Monday, December 31, 2018

Jeff Speck is writing about Vision Zero. Meanwhile Jeff Gahan is promoting Zero Vision.


Jeff Speck is on Twitter, and here's what he's been saying about traffic safety, political movements ... and Vision Zero. Expect Jeff Gahan to award a contract to HWC Engineering (cha-ching) to explain to him what vision means, zero or otherwise. 

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Today I am tweeting from Rule 33. Adopt Vision Zero: Make a political movement around traffic safety. From #WalkableCityRules (1/4)

In every major American city, pedestrian deaths are a part of life. Often, the victim is a child. (2/4)

The news cycle is predictable: first comes the victim blaming, then the driver blaming—sober drivers are almost never punished—then perhaps a discussion about speed limits and enforcement. (3/4)

Through it all, the crash is called an “accident,” as if it was not preventable. Rarely is the design of the roadway itself considered. And never—never—is there any reconsideration of the professional engineering standards that created the hazard in the first place. (4/4)

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The Swedes, those geniuses of driving safety, know better. For some time, the Swedish traffic safety profession has acknowledged that street design is at the heart of street safety, and modified its engineering standards with an eye to lowering speeds in urban areas. (1/3)

The results are astounding. Their traffic fatality rate as a nation is about one quarter of the US’s, but the biggest difference is in the cities. In 2013, Stockholm, with a similar population to Phoenix, lost six people to car crashes. Phoenix lost 167. (2/3)

Remarkably, Stockholm made it through 2016 without a single pedestrian or cyclist dying. Welcome to Vision Zero, the Swedish path to eliminating traffic deaths. (3/3)

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Welcome to Vision Zero, the Swedish path to eliminating traffic deaths. Now a decade old, Vision Zero has become an international movement, and joining it in earnest means making a commitment to its goals. (1/5)

As of this writing, there are more than 30 “Vision Zero Cities” in the US, including Austin, Boston, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Washington DC. (2/5)

Each of these cities has approached the commitment in its own way, but joining the Vision Zero network can be a key first step to identifying the elimination of traffic fatalities as an important goal and reorienting policy and investment around that goal. (3/5)

In New York City, for example, the Vision Zero program has organized the insertion (at last count) of 18.5 miles of protected bike lanes, 776 Leading Pedestrian Interval traffic signals, and 107 left-turn calming treatments ... (4/5)

... and also overseen a dramatic crackdown on speeding and failure-to-yield violations. The result? After holding fairly steady for three years, pedestrian fatalities dropped by a whopping 32 percent between 2016 to 2017, from 148 to 101. (5/5)

Doing it for Matt, because Jeff Gahan doesn't want to hear about pedestrians, bicyclists and skateboarders being killed on city streets. That's why Jeff Gahan MUST GO.

How the Williams Plumbing trucks
block vision at 9th & Spring -- a pictorial.

The top story of the year at NA Confidential -- the top story in the 14-year history of NA Confidential -- came on August 7.

Last night a driver killed a skateboarder at 9th & Spring. His name was Matt Brewer, and he was one helluva guy.


I was angry then, and I remain angry now. No single occurrence in 2018 better illustrated the truth of a very old axiom as applied to Jeff Gahan's seven-year reign as dictator wannabe: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Four months later, neither the police nor the prosecutor has released information on the circumstances of Matt's death. In fact, according to the News & Tribune's early coverage (the newspaper has not even attempted to follow up on the story), the police already had exonerated the driver at the scene.

City Hall's response was, and remains, unconscionable, damning and sadly indicative of the ethical, moral, AND cash-driven rot that pervades the Gahan administration -- and, by extension, the hierarchy of the Democratic Party and its elected officials, who are this chicanery's enablers.

That's because there has not been, and likely never will be, any sort of human response to Matt's death at all on the part of officialdom, of the sort revealing qualities like sadness, empathy and resolve. Rather, we've been handed cowardly evasions and the sort of by-the-numbers word puree crafted by computers for androids.

A young man was killed, a young woman was widowed and just as in 2016, when Chloe Allen died trying to cross the street at the horrible intersection of Spring & Vincennes, city officials had nothing whatever to say.

Like rats conniving behind the baseboards, all we heard were scurrying sounds as Gahan and his operatives rushed for the cover of their bunkers.

Weeks passed, and finally tepid gurgling sounds about radar speed surveys began emanating from our so-called "leaders," to be conducted by HWC Engineering, the preferred municipal pay-to-play sausage-maker, which had been chosen by Gahan to gut Jeff Speck's street grid reform recommendations in the first place.

This does nothing to address the fundamental problem, although we can be sure it prompted Ed Jolliffe, HWC's Indianapolis-based human ATM, to deposit another few thousand in the re-election fund.

I was angry then, and I'm angry now. In the weeks following Matt's death, I devoted more than a few column inches to City Hall's "inhumane" response (gotcha, Nanny Barksdale). You can call my words polemics, or perhaps bile; I prefer journalism tinged with passionate advocacy in the sense that we not allow our friend's passing to have occurred in vain.

And that's exactly what Gahan wants.

These many words of mine in August and early September were met by threats against me on the part of city officials in New Albany. The details are irrelevant, and I don't care to dignify these insinuations at the present time. They know, and I know. Naturally, I welcome their hatred. It's bullying, and it's something that you, as a voter, need to be aware of.

Why are you enabling the Gahan administration's toxicity, payola and corruption with your vote?

Are the serial transgressions really worth it for our city to gain a few bright, shiny objects -- with their huge costs being passed on to your grandchildren?

This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. It's about fundamental human decency. Can you detect any among these people?

Municipal elections are coming in 2019, and I intend to be involved in them. I haven't decided exactly how. It's something I hadn't planned on doing, but then Matt was killed, City Hall's wagons were circled, and the mayor showed his pathetic true colors -- yet again.

