Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Frank Rich: "The emperors of morality have in fact had no clothes for some time."

Reading Floyd County Chairman Dave Matthews’s latest Englandophobic comments in yesterday’s Tribune brought to mind a conversation at the bar a few weeks ago, when the previously reticent Matthews first broke on the local scene as chief interpreter for the otherwise silent mayoral candidate, Randy Hubbard.

I was asked by a blog reader if Matthews represented the old-fashioned fiscal rectitude GOP, or if he had consumed the Kool-Aid on behalf of theocratic “values” wing of the party so assiduously courted by the spectacularly failed Bush regime.

My response was, “I’ve no idea.”

Perhaps all will be revealed at some point in the future. Since taking an interest in local affairs, it has been a matter of morbid personal curiosity as to when someone finally would seek to revitalize the typically moribund Republican Party hereabouts by injecting the divisiveness of religious and cultural wars. We have seen in such a strategy financed by outside money in the previous Sodrel for Congress campaigns, but is hasn’t seemed to tinkle down to the grassroots.

Following are excerpts from New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich, who devoted his Sunday column to a discussion of Rudy Guliani’s presidential prospects.

OP-ED COLUMNIST; Rudy, the Values Slayer (October 28, 2007)

… That this same Rudy Giuliani would emerge as the front-runner in the Republican pack six years later is the great surprise of the 2008 presidential campaign to date, especially to the political press. Since the dawn of the new century, it has been the rarely questioned conventional wisdom, handed down by Karl Rove, that no Republican can rise to the top of the party or win the presidency without pandering as slavishly as George W. Bush has to the most bullying and gay-baiting power brokers of the religious right …

… There are various explanations for this. One is that 9/11 and terrorism fears trump everything. Another is that the rest of the field is weak. But the most obvious explanation is the one that Washington resists because it contradicts the city’s long-running story line. Namely, that the political clout ritualistically ascribed to Mr. Perkins, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer of American Values and their ilk is a sham.

These self-promoting values hacks don’t speak for the American mainstream. They don’t speak for the Republican Party. They no longer speak for many evangelical ministers and their flocks. The emperors of morality have in fact had no clothes for some time. Should Rudy Giuliani end up doing a victory dance at the Republican convention, it will be on their graves …

Right on, Frank.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mayoral forum videos now available for viewing.

(From Bluegill)

Full video coverage of last week's Mayoral Candidate Forum is now available on the Develop New Albany web site. Links to the videos appear near the bottom of the home page. Both candidate sessions are featured in their entirety for voter information.

Halloween bash at Connor's Place tomorrow.

Wikipedia does Halloween (and no Gang of Four jokes from me):

The Festival of Halloween is a celebration of the end of the fertile period of the Celtic Goddess Eiseria. It is said that when Eiseria reaches the end of her fertile cycle the worlds of the dead and the living interlap. This happens on October 31. Masks are worn to show respect for the Goddess Eiseria who, like most Celtic deities, does not wish to be seen with human eyes. The day also preceeds All saints day, which was at first the celebration of the start of a new cycle of fertility for the celtic Goddess Eiseria. Couples incapable of producing children thus tried their luck on All saints day.

Fast forwarding to the present, the on-line information resource adds:

Trick-or-treating may often end by early evening, but the nightlife thrives in many urban areas. Halloween costume parties provide an opportunity for adults to gather and socialize. Urban bars are frequented by people wearing Halloween masks and risqué costumes. Many bars and restaurants hold costume contests to attract customers to their establishments. Haunted houses are also popular in some areas.

No Admiral Bicknell haunted house jokes from me ... although the combination of Halloween, masks and Professor Erika's haunted word processor is almost too good to pass up.

Anyway, it's the perfect segue into this reminder that on Wednesday, October 31, there'll be a Halloween bash at Connor’s Place. NABC beers are on tap, bar owner Dave Himmel is encouraging costumes, and NABC's own musical brewer Jared Williamson and his longtime collaborator Tommy Potts will be performing. It's all taking place downtown at 207 East Main.

You might even wear a half Groucho mask and a Hawaiian shirt, and come as "Dave Himmel." Here's an artist's rendition for use in planning your costume ... see you there.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Senior editor sez: Doug England for Mayor.

Readers of the Tribune, our local newspaper, have by now grown accustomed to the diversionary banter of Floyd County Republican Party chairman David Matthews, who has taken on the seemingly full-time task of vacuum interpretation and nuance creation for his enduringly sphinx-like mayoral candidate, “Silent Randy” Hubbard.

However, last week it was the turn of Rove’s – oops, make that Matthews’s – fellow party operative Jennifer Mayfield to defend an ever somnolent Hubbard’s honor by way of a stinging attack on the NAPD’s Todd Bailey, himself an outspoken advocate of Democratic candidate Doug England. Mayfield since has been answered by a friend of Bailey’s, and the muddy scrum of accusations and counter-accusations will continue to grow unabated until the final whistle blows on Election Day, when, thanks to state law, we’ll be cruelly denied the gentle consolations of alcohol until 6:00 p.m.

It just isn’t fair.

None of it.

Especially the alcohol part.

(Rereading those first paragraphs, I now tremble with fear while awaiting the rhetorical lash of that pastureland brown shirt dude that Matthews handed me over to last time, but maybe he’s distracted by penning mash notes to his poster child Mike Sodrel. Should I reword what I wrote and spare him the pleasure?)

(Nah; it’s too much fun as it is. Now, back to our regularly scheduled essay.)

Surely Mayfield exaggerates more than even the vituperous non-professor Erika in portraying Officer Bailey as a veritable leech supping at the collapsed veins of taxpayers, although it is probable that in a hotly contested election, and given the stunning absence of ideas that continues to characterize Matthews’s and Mayfield’s perpetually sandbagging local Republican encampment, that dully repetitious saturation sliming is the only available recourse to the GOP’s probable fate of disappearing from the electoral radar screen entirely.

Matthews was in print yet again last Thursday afternoon, this time flashing photos of the candidates in order to rebut Bailey’s admittedly bizarre previous assertion that England is the better dressed of the two candidates, although photos from Wednesday night’s “forum” depict both men as suitably suited and potentially administrative. In the end, while amusing, certainly the GQ factor isn’t relevant to the issues at hand … although in honesty, I’d pay good money to see any candidate for office wear a toga while campaigning.

As for the opportunity to hear England and Hubbard respond to questions (just not to each other) at the forum, the author was otherwise engaged and has yet to view the film, but it is difficult to imagine that anything said by either candidate would be sufficient to change minds even if the general public cared, and alas, little interest in the forthcoming election has been generated up until now, with voter turnout likely to be depressingly small unless a referendum question is inserted along the lines of, “Are you in favor of paying no taxes whatsoever but receiving the same or greater levels of service from the government you intend to emaciate?”

That’d bring ‘em out in droves, wouldn’t it?


There’s no time better than the present to offer my personal endorsement in the mayoral contest, because as in the Federer/Woods/Henry razor advertisement, the present is all that matters to me. In considering the England-Hubbard mayoral match-up, I find it useful to strip away the verbiage and superfluous embellishments and concentrate instead on one fundamental factor.

Active vs. passive intent.

From the outset, Hubbard has promised to be deliberate, cautious and, frankly, conservative if elected to office. This is hardly surprising, and for those who believe that incremental and largely passive caretaking is the proper approach to governance, and especially for those who harbor congenital antipathy toward change, the ex-sheriff is the only real choice: "Don't do something - just stand there."

Appropriately, on the other side of the aisle, England’s campaign slogan might be fairly paraphrased as, “Don’t just stand there – do something.”

Culled to its essence, his platform is one of unapologetic activism. For those who believe that problems can be recognized and diagnosed, and solutions undertaken, and especially for those who understand that there is no constant in life except change, the ex-mayor is the only real choice for the job.

One man will be chosen. Whether the winner is Hubbard or England, neither man will please all of his supporters all of the time. Either of them will make mistakes, and in the end, the political wheel will not be reinvented for the sake of tiny New Albany.

What is the real difference to me?

