Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THE BEER BEAT: Hew Ainslie, an early New Albany brewer and Scottish-American poet.

Hew Ainslie was New Albany's first commercial brewer. This biographical sketch below was written by Louisville goldsmith, writer and homebrewer Conrad Selle.

The sketch was first published in the FOSSILS newsletter circa 1994. Later it was a staple on the club's web site, and was reprinted at Potable Curmudgeon in 2005 and NA Confidential in 2012.

Many thanks to Conrad, whose tireless research into Louisville area brewing can be experienced in Louisville Breweries, co-written with Peter Guetig, and originally published in 1997. There was only one printing, but a few copies still are floating around. Just a few years ago, Peter was said to be preparing a revised edition, but I don't know if it was ever completed. If you have the information, please update me.


Many early brewers worked their trade as a sideline or temporary trade before moving on to other occupations. Hew Ainslie is unique for having been principally a poet.

He was born at Bargany in Ayrshire, Scotland on April 5, 1792. Hew was the only son of George Ainslie, an employee on the estate of Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton. He was educated in the parish school at Ballantrae, and later at the academy at Ayr. In 1809 his family moved to Roslin, about six miles from Edinburgh. He married his cousin Janet Ainslie in 1812, whose brother Jock had married Hew's sister Eleanora.

Ainslie studied law in Glasgow, and worked as a clerk in the Register House in Edinburgh. In 1820 he revisited Ayrshire on foot with James Wellstood and John Gibson and in the next two years wrote A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns, which was published in London in 1822. The book was an account of their travels and visits with some of Robert Burns's contemporaries, with songs and ballads by Ainslie that were much in the style of Burns, and illustrations by Wellstood.

In July, 1822, Ainslie sailed from Liverpool to New York with his friend Wellstood. Mrs. Ainslie and their three children joined him in the following year. Ainslie and Wellstood purchased Pilgrim's Repose, a farm at Hoosac Falls in Rensselaer County, New York. Ainslie and his family lived there for almost three years before joining Robert Owen's utopian socialist cooperative community at New Harmony, Indiana in 1825.

When Owen's community failed about a year later they moved first to Cincinnati, where Ainslie became a partner with Price and (Thomas) Wood in a brewery, then to Louisville. In Louisville, a town of 7,000, Ainslie opened a brewery in 1829 at 7th Street between Water and Main. Records show that B. Foster, Enoch Wenzell and Robert McKenzie worked there.

In February, 1832 there was a major flood of the Ohio River, with the river's waters rising to 46 feet above the low water level. A contemporary account of the "calamity" reads:

This was an unparalleled flood in the Ohio. It commenced on the 10th of February and continued until the 21st of that month, having risen to (an) extraordinary height ... above low-water mark. The destruction of property by this flood was immense. Nearly all the frame buildings near the river were either floated off or turned over and destroyed. An almost total cessation in business was the necessary consequence; even farmers from the neighborhood were unable to get to the markets, the flood having so affected the smaller streams as to render them impassable. The description of the sufferings by this flood is appalling ...

Ainslie's brewery was swept away with most of the neighborhood, but in the following years he remained in the beer business, working at the Nuttall brewery on the west side of 6th Street between Water and Main.

In 1840 he opened the first brewery in New Albany, the partnership of Bottomley & Ainslie. Soon that business was destroyed by fire. In the 1841 Louisville City Directory, Hew Ainslie is listed as a maltster; it was his last listing in the brewing trade. Discouraged by fire and flood, he gave up the brewing business altogether. Thereafter, his working life became somewhat intertwined with that of his children, particularly George and James Wellstood Ainslie.

Hew and Janet Ainslie had ten children, seven of them surviving to adulthood. George Ainslie, the eldest Ainslie son, had been apprenticed to Lachan McDougall around 1830 to learn the iron foundry and moulding trade, and he had acquired a solid business and technical education. He became a foreman at John Curry's foundry and married Mary Thirlwell, daughter of Charles Thirlwell, who was a brewer at the Nuttall Brewery (Hew Ainslie's one-time employer).

Thirlwell eventually acquired Nuttall and operated it until 1856. In 1842, George Ainslie became a partner in Gowan and McGhee's Boone Foundry. By 1845 Hew Ainslie -- still a poet throughout -- was employed as a finisher there as well as working as a contractor and in the building trades.

George and James Ainslie became highly successful in the foundry and machine business, enabling their father to devote more time to writing in later life. In 1853, Hew Ainslie made a long visit to New Jersey to visit members of the family of James Wellstood, undoubtedly providing the poet with a nostalgic link to the Scotland of his youth.

In 1855 a collection of Ainslie's verse, Scottish Songs, Ballads and Poetry, was published in New York. One latter-day commentator called Ainslie's songs of the sea "the best that Scotland has produced," and perhaps this assessment was borne out by the reception accorded Ainslie in Scottish literary circles in 1863, when he returned to Scotland for a final visit.

