Thursday, April 27, 2017

ON THE AVENUES: Dear Mr. Dizznee: Can you hear me now?

ON THE AVENUES: Dear Mr. Dizznee: Can you hear me now?

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.


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27 April 2017

Dear Adam,

We haven’t had a genuine heart-to-heart chat for a long time.

What’s that?

Okay, okay. Actually we’ve never had one, and maybe the crazy dream I had last night helps to explain why.

You were right there in the dream, all buttoned down and ambitious like usual, accessing your devices. Your hair wasn’t short like it is now. It was long and unruly like Ludwig van Beethoven’s, and I kept making interpretive gestures with my hands because I figured you couldn’t hear me.

Of course, you can’t hear me, but it’s nothing to do with your hair, and the world’s best hearing aids probably wouldn’t.

Except maybe I’m thinking of Deaf Gahan instead.

In the dream, you approached me and began describing the importance of an upcoming Democratic Party meeting. Seeing as I’m invariably polite and well-mannered, I didn’t bother waiting until you were finished to make an incisive comment.

“You realize that I don’t like you very much at all.”

Not a beat was skipped.

“And I don’t like you much, either.”

There was a pervasive and refreshing feeling, not unlike air freshener. It was as though I’d been cleansed, but before I could walk toward the pulsating Bud Light over yonder, consciousness returned. With it came the feeling I get most mournings, that of being stuck inside of Nawbany with the Bamberg blues again.

Make no mistake, Adam. This wasn’t a nightmare, just a documentary film in my head. It provides a mature basis for the future of our relationship. Consequently, perhaps it’s time for us to review my banishment from the Floyd County Democratic Party’s social media feeds.

C'mon, you miss me -- don’t you?

It’s been three years since you lubed the muzzle and convicted me in absentia of violating double secret protocols. Let’s put it behind us. Today I’m asking that you restore these inelegantly severed communications immediately, prior to the 2019 primary, when I’ll likely be running as a Democrat(ic Socialist).

And those things people say about you not sticking to a party chairman’s impartiality during primary season? They’re just jealous of your unctuousness.

As a side note, does anyone know how much Bernie charges for campaign appearances?

The Bored of Works might temporarily close Spring Street, with the rally at 11th, so close to my councilman’s house that he’d still escape cognitive dissonance via his back door, and into the alley.

Everything’s on the table, you know.

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Seriously, your being seen as a vindictive and punitive censor in this scenario might further damage the party – and it’s already taking on serious seawater at precisely the time when you might be leading the principled opposition to Trumpolini.

Except that it’s complicated, isn’t it? Just because we’re not close at all doesn’t mean the sickening irony’s not out to get you, so if you please, allow me to ice down my stiletto and carve the turkey.

Even the elderly heating and air guy who calls the your shots for you knows deep down that the party is in a perilous position. Gahan’s unforced errors are mounting, and Dear Leader’s well along his inevitable transition to millstone-like liability.

Deaf’s vote share fell 12% in 2015, and now he’s breathlessly alienating the ever slimmer 4% standing between a glorious third term and an ignominious loss to Mark Seabrook, Al Knable, or the ghost of Thomas Dewey.

Sorry to say it, Adam, but Advanced Disney Appreciation didn’t really prepare you for the current reality, did it?

You’re selflessly toiling out on the street, trashing Trumpism and preparing for your own quixotic anti-Clere house quest, while over on the other side of town, your local superdupermayoralstar is busy cementing his reputation as the Eastwick Drive version of Daddy Trumpbucks, albeit it with half the money – but give Gahan enough paving projects and the funding gap is sure to narrow.

The hypocrisy keeps getting deeper, the metaphorical sewage is rising, and pretty soon coffee break will be over, and it’ll be back to standing on your head, counting the recent catastrophes.

The Lorch city council attorney beheading?

Ridiculously botched.

The Summit Springs capitulation and appeasement?

It’s an object of widespread and unremitting public derision and loathing.

A sewer rate increase?

About as helpful as the cup of decaf coffee mentioned above.

One by one, the voters of the 4% are dripping down your rusty commode’s edge – and this was before Gahan’s decision to split his own party with an inept “Make Public Housing Great Again” campaign, thus fully Trumping the Donald.

Were you the one advising him to come out of the bunker and pretend to pretend leading for once? It must have terrified you when those veteran Democrats – a Bill Cochran award winner among them – finally stopped chugging the Kool-Aid and started asking unanswerable questions.

(By the way, I’ll give you credit for the way you helped Gahan pack the New Albany Housing Authority’s board with scentless sycophants. It was startlingly artistic in a Nixonian throwback sort of way, and akin to a date rape drug for former veneer salesmen.)

However, the rebellion of the Democratic elders isn’t what I noticed during the roll-out of the public housing putsch. Rather, it was the revulsion of ordinary New Albanians, as accompanied by the clueless silence of the Gahan Youth.

And Adam, about your farm system … oy vey.

There are plenty of banjo hitters and 150-lb offensive lineman, but not very much  in the way of star quality. Who’s going to replace Bob Caesar some sweet day when he takes his talents to West Palm Beach (or Holiday World)?

Never mind. I’ll just call the animal shelter myself to see which mutts are up for adoption.

It wasn’t that your prospective big leaguers were averting their eyes from the horror. It’s that they didn’t even grasp it, and had no idea that the bilge spewing from Gahan in their own backyard contradicted so much of their party's platform and history.

Did you so much as try to use it as a teaching moment, or is the cancer too far along? Concurrently, the single best statement of principle during Gahan’s war on the working poor came from a young New Albanian by the name of Nick Vaughn.

He’s not one of yours, is he?

Ye Gods, chairman: When it's the Republicans talking sense about poverty while a Democrat dances a jig atop the bleached bones of affordable housing, there's not enough whiskey in Bardstown to help get you through the night.

I could go on and on, and likely will.

In the interim, just one last question.

How’s that non-transparent authoritarian censorship mode been working for you these past few election cycles?

Sweet dreams, Beethoven.

“Ode to Joy” may not be coming to Floyd County Democratic Party playlists any time soon, although there is so very much entertainment to be gained from comic opera.

