Monday, March 31, 2014

Mrs. Baird inadvertently reveals the crux of the $321K farmers market lotto: "There was not a lot of discussion about it."


I've already provided concise instructions, but I'm only an idea guy. I can't make them pay attention.

DNA can come out of the farmers market dust-up smelling like the proverbial rose. All it needs to do is follow this script.

Especially when Mrs. Baird went out and got the money, and by God, she's going to spend it. Not a lot of discussion? That's the way she undoubtedly intended it. As you peruse the 'Bune's coverage, perhaps you'll also be asking questions that no one seems eager to answer.

When did the council appropriation originate?
Is it a carry-over from the most recent England administration?
Was the appropriation ever discussed by members during the budgetary process?
Has there ever been anything resembling a genuine public hearing on the farmers market?
Why can't we stop and talk this over?
Why the hurry?

An this: Is Mrs. Baird merely the liaison, or is it her job to do DNA's (and the Marktmeister's) bidding?

There's a difference, after all.

Committee to weigh future of New Albany Farmers Market; This year's session opens May 10, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — A New Albany City Council committee will meet next week to discuss the future of the downtown Farmers Market.

Baird — who is the council’s liaison on the Develop New Albany board — said she still supports improving the market at its existing location ...

From SW Michigan to S Indiana: "How the Chamber of Commerce Hurts Our Community."

Perhaps Southwest Michigan First's antics do not provide an exact match with the persistent chicanery of One Southern Indiana, but it's close enough for rock and roll.

How the Chamber of Commerce Hurts our Community ... Who is Southwest Michigan First putting first? (hint- not the environment and not poor people), by Matthew Lechel

... The problem with the Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Michigan First and the status quo ‘economic development’ community is twofold. Firstly, these groups hold our communities hostage in the name of jobs. The damage this causes impacts our community primarily environmentally, but also culturally and socially. The second major problem with the current economic development paradigm is that the primary product they’re selling (government subsidy of private business) is something we aren’t even sure works. That’s why it’s called trickle down economic THEORY. There’s loads of evidence increasingly showing that taxpayer handouts to profitable companies under the auspice of job creation doesn’t work. Of course there are other folks (particularly those who benefit handsomely) who say trickle down economics does work, and only more time will fully prove that. One thing is for certain, based on past actions the economic developers are not in any way interested in showcasing to the public their gamble with taxpayer resources works. Especially when they can get the local paper to simply assume it is a positive investment and report accordingly.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dude, Chicken, and the Louisville Colonels baseball club in 1889.



The 76ers snapped the losing streak against the woebegone Pistons, and we're left with this timely (yesterday's Bats vs. Reds exhibition) and intriguing discussion about the even more wretched 1889 Louisville Colonels, who played in the old American Association.

Among the squads four managers in 1889 were Dude Esterbrook (who later died while being taken by train to an insane asylum) and Chicken Wolf, who was killed by the effects of brain injuries suffered as a firefighter. Louisville star Pete Browning was an infamous drinker.

Meanwhile, with another season about to start for the Bats, will there be the usual paucity of better beer in Louisville Slugger Field in 2014? Only team management and Centerplate know for sure, and that's enough to make a guy emulate Dude.

But first, a CeeSaw digression: "The Fascist Automobile vs. Bicycle Rebellion."


Councilman Bob "CeeSaw" Caesar has uttered so much white-bread blather over the years that it would require a full-time archivist to annotate the quotes, which we'd then be throwing into the fireplace, anyway, better to save on a long winter's heating bills.

One time just after we first clashed over the one-way street grid, and in CeeSaw's best 1960s-era verbiage, borrowed from a time when he undoubtedly occupied the city's defense ramparts all alone, besuited, starched and buttoned-down, heroically facing the long-haired hippie freaks advancing like drugs-and-free-sex zombies toward his well-ordered foyer, Caesar referred to me as anti-establishment. Or maybe it was counter-cultural, or both.

His scorn was as palpable as my pride.

The point, however, is that my flaming radicalism of the sort that sends cautious jewelry buyers scurrying is as quaint and peaceful as Bob Caesar's "but really, I'm still a Democrat" innate Romneyism when compared elsewhere.

Like here.

The Fascist Automobile vs. Bicycle Rebellion (Rebel Metropolis)

 ... Instead of leveling the playing field by democratizing our common street space the way bikes do, automobiles prompt us to often engage in sociopathic behavior that’s hostile, selfish, dangerous, and downright fascist.

'Ville Voice v.v. Dyche: "Not Just A Homophobe But Also A Race-Baiter?"

The C-J canned John David Dyche, and then WDRB picked him up. So far, so yawnable. But after a vigorous pot-stirring, following is an uncommonly enjoyable takedown of Dyche by Jake at TVV.

Not Just A Homophobe But Also A Race-Baiter? (The "Ville Voice)

The latest from John David Dyche further illustrates why it was a good decision to cut him from the Courier-Journal. It’s as if he believes the entire city is the Pendennis Club and no non-WASPs are allowed.

(insert frothing Dyche excerpts here, then lift off)

Jesus.

Black people = basketball? Check. Jive lingo? Check. Community activist (aka people like Barack Obama)? Check. Scandinavian (white people)? Check. “Urban” (black) terrorism? Check.

This city’s privileged white folks have been wringing their hands something fierce this week. It’s been surreal to watch.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

St. John Presbyterian Church: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.



Signs courtesy of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association. Just imagine if all the churches located on New Albany's one-way speedway arterials took the same stance.

The Danse Macabre, rim shots, hayseed Dixiecrats and Ted Heavrin's county council candidacy.

Ted Heavrin's county council celebrates after slashing remaining fat from the 2011 budget.

I see that Ted Heavrin is running for Floyd County Council.

Again.

It's only been two years since Floyd County was doomed to ruin when Heavrin, sole possessor of the ATM password, was deposed in the primary. His loss prompted the News and Tribune's Chris Morris to break out his shoeshine kit, but then Heavrin staged a dramatic comeback and returned to vetoing budgets as a member of the board of the Floyd County Parks Department, pausing only to secede from the county and establish his own island kingdom -- which failed when Ricardo Montalban finally died.

Heavrin's 2014 yard signs have been appropriately doctored to block weird traces of previous campaign use, such as the "re-" in "re-elect." Given his legislative background, we can posit that he didn't buy new signs because the county couldn't afford them.



But seriously, I wouldn't vote for Heavrin for dog catcher. I've no doubt he would catch the dogs, but he'd also starve them like he did the county all those years.



Starving poor animals plainly would be cruel ... almost as cruel as Heavrin being elected to council.



Again.



Looks like Barbara Sillings is the choice in District 2. I don't know here, but we all know him.

Ouch.

"Tuchman's Law", and other reminders of A Distant Mirror.

I was conversing with the Bookseller and commented that the historian Barbara W. Tuchman's The Guns of August, an examination of events leading to the start of World War I, has not maintained the reputation it once enjoyed. This may be overly glib, based as it is on cursory glances at contemporary essays, but it got me thinking about Tuchman, and the book of hers I always enjoyed the most: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.

Kindly permit me to offer two excerpts. First, a reminder that the Creation Museum isn't far away, and neither is the prevalence of superstition -- in the 14th century or the 21st.

“History was finite and contained within comprehensible limits. It began with the Creation and was scheduled to end in a not indefinitely remote future with the Second Coming, which was the hope of afflicted mankind, followed by the Day of Judgment. Within that span, man was not subject to social or moral progress because his goal was the next world, not betterment in this. In this world he was assigned to ceaseless struggle against himself in which he might attain individual progress and even victory, but collective betterment would only come in the final union with God.”

