Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Two documentaries about Dean Reed (who?) provide long-lost Cold War time capsules.

Particularly in the early days after the East Bloc imploded, visiting westerners would scratch their heads at any local mention of Dean Reed, the American pop star. In turn, East Germans, Czechs and Russians would express befuddlement.

How could Americans not know about Dean Reed?

Three days ago, I found myself unable to remember the name of "that American singer in East Germany back then." Google promptly schooled me, and then YouTube sweetened the offer.

I hadn't planned on spending several hours watching videos and reading remembrances of a fellow whose unlikely (red) star already was fading prior to his untimely death 31 years ago, but as regular readers of NA Confidential know, the history of late-period communism has an enduring grip on me, primarily because I had the good fortune to see a wee bit of it first-hand just before the end.

The boy can't help it. Yes, Roger's on a Commie Jag again.

Truth be told, it's likely that my very first exposure to Dean Reed came in 1986, courtesy of the infamous segment on 60 Minutes. I finally made it to the GDR three years later, but by then Reed was dead, and I'm fairly certain I didn't know about his passing until my fellow East German student summer workers told me. By this time Guns 'N' Roses was a thing, even in Karl Marx Stadt -- not exactly Reed's bailiwick.

Dean Reed was born in Denver. He went to Hollywood in search of careers singing and acting, and improbably, he found them. Armed with a few minor American hit songs, Reed traveled to South America in the early 1960s and discovered he was an idol on a par with Elvis.

Amid the Cold War dualism of the time, Reed also abruptly became "woke" as a socialist. One thing led to another, and after stints in Argentina, Chile and Italy, he surfaced in East Germany. There he embraced the party line, made his home (a very nice one, too), became a superstar in the Warsaw Pact, and later fell victim to internal cognitive dissonance and external geopolitical shifts.

American Rebel, the older of these two documentaries (1986) doesn't purport to be a critical examination of Reed's various careers on the other side of the wall. However, it's entertaining, and about as much a period piece as can be imagined from a time that still feels all too immediate to me.

We really talked about those things all the time, didn't we? It might as well have been 300 years ago, not 30. 

The Red Elvis gets slightly closer to the central questions of Reed's life (and death), as summarized in this passage from a separate essay.

Over time Reed recognized the contradictions between his idealistic world views and the reality of life in East Germany, but he didn’t know what to do about them. As the years passed, he also saw his fame and star power fade. A new generation barely knew who he was. People who knew him well have said he longed to return to the US, but his socialistic, Marxist views and actions would have made it impossible for him to make a living in the land of his birth – especially after his 1986 appearance on 60 Minutes. Only six weeks after that TV interview his body was pulled out of Lake Zeuthen (Zeuthener See) near his home at the southern tip of East Berlin.

There has been much speculation about Dean Reed’s death. Was it a suicide (as most of his East German friends and family think), a strange accident, or was it something more sinister? We may never know, but he was known to be very depressed and suicidal in the weeks before his death. Dean Reed was caught between two worlds, between two countries, in a trap of his own making.

More from a fan site which looks to have been functional since the Internet's dawning: Dean-Reed-Archiv-Berlin.

As usual, I'm deeply moved by material that will seem almost comical to many, and rightfully so. Who else except Dean Reed could connect Phil Everly and Egon Krenz?

What a long, strange trip it's been.

Explore New Albany at this website, appropriately called "Explore New Albany."

A great deal of effort has been put into Explore New Albany, a new and evolving website. There may never be a "one stop shop" for fluid situations like downtown, but this portal has definite potential, so check it out.

Congrats, Dan. Looking good, indeed.

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Coffey is unabashed, and so the embarrassment belongs to the city -- again.

"Psychopaths, and to a degree, sociopaths, show a lack of emotion, especially the social emotions, such as shame, guilt, and embarrassment."
-- William Hirstein, What Is A Psychopath?

There's an oft-repeated saying:

"It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission." 

Perhaps, although there's another, lesser known maxim about civic embarrassment:

"It takes a village to make a village idiot."

There are roughly 37,000 New Albanians.

How many of them would be able to get away with setting up shop to conduct cash business on city property without permission for four solid days, and evade repercussions?

I think you know the answer.

Here's the chronology.

Unless the Redevelopment Commission or City Hall granted permission, Dan Coffey illegally parked cars on city property during Harvest Homecoming. Period. Censure, anyone?

ASK THE BORED: Maserati, Mussolini, Missoula -- whatever, so the Green Mouse is off to learn more about Dan Coffey's HH parking profits at the infamous grassy knoll.

UPDATE: BOW suggests it wasn't informed about councilman Dan Coffey's Harvest Homecoming parking profits at 32 Bank Street.

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: Did BOW give Dan Coffey permission to leverage city-owned ground during the Orange Occupation?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Unless the Redevelopment Commission or City Hall granted permission, Dan Coffey illegally parked cars on city property during Harvest Homecoming. Period. Censure, anyone?


ASK THE BORED: Maserati, Mussolini, Missoula -- whatever, so the Green Mouse is off to learn more about Dan Coffey's HH parking profits at the infamous grassy knoll.

In his coverage of this morning's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, the News and Tribune's Chris Morris provides a recap and confirms what Matt Chalfant told me this afternoon.

• Roger Baylor asked the board if it had given permission to the Knights of Columbus to sell parking spaces during Harvest Homecoming this year at the grassy lot near Underground Station on Bank Street. Board of Works President Warren Nash said the board did not give permission.

Dan Coffey, with the K of C and a city councilman, said the city’s permission was not needed since the lot was owned by local developer Matt Chalfant. But Chalfant said late Tuesday he did not take ownership of the lot until after the festival.

Coffey said the money raised purchased 55 Thanksgiving baskets this year for those in need.

So, neither BOW nor Chalfant gave the okay.

It's possible the Redevelopment Commission authorized it, or even the mayor himself, though it's unlikely.

Coffey's wasting no time; he's already skipped ahead to the inevitable excuse: charging drivers to park their cars on city-owned property without permission may have been illegal and all, but it was for a good cause.

Of course, there are numerous good causes around town, probably none of which realized they might be able to raise money of their own by squatting on public property for the purpose of transacting business, when the parking spaces in question might have been deployed to alleviate the concerns of downtown business owners.

We await confirmation from Redevelopment, yea or nay. Even if permission wasn't given, someone might yet cover for Coffey if the councilman's political value to the regime is deemed sufficiently important to conjure a few little white lies.

But make no mistake: 100% charitable donations or not, if Coffey acted to circumvent channels and used city property to generate cash, censure by the city council is the very least we should expect from our presumed pillars.

In this eventuality, Coffey really should be prosecuted -- don't you think?

LIVE TO EAT: "Behind the Scenes with Mimi Dabbagh" (from Food & Dining Magazine).

