Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Tell-Tale Fart: This peachy "apartments at Steinert's" project may seem to be free-market capitalism, but the deal's a lot more tangled than it first appeared.


I'd gently argue Steinert's was the building suited to be described as iconic in a way mere "used to be there" vacant lots cannot ever be, but this would be picking nits. It is noteworthy that in a distinctly post-election way, as soon as the campaign was over and the mayor safely re-enthroned, suddenly he has "elected" to refrain from interjecting his dull mug into every announcement.

The reality speaks differently.

Our Shopping Cart Napoleon already had this Steinert's fix quite firmly into place. Before linking to the local chain newspaper's story, let's have a look at the interconnected participants.

Here's Vitor Bueno.


TSI Construction was the contractor for the sewer overflow project by St. Mary's Cemetery at Charlestown Road and Silver Street, during which equipment and materials were being stored in ... a big vacant lot where Steinert's once stood.


TSI was purchased in 2016 by an "investment firm" -- 3 Crown Capital, the leadership of which all formerly worked for Neace Ventures.


The former Steinert's site is owned by a Neace offshoot (son).


And NB Develop, which will build apartments on the Steinert's site, stands for Neace Bueno.


Oh, and the Neace/Bueno has a connection with a newly elected at-large councilman.


Extol Magazine now operating under Neace Ventures.


(November, 2016)

John Neace was the first person to support our dream of starting Extol by becoming our initial investor. He and Vitor Bueno both jumped on ship as minority owners in this venture that was started by Sales Director/Managing Partner Jason Applegate and his wife Angie Fenton, Extol's editor in chief. We are so grateful for this opportunity to grow and further our mission.

Yes, and by the way ...


John Neace is Jeff Gahan's 5th-largest career campaign finance donor.

There was quite a lot left unsaid in the newspaper account, wasn't there?

Development coming to former Steinert's site in New Albany, by John Boyle (Bill Hanson's Jeffersonville First)

NEW ALBANY — An iconic New Albany property could soon see new life.

Steinert's Grill and Pub, located near the intersection of Silver Street and Charlestown Road, was a local landmark and watering hole for decades, with the building having been there since 1877. All of that history was lost over a decade ago, when the structure was destroyed in a 2008 fire.

In the years since, the property at 2239 Charlestown Road has sat vacant, with nothing but the Steinert's sign standing as a remnant among the empty asphalt. Now, developers have plans to fill the void with a $3.5 million, three-story apartment building.

Vitor Bueno said NB Develop set its eyes on the property in part due to its well-known former occupant.

"Steinert's has been a place that a lot of people have come through and have a lot of family memories at," he said. "I think that's a nice part of the site. With it being on top of a hill in a three-story building, people can have a nice view of New Albany."

Plans call for 24 units, half of which will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and the other half having one bedroom and one bathroom. Units will range in size from 754 square feet to 1,131 square feet ...

"Nothing has prepared us for the baby boomers’ return to infancy."


I'm leading with this photo of Luna because communing with our three cats is much more fun than contemplating my status as a baby boomer. It annoys me tremendously to belong to this cohort, but if the youngest of the boomers are 54 and I'm 59, nothing much can be done about it apart from my ongoing efforts to stay out of simplistic boxes.

Consequently for some boomers, this opinion piece might seem overly harsh. Unfortunately for them (for us), it's largely spot-on. Scrooge-like deathbed conversions, anyone?

What the Hell Are We Going to Do About the Boomers?, by Bernie Bleske (Medium)

Nothing has prepared us for the baby boomers’ return to infancy

... The boomer generation’s youngest member is now 54, and as a group, they are 65 million strong, the largest generation in U.S. history. They are the children of the late 1940s, the ’50s, and the early ’60s, who came of age in an era of unprecedented prosperity and hard-earned luxury. No wars, no famines, no economic disasters occurred their entire lives. (The hardships they endured pale to what had come before.) The one great threat, the fall of capitalism to communism, never happened. (Like almost everything else in their lives, they exported the violent part of that conflict to Asia and South America and other places where the people weren’t white, even in their own country.)

They grew up with massive infrastructure projects — the U.S. interstate highway system, the power grid, and the water supply — which were all completed while they were still young. Their parents were forged in a time that saw two world wars, the Great Depression, and pandemic disease; a generation who vowed that their children, the boomers, would never suffer as they had. Hardened like steel by their experiences, the Greatest Generation succeeded. Universities were state-funded. The government was greatly expanded to include Medicaid and Social Security. Peace was built through diplomacy and U.S. dollars. The environment was protected. Parks were built and waterways cleaned.

So, what have the boomers done as they have aged?

Monday, November 11, 2019

The next community crime watch meeting is Wed., Nov. 13, 7:00 p.m. at the Floyd County Library's auditorium.


First the meeting notification, courtesy of my friend Diane Williamson's page at Facebook.

New Albany friends and neighbors, there's another community watch meeting this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Floyd County Library in the Auditorium. I'm not organizing these meetings, but I attended the last one in September and there are a lot of good people coming together to make our neighborhoods and streets safer. Nothing wrong with that, now is there?

Floyd County Deputy Prosecutor Chris Lane will be in attendance (he's the guy who filed FELONY charges against our would-be home invader a couple of months ago, so he's my kinda guy) along with some newly-elected officials and some law enforcement folks to discuss how we can all come together to make our beautiful little hometown a little safer.

It's a good cause and I'm going to attend. Hope to see you all there, too!

The would-be home invasion episode of which Diane speaks was reported in the local chain newspaper on September 30.

New Albany residents unite to help stop crime, by Aprile Rickert (Hanson's Folly)

Many met through Next Door social media app

NEW ALBANY — A group of New Albany residents are forming partnerships to help make their neighborhoods safer.

