughably timid by half -- aren't negotiable. Furthermore, as yet stillborn efforts to slow traffic and make the historic city center safe for all users, not just the ones jangling their car keys, need to be revived, implemented and ratcheted up.

Sherman Minton Insanity does not change one important, fundamental fact, because the object remains to better utilize the potential of the city's density by making it a place people want to live, work and play, and not merely drive through.

Yes, outsiders need to be able to get to us. However, residents also need to "get it," and to understand that surrendering to the tyranny of the pass-through motorist constitutes failure, not success.

For the sake of the internal combustion engine, as utilizing an interstate highway bridge already over-used owing to toll evasion, New Albany might well become road kill.

Last evening I was called to task for saying unkind things on the interwebz about INDOT, but the fact of the matter is that INDOT exists to serve the interests of the Sherman Minton as a high-speed, pass-through component of a larger car-centric transportation grid. INDOT cares little about collateral damage in New Albany, a city standing to benefit mightily from low-speed, stay-a-while use.

Happily, much of what has come out of last evening's meeting indicates a shared determination for New Albany businesses to unify and begin (at long last) thinking collectively about the need to "sell" the outside world on New Albany. We're facing a potentially existential threat, and unity is the best way to prepare for it.

It would be nice to hear City Hall's take on this matter -- BEFORE the election.

The results of the 2019 Independent Business Survey from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.


Learn who they are and what they do.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance challenges concentrated economic and political power, and instead champions an approach in which ownership is broadly distributed, institutions are humanly scaled, and decision-making is accountable to communities. We believe that economic systems should embody democratic values, and that democracy can thrive only when economic power is widely dispersed. We believe that communities are healthiest when they possess the authority, capacity, and responsibility to chart their own course. We call this vision local self-reliance.

Then read the results of the ILSR's indie business survey.

The results of the 2019 Independent Business Survey from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance demonstrate the strength and resiliency of small, independent businesses. They also speak to the forces independents see as significant threats and roadblocks to their businesses: a playing field made uneven by policies that favor their bigger competitors, highly concentrated markets for key supplies and services, and difficulty securing capital, among other barriers.

As we have documented in previous surveys, independent businesses have proven nimble during a period of dramatic shifts in technology and consumer habits. Much of their resilience can be traced to the distinct benefits they provide to their customers, industries, and communities.

Yet, despite these competitive advantages and their broader importance to the U.S. political economy, independent businesses are under threat and declining in most industries. The findings of our 2019 Independent Business Survey suggest that the problem isn’t changing technology or consumer habits. Instead, independent business owners say they are often competing on a unlevel playing field. Many public policy decisions in recent years have fueled market concentration and favored their big competitors.

This survey’s findings shed light on these challenges and policy issues. In their comments, business owners also offer insight and guidance to elected officials looking to build a more equitable, entrepreneurial, competitive, and dynamic economy.

More than 1,000 independent businesses nationwide participated in this survey. Retailers made up about half of the responses, while the remainder represented a mix of industries, from service providers to manufacturers, banks, wholesalers, and more. In addition to the main questions, business owners provided hundreds of written responses on various topics. We analyzed these for additional insights and quoted a representative sample in this report ...

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Learning nothing from the the Ohio River Bridges Project, INDOT bureaucrats refuse to conduct a formal economic impact study in the run up to Sherman Minton project work.

Japan or Germany could do it in six months.

Well then, screw the state's project team.

Join me in wondering how many of them have any experience owning indie businesses.

As with Gahan's crack team of paper-shufflers, assuredly none do.

Businesses concerned about Sherman Minton Bridge project, by Brooke McAfee (Tom May All of the Time)

NEW ALBANY — As developers consider options for the rehabilitation of the Sherman Minton Bridge, many community members are concerned about how closures and disruption in traffic flow will affect local business.

Southern Indiana business owners and stakeholders met with Sherman Minton Bridge project representatives Wednesday at Wick's Pizza in New Albany to learn about the upcoming bridge renovations and to voice their opinions on proposed plans for closure. The project team has been gathering community feedback as it considers its construction approach ...

snip

 ... the project team is looking at overall community impact as it considers the options, but it is not conducting a formal business study. State Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, said he would like to see a formal assessment of how the bridge closures could disproportionately affect certain business owners, such as a survey of downtown business owners who rely heavily on Louisville customers. He said the impact will vary greatly depending on the type of business.

