Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Robo-NAHA board waves sheets of meaningless paper while Duggins foams at the mouth. No worries, because Gahan's finest functionaries are on it.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my (bald) head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

-- David Duggins at last night's NAHA board meeting

Let's review.

For quite some time, former New Albany Housing Authority chief Bob Lane and his staff had a plan -- a genuine, real, written design -- to revamp public housing in New Albany on a 1-to-1 demolish/rebuild unit basis.

For Lane to achieve this plan, Mayor Jeff Gahan and certain of his vapid minions had to sign a few documents -- and they refused. In fact, Gahan purposefully neglected to replace housing board members, and in most significant respects, the mayor did what he could to thwart Lane's plans.

It's about a "C-minus" student's mythology, but more on this in a moment.

Gahan then seized control of NAHA, fired Lane, purged the board by replacing its members with reliably servile bootlickers and sycophants, and solved a huge 3rd-floor etiquette problem by shifting the completely unqualified David Duggins a long mile away from HWC Engineering's branch office of municipal government.

The new public housing regime promptly promised to demolish half the existing units, to be replaced with vouchers, the utility of which is contradicted by every prevailing academic study -- but what does this mean to those among us who don't ever bother reading?

Except for the mythology, of course.

This abrupt putsch had the predictable effect of creating opposition; naturally, with no specific plan apart from the vague voucher bauble, and with the fix so very obviously in, thoughtful housing residents and community members viewed Gahan's actions in precisely the proper context: a hostile takeover of NAHA to facilitate social engineering according to the "vision" of a typical veneer salesman's lifelong prejudices.

So far, these verbal assurances to residents and the community have taken the form of veiled threats and strong-arm tactics, which are sure to become more prevalent when the police sub-station (see below) is up and running; ironically, it isn't about the crime, it's about "boy, do you really need to be signing a petition when Pappy Gahan disapproves?"

Is the police chief capable of embarrassment at this point?

Years of Gahan's conniving over Bud Light Limes at the Roadhouse, followed by ten months of pure bungling by people who can't even lie very well, and only yesterday does the handpicked board of demolition coordinators bother to release an official statement of calming, the tone of which was immediately contradicted by an increasingly strident and intemperate Duggins, who denounced freedom of expression while pointing a paranoid finger at the emerging conspiracy against his selfless band of heroes.

It's an absolute and expanding mess of Gahan's own making. Six years into this reign of anchor-weighted error, Gahan is frantically scratching the most irresistible generational and mythological itch of all, this being his earnest and impeccably crackpot theory that honest DINOs can't ever get what they really deserve in this town until public housing is scourged and the unsightly poor dispersed.

Carbohydrates don't matter as much as plausible deniability, and Gahan's loading up on the latter, importing a red-faced bag man from Clark County to do the dirty work.

Gahan probably believes he's in the clear, but actually his ongoing public housing putsch reveals the fathomless depths of a moral and ethical void.

Not only is the stain uncontained, it's spreading. The monetizing vandals at Team Gahan finally are getting worried, and their poise is fast eroding. With the next coronation due in 2019, and so many beaks to keep wetted, things are about to become even dirtier.

So let's keep pushing, shall we?

New Albany housing board signs resolution stating none will be homeless after demolition, by Elizabeth Beilman (News and Tribune)

Resolution in response to "false information"

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Housing Authority Board of Commissioners signed a resolution Monday stating no current residents living in public housing "will be made homeless" as the result of a plan to demolish hundreds of units.

The board unanimously approved the resolution during its regular meeting, putting into writing assurances that members have previously verbally made to the community.

"This is no different than what we've said, but clearly I think people don't believe or are listening to us ... this is in line with what the board believes, this is in line with regulations by [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development]," board president Irving Joshua said.

The resolution mentions "there has been false information circulated that has led NAHA residents to believe that they may be evicted or otherwise forced from their homes."

NAHA Interim Executive Director David Duggins called this information "extremely harmful," disseminated by "members of the community and former members of this board."

This information — that "people will be made homeless, that they will be evicted and that we are going to come in and tear down all these structures and put people on the streets" could not be "farther from the truth," Duggins said, adding some residents have asked if that is what will occur.

"We are here every day. The people who have gotten involved are not," he said, declining to name specific groups or individuals. "They do not have the residents' best interest in mind. We do, because we deal with it every day."

Click here to view a selection of previous NAC posts about the public housing putsch.

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's a Christmas miracle -- though when it comes to Bill Allen's shit hole properties on Main Street, even Santa knows better than to dream.

This morning there was some sort of clean-up operation underway in the outdoor cockroach dining area of notorious slumlord attorney Bill Allen's collection of neglected properties on the corner of Main and 3rd. It seems a shame to make all the rats homeless for the holidays, but when it comes to this collection of purposeful dilapidation, any news is good news.