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.
--- Jimmy Carter

Here's the drill: first, I introduce you to the new issue of Food & Dining Magazine, then take a look back at my previous contribution(s), "for the record" here at the blog.

My profile of August Moon Chinese Bistro's co-owner Mimi Dabbagh appeared in the Fall 2017 (Volume 57; August/September/October) issue of F & D. You can read the whole issue at issuu.


Behind the Scenes with Mimi Dabbagh

The co-owner and manager of Louisville’s venerable August Moon Chinese Bistro steps into the light with a story worth telling.

Some of us want to perform on stage, while others would rather coordinate the performance. Mimi Dabbagh has excelled at August Moon by selflessly setting the table with the timeless cuisine of business partner Peng Looi. Now, digging a little deeper, we see she has a powerful legacy all her own.


To dine out in Louisville is to sample a beautiful mosaic of food, sourced from a bountifully diverse planet, to be shaped and purposed by the skill of human minds and hands.

It is to know the names of the people who feed and serve us, and deservedly so – names like Peng Looi.

Looi’s dishes were featured on the very first Food & Dining Magazine cover in 2003. He is recognized in America and abroad both as a chef and as tireless advocate of culinary education and charitable causes.

During three decades at August Moon Chinese Bistro, and later Asiatique Restaurant, Looi has helped pioneer an edible genre, one enjoying such a wide degree of acceptance today that far-flung corporate restaurant chains are built entirely around it.

Call it Chinese with Southeast Asian influences, or pan-Asian, or Asian fusion; according to Looi himself, skeptics originally called it “con-fusion.”

Just know that the planet has embraced Looi’s vision, and his kitchen creations have long since ceased being derived from Asia alone. The cross-cultural value of deliciousness without borders is a concept Mimi Dabbagh still refers to as a “melting pot.”

“The way Chef Looi cooks shows the influence of Southeast Asia,” says Dabbagh.

“It’s not only Chinese – it’s more like Asian, then a Thai background, and then a Malaysian background, a Vietnamese background – then Indian. There are a lot of Indians in Malaysia, too.”

At this point, you may be asking, “But who is Mimi Dabbagh?”

She’s someone you should know. Since 1987, Dabbagh has been Looi’s co-owner and business partner at August Moon, and yet 30 years after the eatery’s inception, she’s almost unGoogleable, having consistently avoided the limelight in favor of tending to the less glamorous aspects of restaurant ownership.

“Chef Looi is like the front man; I’m behind the scenes,” says Dabbagh. “It’s all right, because most people aren’t so interested in the owner. They’re interested in the chef and the food.”

Maybe so, but behind every great restaurant there are numerous stories worthy of telling, and Mimi Dabbagh’s is a tale untold far too long. It’s about melting pots and managing behind the scenes; remembrance and independence; mentoring and family.

It’s about maintaining one’s good humor and grace amid the challenges, consolidating and transcending, and preserving tradition by expanding it.

As always, the logical place to start is the beginning.

The way from Tan Son Nhut to Beargrass Creek.

I’d like readers to establish a mood.

Let your minds wander back in time, to simpler and less complicated days of youth – middle school, perhaps.

If you’re like me, you remember almost nothing about middle school. You slept through class, maybe played sports, and rode to the mall with your parents because you were too young for a driver’s license.

As adolescents, our brains are still developing. The early teen years can be an emotional and paradoxical roller coaster, but we usually move past it soon enough, leaving a handful of sepia-tinged recollections, trip-wire love songs and little else.

Next, imagine that as your 7th grade year is approaching, you suddenly are compelled to depart your country of birth, where the chaos of a geopolitical endgame threatens your settled existence.

You’ll be leaving behind family, friends and everything familiar from childhood for a journey into the unknown, with no guarantee of returning home or seeing your loved ones again.

This was Dabbagh’s experience in Vietnam, her place of birth. It was 1975, and more than three decades of war were drawing to an inexorable close.

A succession of destructive conflicts, first with Japan, then France and finally America, had divided the Vietnamese people. Unfortunately for Dabbagh’s family (she was Mimi Ha then), they were situated in South Vietnam, which was shorty to become the losing side.

Dabbagh, along with an older sister, this sister’s husband and their two-year-old child, were airlifted from Saigon – now Ho Chi Minh City – along with thousands of others in similarly dire straits, just hours before the city surrendered to the North.

Sadly, her parents and seven other siblings stayed behind in a newly unified Vietnam, albeit it under the banner of communism. No one knew what might happen next.

These four Vietnamese refugees went to the Philippines for processing, then to a holding camp in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In due time they arrived in Dayton, Ohio, where Dabbagh went to live with an older Presbyterian couple who’d volunteered through their church to house immigrants in need.

Happily, they proved to be ideal, nurturing foster parents, and in Dayton, Dabbagh finally was able to resume her interrupted studies, though with only a scant grasp of the English language, and as the only Asian face in her class.

She was all of 13 years old, and she didn’t stop to reflect. Rather, she got on with her life.

A scant twelve years later, Dabbagh and Looi opened August Moon Chinese Bistro on Lexington Road in a small, nondescript building with only 15 tables, located adjacent to the restaurant’s large, modernistic, high-ceilinged current home, which dates to 2002.

The pair’s founding mission at August Moon was Asian-style culinary multi-culturalism, or Dabbagh’s melting pot metaphor, which was an idea that flowed naturally from their own kaleidoscopic backgrounds of synthesizing personal experiences and transcending borders.

Looi hails from Malaysia, where food is a mélange drawn from the country’s ethnic composition of Malay, Chinese, Indian and indigenous peoples. The French cultural presence from colonial times remained prevalent in South Vietnam when Dabbagh was a child, and her paternal grandfather was from India.

Dabbagh and Looi absorbed these and other inspirations, taking differing paths to America, then coinciding as students in Louisville during the early 1980s. She was in pursuit of a marketing degree at Sullivan College, and he was studying engineering at the University of Louisville’s Speed School.

Presciently, they met on the job.

“We both were in college when we worked at Oriental House,” Mimi explains, “just servers, trying to make ends meet – very tough; you never see a rich student!”

“We worked all the time.”

While the budding Malaysian engineer was learning how to cook professionally, and beginning to feel the pull of an entirely different career in the kitchen, the young lady from Biên Hòa pursued her complementary ambition.

Dabbagh wanted to own, operate and manage a restaurant, and toward this focused end, her apprenticeship was served in a half-dozen Asian restaurants around town: Oriental House, Emperor of China, House of Dragon, Golden Dragon and House of Hunan.

“There’s a lot of Chinese restaurant history in Louisville. I worked at them and managed them, and I learned how to do everything, because I wanted to be my own boss. I was very young but they were willing to teach me.”

In due time August Moon became Dabbagh’s and Looi’s first restaurant venture, and the sum of what they had learned. Like so many other start-ups, it was launched with grit, sweat equity and too little capital.