"[The 2011 closure] was a very sudden thing we couldn't anticipate," he said. "Here, we can anticipate and we obviously are ... but if we are looking at 2011 as an experience, we had businesses who did better as a result of the bridge closure, because to be quite blunt, there were folks who discovered downtown New Albany. They couldn't go to Frankfort Avenue, they couldn't go to Bardstown Road easily, and suddenly they were finding that there were some incredible restaurants and shops in downtown New Albany. There were other businesses that went out of business because of the bridge closures."

Influential books follow-up: At 90, Arthur Frommer still preaches the budget travel gospel, just as he did when I was converted 35 years ago.


As it was titled in the early 1980s, Arthur Frommer's Europe on $25 a Day was a rare example of a book that completely and demonstrably changed my life.

ON THE AVENUES: The 32 most influential books in my life.


If I were to attempt ranking these 32 books in terms of greatest influence, Frommer's guidebook surely would land in the Top Five.

These past few years I've checked now and again to see if Frommer is still with us, and not only is Frommer hale and hearty at 90, but he and daughter Pauline are still rocking the budget travel world. I had no idea.


As for why Frommer's book impacted me so deeply, here's an extended excerpt from my 1985 travel narrative series at Potable Curmudgeon.

---

In 1983, I was asked by the late Bob Youngblood, my former high school English teacher, to accompany him as a second chaperone on a student trip to Europe the following year. The price seemed reasonable at $1,600 for nine days, with airfare, hotels, bus and most meals included. I responded affirmatively.

A few months later, I was strolling past the travel section in the library when a title caught my eye: Europe on $25 a Day, by Arthur Frommer. As ever mathematically challenged, I shook my head with disbelief. Was it a misprint? Could it really be true? Skeptical, I checked out the book, took it home, poured a beer, and started reading. Eventually a pocket calculator was produced.

The earth fairly shook.

My fellow twenty-something males would have required the woman (or women) of their dreams to be running bikini-clad across a Florida beach during a sultry rainstorm to elicit anywhere near my response to Frommer’s book, in which clear and reasonable tips plainly illustrated how to do Europe right, and for far longer duration than a mere week.

My new writing hero insisted that travel could be educational, and offer a rare glimpse into different worlds. His advice on the nuts and bolts of budget travel technique was relentlessly informative, effortlessly evocative and consistently pragmatic.

  • Always think like a European traveler, not an American, and like a local, not a visitor.
  • Don’t expect things in a foreign country to be the same as home, and expect to pay more when they are.
  • Think, plan, and accept the available bargains.
  • Don’t eat every meal in a restaurant. Pack a salami, buy a loaf of cheap crusty bread, and picnic.
  • Walk, ride the bus, rent a bike.

My brain was hard-wired for the humanities and history, and yet the comparative sums quickly became persuasive. At $25 per day, my $1,600 properly budgeted the Frommer way came out to 36 days, not nine. If I were to postpone the epic voyage for another year, leaving even more time to save money, the trip might last three months, not nine days.

For the next year and a half, my European travel obsession escalated, fed by a steady diet of travel books, magazine articles and PBS documentaries. Thomas Cook rail schedules were studied, and European history devoured with renewed zeal. Plans were jotted, expanded, revised, discarded, and brought back from the waste paper basket. I acquired a Pentax K-1000 camera and learned to use it, just barely.

By the spring of 1985, with departure nearing, a rough outline had settled into place ...

Read more here.

Influential books follow-up: Thomas Cook European Timetable in the present tense.


For today's column I added the Thomas Cook European Timetable to the listing of the (now) 32 books that have influenced me the most.

With a copy of the timetable in hand and a Eurailpass in pocket, it felt like just about anything was possible. Cracking the code of symbols and supplementary notes was a rite of passage. It cannot ever be the same asking a smart phone or Alexa to plan the journey rather than poring over the minutiae with train station cafe beer in hand.

As of this precise moment, European Rail Timetable is the publisher of the former Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable, resuming the print publication of the book in March of 2014 after a brief interruption when Thomas Cook Publishing stopped doing so in 2013.

These days there are monthly digital editions and bimonthly print editions. Wikipedia has the whole story; here's coverage of the guide's return in 2014.