Easy. It can be clearly seen that a transitional situation in New Albany merits an activist stance on the part of local government. This blog has provided three years’ worth of testimony on behalf of such a stance, and of the two candidates for mayor, only Doug England has shown himself willing and capable of articulating an activist stance and possessing the ability to formulate a platform that reflects reality on the ground and offers more than a few thoughtful, workable potential solutions.

Yes, England served previously as mayor.

Yes, he carries baggage from his previous service.

But the present isn’t the past.

As the estimable performer Steve Miller once observed, "Time keeps on slipping into the future," and truer words have seldom been sung. Our next municipal election isn’t about “last time,” or “before,” or “back then.” It’s quite clearly about now. The city is at a particularly important juncture, with certain societal and economic factors illuminated and others not, and with specific difficulties to be faced, but also numerous opportunities there to be seized. Of course, the past is instructive, and when it comes to making sense of what happened before, history books are filled with examples of people whose natural abilities were right for the circumstances of a particular time.

I believe England to be just such a man. What he is best at doing is what we need now.

Of course, like all the rest of us, England is a flawed human being. Fortunately, we’re not being called upon to elect a saint, but to choose a mayor.

Surveying New Albany as it is now, and regarding Doug England as who he is now, there is little doubt in my mind that he possesses the superior skill sets for the job at hand, but surreally, Hubbard’s hastily concocted campaign slogan would have us believe that caretaking and passivity are “right” for New Albany in the current transitional time, and that Hubbard is the “right” man to do very little when much needs to be done.

Perhaps a vow of do-nothingness is a decent gambit in the absence of a platform, but it doesn’t change the fundamental equation, which begins with a plainly evident admission on the part of a vast majority of observers that in New Albany, “something” needs to be done.

England promises to try and do something, and that’s more than enough for me. He’ll receive my vote on November 6.

I encourage readers to follow suit ... not by trusting what this or any other blog tells you, but by choosing your candidate according to your own conscience, and most importantly, by VOTING.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hmm, "Been Laden’s" long-lost New Albanian Muslim cousin?


Although it bears a striking resemblance to the immoderately moderated Wannabeens-R-Us blog, this phrase is not posted in that fractured locale as a biddy's warning to gremlins huffing sewer gas.

It also isn’t a direct quote from Dan “Them People” Coffey, although he's been capable of worse.

Rather, it is a warning to shoplifters, as posted throughout a business near here.

Yes, I know; the trognonymous apologists will be hammering me (again) for even bringing things like this up, but shouldn’t there be at least a modicum of respect for the language hereabouts?

Unless, of course, the example cited isn’t non-ironic illiteracy at all. Instead, perhaps we are to regard it as shtick in the time-honored manner of the Beverly Hillbillies and the down-home chain restaurant PoFolks (the official eatery of “Freedom of Speech”).

Or, it might be a lyric from a country song, a tag line from the Cable Guy, or some other popular usage that he eluded me.

Do you tell a guy that his zipper’s down, or hope he notices before too many people laugh?

Or do you just laugh when it becomes evident that showing his underwear is an intentional fashion statement?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

REWIND: An empty chair's better than an empty suit -- or why Frankfort Avenue is bad for an Uncouncilman's stunted imagination.

Who's that sittin' on Dan Coffey's knee? It sure isn't Charlie McCarthy.

The half of our readership that visits on typical weekends will have to be content with today's replay from December 6, 2005:

An empty chair's better than an empty suit -- or why Frankfort Avenue is bad for an Uncouncilman's stunted imagination.

Two years have passed, and CM Price is still trying to spin his "Frankfort Avenue" words to mean that he was concerned about parking.

We know better, and will issue these occasional reminders.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Work on the River City Winery begins.

And a side order of spyware, please.

Denschak just breaks me up sometimes, and I can't help it. She's outraged, of course, but capable of unintended humor.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007: WHAT'S ON THE MINDS OF THE VOTERS?

"Freedom of Speech has received thousands of emails over the last several months."
I have, too. They’re called “spam.”

Obviously, the city is in desperate need of an FOS filter.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The one you really need to have. If you don't have it, that's why you need it.

With the senior editor engaged elsewhere, NA Confidential handily sidestepped council president Kochert's attempted coup d'schedule by dispatching Bluegill to the mayoral forum and Lloyd to the last-minute city council meeting. Lloyd is first past the post with his council comments below, but first, here are links to forum coverage.

Mainstream media: Candidates see different paths for downtown; Hubbard, England also agree often, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal)

NA Shadow Council blog: Who's Looking Out For Whom?

Take it away, Lloyd ...


A word of caution; DO NOT attend any of this year’s remaining New Albany Common Council meetings without first shoring up your resolve with a minimum of three pints of NABC's Hoptimus brew its equivalent. In that setting, low alcohol content can lead to permanent brain damage. I now know how the Aflac duck felt in the commercial with Yogi Berra, when the duck came waddling out of the barber shop talking to himself.

At any rate, President Kochert started last night’s event off properly at 7:30 p.m. and went through the opening ceremonies with speed and clarity. There were no CF-1 Forms, Public Communications, City Official Communications, Mayoral Communications, or Committee Reports.

So, the council proceeded right into “Appointments to the Storm Water Board.” Of the three candidates on the list, only Ms. Bolovschak was present. She took the podium, declared herself a facilitator, and promised to serve under the direction of the Council and report directly to them if chosen. She stated that although Mr. Coffey should feel free to attend the Storm Water Board meetings, it would not be necessary, as she would be diligent in keeping the council informed (paraphrased). She then went on to read aloud from several letters of recommendation that she had acquired from former employers and associates. She requested that these be entered in the official minutes of the meeting.

As neither of the other two candidates was present to defend himself, council moved directly to a discussion and the vote. The general consensus was that two engineers on one board would result in a conflict of interest, so Nathan Grimes was out before he left the gate. There being no other discussion (at least none that made any sense) the vote was called for.

With the first ballot, Grimes got 4 ayes & 5 nays, Bolovschak 3 Ayes & 6 Nays, and Kessans 4 Ayes & 5 Nays. On the second ballot, although some members changed their votes, the numbers for all three remained the same. At this point I predicted it was going to be a long night and began to regret only having one beer prior to attending. Finally on the third ballot, even though they switched votes again, Kessans got the nod with 5 Ayes and 4 Nays.

Next came two resolutions from the same applicant for tax abatements. This prompted a typically rowdy discussion about the merits/demerits of such policies (Coffey against them, Price wanting to look at the "big picture" and Zurschmiede wanting to support the small businessman), and it eventually was resolved that from this day forward abatements on real property would be allowed the customary ten year lease on life while additional equipment purchases only will merit a five year period. Both passed unanimously.

This was followed by an ordinance concerning setting the salary for a NA Parks Department employee, which passed without ado.

Then came G-07-14, the one we had been saving the video camera battery to record: The redistricting plan ordinance. The room held its collective breath as it was introduced by CM Gahan. Discussion was called for. There was none. A motion was made and seconded to vote on the first reading. With a couple of the council persons stipulating a yes vote on the first reading only, it passed with 8 Ayes & 1 Nay (Zurschmiede).

The room exhaled, and Karen Carmickle and I looked at each other and berated ourselves for not having filmed the Valla Ann show earlier. You live & learn.

About this time the room began to fill up with the attendees of the mayoral non-debate across the street.

The rest of the evening’s agenda consisted of three ordinances to amend zoning for their respective projects, two of which passed on first reading, and the third failing on both the second & third readings.

Motion was made to adjourn, was seconded, and His Highness dropped the gavel with a thud.

Editor’s note: The council’s action last evening on G-07-14 was to approve a first reading of the redistricting ordinance known as the “Schmidt (Anna) Plan,” which (a) was not written by CM Schmidt himself, and (b) reflects the council’s previous contentious vote to endorse a lawsuit settlement mechanism that the plaintiffs have made perfectly clear is entirely unacceptable.

That’s why Lloyd’s account of last night’s meeting ends like this:

Sing along now: "A courting we will go, a courting we wil … "

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

For heaven's sake, give 'em some candy ... and maybe they'll leave us alone.

Treats is just another way of spelling the name of the bakery café downtown, but tricks begin this evening as the city council convenes to formally ratify its factional redistricting intemperance:

New Albany mayoral event, council meeting on same night, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

As the headline makes clear, the long awaited mayoral quasi-debate (or “forum”) will run concurrently with the council meeting, and less than a hundred yards away in the public library.