Then, the so-called Tuchman's law, which was formulated long before social media.

“Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening--on a lucky day--without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena. This has led me to formulate Tuchman's Law, as follows: "The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold" (or any figure the reader would care to supply).”

Occasionally, maybe we all just need to take one, good, deep breath.

Friday, March 28, 2014

As local Democratic Party mounts bowl-a-thon, Dr. Gilderbloom marshalls impressive evidence: "Turn one-way streets to two-way."


Where have we heard of Dr. John Gilderbloom over the years?

Well, to name just two, here: CART in the news (2): Gilderbloom on Quasi-Possibility City.

Substitute "New Albany" for "Louisville," and it's the exact strategy best pursued by the current mayoral administration for the remainder of its turn -- assuming, of course, that conservatives in the local Democratic Party don't commit us to Romneyism in the interim.

And here: How One-Way Thinking is Hurting Historic Downtown Neighborhoods.

... One-way streets also lower property values. Identical historic homes are valued
less if they are located on busy one-way streets where traffic goes faster and lacks the
steady flow of a two-way street. Real estate 101 tells us location, location, location, or
more plainly don’t buy the house across from the X-rated movie house, the glue factory
or fast and furious one-way street.

Look, ma -- it's that man again.

Once more, substitute "New Albany" for "Louisville" in the opening passage quoted here, and ask yourself: Even without John Rosebarger yammering his selective planning commandments from a public toilet stall in the City-County Building, what exactly is it about a plainly counter-productive municipal street grid that renders otherwise sane adults into quivering masses of cautious status-quo fetishists, unwilling to trust either their own two eyes or steadily accumulating reams of evidence to the contrary?

In New Albany, we must ask: What are they so scared of, unless it's their own Democratic Party?

 Turn one-way streets to two-way, by John Gilderbloom (Special to The Courier-Journal)

Louisville’s multi-lane one-way streets are a disaster for neighborhoods resulting in greater crime, traffic accidents and abandonment. If Louisville really wants to improve the safety and quality of neighborhoods, it should start immediately by converting its multi-lane one-way streets back to two-way traffic that results in slower car speeds and encourages greater use by pedestrians and bikes. Neighborhoods become more livable, safer and prosperous when residential streets are calmer.

While 100 cities have rushed to convert multi-lane one-way streets, few rigorous studies have been done to look at traffic calming’s impacts. Under my supervision, my University of Louisville planning graduate students (Winston Mitchell and Samantha Alexis Smith) produced a rigorous study of just two streets (Brook and First) that were converted nearly three years ago from multi-lane freeway-like to slow and sane streets for everyone. We could actually look at before and after the conversion of Brook and First and compare the converted two-way with the unconverted multi-lane one-ways (Second and Third) next to them.

The results were stunning. Two-way conversion improves the livability of a neighborhood with a significant reduction in crime, accidents and an increase in property values, business profits, bike and pedestrian traffic. Million dollars spent on outside consultants never predicted this ...

Downtown non-profit Develop New Albany Does Exurbia ... now incessantly on Facebook.






The Gail Wynand of Redevelopment said WE could live.


So far, at least.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

ON THE AVENUES: String music?

ON THE AVENUES: String music?

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

It has been 36 years since my final basketball game as a member of Floyd Central’s varsity.

I was reminded of this ancient factoid in the rear view mirror because a Facebook friend request recently came to me from my former coach, Joe Hinton. I duly accepted the request, and thought it nice of him to ask. We didn’t always see eye to eye back in the day, but it’s been long, long ago.

One quite tumultuous time, when we were on entirely different pages was late in the basketball season during my senior year, as a decidedly non-illustrious career was fast approaching a merciful conclusion. At a practice session just prior to the 1978 sectional, the coaching staff revealed the official tournament roster, and the list didn't include my name.

Granted, the omission was mostly deserved based on pure performance, and yet I was annoyed at the slight, responding with a two-hour concentrated display of faux "go team" enthusiasm and contrived, entirely mock rah-rah, which apparently was mistaken for a death bed conversion, if not genuine depth of feeling, resulting in my reinstatement to the roster the following day.

It never dawned on me to pursue a career in acting, or I might be portraying Josh Dallas’s father on television by now.

Happily, or so it seemed, I'd neglected reporting this turn of events to my father. Unhappily, his friend (Hinton) had already done so, which may have been the devious intent from the beginning, and the whole off-and-on scenario did little to improve matters on the home front. As Gomer Pyle once said: “Surprise, surprise, surprise."

---

Three and a half decades later, I can't attribute truly coherent motives to my teenaged ambivalence about sports, these largely meaningless games being about the only form of communication between a father and his son. The father was an ex-Marine who had traded athletic opportunities for three years as a gunner on a Navy ship in World War II and was keen – perhaps overly so – to see his son succeed at basketball and baseball.

However, the son just wasn't wired for that kind of pressure, at least during those hormonally-charged years, and surely it is indicative of my fundamental disconnect that while I always enjoyed the games themselves and still do, my favorite book about sports was (and is) Jim Bouton's "Ball Four," which celebrated baseball while exposing the vacuous and inane nature of jock culture.

Bouton directly spoke to me, fervently and personally. I fancied myself a thinker, not a sweathog. I'd have gladly settled for "lover, not a fighter," except that I hadn't been able to convince girls of my credentials in the former, and in truth, doubted whether any such talent existed, and so it came back to me and my brain against the world.

It should suffice to say that locker rooms were mind-free zones, and brains in sports were the object of lingering suspicion unless one happened to be an otherwise illiterate point guard who could remember the plays and run the offense.

There I was, off the senior-dominated basketball team and then back on it, contemplating yet again how it came to be that we were such persistent underachievers, utterly failing to capitalize on the potential predicated by all observers, including my still simmering dad … and understanding, as I always had, that it all owed to a lack of cohesion. In other words, too few of us liked each other, and this distaste had a way of being glaringly obvious on the court, to Joe Hinton's fuming dismay.

Our sectional draw was a breeze. We were lumped into a bracket with smaller rural schools as a result of one or the other cynical maneuverings common to the political byways of the purportedly pristine Indiana state sport of basketball, which naturally had much more to do with smoky hotel rooms at the national party conventions of the 1920's than the farmyard ideal preferred by so many fans.

They probably knew better, but worshipped just the same.

We won the sectional and advanced to play Scottsburg in the Saturday morning game at the Seymour Regional the following week. The Warriors, from a school far smaller than ours, had nonetheless soundly thrashed us at home a few weeks earlier. In today's parlance, Floyd Central had "match-up" problems with Scottsburg, which is to say that they had one of their finest teams ever, one better than ours at almost every position.

I knew there would be little playing time for me, and at that point, it no longer mattered. Amid much hoopla and a special pep rally, we boarded the bus on Friday afternoon for the 40-minute drive, an early evening shoot-around, a buffet meal and an overnight stay at the Days Inn.

At this juncture, two worlds were about to collide. While some of my best high school friends were athletes, only a couple of them were on the basketball team. I ran in different circles, and at various times, yes, there was beer involved, though seldom if ever during the basketball season. Ambivalence aside, I tried to play it straight as often as possible. But for the Saturday regional festivities, a few of my heartier partying friends had reserved a room at the very same hotel where the team was staying – only my buddies called it the Daze Inn, and planned to treat it accordingly.

