Monday, July 31, 2017

In fairness, SOMEONE cut the grass at 1112 E. Spring Street.


The view above was posted at Fb on Wednesday, July 26 with this comment:

"Could someone tell Mr. Duggins that until his slumlord property is sold, he's responsible for mowing the grass? Or will the Street Department do it for him? #inquiringmindswannaknow"

Forever for sale: Bet they still let HIM join the neighborhood association.

Of bagmen and mad hatters -- or, the business of electoral residency?

In today's episode of AS THE STOMACH TURNS, we welcome new neighbors.

The grass had been cut by Friday afternoon.


You're welcome. Think maybe he had NAHA workers mow?

Grid Control, Vol. 17: Judging by the misdirection of this "CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP" sign, we now reside in the British Empire.

As we await word of HWC Engineering's cross hatch direction snafu repair project ...

Grid Control, Vol. 16: What about HWC's cross hatching correction? Will this be finished before or after Team Gahan declares victory?

 ... and, in fact, as we await the resumption of "grid modernization" work of any sort, with little occurring since early July and during the usual public communications blackout imposed by Warren at Works, let's consider another angle, as hinted by this actual New Albany street sign, as contributed by regular blog reader A.


Of course, none of these "future" directional signs are supposed to be visible until the changeover begins, and as for when this might be, recently each Tuesday meeting of the Bored has featured dire apostles of officialdom explaining that this will come "next week," and so we can't really explain when this will be, seeing as the calendar has become tantamount to a Dali painting melted atop Duggins' former desk.

Look at the arrows in the New Albany "Cross Traffic Does Not Stop" sign, above.

Now, look at the arrows in these two variations, as cribbed from Google images.



As our alert contributing reader (and driver) notes, "The signs posted for when Spring Street starts being two way have the arrows going the wrong way. Didn't know if you saw that but wanted to share with you. I personally need signs to give correct info and not lead me into oncoming traffic."

That's because strictly speaking, New Albany's brand new "cross traffic" signs are appropriate for Great Britain, Ireland or Australia, where traffic proceeds on the left, not the right as is the case here in America.


Meanwhile, if you search images for "Cross Traffic Does Not Stop," this is by far the most commonly returned result, which is succinct and non-ambiguous.


It leaves a final question, surely destined to be ignored when Gatekeeper Nash convenes BoW on Tuesday morning: Which one of Jeff Gahan's corporate-campaign-donating consultants, engineers, pavers, vendors or all-purpose fluffers got this one wrong? 

---

Previously:

Grid Control, Vol. 16: What about HWC's cross hatching correction? Will this be finished before or after Team Gahan declares victory?



Grid Control, Vol. 15: Dooring enhancement perfectly epitomizes Deaf Gahan's "biking last" approach to grid modernization.

Grid Control, Vol. 14: Yes, you can still park on the south side of Spring Street during the stalled two-way grid project.

Grid Control, Vol. 13: "Dear Deaf Gahan and minions: FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, STOP TRYING TO BE COOL AND DESIGNER-ISH. YOU'RE NOT, AND IT'S EMBARRASSING ALL OF US."




Grid Control, Vol. 12: Meet the artistic crosswalk design equivalent of dogs playing poker.

Grid Control, Vol. 11: HWC Engineering meets with St. Marks, city officials nowhere to be found.

Grid Control, Vol. 10: City officials predictably AWOL as HWC Engineering falls on its sword over striping errors.

Grid Control, Vol. 9: "This was supposed to be discussed with us," but Dear Leader doesn't ever discuss, does he?


Grid Control, Vol. 8: City Hall characteristically mum as HWC Engineering at least tries to answer the cross-hatching question.


Grid Control, Vol. 7: What will the Board of Works do to rectify HWC's striping errors on the north side of Spring Street, apart from microwaving another round of sausage biscuits?


Grid Control, Vol. 6: Jeff Speck tweets about NA's grid changes, and those missed bicycling opportunities.


Grid Control, Vol. 5: Egg on HWC Engineering's well-compensated face as it botches Spring Street's westbound bike buffer cross hatching.