What a community parasite.

If I were ordinance enforcement, I'd follow the wagon to make sure the contents aren't dumped illegally on the side of the road -- or at one of Allen's other trashy buildings.

But he sure has a nice house up in Silver Hills, eh?

It's forever noteworthy the way that none of Allen's residential neighbors (including Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson) would tolerate squalor in their neighborhood the magnitude of which has been allowed by Allen at his Main & 3rd dump.

Bill Allen, if you're reading ... nah, there's no need to say it aloud.

30 years ago today: (May) An introduction to Yugoslavia in Ljubljana, then Zagreb and the way to Sarajevo.


30 years ago today: (May) Hillsides in Perugia, Gubbio, Assisi -- and the end of Italy '87.

ON THE AVENUES: Welcome to wherever you are, and come to think of it, Ljubljana will do nicely.

A disorienting transition from capitalism to socialism went like this.

Day 30 ... Friday, May 15
Perugia → Firenze → Trieste → Ljubljana ... $23 hotel room!

Day 31 ... Saturday, May 16
Ljubljana. More rain; Dom Tabor.

Day 32 ... Sunday, May 17
Zagreb. Hostel; construction work on Trg Republike.

Remind me to never again arrive in a strange city at 10:30 in the evening on a Friday, especially when the conscripts have gathered for their final night on the town, and all the suggested hostels are padlocked.

Early on a Saturday morning in Ljubljana -- now the capital of independent Slovenia, then a major regional city in Yugoslavia -- things began settling down within range of sensible.

The youth travel office directed me to Dom Tabor, a hostel somewhere in the center of Ljubljana that evidently remains in operation three decades later. Today's Google street view of Dom Tabor conjures no memories, but in 1987 it had available space for a Saturday night, albeit not in the cheaper dorm rooms of my preference.

Instead, I was billeted in a single room. For my second night in Yugoslavia, I'd be paying only double my daily budget for a bed, not triple like the disastrous night before. This was progress, I suppose; still, my scant notes indicate annoyance at the relatively high prices of Slovenia.

Insofar as my brief travel experiences informed me, Slovenia seemed out of place, tied to Yugoslavia and at the same time feeling far more Central European than Balkan. The hilly setting in Ljubljana reminded me of Salzburg, in Austria, and the red tiled roofs were a Mediterranean flourish resting atop imperial-era Habsburg buildings.

In fact, without belaboring the point, the Slovenes were under the dominion of the Holy Roman Empire for a millennium, then the Austrian for another 400 years. Only in 1918 did the European powers-that-be assign them to the newly created Yugoslavia. It was an uneasy marriage, and Slovenia artfully slipped away from Yugoslavia in 1991, with little blood shed.

The violence came later, to the south.

In Ljubljana in 1987, there were snarling dragons guarding the old downtown bridge and a teeming Saturday morning market in the square; tarnished copper stains on buildings with chipped columns; the widespread occurrence of chain smoking and public spitting; and a curious aroma in the air that eventually registered as coal smoke, which I hadn't experienced in metro Louisville since childhood.

In the old town, there was a little pizzeria by the river, and I splurged on a small pie accompanied by draft Union Pivo, tasty lager from the hometown brewery, which I managed to locate later while walking after the sun finally came out.

However, I'd already learned it was more cost effective to drink from the bottle -- and by my reckoning, I needed more than one beer.

On Saturday afternoon, fearing none of the stores would be open, I abruptly strolled past a line of people waiting to enter one, which was doing business with the door propped open. Emerging with three half-liter bottles of Union, it was time to sit on a park bench and gaze at the hilltop castle.

Where the suburbs began, so did the unpainted gray housing blocks, which were Yugoslavia's (and the East Bloc's) solution to warehousing its postwar population. In these neighborhoods there proved to be more examples of commerce than I'd imagined, mostly products being vended from wooden kiosks: cosmetics, street food, flowers and newspapers.

At last mildly buzzed and relaxed, it was time to reflect. Determined to meet my lodging budget, I determined to keep moving, returning to the formerly chaotic train station on Sunday afternoon to find it placid and normal, the employees no longer overwhelmed by drunkards. In retrospect, I might have chosen a smaller Slovenian city than Ljubljana and regrouped, but it was a short hop of three or so hours to Zagreb … and a fateful meeting.


In January, 2008, it finally occurred to me to search the Internet for some of the names I'd recalled from my travels decades earlier.

One of them was Radojko Petkovski, whose name promptly surfaced in a handful of listings, each attesting to his collaboration on fairly recent seismology studies, fully befitting an apparent post-Communist career advancement for a man whose 1987 business card identified him as an earthquake engineer working for an institute of earthquake studies in Skopje, Macedonia (Yugoslavia).