Your friend,

The Rajah

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Recent columns:

April 20: ON THE AVENUES: The Weekly Wad? It was a modest start.

April 13: ON THE AVENUES: Ain't it funny how we all seem to look the same?

April 6: ON THE AVENUES: On swill and tornadoes, circa '75.

March 30: ON THE AVENUES: Our great and noble leader is here to stay, so let's break out the țuică and make a joyful noise.

City Hall institutes a 24-7 counseling center to help drivers outraged by forthcoming two-way street changes.


Push "1" for the campaign donation line. 

Meanwhile, we learn from Dat Jeffersonville Newspaper that when it comes to vehicular traffic, though for very little else, Deaf Gahan wants you to be informed.

"Our plan is to keep the public informed with details as we move through the construction period."

Well, there's a first time for everything -- and they do tend to coddle drivers, don't they? As for me, I'll believe it when I see it. For the official statement from downtown curmudgeons, go here:

"Lads of the Village" cheerily assist WDRB in previewing two-streets from the vantage point of Thrasher's Art Store.

Whatever happened to Irv, anyway? It may be time to declare a self-immolation watch.

GOING BOTH WAYS: Initial work on New Albany two-way street conversion begins, by Elizabeth Beilman (Popeye's Has Us Excited)

Conversion to finish early fall

... Slower traffic means increased pedestrian safety, which will in turn encourage more people to walk and bike downtown.

Many downtown New Albany businesses say that's a huge plus.

Ryan Westphal, manager of the restaurant Dragon King's Daughter, is in the heart of the conversion at their location on Elm and Bank streets.

"If [city officials] feel that two-way streets will benefit commerce, the economy and general trends, we're 100 percent down," Westphal said.

Any sacrifices along the way — construction, for example — are worth the new customers that could pass in front of the restaurant's doors, he said.

"The more foot traffic, the better," he said.

Traffic calming and street safety: "The change needs to come from the highest levels of leadership all the way down the chain," though not in #OurNA.


It's been almost a year, and neither Jeff Gahan nor any of the posturing luminaries among his chortling pack of frat boy subalterns has bothered to publicly acknowledge the senseless death of a woman who was just trying to cross the street.

ON THE AVENUES: For New Albany’s Person of the Year, the timeless words of Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”


Chloe Allen's passing must not be in vain. In years to come, principled citizens of this city – the ones for whom conscience isn’t a high school vocabulary term to be discarded once they’re elected to office – must forcibly insist that her memory be honored, nay, overtly exploited for the sake of a worthwhile agenda.

Specifically, an agenda of public safety in this city. Among other aspects, this public safety agenda reorders auto-centrism by reimagining our streets as community spaces, not mere transit routes. This agenda urges a genuine commitment to public safety by design, for all users, not drivers only. This public safety agenda empowers from the grassroots up, not the TIF bond down.

Apart from its crass inability to display genuine human decency -- they don't even pretend well -- Team Gahan is the very last organism to enlist in any project involving reimagination.

That's because there's no imagination in those craniums to begin with.

So, drivers: You're terribly inconvenienced by traffic calming, two-way streets and narrowed traffic lanes?

Here's an idea: Piss off.

Gahan's merry band of vandals won't say it, so other among us must do so, instead. When Dear Leader is finished with the cleansing of public housing dwellers, how about a Declaration of Pedestrian Rights?

Or was he planning on demolishing pedestrians, too?

Traffic Engineers' Epic Fail, by Jon Larsen (Strong Towns)

... What’s the solution? There are numerous other “traffic calming” treatments that could be added to this street, none of which really cost that much, especially when compared to the precious young lives that are at stake. If we can afford to add new streets and highways, we can afford to fix our existing streets first. You can start with a temporary implementation in your city to spark people's imagination.

That said, the best, most lasting solution is to narrow the street until it’s uncomfortable to drive fast. There have been some previous Strong Towns posts on the virtues of narrow streets. The benefits go well beyond safety, as articulated in “Narrow Streets do More with Less,” and “Some Thoughts on Narrow Streets.”

I’m calling out my entire profession. This is a systemic issue, a tragic case of groupthink gone wrong. The change needs to come from the highest levels of leadership all the way down the chain. Just as important, change needs to come from policy makers (i.e. elected officials) who make it crystal clear that safety is more important than speed. The change needs to come from an educated public that understands this tradeoff and is OK with it. Until that happens, the tragedies will continue.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

City Hall is as silent as a Bud Light & Clamato Chelada, but we're inferring that Boomtown Ball will NOT be held in 2017.


At this time last year, momentum was building toward the third edition of the Boomtown Ball & Festival in downtown New Albany. See below for links explaining the history of the event.

Team Gahan released its first Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series tout yesterday, and it made no mention whatever of Boomtown.

However, there was this:

We start a week early this year on May 26th with local blue’s favorites Kentuckiana Blues Road Show. The Road Show line-up features New Albany native Jimmy G & The Sidewinders, Laurie Jane & The 45’s and Jason Lockwood & The Stella Vees.

Each of the first three Boomtowns was held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, followed by the concert series kickoff on the first Friday in June. We're inferring that since May 26 is the Friday before Boomtown's traditional slot, it's a backhanded way of saying "no Boomtown for you."

In addition, a friend asked DNA:

"I messaged Develop New Albany. They got back with me that Boomtown was not on the calendar for May. So the lady was assuming no."

Also, there is no mention of Boomtown on any of Production Simple's propaganda arms, suggesting that in 2017, the Louisville company's annexation of downtown New Albany will be limited to concert series Fridays.

Naturally, all of this makes sense given that in 2017, Abbey Road on the River moves to downtown Jeffersonville. The festival lasts five days over Memorial Day weekend, May 25 - 29.

Mike Moore 1, Jeff Gahan nil. 

If you're still wondering why the city of New Albany is engaged in the business of concert promotion, chalk it up to a bad case of Disney Envy.

