Thursday, December 31, 2009

8. Silvester, but no Tweety.

Here in Germany, New Year's Eve is known as Silvester, and appears to be another handy excuse to close down the shop (whatever it is) and relax. Same goes to a lesser extent on January 1.

Previously, Christmas Eve counted as one such excuse, followed by Christmas Day I and II, the latter corresponding to Boxing Day for those Anglophiles reading, and although I've found two Irish pubs in downtown Bamberg, neither greeted me with the smell of black pudding or the flavor of black gold on the day after the day.

The only other time I spent New Year's Eve in Europe was during the transition from 1991 to 1992, in Kosice, Slovakia, where the most memorable tradition was proof that the warnings of my students not to stroll along the streets precisely at midnight were spot-on, because that's when people began throwing empty wine, champagne and beer bottles out of their windows. One needn't be a practitioner of nuclear physics to grasp the results, especially beneath the stories-high Communist era housing blocks.

Given that it is raining and most businesses are closed, we have not left the apartment today, having visited Spezial's handy bottled beer carry-out window Wednesday night upon returning from a fine session at Schlenkerla with Matthias Trum and his wife, Sandra.

During the course of roaming, we have met a pleasant young couple who run an espresso bar adjacent to the construction zone that marks the spot where a new replacement bridge for the vanished Kettenbrücke will soon rise. It's been open since November 1. We stopped there several times because it's on the direct route home from the Altstadt, and we bonded over professional basketball fandom, as they are fervent supporters of the Brose Baskets. They have invited us to coffee today even though the bar is closed for the holiday. We're told to knock conspiratorially on the door. If only Spezial offered the same option.

We seem to be winding down now as the end of the holiday draws near. The likelihood of time- consuming security checks at Nürnberg for the first leg of the outbound flight compelled us to shift gears and book a room at the airport hotel for tomorrow night. The flight is at 6:30 a.m., and would have required a 3:30 a.m., 85 Euro fixed-rate cab ride, but this way, we're only meters away from strip search after the early alarm sounds. There'll be a chance to spend the afternoon in Nürnberg, and perhaps eat some of the city's famous Wurst.

Excuse me ... I hear the sounds of pre-packing taking place. Is Fässla open today?

Today's Tribune column: "The war, daddy."

I've been doing a bit of work while away, actually the barest of minimums. One minor detail pertaining to the column is that upon closer examination, the stone imbedded in the sidewalk read that the woman was deported to Theresianstadt, but died at Treblinka. Apologies for missing that the first time.

BAYLOR: The war, daddy

Within a day of our arrival on Dec. 20 in Bamberg, Germany, I noticed two items that had eluded my attention during previous trips.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Man's millionth march.

I feel like a million tonight, but one at a time. --Mae West

Having crossed the 400,000 site visits threshold earlier in the month, the NAC counter recorded page view number 1,000,000 this evening.

Roger's writing a history that, even with seven figures worth of interest, remains underappreciated. Thanks to him and those who take the time to read and comment. It's a community in which I'm proud to be a member.

7. Adaptive reuse and a Biomarkt on Obere Königstrasse.

Our lodging is located on a narrow side street that runs past the Fässla Brewery, which is running full tilt and contributing wonderful aromas to the neighborhood, and into Obere Königstrasse. Spezial's brewery and restaurant face Fässla's across Obere Königstrasse, and both have been there for a few hundred years. I'd guess that these are the oldest buildings on the east side of the Main-Donau Canal.

When we came here in 2007, there was a huge hole in the ground just off the corner of Obere Königstrasse and Luitpoldstrasse, which leads from the train station toward the Altstadt. The 19th-centurybuilding on the corner still stood and was being incorportated into the building that eventually would rise from the hole. It still wasn't finished a year ago, but now is: A sleek, modern Best Western hotel that still fits into the historic architecture of the area. The ground floor of the Best Western is a sleek, Buck Rogers-style Biomarkt, sort of a Whole Foods kind of place dedicated to organic foods.

What's interesting about this to me is that even though you might not notice, I've been coming here long enough to grasp that the section of Obere Königstrasse running past the new hotel and the old breweries has been in transition. A very high level of transition compared to New Albany, but flux nonetheless. Formerly there were established businesses (an apothecary, retail shops) that have now gone. The ghost signage gives them away. They were beginning to be replaced by kebap stabds and Chinese trinket shops, and these newcomers remain, but now there are two "natural" juice and tea bars, as well as a recent organic bakery.