“We started from scratch,” she remembers. “It’s hard when you first open. You’re scrambling.”

At August Moon’s inception, one of Dabbagh’s restaurateur mentors recommended the services of a New York-based Chinese chef, who could come stay a while and get her restaurant off the ground. The deal was arranged, and all she knew was to pick him up at Standiford Field, leaving one small detail to be resolved.

“I said to Looi, we don’t know what he looks like,” she laughs. “Do we just look for an Asian man? Looi thought about it and said yes, we’ll take a sign saying, ‘Chef from New York,’ and ask any Asian man we see. The first Asian man we saw looked very lost, and that was him.”

Obviously, August Moon struck a vital chord in Louisville and has been here ever since, though it’s probably true that 30 years in the restaurant business is 130 in “normal” human years. Consequently, a vital facet of August Moon’s longevity has been a pragmatic, consistent, no-nonsense division of labor.

Peng Looi describes it as symbiotic: “We’ve been partners from day one. She has her strengths and weaknesses, and I have my strengths and weaknesses. We just play off each other. She takes care of the front, and I take care of the back.”

“The person behind the scenes is sometimes like a producer,” adds Dabbagh, “and you’re never going to be on TV, but you make it work. It’s the backbone of the business behind the scenes.”

At this juncture it should be stated that making a restaurant work “behind the scenes” isn’t a red carpet job.

It’s about payroll, clogged toilets, accounts receivable, broken light fixtures, insurance policies, employee satisfaction, product outages, social media fixations, and answering the phone at 3:00 a.m. – always 3:00 a.m. – when the alarm goes off because a ceiling fan or passing truck somehow tripped the mechanism.

Small business owners grow into it, and they get used to it. At times, they remember how pleasant it was to have no responsibilities.

“I knew how to manage other peoples’ restaurants, but when it comes to yours, it’s different,” Dabbagh observes.

“It’s always so different when you work for someone. You think it’s so easy, but when you are your own boss, that’s when the headaches come.”

Overlapping cultures and complementary curries.

The day I met Dabbagh to chat at August Moon was a typically scorching and humid Ohio Valley afternoon.

Relief gratefully arrived in the caramel-colored form of a creamy-sweet iced Vietnamese coffee, an obvious legacy of the French colonial presence in Vietnam, along with baguettes, beignets, palmiers and a form of chili sauce strikingly like that served in France’s North African colonies.

It’s also another clue that Dabbagh’s melting pot began right at home.

“My grandfather was Indian by birth. He enlisted in the French military, and became a French national. When he came to Vietnam (after World War I), he met my grandmother, and she had my dad. So, my dad was a French citizen. Then my grandfather went back to India when my father was two years old, and my grandmother raised my father alone in Vietnam.”

Dabbagh’s grandmother carried on, marrying two other times, though Vietnam’s incessant strife claimed both husbands.

“Visiting my grandmother, I’d see photos of all these men on the wall and ask, who are these men?”

“They’re your grandfathers.”

As a woman, mother and restaurant owner, Dabbagh’s life can be surveyed in terms of recurring motifs, like the melting pot, the producer’s chair and an independence of spirit harnessed to a goal of teamwork.

However, ultimately it’s about family.

Maybe this is because Dabbagh left Vietnam so young and didn’t see her family for so long, a situation finally resolved in 1990 when she and her sister joined to sponsor their elderly parents and all seven of their siblings to reunite in the United States, fully 15 years after the airlift.

Married in 1947, Dabbagh’s parents had been together 70 years when her father died in April, 2017 at the age of 95. She refers to him as her rock, as well as being a rich source of information about Vietnamese history. Once in Louisville, her father reconnected with his own melting pot.

“My dad was infatuated with curry spices because of his father’s background,” she says. “When he came to live with me, I took him to Shalimar – it was like it brought back his childhood. He was so happy just to eat the Indian food.”

Curry almost functions as the Zen running through this narrative. When Dabbagh’s husband Reza, an immigrant from Iran, retired from his job as project engineer for the city of Louisville, the Dabbaghs promptly purchased Saffron’s Persian Restaurant in downtown Louisville, where he inaugurated a second career as a restaurant owner/manager.

“When I go over to his place (Saffron’s), it’s the Middle Eastern spices, and over here it’s the Asian spices, but what we have in common is the curry.”

Fusion, again.

A restaurant at 30, and beyond.

So, 11,000 days later, how’s business at August Moon?

“It’s the same business, more or less,” says Peng Looi. “We go through the same issues, and it’s getting more and more challenging with more competition for customers’ dollars, and the labor pool ... ”

I posed the same question to Dabbagh.

“After 30 years, I guess we’re doing okay. Looi and I are opposites, and I guess they say opposites attract – he’s very different from me, but he’s very good at what he does, and I’m very good at what I do. It’s a long road to get here; as you know, the restaurant business isn’t as rosy as everyone says. It’s very tough. If people don’t see behind the scenes, they can’t know what it’s like to own a restaurant.”

It’s been an eventful road for Mimi Dabbagh, from youthful displacement to professional achievement. She has traveled this often challenging path with determination and resilience, never lacking an upbeat sense of optimism.

The melting pot as art of the possible?

It makes perfect sense to me, and it should to you as well. After all, Mimi Dabbagh has lived it.

ASK THE BORED: Maserati, Mussolini, Missoula -- whatever, so the Green Mouse is off to learn more about Dan Coffey's HH parking profits at the infamous grassy knoll.

With any luck at all, we'll learn more this morning -- but tongues are wagging about a certain woman and her Maserati.

UPDATE: BOW suggests it wasn't informed about councilman Dan Coffey's Harvest Homecoming parking profits at 32 Bank Street.

Faced with an abominable two-week parking blackout owing to the presence of Fiesta Rides, many of the businesses asked both the city and Harvest Homecoming if there was additional parking elsewhere.

They were all told no, and yet right there in spitting distance was Coffey's personal Harvest Homecoming pocket-stuffing, electricity-bill-paying mechanism.

All along, the Green Mouse's informants have insisted that while Coffey never had permission from anyone to run a for-pay parking lot on city property during Harvest Homecoming, at least he donated most and maybe even all of the proceeds to the Knights of Columbus.

(The Green Mouse also was told not everyone at the K of C appreciates Coffey's recent annexation and personal branding of the organization, but that's their problem, isn't it?)

However, according to the latest series of juicy rumors, the K of C's profits were lessened considerably after an altercation during HH inside Coffey's grassy knoll parking lot between a woman's Maserati and a trash barrel. As this story goes, in the absence of permission or insurance, a settlement for the damage to the tune of a couple grand was reached -- with the money coming out of the K of C's cut.

Seeing as those types of "them people" in Italian luxury sports cars generally are the bane of Coffey's ward-heeling existence, it must have been a hilarious negotiation.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ultimate Caption Contest (UCC): The winning entry depicts music to the ears of the mayor and state representative.

