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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Seussical performances this weekend will be alcohol-free.

Two weeks ago, NABC was contacted by New Albany RiverStage and asked to arrange beer and wine sales for the three Seussical the Musical shows coming this weekend to the Riverfront Amphitheater.

I agreed to their proposal and worked out time, permits, money and staffing on an otherwise busy weekend. NABC's commitment was to include a percentage of the proceeds to be donated to RiverStage to hep defray expenses.

If this is the first you've heard of it, it's because we all thought it best to respect the nature of the event as family-oriented entertainment, and be low-key about the adult beverage component. I'd been spreading word the old-fashioned way.

Just now, 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.

Of course, you are 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 point that if the amphitheater is used for quality events, people will come, and improvements will be justified.

Nash on the amphitheater: "Could this be a destination for huge crowds throughout the year?"

The point being made by the city is harder to fathom, but it isn't as though we're unaccustomed to that feeling.

In which we learn about orthorexia.

Did you know that orthorexia is "the unhealthy obsession with ironically, eating healthy"?

I tend to view the veggie/vegan paradigm in the same way as localism. It's about shift. We can better the planet and our own bodies by shifting toward a plant-based diet, and away from three daily helpings of super-sized meat, and the shift needn't be of fanatical dimensions in order to make a difference.

Shift happens.

An ex-vegan takes on the trolls ... A blogger's admission creates a backlash -- and helps raise awareness of orthorexia, by Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon)

Giving up veganism can have serious consequences. There are all the threats and trolling to consider, for instance.

Jordan Younger runs a popular lifestyle blog called the Blonde Vegan. The 23-year-old describes herself as a “yoga junkie, passionate writer, fitness freak, smoothie addict, dream chaser, cleanse creator, founder of TBV Apparel, wannabe food photographer & lover of all things health related.” But late last month, in a candid post for her site, she explained one thing she wasn’t anymore, and how she was “transitioning away from veganism.”

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."

Accordingly, we're somewhere in the vicinity of puberty, pre-legal drinking age.

But dude: Check out our aquatic center.

Link courtesy of JG.

Kaid Benfield’s Blog: Moving beyond "smart growth" to a more holistic city agenda (Switchboard)

... I say that it is time to become more ambitious and holistic in our thinking about cities, towns and neighborhoods. In the interest of being provocative and starting a conversation, I propose a list of ten questions that every community should ask in order to identify ways to improve. These questions embrace smart growth, to be sure, but they don’t stop there. Here they are:

1 Are neighborhoods fully hospitable to residents with a range of incomes, ages and abilities?

2 Does the community respect nature, integrating natural areas and systems into regional planning and neighborhood design?

3 Do buildings and infrastructure take advantage of resource-efficient design and management practices?

4 Do the community design and social structure encourage healthy living and well-being?

5 Is the overall metropolitan or community development footprint discernible and no larger than necessary?

6 Does the community include public spaces of beauty, character, and utility?

7 Are there convenient, safe, affordable and efficient transportation choices?

8 Does new development use land efficiently, with appropriate attention to the context?

9 Does the community respect and enhance important local conditions, resources, and culture?

10 Does the community encourage collaboration in planning and development?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good times and Kurtas at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival yesterday.

Yesterday was the the occasion of the 19th annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival, which as always took place in Broad Ripple, on the north side of Indianapolis. Pictured above are fellow Brewers of Indiana board members Clay Robinson (BIG president) of Sun King to the left, and Rob Caputo of Flat12 on the right. Rob did much of the heavy lifting to get this year's IMF off the ground, and deserves plenty of kudos for doing so.

I've been assigned to Rob's committee, and am about to receive a crash course in festival management. That suits me, and I'm looking forward to it. While it is my usual habit to refrain from emotional displays, I'm very proud to know Clay, Rob and the other Indiana brewers I've met during the course of my time in the business, and I'm excited and bullish about the state's prospects when it comes to better beer.

