Thursday, December 31, 2015

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 4): My Top Twenty Albums, 20 - 16.

I'm running a bit behind, eh?

20. Gaz Coombes … Matador
Coombes was the musical brains behind the late, lamented Supergrass, and this is his second solo album. It's more oblique than his work with the band, but the strong songwriting happily remains intact.



19. Crushed Beaks … Scatter
An youthful indie trio from London. Not yet fully formed, though with a sound that pleases.



18.Titus Andronicus … The Most Lamentable Tragedy
The only reason this album doesn't rank more highly is because a 29-track rock opera about mental illness takes a very long time to digest. I'll be listening to this for months to come. The band itself is beyond easy classification; the review quoted below mentions the Clash, Billy Joel, the Pogues and the E Street Band, and yes, they're all here, somewhere.

The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a story told in five acts that follows the Hero, an unnamed man (who's someone like Patrick Stickles) in an unnamed city (which is somewhere like New York) grappling with his neuroses. He's confronted by his doppelgänger—an alternate self that seems to have everything figured out, and pushes him to find solace outside of sin. It’s a protracted allegory for manic depression, which Stickles has publicly struggled with since the band first came to attention.



17. The Libertines … Anthems for Doomed Youth
An above average British pop band gets back together, and contributes a paean to Jeff Gahan's New Albany: "We're going nowhere ... but nowhere's on our way."



16. Paul Weller … Saturn’s Pattern
Famously of the Jam and Style Council, Paul Weller has become one of those veteran musicians who cannot not be tasteful and compelling in everything he does. This release is (perhaps) jazzier than Weller's recent output. Note to baffled local drivers: See how easily Weller navigates the roundabout at 0:53 of the video?


Previously:

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 4): My Top Twenty Albums, 20 - 16.


Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 5): A few album odds and ends.

Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 6): Five musical news items not classifiable by album release.

Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 7): The band Lynched, and New Albany's perpetual drone.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 8): How did I die? A WWI lamentation.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.

ON THE AVENUES: My 2015 in books and reading.

ON THE AVENUES: My 2015 in books and reading.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world. In other words, I can only recommend perspective and distance. Awareness of all the most dangerous kinds of vanity, both in others and in ourselves. A good mind. A modest certainty about the meaning of things. Gratitude for the gift of life and the courage to take responsibility for it. Vigilance of spirit.
-- Vaclav Havel

As it pertains to my year of reading for pleasure, this pig admittedly will countenance no lipstick. In terms of books, 2015 was absolutely miserable for me, primarily because local politics remains the single best way known to man to disfigure the life of the mind.

John Gonder just might agree with me.

As such, having declared my candidacy in February as an independent candidate for mayor, it quickly became obvious that I needed to “bone up” on the classic texts of municipal governance, embracing such masterworks as the “Unexpurgated and Periodically Referenced New Albany Storm Water Master Plan,” and volumes 1 through 160 of “Collected Non-Enforced New Albanian Ordinances.”

The latter isn’t so much a “whodunit” of epic dimension, as a “willtheyeverdoit,” as experienced while standing in an alcohol-free queue which has existed since the city’s founding ... in 1817.

Happily, there was time in 2015 for one good book bearing relevance to the trials and tribulations of our emerging one-party New Gahania, which I undertook to read precisely because so few members of the ruling nomenklatura (Shane thrashes in mute nostril agony) are capable of grasping it.

I’m reading Michael Shuman’s “The Local Economy Solution,” primarily because David Duggins isn’t.

The first thing to understand, Shuman says, is that the traditional “economic development” model of chasing after large companies with huge taxpayer subsidy deals is absolutely the wrong way to revitalize a crippled or stagnant local economy. Indeed, he says, “economic development today is creating almost no new jobs whatsoever." In support of that conclusion he methodically dissects and refutes the “eight myths of [conventional] economic development.”

So long as “The Erotic Adventures of Mama TIF” remains on Duggins’ night stand, Shuman is destined to be ignored hereabouts.

But: I have no complaints.

My absorption of non-fiction essays and articles reached a new peak in 2015, and one of my objectives in contesting the election was to provide myself with a better understanding of a broad range of issues, which in turn informs an ongoing advocacy of policy, and better enables me to write about these topics for casual readers.

Now, in 2016, I’m hoping there’ll be a chance to adjust the balance and return to recreational reading.

---

It won’t take long to describe the books I read in 2015, seeing as there were so few.

The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, Its Regions, and Their Peoples, by David Gilmour

This book has been in my possession for years, but it was moved to the top of the stack only after I struck up a Facebook friendship with Fabio, owner of a good beer bar in Arezzo. To summarize: From afar, we look at Italy as a place uniting Italians, but even today, 140 years after modern Italy was created, it isn’t nearly as simple as that.

The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Volume I, by Fernand Braudel

If you’re not a history buff, stay away. It’s a mid-20th century text of epochal dimensions, in which Braudel rejects the usual narrative of great men and their events, and instead pioneers the examination of systems, both natural and man-made, from a grassroots perspective. No detail is too small. The book is excruciating, exhausting and highly informative – and someday down the road, there’s always Volume II.

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger

A quick re-reading following the election, as intended to bring me back to earth in a far-off age before canine aquatic parks.

The authors take something called the Julius Work Calendar, a medieval reminder of work and faith with wonderful illustrations at the bottom of each month's page reproduced at the beginning of each chapter of the book and explained in the following text, to illustrate life in Anglo-Saxon England.

Enough of the appetizers; now for the main courses.

---

Two books, a novel and a biography, defined my year of reading.

Havel: A Life, by Michael Zantovsky

A column was devoted to this one.

ON THE AVENUES: In Havel I trust.

 ... Havel the star playwright now became Havel, the acknowledged leader of the opposition. He was harassed and frequently imprisoned, and yet managed to formulate a doctrine of principled dissent, focusing on matters of conscience and consciousness, which he perceived as vital at a fundamentally human level.

Václav Havel was a complex figure, both personally and historically. Zantovsky’s biography whets my appetite for a return to the source material: Havel’s plays, essays and letters.