The InterRail bible returns: European Rail Timetable is back in print, by Will Coldwell (The Guardian)

Six months after being closed by its publishers Thomas Cook, former employees of the European Rail Timetable have brought the definitive, 140-year-old train guide back into print

Running close to 600 pages and listing around 50,000 trains, the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable was long considered the InterRailer's bible until it was discontinued in August 2013.

Now, thanks to the persistence of John Potter, one of its original staff members, the timetable has been relaunched as an independent guide after Thomas Cook agreed to hand over the rights to the publication.

The March edition of the timetable went back on sale last Tuesday and, in a testament to how much the timetable was missed by rail fans and travellers – it sold out just four days later.

For Potter, the response has been overwhelming: "We've had thousands of emails saying, 'We're so glad you're back!' One guy joked he had been taken off suicide watch, while another woman wrote in to say her husband was much happier now he had his monthly fix. Some people didn't even realise it had been stopped. I could write a book out of all the comments."

Five years later, it comes as absolutely no surprise to learn that the UK's privatized rail companies, which are facing unprecedented criticism for poor performance -- have pulled out of the Interrail and Eurail schemes.

“Either this shows the true Little Englander nature of the Tories, or how out of touch the rail companies are with the people. Or both. Either way it’s not good enough."

Maybe this too will revert. Diana's British, you know.

ON THE AVENUES: The 32 most influential books in my life.


It is said that the average American spends five hours each day watching television in one or the other of its multi-tentacled current forms. It's harder to calculate the number of movies we consume in a year, but adding another hour to the daily TV calculation probably covers it.

These numbers completely baffle me. No wonder civic discourse has met toilet's bottom. It's just incomprehensible, and if I dwell on it for too long, I'm afraid to leave the house. After all, zombies are venerated for a reason.

I watch almost no television, and possibly as few as a half-dozen movies a year. Documentaries and educational programming are my weaknesses, and if they're lumped in with musical performances, my combined total might account for an hour each year. I've missed so much; thank you, Jeeebus.

To me, the vast majority of programs designated as "entertainment" aren't. They're either violent or stupid, and frequently both. Naturally there are exceptions, but since Americans are surrounded by violence and stupidity on a daily basis, why waste all that valuable time proving what I can see already by glancing out the door?

That's not entertaining at all, at least to me. You? By all means, carry on. I'm not seeking a ban, just expressing voluminous personal befuddlement.

But what about sports? Roger, you like sports, right? Surely there's a point of communion with the masses over wings and hard seltzer at the sports bar.

Indeed, the essence of the games still appeals to me. However, as a collective entity, they constitute a tail wagging the dog. I'll catch a game here and there, and stay abreast by glancing at the standings and reading the sports pages on-line. In short, I'd rather read about sports than kill four hours nightly watching athletes play them.

The same goes for news. Having come to detest marketing, advertising and the insulting dumbing-down of topics that genuinely matter to me, any exposure to television news is like taking a bath in poison ivy juice, so I have to be careful and place limits on the throbbing pain.

During those five or six daily hours when everyone else is watching television or movies, I'm writing, reading, listening to music or indulging in conversation. There's nothing elitist or condescending about these habits. They're who I am and what I do. Self-actualization means marching to your own rhythm section, so long as it isn't hurtful to others. Just ask New Albany's woeful mayor: I'm utterly harmless.

Consequently, one of the most important lessons I’ve absorbed during my first half-century-plus-nine on Planet Earth is this: I reserve the right not to answer the question you ask me, but to respond in perfect candor to the query I’d rather hear.

When challenged on social media back in the summer of 2014 to name my top ten most influential books, I immediately decided to select 25 and post them here at the blog. I've since revised and updated the list a time or two, and remain cognizant that it isn't easy to maintain a sense of perspective when so much about the notion of "influential" is dependent on time and distance.

However,  five years seems ample to undertake a reappraisal, so the list has been allowed to grow again with the addition of two novels and two works of non-fiction. The books are arranged alphabetically, not by magnitude of influence, which is a judgment I couldn’t possibly make. Oddly, there aren’t any books about music.

Perhaps I’ve been too busy listening to remember them.

