Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 2014 coda: Physically, financially and fundamentally ... blech. So much for the first three years.

Here's the way Jeff Gahan's platform read in 2011. I supported him, and my confidence has proven to be unfounded.


In order for New Albany to become a better community as a whole, we should come together to focus on three major goals: being physically cleaner, financially stronger, and fundamentally better.

Physically Cleaner

Being physically cleaner refers not only to cleaning up the litter and trash we all see every day when we drive to work, but to rebuilding our roads in order to promote a cleaner, revitalized image of New Albany.

Financially Stronger

In order to be financially stronger, it becomes clear that we must balance our budget; no longer can we put the problems of today on the shoulders of our children by increasing our debt. In addition, we must end the era of no-bid contracts.

Fundamentally Better

In order to become fundamentally better, we must not only strive for professionalism in all matters while holding those at the top accountable for their actions, but we must also find ways of offering affordable services for all. Standing idly by while our sewer rates continue to rise is no longer an option.


ON THE AVENUES: To the third floor -- but first, we throw the rascals out.

ON THE AVENUES: To the third floor -- but first, we throw the rascals out.

ON THE AVENUES: To the third floor -- but first, we throw the rascals out.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Usually I publish ON THE AVENUES on Thursday, but let's squeeze one more column through the slot before 2015 break. After all, we're trying to accomplish something here. 

It’s always important to remember that until something actually happens, nothing at all has happened.

This axiom might well be New Albany’s depressing city motto through the ages, reflecting as it does an insecure municipality forever fond of talking a good game, but almost never following through.

However, to be perfectly fair, it applies to me just as accurately.

And so, in the coming weeks, I’ll complete the required paperwork, get the necessary signatures on the mandated petition, and file as an independent candidate to run for mayor of New Albany in 2015.

It won’t be official until it is official, but it will happen.


My rationale isn't overly complicated. I’m running for mayor because a city in transition like New Albany, where the unfulfilled possibilities can make you ache and scream in unison, desperately needs progressive ideas like those espoused by people just like me, from all walks of life, who routinely have been marginalized or ignored by the same old game, played the same old way, by the same old, tired political suspects.

Even better, I think there are enough voters of like mind in New Albany to win this race.

New Albany needs coherent, progressive ideas expressed as a sustainable master plan, with goals and objectives, and as openly embraced, owned and implemented by City Hall, not used merely as diversionary propaganda for the unwitting consumption of social media and superannuated rote-vote Dixiecrats.

A mayor needs to believe in his plan, to advocate for his plan, and to engage the public as equal participants in their governance, rather than promoting the incumbent's currently voguish practice of hiding from the public, skulking in formerly smoke-filled rooms, and doing his business in the shadowy corridors of appointed commissions and boards.

I’m utterly convinced that if someone like me does not step forward at this time to promote different ways of progressive civic thinking in a higher-profile manner, the dull Philistines of the locality will triumph, and our two underperforming local political parties, which share power to the satisfaction of both, will remain unwilling and incapable of anything approximating progressive thinking.

This is particular true of the rapidly disintegrating former Democratic patronage machine, which might have arrested its slide into irrelevance had it ever once been willing to sniff the faintest perimeters of the contemporary planet.

Chairman Dickey prefers Walt Disney, but I believe Mikhail Gorbachev’s prescient remark in 1989 to Erich Honecker, ruler of East Germany, is more appropriate:

“Life punishes those who delay.”

Our local Democratic Party has delayed, and now its shaky “New Albany Wall” might topple into vapid rubble at the slightest nudge.

If so, I’m volunteering for privilege of pushing.


And what about a platform?

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I’m just like most people in New Albany. I have a job or two, a family, bills to pay and interests to pursue.

Unlike David White, I haven’t had time to cut and paste One Southern Indiana’s obsequious boilerplate bromides into a seemingly comprehensive “job creation” campaign platform, but I’m constantly working to integrate my own ideas in my own words.

Campaigning is an on-the-job learning experience, so this electoral crusade will evolve over time. In the interim, if you’d like a taste of what I’m about, simply scroll through 8,278 previous posts on this blog, dating back to October of 2004, and you’ll see that the progressive platform (the Bookseller’s “New Albanism”) has been building for a while. I’ve been right, and I’ve been wrong, but it’s all there. My name's on it, and I own it.

He who controls the past controls the future, and I’ve been writing the story of the past. Now it’s time to fast forward, sooner rather than later. Here are three broad beginning salvos, which apply cogently to residents in all of New Albany’s neighborhoods.

Progress is a two-way street.
The city’s most pervasive and expansive possession is its physical infrastructure -- its streets, sidewalks and parks -- and these aspects of the city’s physical infrastructure must be honed, modified and deployed together, as a self-reinforcing unit, to promote the city’s well-being and possibilities of is citizenry on an everyday basis, day in, day out, and not just when there’s a special event or festival.

New Albany for the New Albanians.
In the craft beer business, there is a saying: Think globally, drink locally. If you’ve purchased a home or invested in an independent small business, and consequently if you are living and working in the city, then progress needs to be about localism and economic localization. It needs to be about you, in the neighborhood where you live. After all, you’re there every day. If calmed traffic and two-way streets make it more time-consuming for a resident of Clarksville to reach the I-64 interstate ramp, so be it. The very first consideration should be about us, not the pass-through extractors.

New Albany is a city, not a town in the countryside. It was built according to progressive urban principles, and it is best operated according to progressive urban principles, aspects of which include considerations of place and placemaking, safe streets and transportation for all users (not only their cars), urban design, historic preservation, asset-based community development, arts and cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism and destination development and quality of life advocacy.

All these and so much more. The primacy of ideas needn’t be an endangered species, and there is no reason that an independent candidate cannot articulate them.


Naturally, there are numerous opinions as to the right and wrong ways to conduct a mayoral campaign.

I propose to do it in the only way I know how, according to the muse I follow: I’ll be me, and put the parts together as I go, precisely as most readers would if they were in these shoes.

