Saturday, November 30, 2013

Perhaps the most insightful book review of all time.


Review of "Walkable City." as tweeted by Jeff Speck -- who hasn't even been to New Albany.

Tonight at The Art Store: "The Nifty $50 Art Show."


It's at The Art Store, 205 E. Market St. in New Albany, and it starts at 6:00 p.m.

Show your support for local artists this holiday season.

All art will be $50 or less, one night only!

There will be:
Blown Glass
Ceramics
Jewelry
Paintings
Prints
Sculpture
Vintage
& More

Live Music by:
Huh roBots 8:30
Dream Eye Color Wheel 7:30
Brother Wolves (acoustic) 6:30

Beer by the New Albanian Brewing Company

Millions of zombie shoppers can't be wrong: Thanksgiving retailing and the intrusion of consumerism.

I'm unsure what can be done when the sheep willingly embrace the instruments of their prospective slaughter.

Protests mark Black Friday's creep into Thanksgiving (Al Jazeera)

Decision by large retailers to open on Thanksgiving has been attacked by those wanting a consumerism free day

... The decision by some retail giants to open on Thanksgiving has been greeted by alarm by those who resent the intrusion of consumerism on a day that traditionally has been about bringing family together. Workers planned petitions and protests around the country to coincide with early opening hours.

Walmart has been the biggest target for protests against holiday hours. Most of the company's stores are open 24 hours, but the retailer is starting its sales events at 6 p.m. on Thursday, two hours earlier than last year.

The issue is part of a broader campaign against the company's treatment of workers that's being waged by a union-backed group called OUR Walmart, which includes former and current workers. The group is staging demonstrations and walkouts at hundreds of stores around the country on Friday.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The itinerary for NA's Jingle Walk and Holiday Fest, this Saturday (November 30).


Hasn't the calendar been kind to the Grinch this year?

When we drag ourselves all bloody, drunken and bloated back to work on Monday, December 2, it will be only a little more than three weeks before Christmas is over, too!

All I must do is avoid public places with insipid seasonal music playing too loudly, and it'll be a breeze  ... although some alcohol may be required, and results will vary from patient to patient.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is the city of New Albany's holiday kickoff, and let's hope it's the last one ever to be conducted in the shadow of Comrade Caesarescu's festishistic one-way arterial street grid. I will join the inimitable Tony Beard to represent NABC within the friendly confines of Keg Liquors, where I suspect we'll be pouring samples of Naughty Claus, Hoosier Daddy and Tunnel Vision.

Go here for Truth, Lies and Saturnalia (2012), including the only Christmas song that matters, by the Pogues. I hope to see some of you on Saturday, and remember: All I want for X-mas is the Indiana attorney general's advisory opinion v.v. PourGate, so c'mon, Santa -- drop that sheet of paper down the chimney, 'cuz I've got some accounts coming due, big time.

---

HolidayFest / Jingle Walk & Light Up New Albany - November 30th
Develop New Albany invites you to our Annual JingleWalk and HolidayFest in our Historic Downtown! The weather forecast looks good on Saturday as we celebrate the beginning of the Holiday Season. 

Jingle Walk (1:00pm - 6:00pm)
The day of fun begins with the Jingle Walk at 1:00pm. Sample local wines from area wineries while shopping in our Historic Downtown. If you haven't visited downtown recently you will see a downtown full of locally owned stores, boutiques, museums and art galleries. Current participating wineries include Cedar Creek Winery, Best Winery, Huber’s Winery, Mallow Run Winery, Old 502 Winery, Winzerwald Winery, Indian Creek Winery and Keg Liquors. Must be of legal drinking age to participate on the Jingle Walk. Tickets can be purchased at the event.

(Online ticket purchasing will end on Friday at Noon)

HolidayFest (2:30pm - 5:30pm)
HolidayFest is the family friendly activites for the celebration and will include performances from local dance troupes in the Main Source Parking Area and Craft/Gift Making, Toy Giveaways, Face Painting, Ornament Making activities will take place at the Floyd County YMCA.

Light Up New Albany (6:30pm)
A message from the Mayor of New Albany, announcement of Jingle Walk Prize winners, the arrival of Santa Claus and the lighting of the Downtown Christmas Tree will conclude the day of Holiday Fun.

Gonder on HJR-6 resolution: "Most of the City Council did speak for the hopes of those who appealed to us."


John Gonder published this essay at his blog (below).

Verily, there have been times in the past when I've fully agreed with a close friend, who once said of Gonder, "I wish he'd spend more time being a council person and less time being Senator Gonder," or words to this effect.

I also agree completely with John's sentiments in this piece, even as I wish that certain of the council's progressive/coherent members would remain engaged publicly with local concerns on a less rarified plane, and to advocate for them over time, even if it takes more time than usually is allocated for such advocacy.

Here then is one: Our city's streets as an indice of civil rights and social justice.

I know; it sounds mundane. But it affects each and every one of us, every single day -- black or white, straight or gay (and perhaps more importantly) Democrat or Republican.

Here is the essay.

Reach Out

 ... A couple nights ago the New Albany Common Council met in what seemed to be one of its particularly thin proceedings. No ordinances were under consideration. The administration had asked for nothing. Instead we were asked to weigh in on something The News and Tribune likes to refer to as, (and why not paraphrase?) "a meaningless, empty, expression". The empty rhetoric this time was directed at those in the state legislature who would commandeer the state constitution for political purposes (HJR-6); as bait, or shiny objects for those who would see danger, and thus political advantage, in the pursuit of happiness by "others". Others may be refined, or defined, to include q-words, f-words and anything other than me- or we-words.

As I looked out into the gallery that night I was humbled by the hope the "others" had placed in us--their local government. As The Tribune is wont to say, the New Albany Common Council weighing in on state or national issues is pointless, perhaps grandstanding, but certainly, ineffectual. But for the time the others spoke in our chamber, I, at least, glimpsed just a bit of representative democracy. For that brief time, I think, people looked to us to hear their message of disaffection, their hope for inclusion in that which the majority takes for granted. They looked to us to speak for them, our friends, our neighbors, our un-acknowledged kin.

Houndmouth readying for two sold-out nights at Headliners.



Musical trajectories are endlessly fascinating, interwoven as they are with prevailing cultures, themselves always in flux. It's been great fun watching Houndmouth leap forward in 2013. What comes next? Who knows, but the band's symbolic end-of-year reward comes in the form of two sold-out shows at Headliners, tonight and tomorrow, with Houndmouth Ale on tap.

Don't ask: Even I don't have tickets.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

ON THE AVENUES: Faux thanks and reveries (The 2013 Remix).

ON THE AVENUES: Faux thanks and reveries (The 2013 Remix).

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

This annual Thanksgiving Day column is evolving into a variation on a theme, in which I append something topical to regurgitated previous musings.

The cutting and pasting leaves more time for eating, you see.

---

I may not “give” thanks in traditional terms to non-existent deities using code language that annoys me, but it doesn’t mean I’m not capable of being thankful. Top billing goes to wife, mom, friends and co-workers, all of whom comprise a diverse extended family. I get by with a little help from everyone, to be truthful, and I’m like anyone else. I’ve been lucky, and also made my own breaks. There has been serendipity and opportunism. I’ve worked, worried and plain bore-assed in equal measure.

Balance. That’s the thing.