Grid Control, Vol. 4: But this actually isn't a bus lane, is it?


Grid Control, Vol. 3: TARC's taking your curbside church parking, says City Hall.


Grid Control, Vol. 2: Southsiders get six more parking inches, but you gotta love those 10-foot traffic lanes on Spring.




Grid Control, Vol. 1: You people drive so freaking horribly that someone's going to die at Spring and 10th.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Runner, a documentary film about Joe Distler and the running of the bulls during San Fermin.


I'd been holding this one in reserve for quite a while, then completely forgot to post it during the time of the festival of San Fermin, which runs from July 6 through July 14 each year. I've attended the festival four times, but not since the year 2000.

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Red scarf, white shirt and San Miguel beer (2012).


These were fine times, indeed. I was able to meet wonderful people like Warren Parker ...

The art of Warren Parker.


 ... and Ray Mouton ...

Catching up with writer Ray Mouton, his novel, and the Catholic Church's pedophilia scandal.


 ... and larger-than-life festival habitues like the late Sexy Rexy.

Rest in peace, Sexy Rexy.


My cousin Don Barry made most of these introductions, and now, since his retirement, his brother Dennis has been able to experience the San Fermin phenomenon, too.

Denny provided the link to the video, which focuses on New Yorker Joe Distler and features a good many people whom I had the pleasure of meeting back in the day. If you've ever wondered what the running of the bulls is all about, this is a good place to start

Long read: "Major league baseball has a long but little-known history of rebels, reformers, and radicals."


Bud Selig is to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That's actually more repulsive as Donald Trump being elected president.

As a corrective, this long but necessary survey, ranging from the early days to the present.

Out of Left Field, by Peter Dreier and Robert Elias (Jacobin)

Major league baseball has a long but little-known history of rebels, reformers, and radicals.

... Despite their courageous and pioneering efforts, neither (Marvin) Miller nor (Curt) Flood have been elected to the Hall of Fame. While Miller was alive, the baseball establishment blocked him from the Cooperstown shrine five times. The owners and executives who control the Hall of Fame kept changing the voting rules to keep him out.

Yet baseball experts overwhelmingly agree with Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber, who claimed that Miller is one of the three most important figures in baseball history, alongside Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.

Flood’s fifteen years of Hall of Fame eligibility ended in 1996 when he garnered just 15.1 percent of baseball writers’ votes. He died the following year at fifty-nine, which made him eligible to enter the Hall of Fame posthumously if the Veterans Committee voted him in. There’s been no effort to resuscitate his candidacy.

30 years ago today on THE BEER BEAT: Stouts galore in Cork, Kinsale and the Hibernian Bar, but in Ballinspittle, not so much.

Roger, Barrie and Tommy at The Spaniard, outside Kinsale.

Previously: 30 years ago today on THE BEER BEAT: A ferry ride from France to Ireland, with the help of Super Valstar and Guinness.

---

By my standards, surviving notes are positively florid.

Day 104 ... Tuesday, July 28
Rosslare → Cork. City Hostel, pub crawling w/Tommy, bearded Cyprus vet, etc

Day 105 ... Wednesday, July 29
Cork. Day with Tommy to the south -- Kinsale, etc

Day 106 ... Thursday, July 30
Cork. Walk to University College, up highlands. Political conversation at the Hi-B

I can't speak for the present time, but in far-off 1987, trains weren't tremendously useful in the Republic of Ireland.

Granted, they accepted Eurailpass, and this was occasionally helpful from a budgetary standpoint. However, too few passenger rail lines radiated out from Dublin -- not unlike spokes on half of a wagon wheel -- and they seldom were connected to each other in the hinterlands.

A network of reasonably frequent buses linked them, but buses weren't on the Eurailpass, and one was compelled to pay by the trip.

So, Barrie and I were at there at the O'Leary farm in Rosslare, bound for Cork, and we made it there at some point during the day on Tuesday, though how we managed it eludes me.

