Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We agree completely with Todd and Warren: "These are still cold calls to people's houses ... (and) there are so many scams out there and people are concerned about answering their doors."


We'd be utterly remiss without properly attributing the preceding photos: They're from the Floyd County Democratic Party, which has been defending you from cold calls and porch scams since, uh, er ... never mind.

ASK THE BORED: Horse posteriors. Anti-intellectualism and indie business shaming on July 18. It's just as Jeff Gahan trains his blundering gatekeepers to be.

But the same party functionaries are right there at the Board of Public Works and Safety, defending you from pre-arranged social research by accredited academicians.


Feeling safer yet?

NA Confidential is delighted to know the police chief takes such a strong stance against unsolicited household visits. The next time we see him and his political cronies doing it again, we're going to call the police and have them hauled off. Per Warren Nash, Greg Phipps, et al, if there are any questions about it after the fact, we'll just lie and attribute it to miscommunication.

Isn't it time these candidates show us their solicitation permits? It won't stop us from baring our pitchforks, but at least the hypocrisy would be more entertaining.

(thanks to Jeff Gillenwater)

ASK THE BORED: Horse posteriors. Anti-intellectualism and indie business shaming on July 18. It's just as Jeff Gahan trains his blundering gatekeepers to be.


Your indulgence, please.

The city's mode of presenting relevant documents can make it challenging at times, but we persevere. There comes the pivot when you let their words speak for themselves, and so following are minutes from the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting last Tuesday (July 18).

After the minutes, blog links are provided from last week's coverage of the social research survey snafu, followed by the transcript of an exchange at the Bookseller's Fb page.







"Right Thing Done Rightly" as Team Gahan corrects Warren's social research faux pas, then enjoys an ice cold bucket of Lima-A-Ritas over at the roadhouse.


Warren's sad Board of Works social research meltdown: "Jeff Gahan’s appointees could use a refresher course in due process. After all, it is a tenet of representative government and basic justice."


2 Warren's bored, hysterical and useless -- or, "Oops – NA BoW Messes Up."


Democratic Party stalwart Warren Nash: Heck, this board hasn't ever approved social research study requests. Besides, we already have a captive sociologist.






Perhaps the most revealing part of the Fb transcript isn't when Warren Nash knowingly contradicts his own meeting minutes. We've come to expect it from him.

Rather, it's when councilman Phipps -- seldom the punctual debater on social media -- leaps heroically into the fray to forge a resolution, and naturally begins by thanking the wrong people for prompting the investigation.

BUT look at the top of the BoW meeting minutes, and you'll see Phipps' name as among those attending the very same BoW meeting when all this first occurred.

Was Nash napping, or was Phipps -- or both? Maybe they had to check first with Adam Dickey to determine whether they were there, or not.

Yes, there's even more. 

I've also included the minutes (above) documenting Brittany Enah's (Underground Classic Cuts) request to close Bank Street for a street party on the 22nd.

The request was shelved owing to the concurrent RiverStage production at the amphitheater, and probably legitimately, but it's the tone of rejection you should note.

I corresponded with Brittany after the meeting, and she felt angered and humiliated by the board's attitude, which I view as a legitimate reaction on her part, seeing as the otherwise dispassionate meeting minutes completely convey the bullying flavor of the interrogation.

Seemingly everyone in the room (except Phipps, who was there but apparently wasn't there) took a turn at bat upbraiding Brittany for not knowing proper procedures.

When was the last time anyone from the board or any other arm of municipal government undertook to educate anyone about anything?

Maybe on its Facebook page?

Nope. Read closely.


It's delicious: petty Nashian officialdom on what is and isn't really official. Next week, if merited, he'll flip to a different explanation, and Dickey will bask in the warm glow of tumescence.

If indie business owners don't know the exact procedure for such requests, then perhaps an august institution like Develop New Albany could take precious time off from planning another spate of one-off "signature" events to educate the business owners to help plan their own events properly -- but wait, maybe the Board of Works itself might embrace such an inclusive attitude.

Fat chance, bub.

You see, the reason why this street closing request played out the way it did is because Jeff Gahan's monetization regime needs to control events, because to control events is to (a) regulate their content according to Gahanian standards of suburban propriety, and (b) exact the proper rivulets of tribute in return.

The only surprise last Tuesday is that Nash didn't inform Brittany that she should join DNA at the proper partnership level if she expects any degree of politeness and helpfulness from the Bored.

DNA is the "official" arm. Underground Station? Just a bunch of indie business complainers who won't pay the right lady.

In summary, last Tuesday's meeting did not represent a shining moment in the recent history of the Board of Public Works and Safety. Few do, but this one was special -- epochal, perhaps.

Team Gahan's corrosive paranoia and compulsive wagon-circling seem to have been codified in official policy. Insiders are coddled, and "outsiders" scorned with bureaucratic gobbledygook, if not open abuse.

This is your New Gahania, readers. It doesn't have to be. Is it 2019 yet?

Monday, July 24, 2017

It's all about crop yield: "Our urban environments are out-performing our suburban ones by three-to-one."



It's only 16 minutes, and not one of them is wasted. Previously we encountered Craiglow here:


Once again: "The design of a street, more so than any posted speed limit sign, invites drivers to go fast or slow."


Craiglow suggests it’s time for traffic engineers, who tend to put car movement above all else, to share the stage with smart designers. “We have to drive home design, and what design means to our community,” he says. “We have to tell the engineers: You have to ride shotgun for a little while. You’re still in the front seat. You’re going to navigate. We’re going to do it together. But you can’t drive all the time.”

Alas, no Craiglows in these parts.

NON-TYPICAL CITY PLANNER THINKING (Strong Towns)

“I made the connection between designing a great city and actually having the resources to build one. It’s all about crop yield.”
— Wes Craiglow

Wes Craiglow is the Deputy Director of Planning and Development for the City of Conway, AR. He's also the creator of the popular 20 mph street meme.

In the following TEDx talk, he discusses his recent transition from city planning to city managing. He advocates for the radical concept of considering city revenues and expense on a per acre basis, instead of just as line items in a budget. If you've been around Strong Towns for a bit, you know this is something we advocate for too. Wes does some great per acre analyses in his town of Conway and advocates for more productive land use in true Strong Towns fashion.

Cringe alert: News and Tribune treats us to double the usual dose of religious advocacy. Since when has it become a Christian circular?