I’m fortunate to make a living from drinking beer, preferably in my natural habitat of the pub. Yes, it’s a business, and we need to make a profit to survive. However, at the end of the day, intangibles and ideas matter more. Being in a position to educate and challenge is the real motivation, because the pub really should be the poor man’s university.

Granted, a higher percentage of filthy lucre would be useful, and yet it seldom bothers me. I won’t ever be rich, and I’d rather be good at what I do: Teach, agitate, create lasting memories and try to get to the heart of the matter – whether it’s beer, localism, streets or all the above, tied together as they should be. Legacies don’t have to be built on wealth, and “profit” and “non-profit” are mere concepts in the mind of the beholder. We won’t be taking any of it with us.

Legacies are about doing what you can, while you can, as best you can, and producing history that is impervious to calculations of interest, percentages and Bob Caesar’s bicentennial revisionism. Twenty years on, if someone smiles because they recall good times at the pub, then it’s the best return on my time and our investment.

This year marks the 10th edition of Saturnalia, NABC’s annual celebration of winter seasonal and holiday drafts. It begins tomorrow (December 29) at the original Pizzeria & Public House location, and runs through the month of December. It’s a personal favorite, and a memory maker, primarily because so many fine people return for the holidaze. These festive beers provide suitable accompaniment to the joys of reconnecting, sharing war stories, and remembering those no longer with us.

You know: The ones I’m thankful to have known.

---

A few years ago in the ‘Baminator, I made an observation: There’s never any better time than Thanksgiving for an iconoclast’s thoughts to be made public.

Naturally, it remains futile to expect anyone to read my outpouring of words on Thursday, the holiday itself. Given the inability of many New Albanian readers to wade through my commentary without scratching their heads in confusion, it’s plainly impolite to ask them to waste valuable football viewing time by engaging in a frustrating, household-wide search for seldom-used dictionaries and thesauruses.

But I am nothing if not stubborn, so let’s revisit the notion of “iconoclast”:

1. A breaker or destroyer of images, esp. those set up for religious veneration (like the bicentennial junta’s year-long fixation on the year 1872).

2. A person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition … rather like your humble correspondent.

My heroes have always been iconoclasts. From Socrates through Tom Paine, and not exempting 20th-century polemicists like H. L. Mencken, there’s nothing as thrilling as an iconoclast taking a headlong swipe at unexamined assumptions. As Russell Brand’s recent revolutionary rantings remind us, the most wonderful aspect of iconoclasm is that rampant personal dissipation does not pre-empt the message. It actually may enhance it.

Consequently, it is my duty to remind you that Thanksgiving, while perfectly enjoyable from a hedonist’s standpoint, and wholly conducive to this bibulous trencherman’s standards, actually stands for something more than gluttony and sports.

This certain “something” isn’t the prevailing pastel viewpoint of Puritans and Natives merrily gathering for a quaint New England picnic, pausing only occasionally from the consumption of corn chowder and non-alcoholic cranberry wine to pray before their respective deities.

The need for Christian apologetics aside, and whether or not Squanto miraculously facilitated a peaceful first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, the subsequent history of the white man on the North American continent boasted the unabated slaughter of Native Americans, incessant pillaging of the environment, and an exculpatory doctrine of “manifest destiny” interwoven with prevailing religious belief, as intended to ease the consciences (if any) of those pulling the triggers.

We’ll leave the approval of African-American slavery, emanating for many generations from Southern pulpits, for another day of faux “thanks.”

In the context of genuine American history, and to the exclusion of mythology and wishful thinking, the holiday we term “Thanksgiving” is ironic, to say the very least. I prefer reflections on all human history to be in accordance with the record, and as events actually occurred, without the tidying impulse to obscure and sanitize them.

I accept that people in all places and times do what they can with what they have, and believe that the best we can hope for is to learn from the past in the hope of learning worthwhile lessons and avoiding mistakes. In my opinion, the worst error of all is to misrepresent the historical record to justify theological needs. Or, conversely, those of a bicentennial committee.

Yes, I observe Thanksgiving, too. It’s just that I do so realistically.

•••

America’s Christmas shopping season started on July 4, and it will reach a crescendo tomorrow (November 29), which frenzied pop culture vultures have dubbed Black Friday. Pavlov’s overworked and fever-ridden mutt can be expected to salivate continuously as university economics school analysts (I’m gazing at you, IU Southeast) read imported tea leaves to guess whether holiday season retail sales will be sufficient to keep Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and Meijer’s solvent for another year.

I prefer Plaid Friday, and shifting to independent small businesses.

At least there’s food on Thanksgiving. As oft times before, this means transformative dining at the venerable Vietnam Kitchen in Louisville. Iconoclasm aside, I enjoy the traditional Norman Rockwell bird-spread as much as anyone, but cooking it at home simply isn’t an option. Our Thanksgiving indulgences are crisp spring rolls, exotic peppery noodle dishes, clay pot catfish and French coffee for dessert.

After all, to each his own “tradition” – and may yours not be harmful to others.

Peace.

City to take Home Depot & Meijer to the woodshed, and with luck, their big boxed butts will be paddled mercilessly.

Of course, Business First gets all corporate-fluff tumescent on us and immediately shifts into full financial circle jerk mode, with "appeal" in the text being rendered as "fight" in the masthead, as though some great principle apart from persistent corporate greed were being discussed.

Yawn.

First we hand them the keys to the city treasury via handouts, abatements and other economic subsidies, then they try to wiggle out from their obligations.

Big-box retailers Home Depot and Meijer have appealed their assessed property tax values in New Albany.

The Fire Museum is gone. Now, what happens to the Coyle property?


Walking westbound on Spring Street yesterday afternoon, I noticed the temporary message board at the Vintage Fire Museum being loaded atop a trailer, and Curt Peters stacking boxes into a pickup truck. A glance behind the windows at the former Coyle Chevrolet showroom revealed -- nothing. The museum's apparently gone to Jeffersonville.

We've covered this ground previously, but it's worth recalling the gist of it: In and of itself alone, the Vintage Fire Museum never would have been a game changer downtown. However, as a component of an organized downtown economic development strategy, it surely could have played a role. The museum's departure to Jeffersonville tells us:

1. As yet, the city of New Albany's downtown economic (and overall) development strategy remains piecemeal at best, and non-existent at worst. Entities petition for money and favors. Sometimes they get it, and sometimes not.

2. The city of Jeffersonville, though still quite capable of ineptitude, at least has such a strategy and has funded it. In the past, I've been approached quite informally and casually by Jeffersonville officials, so as to let me know what their city could do for a business like mine -- downtown. I thank them and carry on, all the while thinking: But why not the same in New Albany, apart from an absence of will to implement it?

3. The Vintage Fire Museum's departure informs us: It's time for vigilance with respect to the future of the Coyle property's vast asphalt expanse, both because an historic building is at stake, and owing to the nature of frequent hints that development there would come in the form of housing -- thus suggesting that cynics like me establish up front just how much the inevitable, giveaway parking garage will cost us. Earlier this summer, the Green Mouse overheard city officials and the 6th district banker/councilman discussing the future of the historic showroom building, and whether it would survive a development deal or be demolished; when asked about it, the councilman ominously replied: "Just a rumor. Though all options should be considered when redeveloping a property."

But all options should NOT be considered when voting on a non-binding resolution. It's a curious world we live in, and an even stranger city. While enjoying today's holiday, remember the Thrasher axiom: "We're all here because we're not all there."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Here's the LouisvilleBeer.com podcast link at LouisvilleAM.