2666, by Roberto Bolano

As for Bolano’s fictional tour de force, author Stephen King has this to say.

This surreal novel can't be described; it has to be experienced in all its crazed glory. Suffice it to say it concerns what may be the most horrifying real-life mass-murder spree of all time: as many as 400 women killed in the vicinity of Juarez, Mexico. Given this as a backdrop, the late Bolaño paints a mural of a poverty-stricken society that appears to be eating itself alive. And who cares? Nobody, it seems.

While I’m eternally delighted to report that I care not one solitary jot about Star Wars, there remains a measure of personal sensitivity to the plight of those prone to the decidedly First World Problem of becoming enraged by the “spoiling” of plot twists. Consequently, I’ll stick to the barest of bones in describing the broad outline of 2666.

Four European academics, whose university sinecures depend on perpetuating the weird cult following accorded a reclusive and mysterious European novelist, track him to a troubled city in Mexico, where they briefly encounter an aging university professor relocated from Spain, who is losing track of his own mind's narrative.

The professor’s daughter may or may not be consorting with the wrong crowd, and what’s more, numerous women in their city are being murdered in a serial crime spree that has completely overwhelmed the capabilities of local police.

The daughter then meets an American magazine writer assigned to cover a prize fight being held in the city, and ultimately he takes her with him to America, though not before becoming personally interested in the serial killings, which subsequently are recounted in painstaking detail. The murders don’t end, even after the police finally arrest a suspect.

We learn the identity and back story of the reclusive novelist, and the novel concludes. As with Eleanor Rigby, no one was saved, and Stephen King is absolutely right: 2666 is surreal, and it must be experienced, but possible side effects include cynicism and jaundice.

That’s because the notion of a society “eating itself alive” is never quite as relevant as during the months preceding a presidential election year. In this context, a New Year’s resolution to visit the gym strikes me as far less important than the imperative to spend more time in the library -- but this is America, and it isn't necessary for me to "spoil" the probable outcome for you to know which of these two choices is the likeliest.

---

Recent columns:

December 24: ON THE AVENUES: Fairytale of New Albania (2015 mashup).

December 17: ON THE AVENUES: Gin and tacos, and a maybe a doughnut, but only where feasible.

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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 5): A few album odds and ends.

Rightly or wrongly -- read: ultimately -- my judgments about music come down to whether or not it is memorable. Does it stay in my head, to be fetched when necessary? There are no hard and fast rules governing this process. Sometimes, assessments change, as with my earlier reference to Kasabian, and how watching the band perform live led me to listen to an album with altered ears.

THE FIVE BEST OF THE REST

Mbongwana Star … From Kinshasa
Pure party music from the Congo. Go here for a detailed explanation. This one could move up in the rankings.



Dengue Fever … The Deepest Lake
A band that exists to remind us of legacies, often tragic, in Cambodian pop music, while transcending the past with new, multi-cultural releases. Previously at NAC (2012): Dengue Fever: "They’ve Got Those Mekong Blues Again."



David Gilmour … Rattle that Lock
Keith Richards … Crosseyed Heart
These two albums by grizzled rock and roll veterans could not be any more different. Keef falls back on the blues, peppered with riffs; atmospheric, though perhaps not truly memorable. Gilmour returns with a tasteful, tuneful song cycle about time.

Modest Mouse … Strangers to Ourselves
The usual manic schizophrenia, and one of my favorite songs of the year.



THE OTHER FIVE

Coldplay … A Headful of Dreams
Coming on the heels of last year's resolutely forgettable Ghost Stories, an actual pulse is something to be appreciated. But that's about it, and really, the Super Bowl?

Finally, I greatly admire the craftsmanship of these bands and these albums. This said, nothing about the albums grabbed me. So it goes.

Cribs … For All My Sisters
Guster … Evermotion
My Morning Jacket … The Waterfall
Waterboys … Modern Blues

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 5): A few album odds and ends.

Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 6): Five musical news items not classifiable by album release.

Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 7): The band Lynched, and New Albany's perpetual drone.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 8): How did I die? A WWI lamentation.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.

Nick Vaughn's column: "A Spoonful of Trumpmania."

For 2016, Nick aims to write regular Friday columns, though this week's submission is running early owing to the holiday weekend. If you're reading today and think you have what it takes -- the few, the proud, the terminally splenetic -- to author regular columns at NAC, then please get in touch and we'll talk.

---

A Spoonful of Trumpmania

I’m sure that the title has caught you off guard, seeing as this is typically a local oriented blog, sorry, but this needed to get off my chest and Roger has been kind enough to allow me to send him content. When I initially began to write this article, my words were not coming from a happy place, in fact they still are not. Nevertheless, this draft is a lot less hate filled than my first draft.

Admittedly, I am quite furious with this Republican Primary; Donald Trump is leading in all national polls and seems to continue to make inroads by exploiting very angry, very fed up conservative voters. So on one hand, I hate to see my party take this route right off of the deep end into the sea of defunct political parties (i.e. the Whigs, Democratic­Republicans, and the National Unioners), but on the other, this creates a very unique situation for our country. It has the potential to blow the two party system away and bring in with it several parties? Maybe. One party? Hopefully not. Who knows! Let’s dive in and find out!

First, let’s put into perspective just what Republicans have at stake here. Currently, there are 32 Republican Governors, over 5,000 Republican State Lawmakers, a very large majority in the House of Representatives, a slight majority in the Senate, high voter turnout, and a general upward trend nationally. These are all of the makings for a very strong push into the White House.

But what happens instead? Donald Trump is leading national polls, he wants to build a wall, he wants to discriminate against a religion because a small percentage are terrorists, and wants to shut down the internet, which truthfully seems ridiculous and nearly impossible.

Donald Trump knows nothing about foreign policy, creating a working budget, crossing the aisle (except for own personal gain), and doesn’t understand the Constitution. When you have someone talking about creating a database of citizens based on religion, why are alarm bells not going off? Is that not an encroachment on our basic rights of privacy, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression? Oh, and he wants to end birthright citizenship. Does Donald Trump hate the Constitution?