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Boomtown Ball accounts from previous years:

2016
Roger answers all your questions on the eve of Boomtown, 2016.
Boomtown Ball & Festival returns.

2015
The PC: Who'll put the beer in Boomtown?

2014
The PC: Post-Boomtown reflections.

"Lads of the Village" cheerily assist WDRB in previewing two-streets from the vantage point of Thrasher's Art Store.


Click to watch David Thrasher's exciting star turn on WDRB.

Work begins to convert several downtown New Albany streets to two-way (WDRB)

Moreover, thanks to Larry Scharlow for his timely reference to the Lads of the Village. Finally we have debuted in public consciousness.


Larry's reference point is this wonderful Eldridge Pope ale advertisement from 1934, which appeared in Michael "Beer Hunter" Jackson's classic book, World Guide to Beer.

There were no one-way streets in their village. The sooner New Albany's abominations go away, the better.

In #OurNA, we'll get serious about affordable housing -- after Breakwater is finished, of course.


Today on the DemoDisneyDixie channel, we're screening Pinocchio. In fact, Adam has front row seats, and TIF's buying the popcorn.


In entirely unrelated news, Team Gahan says that from this point forward, the city's going to get super-duper serious about affordable housing!

Any new private housing development that received local government support will be required to reserve a percentage of the units for low-income residents.

You'll notice that Wile E. Gahan's spine didn't stiffen until after Flaherty & Collins was buffed, polished and subsidized to build "luxury" apartments along Spring Street. The Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats has been about climate-controlled bidets, not workforce-rates.

Over in Louisville, Gahan's political idol is dealing with a "moving goalposts" situation. How Greg Fischer deals with it, or doesn't, might offer prime lessons for our own Dear Leader -- who seldom if ever listens.

Paying off the politicians to change the rules, by Aaron Yarmuth (LEO)

... It’s a great project for the city.

Now, however, the Georgia-based developer, Flournoy Development, says it can’t afford the project… because its deal with the city requires reduced rental rates on 18 apartments. Just 18 of 270…

The reduced-rate apartment requirement isn’t something new. The city didn’t suddenly surprise the developer with this news. Rather, the company seems to have waited until it had enough leverage to renegotiate (and squeeze every last dollar out of the deal) — or something else is afoot.

To keep the project going, the developer is offering the city $500,000, and in exchange it won’t have to offer 18 apartment units at a lower, “workforce” rate ...

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: “Palmer's as dour as a door-nail; an obstinate chap, every inch on him,— th’ oud bulldog!”

The title quote is from Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South (1855), though not quite verbatim. Let's look at the word "dour" in a sentence.

"But honestly, you really just aren't that amusing. Just dour, negative and usually passive/aggressive."

It's a scathing indictment, but we're not here to determine this particular statement's validity (hint: it's a non-fact, at least in this specific context). Rather, how do we actually pronounce this word?

A dour pronunciation (The Grammarphobia Blog)

Q: How do you pronounce “dour”? Does it have an OO or an OW sound?

A: These days, “dour” can properly be pronounced either way, to rhyme with “tour” or “tower.” But it wasn’t always so.

I've always rhymed dour with sour. Just last night, I was watching a documentary in which a Brit used the OO variant. Digging a bit deeper ...

English probably got “dour” from the Latin durus (hard), which may have influenced the traditional pronunciation.

The English word first showed in the 15th century, according to citations in the Oxford English Dictionary.

But the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology says it appeared a century earlier in Scottish and northern English dialects.

Here's the definition. As always, it's helpful to say what you mean, and mean what you say.

dour

[doo r, douuh r, dou-er]

adjective

1. sullen; gloomy: The captain's dour look depressed us all.
2. severe; stern: His dour criticism made us regret having undertaken the job.
3. Scot. (of land) barren; rocky, infertile, or otherwise difficult or impossible to cultivate.

Origin of dour

1325-75; Middle English < Latin dūrus dure1

Related forms

dourly, adverb
dourness, noun

Synonyms: morose, sour, moody.

I'd like to see the city enforce a policy of double secret probation for misuse of this and other words, though probably some hotshot lawyer in an expensive suit would file some sort of injunction.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Now even the bones are visible at 114 E. Market Street.



And the exterior brick in front is gone.

I'm not sure how much more of the building can be stripped before there's nothing left except air.

Previously ...

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Better times? Off with the mummy's vinyl at 114 E. Market Street.


Earlier today, I declined to guess how many cubic yards of debris were coming out of such a small building. However, I had no idea the vinyl was coming off today.






The perfect pedestal for a statue, isn't it?

But to whom?

In today's episode of AS THE STOMACH TURNS, we welcome new neighbors.





Join us again next week as we contemplate life, love, eternity and the cheapest conceivable apartment in Bamberg -- as quickly as humanly possible.

There goes the hood. Now I'm getting all nostalgic for redlining.

NAHA Monday Night Massacre: A statement by trained and experienced members of the community, but of course a former veneer sales professional knows better.


The memorandum below has 12 co-authors. It was read at last evening's "show meeting" of the NAHA's board.

Monday Night Massacre: Deaf Gahan again absent from his own power grab as Joshua, Duggins seize NAHA and appoint Coffey to new post as "Luxury Trumps Poverty" czar.


It should be noted yet again that irrespective of party affiliation, New Albany's ruling class fell into line with Deaf Gahan's public housing putsch. As Bluegill points out ...

Despite his much deserved receipt of so much derision via the bilge pump attached to his neck, it's actually pretty difficult to differentiate Coffey's voting record from those of his fellow Democrats, including a formally trained sociologist. Let that sink in for a second.

Feeling good about your mayor, Democrats?

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We are deeply distressed by the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of New Albany (CONA) and the New Albany Housing Authority (NAHA). Specifically, we have the following concerns:



  • 1. The proposal to eliminate public housing in CONA contains no details of steps that will be taken to ensure that NAHA residents' lives will not be disrupted.
  • 2. The proposal contains no details of steps that will be taken to ensure that the supply of affordable (lower-income) housing in New Albany will not be diminished.
  • 3. While the MOU proposes that vouchers could be used to relocate current NAHA residents, the document provides no evidence that an adequate supply of vouchers exists, or that there is an adequate supply of market rental housing units in New Albany that will accept such vouchers.
  • 4. It is unclear whether CONA and NAHA are, in fact, working collegially despite a claim of collaboration in CONA’s strategic plan.
  • 5. In its present composition, the NAHA Board does not include any resident representatives.


