Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wrecker Brewing is the variance seeker at 1419 E. Market Street in New Albany.


In March over at the Potable Curmudgeon, we asked ...

Does anyone know anything about Wrecker Brewing Company?


No one did. Then, last week ...

A brewery at 1419 E. Market Street in New Albany?


Looks like we're getting warmer. Here's an excerpt from the Board of Zoning Appeals agenda for Wednesday, November 5.

Docket B-42-14:
Charles Holwerk requests a Variance to permit a brewery that will not meet off-street requirements in the R-4, Multi-family (high density) district, at 1419 E. Market Street.

Scooting on over to LinkedIn (I just knew it would be useful some day), we find a listing for Mr. Holwerk ...

I am an engineer by experience, a manager by choice, and a physicist by degree, with experience in financial and operations management, product design, marketing, and manufacturing.

I am the owner and founder of Wrecker Brewing LLC. A craft brewery in the Louisville metro area that supports the community through The Wrecker Foundation ...

 ... I know a thing or two about beer as well...

Excellent!

This all sounds quite promising ... and less than three blocks from my house. If Chef Israel Landin succeeds in rehabilitating his eatery (the Green Mouse says it is to be called Salsa's, not La Rosita) at his former 1515 E. Market location -- and he';s trying -- my diet just got far more difficult.

NABC calendar highlights for November, 2014.


NABC CALENDAR HIGHLIGHTS FOR NOVEMBER … 2014

Quick reference dates:
  • November 1 (Saturday): ThunderFoot Oak Aged Cherry Imperial Stout release at both NABC locations
  • November 4 (Tuesday): Elector Day at both NABC locations
  • November 28 (Friday): Saturnalia kickoff (Pizzeria & Public House only) and Naughty Claus Spiced X-mas Ale release (both NABC locations)
Welcome to our quick recap of upcoming events involving the New Albanian Brewing Company.
There are plenty of special goings-on during the cooler weather months, but typically these events are scaled somewhat smaller than those falling on open air dates in summer and fall. When the beers move indoors and the days get shorter, there is more time for contemplative and thoughtful drinking.
It seems like only yesterday that we were motoring to the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival. That was in April, and now the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season is coming. Taking all these factors into consideration, NABC will lead off November with a momentous release, one that isn’t scaled small … no, not at all.
Saturday, November 1
ThunderFoot Halloween Hangover and 2014 release at both NABC locations, with a special program at Bank Street Brewhouse
For the first time since 2011, NABC has brewed, bottled and kegged a new batch of ThunderFoot, our much sought-after, reasonably epochal Oak Aged Cherry Imperial Stout. 22-ounce bombers go on sale at both NABC locations on Saturday, November 1. You can buy as many bombers as you like for $13 each, plus sales tax. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Next year, we’ll make more. Drafts of ThunderFoot also will be pouring at both locations on the 1st of November, offered in half-pint pours only, and with no growlers allowed (see above).
The Pizzeria & Public House opens at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 1, withThunderFoot bombers and draft, as well as the usual wholesome food and drink options.
At Bank Street Brewhouse, we’ll have Eh Cumpari Pizza’s mobile wood-fired pizza oven on site from 1:00 p.m. until John decides to fold his tent. We think he’s experimenting with Nutella and bacon. Also at BSB on the 1st, our friend, musician and urban poet Thunder Wrane will perform in the WCTU Reading Room at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 4
Elector Day at both NABC locations
NABC’s Elector Ale was born 12 years ago on Election Day, 2002. Now it’s 2014, and on November 4, we’ll be celebrating Elector’s birthday at both NABC locations with big cuts in the “poll” tax:
  • $2 Imperial pints of Elector, all day long
  • $6.66 growler refills of Elector, all day long
The Pizzeria & House opens at 11:00 a.m., and Bank Street Brewhouse at 3:00 p.m. No longer must we labor under the injustice of an election day prohibition on alcohol sales, so drink early and vote often.
Friday, November 7
Our friends at Bridge Liquors (110 Knable Lane in New Albany) will be offering NABC’s ThunderFoot and Hoosier Daddy for a Friday night beer tasting from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 22
“Chili, Brats, and Brew” is a fundraiser for the Vintage Fire Museum and Safety Education Center (723 Spring Street, Jeffersonville). The museum is a nationally known collection of restored fire engines (hand pumpers, chemical engines, horse-drawn steamers and early motorized engines) and other equipment dating back to 1756. NABC will be on hand to sell Progressive Pints for pairing with the food.
Plaid Friday, November 28 
Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMXIV and Naughty Claus release
Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMXIV, kicks off on Plaid Friday, November 28, at NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House. This is the eleventh edition of Saturnalia, which first took place in 2004.
For Saturnalia, we try to find representative samples of winter and seasonal styles (themselves pleasingly varied, in stylistically terms) from guest breweries, and augment them with others that strike us as somehow festive in purely subjective ways. Not only is it fun, but it’s also educational, providing Roger with frequent polemical opportunities to pontificate about the importance of unleashing our innermost pagans. When the lineup of Saturnalia guest drafts is finalized, typically a last-minute task, it will appear on the NABC web site.
Saturnalia also marks the annual release of NABC’s Naughty Claus (Spiced X-mas Ale). While pre-ordered supplies of Naughty Claus will be shipped to wholesalers and retailers prior to Saturnalia, we’ll not begin pouring Naughty Claus (at both NABC locations) until our traditional holiday opener on the 28th of November. While we understand the demands of the marketplace, our preference is to be seasonal when seasonal really matters.
Saturday, November 29
The annual Holiday Fest and Jingle Walk takes place in downtown New Albany. The walk itself takes place in the afternoon and emphasizes wine tastings in retail shops. FYI: Bank Street Brewhouse will be serving beer.
Looking ahead:
  • January 2 (Friday): Hoptimus Inception Reception 2015 … at NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
  • January 18 (Sunday): Old Lightning Rod Day … at NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
  • January 31 (Saturday): BIG Winterfest … at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis IN
  • February 21 (Saturday): Tailspin Ale Fest … at Bowman Field, Louisville KY
  • February 27 (Friday): Gravity Head 2015 … at NABC Pizzeria & Public House
Note: Both NABC locations will be closed on Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, November 27.
NABC has two locations in New Albany. Our original Pizzeria & Public House near IU Southeast offers a pizzeria-style food menu, NABC’s beers of proven merit and a list of quality guest beers. In downtown New Albany, our taproom at Bank Street Brewhouse no longer prepares meals, but you can pair NABC drafts and bomber bottles with delivery food, carry-in or the contents of your own picnic basket. However, for those venturing to read all the way to the end, there may be a surprise coming soon on the BSB food front. We’re working on it.

