Sunday, January 22, 2017

THE BEER BEAT: Football, how it used to be for me, why I seldom watch it at all -- and don't even mention those horrid beers.

(Part two of two ... part one is here)

In the first part of this Sunday morning mental exercise, as we await the games later today that will decide this year's Super Bowl contestants (I'll watch little if any of them), there is little in the way of righteous indignation to disrupt the medicinal effects of the coffee. It's more about weariness at the time elapsed, and wariness of those moments when I allow nostalgia to warp my discernment.

Unlike Kevin Turner's parent, it isn't easy for me to persist as a spectator, knowing what I know, and knowing it far less directly than them. On the other hand, slaughterhouse videos seem not to deter me from eating animal flesh. Perhaps football has come to symbolize those aspects of America that I fail to grasp and wish not to indulge, while baseball's analogies still resonate.

I wrote the following essay in 2014 and published it at the beer blog. How much do I miss those Sundays? A better question: Do I miss the person I was then? Now that's the real head-scratcher.


Football, swill, brain death and the American Dream.


“What the … ?”

(Old school, rotary dial – it was 1989, for chrissakes)


“We’re cooking and drinking.”


Translation at the speed of hangover …

This undoubtedly meant it was Sunday morning (who’d have known?) and the football games would be starting soon. Barr lived just a few miles away. It would have been senseless to call back.

So, I threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and drove right over. The house smelled like chili, pre-game shows were blaring, and of course there wasn’t any beer.

That’s not quite true. There was beer, although far short of the amount needed to carry us through the entire day. Because Indiana prohibited carry-out beer on Sunday, the inevitable trip across the Sherman Minton to the Louisville's West End needed to come sooner rather than later, when highway driving would be inadvisable.

The really dumb thing about our Sunday beer shortages was their frequency. Most of the time, I’d have worked a Saturday shift at the liquor store, and it would have been easy for me to pick up a case of something/anything, receiving my employee discount on top of it.

But no; advance planning would have made far too much sense. Perhaps there was a secret, nostalgic enjoyment about these runs to Louisville, and actually we were reliving junior high school.

There we’d be, cruising down the Interstate, allowing the chili to simmer for another 35 minutes or so as we tried to time our arrival at the front door of the package store to the precise moment of its 1:00 p.m. opening time. Once inside, pushing past the crowds of fellow Hoosiers, the hunt for acceptable swill began in earnest.


Kindly note that by this point in our drinking lives, we knew what good beer was; it’s just that we weren’t always interested in paying the price for it, especially when purchased in bulk during times when the hot pepper content of the chili threatened to render one’s taste buds null and void.

As celebrity chef David Chang recently observed in GQ, mass-market swill pairs with any food owing to its vigorously carbonated flavorlessness. But these were the days of $5.99-per-case Wiedemann and Top Hat, beers to which the words “benign” and “tasteless” seldom were attached. They had plenty of flavor, just the wrong kind, and consequently a process of thoughtful triage was required.

I’d witnessed it countless times while working at the liquor store. Standing in front of the glass door, we’d begin by eliminating the brands we couldn’t or wouldn’t stomach – essentially, all of them – before beginning Round Two by working backwards and nominating two or three of the least objectionable choices. Price points briefly were parsed, cash collected, and within minutes we were back in the car, pointed toward Indiana and safety.

Subsequently, those cryptic words from the telephone came vibrantly to life, usually achieving saturation around halftime of the afternoon game. The feast would continue into early evening, but because Sunday night football had yet to be invented, there was a two minute warning in the form of the weekly and obligatory viewing of 60 Minutes.

Maybe a final cigar … and the last dregs of a dirt cheap Schaefer.

By then, I’d have beered myself totally sober (or so came the slurred insistence), and would take the back road home. By Monday, almost all of it had been forgotten, making an encore performance the following Sunday all the more likely.


Thinking back 25 or more years to those hours of chili, swill and football, it was all about the camaraderie with wonderful people, not specifically the cooking, drinking and watching. I miss it for that reason alone. Granted, the chili was good. The beer usually wasn’t, but what strikes me today is the football component of the equation, and the way times have changed for me.

We always used to blithely joke about the damage being done to our brains while watching football, never realizing that the carnage on the field was no laughing matter. Today, ignorance no longer constitutes an excuse.

I played football only briefly as a lad, and never was a diehard football fan. Twice I attended college football games, and both were utterly forgettable, not because of the quality of the games themselves, but reflecting my own level of inebriation.

Professional football always appealed to me more; even so, my attention span over the period since those halcyon Sunday couch residencies has waned steadily, to the point where in recent years, I've seldom seen more than a quarter or two of action prior to the playoffs. This year, I haven’t seen a single down, and probably won’t.

I’ve turned away from football because of the increasingly well-documented, regrettable, lifelong physical toll suffered by the players. It isn't just the professional game. The more I read about youth football injuries, the greater my disconnection. We begin to see difficult subsequent lives, erratic adulthoods, and eventual dementia in a different light, and it’s easier to look away – not from the sadly afflicted, but from the violence of the game itself.

The gladiator as metaphor stops being entertaining when the suffering and death are real, not just implied in a voice over.

And if it ever required so much good, bad or indifferent beer to fuel those entire days seated in front of the television, soused and insensate, screaming slogans and pumping fists … well, perhaps the memory of it also compels me to look away from the collisions in the modern coliseum.

Into yonder mirror.

Football, and how the late Kevin Turner's parents now watch it differently.

(Part one of two ... part two is here)

Nostalgia is a strange phenomenon. Consider those folks of a certain age and disposition residing in Eastern Germany, who are old enough to remember life in the German Democratic Republic, and who now warmly recall the "pros" of life during Communism rather than dwell on the "cons."

We needn't contest that there were pros and cons to life in such a place at such a time. Rather, if we were to ask one of them to explain how the good seems now to outweigh the bad, when the negative aspects of totalitarian rule have been so exhaustively documented, it seems certain that the answer might be a variant of this: “But it’s hard to explain, really. It’s just all so hard to explain.”

As you'll in the linked essay about the parents of pro football player Kevin Turner, whose early death in 2016 owed to brain damage suffered while playing the game, it's hard for them to explain why they are able to watch football, and see their grandchildren playing football, all the while knowing what they know.

In my view, the writer Juliet Macur masterfully tells their story. It would be easy to be omniscient and even flippant, bandying terms like cognitive dissonance and Stockholm Syndrome. Macur avoids doing so. Instead, the reader is left to contemplate universals: How could something that felt so very right turn out to be so catastrophically wrong -- and why's it so hard to explain now?

Kevin Turner’s Parents Still Watch Football. But Differently, by Juliet Macur (New York Times)

HOLTVILLE, Ala. — In an airy, four-bedroom house here on Jordan Lake about 25 miles north of Montgomery and around the corner from cotton farms, there is a 90-inch flat-screen television on the living room wall.