---

FICTION

2666, by Roberto Bolaño
These words by reviewer Richard Gwyn in 2009 might be the best one paragraph capsule: "To attempt a summary of 2666 seems almost an impertinence. To begin with, it is five discrete but subtly interlinked novels, and within each Bolaño follows a strategy reminiscent of the films of David Lynch. He provides numerous trails and digressions which may or may not have relevance to any expected outcome but which, cumulatively, keep the reader pinioned inside its shifting structure: something akin to a monumental pressure-cooker, in which what is being cooked are the internal organs of the late 20th century."

It's been four years and my head's still spinning.

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
Not because of the mentally unbalanced author, her bizarre message or the self-indulgent politics it spawned, but because my high school senior literature teacher ordered me to read it in two weeks flat after I joked that Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations wasn’t sufficiently challenging. Point taken, Bob Youngblood (R.I.P.) -- point very much taken. It won’t happen again.

A Book of Memories, by Péter Nádas.
An intricate novel that tells three love stories, with an undercurrent of Communism’s effect on human relationships. To this day, I can’t explain this book’s hold on me. It's just one of those inexplicable grips.

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
Interwoven stories illustrating universality, masterfully executed, and barely nudging out the same writer’s more recent novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
This hands-down classic New Orleans comic novel never gets old. Closing in on 40 years later, I laugh aloud whenever passing a hot dog cart, glimpsing a pirate or reading the name Boethius.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker
Traditions of Transylvanian folklore meet straitlaced Anglo conventions, as explained through letters, diaries and logs combining to define the vampire genre as we know it today.

Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco
What happens when the imaginary Templars-meet-occult conspiracy proves to be all too real? This novel ties it all together.

Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
Ostensibly a novel about rockets as WWII comes to a close, although that doesn’t come anywhere close to describing the quirkiness of the ride.

Jerusalem, by Alan Moore
Can the center point of human history -- nay, the cosmos as a whole -- be anchored to an otherise drab spot smack dab in the middle of Northampton England? Past and future; alive, dead and in that little known third category, Moore's characters inhabit a story I was determined from to outset to dislike. Now my eyes get wet just thinking about it. 

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Beautifully rendered story, written as darkness neared, and perhaps the ultimate expression of Papa’s lean prose style. Truly not a word is wasted.

The Pope's Rhinoceros, by Lawrence Norfolk
In the early 1500s, a scheme is hatched to influence the Pope with the gift of a rhinoceros. The author's descriptions of daily life in Rome are classic reminders of why we shouldn't trust epic historical films casting actors with nice white teeth.

Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry
The doomed, self-destructive consul Geoffrey Firmin stumbles drunkenly through his last day on earth, amid the tumult of the Day of the Dead, in the shadow of two Mexican volcanoes.

NON-FICTION

And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts
Profoundly moving journalistic account of the onset of AIDS, but moreover, a book that helped me to understand lots of issues we weren't taught in school. An eye-opener to the real world.

Annals of the Former World, by John McPhee
For me to be enamored by a book about geology is unfathomable. But there it is. Tectonic plates, anyone? Deep time? The utility of interstate dynamiting?

Atheism: The Case Against God, by George H. Smith
The Bible insofar as my introduction to atheism was concerned; an otherwise unknown and forgotten book that I fortuitously spotted at the NA-FC public library in 1979, reinforcing what I already knew was true. Even as a child theism didn't make any sense to me.

Ball Four, by Jim Bouton
Groundbreaking, ribald baseball expose, which I’ve been joyfully quoting from for more than 40 years. Bouton died in 2019, but his achievement lives on.

Betty Crocker’s International Cookbook (1980 edition)
Once I’d been to Europe, there was a problem; Louisville didn’t have as many ethnic eateries then as now, and I was enamored of certain European menu items. The solution was here, and it got me back into the kitchen.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty
The odds of an impossibly dense exposition about economics making this list suggest a tremendous long shot. Piketty's argument: an ever greater concentration of wealth occurs when the rate of return on capital (interest, rents, etc) is greater than the rate of long term economic growth; this heightened concentration of wealth creates inequality and accompanying social and economic problems. Or, in other words, what we already knew -- with lots and lots of charts.

The Civil War: A Narrative, by Shelby Foote
I’ve read perhaps 200 books about the American Civil War, and at one time, Bruce Catton’s Army of the Potomac trilogy would have been the most influential, but Foote currently wins out. Factual storytelling at its finest.

Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, by Nick Tosches
Yes, it is possible to chart the entire 20th-century history of American pop culture, and a good deal of non-pop culture history, through an examination of the life of entertainer Dean Martin.

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, by Barbara Tuchman
A chronicle of the late Middle Ages (plague, crusades and schism), woven around the tumultuous life of a French nobleman.

Europe on $25-A-Day, by Arthur Frommer (1985 edition)
The Bible insofar as my introduction to budget travel was concerned. Armed with the plausible theories contained therein, I swapped a seven-day jaunt for a three-month baptism, and still had a C-note left over upon returning home.

The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order, 1905-1922, by Edmond Taylor
Written in 1963, I discovered the book in 1979, and it contributed immeasurably to my fascination with the European empires that collapsed during and after the Great War.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72, by Hunter S. Thompson
In which the author suffers a nervous breakdown, but somehow manages an enduring explanation of the ways modern American electoral politics work.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, by John Barry
I originally read this account of the deadly influenza outbreak at the end of World War I while laid up with pneumonia, which is not a course I recommend.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
The only sports team of any kind possessing my allegiance is the Oakland Athletics, and while Lewis’s book ostensibly is about a Billy Beane’s (A’s general manager) winning strategies, it’s really about the art of winning any unfair game, baseball or otherwise.

Prejudices: The Complete Series, by H.L. Mencken
The Bible insofar as my introduction to polemics was concerned. For my money, Mencken is the greatest expository writer America has produced.

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, by Tony Judt
It’s no more than a history of the whole continent since WWII, both west and east, and while this might not seem significant, just try to find another like it.

Selected Essays, by Samuel Johnson
The late Dr. Richard Brengle introduced me to Samuel Johnson in an expository writing class at IU Southeast, and it was the exact moment I knew I’d never be a novelist or a poet. I’m an essayist, period.

Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants and Intoxicants, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch
In essence, the pursuit of pleasure through trendy substances, beginning with the spice trade, irrevocably modified the social order in Europe.

Thomas Cook European Timetable 
Known as the "Bible of train travel," 1,526 monthly editions were published over a 140-year period until 2013 (I'm told it has been revived). For a youthful Europhile trip-planner, the timetable provided hours of daydreaming about routes, sights and experiences to come, as well as reliving visits already made.

The Uses of the Past, by Herbert J. Muller
Beautifully written essays on the lessons of history, offered by an Indiana University professor (1905-1980). In 1985, I made a special effort to travel to Istanbul for the express purpose of visiting the Hagia Sophia, precisely because of Muller’s description of the church.

The World Guide to Beer/The New World Guide to Beer, by Michael Jackson
The Bible insofar as my introduction to better beer was concerned. Jackson invented contemporary beer writing, and since his death, there have been no challengers to his pre-eminence.

---

Recent columns:

August 15: ON THE AVENUES: Breakfast is better with those gorgeous little herrings.

August 8: ON THE AVENUES: Unless you open your eyes, “resistance” is an empty gesture.

August 1: ON THE AVENUES: The whys and wherefores can drive a man to drink; our lives just ARE, and that's that.

July 25: ON THE AVENUES: Until philosophers become kings, beer and food work just fine.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I watched a documentary about this Hilter fellow's book, "My Snuggle," and I'm hoping to stay out of Facebook jail by being coy.



Another brief and informative Deutsche Welle documentary film about a book that reads like one man's account of his untreated nervous breakdown -- and yes, I did read it while studying history at IU Southeast.

It's gibberish, and that's also why it's a genius product under capitalism, because there'll always be a market for unadulterated lunacy. 

You can still buy Adolf Hitler’s credo all over the world, under the counter in some places, on the Internet or simply at the bookshop in others. But did Hitler actually write it himself? And was it really a blueprint for war and the Holocaust?

Hitler’s "Mein Kampf" was first published in 1925. The 700-page work has been translated into 18 languages, sold over 12 million copies and been revised numerous times since Hitler's death. Almost everyone knows of it, yet hardly anyone has actually read it. "Mein Kampf" is a book of paradoxes, famous yet unfamiliar - fascinating and repellant at the same time.

"Jay-Z Isn’t a Sellout, He’s a Capitalist."