Time for spell check: NA eatery now smoke free.


It's only news because I'd like to know which high school the logo designer attended.

ON THE AVENUES: Does New Albany even have an intellectual history?

ON THE AVENUES: Does New Albany even have an intellectual history?

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The last time I can recall dressing up for Halloween was in 1986.

It was the year after my first trip to the Soviet Union, where I’d bought a top quality ushanka (a furry cap with ear flaps) for $25 at a hard currency shop in Leningrad.

As a regular customer of the old Sam’s Tavern, as opposed to the newer generation “Food & Spirits” moniker, my curiosity was piqued by a Halloween costume contest at the bar, but why waste precious drinking time on creative wardrobe when a pair of work boots and the ushanka perched atop my head announced my participation as a Bolshevik?

Shrug. It was good for second place.

After all, on yet another pagan-sourced holiday excuse to flaunt base capitalist greed and excess, one ostensibly devoted to ghosts and ghouls, my posing as a communist bogeyman seemed perfectly fitting. Joe Stalin was a failed seminary student, and his paranoiac, murderous police state has come to exemplify fear, loathing and the “reality” of Marxism as quasi-religious doctrine.

However, as the late historian Tony Judt and his co-writer Timothy Snyder point out in their 2012 book, Thinking the Twentieth Century, at least Marxism-cum-communism remains an actual doctrine, or system of thought and ideas. It’s more than can be said about fascism during its 20th century heyday, because there were no intellectual underpinnings of fascism, which in essence was (and remains) a cult of pure, unadulterated power.

Power. Not unlike a Mitch McConnell television ad, as financed by far-off political money aggregators. Our contemporary capitalist American era, a time dominated by the likes of fracking, the Koch brothers and Wal-Mart, bears a good deal more similarity to fascism than communism, the imagined excesses of managed health care and locale of Barack Obama’s birth certificate notwithstanding.

It’s why my brewing machines are calibrated to “kill” fascists, not communists. I’m for capitalism with a human face, although I’m afraid it may be too late for that.

---

There’ll be an election next week.

Why do ordinary Americans insist on vote against their own best interests by casting their ballots for Republicans? Why do they support the crippled and unresponsive “two party system” by voting at all? As the 1% garners an ever higher share of the wealth, what keeps 99% of Americans off the streets, demanding change?

Inelegantly paraphrased, Judt offers a theory from self-delusion to explain this phenomenon.

Democracy depends on an informed and responsive citizenry, but generations of consumer-oriented, materialistic capitalism have resulted in large numbers of humans existing in a state of non-responsiveness, unable to act in their own best interests, primarily because they remain besotted, dazzled and duped by the convenient myth of America as a place of opportunity, where any lowly schmuck can get rich by working hard.

In much the same way as science contradicts religious superstition, incontrovertible economic statistics plainly disprove the notion that most of us have any chance whatever of becoming a card-carrying member of the 1%. We’ll be lucky if we die out of debt.

But superstition perseveres, and according to Judt, Americans insist on voting to maintain the conditions of their own impoverishment precisely because they retain the childlike faith that some sweet day, when they’re finally as rich as Mitt Romney, they’ll receive the rewards for voting like Mitt Romney, even when they were poor.

And then there is white male anger, which is a topic for another day.

---

Judt’s and Snyder’s book takes the form of several loosely themed conversations, as transcribed by Snyder. At the time of the book’s preparation, Judt was immobilized by ALS, the disease that subsequently killed him. As with Stephen Hawking, Judt’s mind was mightily sharp, and the two historians tackle topics beneath an umbrella term many New Albanians might find frightening, pretentious or both: The “intellectual history” of the past century.

In short, how did ideas and systems of thought play a role in European society, art, politics and history during this era? I’ve already mentioned some ‘isms,” as in capitalism, communism and fascism. What about socialism? How is it that I persist in identifying my core political persuasion as resembling European-style Social Democracy rather than conforming to an American version of Democrat or Republican?

There are numerous other examples, as in the case of Zionism. What is the pathway of a Jewish separatist movement rooted in fin de siècle Vienna, as it leads toward a post-Holocaust consolidation of the modern Israeli state? How did rural and urban Jewish societies in Europe differ in the first place? And so on.

Reading and thinking about this wonderful overview of intellectual history have been tremendously exciting for me. I needed a stimulating “break” after so many months of concentration on specific matters of local, personal and business interest – from lane widths to commercial kitchens, from the death of a housecat to Silvercrest, and from 800-lb gorillas to shrubbery.

Judt and Snyder’s engaging scholarship has helped bring me back, full circle, to the time when I was advised to register for an Introduction to Philosophy class only because (a) it’s easy, and (b) I’d need humanities credits, anyway. But I was abruptly awakened by a vibrant world of thoughts and ideas, which high school simply didn’t prepare me to fathom or discover. The book reminds me of what changed my life so very long ago ... and continues to do so today.

Yes, I persist in a belief that certain of these ideas and doctrines, some more so than others, still preface daily living in a place like New Albany. Ideas and words matter, as in a comment recently passed along to me:

"Before we talk about transportation we have to ask what city we want and how we want to live."

I want to live thinking.

Without it, my quality of life suffers.

On the waterfront in the fog, but with a pleasing throwback.


Last Friday morning (October 24).





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Old school: Detroit Pistons and Colt 45.


