Monday, July 28, 2014

Clinging to the Same Stories.

"America's seismic demographic shift is upending life in our suburbs, cities and our popular culture. So why are we still clinging to the same stories to make sense of these changes?"

Maybe it's encroaching middle age, a broader mix of world events, or just another car driving the right way on a wrong way street, but that last bit about clinging has been a theme of late. Preexisting frames are tough to beat. Not beating them, though, means you are beat.

When Our Kids Own America, By Gene Demby (NPR) 

Brooklyn Park, Minn., which sits just to the northwest of Minneapolis and hugs the Mississippi River, was once the quintessential American suburb: Pretty sleepy. Midwestern. Mostly white. Jesse Ventura, the garrulous former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler, used to be the city's mayor. It was the childhood stomping grounds of a young Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion. The city’s annual festival is called “Tater Daze,” a nod to its potato farm origins. 

The Wonder Years could have been set in Brooklyn Park. 

Over the past two decades, though, the city has undergone the kind of transformation that’s changing life in so many American suburbs. In 1990, around nine in 10 people in Brooklyn Park were white. By 2010, nearly half the town’s residents were people of color. People in the surrounding area started referring derisively to the town as “Brooklyn Dark.” 

Many longtime — mostly white — residents were either moving out or resisting the tide of newcomers. As the shift got underway in the mid-’90s, a white local bar owner spoke up at a City Council hearing: "If you come from a different perspective or a different place, don't bring those standards to Brooklyn Park.” A different perspective. Lurking just beneath those words is an unspoken stake of ownership: this place is ours

This pattern seems familiar by now: “they” invade, there’s tension, many of “us” leave, whether it’s white folks gentrifying a brown community or brown folks ethno-fying a white one. And as long as the dichotomy was just that stark — as long as white folks and people of color could reliably play the roles of “we” and “they” — the pattern was easy to understand. But what’s happening to the “quintessential American suburb” echoes what’s happening to our classic “Chocolate Cities” like Oakland, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Ga., and what’s happening in hip-hop and pop music. That old story is starting to get complicated.

Satisfaction in Europe.

You want to know what's crazy about this poll? Rostock and Leipzig both are located in the former East Germany. In 1989, it is doubtful either would have topped such a list.

This means there is hope yet for New Albany. The only question is whether the 25 years have started already ... because if they haven't, I'm looking at the age of 78 before this starts making sense.

Which is the most satisfied city in Europe? (Guardian)

Residents of 79 cities were polled on what they thought about various aspects of their lives. Our interactive chart shows how many were satisfied with their city's healthcare, cleanliness, noise levels and more

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Not you, too: "Why Conservatives Should Love the City."

That's okay, my conservative brethren. Don't pay any attention to this.

Please continue living just the way you are, where you are.

Pretty please.

Why Conservatives Should Love the City, by Michael Hendrix (The American Conservative)

... While the country is growing urban, conservatives are going rural. They desire to live in places that are losing population relative to the rest of America. For a while, conservatives may benefit from a preference for being spread out. But in the long run, it will be difficult to buck this trend and keep a solid electoral and cultural foothold. The growing share of urban Americans will be a ringing death knell for a strong conservative showing in national elections.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Multitudinous farmers market. Zero permanent infrastructure.

It's the Saturday morning Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wisconsin.

It surrounds the state capitol on all four sides, and both wares and merriment spill into surrounding streets.

Note the complete absence of permanent infrastructure.

As in, absolutely none. Not even a Port-A-Let.

And the farmers market in Madison is jammed tight with people.

This is because of the quality of the market itself, nothing more.

Someone tell Develop New Albany, please.

Maybe we can use that $300,000 where it's really needed.

You'll know it's City Hall when a bunch of people are standing outside smoking.

On Thursday there was a crew working here ...

... and another one here, in the middle.

Why suddenly does there seem to be the end to decades of neglect? The official answers are here:

Reisz Furniture Building: Cautious optimism?

