Thursday, January 07, 2016
ON THE AVENUES: You know, that time when Roger interviewed himself.
A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.
And stay right here, 'cause these are the good old days.
-- Carly Simon, “Anticipation”
So long as we persist in delineating our messy, serendipitous lives according to sleek, clean calendar lines, there’ll be reviews, resolutions, tired December conclusions and fresh January beginnings.
These annoy me, and yet I’m as guilty of them as anyone, even if the utter indifference of the cosmos as a whole keeps me grounded ... most of the time.
Throughout the mayoral campaign, a prime objective was for "us" to speak of “we,” as opposed to “I.” This owed in part to the incumbent’s bizarrely swollen head, although my antipathy to cults of personality has resulted from personal experience as well as perusing books every now and then.
During the course of my own years in beer, there have existed periodic temptations to indulge in precisely this sort of self-deification. Regrettably, I wasn’t always immune to periods of relaxed vigilance, which are characterized by reading one’s own press clippings and actually believing what they say.
What kept me grounded most of the time was the simple realization that I was part of a team, and the daily efforts of the team resulted in satisfied customers, who returned and made possible the survival of the business. I played one role, and it was just that: One part among many, inter-related, and meaningless when separated from the whole.
Perhaps politics inevitably works somewhat like this, and perhaps it doesn’t, but either way, the very notion of a personality cult is deeply offensive to me. What’s more, the greater our proximity to it, the more indefensible such an indulgence becomes.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll conclude this column by talking about myself.
Your continued questions about my professional life are flattering, humbling and deserving of some answers. Insofar as there is verifiable truth to tell, I will try to dispense it, though be advised that as yet, the year 2016 is shrouded in fog and mystery.
Even I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
1. What is your current status at the New Albanian Brewing Company?
The needle hasn’t moved for many months. As yet, I own 1/3 of New Albanian Brewing Co., Inc. (NABC Pizzeria & Public House) and 1/3 of New Albanian Bank Street Brewery, Inc. (Bank Street Brewhouse). Until I reach agreement with my two business partners to sell my shares to them, I’ll continue to enjoy the all risks of ownership without any of the commensurate rewards.
2. That’s odd – didn’t you already sell out?
No. Last year I stated publicly that it was my intent to sell my shares in the business to my business partners, and this objective has not changed. 25 years is long enough for me.
3. Okay, but is there a timetable for resolving this issue?
Yes, there is a mandated procedure according to our by-laws and buy/sell agreement. There have been desultory preliminary negotiations, but I have not initiated the timetable according to the mechanism specified in the buy/sell.
For one thing, it should come as a surprise to no one that the legalities involved are formidable. In addition, and perhaps more to the point, our buy/sell agreement makes no reference to my charitable donation of these shares. The verb “to sell” means something entirely different, or so we were taught at school.
4. So, to be completely clear: Are you involved with NABC on a daily basis in any fashion apart from ongoing issues pertaining to your unresolved ownership stake?
I am not involved at all, and to be honest, I do not expect to be involved during the transitional period. If you have questions or comments pertaining to NABC, I’ll try my best to direct them to someone who can help you. I have the utmost confidence in the abilities of employees and staff, and am happy to assist them if they need help.
5. What about the Brewers of Indiana Guild?
For so long as I retain an ownership stake in NABC, I remain on the board of directors of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. My enthusiasm for the advancement of the collective growth of brewing in Indiana is undiminished, and I hope to be able to participate in several upcoming guild projects. Of course, once my shares in NABC are sold, I’ll resign from the BIG board, and if for any reason the board feels it would be in the best interest of the guild for me to step aside, I will.
6. What are you doing with your time?
“I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.”
― Ignatius J. Reilly, in A Confederacy of Dunces
Reading, writing, listening and learning.
My wife is elated at my rediscovery of home kitchen cooking, something I’ve always enjoyed. I walk several miles a day and have been maintaining reduced weight. Perhaps a resumption of bicycling will occur when the weather warms.
I’ve joined the board of New Albany IndieFest, and am preparing to more actively organize and promote the New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association. As with the Brewers of Indiana Guild, there is palpable liberation in working for the good of the collective, rather than always promoting one’s own business.
My relationship with beer is undergoing a necessary reinvention. With distance has come a greater measure of perspective, which I’ll be gradually documenting at the Potable Curmudgeon blog and my new Facebook page, Roger’s Simple Beer Pleasures. Localism interests me. Multinational capital accumulation does not.
A long-term goal is to unify my varied interests in beer, history and culture with past experiences in the beer business, hopefully arriving at an integrated program of education and entertainment. I want to get back to the notion of teaching.
Of course, the NA Confidential blog isn’t going anywhere, although I’d like to do some remodeling in 2016. Nick Vaughn has agreed to write a weekly column, and I’ve extended this offer to others.
7. Is it safe to say the job of mayor pays better than all this?
Yes, quite safe. I currently inhabit a pro bono world, but am forever open to suggestions. Whether I’m employable is one of the more intriguing questions in my life at present.
8. Are you still pursuing civic activism?
I find it exceedingly difficult not to have a viewpoint, and harder still not to express it.
Did someone say “civic activism”? Yes, indeed. The pursuit continues, even if the quarry is elusive. I’ve been knocked down, brushed back, blocked, besieged, blockaded, censored, defriended, unfollowed and trivialized.
However, I’m not discouraged in the least. Overall, we’ve only just begun. In the Land of C-Minus Students, being a dissident suits me, so don't expect it to change.
9. What about your spotty career in politics?
Having mastered the Seven-Per-Cent Solution, my next amazing trick is to hover around the exclusionary and gated periphery, an eyebrow jauntily cocked, looking for loopholes.
However, to quote Tricky Dicky, let’s make one thing perfectly clear. If Scott Blair and Dan Coffey both self-identify as "independent," then I might as well run for office next time as a socialist. These people are ruining my brand.
10. Do you have any final thoughts?
Absolutely, though you’ll have to keep reading to find out.
By the way, has that News and Tribune guest columnist position been posted yet?
December 31: ON THE AVENUES: My 2015 in books and reading.
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?