More than 20 people gathered Thursday at a meeting at the New Albany Floyd County Public Library, to discuss concerns and share ideas about policing their corners of the city for criminal or suspicious behavior.

Many of those in attendance had met through the Next Door app, a national social media platform that allows residents in a particular area to share information on crime and other general topics. Several of those in attendance also said they've had things happen that have made them feel unsafe.

New Albany resident Diane Williamson said she's already seen what the network can do, after an incident that happened at her house about a month ago.

"In the middle of the night somebody yanked open our storm door and began to try to kick in our front door," she said. Her boyfriend, who also lives there, put his weight against the door to hold it closed.

"In the moment when you're faced with that situation, you just react," Williamson said. "You think 'let's keep whoever out.'"

The suspect eventually left, walking away, but the incident was caught on the couple's security camera. Williamson shared the video the following day on the Next Door app, and a neighbor later found out a nearby restaurant had also been damaged, a brick thrown through the window around the same time.

"That's how we put it together because of a neighbor paying attention, being snoopy, which is good, and sharing that information with me," she said.

The suspect was arrested and is facing misdemeanor charges at this time.

Williamson said what she hoped would come from this first meeting was more of the same — "More connection, more interaction among neighbors, more people signing up for Next Door," she said. "More people realizing that we are not powerless..."

Other residents shared during the meeting things they've seen; those who already are part of neighborhood watch groups talked about how they operate ...

Gahan begins search for a disposable scapegoat as Indiana's Public Access Counselor finds the mayor in violation of the state's public records law.


Thanks to WDRB's Marcus Green for tagging me at Twitter. Here's the link to Public Access Counselor Luke H. Britt's advisory opinion.

"This case involves a dispute over a municipality’s lack of responses to multiple public records requests."

Here's the conclusion.


In the instance of Randy Smith's ignored request, these three posts are relevant background.

River Run Family Water Park: Why won't the city of New Albany comply with the law and grant Randy Smith's public records request to view the financials?

Reader writes about River Run: "I was under the impression public records HAD to be made public."

Team Gahan's failure to fulfill open records requests? That's Gahan's political conspiracy against transparency, and it's HIS problem, not anyone else's.


Britt informed Smith that his complaint was taken into consideration in formulating the advisory opinion.

I didn't realize the story had made it to the Associated Press. WDRB has it, dated November 4.

Indiana city faces records lawsuit after counselor's opinion

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) — Three southern Indiana residents are suing the city of New Albany for allegedly failing to fulfill their public records requests.

The Floyd County lawsuit comes after Indiana's Public Access Counselor, Luke Britt, found that New Albany had violated Indiana's public records law.

The three plaintiffs say they requested public records in August, including electronic correspondence related to River Run Family Water Park. They sought Britt's opinion after officials in the Ohio River city failed to acknowledge their records requests.

The News and Tribune reports the trio say their suit was filed in response to "a consistent pattern of failing to acknowledge, let alone respond, to a citizen's inquiry into the affairs of local government."

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan says city officials "greatly look forward" to their day in court.

———

Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind. 

An annual reminder (2019): Forgotten fields in Flanders on Armistice (Veterans) Day.


In 2018 the annual renewal of Veterans Day was auspicious because it marked the 100th anniversary of the Great War's end. Since the conflict's centenary in 2014, there have been 100-year memories of battles and events, from the Masurian Lakes through Meuse-Argonne.

Why is this important?

Among other reasons, Americans remember 11/11/11 each year in the form of a holiday that has come to embrace the service of all veterans, not only those from the now wholly passed World War I generation.

Veterans Day is an official United States holiday honoring armed service veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11th. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

November 9 was the 30th anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall began falling. As I'm fond of arguing, the armistice in 1918 didn't end the first war at all. The demise of the Wall did -- well, maybe so. I believe future historians will refer to the period of 1912-1989 as the "77 Years' War," or perhaps tack on another decade and pronounce the 87 Years' War as concluding with the bombardment of Belgrade by NATO.

Speaking for myself, America's Civil War has been a fascination since childhood, and had I hazarded a guess back in 2010 or so, it would have been that the Civil War's sesquicentennial (observed during the years 2011 - 2015) would have gripped me.

To an extent it did, but I should have known better. Europe has been an obsession for thirty-five years of my adult life.

What's more, there's an immediacy. My grandfather was drafted into the Army circa 1918, but fortunately never left the continental United States before WWI ended. His son, who was my father, volunteered and joined the Marines in 1942, spending three years in the Pacific theater of operations.

I didn't do anything, apart from studying their experiences and visiting the European locales neither of them ever saw.

Lessons from history 100 years after the Armistice (The Economist)

The guns fell silent a century ago

 ... National chauvinisms live on despite the Somme. Anti-Semitism lives on despite the Holocaust. Societies’ capacity to imagine collapse and barbarism in visceral terms fades with time. All Europeans can do is be vigilant and humble before these forces, dip their oars into the waves of history when possible, hold tight to their humanity and be grateful that their continent’s past and present are now broadly in harmony, the former educating and civilising the latter, for now at least. Like train lines running together in a wood.

Having visited Gdansk in Poland in 2018, these reflections seem particularly relevant.

For millions of Europeans, the war did not end in 1918, by Natalie Nougayrède (The Guardian)

Our narrative of the armistice is not the only one. In the east conflict continued, fuelled by the crumbling of empires

 ... For one thing, 1918 as the date of the end of the conflict only holds true for the western front. In the east of Europe, the crumbling of empires, the Russian revolution, civil war and the struggle to establish the borders of newly established states all meant that armed violence continued, leaving deep scars.