I will not suddenly become an apostle of yard signs, a wearer of three-piece suits, a habitual interloper on your front porch, a glad-hander seeking vast sums of money, or a business person insisting that the city must be run just like his or her business (sorry, but government is more than just another business).

Rather, I’ll do what I’ve been doing for a very long time, which is challenge norms, stir the pot, rattle the cage and discuss different ways to achieve the city’s ultimate betterment.

I’ll seek to define the current occupant’s bizarrely muddled buzz phrases (quality of life, public safety, better access), primarily because he seems too confused to do so himself, and I’ll suggest pro-active civic policies designed to maximize New Albany for all residents, not merely targeted pockets of cynical political patronage.

In doing so, I shall refuse to be something I’m not, because pretending to be something I’m not would contradict my reasons for seeking office in the first place. There’s enough craven dishonesty in City Hall as it stands.

In the end, who and what I am, and the ideas I’m offering, will suffice – or they won’t. I’ll espouse what I’m for, attack what I’m against, and try as hard as I can to spread the word and engage voters.

In closing, the brief three-point progressive topic list offered here is hardly an exhaustive one, although you’ll no doubt notice that mayoral candidates in New Albany seldom, if ever, mention progressive topics like these.

There are two reasons for the omission.

First, they generally possess no awareness of progressive topics, having not cracked open a book since last required to do so by Mr. Dusch.

Second, if belatedly (remarkably) made aware of these progressive topics, they generally dismiss local interest in them – or, to echo David Duggins, arguably the most under-qualified economic development director in recent New Albany history, they simply bully listeners into silence by insisting that no one out there really wants to hear about such crazy things.

But I think they’re completely mistaken.

I think you’re out there, and have been all along.

I think you do want to hear about progressive topics.

I think you’re tired of holding your nose and voting for “C” and “D” students functioning as big fish in little ponds, or (understandably) not voting at all, and I think you’re eager to learn more urban-centric topics; to live in a city that does more than sneer at modernity; and to grasp that we can work smart in New Albany, too.

In the coming months, I’ll be asking for your help, and for your vote in November … because progress is a two-way street, and one-way politics aren’t.

Thanks for your support.

10 reasons why Jeff Gahan's quarter-million dollar farmers market fluff job is wrong for New Albany.

It squanders irreplaceable infill residential potential on what might be a signature downtown corner – at a time when City Hall insists that such infill is a priority.

As such, it offers yet another example of disjointed, congratulatory-plaque-ready “thinking” that does not adhere to a coherent, self-reinforcing master plan.

It blatantly contradicts City Hall’s publicly stated intent to wait for the Speck street study before making a decision.

It blatantly contradicts the city council’s publicly stated position in favor of waiting for the Speck street study.

It reinforces Jeff Gahan’s enduring (and increasing disturbing) contempt for pluralism and public discussion.

It provides yet another example of Jeff Gahan’s enduring (and increasingly disturbing) penchant for edicts as rubber-stamped through clandestine activity with appointed boards, as opposed to public votes taken by elected officials.

It plainly rewards the wrong merchants, given that any money given to farmers (and to most vendors) does not remain in the city.

It just as plainly reminds us that as yet, there is no coherent downtown economic development plan to reward the right merchants, namely the ones who have invested in downtown, rather than loaded a truck with tomatoes from Orange County.

It may not even reward Develop New Albany, which for its many terminal faults has managed to steward the farmers market successfully, but likely now will see the market come under the control of the city parks department.

As such, City Hall’s latest exculpatory explanation that $250,000 will buy a facility suitable for use not only as a farmers market, but also as a likely parks department-controlled venue for other events (a) once again points to the unsuitability of Bicentennial Park as a venue; (b) once again points to the ongoing neglect of the Riverfront Amphitheater; (c) once again is an inefficient use of city property better saved for infill; and (d) once again testifies to City Hall’s proclivity for scattershot political appeasement rather than coherent, interlinked progress.

Now, ten links.

Farmers Market expenditure: Nash, Board of Works rubber stamp flat Duggins "wait" lie.

No. 1: Roger's Year in Music 2014 ends with Futurology by Manic Street Preachers.

It took only a couple of hours on the ground in Berlin on September 12, near the Tiergarten and Zoo Station, amid the swirling leaves of a gusty, cool autumn day, to convince me that in spite of my best efforts at intellectual equilibrium, returning after a quarter-century to a place that occupies an almost mythical status in the narrative of my adulthood was going to be a deeply heartfelt, emotional experience.

And so it was. I had to grapple with it every minute, and try to wrestle these feelings to the ground. They wouldn’t let me. Two of Tony Judt's Euro history classics and a Berlin Wall book later, the aura’s still there. I can't shake it.

I’d been back to Berlin several times since the critical year of 1989 and my first (and only) look at the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), which came just a few months prior to its collapse. However, my last visit came in 1999, and of course, Berlin had changed immensely.

As it turns out, so had I.

In my life, transformative moments like these always are accompanied by ghosts and music, and as Diana and I took to the Berlin streets for a walkabout on the morning of arrival, phantoms were lounging on every historic corner, and music started playing in my head. The latter kept looping constantly for two solid days, as I suspected it might.

What better accompaniment to Berlin than Futurology, the 2014 album by the Manic Street Preachers, which was recorded partly in the city, and now feels as though it was performed precisely to serve as the sound track of my emotional return. For that reason, it’s my album of the year for 2014.

I began 2014 with a flurry of reading about World War I on its 100th anniversary, and these musings gradually yielded to thoughts about the post-WWII European “Great Power” settlement, which included two German states and a divided city of Berlin, this being the geopolitical status quo 25 years ago when I went there.

Meanwhile, it was announced that a new Manic Street Preachers album would be released, less than a year after the last one, and the advance word was encouraging. Concurrently, we began planning the September trip, and realized Berlin would be the perfect place to start.

Put it all together, and you’ll understand why I guessed Futurology would be my favorite album of the year before I’d even heard it for the first time.

Simon Price (at The Quietus) had the very same feeling.