... if the city DOES wish to (a) ever do something, and (b) take ever credit for doing something, that certain something should be two-way "completed" streets downtown, as soon as possible, over Caesar's sedated, bound and gagged body if necessary, because a modernized street grid for all users is the one way that the the city can help ALL the downtown stakeholders, and not merely some of them.

But wait: Maybe the city actually is doing something in this instance. Is the developer moving forward, at least in part, owing to an assurance that when finished, the Reisz's offices will be leased by the city, to become a new City Hall?

This would make sense, given that downtown's two most valued recreational areas lie close at hand: The YMCA, as well as the spa we dare not speak the name of, aloud, for fear of the backlash.

What's going on in the backroom, anyway?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Robert Pastrick gives back to East Chicago. What a role model ...

$108 million, $108 thousand ... it's astonishingly numerical, this mentoring.

Pastrick pays back portion of money owed to EC, by Teresa Auch Schultz (Post-Tribune)

After more than a decade of corruption, voter fraud, numerous legal battles and the downfall of a long-serving mayor, East Chicago finally saw on Thursday a small portion of the $24 million Robert Pastrick and his cronies took from taxpayers.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined with East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland to announce the state was returning $331,000 to the city, $145,417 of which came directly from Pastrick, the former mayor.

The amount is just a small portion of the $108 million judgment that a federal judge ruled several years ago that Pastrick must pay, but Zoeller praised its return as giving citizens something concrete.

“It’s more than just a verbal pat on the back,” Zoeller said.

The NABC Weekend: Music at the park, Prohibition at the Amphitheater and the unknown bicycle race.

Last week's Ben Miller Band show at Bicentennial Park was widely praised. Shown above is how great things can happen when music and beer meet. Accordingly, let's see what the calendar shows for the coming weekend.

FRIDAY the 25th

Tonight (Friday, July 25), New Albany’s Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series features the Junk Yard Dogs, and Production Simple offers this synopsis:

Junk Yard Dogs is a soul/R&B band from Louisville. A chance meeting between bassist Eric Makowski and drummer/spirit animal Van Campbell at the fabled Air Devil’s Inn spurred the formation of the group. It quickly assembled a band and moved into Smoketown, where the band has incubated and carved out their signature sound of B-side soul classics and dance originals.

As usual, NABC will offer Progressive Pints to accompany the show at Bicentennial Park. Also on Friday, roughly one block from Bicentennial Park, Bank Street Brewhouse will be open and pouring, and at this juncture, permit me to offer a quote from our August media kit.

In May, NABC announced the suspension of its Bank Street Brewhouse kitchen, and shortly thereafter, a deal was reached to bring the Big Four Burgers mobile trailer to BSB on Fridays, concurrent with the Bicentennial Park Concert Series. Unfortunately, Big Four Burgers has been unable to staff the trailer on a regular basis, so henceforth, we’ll be moving in a different direction. We understand that it takes time to build a new program, and the effort at BSB will continue.

Wick's has stepped into the breach: Be advised that if you call Wick's for pizza delivery to Bank Street Brewhouse, Friday evenings or any other time, you'll receive a 20% discount on your order. Perhaps the Big Four burger trailer will be back some day. It was a fine idea, but not all ideas pan out.

Also on Friday evening, you will not be able to enjoy craft beer or wine at the Seussical the Musical performance at New Albany's Riverfront Amphitheater.

Seussical performances this weekend will be alcohol-free.

I've been informed that the city of New Albany has asked the organizers to refrain from offering alcoholic beverages for the Seussical event, so if I mentioned it to you recently, please recalibrate and know that the musical will go on as originally planned, without our participation.

What the heck; my time's worth nothing, but of course you are heartily encouraged to attend a performance of Seussical, which take place on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. New Albany RiverStage is trying to make a necessary point that if the amphitheater is used for quality events, people will come, and improvements will be justified. Of course, life's always improved with better beer ... just not this time.

SATURDAY the 26th

NABC will take part in the Fifth Annual GnawBrew Beer, Art and Music Festival, which is set in the rustic hills of Brown County, Indiana at eXplore Brown County/Valley Branch Paintball Retreat, and brings together local home-brewers, wine makers, local and regional professional breweries and beer connoisseurs along with Hoosier artists and musicians.