The podcast has been posted -- not on the LouisvilleBeer site, which is having technical issues unrelated to this, but at LouisvilleAM.

Episode 12 – Roger Baylor of NABC

Louisvillebeer.com held a long overdue conversation with the Podcastable Curmudgeon, Roger Baylor, of New Albanian Brewing Company. Roger talks in depth on the subjects of beer geeks; his passion for localism; distributor issues; how the craft beer phenomenon has changed over the year; and the most important thing, being an “old” curmudgeon. Scott discusses BBC’s upcoming Toys for Tots campaign and Highlands Beer Festival at ValuMarket. John Wurth works for laughs while John King is questioned whether he works at all.

Duh: Slower street speeds and our urban quality of life go together like turkey and dressing.


Yesterday's post recorded roughly double the customary number of page views:

Georgetown resident: Top speed when driving on 'em is why we have 'em, so get us through New Albany as fast as humanly possible.

Suggesting that the sole purpose of streets is to transport people as efficiently as possible from one location to another is like suggesting that the sole purpose of sex is procreation. Surely, engaging in both forms of commuting can be about more than merely a speedy arrival at the destination.

Dear reader, to refresh your memory, here's what the suburbanite had to say:

#5 Reed Wrege 2013-11-22 21:57

The purpose of streets is to transport people as efficiently as possible from one location to another.

The intent of making more streets in New Albany two way is to slow down traffic. This is already being accomplished by the horrible lack of synchronization of the traffic lights.

I am not interested in having traffic slowed further...particularly as the volume is increasing!

Let's be clear about this: The correspondent is attacking the notion of two-way streets because two-way streets will slow down traffic, which he accuses traffic lights of doing already. His blithe assumption: High speed driving in urban areas is safe.

Here's another point of view, from Jeff Speck, which incorporates the counterintuitive world of traffic engineering and makes a series of crucial points about safety, which in an urban context necessarily involves ... that's right, slowing down traffic.

With fat lanes, traffic engineers kill in the name of safety
by Jeff Speck (Greater Greater Washington)

DC resident Jeff Speck wrote Suburban Nation, the best-selling book about city planning since Jane Jacobs. Greater Greater Washington is pleased to present 3 weekly excerpts from his new book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time.
Contrary to perceptions, the greatest threat to pedestrian safety is not crime, but the very real danger of automobiles moving quickly. Yet most traffic engineers, often in the name of safety, continually redesign city streets to support higher-speed driving.

This approach is so counterintuitive that it strains credulity: Engineers design streets for speeds well above the posted limit, so that speeding drivers will be safe—a practice that, of course, causes the very speeding it hopes to protect against ...

... As with induced demand, the engineers have once again failed to comprehend that the way they design streets will have any impact on the way that people use them. By their logic, just as more lanes can't cause more driving, high-speed lanes can't cause high speeds. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the second great misunderstanding that lies at the root of most urban degradation today. Widening a city's streets in the name of safety is like distributing handguns to deter gun violence.

Here's a primer on streets, roads and stroads.



And: Here's the handout.

Essential video for the future: "Jeff Speck Reveals the Secret to Success for Future Cities."


It's short and sweet, and covers the bases, so watch the video at Arch Daily:

Jeff Speck Reveals the Secret to Success for Future Cities

Jeff Speck, the city planner and architectural designer best known for advocating smart and sustainable growth, was recently interviewed by MSNBC to discuss the key to success for future cities: walkability. It is no secret that both millennials and the aging population have expressed an overwhelming desire to live in a walkable, urban hub. Though many major cities across the U.S. have embraced this philosophy, some are lagging behind. It is becoming increasingly apparent that a city’s walkability will have a major influence on the city’s competitiveness in the near future.

Watch the interview above to find out the four keys to having a great walkable city.

The two way street campaign isn't just about streets. It's about considering what our streets mean in the context of our city's future, as Jeff Speck clearly explains in the video. It's about quality of life in urban areas, and economic development stemming from it. It prompts a digression.

It amuses me to hear folks say that my interest in a two way street grid owes entirely to mercantile self-interest.

When Bob "It's All About Me, Baby" Caesar infamously pronounced that every street in the city can run both ways save for the one lying outside his own store, it was self-interest writ large, because he believes (mistakenly, in my estimation) that he'd have no customers at all without a suburban arterial depositing them at his front door ... even if it wreaks havoc everywhere else.

His statement prompted my immediate counter-offer, which still stands today:

Make every street in the city two ways except for the block of Bank between Spring and Elm -- where Bank Street Brewhouse stands.

That's because in a heartbeat, I'd trade my business's inconvenience for widespread rationality elsewhere downtown.

People like Bob Caesar are so busy gazing backwards in a rose-colored haze, as with their festive Bicentennial mantra of rewriting white-bread history the way it never really happened, that they simply cannot look ahead. Two-way streets are pieces of a puzzle, and must be linked to other pieces. They address the future, using lessons from past experience. City officials who fail to grasp this point are failing the test of leadership, and that's sad and incredibly annoying.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Georgetown resident: Top speed when driving on 'em is why we have 'em, so get us through New Albany as fast as humanly possible.


A comment at Develop New Albany's street survey page:

#5 Reed Wrege 2013-11-22 21:57

The purpose of streets is to transport people as efficiently as possible from one location to another.

The intent of making more streets in New Albany two way is to slow down traffic. This is already being accomplished by the horrible lack of synchronization of the traffic lights.

I am not interested in having traffic slowed further...particularly as the volume is increasing!

Note that Reed is my mom's neighbor out on Baylor-Wisman Road in Georgetown, so I'm not bullying a stranger, merely trying to introduce him to a world of urban ideas outside his own pre-determined notions.

He neatly recapitulates the traffic engineer's traditional wonks-only, mono-argument (streets have only one purpose: to move automotive traffic). But credit him for grasping one key element of my platform (yes, slowing traffic IS an aim -- speed compromises walkability and quality of life, and contradicts revitalization efforts), but he grasps it for the wrong rationale: Traffic's always moving, and our stop lights work quite nicely IF one is driving at the posted speed limit, to which lights are synchronized, and not faster -- which  majority of drivers insist on doing.

Because: When motoring from Silver Creek to the I-64 interchange, losing two minutes to a couple of red lights is utterly traumatic. I imagine Reed would propose to solve this currently non-existent "problem" by increasing speeds, seeing as he believes speed for the pass-through is the only issue.

Reed is "not interested" in traffic slowing further, but then again, he doesn't live in one of the neighborhoods where a speedy one-way traffic dynamic clearly helps diminish the quality of life. You wouldn't see him advocate for one-way streets in Georgetown; suburbanites understand that such a scheme would lower their property values, and while degradation is fine for city residents ... well, you know the rest.

Here's how I reply to Reed's suburban argument:

Suggesting that the sole purpose of streets is to transport people as efficiently as possible from one location to another is like suggesting that the sole purpose of sex is procreation. Surely, engaging in both forms of commuting can be about more than merely a speedy arrival at the destination.  

You tell 'em, Sherm.


This fine M*A*S*H moment from Season Eight came to me during a meeting yesterday, and I was delighted to find it on YouTube. This is the actor Harry Morgan's legendary Colonel Potter in a prime, high instructional leadership mode. The issue at hand is summarized, and the orders for resolution are given. Potter's subordinates grouse, but recognize they're all in it together, and react accordingly. They grasp the teaching moment, and realize the game if bigger than its component pieces.

Life should be more like this ... at least every now and then.

Am I right?