It has to stop ... and the cleanest of all conceivable campaigns are the ones in which candidates confine themselves to simply telling the truth.

Like I was doing this past August. Stay tuned for details, and thanks for reading.

Car-centrism: Why does the news media always let human drivers off the hook when non-driving humans get killed?



How many bicyclists, skateboarders and pedestrians have to die before Jeff Gahan gives a flying fuck?



ASK THE BORED: Faced with 75 signatures on a petition, Nash, Summers and the clueless BOW non-safety board can't muster a single empathetic response.



GREEN MOUSE SAYS: Both Jeff Gahan and Warren Nash believe that driver convenience far outranks considerations of human life.



ON THE AVENUES: The "downfall" occurs when we all fall down.



If you want to know how Deaf Gahan purposefully botched the Speck plan for walkable streets, read this article. Hint: HWC dunnit.



Non-learning curve: This ON THE AVENUES column repeat reveals that since 2011, we've been discussing the safety hazards on Spring Street between 10th and 9th. Too bad City Hall is deaf.



As the Bored of Works dithers over safe streets, a reprise: "On the crass exploitation and politicization of tragedy."



Making this place walkable will require understanding concepts as well as exercising the ballot.



ON THE AVENUES: There's only one way to cure City Hall's institutional bias against non-automotive street grid users, and that's to #FlushTheClique.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

In a unanimous decision, NAC's New Albany "Person of the Year" for 2018 is Jeff Gahan's Money Machine.


It’s time once again for NA Confidential to select New Albany’s "Person of the Year." As in 2017, there'll be no run-ups and time-wasting teasers, although our basic definition remains intact, as gleaned from Time.

Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) is an annual issue of the United States news magazine Time that features and profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse ... has done the most to influence the events of the year."

In 2018 there was a consistent theme in the governance of the city of New Albany. As such, what do these occurrences have in common?

  • David Duggins' unpunished threat to taser a public housing resident
  • Riverview Tower and the recent self-inflicted electrical system damage, as blamed on others 
  • Jeff Gahan's Reisz Mahal luxury city hall boondoggle
  • The city's neglect of the Moser Tannery, leading to the fire that destroyed it
  • Automobile aggrandizement projects being built throughout the city
  • The ongoing idiocy of Gahan's cult of personality 
  • Summit Springs corporate mud slide and franchise theme park
  • Spike in the popularity of Rice Krispies Treats
  • A shared use pedway leading straight out of town, rather than linking to the Greenway
  • Gahan's bizarre mishandling of the Human Rights Commission

Managerial incompetence, for one thing; for another, shamelessness on the part of people who haven't read books since faced with the imminent failure to graduate high school.

However, they're all connected to greater or lesser extent to the overarching theme of Gahan's seven years in office: the construction of a self-aggrandizing political patronage "pay to play" system unprecedented in the modern era of New Albanian political malfeasance.

Photo credit.

With municipal elections just around the corner in 2019, New Albany has become a banana republic -- or maybe that's a Bud Light Banana-O-Rita Republic.

Gahan's face is on everything, as is his chosen symbol, the anchor. A steady stream of political propaganda proclaiming Gahan's flawless brilliance emanates from City Hall, while the compromised local chain newspaper ducks, covers and cowers over at its Jeffersonville headquarters.

But little of this would have the wherewithal to stick if not for Gahan wetting his beak on each and every expansion of the city's budget. His campaign finance/re-election fund invariably receives a piece of the action on these expenditures of taxpayer money -- and, of course, we only see the transactions he bothers to report on the public forms. 

The emperor and his cash are tied together by the propaganda, and if you think I'm exaggerating, consider this one question: At any point during the past seven years, have you heard Gahan or any of his minions concede to making a mistake or committing an error?

Mull this for just a moment. They're human, and humans are fallible. How can they ever be perfect? And yet, like the Kims in North Korea, we're supposed to believe that a former veneer salesman exemplifies perfection.

It's revolting -- and it's time to revolt. Do we need a mayor whose primary interest is self-deification, or do we need a mayor whose policies make a difference for ordinary citizens, like me and you?

All things considered, there can be only one choice as New Albany's Person(s) of the Year for 2018. It's Mayor Jeff Gahan's Money Machine, and all the people currently benefiting from it. If you're not one of them, please consider voting for one of his challengers next year.

Previous winners:

Nick Vaughn's forthcoming book Community First has a cover design.


End-of-year followup:

Community First: Nick Vaughn will not seek office in 2019, but he's writing a book.


As you can see, Nick has released the book's cover design. The projected publication date is Spring 2019, and you can reserve your copy here.

ON THE AVENUES: Another year older and deeper in debt, so let's doo-doo it all over again.

ON THE AVENUES: Another year older and deeper in debt, so let's doo-doo it all over again.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do.
-- Ulysses S. Grant

End-of-year compendiums taunt as much as they tempt. While at times an adequate teaching tool, the glibness of 20/20 hindsight usually gets in the way of instruction.

Apart from the planetary scourge known as Homo sapiens, there are no neatly printed numerical calendars, just natural cycles of life and death, recurrence and the dialectic. Nothing ever really ends on December 31, or begins the following day. All of it is a continuum, until the final pervasive darkness overtakes us all. After that, calendar pages no longer turn.

Encouraged yet?

Awesome, so let’s begin the year’s end housekeeping with thoughts pertaining to the life of ON THE AVENUES itself. In short, there’ll need to be a slight adjustment.

That’s because speaking personally, the single biggest story of 2018 was the official debut of Pints&union on August 1, which put an end to three and a half years of my semi-retired underemployment. As the pub's advent followed the long delayed final settlement of my NABC buyout, it became a judiciously considered exclamation mark affixed to what I view as a personal rebirth.