Tony Beard, NABC's graphics-wizard-in-residence, is attending the 2014 Art & Ale Biergarten in Monticello, Indiana. The fest is being organized by Flat12 brewer Sean Manahan.

SUNDAY the 27th

No, you're not the only one who knew next to nothing about it.

The New Albany Criterium is a flat six-corner criterium course in the Heart of Historic New Albany. The Start/Finish will be near the intersection of Pearl and Market Street. The crit course is 0.7 miles in length and is run counter-clockwise. The race is sanctioned by USA Cycling. Sponsored by Clarksville Schwinn and PB Whayne.

Starting a noon, cyclists and observers can refuel at Bank Street Brewhouse. Bring a picnic basket, pack in carry-outs or order delivery, and pair our Beers of Proven Merit with the very best food from local eateries ... well, at least those open on Sunday.

Always remember that Indiana does have carry-out beer sales on Sunday: At craft breweries. For carry-out wine on Sunday, visit our friends at River City Winery or Indiana's many other artisanal wine makers.

To be reminded of why Indiana's alcohol laws governing beer temperature and daily availability came to be, visit the Indy Star: Will Indiana ever expand Sunday alcohol and cold beer sales?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

ON THE AVENUES: Ice Cold WCTU (A Modest Proposal).

ON THE AVENUES: Ice Cold WCTU (A Modest Proposal).

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Once upon a time in downtown New Albany, a house stood in the space between Bank Street Brewhouse and the Ricke & Associates agency to the north. If there is an extant photo somewhere, I haven’t seen it, although it is safe to assume an appearance somewhat like that of the Ricke house itself, or the Fox law office on the other side, probably positioned close by the street in traditional row house fashion.

Before the house was demolished around 1955, it had been used for a very long time by New Albany’s branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. In case you didn’t know, the WCTU’s mission was to create a “sober and pure world” through “abstinence, purity and evangelical Christianity.” City guides dating from 1954 all the way back to 1919 identify the house as the WCTU chapter’s headquarters.

The following was written in 1937.

In the year 1852 Mr. John Crawford built and sold to Mr. Silas Day the large brick house on the west side of Bank Street now owned by the W.C.T.U. This was an example of a New Albany home of the better class in the 1850s and 1860s.

We don’t know when the WCTU bought the house, although in 1882, New Albany’s chapter merited mention in the “Minutes of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of the State of Indiana at the Annual Meeting.”

The New Albany WCTU’s zenith was in the early 1900s, during its ultimately successful campaign for statewide and later national Prohibition. Fortunately, Prohibition’s myriad and well-documented failures served to discredit America’s teetotalers far better than my puny words ever could. Today, the craft brewing revolution flourishes in New Albany on the very same spot where beer’s enemies once conspired.

That’s delicious, and it’s why we need a monument to victory over the prohibitionists.


The project I’m proposing is called Ice Cold WCTU, and it aims to provide a unique, fully functional entrance to Lloyd’s Landing, the NABC “beer garden” adjacent to Bank Street Brewhouse. Lloyd’s Landing is named for the late Lloyd Wimp, who I’m confident would have enthusiastically approved of this idea.

Ice Cold WCTU is designed to be multi-faceted. It addresses the history and architectural heritage of New Albany, provides a conceptual “memorial” suitable for becoming a genuine tourist attraction, addresses themes of art and sustainability, and will be the only thing like it, anywhere.

That’s because the WCTU helped bring about Prohibition, and Prohibition almost killed brewing in America – and so who better than a local brewer belonging to the new, flourishing “craft” generation to commemorate the killjoy villainy of the WCTU?

The memorial plaque might read:

“In a house once standing here, New Albany’s chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union advocated for Prohibition and abstinence from ‘Demon Alcohol.’ But Prohibition proved to be a disaster, and so it is vitally important that we remember the WCTU’s efforts favoring Prohibition, all the better for us to reject Prohibition, now and forever.”

Here’s how it might work.