Had anyone guessed that the council president would be engineering such a scheduling grandstand play as tonight’s, the candidates might have simplified matters by coming to the council meeting and utilizing public speaking time (for agenda items only, ma’am … and please, for once, keep it to five minutes).

The senior editor will miss them all, because I have a previously scheduled event at the Public House that involves the heartfelt appreciation of fine cask ale. The best of luck and patience to Bluegill and Lloyd, who’ll be splitting reporting duties in my absence. Look for their words in this space tomorrow.


Yes, the election is two weeks away, and I must confess that after a slow start, the campaign has become thoroughly entertaining. Amid the woozy and patently false testimonials of known potty-pol bloggers and the trognonymous blathering of spiteful transgendered faux professors, there have been rich textural subplots involving disputes over Randy Hubbard’s work ethic and disbelief as to Doug England’s campaign promises, and the requisite accusations, smears and recriminations.

Meanwhile, both party chairmen have taken turns lobbing combative Tribune letters, their shortened fuses smoldering, and with the express intent of gouging eyes and taking names.

It seems to me that there’s been something missing in all this, and not just Hubbardian caretaking substance.


As most NAC readers know, I am one of several plaintiffs in the lawsuit designed to provide for long overdue redistricting in the city of New Albany.

Although apologists of various stripes have sought to muddy the waters with fatuous irrelevancies, including yawners like the timing of the lawsuit and the “agenda” of the plaintiffs, and despite the sad fact that so few people hereabouts seem to grasp the meaning of words like “negotiation,” it has nonetheless been established as indisputable fact that the previous city council unceremoniously refused its obligation to redistrict, that the current council has waited until the last possible moment to act, and that the council’s leadership (sic) has serially misrepresented the situation.

Furthermore, it is clear that having chosen finally to act, the council now intends to honor its commitment to redistricting in a vacuous breach.

Apparently there is an unbridgeable chasm defined by animosity and pique rather than any real interest in achieving fair and impartial voting districts as mandated by the state of Indiana. Seemingly, it is more important to keep fiefdoms intact.

Speaking only for myself, and in the continuing and stunning absence of a display of genuine good faith on the part of an obstructionist council faction determined to pursue senseless brinksmanship, I’m forced to conclude that a trial date awaits us.

So be it. I might even buy a suit for that one. Of course, it’s not my personal choice, but obviously the council’s congenital wannabeens desire a twilight showdown.


As this story has unfolded, there has been ample discussion of redistricting methodology, much of it centering on the significance of precincts, which here as elsewhere are the basic building blocks of civil division.

In my opinion, whatever their original intent, precincts primarily have become useful only as partisan political constructions; consequently, they need not be considered sacred and inviolable when the task at hand is fair and impartial redistricting to ensure fair elections for all citizens, and not only those expressing a party preference.

Furthermore, I believe that the redistricting experience in Indiana as a whole supports my opinion, and that not unexpectedly, we in New Albany and Floyd County are among the final holdouts when it comes to implementing a revised consciousness with regard to the ultimate pliability of precincts.

Of course, it is likely that Floyd County’s two dominant political parties will continue to utilize precinct structures for their own organizational purposes, and that seems perfectly acceptable to me. As entities traditionally allergic to platforms, the least they can do is drill the foot soldiers to march forward for nothing.

But perhaps I’m wrong, and the two major political parties disagree with my assessment of the situation. Accordingly, one would imagine that by this point, the local party heads might have had something to say about fair and impartial redistricting as pertains to the presumably praiseworthy goal of fair elections.

You know, one man, one vote … and all that dry civics stuff.

Yet, to my knowledge, neither Randy Stumler (Democrat) nor Dave Matthews (Republican) have registered public support for fair redistricting and fair elections. The mayoral candidates have been silent, too.

Public attribution, anyone? I’m eager to be proven wrong. It would make educational courtside reading, don’t you think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reminder: "Develop New Albany to Host Mayoral Candidates Forum" on Wednesday night.

(From Develop New Albany)

Develop New Albany, the City’s non-profit, Main Street organization is hosting a Mayoral Candidates Forum to be held on Wednesday, October 24th from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at the Strassweg Auditorium at the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library.

The forum will consist of two 45-minute question-and-answer sessions with a 10-15-minute break in between. Mr. Randy Hubbard, Republican mayoral candidate, has agreed to participate in the first session and Mr. England, Democratic mayoral candidate, has agreed to participate in the second session which is anticipated to begin at 8:15 p.m. Neither candidate is invited to attend the session in which the opposing candidate is featured.

The sessions will be moderated by Greg Sekula, Develop New Albany Vice-President, and a series of questions will be asked by the moderator that relate to the issues of downtown and neighborhood revitalization. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

The following topical issues are likely to be covered in the forum in no particular order:

1) Your vision for Downtown New Albany;

2) Strategies for furthering economic development in Downtown New Albany and surrounding older business districts such as the Vincennes and State Street corridors;

3) Addressing problems associated with rental housing conditions including absentee property ownership, illegally subdivided structures, and your position on a City-initiated rental housing inspection program;

4) Strategies for promoting and increasing homeownership and re-investment in older urban neighborhoods;

5) Relationships between the City and local neighborhood associations and non-profit groups;

6) Historic preservation, including the role of the Historic Preservation Commission, historic district designation, and design guidelines;

7) One-way vs. two-way street circulation patterns in the Downtown;

8) Enforcement of violations of City ordinances;

9) Aging infrastructure;

10) Upkeep of downtown streets and public spaces;

11) Ohio River Greenway project;

12) City-County Building space issues;

13) Relationship between the office of Mayor and City Council;

14) The role of public transportation in downtown revitalization and regional economic development;

15) Strategies for the City and school system to work together to strengthen inner-city schools and what impact that would have on downtown neighborhoods; and

16) Strategies for combating neighborhood crime, particularly drug activity.

For more information contact Develop New Albany at 812/941-0018 or e-mail here.

Okay, so I changed my mind ...sue me already.

Monday, October 22, 2007

VIDEO: 3rd District Council Q&A

The East Spring Street Neighborhood Association hosted a question and answer session for 3rd district City Council candidates on October 10. Steve Price is the Democratic incumbent. Brenda Scharlow is the Republican challenger. ESNA President Greg Phipps moderated with a few pre-submitted questions taken from earlier meetings with mayoral candidates. The rest of the questions and conversation were directed by attendees.

The full session lasted a little over an hour. It's presented here in nine segments of six to ten minutes each, arranged from top to bottom in chronological order so that each segment flows into the next. One question was missed, as noted in the respective segment.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Barbecued bologna is healthier, spluttered the Wizard of Westside.

A poster at the Louisville Hot Bytes restaurant forum passed this along:

My best bud and I played music and sang a wedding in New Albany. Upon leaving, I told her I was dying to try this restaurant. Nobody at the Methodist church had ever heard of it. The church secretary brought out 2 yellow pages books and could not find the address! Finally, we drove to a convenient store on State Street where I asked everyone there about it. Finally, one lady said she thought she had seen the sign, blah blah so we followed Market St until....voila!! At this point, I think even my best friend thought I was crazy!

Oh my goodness....the food was just amazing! I had the veggie enchiladas with green sauce. My friend had a shrimp quesadilla. You sure can tell the difference in homemade, everything from scratch ingredients. Our server was a friendly young lady who did a superb job. Water was always refilled, questions answered, etc. We were both SO impressed with the food, atmosphere and service! I will be back VERY soon. I just want to know why all the "New Albanians" have never heard of this place!!! VERY strange.

Certainly no one denies that New Albanians are, well, a bit behind the times, and occasionally even misinformed. How else do we account for the Gang of Four?

As we await the advent of a barbecued bologna quesadilla, here's an impromptu Top Ten list of why New Albanians don't know La Rosita's exists:

10. Many New Albanians have yet to concede that there is a Hispanic presence in the community.

9. Many of those who have noticed Hispanics are intimidated by them and persist in patronizing Taco Bell, since it’s advertised on television and as a result clearly must be the best choice.

