Thursday, December 17, 2015

ON THE AVENUES: Gin and tacos, and a maybe a doughnut, but only where feasible.

ON THE AVENUES: Gin and tacos, and a maybe a doughnut, but only where feasible.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

It was very strange.

For about two weeks after Thanksgiving, I averaged around nine hours of sleep per night.

Given that the norm is closer to six, such episodes of prolonged unconsciousness puzzled me. Exercise and food consumption were constant, and as for the drink – well, not much at all.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s the real problem. Sobriety has a dependable way of accentuating the negative, especially here in Logic Cleansing City.

Other explanations are possible. While it’s been warm outside, it’s true that winter is here, and with it the usual black dog’s visit, bearing “seasonal affective disorder” tags. Still, this is an expected annual occurrence, and surely doesn’t account for the recent outbreaks of narcolepsy.

Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Recalling the presidential election in 2000, Al Gore famously observed that you win some and you lose some – and then there’s this little known third category.

That must be it: It’s the business of residency, because there’s nothing like living in limbo to make a man sleepy.


In major league baseball, the period just prior to the trade deadline sometimes can be vitally important for teams needing to make personnel changes, either big or small.

A common ploy among teams looking to deal players of marginal value is to showcase them with more playing time in actual games, and kicking the public relations department into higher gear.

“Three Finger Malone’s best days might well be behind him, but he’s always been a clubhouse leader, the fans love him, and look – he went three for four just the other day. Sure, they were infield hits – but boy, wouldn’t he fit perfectly on the bench for a contending team?”

Ever since that day so long ago when David Duggins reminded me of how much money he might be making in the private sector, as opposed to his pro bono sinecure as New Albany’s economic development director, I’ve been observing his batting average.

Currently it has dipped well below the historic Mendoza Line (.200), with an entire industrial park as yet unoccupied, and job losses piling up from the likes of Pillsbury, Sonoco and Indatus.

So, it should come as any surprise that the Gahan Mum Sox has long ceased measuring Duggins’ job performance by actual statistical results, seeing as no measure of creative sabermetrics can rectify this pattern of recurring sow’s ears.

Rather, he has become the modern-day equivalent of Joe Pepitone, who compensated for diminished output on the field (off the field was another story, wink wink, nudge nudge) by looking extremely sharp during the course of consistent underachievement. No player theatrically risked career-ending injuries in diving for unattainable grounders like Joe, who “couldda made us proud.”

Perhaps this explains why Duggins lately has been the point man for virtually every other presumed “quality of life” TIFFED-up "quality of life" project apart from those actually providing pay packets to a permanent labor force, as pertains to what every other municipality in Indiana except New Albany seeks under the mysterious code word of “jobs.”

Just this week, Duggins was publicly lauded by the M. Fine assisted living reboot developer, for whom the city has done nothing (it's the state's tax credits, natch), as well as lovingly credited by another corporate bigwig receiving voluminous taxpayer largess: Flaherty and Collins, low-risk builders of the Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats.

Duggins also gloriously shepherded the farmers market pole barn, painstakingly measured the distance between flower pots on Main Street, and is being leashed to the future of the doggie aquatic center. In fact, he’s gotten more ink since the election than the mayor himself, and it can mean only one of two things.

First, that Duggins is Gahan’s heir presumptive, a queasy prospect alleviated somewhat by his residence outside the city’s electoral limits in Clark County, and by Paddy Mac’s dibs on the position.

Second, that he’s being showcased by the city (and its ever loyal, albeit it understaffed newspaper stenographers) as a prelude to a triumphant return to the private sector in genuinely moneyed places like River Ridge, with its intriguing natural habitat of One Southern Indiana propaganda flaks, corporate wildebeests -- and let’s not forget the eternal Bud Light Lime fountain.

That must be it: The business of irrelevancy. After all, there’s nothing quite like living in style to make a man substantive – and get him traded from the Marlins to the Yankees.


As for me, my name is Mudd, and I’m one to talk, aren’t I?

No, really. I most certainly am one to talk – and to write, publish and disseminate. I've no plans to drop from the ranks of gadfly. The problem is that it’s a bit early to see how things will develop, and consequently, I’m inconveniently between crusades.

And to be honest, being between crusades is a big problem for me.

There is an intense emotional attachment to the things I do, major or minor. A bar-owning friend pointed to it recently, observing that for him, beer was just a part of the overall business, while with me, it was a crusade and an existential struggle. He’s right, of course. Without a revolution, I’m reduced to the indignity of clean living.

The mayoral campaign was like this, but it’s finished. Politically, I'm stymied, and if there is to be another beer-related crusade, it must wait until “The Big NABC Exit” is negotiated, which is ongoing and looks to be on track to take a while longer than I’d hoped.

I’m beginning to relate to Andrei Sakharov’s internal exile. However, I’m vaguely aware of what needs to happen. John Lennon did it when he took his five-year hiatus from the music business, tending to son Sean while Yoko shrewdly managed the money. When Sean was older, Lennon came back.

The comeback was cut short by an assassin’s bullet, but the lesson remains valuable, as such:

You’re in a different place, psychologically, and so you step away for a while and resolve to return when the pendulum has started swinging back in your direction – hopefully, on your own terms. Of course it’s easy to retreat from the world when you’re rich as Lennon, and yet there’s something to this for all of us, isn’t there?

It isn’t the same as retirement, which is predicated on a permanent detachment from work. It isn’t saying, “I’ll work no more forever.” Rather, it’s a process of regrouping, to take stock, do what one must, and then do it again when practicable.

But when it’s more than a job, and when it’s a crusade you’re looking for … then maybe it’s time to concede that the crusading urge itself is the underlying friction point in need of attention.

Lennon sang: “I just had to let it go.”

That must be it: The business of impassivity. The obvious drawback is that I’ve no idea how to achieve it. However, I must let go of something, for a little while, and let the pendulum work its way back.

Because I know it will. There'll likely be no column next Thursday; it will return on the 31st.


Recent columns:

December 10: ON THE AVENUES: Truth, lies, music, and a trick of the Christmas tale (2015).

December 3: ON THE AVENUES: Who (or what) is New Albany's "Person of the Year" for 2015?

November 26: ON THE AVENUES: Faux thanks and reveries (The 2015 Remix).

November 19: ON THE AVENUES: Beer, farthings and that little-known third category.

November 12: ON THE AVENUES: The mayor’s race was about suburban-think versus urban-think. The wrong-think won.

November 5ON THE AVENUES: Confusion, exile, ignobility and resistance.

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