The second class cars on the Yugoslav "express" train from Ljubljana to Zagreb weren't terribly crowded. Seated opposite me was a conservatively dressed, well-groomed man probably in his late 30s, quietly reading a newspaper. When the conductor came past to check tickets, there was momentary linguistic confusion.

The man smiled, spoke to me in accented English, and answered the conductor. As the door shut, enclosing the claustrophobic old-fashioned compartment, I was handed a business card and an elemental conversation ensued.

He asked me to call him Rady. He spoke a bit of English, and naturally I spoke none of the Yugoslav languages. There were to be future implications to the fractured dialogue, but for the moment, it was quite pleasant to engage with a local.

Soon we pulled into one of the intermediate stations, and resting on a siding adjacent to us was a train filled with dazed young soldiers looking out their windows.

I'd been trying to explain the scene at the station in Ljubljana, and Rady nodded; he'd seen it, too, and proceeded to explain what I'd witnessed, noting that the rowdy specimens I experienced were draftees being shipped out for basic training, as were the meek (hungover?) soldiers glimpsed outside our window. They may have been one and the same.

Soon we had arrived in Zagreb, and Rady made it a point to invite me to Skopje for a visit. I told him it might not be for a couple of weeks. His card was filed in my pouch, and we said goodbye.


As it turned out, the youth hostel in Zagreb had a suitably priced bunk bed for one night only, after which a school group was coming on Monday to fill all the spaces.

I recall having a few mugs of cheap lager beer on a patio outside the train station, with time for a walkabout. Interestingly, the only observation I saw fit to record was "construction work on Trg Republike," this being the central square in Zagreb. When Croatia became independent, the name was changed to Ban Jelačić Square.

What was the construction about? Here's the answer, courtesy of the Yugoslavia Virtual Museum.

The 1987 Summer Universiade, also known as the XIV Summer Universiade, took place in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. It involved participants from 122 countries and over 6,000 individual sportspersons and members of teams.

The city of Zagreb used the event to renovate and revitalize the city. The city's main square (Republic Square) was repaved with stone blocks and made part of the downtown pedestrian zone. A part of the Medveščak stream, which had been running under the sewers since 1898, was uncovered by workers. This part formed the Manduševac fountain that was also covered in 1898.

This was the work I saw occurring, two months prior to the main event,

On Monday morning, I hopped aboard a train into the interior, eventually passing out of Croatia and into the rugged mountains of Bosnia-Herzegovina. My destination was Sarajevo, and a date with Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

At ESPN: "Perhaps more than any other place in America, Louisville came to embody the contradictions of college athletics -- a multibillion-dollar industry built on amateur athletes."

Rich Pitino's house for sale in Miami, now
discounted to move at only $24 million.

The long read is at ESPN: The Magazine.

How a midlevel school became The University of Adidas at Louisville, by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada

It's about the delightful implosion of Tom Jurich's non-academic sporting money machine at the University of Louisville, and it's highly recommended even if you're not a jaded cynic like me.

(Tom) Jurich was so successful generating money that "I wished I could turn them upside down and shake out their pocket change for the academic side," says Thomas B. Byers, a professor emeritus in the English department. Perhaps more than any other place in America, Louisville came to embody the contradictions of college athletics -- a multibillion-dollar industry built on amateur athletes.

Whenever the hypocrisy and corruption of big-time college sports becomes too blatantly obvious to ignore, and bloviates like me start chortling, back comes the well-rehearsed rejoinder: Well, just look at how the bountiful cash generated by the athletic departments helps the entire university community.

Then someone like the deposed (if not disgraced in the eyes of the fanboys and girls) Jurich decides to speak honestly.

Told about the frustrations expressed by several professors, Jurich wonders why some academic departments can't rebuild themselves in the same way he built up the athletic department. "They couldn't have gone out and raised money?" he says. "Why is it I'm accountable for everything and all we've done is been successful? But these other people get a free pass? If I was a humanities professor, do you think I'd sit there and say, 'Man, I can't get it done, poor me'? I'd never say that. I'd go find a way to get it done. You know what? Those schools have alumni too. Those schools have very rich graduates too. Nobody handed me anything when I walked into this place. Nobody. It was quite the contrary."

So much for spreading the wealth. In other words, lazy-ass academics, go out there and fill an arena with folks willing to pay to watch you conduct scientific experiments or make philosophical arguments, and you can have a piece of the pie, too.

Of course, when even a trained physician confuses sports funding with the mission of education, such a result is almost inevitable.