The rental vacancy rate in CONA is 3.4%. This rate was calculated prior to the recent loss of 100 rental units in the Breakwater fire, which presumably lowered the above vacancy rate. Furthermore, this rate is based on availability of rental housing at all price points; the vacancy rate for affordable (lower-income) units is, in fact, much lower.

Currently, 28% of the 73 HUD Housing Choice vouchers (formerly known as Section 8 vouchers) issued through NAHA have expired because their holders could not find a rental unit where they could use the voucher. Given the low rental vacancy rate and the shortage of affordable rental units, the suggestion that current public housing residents could move to private market housing (as proposed in the MOU) is unrealistic.

Notwithstanding the fact that some public housing units are in deteriorated condition and geographically concentrated, proposing to eliminate public housing without a data-informed plan for offsetting the loss of these affordable housing units is deeply concerning. The risks of exacerbating the problem of homelessness in our community, disrupting the lives of vulnerable citizens, and violating these citizens’ fair housing rights are real and troubling.

Collectively, we have decades of experience in housing, homelessness, public affairs and public advocacy. As advocates for our vulnerable neighbors, we will continue to hold CONA and the NAHA Board accountable. We are ready and willing to work with CONA administrators and the NAHA Board to create a plan to address the above concerns while also improving community housing conditions and public housing residents’ well being. We have a wealth of experience to bring to the table, and we would welcome being part of a truly collaborative, people-centered effort.

Summers sez: The two-way street project I've been recommending for 12 long years may finally be starting.



I'l believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile, the reporter surely intended to write it this way: "Elm Street and Spring Street between State and Vincennes streets."

The program provides for the conversion of these streets to two-way traffic:

►Market Street from First to Vincennes streets.
Elm Street from Spring Street to between State and Vincennes streets.
►Pearl Street from Elm to Main Street.
►Bank Street from Oak Street to Main.

NA Confidential has been advocating two-way streets since at least 2005. We'd like our congratulatory plaque to be placed at 1112 East Spring Street, please -- facing toward the house if possible.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

New Albany to begin conversion of one-way streets to two-way, by Sheldon S. Shafer (The Courier-Journal)

Seven years since a study first proposed the initiative, the city of New Albany, Indiana, is on the verge of beginning the conversion of several of its key one-way downtown streets to two-way traffic.

Preliminary construction work, including some borings and pavement markings, is starting this week, New Albany City Engineer Larry Summers said in an interview Monday.

The $1.9 million contract — all federal money — signed with Ragle Inc. calls for completion of the street conversions by Sept. 30, he said.

Work and twerk session: Adam averts Democratic eyes from Gahan's public housing fiasco by yelling "fire" in a crowded school board.



The Floyd County Democratic Party's delightfully hypocritical cognitive dissonance jalopy went into clank-clank overdrive yesterday.

As Deaf Gahan's channeled his inner Trump via the undemocratic Monday Night Public Housing Massacre (the mayor remained home with his prized toy soldier collection), Mr. Disney took to the facewaves to tout a non-binding school board work session.

Kirsten Clark's C-J coverage recaps the evening, including what we're assuming is the city's official position on the work session, given that the quote is from a city employee and all.

Courtney Lewis, a 31-year-old member of Floyd County Young Democrats who graduated from the district said given how difficult it was to get last year’s referendum passed, the district shouldn’t consider gifting money to Community Montessori. She added that some of the schools within the district are in “disrepair” and need whatever capital project funds are available.

“It just rubs me the wrong way that we would even entertain giving money to an entity that isn’t one of our public schools in the way that the rest of the schools are,” she said.

Monday Night Massacre: Deaf Gahan again absent from his own power grab as Joshua, Duggins seize NAHA and appoint Coffey to new post as "Luxury Trumps Poverty" czar.


Elizabeth Beilman provided excellent newspaper coverage of the Monday Night Massacre. Her tweet below is a classic of understatement.


In the end, there wasn't a politician in town apart from Dan "I'm Back on Payroll" Coffey with the courage to so much as notice Deaf Gahan's Public Housing Putsch, much less place themselves within sight of it it.

John Gonder would have taken part, but Gahan kneecapped Gonder, didn't he?

In short, mythology wins. Misconceptions about public housing are almost totemic in New Albany, and Gahan vigorously scratched this anti-intellectual itch, even if it meant compromising every democratic principle he has ever pretended to support.

It's slightly encouraging that for the first time during Gahan's Reign of Error, a handful of key Democrats suddenly found themselves jolted by the reality of the mayor's vapidity.

Consider this vignette, as captured by Beilman.


Or, one leering, semi-literate functionary is seen reading words written by a nattily attired out-of-town consultant for an inexplicably absent (again) mayor. Democrats should retain this image, and never forget the fundamental crassness of a man who almost never bothers attending the beheadings he initiates in his own name.

Will they remember? Probably not for as long as star sycophant Adam Dickey is at the reins, but the fact remains that the NAHA imbroglio has weakened Dear Leader. Walking dollar signs are cute, but it doesn't mean they can lead. Local Democrats have placed themselves in the position of praising Gahan for the very same vile tendencies they denounce in Donald Trump.

Even in perennially confused America, hypocrisy of this magnitude cannot long endure. Gahan's public housing power grab is organic Himalayan salt rubbed vigorously into the local party's self-inflicted wounds.

We can only hope that more of the party's adherents begin feeling the pain borne unto it by Gahan's ego trip.

Board opts for New Albany's public housing vision, passes plan, by Elizabeth Beilman (Jeffersonville News and Tribune)

Plan calls for demolition, rehab of public housing units

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Housing Authority Board of Commissioners initiated the first step Monday in embarking on a plan to demolish and rehabilitate hundreds of public housing units.

The board approved a plan with the city of New Albany on Monday aiming significant changes to the state's third largest public housing authority in an attempt to better leverage a backlog of federal funds and decentralize the city's low income pockets. Only commissioner Kent McDaniel voted against it, saying he needed more time to study the plan.