---

Unsurprisingly, Floyd Central exited the tournament in the morning session, and Scottsburg advanced to meet Clarksville in the evening finale. I'd like to remember that in defeat, the team came together and grasped an eternal truth or three, but from my perspective, all I felt was pervasive relief that finally, at long last, it was over. There was a post-game chat and showers, and we returned to the hotel to eat and waste a dilatory afternoon playing euchre before riding back to the gym on the bus and watching the championship game, which was to be our last solemn obligation as a dysfunctional unit.

I promptly stole away, and by the time the bus exited the Daze Inn parking lot several hours later, I was blissfully smashed. The bathtub in the party room was filled with canned beer and ice, and a story already was making the rounds as to how the designated underage beer buyer had run into a few of our teachers at the exact same package store and exchanged pleasantries with them at the counter.

I was just happy to shed the weight of expectations and get myself altered, even if clueless as always with respect to how the future would play out.

Eventually one of the assistant coaches dressed me down outside in the courtyard when he saw that I had a smoldering Swisher Sweet in my hand. Did I really want to be kicked off the bus and suspended for smoking?

No, not at all, and I snubbed it out, because I'd already decided that my final act of courageous defiance against The Man (which one?) would be to drink a beer on the team bus in route to the evening game, and this I proceeded to do, already crazily intoxicated, strategically seated all the way in the rear, a Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull artfully hidden in my gym bag, top popped discretely, and chugged quickly before being hidden again for the ride home with my parents afterward.

I'm neither ashamed nor proud of these recollections. I did what I could with what I had at the time, and if I had to do it over, I'd have worked harder at sports than I did -- not for anyone else’s satisfaction, but for my own. Seems that the work ethic actually was there all along, though latent; it just came later in life, and so be it.

In truth, the thing I miss most about high school is singing in choir, not playing ball. I didn't know it then, but I know it now. I'm hoping that in the cosmic scheme of things, that's all that matters. If it isn't, I may be in trouble.

To this year's basketball players, in a tournament or out, and whether in high school or college: If you're lucky, you'll forget all about it very, very soon.

(The preceding was posted at NAC in 2008 and later appeared as a newspaper column in truncated form. This is the revised, full-length version)

Who will win the Great Walkability Debate?


If job security is any indication, we already know the answer, but maybe, just maybe -- for once in thirty years -- New Albany will get lucky. Best of fortune to you, Jeff Speck. You're going to need it when your recommendations are undercut, one by one, from within Redevelopment ... even as your ostensible local "ally" blames it all on them pesky political entities, meanwhile moving ever closer to his pension.

All we can do is hope he gets there, as soon as possible. Maybe Maalox can use him to featherbed Columbus.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In memory of Beer Money, a note to Dale Moss.

Dear Dale

I'm glad to see you're back in the game, writing columns for the News and Tribune. Whenever I'm able to deploy my sophisticated e-gadgetry, first perfected during the Main Street Opium Den Scandal, and tunnel through the Great Paywall of Hanson to glimpse the other side, I'll eagerly read your columns in spite of the pop-ups and roll-overs.

I've always been a fan of yours, but there's just one thing about the N and T; sad to say it, and sorry I have to do so, but my advice to you, borne of lamentable experience, is to eschew all future political endeavors if you want to keep the new writing gig in place.

I'd also advise against stepping out of the office to take a leak.

I learned this the hard way; I did my civic duty and aspired to the office of councilman, was promised I'd resume my N and T column if defeated, and then POOF ... the football was withheld, and the erstwhile columnist landed on his back, that gentle 'Bama mud oozing onward and upward, toward chain newspaper heaven.

It's a wound that hasn't healed, and I remain bitter about it. I've always respected you, so let's hope your fate isn't the same.

Good luck,

Roger

PS -- Wanna compare notes? How much are they paying you, and do you even get a free pass into Hansonville?

Common Core and Mike Pence: Meet the new dolt ... same as the old dolt?

In this touching photo, Rhonda Rhoads and Mike Pence agree with creationists on the age of the planet

Before we jeer yet another instance of Governor Mike "49% Landslide" Pence as a cartoonish cardboard cut-out ideologue of a political Neanderthal (note that I'm not arguing against this characterization), let's first look at what his most likely supporters on the Hoosier Falangist Front are saying at what I'd guess is one of Dave Matthews's favorite bile collection points.

Indiana Replaces Common Core ... With Common Core, by Alex Newman (The New American)

Celebrations by parents, teachers, and taxpayers across the political spectrum over the purported death of Common Core in Indiana may have been premature. When legions of outraged Hoosiers forced lawmakers to pass legislation dropping the Obama administration-pushed nationalization of K-12 education, which Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed on Monday, they thought that would be the end of the deeply controversial standards. However, now that drafts of Indiana’s “new” standards have emerged, it is clear that they were largely copied and pasted from the scandal-plagued Common Core ...

Now that you have the "other" side of the story, go ahead and jeer.

Indiana dumps Core education standards, by Benjamin Goad (The Hill)

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Monday signed legislation dropping education standards adopted by nearly every state, claiming the Hoosier State would be better served by its own learning benchmarks.

Indiana becomes the first state to drop the Common Core standards implemented in recent years to prepare American students for college or the workforce.

The standards, which involve, English, math and language arts, are the product of an initiative sponsored by National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers ...

Whatever happened to Tony Bennett, anyway?

WWI readings: From what was torn asunder to what was not rebuilt.

I've started reading The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, by Christopher Clark. Less than 100 pages into this examination of the pre-war European scene, the magisterial tone is gripping and intense. There's something to be said for burrowing into a study of century-old stupidity as a salve for the daily pain of coping with the contemporary variety, surrounding you on all sides, sucking the air from rooms.

But enough about my life in New Albany.

So far I've learned about Serbian porcine husbandry, Austro-Hungarian economic development initiatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina and what international loans really meant in terms of the recipient. All these are factors in the run-up to the Archduke's assassination in 1914.

Clark's preface alone is worth the price of admission, suggesting that far from being remote and isolated phenomenons, the antecedents of World War I have again become timely and relevant for us, 100 years later. How similar in temperament are the Black Hand and Al Qaida? After all, the spark that lit a conflagration in 1914 came as the result of a state-sponsored terrorist act. The most consistently disproved theory in history is that it can't happen again.

A Tour of the Eerie Villages France Never Rebuilt After WWI, by Mark Byrnes (The Atlantic Cities)

The Battle of Verdun, an 11-month struggle in northeast France between German and French forces during World War I, left hundreds of thousands on both sides dead (recent casualty estimates range between 700,000 and just under 1 million). When the fighting finally ceased in late summer 1917, the Germans had retreated, leaving small villages along the battlefields completely destroyed. As a tribute, many were never rebuilt ...

Today's truthful moment: "Bridge tolls will devastate Indiana businesses, owner says."

Kerry's in that castle, somewhere.

Mike, of course we both know that the bridges junta recognized this fact from the very beginning, which is why those earnest efforts we all made, again and again, to have Kerry Stemler and his sycophants sign off on an economic impact study for local businesses was mocked, ignored and buried beneath the Eisenhower-era verbiage -- and we were ignored because we're not the kind of esteemed, engorged business fetishists that Kerry and his ilk can get their rocks off to (and rake in a few stray bucks while smoking the inevitable post-$-coital ciggies), which is to say, we're not the big-picture, River Ridge besuited kingpins.

And then there's Ron Grooms, who said and did nothing until nothing could be done or said, and only at a dog-won't-hunt point far beyond tactical usefulness finally opened his eyes to the issues and heroically spoke out to mostly empty rooms. Posterity won't be kind. Meanwhile, the rest of us search for survival strategies.