Dave Zirin? He's perhaps the only sportswriter who truly matters. We are reminded of the importance of following the money.

Jay-Z Isn’t a Sellout, He’s a Capitalist, by Dave Zirin (The Nation)

He’s a billionaire who wants to be an NFL team owner, and erasing Colin Kaepernick is the price of admission.

 ... The truth is actually much more banal. None of this is about social justice. It’s not about, as Shawn Carter put it, “helping millions and millions of people.” This partnership is happening because Shawn Carter is a billionaire who wants to be an NFL owner, and erasing Colin Kaepernick is the price of admission. Now Shawn Carter gets to multiply his fortune, and the NFL believes they will no longer be branded as racist, or have to schedule skim-milk Super Bowl halftime shows headlined by Maroon 5.

Jay-Z is a boss. Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid are workers. It is the interest of workers in the NFL to unite and say that blackballing people for their political beliefs is never going to be OK. It is in the interest of workers to stand up for their colleague. It is in Shawn Carter’s interest to stand up for himself. It’s not “millions and millions” who are going to be helped. It’s one person. It’s Jay-Z’s ultimate hustle—a hustle he told us, over 20 years ago, we were never to knock.

As Eric Reid said when the news broke, “Jay-Z claimed to be a supporter of Colin…and now he’s going to be a part owner.… It’s kind of despicable.” It is despicable. It’s also the reality of doing business. Colin Kaepernick is a worker. Shawn Carter is a boss. Better to have clarity on that question than the idea that billionaires will ever lead social movements in anyone’s interests other than their own.

Steve Resch plans a new entertainment venue in Jeffersonville.

An old satellite image. 

And all they can think about is their cars.

Last week the Jeffersonville newspaper broke a Jeffersonville story. Given that today most readers are bedazzled or engraged by visiting oligarchy, let's revisit.

New entertainment venue to replace downtown Jeffersonville parking lot, by John Boyle (Tom May Content Multiplier)

Developer Steve Resch, owner of Resch Construction, is planning to open the venue near the corner of Pearl and West Chestnut streets, just behind Parlour. Right now, Resch said not many details are available, as he is still in the planning stages, having hired architects to do landscape and structural work on the properties.

If Jeffersonville is anything like New Albany, there is ample parking in reality, if not in the perception of people who'll drive to the end of a fifty-foot driveway to pick up the snail mail.

I don't know Rita Fleming, but her words here should be inscribed on John Rosenbarger's forehead.

One of the buildings was sold to Resch by Rita Fleming, president of the Jeffersonville Main Street board of directors. Though recognizing that parking is indeed an issue, Fleming said that the city is walkable and pedestrian-friendly — attributes it should continue to focus on as more developments pop up.

“When you think of downtown in any city, there’s always a question of parking," Fleming said. "When you put it in perspective, downtown people expect to walk 10 feet to the doors of where they're going. If you’re in a mall during holiday season, you’re going to walk a lot farther than that, and people don’t complain. Certainly for individuals who have trouble going longer distances, it’s an issue. We’re a very walkable community. We’re pedestrian friendly. Maybe we should start thinking about how we can make our community more bike and pedestrian friendly so people will come to our area without undue hardship, even as our city continues to flourish."

Gahan's ears are afire.

Perhaps the only predictable parking problem shared by both cities is the propensity of business owners and their employees to use customer spaces for their own vehicles.

Resch noted that from his perspective, the lot is mostly used by Parlour employees and some of its patrons. Once everything is all said and done, he doesn't believe its absence will cause any problems. “It is a good project," Resch said. "It’ll be an asset and a destination for downtown Jeff.”

Best wishes to Steve, Jacob and their great crew.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Elections are coming, so participate in the Municipal Digital Forum at The Aggregate.



Here's the lowdown in their own words.

---

Municipal Digital Forum

We are a little under three months away from Southern Indiana’s Municipal Elections (held on November 5th) and ideas, plans, and details have not yet been highlighted or announced by many candidates from either political party. We hope this will be a way for them to do so.

In an effort to make information more accessible and to ensure that voters know where the candidates stand on the issues of the day, The Aggregate News is hosting a Digital Forum.

Candidates from across Southern Indiana are encouraged to answer the questions we ask in this Google Form. From there, we will create a guidebook for anyone to access on our site for free.