I'm not sure if the Biomarkt's arrival spurred their establishment, or if their presence encouraged the Biomark's capitalists to set up shop. It is encouraging to note that the ancient breweries fit perfectly even if we can't vouch for the origins of the voluminous pork dishes on their daily menus. Their beer is fresh and brewed on the spot - 'nuff said.

We tend to come to these places and imagine that nothing has changed, but it doesn't take long to see that it's patently untrue. The key is: Do they encourage and manage the inevitable change? I think so, and quite well.

Rubbing the wrong way: It's not dark in here for lack of lamps.

There was a press conference yesterday to formally announce the $6.7 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant awarded to New Albany for work in the S. Ellen Jones neighborhood. Despite some coordination issues (with the presser, not the program), it’s encouraging when group rubbing leads to an actual genie appearance.

We know the drill: The City will purchase and renovate approximately forty homes, build up to 10 new units, and then sell them at affordable prices. Even with administrative costs and price incentives, a substantial portion of the original financial allotment will be returned to the City at the time of sale to be reinvested for the same purpose in accordance with federal guidelines, allowing the process to be repeated on an incrementally smaller scale.

With the hiring of local firms and the purchasing of goods from local suppliers, the money will cycle through our local economy many times over. Property values will rise, jobs will be sustained and created, the neighborhood will, in fact, become more stable, and the revenue generated by those activities will aid in curtailing budget shortfalls in various levels of government.

The significance of the dollar amount was rightly touted in the Tribune as being “worth about half of New Albany’s annual city budget.” Its potentially transformative magic has been extensively discussed and sufficiently aahed. Like I said, it’s encouraging.

Here’s what’s not so encouraging: With the proper initiative, we could have done it or something similar on our own. The City Council sat on $5 million in reserves this year. With our additional annual influx of EDIT funds in 2010, our stash will be roughly equivalent to the NSP grant amount. The genie’s lamp has been in our hands the whole time. What’s missing is the foresight and political will to use it, largely from a City Council who typically blames the mayor for their lack of engagement anyway.

If we take in approximately $2 million in EDIT funds annually and $6.7 million is enough to renovate, build, and sell 50 homes to single family owners, we could replicate an NSP-style model, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, every three to four years with purely local dollars. Does anyone think 50 totally new or correctly renewed homes in their neighborhood might make a difference?

What happens when the funds returned to the program via sales provide financing to complete another conservatively estimated 15 or 20 homes in the same neighborhood? What if the neighborhoods were approached in a row, with the second right next to the first and so on, extending the pattern? Does 130 total home renovations within a mile or so sound appealing?

What would the revenue capture do for our tax base? What would a more stable neighborhood do for our school achievement scores? Our crime rates? Might the private market respond with increased confidence and investment, especially if they knew more improvements were coming?

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that every last slice of EDIT funding be given over to home renovation. What I am suggesting is the scale and multiplicity of return that would be possible if the council took a sincere interest in revitalization and fiscal sustainability, actually using their time to learn about and seek investment opportunities and best practices that would benefit the city over the long term instead of engaging in the often purposeful ignorance to which we’ve become accustomed.

Even if a partial but sufficient EDIT amount were pledged each year to deal with the most egregious and/or visible properties in a systematic way, remarkable improvements could be made in conditions well beyond the properties themselves.

It doesn’t take magic. It takes intellectual honesty and earnestness. And that no one has granted them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Open thread: What are your (local) predictions for 2010?

NAC took to the same task last year and I did fairly well, going six for ten, though the transportation issues still linger. My 2009 prognostications are copied below.

Dispute my count or make your own predictions for 2010. I'm going to be stubborn and stick with two-way streets and a more sensible bridges approach in the upcoming year. Necessity's a mother.

The early beginnings of a more outcome oriented, collaborative revitalization movement.

Increased focus on preexisting neighborhoods as the foundation of sustainable economic and tax revenue development.

The introduction of a two-way street conversion project.

Code enforcement experimentation.

More interest in New Albany from agencies and funders related to community development.

Larger numbers of people coming together to put an end to the ridiculous East End bridge obstructionism, including pressuring the local politicians and chamber of commerce who've been hoodwinked by their southern counterparts.

Downtown land purchase(s) as a precursor to new construction.

Incremental success in all the above and the Greenway.

Me, celebrating those successes at several local watering holes including the new Bank Street Brewhouse but probably not II Horseshoes.

Daniel Short posting a photo that actually looks like him.