During my hiatus there were ups and downs, births and deaths, frustrations and exhilaration, but in the main it was a gratifyingly productive period. I’ll look back on those years as a cherished time to learn and grow. It was like earning a second undergraduate degree, or perhaps finishing a master’s program in creative synthesis.

Just as in an overall daily sense I’ve no idea where I’d be without my wife Diana, in professional terms this accolade now fully extends to my friend and employer Joe Phillips, to whom I’m grateful for the opportunity to reinvent a career in beer. We’ve had six-months to build a foundation, and in 2019, the beer program’s going to fly high.

It’s about time – and it’s all about time.

My work routine became established fairly quickly, but it has taken me a few months to sort through the scheduling implications for my sidelines of writing and blogging. Since the advent of ON THE AVENUES in 2011 it has been my weekly goal to publish the column on Thursday. However, my work week at Pints&union is front-loaded, falling largely at the beginning of the week (from Monday through Wednesday, and into Thursday).

Perhaps a better course in 2019 would be to publish ON THE AVENUES on Tuesday, giving myself the weekend to prepare -- and what better day to begin than Tuesday, January 1, New Year’s Day?

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Bernie Sanders tweeted on Friday.

The American people are tired of a president who is a liar, a fraud, a narcissist and a bully. They want leadership which unites us, not divides us. They want policies which work for all, not just the wealthy few.

I hastened to comment on this.

Welcome back to Nawbany, Bernie. We have one of those charlatans, too.

Because New Albany is similarly afflicted, it was another long, strange civic journey in 2018, and it’s going to be twice as annoying in 2019.

Fortunately, unlike the chaotic situation three decades ago in the People’s Republic if Romania, my fellow New Albanians will have the lawful opportunity next year to exercise their power of the ballot and remove our own under-educated, egotistical, image-replicating, cash-in-the-service-of-special-interests, bullying and personality cult curating Nicolae Ceausescu wannabe, along with the bootlicking clique of vapid lackeys drooling in his general vicinity.

We can get to Trump later. He’s minor league by comparison. First, it’s time to pluck the Genius of the Flood Plain from the comfy projected office chair in his palatial Reisz Mahal, and put him back into peddling veneer.

Wait …

Veneer: A thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material.

That’s it: Potemkin veneer. Come to think of it, the ideal epitaph for eight long years of toxic Gahanism.

Bring out your brooms, citizens. Behind the bright shiny Disney images, this place is a mess. Granted, it won’t be easy beating a campaign-finance-engorged narcissist of the 19th-century Tammany Hall model who genuinely believes his face must adorn Kroger shopping carts right next to where consumers toss their Metamucil, condoms and Rice Krispies Treats, but working together, we can do it.

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Brevity may be the soul of wit, although it isn’t typically my specialty. Today I’ll play against type and keep it relatively short.

Returning to those pesky compendiums, a summary: It’s been a year, and next week there’ll be another one. Throughout the past year, I’ve struggled first to discover, and then maintain a balance between the varying public roles I’ve written for myself. Privately, I’ve confided in some of you why this has been the case.

Paranoia may be the big destroyer, but when you’ve no doubt the threat is real, there’s an obligation to calculate risks. That’s because bullies are cowards, and cowards often are disinclined to target the source of their rancor. Rather, they nibble maliciously at the periphery – family, friends, employers – rather than come straight to the source.

In this specific instance that source is me, and so kindly allow me to close the year by encouraging all those having something to say to me to cut out the middle man and come directly to … that’s right, me.

Mano a mano is the one thing they seem utterly terrified to try, preferring instead various chicaneries from afar to silence dissent rather than engage it through direct dialogue.

Yes, I can be a handful.

Yes: I say what I think, believe in what I say, and fight for what I believe. I care deeply about justice, fairness and equality of opportunity for all, not only those playing their big fish/little pond games. It’s not a switch or spigot capable of being turned on and off, although I’ve tried mightily to do so.

But you see, facts are the end game for me. My "side" has legions of them, and in the coming year, the facts will continue to be enabled to speak for themselves – with the necessary polemical assistance from the likes of me.

After all, that’s why I'm here.

Readers, thanks for another fine trip around the sun.

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Recent columns:

December 20: ON THE AVENUES: Truth, lies, music, and a trick of the Christmas tale (2018 Remix).

December 14: A joyful noise? The six most-read ON THE AVENUES columns of 2018.

December 6: ON THE AVENUES: Straight tickets, unsociable media and whether Democrats should rally around Gahan's gallows pole.

November 29: ON THE AVENUES: "That's why I voted no," explains Scott Stewart, pausing to duck rocks feebly lobbed by Team Gahan's propaganda pygmies.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Here's Jeff Speck, explaining how slower downtown speeds have only a minimal impact on typical commute times -- and there's Team Gahan, ignoring him.

Jeff Speck was on Twitter. Here's what he had to say about commuting times in the context of lower speed limits. 

Here's Jeff Speck to explain how speed kills -- and there's Team Gahan, ignoring him.


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Concerns about lengthened commute times should not be dismissed out of hand. There are many people who commute in and out of downtown each day who have no other use for downtown—at least, not in its current state. (1/6)

They brown-bag their lunches and don't linger after work for cocktails. Most are constrained in both money and time. (2/6)

Some of these people will never have interest in a safer, more vital downtown. Even if it becomes remarkably more appealing, with new public spaces and activities springing up, they will not make use of it. But these people are the exception. (3/6)

Almost everybody, at the very least, wants a downtown they can be proud of. And most suburbanites, when a downtown becomes a destination, will want to visit it on occasion. (4/6)

Moreover, these people’s desires need to be weighed against the desires of all downtown stakeholders. In most places, the majority of downtown workers care a lot about its safety and quality. All downtown residents certainly care. (5/6)

The same goes for merchants, property owners & other investors. It is in this context that the tradeoffs between commute time & safety need to be made clear, & the key question asked: would you rather have a downtown that is quick to drive through, or one worth arriving at? (6/6)

And this.