Video: "Bill Maher Contrasts 'Sex Machine' John F. Kennedy with 'Amiable Square' Ronald Reagan."



Monday, November 25, 2013

In which (finally) I make the Louisville Beer podcast.

John Wurth

John King (front) and Scott Lykins

Last night I was the guest of the LouisvilleBeer.com crew for a podcast, to be aired later this week; hit the web site on Tuesday evening, and check it out.

Support for two way streets still running strong.


With 220 votes now cast in Develop New Albany's survey, support for two-way streets downtown remains at 74%, a level that has remained steady from the start. City Hall believes there is little public interest in the street grid issue, which if true, must be considered a positive; after all, "If you're not against us, you're for us." Survey results may hint otherwise, and suggest that the word is spreading.

My favorite voter comment to date:

I do not think two way streets would be good for Downtown New Albany. They are a part of the character and charm of downtown. If you can't read a sign to tell which way to go, then you shouldn't be driving!

One-way streets as an indicator of character and charm? Interstate highways are charming, too, especially when the semi rigs move adjacent to each other going up a steep grade. I find sewage treatment plants to bear a certain artistic symmetry -- and mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all.

Seriously: I'm told that a street study is virtually a done deal, as sought by the mayor and financed by Redevelopment. In my opinion, it is crucial that advocates of two-way streets be prepared with professional testimony capable of being used in support or rebuttal, the latter lest the same old road engineering cadre end up performing the study. In terms of old school road engineering, garbage in ... and you know the rest.

As I talk about this issue and listen to viewpoints, apart from the expected reaction of "the mere thought of change is making my head explode," the typical response goes something like this:

"Of course Pearl and Bank should be two ways, but the diagonal parking spaces and median on Market are problems that make me dizzy, and while I can see two way streets being effective in a larger sense, they can't change anything about access to I-64 during an hour each morning and afternoon when it matters, and why would neighborhoods care about arterial streets, anyway, when it makes it quicker to get home? Other than that, we're with you."

In short: Contradictions galore, though not outright opposition. This is good, I think. A big part of effective argumentation is expecting what's coming from the other side, and being able to answer it. The single best thing advocates might do now would be to organize a media blitz around the appearance of a personage like Jeff Speck, but he's pricey and scheduling would be hard. Conversely, then, it's all about us and our ability to keep making this case and not letting it rest.

Genius of the Carpathians.


The documentary is called The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu, and it is simply astounding. Unlike most other documentaries, there is no narration. One must know the basic story of Communist Romania's dramatic decline during the Ceaușescu era (1965-1989), so as to contrast it with the story as told here, wherein three hours of film culled from more than 1,000 hours of footage, frames shot primarily to document the dictator's cult of personality and a country as he imagined it, tell the story precisely by showing what life in Romania was not.

Nixon in Bucharest, 1969; photo credit

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving can proceed as usual: Vietnam Kitchen has re-opened.


Folks got unnecessarily antsy when Vietnam Kitchen closed for a couple of weeks, but they probably just took a vacation. The important part is that the Louisville restaurant is open again, just in time to suit this skeptic's need for an anti-Thanksgiving Day Clay (pot catfish).

Or, how do you say "turkey" in Vietnamese?

K-8. Yummers.

Moral cowardice rises to the top as Jeff CM, Tech educator, River Ridge flunky and One Southern Indiana chief duck and cover on HJR-6.

Nope. No answers, not then, not now.

They've all had years to consider HJR-6, otherwise known as "The Hoosier Stain", but now that the bigotry has come home to roost, none of them have thought about it yet.

Nathan Samuel doesn't have "a feel" for the view of his constituents, primarily because he's already opted out of the discussion with swirling casuistry exceeding that deployed by New Albany's CM Blair.

David L. Clifton, a professor at Ivy Tech Sellersburg, blithely repeats the hoary stereotype to the effect than we business folks think only about profit, and harbor no interest in matter of lowly social conscience -- although he makes no effort to explain why powerhouses like Cummins and Eli Lilly oppose HJR-6. Maybe it's just our retrograde business thinkers down here in One Southern Indiana's constituency.

Notably absent from weighing in on the matter were several of Southern Indiana’s major employers. The News and Tribune requested comments from Clark Memorial Hospital and American Commercial Lines Inc. on their stance on the resolution, but neither of the entities responded as of press time.

One Southern Indiana's Wendy Dant Chesser typically wiggles out from any hint of coherence on the topic by citing her organization's failure to reach "consensus," which naturally didn't stop it from advocating for the Bridges Boondoggle, or joining the far right over affordable health care, but the single best evasion of all comes from Jerry Acy of the River Ridge Commerce Center, which owes its very existence, as well as its current status as the Mecca we're all compelled to worship five times daily, to political maneuverings:

“That is something our board has not even entertained,” said River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy. “Typically, we don’t take a position on political matters.”

These are the "leaders' in the community -- but is it a community, or an Adam Sandler flick? Ye Gods, EVEN BOB CAESAR GETS IT. Here it is at The 'Bune, if you can slip through the Hanson Wall: Local officials weigh in — or don’t — about gay marriage amendment; Area business agencies say they haven't formed an opinion.

Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and right about now.

An article quite good with coffee in front of the fire on a chilly November Sunday.

Aldous Huxley, CS Lewis and JFK all died on the same day in 1963, and amid the media fixation with the 50th anniversary of the assassination, I found myself thinking about Huxley and Soma. The craft beer movement currently is on a Soma-as-guiding-principle kick, isn't it?

Aldous Huxley: the prophet of our brave new digital dystopia ... CS Lewis may be getting a plaque. But Huxley, for his foretelling of a society that loves servitude, is the true visionary, by John Naughton (The Guardian)

... For one of the ironies of history is that visions of our networked future can be bracketed by the imaginative nightmares of Huxley and his fellow Etonian George Orwell. Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley's nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Paul Pierce "shops small" in Brooklyn.



Personally, I shy away from the Small Business Saturday (November 30) because of the American Express connection, but it does not mean this isn't a valuable idea (and video).

Look at all those people out on the street. Walkability really is the key, isn't it?

Health fascists were teetotalers even then.



Circa 1912. Thanks to Randy, via Gabe; images are explained here: I Am Death (From the Vaults of RAP blog).

Conservatives eat their own.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

Right-Wing Author Abandons Cultural Populism, Decries ‘White Trash’, by Michelle Goldberg (The Nation)

Charlotte Hays, the conservative writer and director of cultural programs at the anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum, has a new book out, titled When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question. A broadside against the moral and aesthetic failures of the lower orders, it’s a fascinating work, not for what it says but for what it represents. It’s a sign that at least some on the right are abandoning the NASCAR-fetishizing Palinesque faux-populism of recent decades for a more overt style of class warfare ...

... Hays’s work is saturated with that particular kind of right-wing smugness born of the conviction that one’s willingness to express common prejudices is a sign of free-thinking audacity. What’s interesting is where it’s directed—not at liberals or their sacred cows, but at fat, broke, ordinary Americans. “We look like hell as a nation, and fat people bear a large brunt of responsibility for this,” she writes. “I can remember when going to New York meant seeing beautiful, pencil-thin people in stylish clothes on Fifth Avenue. Where are they now? The other day I saw a fat guy in polyester in my favorite New York restaurant.” Heaven forfend! She’s so delighted with her description of diabetes as “the talismanic White Trash disease” that she uses it twice ...