Bridge tolls will devastate Indiana businesses, owner says, by Charlie White (CJ)

A longtime Southern Indiana businessman told Indiana officials during a Tuesday public hearing for the Ohio River Bridges Project that businesses in western Clark County will be "devastated" by the addition of tolls on Interstate 65.

Mike Kapfhammer, co-owner of Rocky's Sub Pub and Buckhead Mountain Grill on Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville, estimated that 40 percent to 50 percent of his customers cross the river from Kentucky without paying a toll. He doesn't believe many will buy toll transponders if they only travel to the Hoosier state for dining or shopping ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some of the taverns at 922 Culbertson, from 1937-1996.


(March 26 update ... here's the N and T article mentioned below)

On Sunday: For Grover's sake, what's up with 922 Culbertson Avenue?

While walking today, I saw a familiar face snapping photos of the building at 922 Culbertson Avenue, a process of demolition at which apparently started, then was stopped by the city. It appears that a News and Tribune staffer is looking into it, which is good .

Later I had ten minutes (literally) in the Indiana Room at the library, and gave the city guides a cursory browsing for information on the taverns at 922 Culbertson.

It looks as if Haughey's Place was established around 1937. It was still called Haughey's Place in 1966; if Grover Haughey still was alive, he'd have been around 81. There was a woman named Dorothy listed as living at 922 Culbertson in 1966; I forgot to record her last name, but something tells me she may have been a relative of Grover's. This would explain John Gonder's recollection of the establishment being called Dorothy's during the 1960s.

By 1969, it was called Dieckmann's, and the 1978 city guide records it as Al Mels, which it remained through the early 1990s. In 1996, the listing read Culbertson Avenue Tavern. In the combined 1997/1998 guide, there was no commercial listing for it. In 1999, it appears as home for two persons.

As TC noted on Fb:

"I loved that bar. Grew up two blocks away. hard boiled eggs and pickled bologna -- it opened at six a.m.! It is hard to find an elementary school with a good bar across the road in New Albany any more."

Indeed, it is. It's hard to find an elementary school, period.

UPDATE: Boomtown Ball and Houndmouth in downtown New Albany on Sunday, May 25.


See also: Houndmouth and the Boomtown Ball in downtown New Albany on Sunday, May 25.

In New Albany, where we’re all here because we’re not all there, the cat herding has been more difficult than usual lately. However, the crazed critters just may be getting the hang of some recommended synchronicity. Faust took six months of my life in exchange for the bargain, but who's counting lifespans, anyway? We can always acquire another through Amazon.

On Sunday, May 25 (Memorial Day weekend), there is a big musical event planned for New Albany. A downtown festival called Boomtown Ball will run from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and then at 8:00 p.m., the band Houndmouth will play a sold-out “homecoming” show at The Grand.

The Boomtown Ball/Cats in Single File portion of the day has been occupying much of my time. As originally envisioned by the organizers, the plan was deceptively simple. The city would close certain streets, Production Simple would book musical acts to perform on a temporary stage, Louisville's Flea Off market would set up shop, and voila – fest time, with adult libations throughout.

But the devil remains ensconced in the details, and the last part proved to be the first red flag, necessitating the parsing of various Indiana state alcoholic beverage laws and the disposition of permits, while consulting with lawyers and insurance agents, and commensurate, delicate calculations of who, where, when, what, why and how. Not everyone understands how the world works, and the process of rectification has been exhausting, but in the end, fervent negotiations have yielded quantifiable results.

The easiest way to characterize it is this: Insofar as NABC's involvement in the alcoholic beverage catering portion of Boomtown Ball is concerned, we have endeavored throughout the process to point Boomtown Ball in the direction of maximum local participation, whether inside the state mandated (fenced) floor plan, and outside it; moreover, the same objective has been true of food and drink purveyors and other businesses alike. Ultimately, I believe the Boomtown day will make perfect sense, and the cause of localism in beverage vending, pre-existing local independent business operation and consumer satisfaction will be advanced; imperfectly, perhaps, but as well as could be hoped, with potentially valuable lessons learned for the future. For a first-time event, it's all one can expect.

Please mark these dates on your calendars:

"Houndmouth Week" (to be conclusively tagged later) in New Albany, circa the week of May 19-25. Downtown bars and restaurants will be planning their own special promotions and events to whet appetites for the Boomtown Ball on May 25th.

The Boomtown Ball itself, taking place downtown on Bank and Market Streets on Sunday the 25th, as described above.

Houndmouth at The Grand at 8:00 p.m. on the 25th. As noted, it is sold out, but I’ll hazard a guess that the party will proceed much later into the evening after the show at those late-night establishments operating nearby, i.e., the Irish Exit, Wick’s and Liquidz. You have all day Monday to recover.

“These shifts always reflect a change in sensibility.”

Sometimes it slips away from us, especially in a place where sensibility seemingly went to die, but words and ideas matter.

The Decline and Fall of the ‘H’ Word; For Manys Gays and Lesbians, the Term ‘Homosexual’ is Flinch-Worthy, by Jeremy W. Peters (NYT)

To most ears, it probably sounds inoffensive. A little outdated and clinical, perhaps, but innocuous enough: homosexual.

But that five-syllable word has never been more loaded, more deliberately used and, to the ears of many gays and lesbians, more pejorative ...

This is why I cash and carry.


Does Louisville's mayor produce this reaction in everyone?

Monday, March 24, 2014

The farmers market in Madison WI lacks facilities. No one goes there any longer because it's too crowded.


Yesterday: DNA can come out of the farmers market dust-up smelling like the proverbial rose. All it needs to do is follow this script.

For almost a decade, NABC has joined in the fun at the Great Taste of the Midwest each August in Madison, Wisconsin. The festival takes place in the afternoon, giving the crew time to visit the Dane County Farmers Market during the morning hours.

As noted oft times before, the farmers market in Madison occupies all four sides of the landscaped area around the statehouse. Looking at the photo above, the street lies behind the viewer, with urban landscape behind the street. My experience with farmers markets is by no means exhaustive, but it is fairly clear that Madison makes the most of the physical setting it has; the statehouse occupies the highest point between two lakes ... and the farmers market "occupies" the statehouse.

There is no permanent farmers market infrastructure in this picture. Nor does any exist elsewhere outside of this picture. Vendors bring their infrastructure -- they put it up, and they tear it down.

In New Albany, it is not possible to argue that the current location of the farmers market matches the aesthetic grandeur of Madison's. It isn't even possible to argue that we make optimal use of what urban grandeur we have; if so, we'd have espoused the idea of multiple use and folded a farmers market design into Bicentennial Park, or used the monies spent on Bicentennial Park (and allocated for farmers market expansion) and actually finished the Riverfront Amphitheater instead, because the closest thing we have to impressive physical presence is the Ohio River itself.

Either an Amphitheater duly embraced, or what became Bicentennial Park, might have been the perfect integration of farmers market into bigger ticket project. Now we are asked to accept the notion of another big ticket for the farmers market.

Meanwhile, Madison's farmers market is "big ticket" in every conceivable sense of the phrase ... and possesses no big ticket infrastructure in terms of cash. And did I mention, packed with people every Saturday?

How is this possible?

Paul Ryan forgets his own Irish history.

But historical amnesia is an American birthright, isn't it?

Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia, by Timothy Egan (NYT)

... The Irish historian John Kelly, who wrote a book on the great famine, was the first to pick up on these echoes of the past during the 2012 presidential campaign. “Ryan’s high-profile economic philosophy,” he wrote then, “is the very same one that hurt, not helped, his forebears during the famine — and hurt them badly.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

For Grover's sake, what's up with 922 Culbertson Avenue?