We have a winner in the caption contest of November 14.

Ultimate Caption Contest (UCC): The mayor's words and the state representative's thoughts.

And the winner is ... the Green Mouse.

LIVE TO EAT: My profiles of Akasha Brewing Company and Waylon's Feed & Firewater are included in the newly released Winter 2017 issue of Food & Dining Magazine.

The Winter 2017 (Nov/Dec/Jan) issue of Food & Dining Magazine is out, and I have two articles in this edition, which I believe is a first for me. You can read them at issuu.

"A Honky Tonk Grows in St. Matthews" is a featured restaurant profile of Tony Palombino's, whose latest concept brings him full circle, back into his own neighborhood.

Palombino should know about local demographics. He grew up on Willis Avenue and graduated from Trinity High School, both situated within minutes of the present Waylon’s location.

“Is Waylon’s the place where I want to drink beer out of a plastic cup? No, that’s not what this place is,” Palombino said.

“This is where you, me and the wives can listen to some great live music, have some great food with decent pricing; maybe throw some brunch in there.”

I had the good fortune to be there at Waylon's on a Sunday morning when photographer extraordinaire Dan Dry captured the eatery on film. Look up the word "craftsman" in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of Dan.

For the current issue, John also commissioned a beer column. This one's about Akasha Brewing Company in NuLu.

Akasha is designed to be a production brewery. While there are no cans or bottles at present, kegs travel to outside accounts via Dauntless Distributing in Kentucky and Starlight Distribution in Indiana.

However, beer lovers are invited to stop by Akasha’s dog-friendly taproom for pints and samplers, carry-out growlers and the occasional game of Monopoly. Apart from packaged snacks, no food is served at the taproom; however, this being NuLu, sustenance is always quite near.

I hope readers enjoy these profiles, which will be reprinted here in text format once the next issue of Food & Dining (Spring 2018) is released in February.

Currently I'm working on two submissions for the next issue: A feature-length exploration of the exploding restaurant and bar scene in Jeffersonville, and an overview of Louisville's dozen-plus breweries.

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: We keep trying to ask DNA about the Taco Walk, and DNA keeps making like Jeff Gahan on the down low.

Indulge me for a moment.

The Green Mouse asks many questions, and regular readers know that not all these questions are answered.

For more than two years, Bob Caesar and the city of New Albany have combined to stonewall every effort we've made to explore Bicentennial Commission finances.

The history of our public records requests from City Hall is one of futility; the legal department merely giggles amid blatant subterfuge, partial answers and related diversions.

Adam Dickey's disney-fried Democratic Party has blocked us from social media communications channels. All the while the Southern Indiana-based chain newspaper looks the other way, and the one in Louisville seldom looks this direction at all.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be visiting the weekly Board of Public Works and Safety meeting in an effort to learn more about this: UPDATE: BOW suggests it wasn't informed about councilman Dan Coffey's Harvest Homecoming parking profits at 32 Bank Street.

Will anything come of it? Probably not, but the topic will be forever recorded in meeting minutes. That's reason enough for making the effort. There may be nothing we can do about the Gahan regime's default non-transparency short of the ballot box in 2019, and yet I'm leaving plenty of post-it notes along the way.

Now to the point at hand.

In the weeks following Develop New Albany's first-ever Taco Walk in August (see links below), I made several efforts to contact DNA. This one was sent in late August.

Below I’ve pasted the text from two separate e-mails to Develop New Albany’s web site contact address (, from August 15 and August 18, one direct and the other a CC. Since I’ve heard nothing back, and I’m sure DNA’s staff person wouldn’t ignore them, I’m assuming they were swallowed by a spam filter, hence my decision to direct this note to all board members (as listed on the web site).

To date, I haven't received a reply to any of these three separate queries. However, I think the message was received, because at some point in late September or early October, the e-mail addresses of DNA board members were scrubbed from the web site.

How very Gahanesque, hence this public notice of intent.

The Green Mouse has learned that within the last two weeks, there was a board meeting at which DNA's higher-ups confirmed the organization's "ownership" of the Taco Walk -- something I'm actually pleased to learn, because by doing so DNA concedes to responsibility for the good as well as the bad.

Irrespective of how the idea for Taco Walk first came to the organization (hint: from a outsider who didn't know what she was getting into), and with no further references to those outrageous instances of sombrero-laden cultural appropriation reported afterward in this space, the event now "belongs" to DNA.

Consequently, I intend to write about Taco Walk, and I've decided to extend yet another opportunity for DNA to be part of the conversation. The following was e-mailed this morning.

Good morning,

I trust you recall previous e-mails on the topic of the Taco Walk. I’m preparing a column on the topic of the legacy of this event; specifically, I’m interested in the source of the idea for the Taco Walk, which I believe is Kelly Winslow, and the outcome of the recent Develop New Albany board meeting at which she was informed that her idea no longer belonged to her, but in fact had been appropriated by DNA.

I’d also like to request a discussion about the as-yet unaddressed cultural appropriation outcome from Taco Walk, i.e., the sombreros, maracas, Frito Bandito songs and other aspects of stereotyping that plainly should not have been allowed in a multi-cultural setting.

Note that I have not spoken with Kelly about any of this. At the time of the Taco Walk’s aftermath, she told me there was nothing to say pending a debriefing with DNA; now that there apparently has been such a follow-up, she’s not interested in pursuing it any further.

However, there is no shortage of other people who are prepared to speak with me, and from their testimony I can adequately reconstruct the narrative.

A reminder that just after the event (links below), I sent at least two questions to the DNA contact address. These were neither acknowledged nor answered. Please be aware that for so long as DNA receives a single dollar of monetary support from the city (by the way, how much is the annual level these days?), the organization is obliged to treat with taxpayers, of whom I’m one. I’m also a former DNA board member (circa 2007-2010).

I’ll publish with or without DNA’s participation. I’d appreciate being able to hear the organization’s side. Please let me know when we can chat.

The note was sent to the DNA contact address; the organization's president Teresa Baxter; and city council liaison David Barksdale.

It's ridiculous that I'm compelled to courtesy-copy the universe after being ignored on three previous occasions. Unfortunately, this is the recurring pattern of the current cadre of movers and shakers, who prefer the camouflage of the down low to cleansing rays of sunshine.

Granted, there may not be anything I can do about it, but this shouldn't be taken to imply that I'll stop trying any time soon.   



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Another look at East German art, as with Werner Tübke and the Americans back in 1989.

Photo credit: The Economist.

All this talk about building walls. Don't they know it's far more interesting what happens when you pull them down?