... It’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore inequality’s ravages or to blame them on gay marriage or snotty university professors. Conservatives find themselves faced with a choice: either acknowledge that our economic system is failing the American people, or deride the American people for failing our economic system.

Hays opts for the latter.

Friday, November 22, 2013

On the writer Ray Mouton, and his novel, "In God's House".


In 1998, I checked off a personal bucket list entry by arriving in Pamplona, Spain, a day before the annual commencement of the Festival of San Fermin, and then remaining all the way through the revelry, until it was over -- eight days of hard partying even if one refrains from running with the bulls.

I probably wouldn't have gone to Pamplona -- wouldn't have tripped over the comatose bodies of Eurotrash, wouldn't have eaten Pyrenees trout stuffed with ham, wouldn't have drained bottles of anise-like Pacheran -- if not for my cousin Beak's trailblazing. When he landed his tenured position in Florida and started attending the festival on a yearly basis in the early 1990s, he immediately fell in with the anglophile expatriate coterie and met numerous and memorable aficionados, including a fellow American, Ray Mouton.

That's why I have the pleasure of counting Ray among my casual acquaintances, and although I have not been to Pamplona for a while, and Ol' Paco lives abroad, he's every bit as interesting as his press clippings suggest.

In 1998, on the festival's final night, with the week-long lunacy gradually settling into a post-coital reverie, the three of us had a quiet dinner for the first time in eight days, and then went for a cool, breezy walk at sundown atop the old wall that protects the old town from incursions from the valley below. Ray's arm was in a sling, because during the encierro, he'd been trampled -- not by a bull, but by another human being. The tales of his life's adventures were vastly entertaining, and it was an unforgettable end to an all-in.

Eventually he authored a very well-regarded book about San Fermin, and then set to completing a novel, the content of which pertains not only to seminal events in his own life as a brash young lawyer, but also in a broader sense to far less savory occurrences in the lives of far too many children throughout the world. Owing to the vagaries of fate, when he was younger, Ray got in on the ground floor of the Catholic Church's pedophilia scandal -- and it changed the trajectory of his life.

I've ordered his fictionalized account from the UK: In God's House: A novel by Ray Mouton. Ray's looking for an American publisher ... and a movie deal. I'll review the book once finished.

For the rest of Ray's story: Church abuse case haunts lawyer who defended priest, by Evan Moore (Daily World in Opelousas LA)

Mouton no longer attends services — not since the case of the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, whose horrific crimes against children in the Diocese of Lafayette set off a wave of scandal in 1985 that reached across the USA all the way to the Vatican; not since Mouton defended Gauthe and almost ruined his life in the process.

Now, he enters churches only to light candles, candles for the children.

The Yum! Center bond debacle ... and an interesting perspective on Freedom Hall.

First, the theme.

A Little Bit More On The Arena Debacle … (The 'Ville Voice)

... By now you know that the Yum! Center’s been downgraded by Moody’s. But if you don’t, here’s a refresher from Gregory Hall:

A credit rating firm has again downgraded the KFC Yum! Center’s bonds, putting on hold a potential refinancing for a lower interest rate that could save millions a year, according to Metro Council President Jim King, who is also a Louisville Arena Authority board member.

Citing persistent risks to the arena’s ability to pay off the $349 million worth of bonds, credit rater Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its opinion of the Yum Center bonds to Ba3, pushing them deeper into “junk” status.

Moody’s said existing agreements — namely the arena authority’s deal with the University of Louisville — and scheduled increases in interest and principle payments will be a drag on profitability, even with improvements in the arena’s operations and a reconfiguration of a taxing district around it.

Then, in the comments section, the variation.

J. Bruce Miller

The ‘real shame’ of all is that had our majority Chinese investors not gotten ‘cold feet’ as a result of the NBA ‘lockout’ there was every indication they would have purchased the Hornets FROM the NBA, moved them to Louisivlle and ‘likely’ have remodeled Freedom Hall. This ‘concept’ was specifically discussed with David Stern. Freedom Hall is ‘historic’ — in actuality — the ‘first integrated basketball palace in America’ for the NCAA — where a whole bunch of Final Fours were played in the 60′s with integrated teams. The place could have been a ‘shrine’ like Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. Such a ‘shrine’ would have been of ‘international importance for Louisville – where the international television of NBA games could have immenated to Beijing, and 180 countries. Stern was interested — but it didn’t happen. Just like Jake’s said so many times “We really have a hard time doing the ‘big things’ right around here.”

Yes, but: If you think it’s hard in Louisville, try living in New Albany.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A "principled" Blair votes no, but council approves resolution condemning HJR-6.

7:00 a.m. Friday update: WDRB makes my point with the final line of its report: "One council member abstained, and Scott Blair was the only council member to vote against the resolution." 

Earlier tonight, the Common Council of the city of New Albany approved R-13-16, a resolution opposing HJR-6.

The vote was seven in favor, with Diane Benedetti abstaining after a lightning-fast attempt to match a thicket of post-it notes detailing 5th district voter rolls with numbers from a flurry of phone calls she received late in the afternoon, presumably from the Koch brothers and their gay-baiters nationwide.

Scott Blair was alone in voting against the resolution. More about that in a moment.

Overall, with Blair the one glaring exception, the council acquitted itself well. Lone Republican council person Kevin Zurschmiede sounded confused for a bit, but rallied nicely. Bob Caesar said nothing, and was firm and crisp in joining the majority. John Gonder and Shirley Baird spoke convincingly, and Greg Phipps eloquently provided all the necessary preparatory information. Dan Coffey surprised some, although not me, by forcefully advocating for the resolution. I believe Coffey's life experiences have led him to savor the role of the underdog and downtrodden, and although the two of us come from entirely different poles, we have this one thing in common, if nothing else.

On the other hand, Blair achieved the rare distinction of striking out before stepping to the plate. All evening long, he spoke only one word with regard to a sensible, rational resolution opposing shameful violations of human rights: "No".

Regular council attendees of a particularly masochistic bent know that in the past, Blair has bizarrely confused his council seat with a slot on the Supreme Court of the United States, choosing to somewhat pedantically take issue with any resolution he feels does not pertain to his specific mission on the city council. It is entirely a procedural objection, and we are supposed to take this as an expression of profound governmental conviction even if he hasn't quite divulged the criteria for it in any great detail.

In essence, if a resolution strikes Blair as unsuitable for voting, he'll say so aloud (curiously, not so last night) ... and proceed to vote against it.

But how can either a "yes" or "no" vote be viewed as an expression of Blair's rejection of voting? Both are votes. As others before me have cogently noted, Blair's only coherent option if he wishes to express the view that he should not be asked to vote is to abstain from voting. Consequently, each time Blair has publicly diddled his "I shan't vote" principle, he has followed not by abstaining, but by voting -- in each instance, as again last night, by voting "no". In turn, this means that far from expressing principle, he is in fact choosing a side. History will record his vote, not his objections.

Has anyone on the council even tried to explain this to him, or is is some sort of hazing ritual gone tragically astray?

Consider that many of the folks in the gallery tonight do not regularly attend council meetings. They are not aware of Blair's tortured, quasi-Jesuitical "pick and choose then flip the coin again" soft shoe when it comes to proper versus improper resolution jurisdiction.

However, after tonight, what they DO know about Blair is that sans explanation, the 6th district councilman voted against a resolution opposing human rights violations. Yes, in effect, he chose a side. It is quite clearly the wrong side, because it's the side that mocks human dignity -- and at the end of the day, it's a public relations failure of epic dimension, all because of slavish devotion to an obscure procedural principle.