"Could not agree more. If it's going to be an unreadable, poorly edited rag, at least keep it secular."
-- Regular Reader JS

Our perennially underachieving, Jeffersonville-based newspaper already has a weekly pro-Christian column written by the publisher's former pastor, and this is why I question the necessity of importing a syndicated "guest columnist" from Florida to tip the balance (um, what balance?) even further.

But in the end, it's just an institutional reflex action, isn't it, like when the doctor hits your knee with the little rubber thingy?

No more thought went into the selection of this column than what it takes to chew and swallow a lunch of chain restaurant food.

Still, let me be clear: The addressable point here isn't the columnist's religious proselytizing. It's her address. If the News and Tribune is to be a Christian newspaper, then surely it can find local Christians to preach it, rather than syndicated dreck-slingers.

KENNEDY: When God says ‘I told you so’, by Nancy Kennedy

... Just before Jesus raised a man from the dead he told the man’s sister, “Did I not say to you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?”

I think God loves to reveal his glory and loves to say “I told you so” when he answers our prayers and surprises us with himself.

The faraway author:

— Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

And my oh my, the tags:

Cathy Worship Christianity Food God Mom Jesus Glory Nancy Kennedy

Karem's Meats: Grand (re)opening and customer appreciation day is Saturday, July 29.


Indie business longevity: "Karem's Meats is New Albany's locally owned Meat Market since 1965." Earlier in 2017, Karem's shifted to a new location at 3306 Plaza Drive, off Grant Line Road (near Aldi and NABC's original location). This weekend, they're celebrating.

KAREM'S MEATS Grand Opening Customer Appreciation Day

KAREM'S will be hosting a Grand Opening Customer Appreciation Day. Come visit our New Plaza Drive location and enjoy some grilled burgers and dogs and other BBQ favorites.

A non-meat component for adults has been added.

As part of Karem's Meats Grand Opening and Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday July 29 we will welcome two local businesses to help celebrate! The New Albanian Brewing Company and The River City Winery will be offering samples of their products from 12-2.

Media vs. Trump: "It’s about legitimacy, of course, and what’s left of the respectable press is utterly captivated by the theme."


To begin your week with optimism and encouragement ... and whoever said the picture has to match the text?

The media's war on Trump is destined to fail. Why can't it see that?, by Thomas Frank (The Guardian)

The news media needs to win its war with Trump, and urgently so. But the goal should be more than just reestablishing the old rules of legitimacy

These are the worst of times for the American news media, but they are also the best. The newspaper industry as a whole has been dying slowly for years, as the pathetic tale of the once-mighty Chicago Tribune reminds us. But for the handful of well funded journalistic enterprises that survive, the Trump era is turning out to be a “golden age” – a time of high purpose and moral vindication.

The pivot:

These things don’t happen because the journalists that remain are liberals. It happens because so many of them are part of the same class – an exalted and privileged class. They are professionals and they believe in the things that so many other professional groups believe in: consensus, “realism”, credentialing, the wisdom of their fellow professionals and (of course) the stupidity of the laity.

This is the key to understanding many of their biases – and also for understanding why they are so utterly oblivious to how they appear to the rest of America.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

30 years ago today: Springtime in Switzerland. First, a weekend in Lausanne.


Previously (catching up on earlier installments): 30 years ago, April 20: Amsterdam amid the Heineken.

---

Day 8 ... Thursday, April 23
Amsterdam → Paris ... disaster, Yasmin couscous, liter of house wine, scant accommodations

The word "disaster" evidently was supposed to remind me of something important, and my vague recollection supports that it had something to do with "scant accommodations."

In 1987, on a fast train, it would have taken about five and a half hours to ride from Amsterdam to Paris. I'd have arrived at Gare du Nord in early afternoon, much later than I preferred when it came to scoring inexpensive bunks, but since it was April, surely the competition wouldn't be fierce.

Au contraire. Amid the cobwebs, I remember that I was told by the folks at the budget bed booking agency that while Thursday night was possible, the entirety of hostel spots in all of Paris was booked during the coming weekend. It was a student spring break, or holiday, or some such.

I was annoyed, but accepted what was offered. Arriving at my building, I was asked if I'd share a two-bed room with a complete stranger, who turned out to be a young citizen of West Germany who spoke excellent English and told me stories about his experiences as a conscientious objector, doing alternative work in the countryside.

It had been my plan to remain in Paris for a few days, but this was looking improbable on a budget. Besides, I'd be coming back later in the summer with my friends Barrie Ottersbach and Bob Gunn.

Consequently, two things needed to happen.

First, strategic planning. A consultation with the Thomas Cook European Timetable showed that if I caught the TGV from Gare de Lyon a little after seven on Friday morning, I could be in Lausanne, Switzerland just after 11:00 a.m. Obviously, it was time for the mountains.

Second, it also was time to comparatively splurge on a stress-relieving meal with wine, and this meant navigating to Rue Xavier Privas and Yasmin, the North African joint cousin Don had introduced to me in 1985. There I ordered the basic tagine with bottomless couscous (pasta) and a liter of house red.

Later in the narrative, there'll be a bit more about the myriad joys of the couscouserie, but for now, know that I returned to the hostel feeling no pain, and found that my German roomie hadn't returned.

It was a gorgeous spring evening and the window had been left open, curtains parted. As I packed for an early Friday alarm, there was a sudden ruckus on the street, and seconds later a rock came through the window and skidded along the floor in front of me.

Off went the light as I sidled over to the window to see what was happening. There was a red-faced young Frenchman who seemed quite angry, and he was yelling in the general direction of our room, which was three floors up. Being drunk myself at the time, I surmised he was, too; the rock likely was a lucky heave, and it probably had to do with a girl -- which I wasn't.

Perhaps management would be interested in knowing, so I descended the stairs and began telling the story to the first person I saw near the desk, who listened for several seconds before reminding me he was an Irishman staying at the hostel, not working at it, but if I wanted to join him in going out and confronting the angry Frenchman, he was certainly up for the challenge.

There was a pause. I laughed, he laughed, and he reached behind him into a bag and produced a Kronenbourg: "Or, why don't we just stay right here and have a beer."

There were no more rocks in our room when I poured myself atop the sheets.

---

Day 9 ... Friday, April 24
Paris → Lausanne ... TGV; hostel. 

I made the train on time and arrived in Lausanne on what probably would have been considered an unseasonably warm and sunny day for April.

This typically prosperous Swiss city sits on the shore of Lake Geneva in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. There was an affordable hostel vacancy for the weekend, and relieved of my backpack, lunch beckoned. Owing to the sun, it simply had to be a picnic. I walked to the center, toward the lake.