Here is a guest column originally published in the pre-merger Tribune on November 5, 2009. I repeat it annually.

---

Forgotten fields in Flanders.

Lately I keep hearing this tune.

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.

These dreaming lads were soldiers, in route across the English Channel to fight for the United Kingdom, and several hundred thousand of them failed to return home to nostalgically remember a popular song written to inspire the home front in their absence.

By now it should be clear that war is horrible, and I’m not sure that it serves any purpose to discuss which wars are “just.” Justice in this context inevitably owes to situational morality as the combatants pray to their respective deities and make theological mockery of whatever religious interpretation devolves from these biased, selective judgments.

By all such standards, the Great War was especially horrible. The specific horror of this conflict, which eventually came to be known as World War I out of a contextual necessity to keep our historical accountings of human suffering clearly ordered, surely represents societal innocence shattered on an unfathomably massive scale.

An entire generation that had known no war outside of mock duels and parlor games willingly marched off to slaughter while gaily singing songs about honor and glory, and consequently, it’s a safe bet that World War I was the last disastrous conflict to feature a soundtrack entirely devoid of irony. Western societies would have to wait decades and refine techniques of amplification until the onset of thrash metal’s inherent violence finally provided music capable of approximating the grim reality of institutionalized murder.

Earlier this year, the last British veteran of the war died. Perhaps one American soldier of the era remains alive – and, in the time it has taken for me to write this essay, perhaps he’s gone, too. The war began in 1914, and it has long since faded into the black and white images of crude newsreel footage that only hint at the carnage of trench warfare and the doltish, outmoded “leadership” on the part of uniformed war criminals.

Providentially, my own grandfather was drafted too late for combat duty. He managed the not inconsiderable task of avoiding the flu pandemic that killed more American soldiers than enemy fire. My father then followed suit by serving in the Marines during World War II, which was “his” war, and a subject of fascination for him the remainder of his life.

I, too, went overseas, although not in uniform. In 1987, I found myself in Sopron, Hungary, choosing a beautiful early summer’s day to go for a hike in the hills. I came upon a large, older cemetery, and decided to walk through it, ascending a gentle, wooded slope past contemporary gravestones of the still-extant Communist era.

Like rings on a tree stump, history’s reverse chronology rotated as I continued uphill. Nearing the top, rows of Great War graves finally commenced. These were the soldiers who fought and died for the ruling family of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – the losers, as it were, who died as readily as the “winners” on the other side.

The first death dates were more recent: 1918, and then somewhat more from 1917, and as I scanned their names, the majority Hungarian, but also some Germanic and Slavic owing to the mutli-ethnic, polyglot nature of the Habsburg domain – as I contemplated how ridiculously, stupidly youthful so many of them were – I reached the lip of the hill, rather puzzled that there seemed to be no graves from earlier war years.

The answer to my befuddlement was just on the other side. Dipping into a valley studded with older, larger hardwoods, row after row of markers told the lethal tale: Died in 1916, 1915 and 1914.

I always think about the cemetery in Sopron on Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, which originally fell on November 11th because that's when the fighting stopped in 1918, ending the First Great World War and enabling a “peace” conference in Versailles that did so much to ensure a second.

Previous generations knew about the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but all the other mass bloodlettings since required a consolidation of observance, and a holiday more intrinsically American. So be it, and I’m not here to disagree, even if we forget the first causes that brought it about.

However, we’re left with those many innocent, misplaced songs. Now that living memory has passed, they speak even more eloquently about life, death and our capacity, sometimes successful, and often not, to make sense out of the insensible.

A CBS television documentary, World War One, ran from 1964-65, comprising 26 half-hour episodes, and later airing on cable. My friend Barrie videotaped them. The series is now available on DVD (you can see excerpts on YouTube), and I’m weighing a Christmas purchase, because one of the episodes, “Tipperary and All That Jazz,” has haunted me since the first time he and I watched it around the time of my Sopron sojourn.

Ancient film, much of it depicting camp life behind the lines, forms a backdrop for song snippets. They are melancholy, sentimental and elegiac. It is heartbreaking … and very real.

There's a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing,
And a white moon beams.
There's a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true,
Till the day when I'll be going
Down that long, long trail with you.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The cool kids can go fu ... well, you know what I mean.



The pirate looks at sixty, and the evidence is incontrovertible. Each time in my life, when for some arcane reason it seemed a good idea to try becoming a cool kid -- part of the "in" crowd, belonging to a certain trendy group, inhabiting a clique, seeking to enlist in the power elite or aspiring to a socially ascendant organization -- it always has turned out badly.

Always; without exception.

It's better to remain contrarian, an iconoclast, infidel and outsider, because staying true to yourself at least allows your dignity to remain intact. Independence is neither cool nor uncool. It is merely principled. It just is.

Not only that, but you can't become a cool kid by your own rule book, anyway. The beautiful people, those fashionable arbiters of style, have rules of their own, and if you have to ask what these are, you'll never know.

Furthermore, I'm allergic to arrogance, and the thought of abiding the inevitable group-think is enough to avoid these entangling alliances.

The so-called cool kids generally select a leader; there's a head cheese or a big dog at the apex of their pyramid, and this grand poobah usually turns out to be my intellectual inferior; often, he or she quite simply is a dreadful dullard and the ensuing idolatry makes no sense.

Accordingly the exalted boss's followers acquiesce at being sheeple, no less arrogant or exuding their in-crowd privileges, but otherwise devoid of understanding and unaware of any meaningful narrative apart from yearning to belong to something irrespective of the cost to their identities.

You can count me out.