In 1937, the building was a tavern called Haughey's Place (Grover Haughey, proprietor), and continued to serve alcoholic refreshments into the modern era -- I can't remember the name; can anyone help? Was it Al-Mel's?

Later, just a few years ago, it was the headquarters of Darshwood the Conjurer, at least according to certain on-line references. Is he still around?

Now it's being demolished. Or it is't. Who has the story? I hate to see old taverns go away. It's disrespectful to dead drinkers.

DNA can come out of the farmers market dust-up smelling like the proverbial rose. All it needs to do is follow this script.


What have we learned these past two weeks?

  • The farmers market is popular, and people support it.
  • There is far more interest in keeping the farmers market away from the parking garage than rejecting outright other conceivable locations.
  • The simplistic "black vs. white" straw man quickly built to rout John Gonder’s plausible garage idea, while unfair and regrettable, has clearly won the day, for now and perhaps forever.
  • In the aftermath, as people have been exposed one-on-one to the many different aspects of the discussion that were purposefully not mentioned before last week’s council meeting, they’ve been both surprised to learn there actually were other angles, and receptive to factual arguments.
  • Opinions tend to be mistaken for facts.

In short, welcome to reality. We learned what we already knew, and now it remains to salvage sensibility from the insensible.

The supreme irony is this: For all its lampoon-worthy missteps, Develop New Albany emerges from the skirmish ideally placed to do the right thing. With City Hall inexplicably doubling down on its secretive mixed signal mode, DNA may be the only (albeit loosely) organized civic group able to point the farmers market conversation in the right direction, to do so openly and publicly, and to play a leading role in restoring sanity to the scrum.

Yes, it cannot be denied that DNA’s polling and Facebook page comment deletion tactics have been a complete disgrace, and the organization has acquitted itself very poorly even if some members are embarrassed by the shoddiness of it all. These failures must be addressed. And, yes, many years of non-housetrained bad procedural habits must be confronted and vetted by DNA's board.

I didn't say it would be easy, but lately I'm riveted by counter-factual history.

To be sure, I’ve taken a sinfully great delight in pointing out these inadequacies to those many people locally who never, ever read what I have to say. However, it does not preclude me from offering DNA this real-world, rational solution, because if it chooses to do so, and I hope it will, Develop New Albany could take control of the situation tomorrow morning, occupy what passes for a high ground in this town, bring well-meaning folks back to the thoughtful middle, and encourage what should have been happening (transparent consensus) all along, before this whole farmers market expansion imbroglio was doltishly stoked into extremism.

That is, if Shirley Baird will see fit to allow it. She went out and brought back Doug England's years-delayed lunch money, and as God is her witness, she's intent on spending it. But lunch isn't the same thing as a yacht, and DNA’s statement should read something like this.

---

Develop New Albany always strives to fulfill its mission as a Main Street organization. It's why we're here, and why we volunteer.

Develop New Albany was founded in 1990 by community-minded individuals and local business leaders. The leadership of Develop New Albany focuses the organization on the economic revitalization, historic preservation, and promotion of our Historic Downtown.

In recent weeks, what should have been a guided civic conversation about New Albany's farmers market has somehow gotten off the rails, and Develop New Albany is eager to restart the process of achieving consensus.

We understand that while the composition of our recent on-line poll was flawed (our social media presence requires a major tune-up, too), the sheer volume of votes received amply testifies to the community’s keen interest in the continued success of the farmers market, and by any reading, this is fitting and proper.

Furthermore, Develop New Albany fully understands that the economic revitalization of our Historic Downtown is dependent on multiple factors, not only one, as reflected by the differing but complementary components of our own Main Street program goals. It is crucial that all these factors are given a hearing.

For example, the very fact that the city of New Albany has committed to spend $75,000 on a street study conducted by none other than the nationally renowned Jeff “Walkable City” Speck indicates that infrastructure factors previously unaddressed (street calming, traffic direction and walkability, among others) must be counted among those factors directly impacting economic development in a modern, versatile and thinking urban area. In fact, it is highly likely that many of Speck’s recommendations for New Albany will mirror similar ideas in Develop New Albany’s own experience as a Main Street organization, given that the national Main Street program has been advancing complete streets for a decade or more.

The results of Speck’s study, both great and small, are sure to serve as the blueprint for many overdue changes, some of the implications of which cannot be envisioned at this precise time. Accordingly, the recent constructive dialogue about the farmers market’s location and long-term future is just the beginning of a consultative, inter-active process ideally taking place alongside the study and other examples of thinking outside previously limiting boxes as we move toward a city configured to meet the challenges of coming decades within a Louisville metro area itself surely to be reconfigured owing to the ongoing Ohio River Bridges Project.

During the coming months, Develop New Albany proposes to take the lead in exhaustively and transparently studying future options for the farmers market, thus cataloguing the facts that must be known in order to make informed choices, and providing elected officials, civic leaders, other non-profit organizations and farmers market shoppers with information and the proper tools to act in the best interests of this valuable amenity. In this vein, the results of Jeff Speck’s study can only help us see more clearly into all the myriad possibilities awaiting New Albany.

The farmers market has been successful as it is, where it is, and as such, there is no reason why it cannot do so again this season as we come together collectively to think about how it might be made even better in the future. By autumn of 2014, we’ll all have a far better grasp of the coming landscape in downtown, and we can begin planning with all the facts, not just a few, at our disposal.

We’re very excited about this process, and are eager to begin. Let us know what you think, and help us become part of the solution.

---

You're welcome. You may use it without attribution ... but we'll be watching to gauge the effectiveness of implementation.

Erika Denhart rejects walkability, injects Speckophobia and expectorates noxious projectiles.


Rather than link you to Erika's unkempt litter box, from whence various disordered personality viruses lurk and the stench of unfiltered Chesterfields send you running for a handy Febreze, I'll merely reprint all of it right here.

For those newbies just tuning into the chronic illiteracy fest that is New Albany, suddenly trendy or otherwise, Freedom of Speech is a production written, produced, directed and oozed by a perpetually disgruntled woman named Vicki Denhart, who in it plays a role of her inspired creation, Erik, a bok-reading college professor who does not exist, this fiction being necessary so that her Fred Phelps-like thunder-puffs can be hurled anonymously, without comment. This, then, is "freedom" of speech, Erika-style. Occasionally she takes her show on the road to council meetings, lurching and rasping through lengthy denunciations of modernity until the nicotine fades.

Verily, cities can be defined by the persistence and oddity of its one-chord, obviously affected eccentrics. Perhaps we can name a tax after her ... after her.

Psst, officer ... looks like we have a new customer for the enchanted kingdom.

---

THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO ALL THE LITTLE PEOPLE IN NEW ALBANY. ALWAYS REMEMBER THE FREEDOM TO SPEAK NO MATTER WHAT THE SITUATION. WE ARE NOT GOING TO GIVE THESE FREEDOMS AWAY. NO ONE SHALL TAKE THESE RIGHTS FROM US. THE MOMENT WE BEGIN TO SEE THE PERSONAL AGENDAS IN CITY GOVERNMENT, WE SHOULD SPEAK OUT. WE NOW HAVE A VOICE. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON THE WAY OUR CITY GOVERNMENT OPERATES. MY PHILOSOPHY IS COMMON SENSE AND SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE, AND DOING THINGS AS THEY SHOULD BE DONE.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2014


DUMBEST STATEMENT WE EVER READ.....

"Won't be a traffic study" but traffic will be studied."

We really do believe Mr. Speck says whatever pops into his head without forethought at all. $75,000 is just another EASY pay check and some free beer to him.