I found a grocery and bought bread, meat, cheese and a six-pack of Cardinal lager beer, stuffed it all in my day pack, and made for what appeared to be a park area by the lake. Lots of other people had the same idea. It was midday, and many of them obviously were on lunch break. Some may have only worked the morning hours.

As I crossed the street, I was walking behind a shapely brunette. Sexism aside, at not quite 26 years old, you tend to notice these things.

She was dressed conservatively in a long, dark skirt and blouse, no doubt having emerged from her place of employment in an office or bank. When we reached the park, I seized the first open bench I saw and began fishing for my opener.

She stopped about 10 feet in front of me, pulled a blanket from her over-sized handbag, and spread it over the sand. Her skirt dropped to the ground, revealing a bikini bottom. The blouse was next, revealing -- well, nothing, as she was now topless on her blanket applying suntan lotion.

It quickly occurred to me that I loved Europe madly, and I proceeded to consume two whole beers before remembering I'd brought sandwich materials.

Lausanne was intended as a less expensive base for seeing surrounding sights, which I commenced doing on Saturday. This photo may have been taken in Lausanne, or perhaps Geneva. Everywhere in Switzerland, the Alps are there, on the horizon


Next: Weekend day trips to Geneva and Montreux.

THE BEER BEAT: I guess if NABC isn't celebrating its 30th birthday, then I will, with a look back at the 25th.

Photo by John Wurth.

Yesterday (July 22) was the 5th anniversary of the New Albanian Brewing Company's 25th anniversary, which means the business entity variously known as Sportstime Pizza, Rich O’s Public House, the New Albanian Brewing Company (later, adding Bank Street Brewhouse, now dubbed NABC Cafe & Brewhouse) has celebrated its 30th birthday.

Ladies and gentlemen, the inimitable Tony Beard.

The exact date of inception is lost, but some time in June, 1987 is my best guess. My own involvement lasted from from 1990 through 2015, and as Mayor Jeff Gahan pointed out at a mayoral debate in 2015, my career as a double naught capitalist provoked unprecedented misery for the city of New Albany.

"(Roger’s) never done anything in a positive manner to help the city of New Albany.”

Actually, during the opening phases of Rich O’s Public House during the early- to mid-1990s, with Oasis and Nirvana playing deafeningly in the background, we often pointed to Kentucky license plates in the parking lot as proof of things working out just as we had hoped. Gahan probably didn't notice, given the pressing and frenetic weight of adulation that customarily accompanies a career in veneer sales.

This morning I scrolled back through recent Facebook posts at the Pizzeria & Public House and Cafe & Brewhouse to see if mention had been made of the anniversary.

I saw none, but then again, details like this always were my "area" during the period of my immersion, perhaps because I've always been aware we were constructing a narrative, and I'd be the guy writing the history.

The scribe departs and history ends; Fukuyama would be proud. Ironically, the past week may finally prove to be a watershed in our efforts to come to a monetary agreement about the professional divorce, absent the rigors of litigation. I remain hopeful. For those readers unfamiliar with the saga, I catalogued my consciousness in March.

By early 2015, themes and threads gestating for several years had combined into something approximating a personal resolve to do something different with my life, and I decided to sell my share of both NABC corporations to my two longtime business partners. Why, exactly?

Enough of that. There always was a dollop of Fleetwood Mac amid the pizza and beer, and today's objective is to celebrate the curiously neglected anniversary.

To begin, a few resurrected Potable Curmudgeon blog links from 2012, helping to provide background on the bacchanal of the 25th observance.

July 23, 2012
“New independent businesses are coming in and that’s what’s moving New Albany forward. We’ve all grown together and it’s great" ... There was a nice description of our 25th anniversary celebration in the Monday morning C-J.

July 21, 2012
Sarah models the NABC 25th anniversary t-shirt.


July 19, 2012
Beers, pours and pricing for "25 Years of Beer & Loathing."

July 17, 2012
NABC beer lineup for 25 Years of Beer & Loathing ... Here is the NABC beer lineup for 25 Years of Beer & Loathing, this Sunday at the Riverfront Amphitheater in New Albany. All the following will be ready to drink at 10:00 a.m., when the day kicks off.

July 16, 2012
Sara Havens in LEO: "A salute to NABC" ... All this week there'll be reminders of our anniversary posted here, leading up to the 25 Years of Beer and Loathing bash on the riverfront next Sunday. First up is my old pal Sara "Bar Belle" Havens of the Louisville Eccentric Observer, who interviewed me last week.

July 15, 2012
New "Baylor on Beer" at LouisvilleBeer.com ... I reworked an older column from 2010 into this "Baylor on Beer" submission to LouisvilleBeer.com, proving that it's always okay to sample oneself, especially when the schedule is too busy to be original. Seeing as this is NABC's 25th anniversary week, the following helps to explain a few motivations of my own.

Then, in closing, my ON THE AVENUES column of June 21, 2012: "25 years of Beer & Loathing." While it's true that the five years since then have been tumultuous and filled with nuggets of history, the 25th anniversary party it itself worthy of remembrance, in addition to being an apt summary of the first quarter-century.

But first, allow me to repeat something previously written.

In a space this brief, it would be impossible to recount the many life lessons I learned while at NABC, though one springs to mind: When business life is good, the employees get the credit, and when there are problems, it’s all on the owners.

The rank and file, and the workers on the shop floor – cooks, servers, dishwashers and staff members – do the heavy lifting and define the atmosphere. They’re the face of the business, and its esprit de corps. The job of the owner is to organize and manage them so they can thrive, and in turn, so the entity can succeed.

Yes, naturally there are exceptions. Firing someone isn’t fun, though occasionally it must be done. Employees make mistakes, and so on. The point to me is that so many of them, the vast majority, have been top-flight individuals, both before and after working for NABC.

We’ve had our share of teachers, media professionals, artists and musicians working as part-timers, supplementing their income with shifts. With IU Southeast just down the street from the original Pizzeria & Public House locations, there have been hundreds of students receiving W2s as they worked their way through school.

Just think of the local multiplier effect in human terms, for more than 25 years.



What’s more, so many of them have gone on to solid careers. If we had an NABC Alumni Association, it would include doctors, writers, sailors, lawyers, real estate moguls, gardeners, bar and restaurant owners, chefs, entrepreneurs, brewers, entertainers and distillers.

I see many of them on social media, raising their families and living their dreams. I’m pleased as punch to have played a part, however brief, in their formative lives. Cheers to them. I'm serene and looking forward to a new challenge, which I hope will be gathering steam quite soon.