Janet Ainslie died in 1863 prior to Hew's last Scottish journey. In 1868 the elderly poet/brewer went to live with his son George in a new home on Chestnut Street (between 9th and 10th) in Louisville, where he spent the last decade of his life and was a familiar sight as he passed time tending the garden there. Ainslie died on March 6, 1878, and was eulogized in the Courier-Journal as "a poet of considerable merit to the people of his native land." Hew and Janet Ainslie are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

In addition to the many accomplishments noted previously, Ainslie is remembered for his height -- at 6 feet, 4 inches, he referred to himself in his works as "The Lang Linker" -- and for never losing his Scottish accent during almost six decades in America.

There is no specific information to be found as to the products of the breweries with which Hew Ainslie was involved in Louisville and New Albany, but we can surmise from the available evidence that they were typical small breweries of the time, with four or five employees, making ale, porter and stout. As a man who appreciated truth and beauty, it is likely that Hew Ainslie made good malt, and being conscientious with it, good beer as well.

The following poems by Hew Ainslie are copied from the Filson Historical Society's extremely rare copy of A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns and Poetry, Ainslie's 1822 work combined with later efforts and reprinted in 1892, the centenary of his birth.

(Author's note: I have heard a scrap or two of Robert Burns, and expect these are much better read aloud in Scots dialect.)

The midnight hour is clinking, lads,
An' the douce an' the decent are winking, lads;
Sae I tell ye again,
Be't weel or ill ta'en,
It's time ye were quatting your drinking, lads.
Gae ben, 'an mind your gauntry, Kate,
Gi'es mair o' your beer, an' less bantry, Kate,
For we vow, whaur we sit,
That afore we shall flit,
We'se be better acquaint wi' your pantry, Kate.
The "daft days" are but beginning, Kate,
An we're sworn. Would you hae us a sinning, Kate?
By our faith an' our houp,
We will stick by the stoup
As lang as the barrel keeps rinning, Kate.
Thro' hay, an' thro' hairst, sair we toil it, Kate,
Thro' Simmer, an' Winter, we moil it, Kate;
Sae ye ken, whan the wheel
Is beginning to squeal,
It's time for to grease an' to oil it, Kate.
Sae draw us anither drappy, Kate,
An' gie us a cake to our cappy, Kate;
For, by spiggot an' pin!
It's waur than a sin
To flit when we're sitting sae happy, Kate.

Let's drink to our next meeting, lads,
Nor think on what's atwixt;
They're fools wha spoil the present hour
By thinking on the next.
Then here's to Meg o' Morningside,
An Kate o' Kittlemark;
The taen she drank her hose and shoon,
The tither pawned her sark.
A load o' wealth, an' wardly pelf,
They say is sair to bear;
Sae he's a gowk would scrape an' howk
To make his burden mair

Then here's , &c.
Gif Care looks black the morn, lads,

As he's come doon the lum,
Let's ease our hearts by swearing, lads,
We never bade him come.
Then here's, &c.
Then here's to our next meeting, lads,
Ne'er think on what's atwixt;
They're fools who spoil the present hour
By thinking on the next.
Then here's, &c.

We lads that live up in the nobs,
Tho' our manners might yet bear a rubbing,
We're handy at neat little jobs
Such as chopping and hewing and grubbing.
Tho' we roost in a cabin of logs,
And clapboards lie 'twixt us and heaven,
Our mast makes us fine oily hogs,
And from hoop-poles we pick a good living.
Right quiet -- to a decent degree --
it's seldom we guzzle it deep, Sir,
Tho' we don't mind a bit of a spree,
Provided the liquor is cheap, Sir.
Our neighbours, that live 'cross the drink.
May laugh at our fondness for cider,
But so long as we pocket their clink
They may laugh till their mouths they grow wider.
Our gals make our trousers, you see,
From that beautiful stuff called tow linen,
and in coats of the linsey -- dang me,
If we don't look both handsome and winning.
Our wives are our weavers, to boot;
Ourselves are first rate on a shoe, Sir;
We can doctor a tub with a hoop --
And hark ! we're our own ni__ers* too, Sir,
So here's to our Hoosier land,
The sons of its soil and its waters !
May the "nullies" ne'er get it in hand,
Nor demagogues tear it in tatters.
But still may it flourish and push,
Thro' vetos and all such tough cases,
Till railroads are common as brush,
And the nobs are as sleek as your faces.

*To provide context to Ainslie's use of the "N" word, "The Hoosier" was intended as an anti-nullification poem -- a direct slap at the slave-owning caste south of the Ohio River, and a self-mocking espousal of the poor but free residents to the north. If any reader can shed further light on the history involved, please do so.

Will it park in Peoria? Or, "Why is it that parking offers so little value in our cities, yet takes up so much space?"

NA, not Peoria.

How does all that low-value pavement impact economic productivity?

PEORIA'S PARKING PROBLEM, by Rachel Quednau (Strong Towns)

Peoria is a central Illinois town of about 114,000 with a profile typical of many small Midwestern cities: pockets of poverty, reliance on one major employer, seen better days... But we're highlighting it today because it illustrates a common problem that most American cities have—a problem with parking.