Talk about a Conflict of Interest.

Why are they wasting $75,000 of our money when there are"more important issues" that need dealt with?

A message to Mr. Warren Nash: How do you sleep at night?

Mr. Baylor if you want a walkable city, why don't you just do us all a big favor - move and stop "bullying downtown business owners."  Several businesses have told us, they put those stupid signs up just to shut you up!

Like the bible says: "the truth shall set you free."

Guerrilla signage helps slow NYC traffic speeds. Actually enforcing traffic laws (really?) also seems to help.

Let's see. If citizens do it themselves, and the city does what it's supposed to be doing ...
A DIY Approach to Slowing a City's Cars, by Sarah Goodyear (The Atlantic Cities)

At first glance, they look an awful lot like official city speed-limit signs, bold black letters on a white background. "20 Is Plenty," they say.

Look closer, these signs are not NYC DOT issue. First, they're made of plastic, rather than aluminum, and affixed to signposts with zip ties rather than bolts. They are not reflective, the way real street signs are. And at the bottom, in white letters on black, is the logo of the DIY street safety action group Right of Way ...

City officials in New Albany might be more interested in these next two paragraphs, seeing as they've lately taken to insisting that laws to keep semi-trailer-pass-through traffic off downtown streets (i.e, weight limits) actually do exist, even if there exists neither will nor a plan to enforce them.

Vision Zero? Ironically, we have it here, too. We call it Zero Vision.

 ... The signs are headed up to Albany today as part of a lobbying effort led by a new group called Families for Safe Streets, led by New Yorkers whose children, parents, spouses, and other loved ones have been killed by cars. The group is calling for lower speed limits and aggressive implementation of Mayor Bill De Blasio's Vision Zero plan, which incorporates improved street design and tougher traffic law enforcement.

That last part seems to be ramping up already, with WNYC reporting that tickets for dangerous violations such as speeding and failure to yield are up as much as tenfold in February 2014 over the same month the previous year (although in some precincts, such as the 84th in Brooklyn, they were starting from a negligible base of only 10 total tickets for speeding, failure to yield, and ignoring a signal).

Bum Phillips All-American Opera.


When informed of the improbable existence of an opera based on the life of legendary, colorful football coach Bum Phillips, this guy I know from Pittsburgh asked, "Will it feature the nasty Steelers beating up on Bum and his boys?"

Let's hope there's an official DVD, because the run ends on March 30, and it's in neither Pittsburgh nor Houston, but New York City.

Bum Phillips All-American Opera

Written by composer Peter Stopschinski and playwright Kirk Lynn, commissioned and produced by Monk Parrots, Inc. in association with La MaMa, and directed by Luke Leonard, is about an icon of the National Football League and America: O.A. “Bum” Phillips, head coach of the Houston Oilers from 1975-1980. The portrait of this ’70′s football coach utilizes the autobiography, Bum Phillips: Cowboy, Coach, Christian to explore how a man finds resilience and faith in failure, and how a single passion fueled an entire city’s hope. All native Texans, this dynamic team seeks to push the boundaries of what opera can be, as well as both where and for whom it is staged.

DNA twittermaster addresses Fb comment scrubbing: It ain't me, babe.


Well, someone's doing it. C'mon, guys. Social media simply doesn't need to be this difficult.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

3. There'll be a talk about historic houses as we celebrate IL's Paradise by the Ongoing Blight.


Never before has a week so utterly filled with doltery and drollery culminated with such an inexplicable travesty as the LBJ-era free-lancer Kaufman's bizarre fluff piece about New Albany at Insider Louisville. One is left with the impression that Kaufman interviewed the city's economic director either by phone, or at a waterside villa near George Clooney's pad on Lake Como.

It was suggested to me that I regard it as slyly facetious, or even overtly satirical. Admittedly, given IL's use of the word "paradise" twice in the e-mail, this seems possible. But I doubt whether IL is that clever, so I asked around and got this from someone I trust:

Kaufman is struggling to keep up with Insider Louisville, and IL has lost its identity as it tries to go big time. Plus, they really try and hide the fact it's a glorified blog; no feet on the ground, just freelancers desperate for a C-note, who won't challenge a soul.

Ouch (insert local media crack here). Dear, dear; where do we look for truth, justice and the American way of life-long tone deafness?

1. There'll be a talk about historic houses amid the felled timber.


2. There'll be a talk about historic houses as we count the felled tree's rings to see how long it's been since Elvis mattered.

2. There'll be a talk about historic houses as we count the felled tree's rings to see how long it's been since Elvis mattered.

Memories are made of this.

First, there was a photograph, both asking and answering the question, "How many peanut butter and 'nanner sammies, placed end to syrupy end, does it take to fill a 13' lane width?"


Then it dawned on me: John was just giving a STUMP SPEECH.

No wonder it got chopped down.

1. There'll be a talk about historic houses amid the felled timber.


3. There'll be a talk about historic houses as we celebrate IL's Paradise by the Ongoing Blight.

1. There'll be a talk about historic houses amid the felled timber.

At the C-J, Jenna Esarey describes another chat about historic houses.

Talk to decode historic houses of New Albany

The architecture of a building tells its history in brick and mortar, stone and wood, for those who know how to interpret the walls.

Three historians will translate some of those stories as they present “Historic Houses of New Albany, Indiana” at the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The photo accompanying this article was taken in front of the Culbertson Mansion on Main Street in New Albany.


Here are a few other views of Main Street, as recorded by my handy iPhone last week during those rare moments when it wasn't beeping and honking with messages from people wanting to know why "they were gonna take our farmers market away."





The East Main Street Improvement Project is our handy antidote to Jeff Speck, before we even pay him for the street study.

2. There'll be a talk about historic houses as we count the felled tree's rings to see how long it's been since Elvis mattered.


3. There'll be a talk about historic houses as we celebrate IL's Paradise by the Ongoing Blight.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Insider Louisville writer praises "quality of life" in New Albany. Somewhere, a dictionary dies an agonizing death.

In all seriousness, do we laugh or cry?

Some sweet day, there'll be journalists who actually journalist. Until then, I suppose quarter-truths will have to do. Insinuating "paradise" amid New Albany's stultified, poisonous, unredeemable political culture is tantamount to libel, slander and beating oneself with rusty chains, but who do we sue, Kaufman or ourselves?

All these nice things from Louisville courageously transplanting to squalid NA ... oh yeah, and then maybe one or two local businesses over in Kaempfertown had a minor impact, which pales in comparison to the heroism and vision and sheer animal attraction of people in government who just finished presiding over the farmers market fiasco. By the way, when do I get paid?

Right on, Steve. How amazingly observant. Did you ever actually set foot here?

One pull from this mess is sufficient. Did we pay this guy another $108K to say these things with a straight face, or did he do it as a lark?

I'm going for a walk, and then off to work.

Where it’s at: Downtown New Albany’s quality of life, by Steve Kaufman (Insider Louisville)

In other words, New Albany is serious about creating the kind of vibrant city center that began to disappear when cars, suburbs and shopping malls overtook the cultural landscape.

And do you know many other cities that have a six-figure budget set-aside for Quality of Life?

It’s hard to know just how or why this small town of less than 40,000 people has turned itself into a trendy, happening place from what it had been a decade ago: a town, like so many American towns, that had seen some of its important manufacturing industries (like shipbuilding, plate glass and the production of plywood and veneer) close up, move or diminish.

More on what I learned this week: Félix, Susan, and the Engahan times we live in.


Remember the law about signage outside polling places?