---


ON THE AVENUES: 25 Years of Beer & Loathing (June 21, 2012)

My pal TR called for a catch-up chat. It had been a week since my return from four months in Europe, and I was woefully depleted of gossip, so TR suggested lunch at a joint called Sportstime Pizza, apparently recently established somewhere near Grant Line Road. I couldn’t really form a mental picture of the place until he resorted to a past-tense directional comparison: “It’s where the Noble Roman’s used to be.”

It was 1987, and now, as thousands of years of human history pass by, I join the chorus of individuals always asking, “Where did the time go?”

I couldn’t tell you the answer, except to mischievously recall another friend’s longtime assertion that his eventual autobiography would bear the title, “What I Remember.” Not mine, which is slated to be called “Beer, Bile and Bolsheviks: A Fermentable Life," but there’s little time to write the book because the business I inadvertently stumbled into two decades ago still keeps me ridiculously busy amid a career of selling the idea of beer, a course that somehow took shape during gaps between bouts of drinking lots and lots of it.

Naturally, none of this could have taken place without the work, contributions and input of so many people, from co-owners Amy and Kate through all our employees, customers and folks far too numerous to count – past, present and future. At the risk of sounding trite, I’ll consciously echo Queen, who said it best.

I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all

But it's been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain't gonna lose

Unfortunately, as I’m channeling the late and lamented Freddie Mercury, the missus is assuming the voice of barrister’s mate Hilda Rumpole to remind me that any mention of “fortune” is utterly misplaced in my professional context. It’s true, although the value of enjoying one’s work and being paid to drink beer whilst performing it … that’s truly priceless.

---

The New Albanian Brewing Company will mark its first quarter-century of existence with a day-long picnic and concert at New Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater on Sunday, July 22, 2012.

As most readers probably know, nowadays the original location near Grant Line Road is known as the NABC Pizzeria & Public House, incorporating Sportstime, Rich O’s Public House (1992) and the 2002 addition of craft brewing on site. NABC’s most recent progeny (2009) is NABC Bank Street Brewhouse, located in New Albany’s historic business district downtown.

“25 Years of Beer & Loathing” is what we’re calling the fete, and NABC’s 25th anniversary celebration will be a day-long musical, family-friendly event with food, activities and refreshments suitable for all ages. The venue is New Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater, from 10:00 a.m. to sundown on Sunday, July 22. The Amphitheater is located by the Ohio River in downtown New Albany, with ample parking available by the levee at the foot of Pearl Street.

There is no cover charge for this event, and it’ll be cash 'n' carry for food, drinks and vending. Proceeds after expenses will be disbursed in the form of grants to Rauch Inc., the Isabel Jade Pickhardt Fund and New Albany First.

So that all of our current employees can participate in recalling 25 Years of Beer & Loathing, NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse will be closed on Sunday, July 22, although the Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar will be operating at the Riverfront Amphitheater from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (see below). Following in alphabetical order are details about what to expect.

Beer
NABC’s draft truck (Rosa L. Stumblebus) will be on hand with old favorites and special releases. We’ll be pouring all four of NABC’s 10th brewery anniversary beers: Bourbondaddy, Stumblebus, Turbo Hog and Scotch de Ainslie. There’ll also be a special 10th anniversary session ale called Get Off My Lawn. In addition, limited quantities of cask-conditioned Naughty Girl (double dry-hopped) and Oaked Choufftimus will be served while they last.

Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar
A Bank Street Brewhouse staple at Sunday brunch, the bar will move to the waterfront, with Miss Sarah on hand to guide visitors through garnishes, sauces and fresh embellishments.

Charitable donations
Net monies after expenses will be used for grants to be given to Rauch Inc, the Isabel Jade Pickhardt Fund and NA1st. Our longtime friends at Rauch support people with disabilities through services designed to promote individual choices, growth and well being, while encouraging a community environment that acknowledges the value and contribution of all people. They’ll be helping NABC with the children’s area and site clean-up. The Isabel Jade Pickhardt Fund was set up to assist the daughter of the late Ryan Pickhardt, a local musician and keyboard player for the band Sativo Gumbo, with whom NABC has longstanding ties. NA1st is New Albany’s only grassroots independent business alliance, seeking to support and promote independent business owners and to educate community members about the importance of buying locally. On the 22nd, volunteers from NA1st will assist NABC in monitoring entrances and exits, and policing the grounds.

Children’s Area Activities
A duck pond, face painting, temporary tattoos, an art area and perhaps other activities will be available for the kids.

Food
Feast BBQ (116 W Main St) is roasting a pig, and will be offering these items: Pork sliders with pickles and onions; pork tacos with cilantro, lime, cotija, and crema; and smoked corn on the cob ... Shawn, TJ and Charlestown Pizza Company will be preparing chicken salad croissants, Asian slaw, pasta salad, fruit cups and other fare ... NABC is brewing root beer for the event, and of course there’ll be water and soft drinks.

Music schedule

10:00 a.m.: (house music)
12 Noon: Roz Tate
1:00 p.m.: Ben Traughber
2:00 p.m.: Five Foot Fish
3:00 p.m.: Beeler Attic
4:00 p.m.: Jed and the NoiseMakers
5:00 p.m.: Porch Possums
6:00 p.m.: Dust Radio
7:00 p.m.: Whiskey Riders
8:00 p.m.: Toledo Bend

Wine
River City Winery will be on hand to sell wines and Sangria.

We hope you'll be able to stop by and help us remember what we remember.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Anna Murray announces for State Senate as Adam Dickey reminds us to remain suspicious of anything with his fingerprints on it.

The Random Inanity Generator strikes again.

There is no byline on this News and Tribune dispatch, just a staff photo credit.

Written by human or bot? Or Adam Dickey? Can someone from the newspaper clarify, please?

However, I'm delighted that shill-in-chief Dickey chose the occasion of this announcement to state the case against DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party favorite Jeff Gahan in 2019.

I've helped him with the rewrite. Trust me; his writing needs help.

"Ron Jeff is the incumbent and it will be a challenge," he said. "But all you have to do is look at the (governing) record of Ron Grooms Jeff Gahan. I don't think many folks feel like they are better off today than they were when Ron Grooms Jeff Gahan took office two terms ago. Do they want the same thing or do they want to move forward?"

Have you ever noticed how Adam is unable to speak publicly with any degree of genuineness?

Invariably he sounds like a programmed political robot -- like a random platitude generator.

Anyway, now the Murray announcement.