In addition to asking candidates for more information and direct answers to our questions, we will also be conducting an informal survey (not a scientific poll) of Southern Indiana voters, you can fill out the information in this Google Form.

We will be looking for common threads, areas of bipartisan agreement, and suggested solutions to problems from voters and candidates alike. From there, we’ll do some digging and offer thoughtful analysis and investigative reporting on the results.

We hope you’ll join us in making information more accessible across our region!

For candidates and businesses who may wish to advertise on the candidate guide, fill out this form.

Forms will be closed on September 20th at midnight.

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: Sources suggest the farmers market is a likely location for the fork in the road's resurrection.


It's a measure of the aesthetic incomprehension with which Slick Jeffrie views reality that when surveying the landscape for place to hide the captive sculpture "Fork in the Road," he ignores the original placement at a "fork" in the median owing to the pressing need to provide even more space for cars, concentrates instead on the cheese platform, and concludes it must be placed at the farmers market because literal-mindedness is what the Union of Simplistic Politicos requires of members whose dues are paid by the likes of HWC.

All this assumes the popular piece of public art wasn't been dashed to kindling during the course of a hurried dismantlement in March to make way for Deaf Gahan's "Arc de Pay Up Suckers."

Okay, so the Green Mouse did not obtain this information. I simply asked Tonya Fischer at this morning's merchant meeting, and she told the attendees that her understanding is the farmers market as a site for relocation.

Back to your midday martinis, those yummy concoctions necessary to survive the appalling philistinism of Democratic Party ruling elites hereabouts.

The Fork (and Cheese) in the Road has not been seen because Jeff Gahan is holding it hostage until someone gives him more campaign finance gravy.

Sherman Minton Calamity-ewal project team to meet with NA business owners, Wed., Aug. 21.


It says so in the placard. The great thing about having meetings at a place like Wick's is that lots of disaster planning medicine is close at hand.

The Green Mouse ponders whether Jeff Gahan will attend Wednesday evening's session at Wick's. On the one hand, he doesn't own a business. On the other, he thinks he owns them all.

Sherman Minton Bridge leadership litmus test as Mark Seabrook stays for the entire meeting, while Jeff Gahan lasts seven whole minutes.

It's the morning after the Sherman Minton Bridge meeting, and Alka-Seltzer isn't helping Dear Leader's mood.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Fork (and Cheese) in the Road has not been seen because Jeff Gahan is holding it hostage until someone gives him more campaign finance gravy.


It's an election year, and all of Team Gahan's campaign-finance-enhancement construction projects are behind schedule, so the whip is coming down. Crews are rushing to complete various beak-wetting bonanzas as the rest of us scratch our heads and recall those two forgotten words in Gahanist lore: quality control.

Many people have asked what became of Fork in the Road, the sculpture removed by Gahan's mercenary thugs in the run-up to unnecessary Market Street beautification.

The city has not commented on the whereabouts of the Fork (and cheese) in the Road. What we'll get instead of a unique, iconic locally produced sculpture is an HWC IKEA ceremonial gate that looks like every other such Disney-fried atrocity in every other place where money-grubbing politicians farm art to aesthetic assassins -- like HWC.

Next: Gahan’s beloved Dogs Playing Donor — I mean, poker.


Gahan the Destroyer's war on public art: Down comes the Fork in the Road, up goes the inevitable replacement.


New Albany's Fork in the Road to fall victim to HWC's whitewashed and IKEA-inspired design.



The Jeff Gahan Money Machine, Part 16: Last week's minutes from the Board of Public Works and Safety reveal big donors daintily lapping their gravy.


There'll be a merchant meeting on Tuesday morning, 8:30 a.m. at The Root.


DNA says: "Do you own a New Albany business? Join other business owners for a networking time and to learn ways to get involved in our community."

Seeing as it's been a while since I attended the top-down recitation of City Hall directives, and have time to kill tomorrow morning, this sounds like a plan.

But seriously: Business owners do need to meet each other and discuss pertinent issues, preferably in the form of an autonomous independent business association, because otherwise business owners run the risk of being co-opted into political agendas, especially during an election year.

I realize not all of you appreciate my repeating an obvious truth such as this, although consider that the wonderful thing about both Tiggers and obvious truth is each stands on its own.

Indie business owners can, too. See you bright and early tomorrow.