Not too little parking, too much.

The highest value areas are those traditional downtowns with mixed-use developments and walkable streets, where residences, businesses and people are concentrated in productive clusters and prioritized over parking and roads. Why is that? Because land is used to its highest potential in this pattern of design and the utilities (i.e. roads, pipes, etc.) needed to service productive land are not very far apart and thus not very costly.

Whereas downtown Peoria's buildings are valuable, not so much property that does nothing except warehouse unused cars.

In fact, Peoria is so full of parking that the amount of land devoted to surface parking in the county actually surpasses the amount of land devoted to buildings. If you factor in another big form of pavement that dominates our cities—roads—the amount of buildings in Peoria makes up a mere half of all the paved areas in Peoria. That's a problem, because parking lots are worth very little.


Peoria is a particularly egregious example of excessive parking, but it's probably not terribly different from your own town. It's startling if you've never given it much thought, but next time you're at a mall or a big box store, take a look around. Recognize just how much land is occupied with pavement and how much is occupied with buildings. Heck, do it in your downtown. Then check out the site on Google Earth and the imbalance will become even more clear ...

Follow the story link to read the entire article.

No victory laps -- yet. Reverting NA's downtown street grid to two-way traffic is just the beginning.

Previously: Grid Control, Vol. 23: City's fuddy-duddies losing their minds as the debut for a two-way Spring Street is pegged at August 29.

No victory laps ... so much to do ... but kindly allow a rant of sorts, as posted this morning at Fb.


Lots of us have spent the better part of 15 years mustering abundant evidence in favor of reverting one-way streets to two-way traffic. We've cited stats and studies, and pointed to positive experiences in America and across the planet.

Time and again, we've asked opponents to show us some tangible proof for the impending catastrophe of two-way streets, and have listened as the crickets chirp in response.

Yes, you're entitled to your own opinion, though not your own facts -- and to be perfectly honest, after a decade and a half, we're bored to effing tears with your opinions.

We've done OUR jobs, and miracle of miracles, the city has produced a plan in response. It doesn't go far enough toward the ideal of pistol-whipping auto-centrism, but it's the end of the beginning, and humans (as opposed to their vehicles) have nudged back into the picture.

If two-way streets are "turning back the clock," as some suggest, then at long last I can say: "Give me that old time religion."

Just remember that if you hate two-way streets, blame the mayor and vote against him -- and if you love them, thank the grassroots activists who kept pushing in the face of NA ruling caste incomprehension. There is much work yet to be done, but this time I hope it doesn't take 15 years.

Following is an excerpt from ON THE AVENUES: Yellow lines and what comes due (September 19, 2013).


Dear New Albany politicians in the executive and legislative branches of government,

Hi. You know this whole two-way street conversion thing we’ve been talking about since the House of Bread was still open? Well, here’s the way it needs to work.

Do it.


You owe us.

That’s right: You owe us.

In fact, it’s all quite easy to understand, so let me help you out.

Just take every one of those “no-brainer,” “quality of life,” and “economic development” arguments made by those in favor of $20 million worth of new city parks, and grasp that these exact same arguments apply just as strongly to two-way streets, traffic calming and complete streets – at least insofar as the new cadre of independent business owners are concerned.

Remember us?

We’re the ones who actually have been investing downtown.

Then add the needs and interests of present and future inhabitants in those neighborhoods making up the city’s historic core. They’re not feeling arterial – no, not at all.

While you’re at it, take the case for Main Street’s makeover (you can keep the excessive expense, but that’s another story), and understand that the Main Street rationale (i.e., we all need nice things) applies to Elm, Market and Spring Streets, too – as much, and probably more so, because unlike Main Street, those other neighborhoods still hang in the balance. The NSP was nice … but it was mostly federal stimulus money, wasn’t it?

You see, you owe us a modern street grid, because so far, most of the heavy lifting in the historic core has been on someone else’s dime, whether from local investors, state highway pay-outs or Obama funds. 

Now, with this much needed two-way street conversion and other related measures to enhance New Albany’s prospects, it’s time at last for you to go all in and show us that you really get it, and that River Ridge envy shall not be the dominant economic development motif hereabouts.

Just remember: You owe us.

Pay us all back, all at once. Give us a street grid that facilitates revitalization, not one that actively hampers it.

Hell, if you buy the paint, we might even roll a few kegs out some afternoon and paint the stripes for you.

If you decline to act – well, we might just paint the stripes ourselves, anyway. A little civil disobedience never harmed anyone.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We're watching.


SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: A double-dipping pleasure is waiting for you, because it's where you want to be.

Double dipping?

It isn't just for chewing gum (or ice cream) any more.

Gahan in eclipse? The ruling circle continues to shrink, but cerebral inbreeding makes better ideas, right? It certainly does wonders for pay packets.