German Bilderstreit reloaded: Another look at East German art
, by Prospero (The Economist)

While an exhibition of East German art attracts crowds, German commentators are still arguing about the value of communist-era art

NOVEMBER 9TH marked the 28th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, meaning that Germany has nearly been without the wall as long as it was with it. But disparities between East and West remain, particularly in terms of wages, business clout and political power. According to a recent poll, 74% of East Germans and 53% of West Germans say that the differences between them are “big” or “very big”. The “wall in the mind” still makes many former East Germans feel like second-class citizens, their achievements unacknowledged in the united country.

This is true of East German art as well. All too often dismissed as propagandistic “state art”, thousands of paintings, sculptures, prints and other artworks were removed from public buildings in the East after the wall fell. Museums left them to fester in their storage facilities. National exhibitions of German modern art have often excluded these artworks, or hung them without chronological or thematic context.

Critics say that this shows a lack of regard for the historical, political, social and artistic conditions in which artists in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) lived and worked. In an essay from 2015, Eckhart Gillen, an art historian from West Germany with particular expertise in art from the East, discussed the controversy, known as the German Bilderstreit. He called it a “pseudo-debate, a substitute for a real political debate in Germany” that never took place. It began as a dispute between painters who had left the GDR in the early 1950s, such as Georg Baselitz, Gotthard Graubner and Gerhard Richter, and those who stayed, like Bernhard Heisig, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Werner Tübke (all members of the Leipzig School) and Willy Sitte. Those in the West were protesting not just against their Eastern colleagues’ “subservience to the state, but against the fact that they painted the wrong kind of pictures,” Mr Gillen states. It was the competition between abstract and figurative painting, Western liberalism and socialist realism.

As the singer Dean Read probably never said, "we have all been here before." For me, it was September 25, 2013, and this remembrance of a Werner Tübke exhibition in the GDR.


Werner Tübke and the Americans, 1989.

Werner Tübke -- that's the guy.

Occasionally I'm possessed by weird flashbacks to my heavy travel years, past the oft-repeated drinking anecdotes to the dislodging of sheer, otherwise forgotten esoterica: Street food in Skopje, a "free" Bergen piano recital that wasn't, or the Irish woman's insistence that my voice reminded her of John Wayne's.

In the waning days of our stay in East Germany in 1989 -- unbeknownst to us, in the waning days of East Germany as a geopolitical concept -- my friend Jeff spotted some rather arresting artwork on an East Berlin sidewalk poster, and we explored the archway into a gallery of some sort where the art of Werner Tübke was on display. It wasn't the panorama of the German peasant's war for which the artist was best known. Memories are hazy, and beer quite well may have played a role. I just remember being impressed and wanting to buy the poster, of which none were on sale.

Nonetheless, somewhere in a stack of banker's boxes, there may be a physical remnant of this viewing. I saved much forensic evidence of my travels, from ticket stubs and meal receipts to bottle caps and cigar wrappers, imagining that examining the flotsam and jetsam would bolster my recall in the years to come. For this to be the case, I'd actually have to sift through it, but doing so might place an unwelcome spotlight on a quarter-century's time elapsed.

Like sleeping dogs, the prompters mostly are left to lie. It's better to rely on the accumulated weight of the experiences, and the way they changed me.

Take East German art seriously, by Bernhard Schulz (generatorarts)

 ... Debate about East German art has suffered from misperceptions for many years. At the time of the country’s division, East German artists were often perceived as representatives of “their” government. This was confirmed by Documenta 6 in 1977, when works by the so-called Leipziger Viererbande (Leipzig gang of four)— Bernhard Heisig, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Willi Sitte and Werner Tübke—made their first appearance in the West and became, in the minds of curators and critics, representative of GDR art.

Six years after Kevin Hammersmith's passing, the Little League complex named in his honor nears completion.

Six years ago yesterday, Kevin Hammersmith was killed in car crash on Indiana 111. I'll never forget hearing the sad news from a high school friend, which in that weirdest of modern twists came to me via Facebook.

Kevin’s philanthropic endeavors are the stuff of local legend, and they will be for years to come. It is my firm belief that in his eagerness to be of assistance to the community, he far transcended expectations in terms of his job, something which testifies eloquently to his bedrock sense of self, of purpose, and of social obligation in the noblest of old-fashioned applications. He did it because he meant it. If any one person in this city deserves a statue, it’s Kevin, although he’d roll his eyes and squirm at the suggestion.

I haven't backed away from the statue suggestion, although perhaps an amphitheater plaque and a ballpark are enough. The photos above, courtesy of New Albany Township Little League, reveal Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park off Charlestown Road, obviously close to being ready for a 2018 debut.

It had better be ready, given that on Monday, November 27, the Harritt Group will be auctioning off the components of New Albany Little League's longtime home on Mt. Tabor Road: Little League Ballpark Equipment Auction.

There'll be understandable worries as the final build-out progresses toward spring, but the new complex is a done deal. Naturally, there are 1,001 relevant "could have, should have, would have" discussions about such a facility, ranging from its auto-centric location to proper funding, and not excluding the perpetual city-county turf war, which often reads suspiciously like the script of the film Duck Soup by the Marx Brothers.

However, if these baseball fields must be, then I'm happy they're dedicated to Kevin Hammersmith.

You're missed, my friend.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The building pictured on that meme isn't fast-casual, penny-pinching, developer-driven architecture at all.

Above, I've refashioned a meme about "fast-casual architecture." Before linking you to an explanation of the visual, below is the actual meme. Recently it went viral.

What makes the meme relevant to New Albany? Our fast-casual Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats, that's what. Can an interim executive director of public housing afford one of those units?

Ironically, the structure pictured in the viral meme isn't faux luxury housing at all. Rather, it's low-income housing for seniors in a neighborhood of Seattle.

Here's the rest of the story.

The Story Behind the Housing Meme That Swept the Internet, by Kriston Capps (CityLab)

How a popular meme about neoliberal capitalism and fast-casual architecture owned itself.

The Providence Gamelin House opened its doors in Seattle in 2005. It was built to offer safe, affordable housing for low-income seniors in Seattle’s Rainier Vista neighborhood. To occupy any of the facility’s 77 units, residents must be ages 62 and older and earn below 50 percent of the area median income for King County in Washington. Most of them earn far below it: The average annual income for Gamelin House residents is $11,000.

For more than a decade this permanent supportive housing facility has served low-income residents of south Seattle. It’s their home. But the Providence Gamelin House only came into its own at the end of 2017, when an architectural rendering of the project was compelled into service as a meme. Specifically, as a housing meme, which is its own bucket for signifiers of our slide into late capitalism.

The meme surfaced wherever memes surface and spread however memes spread—idk. Eventually it found its way to the desk of Timothy Zaricznyj, director of housing for Providence Supportive Housing, the person who now oversees this alleged gentrification nightmare. (In fact, he manages 16 affordable-housing developments in Washington, Oregon, and California.) Zaricznyj was not exactly tickled. “They chose the wrong project, if they want to slam developers,” he says ...