The NBA season began last night. Regular readers know that I am a pro basketball kind of guy, and abhor the hypocrisy of college sports -- but not today.

The poster (copied from a tweet) reminds us of how solid the Pistons were in the late 1980s.

The beer ("It Works Every Time") reminds me of this: The history of Malt Liquor. Really. 

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 48: 80,000 lbs of what shouldn't be on the streets of a city without balls.







Joseph "PJ" Moore for Georgetown Township Advisory Board.

Joseph “PJ” Moore is running as an independent for a seat on the Georgetown Township Advisory Board, a three-member board that (among other tasks) reviews the trustee's budget.

It’s a race that lies outside my own voting area, but nonetheless, Moore has my endorsement.

Moore is heavily involved in community affairs, and is an original member of the Edwardsville Cleanup Committee, which organizes and oversees an annual spring Cleanup Day. He’s a friend of Edwardsville’s Cavan Park, and currently volunteers his time painting murals on the I-64 underpass along Yenowine Lane. He assists in the mowing and maintenance of three cemeteries in the township.

Furthermore, and what strikes me as critical, there is Moore’s watchdog role as it pertains to county government. As a private citizen, he has been a tireless advocate of accountability and attends countless meetings on his own time.

In 2012, Moore’s street knowledge helped prevent the accidental misallocation of over $600,000 in insurance premium refunds when former auditor Darin Coddington, perhaps the most blatantly inept public official in recent memory, advised the county commissioners to give the lump sum money to county employees, rather than the correct procedure of reimbursing employees their share of the refund and rolling the remainder into the following year’s premiums.

In the exchange of birthday cards sense, I don’t know PJ Moore particularly well. We meet once or twice a year to discuss these and other issues, and he helps keep me abreast of the county’s “undernourished shark”-infested waters. He’s vigilant, and hardly pliant.

I can’t think of better recommendations for office.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Meet Lee Ann Wiseheart and Danita Burks. They'd like you to vote them to the public school board. Their kids attend Christian Academy.


Roger: We have a new beer called Nan Brown. It's really good. Want to try it?

Customer: Sure (takes a drink) ... but this is Elector with a different name!

Roger: Precisely. Our next new release is called Amy Adams.

---

Meanwhile, for those keeping score (as you should be, alibi-ridden partisan apologists), this makes two weeks, two columns, and two majestic upper deck home runs by Amanda Beam.

Last week, she popped the deceptive lid on local identity dysfunction, and NAC felt the chill of so many ghostly "conversations" past.

Those "phantoms of Facebook" have quite the pedigree -- right, Amy?

... All was fine and dandy with dear, sweet Nan (Brown) until she decided to reply to a post I had written a few days back about an upcoming school board race. The lovely lady disagreed with my opinion, which wasn’t a big deal. But when I asked her about being a teacher and if she had children, her answers didn’t match up with her profile identity. A quick search online revealed that, for all intents and purposes, Ms. Brown didn’t exist ...

... A couple of these accounts posted in other mediums too. Amy Adams enjoyed commenting on the News and Tribune’s website frequently these past few years on all sorts of political topics. Another young gal even said no good columnists wrote for the paper anymore. (Insert evil laugh here).

This week, Beam's bat meets ball -- again: "To me, if you choose not to send your child to a public school, then you shouldn’t be making fiscal and policy decisions for those of us who do."

BEAM: The power of choice

 Most of us can agree parents have a right to send their children to the schools of their choosing. Some select private institutions, whether for a parochial education or specialized ways of teaching, and pay out of pocket for the tuition. Others home-school.

Both are fine alternatives to public schools. Notice I didn’t say they were in any way better than the public offerings, just different.

That’s the parent’s choice.

But what if those parents decide to run for a position on a public school board?

Here’s where the situation becomes a bit hairy.

Let's face facts.

The current school board isn't exactly a shining symbol on the Grant Line Road knoll, but Lee Ann Wiseheart and Danita Burks plainly represent a theocratic view of the world, one that has no place in public school decision-making.

While we're at it, the superannuated Don Sakel also is undeserving of a seat, although for entirely different reasons.

Me?

Yes, I actually did vote, though not for very many, and firmly against a couple. The object was to view the process, because the 2015 insurgency will be here quite soon. In the balloting for school board, I voted for Jan Anderson, and that's it. She makes sense and is always responsive.

Thanks to Amanda Beam for her last two News and Tribune columns, and to Daniel Suddeath (and Jerod Clapp) for their reporting. They've restored a dollop of faith in the ability of the local newspaper to make a difference. More, please.

From The Who to Errol Flynn's Don Juan in two early morning song snippets.



As an expression of the strange way my brain processes and recalls music, consider two tunes playing interchangeably in my mind as I awoke this morning. Note that music plays constantly in my head, although deciphering the wacky algorithm responsible for selecting the playlist has proven impossible.

First, "Put the Money Down," a song by the Who, from an album I haven't played in years.

This cut, recorded at roughly the same time as the songs appearing on the classic 1971 album Who's Next, first appeared on the compilation album Odds & Sods in 1974. It is by no means a well known track by my favorite band, which returns to Louisville early next year on its 50th anniversary (and purportedly final) tour.

Two days ago, I read a long interview with survivng members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey at the on-line portal of a British newspaper. Did this somehow dislodge "Put the Money Down" from a shelf in the cranium ... or is it how perfectly the song's weary, angry and cynical lyrics describe local phenomenons like New Albany's Main Street Disprovement, Deforestation and Semi Trailer Non-Diversion Project, and my reaction to them?

Even more obscurely, also greeting me this morning was a theme from the 1948 Errol Flynn film, The Adventures of Don Juan. You'll hear it 12 seconds into this suite of Max Steiner's music from the movie.


Flynn's career headed south shortly after this one, but briefly, some of the old magic returned. Here's a clip.



Now, imagine New Albany's own Josh Dallas playing the role of Flynn in a biopic based on Flynn's colorful life.

Just saying.

Richard Atnip, if you're reading this ... pass the word, please. Do you see where the music leads me?