At the entrance to Lloyd’s Landing, facing Bank Street, we’ll “trace” the front of the former WCTU house. This structure will take the form of pergolas (on the Lloyd’s Landing side, to eventually be linked to a shelter house or patio improvements) and an artistic façade or “false front” rising higher on the street side, constructed mostly of salvaged and recycled building materials. Because the front would mimic the roofline of the (an) old house, there’ll be at least the suggestion of a restored streetscape.

The facing will be representational, not an exact reproduction. It might be painted, or not. Vines or hops might grow on it, or not. Gaps could be complemented with shutters, window frames and other architectural mementoes, or not. It is to be artistic, not a duplicate. I envision an interpretive plaque, as worded above, as well as a life-sized, all-weather cutout bearing the photographic image of WCTU members – the Wild Women of the WCTU, next to whom visitors can pose for selfies.

But there’s even more.


Bank Street Brewhouse’s fully enclosed, former outdoor patio area already has been dubbed the WCTU Reading Room, and there is just enough unused wall space therein to redeploy as a museum, with exhibits explaining the WCTU, Prohibition, and their deleterious effects on civilized society.

The grand opening can be preceded by a community-wide art contest, in which local artists riff on a theme of fundamentalist zealotry. For the occasion, we might clear the former dining room of furniture and display the art there. Behind the art, through the window, lies the brewery, and if those machines kill fascists, surely they eradicate prohibitionists as well.

Ice Cold WCTU simultaneously pushes so many red hot buttons that I’m hard pressed to count them all.

It restores a streetscape, references New Albany’s history and recognizes the city’s architectural heritage.

It serves as a permanent art project and tourist attraction.

It provides a focal point to rebranding Bank Street Brewhouse, something we need in the absence of a kitchen, giving us a place to begin or end brewery tours.

Best of all, every aspect of it is factually verifiable. It is non-fiction. To return yet again to the words of Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." There needs to be a memorial and a museum to the WCTU and Prohibition, because they must not be forgotten.

Now all I have to do is figure out a way to finance Ice Cold WCTU. If ever there was a Kickstarter project capable of succeeding, this is it.

Anyone know a grant writer?

As for the recycled materials, paging Mr. Steve Resch …

Steve, if you’re reading …

Must reading: "How Christianity Shapes Louisville's Coffee Culture," by Gabe Bullard.

Ever wonder why "Louisville's coffee scene has an undeniable undercurrent of Christianity that isn’t the case nationally"?

Gabe Bullard explains, in depth. While reading, I was reminded of various other implications of coffee, and Wolfgang Schivelbusch's thoughts on the matter in his book, Tastes of Paradise, as summarized in this e-notes excerpt.

Called “the Great Soberer,” coffee became a symbol of the emerging bourgeoisie, who were delighted by its stimulating effects. Conservatives blamed it for the deterioration of society and said it was dangerous.

Coffee came to Europe from the Arab world, and initially was known as the "wine of Islam." The simple observation that a caffeinated beverage differs from an alcoholic one suffices to explain how coffee became an instrument to advance tee-totalling, as opposed to intoxication -- not necessarily from religious motivations, but because sober workers would produce greater profits than drunk workers.

Obviously, these are not Bullard's considerations. Rather, he contributes substance to clarify innuendo, and as a coffee drinker and frequent patron of the Quills branch in New Albany, I appreciate the effort. I'm a pagan, fanatical, unbelieving atheistic threat to the established order ... and I've always felt welcome at Quills. This is as it should be.

How Christianity Shapes Louisville's Coffee Culture, by Gabe Bullard (WFPL)

... It’s unlikely the third wave of coffee would have skipped Louisville. Had Sunergos and Quills not brought it here, someone would have. Just like with Heine Brothers. Had Mays not brought better coffee to Louisville in 1994, Starbucks would have in 1999. But the market is driven by those who act first and act well. In the case of Louisville, with third wave coffee, it was devout Christians, driven by an interest in coffee and mandated by their faith to work as hard as possible.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 24: Seven street destroyers in five minutes.