 ... Hence the apparent (rumored) solution: allow Duggins to double-dip while at NAHA, continuing to moonlight coordinating the cash-stuffed envelopes at Redevelopment even as a loyal Democratic foot soldier (Tony Toran) is added at NAHA to do the unqualified Dugout's job, while assigning the task of pretending to do redevelopment work to the already well compensated corporate attorney, Shane Gibson, whose only true mission in the Church of Gahan is to coordinate the Machiavellian subterfuge of the preceding flow chart.

Be forewarned that the Urban Dictionary's explanations are not for the naive or squeamish, but Wikipedia's disambiguation page has several examples of usage for double dipping. A few of them are collected here. The list is not intended as exhaustive; that's why we have the FBI, after all.


Office holding: Dual mandate (or, double dipping)

Dual mandates are sometimes prohibited by law. For example, in federal states, federal office holders are often not permitted to hold state office. In states with a presidential system of government, membership of the executive, the legislature, or the judiciary generally disqualifies a person from simultaneously holding office in either of the other two bodies. In states with bicameral legislatures, one usually cannot simultaneously be a member of both houses. The holder of one office who wins election or appointment to another where a dual mandate is prohibited must either resign the former office or refuse the new one.


Hygiene: Food Experts Have Finally Solved The Double-Dipping Debate

Let’s just admit it: We’ve all double dipped. Whether you’re at a frat party, a family dinner, or black-tie event, it just seems wrong to eat a chip without any dip. The logic when you take that half-eaten chip back for round two goes something like, How bad can it be, right?


Economics: Definition of double-dip recession

When an economy goes into recession twice without having undergone a full recovery in between.


Pensions: Looking Twice at Pension Double-Dipping: Should full pensions be allowed if you keep working?

Recent news coverage in USA Today highlighted the public-sector practice of "double dipping" -- receiving pension benefits intended for retirement purposes while drawing a salary with another employer (or in some cases, the same employer).


Investments: What is financial double-dipping? 

In the financial industry, double-dipping occurs when a financial professional, such as a broker, places commissioned products into a fee-based account and then makes money from both the commission and the fee.



[duhb-uh l-dip-ing]

1. the act or practice of receiving more than one income or collecting double benefits from the same employer or organization.

First recorded in 1970-75

And the math?

It's obvious, isn't it?

If you don't know what they mean ... just monetize them!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

At long last, a genuinely useful undertaking for DNA: "The (Wausau) project aims to increase foot traffic to businesses and highlight downtown's walkability."

Photo credit: Wausau Daily Herald.

Wausau, Wisconsin -- population 39,000.
New Albany, Indiana -- population 37,000.

Imagine these in New Albany.

It's a downtown project that would be useful on a daily basis, and wouldn't involve stereotypes apart from refuting the ones erroneously informing us that we must drive everywhere we go and park in front of the door.

(Seeing as Develop New Albany has joined City Hall and the News and Tribune insofar as generally refraining from answering NAC's e-mails, perhaps a mutual friend/reader might undertake to plant the seed. Tell them it's fine; they can have full credit, and needn't credit their friendly neighborhood blog.)

Of course, it couldn't be a members-only sort of thing ...

'It is a 2-minute walk': New signs in downtown Wausau aim to encourage pedestrians, by Haley BeMiller (Wausau Daily Herald)

WAUSAU - Wausau residents and visitors now have new encouragement to roam downtown on foot.

The Wausau River District and Marathon County Healthy Eating Active Living Coalition partnered to install signs Wednesday directing pedestrians to downtown landmarks and businesses such as Inner Sleeve Records, Polito's and City Hall. They show how many minutes it will take for someone to walk to the next destination and allow people to scan the signs with a smartphone to get directions.

The project aims to increase foot traffic to businesses and highlight downtown's walkability. Elizabeth Brodek, executive director of the Wausau River District, said the signs can help people understand they don't need to hop in the car to get somewhere a block away ...

Grid Control, Vol. 23: City's fuddy-duddies losing their minds as the debut for a two-way Spring Street is pegged at August 29.

Thirteen years later, it's the end of the beginning.

Speaking personally, I think the Spring Street conversion announcement should have been made at roughly 2:30 p.m. on Monday, when the combination of a solar eclipse and impending two-way-street rationality (finally) would have sent the Luddites streaming panic-stricken toward Birdseye.

Spring Street in New Albany to be converted to two-way traffic Aug. 29, by Chris Morris (Hanson's Motorcycle Christianity)

NEW ALBANY — After years of talk and months of work, Spring Street is ready to be converted to two-way traffic.

Paul Lincks, project manager with HWC Engineering, informed the New Albany Board of Public Works & Safety Tuesday that Spring Street will be switched to two-way traffic some time on Aug. 29. The exact time has not yet been determined, but Lincks said it would likely be after morning rush hour.

HWC is installing message boards throughout the downtown area to inform drivers of the conversion. Bank and Pearl streets will be converted to two-way traffic on Aug. 30. Those streets are currently being striped ...

I'm both pleased and depressed.