To be perfectly honest, I wore what I did for the express purpose of being photographed, and it worked as planned. The blue and purple top is called a Kurta, and the white pants a Churidar. These are customary male garments in and near the Indian subcontinent, and were purchased from Dolls of India in 2010 for my 50th birthday. I weighed 255 then, and could barely squeeze into them. Now, at 235, they fit perfectly. The plastic leis were procured at Horner's in Jeffersonville, and intended to mimic flower garlands.

I posed for several pictures, and there were two requests: "Can I touch it?" I was asked whether the Kurta was hot. It wasn't, although it was a pleasingly cool day in Indianapolis yesterday. The best comment came from a man wearing a Miller High Life t-shirt, who I later observed walking in circles, talking to himself: "So, who's the fucking wizard?"

I hope he enjoyed his vomit.

Former NABC brewer Jared Williamson displays the wares of his current employer, Schlafly of St. Louis. I'm proud of him, too, and also these guys:

From left to right, it's Ben, Eric and Tony; Josh, Peter and Blake are not shown. Combined, they did a bang-up job, and it was a smooth festival overall. We ran out of beer roughly a half hour before the end, and there were no Port-A-Let riots as in 2013.

It has been said that 80% or more of the earth's oxygen is used to complain, and I'm guilty of hoarding my share of air. When things go right, we need to celebrate. The IMF fest surely had problems, but we didn't notice many, and the vibe was pleasing and rejuvenating.

Cheers to all the participating breweries and their staffs, and to the Guild's coordinators and volunteers. Special thanks go to the 5,000 (or more) ticket buyers. Our fans keep us growing.

(Photo credits: Valerie, Dump Buckets, Stephen Hale and Alliee Bliss)

R.I.P. Johnny Winter.

First, at least for me, there was Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter's brother.

In 1973, during the summer between the 7th and 8th grades, The Edgar Winter Group had a hit instrumental called "Frankenstein." I bought the cassette of They Only Come Out at Night, and started looking for other Edgar Winter records. His previous band was Edgar Winter's White Trash, a great soul and R & B outfit, which released a double live album called Roadwork. On it, Johnny Winter made a cameo appearance on "Rock & Roll, Hoochie Koo,", as introduced by Edgar:

"People keep askin' me -- where's your brother?"

In my adolescent mind, there were questions, which required going to the library to find answers. Who was Johnny Winter, and where had he been? Well, Johnny was Edgar's equally talented brother. Texans by birth, both had albinism. Johnny's absence was explained by a bout with heroin addiction, but he was back, tearing up the electric blues.

At this juncture, my exposure to the blues had been limited to 1920s- and 1930s-era recordings by the likes of Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly. These performers were considered representative of the southern or "country blues," as opposed to the later progression of the blues in places like Chicago, after WWII, when the music became amplified.

Shortly after reading about Johnny Winter, I stumbled across a shoddy plastic cassette case in a cutout bin announcing an album of his called The Progressive Blues Experiment, Scraping together a few coins from my allowance, I bought it.

Talk about a shock.

This was neither acoustic nor bucolic, but rather hardcore -- raw, intense, aggressive and driven. If Robert Johnson sounded possessed by the devil acoustically, then Johnny Winter wasn't far off, except as a white man with an electric guitar. He was 24 years old when the album was recorded, and the copy I bought may have been a bootleg.

If blues music is to be taken straight and exclusively, in and of itself, then I've never been much of a blues aficionado. Small doses do me fine. But I'll never forget being knocked to the floor by that first dose of Johnny Winter.

The Lion in Johnny Winter: A Tribute to the Guitar Icon, by David Marchese (Rolling Stone)

Legendary blues musician Johnny Winter died in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 16th at 70 years old. There are plenty of reasons why that's notable — Winter was one of the first blues rock guitar virtuosos, releasing a string of popular and fiery albums in the late Sixties and early Seventies, becoming an arena-level concert draw in the process — but it's the barest facts that remain the most inspiring. Johnny Winter, from little Beaumont, Texas, afflicted with albinism and 20/400 eyesight in one eye and 20/600 in the other, made an iconic life for himself by playing the blues.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 23: I'd ask you to come outside and take a look, but agoraphobia's a bitch isn't it?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nash on the amphitheater: "Could this be a destination for huge crowds throughout the year?"