 ... The fact that this meme depicts modest affordable housing—not penny-pinching, developer-driven Fast-Casual architecture—even inspired a meta-meme backlash ...

 ... The original meme is a vague critique of “architecture by bean-counters” (of which Seattle does not lack for examples) and developers’ thirst for transitional neighborhoods. The Gamelin House was the work of Michael Fancher, an architect who designed affordable housing across the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s and ‘90s. But don’t blame Fancher: Affordable housing is subject to severe restrictions and even worse funding shortfalls.

THE BEER BEAT: I brought my passport for beers at J-town's 3rd Turn Brewery.

Having joined the missus for a superlative Saturday brunch in Midway KY at the Holly Hill Inn, we diverted from the straight route home so I could experience something I'd never previously done -- namely, drinking locally-brewed beer in the epicenter of Jeffersontown.

In fact, I can't remember the last time I found myself in the epicenter of J-town for any reason, alcohol or otherwise. No matter; there's a time and place for everything.

3rd Turn Brewing's repurposed church building is wonderful, and I enjoyed the Marzen and Schwarzbier. It's too bad a mere 15 miles can feel like it's so damn far away.

It's also annoying to catch myself writing about the ideal adaptivity of discarded religious edifices for updated use as breweries and bars (here and here) while neglecting the one closest to me. May this phenomenon proliferate.

So, as a belated and brief overview, 3rd Turn Brewing is owned by four longtime homebrewing buddies in pursuit of good beer and a neighborhood feel. When 3rd Turn opened during J-town's signature Gaslight Festival in the fall of 2015, it was the first Louisville brewery to be established "outside the (I-264) loop."

The 1870s-era church had been used for other purposes prior to acquisition, and many previous so-called improvements had to be undone to make room for the brewery and taproom.

There's no food at 3rd Turn, but several restaurants are nearby and delivery options are available. Liquor can be had, and the taproom is dog-friendly. Finally, "3rd turn" is indeed a horse racing reference, though also applicable to one's own daily drinking regimen.

As a final indicator of my regrettable sloth in getting around to visiting this two-year-old "new" brewery, 3rd Turn already has expanded to Crestwood, 13 miles away from J-town -- this time outside the Gene Snyder Freeway (i.e., I-265) perimeter of Louisville locality demarcation.

Back in September, Insider Louisville's Kevin Gibson visited 3rd Turn's Oldham Gardens.

The four-acre farm in Crestwood that 3rd Turn Brewing acquired last December will open on Friday, having transformed with a 16-handle taproom, outdoor bar and patios, expansive garden and event space.

The brewery complex — although the brewing system has not yet been installed — also includes a small farm where staff will grow herbs, fruit and vegetables that will be used in brewing projects. Its official name is 3rd Turn Oldham Gardens.

Scorecard, please: 3rd Turn is a church brewery and a farm(house) brewery; the J-town location represents urban adaptive reuse, and Oldham Gardens is a countryside beer garden.

Well played, guys.

I'm just sorry it has taken me this long to make the million-mile trek from New Albany.

Clere and Hill joust: "Should needle-exchange programs be part of Indiana's fight against opioid abuse?"

From Indianapolis Business Journal's "Forefront" supplement (November 13, 2017) comes this point/counterpoint segment, featuring two prominent Indiana Republicans: Attorney General Curtis Hill and State Representative Ed Clere.

Should needle-exchange programs be part of Indiana's fight against opioid abuse?

Hill says no; Clere replies yes. If you have a subscription to IBJ, you can skirt the paywall and view this article. If not, go here.

"How Cornel West went from liberal media darling to pariah."

Photo credit

Granted, local (Let's Pretend We're) Democrats won't find it easy to tear themselves away from luxurious development plans and Sunday afternoon chain restaurant excursions, but in their spare time, perhaps a few minutes of Cornel West might help reorient their Gahanized inner compasses.

The essay is excerpted here. That's no substitute for reading the whole piece.

Everybody Hates Cornel West
, by Connor Kilpatrick (Jacobin)

How Cornel West went from liberal media darling to pariah.

 ... Now, West finds himself in a strange place. After his public break with the Obama presidency, the same liberal intelligentsia that once championed West has not only thrown him overboard, but seems to delight in making a public spectacle of their scorn for a man they claim is little more than “embittered” after being “spurned” by the first black president.

Long beloved by liberals as the premier black public intellectual, West is now rejected by the same crowd of Democratic Party apparatchiks that first helped him shoot to fame through television appearances, countless books, a hip-hop album, and even an onscreen role in The Matrix sequels.

The list includes The Nation’s Joan Walsh; the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart; and Michael Eric Dyson.

Dyson, the Georgetown professor and Aspen Institute regular, spent one particularly lengthy section of his New Republic essay “ranking” black public intellectuals’ prowess according to their equivalent prizefighter. West was given the rank of Mike Tyson.

All of this led up to the great left/liberal schism of 2016 that was Sanders vs. Clinton. As Dyson, Capehart, and Walsh lined up firmly behind the increasingly miserable Clinton campaign, West found himself allied first with Bernie Sanders and later Green Party candidate Jill Stein. At the height of Sanders-mania, while Dyson, Walsh, and Capehart were delivering cringeworthy apologetics for Clinton, West was working with the Sanders campaign in the South, touring black churches and colleges in support of the social-democratic political revolution.

Or, the joys of "choice" in a duopoly.

In the Obama era, black public intellectuals find themselves in a curious position. It’s a difficult balancing act — how to keep “interpreting the drums” for the Democratic Party elite, as (Adolph) Reed’s argument goes, while staying friendly with that same party that’s overseen a mass economic immiseration of working-class Americans and an exploding carceral state (both of which disproportionately affect black Americans).

The contradictions in this relationship grow even starker as the rhetorical victories have stacked up. Today, even Silicon Valley CEOs proudly proclaim that “Black Lives Matter.” The discourse of diversity and the grad student seminar has become entrenched in everything from television criticism to celebrity tabloids. The Obama years have been a boon to the salaried intellectual class of all races, but lean times for the working-class constituents whose needs, hopes, and desires the black intellectual class vies to interpret for white audiences. What is the role of the black public intellectual when the discourse of “race relations” is now perhaps the liberal class’s preferred way — some would say only way — of talking about our never-ending barrage of social injustices?

Needless to say, the Obama era has been a hell of a trip for Brother West.

Illusory uplift versus versus material reality? Ask Adam Dickey to explain this notion to you; I've tried, but regrettably remain blocked from local Democratic communications channels.