8. Chef Israel got tired of hearing New Albanians ask for “enchilada style,” so now he refers all of them to whatever is left of Tumbleweed … and they actually go.

7. The people who work in mini-marts all commute from outlying areas, flee after dark, and consequently know even less than the natives about New Albany’s life and times.

6. New Albanians have been so busy removing the mufflers from their motorcycles that they didn’t notice all the cars lined up outside 1515 East Market Street.

5. Who needs authentic Mexican food when the chicken and dumplings at Harvest Homecoming are so good AND so cheap?

4. Cultural diversity is outlawed by city council ordinance, although residents are still required to maintain a parlor spittoon and keep a spare horseshoe in their buggies.

3. La Rosita’s has beer but not liquor, hence no dollar margarita night during the NASCAR race, as at Los Indios.

2. What? No burgers? How do you expect my wholesome, angelic child to eat in a place without burgers? Whaddya think this is, Tijuana? Big Buford, here we come.

1. The Yellow Pages remain useless if you were never taught to alphabetize, and besides, there are various religious injunctions against coveting your neighbor’s cilantro.

Scene from the latest New Albanian Art Show.

That's Tony Beard, graphic artist, who works for NABC designing label art and hoisting kegs in the brewery.

And that's all you're getting out of me today. I'll be outdoors.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Surprise: Mayoral "forum" on tap for Wednesday, October 24 at the library.

NAC graciously permitted the Tribune the scoop on this one.

Don’t call it a debate in New Albany mayor’s race, by Eric Scott Campbell.

Mayoral candidates Randy Hubbard and Doug England have not appeared on the same stage yet in this campaign, a distinction that will continue even after a forum featuring both of them next week.

Some weeks back, Develop New Albany’s economic restructuring committee discussed the possibility of arranging a mayoral candidate forum for the express purpose of focusing the candidates' attention on downtown revitalization issues.

Democratic candidate Doug England’s camp immediately and enthusiastically signaled acceptance, but Republican candidate Randy Hubbard subsequently let it be known that he would accede to no such gatherings, citing scheduling conflicts and conceding indirectly to a general absence of political acumen.

Fortunately, Develop New Albany board member Ed Clere didn’t let it rest there, and now a compromise of sorts has been reached.

We are pleased to announce that Develop New Albany will sponsor a mayoral candidate forum at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24, in the Strassweg Auditorium of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library. Each candidate will have 45 minutes to answer prepared questions presented by a moderator. Republican Randy Hubbard will appear first, followed by a 15-minute break and then Democrat Doug England. Questions will focus on downtown growth and revitalization issues.

In spite of the fact that there will be no questions allowed from the public, NAC nonetheless asks readers to submit questions and topics for this forum. We'll listen carefully to see if these are answered, albeit indirectly, and perhaps submit them for follow-up answers to the candidates' handlers.

For more thoughts on the forthcoming election, visit NA Shadow Council.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This weekend: "New Albany to welcome Hoagy Carmichael for one final tour."

A press release from the Carnegie Center. Note also that hops and art both are available in abundance at NABC this weekend; more information can be found here: Publicanista! Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming and New Albanian Art Show edition.

A life-size bronze statue of Hoagy Carmichael at his Steinway Grand Piano will be visiting downtown New Albany, Indiana October 19-20, 2007 at the Speakeasy Jazz Club, 225 State Street, and Indiana University Southeast October 22-25. This visit is part of a statewide tour to re-engage Hoosiers’ knowledge of this creative composer and his enormous contributions to the landscape of American music. At the conclusion of the tour this fall, the statue will be dedicated and permanently installed at Indiana University in Bloomington, where Hoagy was born and received a law degree.

Accompanying the sculpture will be a display chronicling Carmichael’s life, kiosks, archives, and various items promoting his life and career. The sculptor/designer, Michael McAuley will also be on site to answer questions and present a lecture concerning the sculpture and Carmichael’s life.

He was one of America’s great songsmiths and the very first of the American singer-songwriters. Although playing piano from an early age, his passion for music truly ignited at the beginning of the America Jazz movement. He composed numerous songs, including Stardust and Georgia on My Mind – two of the most recorded songs in the history of music. In 1951 he won an Oscar for his song In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening. Later, Hoagy was given his own television show and gained 14 film credits with actors such as Kirk Douglas and Humphrey Bogart, among others. He was one of the first 10 songwriters inducted into the nation’s Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Sponsored by Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, local organizers of this Hoagy Tribute Tour include the Carnegie Center for Art & History, the Floyd County Historical Society, Develop New Albany, and the IU Alumni Association.

For more information, contact the Carnegie Center at 812-944-7336 or visit

City Council rained/stormed out.

According to NAC's good friend Lloyd, last evening's council meeting was adjourned owing to inclement weather, with all council members and unfortunate citizens present being taken into the City-County Building's basement for an impromptu lecture by the Wizard of Westside: "Bazooka Joe academic degrees I have conjured -- and why you must listen to me describe them."

Prior to Dan Coffey's recitation of "Gitmo on the Ohio," an actual work session was held so that the Gang of Four could say all the same discredited things as last time, to no apparent effect, and with little hope that a redistricting trial can be avoided.

As W. C. Fields once observed, "I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How 'bout them storm water appointments ...

... and all it will take for us to reach them is Dan Coffey pontificating about his vast knowledge of drainage and aquatic engineering.

I’ve had merrier times at funerals than yesterday morning, when I dropped in on Dave Clancy at the now defunct Bistro New Albany for a chat about his life and times. BNA is history, and if we’re all lucky, Dave will pack his pots, pan and remaining staff for a short hike to the Speakeasy so that two birds are magically felled with one stone, and in the meantime, at-large city council candidate John Gonder contributed these wise words:

Yes, this is a blow. More than that it is a sad occasion for Dave himself. He certainly deserves praise for his effort and the quality of what he brought to New Albany, not only in dining but in hope.

It is not going to stop the revitalization of the downtown; that train has left the station. It is inevitable that restaurants will flower and falter. I'm certain someone is already looking at the Bistro's space. Whoever sets up there will be part of a more vital downtown scene thanks to Dave's work.

I wish Dave the best and hope he takes the needed time to recharge his battery.

True, all true. That’s why the Gonder sign graces the front yard of the NAC compound.

Life goes on, and there’ll be a city council meeting tonight. Although I plan on attending, there isn’t much of interest on the agenda unless the Gang of Four attempts some of the obstructionist voodoo that it does so well.

Dan "Wizard of Westside" Coffey would appear to have temporarily shelved his “cripple economic development for the foreseeable future” ordinance; presumably, he awaits tribute, palm-greasing or whatever form of ego-stroking is necessary for him to come down from the ledge and make nice. Just out of curiosity, does anyone know whether the mayor can veto it if necessary?

Also, the much anticipated first reading of a redistricting ordinance appears on the evening’s agenda, as assigned to be introduced by 3rd district councilman Steve Price, who recently told us that it was “Larry’s thing” and something Price hasn’t yet really bothered to research, and in reaction to this, I can do nothing whatsoever to suppress a massive yawn.

This naturally implies that a blissfully thought-free Price will maintain lock/goose step with the frothing Coffeyites and vote in favor of the “Schmidt Plan,” something ostensibly written by councilman Bill Schmidt, but actually written by his wife, which means that even though council president Larry Kochert continues to insist that no outsiders be allowed to contribute to council business that he was content for the council to ignore for five years until challenged at the point of an edict, an outsider’s plan will be the one that is approved, and then struck down by a judge when the case goes to trial, which it almost certainly now will, primarily because “good faith” and “Larry Kochert” have as much in common as “race relations” and “Ku Klux Klan.”

But you see, all that doesn’t matter much to me. There’s been a death in the family, and right now, I’m wearing black and drinking tall IPAs out of a short glass.

There'll be more setbacks, but very soon, the clueless vandals will no longer enjoy a council majority, and the quavering indecisiveness of the Gang's resident swing voter will be no more.

John Gonder is right: “That train has left the station,” and although it will be leaving garbage to pick up, that’s what private contractors are for, aren’t they?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

R.I.P.: Bistro New Albany.

You have to understand how hard this is for me.