Jurich built $280 million in arenas, playing fields and athletic offices by convincing rich people of the facilities' vital importance. "I can give $5 million to stem cell research and it's gonna help stem cell research," says Dr. Mark Lynn, an optometry-chain owner whose name adorns the soccer complex. "I give $5 million to a soccer stadium and it's gonna help everything." Lynn says sports bring the school visibility.

Ultimately, it's like this ...

"I don't think Tom Jurich gets this, and I don't think Jim Ramsey got it," says state Rep. Jim Wayne, whose district includes parts of Louisville. "The University of Louisville is a state facility ... and it is not their kingdom. They are not the kings, and the princes, and the nobility in the kingdom. They're temporary stewards of these programs. And instead of seeing this as something that they should be responsible for and hold high ethical standards as they execute their jobs, they're doing just the opposite."

... and this.

F. Chris Gorman, a former Kentucky attorney general, says: "I think that the tragedy here is this is probably the only community that uses public money to fund a Division I athletic program. That's what led to all this corruption: They had all this money -- money from the foundation, money from the arena, money from the students. You add all that up, and then they have a budget to compete with the Ohio States of the world. But they haven't done it in an honest way. They've done it by fleecing the taxpayers and by taking money from the foundation, men and women that worked all their lives and thought they were giving money to education."

Bread and circuses. Somewhere behind the curtain, there's an institution of higher learning. Has that occurred to any of you?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Chris FitzGerald will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Ed Clere in the race for District 72 Indiana House.

New Albany native Chris FitzGerald has announced that he'll be seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run for the Indiana House of Representatives, District 72.

As we eagerly await FitzGerald's position on Jeff Gahan's un-Democratic hostile takeover of public housing in New Albany, you can read the candidate's biography here.

Republican Ed Clere has held this seat since defeating the incumbent Bill Cochran in 2008. In 2016, Clere defeated Gahan's brother-in-law 57.25% (18,092 votes) to 42.75% (13,511 votes).

FitzGerald's campaign kickoff event will be this Wednesday (December 13), 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at Karem's Meats (3306 Plaza Drive, New Albany, Indiana 47150).

Indiana needs new leadership and I know I can help improve the lives of working Hoosiers...So I'm running to be the Indiana Representative for District 72!

I invite you to come out to help kick off this grassroots campaign! Together, we can change Indianapolis and provide opportunity to all Hoosiers.

Please go to chrisforindiana.com to sign up and donate. This will be a tough race, and we cannot leave anything on the field.

Additionally, you can find the campaign on instagram, twitter, and facebook by searching chrisforindiana. Please like and follow :)

I will see you Wednesday!

The blog, our swamp, a whole year of my life and the outlook for 2018.

As of this morning, there have been 12,254 posts at NA Confidential.

I've written and posted most of these, though not all (thanks to Jeff, Randy, Lloyd and a few others for their contributions), and while it's impossible to be exact, for the sake of the calculation I'll use 30 minutes as the average time required to finish a post, although it's surely more than this.

This comes out to 367,620 minutes, or 6,127 hours, or 255 entire 24-hours days in my lifetime (57 years) doing nothing except writing for NAC.

If the time allotment is raised to 45 minutes per posting, it would be 382 days, or just more than a year. Taking everything into consideration, the truth probably lies somewhere between 255 and 382 days. At any event, as noted recently at Facebook, it's too bad this shit doesn't pay.

During the coming week on Wednesday or Thursday, I'll have surpassed last year's blogging productivity. It will be the 11th straight year to record more posts that the year before.

▼ 2017 (1358)
► 2016 (1369)
► 2015 (1249)
► 2014 (1228)
► 2013 (1167)
► 2012 (1114)
► 2011 (921)
► 2010 (839)
► 2009 (789)
► 2008 (583)
► 2007 (495)
► 2006 (492)
► 2005 (573)
► 2004 (77)

Yes, I've assigned myself explicit daily, weekly and monthly quotas, which have been nudged up each year in order to focus my attention. Obviously the blog pays me nothing, but I take it very seriously, which is the point of today's thoughts.

In the previous week's column, I mentioned that our human planetary order is passing from one era to the next, a fact which can't always be seen without a certain amount of time passing and perspective accruing from the distance. The same goes for our own individual lives.

It's very clear to me now when certain periods of my life began and ended, and equally obvious that since ceasing to be involved in NABC (no, they haven't paid me a red room cent yet), I'm in the middle of another transition, albeit without the necessary perspective to know exactly what it means or where it's going.

It can suffice to say there are a couple of possibilities for my next phase of professional development in 2018 (read: paid employment), and as such, something's got to give.

Come January, there'll be a renegotiation of my attitude toward this evolving body of work otherwise known as NA Confidential. I have no intention of ceasing to blog, and you'll remain as entitled to my opinion as before, but simply stated, I can't continue to do the News and Tribune's "checks and balances" job for it. 