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 47: As the Board of Works convenes, we record a "negatory" for Main Street medians, good buddy.

Uh oh -- this doesn't look very good.


Dude, we haven't even FINISHED the boondoggle ... but it means at least one oversized rig is voting with its tires while city officials snooze.


I took these photos where 13th Street crosses Main, then started walking home, only to be reminded that in recent months, quiet little residential 13th Street has become Tiger Trucking Boulevard ... while city officials snooze.


Let's dedicate the remainder of the Tuesday "does the Board of Public Works really exist?" edition of Truck Through City to Tiger Trucking.

In fact, so many of the firm's bigger-than-your-house rigs are out on city streets where they have no business being that sometimes, it seems like they're both coming AND going.


However, usually they're just speeding past your residential quality of life ... while city officials snooze, which of course they do, seeing as so few of them reside anywhere close to the problem areas.



Basketball's Steve Nash: "A voice of resistance when it mattered most."

As one of the few sportswriters who truly matter, Dave Zirin's essays always are a must read for me. That's because the world of sports does not exist in a vacuum, untethered to society in the main. When you've read one account of a high school football game, you've read them all, but blessed are those capable of viewing sports in larger context, as Zirin always does.

And yes, as both a writer and brewery owner, I believe Zirin and Steve Nash are role models. Our machines do kill fascists, after all.

The Bridge: A Political Appreciation of Steve Nash, by Dave Zirin (The Nation)

... The appreciations of Nash and his arsenal of ambidextrous passing will continue to fly fast and furious, but we should also take a moment to appreciate Nash for reasons apart from his ability to do this. We should also thank him for daring to be a voice of resistance when it mattered most. As the war on Iraq was being planned early in 2003, there was silence throughout the sports world. This was not surprising. It had been years since athletes had put themselves out there to use their hyper-exalted brought-to-you-by-Nike platforms to make political statements. Today, as jocks—from Richard Sherman to Serena Williams to Robbie Rodgers to Jason Collins to the Miami Heat—have used social media to speak difficult truths in unwelcome spaces, it is difficult to remember just how deafening the political quietude was back in 2003. While several million people converged on New York City to say no to what we then called “Bush’s war,” the sports world institutionally, from team owners to media puff pieces, was a center of unquestioned patriotism. For people who only read the sports page, and stay off the front page, being confronted with dissenting views was a non-option.

I'd rather harbor a healthy contempt for all the angry men.

Recently it occurred to me that I'm angry, too, except my reasons for being angry seem to differ quite markedly from my fellow middle-aged white guys.

I'm angry at them for being such wankers, and I find this consoling, indeed.

Why are some men so angry? From Gamergate to mass shootings to domestic violence and the NFL, the common denominator is male rage, by Jessica Valenti (The Guardian)

... It’s no coincidence that anti-feminist backlash happens most often when women’s rights are on an upswing. And male anger towards women isn’t going anywhere – if anything, it’s gaining steam. Online forums that provide anonymity are creating spaces for men to say the things they no longer can in “real life”, police and courts that disbelieve and blame women for the violence done to them give men the impression their bad behavior is acceptable and a conservative movement that refuses to let go of traditional gender roles teaches our children that being a man is synonymous with being “tough”, having guns and, yes, being violent.

2014 ThunderFoot Halloween Hangover release day is Saturday, November 1, at both NABC locations


Although I don't pay close attention to the "oracle" beer ratings sites, I'm told that ThunderFoot scores well. We haven't brewed it regularly during past years, but probably will do so again yearly in small batches from now on. The base style is Imperial Stout, which I once described in a Food & Dining magazine column:

Just as exuberantly hoppy India Pale Ale evolved along the shipping lanes from Great Britain to toasty colonial India, robust and jet-black Imperial Stout was adopted by English brewers and traders as the ideal export beverage for cooler northerly markets in Russia and the port cities of the Baltic Sea. Highly alcoholic, displaying intensely roasted and deeply fruity flavors, Imperial Stout is perhaps the only style of beer that can be termed “thick as oil” without a trace of exaggeration.

ThunderFoot is augmented with cherries and oak aging. It is an elegant but strong libation, and any resemblance to the Publican's size 16s is purely intentional.

ThunderFoot's story and stats are here.

ThunderFoot's release day information is here.


In case you're wondering, Gravity Head 2015 draws ever nearer: February 27, 2015.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Destinations Booksellers: "Help Us Celebrate Ten Years in New Albany."

Earlier in October, we glanced into the rear view mirror.

Ten years ago today, a book was sold.


Even better, we're all still moving forward. Read all about how Ann and Randy are celebrating, and what's in it for you. Then drink a Progressive Pint, toast the Smiths, and think about all the other cities that don't have a bookstore.

Cheers!

Help Us Celebrate Ten Years in New Albany (Destinations Booksellers)

We are having the clearance sale to end all sales starting Tuesday. All of you who have given us your patronage and helped make our first ten years in New Albany a success are invited to come down and take something back.

Eleven years ago I hadn’t met my wife and I certainly had never visited New Albany, Indiana. Today I find myself preparing to mark 10 years as a retailer here. There are hundreds of stories that can be told, but I won’t burden you with any of those today. Let me just say “Thank You” to the growing number of folks who make doing this job joyful.

Trognonymity, rewound: Tell me, who are you?

Life in New Albany is unremittingly bizarre, and so perhaps the past few days must be viewed as little more than the extension of a decade-long experiment aimed at discovering whether unreality is the only reality permitted hereabouts.

Those "phantoms of Facebook" have quite the pedigree -- right, Amy (Adams)?



News and Tribune bombshell: "Fake Facebook accounts linked to State Rep's wife."


After all, throughout the ten year history of this blog, we've observed the same oppositional habits and reactions again and again: Anonymity, fakery, subterfuge and elderly females posing as male college professors.

It was so common that we coined a phrase to describe it: Trognonymity.