Her policy positions are hopeful, and I'd like to be able to believe the best, though she's surrounded by the usual underachieving local Democratic suspects, and she emphasizes a yoga event at Gahan's megabuck Silver Street Park TIF Taj Mahal, which symbolizes everything that's amiss with the usual underachieving local Democratic suspects.

Sigh. The circle remains unbroken, to our continuing detriment.

Jeffersonville attorney announces run for Indiana Senate

Republican Sen. Ron Grooms the incumbent

JEFFERSONVILLE — After the 2016 election, Anna Murray decided to stop talking, and to do something about her political frustration. And Thursday afternoon, she made it official.

Murray, a Jeffersonville-based attorney who operates Anna K. Murray & Associates P.C., announced her plans to run for the Democratic nomination for Indiana Senate District 46, the seat currently held by Republican Ron Grooms. The district includes New Albany, Jeffersonville, Clarksville, Georgetown and Greenville.

The Sacramento Valley Mirror: "I don’t see many small papers doing what we do."


Now THIS is what I'm talking about. Thanks to the Bookseller for the link. As he notes, we've both really needed this timely reminder of how things ought to work.

Granted, I can't link to something (The Sacramento Valley Mirror) that isn't on-line, but it's enough to know the district attorney and sheriff in Tim Crews' town seem annoyed at having to answer questions.

Boy, can we relate to such attitudes here in New Albany. Then again, our bunker-ensconced elected officials don't have a newspaper of any sort yapping at their heels.

There's a blog, of course, and this comment from the article hits the center of the target.

"It does get people talking, that’s for sure. Nobody will admit to reading it, but everybody seems to know what he writes."

I'm interested in hearing from readers who are or have been in the newspaper business. Why does it take a cranky country publisher/curmudgeon to be the exception to what should be the rule?

A few highlights ...

Meet the ‘cranky country publisher’ who files lawsuits instead of tweets, by Daniel Funke (Poynter)

At the Sacramento Valley Mirror, Tim Crews is everything.

He’s the founder, publisher, editor and owner. He reports, takes photos and sells ads. The newspaper is so small that he even helps deliver copies when it prints twice a week.

And you wouldn't know it by his blank email signature or no-nonsense tone, but Crews is also a controversial, bulldog investigator. He’s used open records to expose wrongdoing by public officials, penned countless editorials about various misdeeds and published long-form investigations about local government. But what people think of the plucky 73-year-old varies widely, from a noble bastion of watchdog journalism to a scandalous rabble-rouser who’s up to no good.

This:

Crews said he has been shot at, his office burgled, his building set on fire, his car's brakes weakened and his dog Kafka poisoned. In late March, Crews and reporter Larry Judkins were the subject of threatening phone calls and complaints after writing about a local homicide, according to a recent Reporters Without Borders (RSF) article. The Mirror publisher even sent the journalism advocacy organization a photo of a noose that was left in front of the newspaper's downtown Willows office in late April.

Just imagine:

In a time when many local papers have been decimated by cost-cutting and shrinking print ad budgets — merging, folding and compromising good journalism for clicks — the Mirror stands out. The 16-page broadsheet has become known for both its fight for open records access in California and its penchant for local gossip — despite having only a three-person full-time staff and a smattering of volunteers.

Because:

For Crews, the fight for press access and government transparency isn't a principled or glorious one. It's a way of life — one he’d like to keep up for another 10 years.

"You have to just stand up for yourself," he said. "If someone is messing with you, you have to fight back. It's just the American way."

This:

"So far as small papers are concerned, we’re a little unusual," Judkins said. "When people run out of other options, they often come to us with the hopes that maybe a little light — a little public exposure — will help whatever problems that they may have."

“If we don’t report it, who will?”

That's the question at the top of each copy of the Mirror, which has a surprising amount of influence in a town of a little more than 6,000 people.

Hey -- Bill Hanson, you of your former minister's weekly religious advocacy column -- Roger is tanned rested and ready:

The Mirror has one of the only Atheist columns in the country, and it doesn't charge for wedding photos or obituaries.

Investigative? Be still my throbbing heart.

"That kind of stuff that newspapers in the past always did, we still do. But on the other hand, we’re very much an investigative organ," Crews said. “People want to know what’s going on.”

"He’s really done a wonderful job of showing people what a newspaper can do when it really covers the news, and really goes beyond just covering the news — when it finds foul play or a lack of public access," Rebele said. "That's the kind of thing Tim does.”

Throwback?

Crews has no website. He doesn't tweet, isn't concerned about growing his digital audience and says the migration of newspapers to the internet is "ruinous." What he does have is a desire to seek out and report the truth, a record of improving his community and a substantial network of people who support him. And it's not limited to his mostly senior audience or old newspaper pals.

Teaching access. It's like an alien language, eh?

"Tim Crews has been probably our most successful mentor of interns when he takes one. All those interns come out of that experience with Tim just raving because they learn so much about public records and how to get access to meetings," he said. "In its own way, and for its own community, Tim Crews has done the same thing (as big newspapers). It's just that Tim's reach is not as great as the L.A. Times’ reach is."

But what about sports, sports and more sports?

"If you want to know what’s going on in Iraq, this is not the place to look," he said. "People in small towns deserve A1 journalism the same as everybody else."

Treat yourself. Follow the link, and read the whole article.

Friday, July 21, 2017

"Right Thing Done Rightly" as Team Gahan corrects Warren's social research faux pas, then enjoys an ice cold bucket of Lima-A-Ritas over at the roadhouse.


“Quiet! I must say you people are a nuisance. If this is retirement, I’d rather be back at that Levy Pants.” Miss Trixie raked at them with her cookie box. “Now get out of my house and mail me my check.”

-- John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces


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There was a city council meeting on Thursday evening. I'm told the bunker door was barred and the wagons circled before the tailgate party even shut down.

Warren's sad Board of Works social research meltdown: "Jeff Gahan’s appointees could use a refresher course in due process. After all, it is a tenet of representative government and basic justice."

Warren's bored, hysterical and useless -- or, "Oops – NA BoW Messes Up."


Democratic Party stalwart Warren Nash: Heck, this board hasn't ever approved social research study requests. Besides, we already have a captive sociologist.


Unsurprisingly, the usual pillared suspects have engineered their way out of the embarrassing box their superannuated gatekeeper devised for them. No error is acknowledged, and no public input recognized beyond the perimeter of the closed circle.

Alas, the newspaper that broke the story did so unwittingly, and never once followed up amid preparations for Cooking School: The Spatula Strikes Back.