As the analytical role of black public intellectual became increasingly unable to explain the growing social inequalities in American life, West bolted from the political mainstream to the margins. Where he once shared the stage with President Obama, he now occupies it with people like Revolutionary Communist Party leader Bob Avakian. While the Hillary Clinton campaign enlisted the Democratic Party’s black bourgeoisie to batten down the hatches against the Sanders threat, West assailed the Obama legacy as one of illusory racial uplift alongside the material reality of a post-crash society in which single black women were left with a median net worth of five dollars.

When Clinton’s black surrogates shamelessly accused Sanders of racial aloofness, West fought back using the same rhetoric of a “black public intellectual” that had helped build his career. But now, he was attempting to forge that same language into a weapon of social-democratic demystification, wielding it against the Clintonite fog of cultural studies jargon, meritocratic appeals, and subtle free-market apologetics.

Or, the emerging local dynamic of the Dan Canon wing versus the Jeff Gahan wing.

The same brokerage politics of racial authenticity that had, decades ago, delivered black votes to the Clinton machine weren’t about to win them away for a seventy-four-year-old senator (Sanders) few had heard of. The Wests of the world can deliver only righteousness and fiery passions. Congressmen Jim Clyburn and John Lewis can deliver jobs, networks, and targeted legislation.

As much as West tries to summon what he calls “the black prophetic tradition” in order to make it work for the democratic-socialist agenda he sincerely believes in, the battle over that discourse has long since been lost. The Democratic Party has only grown more skilled at “interpreting the drums,” even as it continues to abandon or rewrite historical commitments to trade unions and social insurance programs — commitments that disproportionately benefited black Americans.

We live in an era in which Clinton — who proudly supported mass incarceration and the obliteration of welfare — declares that a social-democratic program of financial reform and single-payer health insurance “won’t end racism.” A recent WikiLeaks publication of internal Clinton campaign emails reveals another line they were testing out against Sanders: “Wall Street is not gunning down young African Americans or denying immigrants a path to citizenship.”


It’s a sentiment that would’ve bewildered civil rights veterans like A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr, John P. Davis, Bayard Rustin, and Lester Granger, all of whom were committed to social-democratic politics as a crucial means of putting racism on a path towards ultimate extinction.

To "follow the money" suggest two very different goals. Establishment Democrats have opted for one of them, and Cornel West the other.

I remember looking around the auditorium: the young, this new generation who would soon file out in Occupy and, a few years later, join the Sanders campaign, were hanging on his every word as they listened to West define what it meant to be radical, what it meant to be on the Left.

“That means we cut radically against the grain of the last forty years, especially in the American empire, where we have been told lies. Unfettered markets generating self-sufficiency, prosperity, and justice is a lie!. . . Wall Street oligarchs and the corporate elites are sucking so much of the blood of American democracy in such a way that more and more people are just useless, superfluous. And they don’t care! They think that they can get away with it because there’s been no resistance of large scale! And they think in the end, the chickens don’t come home to roost, that you don’t reap what you sow . . . we simply say at Left Forum,” and here he backed away from the mic, lowered his voice and smiled, “We stand for the truth.” People were on their feet, exploding in applause.

While West’s reputation has suffered greatly among liberals, it has never been better among socialists. And while still marginal, after the Sanders challenge to the entire liberal class, ours is a corner with some confidence now. West is a longtime member of the Democratic Socialists of America and his reputation for generosity among younger members is unparalleled. He seemingly has time for everyone. Especially those who offer him nothing in career opportunities or elite respectability.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Of Christmas, an Irish priest and a manger's sausage roll.

If I believed in such things as tattoos, and I don't, such an image as this one would be a strong candidate for body modification.

Thanks, B. I'm getting maximum mileage out of this one.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland ...

Irish Catholic priest urges Christians to abandon the word Christmas, by Pádraig Collins (The Guardian)

Father Desmond O’Donnell says the words Christmas and Easter have lost all sacred meaning

An Irish Catholic priest has called for Christians to stop using the word Christmas because it has been hijacked by “Santa and reindeer”.

Father Desmond O’Donnell said Christians of any denomination need to accept Christmas now has no sacred meaning.

O’Donnell’s comments follow calls from a rightwing pressure group for a boycott of Greggs bakery in the UK after the company replaced baby Jesus with a sausage roll in a nativity scene.

“We’ve lost Christmas, just like we lost Easter, and should abandon the word completely,” O’Donnell told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We need to let it go, it’s already been hijacked and we just need to recognise and accept that.”

They're not kidding about the sausage roll. I'm an atheist, but this one's just weird.

Is it acceptable to replace baby Jesus with a sausage roll for an advert? by Nicole Morley (

A new advent calendar has been released by Greggs that has left people asking if it’s appropriate to replace Jesus with a sausage roll.

Of all things!

Throughout the calendar there are festive pictures such as sweet pastries hanging from a Christmas tree and a scene from the nativity.

The son of God is nowhere to be seen in the manger, instead there is a sausage roll surrounded by three wise men who we hope are called sausage, beans and cheese melt.

THE BEER BEAT: Beer news overview, featuring our Bamberg correspondent; Pearl Street Taphouse's anniversary; and a Dauntless beer dinner at La Chasse.

Look at the head on that!

Kim Andersen is an evil man, taunting the terminally New Albany-bound (that's me) with this photo of delicious, freshly-poured Spezial Rauchbier, as snapped from his current vantage point in Bamberg, Germany.

However, it's the two folks in back that make this view wonderful, because for them, it's just a restorative mid-afternoon local pub stop.

While I'm at it, cheers to Matthias Trum and family. Kim informs me that he was drinking six-month-lagered Schlenkerla Urbock on Thursday evening. No photos of Schweinshaxe -- yet. But he's got plenty of time.

(I posted the preceding words at Facebook long before lunch on Friday, when it was mid-afternoon in Bamberg.)

Then I watched as the pub crawl proceeded, first to Greifenklau ...

 ... then Schlenkerla.

Instantaneous communications enables me to see the photos before Kim's done draining his glass. The beauty of it is that I've been to these places enough times to possess near-total sensory recall: to taste the beers, smell the food and feel the room. It's grin-inducing.

I'm very fortunate, indeed.


Closer to home -- or Jeffersonville, to be exact -- last December we were introduced to Pearl Street Taphouse.

THE BEER BEAT: The Pearl Street Taphouse in downtown Jeffersonville.

I'm delighted for Kelly and Teri that Pearl Street Taphouse (that's downtown Jeffersonville, folks, not downtown New Albany) has come out of the gate so strong. Now comes the long haul ... and best wishes for it. If all goes as planned, my inaugural visit to Pearl Street Taphouse will be on Wednesday during a projected pub crawl of Jeffersonville.

These days, I'm too infrequent a customer anywhere locally to merit status as a "regular" (no Stammtisch for me), though here of late we keep going back to Pearl Street Taphouse for a round whenever engaged in errands by car.

The default remains walking 10 minutes to downtown New Albany. Runner-up has become Pearl Street Taphouse, which will celebrate its first birthday beginning December 1.