While surprising, the past week's revelations mostly conjure a sense of déjà vu. Verily, we have all been here before. My pre-merger Tribune column ran for 2+ years, from 2009 through 2011, and in the on-line comments romper room of the period, I regularly was savaged by some of the very same commenters who've been outed as purely make-believe by Amanda Beam, Daniel Suddeath and Jerod Clapp. My own experiences merely add to the poignancy, but then, as now, my viewpoint on the matter has not changed. At the end of the day, anonymity = cowardice. Period.

In this encore of a 2009 column, the intrinsic tackiness of trognonymity is catalogued.

---

BEER MONEY: Tell me, who are you?

By ROGER BAYLOR
Local Columnist

Come now, let us reason together.
-- Lyndon Baines Johnson, by way of Isaiah 1:18

Tribune readers who’ve been coming here for a while will recall that during the 1980s, I was known to submit the stray letter to the editor. Someday I’ll delve into the bulging banker’s boxes stacked in my closet and unearth relevant fragments of those letter-to-the-editor archives, but for now just one example will suffice.

Around 1983, after writing a letter expressing principled opposition to President Ronald Reagan’s reactionary conservative excesses, I received a small, smudged envelope in the mail. There was no return address, only a New Albany postmark, and as those were the days before one studied suspicious packages for white powdered residue, I shrugged and opened it.

Crude, palsied handwriting on a small rectangle of unsigned spiral notebook paper came straight to the point:

Jesse the Revolutionary
Or Killer Kennedy
Who is your choice?

Imagine: Years before the advent of Internet forums and blogging, the first ever “trognonymous” (troglodyte + anonymous = trognonymous) note had arrived to brighten my day. Then, as now, it compelled me to reflect on the nature of cowardice, strengthening my belief that anonymity is an affliction borne of malice, one practiced by the chronically dysfunctional solely to exact vengeance on those they envy for having the integrity to stand openly behind their words, thoughts and opinions.

Duly inspired, a year later I became the only person in my rural precinct to vote for Jesse Jackson in the Democratic primary, and Teddy Kennedy remains a personal favorite. Now it is 2009, Barack Obama is in the White House, and this very column probably will inspire more submissions of unsigned proof that my anonymity position has and always will be correct.

Some things don’t change. That’s sad.

----

There was another factor precipitating my severe allergy to the abuses of anonymity. The Tribune’s eagerness at the time to print nameless letters to the editor engendered a recurring feeling of disgust. Most of these letters were vicious personal attacks on people whose identities were irrevocably public. It was disgraceful, and I spent uncounted years denouncing it.

Consequently, whatever small role my advocacy may have played in convincing the newspaper’s publisher to reverse the longstanding policy and require the identities of writers to be revealed is a source of great personal satisfaction to me.

To the Tribune’s credit, it made the right call, although the change came against the strenuous objections of the editor, who defended anonymity in much the same manner as some continue to attempt today (paraphrasing):

There are numerous times when adults eagerly embrace the opportunity to injudiciously and anonymously vent their anger and intemperance, and conversely, there are comparatively few instances when legitimate concerns like protection for whistle-blowers precludes the full disclosure of identity, and so the multitudinous former cases must be tolerated so as to provide rationale for the stunning infrequency of the latter cases.

Isn’t it patronizing to inform an adult that he or she isn’t sufficiently sophisticated to understand the rights and responsibilities of free speech, and therefore shall be permitted to spray anonymous attacks like diarrhea in the general direction of ideas and people that are detested?

Pandering in this fashion also precludes the very real possibility that even hidebound adults can learn if provided with reputable information and instruction. While it is true that informants and whistle-blowers might fear reprisal, the vast majority of anonymous letter writers and today’s masked Internet commentators have no such concern, and rather are exercising malice in “speaking out loud” without acknowledging responsible channels for doing so.

As the wag once said, we already have a Bill of Rights – now we need an accompanying Bill of Responsibilities. Free speech is a right, and it implies a responsibility. Although accumulated bile often stands squarely in the way of understanding these obligations, it doesn’t render them moot.

Rather, it illustrates their underlying truth even more vividly.

----

Sometimes nothing can be done, anonymously or otherwise. Two weeks ago a friend of many years announced, although regrettably not to my face, that he would be taking his “American money” elsewhere and severing personal ties with me because of my February 5 column accusing a negligent stork of dropping me on the wrong continent way back in 1960.

Granted, he’s rigidly conservative, and I’ll always be a pants-down social democrat. Yes, by the twisted practices of modern times, a strict ideological segregation must be maintained, but hasn’t anyone ever heard of the long friendship between Kennedy and Orrin Hatch?

Moreover, I retain numerous friends whose political views are somewhat to the right of Charlton Heston’s, and they’ve never shunned me or mine because of it. We vigorously discuss issues, debate them as fiercely, sometimes agree, and sometimes agree to disagree. Then we kick back and drink fine craft beer together, as it should be.

If I write something controversial -- and I fully intend to continue doing so -- isn’t the properly “American” response to emulate those three members of Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK), who responded to my column three weeks ago by writing their own letters, stating their own views, signing their own names, and being part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

Remember, the gadfly’s chief objectives are promoting the exchange of ideas and furthering dialogue, which can’t happen when masks are donned, brickbats tossed or disappearances staged.

"My old Republican worldview was flawed because it was based upon a small and particularly rosy sliver of reality."


It's all about the difference between illusion and delusion.

An illusion is a fanciful vision or a false impression or idea, a mental state in which one attributes reality to something unreal. Delusion is a mistaken impression or wrong idea, but the word also implies action - the action of fooling with a wrong impression or idea or the condition of being fooled or deceived.

Or, in the case of embracing the worldview of the GOP, both.