The TV belongs to Myra and Raymond Turner, the parents of Kevin Turner, a former Alabama fullback who played eight seasons in the N.F.L. This Sunday, that TV will be tuned to the N.F.L. playoffs, to the game that killed their son.

“I know a lot of people are going to say, ‘How do you watch football knowing football had taken your son’s own life?’” Raymond Turner said. “But it’s hard to explain, really. It’s just all so hard to explain.”

I traveled to Alabama to hear an explanation and try to understand it — and maybe even understand why they allow their two teenage grandsons to play football after Kevin, the boys’ father, suffered for six long years with a brain disease that research has linked to head trauma in football. He died last March at 46.

THE BEER BEAT: In which we talk beer on the "Flies on the Wall" podcast at Crescent Hill Radio.

Flies on the Wall is a weekly podcast on Crescent Hill Radio.

Last week I had the great pleasure of sitting in on the podcast with Kevin Gibson and Butch Bays. We talked about beer and listened to tunes by Roz Tate and Jericho Woods. If you have an hour to kill, listen to it on Soundcloud -- and no, I'm not going to give you a preview.

But I had a blast, and we might do it again.

"Who Are These Protesters In Black And Why Are They Smashing Things?"

“Anarchy doesn’t mean out of control; it means out of their control.” Jim Dodge

Anarchism has been around for a long time. Violence and protests and the breaking of inanimate objects also have a long history. It's always amusing to see the selective outrage depending on which pre-conceived point of view is ascendant, but it's also impetus for a lifted eyebrow to hear anarchists speak of properly manipulating the media.

Who Are These Protesters In Black And Why Are They Smashing Things?, Nathan Tempey (DCist)

Police have arrested more than 90 people so far today in D.C., many of them masked, black-clad hooligans who videos show swarming the streets carrying anarchist flags and smashing bank and Starbucks windows. They also may be responsible for setting a limousine on fire ...

 ... The Sean Hannitys of the world are right in the sense that anarchists oppose Trump, but as protests at a string Republican and Democratic national conventions have shown—not to mention a litany of anti-financial summit gatherings and localized demonstrations against police brutality—anarchists stand apart from their fellow marchers both in tactics and in beliefs.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The newspaper glances belatedly at the former Ace Loan and Good Times buildings.

What the Green Mouse knows, he isn't telling. Not yet. Meanwhile, NA Confidential previously gave consideration to both of these buildings.

June 2016

You know, that building where Ace Loan & Sporting Goods used to be (110 E Market St).

December 2016

Has time run out for Good Times? If so, what's next at 114 East Market?

Just imagine if the downtown furniture stores had windows. A boy can dream ...

Old Ace Loan & Sporting Goods store in New Albany to be converted, by Danielle Grady (Son of Cooking School Coming Soon)

Local developer also bought Good Times Bar & Grill

NEW ALBANY — A local developer has plans for the old Ace Loan & Sporting Goods location in downtown New Albany.

Steve Resch, who bought 110 E. Market St. a few years ago, plans to convert the building into a multi-tenant office space for professionals such as realtors or accountants.

“It’s basically geared toward people that want office space and want a building to work out of and only need one or two offices or a cluster of space,” Resch said.

Preservationists fear impending demolition after historic downtown building is badly damaged.

As pack leader of the Board of Public Works and Safety, the building's landlord Warren Nash might command the Building Commissioner to pull that sucker down, but it probably depends on the outcome of Mr. Disney's next last-minute Floyd County Democratic Rent Party.

Gahan, Dickey and the Floyd County Democratic Party "inaugurate" the resistance by groveling at the feet of an unreconstructed homophobic serial bully. I'm getting the warm fuzzies just Sieg Heiling about it.

Jeff Gahan heroically hedged his bets while insulting the outgoing POTUS with the "honor" of slapping his name on a grimy industrial park road, now known as Barack Obama Way, dubbed for the sole reason that Obama gave Gahan money (economic stimulus), carefully weighed and calculated rivulets of which inevitably made their way into the mayor's burgeoning Cayman islands campaign finance coffers.

... Although the road was named for the outgoing president, Gahan said he looks forward to positive actions by the new administration — President-elect Donald Trump and Indiana's own Gov. Mike Pence, who will take office as vice president Jan. 20.

“We certainly are rooting for them to be successful, too,” Gahan said.

Of course, we already know that for Gahan, only one man can truly be accorded the status of The Way -- and it isn't Barack Obama ...

I was standing down in Nawbany Town one day
I was standing down in Nawbany Town one day
I was standing down in Nawbany Town one day
Singing... I am the way

 ... although it might yet be Donald Trump. Gahan fancies himself an artistic deal maker, too. Perhaps they'll have a summit, and Dan Coffey can continue his stunning rehabilitation by serving as emcee.

Democratic cesspool redux: Gahan, Dickey and Phipps want to remove Lorch as council counsel so Danny Boy will be happy again.

Seeing as it's the Gahanian Party now, and Adam Dickey is left to make nasty multinational java and empty bedpans, perhaps the Wizard of Westside can rejoin the Democrats in time to become party chairman, borrowing Steve Bannon to revise the platform just a tad and make it cleaner for the numerous local rank and file "Democrats," who like Coffey himself opted for Trump last November.

In the interim, 3rd District councilman Greg Phipps is directed to smile, grin and cherish Gahan's decision to fete and polish Coffey, who'll happily swing his council vote back to the Disneyites for the ridiculously low price of council attorney Matt Lorch's head on platter.

Let the New Gahanian revisionism begin, preferably with a semi-literate press release from the mayoral stand-in, emanating from deep within the musty bowels of the Down Low Bunker.

"Tiptoe through the tulips" wasn't an anti-gay slur at all -- it was literary allegory, that's it, and "lying piece of shit" referred to a dog turd outside on the sidewalk.

ON THE AVENUES: This is Dan Coffey, New Albany’s quintessential Democrat.

Whatever Cool Papa G wants, he gets, even if it means indulging Coffey, the most perennially corrosive force in local politics outside of Deaf Gahan himself ... and all CM Phipps has to do is coo appreciative affirmation to the Dear Leader's directives.

But it doesn't have to be this way, does it? Phipps has options, doesn't he?

When Phipps first sought office, he forcefully rejected politics as usual -- or, politics just like this. Then the junta got in the way, and Phipps strayed, but now's the ideal time for him to make good on this pledge, recoup lost time, and distance himself from a rapidly disintegrating party structure that regularly and cavalierly dismisses him.

If Coffey and Scott Blair can play the independent card, so can Phipps. Speaking for myself, I'd be inclined to support an independent 3rd District seat in 2019. Why be a Yes-Man for Ga-han when Phipps' constituents come first, anyway?

Hold on ... does anyone have a barf bag?

I feel a Democratic Party donation coming on.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bravo: Commissioners, county council earmark future hospital sale proceeds for a destination not labeled Community Foundation.