I've spent an hour trying to determine whether we took a train from Rosslare to Limerick via Waterford, then south to Cork, or a bus for some or all of this route. Operational passenger trains are fewer in number now, and while my gut tells me we rode the rails the entire way, I cannot be sure.

Cork, the Irish Republic's second largest city, lies on the island's southern coast. The city was the home of Tommy Barker, a good friend of my cousin Don's, who in 1987 was a reporter for the Cork Examiner newspaper. In fact, he's still there, 30 years later, more recently covering the property (real estate) beat.

(My guess is that real estate writers are a recent phenomenon in Ireland, given the country's great leap forward during the 1990s.)

Once in Cork, we made a beeline for the City Hostel, which was a tad ramshackle but had available space. Our bunk beds came perilously close to disintegrating when we first climbed into them (balsa does that), and the coin-operated shower's slot mechanism was hanging from the wall by wires that may or may not have been live.

When asked about this, the good-natured desk clerk merely shrugged. Nothing much was connected to electricity, he said. Just turn on the water and have at it, but it probably won't get hot -- and we could pay him for the shower if we felt like it, or not.


The great thing about Cork is that it had not one, but two of its own classic Irish Dry Stouts: Murphy's and Beamish. Sadly, they've long since ceased to be independent, but add the ubiquity of draft Guinness, and the city was a stout-lover's dream.

One bar we found had all three on tap at once. By contrast, there may have been two Guinness taps in all of Louisville at the time.

Don had tipped Tommy to expect one or both of us, and I called him at the newspaper. He suggested we meet at a pub called The Long Valley, and it went swimmingly. I remember having sandwiches there, and wondering if I'd ever be able to grasp what the older local bar flies were saying, in English -- such was the local accent.

I also recall being fascinated by out-in-the-open, legal bookmaking. Casinos hadn't yet come to Indiana in 1987.


We'd already had at least two pints elsewhere on the way to the Long Valley, and after wrapping our session with Tommy, he made sure we found the drinking establishment both he and cousin Don had recommended: the Hibernian (Hi-B) Bar, which I wrote about earlier in 2017.


It was one floor up the stairs, with the restrooms halfway down a different set of steps.

THE BEER BEAT: The Hibernian (Hi-B) Bar, one of my favorite pubs in the world.

One of our temporary drinking buddies was a bearded and bedraggled veteran of Ireland's UN peacekeeping force of infantrymen force in Cyprus, circa 1970. When asked if he'd ever witnessed combat in the war between Greeks and Turks, he said no, not exactly; it had been his sensible expedient to turn and run whenever shooting broke out.

Somehow on Wednesday, we managed to shake off the lengthy Tuesday session and meet Tommy for a drive in his van to Kinsale, a town on the coast just 20 miles south from Cork.






The Spaniard (above) and the Armada House (now Armada Bar) are still in operation. Here's the street view in 2011.


The names of these drinking establishments refer to the landing of the Spaniards at Kinsale in 1601, resulting in a siege and battle.

Tongue perhaps planted firmly in cheek, Tommy also saw to it that we absorbed the cultural attraction at Ballinspittle. It is a grotto with a back story.



The explanation is here, in this period video.



On Thursday, Tommy returned to work and the Hoosiers embarked on a long walk through Cork, taking us to the university and hilly viewpoints to the southwest of the city center, and including the Beamish & Crawford brewery. There were no tours, but we were content to smell stout merrily cooking.



What is this overgrown thing? I've no idea, though I was a sucker for ruins.



At the Long Valley on our first day in Cork, Tommy had confirmed what we'd seen on posters around town: U2 was playing a show on Saturday, August 8 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the football stadium on the east side of town.

He had to work and couldn't attend, but Barrie and I duly purchased tickets and commenced an itinerary scheme. We'd head out into the Irish countryside for a week, then circle back to Cork for the concert. Tommy magnanimously offered to let us stay at his cottage for a couple of days, then we'd move in the direction of Rosslare and a boat ride back to France.

Next: Kenmare and the Ring of Kerry.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

30 years ago today: An April interlude in Interlaken and the Swiss road to Vienna.