Good beer options in Jeffersonville have grown exponentially. I adore the fact that Tony Revak (you know him from Buckhead's) is running the beer program at Parlour, and of course Flat12's taproom is just a short distance away. Still, I like the ambiance at Kelly's and Teri's place; it shouldn't come as any surprise that the size and scale remind me of the Public House of old.

Congratulations to them, and may the birthdays flow into the future.


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," unless you're consistently branding a concept, in which case Big Four Burgers kept the same name even when the restaurant's second location opened in the New Albany building made famous by South Side Inn, miles from its namesake Jeffersonville bridge.

Then, when Matt McMahan's next food service idea germinated amid the vast expanse of the former South Side's kitchen, eventually giving birth to District 22 Pizzeria, the decision to take pizza and alcohol delivery to Jeffersonville will not result in the District 10 Pizzeria.

(22 and 10 are the county numbers for Floyd and Clark counties, respectively.)

Pizza, alcohol delivery concept District 22 is expanding, by Caitlin Bowling (Insider Louisville)

Roughly three months after opening the inaugural District 22, owner Matt McMahan said that he is expanding the pizza and alcohol delivery concept.

The first District 22 opened at 110 E. Main St. in New Albany in a space connected to McMahan’s casual dining burger restaurant Big Four Burgers + Beer. The two businesses share some staff and a kitchen.

Now, McMahan told Insider, he plans to do the same thing at the Big Four Burgers at 134 Spring St. in Jeffersonville.

“From Day One, I knew it was too much space,” McMahan said. “I’ve been wanting to do the District 22 for a long time.”

Although the concept is still young, he said that District 22 had done “decent numbers” since it opened, giving him the confidence to move forward with the Jeffersonville store.

“Sharing the space, sharing the utilities, sharing the kitchen, sharing the staff, it is literally a no-brainer,” McMahan said.

The ability to deliver alcohol, he said, has allowed District 22 to differentiate itself from the many other pizzerias in the area.

It's not just swill for home delivery, either.


Donum Dei will become the first brewery in our immediate vicinity to add a distillery, taking advantage of a trend toward statutory liberalization during recent years, as driven primarily by Indiana's Republicans (insert befuddled but appreciative emoticon here).

As accompaniment to Donum Dei's announcement, the Indy Star explains the boom in Hoosier "craft" distillation.

New Albany brewery to start making spirits, by Danielle Grady (That Jeffersonville Newspaper)

Rick Otey, a jovial, bearded figure, is already bursting with ideas now that his New Albany brewery, Donum Dei, has a license to distill spirits.

He hopes to start by crafting a beer brandy: a beer that has been distilled. Eventually, he wants to graduate to an all-grain moonshine, a vodka, whiskey and — finally — a gin, flavored with local botanicals.

On Wednesday, Donum Dei, located at 3211 Grant Line Road, became one of the few breweries in Indiana and the only one in Clark and Floyd counties, to also hold an artisan distiller’s permit. (Huber’s Orchard and Winery claims a distiller’s permit, but makes wine instead of beer).

It’s a goal that Otey and his co-owner/wife, Kim Otey, have been working toward ever since they opened their brewery to the public in 2015. At the time, breweries had to be in operation for three years before receiving their distiller’s permit. (Now, it’s 18 months).


In closing, there's a beer dinner coming on December 11 at La Chasse in Louisville.

I seldom mention events occurring across the wide expanse of water, over yonder in the big city, but as a reminder, the acclaimed La Chasse is Isaac Fox's restaurant. New Albanian old-timers will remember Isaac from Bistro New Albany and Speakeasy.

The dinner at La Chasse will feature beers from Dauntless Distributing, which brings some of the planet's finest brands into Kentucky, as well as handling Louisville brewers Against the Grain, Monnik and Akasha. Two NABC alums work for Dauntless: Richard Atnip and Kevin Lowber.

Details (menu, beers, price) have yet to be announced, but I'd love to see a good contingent of friends and fellow travelers in attendance. Aside from the beer angle, you owe it to yourself to have a meal at La Chasse.

There'll be no regrets.

Friday, November 17, 2017

LIVE TO EAT: The Golden Key Market in Buechel.

If there's no Cyrillic, can it even hope to approach authenticity?

When the herring is finished, onto the black bread it goes.

I'd have sworn this paean to Golden Key Market was posted previously, but evidently it appeared only at Instagram. At any rate, just after our return from Sicily last year I received a message from my friend Burkhard, who has served as my personal German cultural attache since we met at least 25 years ago.

Burkhard's plan was to give me a tour of international community in Buechel.

It is named after John Buechel, a Swiss carpenter and tavern owner who established a post office at his White Cottage tavern in 1883.

There's a big Eastern European and Russian presence in Buechel, manifested by eateries and shops, and after visiting a couple of Bosnian-American establishments for food and drink, Burkhard led me to the intended high water mark of my visit.

The loaf of delicious black rye (above) is the weight of a brick, and the matjes herring from Norway delightful in vinegar and oil with chopped onions, dill weed, salt and pepper. All of it was purchased at the Golden Key Market in Buechel.

My memory was jogged upon running across the informative article linked here. Unfortunately, Buechel's not on my usual route to anywhere, so I've only been back only twice since.

However, by sheer serendipity in August while overnighting in Indianapolis, we found ourselves dining at Gregory's, a Russian restaurant located in a strip mall on 82nd Street. Gregory's is quite near to the site of the late, lamented Chalkie's, and it's great.

When I think about how wonderful the herring tasted last December, it's obvious that a return to Golden Key is in the offing.

EXPLORING THE AISLES: Golden Key Market, by Lindsey McClave (Louisville Distilled)

Buechel’s Golden Key Market offers a treasure trove of goods from Russia, Eastern Europe.

The door had barely closed behind me when I received Oleg Gold’s warm welcome. “Would you like tea or coffee?” he asked, smiling as he ushered me into his compact and vibrant market.

Two glass cases flank the left side of the shop, filled generously with cured meats, cheeses, whole smoked fish, and golden tins of caviar. Four short aisles stretch along the right side of the store, an enticing array of packaged goods decorating the shelves. Any spare space is filled with an assortment of everyday sundries, from newspapers and greeting cards written in Russian, to first aid items in Russian language packaging. There is much to take in, and I am instantly eager to be spirited away by this treasure trove of goods from across the globe.

Specializing in food from Russia and Eastern Europe, Golden Key Market sits somewhat conspicuously at the corner of Bradford Drive and Bardstown Road in Louisville’s Buechel neighborhood.

Gold sets me up with a drink the shade of a brilliant green, an all-natural soda direct from Russia infused with an herb that he isn’t even sure has an English name. I sip and nibble on Turkish tea crackers as Gold shares the story of how he came to own this shop with Arina Safarova, whom he met a few years after arriving in Louisville.