I walked outside my house and took these seven photos from 11:58 a.m. to 12:03 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23. They just kept roaring past.

But we have no problems, according to City Hall.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ghosts of the WCTU, revisited.

These days, we drink beer on the same spot where in olden times, Prohibition was plotted by fanatics. Lately is has occurred to me that as an aficionado of history, a commemorative plaque alone may not be sufficient to scratch the itch, seeing as I firmly adhere to the Santayana dictum, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Consequently, a plan is taking root. Due diligence is yet to be completed, so in the interim, consider this project in Florida (thanks KG), which artistically and conceptually "traces" the footprints of former structures.

Prohibition is an "experiment" that doesn't need repeating. I suspect most of us imagine it won't, but to me, it's important to remember why the idiocy occurred in the first place.

Stay tuned for more.

"A global guide to the first world war - interactive documentary."

It's a film in seven parts, reminding us that WWI coincided with the dawning age of motion pictures. The visuals multiply the impact. By the time I'm back in Ypres this September, I'm afraid the impact might be too much, so I recommend small doses.

A global guide to the first world war - interactive documentary (Guardian)

Ten historians from 10 countries give a brief history of the first world war through a global lens. Using original news reports, interactive maps and rarely-seen footage, including extraordinary scenes of troops crossing Mesopotamia on camels and Italian soldiers fighting high up in the Alps, the half-hour film explores the war and its effects from many different perspectives. You can watch the documentary in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic or Hindi thanks to our partnership with the British Academy.

"Cities, with the encouragement of the Obama administration, are rethinking their street plans."

Except in Louisville.

Why Would You Have a Highway Run Through a City?, by Daniel C. Vock (Governing)

That’s what a growing number of cities are asking themselves -- Syracuse being the latest that may tear down its elevated urban expressway.

... At the same time, cities, with the encouragement of the Obama administration, are rethinking their street plans. Amenities such as bike lanes, wide sidewalks, streetcars and green space are becoming more common. Traffic engineers, (John) Norquist says, are moving away from the old model of channeling cars from residential roads with cul-de-sacs, to service roads, on to arterial roads and ultimately to freeways. Instead, he says, engineers are using much more nuanced models for the roads they create.

Changes in society are at work too. The automobile, while still by far the dominant mode of transportation in the U.S., has lately lost some of its appeal. It used to be that the number of miles Americans drove went up every year. Since the recession, though, the country’s driving has leveled off. Teenagers are waiting longer to get their driver’s licenses. And young adults flock to cities and neighborhoods where restaurants, bars and shops are within walking distance -- or maybe a short bus trip or train ride away.

But none of those factors guarantees that scrapping elevated highways will be popular, or smart, in every city. Such a fundamental change in a city’s landscape raises big questions of whom the transportation network should be designed to serve, and at what cost.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mike Ladd speaks: "Small minds seek small solutions and fight for even smaller purposes."

(On the settlement of Mike Ladd's lawsuit)

Mike Ladd will be leaving town soon to get on with his life, and in a great many ways, it can be said that Mike was chewed up and spit out by the civic dysfunction that's as much a part of life here in New Albany as stifling summertime humidity and the mafia's brilliant orange-uniformed disguise as the Harvest Homecoming junta.

Almost from the moment Mike came here to succeed Nick Cortolillo at the UEA, the games began. Develop New Albany, then tethered to the UEA's revenue stream for sustenance, staged its own South Sudan henhouse flight amid cacophonous squawking and flying feathers, pausing only to dictate self-serving reunification terms. Mike shrugged and went about the business of administering an efficient, streamlined UEA, upon which I served a term, and was fortunate to be a part of something that actually worked.

But, as Cortolillo wrote in 2012, "The city of New Albany wanted unlimited access to the enterprise association’s revenue and Ladd was in the way."

It's a shameful chapter in the city's perennially underachieving history. For three years, Mike was under constant pressure from the grubby, sneering, small-time confidence trickster's avarice of Doug England and Carl Malysz, only to have the incoming Gahan administration complete the task of decapitating him. It was ugly and unnecessary. It was the very essence of why New Albany fails.