The Bookseller now returns for a final update.

Right Thing Done Rightly (NewAlbanist)

If you’ve followed this blog the past 2 days, you may want a status update.

I no longer have reason to believe that the work of the Institute for Social Research will be impeded in New Albany. And that’s a good thing. Thanks to all who made this happen.

Suffice it to say that the city has exercised its regulatory responsibilities in a courteous and professional manner. As an advocate in this matter, representing only myself but on behalf of a situation I saw as a misunderstanding, I was at all times treated with courtesy and respect.

LIVE TO EAT: Chef Peng Looi at MESA on Thursday night.


I've been working on a piece for Food & Dining's next issue (Aug/Sept/Oct). It's a profile of Mimi Dabbagh, co-owner since 1987 of August Moon Chinese Bistro, which is located on Lexington Road in Louisville.

Her business partner all these years is the justly renowned chef, Peng Looi, who keeps a hand in August Moon as he helms Asiatique on Bardstown Road. Chef Looi appeared Thursday evening at Mesa: A Collaborative Kitchen (216 Pearl Street, New Albany), assisted by Sarah Strite, his sous chef at Asiatique.

Given the timing, and with my deadline just around the corner, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to drop by and watch Chef Looi at work. Background, you know. Thanks to Bobby Bass for indulging me.

Following are photos, with just this observation: Chef Looi's mantra is "there's nothing new under the sun" in a world of kitchens, and his advice for cooking is something along the lines of "keep it simple, stupid."

Refreshing wisdom from a grizzled veteran of the restaurant wars ... and I very much appreciate his thoughts.







City council déjà vu ... could this anti-littering ordinance be the dream that might come true?



Last evening's anti-littering ordinance is all well and good, but lest we forget, déjà vu is more than just a strip club in Louisville.

Definition of déjà vu

1
a : the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time
b : a feeling that one has seen or heard something before

Despite a blond, swept-back mane all his own, Fonda looks startlingly like his father, Henry … . He even moves like his father, only dispelling the eerie feeling of déjà vu when he opens his mouth. — Peter Biskind

2
: something overly or unpleasantly familiar: "The team's poor start to the season was déjà vu for its long-suffering fans."

Ah, the memories. Back in 2013, Greg Phipps heroically tackled porch fridges.

Panhandling in the middle of the street about to be abolished. That and porch furniture.

As for the ordinance ridding the city of "indoor" furniture and various appliances arranged tastefully (although usually otherwise) on porches, I'm mostly down with the notion, although (a) it's yet another aesthetic Band-Aid that addresses symptoms, rather than the fundamental rot of slumlordism, and (b) if there's any one thing we've learned during the past decade, such a Band-Aid is meaningless without concrete enforcement plans. I'm told the council discussed enforcement at its work session last week, and that's a positive sign.

Can anyone recall an instance of porch furniture ordinance enforcement?

Thursday's littering Band-Aid fits precisely the same pattern. It addresses symptoms, not fundamentals, and it will be meaningless without equitable, consistent enforcement ... and it's the latter that invariably stalls, if not every last time, then just about always.

Later this afternoon, I hope to link readers to a follow-up about this week's most compellingly New Gahanian story: Warren's sad Board of Works social research meltdown: "Jeff Gahan’s appointees could use a refresher course in due process. After all, it is a tenet of representative government and basic justice."

New Albany City Council approves stronger litter ordinance, by Erin Walden (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — New Albany City Council took major strides to make the city, as one council member put it, an “overall cleaner city” Thursday night.

The governing body passed a litter ordinance that imposes much heavier fines for littering, structured to make citizens think twice before dropping a cigarette butt, ditching a bag of trash instead of paying for a trash service or dumping an appliance.

The new ordinance is structured around the type of litter, proximity to a natural water source or storm drain, amount of litter and if the individual is a repeat offender.

A styrofoam cup can carry a $100 fine, a hypodermic needle or obscene magazine up to a $1,000.

The heftiest possible fine is $8,000.

Council member Al Knable introduced the ordinance, explaining that he was told both the police department and mayor’s office were behind it.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

30 years ago today: Paris, and some time (and wine) with Mr. Mojo Risin'.


Previously: 30 years ago today: From Munich to Paris by Rhine and train.

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According to my notes of brevity ...

Day 96 ... Monday, July 20
Paris. Jim's grave, sleep-a-thon

In Paris, we'd make do with whatever accommodation could be found for us by the room-finding agencies at the train station, which I believe was Paris Gare du Nord.

In my recollection, these help desks were intended for those students and youth (still plausible in our cases) flooding Paris in summer, and usually placement in hostels or university dorms otherwise unoccupied during school breaks.

It worked out relatively smoothly, and we scored relatively cheap digs in a triple bunk room near the Seine, and to the southeast of the Pompidou Center. Location wasn't that important. Youth accommodations needed to be functional and inexpensive, and public transportation took care of the rest.

It's unlikely we were able to check into our hostel so early in the morning. My guess is we stowed the bags somewhere, either station or hostel itself, and waded into the city.

What I remember with confidence is that we decided to visit Jim Morrison's stone pad, and toward this end, raided the shelves for wine and picnic items at a mom 'n' pop grocery down the block from the Metro stop across from Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

As with the Rhine River cruise, it would be my second experience with the rock singer's final resting place. Before relating what happened next, here's the tale from 1985: Lizard King in the City of Light.

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In all honesty, the only Parisian shrine with true resonance for me was one having least to do with the city, and where a bottle of wine proved handy: Jim Morrison’s grave, located in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, and tucked away behind mausoleums and chapels.

Naturally, the remainder of the cemetery has quite a lot to do with French (and European) history. Among the interred are Proust, Chopin, Molière, Piaf, Delacroix and Oscar Wilde. The Communards’ Wall, where 147 revolutionaries were executed in 1871, is a must visit for anyone fascinated by the history of rebellion.

However, it was the Morrison’s legacy that drew me to Pere Lachaise to pay my respects. The lead singer of The Doors died of a heroin overdose in Paris in 1971, when I was eleven years old. Much of it was lost on me until Danny Sugarman’s book “No One Here Gets Out Alive” was published in 1980. Only then did the long-defunct band and its resident poet/shaman/singer begin to appeal to me.

(Did you know that the late Sugarman married Fawn Hall, who as Oliver North’s document shredder of a secretary became involved in the Iran-Contra scandal?)

You might say I was going through a phase, to the point of Mute Nostril Agony -- pulled from a Morrison lyric -- serving as one of my college intramural basketball team’s names. Consequently, when I learned that his grave was a place of pilgrimage, international rock music solidarity and drinking, it was clear I’d have to go there.