Again and again, perhaps twice on Sunday, remorseless experience has taught me that the "cool kids" aren't cool at all. They'll always make you drink the Kool-Aid first, before there's any chance of acceptance, and then stripped of autonomy, you become one of the braying jackals.

Don't misunderstand, because remaining independent does not imply aloofness. Cooperation still serves the common good, so long as the conditions are clear. I stand ready to be of assistance -- just don't expect me to sell out.

Because you can't afford me, dipshits.

Vaughn on We the People's meals for the homeless: "The health department is forcing well intentioned community leaders to jump through unnecessary regulatory hoops."


At the risk of another round of abuse from the omnipresent neighborhood watch, we've already had a glimpse at a fresh new controversy, one quite oddly receiving no ink whatever until after Tuesday's election.

But wait -- I thought there aren't any homeless people in NA, much less a need to feed them.

 ... "A grassroots group that provides weekly meals to New Albany's homeless community could see some changes as it faces issues with the Floyd County Health Department, and organizers are worried about the future of the program" ...

Nick has a view on this matter, but before linking you, consider this paragraph from his post.

It baffles me as to just how the Floyd County Health Department has regulatory power over a private picnic. If I were to have a family reunion picnic at a local park, would my family have to prepare our food in a health department-approved kitchen as well? Or would we be allowed to prepare food in our own kitchens at home?

There's another side to this. As a friend pointed out:

A point can certainly be made that the needy and the homeless also deserve the protection of government. We've both eaten at restaurants that have no idea how to prepare and handle food. Imagine what Aunt Gladys's idea of proper food handling is?

To reiterate, thus far Dr. Tom is pursuing a non-confrontational course in the case of We the People's meals for the homeless.

Addressing Nick's question about family picnics, theoretically, the FCHD probably already has the authority to oversee family reunion fare. What it doesn't have is the cover of political will (thankfully) -- or more importantly, manpower or a budget. Those usually come after a precedent for widened authority has been established.

In 2013, the FCHD was making a calculated probe when it suddenly declared its authority to oversee temporary beer dispensing, and to require food handling permits of pourers. It was unrefrigerated tripe, so we at NABC objected, and the Great Beer Pour War of 2013 went all the way to the top of state government before the FCHD was overruled and a new, clear guideline formerly written.

Nope, he never even apologized for the trouble he put us through. 

Had we not fought the test probe, it is likely that health departments across the state would have used the FCHD's "win" as a precedent to extend their regulatory authority, and by extension, to increase their budgets and manpower.

This same sort of test probing may be what's happening right now with We the People, and it's why we should question any such effort to expand regulatory authority by administrative means, absent clarity in law.

Let them serve! by Nick Vaughn (The Aggregate)

Every Sunday, the grassroots group We Are the People of New Albany serves the homeless and those in need of a hot meal at Bicknell Park. Organized by Kim Hunt Payne and Marcy Garcia, the group seeks to feed those who are hungry, give fellowship to those in need, and fill a void left by our local government.

Recently though, the Floyd County Health Department has stated that the group can no longer serve food prepared in separate locations and must instead prepare food in a health department-approved kitchen. Additionally, instead of offering a warm cooked meal the group could also only offer prepackaged food not prepared by them ...

"It may still be unclear which Democrat is best positioned to beat Donald Trump, but we know one thing: The answer is not Joe Biden."


"Biden and his backers need to face the facts. It may still be unclear which Democrat is best positioned to beat Donald Trump, but we know one thing: The answer is not Joe Biden."

You can also spare me the centrist Pete Buttigieg platform, which strikes me as capitulation from top to bottom. But that's another discussion for another time.

Joe Biden: An Anti-Endorsement at The Nation

His long record of poor judgment and cozying up to bankers makes him the wrong candidate to take on Donald Trump.

In recent weeks we at The Nation, like many other progressives, have come under increasing pressure to choose between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. We’re going to resist that pressure to endorse—for now. Not just because we find much to admire in both candidates’ programs and in the way both have conducted their campaigns (especially their rejection of corporate cash and wealthy funders in favor of small donors) but also because we continue to believe the presence of both candidates on the ballot widens the left lane in our politics, exposing the broadest possible public to Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and measures to rein in corporate power.

We also believe vigorous public debate is the best way for the strongest progressive platform to reach and be embraced by a majority of voters. Progressives may not agree with centrist Democrats like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, but engaging with and answering their criticisms now is essential—not merely to win in 2020 but also to build public pressure on a Congress whose members have proved reluctant to defy their corporate benefactors.

Yet that very debate has been stifled by the continuing candidacy of a man whose chief rationale for running—that he alone can defeat Donald Trump—has become increasingly threadbare. Like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Joe Biden offers the promise of picking up where the Obama administration left off: a restoration of business as usual for the K Street lobbyists and Wall Street speculators whose prosperity the 2008 financial crisis did little to disturb. Indeed, as Joseph N. DiStefano reports in this issue, the man posing as “middle-class Joe” has built his career and his family’s wealth on an eagerness to serve not the many Americans crushed by credit card debt but the very banks whose hands are around their throats.

The candidate who insists Medicare for All is too expensive for Americans is also the candidate who, like Clinton, endorsed NAFTA, China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership—all of which have savaged US manufacturing and workers. Clinton’s record cost her the industrial heartland (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan) and, with it, the election ...

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Russian photographer Arseniy Kotov and his ode to everyday Soviet architecture.

Volgograd, Russia; from the article.

It's a book to add to the must-have list in 2020. Meanwhile click through to Atlas Obscura and check out the images.

A Photographer’s Ode to Everyday Soviet Architecture, by Winnie Lee (Atlas Obscura)

Arseniy Kotov finds inspiration in urban exploration and concrete cityscapes.