Jungfrau (13,642 feet)

Previously: 30 years ago today: (April) Swiss day trips to Geneva and Montreux.

--

If the Swiss Alps were the primary reason for visiting Switzerland, then Interlaken was the ideal place to be for a brief mountain immersion.

Day 12 ... Monday, April 27
Lausanne → Interlaken. Balmer's. In town. "Big Chill"

Day 13 ... Tuesday, April 28
Interlaken. Grand rail tour. Suisse RR

Day 14 ... Wednesday, April 29
Interlaken → Zurich. Day only, overnight to Wien.

Once Interlaken made the Victorians swoon with mountain vistas from the chandelier-lit confines of grand hotels; today it makes daredevils scream with adrenaline-loaded activities. Straddling the glacier-fed Lakes Thun and Brienz and capped by the pearly white peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, the town is the gateway to Switzerland's fabled Jungfrau region and the country's hottest adventure destination bar none. If the touristy town itself leaves you cold, the mountains on its doorstep will blow your mind, particularly if you’re abseiling waterfalls, thrashing white water or gliding soundlessly above 4000m summits.

Adventure destination? Not so much for me, but different strokes and all. I'd be perfectly happy with a beer, a sausage and some chocolate -- then as now.

The guidebooks were unanimous in their praise of Balmer's Herberge, which is going (and growing) strong three decades after my two-night stay in 1987. It was an affordable hostel in the Swiss context, and functioned almost as a traveler's community center. I loved it.

The weather both days in Interlaken was superb. On Monday, I walked around town sniffing for cheap food (fat chance), and ending with my first-ever viewing of The Big Chill, via the nightly feature video at Balmer's.

On Tuesday I can recall feeling fatigued, perhaps because of the higher elevation. I went to a grocery, loaded the day pack with snacks and beers, hiked to one of Interlaken's two train stations, and kept my Eurailpass in hand throughout a day spent sitting on various trains.

Just what I meant by "grand rail tour" is lost, as I don't recall exactly where I rode, only that it lasted much of the day. I'd get off, look at a schedule, and board another train. There always were mountains to look at, or a park bench with a view in a town where I had thirty minutes to wait.

These photos cover the Interlaken period. Apart from the Jungfrau (above), I've no clue what they show, but it was consistently beautiful.













On Wednesday I took the train to Zurich and indulged in what was becoming a routine ritual.

1. Stash baggage at the manned check or in a locker.
2. Purchase couchette reservations (cheap sleeps) for the overnight trip to (Vienna, in this case).
3. Wander the city until it was time to board the train.

One must see was the Cafe Odeon.

ODEON: A coffee house with a long history

The history of the Café ODEON reveals all the political and economic turmoil of the last nine decades. They were survived with more or less stability and are also mirror the various influences it went through. Here, politics were discussed and artistic movements found their cradle, people from most different nationalities, cultures and religions seeking refuge or distraction from every day life ...

... Amongst the famous musicians who were regular visitors of the ODEON, we have to mention Wilhelm Furtwängler, Franz Lehar, Arturo Toscanini and Alban Berg. Even scientists like Albert Einstein, who enjoyed discussing here with students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, was one of the regulars. Benito Mussolini, then still a fiery anarchist, and Lenin, fully devoted to reading all the available newspapers, as well as Trotsky, are just a few representatives of the politicians who came in and out.


I couldn't afford to patronize the Odeon, but it was an homage, all the same. Lastly, a view of the Grossmünster church in 1987 ...


... and in 2014.


Next: Vienna.

All hail New Gahanian crosswalk puddle-a-bility: Brand new asphalt, concrete and ramps, and the same old non-drainage problem.



And the road goes on forever ...

ASK THE BORED: Mayor Jeff M. Gahan presents BOW presenting exciting new vistas in sidewalk blockage.

Ana Brnabić, Serbia and the novel Leeches.

Now with craft beer. Thoughts, Jon?

I saw this article about the Serbian prime minister and remembered a book I once read.

