Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Rog's rant: On the very nature of nay-saying

(Promise I won't do it again for a while - RAB)

We spent the weekend in Chicago, and as is the case every time I return home from a trip, it takes a few days to adjust to the state of mind.

The culture shock stands to be a bit greater this time.

Our hotel in Chicago, chosen because it was the cheapest in close proximity to downtown, was located in the heart of Chinatown, one hundred yards from the subway stop and several thousand miles away from just another place to stay.

By this I mean that Chicago’s Chinatown is just that – touristy to an expected degree, but filled to the brim with, well, people from China (and some from Vietnam, Malaysia and other Asian locales). Sometimes none of the voices to be heard are speaking English. It’s easy to catch yourself thinking that you’re somewhere else, not Illinois.

Stand at the right spot, and the aromas of cooking fill the street, emanating from ubiquitous restaurants with dining rooms often tucked away on upper floors, eateries relieving tourists like us of our cash while pulling extra duty as community centers.

Early Sunday morning we entered a bakery and were shooed into the almost hidden rear section, where the satellite television was entirely in Chinese. The staff spoke English, but the customers in the crowded room paid little heed to it. I checked off breakfast choices, including dim sum and doughy pastries, on a card and handed it to the waitress, who returned with tea and hot sauce.

What were the men talking about? I’ll never know what the men smoking by the no smoking sign were talking about, but their conversation was animated and filled with laughter.


We returned home today, and after checking e-mail, I perused the local blogs and other usual daily sites, thinking all the while that while it’s a clear case of apples and oranges to compare the range of options and attractions in an immense metropolitan area like Chicago to those in and around Louisville, at the same time, why must we perpetually insist that superstition and backwardness are our best friends?

I’m not speaking here about Scribner Place, Cannon Acres, the City Council, the Mayor, or any of the specific local political topics that have been discussed at NA Confidential since its inception last year.

Rather, with the memory of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods and can-do spirit fresh in my mind, I’m referring to the recurring phenomenon hereabouts that currently enjoys its most prominent, and saddest, manifestation in apoplectic opposition to progress in the city of New Albany, an opposition that unfortunately doesn’t confine itself to screaming that present circumstances stand in the way of progress, but that taken together, all past mistakes by any and all politicians and community leaders indicate that we simply can’t do anything right, and should never, ever try.

I am utterly sickened by this cancerous attitude.

Why, if not stemming from unadulterated envy, is it that people who lack the ability to understand insist that their incomprehension is sufficient reason to deny others the opportunity to learn?

Why, if not from simple self-loathing, is it that people take pride in their ignorance, rather than take the steps necessary to gain knowledge?

Why, if not from our own timidity and a respect for fair play that goes far beyond that accorded us in return, should people like these be allowed to use their own lack of imagination and creativity as veto power over varieties of progress that will benefit the remainder of the community?

Of course, these shrieking cyber-punks are not the truly downtrodden, genuinely poverty-stricken, disenfranchised "little people" they so fancifully imagine themselves to be, and since no one else will say it, I will: These "Concern Taxpayers" and "New Albany Residents" don't care one jot for those in this town who really do have it badly.

It's all about tearing down ideas and people that they wrongly perceive to be "above them," not lifting up those they're comfortably sure are below, and even though this is nonsensical at best and repugnant at worst, it's the way it is.

In defense of people like these, it was recently stated elsewhere that they:

“Are not stupid, ignorant, recessive thinking globs of people. (They) are people who happen to have a different opinion, or aren't quite convinced that this (progress) is a good idea.”


Readers, if you haven't already done so, go to the pink spitwad blogyard and feel the hatred oozing between the angry words. Consider the anonymity that cloaks it. Remember that its readers support all-American concepts like censorship. Now, ask yourself: What is it that would make these people happy beyond the confines of their own four walls, and the knowledge that not one cent of their taxes went to fund a better community?

It isn't pretty, is it?

In fact, it's often vicious, and goes far beyond reasoned debate and benign disagreement.