The first sign that Rewind The Film's sister album would be a different proposition was, again, a visual one. Manics followers attuned to semiology would have spotted the clue when the ads started appearing in music magazines for the band's March/April 2014 tour, featuring that minimalist, pseudo-Soviet font with the backwards Rs from The Holy Bible (stolen, of course, from Simple Minds' aforementioned Empires And Dance), with a triptych of Wire-Bradfield-Moore photos underneath consciously echoing Jenny Saville's Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) paintings, as used on that album. The message was clear, to anyone who wanted to read it: THAT version of the Manics was back, and Futurology was going to be one of THOSE albums.

And oh my god, it really is. There aren't many artists I can think of who are able to deliver something as vital as Futurology on their twelfth studio album. In fact, historically there's just one: David Bowie. And Bowie's twelfth was Heroes. Therefore it's fitting that the Manics actually used Hansa studios in Berlin, where both those albums were recorded, for their own twelfth effort.

According to John Garratt (PopMatters), reflection is nice, but introspective advocacy is even better.

Since it comes hot off the heels of Rewind the Film, it’s easy to think of Futurology as its sister album. It’s likely the songs were written right around the same time, but that’s about all of the similarities you can squeeze out of that pair. Rewind the Film was the album where the Manics’ protagonist poured himself a scotch on the rocks, sat down in his easy chair, and scanned his back story. He looked inward and realized that he missed the Tokyo skyline, reflective stuff like that. Now that Futurology has hit the present, the same man has vacated his chair, dumped the contents of his glass into the sink and left the house in a restless huff. He mutters to himself “What is wrong with everyone? What is wrong with me?”

Or, perhaps the finest review summary, by Joseph Viney at Sputnik Music: "He who controls the past controls the future."

History hangs over the Manic Street Preachers more than most bands.

Be it their combative early days, the disappearance of Richey Edwards or the strong body of work they’ve released while still in their erstwhile guitarist’s shadow, MSP have remained stalwarts of British music despite any number of accidental or self-imposed obstacles.

Their most recent records have leaned very heavily upon the concept of history and the self-imposed mythology that surrounds the Welsh trio. Journal For Plague Lovers in essence put the ghosts of Richey away in a box, Postcards From A Young Man spoke of a group of men coming to terms with the present while Rewind The Film was akin to a OST love letter to a life well lived.

But one of the reasons MSP remain so popular and vital is their steadfast refusal to rest on their laurels. Futurology wraps up the ideals of what has come before it, mixed it with their present experience and forged ahead with songs that demonstrate a group with a lot more life in them yet.

There’s plenty to be pleased about here.

Thanks for indulging my year in music. Verily, it was a fantastic musical year when it comes to the type of music Roger likes. Now, let's go to war and run for mayor.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Farmers Market expenditure: Nash, Board of Works rubber stamp flat Duggins "wait" lie.

If David Duggins denies telling me that the city would wait on the controversial farmers market expansion project until the Speck street study was completed, then he is lying.

Because he did tell me this. Period. It came up at this meeting, and for all I know, others may have heard him say it, too.

The city council knows it. Will it have enough cojones to say so?

New Albany Farmers Market project not high on priority list, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 8:15 am

NEW ALBANY — Plans to expand the downtown New Albany Farmers Market are on the back burner, though city officials said they remain open to improving the existing facility in less expensive ways ...

... David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, said the $270,000 budgeted for the expansion this year hasn’t been spent. But the price tag for what had been proposed led to sticker shock among many officials.

“We’ve had some discussions on it, but the bids came back so high,” Duggins said ...

... A committee consisting of council members Diane McCartin-Benedetti, Scott Blair, Shirley Baird and Gonder met once this year after the initial project was delayed. Benedetti said council members generally expressed that they wanted to wait until after planner Jeff Speck completes his New Albany street study to move forward with any project regarding the farmers market.

Suddenly, with one day remaining in 2914, and with the Speck study nowhere in sight, City Hall simply had to push forward with the farmers market project, which will tie up some of downtown's most valuable future infill property to send money out of town to rural vendors, and not only that, the long-discussed dog park will be located so far out out of the city that its incorporation into any urban walkability plan is impossible, and it's prime usefulness will be to suburbanites and county dwellers.

As if we don't have numerous useful parcels for it near the urban core. Is this how you pander to Mark Seabrook, Mr. Mayor?

Note that none of these projects have been the recipient of public input to any degree whatever, and understand that the rule of the C and D students has reached its apogee.

Dog Park, farmers market overhaul on tap in New Albany (Suddeath)

NEW ALBANY — Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration believes farmers and canines won’t be the only ones to benefit from two substantial projects set to begin in the next few months.

Bids for a revamp of the downtown Farmers Market as well the construction of a dog park at Cannon Acres along Budd Road were approved by the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety on Tuesday.

At a cost of $238,700, the New Albany firm Upton Pry submitted the low bid for the farmers market project, which has been dubbed as a “city square” improvement by the administration.

David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, said the project will include a resurfacing of the parking lot, the addition of a second pavilion and a canopy to form a U-shaped structure ...

... The project was put on hold earlier this year after a low bid for the work was submitted at $319,000. The council had only reserved $270,000 in Economic Development Income Tax funds for the work. After review, the administration elected to remove some components of the work. By eliminating the additional storage and bathrooms called for in the initial plans, Duggins said the city was able to curb some of the costs of the project.

Gahan now "open" to street changes in Speck study initiated by Gahan.

Just let it sink in.

The City Hall team that brought Jeff Speck to New Albany, initiated his study of the street grid and then went into hiding for eight months now has signalled an openness to the results of the very same study.

You know: Their own study.

This coy, tepid and trembling message presumably has been transmitted by a series of sputtering flares, emanating from the down-low bunker where Gahan and associates have been huddling throughout 2014.

The fact of the matter is this: NAC and associates have been leading the fight and calling the tunes on the street grid reform issue from the start, and these latest revelations merely reconfirm that ideas in this town are not emanating from the third floor ... at least yet.

Let's examine these emergency flares, point by point.

Completion of Speck street study in New Albany imminent; Gahan “open” to changes in street grid, converting one-way to two-way, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — The city's administration was hoping to have a completed plan by the end of the year, but still expects Jeff Speck’s street study to be finalized within the next month.