Matt Nash has written an excellent column about the Riverfront Amphitheater. Before we get to that, a wee bit of history is merited.

Way back on July 15, 2005, NAC asked a question of New Albany's then-current amphitheater administrator and the one-time leader of the Stone Deaf Band random charity benefit generator, Bob "The Devil Went Down to NABC" Trinkle.

If he's not going to use the Riverfront Amphitheater, would Bullet Bob mind if we borrowed it and made some money?

 ... Perhaps New Albany’s chronically underused Riverfront Amphitheater might benefit from new and younger blood at the helm, someone who would refrain from applying a litmus test of church supper respectability to potential entertainment functions, but instead take a chance every now and then and book the venue with music and events that appeal to the city’s younger demographic.

The Trinkle Dome is a community resource. We should try using it occasionally .

Late note: In a letter to the editor published in Thursday's Tribune, Bob Trinkle thoroughly congratulated himself for the July 4 event and duly warned us that more G-rated entertainment is to follow over Labor Day weekend. Do the math; that's more that sixty (60) days between Trinkle-sanctioned events. Can't we do better than this?

Later, there was this blog observation, dated 2007:

Now think of the chicken and the egg, and tell me: Do we chronically underutilize this amphitheater because there is little demand, or is there a perception of little demand because we chronically underutilize this facility?

There followed an uptick in amphitheater usage during the third (and dare we pray final) City Hall occupancy of Doug England, but unfortunately, this was manifested by such colossal missteps as an expensive new roof being installed without any revised site plans being considered, dueling Buffett cover bands as supposed "entertainment", and a proliferation of plaques commemorating both England and his wife.

Amphitheater freedom fighters were forced to retaliate.

We were back in 2013, discussing the Amphitheater's constant neglect in the context of drunken-sailor-level "quality of life" expenditures.

ON THE AVENUES: Looking for Quality of Life bond issue bonuses? "Pick me," says orphaned Riverfront Amphitheater.

 ... However, spending a fair amount of time at the Riverfront Amphitheater these past few years, sweating off the pounds, slinging beers, and talking to folks who venture to the riverside for events … well, there’s legitimate cause for optimism. A future-oriented plan for the Amphitheater, as accompanied by leftover farthings from the Mega Bond Issue, would seem to fit perfectly within the Gahan administration’s park-reational and artistic orientation.

Wouldn’t it?

As a side note, I was chatting with a council person last week after the meeting. He maintained that before spending money on a potentially expensive two-way street conversion, a detailed study obviously was necessary. I replied that if this was so, then why hadn't a similar study been conducted prior to the $19 million parks bond issue? He said that when it comes to things like parks, "I suppose" we must trust the veracity of potential quality of life benefits, and go from there.

This is breathtaking. By such criteria, the amphitheater's decade-long starvation not only of money, but ideas, is even more disturbing.

Matt gets it completely right in his Friday column.

NASH: Utilizing our riverfront asset, by Matt Nash (N and T)

... The amphitheater has been shown to be able to draw huge crowds and could be profitable if managed properly.

It is time that we start to utilize this asset to our community and not waste any more time letting it sit empty.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 22: City Hall feels your pain, but it proposes to do absolutely nothing about it.

Gracious -- that one's quite literally as long as a whole building. Thanks to S for the photo above.

File under "Attention to Detail."

Friday, July 18, 2014

“I will always be convinced that I gave the right order.”

Your high school literature teacher tried his best to explain foreshadowing. Consider this obituary from July 1, 2014.

Anatoly Kornukov, Who Led Russian Air Force, Dies at 72, by Margalit Fox (NYT)

Gen. Anatoly Kornukov, a retired commander in chief of the Russian Air Force who in 1983 relayed the order to shoot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 as it strayed into Soviet airspace, killing all 269 aboard, died on Tuesday in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow. He was 72.