It was enacted to move the political operatives away from the doorway, where they used to stand with stacked crates of Kessler, handing out half-pints of whiskey so that someday, we might have a Main Street Deforestation Project.

Those handovers of booze in broad daylight were masterpieces of subtlety and discretion compared with what happened in New Albany during the third England administration, when Hizzoner awarded Susan Kaempfer $108,000 at a rate of $50 hourly to serve as project manager of the Midtown neighborhood stabilization project.

From the moment Kaempfer endorsed that first check, presumably with the mayor’s wife beaming while handing her the pencil, her credibility vanished faster than the plume from an e-cigarette.

It was the veritable capstone of England Doug’s career in cynical payout largesse, and a complete, all-encompassing civic embarrassment rivaling that of French president Félix François Faure.

Take it away, Wikipedia:

Faure died suddenly from apoplexy in the Élysée Palace on 16 February 1899, at a critical juncture while engaged in sexual activities in his office with 30-year-old Marguerite Steinheil. It has been widely reported that Felix Faure had his fatal seizure while Steinheil was fellating him, but the exact nature of their sexual intercourse is in fact unknown and such reports may have stemmed from various jeux de mots (puns) made up afterward by his political opponents. One such pun was to nickname Mme Steinheil "la pompe funèbre" (wordplay in French: "pompes funèbres" means "death care business" and "pompe funèbre" could be translated, literally, as "funeral blow-job"). George Clemenceau's epitaph of Faure, in the same trend, was "Il voulait être César, il ne fut que Pompée" (another wordplay in French; could mean both "he wished to be Caesar, but ended up as Pompey", or "he wished to be Caesar and ended up being blown": the verb "pomper" in French is also slang for performing oral sex on a man); Clemenceau, who was also editor of the newspaper L'Aurore, wrote that "upon entering the void, he [Faure] must have felt at home".

For the past two weeks, we’ve witnessed Kaempfer on the comeback trail, actively and politically soliciting cash for “her” farmers market,openly on behalf of "her" Develop New Albany, in spite of DNA's largely theoretical non-profit-driven stance against such crass, transparently manipulative activities.

In effect, Susan Kaempfer has orchestrated a hostage-taking, by abducting a straw man of her own creation, stirring up panic among the non-resident vendors, then slicing the straw man's throat before a spineless, pliant council while City Hall looked skyward in search of missing Malaysian airplanes.

There have been so many lies told this past week that if our civic symbol of Pinocchio (an intellectually impoverished river town's equivalent of the Golem) might be positioned facing east, toward Bamberg, those among us seeking immediate exile might promptly arrive at the Schlenkerla tavern without once wetting our feet.

Concurrently, before I begin shopping for plane tickets, permit me to hereby propose that we rename the newly embellished farmers market the Félix François Faure Memorial Cucumber Stand, because in New Albany, the city itself is Pompey, with the cash spewing inexorably in one direction.

JAYsus: Why -- why, why -- on earth must we continue paying her, again and again?

What I learned this week, local indie business owner's edition.


Last night, Susan “Marktmeister” Kaempfer was permitted (nay, actively encouraged by both city and council) to erect a straw man (“they’re going to take away our farmers market”) and to smash it to pieces. This she proceeded to do, as any five-year-old child might have done in the absence of adult supervision.

It should suffice to say that adult supervision did not materialize.

The council needn’t have abetted it by moving non-agenda speaking time forward, but it did, because the body does not possess firm, principled leadership. It has barely any leadership at all in the absence of texting the Democratic Party chairman prior to meetings.

City Hall remained aloof because it received a few phone calls, and it persists in thinking that the telephone is the only means of communication on the planet, and so it feared them, reverting to the traditional rope-a-dope: Heck, we can’t do anything. After all, we’re only the mayor and chosen staff. Let the council have what it wants, as inherited from the departed England administration.

It was the usual black eye for New Albany; the usual squabbling, bickering and nutjobbery, and the same old political paybacks to the same old suspects without any intrusion of contemporary reality. Of course, at the end of the meaningless, senseless, insulting, Kaempferesque spectacle, there was no firm resolution of anything at all, because there was no rational consideration preceding or prompting any of it. There was nothing to vote up, or down, just fetid air heavy with fear, loathing and lies.

As Billy Preston once advised, “Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing,” although in New Albany, nothing from nothing leaves a $300,000 bill for a project on a plot of land no one knows the value of, on behalf of a transient retail organization, as politically enabled by a non-profit group unable or unwilling to restrain the for-profit political avarice of certain of its members. City Hall slouched, whistling. Thumbs were twiddled. Shirley Baird nodded knowingly to a tomato vendor, whose thumb would be taken off the scale henceforth.

But here’s the kicker.

We already knew it. Been there, done that.

There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but in New Albany, there are 108,000 ways to know when the fix is in. Rather, here is what I learned yesterday, as composed of two equal parts: First, the morning meeting between city officials and representatives of downtown groups, at which we learned that economic development policy (or non-policy) is determined solely by the "tools" handed down to the city by others, and are confined by a box with clearly delineated lines that preclude creative thinking, and second, the staged, pre-arranged and gloriously Abner Louima’ed farmers market debacle.

In New Albany, part-time, short-term market vendors, most of whom do not reside in New Albany, and who avail themselves at rapidly escalating city expense of the farmers market facility for 40-odd prime days during the year, are far more worthy of City Hall’s and the city council’s attention and money than local independent small business owners who have invested millions of dollars and countless hours in operating 365 days out of the year.

It would seem that our phone calls don't count. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let's have a farmers market expansion moratorium, at least until we get a good look at the Speck Report.

I haven't the time to fully document this morning's meeting at The Exchange, which was intended as the much belated follow-up to a similar gathering 10 months ago. Like the one last year, it was offered as a way to bring representatives of various organizations into a room, and in some as yet to be determined fashion, plot ways for information to be better distributed and rowing directions better coordinated.

It was a very long meeting. Items discussed included downtown parking, Jeff Speck's forthcoming study of the traffic grid, an untolled Sherman Minton, Boomtown Ball, and of course, the farmers market.

Much to my surprise, DNA did not come to the meeting prepared to defend the current farmers location to the death, and in fact, members present displayed surprising contrition over the botched poll question.

Pretty much all the sides of this issue, including those presented here over the past few days, were aired. The collective attitude among those present: The farmers market is good; its placement is negotiable in the context of other factors (i.e., potential value of the current location); and there needs to be further open, give and take with public input.

More than anything, there seemed to be shared confusion as to why the farmers market issue had come back when it did, the way it did. Even among the DNA members, the vibe was: Why must it happen now, and why so quickly ... even we don't see it as a black and white issue.

Very good questions. Well, someone's doing the pushing.

Wonder who?

The curious aspect to me remains City Hall's strange, passive detachment. I'll summarize it by paraphrasing: "It's something city council appropriated, and the council has been friendly to our agenda, and so our job is to implement it." Mind you, implement it on the the city's property, which nary a soul at this late date would seem to have researched in any way as to value or future usage.

It's just plain weird. Furthermore, I was told that the farmers market has generated far more phone calls ("many", evidently a scientific barometer of opinion, given that the city's own web site and Fb page cannot really be said to be interactive) than the $19 million parks buildout ("none").

All of which would seem to suggest a more activist role on the part of City Hall, not merely a "we'll come and listen and answer questions if asked" part.

My major point is this: For the sake of the argument, I'll accept at face value the city's sincerity in engaging Speck's services, and believe the city when it says it expects to implement these suggestions. As such, how can the city rationalize standing passively by while a massive expenditure ties the farmers market to its current location, when Speck's study and the street grid rethink it inspires will make obsolete numerous present assumptions -- and perhaps this one about the farmers market, too?