First, the article.


Ana Brnabić: 'I do not want to be branded Serbia's gay PM'
, by Patrick Wintour (The Guardian)

The 41-year-old who has never been part of a political party has risen from obscurity and is working to change Belgrade’s image

The appointment of Ana Brnabić as Serbia’s prime minister aged 41 was accompanied by the sound of glass ceilings being shattered all around her.

Not only is she the first woman to take on the role, Brnabić is gay and has achieved high office without being a member of a political party.

Giving her first interview to a foreign newspaper after a month in the job, she said: “Serbia is changing and changing fast, and if you will, I am part of that change, but I do not want to be branded ‘Serbia’s gay PM’. The message we need to send is about competence, professionalism and trustworthiness” ...

... She had little hands-on experience of Serbia’s unforgiving politics before becoming prime minister, a role that brings with it an imposing security detail outside her private office in Belgrade. In 2003 the then prime minister, Zoran Đinđić, was assassinated by an organised crime gang.

In her early 20s Brnabić spent six years abroad, mainly in London, from where she watched on TV as Nato planes bombed the defence ministry in Belgrade in 1999. To this day the buildings, over the road from her spartan office block, are a shell, a reminder of Serbia’s loss of Kosovo. They also highlight the dangers facing the Balkans as the west and Russia fight for strategic advantage.

I find this section interesting.

“I don’t think Serbia is that homophobic. I know that is one of the perceptions, and I understand attitudes are different in parts of Serbia. But some journalists were in a village in central Serbia where part of my family come from. They saw a couple of people just drinking beer in front of the local store and they asked them about me, and they replied: ‘Well, listen, in this part of Serbia we grow raspberries, fruit and vegetables, and we do not grow discrimination.’

“We just need to hear these kinds of people as well. The citizens of Serbia have a right not to be portrayed by a loud minority. We can have a culture where we disagree, as long as there is tolerance and no violence. We all have different views and values, but I don’t want to change people’s thinking by law.”

And finally, this.

“Joining the European community of nations is the icing on the cake, but the journey is just as important,” she said.

All of which made me think of the novel Leeches, which I reviewed here in 2011.

---

ON THE AVENUES: Leeches (A Book Review).

My only visit to Yugoslavia came in 1987, and it was an intensely evocative cultural experience for a young pup.

In fact, all those obscure parts of the Balkans (which include Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and the contemporary states succeeding Yugoslavia) I visited that summer seemed just as mysterious, foreboding and vaguely unsettling as previously reputed.

I had a blast.

Speaking in 1980’s geopolitical terms, the position of these nations as socialist buffers between East and West was only part of it. As a sometimes student of European history, I always recall the words of Metternich: “Asia begins at the Landstrasse," the road leading from Vienna eastward, toward Hungary, Romania and eventually Turkey, which during its expansive Ottoman phase controlled much of the Balkans.

Metternich may have been referring exclusively to a physical sense of delineations and differences, but his viewpoint surely also was instinctive – and straight from the gut.

Irish novelist Bram Stoker felt it, too. Although Transylvania lies slightly outside the Balkans in modern day Romania, it is where Dracula reigned. In more recent fiction, it was in the Black Mountains of Montenegro that Sherlock Holmes fathered a son and gumshoe successor, Nero Wolfe, the latter returning to his birthplace in middle age to avenge a restaurateur friend’s death, and assuage author Rex Stout’s conflicted feelings about Communism.

Memories are bizarrely long in the Balkans. In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic rose to address a crowd gathered to commemorate Serbia’s defeat against Turkey in a battle fought 500 years before, and used the occasion to make a strident case for Serb pre-eminence in the province of Kosovo.

Did Milosevic release the malignant genie that Marshall Tito kept securely bottled? To western sensibilities, his nationalistic belligerence hastened the demise of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia, itself an artful geopolitical creation dating from the post-WWI peace settlement, spawning the horrendous civil war of the 1990’s.