The newspaper's "management" team seems intent to give Jeff "Dear Leader" Gahan a perpetual free pass; to refuse to ask the necessary questions both of our City Hall and other regional aggregations of business-as-usual (I'm looking at you, 1Si); and to waste its talented collection of youthful reporters on feel-good fluff, the sheer daily weight of which effectively cancels out the newspaper's periodic showpiece "made for annual awards" efforts pertaining (as an example) to opioid addiction.

In fact, the newspaper's maddening obliviousness probably does more to impel my cantankerousness than any other single factor, including Gahan's cult of personality, David Duggins' entirely undeserved pay packet or the local Democratic Party's muzzling instincts.

Here's the thing: it takes a village to resist the idiocy, cowardice and graft. None of us standing alone can put a dent in the hyper-monetized armor of the reigning local vandals.

There's a swamp in need of clearing, and I'll continue to play my part ... just in an altered state, because the increased time it takes to do this pro bono job the way I'd like for it to be done is about to become an issue. As Billy Preston once presciently observed, "nothing from nothing leaves nothing." 

This blog will remain a place where ideas and alternatives are discussed, and satire is encouraged -- after all, satire is more important than booze when it comes to coping with the saturation-level stupidity all around us -- but no streak lasts forever, and mine is no exception. I can promise there'll be no new record for posts set in the year 2018.

There remains a standing invitation to readers to get involved, contribute their thoughts and rock the research. Those who do will be remunerated at the same basic going rate (zilch), and I'd be thrilled with this blog morphing into a community anthology.

Until then, NAC in 2018 will be much the same, only different -- and, for the record, it's taken me a full hour to write these words, a task meriting the use of an exclamation mark.


Former Haymarket employees strike back with countersuit, directing attention to Matthew Landan's masters degree thesis.

Unsurprisingly, the ongoing saga of Matthew Landan and his Haymarket Whiskey Bar seems to be settling into the familiar pattern of trench warfare within the legal system.

Landan counter-attacks: "After Facebook Outrage, Owner Of Haymarket Whiskey Bar Sues Over Rape Allegations."

"When internet justice is likely the only justice": Allegations of rape against Matthew Landan result in the closing of Haymarket Whiskey Bar. Are we learning yet?

Last week came the countersuit.

Haymarket Whiskey Bar owner Matthew Landan seeks 'vengeance and suppression,' former employees say in lawsuit, by Jason Riley (WDRB)

“I’ve always considered myself to be something of a liar.”

That quote, from Haymarket Whiskey Bar owner Matthew Landan, appears at the top of a response filed by former employees Landan sued after he was accused of rape on Facebook and his NuLu bar temporarily closed.

Landan said this in a dissertation at the University of Louisville in 2014, according to the workers' counterclaim and motion to dismiss filed Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Their filing raises Landan’s credibility as an important issue. And the motion to dismiss alleges the true purpose of Landan's lawsuit is "vengeance and suppression" of those who choose not to work with him or talk about the alleged sexual assaults ...

The masters thesis is an interesting twist, although it might be noted that a creative writing syllabus doesn't necessarily support an obligation to pass along concrete truth.

As part of the motion to dismiss, attorney Jeremiah Reece, points out that Landan’s master thesis indicates he is a liar.

“It makes sense that there is a lie bundled into the name of my bar,” the motion quotes. “I have always considered myself to be something of a liar and once even went so far as embarking on a career in public relations (another way of saying I was paid to lie).”

As you might imagine, Landan's seemingly autobiographical thesis has been downloaded very often as of late. Here is an expanded excerpt, from which the WDRB quotes were extracted.

Then there’s me, me and the Haymarket—my attempt to prove that not all work is work, that commerce in whiskey is actually fun. That whiskey is actually a wish key. The ticket to making my dream’s come true. My dreams of course are fairly simple. I don’t want to work for anyone but myself. I want to some day live on an island and go scuba diving five days a week while money from the bar is deposited into my account. I want to be paid for my charisma and good looks and the fact that once upon a time I put in the hard work and took the thumps and knocks, that I paid my dues and now I can enjoy the rewards of my creation.

Yet like the historic Louisville Haymarket, our name is a bit of a lie. We do not sell hay in any quantity at the bar. It makes sense that there is a lie bundled into the name of my bar. I have always considered myself to be something of a liar and once even went so far as embarking on a career in public relations (another way of saying I was paid to lie).