Note the author's use of "clawed back," and join me in a resounding SMH.

Bill Hanson will be self-immolating soon, but will his own newspaper have reporters available to cover the bonfire?

Also see that these votes cut across party lines, and that Mark Seabrook for once found himself outvoted. It's the sort of thing to celebrate, if for no other reason than freshening the leadership gene pool.

Incoming commissioner Billy Stewart had this to say when I thanked him on Facebook: "I will always put our citizens first and hold ALL elected officials accountable for their actions. Political party doesn't matter, what's right does."

If you've been wondering why I've been drinking more coffee with Republicans than Democrats ... what Mr. Stewart said.

Ordinance affecting future Floyd Memorial Hospital proceeds repealed, by Chris Morris (Don't Come Around City Council No More)

Yearly payments will go into hospital fund

NEW ALBANY — The Floyd County Commissioners and Council passed Floyd County Ordinance 2017-3 Tuesday night in a joint meeting. The ordinance repeals three of the five sections in an ordinance passed last November, dealing with future proceeds from the sale of Floyd Memorial Hospital.

The $61 million to be paid over the next 10 years will now go into a line item termed "hospital fund" in the county budget, not to the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana as directed in the old ordinance. Where it winds up in the future is still to be decided.

However, the $70 million received from the sale of the hospital to Baptist Health at closing will be remain in the hands of the CFSI. If state legislation passes this year, which officials are hopeful it will, Floyd County will receive up to a 5 percent spend rate from the $70 million investment, but will not be able to spend the principal.

While the new ordinance does not specifically address the $70 million investment, a resolution will be written by Council attorney Steven Langdon to ensure the money will remain with the CFSI and will not be clawed back by the county.

Flight documentaries: "For the Love of Spock."

Nine hour flights home from Italy are a bummer. You can read, nap and drink as many free adult beverages as they'll keep feeding you, but that's about all. The good news is that these days, the in-flight entertainment offers more options than ever before. The bad news: Most of these options include the usual array of wretched mass market films and television series.

On our most recent flight from Rome in November, at least there were a few good documentary films on tap. They paired well with cans of a beer I'd never expect to see on an international flight: SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. Corporate placement or not, it was a welcome change from the usual Heineken.

The fourth of four documentaries I watched in November was the most moving, at least for me. When the J.J. Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise was announced, I yawned. Never a Trekkie, I'd seen some of the movies with the original cast, and thought little about the topic.

However, when the first of these films appeared in 2009 and my wife dragged me to it, the tears were flowing. Something obviously hadn't occurred to me, as stated succinctly by film critic Ty Burr.

Trading on affections sustained over 40 years of popular culture, Star Trek does what a franchise reboot rarely does. It reminds us why we loved these characters in the first place.

The 1960s series had far more impact than I'd imagined. Even as a child, I was a McCoy kind of guy, but of course Leonard Nimoy's Spock also resonated. The documentary is as much about Nimoy's son as the actor, and it isn't perfect, but many gaps are closed. I recommend it without reservation.

The film looks at the life and career of actor Leonard Nimoy, and his iconic character Mr. Spock. It includes interviews with cast, crew and people connected with Star Trek, fans at conventions, as well as personal memories.

The documentary's home page lists the platforms for viewing.


Flight documentaries: "Fastball" -- the pitch, not the band.

Flight documentaries: "All Things Must Pass," or the rise and fall of Tower Records.

Flight documentaries: "Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans."

Democratic cesspool redux: Gahan, Dickey and Phipps want to remove Lorch as council counsel so Danny Boy will be happy again.

Before trying to grasp why Jeff Gahan and Adam Dickey want to be rid of a reliably Democratic city council attorney, it's important to understand the current balance of political power in the city of New Albany.

Gahan, who insists on thinking of himself as a Democrat despite voluminous practical evidence to the contrary, nonetheless probably stands at the apex of his career as mayor. All the civic levers are in his hands. Appointed committees move the slush into proper beak-wetting channels. There isn't a newspaper willing or able to look past the song and dance to the stench beneath. It seems that Gahan is untouchable, and for the moment, he probably is.

However, there is one complicating factor looming increasingly large in Gahan's rear view mirror. The 2015 election cycle brought three Republicans to seats on the city council for the first time in recent memory. One seat already was independent (Scot Blair), and then Dan Coffey defected from the Democratic Party, leaving the tally at 4 Democrats, 3 Republicans and 2 Independents.

In 2016, the Floyd County Democratic Party recorded its second consecutive county-wide electoral debacle, and now Gahan and those four council Democrats are the last bloc standing. The county, state and nation are solid red. No longer assured of a rubber-stamp council shoo-in, as when the tally was 7-1-1 during Gahan's first term, measures must be taken to assure a fifth vote when necessary.

As such, Blair and Coffey are wild cards. They cannot form their own bloc, and so their votes are available to rent in terms of political favors.

We began seeing the dimensions of this new power balance during January's first council meeting, when longtime council president and congenital Gahan yes-man Pat McLaughlin was re-elected 6-3, turning back a challenge from Al Knable with the help of both independent council members.

Blair happily conceded that he shopped his vote for McLaughlin, and why shouldn't he? It's reality, and the way an independent must operate. Concurrently, no one ever seriously doubted that Coffey's move away from the Democratic Party was tactical; better to make one's political capital worth a favor or three than be taken for granted by fellow office holders you detest.

Thus, we are magically transported to last evening's second January council meeting, and the evening for appointments. Last night with tired, mezcal-infused eyes rolling, I surveyed the wreckage of the Human Rights Commission

Gee, CM Phipps, we're mystified as to why the New Albany Human Rights Commission is moribund.

Thursday's drama began when Matt Nash motioned to extend the contract of longtime council attorney (and active Democratic Party member) Matt Lorch. With Bob Caesar mercifully absent, it immediately became apparent that fellow Democrat Greg Phipps was not going to provide a second to Nash's motion.

Coffey verbally objected to the motion, placing him as in favor of terminating Lorch. Knable intervened and an agitated discussion ensued, centering on the power of the president (McLaughlin) in such cases. It now appeared that the Republicans and Nash were in favor of Lorch's continuance, the remaining Democrats against, and Blair mum. Eventually the can was kicked down the road to the next meeting.

The Green Mouse subsequently has suggested that the impetus to remove Lorch emanates directly from Gahan and Democratic Party chairman Dickey, with council Democrats expected to rally around an inexorably wilting flag.

What are we to conclude from all his?

The only rational conclusion based on available evidence is that Coffey's price for rejoining council Democrats, thus providing the necessary fifth vote in those rare occasions when Gahan hasn't already fixed outcomes through appointed committees, is Lorch's head on a platter. Coffey's disdain for Lorch is well documented, and the Copperhead previously served as one of Gahan's chief spear-carriers until the checks stopped coming. Rapprochement serves multiple purposes.