The truly sad and infuriating part of this whole process is that Donald Trump is playing his supporters like a fiddle. Yes, it’s the year of the “outsider,” but never have I seen a more masterful politician. Is Donald Trump a career politician? No. But he is a politician in the most generic sense: he is a straight up liar.

Of course, in the same breath I will say he is also the worst politician in the most generic sense: he alienates voters. His off the cuff, downright deplorable comments about women ranging from Michelle Obama to Megyn Kelly (not to mention his obvious hate for anyone not a White American) should disqualify him from running for President. But they don’t and he continues to rise because he has appeal.

People, specifically conservatives, are very angry. We have unfortunately come to a point in the Republican Party where negotiating and compromising are signs of weakness instead of examples of getting things done. Instead of celebrating and rallying behind Speaker Ryan and his efforts to keep the government open and running so that after the New Year he can begin to make meaningful reform, we have instead a far right wing sect of the Republican Party that feels they are being betrayed because Planned Parenthood isn’t being defunded in this Omnibus bill.

It’s not being defunded in this bill because it can’t be! If that was attached as an amendment the bill would be vetoed and the government will shut down and Republicans will take the blame (because it really would have been our fault). No, we should not defund Obamacare for the 50 millionth time, it’s just going to get vetoed by Obama! That’s not smart governing, that is very, very dumb governing.

As Republicans, we should focus on fights we can win with a Democrat in the White House. We should not get angry and blame a certain race or religion for our woes because when that happens, not only our party declines but so does our very nation.

So, what if Donald Trump is the nominee? Well, I think that makes for a very interesting scenario. I think that if it becomes clear he will be the nominee the RNC should make the convention brokered, this way delegates have free range and can vote for the best candidate. Although, I think an actual brokered convention seems very unlikely. Instead I think you will see prominent Republican figures like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, and their loyalist walk out of the convention.

From there you have an even further unique scenario because what will those thought to be “establishment” supporters do? I would think that fracturing the party with such a stronghold on state offices would be a very chaotic, some would say it would be a mistake. I’m not sure though. Yes, there would be growing pains and obvious confusion and turmoil. But creating a new Republican Party might be the best avenue to take. Yes, it would almost secure Hillary Clinton’s ticket to the White House, but I think long term it might be a good choice.

With a new Republican Party, those a part of it could begin to appeal to new voters, voters who otherwise wouldn’t vote Republican today. You would also see a lot less pandering to hardline conservatives and begin to see less of an emphasis on socially conservative causes and instead more focus on fiscal issues and common sense solutions to government waste. It will be very interesting to see the coming events and how they play out.

Buckle up, America!

On TIF, Gahan and lessons from the Irish property bubble.


Whether you like it or not, and I don't, Mayor Jeff Gahan is reshaping New Albany according to his own sanitized suburban consciousness filter. It's urbanism via the "logic" of the cul-de-sac.

In large measure, Gahan is paying for Disneyland (Bucharest) on the Ohio with TIF (tax increment financing). As New Albany's TIF odometer spins wildly, ever upward, the mechanism itself is coming under ever greater scrutiny.

Taken together, the following two links from February and December make two central points: First, that TIF's panacea generally is overstated, and second, that there is considerable potential for abuse in the mechanism, given the tendency of cash to flow from prime beneficiaries to the politicians enabling them.

From February 15 ...

BOHANON & STYRING: Communities lose more than they gain from TIFs, by Cecil Bohanon and Bill Styring (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 ... One thing is certain: Any benefit a TIF confers could be directed to other parties in other locations.

Members of TIF bodies are typically neither bankers nor elected officials, and they are not playing with their own money. Members may be well-intentioned, but they have little background in assessing risk, and voters have difficulty holding them accountable.

Developers, various financial consultants and other interested parties stand to make a great deal of money from the deals, so the whole process has the potential for incompetence, cronyism—or worse.

 ... and December 26 ...

Hicks: Economic development is important, by Michael Hicks (Logansport Pharos-Tribune)

 ... Earlier this year, my center published a technical economic study on the effects of tax increment financing in Indiana. The results were clear. TIF boosts investment within TIF districts, but reduces it outside the district. TIF use increases taxes and reduces countywide employment, albeit modestly.

That generated a wild response.

This final passage by Hicks is an eye-catcher for me, coming just after I'd watched a documentary film about the Irish property bubble's bust, and the intimate connection between the bubble's creation and the corruption of Irish politicians on the take.

 ... earlier this month yet a third study on TIF was published in the Indiana Policy Review. It is too long and detailed to review here, but suffice it to say that county prosecutors and the state attorney general’s office will surely be reading it closely over the holidays. It details extensive shenanigans with TIF in at least one county.

In the years to come, keep an eye on NA's TIF meter. It may not seem like it now, but the metaphorical heel of Achilles can come to us from almost any unexpected direction.

The Potable Curmudgeon's Top 15 posts for 2015 have a local/regional hue.

Graphic credit.

Of course, the mayoral campaign eliminated roughly eight months of beer writing time, but there were high points, particularly during the first quarter of 2015.

The Top 15 posts at Potable Curmudgeon for 2015.

It's a good sign that most of the stories in the Top 15 dealt with local and regional beer and brewing matters. This is a clear indicator of the path ahead, as with the Facebook page I've gingerly launched: Roger's Simple Beer Pleasures.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Joe Dunman on media failures and the Great Mall Riot of 2015.


"I was shocked to hear about the Mall of St. Matthews. I couldn't believe people still shopped at malls." 
-- a clever friend of ours

Saturday, December 26, will be remembered as the Bloody Mall St. Matthews Riot.

Yeah, right.

Estimates of the rioters began in the thousands, and have been dropping each day since the incident began being reported completely out of proportion. Give it another couple of weeks, and it will turn out the mall was completely empty at the time.

Dunman dissects the story/non-story, refers to "local media stenographers" (my heart grew three sizes, natch), and ends with a nod to The Who.

Commentary: Uncritical reporting of one-sided police accounts sparks fear over ‘riot’ at Mall St. Matthews, by Joe Dunman (Insider Louisville).