Citizens and city leaders should be presented with an honest choice. Where commutes will take a bit longer, we should to say so. But, given the whole story, most people have shown themselves willing to spare a minute or two for the good of their city and fellow citizens. (1/3)

This graphic by the transportation planning firm Nelson\Nygaard shows how slower downtown speeds have only a minimal impact on typical commute times. (2/3)


RULE 32: Discuss tradeoffs between speed and safety honestly, with an eye to downtown vitality, civic pride, and lives saved. (3/3) From #WalkableCityRules

What I read in 2018.

There's never enough time to read, although 2018 has been a good year by my usual annual standards.

I read 16 books in all in 2018, and managed to write a word or two about most of them (links below).

Here they are, by evenly balanced category.

Novels
Life: A User’s Manual, by Georges Perec
The Tin Drum, by Günter Grass
Earthly Powers, by Anthony Burgess
Act of the Damned, by António Lobo Antunes

Biography & Autobiography
Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White, by Michael Tisserand
Not Dead Yet: The Autobiography, by Phil Collins (audio book)
Grant, by Ron Chernow
Gabriele D'Annunzio – Poet, Seducer & Preacher of War, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Drink & Food
Great Beers of Belgium, by Michael Jackson
The Guinness Story, by Edward J. Bourke
Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time, by Adrian Miller
Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, by Maureen Ogle

Travel, History and Geography
To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949, by Ian Kershaw
Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, by Patrick Leigh Fermor
The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution, by Yuri Slezkine
Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion, by Mike Levy

Which one was best?

That's like being asked to choose a favorite child, but having issued the disclaimer, probably The House of Government and The Tin Drum were most memorable, followed closely by To Hell and Back and Life: A User's Manual.

The most unexpectedly affecting was Krazy, which came completely out of left field. Since childhood I'd been hearing about the Krazy Kat, and never bothered learning anything about the comic strip or its author. Michael Tisserand's biography of George Herriman has rectified this imbalance, and I'm grateful to Cary Stemle for making me aware.   

As for what comes next, the first selection of 2019 hasn't been chosen. However the second is queued and ready for late January: The Avignon Quintet, by Lawrence Durrell, to be read in tandem with my friend Jon. 

Meme wars erupt as the Reisz Mahal tops the Tom May Content Multiplier's list of top five reasons not to vote for Jeff Gahan in 2019.

As a New Year's resolution for 2019, let's work together to ensure that every last elected official responsible for the Reisz Mahal luxury government center expenditure is defeated at the polls.

Now, roll those memes.











Fire them all, each and every one, but first, kindly allow me to fix Morris' opening sentence.

There were many important stories during 2018 in New Albany and Floyd County, but only the most milquetoast made the News and Tribune cut as the biggest and most news worthy.

Accordingly, the choice is yours. You can hit the link and use one of your newspaper visit credits to read the cursory content, or you can save it for when Tom May gets another column in the Jeffersonville First publication.

Me? I'm having a refreshing adult libation instead, because life's too short for serial inanity.

Reisz building plans top list of 2018's top Floyd County stories, by Chris Morris (Tom May Content Proliferator)

NEW ALBANY — There were many important stories during 2018 in New Albany and Floyd County, but only five made the News and Tribune cut as the biggest and most news worthy.

Ranking these five proved to be more difficult than choosing them.

However, maybe the one that drew the most interest, both for and against, was the city's decision to leave the City-County Building at the end of next year. City offices will be moving from the third floor of the City-County Building into the old Reisz Furniture building at 148 E. Main St., which is currently being renovated.

Other stories making the cut include Sazerac Company buying the vacant General Mills plant off Grant Line Road, the opening of the Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park and the New Albany Little League moving to the facility, a new Green Valley Elementary School opening and the old one being torn down, and the passage of a jail tax by the Floyd County Council to help pay for upkeep to a renovated jail.

Some stories that were also worthy of mention were the brush fires in the spring, Brad Snyder being named superintendent of the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., ongoing building problems at Riverview Tower, the new digital library branch and Mansion on Main assisted living facility opening late this year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Suburban gun sales quadruple as "Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville waterfront officials say the time is right to renew the push for pedestrian and cycling access on the K&I Bridge."


Here's the first reference to the K&I Bridge in this blog's 14-year history, occurring on February 10, 2005.


Mayors united in support for K & I bicycle link


Last fall, during a chat with NA Confidential, former Councilman Richard Bliss took note of the K & I bicycling proposal.

The railroad isn’t hard to work with, we recall Bliss saying at the time. He added that so long as you’re willing to take all the responsibility, do all the work, pay for all of it and accept all the insurance liability, the railroad’s right with you on a project.

Readers can click here for links to another dozen articles about the K&I appearing in this space during the last seven years, like this one on February 9, 2016.

K & I: It's like a litmus test for prejudice ... and it's got hazmat, too.

It remains difficult to for me to fathom the disgruntlement in some quarters expressed at renewed calls for the K & I to be converted into a shared use path ...

... Huckabee-voting Louisville East End suburbanites bash the notion of potential expenditures to assist mobility and interconnected neighborhoods, preferring to reserve transportation subsidies for their own auto-centric sprawl.

New Albanians are terrified that ISIS-colored refugees are in Portland, just waiting for a footpath to launch attacks on Dewey Heights.

Portlanders exactly say the same, only in reverse.

All of it remains purely theoretical, and yet already social media experts are debating policing levels, surveillance against chicanery, and all the other details barely mentioned when the Big Four's conversion was lauded as a victory for modernity.