Based on the planner’s presentation at the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library in January, and his outlook on street grids discussed in his books, Mayor Jeff Gahan anticipates Speck will suggest converting one-way streets to two-way traffic downtown.

The administration also expects Speck to recommend removing some traffic lights to replace them with all-way stop signs, as well as the addition of more bicycle lanes.

For Gahan to "anticipate" Speck's suggestions is tantamount to his attending a Reds game and telling friends that he's hopeful they'll use some bats and balls this time. But, as has been the case all year, Gahan lacks the intestinal fortitude to take ownership of street grid reality -- and so he embraces the art of the demure politico.

But regardless of what is included in the report, Gahan and the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety have the final say over the city’s public infrastructure.

That's reassuring, given that these same two entities have spend 2014 (a) implementing the dunderheaded Main Street "improvement" project, and (b) denying the deleterious ripple effect it has created on other downtown streets.

No official announcements are expected until after the report is released, public hearings are held and input garnered from officials, residents and business owners, but Gahan hinted last week that he may support changing some of the city’s traffic grid.

Gahan, who has suggested that the Speck report will come to us as a rigorously factual, irrefutable and well nigh Biblical pronouncement, suitable not only for a principled course of action, but also providing maximum political coverage, now cautiously reveals that only "some" of it may be implemented, as though Jehovah permits believers to pick and choose among the Ten Commandments if a Dixiecratic donor doesn't like one or two of them.

“We’re prepared to take steps to avoid gridlock in our downtown,” Gahan said, as the study was commissioned in part to prepare the city for the completion of the Ohio River Bridges Project. The Sherman Minton Bridge won’t be tolled, so officials are anticipating a rise in the amount of traffic downtown as motorists attempt to avoid paying fees to cross the Ohio River.

Note that steps will be taken only after the current neglect-inspired gridlock caused by pass-through and diverted trucks.

Gahan said Speck was also hired because transportation is a quality-of-life issue as it pertains to residency. “The study reflects our commitment to creating an environment where people want to live in,” he said.

No shit, Sherlock. Readers, ask yourselves this simple question: Who's been saying precisely THIS, aloud and for attribution, for months -- NA Confidential, or Jeff Gahan and his team?

That's a slam dunk, and not in the incumbent's favor, as those rumbling semi trailers continue to make clear, each and every day.

Busy downtown roads such as Spring Street and Elm Street are one-way beginning at Vincennes Street to the Interstate 64 interchange. When asked specifically about those streets, Gahan again acknowledged he would be “open” to converting them to two-way traffic.

Just "open." Without them being retrofitted, the entire discussion is meaningless, but "open" is as much as a terrified politician like this can manage.

But he emphasized the city will follow a detailed process before making any adjustments.

“It’s also important that people know that none of these changes are going to happen overnight, if they do,” Gahan said.

Once the report is finished, the administration will review it internally, provide an overview to the board of works and schedule at least two public meetings to garner input, he continued.

“Obviously, we’ll make sure that everybody understands what the report is,” Gahan said.

Don't worry, Dixiecrats: Gahan will institute a tangle of bureaucratic obstacles meant to divert speedy action just as surely as the Main Street medians send Tiger trucks down tiny 13th Street, where Warren lies snoring in a hammock as the roadway is chewed up and spit out by extractors -- but what, the Board of Works worry?

Yo: Gahan will protect you Dixiecrats from modernity even as he whispers in modernity's favor to those petitioners of whom he believes there are not sufficient numbers to justify novel approaches like honesty.

Or, in plain English:

"We'll make sure nothing happens until after the election in 2015."

Now THAT's the real New Albany, sadly enough.

Roger's Year in Music 2014, No. 2: The Brink, by The Jezabels.

I didn't know The Jezabels even existed until February and the release of The Brink. Based solely on a few song samples at, I purchased the CD.

Reviews were lukewarm, and there was a sense of disappointment in some, along the lines of "simple pleasures of debut album gone, to be replaced by huge anthemic stadium hooks."

But you see, those are the hooks I crave.

Singer Hayley Mary has expressed nuanced annoyance with the new album's critical reception.

 ... Mary said the majority of critics don’t “get” her band’s music, and it’s annoying they continue to write about it. “Clearly it’s not for you, so you’re communicating something that’s not that helpful to someone who might potentially like it, or not like it. It’s just hate,” she claimed. “There are a few great reviewers in Australia and the world, obviously, that just do their job really well but the majority of them have already decided that they hate the band.”

In her review of reviewers, Mary singled out Mess+Noise as representative of “a certain school of critics in every territory that fucking hate us and sort of always were going to.” She said critics like this should “fucking get a real job”.

It transpires that the criticisms aimed at the band's sound are much the same as those facets drawing me to it: Processed Edge-like guitars, multiple layers of instrumentation, an overall fuzzy/busy/indistinct pulse, loud, and with pop rock rhythm and songcraft fully intact. Mary's vocals anchor the music with a firmly feminist perspective.

Perhaps it is this female slant that confuses some of the critics, because no so long ago, it probably would have confused me. I'm the first to admit that my musical choices tend to embrace "maleness," but also cognizant that in recent years, other ideas have started to seep into this habit-prone cranium: Witness Paramore and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and now The Jezabels.

I wasn't expecting this group and these songs to become such an integral part of my soundtrack for 2014. They did, and that's a pleasing, serendipitous bonus.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 65: Warren, is the city still lying about this daily Spring Street parade being non-diverted traffic?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Drinking Progressively on Tuesday at BSB, and NABC's holiday hours this week.

On Tuesday evening at Bank Street Brewhouse, we'll be drinking progressively and chatting about local politics in the run-up to 2015.

Drinking Progressively returns tonight to Bank Street Brewhouse at 6:00 p.m.

NABC's business hours for the holiday are as follows.

Wednesday, December 31 (New Year's Eve)
NABC's Pizzeria & Public House will open for daytime hours of 11 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Bank Street Brewhouse will be closed on New Year’s Eve.