Concrete is a common, humble material—sand, gravel, and cement—but Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sang its praises for the better part of a passionate, detailed, two-hour speech he delivered to an industrial conference in 1954. He proposed that concrete should be used for anything and everything, especially prefabricated and standardized buildings that would help accelerate construction and development. It was, he argued, absolutely vital to the Soviet project. The subsequent boom in mass housing was described by The New York Times in 1967 as an “architectural sputnik.” (Though the piece did also state, “There is no real style in Soviet cities yet.”)

Concrete is abundantly present in the contemporary cityscapes of Russian photographer Arseniy Kotov. Images from his upcoming book, Soviet Cities: Labour, Life & Leisure, often depict rows and rows of high-rises, marching endlessly across the horizon. Yet within the cold-looking concrete blocks, he also manages to capture the warm glow of life in apartment windows.

Kotov was born in 1988, so he did not experience much of Soviet life, but he admires the period’s “great civilization” of architectural and cultural heritage. The country is changing fast, but nostalgia for Soviet aesthetics is strong.

Kotov traveled to hundreds of Russian cities over three years, and plans to visit more. “Every new place hides its secrets,” he says via email. “It is normal here (in ex-USSR cities) to feel yourself like an archaeologist, who came to the ruins of great ancient civilization, and didn’t know what you would find!”

The photographer spoke with Atlas Obscura about his enthusiasm for Soviet history, fascination with rockets, and nighttime adventures. His book will be published in 2020 by FUEL Design & Publishing ...

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Risks and rewards when breweries take social stances.

1989: Capitalists in a Commie joint. 

Bryan Roth is a fine writer and this is a thought-provoking piece.

To be honest, I'm conflicted. There is a big part of me that hasn't moved past my "these machines kill fascists" period, and yet also a feeling of dismay at the seeming inevitability of placing breweries, pubs and hospitality-oriented establishments into political categories.

A Show of Hands – Breweries Take Political and Business Risks Mixing Beer and Social Stances, by Bryan Roth (Good Beer Hunting)

Political stances are nothing new in the generally progressive world of beer, but as companies across all industries step deeper into the political fray leading up to the 2020 election, a new question arises: is taking action inevitable?

"We are more aware and more comfortable doing these things that show our ideas and values," says David Faris, an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and host of the Electing to Drink podcast. "When the president himself gets involved in deeply divisive cultural-political issues and won't let them go, he forces people to take into consideration actions they never would have thought about before."

But wait -- I thought there aren't any homeless people in NA, much less a need to feed them.


Who are you going to believe, Jeff Gahan or your own two eyes?

Meanwhile, Dr. Tom is being far more sensible than usual.

Meal program for New Albany's homeless community faces uncertain future, by Brooke McAfee (Hanson's Folly)

NEW ALBANY — A grassroots group that provides weekly meals to New Albany's homeless community could see some changes as it faces issues with the Floyd County Health Department, and organizers are worried about the future of the program.

We the People of New Albany, a volunteer-run meal program, meets from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday at Bicknell Park at 315 Silver St. to serve meals, which are donated by community members. The meals for the homeless are now made in volunteers' homes, but the Floyd County Health Department is concerned about the large number of home-cooked meals distributed by the group. The program could potentially be closed down unless it changes its operations.

The organization started its weekly picnics this summer, and over the months, they have grown significantly. They started out serving eight people at the first picnic, but the volunteers now serve about 50 to 70 people each week, organizer Kim Payne said.

According to Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris, the group qualifies under the Indiana regulations for food preparation due to the amount of meals being cooked at individual homes and handed out. In order to continue serving meals to the homeless, the organization would have to cook the food in a kitchen approved by the health department or simply provide pre-packaged food with a longer shelf life ...

Friday, November 08, 2019

Estonia's new way to punish speeding: Make motorists stand by the road for an hour.


One can easily imagine this approach leading to violence here in America.

On the desk of a government building, a diorama is laid out. Little vehicles sit by the side of a road, watched over by little policemen. On two recent mornings, this scene was recreated in real life. Drivers caught speeding along the road between Tallinn and the town of Rapla were stopped and given a choice. They could pay a fine, as normal, or take a “timeout” instead, waiting for 45 minutes or an hour, depending on how fast they were going when stopped.

Public reaction in Estonia has been positive.

Estonians have praised the idea for being more egalitarian — monetary fines are not adjusted according to income, as in neighbouring Finland, but everyone has the same number of hours in the day — and because they perceive the punishment as being directly related to the offence, rather than an excuse to fill state coffers.

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Zoochosis in fact and fiction.


Last evening we observed the cool kids in their natural habitat.

Election Day was like Viagra for my Twitter parodist Rogar's ejaculatory prose.


Regular reader T noticed something important.

I'm going to assume they work in the City-County Building. I heard the working conditions there are inhumane so they may very well be suffering from zoochosis.

Astute; not only does "zoochosis" fit comfortably within Team Gahan's citywide syllable limit, but it's also a disturbingly accurate characterization. Might David Barksdale be Rogar? Inquiring minds would rather not know.

Unlike Rogar, zoochosis is real.

Zoochosis is a word used to explain the stereotypical behavior of animals in captivity. The stereotypic behavior is described as an invariant, repetitive behavior pattern with no apparent goal or function. Animals in zoos and other forms of captivity suffer from stress and depression and display unusual behaviors. These habits are not displayed by animals roaming in the wild which means that confinement has detrimental effects on the health of animals. The condition was identified by Bill Travers in 1992. Zoochosis is displayed through behavioral disorders such as circling, pacing, bar biting, excessive grooming, addiction, and self-harm. Zoochotic animals also portray eating disorders such as anorexia.