Then there's the entity that should be on the nationalization chopping block, Norfolk Southern.

Fast-forwarding to the present, it seems the local imagination drought still very much afflicts us. Today a Facebook discussion broke out about Green's WDRB piece (below), and I believe these viewpoints lowered my IQ by at least 30 points, leaving me with very little brain power to emphasize a point we've been making here for about a thousand years, or at least since President Lincoln mistakenly awarded right-of-ways to the railroads from terra firma down to the planet's core, and up in the sky all the way to Jupiter.

Nationalize Norfolk Southern's skanky asses.

Wait -- that's a valid consideration, but not what I meant to say, which is this:

Whether the K&I pedway happens or not, the decision and the process will have next to nothing to do with New Albany, in the sense that the city of Louisville will be the prime mover.

Kentucky owns the river, and Norfolk Southern the bridge. New Gahanians are merely bit players in all this, so if the mayor starts taking credit for any of it, vote for someone else.

ANYONE else. After all, #EightIsEnough

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer backs new effort for K&I Bridge pedestrian path, by Marcus Green (WDRB)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville waterfront officials say the time is right to renew the push for pedestrian and cycling access on the K&I Bridge.

The Waterfront Development Corp. broached the issue briefly at its meeting this month after Fischer, a board member, asked whether the renovated Sherman Minton Bridge will include a path for cyclists. That project won’t.

But Fischer told WDRB News in an interview that it’s important to finish an Ohio River loop between Louisville and Southern Indiana, where a trail system in Clark and Floyd counties is being completed.

On the Louisville side, early work is underway to expand Waterfront Park to the west and toward Norfolk Southern Corp.’s railroad bridge between the Portland neighborhood and New Albany, Ind.

Despite previous pressure from elected officials and business leaders in Kentucky and Indiana, Norfolk Southern has resisted efforts to allow people on the span’s former car lanes. The company did not return a phone message seeking comment ...

The story of Cross Section's 1979 Quadrophenia soundtrack cover of "Hi Heel Sneakers" by Tommy Tucker.



All the way back in 1979 I bought the double LP of the soundtrack to the Quadrophenia movie.

It repeats much of the Who's album of the same name, plus a generous share of re-recordings, which may be subtly different (there are an abundance of grace notes on "I'm One," for instance), but different, more produced all the same. Even better, they're all pretty good, and help give this a different -- yet, again, subtly different -- feel than the album that's welcome.

Then there's the last side of the record, containing a bunch of mod anthems -- which means there's a bunch of early-'60s soul, plus a couple of girl group numbers and "Louie Louie," all of which are familiar, yet still offer a good portrait of what mods actually listened to. Along the way, a song by the High Numbers -- the early incarnation of the Who -- is thrown in for good measure, along with the Cross Section's take on "Hi Heel Sneakers," plus three new songs, all added to assist the film narrative, all enjoyable but only "Four Faces" really standing out (and it sounds more Who by Numbers than Quadrophenia, anyway).

Those three new Who songs were the rationale for my purchase; one of them including drumming by my teen idol Keith Moon (the Loon), who'd died the previous year, but in the final analysis the song that stuck with me all these years, regularly recurring, was Cross Section's cover of "Hi Heel Sneakers," a 1963 blues song by Tommy Tucker.

Here's the point: I've never had the slightest idea who or what Cross Section was, assuming it was a one-hit-wonder garage band from the early 1960s as preferred by Mods. I also was entire ignorant of the source recording.

It has taken me only 40 years to bother finding the answer.

Cross Section, The Band from Quadrophenia, by Simon Wells (Zani)

When 5 teenagers in 1978 saw an advert in the NME that read “Do you want Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll?” you can imagine what they said! The advert was referring to the movie Quadrophenia, based on The Who’s 1973 studio album of the same name.

The movie was now being made, a young band was required to portray a band mid 1960’s playing in a club in London, this was to be a scene in the movie. A demo was sent as an answer to the advert plus a publicity shot. The band sat back and got on with their lives, namely school and playing in local clubs and pubs in Kent and South East England.

To their amazement, in the summer, the band auditioned along with many other hopeful groups that had been chosen out of hundreds of applicants. The list was narrowed down to 70 or so bands.

After playing live in front of a couple of members of The Who at the Electric Ballroom, Cross Section got to be the band of their choice. Roger Daltrey approached them after the audition in Camden High Street and, much to their disbelief, told them he liked what he heard, and popped the question -‘Would you cut your hair?” “Yeah I’d dye it green” said the drummer - naturally!

Tucker's original version is pretty good, too.

Queue the cattle cars, because Riverview Tower will be the next pawn in City Hall's luxury enhancement crusade.

Satire alert: Trump tells Gahan,
"I can fix your Riverview Tower problem."

It's another underachieving puff piece by Chris Morris, who someday might consider ASKING some of those questions referenced in the banner, although if he did, journalism might break out — and then what?

Can we be honest? The Jeffersonville newspaper as currently constituted displays no interest in what lies beneath the Team Gahan's public machinations.

Morris invariably accepts what he's told by people with whom he's schmoozed for decades. In terms of information, it's a closed loop. The newspaper should be comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable; instead, it hoists a series of feel-good stories amid just enough Pavlovian click bait (crime and drugs and roundabouts, oh my!) to juice its advertisers -- which include THE CITY OF NEW ALBANY.

Meanwhile, Jeff Gahan is far more concerned with affixing blame to decapitated predecessors for Riverview's deteriorating condition than manning up to own the crisis sparked by his own ill-considered hostile takeover of public housing.

Gahan's is the least transparent mayor in the city's history, but when it comes to greed, his intent cannot be disguised.