Thursday, January 1 (New Year's Day)
Both NABC locations will be closed on New Year’s Day. Regular hours return on Friday the 2nd.

On Friday, January 2nd, we'll be holding the second annual Hoptimus Inception Reception at Bank Street Brewhouse. It's the birthday party of Hoptimus, NABC's classic Imperial IPA. Stay tuned for further information on special tastings.

Taco Punk will be serving at BSB on Friday and Saturday, January 2 & 3, beginning at 5:00 p.m. both nights.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 64: Board of Works to consider changing 13th Street to "Tiger Trucking Promenade."

Today's collection of photos were taken on different days (and times of day) during the past fortnight.

They have two things in common.

Each one shows a Tiger Trucking semi rig.

Each Tiger Trucking semi rig shown used tiny 13th Street as its "on ramp" to Spring Street, except for the nighttime photo; it turned onto 13th from Spring.

How much damage are these trucks doing to 13th Street ... not to mention Spring?

Or is this something our deaf, dumb and blind city officials accept as the price of not having to admit they lied with respect to truck diversion from Main Street?

Roger's Year in Music 2014, No. 3: Songs of Innocence, by U2.

You've read it and heard it many times before: I'm Roger, and this is U2. We're the same age, and we've grown up together. These Irishmen unwittingly wrote lengthy portions of the soundtrack of my life, most prominently as accompanying my European travels. I'm an unreconstructed fan. Did anyone believe I wouldn't have a new U2 album in the top five?

You see, when you've grown up with something like this, your separate narratives eventually blend together. I'm only able to be as objective about U2 as I am about myself, and while my sense of self is fairly well formed at this point, there are inevitable blind spots.

The "free" release of Songs of Innocence was controversial, and reviews have oscillated wildly. I imagine the chats:

Critic: How dare they force me to accept free music.
Roger: #firstworldproblems

C: How dare U2 reinforce the scandal of unpaid musicians.
R: Well, actually they did get remunerated by Apple.

C: Exactly -- paid by Apple. See, fatally compromised by corporate ties.
R: Okay, you've got me on that one.

C: I have big problems with Bono's ego.
R: Old news; everyone does at this point ... but The Edge is forever cool.

C: Worst of all, it still sounds like U2.
R: Isn't that what it's supposed to sound like?

And so on, and so forth. But the net result is that everyone was talking about U2 ... and it doesn't require the reincarnation of PT Barnum to grasp the impact of "free" publicity.

Of the album reviews I've read, Irving Tan's at Sputnik Music comes closest to my personal point of view. It's all about the strength of the songs, and there are some good ones here.

Even after taking all of those weaknesses into consideration, the fact remains that Songs of Innocence ultimately feels like a crucial upswing in U2’s discography, especially since it comes at such a late stage in their careers. Now, I imagine that it will be rather difficult to make any sort of proper commentary on the strength of the commercial response to this album, given that most of us have already received it for a sum total of zero cents, but if nothing else, it is worth noting that U2 have contrived to put out a record that is capable of reviving the flagging levels of interest in their brand. In other words, this is the kind of album that could just make you believe in their legacy all over again.

One crucial aspect of the legacy to which Tan refers is this.

U2 are an outfit whose entire career arc has been defined by their ability to respond to periods of strife.

Once again, at the present time I resemble that remark. No Lines on the Horizon, U2's previous album, landed as Bank Street Brewhouse opened for business in 2009. Songs of Innocence comes a few months after we shuttered the kitchen, and I began brainstorming a different path forward.

"We wanted to make a very personal album," said Bono to Rolling Stone's Gus Wenner the day before Apple Live. "The whole album is first journeys – first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that's hard. But we went there." When viewed through that prism, U2’s thirteenth album represents a complete turnaround in the band’s compositional philosophy; the perfect antithesis to albums like Achtung Baby or Zooropa.

Art and commerce; bands and pubs. Aligned, yet again.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pomp, circumstance and fickle fingers: Vote now for New Albany's "Person of the Year" for 2014.

Previously we've surveyed the results of the past three years.

ON THE AVENUES: Who (or what) is New Albany's "Person of the Year" for 2014?

Now it's time to look back on 2014 and make a selection.

Previous winners:

2011: The Sherman Minton Bridge.
2012: Bill Allen and his Dilapidated Main Street Paint Job
2013 (tie): Houndmouth and Quality of Life

What it means:
Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) is an annual issue of the United States newsmagazine Time that features and profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse ... has done the most to influence the events of the year."
Here are the three finalists for 2014, based on your responses:

  • Heroic Non-Incentivized Downtown Developers ... Chalfant, Resch, Carters, among others. They're rehabbing buildings, and the city's industrial park-centric economic development team has almost nothing to do with it.
  • Jeff Gahan … during three years on the job, municipal government's daily operations bear the mayor's stamp: Inward, paranoid and hermetic. Agoraphobia never had it this good, but his hologram is the hardest working computer-generated image in show business.
  • Our local Democratic Party … but logically speaking, can non-corporeal bodies capture corporeal awards? Quick, someone find a theologian, a ham-fisted censor, Connie Sipes or even Walt Disney. Meanwhile, let your mind's eye conjure an ongoing implosion.
  • Write-In ... Or, you can still submit another choice. Main Street Deforestation Project? Jeff Speck? Monster trucks?

Submit your votes to me as a comment here or at Facebook, or as an e-mail to roger(at)newalbanian(dot)com, with a voting deadline of midnight, December 31. The winner will be announced on January 1.

Roger's Year in Music 2014, No. 4: Pure Adulterated Joy, by Morning Parade.

A useful working definition of "bittersweet" as a concept: You're introduced to new music that genuinely inspires and moves, as performed by an English group called Morning Parade , then just a few months later, read the band's farewell on Facebook:


Today is our time to come clean and reveal that with great thought and heavy sadness, we as 5 individuals have decided to call time on our journey as Morning Parade.

This is not down to musical differences, nor is it down to interpersonal relationships or band disagreements. It comes down to the simple reality that at this current point, for us to continue any further would be to do so at the detriment of our friendship, our personal, emotional, mental and financial well being, as well our enjoyment of music and memories of our time as Morning Parade.