Yes, we'll enjoy many of the benefits of two-way traffic, albeit severely neutered by an institutionalized absence of imagination.

With the long overdue modernization of the street grid, Jeff Gahan had the chance to be what he earnestly believes himself to be, but isn't and won't ever come close to being: a progressive and transformational mayor.

Jeff Speck handed Gahan top sirloin, and unfortunately the mayor rendered it into Sloppy Joes drowning in auto-centric sauce. The sandwiches will be borderline edible, but my oh my, what might have been in the hands of a knowledgeable kitchen pro.

It never was about two-way traffic in and of itself. It was about recognizing the numerous good outcomes of two-way traffic and maximizing them by design, as with Speck's discarded bicycle infrastructure.

Alas, Gahan wasn't the only bad student. Far too many of the two-way street grid reform package's backers also never understood the ancillaries; as a result, they were far too quick to abandon them to the usual engineering suspects, imagining that if they uttered a peep, Dear Leader would ignore preferred pet projects.

Now that Gahan has half-assed the grid, getting it right is an opportunity lost, one that won't come around again until downtown streets are ready to be milled and repaved according to the usual maintenance cycle.

Maybe by then there'll be someone in City Hall capable of grasping the squandered possibilities and acting according to genuinely felt principle, not the perpetual campaign monetization of Gahanism.

Perhaps the best we can do at this point is hope that the perennial low bidder MAC's 2017 paving job within the grid project's boundaries is as wretched as what the company managed during the Main Street beautification effort less than four years ago -- because then, we'll be repaving sooner rather than later, and can rectify Gahan's faulty vision.    



Grid Control, Vol. 22: City engineer Larry Summers answers our questions about intersection striping errors and the "No Trucks" sign removal.

Grid Control, Vol. 21: Murderous intersection at Spring & 10th to be repaved and restriped -- and, the hocus-pocus with a disappearing "No Trucks" sign at Spring & Vincennes.

Grid Control, Vol. 20: As Team Gahan dawdles, another bicyclist is crushed into mincemeat at 10th & Spring's dangerous dogleg.

Grid Control, Vol. 19: In a positive move, HWC begins righting the wrong cross hatching on Spring Street.

Grid Control, Vol. 18: Finally a few BoW street grid project answers, almost all of them citing "contractor error."

Grid Control, Vol. 17: Judging by the misdirection of this "CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP" sign, we now reside in the British Empire.

Grid Control, Vol. 16: What about HWC's cross hatching correction? Will this be finished before or after Team Gahan declares victory?

Grid Control, Vol. 15: Dooring enhancement perfectly epitomizes Deaf Gahan's "biking last" approach to grid modernization.

Grid Control, Vol. 14: Yes, you can still park on the south side of Spring Street during the stalled two-way grid project.


Grid Control, Vol. 12: Meet the artistic crosswalk design equivalent of dogs playing poker.

Grid Control, Vol. 11: HWC Engineering meets with St. Marks, city officials nowhere to be found.

Grid Control, Vol. 10: City officials predictably AWOL as HWC Engineering falls on its sword over striping errors.

Grid Control, Vol. 9: "This was supposed to be discussed with us," but Dear Leader doesn't ever discuss, does he?

Grid Control, Vol. 8: City Hall characteristically mum as HWC Engineering at least tries to answer the cross-hatching question.

Grid Control, Vol. 7: What will the Board of Works do to rectify HWC's striping errors on the north side of Spring Street, apart from microwaving another round of sausage biscuits?

Grid Control, Vol. 6: Jeff Speck tweets about NA's grid changes, and those missed bicycling opportunities.

Grid Control, Vol. 5: Egg on HWC Engineering's well-compensated face as it botches Spring Street's westbound bike buffer cross hatching.

Grid Control, Vol. 4: But this actually isn't a bus lane, is it?

Grid Control, Vol. 3: TARC's taking your curbside church parking, says City Hall.

Grid Control, Vol. 2: Southsiders get six more parking inches, but you gotta love those 10-foot traffic lanes on Spring.

Grid Control, Vol. 1: You people drive so freaking horribly that someone's going to die at Spring and 10th.

Required reading for local Democrats: "How (Not) to Challenge Racist Violence."

"If we truly want to challenge racism, oppression, and inequality, we should turn our attention away from the few hundred marchers in Charlottesville and towards the real sources and enforcers of our unjust global order. They are not hard to find."
-- from Common Dreams

Aviva Chomsky's essay (below) in the aftermath of Charlottesville sudenly becomes even more relevant in terms of escalated American military action in Afghanistan.

First, a local perspective.

DUNCAN: Hatred speaks loudest when we are silent, by Susan Duncan (That Hanson Show)

 ... But what cannot be seen is the hatred that dwells within. Racism has festered like an open sore, infection spreading like bacteria in the blood stream of America.

We have allowed that to happen by our denial, by our lack of attention, by our silence.

There were signs. Looks … words … deeds that proclaimed quietly, “I’m better than you.”


There isn’t enough sand along the Ohio River in which for us to bury our heads.