... Despite a nationwide decline, some malls remain prime gathering places for young people. A policy that youth would no longer be welcome in a mall unless they have a focused shopping agenda or are tethered to a chaperone is absurd, not to mention unenforceable. What would mall security need to do? Search the pockets of every entrant for cash, credit cards, and shopping lists? Tail every teen to ensure they remain securely under the helicopter watch of their parents?

Hagiography, Gahan-style: "We blacktopped a lot of the alleys this year."


The News and Tribune sent its very best hagiographer to interv ... what's that, Shane?

Really? Okay, okay. Here it is. A hagiographer is a practitioner of hagiography.
hag·i·og·ra·phy
/,haɡēˈäɡrəfē,ˌhāɡē-/

noun
the writing of the lives of saints.
derogatory
adulatory writing about another person.
biography that idealizes its subject.
plural noun: hagiographies

As I was saying, Chris Morris interviewed the mayor, and it was painful reading.

While it is true that Morris selected newly elected councilman Dr. Al Knable to offer a handful of quotes in "rebuttal," Hizzoner generally was allowed to spin the usual Disney tales without the pesky annoyance of follow-up questions.

To even the most casual of readers, follow-ups proliferate faster than rabbits.


  • If splitting the park system was a priority, why didn't you mention it during the 2011 campaign?
  • What do you mean by "some" one-way streets?
  • Was the ill-fated Phipps rental housing ordinance in December your own trial balloon?
  • Can you point to the clamor from your citizen "bosses" for a dog park?
  • Are new sidewalks alone enough to encourage "walkability," another word you haven't mentioned at all?
  • Can you explain why the "business of residency" requires TIF bonding?


And on, and on, and on.

Feel free to append your own follow-up questions, as destined to be neither asked nor answered by media or mayor, to the comments here and at Fb.

New Albany's Gahan looks to next four years; Housing, code enforcement, one-way streets top list for mayor, by Papa (Clark County First)

 ... Knable said a decision needs to be made on the one-way street debate sooner rather than later.

"I think another priority on the 2016 agenda is where do we go with two-way streets downtown. I think we owe it to the independent business owners, the people who live downtown and the citizens of New Albany," Knable said. "They deserve an answer."

Knable also said the council's other top priority in 2016 is to find a new tenant for the Pillsbury factory, "so that area doesn't deteriorate further."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 6): Five musical news items not classifiable by album release.

I can be such a fan boy, though first, something about furniture.

My CD Collection.

It is huge, numbering in the thousands, and like an invasive species of plant life, it threatened to take over all of my book shelves -- leaving no room for hundreds of books. Something had to happen, and so of course I continued to procrastinate, until finally the missus evicted my home office (that's me) from the home library. It (I) was moved to empty space in the rear of the house, and the CDs followed. Now there is proper shelving for them, and an ongoing wintertime project to label, file and shelve all the discs, whether in vinyl sleeves, paper envelopes or jewel cases.

I have become a research librarian, by turns dating and filing ... and listening to music I didn't remember even having. Tactile. Very tactile.



Houndmouth and some love from "World Cafe's" David Dye.

I'll continue to "sing" the praises of our hometown musicians made good, but you needn't take it from me.

Houndmouth named in David Dye’s Top 10 Albums of 2015, by Sara Havens (IL)

“What gets me with Houndmouth is how well this band looks back in time musically. But ‘Little Neon Limelight’ isn’t just about a retro sound; it’s also about songs, two amazing lead voices and equally impressive harmonies.”

Give me just a little more time, and I'll have Houndmouth fully politicized. It's always been my goal, you know.



The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2016.

As I wrote on Facebook upon reading the news:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a piece of crap, and unworthy of my time to comment ... and 2016 inductees Cheap Trick, Deep Purple and Chicago are three of my favorite bands ever. Today I'll observe a moratorium on RRHOF vilification, then it's back to the usual derision. 

Arguably, given N.W.A.'s pervasive cultural and musical influences, the group's recognition dwarfs all the rest of it, but lest we forget, the RRHOF is a marketing tool. It isn't supposed to make sense, and the most interesting aspect of the induction of my three personal favorites is whether their legendary personnel issues will play any part in the festivities.

N.W.A, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple & Steve Miller Are 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, by Gary Graff (Billboard)

... The original quartet and septet lineups, respectively, of Cheap Trick and Chicago are being inducted, while the Deep Purple roster will encompass the group's first three lineups, including three teams of singers and bass players. Some of the intriguing reunion possibilities for the ceremony include Chicago with singer/bassist Peter Cetera for the first time since 1985 and with drummer Danny Seraphine since 1990, Cheap Trick with estranged drummer Bun E. Carlos, and Deep Purple with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who's been gone since 1993.

The Chicago camp already has contradicted itself on Cetera's possible return (and ignored Seraphine). The singer is playing cute. Bun E. told Rolling Stone that he'd been invited and would behave, although financial squabbles have been friendship killers for him. The finest observation of all was made by drummer Ian Paice of Deep Purple, the group's only remaining original member.

"If some people are inducted together, it could end in a punch-up."

RIP, Jon Lord ...



... and Terry Kath. What's not to love about a guy who writes a song about his dog?



Gary Richrath’s death.

Never once before REO Speedwagon's 1977 live album You Get What You Play For was I a fan of the band, and my interest lasted only a short time afterward. This said, it was the preferred soundtrack to my debauchery the summer preceding my senior year in high school.

At some point around this time, my gang saw the band at an LRS $1.02 concert in Louisville, performing the set list as recorded on the live album. It was only months before REO's next release made them superstars.

The dollar-two show was noteworthy for my varsity baseball jersey getting stained with flying blood when a fight broke out up front, but what floored me completely was Gary Richrath, for not only was he extraordinarily skilled at playing his instrument. In addition, he simply had the guitar superstar look down to a science. Richrath was an Adonis. He had the hair, the moves and the swagger. He could choke that neck, too.

I was tall, gangly, socially inept, prone to self-loathing and not at all the air guitar hero type. Here was this short, handsome, curly-haired dude commanding the auditorium. Surely Richrath got the girls. Whatever the vagaries of timing, it hit me hard and was tantamount to a man crush.