I kept it to myself until the news came from Dave Clancy himself, and here it is, as posted on the Louisville Hot Bytes restaurant forum:

It is with a heavy heart that I have chosen to shut the doors of my labor of love. Due to circumstances beyond my control (mostly financial), my restaurant is closed as of 10/16/07. This was not an easy choice for me as I was so close to success that it is going to break my heart to see it end like this. I have run this place alone for well over a year and it has truly ruined me in every sense and, given the choice, I would do it all over again (only next time, I'll have a little more cash!). Thank you all for your support over the course of the last few years and wish me luck as I try to sort out a dead business and find some new direction to travel. If anyone is looking for an old washed up Chef, let me know!-Dave

It's remarkably easy for people who can do no better than "start up" the occasional rag picker's business or do contracting work without permits to understand how difficult a genuine paradigm shift is to achieve. All of downtown New Albany currently is engaged in that paradign shift, and it's a work in progress that unfortunately will have its ups and downs. Bistro New Albany's demise is a downer, but within it are seeds of positive developments.

What I know is this: Dave Clancy chose to stick it out as a pioneer in a place where the naysayers said it couldn't be done; what's more, he chose to stick it out when he wasn't ever supposed to be the sole owner of the business (recall that the original investor dropped out, and that former partner Dave Himmel moved on to his own business), and not once did he curse his bad fortune. Rather, he saw the potential and put his scant resources on the table.

He lost the bet. Dave might not be the best poker player, but he has considerable balls, and he'll always be a hero to me.

Meanwhile, don't expect the BNA space to be vacant for long. The Green Mouse says that wheels are spinning as we mourn, and that while a replacement for the undercapitalized Bistro New Albany probably won't be remotely of the same genre, ground indeed was broken, and there are too many good things about the BNA experience for savvy operators to ignore.

Perhaps another downtown eatery in need of a boost might be in need of a chef ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Harvest Homecoming's "swill walk" emblematic of clashing demographics.

Previously published at the Potable Curmudgeon blog. By the way, my company is not planning on moving downtown. We're planning on expanding into downtown. Somehow this was garbled after the recent newspaper article, but rest assured that we've no intention of changing the current operation.


New Albany’s annual Harvest Homecoming festival started life quite small and inconspicuously four decades ago, and it has since grown into what its organizers claim is the second largest gathering of its type in the state of Indiana, trailing only the Indianapolis 500 celebration.

There are numerous themed events for two weeks preceding the yearly parade, then four “booth days” during which streets in the heart of New Albany’s historic business district are closed, yielding to want amounts to an enormous food court with games, information and music thrown in for good measure. At its best, the ideal of Harvest Homecoming is civic-minded and predominantly local in nature, with generations frequenting the same rolled oyster booth or chicken dinner emporium run by the same church or charity.

When Harvest Homecoming took its embryonic shape in the late 1960’s, and unbeknownst to most people living at the time, New Albany’s downtown was about to commence a long, painful and degrading descent into dormancy. As my ruminations today are not intended to constitute an essay about the familiar phenomenon of inner-city urban decay, I’ll leave it at that, and observe that Harvest Homecoming’s governing committee might plausibly say that for a long period of time, certainly by the 1990’s, the festival’s four-day, early October run was about the only game going downtown.

Consequently, Harvest Homecoming has been planned accordingly. Now, with stirrings of downtown revitalization far too strong to be ignored, the plan likely will have to be modified in coming years. Unfortunately, a case can be made that Harvest Homecoming’s demographic and the demographic spearheading downtown revitalization are heading in opposite directions, with potential difficulties that might as well be addressed now rather than later.

For those who have glimpsed a bit of the planet outside New Albany, and who have had the good fortune to be exposed to post-secondary education and its expansion of consciousness, there almost inevitably exists a measure of ambivalence about Harvest Homecoming as the institution has evolved – some would say “devolved – over the years. This ambivalence does not imply rejection of it, but simply a recognition that sometimes the closer one is to something, the harder it is to see how it really looks.

The festival’s stewards are “lifer” volunteers who work hard year-round, and while any fair critique of their performance might point to a deeply ingrained conservatism and a general reluctance to think outside the Bud, their fundamental aim of maintaining a family-oriented annual celebration is admirable.

Admirable, yes, but certainly not easy to ensure, and no single Harvest Homecoming “event” grandly compromises the committee’s goal of a family friendly festival like the Friday afternoon “beer walk,” which might be termed the “swill walk,” and so I think I will.

From the outset, make no mistake: The official Harvest Homecoming committee is no friend of the swill walk, and bristles when people contact the organizers for information about it. Although in the past, I merely shrugged and considered the committee’s attitude toward the swill walk to be an extension of its customary stodginess on other matters, this year I made it a point to observe the swill walk in progress.

The committee is right on target. It isn’t a pretty picture. In fact, the swill walk is a civic embarrassment, and as part and parcel of a litigious society, it’s probably only a matter of time before something ugly occurs and the torts begin flying. Speaking personally, at a time when many in my sector of the beer business are trying to raise the bar when it comes to responsible beer consumption, the swill walk sadly reminds us that neo-Prohibitionists occasionally have something approximating a valid point, and that the activities of the nation’s mass-market swill merchants are as much of a daily threat to our ability to offer the populace a changed paradigm as those who would eliminate alcohol entirely on grounds of its intrinsic “evil.”

Like many other aspects of life, there surely are evils intrinsic to the consumption of beer. Most of us are devoted to the ideal of lessening these, so why encourage their exaltation?

The way it works is this. Every year on the Friday afternoon of Harvest Homecoming, a style show is held at the riverfront “beer tent” (“swill tent” is more like it) during lunchtime, and the show’s conclusion is the unofficial signal for hundreds of people to begin, or in many cases to continue, drinking while traversing a jagged route through the blocked-off and humanity-packed downtown streets where food and activity booths hold sway.

The ubiquity of gratis Anheuser-Busch advertising paraphernalia, which is generated in-house at the local wholesaler at a scale that would humble the propagandistic Communist and Fascist regimes of old, provides ample evidence as to the underlying grease that lubricates the phenomenon of the swill walk, namely, that the local A-B wholesaler has agreed not to cash the checks written to pay for two-story stacks of Bud Light until the week following the festival’s conclusion, something that is of borderline legality in the state of Indiana.

Meanwhile, duly oiled, the denizens of the swill walk surge through the most congested harvest Homecoming area, participants stumbling from one bar to the next, slamming liquor shots and chugging beer from cans that are seldom recycled while screaming obscenities in proximity to children, then urinating in places that even someone like me – a veteran of Oktoberfest in Munich and Pamplona’s festival of San Fermin – is hard pressed to imagine.

Once I saw a port-a-can being nearly toppled by drunks. Around the corner, bikers clad in ominous black costumes queued a short block away from where this year’s “teen scene” stage was erected. How Pamplona manages to achieve a balance between its children and an invading wave of Euro trash is beyond me; perhaps we might ask, because the New Albany way doesn’t seem to be working.

The family-unfriendly effect of all this is hard to exaggerate in print, and when taken in the context of an overall festival that sadly has devolved over the decades into low, lower and lowest common denominators – a metaphor applicable to the city as a whole – it’s frustrating, indeed, to witness the chaos and know that I’m in the same business.

I’m neither naïve, nor out to bring the furies crashing down on the urine-stained drunks gracefully bellowing at each other during the swill walk. It is not my intention to frown on the profit motives of downtown bar owners, who probably reap several weeks of revenue in three days during Harvest Homecoming, and who are happy to accept largesse as offered by wholesalers eager to see the cash registers hum.

Of course, I well understand that my “good beer” segment of the marketplace is small, but I also maintain that this niche is upwardly mobile and in keeping with humanity’s constructive (as opposed to anarchic) instincts, and furthermore, that it is capable of sense and sensibility in addition to windfall weekend profits.

If NABC’s projected downtown brewing project comes to fruition, I hope to be able to illustrate that beer quality can be good, not bland, and that better beer can be consumed responsibly in a wholesome, entertaining and better atmosphere – which, after all, is the lesson any thinking human being takes away after sitting for a couple of hours drinking beer in a Bavarian beer garden, with playground equipment and young children generally in close proximity. Our future beer sales during Harvest Homecoming will be contained and controlled as far as humanly possible, and we’ll try to offer a higher common denominator. We may fail, but we’ll try.