The board's move strays from recommendations of the housing authority director and instead takes up the vision of New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan, whose administration proposed the partnership and changes.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Back by popular demand: “Never trust anyone wearing a suit.”

I don't hate on men (or women) just because they wear suits.

It's just that one's fundamental humanity need not be reflected by the price of his or her clothing. Many very intelligent people wear t-shirts. Perhaps they do it as a conscious blow against ostentatiousness, although there's always the possibility that jeans are more comfortable.

Come to think of it, as someone who hasn't endured a suit since 2009 ...


... how do I even know the meaning of a word like ostentatiousness? Is it a fluke? Can one even be a wordplay poseur while swaddled in a hoodie?

Why ask why?

Because it's a great time for a repost, that's why. From 2015 by way of 2011, here's "Suit yourself. Plaid?"

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It's 2015, and I'm reading a biography of Václav Havel: Havel: A Life, by Michael Zantovsky.

The secret police also came for the philosopher Jan Patocka, Havel’s fellow Charter 77 spokesman. Patocka did not survive interrogation, and Havel dedicated what became his most famous text to his older friend’s memory. “The Power of the Powerless” tells the story of a greengrocer who every morning obligingly puts the sign “Workers of the World Unite” in his shop window. Of course neither the greengrocer nor the passers-by believe the sign. Even the Communist regime no longer believes the sign. Yet everyone goes on pretending. Pretending is in the greengrocer’s interest, for it allows him to live in peace. If one day he were to take down the sign, he would be harassed, perhaps arrested. And yet, Havel points out, if one day all the greengrocers were to refuse to hang their signs, that would be the beginning of a revolution. Therefore the powerless greengrocer is not so powerless; on the contrary, he is responsible and therefore guilty: By failing to “live in truth,” he makes it possible for the system to continue.

Rather like New Albany persisting in pretending that its Democrats really are, although we're not entirely powerless. They can be voted out.

In 2011, during my unsuccessful city council campaign, I offered this opinion of suits -- the clothing. Looking at the photos in Zantovsky's fine book, Havel always seems more natural when dressed as an artist, playwright and dissident. In point of fact, I do own a suit. Since losing weight, it's too large, and so a trip to Sew Fitting is in order -- which is not to say I cherish the thought of wearing it.

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A Candidate’s Progress (11): Suit yourself. Plaid? 

(April 19, 2011)

The Woodstock festival took place in 1969, when I was only nine years old -- too young to completely understand what was occurring in America amid the generational upheavals depicted nightly on the tube, and yet capable of registering their impact in my evolving consciousness.

Something was happening, and not unlike Bob Dylan’s musical Mr. Jones, I didn’t know what it was. But it was exciting, if for no other reason than an older generation’s (read: those of my parents’ age) often expressed annoyance and exasperation with it.

One of the mantras of a turbulent period devoted to letting it all hang out struck me at the time as enduringly valid advice: “Never trust anyone wearing a suit.”

Obviously, the powers that be – the wielders of capital, the exploiters of the proletariat – all wore suits, and insofar as the middle and lower classes inevitably imitated the mores of their wealthier “betters,” it was a form of unwitting obeisance better avoided than indulged.

Bizarrely, here was a topic on which both the Baby Boom hippies and my Great Depression father should have been able to agree, had it not been for his inability to move past the length of their hair and listen to what they actually were saying.

If my dad owned a suit, it was reserved for weddings and funerals, and worn grudgingly even then. He was a working man’s populist to the very core, and usually as suspicious of moneyed elites and polite society as any bandana-wearing revolutionary. In a different country than the United States, one with more than two political parties to channel belief, his course in life might have been profoundly altered.

However, like so many others, in striving arduously for his sought after place in a middle class perhaps already doomed, even in the late 1960’s, he was inexorably steered by those very same besuited powerbrokers into emulating them by craving a modicum of their material trappings.

In fairness, a vast majority of the rebelling hippies at Woodstock eventually discarded their own youthful principles, taking the same materialistic path, but diverging from my father’s way in one very important sense: The Baby Boomers aged and became steadily more selfish, to the point that they’re now refusing to pay taxes.

Meanwhile, to the end, my father retained his agrarian communal instincts. Somewhere else, he might have been one hell of a socialist. We’ll never know, and that’s a shame.

---

Resolved: Never trust anyone wearing a suit?

Never?

Ever?

No, not really. It is not a matter of trust, and I trust plenty of people who wear suits. Conversely, I seldom ever wear one, because I don’t have to. Comfort, personal preference and an active desire to enjoy what I do and not feel constrained by unnecessary adornments have conspired to result in an absence of suits in my closet. You’re free to dress as you please – or as you must. Just leave me out of it, please.

While it is true that for a brief period during Junior High School, I took an active interest in dressing according to society’s restrictive expectations, a candid assessment of acne-laden adolescent gawkiness led me to realize that a life of high fashion was not my likely destiny.

So be it. Know thyself; when you dispense with redundant fantasies of a GQ modeling gig, you’re free to use your entire brain, unbound by convention, custom and prejudice. It’s almost as liberating as Woodstock, and there are times when it still infuriates the unreconstructed Nixon generation.

That makes me very, very happy.

---

There are many reasons why the craft beer milieu “suits” me as a job and avocation, and one of them is the casual nature of its dress code, which “suitably” contrasts with assumptions about the genre’s dynamic, expansive business success.

Huh? Say what? Growth nationwide … during a recession … and seemingly none of you wear appropriate business attire so as to buff and fluff the share holders? How on earth is that possible?

It’s because it matters far less what we look like than how we conjure our performance in the marketplace, and besides, if we had conformed to the expectations of what fuddy-duddies believe beer should be, there’d be no craft beer business at all.

Craft beer creates interest where there was none. It adaptively reuses, and leaps ahead of habit. It is vibrant, evolutionary and exciting. How many rock stars wear suits on a regular basis? Aside from Bryan Ferry and perhaps David Bowie ...