Time passed. Lots of time. REO became a huge 1980s-era arena band specializing in power ballads, and I lost interest. Apparently so did Richrath, who departed before the decade's end and disappeared. He returned for the obligatory "Behind the Music" interviews, then vanished again.

REO was a distant memory, and then my friend Jay burned a copy of the live album for me. I hadn't heard it in decades, and the memories stirred. In late 2014, I took to the Internet in search of Richrath. It had been 20 years since the VH1 documentary. Where was he now?

Granted, we're all subject to the ravages of the decades ... and yet what I saw on YouTube was unfathomable. Richrath wasn't recognizable in recent videos, as performing with bar bands in Peoria (he'd returned home to help care for his mother) and in a first-time-in-ages onstage reunion with REO. Bloated and all jowls, he also seemed to have lost his chops.

He died suddenly in September, and the news plunged me into mourning -- not for a fellow I never met, but for my own lost youth. That's the way it always plays out, doesn't it? The notion of rock stardom is nonsensical in the main. At the same time, I appreciate the rock star helping me through a difficult summer.



The Dubliners.

My father liked big bands and the music of the swing era, and I was introduced to the genre very early. When I began exploring music on my own, thanks to the LPs at the public library, my search took me far beyond Glenn Miller, to the roots of jazz (New Orleans, Chicago and Harlem), and later outward in all directions.

During the 6th grade, my friends began pulling me away from the music heard at home. Early favorites were the Beatles, Steppenwolf and Black Sabbath. Ever since then, when the topic of "favorite bands) arises, the default reply has been phrased in the pop/rock idiom: The Who, Manic Street Preachers, Def Leppard, et al.

Finally at the belated age of 55, it occurs to me how ridiculously narrow a viewpoint this is.

When all is spun and done, surely Duke Ellington ranks up there with Oasis, U2 and the Smiths. So does Bix Beiderbecke.

And so does the Irish “folk” group called The Dubliners (1962-2012). In fact, I need not preface my preference for Ellington, Beiderbecke and The Dubliners with “jazz” or “folk” or any other specific modifiers. Each represents an aggregate musical output through working careers. Each has brought me great pleasure. They're all part of a huge, wonderful melting pot.

My parents took me to see Duke Ellington perform in Louisville in 1971, but I never once caught The Dubliners playing live. The band constantly toured Europe, and on several occasions our paths were a few weeks from crossing, but a show never came to pass. The earliest and probably best Dubliners lineup was finished before my first trip to Europe started, and yet I’ve always enjoyed the many different configurations that followed.

Moreover, the band’s ethos of a half-century is one worth emulating. Players came and went, and all of the living former members remained family, and performed together from time to time.

Cheap Trick, Deep Purple and Chicago: Take note of this refreshing, mature attitude. Meanwhile, here are The Dubliners in their rare old times, with the classic lineup and Luke Kelly on vocals:



Maybe in 2016, I'll actually venture to a show.


Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 6): Five musical news items not classifiable by album release.


Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 7): The band Lynched, and New Albany's perpetual drone.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 8): How did I die? A WWI lamentation.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mayor Jeff Gahan first wants you to know the STATE presented this one, not him.



Because in New Gahania, the propaganda always comes first.

(Fb posts were on Sunday afternoon).

Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 7): The Irish band Lynched, and New Albany's perpetual drone.



Ireland isn't my most visited European locale, and there'll be times when the country fades from view for a little while, though never for very long. I'm not sure how to explain the lingering attachment apart from sheer empathy.

Seeking to live a life of the mind in New Albany implies daily oppression from the doltish ruling caste, and there is a certain lifting of the eyebrow when compared to the Irish experience. Not the same particulars, mind you, but a similar feeling of despair and alcohol envy.

I wrote about the band Lynched less than a month ago after seeing an article in The Guardian. Since then, my love affair with the Dubliners has been vividly renewed (stay tuned), and I've found myself binge-watching documentaries about Irish history. It's been a month and a half since the Lynched CD was ordered from somewhere in the UK, and there have been e-mails reassuring me there'll be new copies soon. At some point, I'll get one.

Until then, there is YouTube. Praise modernity -- and pray that some sweet day it comes to New Albany.

---

Just know that the "button factory" refers to the dole office.

The band Lynched bears a self-description as "Dublin Folk Miscreants." The resonance is striking.

We always sing, even when we're losing
'Cos Dublin's drone is hard enough especially when you're down and you're boozing
We sing the Oul' Triangle and then the Tommy Ryan
'Cos all the world's a jail and we can't remember why

Why we agreed to live and lie in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall

We look for signs that Dublin's heart's still beating,
That concrete and glass and peelers and mass, they haven't stopped the people from screaming,
Being trapped by all the cameras you're inclined to stay at home,
And forget some songs were written to remind you you weren't born

Born to live and lie and die in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall

We see the cracks under the foundation,
Smoldering on the faces of the people on the drip of isolation,
We hear the sounds come streaming across the crackling air,
The broken words of swine who would tell us that we were

Born to live and lie and die in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall
And when did we agree to live and lie and die in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers?
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall.

---

Roger's Year in Music 2015 (Part 7): The band Lynched, and New Albany's perpetual drone.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 8): How did I die? A WWI lamentation.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 8): How did I die? A WWI lamentation.



Speaking personally, there are several obscure cultural markers attached to this Lament.

The work was commissioned by the town of Diksmuide in West Flanders, which happens to be the home of De Dolle Brouwers, a favorite Belgian "craft" brewer of mine. I've visited there a few times, and it's worth remembering that the town was so completely obliterated during WWI, they had to guess at the location of streets to rebuild it.

Einstürzende Neubauten also covers James Reese Europe's "On Patrol in No Man's Land". Very early in my readings about jazz, around the age of 12 or 13, there was a book at the NA-FC library that included information on Europe's short career. I can't remember the name of the book, just that I was fascinated by his story, and have been ever since.