If Riverview Tower is doomed owing to irreparable physical problems, then residents can be scattered for their own good (as Gauleiter Duggins ineptly signaled to the inattentive reporter, below). The building would come down, and then the property sold for for the sort of "luxury" high-rise development that's eternally more conducive to the engorged mayoral ego than any conceivable dose of Viagra.

It's "why he's here," forever fascinated by those bright shiny baubles capable of generating campaign funds, as opposed to actual human beings and their needs, which he simply cannot fathom in a month of Sundays.

By the way, hasn't Duggins long since shed the "interim" prefix?

It's a permanent, stupefyingly overpaid position at this point ... well, at least until January of 2020, when a new mayor graciously will allow Duggins to seek his panacea of a comfy sinecure in the private sector, and the next in a series of dismally failed career moves.

Questions still surround Riverview Tower in New Albany, by Chris Morris

 .. David Duggins, interim director of the New Albany Housing Authority, said Riverview is currently being serviced by a temporary electrical system. He said it would cost $4 million-plus to make a permanent fix and redesign the electrical system. So far NAHA, its insurance company and the Housing and Urban Development Department have spent $600,000 for repairs and other costs associated with the building.

He said decisions will have to be made down the road on the building's future.

"Everything is working and it's safe. We have an electrical contractor walk through the building twice a week," he said. "But it's not a permanent fix. The system dates back to the 1970s. We need to look and made decisions moving forward on what is best for our residents."

Duggins said he plans on meeting with each Riverview resident one-on-one beginning early next year to discuss their situation and see what fits them best. There are 160 units at Riverview but right now around 35 are vacant.

"We want to be more involved and help families make decisions ... let them know the services NAHA provides and other housing options," he said ...

 ... Duggins said there are some residents at Riverview who likely would be better off living in an assisted living facility which they would be eligible for with a Medicaid waiver. He said he has tried to show them what housing choices are available in the community.

"We have kept them informed with everything going on here," he said. "Our main focus has always been the residents, most of whom are elderly, to make sure they are taken care of and to educate them on all the services they have available to them."

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Satire alert: Trump tells Gahan, "I can fix your Riverview Tower problem."





With apologies to the President.

Flight documentaries: Alexander McQueen and Whitney Houston.



Flight documentaries happen when we're flying home after a European sojourn. An eastbound flight is for sleeping. Westbound is for reading, writing and watching.

Movies?

Not for me, seeing that 95 out of 100 are crap, but documentaries are another story. It also can be a good time to explore new music via audio selections.

Now as I've been saying about the genre of the documentary, as opposed to the biopic ...

The inside story of the must-see McQueen documentary, by Ella Alexander (Harper's Bazaar)

Film-makers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui open up about how they created the most compelling, moving McQueen tribute to date

 ... “If the subject matter is so amazing and you have visuals, visual support and stories to tell, then I think a documentary is better than a biopic because there’s no one better than the real people to tell the story,” Bonhôte told us. “Audiences don’t care if it has slick imagery; they care about the emotion of that visual or footage, whether it shows them something they didn’t know.”

Point made; point taken. I didn't know very much about McQueen or Whitney Houston, and now I do. The Houston documentary is considerably better than this idiotic trailer.



McQueen or Houston; lots and lots of talent, and just as many demons.


How a Director Uncovered Whitney Houston’s Secret Pain


... As deep as “Whitney” explores Houston’s life offstage, it spends far less time on her music. Though Mr. Macdonald illustrates the astonishing reach of her success — Saddam Hussein used an Arabic version of “I Will Always Love You” as his campaign theme — her voice seems to exist as a kind of superpower she can turn on at will. In a section on her unforgettable performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl, we learn that she listened to the music director Rickey Minor’s arrangement exactly once before recording the song in a single take.

Here's Jeff Speck to explain how speed kills -- and there's Team Gahan, ignoring him.


Jeff Speck was on Twitter, Christmas Eve. 

While many different factors influence the safety of humans in cities, none matters nearly so much as the speed at which vehicles are traveling. The relationship between vehicle speed and danger is, to put it mildly, exponential. (1/4)

The death risk to pedestrians from vehicles takes a dramatic upturn at 25 mph. (2/4)


The diagram above is one of many that can be found to communicate this relationship. Others show people falling out of buildings, with 20 mph equaling the second floor and 40 mph equaling the seventh. (3/4)

The basic message to remember is that you are about five times as likely to be killed by a car going 30 as a car going 20, and five times again as likely to be killed by a car going 40. (4/4)

Continued this morning.

This threshold zone of 20 to 40 mph, is basically where it all happens—the difference between bruises, broken bones, and death. And 20 to 40 is roughly the range of speeds that we find cars traveling on the best downtown streets. (1/5)

Keeping cars on the lower end of that range, therefore, must be the central objective of urban street design. (2/5)

The speed of the impact itself is not the only factor. As cars move faster, the likelihood of a crash also rises. Drivers and pedestrians alike have less time to respond to conflicts, stopping distances lengthen, and the driver’s cone of vision narrows. (3/5)

As drivers move more quickly, their cone of vision narrows, making crashes more likely. (4/5)


These factors multiply the impact of speed beyond those indicated in the above graph. It is safe to say that a car traveling 30 mph is probably at least three times as dangerous as one going 25. (5/5)

Welcome to an abbreviated November/December edition of tunes, or the music playing in my head.

This album recap is abbreviated because there weren't many new releases of interest to me during the year's final two months. However, the second full-length album by The Struts was highly anticipated on my side of the musical street, and it has not disappointed.



At Drowned in Sound, reviewer Andy McDonald gets straight to the point.

The general consensus between film reviewers is that recent Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody fails to capture the essence of the seminal British pomp-rockers. Fortunately, in the same week came Young & Dangerous from The Struts, which goes some way to doing just that. As their stylistic forefathers’ legacy is committed to film, the Derby lads continue to write the early chapters of their story with this second full-length release.