Disclaimers aside, and in spite of my reluctance to tempt unfavorable karma by saying it aloud, the swill walk that takes place during Harvest Homecoming is aided and abetted by a blind eye to illegality, and while I can understand this coming from the local gendarmes, I find it curious that the state tolerates it.

You’re free to disagree. On this call, I suspect many of you will.

Harvest Homecoming scene at Bistro New Albany.

Rep. Baron Hill (D-9th) greets members of his fan club at Bistro New Albany last Friday afternoon. Note the stylish "Pin the Tail on George W." game in the background.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 15, 2007


11:10 a.m. update: A reliable source has just reported that restaurateur Sam Anderson, who lost to Dick Stewart by a razor-thin margin in the May primary, has just left the clerk's office in the company of Floyd County GOP chairman David Matthews. It is surmised that Anderson will be the new Republican candidate for the 6th district seat currently occupied by Jeff Gahan (D). Verification, anyone?

Sunday’s Tribune reported the death of Dick Stewart, local gadfly and the Republican candidate for the 6th district council seat.


The "Fiscal Conservative" pays tribute: In Memory of Richard "Dick" Stewart.

Speaking personally, I admired Dick’s verve even if it was consistently directed toward the wrong target, and NAC actually praised him for his council campaign platform plank of a “revolving home-ownership program for first-time buyers as a means to reduce rentals.”

Our condolences are extended to Dick’s family and friends.

Tonight: Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform at IUS.

I've been asked to post this announcement:

Tonight (Monday, October 15), the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform is on the road, and coming to Indiana University Southeast.

October 15
Indiana University Southeast, New Albany
University Center North
Hoosier Room East

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New hope for the riverfront: Thousands gather downtown to toast Trinkle’s departure.

Okay, perhaps they were in streaming through the streets for Harvest Homecoming, but a boy can dream, right?

33 years ago, Richard M. Nixon recorded his greatest achievement in a lifetime of public service by leaving the White House in disgrace.

In October, 1994, the Peter Principle was turned upside down when Eddie Laduke received his pink slip and was dismissed from the editor’s chair of the New Albany Tribune.

Someday, sooner or later, councilman Dan Coffey will no longer hold an elected office in the city of New Albany, and his neighborhood can finally emerge from captivity and turn its calendar pages forward.

Meanwhile, all the imagery this weekend is joyful:

New Albany City Wrap: Riverfront Director Bob Trinkle resigning, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

Bob Trinkle, director of riverfront programming under Mayor James Garner, announced Thursday that he’ll step down Dec. 31, the end of Garner’s term.

Trinkle told mayoral candidates Doug England and Randy Hubbard about his plans to resign, “and both of them concur,” Trinkle said in a media statement. He told the candidates he is willing to help in a transitional capacity or to return to the part-time post.

On the campaign trail, England and Hubbard have expressed the desire to improve and expand the use of the Riverfront Amphitheatre.

For the remainder of the year, Trinkle will plan next year’s spring and summer events. He thanked Garner for his “unqualified support within the constraints of a city budget with many priorities.”

Trinkle who couldn’t find his way out of the conventional thinking box with a Saturn rocket bungeed to his back side, was undoubtedly James Garner’s single worst appointment as mayor.

Throughout his career, Trinkle has gazed in fear upon multi-generational diversity and artistic creativity and always -- always -- he has seen only encroachments and dire threats to the suffocating limitations of his own preferred monocultural milieu. Never has it occurred to him that these offer virtually limitless possibilities for circumventing the “constraints of a city budget with many priorities," which he now predictably cites as an excuse upon exiting the scene.

Trinkle's tenure on the waterfront was a pathetic failure. Perhaps, for once, the city will learn something from the experience. I, for one, am learning not to hold my breath.

Previously at NAC:

On the merits of Boblessness: Inject entrepreneurialism into New Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater, and restore value to a mismanaged community asset.

On the waterfront: Same old song and dance .

Not spectacular enough? Maybe they should play some Zappa, instead.

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

Tribune guest columnist considers Harvest Homecoming's downtown context.

With celebratory detritus strewn amid downtown’s food booths and porta-potties, and a final afternoon of rolled oysters still to come, today’s Tribune guest columnist offers a balanced analysis of Harvest Homecoming, pro and con:

ROBISON: Looking past the booths of Harvest, by Daniel Robison, Local Columnist.

Harvest Homecoming: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. New Albany puts on a good face for a weekend or two — and what a nice face it is — but the festival tends to gloss over some of the city’s bigger issues. It’s our city’s shining moment, when the rust is hidden by banners and booths so a good impression can be made on all that visit our city one time a year …

… But while thousands from the area descend on downtown New Albany, the location of the event could hardly be any less relevant to most attendees. Sure, Harvest Homecoming is in downtown New Albany, but it’s not of downtown New Albany. People stay in the streets, booths cover the businesses — little attention is paid to the locale. Since Harvest Homecoming fails to effectively tie-in to New Albany’s struggling downtown, why even hold it there at all? Tradition, sure. But the parking is better elsewhere ...

Coincidentally, NAC referenced several of these points in Friday’s posting:

Whither Harvest Homecoming?

Harvest Homecoming is deeply conservative institution, but the downtown cityscape is changing, and there will inevitably come a time when the festival is called upon to change with it.

Previously, we've discussed possible strategies for "alternative" Harvest Homecoming events to take place near downtown during the same time. These might involve more, shall we say, "contemporary" food, drink and entertainment options, with perhaps an element of social and political advocacy that reflects a broader plane than that currently espoused. Any such effort would have to come entirely from ourselves, because as guardians of New Albany's chosen "signature" annual event, Harvest Homecoming's organizers well understand the considerable resources the festival commands, and aren't likely to cede these any voluntarily time soon. That's why I persist in thinking that off-campus, privately inspired options are the best path; if these succeed, the pressure on Harvest Homecoming to reinvent itself will be irresistible.

There’ll be more to say about all this elsewhere, and conversations with Harvest Homecoming’s organizing committee probably will be commencing soon. With an election approaching, it should be obvious that any dialogue about such matters must include politicians, so in closing, here’s another piece of wisdom from Robison’s column:

And while the candidates glad hand and act like your best friend while struggling to remember your name, pressure them to talk about what surrounds them. Just because the façade of Harvest Homecoming hides most downtown doesn’t mean its not there. Let them know that.

Amen to that.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Five takes a look at Three."

A new blogger on the block:

Five takes a look at Three ... from the NA Shadow Council blog.

It's not my job to "shadow" events in District 3, but I can't quite resist commenting on what I've heard coming out of the "major" party campaigns going on over there.

Though I couldn't make it, friends reported some of the comments made by the candidates at the Muir Manor candidate's forum, moderated by Greg Phipps. From what I am told, all but a handful of the attendees were members of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association. (what's going on with their acronym, ESNA? Doesn't the name dictate 2 esses?)

Mr. Price showed something by just appearing. The Spring Streeters are almost uniformly fed up with Steve Price. It would be hard to characterize that group as either Democrat or Republican, but for the most part they are progressive in the best sense. They believe in a government that is responsive to its constituents, and they believe that government SHOULD be a vehicle for accomplishing community-shared objectives.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Whither Harvest Homecoming?

Don't forget where to drink good beer during Harvest Homecoming.

Meanwhile, the best way to meet your trognonymous critics is head on and full speed:

It feels just like 1967 all over the place... from the Letter from New Albany blog.

Driving past this morning, detouring around the over-night tent city that downtown has become, I was amused by the plastic neon "fencing" surrounding every possible living inch of Monroe Shine. I know nothing gives them more anal-compulsive fits than hordes of swill-drinking red-necks from the lower tax brackets putting out hundreds of cheap cigarettes in their shrubberies.

Lately, I've made my peace with Harvest Homecoming, but the debate resurfaces with regularity, and one thing you can count on is that in coming years, there'll be an emerging dialogue as to the way Harvest Homecoming plays out each year. Harvest Homecoming is deeply conservative institution, but the downtown cityscape is changing, and there will inevitably come a time when the festival is called upon to change with it.