I dress casually for the requirements of my job, just the same as those bankers and lawyers with whom I transact company affairs, and who, at their first opportunity, gleefully change into shorts and a t-shirt to come drink some of the craft beer that’s brewed thanks to all of our labors, suited or otherwise. The wonderful part of my career is that I can dress the same way working, drinking, or all of the above. It simply does not matter what I wear, nor should it.

A college professor friend, himself a veteran of the Age of Aquarius (and who may be reading this essay), used to greet unsuspecting new sociology students in the guise of a custodian. With the class still awaiting the arrival of the instructor, he’d enter the room clad in work overalls, lope around, dust a shelf and empty the trash can -- and then begin talking about sociology.

You can imagine the students’ collective reaction, gleaned entirely from conditioned responses to mere appearance, as opposed to content: Who does that lowly janitor think he is talking to us about sociology? What could he possibly know? As it always turned out, he knew quite a lot – if the listener chose to look past the hair, beard and coveralls.

Given that I entered the race for at-large city council as an outspoken contrarian already thoroughly loathed by those discredited Dixiecrats pretending to be Democrats, it is perhaps inevitable that the oldest of these perpetually irrelevant fogies will criticize me for not looking the part of a politician, whatever that means, even while they excuse the typically slovenly appearance of their antebellum, regressive darling, Steve Price.

It is hypocrisy, but I do not begrudge it. They wouldn’t vote for me under any conceivable circumstance, whether I’m clothed in an Armani suit, Newt Gingrich’s loincloth, a hoop skirt or medieval armament, so why does it matter, apart from another opportunity to remind myself that while I might age, I won’t let my attitudes grow old and stodgy like them?

For the rest of you, those capable of discerning thoughts and ideas, we’ve been having a marvelous discussion for quite a few years, and we’ll continue to do so – win, lose or draw.

If you’ll kindly excuse me, I have a load of “These Machines Kill Fascists” t-shirts to wash. One of them needs to be clean and tidy for my next public appearance, at IUS on Friday evening. Hope to see you there.

(Note: A few minor corrections have been made. Your words never seem to read quite the same when time has elapsed.)

There goes the hood. Now I'm getting all nostalgic for redlining.


How could the neighborhood association allow this to happen? Wait -- I forgot. City Hall owns the neighborhood association.

Look, just give me that cool million Doug promised, and we'll leave. It might be just enough to buy a house in Northampton MA -- or 25 slumlord properties in NA.

Refresher course: “Let’s become a place where people want to be. And if we achieve that, everything else should follow.”

Just waiting to be proven right. Patience, grasshopper.

At times of exhaustion or dissipation -- hell, it's even been known to happen while sober and well-rested, but why risk it? -- there'll be a merry bout of free association.

Here is mine for Monday, April 24. It begins with yesterday's post about the attractions of river mud.

Mud-struck New Gahanian anchor seal marketing ... and Rhode Island's disastrous state branding campaign.

This is not a "marketing piece", a "branding image" - it's not a progressive symbol, it doesn't imply a growing and vital city. An anchor? Who designed this?

A reader left this comment.

Ms. Marshall's article's most relevant point that applies to New Albany's effort:

5) Make it sellable in the first place

Finally, the secret sauce to place branding: the place. “If the community doesn’t have infrastructure, doesn’t have enough beds to attract new tourists, or it doesn’t have a qualified workforce to offer, then from a business perspective and marketing perspective, your money should go toward improving the community,” says Pryor.

It ain’t worth advertising if there’s nothing worth selling.

Then there's this, also from yesterday.

I've just finished reading Jaron Lanier's book, "You Are Not a Gadget."

Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth. The body starts consuming itself. That is what we are doing online.

This brings me to the left hook. The author's interview with Jeff Speck provides a useful reminder of the point appearing in bold, italic and enlarged font. It's about becoming a place where people want to be each and every day, not during scattered one-off celebrations. That's why a two-way street grid matters.

City Hall insists it's coming. I'll believe it when the trucks that shouldn't be on Spring Street in the first place begin traveling in two directions.

Urban designer Jeff Speck on walkable cities and economic development, by Rudolph Bell (Upstate Business Journal)

“Let’s become a place where people want to be. And if we achieve that, everything else should follow.”

Jeff Speck is a city planner, urban designer, author, and lecturer who advocates for more walkable cities. He advises municipalities and real estate developers through Speck & Associates, his consultancy in Brookline, Mass. Speck is the author of “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” and was previously director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts.

UBJ interviewed Speck on April 12 while he was in Greenville for a speaking engagement at the downtown offices of Clemson University’s MBA program. The event was sponsored by the Greenville chapter of the American Institute of Architects and 21 other groups.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mud-struck New Gahanian anchor seal marketing ... and Rhode Island's disastrous state branding campaign.


Among the questions we've been asking since 2015, or maybe 2014 ... say, exactly when did the junta seize power, anyway?

Branding mud-struck: Why did the city of New Albany steal Anchor Brewing's seal?

We receive comments, like this one here.

It's sadly fitting they've chosen an anchor as a graphic representation of the city. An anchor fixes a potentially moving object to a place. It gets stuck in the mud and silt and keeps things from moving. That's why it's called an anchor.

This is not a "marketing piece", a "branding image" - it's not a progressive symbol, it doesn't imply a growing and vital city. An anchor? Who designed this?

This is "marketing" just like offering seven MILLION dollars to Pillsbury AFTER they said they they were leaving - that wasn't a "plan to attract businesses to the city" either. Too little and much, much too late.

And another by e-mail.

In going through files recently, I noticed that the city's new "branding logo" has replaced the old city seal on mundane printed things such as the city sewer bill.

I'v also noticed the inclusion of the city's new "branding logo" on the new street signs.

Questions abound:

1) How can the city seal be changed without public discussion and vote by council?

2) Why wasn't someone with real graphic design experience used to create versions of the logo that could be easily seen at various distances or in various uses?

The artwork is much too "thin" and confusing when seen in reverse, at a distance on street signs.

Who designed it, why and at whose request? Was a fee paid?

Back when Dan Coffey was on the mayor's payroll -- before he wasn't, and now he's back again -- there was an entirely normal city council meeting, during which these questions were answered, except they weren't.