It's a sad situation for the animals ... not to mention the minions, although soon the advent of the Reisz Mahal should help immensely.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Election Day was like Viagra for my Twitter parodist Rogar's ejaculatory prose.


I don't know about you, but I think it's a noteworthy achievement to have merited an anonymous Twitter parody account ever since the autumn of 2014. After all, as so many of my (shall we say) "adversaries" no doubt would agree, I'm a complete nobody.

And by American standards of success and propriety, they're absolutely right. I'm neither an office holder nor a business owner, just a city resident, low-rung employee and taxpayer.

Not a single organization has appointed me as a board member, and I pay dues to no club of which I'm aware, although I did join AARP a few years back to begin accumulating senior discounts.

It's true that I write a bit about food and beer, and maintain a modest blogging presence.

Sadly, most of the people who "like" my parodist Rogar's tweets claim to have never read my blog, which is confusing, because how do they know which of Rogar's jokes to laugh at?

Maybe they're clairvoyant (three syllables ... perfectly legal).

So, how many purely ordinary people in a city of New Albany's size can motivate someone to undertake a parody Twitter account? Not many. Apparently I'm indescribably special.

It's a very flattering thing, and I wish I knew who to thank, although as noted, my parodist is anonymous. He or she takes issue with my polemics (which go unread, remember?) pertaining to the Gahan administration, knowing where to aim barbs because I own all my words, and yet I know not where to return fire.

That's okay. Ignobility is protected speech, too.

Of course I take a glance at Rogar from time to time, but I answer him/her quite seldom because it seems silly to try and converse with someone wearing a mask who hides behind a fence.

But just this once, I'll have a stab at it.


"Wild to think how I used to be a respected, relevant part of this community before I torpedoed my career and credibility for this moronic crusade that has consumed my life and accomplished nothing"

Wait -- respected and relevant?

Assuming for the sake of the argument that Rogar is a Gahan supporter, no less an authority than the mayor himself discarded these very notions of respectability and relevance in 2015 when he observed that I'd never done anything positive for New Albany; it's a quote, on the public record, so don't go arguing with me.

Dear Leader said it, and now the words are gospel. I'd leave instructions to inscribe them on my tombstone -- "He Did Nothing Positive for his City" -- except I hope to be cremated and my ashes scattered over the Reisz Mahal.

Moreover, it's a low blow to accuse me of having a career in the first place, much less to torpedo it. Insofar as 25 years as a business owner were concerned, they were accidental, ad hoc and purely improvised from start to finish because I've always been a supremely reluctant capitalist. It never struck me as a career, just something I was doing until something else came along.

My departure from my former company had nothing to do with anything, apart from disengagement from a pursuit that had run its course. I was ballast, and I threw myself overboard.

Accomplished nothing?

Hardly. There are many ways to keep score, and votes are only one of them. The closest thing to "sacred" in my world is an obligation to hold accountable those seeking power, in DC or Eastridge Drive, by utilizing whatever tools the otherwise powerless find available to them: asking questions, conjuring polemics, asking questions, laughing out loud, asking questions, and hurling satire.

Did I mention asking questions?

Most of Gahan's supporters insist that Donald Trump isn't immune to these questions and snarkbergs. All I've done is remind the Gahanites that the practice of politics cuts both ways at all levels. Consequently what I've done has accomplished the bare minimum of what any of us should expect from a democratic form of government. It could have accomplished more, but it takes two to tango.

Rogar?

It seems to me he or she is the one being consumed, but no matter. Like I said, how many ordinary people merit a parody account on Twitter? Just think how much more savage and cutting the parody would be if the parodist actually read NA Confidential?

If the parodist actually read. Rogar's fevered election day utterances follow. Looks obsessive to me; then again, I'm nobody ... and enjoying every minute of it.


"Michael Moore is finally being vindicated. He hasn’t changed his tune. The political culture’s just catching up with him."



I exceedingly appreciate the spirit in which the morning paper referred to me today. Several years ago, they did not write so well of me. I presume I have grown more respectable. I suppose they see that my tribe is increasing. When the masses agree with a man, then he ceases to be an object of ridicule and abuse. After a while, some of these people who have abused us will be the ones who will be saying, “I told you so.”
-- Eugene Debs speaking in Knoxville, Tennessee (1905)

It's hard to imagine 30 years have passed since Michael Moore's Roger and Me. Although I didn't see the documentary until the following summer, it made a lasting impression on me.

Michael Moore Was Right, by Meagan Day (Jacobin)

Mocked and derided for his impassioned defense of poor and working people, Michael Moore is finally being vindicated. He hasn’t changed his tune. The political culture’s just catching up with him.

... I was thinking about the vindication of Michael Moore when I decided to watch his debut film Roger & Me, which turns thirty this year and which I’d never seen before. The film is an early exploration of the domino effect of deindustrialization and a premonition about the unraveling of the American dream — and it stands the test of time.

Roger & Me was personal for Moore. He grew up in Flint, Michigan, the town General Motors (GM) built, and his family worked for the corporate giant. They were also members of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), which was forged in the furnace of struggle — Moore’s uncle had been one of the sit-down strikers who famously occupied factories in 1936–7, giving rise to the union.

By the middle of the twentieth century, UAW had been able to secure a remarkable degree of stability and security for GM workers and their families. Roger & Me features archival footage showing mid-century Flint as a kind of middle-class utopia, the living embodiment of capitalism’s promise. “We enjoyed a prosperity that working people around the world had never seen before,” says Moore in a voice-over, “and the city was grateful to the company.”