In this scenario, the checks to the Wizard of Westside resume, sparing Gahan the necessity of negotiating with Blair, whom he loathes.

However, taking these machinations at face value, it remains unclear whether Nash is bucking the party establishment, or merely seeks to do the right thing, a commodity quite rare on his side of the aisle.

It's perfectly clear that the wheels are coming off what remains of the Floyd County Democratic Party. If we were to send a drone aloft to gaze at the respective checking accounts of local Democrats and Gahan's political action committee, we'd find a huge disparity. The mayor is hugely flush, and Dickey's oxcart tapped dry (ethically as well as financially).

Gahan surely is dictating Lorch decapitation terms. Dickey has no choice, and no backbone even if he did. Coffey gets back on the train, and Phipps isn't even bothered to rehearse his increasingly trite Hamlet routine. Caesar and McLaughlin both want to be mayor. Blair continues to be cast out by both parties, and a Republican likely will win the next mayoral contest in any event.

Do you have an alternative scenario? Let me know. The entertainment won't last forever, and it helps take our minds off the inauguration.

"Shepard Fairey adapts Obama's Hope poster for Trump inauguration."

Shepard Fairey adapts Obama's Hope poster for Trump inauguration, by Rima Sabina Aouf (dezeen)

"Don’t blame it all on racism. During the financial crash Obama sided with the bankers, not people losing their homes – making Trump’s victory possible."

On this most auspicious of days, it bears repeating that I admire Barack Obama immensely as a human being performing a thankless job. We may not see the likes of him again, and that's to be regretted.

However, it's simply inescapable that one must separate the man from the performance, and the legacy of Obama's record is mixed. Posterity will probably enhance this legacy owing to the shambles of what came before it, and what's about to happen next -- that is, if we have anything approximating real news in the future.

The overarching point remains: Without properly understanding what has happened these past eight years, we cannot understand neither why Donald Trump is taking office as president, nor what a proper opposition political organization looks like.

Buckle up. America's about to indulge its inner white trash, and the results are not likely to be therapeutic.

How Barack Obama paved the way for Donald Trump, by Gary Younge (The Guardian)

Don’t blame it all on racism. During the financial crash Obama sided with the bankers, not people losing their homes – making Trump’s victory possible

 ... One cannot blame Obama for Trump. It was the Republicans – craven to the mob within their base, which they have always courted but ultimately could not control – that nominated and, for now, indulges him. And yet it would be disingenuous to claim Trump rose from a vacuum that bore no relationship to the previous eight years ...

 ... There is a deeper connection, however, between Trump’s rise and what Obama did – or rather didn’t do – economically. He entered the White House at a moment of economic crisis, with Democratic majorities in both Houses and bankers on the back foot. Faced with the choice of preserving the financial industry as it was or embracing far-reaching reforms that would have served the interests of those who voted for him, he chose the former.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gee, CM Phipps, we're mystified as to why the New Albany Human Rights Commission is moribund.

During the appointments phase of this evening's city council meeting, President Pat McLaughlin (4th District) asked Greg Phipps (3rd District) about the council appointments status of the Human Rights Commission.

According to the ordinance, council and mayor each appoint members to the HRC, and then the four pick the fifth.

Phipps waved him off, briefly indicating that the HRC seems dead, with no meetings for the past 18 months and no apparent interest. McLaughlin was more than happy to move to the next commission, and that's all we know. It isn't much.

I won't go into the lengthy and exceedingly futile history of the HRC's most recent incarnation, though almost exactly five years ago, we thanked Phipps for taking an interest.

Kudos to CM Phipps for making the Human Rights Commission's revival a priority.

Subsequently, perhaps no other single topic better illustrates the doctrine of Civic Gahanism than the history of our reconstituted Human Rights Commission:

Fundamental change is imperative, so long as nothing fundamentally changes.

Here's a short summary from 2015.

It was never Jeff Gahan's idea to enable a human rights commission, but in the grand scheme of political maneuvering, there was sufficient support that he acquiesced, pausing only to be assured that he'd receive credit for the sham he at first opposed, and would extract payback chits from those duly assuaged, redeemable for bonded boondoggles down the road.

Consequently, New Albany was gifted with vintage Gahan intellectual infrastructure: An entity neutered and defanged at birth, suitable primarily for posturing and press releases. The sycophants were delighted, and so little of merit occurred (for once, actually by design) that a whole other entity (Southern Indiana Equality) was privately created.

If you can find anything in this story to suggest a vote to re-elect Jeff Gahan, please let me know. While you're pondering this, consider yet again the "human rights mayor's" abysmal record in matters such as ... well, human rights.

Also from 2015:

Often in these pages, we advocate the notion of progress by design, and since 2012, New Albany has possessed a reconstituted Human Rights Commission. Since it was formed again and duly stocked with appointees, it has had very little to do, not because New Albany is a fundamentally functional utopia of tolerance and good sense, but because City Hall's evident design for the HRC has been that it remain unused -- reserved for show and public relations pronouncements, while kept hermetically sealed and out of controversy's way.

This has disgusted me from day one, and continues to do so. It implies that "quality of life" derives solely from capital intensive building projects, and has nothing to do with fundamental human dignity. It is both cynical and cowardly to first enable a Human Rights Commission, then render it caged and impotent.

My most recent reprinting of the following column on the topic of the Human Rights Commission was on March 21, 2011. The column itself was written in 2009. Ironically, as I read the final paragraphs, there is considerable irony. We certainly did determine that the members of New Albany's political class could vote "for" something.

Unfortunately, they seem to be content with form over content. This needs to change.

The HRC was reformed, then immediately stripped of working parts and left to rest atop blocks in City Hall's dustiest file cabinet. This was fine with the mayor, who never wanted it to be viable, anyway, and was perfectly content to accept the plaudits for a commitment to human rights that he doesn't possess in any discernible way, shape or form.

If Gahan, a self-described Democrat, did in fact possess such a commitment to human rights, chances are he wouldn't be telling people that the best solution to the housing "project" is to demolish it and ship housing authority residents to the county somewhere, perhaps in tent camps, as though he were speaking of toxic waste or cordwood and not human beings.

But in the end, the saddest cut of all is that Phipps, who has danced the limbo to Adam Dickey's increasingly discordant Democratic tune, went along with this shell game from the very start, garnering his own participation trophies and gold stars, and accepting a non-functional Potemkin facade of an institution as quid pro quo for rubber-stamping every one of Gahan's TIF bond and "quality of life" over-expenditures that crossed his desk.

It's a damned shame.

Gahan's done nothing for Phipps. Neither has the Democratic Party. Perhaps independence is the only true way for a New Albanian to preserve even a semblance of integrity amid the chicanery, dullness and corruption taken for granted by the big fish here in this tiny bird feeder of a town.