As McLaughlin dozes, Coffey expresses his dislike of fuddy-duddy steamboat seal-bearing visitors.

The city's economic dishevelment facilitator, David Duggins, at long last became interested in the melee, and vaulted forward to volunteer this: The new symbol is a "marketing piece" and "branding mechanism," and not a new official seal. Branding and marketing. By executive order. Small wonder we remain anchored.

To avoid further instances of brain death, let's consider the case of the anchor-like millstone around Rhode Island's neck.

The Anatomy of a Disastrous State Branding Campaign, by Aarian Marshall (CityLab)

After Rhode Island’s epic screw-up, a five-step guide to doing better.

 ... Are place branding campaigns ever worth it? It’s hard to figure out, because campaigns are difficult to divorce from the actual city. Is that spike in jobs due to that sweet ad your commerce board put out two years ago, or because Large Company X liked the cut of your (empty office park’s) jib? Are tourists abandoning your boardwalk because your logo deeply offended their aesthetic sensibilities, or because the best funnel cake place closed last year? Still, as the state of Rhode Island points out, there’s definitely a bad way to do it. CityLab talked to marketing experts to figure out what went wrong—and what cities, states, and regions can do better next time.

Rejuvenating contemporary classical music? Count me in.


Our flight from Detroit landed at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Thunder Over Louisville's fireworks began promptly at 9:30 p.m., and I was grimly determined to be home as quickly as possible.

Once securely barricaded and with whiskey in hand, I laughed out loud at my social media feed. It appeared that most of my friends under the age of 45 loved the locally themed music during the fireworks, or at least grasped the merit of it, while those my age and older were bitterly critical.

Aw ... would more classic rock help y'all feel better?

Speaking only for myself, since Thunder is an annoying distraction far beyond its musical component, which quite likely is the display's only redeeming quality, I was thrilled to know Teddy Abrams was involved.

Finally, something sensible.

Teddy Abrams is stepping up his role with Thunder Over Louisville, by Carolyn Tribble Greer (Louisville Business First)

Now we know the theme for this year's Thunder Over Louisville — "Thunder: Local & Original." The theme will help direct the soundtrack for the fireworks display, which will feature the music of Louisville and Kentucky natives ...

... Teddy Abrams, conductor and music director for the Louisville Orchestra, will collaborate with Thunder's producer, Wayne Hettinger. Abrams researched and created dozens of music tracks for this year's soundtrack, according to the release. The Louisville Orchestra also will be included in the soundtrack.

Coincidentally, this soon-to-be-forgotten tempest in a spittoon accompanies an article from The Economist I'd previously slated for a link.

For my money, Abrams is doing a great job of taking "classical" music to the masses, as it were. As Prospero's essay concludes, "What classical music—especially the contemporary kind—needs to thrive among 21st-century audiences may not be pre-concert cocktail receptions or other incentives. It may simply need a completely different concert format."

Rejuvenating contemporary classical music, by Prospero (The Economist)

Different concert formats may help to attract new fans

... Yet (Steve) Reich enjoyed an attentive crowd in Tallinn; chances were they didn’t realise they were listening to contemporary classical music. “People want to hear things that have a concept attached to them,” explains Kristjan Järvi, the Estonian conductor who performed the pieces with his Baltic Sea Philharmonic. Mr Järvi’s idea for the concert, where Mr Reich’s unusually crowd-pleasing interpretation of Radiohead songs formed the centrepiece, was to create an all-round experience of music and light design. The performance took place not in a concert hall but in a former power station now functioning as a creative hub. “Concert hall lighting has all the atmosphere of a dentist’s office,” Mr Järvi says. And, he argues, “traditional classical concerts only appeal to a certain crowd, people who have been introduced to classical music by their parents.”

"After 70 years of this thing we call pop, are the chances of writing something brand new mathematically fewer?"

I've just finished reading Jaron Lanier's book, "You Are Not a Gadget."

Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth. The body starts consuming itself. That is what we are doing online.

Lanier is a musician (among other skills), and he has fascinating things to say about the absence of innovation in popular music; he believes rap and hip hop represent the most recent "new" trends, and while they're tired, too, at least their practitioners continue to punch against the constraints of the cage.

I feel this way myself.

By the way, this blogger wouldn't know an Ed Sheeran song if it sauntered up and bit him in the butt, but there'll be a new Paramore album in a couple of weeks, and that's genuinely exciting.

Has pop finally run out of tunes? by Peter Robinson (The Guardian)

Ed Sheeran has reached a £16m settlement over his song Photograph in the latest claim over pop plagiarism. So are songwriters out of ideas? Time to call in the musicologists

This week, Ed Sheeran, a pop star whose stranglehold on the UK Top 40 is so extreme that his Star Wars name would be Chart Maul, avoided a lengthy legal trial by settling a $20m (£16m) copyright infringement claim out of court, for an unspecified sum. Two writers behind Amazing, a song by X Factor hat-botherer Matt Cardle, had spotted something familiar in Sheeran’s song Photograph and, represented by the legal team who annihilated Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in the controversial Blurred Lines case, filed a lawsuit.

This settlement comes two weeks after the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs were suddenly added to the credits of Sheeran’s Shape of You (the precise circumstances of that addition are unknown, but it is fair to speculate that Sheeran didn’t just do it for a laugh) and it follows a claim last year – apparently ongoing – that Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud copied Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.

It is not just about Sheeran. Whether it is Mark Ronson adding Oops Upside Your Head’s writers to Uptown Funk or a shift in the law allowing for a case against Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven (which the band won), alleged musical kleptomania seems more heavily patrolled than ever. There are many questions here. Are songwriters increasingly lazy, or arrogant, or simply incompetent – or are they being unfairly chastised for a warm homage to the music they, and we, grew up with? Is plagiarism itself on the increase or are ambulance-chasing legal teams becoming more aware that many artists will quietly settle out of court to avoid public legal proceedings? And after 70 years of this thing we call pop, are the chances of writing something brand new mathematically fewer?

Means-testing in New Gahania? It's highly doubtful that neighborhoods can be revitalized without gentrification.