I dove into the research literature to try to figure out what was going on.  It turned out that everything I was “discovering” had been hiding in plain sight and had been named: aversive racism, institutional racism, disparate impact and disparate treatment, structural poverty, neighborhood redlining, the “trial tax,” the “poverty tax,” and on and on.  Having grown up obsessed with race (welfare and affirmative action were our bêtes noirs), I wondered why I had never heard of any of these concepts.
Was it to protect our Republican version of “individual responsibility”?  That notion is fundamental to the liberal Republican worldview. “Bootstrapping” and “equality of opportunity, not outcomes” make perfect sense if you assume, as I did, that people who hadn’t risen into my world simply hadn’t worked hard enough, or wanted it badly enough, or had simply failed.  But I had assumed that bootstrapping required about as much as it took to get yourself promoted from junior varsity to varsity.  It turns out that it’s more like pulling yourself up from tee-ball to the World Series.  Sure, some people do it, but they’re the exceptions, the outliers, the Olympians.

I'll skip directly to the conclusion, but the essay should be read in its entirety.

Why I left the GOP, by Jeremiah Goulka (tomdispatch.com, relayed by Salon)

I grew up in a rich, Republican household, but after Katrina and Iraq, I realized my priorities were out of order
 ... My old Republican worldview was flawed because it was based upon a small and particularly rosy sliver of reality.  To preserve that worldview, I had to believe that people had morally earned their “just” desserts, and I had to ignore those whining liberals who tried to point out that the world didn’t actually work that way.  I think this shows why Republicans put so much effort into “creat[ing] our own reality,” into fostering distrust of liberals, experts, scientists, and academics, and why they won’t let a campaign “be dictated by fact-checkers” (as a Romney pollster put it).  It explains why study after study shows — examples herehere, and here – that avid consumers of Republican-oriented media are more poorly informed than people who use other news sources or don’t bother to follow the news at all.
Waking up to a fuller spectrum of reality has proved long and painful.  I had to question all my assumptions, unlearn so much of what I had learned.  I came to understand why we Republicans thought people on the Left always seemed to be screeching angrily (because we refused to open our eyes to the damage we caused or blamed the victims) and why they never seemed to have any solutions to offer (because those weren’t mentioned in the media we read or watched).
My transition has significantly strained my relationships with family, friends, and former colleagues.  It is deeply upsetting to walk on thin ice where there used to be solid, common ground.  I wish they, too, would come to see a fuller spectrum of reality, but I know from experience how hard that can be when your worldview won’t let you.
No one wants to feel like a dupe.  It is embarrassing to come out in public and admit that I was so miseducated when so much reality is out there in plain sight in neighborhoods I avoided, in journals I hadn’t heard of, in books by authors I had refused to read. 

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 46: Bigger than a shotgun house, faster than a fleeing public official.

Will Jeff Speck's "10 not 12!" axiom apply to Spring Street?







Sunday, October 26, 2014

Breakfast is served at Democratic Headquarters ... and yet another metaphor dysfunction occurs.


I'd hate to make them THINK, or anything as uncomfortable as that.

Will Jeff Speck's "10 not 12!" axiom apply to Spring Street?


Previously, setting aside legitimate and persistent concerns as to whether there exists within City Hall the requisite political courage for implementation of street grid reform, we speculated as to the future configuration of Spring Street, as reconstituted via Jeff Speck's forthcoming recommendations.

Jeff Speck on John Rosenbarger's 12-ft wide Spring Street traffic lanes: “A 12-foot lane is a 70 mph lane."


 ... Presumably, Speck will advise them to correct the idiocy, and perhaps they will. I'm guessing a Spring Street fix involves two-way traffic lanes at 10 feet, with a slightly wider turn lane in the middle, and the removal of biking lanes, which are largely useless. Should there be lanes for bicycles? Yes, somewhere. Just imagine if we had an actual plan for them, in the sense of actually leading from and to a destination ... but then a traffic lane might have to be changed, and we know how THAT inconveniences Democratic Party grandees.

The photo above tells the rest of the story. Speck himself recently has crusaded very publicly as to the street grid reformer's equivalent of "Remember the Alamo":

It's "10 not 12!"

Not since "Fifty-four forty or fight!" has there been a numerical equation so compelling.

Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now: Let's make "10 not 12!" a new mantra for saving our cities and towns

... States and counties almost always apply a 12-foot standard. Why do they do this? Because they believe that wider lanes are safer. And in this belief, they are dead wrong. Or, to be more accurate, they are wrong, and thousands of Americans are dead.

With this background established, yesterday the Green Mouse was fed an interesting rumor: Main Street project lanes soon are to be striped at 11 feet (a namby-pamby Rosenbarger compromise in itself), which is the same lane width proposed for a future two-way Spring Street -- not by Adam Dickey, but by Speck.

Noting that the number 11 does not even exist in Speck's "10 not 12" slogan, how could it be that I've been reading the 10-ft lane width fighting words all across the Internetz, and then see 11-ft lanes proposed for the de facto interstate trucking route currently operating right outside my front door?

Since Speck invariably has been responsive, a trait hitherto unknown to the likes of John Rosenbarger and the majority of cloistered city officials, I thought I'd ask him directly.

Here's the exchange on Twitter.

Roger A. Baylor: Rumor has it that in New Albany, 11-ft lanes for Spring are advised. True? If so, how does it jibe with your 10-ft advocacy?

Jeff Speck: I'm surprised of rumors, since recs are in flux. That said, every street has to make best use of it's existing curb-to-curb.

JS: And I would generally keep bike lanes at 6 feet max so cars don't use them. This may lead to 11-foot lanes.

RAB: City's been talking about sharrows, so I assumed the bike lanes would be ditched. As constituted now, they are useless.

RAB: High-speed, pass-through heavy truck traffic is killing us. Looking for relief any way we can.

JS: Yes, very aware and concerned!

RAB: Thanks; it has been highly stressful.

Interestingly, the Green Mouse's same informant stated just a few weeks ago that the city's real and abiding secret wish is to inflict medians on Spring, as have been built on Main, seemingly precluding bike lanes, and replacing them with the dreaded, ineffective sharrows.

That's insanity, but then again, this is New Albany.

To be sure, these are no more than bits and pieces, leaks and rumors, and they only hint at broader outlines, which we'll not be privy to until the moment, at long last, when the Speck report is finished and the city decides to share it with us prior to doing whatever City Hall already had decided to do -- because that's the way this administration has chosen to operate, and by extension, that's why it has broken faith with those supporting it.