Stupid? Ignorant? Recessive (spregressive, Laura)?

Their words. Not mine. And if the shoes fit ... then wear them to exit New Albany, like our best and brightest young people continually do, because always standing between them and the remaking of a city in the future tense are the nay-saying Brambleberries, prepared for no sacrifice or gainful efforts of their own beyond that necessary to brutally kneecap progress in any form and preserve their own fiefdoms of futility.

Or, as I've done, you can stay right here and join me in fighting the Luddites every step of the way. To those who have no plan of their own, and want to make sure that progressivism is not allowed to have one, either, because they hate the future just as much as they hate the capable and talented, I've got this to say: you cannot win. You cannot stop the globe from spinning, or the pages of the calendar from turning.

We'd prefer their cooperation in making this city a better place to live, but we're quite prepared to do it without them.

Heh heh. I feel much better now.


Joe said...

me too

New Alb Annie said...

New Albanian,

I feel your pain. It's a totally frustrating situation to see our city's potential getting flushed down the john day after day.

Keep in mind, however, that it's not just the naysaying madding crowd, but very, very many of the elected and appointed officials too.

What's missing? It's ordinance enforcement. It's playing by the rules. It's honesty and resourceful management of public money. It's telling it like it is instead of getting excuses and doubletalk.

Someone needs to take ownership of this city, a strong leader with a strong vision and no fear of making that vision a reality. It will happen. I truly believe it will. I think we are on the brink of great things.

The New Albanian said...

Here are the two paragraphs I wrote first, around which the remainder of the article was constructed:

Of course, these shrieking cyber-punks are not the truly downtrodden, genuinely poverty-stricken, disenfranchised "little people" they so fancifully imagine themselves to be, and since no one else will say it, I will: These "Concern Taxpayers" and "New Albany Residents" don't care one jot for those in this town who really do have it badly.

It's all about tearing down ideas and people that they wrongly perceive to be "above them," not lifting up those they're comfortably sure are below, and even though this is nonsensical at best and repugnant at worst, it's the way it is.

This is the essence of the point I'm trying to make. When faced with being part of the problem or part of the solution, where do the chronic oppositionists come down, and how do they reconcile the contradictions?

These are not the under-privileged struggling to get a piece of the pie and make a way; rather, these are ones who have at least some of the pie already, and want to keep it.

Nothing at all wrong with that position, and all of us want to keep what we've worked to build, but when people like these begin donning the mask of "victim" in order to stand in the way of progress, yes, that sickens me.

At what point are they able to look in the mirror and see that without something - anything - positive to say in the way of a plan or a program, they are as much a part of the problem as the politicians and ideas they so love to hate, and not in any remote way a part of the solution?

Do I detect in their anger and envy an attitude of not caring, so long as they remain where they are, keep what they have, and stay angry?

It amuses me to hear these people cry about the potential for persecution and reprisal should anyone uncover their identities. Logically speaking, you can't be an insignificant and powerless "little person," and at the very same time believe that you're so important that you'll be attacked for debating issues.

Truth is, they're outside of the debate and the system, with the people they envy refusing to pay attention to them, precisely because they don't deserve a hearing, given their explicit support for censorship (witness the Laura Blog) and their implicit aim to keep the ones below them just where the lowly ones belong.

It occurs to me that while issues come and issues go, my particular goal in life always has been to expose the absolutely bogus underpinnings of this sort of populist rage, generally undertaken by selfish people who are too lazy to make the effort to understand, and thus wear ignorance as a badge of honor.

I’m having none of it. “We don’t need no education” made for fine allegory in the Pink Floyd song, but it’s not the best position from which to undertake needed reforms, politician and voter alike.

All4Word said...

Watch out! He's gonna blow!

Good to have you back at the keyboard, pal. Driving always stimulates my thinking, too. Something about that particular type of concentration frees the imaginative part of the mind. After 5 hours of driving you must have been ready to burst.

Hope Mrs. Confidential didn't threaten to push you out of the car.

jon faith said...