To find my way to the grave site, I merely followed the “Jim lives” and “break on through” graffiti scrawled everywhere until voices and music could be heard. The immediate scene has changed since then, but at the time, there was open space around the grave, with room for a couple dozen people to congregate.

A bust of Morrison donated by a Croatian sculptor had been placed atop the block-like marker a few years prior to my visit. It was frequently painted and repainted, stolen and replaced, and later permanently removed. It was a messy area filled daily with Doors parishioners busy partying, much to the annoyance of local officialdom. Candles, cigarette butts, food wrappers and empty wine bottles were all around.

One of my fellow mourners offered me a puff from his pipe. I politely declined. Strange days had found me, and it was okay, even if my shirt smelled of ganja the rest of the day.

---

In the aftermath of an overnight train journey, we were tired, dirty and fairly bedraggled, so it's small wonder that our preparations were sloppy. Arriving at the cemetery gate, we found it manned with primly uniformed guards -- and these uniformed guards were not pleased seeing bottles of wine in full view. They were polite, but firm: No entry for us.

Well, there had to be a back way, right?

Our bottles now hidden, we began walking the wall's perimeter, and sure enough, ten minutes later there was a secondary entrance, sans security. Groping through the colossal city of death, directional graffiti soon became visible, and it led the way to our destination.

It was strangely quiet. Perhaps the gendarmes at the gate had succeeded in repelling the frontal assaults. We'd been just a bit too crafty. It's nice to win every now and then.


As a bonus, here are two previously unseen 1985 photos of the same shrine. Think about it: in 1987, Morrison had been dead only 16 years.



Soon it began to rain. Bob Dylan, another famous 1960s musical personality, once wrote about "shelter from the storm," though I'm not sure "Charmin from the Storm" would have been nearly as poetic.

That's really all I have to say about it.


Writing about our Pere Lachaise visit these many years later, I'm consumed with one thought. When was the last time I wore a jacket on July 20th in the Ohio Valley?

Exhausted, we returned eventually to the hostel and slept for a very long time.

Next: The cathedral at Chartres, couscous, Versailles, and even more couscous.

ON THE AVENUES DOUBLEHEADER (2): A book about Bunny Berigan, his life and times.

ON THE AVENUES DOUBLEHEADER (2): A book about Bunny Berigan, his life and times.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

I was born in 1960, and grew up during the pinnacle of the swing era – the big bands, the great bands, and the swinging years.

Well, no. Not really.

It only seems that way to me, thanks to my otherwise musically disinclined World War II veteran father’s Sunday morning habit of reliving his youth with the aural assistance of LP collections filled with the songs he remembered and enjoyed.

His only son usually was within earshot, and the rest is disjointed personal history, though make no mistake: I’m grateful for the tuneful area buzz from my youth. I love big band music. Swing led me backward and sideways, to jazz’s myriad configurations. Rock and pop predictably grabbed me, and so did classical.

The musical mash-up in my brain can get very strange at times, but the overarching point is that for someone born more than two decades after the heyday of the big bands, I carry a disproportionate weight of their epoch with me, every day.

Sadly, it’s all ancient history now. The newscaster Tom Brokaw once coined a clever phrase, and in 2017, when you’d have to be at least 80 years old to have early childhood memories of World War II, Brokaw’s stylized notion of the “Greatest Generation” is tempered by the knowledge that most of them have long since gone.

It’s actually far more nuanced and complicated than all this, though for the sake of the argument, the Greatest Generation shorthand can be accepted. As we’ve been told, these men and women started coming of age in the 1930s, when the Noble Experiment (Prohibition) was just a bad hangover, but the Great Depression ongoing and seemingly intractable.

It took a planetary conflagration to cure the economy, and many of the “greatest” became citizen soldiers, shipped abroad to slay fascism, a job they performed with requisite modesty, not to mention Coca-Cola and Hershey’s chocolate bars for the kids whose elders had sold them down the pike.

When they returned home victorious, the American Dream was made concrete reality, at least for white people during a scant period of time lasting roughly three, maybe four postwar decades. Many veterans hadn’t reached retirement age before neoliberalism became the preferred mechanism for the 1% to begin nostalgically reconnecting those profitable dots interrupted by war.

Obscene capital accumulation by wealthy elites accordingly resumed, and perhaps this is the real, recurring problem in American life – but I digress.


We might look to facets of the Greatest Generation’s upbringing for clues to its distinctive merits. One needn’t be versed in advanced psychology to grasp the importance of early life experiences in what we come to be.

In terms of population, America in the 1920s and 1930s had officially become industrialized and urban. The countryside wasn’t always sure it approved of this. For better or worse, regional differences still mattered, but owing to a number of factors, these were narrowing.

“Big” government was birthed at the time of World War I’s taxation and national security needs (arrest them Reds, now), followed by an more intrusive nanny state emanating from Prohibition.

There were no interstate highways, but a national network of roads was emerging, and the automobile brought with it seeming freedom of mobility, not yet illusory, though harboring the seeds of future suburban sprawl.

The emergence of mass media also was a huge factor in shaping perceptions during the Greatest Generation’s youth. Newspapers and magazines remained somewhat localized and were absolutely essential in conveying basic information, but the emerging mediums of film and radio seriously threatened ink-stained hegemony, paving the way for television’s collective national brain-shrinking and -washing.

In short, in the 1930s both news and entertainment were merging together as a mass-market cultural phenomenon, shared by greater numbers in ways not possible before.

Hollywood famously brought escapist motion pictures into theaters; these were new generation circuses to accompany bread lines and soup kitchens. Movies at least were still experienced communally, in a venue, with other humans.

However, one needn’t leave home to listen to the radio. It offered news, scripted comedy, religion, drama … and plenty of music.

Prior to the invention of the phonograph, culminating in “records” as we know them today, music was strictly a live performance art. Embryonic radio stations obviously played recordings, though the musical accompaniment to original entertainment productions overwhelmingly remained the domain of musicians carrying union cards, playing live during live broadcasts.

One bedrock requirement for a musician seeking such a secure and well-paid job was the ability to sight-read sheet music, quickly and accurately. Another was stringent professionalism, as there was no way of correcting mistakes. It was one take, and gone into the irreparable ether.

It was into this dynamic milieu that a young man named Bunny Berigan landed with noticeable fanfare. As with so many others, Berigan at first accepted the corporate paycheck. It brought him to the big city, but he yearned for something more.