Lament is impossible to classify. It was released in 2014, and I became aware of it in winter of 2015. It has been almost a year between listens, and that's about right. Add it to the "if I ever decide to smart smoking marijuana again" list, please.


Einstürzende Neubauten: Lament review – the weirdest first world war commemoration of all
, by Alexis Petridis (The Guardian)

The centenary of the outbreak of the first world war was commemorated in a variety of ways: sculptures were made, statues unveiled, lights switched off. But for out-of-the-box thinking, you have to take your hat off to the Flemish town of Diksmuide, site of the battle of the Yser in October 1914, which decided to mark the centenary by commissioning a performance piece from fearsome German experimentalists Einstürzende Neubauten.

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Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 8): How did I die? A WWI lamentation.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Uh oh -- he's "presenting" another gift to Jobless New Albany.


Maybe Pillsbury will reconsider.

Bids opened for phase 2 of New Albany dog park, by Chris Morris (Clark County Plain Dealer)

... At a recent New Albany City Council work session, David Duggins, director of redevelopment and economic development for New Albany, said the plan will expand upon $125,000 that was approved for phase one of the project in 2014. The cost for phase two is $250,000. Work is expected to begin next year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.



Go ahead. You try to come up with a way of describing an hour-each, three-CD release from a youthful virtuoso saxophonist working with a collective of skilled musicians, orchestra and choir. It's
dense, ambitious and audacious, and rewards repeated listenings.

The player is Kamasi Washington, his album is The Epic, and the review at All Music does it justice. From my standpoint, it's gladdening that jazz persists, and I feel a cold weather revival coming on.

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Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.

ON THE AVENUES: Fairytale of New Albania (2015 mashup).

ON THE AVENUES: Fairytale of New Albania (2015 mashup).

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

I had intended to take the day off from the rigors of column composition, but with such a beautiful spring day outside in the aftermath of flash floods and tornadoes on December 23 -- Festivus, no less -- why not huddle indoors a bit longer on Christmas Eve, and plagiarize a previous effort?

After all, there is a legitimately important news item to report.

First, there is you. As a regular reader, 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 a regular reader. Upon 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 merely an Orwellian coincidence.

There is no dissent in the Hermetic Dixiecratic Disney Republic(an) of New Albany, where the referendum of support for Mayor Jeff Gahan Presents the Doggie Doo Doo Fun Park and Canine Water Slide passed muster with 98.6% tally in favor, but disclaimers aside, I am informed that tomorrow 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 Great and Wonderful Tidings.

In 2014, I wrote these words:

"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."

See what I did there? That's right: The law finally changed in 2015.

Just a bit related to the topic at hand.

It's about time, isn't it? Maybe the Freedom from Religion Foundation intervened. After all, the prohibition of alcohol sales on Christmas Day was a blatant imposition of selective religious blue law on what should be secular tippling.

Indiana may be a basket case, but at least this one's finally right.

Hoosiers can buy alcohol on Christmas for the first time since Prohibition (Fox59)

The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) announced today you can buy alcohol on Christmas.

Although many businesses are closed on Christmas, restaurants, bars, liquor stores and grocery stores that are open will be allowed to sell alcohol to you.

I'm told that Kansai Japanese Steakhouse in Clarksville will be open tomorrow, is cognizant of the change (many probably aren't), and will be serving adult beverages. Surely Horseshoe Casino will be, as well. Anyone else? Let me know, and I'll spread the word on social media.

---

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.

Maybe, but only up to a point. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has contributed a thoughtful essay linking consumer Christmas to the stoking of irrational fears: This Christmas, Tune It All Out.

In the main, just know that you can count me out. Perhaps religion remains the preferred opiate because too much of the profit from consumerism remains in the hands of the 1 per cent.

---

In fact, I do have a favorite Christmas story.

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 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 Louisville 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 perverse creativity alone.

In short, exactly my kind of Christmas, but please, feel perfectly free to enjoy yours. Usually we spend Christmas Day eating egg rolls, Singapore rice noodles and Happy Family, but in 2015 comes another banner headline: Vietnam Kitchen is open on Christmas Day.

The very best Christmases are the ones that come and go with nary a trace, but this ... this is special. Clay pot catfish and beer? In the absence of Slovak carp, it'll have to do.

---

Recent columns:

December 17: ON THE AVENUES: Gin and tacos, and a maybe a doughnut, but only where feasible.

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.

Tears of joy: Vietnam Kitchen is OPEN on Christmas Day.


Vietnam Kitchen web site

For some strange reason, VK was closed on Thanksgiving this year, but paybacks are ... delightful, and now we have K8 and clay pot catfish to anticipate on Christmas Day.

Hours are 11:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.

When we pause to consider the type of rock/pop music Roger (that's me) tends to like, the year 2014 must be acclaimed as one of the finest musical times ever.

It was so very wonderful that five of my favorite albums of 2015 were released in 2014. I just didn’t get to them until this year. They'll go first, and then nine more installments will tell the story of 2015's tunes.

The usual disclaimers apply: I'm old, and I like what I like. There's no lofty detachment here, just the music that wormed its way into my head.



Kasabian … 48:13
The album simply did not resonate until I watched the band’s headlining performance at Glastonbury (2014) on YouTube, and then suddenly everything clicked. I spent the month of January 2015 listening to this.



Simple Minds … Big Music
My favorite album of 2014 was Futurology by Manic Street Preachers, who openly (and often) used its positive reception to acknowledge the band’s debt to Simple Minds, and so finally it dawned on me to listen to the latter’s album from the same year. The older you get, the more you appreciate late career arcs.

Now, if I only had a career.



Future Islands … Singles
Synth rock? What is becoming of me?

“We hear most of Singles, a record full of synthetic bittersweetness and yearning, delivered by a frontman who goes in for Cossack head-banging, Italianate hand-gestures and belly-flops on to the stage.” (The Guardian)



Catfish & the Bottlemen … The Balcony
I like the guitars, the hooks, the spirit and the overall vibe. I dislike the patina of misogyny that surfaces here and there, even if we chalk it up to youth; they look like they’re 16. But I'll keep listening.



The Struts … Everybody Wants
Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott told an interviewer this band struck him as “Slade meets Queen,” and he is exactly right.