If it does not render various assumptions obsolete, then why undertake it?

Speck's study will be complete by the end of July. Why not wait until then, at the earliest, to pour cement into a spot that may appear very different in a few short months?

There'll be a farmers market discussion of some sort tonight, and unless the council changes its rules for the occasion, speakers referencing the farmers market will have to wait until non-agenda time at the end of the session.

What really needs to happen here is for everyone involved to take a step back, refamiliarize the background of this ancient appropriation, consider the Speck study's ramifications -- even speculate on how the Speck study and the farmers market itself might fit into an overall downtown economic development plan to emerge alongside the street grid's renovation -- and CHILL.

There is no reason why the farmers market cannot operate as it does now, for at least another season, while allowing us (all of us) time to get it right.

DNA posts exciting, incisive new farmers market poll.


Thanks to DP for the inspiration.

ON THE AVENUES: Why does DNA happen to good people?

ON THE AVENUES: Why does DNA happen to good people?

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

I’d love nothing more than to attend tonight’s council meeting and use my scant moments of speaking time for some necessary, well-chosen truth-telling about the future of the farmers market, as directed toward the perpetually self-aggrandizing, self-interested, self-obsessed usual suspects within Develop New Albany, which currently seem unable to function honestly and transparently in any appreciable way apart from lately comprising what amounts to an ad hoc “Re-Elect King England for the Nth Time” committee, as opposed to the non-profit it pretends to be in normal circumstances, when it yawns ever so deeply in its enduringly (note my failure to use the word “endearingly”) geriatric way while instructing our dear sweet Vanna to spin the wheel again, and again, and again until at long last, the desired and fully politicized “non-political” knee-jerk result clicks finally into place.

I’d love to, but I cannot.

You see, I have a previously scheduled beer dinner at 610 Magnolia to emcee, and a chance to be overfed by Chef Edward Lee’s crack culinary team while sipping on some wonderful brews from NABC, Three Floyds and Against the Grain.

Understand that compared with a beer dinner at 610 Magnolia, New Albany city council meetings generally resemble squalid time spent face down in a stagnant pool of leftover snow collecting around the muddy edges of a moldering Main Street tree stump across from the VFW, with John “My Way IS the Highway” Rosenbarger slouching beneath an umbrella nearby, quoting cost estimates for gently used trolleys to run from the vicinity of the body shop on Spring Street to one or the other fundamentalist churches near IU Southeast, or harkening back to the installation of a couple of bump-outs on State Street for only $200,000 and declaring it "completed"  – and mind you, bilge like this violently invading one’s sensitive apertures comes before Develop New Albany begins yet again to misrepresent the whole farmers market question.

Reckon now’s the time for my written statement … not that the superannuated DNA cadres ever read actual words, or anything.

But God, do they know how to host one wicked restaurant seminar.

---

A digression: Do my railings constitute ageism?

Yes, they do.

I’m 53 years old, and understand quite well that already, it’s no longer about me; it’s about people thirty years younger than me. What’s more, I know how utterly hopeless folks my age (and older) can be when it comes to gauging precisely that: Their own passé and hilarious irrelevance. If grasping reality makes me an ageist, then so be it.

The envelope, please.

---

The farmers market’s current location on the corner of Bank and Market may or may not be the best spot for anchoring it into place, for the foreseeable future, through the expenditure of a somewhere between $270,000 and $340,000 for the build-out of a structure that cost only $17,000 in 1984 (adjusted for inflation at a factually compounded 30-year rate of 125%, as opposed to 2,000%, that’s $38,273 in 2014).

Visit The NewAlbanist for a more detailed rendering of the issues at the corner of Bank and Market.

At very best, the farmers market’s location is a toss-up, and so is the market’s very conceptual nature. It is a valuable amenity so long as it makes dollars and sense, although it is not as essential to everyday living as sewer pipes or unenforced parking ordinances. A private green grocer downtown open six days a week throughout the year, as opposed to the farmers market’s 40 or so prime Saturday dates, quite possibly scores more economic development points as a recipient of municipal subsidy than an expanded farmers market, which would remove a potentially valuable piece of corner infill property from future use.

To calculate the relative merits of any such claim, cities like ours customarily consult useful mechanisms known as economic studies and development plans, but since the city of New Albany fails to possess any of these, adhering instead to the random political payback generator to channel its efforts, and because no known economic development plan exists for a central downtown business district rapidly escalating in importance owing to the lone-wolf efforts of unsubsidized entrepreneurs, there is no template for reference.

In fact, we don’t even have a plan to have a plan, even if we’ve deforested most of the city by now … according to a plan.

Instead, probably owing to the timeless wisdom of the Thrasher Theorem (“We’re all here because we’re not all there”), we’ll now rush off to don our gaily painted pantaloons for yet another performance of the perpetual petitionary pageant before the council – which possesses plenty of ways to waste valuable time without enduring another drooling floor show.

---

A forever petulant Develop New Albany is demanding to be paid back, and to be given collective credit, for volunteer work performed by individuals who needn’t have been affiliated with DNA from the start; in fact, the impetus for the farmers market as we now know it came from the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association prior to the at-the-time-moribund DNA’s involvement.

In fact, there is no eleventh commandment stipulating that the farmers market “belongs” to Develop New Albany. The fact that the market’s winter component currently is housed in the Marktmeister’s own business less than a block away? Merely coincidental, entirely apolitical … and the size of Pinocchio’s protuberance means absolutely nothing, neither now, nor in the era of the infamous $108K solution.

Right. Nothing at all.

Some members of the city council cannot even recall where the 2014 farmers market appropriation of $275K originated, and instead of breaking into what’s needed most – a study group – it will sit, stone-faced and riveted, through another silly, shrilly, staged mass demonstration, as the prospective ruin of the farmers market is documented amid crocodile tears and canned inanities.

(Given that DNA is stacked to the rafters with real estate agents, you’d expect one of them to venture the question of what the current market property might be worth if a building were constructed there. Then again, they’re mostly peddling residential property out in the soulless ‘burbs, aren’t they?)

City Hall, which has expressed full support for the mysterious appropriation, and seems intent on sacrificing as-yet valuable downtown urban corner property on the basis of a coin flip as to whether it’s the best place for a farmers market to become rooted forever, now serenely stands to the side as the idiotic squabbles mount, unwilling or unable to exercise that quality periodically known as leadership, and say:

“Whoa. Let’s cool this off, slow this down, and decide via transparency and consultation what’s actually best for the city as a whole.”

The same good old boys and girls club, the same tired and scripted procedure, and the same dully repetitious civic dysfunction. This is déjà vu, Groundhog Day and Cocoon rolled into one huge cow pie about to be liquefied, poured into a water cannon and used to hose all of us down … so that DNA, for reasons unknown to faux deities, Bicentennial ghost writers or surviving Scribner descendants, can … can …

Can do what, exactly?

Pretend a little bit longer that it matters, like some washed-up main character in a Tennessee Williams play?

There exists no good reason why the farmers market question must be settled rightnowhurrypaymebeforethemoneygoesawayoohoohI'mcomingand going.

It can and should wait, while the many viable options existing outside DNA’s stultified comic book duality are studied in a larger and more precise context. It is ridiculous to waste council time on this matter by organizing the usual petition parade on Thursday night.

It likely will occur, anyway, and once again New Albany will look really, savagely, innately dumb.

Can someone remind me why I invested my life savings here?

(psst … quality homes in Cobbler’s Crossing, cheap … ask for the DNA realtor’s discount)