We cannot sit in the comfort of our living rooms and extol the shame of it all. Let loose the ties that bind you from action.

Hate is learned. Teach love.

I'm reprinting Chomsky's piece in full: "Her most recent book is Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal (Beacon Press, 2014). She is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts."

The source: "Common Dreams has been providing breaking news & views for the progressive community since 1997. We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported."


How (Not) to Challenge Racist Violence, by Aviva Chomsky (Common Dreams)

"Protesters are eager to expend extraordinary energy denouncing small-scale racist actors. But what about the large-scale racist actors?"

As white nationalism and the so-called “alt-Right” have gained prominence in the Trump era, a bipartisan reaction has coalesced to challenge these ideologies. But much of this bipartisan coalition focuses on individual, extreme, and hate-filled mobilizations and rhetoric, rather than the deeper, politer, and apparently more politically acceptable violence that imbues United States foreign and domestic policy in the 21st century.

Everyone from mainstream Republicans to a spectrum of Democrats to corporate executives to “antifa” leftists seems eager and proud to loudly denounce or even physically confront neo-Nazis and white nationalists. But the extremists on the streets of Charlottesville, or making Nazi salutes at the Reichstag, are engaging in only symbolic and individual politics.

Even the murder of a counter-protester was an individual act—one of over 40 murders a day in the United States, the great majority by firearms. (Double that number are killed every day by automobiles in what we call “accidents”—but which obviously have a cause also.) Protesters are eager to expend extraordinary energy denouncing these small-scale racist actors, or celebrating vigilante-style responses. But what about the large-scale racist actors? There has been no comparable mobilization, in fact little mobilization at all, against what Martin Luther King called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”—the United States government, which dropped 72 bombs per day in 2016, primarily in Iraq and Syria, but also in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, making every single day 9/11 in those countries.

Historically, people and organizations struggling to change U.S. society and policy have used direct action, boycotts, and street protests as strategies to pressure powerholders to change their laws, institutions, policies, or actions. The United Farm Workers called on consumers to boycott grapes in order to pressure specific growers to negotiate with their union. Antiwar protesters marched on Washington or targeted their Congressional representatives. They also took direct action: registering voters, pouring blood on draft records or nuclear weapons, sitting in front of trains carrying weapons to Central America.

All of these kinds of tactics remain valid options today. But there has been a puzzling shift away from actual goals and towards using these tactics merely to express one’s moral righteousness or “allyship.” I remember my first “take back the night” march in Berkeley, in the 1970s. As men and women marched through the campus holding candles, I wondered whether they thought that would-be rapists would undergo a change of heart when they saw that large sectors of the public disapproved of rape?

Over the years I have come to see more and more of what Adolph Reed calls “posing as politics.” Rather than organizing for change, individuals seek to enact a statement about their own righteousness. They may boycott certain products, refuse to eat certain foods, or they may show up to marches or rallies whose only purpose is to demonstrate the moral superiority of the participants. White people may loudly claim that they recognize their privilege or declare themselves allies of people of color or other marginalized groups. People may declare their communities “no place for hate.” Or they may show up at counter-marches to “stand up” to white nationalists or neo-Nazis. All of these types of “activism” emphasize self-improvement or self-expression rather than seeking concrete change in society or policy. They are deeply, and deliberately, apolitical in the sense that they do not seek to address issues of power, resources, decisionmaking, or how to bring about change.

Oddly, these activists who have claimed the mantle of racial justice seem committed to an individualized, apolitical view of race. The diversity industry has become big business, sought out by universities and companies seeking the cachet of inclusivity. Campus diversity offices channel student protest into alliance with the administration and encourage students to think small. While adept in the terminology of power, diversity, inclusion, marginalization, injustice, and equity, they studiously avoid topics like colonialism, capitalism, exploitation, liberation, revolution, invasion, or other actual analyses of domestic or global affairs. Lumping race together in an ever-growing list of marginalized identities allows the history and realities of race to be absorbed into a billiard ball theory of diversity, in which different dehistoricized identities roll around a flat surface, occasionally colliding.

Let us be very clear. The white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville, hate-filled and repugnant as their goals may be, are not the ones responsible for the U.S. wars on Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. They are not responsible for turning our public school system over to private corporations. They are not responsible for our separate and unequal health care system that consigns people of color to ill health and early death. They are not the ones foreclosing and evicting people of color from their homes. They are not the authors of neoliberal capitalism with its devastating effects on the poor around the planet. They are not the ones militarizing the borders to enforce global apartheid. They are not behind the extraction and burning of fossil fuels that is destroying the planet, with the poor and people of color the first to lose their homes and livelihoods. If we truly want to challenge racism, oppression, and inequality, we should turn our attention away from the few hundred marchers in Charlottesville and towards the real sources and enforcers of our unjust global order. They are not hard to find.

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"Older adults desire accessible urban housing, too; developers should pay attention."