What is Slade? Rather like the UK’s answer to Grand Funk, beloved by fans and slagged by critics.

What is Queen? Get out of here.

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Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.


Guest columnist Nick Vaughn airs his grievances for Festivus.


I've asked Nick, and I'll be asking a few others, to consider writing columns for NA Confidential on a regular basis. If you're reading this and think you may have what it takes -- the few, the proud, the terminally splenetic -- then get in touch and we'll talk. 

Thanks to Nick for this 

---

Happy Festivus!

As many of you may or may not know, Festivus is a parody and secular holiday where the airing of grievances is commonplace and highly encouraged. Festivus first appeared in 1997 on the popular show Seinfeld. While there is a little more to Festivus, I will just be participating in the airing of grievances (because if everyone else can pick and choose, so can I).

1. Six votes is a tough pill to swallow. While I maintain that I absolutely loved the experience, I can't help but think the District 6 race would have ended a little differently if I had gotten through the primary. Maybe that's just my youthful inexperience talking (although I never made that an issue of my campaign).

2. Polling has really let the country down this year. First in Kentucky where Matt Bevin was projected to lose to the illustrious Jack Conway and then in the New Albany Mayoral Race. My faith in polling has fallen lower than my trust for gas station sushi.

3. Speaking of the Mayoral Race, can you believe Gahan was re-elected? I mean, I know we have a water park. Well, that's about it, I know we have a water park. Anyone know the protocol for a recall?

4. This one really isn't much of a grievance seeing as watching the opposition party fade away bodes well for the future of my party here in Floyd County. Nevertheless, I am going to complain about the systematic degradation of the Floyd County Democratic Party. I just remember the good ole days when the Democrats stood for something and I'm not saying they don't nationally (albeit I disagree with the vast majority of it), but here locally in Floyd County they have lost their way. I hope they find their way, I mean not really, but in the competitive spirit I hope they find their way (but they don’t have to, like, it's just a suggestion).

5. Now I'm getting into the gritty grievances. I thought it was just so nice for the city to “allow” the Republican City Councilmen (Al Knable, David Barksdale, and Dave Aebersold) to be sworn in at the over¬the¬top, brought to you by Mayor Jeff M. Gahan, Jingle Walk/Street Piano/Where You Should Be, City of New Albany Swearing in Ceremony. Almost made me forget about the hundreds of millions of debt, misuse of TIF, and lack of transparency.

Almost.

6. Remember the Street Piano? Mrs. Gahan wishes you would forget. After the multi-month long fight with The Board of Works, my teacher, Hannegan Roseberry finally saw her vision of a street piano come to fruition in a beautiful ceremony at the piano’s home (although I think it has gone into retirement) in front of proud Gahan supporter, Jimmy of Jimmy’s Music Center.

7. We often hear about “leading from behind” in national politics as it is a big conservative talking point. But what do we call Gahan’s leadership? It's not so much leading from behind as it is not leading at all. I hope that his New Year’s resolution will be to take less vacations and attend at least 1 City Council meeting this coming year.

8. In such cases like the Jingle Walk and the Halloween Trunk or Treat (brought to you by Mayor Jeff M. Gahan and Mayor Jeff M. Gahan, respectively) the City subjected us to a “rain or shine” policy. This only further proves Gahan’s lack of leadership seeing as he hasn't yet learned how to control the weather. Oh no, I've given him a new idea. I can see it now: “Today we are looking at 73 degrees, sunny, a nice calm breeze coming from the southwest all brought to you by Mayor Jeff M. Gahan.”

9. The difference between a city logo and city seal should be the topic of conversation in the coming 4 years. It is something that just needs to be discussed after the fiasco in the City Council Chamber where Dan Coffey expressed his approval since the steamboat Robert E. Lee is inherently racist while Scott Blair just asked for clarification. I hope he leads the effort on defining the difference.

10. Lastly, I’d like to point out the fact I was not on Roger’s list for “New Albany Person of the Year.” Probably just goes back to my youthful inexperience, although I could have sworn he said he wouldn't make that an issue of the campaign. What? That was Reagan? Oh, I get the two confused sometimes.

Happy Holidays all! I hope the New Year brings you all success and prosperity. A huge thank you to Roger for letting me air my grievances on his blog! I'm hoping to get some new routine down for more content on a consistent basis. To all those I mentioned, I hope you find the humor in this and will be good sports. At the end of the day we all love New Albany and want it to succeed!

Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos on limbo, lawyers and friendships.

Photo credit

Yes, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ultimately stands as the epitome of First World meaninglessness.

At the same time, when three of your favorite bands are to be inducted in one sweeping act of vindication, it's at least worth a brief self-congratulatory grin. I've been a fan of Deep Purple and Chicago since junior high school, and Cheap Trick came along only shortly thereafter. Their music brings me pleasure; so be it.

Each of these three bands has survived the ephemeral ups and downs of the marketplace, and remain working musical entities. For fans, it's all about the music, but more pointedly, for working musicians, it's about dollars and cents. As with any other business, workers come and go, and often their decisions have to do with money and personalities, not art.

Unsurprisingly, there is an interesting back story for each in the context of personnel. Deep Purple's Ian Paice fears fisticuffs might erupt between present and former band members if they were to share a stage.

Everyone wants to know whether Peter Cetera will reunite with Chicago, but what about original drummer Danny Seraphine, who was fired a quarter century ago, and later wrote a tell-all book about the experience?

And then there's Cheap Trick, three members of which evidently attempted to dump drummer Bun E. Carlos in 2010. After legal wranglings, Carlos remains a partner in the business operation, but is blockaded from performing live with the band. He's in a curious sort of limbo, though at least the checks are still being cut -- after the lawsuit was filed.

When he asks for financial information, does he receive it? Do they forward his snail mail? Have they blocked his e-mail?

Interesting. Very interesting. I have absolutely no idea why, although there is a certain melancholy attached to a statement like this:

"Any friendship we had went away when I had to file a federal lawsuit. That cost a bucket of fucking money. Going after these guys wasn't pleasant. The friendship sort of frittered away there."

Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos on Possible Rock Hall Reunion, by Andy Greene (Rolling Stone)

 ... We just drew up a contract that said, "I don't tour with the band, but I'm a full member of the band." We've got all these corporations. The touring company said, "If you quit touring, you lose your vote." I wasn't going to let that happen. I'm a full member of the band. So we drew up a piece of paper, and a couple years later the check stopped coming. I met with Scott Borchetta — that was something special. And then I had to sue them in federal court to get my money back. We did a settlement last spring and its all hunky dory. That's the short story.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Now what? The "Subdivision Christmas Village" is no longer in stock.


It's a very clever pitch for donations from Smart Growth America, which suggest the "Walkable Downtown Christmas Village" is by far the better selling item.

Just try telling it to the knuckleheads hereabouts.

Smart Growth America advocates for people who want to live and work in great neighborhoods. We believe smart growth solutions support thriving businesses and jobs, provide more options for how people get around and make it more affordable to live near work and the grocery store. Our coalition works with communities to fight sprawl and save money. We are making America’s neighborhoods great together.

Making Communities Work for Everyone
At the heart of the American dream is the simple hope that each of us can choose to live in a neighborhood that’s beautiful, affordable, and easy to get around. We want to create healthy communities with strong local businesses, schools and shops nearby, transportation options and jobs that pay well.

Americans want to make their neighborhoods great, and smart growth strategies help make that dream a reality. Smart growth is about creating local jobs and protecting the environment. It is about being able to safely walk to a park close by. It is about spending less time in traffic and more time doing what’s important to you.

Smart Investments and Common Sense SolutionsSmart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks so people can walk to their town center to ensuring that more homes are built near public transit or productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure that people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods.

Syriza vs. the EU: #ThisIsACoup documentary, episodes 1 - 4.



It makes for somber but necessary watching.

The Nation's text is here; episode one of the video is embedded above, with links to all four parts below.

Field of Vision:

#ThisIsACoup Episode 1 | "Angela, Suck Our Balls"

#ThisIsACoup Episode 2 | To Pay or Not To Pay

#ThisIsACoup: Episode 3 | OXI - The Greek Word for 'No'

#ThisIsACoup Episode 4 | Surrender or Die

Taco Steve's menu and the bricks 'n' mortar hours of operation.


Note Taco Steve's holiday hours this week: Open Wed., Thurs. and Sat. (closed Christmas Day).

"Taco Steve is ushering in the New Year slow and steady. We'll be open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. for dine-in or take-out. Call 812-670-6463. Always at 604 E. Spring Street, in the back of Destinations Booksellers. Cheap, Fast, and Literate."

Monday, December 21, 2015

Another street grid lesson for Jeff Gahan to ignore.


In a nutshell: Slowed speeds, improved walker safety, better access for drivers. Succinct, to the point -- and utterly beyond Team Gahan's stunted suburban-think.

New York Street to open to two-way traffic through IUPUI on Monday
(Indianapolis Business Journal)

Vehicles will be able to start driving west on New York Street through the IUPUI campus starting late Monday afternoon as the city opens the thoroughfare to two-way traffic ...

 ... "This project represents a long collaboration between major community stakeholders including IUPUI, the hospitals and our west-side neighborhoods," said Melody Park, the public works department’s chief engineer, in a statement. "This project will both increase the safety of students and pedestrians by calming traffic speeds along New York Street as well as allow motorists more direct access to their destinations on the university and hospital campuses."

Restaurant and equipment for sale in downtown NA, formerly the Frenchman's.




Tell 'em you saw it here, and maybe I'll get a finder's pint.

Frisch's Big Boy, meet landfill.


The car dealership formerly known as Frisch's Big Boy is disappearing today.

Update: By the end of the day on Monday, December 21.


Will the "Drive-In Restaurant" ordinance still on New Albany's brawny lad of a rulebook now be refashioned to apply to those craft meth dispensaries located a few yards from future luxury?

Only time will tell.

Drive-In Restaurants
§ 115.02 CERTAIN ACTS PROHIBITED ON PREMISES.
(A) No person shall race the motor of any vehicle, start or stop any vehicle suddenly without cause, squeal the tires, blow the horn or make or cause to be made any other loud or unseemly noise by any means whatsoever, while on or adjacent to the premises of a drive-in restaurant, so as to cause a nuisance. ('71 Code, §110.02)

Here's how the Frisch's looked 50 years ago, when it was being built.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top posts at NA Confidential for 2015, Part Three: Top 10 for 2015.

With two posts in the year's Top 10, we honor Stephen Powell, aka Taco Steve.

NA Confidential's top posts for 2015 are divided into three lists: January through June, and July through December, to be followed by one final accounting of the Top Ten.

This is Part Three, and the Top 10 for the year. Beginning with the fewest and ending with the most, these rankings are determined by numbers of unique hits, as reported by Blogger.

Half of them pertain to food and dining in New Albany. None directly address the municipal election. Perhaps these observations are intended to tell us something.

On January 1, NA Confidential begins its 13th year of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Thanks for reading.

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TOP TEN FOR 2015

614 08/08/2015

Stephen "Taco Steve" Powell, his taco cart, and downtown New Albany.


621 04/20/15

News release: "Greenville Concerned Citizens, Inc. (has) voted to oppose the upcoming $80 million school bond referendum."


632 07/31/2015

ON THE AVENUES: Homegrown New Albany, but not in a good way.


688 06/02/2015

Dan Coffey's homophobic council tantrum: The Video.


708 03/10/2015

A bit more about ongoing changes at Bank Street Brewhouse.


711 11/23/2015

We welcome Staggers, Morris and the Gospel Bird with open arms and our senseless one-way streets.


729 01/10/2015

Pillsbury: Is General Mills being honest?


769 12/13/2015

Taco Steve's storefront is coming.


1,290 02/03/2015

Amanda Beam's column about human trafficking and the sex trade, and Kevin Zurschmiede's spa denial.


1,669 12/15/2015

Jaws will drop: A walk-through at Brooklyn & the Butcher.