Owning a bar is a profitable way to make one’s living, but it has drawbacks (alcoholic tendencies). I used to own a coffee shop, but this is more exciting and allows me to work fewer hours a day and fewer days a week. In fact I rarely even bartend any longer. Mostly these days I work at playing the host. By and large it is a pleasant way to kill time while on planet Earth. It is rarely boring and there is always someone new walking through my door. In the two and a half years I have owned the bar it has earned a reputation for being one of the preeminent bourbon and whiskey bars in the city and the nation. We (the royal “we”; a way to refer to myself as well as the bar as a unit that is larger than myself) have played host to master distillers from the majority of the major bourbon distilleries. From Julian Van Winkle of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery to Jim Rutlidge of Four Roses we have poured drinks for nearly all the major payers in the Kentucky bourbon industry. Haymarket have been lauded in the national and local press. I have served drinks to the mayor, to the bums, to millionaires, the guys building the new bridge over the Ohio River. The Haymarket is home to everyone while they are within its friendly confines. This fills me with both a sense of accomplishment as well as a level of self-satisfaction that I have never felt before in my life. The Haymarket is an accomplishment and an establishment unlike any other. It is a physical manifestation of my dreams and hopes. It is my refuge, my home, and my pal.

The act of arrival at a destination, be it on a train or a plane or by automobile, is not new to me. The act of arriving at success at this level is new. Never before in my life have I been more financially secure. Never have I felt more right foot forward as I approach my destiny. I have not always been a person who sets goals and achieves them. For more than the first half of my life I was adrift and rudderless. I learned how to be an achiever. I started small. And in no way am I now too big to fail. Failure is always within the realm of possibility. But success at this level is new to me. I no longer have to work in the conventional sense. And in that sense, the bet I made with the Haymarket has paid off in spades. Of course I still work. I manage, I stock and order, I count the money, and I pay the bills. But I don’t have to work a forty-hour week (let alone the eighty-hour weeks I used to work when the bar was a coffee shop called Derby City Espresso). In the place of work, I have found a new calling, that of the host, that of the professional drinker, that of the professional entertainer. “Step into my parlor. Let me pour you a dram.”

As an aside, the main point to me isn't Landan's reference to being a liar. Rather, it's the last two sentences in the above excerpt. Meanwhile, LEO's having none of the maneuvering.

Thorns & Roses: The Worst, Best & Most Absurd

Can you say: narcissist? | Absurd

In a disappointing, absurd turn of events, Haymarket Whiskey Bar reopened last week, with owner Matthew Landan behind the stick and protesters marching outside. About the same time, his attorney filed a lawsuit stemming from allegations on Facebook that Landan had raped women. Landan has denied any wrongdoing, and he may prevail in court, but we have to wonder: What makes him think his bar could succeed now that the court of public opinion has ruled against him?

Readers might consider stocking extra microwave popcorn, because this story's likely to get even more surreal.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Haarlem on a Friday night in September: One church with beer, another without, and a relaxing dinner with friends at The Warehouse.

Previously: Shopping, strolling, beaches, herring, bock and madras. Just a second day's reintroduction to Haarlem.

I've lagged badly in concluding the September travel narrative. Bear in mind that while millions of readers aren't hanging on every word, the story is important to me, if for no other reason than the excellent odds of my forgetting much of it. A drinking life may or may not be responsible for these memory lapses, and so we carry on regardless.

By the time Friday 22 September rolled around, the weather had cooled and rain arrived. I was in the throes of what I thought was a cold (later to become an upper respiratory infection, accompanied by allergies and affiliated muck).

Since returning home, this most recent breakdown of my sinuses has occasioned a long-delayed appointment with an allergist, who tells me that while I'm not allergic to beer or food, just about everything else is a problem.

The Hotel Amadeus offers an ample breakfast, and so the day began with a short waddle of a stroll, followed by a look inside De Grote of St.-Bavokerk. However, first there were monkeys to light the way.

Following are photos of the church taken by both of us, in no particular order. It's an imposing but not overly ornate edifice, and a good place to avoid the drizzle outside.

By lunchtime the rain was abating, and street life proceeded as usual, with herring accenting the market stalls.

We navigated toward Jopenkerk for snacks, local ales and a scheduled midday chat with Erwin Klijn, the brewery's sales manager. It was quite informative. The former church building's transformation is stunning, and as noted previously during this travelogue, crowds seemed to be on hand at all hours of the business day. I like everything about Jopen, and look forward to our next visit.

With a social evening of drinks and dining still ahead, we retired to the hotel for a nap.

By the time we emerged to meet Inge, the skies had cleared and it was a stunning afternoon for coffee at Spaarne 66, which is known as "the living room of Haarlem." It was here that we sat by the river, perhaps 50 feet away from the cafe's door, with servers crossing a traffic lane, biking lanes and two sidewalks to get to us, without an accident. Try imagining this in downtown New Albany, and you'll realize why I drink -- and travel to places like Haarlem.