Of the facilities under construction, the senior living rehab at M. Fine, on Main near Vincennes, comes nearer to matching this paradigm than the one on Grant Line Road (a few hundred yards of conceivably finished sidewalk away from Wal-Mart, poor devils).

But there's not much in terms of immediately walkable destinations either place. The walk along untamed Grant Line wouldn't be very pleasant, even if Community Park is nearby. On Main, the dining options are 12 blocks away, downtown, and there are no nearby grocery stores except the dollar emporiums on Vincennes.

In reprinting these survey findings, Strong Towns had this to say:

“In your town, are there neighborhoods where three generations of a family could reasonably find a place to live, all within walking distance of each other?”


If we primarily build senior housing on the fringes of our cities, then that's where seniors will "choose" to live. If we, instead, build senior housing next door to other sorts of central city housing, we'll stop leaving our elders stranded in suburbia and create those intergenerational neighborhoods that help build strong towns.

Some day in new Albany, we'll be debating matters like this in terms like these. Until then, it's monetization, grandma.

Seniors want walkability, too, survey says
, by Patrick Sisson (Curbed)

Older adults desire accessible urban housing, too; developers should pay attention

We assume millennials prefer walkability and urban living for all the right reasons: social cohesion and community, better access to entertainment, services, and jobs. So why do we assume that older Americans and senior citizens, who also value connectivity, community, and healthy living, wouldn’t prefer the same living arrangement?

According to a new study by A Place for Mom, a nationwide referral service, the Senior Living Preferences Survey, older Americans value walkable urban centers. The survey asked 1,000 respondents nationwide about their living preferences, and a majority said it was very important or somewhat important to live in a walkable neighborhood, as well as one with low crime that was close to family.

“It’s time to abandon the idea that only millennials and Generation X care about walkability and the services available in dense urban neighborhoods,” says Charlie Severn, head of marketing at A Place for Mom. “These results show a growing set of senior housing consumers also find these neighborhoods desirable. It’s a trend that should be top of mind among developers.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

30 years ago today: (May) Florence, La Botteghina Rossa, The Decameron and some quality time in Italy.

Previously: 30 years ago today: May Day in Vienna, 1987.


Day 19 ... Monday, May 4
Firenze. City sightseeing (rain)

Day 20 ... Tuesday, May 5
Firenze. Dinner with Paul (U.K.) - Texans (rain)

Day 21 ... Wednesday, May 6
Firenze. Good half day. San Croce

Three decades later, my personal relationship with Italy remains a mystery. It's some sort of boomerang.

In 1985 and 1987, and then to a lesser extent in 1989, I made it a point to spend time in Italy, but after the 1989 trip there was a startling and inexplicable 27-year gap before I finally returned in 2016, this time to Catania in Sicily.

There, enthralled by this lesser-touristed city in the shadow of Mt. Etna, I emitted a lengthy chain of expletives and asked myself why it had taken so long to get back. So, why was I interested in Italy, and how did I become disinterested?

In the early days, I think it was a pedagogic itch in need of scratching. In 1985 and 1987, my aim was the classic grand tour, to soak up bits and pieces of everything, and to absorb whatever I could of European culture and history. There always was a latent fear that someday, my travels would come to an end.

Perhaps inevitably, specialization crept in. Perspectives began shifting in the early 1990s during the period of my escalating involvement in beer as business.

The deeper I got into beer, the more I wanted to spend the brief travel time I had visiting the classic Northern European beer lands. It was tax deductible, too -- without even cheating.

At the time, little was happening in Italy in terms of beer, although it must be clearly stated that since the early 2000s, there has been an incredible explosion of craft beer in Italy, probably among Europe's largest proliferation on a per capita basis.

These days, Italy is an important stop on a Euro beer itinerary. I sense a balance in need of recalibration, and I hope to do so in coming years. Fabio, if you're reading -- this means you.

With a sole exception, the culinary details of my dinner with English Paul and the Texans are lost to obscurity, but I remember the venue quite well. It was called La Botteghina Rossa, and was located at 24r Via Degli Alfani, about a mile and a half from my lodging.

Searching in 2017 with Google, I see no sign of the restaurant on this street, although there are a couple of Chinese carry-out spots just down the way. There is another restaurant by the same name doing business today, at Borgo San Frediano 26/R, but it bears no resemblance. In 1987, what made La Botteghina Rossa special is summarized by this description in Frommer's Europe on $25 a Day (1984 edition; the quoted price was a bit higher by the time of my visit):

(Because it) possesses only two long tables with 24 seats apiece, you have no choice but to meet your fellow communal diners, and interesting mixture of local artists, students, low and high society. They flock here for an astonishingly copious 8,000 lire ($5.71) three-course menu that includes free wine and mineral water, hors 'd oeuvres (curried rice, olives, sardines, beans-onions-tomato salad, minced carrots, spice pickles and caviar, to name just a few), followed by pasta with meat sauce, then, for the main course, grilled fish or a meat dish. Served on Limoges or Rosenthal china, the food is so plentiful that you probably won't even touch the (free) bread. Stately Senora Ferdinanda Martini Monti vedova Dini Foschi, who watches over all with aristocratic mien, has personally guaranteed the 8,000 lire price until March of 1985 to anyone showing a copy of this book upon entering. 