Given that frontman Steve Sparrow seems the dominant musical influence (although it's never quite that simple in a group dynamic), I'll be looking for what happens next with him. In the interim, I reach back to Junior High school to find the appropriate words: "I just love this %#$@ record," especially this song:

But it doesn't stop there.

Morning Parade, I hardly knew ye ... but thanks for the memories.

R.I.P. Rachel Blanton.

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.
-- Plato

My acquaintance with Rachel Blanton was only casual, although we were connected by dozens of mutual friends. As an observer, I can attest to the depth of her influence, because Rachel's presence in the local musical scene was ubiquitous to the point of otherworldly, and not only for her many listeners. Rachel was a teacher, organizer and leader, and consequently, her legacy will not soon wane.

At WUOL Classical 90.5, Michael Hill and John Austin Clark provide a compelling remembrance.

Remembering Rachel Blanton

 ... Rachel’s contributions are many and will live on in those that enjoyed performing and collaborating with her as well as those that simply enjoyed listening. The list of musicians and bands she has played with is almost as countless as the lives she has touched with her music. Many musicians are revisiting their work with Rachel and commenting on the beauty of her playing and her sweet nature, and how much that contributed to their music. It is this joy of music and spirit of collaboration and peace that she brought with her to every task that perhaps can best celebrate to her lasting memory.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Roger's Year in Music 2014, No. 5: High Hopes, by Bruce Springsteen.

Let's get one thing out of the way: I won't try to make a case for High Hopes being in the upper echelon of Bruce Springsteen's canon.

The album is an instance of adaptive reuse in music, as The Boss combines various aggregations of the E Street Band -- including two deceased members -- to refashion various songs from the past decade. A few well-selected covers (including the Suicides, above) season the mix, and the result is perhaps surprisingly effective as a coherent collection of songs, which update Springsteen's sound and remain topical.

Two familiar Springsteen epics, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and "American Skin (41 Shots)," do far more than provide familiar touchstones; they also deploy E Street fellow traveler guitarist Tom Morello to purely lethal effect, while largely summarizing the year that unfolded following the album's January release: The corrosive effects of income inequality and violence borne of racism.

Significantly for me, High Hopes plays like an album even if it is composed of spare parts. There is pacing, modulation and dramatic flow. The listener is engaged by the artist's songs as positioned together, and if this fatally dates me, I understand and will remain unreconstructed, eschewing "shuffle."

Kitty Empire's review at The Guardian hits the high points of High Hopes.

Last spring, Morello replaced bandana-toting E Street guitarist Steve Van Zandt on the Australian leg of Springsteen's Wrecking Ball world tour. He ended up resetting the co-ordinates on the album of loose ends that Springsteen had been planning. Morello suggested revisiting High Hopes, previously covered by Springsteen. He dug out another tune Springsteen knew by the Saints, an Australian punk band.
From there, it was a natural rollick to a local studio to record those, plus the rebooted, electrified Ghost of Tom Joad with all 18 members of the 2013 touring E Street Band, plus Morello, in full effect. All in all, Morello plays some role on eight of the 12 High Hopes cuts, which span covers, re-recordings, vault numbers and previously unheard tracks. That's Morello, making "squeep" noises on the title track, previously an EP obscurity, now a major soul-rock workout about hope in hard times.
The keynote address here is clearly Tom Joad, no longer a ghost of a song, but a fully fleshed beast on which Springsteen and Morello swap both guitar parts and sung verses ...

Get your Sunday alcohol sales facts straight, Grant Monahan.

I suppose Grant Monahan, who earns his living lobbying for big box retailers, submitted this letter to every remaining newspaper editor in the state, so it would be nice for him (or, more likely, his ghostwriter) to follow it up with a retraction, in the sense that Sunday "carryout sales for consumption at home" is not a blanket prohibition, and Indiana consumers actually do have a choice, which I'll now reiterate for perhaps the 1,001st time.

Craft breweries and farm wineries in Indiana may vend their wares "to go" on Sunday. Thank you.

Monahan's downtown Indianapolis office, which is located within easy fluffing distance of the statehouse complex, also lies very close to more than one brewery selling house-brewed, carry-out adult beverages on Sunday.

Open your eyes, douchebag.

Retail leader pushes for Sunday alcohol sales

The logic behind allowing Sunday sales in Indiana is simple. It gives consumers a choice and makes their lives more convenient. Sunday has become the second biggest shopping day of the week, but because of our archaic laws, Hoosiers are prohibited from purchasing a consumer product that is legal to buy responsibly six days a week, but not on Sunday. It also gives retailers a choice. They can choose to sell alcohol on Sunday or they can choose not to do so. Like consumers, the choice is theirs.

Indiana is the only state in the U.S. that allows the sale of alcohol by the drink at bars, restaurants and sports venues on Sunday yet prohibits carryout sales for consumption at home. Every one of our surrounding states gives consumers the choice, but not Indiana.

— Grant Monahan, president, the Indiana Retail Council, Indianapolis.

Earth to Warren & the Boardettes: Speeding is a DESIGN issue, not an ENFORCEMENT issue.

But the good news is that Mr. Nash is providing valuable, if inadvertent, tutelage in other areas of critical detective work.

Such a shame that a city like ours is unable to make appointments by virtue of inherent skill sets rather than distantly burnished DemoDixiecrat political credentials, but such is life in Under Knob. 

Board of Works adjusts speed limit on Division Street in New Albany (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — In response to safety concerns raised by business owners and residents, the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety lowered the speed limit on a portion of Division Street on Tuesday.

The limit was ordered to be reduced from 25 mph to 20 mph between Vincennes Street and 15th Street along Division Street. The street winds behind the Calumet Club as well as a church, and when there are functions at those organizations officials said traffic can cause some issues.

Friday, December 26, 2014

As NABC "soldiers on," Floyd County Brewing Company joins Donum Dei and Wrecker on the "coming soon" NA brewery list.