As the songwriter observed, we have all been here before ... and that's regrettable.

The NABC Weekend: The Ben Miller Band, rallying the rescuers and our annual guild festival.

This weekend, we'll be hearing about the Forecastle corporate music festival so often that when we go to buy knitting needles to plunge into our eyes and ears, they'll be sold out, and we'll have to make do with other varied sharp household objects.

But at least Forecastle finally got the local beer availability memo this year, even if it doesn't include NABC. Apparently the Against the Grain brewery spearheaded a local beer village vending area of some sort, while Sierra Appalachia remains the overall beer pay-to-player.

For the tragically unhip, the ranks of whom include your faithful correspondent, Kevin Gibson has suggestions for what to do instead of attending Forecastle.

Meanwhile, Jeffersonville will devote its riverfront weekend to the wonders of country music, and the jokes write themselves.

Let's see what can be salvaged from the hype and hullabaloo.

FRIDAY the 18th

Tonight (Friday, July 18), New Albany’s Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series features the Ben Miller Band. Production Simple offers this synopsis:

Hailing from Joplin, Mo., The Ben Miller Band is a one-of-a kind trio that combines the frenetic energy of bluegrass, the soul of the delta blues and the haunted spirit of Appalachian mountain music. Band members Ben Miller, Scott Leeper and Doug Dicharry create a unique and modern sound while continuing the tradition of blending together many different musical styles, which has long been a trait of their native Ozarks.

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. Be advised that if you call Wick's for pizza delivery to Bank Street Brewhouse, you'll receive a 20% discount on your order. The Big Four burger trailer may or may not report for duty this evening; when I know, this passage will be updated.

For those reading these lines from comfy armchairs in Circle City, note that NABC's Blake Montgomery will be in Speedway to host the Lino’s NABC Tap Takeover, featuring Beak’s Best Bitter, Hoptimus, Houndmouth and Naughty Girl.

SATURDAY the 19th

In downtown New Albany, Bank Street between Spring and Elm streets will be closed for Rally to Rescue the Rescuers, with adoptable pets, vendors, and a dog and cat food drive. Bank Street Brewhouse will be available for human refueling throughout, with specials on (what else?) Houndmouth. The event runs from 5:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. In addition, Gregg Seidl's Drinking with the Dead Haunted History Tour will be winding its way through downtown. Consider joining in.

July 19 also is the occasion for one of NABC's most important annual road jaunts. The Indiana Microbrewers Festival makes its 19th appearance at the Indianapolis Art Center and Optimist Park in Broad Ripple. Indiana breweries will be joined by a select group of guest breweries from around the country at Indiana’s largest craft beer event. Over 350 beer selections will be available during a running time of 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., and subsequent debauchery city-wide, extending far into the evening.

SUNDAY the 20th

I've got nothing, so here's a word from your sponsor: Bank Street Brewhouse is open from noon to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday. Bring a picnic basket, bring 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?

I believe the Brothers Barry are having a very good time.

These are my cousins.

To the left is Donald Barry, inspiration for NABC Beak's Best Bitter. To the right is Dennis Barry, founding member of the FOSSILS homebrewing club. Don has traveled to Europe countless times during his career as a professor of history. Denny is two weeks into his first trip to Europe, and this is their first meeting ever on European soil, at the train station in Munich, where Don and I first hoisted beers together in 1985 at the imbiss by track 16.

Those were the days when I crisscrossed the continent for three months and didn't phone home once. Now, in the social media age, friends of Denny's on Facebook have been able to follow his every move -- at least the ones he cares to transmit. In the realm of living vicariously through others, a major karmic shift is underway ... and it is a wonderful thing, indeed.

Utility locator dumbassery, bicycle lane edition.

Vectren renders downtown into the Hoosier equivalent of Damascus, while the utility locator blithely meanders downtown Spring Street in the bicycle lane.

I loathe utility monopolies.