But the company felt no allegiance to the people of Flint. Hungry for profit and regarding the union as a pest and a hindrance, GM began searching for ways to lower labor costs. In the early 1980s, it began laying off workers in its unionized plants and opening new operations elsewhere, across borders and beyond the union’s grasp.

The film’s title refers to Roger Smith, chairman of General Motors, who came up with the plan to close eleven factories in the United States and open eleven in Mexico, where the company could pay the workers seventy cents an hour. The company would then use the money saved by underpaying workers to expand its operations into new industries, like weapons manufacturing.

“Maybe I’ve got this wrong,” says Moore in the film, “but I thought companies lay off people when they’ve hit hard times. GM was the richest company in the world, and it was closing factories when it was making profits in the billions.”

The film chronicles Moore’s efforts to secure a meeting with Roger Smith to discuss the unfolding devastation of Flint. Along the way, he introduces us to dozens of Flint residents whose lives have been upended by the layoffs and plant closings. The closest Moore gets to Smith is an ambush at a Christmas press conference, which in the film is cut with footage of Flint families being evicted from their homes just in time for the holidays.

Moore asks Smith about the evictions. “I’m sorry for those people, but I don’t know anything about it,” Smith retorts before giving Moore the cold shoulder.

The film ends with an ominous forecast. “As we neared the end of the twentieth century, the rich were richer, the poor poorer,” Moore narrates over footage of a dismantled factory in the former boomtown. “It was truly the dawn of a new era.”

Translation: it’s obvious what’s coming. The writing’s on the wall. And it won’t be good ...

ON THE AVENUES: Pay attention, students, because voter turnout went UP in New Albany.


This time out, the weekly column is to be kept (relatively) short and sweet. I’ve no grand pronouncements to make, and quite a lot of catching up to do. After all, the art of the polemic is hard enough when you win.

---

Has anyone in Southern Indiana who purports to be “exercising” the practice of journalism (right) ever once considered the notion of institutional memory – or, conversely, the usefulness of a scant ten minutes of basic research?

Take it away, Susan Duncan; for the uninitiated, she’s the editor of the local chain newspaper.

Yet another exercise in flexing our Democracy muscles is in the books. Here are some post-2019 election musings from the editor’s office …

The majority of voters aren’t into exercise. Only about a third of the electorate in Clark and Floyd counties bothered to vote. That’s disappointing. Even the convenience of vote centers — something I favor for all counties — didn’t seem to make much of a difference in Floyd County. We have to start thinking outside the box when it comes to attracting voters. Maybe door prizes.

“Democracy muscles”?

Actually here at the vicious tabloid blog no one reads, door prizes are being saved for those rare and elusive occasions when the local chain newspaper's editor departs from daily news suppression and displays a modicum of comprehension, and this isn’t one of those cases.

That's because voter turnout on Tuesday in New Albany went up, and in truth, it went up somewhat dramatically given our recent history.

(That’s right: history. It’s all right there in the newspaper’s morgue, but as with so many of life’s challenges, one has to care enough to look past the knee-jerk and gaze upon facts.)

Alas, Duncan’s not the only one ignoring history. I'm having trouble understanding the many lamentations I've heard from members of both parties about "low" voter turnout on Tuesday.

Yes, it's all relative, and from an overall perspective 30% is puny, yet almost 1,800 more votes were cast in the mayor's race (8,447) than in 2015 (6,684). In fact, that’s the most votes in a mayor's race since 2003.

Isn’t THIS the takeaway, the headline, the banner?

If I'm bright enough to cut and paste numbers from the newspaper's own stories, you'd think the editor would be, too.

Obviously it wasn't the election result I personally was seeking, but both parties brought out voters who haven't been participating during recent election cycles, and for Jeff Gahan to pull in an extra 1,000 votes over his total in 2015 cannot be overlooked even if I'd like to. Seems his cash was well spent.

To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, it remains that those 4,631 Gahan supporters knew exactly what they wanted, and now they'll be getting it good and hard, but this doesn't make the mayor's ability to increase his support via 1,000 more votes any less newsworthy.

Of course, Duncan missed this, and a better indicator of her newspaper’s steady decline is hard to imagine.

---

You won’t be surprised to learn that I’m a bit discouraged, but life goes on.

What I'll never forget about the 2019 election campaign in New Albany is the way the incumbent's ludicrously massive pot of special interest money successfully deflected substantive discussion about so many important topics that his own political party supposedly cares about, as well as the accompanying way so many of the community's self-encrusted pillars let him get away with it, because in the end tribal spasms count for more than anything else to them.

Their "team" won, and now they can return to their sustaining daily delusions, warm and safe on the fantasy side of those Potemkin facades.


Probably none of it will impact me, but lots of less fortunate folks are going to suffer the next four years because Jeff Gahan remains mayor, and the cool kids who'll be so quick to criticize me for saying this aloud will be the same ones resolutely looking the other way when the whip comes down.

As usual, my main muse (his name is Jeff Gillenwater) has bored directly into the central points emerging from Tuesday’s balloting.

"We have to change the local culture, not just the people in office. That means holding those self-encrusted pillars and cool kids every bit as accountable as the politicians themselves. There are plenty of “educated professionals” - not to mention professional educators - around here who ought to be ashamed to walk down the street today. But they’re not. Because they “won”. 

"I’ll say again: Do not trust those people in politics or daily life. They lie. They cheat. They suck.

"Personally, I’m just glad we won’t be here in five, 10, 15 years as all the bright, shiny, unbid, and absurdly misdirected objects start to crumble and need substantial but wholly unfunded maintenance, not to mention an even more substantial change of overall direction toward the sustainable and/or regenerative well before current patronage projects are even paid off. 