Previously, we've discussed possible strategies for "alternative" Harvest Homecoming events to take place near downtown during the same time. These might involve more, shall we say, "contemporary" food, drink and entertainment options, with perhaps an element of social and political advocacy that reflects a broader plane than that currently espoused. Any such effort would have to come entirely from ourselves, because as guardians of New Albany's chosen "signature" annual event, Harvest Homecoming's organizers well understand the resources the festival commands, and aren't likely to cede these any voluntarily time soon. That's why I persist in thinking that off-campus, privately inspired options are the best path; if these succeed, the pressure on Harvest Homecoming to reinvent itself will be irresistible.

I wrote these words a couple years ago:

Ideas we surely have, and in abundance, but money and volunteer labor are two commodities in much, much shorter supply. Currently these are directed toward Harvest Homecoming, which possesses its own internal and self-perpetuating set of rationales and objectives. For what it is, it’s a wonderful thing.

But as my councilman might say, "it is what it is."

For once, he'd be right.

As currently configured, I accept Harvest Homecoming as it is, while at the same time seeing what it might become, and envisioning ways to aid and abet its evolution -- particularly once NABC is doing business downtown.

Until then, there's good beer alongside the swill at Connor's Place ... and choice always is a good thing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where to drink good beer during Harvest Homecoming.

Speaking personally, it has been a cherished goal to live long enough that I might be able to enjoy a craft beer downtown during New Albany’s annual Harvest Homecoming celebration, and by doing so, to strike a small blow against the hegemony of the swill merchants.

In 2005, the old House of Bread put two kegs of NABC beer on tap during Harvest Homecoming, and last year, its successor, Bistro New Albany expanded the NABC selection while adding craft beers from Upland (a Bloomington, Indiana microbrewery) and others from America and around the world.

BNA will do it again this year, and there’ll be NABC and Upland beers on tap once again. Unlike last year, BNA will conduct food and drink business during booth days both outside on the patio and inside in the dining room, which means that one need not be restricted to elephant ears and rolled oysters (the latter remaining a favorite of mine) from the street side vendors.

Another marvelous option is added for 2007: Connor’s Place, run by former BNA partner Dave Himmel, and located on Main Street adjacent to the Parthenon. CP will feature NABC drafts during Harvest Homecoming: Community Dark, Elector, Flat Tyre, Hoptimus (limited quantities) and Mt. Lee (also limited quantities).

Flat Tyre will be available in cask-conditioned form from the hand pump, which has been borrowed from NABC for the occasion, giving Connor’s the distinction of being the first New Albany establishment during the modern era to offer hand-pumped “real” ale. When the cask version is depleted, there’ll be a regular keg as back-up. Connor’s Place will also have Oktoberfest beers from Upland, Browning’s (Louisville micro) and Spaten (Germany).

I believe that Elector will be on tap at Speakeasy Jazz, NABC’s remaining downtown account.

Yes, swill reigns supreme at Harvest Homecoming, and it probably always will. However, all we ever wanted was a choice. Now more than ever, we have it. If you like good beer and you’re downtown the next three days, visit one of these fine establishments and buy one. In NABC isn’t your taste, my feelings aren’t hurt; have another microbrew or an import instead, and let them know that you appreciate having options. Rest assured that if it were up to Anheuser-Busch, you wouldn’t have any.

I’ll huff and puff and blow …

... insert Glenn Murphy Jr. joke here.

Keep going … that’s right … a bit more, please … yep, all the way down, until we reach the Hoosierpundit’s blog site, where’s he’s having his way with me, and I must confess to being titillated:

New Albany's Mayoral War of Letters Continues

First, let’s take care of some housekeeping. I’d like to publicly thank Brenda Scharlow for the nifty yard sign, and if GOP chairman David Matthews was in any small way responsible, then thanks are due him, too.

Also, the Floyd County Democratic Party chairman’s Tribune response to the Matthews-attacks-England tempest, published yesterday, is instructive and educational. It can be perused here.

In responses to my blog postings offered by Matthews and Scott Fluhr (the Hoosierpundit), necessary attribution is scant when it comes to certain assumptions being made about me, as in the following:

Matthews: “The critic turned self-proclaimed web blog czar.”

Fluhr: “While I can understand this for Roger Baylor--he's just a blogger and likes to self-style himself as a socialist.”

Fluhr: “Self-crowned smear detector Roger Baylor.”

Geez, you’d think they’re trying to make me look bad. Not to belabor the point, but you guys barely know me, and that’s three accusations of self-directed, auto-stimulation hurdling toward me just days apart – and from two different counties, no less.

Granted, someone like me who drinks beer for a living can never rule out anything, but all the same, I’m asking that you provide a bit of documentation.

I can’t seem to recall referring to myself as a “web blog czar” (at any rate, I’d have spelled it “tsar”) or as a “smear detector” (the gynecologists work their side of the street, and I work mine, right?) and about the closest I’ve come to self-identification with socialism would be periodically expressing solidarity with European Social Democrats.

It comes as no surprise, but Fluhr actually dredges out the “C” word and exposes me as a “Communist,” and now I must beat Whittaker Chambers to the pumpkin patch lest my career as a double agent is revealed. Funny, isn’t it, that a fellow who was all of seven years old when I was traveling through Eastern Europe and seeing Communism up close and personal now “deigns” to red wash me. Sorry to disappoint you, but being there didn’t make me want to do it here.

As for the significance of my pub’s Red Room, the Right just doesn’t do irony, does it?

Turning back to New Albany, both Matthews and Fluhr, and probably more than a few others, are taking great delight in uncovering what they regard as inconsistencies in my writings, and as I’ve noted previously, it’s no great feat to thumb through a few hundred thousand words and find statements that don’t match, or be able to prove and disprove virtually anything. It’s an occupational hazard for anyone who writes, and the hazards increase the better one is at it, but make no mistake: I’ve always quite enjoyed being articulate in a dunderhead’s world.

I’ve always found it strange that for some people, seemingly the highest aspiration in life is to first form an opinion, and then to doggedly stick with it from early childhood until dementia and death, all the while remaining oblivious to surroundings that have no constant feature other than perpetual change.

In political terms, both Matthews and Fluhr would have you think that I’ve scandalously flip-flopped, having once doubted the merits of Doug England, and now jumped aboard the ex-mayor’s bandwagon. Really? Seeing that my candidate lost in the primary, what am I to do now, sit out the general election in protest? My publicly stated misgivings have been considered privately by the candidate himself, and if the answers I’ve received are not entirely to my satisfaction, we’re close enough for rock and roll.

Why doesn’t England’s opponent ask these same questions at a public forum? Perhaps he will, yet.

Besides, didn’t the sainted Ronald Reagan switch political parties? Just like Reagan, for whom I hold little affection, I have a core set of principles that motivate me, with varying degrees of success, to face the passing days. Like anyone, I endeavor to stay with the program. Like anyone, I experience success and failure. But with experience, and by trials and error, my core set of principles has evolved, and certainly will continue to do so.

In the end, to me, elections may be zero-sum contests – one person wins, another loses (Al Gore believes there is a third possibility), but politics and ideas are non-zero-sum propositions. All is flux, adaptation, and evolution.

Hoosierpundit’s morbid interest in my level of self-confidence is duly noted. Alas, his own respect for discourse must be flagging, as – yes -- no comments are allowed at his blog.

Have I yawned yet? No? Must be time for a beer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What Blevins, Coffey, Price, Kochert, and Schmidt rejected in choosing to go to trial

In order to avoid any public confusion, the actual and final consent decree proposed in conjunction by the plaintiffs and a Council committee as a means to settle the current redistricting lawsuit is presented below, as offered to the Common Council of New Albany.

As you can see, the first page begins with the Council being asked to take responsibility for violating the right of citizens to equal representation as mandated by law.

The second page continues with language noting involvement in the lawsuit, specifying that the parties wish to settle it prior to trial, and expressing the desire to establish new districts to ensure that future elections are fair.

The next three numbered points are the conditions which, if agreed to by Council, would have settled the case and avoided having taxpayers foot the bill for the Council to defend a lawsuit, the facts of which Council President Larry Kochert doesn't even dispute.