There’s no real mystique as to what The Struts are doing - unashamedly paying homage to Britain’s genre-defining prestige through a resuscitation of glam rock, their sound bursting with cocksure Stones grooves, Queen’s theatrical panache and T. Rex’s irreverent-but-ensnaring lyrical riddles. They’ve even previously invoked the subversive spirit of the Sex Pistols by recording a video on a Thames boat for hit ‘Could Have Been Me’ from their debut Everybody Wants.

It is likely there cannot possibly be a greater contrast than that to be found between The Struts and The 1975, with the latter's new album A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships tagged as “the millennial answer to OK Computer” by one reviewer.

Spin's Ian Cohen offers this take.

 ... The 1975 are just a lot. They make overwhelming albums about being emotionally and technologically overwhelmed. More than anything they’ve released to date, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is prone to maniacal ambition as well as crippling self-doubt and anxiety, obsessed with the granular details of social media etiquette while contemplating the benefits of going off the grid for a while, if not forever. This is a brief inquiry—58 minutes is not a lot to ask when you consider the scope of it all—but “I don’t know” serves as a mission statement rather than a copout to analytic paralysis. Healy probes everything about making music and consuming music in 2018 without resorting to cynicism or nihilism.

As a wheezing geezer, I concede to having had too little time the past month to properly digest the album, which means the arbitrary constraints of chronological reference may fail me in this instance and there may be more to say.

But verily this track is masterful, an absolutely gorgeous commentary on suicide -- if there can be such a thing.



NME reviews the eponymous debut of The Parcels, "a Berlin-based band from Byron Bay, Australia who write songs with slick grooves inspired by the hi-fi funk of 1970s AM radio."

Remarkably, ‘Parcels’ manages to be an album that transcends elements from across pop history while still sounding remarkably fresh. The shimmering disco tendencies of the ‘70s turn ‘Lightenup’ and ‘IknowhowIfeel’ into dance floor smashes, as influences from ‘80s pop titans like Hall & Oates and The Cars rear their heads on gooey cuts like ‘Withorwithoutyou’ and ‘Yourfault’. Meanwhile, ‘Tape’ sounds like it would sit nicely on The Strokes’ underrated synth-heavy 2011 album ‘Angels’, and ‘Everyroad’ has a chunky bassline wobble in its exuberant final third.

Kindly note that when it comes to synthesized electronic robot music, if I can (a) at least imagine the songs being played live by humans with instruments, and (b) locate a tune or melody capable of being whistled somewhere amid the digital layers, then it's okay by me. The Parcels fit therein.



Speaking of "Something Human," and to conclude this glance at the music playing in my head, Muse has returned to action with Simulation Theory.



Yes, I love the grandiosity, the bombast, and even the pilferage.

 ... “Something Human” requires using Muse and trop house in the same sentence, at least until the acoustic guitars arrive. The song then becomes an uncanny homage to George Michael. The airy backing track of “Get Up and Fight” could pass for Balearic pop or a Sweetener outtake, while those whoa-ohs during state-of-the-art guitarless rocker “Thought Contagion” should be of great interest to both satellite radio providers and Imagine Dragons’ copyright lawyers. Leave it to Muse to discover Fleetwood Mac in 2018 and go straight for Tusk. They get the lesser-known of Los Angeles’ major college marching bands to play on the alternate version of “Pressure”—that it’s a highlight for UCLA says more about their current football team than the song itself.

In other November/December musical news, the following topics engaged my ear -- and the end-of-year favorite album wrap will be published in a few days, or whenever I get around to it.

Flight documentaries: An indispensable documentary about Mick Ronson, the under-appreciated guitarist and arranger for David Bowie.


SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: The Man in Black wasn't chasing rainbows with this classic song.


You know Freddie Mercury and Queen stole the show at Live Aid, but what the hell WAS Live Aid?


1812 Overture and more; Louisville Orchestra at the Ogle on January 19, performing Tchaikovsky.


And Gordon Lightfoot:

PINTS & UNION PORTFOLIO: Edmund Fitzgerald? It's much, much more than a Porter.

Public restrooms are another beneficial project neither Jeff Gahan nor Develop New Albany is likely to pursue.


Public bathrooms just aren't luxurious enough for the appearance-over-substance suburbanites calling the shots at NA Anchor Central. They understand so very little about an outside world they've seldom experienced.

The only surprising aspect of their ignorance?

Surely a $100K public restroom study for a project destined to be scrapped would be the perfect stocking stuffer for HWC Engineering.

D.C.’s Downtown Was a Public Bathroom Desert. That Could Soon Change, by Sarah Holder (CityLab)

Homeless activists pushed Washington D.C. to pass expansive public restroom legislation. Now the city is moving to increase toilet access for the public.

 ... Finding a hygienic and accessible restroom on the street is a necessity for many, including homeless residents, seniors, and pregnant women—and a challenge in many U.S. cities, not just D.C. But a nationwide movement is building to create “more spaces for people to do private things,” as Alexandra Goldman, a community organizer in San Francisco, told CityLab. And now—years after D.C.’s bathroom committee conducted their first informal survey of publicly accessible private space—the city has taken the most sweeping action in the nation so far, passing the first Public Restroom bill of its kind.

The legislation builds on years of other urban toilet expansion efforts. Portland, Oregon, pioneered the Portland Loo, a 24/7 stand-alone public restroom design that has since spread to 20 other U.S. locations. San Francisco, where 311 complaints regarding feces on the streets have peaked, installed a fleet of portable public bathrooms called Pit Stops in strategic locations; an alternative to the more controversial self-cleaning Automated Public Toilets (APTs) that it and other cities also use. And while pay toilets are banned in many U.S. cities because of their discriminatory implications, New York State created an exemption to the rule for New York City, where need is high and few free public toilets are installed ...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Fezziwig's Christmas Reading 3: Altogether now, to #FireGahan2019


`Ghost of the Future.' he exclaimed,' I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me.'