Perhaps as a banker, Blair mistakes principle for principal; after all, even if the principle of human rights fails to excite like the cost-benefit aphrodisiac, there's always high interest in principal, or rather the high interest owed on principal -- and as procedural devotion goes, and fetishes are nurtured, there's always the blessed penalty for early withdrawal ... except that premature stupefaction couldn't possibly be the desired outcome for someone like the councilman.

Could it?

DNA survey and 30 businesses: Solid support for two-way streets.


As of 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, the results of Develop New Albany's two-day old, two-way street survey are as follows.

TWO WAY STREETS IN DOWNTOWN NEW ALBANY

Do you think converting some one way streets to two way streets would be a benefit to Downtown New Albany?

Yes, I think it would improve downtown (139 Votes) ... 74.73%
No, I don't think it would benefit downtown (37 Votes) ... 19.89%
Not Sure at this Point (10 Votes) ... 5.38%

These percentages have held steady since the beginning. Three-quarters? hefty. In addition, thirty businesses have now brandished the emblem as symbol of their support for a modern street grid.

Antiques Attic
Art Store
Bank Street Brewhouse
Billow Cigar Shop
Bread and Breakfast

Classic Furniture
Courtney Paris Photography
CyberTek
Dandy Lion
Destinations Booksellers

Exchange pub + kitchen
Faith Ingle Smith
Feast BBQ
Irish Exit
JR’s Pub

Keg Liquors
Mariposa Consignments
NABC Pizzeria & Public House
Palmer Thompson Law
Petery-Hedden Co.

Print + Ship
Quills Coffee
River City Winery
Sew Fitting
Southern Indiana Paint Supply

Strandz & Threadz
Uptown Art
Warehouse Hookah Bar & Cafe
Wick’s Pizza
Wilcox Block/Bergman Building (The Bergmans)

ON THE AVENUES: The Hoosier Stain.

ON THE AVENUES: The Hoosier Stain.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The story goes that Groucho Marx was standing in line at a famous Hollywood restaurant when he turned to a woman and asked, “Are you alone?”

“Why, yes I am,” came her flattered response.

“Then there must be something terribly wrong with you,” shrugged the comedian before turning away.

Groucho was male, and leering older codgers indeed can be scary, even to other men. We don’t know the woman’s ethnicity or political affiliation, and it’s worth remembering there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being alone. The episode might well be apocryphal; after all, why would a world-famous movie star be required to wait in line – unless it was his Jewishness?

However, what we DO know is that yesterday, the state of Illinois made national headlines.

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Wednesday allowing same-sex weddings starting this summer, making President Barack Obama's home state the 16th overall — and largest in the nation's heartland — to legalize gay marriage.

As citizens in Illinois celebrated this latest in a growing series of coming out parties, a cinematic tableau began developing in my mind. From street-level views of jubilant Illini, the scene dissolves into the relative quiet of the New Albany city council chamber, where a resolution in opposition to HJR-6 is scheduled for hearing tonight.

House Joint Resolution 6 is a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution which states: "Only marriage between one(1) man and one(1) woman will be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized."

If enacted, House Joint Resolution 6 would amend the Constitution of the State of Indiana to do two things: 1) Prohibit any future legislators from passing a law that would allow same-sex couples to legally marry. 2) prohibit any future legislators from enacting a law that would allow legal protections for any unmarried relationships that are similar to marriage, such as civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Indiana law already prohibits same sex marriage. HJR6 makes it permanent.

In the imagined screenplay, I look up from my seat in the peanut gallery and notice a council person reading his meeting agenda. His body language and furrowed countenance testify to discomfiture and cognitive dissonance – alas, not for the first time – and as a good Samaritan, I resolve to come to his assistance.

I rise and stride purposefully to his side.

“Are you troubled by these incessant reminders of same sex marriage, LGBT issues and HJR-6, and feel resentful that yet again, you’re being asked to provide local guidance on an issue that’s outside your presumed bailiwick?”

“Why, yes I am,” comes his relieved response.

“Then there must be something terribly wrong with you,” I shrug, before turning away.

---

Just two days ago, the Purdue University Senate stopped squirming, pulled on its boots and got down to basics, adopting a resolution opposing HJR-6.

Surely it’s because they grasp that if the university’s big cheese-tain Mitch Daniels were to require of Purdue researchers the same commitment to hidebound voodoo ideology demanded of adherence to HJR-6, they’d rightly come to the conclusion, arguably quite belated, that Daniels belongs in a looney bin, and rush forward with strength and resolve to save Hoosier agriculture from a posturing pint-sized Lysenko.

So it is that rarely in this pot-bellied skeptic’s life has it been any better than this.

As an attitudinal tsunami of societal evolution approaches, Indiana Republicans who’ve long since forgotten the lessons of freedom embodied by the American Civil War gaze first at their shoes, then around the hall of mirrors they persist inhabiting, and start making tepid gurgling sounds about the will of the people. What they need most is a swift kick in the balls by Abraham Lincoln.

Then, one pleasant November morning, you arise to the usual espresso and kippers. Hearing a commotion outside, you part the curtains and see numerous visitors of the sort who’d customarily be told to get the hell off your porch: Multi-denominational interfaith representatives, stuffed shirt Ken dolls from Fortune 500 companies, and best of all, those shameless, clucking, congenital fluffers of our douchebag gilded-age oligarchs … all standing by the bushes, holding hands, singing Kumbaya, and insisting that the needs of economic development march hand in hand with bountiful diversity and the expansion of human rights and freedoms.

Granted, living wages seldom are discussed in this context, but we’ll overlook it for now.

They sing, you blink. It’s time to make another espresso, dig out the seismograph from its storage space in the cabinet behind the toilet paper and find a comfy hammock. Opposing HJR-6 is a necessary, fair and decent act – but it’s a lot more fun when the usual suspects switch sides.

We now return to our prevaricating council person, as oft-times before seeking to dodge voting on a resolution owing to some smugly contorted bit of Rococo subterfuge, when all he’s really doing is ducking his responsibility as a human being, because these matters of basic fairness and human dignity, while nagging, are hardly minor.

You look at him, and you repeat after Bono: “Am I bugging you? I don't mean to bug ya.”

And, of course, you go right ahead, bugging him.

---

Recently I was asked, and I paraphrase: Roger, why must you be so confrontational and edgy about this matter? It doesn’t affect you. You’re already married, and to a woman.

It’s because I drink locally but think globally.

It’s because there is reality outside my immediate vicinity.

It’s because I care deeply about human rights, and believe we all deserve the same treatment.

It’s because the promise of the historic American experiment was not intended to be limited to white straight “normal” folks who read just one version of a religious text.

It’s because for so long as human rights and freedoms are restricted owing to the clinging vestiges of any type of dominant caste, we all are diminished as a result.

And it’s because sometimes, if you’re not metaphorically shaken by your dainty oblivious buttoned-down lapels and forcibly fed some genuine truth, you have this tendency to lose focus.

That’s why.



Wake up, Bob: Two-way street conversions for 400K ... now get the hell out of the way.


Jeff penned this yesterday as a Facebook comment, after someone asked (paraphrased), "What’s the price tag for two-way street conversions, and how much is the city’s share?"

The answer has been repeated numerous times already, most often by Jeff, but periodically by city officials standing in front of real-life, dozing council members.