Can you so much as imagine Jeff Gahan leading the Floyd County Democratic Party in a discussion of Community Land Trusts, when CLTs wouldn't benefit the same old suspects?

After all, New Gahania has strict principles of means testing.

A means test is a determination of whether a for-profit development is eligible for government assistance, based upon whether the developer or corporate entity possesses the means to donate to a local politician's re-election campaign.

Cooperative, schmo-operative. They simply don't wet sufficient beaks.

Can Neighborhoods Be Revitalized Without Gentrifying Them? by Michelle Chen (The Nation)

Baltimore’s new housing plan could provide a form of neighborhood uplift that benefits communities, not developers.

 ... Under the CLT’s cooperative ownership structure, the resident owns the property, while the community retains the land. The resident pays an annual leasing fee, plus other mortgage and maintenance expenses. When the property is sold, price is controlled through a prearranged agreement with a community authority, with representation from neighbors and “public stakeholders” such as local officials or community-development organizations. The homeowner can share in any appreciation of the sales value.

When these community controls are leveraged against market forces, neighborhoods can ensure a communally managed recycling of ownership, and avoid the frenzied churn of renters and developers commonly associated with boom-bust speculation and gentrification.

The model could also be applied to commercial properties, including self-sustaining small businesses in struggling neighborhoods. Or it could help establish community space, as East Baltimore’s Amazing Grace Lutheran Church has already done by stewarding a recreational green space known as the “sacred commons.”

Wouldn't you love to know which D.C.-based putsch consultant wrote Deaf Gahan's "luxury in our time" public housing statement?


Those high-dollar D.C. flacks probably were laughing to themselves as they cut and pasted the boilerplate, safe in the knowledge that no one in a position of authority at a "local" chain newspaper would bother checking its origin.

On Monday, there'll be a minutely choreographed meeting of the New Albany Housing Authority's board, which Mayor Jeff Gahan merrily neglected and starved before packing it like tinned sardines with craven bootlickers, all the better that they might huddle in the nether reaches of the Down Low Bunker, concocting the essentials of a socially-engineered property takeover designed to address poverty by attacking the impoverished -- and if valuable land cleared of poor people might then be devoted to luxury-based campaign finance enhancement, well, that's just a happy coincidence, isn't it?

You've already read Nick Vaughn's eloquent rebuttal.

Vaughn: THIS Public Housing Plan Will Improve the Community.

Some of our elected officials would rather tear down these affordable housing units because we have done our fair share as a city of housing low income individuals for Southern Indiana and Louisville. Instead of this sentiment, we need to empower our low income and poverty stricken neighbors and help them regain their footing and be able to rise above their standards. They cannot do this without a strong community and city government behind them helping them.

They won't be getting such leadership from Gahan, who fancies himself a Democrat, though we've seen seen almost no lower-case "democracy" from him for the past 64 months.

Following is the link to the statement written for Gahan by a PR operative who was remunerated with taxpayer money. However, ghostwriting is the least of it. I might yet go through the scentless manifesto, line by line, so as to extract details from a thicket of subterfuge, inconsistencies and outright whoppers, but there is one huge point beyond which it isn't necessary to travel -- even if Gahan's purely imaginary world were accepted as gospel, not the enduring and delusional Disney-think it genuinely is.

Notice that throughout Gahan's behind-the-scenes public housing putsch, he and his minions have spoken with seemingly everyone ...

I have met and discussed the challenges facing public housing with officials from HUD, the New Albany Redevelopment Commission, the Salvation Army, Southern Indiana Housing Initiative (SIHI), Hope Services, and others.

... except the public housing residents who are precisely the ones to be affected. 

They've been allowed to exist in a state of fearfulness as Gahan waited until four days before a prix fixe board meeting to make his first public statement of intent.

You know, the one he didn't even bother writing himself.

And then there's this: Monday's board meeting has been delayed twice. Would Deaf Gahan have said or written anything at all if not for public statements by a handful of customarily sycophantic Floyd County Democrats, who indicated that even they think he's gone too far?

(After all, neither Gahan nor NA's prominent DemoDisneyDixiecrats ever read this blog, so we cannot claim credit for any of it, but just for the fun of it: It's #OurNA, all right: "New Albany attempting to purge itself of the poor" ... so, are local Democrats finally catching on to the Gahan shell game?)

That's not vision, Deaf.

It's cowardice, and when gutlessness is combined with avarice to create institutionalized mayhem, it's a very sad time for our city.

By the way, your ghostwriter's a hack, too.

A Message from Mayor Gahan Regarding the Future of Public Housing

Dolt supremacy: Remembering Bill O'Reilly's role in the assassination of Dr. George Tiller.

The White Supremacy of Anti-Abortion Extremism

Occasionally when provoked, this 2010 column comes to my mind.

ON THE AVENUES: Abortion? Wichita, or maybe Targu Mures.

It's just a bonus to be able to tie, Bill O'Reilly, Mike Pence, Nicolae Ceausescu and anti-abortion terrorists together in one big ball of "go away -- preferably to another planet."

Bill O'Reilly's Dangerous War Against Dr. Tiller, by David S. Cohen (Rolling Stone)

O'Reilly waged an unflagging harassment campaign against the abortion provider before Tiller was murdered in 2009

On May 31st, 2009, Scott Roeder assassinated Dr. George Tiller. Roeder had been waiting patiently that morning in the pews of Tiller's church. Right after Tiller finished his job as an usher, Roeder walked into the church foyer, pressed a gun against Tiller's forehead and shot him. He died from the single gunshot wound.

Roeder killed the doctor for one reason, and one reason only: Tiller was a prominent abortion provider – maybe even the most prominent in the country at the time – and Roeder wanted to stop abortion. No one questions that Roeder's radical anti-abortion views were responsible for Tiller's death.

But this, the day Bill O'Reilly was ousted from Fox News, is a good time to remember O'Reilly's role in the Tiller tragedy – especially in the context of newly released statistics showing that harassment of abortion providers in various forms is on the increase.

O'Reilly had waged an unflagging war against Tiller that did just about everything short of urging his followers to murder him.

Saturday, April 22, 2017