However, the HRC was by no means the evening's main story line. I'll be back tomorrow with evidence of the reeking cesspool's stench marking the spot where the Floyd County Democratic Party used to stand.

Because: Dan Coffey has named his price to lend the mayor his council swing vote, and the only question is who must be disemboweled to provide the Copperhead with his snack.  

ON THE AVENUES: Mezcal for what ails you.

ON THE AVENUES: Mezcal for what ails you. 

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

My most recent writing assignment for Food & Dining Magazine has taken me into the exotic realm of mezcal, one of our planet’s most unique distillates, as well as the probable source of at least one superb literary insight.

“How, unless you drink as I do, could you hope to understand the beauty of an old Indian woman playing dominoes with a chicken?” Geoffrey Firmin (the Consul), in Malcolm Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano

Indeed, it is highly doubtful that Bud Light Lime might ever assist an aesthetic judgment in this manner, though it suffices very nicely for TIF bonding and bunker ductwork maintenance.

(As an aside, mezcal often is spelled mescal, as in Lowry’s novel, with Microsoft frustratingly opting for the latter usage in its Word spellcheck feature. Which spelling is proper? Given that most of Mexican sources consistently use mezcal, and mescal only confuses matters by suggesting a non-existent correlation with mescaline, I’m opting for the “z”. Perhaps someday Bill Gates will, too.)

As mentioned previously at NA Confidential, the former consular official Geoffrey Firmin is the main character in Lowry’s acknowledged literary masterpiece, a story that takes place in Quauhnahuac, the ancient name for present-day Cuernavaca. Lowry lived there briefly during the late 1930s, and then as now, the monolithic volcanoes named Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl loom over the city, both topping 17,000 feet.

The volcanoes don’t feature prominently in the novel’s plot, but their presence as backdrop is a smoldering, implicit threat of abrupt violence. This is indicative of the symbolic and metaphorical value of volcanoes throughout recorded history, as in the case of a contemporary writer describing them as "wombs spouting flame."

You wouldn’t necessarily compare a volcano to mezcal, although a bottle of champagne often is used to describe pressure building to a breaking point, a phenomenon with which white American males of a certain age are becoming depressingly familiar.

The Consul is a raging alcoholic on a fast track to oblivion, and mezcal is his drink of choice, lubricating a winding path from cantina to cantina as Lowry deploys Cuernavaca’s annual Day of the Dead festival to spread foreshadowing all around. Firmin was Lowry’s fictionalized mirror image, and yet while the writer’s own drinking problems occasionally were debilitating, his skill in painting word pictures of Mexican people and landscapes remain noteworthy even today.

For me, researching mezcal has been a refresher course in Mexican history, and a reminder that Americans actually know very little about it.

Sadly, my deadline has decreed the expenditure of far more time spent writing soberly about mezcal than devoted to instructional tastings of the elixir, but I’ve had nips and sips enough to suggest that further self-education in mezcal will be edifying, indeed.

Think of it as a journey: Agave → Pulque → Mezcal.


From the dawn of human habitation in Mexico, the region’s indigenous peoples knew that agave, a cactus-like “wonder plant” also known as maguey, was indispensable to their existence. Every part of the agave could be used to sustain human life. It was capable of providing food, clothing and the raw materials for tools and shelter.

The agave plant adapts to its hot, dry climate by hoarding water and harboring sugary sap, used traditionally both as a sweetening agent and the source of fermentable sugars. For thousands of years, the daily outcome of putting agave’s sugars to work was a milky, lightly alcoholic beverage called pulque.

Hence, my favorite foundational agave tale from ancient times. There was a clever tlacuache (opossum), who cracked the code and learned how use agave’s sap to ferment pulque. The opossum later was placed in charge of river design. Eventually it was noticed that rivers ran straight when the opossum was sober, but zigzagged unpredictably when he was hammered on pulque.

Much later, when the invading Spaniards brought alembics, or stills after the Arabic model, it became possible to concentrate pulque’s alcoholic content into a liquid far stronger. The result was mezcal, of which tequila is merely one variety according to rules governing denomination of origin.

Nowadays mezcal differs from tequila according to demarcated region; the type of agave used; and the manner of production.

Mezcal’s demarcated "source" region centers on the city and hinterlands of Oacaxa, and a few other surrounding Mexican states. The emphasis is placed on old-school techniques, of which some are more modern than others, though mezcal’s current notoriety and its value as an export seem firmly rooted in “small batch” thinking and practice. I hesitate to use the word artisanal, which nonetheless is appropriate in this instance.

For those palenques (farmhouse distilleries) foraging wild agave, the harvest is a time-consuming exercise in itself, akin to patiently searching for mushrooms or truffles. Agave resists domestication and its maturation is painstakingly slow, lasting up to ten years even for those semi-domesticated varieties that permit farming.

A mezcal producer might wait fifteen to twenty years for highly desired wild agave to become suitable for use, then spend hours extracting and transporting the piña (or heart, resembling a giant steroidal pineapple) from the top of a hill or bottom of a ravine, with the ultimate yield of only a few dozen bottles of exceedingly rare albeit extremely valuable mezcal to come from the effort.

Traditional fermentation and distillation are labor intensive and time consuming. The harvested agave hearts are pit-cooked for days on wood-fired rocks, then pulped and mashed by hand, or with a huge circular stone wheel (tahona) pulled by a horse.

The liquid pressed out by the tahona is called aguamiel (honey water) and resembles sweet, unhopped brewing wort. The aguamiel and leftover agave fibers are transferred to wooden for open fermentation with added water and ambient yeast (as with Belgian Lambic).

Stills are made from copper or clay. Mezcal is colorless like vodka and generally undergoes no further aging after distillation is completed, but the words Reposado and Añejo signify examples that have been oak-aged. Mezcal now is shipped around the world, fetching prices you’d expect from special Bourbons and Scotches.

Each stage in the conversion of agave into mezcal has the potential to alter the character of the finished product, making for a spirit wickedly adept at revealing the nuances of its terroir.

More than 40 types of agave can be used to make mezcal, and each one has its own distinct fruity flavors and aromatics. Roast and smoke are added when the hearts are cooked. Wild yeasts leave their own olfactory calling card during fermentation. Clay stills just might leave a sensation that copper ones wouldn’t.

It isn't hyperbole at all. Mezcal’s organoleptic kaleidoscope is vast and endlessly evocative, but it's moot if the agave runs out, and this is a consideration as mezcal's export value increases.

Can mezcal be sustained in environmental and human terms, and still retain the qualities that make it unique? That's the million-dollar question at present. Let's hope we're not witnessing the end times for an art form that originated so long ago.


At this point you may be wondering about the worms.

After first reading Under the Volcano more than three decades ago, my friend Bob and I decided to conduct field research on mezcal. We went to Cut Rate Liquors in Jeffersonville, which offered the largest selection of booze at the time, only to find precisely one bottle labeled as mezcal, complete with two deceased agave worms (dos gusanos) reposing at the bottom.