It bears a 41st hearing today owing to the predictable reluctance of New Albany’s Unreconstructed Caesarites to pay attention when it was said the first 40 times.

How’d they ever make it through school?

---

New Albany currently has access to an approximately $2 million federal grant specifically earmarked for two-way reclamation. To capture those funds we need a 20% local match, about $400K. That's roughly what we've been spending on sidewalk repair each year. Noteworthy is that the entire two-way project would occur in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) eligible area. Those are the funds we usually use for sidewalk repair each year and street projects are an eligible use of those federal funds as well. They are replenished by the feds every year. In other words, there's at least a chance we could pay for the whole two-way thing without spending local money at all.

As was also mentioned, several of us were told for years that upgrading the traffic signal electronics would be the single largest expense within a two-way project. Via the federal stimulus a few years ago, though, New Albany received about $900K to upgrade them and did. Those new metal boxes at a lot of the intersections? That's what those are-- the upgraded electronics already in place. There may still be some signal expense in terms of programming them, but I was told by city planners that the $900K covered the bulk of what was needed.

From there, we have to figure out exactly how to create the lanes themselves. Before the City decided to spend a lot more on a median and extras, there was a low build, low cost option pitched for Main Street a few years ago that included exactly what you'd expect: paint. Two auto lanes, two bike lanes, and two parking lanes for the whole length of the street between Vincennes and State. Estimated cost: $5,500.

That's not a typo.

The short answer is $400,000. That will get us an additional $2 million which should be more than enough to cover the whole thing. Since the $2 mil is federal transportation money, it can't be used for jobs creation or other activities, although it's certainly arguable that creating a more business/neighborhood friendly street grid is related to that. If anyone wants to go down the spending comparison road, it might be helpful to look at the $9 million aquatics center, which will impact far fewer people only during limited parts of the year and is being paid for with local money we actually could use for multiple purposes.

But, then, we've already said that 30 or 40 times.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Palmer Thompson Law: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.


Palmer Thompson Law

My two-way street project and how you can help.

Send the Antebellum Caesarite faction a strong message at DNA's web site.

Develop New Albany has added a two-way streets survey to its web site.

http://www.developna.org/about-develop-new-albany/community-questions/viewpoll/1-two-way-streets-in-downtown-new-albany

It is appreciated. You may go there and send the Antebellum Caesarites a strong message.


London: "For all his 'cycling mayor' persona ... (Boris) Johnson has been keeping the private motorist sweet."


We only recently made much this same case, via the New York Times: Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists? (and for that matter, pedestrians).

 ... Studies performed in Arizona, Minnesota and Hawaii suggest that drivers are at fault in more than half of cycling fatalities. And there is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault, as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene.

Now, shouldn't the task of street grid restoration, aka "complete streets", be far simpler in a more compact urban setting like New Albany's than in London or New York? Or is it even harder here owing to an inability (read: refusal) on the part of leading party elements to visualize change?

Hill's article compares the photo op vs. reality street grid quotient of current London mayor Boris Johnson as compared to his predecessor, Ken Livingstone -- and finds Johnson lacking.

Livingstone presided over a modal shift from car to public transport, walking and cycling which was unrivalled worldwide. He believed in a roads hierarchy which prioritised pedestrians, cyclists and buses in that order.

In short, revolutionary doctrine. And you thought Fidel was a threat to the established order.

Boris cycling woes are part of larger failure to change London's streets; The London mayor's surface transport and "public realm" strategies have shown a poor judgement of priorities, by Dave Hill (Guardian)

As anger over recent cyclist deaths quite has rightly raged, Londonist, also rightly, has widened the debate by asking a very good question: won't somebody think of the pedestrians? The answer pointed out that pedestrians accounted for more than half of all those killed on the capital's streets in 2012 - 69 out of 134. As Londonist also reported, three died on the same day only last week.

The 2012 stats also show that 27 of those killed were riding a "powered two-wheeler" (motorbikes, mopeds etc), 19 were in cars and 14 were cyclists, while the remaining five were in a taxi, bus, coach or goods vehicle. These numbers on their own don't reveal different risk levels for different ways of getting around - a complicated subject, by the way - but they do show that safety on London's roads is a concern for an array of people who negotiate the capital's streets in different ways.

River Ridge chieftain makes an excellent, if wholly inadvertent, case to promote Acy all the way to Tolling Junta.

Props to the newspaper's Braden Lammers for extracting one of the top quotes of the year from Mark Robinson, holder of the Kerry Stemler Chair for River Ridge Oligarchy Development, who had this to say about Jerry Acy (Robinson's adjutant) upon learning that Acy had recorded a second OWI in three months' time:

"Based on the limited information, I don’t think his job is in jeopardy at this moment, assuming that he will take seriously the advice ... we’re going impose."

Imposed advice.

If only it could be so simple for those of us just beneath the upper strata of mover-shakers. Oh, well. Perhaps we can bike to work.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Which of these signs comes with a stamp of approval from the Board of Works?


It's getting to be about that time again, don't you think?

Lest this be construed as criticism of the Street Department, it is not. Rather, it is a plea to deputize the citizenry. If during the course of a constitutional, one also has the city's support in sign sharking, then it's a wonderful day outdoors. I may not have time to hit the Works meeting this morning, but there's always next week.

March 19, 2012: Quite a haul of street spam.

March 13, 2012: Thompson: "On Friday, March 16th, we will be removing all unauthorized signs that are placed in the right-of-way.”

May 26, 2011: Tears in my eyes as municipality finally catches up to blog on street spam and illegal signage ... this link includes more links to sign sharking exploits dating back to 2005.

The NewAlbanist on tactics of self-selection and self-rejection.


Fresh off his star turn as "Soapy Sam" Ballard in "Rumpole and the Big Henry Bain Sauce and Egg Man" ... just kidding.

It's been wonderful to experience the bookseller's erudition of late. I keep company with the finest expository writers in town (Randy and Jeff), and reading them enriches me. I'd say it makes me a better writer, except only sobriety can do that -- and what a price.

The bookseller defines his term:

Today’s word from Ben Schott’s Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition

Bösewichtsduckmäusrigkeit – Cowardice in the face of malevolence.

Pronounced [boo-ze-vicchts --dook-moyz-rihg-kite]

Then he moves to The NewAlbanist for the details.

Bösewichtsduckmäusrigkeit It Ain’t
Bösewichtsduckmäusrigkeit It Ain’t, Part 2

We had a few discussions over the weekend with regard to an earlier post, one in which I lamented the seeming withdrawal of one and the patent abdication of many others when it comes to seeking elective office.

I am reminded that such decision do not take place in a vacuum. The vapidity of New Albany government is the product of both self-selection and self-rejection.

There are two primary tactics practiced by incumbents.

As an oblique comment on the general theme of civic engagement, there's an anecdote I enjoy repeating which goes something like this.

I'll be discussing New Albanian social conditions and trends, conceding that (of course) the best and brightest always leave town to seek opportunities elsewhere, and usually someone will squint and reply, "I see you're still here."

Yes, so true -- but why further encourage the brain drain by being elected?

Dwindling middle class, clueless ruling class ... drugs DO begin to make sense.


This link was forwarded to me last week (thanks W) with the comment, "Heroin as an emotional safety net?"

My personal reaction in reading this story is much the same as when seeing others that come across my screen: How does it fit New Albany?

There are similarities, but also differences. Lincoln is located in central Illinois, between Bloomington and Springfield, and equidistant between Chicago and St. Louis. The population is a little over 14,000, and just past the city limits are plenty of crops. New Albany's population is 2.5 times larger, and we're a component of a metropolitan area.