The five of us (including Boris and Dewi) had booked a table at Het Pakhuis, or "The Warehouse," located a short walk along the river. It was a fine multi-course meal, indeed, though I still found myself mourning the passing of De Ark, the restaurant we'd visited most often during previous stays in Haarlem.

The Ark closed earlier in 2017 after a long run of more than two decades. I found it noteworthy for the secluded location off any of Haarlem's main routes; very much of the neighborhood, though right around the corner from the popular Frans Hals Museum, with heaping platters of meat and potatoes, plenty of lagers and ales, and multiple wood-paneled rooms displaying traditional "bruin cafe" (brown cafe) ambiance.

No matter; our evening at The Warehouse was sublime, filled with easy laughs and serious conversation. Judging from the expectation that Big Kim would be coming to Haarlem on Saturday for a final session at Cafe Briljant, there was every appearance we'd be limping home on Sunday.

Like oft times before ...

Happy birthday, Suomi. Now, for some Sibelius.

Finland is 100 years old as of the 6th of December.

The legal basis for Finland's subjugation within the Russian empire evaporated when the Romanov dynasty fell during the first of two Russian revolutions in 1917. Professor Barry picks up the story in November of 1917.

Independence was actually granted by VI Lenin and his Bolshevik regime less than one month after seizing power and overthrowing the Duma government in November. Lenin admired the Finns and appreciated the fact that friends there had sheltered and hid him at least twice in the past after he had fled for his life from the Tsarist and Duma Regimes.

The composer Jean Sibelius wrote Finlandia with his country's national awakening in mind.

Finlandia is probably the most widely known of all the compositions of Jean Sibelius. Most people with even a superficial knowledge of classical music recognise the melody immediately. The penultimate hymn-like section is particularly familiar and soon after it was published the Finlandia Hymn was performed with various words as far afield as the USA.

The views of Finland's natural beauty seen in the video are stellar, indeed. In 2016, we didn't have time to make it past Helsinki, but I'm hoping to rectify this in the future.

Happy birthday, Suomi.

To New Albany's Joe Dean, it was string music. For me, high school basketball was a mixed gym bag.

Sectional champs, 1978.

Last night, Floyd Central beat New Albany in boys basketball for the first time in 15 years, a span of time comprising 20 consecutive losses. There are hundreds of potentially interesting topics to be spun from this sporting news, but I like to pick my spots, which in this instance is the opportunity to recall my own underachieving career in high school basketball.

These lightly edited and updated thoughts have appeared at least twice here previously, most recently in March of 2014. They may not be particularly edifying, but at least they're honest.


ON THE AVENUES: String music?

It has been 39 years since my final basketball game as a member of Floyd Central’s varsity.

I'm occasionally reminded of this ancient factoid, like when a Facebook friend request came to me from my former coach, Joe Hinton. I duly accepted the request, and thought it very nice of him to ask. We didn’t always see eye to eye back in the day, but it’s been long, long ago.

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

Granted, the omission was mostly deserved based on purely inconsistent performance, and yet I was annoyed at what I perceived as a slight, responding with a two-hour concentrated display of faux "go team" enthusiasm and contrived, vaudevillian, entirely mock "rah-rah."

This apparently was mistaken by the coaching staff for a death bed conversion to team spirit, if not genuine depth of feeling. The following day, I was reinstated to the roster. It never dawned on me to pursue a career in acting, or I might be portraying Josh Dallas’s father on television by now.

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

As the late Gomer Pyle once said: “Surprise, surprise, surprise."


Almost 40 years later, I can't attribute truly coherent motives to my teenage ambivalence about sports, these ultimately meaningless games being just about the only form of communication between a father and his son. The father was an ex-Marine who had traded athletic opportunities for three years as a gunner on a Navy ship in World War II, and he was keen – perhaps overly so – to see his son succeed at basketball and baseball.

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

Bouton spoke directly to me, fervently and personally. I fancied myself a thinker, not a sweat hog. I'd have gladly settled for "thinker and lover, not a fighter," except that I hadn't been able to convince any girls of my credentials, and in truth, doubted whether any such talent existed.

So, it came back to me and my brain, together against the world. It should suffice to say that locker rooms were mind-free zones, and brains in sports were the object of lingering suspicion unless one happened to be an otherwise semi-literate point guard who could remember the plays and run the offense.

There I was, kicked off the senior-dominated basketball team and then placed back on it, contemplating yet again how it came to be that we were such persistent underachievers as a squad, utterly failing to capitalize on the rosy potential predicated by all observers, including my still simmering dad … and understanding, as I always had, that it all owed to a lack of cohesion.

In other words, too few of us liked each other off the court, and this distaste had a way of being glaringly obvious on the court, to Joe Hinton's fuming dismay.

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

The cheering section probably knew better, but worshipped all the same.