While remaining xenephobic, the area has changed. Three hispanic eateries, four cafes and an independant bookstore in ten years isn't tantamount to witch trials. More moderation as minds as disparate and Voltaire and Grass would opine.

bluegill said...

It's worth mentioning though (with apologies to Mrs. All4Word), that most if not all of those new establishments are the work of non-natives.

Why is it that everyone else seems to immediately identify the great potential that exists here while so many long-timers, most notably CM Coffey, continue to insist that there's no market for such development in New Albany?

I'm continually amazed at how a certain segment of the population whines and yelps about the downfall of their city and the wrongs thrust upon them by the governments they elected and re-elected with no sense of self-indictment.

The only people crying about the impossibility of progress in New Albany are New Albanians.

That's OK, though. The simple sales pitch of "Look what these people have and are too dumb to do anything with" seems to be working. Keep complaining and doing nothing and selling your property. Eventually, you won't be able to afford to move back when others have done your work for you and property values go up.

This progress is occurring in spite of the naysayers that represent themselves as the "homeowners and taxpayers" of New Albany as if they're the only ones. Imagine what could happen if even a fraction of the remaining majority openly supported it.

jon faith said...

I agree with BG's refinement of my blunderbuss, as only Jim Book is from the area. That said, the demographics of the city are rapidly changing, white flight has its counterpoint and I appreciated your optimism about "once the work is completed" the property values will find new plateaus, though I fathom our future will be robust and bilingual.

All4Word said...

What? Macedonian and English?

Tim Deatrick said...

Say Bluegill Sam Anderson is a native who not only has built a solid business but has seen the reality of where New Albany's growth is by opening a farmers market on the Charlestwon Road I 265 Corridor.

Hows the downtown farmers market doing these days after all your East Spring Street Neighborhood association and DNA was supposed to make it a success this year.

I guess if the farmers dont do so well downtown they can always go for a swim at the YMCA

bluegill said...


If, as an environmentalist, you wish to encourage urban sprawl so be it. I wouldn't suggest, however, that you include such inane reasoning on your CV.

The sooner you quit making dumb arguments just for the sake of starting an argument, the better off you'll be. It's quite transparent and reflects on you badly.

The New Albanian said...

I love it! Tim writes:

Hows the downtown farmers market doing these days after all your East Spring Street Neighborhood association and DNA was supposed to make it a success this year.

Recall that Tim volunteered to serve on the committee to revive the downtown farmers' market, and perhaps even attended a meeting until other pressing issues (?) negated his participation, and it became easier to remain part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Wait ... that is Tim's CV!

Greg said...


The downtown Farmers Market is doing very well! I had the pleasure of greeting the farmers/vendors on Saturday morning, June 11 to help with set up and to be there if anyone needed anything. There were four vendor/farmers and business was very brisk. Several vendor/farmers sold out of certain items before 9:30 a.m. Many people stopped by and brought fresh produce from lettuce to strawberries to fresh baked breads and pies, but the best part was the all the conversations that were exchanged. However, success is in the eye of the beholder and one must choose to open their eyes! Furthermore, Mr. Deatrick the East Spring Neighborhood Association has worked hard to better our neighborhood and city. You have never attended one of our meetings or been involved with one of our events. Please refrain from making snide comments about the ESNA because you know nothing about us. Maybe you would like to see our archives of numerous articles and press coverage of community projects the ESNA has done!

Greg Roberts, President
East Spring Street Neighborhood Association

Tim Deatrick said...

I am all for a downtown farmers market but I understand the committee has disbanded otherwise I would have continued to participate. All I am saying is that Sams Market is poised for success because of the population and demographics.

As to being part of the solution, better question or statement might be what has DNA done to make the downtown market a success?

The New Albanian said...

No one has doubted DNA's inept handling of the market. No one has suggested that having one at Sam's isn't a good idea, for the factors you cite.

There's no reason why there can't be two. As with any other marketing effort, the "market" for the market has to be found (or created) and shaped.

Tim Deatrick said...

yes Roger I am in agreement with you, we do need both markets.