I still like our chances, even if we seem determined to permit an ingrained conservatism (read: innate blind terror) stand in the way of real progress. Almost all that we've achieved during the last decade came because we tried something "new" -- amid epic struggles comparable to the trenches in the Great War -- and yet, even faced with incontrovertible evidence that nothing could happen until the "old" was  rejected and transcended, predictably "old" thinking still mightily resists innovation.

And, given the perennial stranglehold on local political power exercised by one of the two major parties, it is impossible to avoid reaching the conclusion that two major political parties are not ideologically represented in New Albany. DINO-saurs, you know.

But the possibilities are here. Either that, or I'm the one on drugs.

Dwindling Middle Class Has Repercussions For Small Towns, by Kelly McEvers (NPR)

... It turns out that what's happening in Lincoln is happening in so many towns and communities across the country: As we recover from the Great Recession, jobs are coming back. But they are not middle-wage jobs — they are either high-wage jobs or low-wage jobs. The middle class is in serious decline. And that has all kinds of repercussions.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Uptown Ornament Walk and two-way streets: A shout-out to Stefanie.


Last Friday morning, I was at Southern Indiana Paint Supply (located on the corner of Market and Vincennes) for a meeting to discuss the forthcoming Uptown Ornament Walk & Christmas Open House on Saturday, December 14.

As for the event, it's going to be a family-friendly afternoon affair, and for the adults in the vicinity, I'll be concocting and conducting a holiday beer sampling (site TBD) in conjunction with a couple of other usual suspects and drinks entities who'll know soon enough that I need their help. 

Back to Friday morning, at the new paint and design store, sitting there chatting for an hour or so ... and here's the way Stefanie Griffith summarized it in an e-mail about the ornament walk, as sent to Uptown corridor merchants:

On another note I would like you each to think about a cause Roger Baylor is working on. It is to see all of New Albany one way streets go to two way streets. Have you seen the yellow sign with two arrows pointing different directions? That is the awareness he is creating, he also has statistics on why two way streets are a better benefit to neighborhoods and businesses. If you have any questions or would like a sign to hang in your window you can contact him. As we sat in the meeting today on Market Street we saw three cars attempt to turn down Market the wrong way, so it is time to put some serious thought into this.

That's right: Three in an hour.

It's a situation that Bob Caesar persists in thinking is quite safe and conducive to civic life, so long as New Albany's arterials continue to siphon jewelry buyers to his business's front door. Fortunately, many other business owners like the ones gathered Friday see a different side of this story, and are making their views known.

Note that in repeating Stefanie's comments, I'm in no mood for self-aggrandizement. Rather, I'd just like to thank her for being supportive of the two-way streets effort.

I really appreciate it!

Henry Bain's New Albany: Finally, a genuine Bicentennial triumph.


We caught the Sunday afternoon matinee of Henry Bain's New Albany, as performed at St. Mark's. As I strongly suspected going in, the play is an undisputed high point of the "paint by numbers in shades of muted beige" bicentennial celebration we've been forced to endure in 2013.

It's worth noting that in Larry Muhammad's script, African-American characters in the year 1913 find themselves excluded from the centennial planning process, and respond by devising their own civic birthday celebration.

Was the committee of officious commissars in 2013 any more representative than those of 1913? Judge for yourself. The current century's insular group of civic pillars arguably includes more women and African-Americans, but its special bureaucratic talent has been the exclusion en masse of differing ideas and their troublesome bearers.

Seeing as NAC persists in dating New Albany's founding not from the arrival of the Scribners, but the town's legal incorporation in 1817, this means we have ample time to plan The Peoples Bicentennial, to be observed in 2017. Meanwhile, here's a snippet from the play ...

Great Day Live Video: "Henry Bain's New Albany"(WHAS)

 ... and one recipe for mimicking the famous Henry Bain sauce.

Henry Bain sauce is a sweet-sour-spicy beef sauce invented by a maitre d' at Louisville's all-male Pendennis Club in the early 20th century.

· 1 (17-ounce) jar Major Grey's chutney
· 1/2 of 9-ounce jar imported pickled walnuts (optional, see note)
· 1 (14-ounce) bottle ketchup
· 1 (11-ounce) bottle A-1 Steak Sauce
· 1 (10-ounce) bottle Worcestershire sauce
· 1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce
· Tabasco, to taste

Put the chutney and walnuts, if using, in a blender and chop fine or puree as you prefer (you'll need to stop and stir). Combine with other ingredients and season to taste with Tabasco.

Makes 4 pints.

Serve with hot or cold roast beef. Spread on beef sandwiches, serve with pot roast, etc. Also good served with cream cheese as a cracker spread.

Note: Pickled walnuts are recommended in the Henry Bain sauce recipe in``The Farmington Cookbook,'' but not in recipes written by former Louisville food writers Cissy Gregg and Marion Flexner.

Once again, a good idea is stolen.

First there was my Facebook post.

If I mounted a statue of a middle-finger salute the approximate size of the Colossus of Rhodes atop Bank Street Brewhouse, would that qualify as public art? Because it's sounding mighty appealing right about now.

Then someone in Prague beat me to it.

“The finger,” said the Czech sculptor David Cerny, “speaks for itself.” On that point, at least, everyone could agree.

Now another snub, this time by a "rich man". I'm feeling somewhat oppressed, but also vindicated.

Rich Man Buys House Next to Ex-Wife, Erects Giant Middle Finger Outside (Gawker)

A Michigan man has reportedly gone to Internet-ready lengths in order to troll his ex-wife with a daily reminder of his feelings towards her.

According to a person claiming to be the ex-wife's daughter, the crazy-wealthy Bloomfield Hills man, identified only as "Alan," allegedly purchased the house next door to his ex, and proceeded to move in with his new girlfriend Tiffany.

He then went a step further and purchased an expensive bronze statue of a middle finger, which he placed on the back porch and aimed at his ex-wife's house.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The NewAlbanist: "And Then There Were … None?"

Admittedly, it struck me as a bit premature that Brad Bell announced his candidacy for the 2015 council race some 20 months before the primary.

In addition, there's a "once bitten, twice shy" hangover from my erstwhile newspaper column's shoddy treatment (post-primary, 2011) at the hands of the Blind Goys from Alabama.

It's also true that no one's running for anything until there's the correct election to contest. Verily, at this precise moment, I'm not running for office, although if you're interested in examining the platform from my council race in 2011, the Facebook campaign page remains up.

Clear as mud? Now, here's what the bookseller (NewAlbanist) has to say, and as always, it's quite thought-provoking. Now if you'll excuse me, there are tea leaves to be read.

And Then There Were … None?

by newalbanist
At their next family reunion, if not sooner, Jeff Gahan, New Albany’s mayor, and Dan Coffey, the city’s longest-tenured city council member, will surely share a satisfied chuckle over their cooling baked beans and warming potato salad. For yet another talented and innovative New Albanian has thrown in the towel and conceded the electoral field to the reigning cabal.
My friend, Roger Baylor, seems to have literally done that. In the midst of a renewed effort on his part to simply help improve our city, Roger has been compelled to issue a caveat in conjunction with that effort – “I’m not running for office.” More on this, below.

Southern Indiana Paint Supply: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.


Southern Indiana Paint Supply (Design Center & Blue River Cabinet)

My two-way street project and how you can help.