The truth is not so facile, but Americans, insofar as we know or care about modern Serbia, persist in seeing it as somewhat more sinister than other darkly cantankerous locales in Europe, if not exactly as inexplicably dangerous as Rwanda or Somethingstan.

---

In his novel Leeches, Serbian writer David Albahari offers a meandering, maddening but ultimately fascinating examination of the prevailing mood in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital city, in 1998.

There was a lull, then. The almost medieval violence of the 90’s had gradually tapered owing to the combatants’ exhaustion and belated international intervention. Yugoslavia was irrevocably shattered, and Serbia, charged with instigation and aggression, was beset with sanctions and isolated from the world.

But because the future of Kosovo remained unresolved, a final act in the tragedy lurked just over the horizon, and worst of all, in 1998, everyone knew it. The scene in Belgrade was one of tension, expectation and feigned normality. Accordingly, to reinforce the claustrophobic anxiety, Albahari’s story unfolds in the form of a continuous, uninterrupted, 309-page-long paragraph. It is a very effective device.

Loitering along the Danube River quay in Belgrade on an entirely unremarkable day in 1998, the nameless narrator, who has no visible means of support save for a topical weekly column he writes for one of several rambunctious local newspapers, suddenly witnesses a man slapping a woman.

Within days, this seemingly trivial episode obsesses the narrator, drawing him into an ever-expanding network of otherwise unconnected events and people, to which he expends much time and energy ascribing order and purpose to what others would see as random chaos.

He meets an eccentric mathematician from school days, and later falls in with the city’s few remaining older Jewish residents, including the daughter of one, for whom his sexual attraction is frustratingly unrequited.

He discovers a mysterious old water well, documented in a strange book with magical pages that seem to change with every reading, a volume filled with Jewish history, Kabalistic theorems and the recipe for an actual Golem, the latter to be called upon to assure deliverance from anti-Semitic persecution.

He suffers a requisite beating at the hands of skinhead-like nationalists as internal ruminations pass from his fevered brain to publication in the newspaper, where they inspire an angry civic reaction.

As the story progresses, and the labyrinth of conspiracy grows ever more complex, the narrator smokes steadily increasing quantities of genuine Balkan countryside marijuana with his only true friend, Marko. They meet often to get high and to lament the passing of the wonderful Serbian stoner era, now lost as the preference of young urbanites to lubricate their souls turned to valium, not ganja.

Every session with his new Jewish friends ends in a staggering brandy drunk, and as the pages turn and the never-ending paragraph trudges ahead, the conspiracies overlap and multiply amid the escalating paranoia and haziness.

The narrator’s newspaper columns grow ever more provocative as he speculates in print as to exactly why the country’s going to shit – and, non-metaphorically, literal defecations constantly turns up on his doorstep, courtesy of the vengeful thugs now stalking him.

---

All the while, the dim outlines of impending dénouement become ever more vivid, because as hindsight informs us, within a year of the novel’s conclusion, Serbia will be bombed by NATO on the pretext of saving the Kosovars from the fate of the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. Numerous Serbs will be charged with war crimes, to be pursued until the present day, and Milosevic himself will fall just short of emulating Hermann Goering by dying (of heart disease) before the court’s verdict is delivered.

There finally comes a juncture where Marko disappears. It will be another hundred pages before it becomes clear why, because in the end, the conspiracy actually is real, and more extensive than the reader could have imagined. A brutal murder occurs, the fix is in, and the narrator – used and abused by all and sundry – finally realizes he’ll be blamed for it.

He hops the next Budapest Airport shuttle out of the country and into exile. Following the example of Serbia’s history, the shelling soon to follow in 1999 will purge the guilt and prime the next round of anger, but the narrator will be long gone, exiled to an unnamed place, fearing his heart has died.

Maybe it has.

Friday, July 28, 2017

30 years ago today: (April) Swiss day trips to Geneva and Montreux.

Montreux Casino fire, Dec. 4, 1971.

Previous: 30 years ago today: Springtime in Switzerland. First, a weekend in Lausanne.

Note that I began the trip in April and the 30-year narrative in May, so I'm looping back to catch up on the earlier portions.