"Whoever gets stuck in office trying to deal with that is going to be wildly unpopular, likely owing to the crime of trying to be honest and realistic. New Albany votes not just like it’s the 1950s but as if the 50s are an infinite possibility. It would be wonderful if people had the forethought to choose better, to think even 10 or 20 years ahead. As is, they’ll be forced in future as usual without ever tracing their pending lack of choice back to choices they’re making now."

Jeff also states the case in personal terms, and my household concurs.

"We both have long family histories here and in moving back thought we were going to be a part of genuine, cooperative community development. The insular power trip folks here, though, don’t want that at all. We both have a long collection of ugly stories and memories. A few along the way have sold out completely. Most have just left. Lots of talent rejected and wasted here in the name of “winning”.

"We’ve been here for 15 years or so, which is too long. During that time, though, everyone I’ve ever met here (except those getting a paycheck from a politician) who has legitimately studied urban planning or community and cultural development ends up disgusted and happy to leave."

I'm grateful to Jeff for expressing my feelings. At first it seemed I might be angry after the beat-down. However, in terms of civic dysfunction, the results were entirely in keeping with the very nature of New Albany. I'm sad and a tad puzzled. That's just about it.

One doesn't stop caring, agitating or fighting after losing a single battle or one ballgame. However, multiple setbacks suggest reformatted thinking and different tactics. We'll see how this goes. In the meantime, there'll be some literal and figurative housecleaning in my universe, and a period of desperately needed cerebral battery recharging in Europe later this month.

Political asylum in Trieste? Now that's a pleasing thought.

---

Recent columns:

October 31: ON THE AVENUES: In which Team Gahan's looming appointment with unemployment is examined.

October 3: ON THE AVENUES: The cold hard truth, or just plain Slick Jeffie-inflicted consequences.

September 26: ON THE AVENUES: Socialists for Seabrook, because we desperately need a new beginning in New Albany.

September 12: ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business, and it's none of your business (2016).

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

My "Year in Music" scored well in September and October.


As noted previously, and speaking as a stubborn refusenik when it comes to playlists and non-album-oriented modernity, there has been a great change in procedures during 2019. Finally I've acquiesced to streaming, most often experienced via a nice pair of noise-blocking headphones. My CD purchases are perhaps 25% of what they were before, limited to what I enjoy the most.

September and October were excellent new music months. Most of the following were released during this two month period, although a few came from earlier in the year. Among these, new albums by Foals, Fastball and The Hold Steady stand an excellent chance of being ranked in the top five at year's end. They're in no particular order, and as usual I've linked to representative reviews from a variety of sources.

Foals … Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (Part 2)



Temples … Hot Motion



Down N Outz … This Is How We Roll



The New Pornographers … In the Morse Code of Brake Lights



Fastball … The Help Machine



Elbow … Giants of All Sizes



Keane … Cause and Effect



The Hold Steady … Thrashing Thru the Passion



Ride … This Is Not A Safe Place



Fontaines DC … Dogrel



Liam Gallagher … Why Me? Why Not.



And a few other recent musical links:

Begin your sunny Harvest Homecoming Saturday with Sardinian throat singing.



Know about Robert Johnson: "ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads."



My really good excuse for not writing a column this week.

Question: Did David Barksdale's support of the Reisz Mahal cost him re-election?


Now that the election is over, maybe I can finally start writing about what I REALLY think.

Or maybe not.

Either way, to kick things off with post-election analysis, a question for readers: Incumbent at-large councilman David Barksdale (Republican) lost his seat to newcomer Jason Applegate, a recent convert to the Democratic Party.

Last year Barksdale famously broke with his party and joined council's four Democrats to cast the deciding vote on the Reisz Mahal luxury city hall project.

Did this hurt him among fiscally conservative Republicans?

"I was very honored to be on the council for four years," Barksdale told the Tom May Evangel-Bune. "I voted for what I thought was best for the citizens. There is always another day."

Speaking personally, I thought he'd be forgiven, but after garnering 3,365 votes in 2015, Barksdale received 3,371 this year, a gain of only six. Meanwhile his Republican council colleagues Al Knable and David Aebersold added 704 and 386 votes, respectively. In short, the higher turnout in 2019 didn't help Barksdale at all, and his Reisz Mahal legacy might be one reason.

An interesting sidebar to Barksdale's loss: who will replace him as council's appointment to the Redevelopment Commission?

I'm guessing it will be Applegate, who stressed "smart growth" in his unsuccessful bid for county commissioner in 2018.

There's got to be a morning after.


The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was a cheesy disaster flick about a capsized luxury liner and the efforts of survivors to escape hell, upside down.

In 1973, Maureen McGovern's performance of "The Morning After" (also known as The Song from the Poseidon Adventure) was a hit and spent two weeks at number one.



This morning's lesson: When disaster strikes, escape is the first priority. Only after safety is assured can one look back and suffer the hangover's full effect.

My personal hero and favored dissident Václav Havel understood this dynamic. Two full decades elapsed from the thwarted hopes of the Prague Spring through the Velvet Revolution's ultimate dismantling of a failed regime.

Havel wrote, “There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.”

In the throes of my hangover, I return to Havel for solace.

He was the most infuriating of politicians, yet the most beguiling. It was hard to get a straight answer from a man who in the middle of a sentence about the evils of communism would change the subject to the lyrics of John Lennon or ask about the meaning of life — and seem genuinely interested in an answer. And how many in the political world could admit simply that (in the act of) exercising power ‘I appear more and more like an asshole.’ Unlike most others, Havel could fall back on his original career to explain the futility of many political lives.

How wonderful by comparison to be a writer. You write something in a couple of weeks and it is here for the ages. What will remain when the presidents and prime ministers are gone? Some references to them in textbooks, most likely inaccurate.