These worms were supposed to be the ultimate stamp of macho Mexican authenticity, but to us they contributed little to the drinking experience. In fact, the mezcal in which they were immersed itself seemed unspectacular, and soon we were back to mass-produced Pepe Lopez tequila and Dos Equis cerveza.

These days, there is broad agreement that the embalmed worms are little more than a marketing-driven distraction. However, it is both permissible and encouraged to crush worm larvae along with chili peppers and salt, a condiment called sal de gusano (worm salt), meant for dredging with orange slices to cleanse the palate between straight shots of mezcal.

Let’s hope mezcal's sustainability issues are resolved, and that it continues to find its way through Donald Trump’s projected Great Wall of Futility, to reach those of us right here in New Albany who need it so much.

Starting tomorrow, the mescaline sounds appropriate, too.

After all, we'll be padding the Consul's one-day, mezcal-powered barroom crawl to at least four years, and hallucinogenics are looking like the ideal pairing with worm salt.


Recent columns:

January 12: ON THE AVENUES: I can only handle one resistance at a time, please.

January 5: ON THE AVENUES: Gahan's stadium arcadium kicks off a new year with hilarity, pathos and own goals.

December 29: ON THE AVENUES: The 45 46 Most Popular NA Confidential Stories of 2016.

December 22: 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.”

Critical thinking, necessary action: "Do's and Don'ts for Bystander Intervention."

Yesterday was Inclusive Day for my Leadership SI class, during which we discussed topics like inclusion, diversity, unconscious bias, stereotypes and much, much more.

It was a mind-expanding opportunity to adjust one's perceptions of reality, particularly those of us falling into the white/old/straight/male grouping.

My classmate Missy forwarded this follow-up, and I consider it essential reading at the current juncture.

Do's and Don'ts for Bystander Intervention

If you witness public instances of racist, anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Trans, or any other form of oppressive interpersonal violence and harassment, use these tips on how to intervene while considering the safety of everyone involved.

All organizing is local: How to throw sand in the gears of Trumpism.

When Republican lawmakers already are proposing to outlaw free speech by banning public protests that interfere with the convenient operation of automobiles, it's merely more proof that the loony bins have been emptied and the occupants have been elected to State Senate.

As we await Ron Grooms' inevitable vote in favor of gutting the Constitution, but not before he asks One Southern Indiana for permission, here are two articles from The Nation.

First, what you'll have to be doing quite apart from posting resistance memes on Facebook.

Throw Sand in the Gears of Everything, by Frances Fox Piven

When it comes to stopping Trump, petitions aren’t going to do it.

Chanting crowds are the familiar insignia of movements. And I think movement politics may even make resistance to a Trump regime possible. But while the great movements of American history were the crucial determinant of our most important democratic reforms—from the basic electoral elements of representative democracy, to Emancipation, to labor rights, to women’s and LGBTQ rights—none of these movements achieved their successes simply through the gathering of people to show their commitment. People gathered, of course, but what makes movements a force—when they are a force—is the deployment of a distinctive power that arises from the ability of angry and indignant people to at times defy the rules that usually ensure their cooperation and quiescence. Movements can mobilize people to refuse, to disobey, in effect to strike. In other words, people in motion, in movements, can throw sand in the gears of the institutions that depend on their cooperation. It therefore follows that movements need numbers, but they also need a strategy that maps the impact of their defiance and the ensuing disruptions on the authority of decision-makers.

Piven observes that "political leaders in big cities are beginning to provide just that sort of electoral resonance and encouragement," and while noting that New Albany is a small city without a coherent leader in a county that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, there is at least a possibility that cities can be incubators for the resistance.

We may even be able to do some of it here, but if so, it will come without either political -- and on occasion, you might be forced to miss an IU basketball game. Sorry about that.

Cities Have the Power to Finally Bridge MLK’s ‘Two Americas’, by Ras J. Baraka and Ryan P. Haygood (The Nation)

The solutions to the enduring problem of economic inequality will have to come from the ground up in our cities, not from Washington, DC, down

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., looked to our city, Newark, New Jersey, and other urban communities and explained that the country consisted of “two Americas,” divided by race.

... At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, on the eve of the presidential inauguration after one of the most divisive and racially charged presidential campaigns in history, our cities hold incredible promise to advance an agenda that unites us, and to incubate progressive solutions to finally bridging the two Americas.

To do this, we must ensure that every person has access to economic opportunity through employment that pays a true living wage. This is the most direct way to confront poverty in our nation, and to bridge our class and race divides.

The solutions to the enduring problem of economic inequality will have to come from the ground up in our cities, not from Washington, DC, down.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fascist Indiana senator proposes "block traffic and you die bill," this idea being consistent with the broad principles of autocentrism, if not social justice.

Indiana GOP -- group photo.

This is no more than an extreme example of the usual doctrine of cars having all the rights to our streets, and other users none. Jim Tomes merely dispenses with the hypocrisy, because most governmental units in the state feel the same way about their daily pedestrians and bicyclists as Tomes does about protesters.

Am I the only person here who is desperately eager to see this bill advance so Ron Grooms will have to vote on it?

(thanks B)

Indiana bill would allow police to shut down protests 'by any means necessary', by Joanna Walters (The Guardian)

Opponents in Indianapolis argue the proposed law, simply labelled Senate Bill 285, or SB 285, would give police power ‘even to the point of costing lives’

A bill that would require public officials in Indiana to dispatch law enforcement swiftly to remove any protesters blocking traffic by “any means necessary” prompted uproar on Wednesday.

Opponents of the bill, introduced by a Republican state senator, rushed to the general assembly in Indianapolis on Wednesday afternoon to attend a hearing for the legislation, arguing that it could give a green light to the police to shut down protests harshly “even to the point of costing lives”.

That's LA, not NA: "City Hall candidates are saying no to real estate developer donations."

Streetsblog referred to an article in the Washington Post, and I retweeted it.

Just imagine living in a place where a local politician would find it advantageous to renounce the sort of "beaks wetted" campaign contributions which here in New Albany comprise the fundamental building blocks of governance. Just imagine living in a place where local journalists cared.

You may say I'm a dreamer ...

Seeking an edge over incumbents, these L.A. City Hall candidates are saying no to real estate developer donations, byEmily Alpert Reyes and David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times)

Two years ago, in a tough race for the Los Angeles City Council, health clinic executive David Ryu made a promise that helped propel him to victory: He swore off campaign contributions from real estate developers.

That promise, Ryu said, was meant to reassure voters that community needs, not political donations, would guide his decisions on new building projects.

Now, with concerns over development and campaign cash taking center stage in the March 7 election, an array of candidates are embracing the same strategy as they look to topple incumbents, some of whom have a steep financial advantage.