We won the sectional and advanced to play Scottsburg in the Saturday morning game at the Seymour Regional the following week. The Warriors, from a school far smaller than ours, had nonetheless soundly thrashed us at home a few weeks earlier.

In today's parlance, Floyd Central had "match-up" problems with Scottsburg, which is to say that they had one of their finest teams ever; though not demonstrably better at every position, the Warriors played as a team, something we couldn't match.

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

At this juncture, two worlds were set to collide.

While some of my best high school friends were athletes, only a few of them were on the basketball team. I mostly ran in different circles, and at various times, yes, there was beer involved, though seldom if ever during the basketball season. Ambivalence aside, I tried to play it straight as often as possible.

But for the Saturday regional festivities, a few of my heartier-partying friends had reserved a room at the very same hotel where the team was staying – only my buddies called it the Daze Inn, and planned to treat it accordingly.


Floyd Central unceremoniously exited the tournament in the morning session, and Scottsburg advanced to meet Clarksville in the evening finale. I'd like to remember that in defeat, we came together as a team and grasped an eternal cliched truth or three, but from my perspective, all I felt was pervasive relief that finally, at long last, the ordeal was over.

There was a post-game chat and showers, and we returned to the hotel to eat and waste a dilatory afternoon playing euchre before riding back to the gym on the bus and watching the championship game, which was to be our last solemn obligation as a dysfunctional unit.

You've probably already guessed what happened next.

I promptly stole away from the ennui, and by the time the bus exited the Daze Inn parking lot several hours later, I was completely and blissfully smashed.

The bathtub in the party room was filled with canned beer and ice, and a story already was making the rounds as to how the designated underage beer buyer with his older brother's ID had run into a few of our teachers at the exact same package store and exchanged earnest pleasantries with them at the checkout counter.

Me? I was just happy to shed the weight of expectations and get myself dazed, even if remaining as clueless as always with respect to how the future would play out, although perhaps my vocational path forward in the beer and brewing business already was being plotted amid the plodding.

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

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

I'm neither proud nor ashamed of these recollections.

I did what I could with what I had at the time, and if awarded a time-travel "do over," probably I'd have worked harder at sports -- not for anyone else’s satisfaction, but for my own.

In retrospect, my work ethic was there all along, if latent and inchoate; it took a while for it to emerge fully formed, later in life. So be it. In truth, the thing I miss most about high school is singing in choir, not playing ball. I didn't know it then, but I know it now.

I'm forever hopeful that in the cosmic scheme of things, the ability to learn from one's youthful angst and missteps is what matters most. If not, I may be in serious trouble.

To this year's high school basketball players, my best wishes. If you're lucky, you'll forget all about it very, very soon.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Gibson points to Duggins' letter as proof that Coffey had the OK for his harvest cash-coming car park. In other news, City Hall ethics are in critical condition.

Previously we were trying to determine whether anyone in a position of authority had given Dan Coffey explicit permission to use city property to park cars during Harvest Homecoming.

In a dramatic semi-literate letter to city council, former redevelopment bag man (David) Duggins accepts responsibility for Coffey's harvest cash-coming car park cronyism caper.

Prior to Duggins' conveniently timed revisionist history lesson, we'd asked interim redevelopment commission director and city attorney Shane Gibson, as well as the body's secretary Adam Dickey, whether any commission records exist testifying to official recognition of Coffey's antics.

Today the response came back.


Mr. Baylor:

In response to your email request dated November 29, 2017, please find attached the only document in the possession of the Commission/City regarding that matter.

Shane L. Gibson

Corporate Counsel
City of New Albany
311 Hauss Square, Rm. 316
New Albany, IN 47150


Naturally, this document is Duggins' very same letter, as almost certainly commissioned by Gibson himself and brandished like a mutton javelin by Coffey at Monday's council meeting.

Pending coherent thoughts from Mayor Jeff Gahan, it seems that our inquiry is halted. Duggins said it was okay; he does as he pleases, conflict of interests be damned, and that's that.

Coffey's piling up the pork barrel winnings for the Knights of Columbus, who at a future time probably will regret the decision to allow a copperhead snake to be the face of the organization -- though not just yet.

City council has not ever censured Coffey, who in the past physically threatened a citizen and openly spouted anti-gay slurs. Of course, Duggins is Jeff Gahan's golden boy, one who could openly urinate on the city's Christmas tree and be promoted with a pay rise for his bladder relief.

In New Albany, in spite of the PR ballyhoo at their inception, neither human rights nor ethics commissions exist in any tangible, real-world way, and yet what we're witnessing here is the precise rationale for some semblance of the citizenry's recourse to ethical lapses. 

As it stands, Coffey wins yet again ... and the city loses.

Yet again ... and 2019 just can't come soon enough.