NABC operates two separate breweries in New Albany. A third brewery is close to opening, and two others are at various stages of development. If all of them come to fruition, there might be five functional brewery plants among four corporate structures producing beer by the end of 2015, which easily would be the most breweries in New Albany since the late 1800s.

Time for an update ...

City economic development officials have been hinting about this new brewery, but naturally couldn't so much as recall the name of the start-up, such is their level of commitment to independent small business, and so here it is: Floyd County Brewing Company.

It is to be located here, opposite the YMCA, Exchange and Aunt Artie's Antique Mall (the latter is ceasing operations next week).

Floyd County Brewing Company is not the same entity as the future Wrecker Brewing, as considered in this post from October, and presumably still looking at a location in the Uptown neighborhood on Market Street.

Wrecker Brewing is the variance seeker at 1419 E. Market Street in New Albany.

Meanwhile, the new brewery closest to (a) NABC's original location off Grant Line Road, and (b) completion is Donum Dei, which features prominently in this article: Five new Louisville breweries to watch out for in 2015, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

Donum Dei Brewery: Over in New Albany, at 3211 Grant Line Road, just a stone’s throw from the original New Albanian Brewing Company location, is another brewery in waiting. Richard Otey is brewing in his new space, which is nearly complete. However, he still is yet to offer a target opening date.
Originally, he told us he had planned to open sometime around Derby 2014; that prognostication later changed to summer, and then to Thanksgiving. Now, early 2015 looks most likely. But Donum Dei already has a batch of its pale ale brewed and ready to drink, as well as an enkle. Up next is wee heavy.

What's next?: "Aunt Artie's in New Albany closing Wednesday."

I trust that the Freiberts and their/our muse, Steve Resch, have a solid idea for the corner. While it's always sad to see a fellow indie business owner go out, it sounds as though Ms. Gwinn will be remaining in the fray, and given the hope of a brewery across the street, something different might be a net plus for the corridor.

Is the West Side next?

Aunt Artie's in New Albany closing Wednesday; Owner says she will still sell antiques online, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — After more than 13 years in business, Aunt Artie’s Antique Mall will be closing its doors at the end of the year ...

 ... Being a small business owner isn’t easy, and sales waned over the past few years for the shop. Gwinn said she will miss the historic building — which includes a portion that was a Civil War hospital — more than the business. Her family sold the building, which is located at 128 W. Main St., to Stacey Freibert last year. Freibert remodeled a portion of the building and opened Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli there earlier this year.

Roger's Year in Music 2014, No. 6: The Take Off and Landing of Everything, by Elbow.

Earlier in 2014, I wrote at some length about "This Blue World." the opening track from The Take Off and Landing of Everything.

... On about the sixth or seventh listening, it finally was time to read the lyrics. I was, and remain, flabbergasted. The words don't speak to me in any specific, personal way. They're just extremely moving, in a universal, timeless sense, as though to suggest that no matter where we are today, we remain a composite of everything that came before. There isn't enough beauty in this world, but a song like this gives me hope -- in art, achievement, possibilities and redemption.

And then there's this sentiment, seemingly encapsulating the Instagram Era of beer enthusiasm as it appears to me.

I am electric with a bottle in me
Got a bottle in me
And glory be, these fuckers are ignoring me
I'm from another century

I am a preacher when I've got it on me
And I've got it on me
And glory be these fuckers are ignoring me
We never learn from history

Neil McCormick offers a worthy summary at The Telegraph:

What an extraordinary group Elbow are turning out to be. On their gorgeous sixth album, there is really no one you could mistake them for. Mellifluous and melodious, they concoct sparkling paeans to the joys and woes of human existence that flow with musical compassion, easy on the ear yet full of twists and surprises. Their songs hark back to the elegant pre-rock contours of Broadway show tunes, but interpreted with the post-rock mix-and-match adventure of 21st-century sonic magpies.

It is odd to consider that Elbow arose in the shadow of Britpop, evincing some of the same bluff spirit as fellow Mancunians the Stone Roses and Oasis, when, it turns out, they are barely a rock band at all.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

25 years ago today, the Genius of the Carpathians returned to room temperature.

Shall we say, the mourning was subdued.

25 years since Ceausescu downfall: Communist leader gone in blood (RT)

A string of downfalls of communist governments in Eastern Europe in late 1980s was branded ‘velvet revolutions’ for being peaceful. But in Romania the transition was horrendously bloody, both for the country and its dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

On Christmas Day, Romania commemorates the 25th anniversary of the revolution that claimed over 1,000 lives in street gun battles, and included a lightning-swift trial and execution of Ceausescu and his wife.

Just about this time last year, I watched a documentary about Ceausescu.

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

You can view the film in its entirety on YouTube, or see it right here:

Following is a sampling of articles about the Ceausescu era appearing over the years at NAC.

ON THE AVENUES: Wichita, or maybe Targu Mures.

Film: “Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days.”

"The Death of Mr Lazarescu."

Film: "The Way I Spent the End of the World."

ON THE AVENUES: Fairytale of New Albania.

ON THE AVENUES: Fairytale of New Albania.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Regular readers, you already know that I publish my ON THE AVENUES column on Thursday, a slot inherited from the pre-merger Tribune.

However, you may not be aware of your curious non-existence as regular readers. On closer examination, it seems the page views and hit counts recorded here are entirely figments of my imagination, and the curiously timed denunciations and rebuttals emanating from purportedly non-reading public officials and functionaries are mere coincidence.

There is no dissent in the Hermetic Dixiecratic Disney Republic(an) of New Albany, where the referendum of support for the Main Street Disprovement Project passed with 98.6% tally in favor, but disclaimers aside, I am informed that today is a religious holiday of some vague sort – a forever confusing proposition for an atheist like me – so I’ll try and keep it short.

Let’s begin with a ritual denunciation, perhaps more appropriate for the Airing of Grievances than National Chinese Carry-Out Day.

In spite of Indiana’s flagrantly fascistic proclivities, substantial progress has been made in freeing innocent tipplers from the oppressive yoke of the preacher man’s hellfire and damnation, and yet we retain at least one world-class example of prohibitionist backwash.