Public affairs consultant Mitchell Schwartz, waging a long-shot bid to unseat Mayor Eric Garcetti, said he won't take campaign funds from real estate developers. Council candidates in races from Echo Park to Westchester have made similar promises, singling out that money as a symbol of City Hall corruption.

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: "Mickey Mouse" without Mouseketeers simply doesn't make sense.

Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

Around this time each week, the anguished wails begin seeping out of the bunker's ventilation ducts: Why all these newfangled words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, the ones that sufficed during the glory days, in those simpler times, before inexplicably naked greed kicked in like a bond-issue-percentage speedball, knocking you back into the turnbuckles but feeling oh so fine, and now, as the Great Elongated and Exasperated Obfuscator of comic book series fame (can Disney World be far behind?) you teach detailed principles of banking to bankers, at least when not otherwise occupied making healthy deposits into your own account?

Thankfully, even if one toils for the Invincible and Triumphant Leader, a healthy vocabulary isn't about intimidation through erudition. No, not at all. Rather, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even municipal corporate attorneys reaping handsome remuneration to suppress information, squelch community dialogue and retrofit scarce affordable housing into luxury condos with a view of the Eiffel Tower, can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate CPIs, IUDs and IOUs, all we really have is time -- and the opportunity to learn something, if we're so inclined.

Really? It sounds like this attorney target of yours works for one hell of a Mickey Mouse organization.

Indeed, and the enduring but delicious irony of Mickey Mouse in the context of City Hall's ruling elite is that when they look in the mirror, they see themselves as the inheritors of Walt Disney as the slickly successful multinational conglomerate image-churner, when in fact it's that other definition that really matters.

mickey mouse

adjective, (often initial capital letters) Informal.

1. trite and commercially slick in character; corny: mickey mouse music.
2. useless, insignificant, or worthless: mickey mouse activities just to fill up one's time.
3. trivial or petty: mickey mouse regulations.

Origin of mickey mouse

1930-35; after the animated cartoon character created by Walt Disney, orig. with reference to the banal dance-band music played as background to the cartoons

Flight documentaries: "Fastball" -- the pitch, not the band.

Nine hour flights home from Italy are a bummer. You can read, nap and drink as many free adult beverages as they'll keep feeding you, but that's about all. The good news is that these days, the in-flight entertainment offers more options than ever before. The bad news: Most of these options include the usual array of wretched mass market films and television series.

On our most recent flight from Rome in November, at least there were a few good documentary films on tap. They paired well with cans of a beer I'd never expect to see on an international flight: SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. Corporate placement or not, it was a welcome change from the usual Heineken.

The third of four documentaries I watched in November is an appropriate delaying tactic pending the beginning of spring training, when at long last life will make sense again. It's called Fastball.

While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history – and yes, the film does the math and seems to come out with a very clear verdict that might come as a surprise – FASTBALL tells the story of the game itself. Filmed at baseball’s most hallowed grounds, from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to Yankee Stadium to the sandlot field in Weiser, Idaho, where Walter Johnson's fastball changed the game over a hundred years ago, the film provides unparalleled insight into both the mechanics and the mythos of our National Pastime.


Flight documentaries: "All Things Must Pass," or the rise and fall of Tower Records.

Flight documentaries: "Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Albany city council public hearing regarding wastewater rate change and the implementation of consumer price index is February 6.

Here's the announcement sans satire.

Yes, Virginia, it is a sewer rate INCREASE, in spite of what you may have read elsewhere.

"Chamber Musicians Take to the Streets," and daddy wants some Shostakovich on the plaza.

Not Takin' It to the Streets, which was a Doobie Brothers hit (shall we say) prior to the birth of younger readers.

This is chamber music in the context of placemaking, and I won't rest until Shostakovich greets me as I cross the newly (miraculously?) enlivened concrete slab in front of the City County Building, in route to a city council meeting.

I know; it would require placemaking on steroids to rouse such a dead space. Hope springs eternal, and music soothes the addled here in New Gahania.

Sound Places: Chamber Musicians Take to the Streets (Project for Public Spaces)

Back in October, PPS provided you with a preview of how chamber music and placemaking are coming together in the unprecedented Sound Places program. Since then, program partners Chamber Music America (CMA), the Louisiana Division of the Arts (LDOA), and Project for Public Spaces (PPS), with grant support from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), have selected two of Louisiana’s Cultural Districts and two of America’s finest ensembles to collaborate in perfect harmony within the framework of this residency program.

The 2nd movement of Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 in C minor (Op. 110)

MUST SEE VIDEO: Flaherty & Collins and a false advertisement for the Breakwater "luxury" housing complex.

Joshua Pavey noticed what was wrong with the picture, and he produced an excellent short video that solves the mystery of the misplaced Louisville skyline.

"Apparently Breakwater apartments are okay with false advertisement."

It's too bad that millions in corporate subsidies couldn't have produced a more accurate sales pitch.

ASK THE BORED: A few well-placed chicanes on 13th Street should send Tiger Trucking to a more appropriate location for doing its value-extractive business.

If 2017 really is to be the year when the Downtown Grid Modernization Project transitions from the mere rumor of a long overdue, messy compromise of a typically botched Gahanesque half-ass measure to these facets actually appearing in real life, then City Hall's favored minions at HWC Engineering should have long since moved past the stage of ensuring campaign finance rivulets flowing downhill like stormwater from Summit Springs, straight into the mayor's aspirational State Senate coffers, and started the task of rendering splendid Speck into adulterated sausage.

As such, perhaps it isn't too late to reclaim 13th Street for residential quality of life by the simple expedience of chicane installation.

Not chicanery ...

... but chicane, a concept recently explained here.

A chicane is an artificial feature creating extra turns in a road, used in motor racing and on streets to slow traffic for safety. For example, one form of chicane is a short, shallow S-shaped turn, requiring the driver to turn slightly left and then right again to stay on the road, which slows them down.

Yes, we've all been here before.

Last July, NAC explained in great detail (repeated below) that Tiger Trucking's use of 13th Street as an industrial connector, while intended as a petulant middle finger lofted in the general direction of City Hall, actually serves as a daily reminder to people living on this residential street that their quality of life doesn't matter -- and has mattered even less since the city lavished millions on an unnecessary Main Street beautification project, which freed more dysfunctional demons than it rectified.

Isn't it time for the spoiled brat to get a good spanking? Residents of 13th Street deserves better, and a relatively inexpensive chicane or three, backed by a city willing to enforce its own ordinances, might be able to achieve what our 3rd District councilman hasn't bothered recognizing.

Here's the rundown from last July.

Here comes the Tiger Truck Lines rig northbound on 13th Street. The driver has just crossed Market. Behind me is Spring.

Since the advent of the Main Street Beautification Project, Tiger has transformed 13th Street into its own company connector road, regularly using Spring for westbound trucks and Market for eastbound.