The jazz bug had bitten him, and now jazz itself was morphing into something else beyond small groups in dingy speakeasies. The backroom combo became the ballroom big band, fusing the spirit of improvisation with the crowd-pleasing predictability of increasingly sophisticated arrangements, both at the point of origin and for a far wider audience of nightly radio listeners.

Berigan was perfectly suited for the advent of swing, quickly forsaking the remunerative safety of studio employment in the Big Apple to play in constantly touring big bands, first as a featured sideman, and later as leader of his own aggregations.

Berigan’s high water mark as a big band leader came during the late 1930s, when the swing era still was in its ascendancy. By the standards of the day, he had it all: professional respect, personal popularity, a wife, children, house and car.

But by 1942 Berigan was dead, his liver ravaged by cirrhosis, the victim of stunningly heavy drinking. Three-quarters of a century later, very few Americans remember Bunny Berigan, but for a while before most of us were born, he could do no wrong.

Even Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong thought as much.



Long after the big bands provided America’s WWII soundtrack, a Canadian named Neil Young suggested it was better to burn out than fade away. Roland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan provided a case study in how to do it, with nary an electric guitar in sight.

Berigan began as a fair-haired, corn-fed lad from Wisconsin, preternaturally talented and instinctively musical. He lived the normal Midwestern life of the time, made it through high school and dabbled at college. He was quiet and generally affable, and always regarded warmly by his friends and associates.

Seemingly destined for great musical achievements, his trumpeting skills took him to New York City, where his studio prowess can be heard, usually uncredited, briefly salvaging numerous pop songs with no redeeming qualities whatever, save Berigan’s inspired soloing.



Berigan’s trumpeting style still stands out from the era’s norm. He had the rare technical ability to play well in the instrument’s lowest and highest registers, with an amazingly burnished, broad clarity of tone. His was not the agitated attack of a Harry James. Berigan’s improvised solos were thoughtfully calculated, lyrical and “risky,” as trumpet players liked to describe them.

In fact, Berigan’s solos were as iconic in their time as Eddie Van Halen’s were a half century later, whether for Benny Goodman (King Porter Stomp, Sometimes I’m Happy); Tommy Dorsey (Marie, Song of India); or in the trumpeter’s own bands, as with his greatest hit, I Can’t Get Started.



Earlier in the year, I read a biography of Berigan: Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph of Bunny Berigan, by Michael P. Zirpolo. It is one of two major biographies written about the musician; the other is Bunny Berigan: Elusive Legend of Jazz, by Robert Dupuis.

Zirpolo’s book isn’t perfect, but it’s as definitive a survey as any writer is likely to produce at this late date, when none of Berigan’s contemporaries are alive to tell the tale.

Granted, the author is far from a disinterested party, and on occasion seems happy to reprise ancient blood feuds and eager to pick a side in them, as with the big band journalist George T. Simon’s purported indifference, perhaps even antipathy, to Berigan.

Simon began as fanboy swing enthusiast, started young as a writer, and perhaps most unforgivably to his enemies, outlived just about everyone else who’d been there at the time, thereby achieving a cult status through sheer longevity.

Zirpolo also isn’t always kind to Berigan’s long-suffering wife, who wasn’t prepared for the jazz lifestyle or her husband’s infidelities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she had a drinking problem of her own, and probably deserves greater benefit of the doubt.



Far more informatively, Zirpolo amply describes the entertainment industry milieu in which Berigan and so many other musicians struggled to stay afloat amid the machinations of resident charlatans, piranhas and cutthroats.

Indeed, these are constants throughout showbiz history, and perhaps Zirpolo’s greatest single contribution in writing his biography of Berigan is to settle accounts with those (like Simon) who continued to insist that the trumpeter was an indifferent businessman and a poor bandleader.

At least some of Berigan’s circumstances were extenuating. It’s true that as a bandleader during two separate stints, he was beset by simple bad luck, seemingly unable to catch a break. We know he drank too much. At the same time, he was badly served by monopolistic booking agencies, conniving managers and uncooperative record company executives.

More importantly, far from being detached, Berigan exhibited considerable skill in recruiting and drilling his musicians, constantly receiving positive reviews from the public even when cash-poor and operating at a loss, which seems inevitable given the challenging economics of one-night stands and a paucity of recording opportunities in the latter stages of Berigan’s short career.

Ultimately, the story of Bunny Berigan’s life is inseparable from the tragedy of his early death. Zirpolo cites a former Berigan sideman’s testimony that near the end, his boss was drinking two bottles of rye whiskey per day; his cirrhosis, for which the author posits a genetic predisposition, steadily worsened, and the trumpeter was broke and living out of a suitcase.

Without intervention, it was only a matter of time. Still, numerous accounts confirm that Berigan’s embouchure, chops and ability to perform remained largely intact amid this onslaught, until just before his liver finally disintegrated.

We now understand that alcoholism is a disease, and while Berigan certainly refrained from treating it, the support mechanism for sobriety had not yet come into its own. Taking time away for treatment subsequently became a rite of passage for rock stars, but societal attitudes hardly supported this approach at the time.

Berigan was left to his own devices, stuck in a moment like a hamster on a treadmill, unable to stop trying to make money even as the pace of his efforts left him increasingly indebted, with a break-even point that arrived only when he died. It’s useless, sad and infuriating, but in the end, it just is.

Zirpolo documents Berigan's life more than capably, and I recommend the book.



The music of the big band era has survived the departure of its creators and consumers, albeit as tribute rather than preference, according to the half-life that follows the demise of cultural relevance.

In retrospect, the era of peak big band in America was remarkably short-lived – ten, maybe twelve years at most. The music rose out of the Depression, reached a crescendo during World War II, and receded just as quickly at war’s end.

We can listen to Berigan’s recorded output; ponder his many might-have-beens, and imagine the musical scene long since passed. All of it, a society and culture, have been consigned to the history books.

At times it is a melancholy remembrance, though a necessary one, at least for me.



ON THE AVENUES DOUBLEHEADER (1): Listening to "Dixieland" jazz, and thinking about drinking a beer.
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Recent columns:

July 13: ON THE AVENUES: Using Deaf Gahan’s dullest razor, we race straight to the bottom of his hurried NAHA putsch launch.

July 6: ON THE AVENUES: Beercycling with or without Le Tour.

June 29: ON THE AVENUES: Back in the USSR, with my old friend Barr.

June 22: ON THE AVENUES: Train Whistle Reds, or my journey from Budapest to Moscow by rail in June, 1987.