It remains illegal to sell any alcoholic beverages on Christmas Day, a ban that violates church-state separation so openly and brazenly that I’m surprised the ACLU hasn’t parachuted into Indianapolis to help save us from ourselves.

Maybe I’ll ring them when I finish writing this column.


Often I’m asked: Roger, why not relent and embrace the Christmas spirit?

Would it be so hard to be human, just for once?

Contrary to popular perception, I do relent – after a fashion – and in spite of my best efforts, Vulcan-caliber logic continues to elude me. It is enjoyable to have a (relatively) work-free day, to spend time with loved ones, to plan parties, to eat and drink, and to do what anyone else does on a holiday.

But you see, as an unbeliever, I simply cannot indulge the Christian aspect of the day as it pertains to my sphere of individual conscience. For the same reason, I cannot support Christian displays in the sphere of public property. There is secular rule of law in America, and it reaffirms and protects an individual’s religious or non-religious conscience, whether it speaks to no gods or many.

Without this fine line, Mike Pence really will try to tell me which church to attend – or else.

At Christmas time, I respect the wants and needs of the genuinely devout, for whom the day is an expression of deeply held belief. More grudgingly, I acknowledge with deep groans the annual recitation by Ayn Rand fetishists of a belief in hyper-consumerism and pervasive materialism as a capitalistic manifestation of self, one worth glorifying in priestly fashion.

That’s fine.

Just know that you can count me out. Perhaps religion remains the preferred opiate because too much of the other addiction is in the hands of the 1 per cent.


In fact, I do have a favorite Christmas story, one I haven’t told in a while.

My sole “corporate” day job lasted from 1988 to 1989, with a solitary Christmas in between. So it was that in 1988, management at our office in downtown Louisville declared a contest for best work station decoration.

With an entirely uncharacteristic zeal, my friend and co-worker Jeff Price, who was well-connected within local radical leftist circles and later would meet me in East Germany to take part in the “summer of ‘89” volunteer student brigade, went to work toward his stated goal of winning first prize.

He soon appeared with scissors, glue, armloads of construction paper and dusty old copies of the English-language edition of the “New Albania” propaganda magazine, as borrowed from a socialist workers group somewhere in town.

Who even knew we had such an organization?

Come the day of judgment, Jeff had transformed his pod into a veritable showplace of dully-colored agitprop, with a few bright red placards bearing impenetrable phrases in the Albanian language, photocopies of stiffly posed Communist leaders like Enver Hoxha and Ramiz Alia, and a genuinely demented final touch, which I’ll never forget.

Snaking along the tops of the dull gray office partitions stretched strands of coiled barbed wire fashioned from silver holiday tinsel.

Jeff’s display was dubbed Christmas in Albania – at the time, the world’s only officially atheist state – and while the judges could not quite bring themselves to give him the top prize, second place was decreed his from sheer creativity alone.

In short, exactly my kind of Christmas, but please, feel perfectly free to enjoy yours. I’ll be eating egg rolls, Singapore rice noodles and Happy Family.

Roger's Year in Music 2014, No. 7: Playland, by Johnny Marr.

It's an understatement of epic dimension for me to acknowledge that I'm an unapologetic Johnny Marr fan. From the Smiths through his many other projects and residencies (Electronica, Cribs, Modest Mouse), and now to a healthy and fulfilling solo career, I admire Marr's music, innate good taste and political proclivities ... in no particular order. He has featured here at the blog several times in the past.

Johnny Marr: "Propaganda, misinformation – everything is going to be about people who’ve got vast amounts of money."

Johnny Marr.

Thank you, Johnny Marr. That's electric guitar, right?

The Smiths on my birthday, and a Soviet recollection.

Back in 2003, we were fortunate to see Marr and his then-band, the Healers, at Headliners. Here's the recap, from Kathy's Zak Starkey fan site.

May 10, 2003 - Louisville, KY - Non-Comm Convention

This was a radio industry convention (for non-commercial stations), that ran from May 8-10th, and was held at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel in Louisville, KY. "Three days of meetings, music and networking for noncommercial Triple A radio." The many artists perform at various venues around the city, including WFPK's own state-of-the-art studios. The Healers played at the Headliners Music Hall Louisville, KY billed as Johnny Marr & the Healers with Daniel Lanois, John Hiatt & the Goners, John Eddy, and Digby. Johnny was scheduled to go onstage at 11:15pm, but did not actually hit the stage until almost 2am!!

Abbreviated set list: Long Gone, Caught Up, Down on the Corner, All Out Attack, You are the Magic, Don't Think Twice, Last Ride, Need It

Encore: In Betweens, Bangin On

Only 18 months passed between solos albums in 2013 and 2014. The Messenger was in my top five last year.

Johnny Marr … The Messenger
The songs are muscular and vibe-laden; much stylistic ground is covered, and the mastermind’s guitar goes everywhere and does everything. Ye Gods, a living, breathing rock and roll record. I’m glad it’s still possible.

The British music magazine NME picks up on this year's model, Playland.

It reads from the same classic British indie, new wave and post-punk hymn sheets as its predecessor, but coming from the guy who helped author significant swathes of those hymn sheets in the first place, it’s difficult to take umbrage. It’s a continuation in other ways, too: just as Marr’s singing voice is better than you’d suppose a lead guitarist’s to be, his lyrics are more nuanced than you’d necessarily expect from a guy who made his name writing music for others. Where most in Marr’s situation might write songs of drinking, touring, domestication and thinly veiled attacks on former bandmates, ‘The Messenger’ offered a series of wry observations on the surreal side of modern life: men falling in love with machines, the increasing mechanisation of human interaction, even the growth of European federalism. The words weren’t simply there to fill the spaces between licks.

‘Playland’, then, takes its title from Dutch historian Johan Huizinga’s 1938 book ‘Homo Ludens’ - also known as ‘Man The Player’ and 'Man Player' - which imagines the concept of play as an organising principle of society, while lead single ‘Easy Money’ is a twitchy, maddeningly catchy ode to the root of all evil (and some pretty great rock’n’roll songs).