This passage also gives you an idea of the way Arthur Frommer's published travel advisories operated. Obviously, lots of people showed up at La Botteghina Rossa carrying a guidebook, and in summer, there were many more tourists than cheapskate locals. As a side note, Frommer lives; he's 88.

Here is my sole memory of the meal: either as an appetizer or maybe a modest final course, there were orange sections. I took a big bite, and was completely confused because it was bitter, and unlike the sweet oranges sold in American supermarkets. One of those teachable moments, for sure.

The slides have been left in chronological order. Leading off, the Ponte Santa Trinita -- the "other" bridge in Florence.

Although the Ponte Santa Trinita may not have the wow factor of the Ponte Vecchio, it’s graceful architecture and decorative details make this bridge a stunner in its own right.

The Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria are focal points for tourism.

Palazzo Vecchio is the main symbol of civil power for the city of Florence, whose original project is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio. Construction on the solid fortress began in 1299 above the ruins of the destroyed Uberti Ghibelline towers, testimony of the final victory of the Guelph faction.

I'm not sure if this detail is from a door at Palazzo Vecchio or the Duomo.

The Duomo is inescapable.

Florence's cathedral stands tall over the city with its magnificent Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, with the baptistery right across. The cathedral named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore is a vast Gothic structure built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata, the remains of which can be seen in the crypt.

Another magnet is the Ponte Vecchio.

Arguably, Florence’s most famous free attraction is the Ponte Vecchio. Centuries of writers have waxed poetic about its picturesque shops, and an uncountable number of lovers have dramatically declared their love by securing padlocks to the bridge’s fence and throwing the key into the Arno below. But the bridge is more than beautiful – it’s central to Florentine history.

My hostel was located on a street called Via Santa Monaca in the Oltrarno neighborhood, across the Arno River from the city center. It doesn't seem to be there any longer.

The following series of photos are from my third day in Florence, when the weather finally cleared and I walked a couple of fruitful miles from the hostel to a scenic hillside viewpoint called Piazzale Michelangelo, which offered commanding views of the heart of Florence. These days, a massive parking lot for buses and private cars has been built there. I don't remember that, although as you can see, my memories are exceedingly hit-and-miss.

At some point during this walk I turned around to face the countryside to the south and took a photo of a tower on a hillside.

At first, looking at the photo thirty years later, it seemed forgettable. However, two interpretations now have captured my retroactive attention.

First and most recently, in the spring of 2016 I read a medieval novel called The Decameron.

Written by 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron is a collection of 100 stories told over a period of days by seven young women and three young men, who have fled as a group from plague-ridden Florence for an extended holiday in the verdant hills nearby.

What an addled modern brain might imagine happening doesn’t, and there are no sexual relations between these friends. Rather, it's the stories themselves that often are ribald. If you believe that Renaissance writers have nothing to say about sex, and in particular, no insights about diverse female perspectives, it’s time for a reappraisal. 650 years on, the naturalness and candor of these vignettes are astonishing.

Now there's an image to accompany the novel.

Second, going much further backward in time, one of my earliest memories is looking at a children's history book and being fascinated by a cheesy illustration of a medieval knight atop a tower, looking out at the world beyond. I can still see the drawing 50 years later.

Perhaps in this photo, I'm looking back at the knight.

From my Piazzale Michelangelo vantage point, the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio.

I was still very much in the city, though you could barely tell from this view.

Vistas in two directions.

Finally, the Ponte Vecchio, with the Ponte Santa Trinita next, behind it.

At this juncture, it's worth remembering the 1966 flood in Florence.

What followed – the great flood of Florence – would be remembered for decades as the worst natural disaster to lay siege to the city at the heart of the Renaissance. Dozens of lives were lost, great works of art destroyed or nearly destroyed, and a million books in the city’s low-lying Biblioteca Nazionale were submerged.

By late afternoon I'd crossed the non-flooded Arno and found the Basilica of Santa Croce.

The Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy is much more than just a church. Santa Croce is one of the oldest and largest Franciscan basilicas in the world and by far the most magnificent. Some of history’s most influential artists have made their mark on the church, from frescoes by Giotto and Agnolo Gaddi, to architecture by Brunelleschi and Donatello. While many basilicas in Italy contain the works of great artists, Santa Croce is unlike any other in the fact that it contains more than just their art; it contains their remains as well. Dubbed “The Temple of the Italian Glories,” Santa Croce contains more skeletons of Renaissance masters than any other church in Italy.

As you can see, the rain had returned. I was headed south, and wouldn't see rain again until Yugoslavia. There remains a final answered question about Florence. Did I visit the Uffizi Gallery?

I don't think so. Maybe. I can't say one way or another, but if it happened, I'm sure it was epic. At least there was one fine meal with English Paul and the Texans.

Next: Siena.