Ironically, even though so much of the Main Street project is pure blather, the designers actually did take Tiger's needs into mind when inserting those God-awful medians.

In fact, Tiger never has been somehow excluded from using Main Street, just as it did before.

This is 14th Street, looking south from Dewey. Just over the railroad track is Tiger's scenic headquarters. You can see the K & I Bridge on the horizon.

When a Tiger trucker emerges from its lair on 14th, he or she comes first to Dewey, then Main. Here's the view, looking north toward Main. Prior to the Main Street project, Tiger's employees drove straight and turned onto Main in either direction.

The next three photos show the intersection of Main and 14th. As you can see, the medians are pulled way back to allow for wide turns. It is a huge expanse of asphalt left open for only one reason -- for truckers like Tiger's to use.

And they don't use it.

Rather, ever since the Main Street project came about, Tiger's adolescent management pique has translated into a new access policy. First, let's go back to the intersection of 14th and Dewey, this time looking west, not straight toward Main.

Tiger's truckers now turn left here ...

 ... and then right (north) here, on 13th ...

 ... to come rumbling across Main here (headed to the right, or north), using 13th as the company road to go to Market and Spring.

Obviously, 13th is a residential street, never designed or intended for commercial vehicles of this Tiger's size. Plainly, Tiger's management has undertaken a program of civic vandalism these last two years, operating from a vantage point behind the billows of Padgett's litigious gown.

There's only one logical answer to this problem.

Give 13th Street a two-block-long road diet, with bike paths and 10-foot lanes, and force Tiger's trucks back onto Main, where they belong.

Or, place a weight limit on 13th and enforce it.

The likes of Irv Stumler instinctively side with the vandals in a case like this. Obsessed with flower pots, the Silver Hills resident pays no mind to the appearance of heavy industrial equipment on a residential street. Perhaps these residents are too poor for Irv's taste, or not sufficiently ambitious to get better jobs and move from the trucking ghetto to his neighborhood.

Irv aside (and he needs to be), the city has allowed Tiger to behave like a petulant brat. The city might alter this behavior, and should. The city made changes to Main. It can make changes to 13th.

It should.

The next time One Southern Indiana crusades for environmental consciousness will be the first.

Daddy Oligarch wouldn't want his "economic development" plaything taking positions on nasty liberal ideas about the environment. We need more jobs, more roads, more cars ... and more electronic fund transfers to the Cayman Islands.

How to be environmentally conscious in Southern Indiana; Region is improving, but there’s room to grow, by Danielle Grady (Hanson Motorcycle Club)

SOUTHERN INDIANA — Jeff and Roz Wolverton try to be environmentally friendly.

They live in a small downtown New Albany apartment, drive as little as possible … and pick up about 200 bags worth of trash each year.

The couple perform their self-imposed duty about four days a week: clearing detritus from the riverfront and sidewalks.

They started picking up trash in 2002 after a trip to a remote area of Costa Rica. Numerous discarded Coke bottles lined the nearby beach every morning. They’d be picked up, only to be replaced by a new batch of bottles the next day.

When the Wolverton’s returned, they began to notice the trash present in New Albany — particularly along the Ohio River.

“We figure it’s going to show up in the river, then in the Gulf of Mexico and then circle around to Costa Rica and every other place,” Jeff said. “So you just gotta start where you live.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

In consideration of the Cornish pasty. That's PAH-stee.

Mrs. Confidential prepares pasties. 

Pictured above is a homemade pasty, fresh from the oven. To be more accurate, it was a homemade pasty, because it no longer exists.

While it is true that pasties are a staple in places like Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I'm compelled to remind the reader that my wife's mother was born in English port of Plymouth, which lies in the English county of Devon, just across the Tamar River from Cornwall -- and Cornwall is as much the heartland of pasties as Kentucky is bourbon.

Hence, the Cornish pasty.

In contrast to its earlier place amongst the wealthy, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the pasty became popular with working people in Cornwall, where tin miners and others adopted it due to its unique shape, forming a complete meal that could be carried easily and eaten without cutlery. In a mine, the pasty's dense, folded pastry could stay warm for several hours, and if it did get cold, it could easily be warmed on a shovel over a candle.

I've often wondered why a street food purveyor hasn't embraced the idea here in metro Louisville. To be sure, the classic Cornish pasty is blue collar sustenance, not intended for gentrification, though naturally pasties can and are being converted into hipster conveyances. In 2013, I ate a pasty with something curried inside. That's not a Cornwall thang at all.

The real problem probably results from uncertainties in pronunciation. A pasty (plural pasties) as a foodstuff is PAH-stee, while a pasty that covers a woman's nipples (thus enabling her to evade obscenity ordinances) is a PAY-stee. For obvious reasons, there are usually two of the latter, and thus PAY-steez (plural).

I cannot mention pasties without recommending the nine Devon locations (all on the seaward side of the Dartmoor) of Ivor Dewdney, a regional pasty producer since 1939, owned and operated by Ivor's grandchildren.

REWIND: Milk is liquid snot: "Milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, it might also be detrimental."

Earlier today I posted at Facebook:

I believe that drinking milk is an aesthetic and culinary outrage on a par with Bud Light and McDonald's. Moreover, drinking milk is a conspiracy foisted on us by the multinational diary lobby. Apart from all that, I also dislike milk intensely, though you can make it into cheese or ice cream and I'm golden. Last night I had a dream in which I was drinking milk and commenting about how perfectly it paired with a dish. Now I'm scared to set foot outside the house. Booze is the preferred antidote to this condition, although probably not White Russians at a time like this.

After thinking about it, it occurred to me (as it usually does) that we'd all been here before, and indeed we have ... most recently in 2014 (below). The photo above was taken in Indianapolis in 2012.


To me, it's always been aesthetic.

Milk is little more than liquid snot, and to drink it by the glass has struck me as revolting for over thirty years. It's just a bonus to be "un-American" by rejecting milk in liquid form, although I've returned to eating cereal with almond milk as moistening agent.

I adore cheese, cream-based sauces, dairy-laden desserts and Milk Stout; obviously, I can tolerate lactose, but drink it from a glass?

That's just wrong.


Got Milk? Might Not Be Doing You Much Good, by Aaron E. Carroll (NYT)

Almost no one will dispute that when a baby is born, breast milk is the best nutrition a mother can provide. All mammals nurse their young, and breast milk benefits a newborn infant in ways above and beyond nutrition. In fact, until 1 to 2 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and more promote breast-feeding as optimal.

Unfortunately, breast-feeding until that age is often difficult, if not impossible, because mothers have to return to work, and children go off to preschool or day care. So we often replace human milk with the milk of cows or other animals. But at a certain point, we have to acknowledge that we are the only mammals on the planet that continue to consume milk after childhood, often in great amounts.

More and more evidence is surfacing, however, that milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, it might also be detrimental. This is in spite of the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture and other organizations advocate that even adults should drink at least three cups a day.