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them.

`Lead on.' said Scrooge. `Lead on. The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit.'

Actually, I have nothing profound to end this miniseries. The first two episodes made sense, then time ran out.

But you already know that in the immediate future, there'll be a municipal election, and a chance to put people first in New Albany -- not bright shiny objects and campaign cash, but people.

I'm voting for David White in the Democratic primary this coming May. Please join us in facilitating what needs to happen: #FireGahan2019

Fezziwig's Christmas Reading 2: Maybe they want to come here to escape the bombs we're dropping on them.


`I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,' said the Spirit. `Look upon me.'

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.

`You have never seen the like of me before.' exclaimed the Spirit.

`Never,' Scrooge made answer to it.

If you fancy yourself progressive, start by stopping this weird Jim Mattis worship, then begin asking a few questions about the need for perpetual war ... and all those bombs.

Bring the Troops Home, But Also Stop the Bombing, by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies (CounterPunch)

As our nation debates the merits of President Trump’s call for withdrawing US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, absent from the debate is the more pernicious aspect of US military involvement overseas: its air wars. Trump’s announcement and General Mattis’ resignation should unleash a national discussion about US involvement in overseas conflicts, but no evaluation can be meaningful without a clear understanding of the violence that U.S air wars have unleashed on the rest of the world for the past 17 years.

By our calculations, in this “war on terror,” the U.S. and its allies have dropped a staggering 291,880 bombs and missiles on other countries—and that is just a minimum number of confirmed strikes.

As we contemplate that overwhelming number, let’s keep in mind that these strikes represent lives snuffed out, people maimed for life, families torn apart, homes and infrastructure demolished, taxpayer money squandered and resentment that only engenders more violence ...

Fezziwig's Christmas Reading 1: Thank a socialist for voting rights.


They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed to hear it.

`These are but shadows of the things that have been,' said the Ghost. `They have no consciousness of us.'

History is a fascinating thing.

Like Voting Rights? Thank a Socialist, by Adam J. Sacks (Jacobin)

As voting rights increasingly come under attack, we shouldn't forget the crucial role that early socialists played in fighting for universal suffrage.

Stolen elections, decrepit voting infrastructure, draconian ID laws. The recent attacks on voting rights in the US might seem like an outgrowth of pure partisanship — the desperation of a minoritarian party using any means necessary to hold onto political power. But the GOP’s brazen attempts to restrict voting access (particularly for African Americans) should also be viewed as symptoms of a disease that has long afflicted elites: recalcitrant opposition to democracy, including the right to vote.

Since the advent of the modern state, ruling classes have tried to restrain the voting power of workers and those not “well born.” Contrary to the mainstream story that capitalism naturally gave rise to democracy, establishment powers in nineteenth-century Europe restricted the vote for as long as they possibly could. Only when faced with mass mobilization — or when continent-wide war wiped out working-class males en masse — was it clear that the franchise could no longer be withheld.

The particulars of individual European countries varied. In some nations, following intense struggles, workers won limited forms of universal male suffrage before World War I. More commonly, broad suffrage rights appeared only after the war.

But what was consistent were the actors pushing for universal suffrage: trade unions and, crucially, socialist parties. In fact, what has been called the “democratic breakthrough” of the nineteenth century could easily be called the “socialist breakthrough” ...

Christmas 2018: From Munich to New (and Old) Albania, with Vietnam Kitchen to follow.

Chinesischer Turm in Englischer Garten, Munich.

Give or take a few beers, we completed the 10,000 mile loop back to Louisville at 9:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The sheer awesomeness of Bavaria still was throbbing in the rear-view mirror.

It was a bittersweet homecoming, as we already knew the amazing Miss Nadia had used up her ninth life during our absence. Nadia's passing was unexpected, if not surprising at the age of 16. There'll be more to say about this, but not quite yet, apart from expressing eternal thanks to the Bluegill family for care-giving in our absence.

The year 2018 was Diana's first visit to Munich. Our days were spent wandering Christmas markets and pausing frequently for principled refreshments. It's hard to imagine better "together" time.

I hadn't been to Munich in 14 years, and found myself reflecting about the way things were in 1985, and my initial experience with hoisting steins in the city's amazing traditional beer palaces (and equally enjoyable tiny nooks). There have been a zillion changes during 33 years, and yet the combo of cool lager and steaming pork remains wonderfully timeless.

Now it's Christmas Day, and it would be futile to attempt to deal with the jumble of emotions crowding my noggin. I may have to chip away at them over the coming days, knowing all the while that the year to come probably is going to be even more exhausting than the one about to pass.

But there are a few billion people out there who have it worse off than us, and I try never to forget it -- whether a holiday or any other day when we roll out of bed and seek yet again to finesse the rough edges of the existential dilemma.

The following thoughts are a variation of ones previously posted.

---

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, theocrats like 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. In 2015, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi contributed a thoughtful essay linking consumer Christmas to the stoking of irrational fears: This Christmas, Tune It All Out.

As for the rest of that shopaholic, mall-rushing craziness that can make this holiday so stressful, it turns out that it's optional. Switch off the wi-fi for a few days, turn off the TV, and it's amazing how much more reasonable the world instantly seems.

Supernaturally, 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.

Christmas Day means Vietnam Kitchen, which will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We'll be there.

In the absence of farm-raised Slovak carp, it'll have to do. To refresh your memory about this hallowed yuletide practice, go here: Carp in a bathtub.

Photo credit: Peter Dedina, in Košice, Slovakia.