---

Day 10 ... Saturday April 25
Lausanne. Day trip to Geneva, U.N.

Day 11 ... Sunday, April 26
Lausanne. Daytime boat to Montreux

At this late date, three decades after the fact, I'm at a loss to explain exactly why I went to Switzerland in 1987.

The stay was brief, but still comparatively expensive given the self-imposed budgetary constraints I'd established, and what's more, my original itinerary had foreseen a stay in Namur and the Ardennes in the Wallonian half of Belgium prior to revisiting Vienna in early May.

Paris put a crimp in my plans, and I changed everything around. It isn't clear why, and I'm left to ponder what might have been, seeing as eight years later I finally made it to Namur and environs, and it was epochal.

It took me almost as long to return to Switzerland, this excursion being Zurich in 1994. By then the pub business had been launched, and the sole purpose for going to Zurich was to tour the Hürlimann brewery, an atmospheric old-school operation and the conjurer of Samichlaus, now brewed in Austria since Hürlimann's unfortunate demise in the late 1990s.

The closest I can come to a coherent explanation is that I visited Switzerland to get the Alps out of my system.

As a child, and into my early teens, the primary objective of summer break Baylor family travel was to see the natural attractions of the American West. It was an obsession of my father's, and while there were occasional exceptions, the bulk of time spent away from home in my early years came in places like South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

It was real, and it was fun; no regrets, but it wasn't me. Forever the country boy raised to fish and hunt, my father had no use whatever for cities, and in all likelihood I was destined to follow one of two paths: either agree with him and advocate the great outdoors, or diverge completely and become an urbanite.

There probably wasn't going to be a middle ground, and the verdict for me should be clear.

I do enjoy natural settings, though preferably while seated on the veranda of a hotel with a nice beer in my hand. A bit of hiking is fine, just not overnight. A tent? Not my style. When beercycling came along in my forties, it was the closest I came to recapturing the woodsy vibe, albeit it riding along canals and roads in a European man-made built environment.

In this sense, Switzerland in 1987 was my kind of compromise at a time when I was still "finding" myself. There was gorgeous scenery, accompanied by plenty of railroads and verandas, with the main problem being the high expense. Gazing at the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps would require absolute precision in terms of affordable lodging, and for once, everything fell into place.

My bunk in Lausanne was at an accredited international youth hostel, and after that, in Interlaken, there was space in a highly praised independent hostel.

Lausanne was good for a day, followed by day trips to Geneva and Montreux via rail and boat.

The Russian orthodox church in Geneva dates from 1866 and was financed by a member of the Russian royal family. I'd be seeing plenty more of these onion domes later in the summer, first in Yugoslavia, then in Bulgaria, and finally during the Soviet tour.


The (Protestant) Reformation Wall lies on the grounds of the University of Geneva, and is built into the city's old defense walls. Protestantism = Protestant work ethic = all those Swiss banks, army knives and cuckoo clocks.


Louisvillians of a certain age will recall Barry Bingham Sr.'s ill-fated $2.6 million donation of a "Falls Fountain" to serve as St. Louis Gateway Arch-style welcome to the city. It was based on the fountain in Lake Geneva, which the Binghams had seen while in Europe.

The elder Bingham died just days before the Louisville version was inaugurated. There were major maintenance issues; it seems that no one had considered the vast difference between a debris-strewn river and a mountain lake. The Louisville Falls Fountain stumbled into 1998 with steadily escalating expenses, then was decommissioned, towed to a berth in New Albany, and eventually sold for scrap.

The one in Geneva was quite nice.


The second-largest United Nations office location is in Geneva, and I toured it.



It appears that several of my photos from this roll were exposed to light. I probably opened the camera before the film was completely rewound. I've applied filters to try making them presentable.



I remember nothing about my day trip to Montreux, apart from finding the casino to commemorate the inspiration for Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." The surviving photographic evidence suggests I rode the boat in one direction and the train back to Lausanne.




Next: Up into the mountains at Interlaken.