As Speck wrote, it is in flux, and we must wait and see.

The frustrating thing is that bike lanes should have been on Main Street, period. Now that Main Street has been ingloriously (permanently?) botched owing to changes there being conducted politically without consideration for their connectivity to our current dysfunctional street grid, or to any future street grid rendered functional, what is the ripple effect for subsequent alterations?

Apparently one of them is gifting Spring with 11-ft lanes, so as to allow for bike paths that lead nowhere and shouldn't be located where they are, and with all due respect to Jeff Speck, doesn't this only compound the perpetual foolishness rather than ameliorate it?

After all, as most of us can see all too well, the compounding of foolishness is this city's historic mission and legacy. New Albany fails because it refuses to begin at the beginning, and to decide what it wants to be prior to spending millions of dollars on incompletely implemented plans that tend to change with the prevailing seasonal (and political) winds.

As the Complete Street project recently tweeted:

Before we talk about transportation we have to ask what city we want and how we want to live!

That never happens here, does it? You see, what it comes down to is Abraham Lincoln.

If I could calm this street grid without changing any lane I would do it, and if I could calm it by changing all the lanes I would do it; and if I could calm it by changing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

But it makes a fairly good campaign platform plank ... almost as good as "10 not 12!"

Public Art Project sustainability talk & walk on Elector Day, November 4.


Tuesday, November 4 has a lot going for it.

For one, there'll be $2.00 pints and $6.66 growler refills of Elector at both NABC locations. That's because it's also the day for an election, a word owing most of its rapidly diminishing local significance to $2.00 pints and $6.66 growler refills of Elector at both NABC locations.

And then there's the Carnegie Center's second “talk & walk” about sustainability with Claude Stephens of the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.

But it gets EVEN BETTER. Both before and after the walk, you can enjoy $2.00 pints and $6.66 growler refills of Elector at Bank Street Brewhouse, providentially located RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the Carnegie Center.

The overview is below; go here for more.

We are happy to be working with Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest (www.bernheim.org) to present the Public Art Project theme of sustainability in 2015 and a series of related programs, including this one.

On Tuesday November 4, from 6:00-7:30 pm, beginning at the Carnegie Center, the public is invited to our second “talk & walk” about sustainability with Claude Stephens of Bernheim. Claude will lead an informal chat about sustainability and regenerative design with a focus on ecology. We will then take our conversation into downtown New Albany by dividing into groups to visit the sites for the 2015 public artworks near the Carnegie Center. Each group will consider their site from a sustainability perspective and then we will gather back at the Carnegie Center to share our observations. Come help us envision a future where we live in better agreement with nature as we explore a shift from sustainable to regenerative thinking. Claude Stephens is the Facilitator of Outreach and Regenerative Design at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. As an ecologist and educator Claude is excited about a future where ecology and economy work in partnership.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A brewery at 1419 E. Market Street in New Albany?

It appears that someone else wants to start a brewery behind my back -- wait, I mean in my backyard.


It's here, at 1419 E. Market St., which lies closer to my residence than Bank Street Brewhouse.


I really hate those one-way street signs. In the aerial view, Spring Street is on the upper left, and Vincennes to the right.


As far as I know, the Donum Dei Brewery slated for retail space near the El Nopal on Grant Line Road (near NABC's Pizzeria & Public House) still is moving forward, and as yet, I've heard nothing more about the Wrecker Brewing Company.

Anyone? I'll attend the Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday and see if more can be learned.

Which Indiana lawmakers spent the most on travel?

Editor's note: The following link was scheduled for publication prior to yesterday's News and Tribune investigative story about "apparent fake Facebook accounts" linked to Rep. Clere's wife Amy. 

See also the newspaper's coverage of last week's candidate forum with Clere and challenger Kevin Bailey. 

It has been only a few hours, but my guess is that last evening's Fakebook revelations will do nothing to affect the Nov. 4 balloting. It hasn't gone viral like Bank Street Brewhouse's heroic frozen weenies, most of us have long suspected local identity chicanery anyway, and those most enthusiastic in sharing the news so far have been the usual Democratic supporters and functionaries. 

Supporters of Clere likely will excuse his wife for over-zealousness, nothing more -- and really, was there any volatility within the partisan cadres in this race to begin with? There hardly exists a dynamic fit for alteration. Mid-term election realities, and Floyd County's blatant vote-suppressive polling place swaps should assist both Clere and Ron Grooms. 

But if the latter is feeling threatened by Chuck Freiberger, there remains time for an October surprise, by which I refer to information leaked to the Green Mouse to the effect that Grooms might seek to claim credit for state INDOT funds ostensibly slated for use in implementing the Jeff Speck street conversion plan in New Albany. It's always been a problematic rumor, albeit one emanating from an impeccable source. It depends on Grooms possessing any passable working knowledge of contemporary urban street grid strategies as well as viewing them as somehow helpful within his stodgy 70-year-old voting bloc (both unlikely assumptions). 

It also posits a partisan City Hall in New Albany willing to acquiesce in a tactic designed to cripple a fellow Democrat. The odds are better on this side (after all, Freiberger is a county, not city politician), but it still seems far-fetched, primarily because of the implicit suggestion that Mayor Gahan sees quick and decisive street grid reform as helpful to his re-election campaign -- and this decidedly has NOT the case to date amid the rote prevarications, obfuscations and foot-dragging.

I suspect that in the evening on November 4, as we consider the election results, the Lennon/McCartney conclusion from "Eleanor Rigby" will yet again be restated: "No one was saved." So it goes in Nawbony, and after all, that's why we have $2 pints on Elector Day.

---

Are these two items in the Indy Star newsworthy? Yes. Were Rep. Clere's travel expenses egregious? In my view, no. They pertain to his co-chairmanship of an entity (the Council of State Governments) that clearly bears a strong connection to his position as an elected official. Other examples cited here just as clearly do not.