Condition number one states that the Council will, sometime after January 1, 2008, establish an Advisory Committee on Redistricting made up of three at-large council members and three people chosen by the Council from a list provided by the plaintiffs. The committee's purpose would be to help explore options for lawful redistricting. Readers will note that the language in the agreement neither requires payment for committee members nor otherwise obligates this or future councils in any way. It's simply a mechanism to begin discussions and keep the process moving in a public manner.

Condition number two states that the Council will pay the plaintiffs' attorney's fees and expenses incurred thus far, as the Council had to be legally prodded to take seriously its public obligation after failing to do so since at least 2002. The proper amount would be determined by the court rather than the plaintiffs or defendants, again to ensure fairness.

Condition three states that, although the lawsuit would be settled, the court would maintain the authority to monitor the process, making certain that both plaintiffs and defendants follow through on the agreement in a legal manner.

The signature section begins after that and continues on the third page.

The gist of it is this: In the interest of reaching settlement and avoiding the unnecessary expenditure of additional public funds, the plaintiffs worked in good faith with a council committee to remove language from prior settlement drafts reported as objectionable to a majority of council members.

We produced a bare bones document that as simply as possible required three essential items:

That the Council be accountable for its wrongdoing; that the Council pay for the expenses incurred in addressing its ongoing refusal to correct that wrongdoing; and that the Council agree to start a legitimate discussion about creating fair voting districts.

Plaintiff Lloyd Wimp made it very clear during the meeting that the above was the final of several settlement offers. But, rather than agreeing with the plaintiffs to honor one of the most basic of civic principles-- a belief in fair and equal representation-- Council Members Donnie Blevins, Dan Coffey, Larry Kochert, Steve Price, and Bill Schmidt chose to defend a lawsuit at taxpayer expense. What they're defending remains to be determined.

ESNA Oktoberfest meeting tonight features Price, Scharlow and a guy who plays spoons.

For its October meeting tonight (October 10, 2007), the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association has scheduled as guests Steve Price (D-Dubious) & Brenda Scharlow (R), candidates for the 3rd district city council seat. The meeting will be held at Muir Manor, which is located on the corner of East Spring Street and 13th.

Questions previously addressed to the mayoral forum attendees candidates will be repeated -- more often to Price than to Scharlow. The neighborhood association's business meeting will be from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., with the guests arriving at 7:30.

Republican Brenda Scharlow's platform includes ordinance enforcement and promoting business downtown, while the extremely nominal and syntax challenged Democrat Price "value's your taxpayer dollars," "identifies problems and implores solutions," and once played geetar for the Darlins on the old Andy Griffith Show.

No beer allowed. Too bad.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Leotard-clad lyrics for Tuesday.

Ira and George Gershwin

Things have come to a pretty pass,
Our romance is growing flat,
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that.
Goodness knows what the end will be;
Oh, I don't know where I'm at ...
It looks as if we two will never be one,
Something must be done.

You say eether and I say eyether,
You say neether and I say nyther;
Eether, eyether, neether, nyther,
Let's call the whole thing off!
You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let's call the whole thing off!
But oh! If we call the whole thing off,
Then we must part.
And oh! If we ever part,
Then that might break my heart!
So, if you like pajamas and I like pajahmas,
I'll wear pajamas and give up pajahmas.
For we know we need each other,
So we better call the calling off off.
Let's call the whole thing off!

You say laughter and I say lawfter,
You say after and I say awfter;
Laughter, lawfter, after, awfter,
Let's call the whole thing off!
You like vanilla and I like vanella,
You, sa's'parilla and I sa's'parella;
Vanilla, vanella, Choc'late, strawb'ry!
Let's call the whole thing off!
But oh! If we call the whole thing off,
Then we must part.
And oh! If we ever part,
Then that might break my heart!
So, if you go for oysters and I go for ersters
I'll order oysters and cancel the ersters.
For we know we need each other,
So we better call the calling off off!
Let's call the whole thing off!


Costly redistricting stalemate looms for New Albany City Council, plaintiffs, by Eric Scott Campbell (News & Tribune).

Monday, October 08, 2007

David Matthews really showed me, didn’t he?

Well, actually no; he didn’t. He didn't show me anything, and that's the problem.

As is the curious habit of the political party he leads, Dave aimed low and missed the target, lifting gracefully ineffectual dust devils while providing discerning readers with all too much of nothing, and insisting all the while that his party's conceptual vacuousness is in fact made of something so vitally important that he continues to decline frequent invitations to concretely define it.

At the conclusion of more than 700 words devoted to stale rhetoric and a bit of deft soft shoe, the veil of secrecy remains firmly draped atop the heroic sandstone statue of Randy Hubbard, uniformed and armed, erected by Republicans as a symbol of “leadership,” but one that is just as uncommunicative as most pigeon-gathering stations in public squares the world over tend to be.

Think: "Schlock of Gibraltar," as scored and staged by your friendly local (dare we say it) Karl Rove wannabeen.

MATTHEWS: Substantive talk is taking place in forums

I would love to respond to Roger Baylor’s recent opinion published in the New Albany Tribune concerning the Randy Hubbard-Doug England race for New Albany mayor.

As a side note, I’m guessing that Dave Matthews was taught the importance of context in attribution, and when he omits it, one can only surmise that he does so intentionally.

Of course, anyone can peruse this blog or any other for ammunition to support or attack almost any position and surely find it, and Dave’s probably correct in assuming that the subtleties of scholarship and erudition aren’t the primary concern of voters that he and the GOP target with their current “platform,” one composed entirely of slimings of Doug England.

Note however that Dave is capable of neat stylistic pirouettes of his own, such as taking NAC’s suggestion that the intelligence of voters is insulted by a candidate who won’t publicly discuss platform planks with his opponent, and flipping it over to accuse us of insulting the intelligence of voters by asking them to consider substance.

Gads ... those poor, incapable voters. Having to think! Quick, Dave -- go fetch a straw man and a few broom handles before a thought breaks out.

Okay, so let's get down to the basics. Noting that NAC’s criticism of Randy Hubbard’s mayoral campaign has focused on one central point, this being Hubbard’s persistent inability or plain unwillingness to offer substantive platform planks and address these planks in a public debate forum with his opponent in such a manner that his recognition of problems and consideration of potential solutions are evident to onlookers, readers are begged to peruse Dave’s Saturday column in an effort to locate any such planks.

In fact, there are none, and the GOP chairman all but concedes that there are not likely to be any indications of his candidate’s grasp of specifics or insights as to a possible governing strategy during what remains of the campaign season.

Looks to me like you don’t have to be a “self-proclaimed Web blog czar” to see that NAC has won that particular argument. In place of substantive discussion, Dave leaves us with this alternative:

I’ll take honesty, integrity and leadership over experience any day.

To each his own.

Last winter, when I was looking for a surgeon to repair my shoulder injury, it seemed a good idea to select one who’d done the operation previously rather than one who hadn’t. The surgeon I found was able to brief me beforehand, explain the problem with my rotator cuff, and describe comprehensively how he was going to approach fixing it.

Was he telling me “what I wanted to hear?" Absolutely, because what I wanted to hear was that he understood my problem and had a plan for resolving it.

Had my surgeon followed the scant outlines of the Randy Hubbard Hands-Off Model of civic management grudgingly handed to us so far by the party chairman (talk about "tinkle-down" effects), I suppose he’d have told me what a great guy he is and then asked me if I had any thoughts as to how he should proceed rebuilding the rotator cuff.

No, thanks. It seems to me that there are times when it’s just a better choice to go with experience and proven skills rather than trust an informal polling of sidewalk superintendents and street corner passers-by.

And that’s why I’ll be voting for Doug England in November, and why this whole artificially inflated "character" discussion reminds me of Abraham Lincoln's response to Ulysses S. Grant's purported drinking problem:

"Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals."

By the way, Dave – where’s that Brenda Scharlow yard sign you said you’d get for me? After all, our sitting councilman remains a nonentity and a civic embarrassment ... and I'm a bi-partisan type of guy, at least when my intelligence isn't being insulted by denizens of the exurban veld.