Does anyone even know what the UEA has accomplished since then?

Mike submitted the following as a letter to the editor of All About Jeffersonville, but it has not been published, and I've been given permission to run it here.

We wish all the best to Mike, wherever he lands, and whatever he does next.


Dear Editor:

I recently settled a lawsuit against the City of New Albany for my wrongful termination from the Urban Enterprise Association. I'm not a litigious person; I've never had to sue anyone before, but I was told it would be the only way my contract would be honored. I did what the Gahan administration told me to do and they refused to honor its word. It is unfortunate to be forced to such extremes to receive what is rightfully due one.

But, small minds seek small solutions and fight for even smaller purposes.

This administration is mired in controversy and scandal. When one hears of the number of former city employees who haven't had their contracts honored, the many fights with its own police department, the state police investigation of that same department, his fight with the little league association, other nonprofits, neighborhood groups, county government, and other situations, the problem can't lie with all these different people and entities; it is not always the others who are wrong cases like these. 

It is the individual who is the problem.

That any mayor would choose to become the central figure in such a trivial matter, creating an unnecessary contract dispute and prolonging it for no purpose, surely would cause thoughtful people to ponder the nature of his character. On an everyday basis, most mayors should have more important things to do. But Jeff Gahan chose to ride point on my case. His reasoning and logic are his own. The fact remains that he was named by both his city attorneys as point person is proof enough. The pointlessness is baffling. I had already stated privately my intention to resign the position once a new board was appointed. The way was clear for the Gahan administration to take over the UEA at its leisure. All they had to do was to honor a simple contract.

Whether my alleged transgression is real or imagined remains a mystery to me. But it must be imagined since my contact with Gahan as councilman was minimal. I occasionally received word through others that he supported my efforts and thought the UEA was on-track. All I can think now is this was mis-direction, of which he has so often been accused by others.

Michael Ladd, former executive director, New Albany Urban Enterprise Association

Point taken: "New Albany is further behind conceptually than kindergarten."

Yesterday we went to kindergarten.

Smart growth, holistic cities ... and New Albany as conceptual kindergarten.

As pertains to any consideration of "smart growth" in the context of New Albany, it is vitally important not to forget the old joke about the musician who begins as a bright young up-and-coming artist, and elects to skip the next few career phases in favor of graduating directly to "too drunk to play" ...

A very good comment was posted at Fb, and it is reprinted here.

As a 62-year observer of the New Albany scene (since I could read the Tribune and comprehend adult conversation about civic affairs) IMO New Albany is further behind conceptually than kindergarten. Tabula rasa, perhaps? At the risk of offending some readers, planning and zoning have never been the community's strong suits. Groups can commission studies for only so long before progressive, creative, locally based and locally interested (read: funded) civic-minded, as opposed to self-interested, leadership, with voters' confidence, must step forward. Otherwise a truck stop on the Coyle property sounds like a mighty good idea.

Mayor puts people on sidewalks and sells his own ideas. In Charleston, that is.

A local leader as a salesman of his own ideas.

Imagine that.

It really isn't the same thing as trotting out John Rosenbarger to obfuscate rigged plans already made in backrooms, or insisting that what one's own two eyes say about 18-wheelers speeding through "reviving" residential areas must be ignored pending the results of a study.

Maybe the problem is this: First one must have ideas and respect their power. Perhaps local politicians suckled in the vapid Heavrinist embrace of the Floyd County Democratic Party can be excused for having no previous exposure to ideas.

It doesn't mean they need to be elected.

The man behind Charleston's rebirth, by Joie Chen (Al Jazeera)

(Joseph P. Riley) understood the opposition, he said. Urban areas were becoming depopulated, as people fled for the suburbs. They were afraid.

"I knew that the only way to bring the city back to life is to have it energized with people living in it, and people visiting it and people on the sidewalks," he explained. "You put people on the sidewalks and it’s like irrigating a parched lawn. All of a sudden, it comes back to life" ...

... It works, he says, because a local leader’s primary duty is to be a salesman of his ideas.