Indiana lawmakers travel on taxpayers' dime, by Tony Cook (Indy Star)

How would you like to check out some of the most technologically advanced vehicles in the world? Or visit the White House with a championship basketball team? Or take an all-expense-paid trip to Alaska?

Indiana lawmakers have traveled across the country to do all of those things — and Hoosier taxpayers have picked up the tab.

An Indianapolis Star review of lawmakers' out-of-state travel records found that taxpayers have spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars during the past two years to send state lawmakers everywhere from Alaska to Florida.

Here's the rest of the story.

Gallery: Which Indiana lawmakers spent the most on travel?

No. 7: Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, spent $5,341 on six trips. All of them were related to his involvement with the Council of State Governments. He is a co-chairman of that organization's training institute for new Midwestern lawmakers. Destinations included Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Cleveland and St. Paul.

The mayor has a video moment -- what will Iamhoosier make of THIS sighting?



Computer-generated images have come a long way, right Mark?

At Fb, I asked the city's social media contractor whether "The Mayor's Minute" was intended to replace "New Albany Now" on the YouTube hit parade.

Came the answer:

Thanks Roger, no, this is supplementary. Let us know if you have a story for us to share.

Something about holograms, maybe?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Theoretically, one might dox a doxy.

I'm becoming quite old, because these words sparked rapid cerebral confusion:

Felicia Day Shares Feelings on GamerGate, Gets Doxxed

Yesterday The Guild creator and TV star Felicia Day published a moving Tumblr post ("The Only Thing I Have to Say About Gamergate") expressing her fears about certain aspects of the GamerGate movement - accusations of engaging in harassing, threatening and doxxing women.

To me, this headline might as well have been written in Cyrillic or Mandarin, such is my complete absence of familiarity with any of the persons and concepts mentioned in it. However, for reasons soon to be explained, one word in particular captured my attention and sent me scurrying to the dictionary (that's why they're there): Doxxed.

dox
däks/
verb informal
past tense: doxxed; past participle: doxxed
search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

Think of the file extension, and it makes sense: .docx

With all due credit to Joe (wiry mother in an orange cap) Kerstiens, who quite some time ago introduced me to Noblesville, Indiana born author Rex Stout and the Nero Wolfe series of detective novels, the word "doxxed" persisted in appearing as "doxy" to me, as in "Death of a Doxy," in which the meaning is explained.

"My sister was a what?"

"D,O,X,Y, doxy. I happen to like that better than concubine or paramour or mistress. I don't —"

I stopped because I had to, to protect my face.

— Archie Goodwin, conversing with Stella Fleming in Death of a Doxy, chapter 5

The dictionary approaches it with more bluntness.

dox·y
ˈdäksē
noun archaic
a lover or mistress.
a prostitute.

Verbs and nouns, informal and archaic. Make 'em count.

News and Tribune bombshell: "Fake Facebook accounts linked to State Rep's wife."


Say what?


Whoa.

Not exactly the Friday evening I'd envisioned, and it isn't clear which of these revelations is the most staggering:

  • That Rep. Ed Clere's wife might be linked to Fakebook accounts
  • That the News and Tribune actually does investigative reporting
  • That a banner ad for a wine tasting event 35 days ago remains displayed at the N and T site (see above)

Jeebus.

When I published this blog nod to intrepid N and T columnist Amanda Beam on Wednesday ...

Those "phantoms of Facebook" have quite the pedigree -- right, Amy?

Beam makes reference to "Amy Adams," who first rose to prominence as a contributor to the newspaper's on-line comments section prior to it moving to Facebook in the run-up to the Hanson Paywall.

"Amy Adams" didn't think much of me back then, but as the columnist shows, "Amy Adams" was/is a phantom. It brings to mind the immortal words of Gomer Pyle: "Surprise, surprise, surprise."

... I meant the fictitious "Amy Adams," not Mrs. Clere. Here's the bombshell scoop by Daniel Suddeath, with an assist to Jerod Clapp.

Apparent fake Facebook accounts examined

NEW ALBANY — Following an column that appeared in the News and Tribune this week describing an interaction between the columnist and apparent fake Facebook accounts, the social media pages mentioned in the article were deleted or disabled.

But searches of cached versions of those accounts coupled with evidence presented by sources indicate that Amy Clere, wife of State Rep. Ed Clere, operated those deleted profiles.

When contacted by the News and Tribune Thursday and Friday, she vehemently denied any knowledge of fake profiles.

“Anybody who says anything about me being involved in fake accounts of any kind is lying, period,” she said, as Clere added the allegation is “completely false.”

Ed Clere also denied knowledge of the accounts.

As they say across the pond, I'm gobsmacked. Granted, there was a time when this story would not have surprised me at all, but I'd long since filed it away with all the other dead letters.

Fair's fair: A tip of the hat to the News and Tribune. Now, let's see how this unfolds.

Habana Blues scores Horseshoe Foundation loan, and Business First tells all.


Interestingly, the article mentions the former bank building, known to old-timers as Mutual Trust, then more recently, National City. It's the one with the artless brick overlay, to the left (above) and in the Business First photo -- where the Habana Blues "coming soon" banner currently hangs.

However, the BF photo itself is centered on the adjacent Hieb Building, where restoration of the facade has been underway of late. I persist in assuming relocated restaurant will be behind the banner in the former bank, but am I assuming correctly?

Yesterday I ran into developer Matt Chalfant, owner and renovator of present and future Habana Blues locations, and we agreed that it's a power move for Leo Lopez and the business. I thanked Matt for what he's been doing downtown, and he replied that it's just one building at a time, and then the next one.

Exactly.

Where is Habana Blues going?, by Caitlin Bowling (Louisville Business First)

Habana Blues has received a $50,000 revolving loan from the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, which will help the Latin tapas restaurant move to a new location in New Albany.
Habana Blues opened at 148 E. Market St. in New Albany in 2010 but is moving about two blocks away to 320 Pearl St. The building formerly housed a bank but has been empty for at least four years.
In order to make it a restaurant, Habana Blues owner Leo Lopez said workers will have to redo everything. "It's going to be a lot of work."