Monday, December 28, 2009

City Council in review: Accounting for can't.

Tribune article: New Albany City Council contemplates final two years of term amid budget constraints

Number of times the words "money", "budget", "spending", "funds", "funding", "finance" and/or dollar amounts appear in the article by quick count: 26

Number of proposals to build on assets in order to increase and/or sustain revenue levels mentioned in article: Zero

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Moss profiles Harper.

I'm happy that Dale Moss caught this one. Scott Harper is a master sommelier, of which there are just over one hundred in the entire country, and he works in Jeffersonville. That's good news, any way you look at it.

Expert reveals the simple truths of savoring wines

6. Settling down to smoked beer.

Damn ... I skipped a day, eh?

After two days spent walking quite a lot, we cut back on Sunday and had a lie-in. Breakfast was at 11:00 a.m., and consisted of black coffee and herring salad prepared with beets. I thought of my friend Suzanne's late mother, whose herring salad is the stuff of legend, omitting the beets, and adding voluminous onion and garlic. Wonderful memories, indeed.

It was another sunny winter's day, not quite as bright as yesterday, but still blue. We walked to the top of Michaelsberg hill and observed the grounds of the monastery, and then descended to Schlenkerla tavern for a meeting with the owner Matthias Trum and a few drams of smoked lager. After a bit, a Haxe (pork knuckle) magically appeared, and was duly devoured. The Eiche (oak-smoked) Rauchbier was especially interesting.

I've little else to say. Bamberg rewards leisurely exploration, and good beer and conviviality never are very far away. The city has been slumbering during the weekend, but will reawaken on Monday. Lunchtime at Spezial seems a certainty. Bock, anyone?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Open thread: Two years in, England says he'll run again.

The Tribune's Daniel Suddeath provides a midterm review with Mayor England while potential challengers bivouac on the periphery, sizing up their mounts for what's sure to be two upcoming years of overweight, overwrought position jockeying.

Thoughts thus far?

TWO YEARS OF REIGN: Mayor England reflects on 2008-09, anticipates last two years of term, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

Halfway through his return term to office, New Albany Mayor Doug England is committed to seeking re-election in 2011.

England will be 67 years old by the time his position is up for grabs again, and he’s coming off neck and back operations this year. But the Democrat said there’s unfinished business to conduct.

Friday, December 25, 2009

5. Luggage in our time? Perhaps.

It's the most wonderful time of the year
When the French bring your bags and the fridge is still full of Bamberger beer

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Yes, we're told that a Weihnacht miracle will occur and the second of two suitcases will arrive via courier at around 19.00. I'll believe it when I carry the weight up the stairs, but there it is.

In spite of the baggage difficulties, it has been a fine holiday.

We set off this morning at ten to stroll through the Altstadt and climb Altenburg hill to the medieval castle that affords a sweeping view of the valley and Bamberg's dizzying number of church spires. The streets were deserted on Christmas morning. Pleasingly, some food and drink businesses already were open and serving, indicating that the city is blessedly free of the archaic blue laws that exist in Indiana and prevent alcohol from being served on a purely Christian holiday.

Clouds rolled overhead, and with temperatures in the low thirties and a brisk breeze sweeping the hilltop, it was a bracing and exhilarating walk. Descending the commanding heights back to our riverside starting point, we passed the city museum in the old town hall astride the Regnitz and saw that the doors were open. Inside was a fine collection of 18th century Porcelain from Meissen, and one of 38 nativity scenes on display in and around Bamberg during the holiday season.

A reconnaissance of Ludwigstrasse's expanse revealed that Bamberg's Chinese restaurant owners are not as ambitious as metro Louisville's, with all three closed for the day. However, at the train station, the bakery and small grocery both were open, and I bought a handful of half-liter Schlenkerla Märzen lagers to accompany the evening's home cooked vegetable soup.

From the beginning, we had agreed that in the absence of truly close friends in Bamberg, it was perfectly acceptable to spend the 24th and 25th keeping ourselves loving company in our rented apartment, hence the bags of groceries and liquids procured in advance. This led to a Thursday evening with the hundreds of channels available on the telly, and a Fässla or two.

First we chanced upon the Basque network from northeastern Spain, and a public Christmas celebration, presumably in Bilbao, with crazy costumes, quasi-operatic tunes and the inexplicable, pre-historic language spoken by the world's first cod fishermen. The whole time, I kept expecting a Muse concert to break out.

Next, we viewed a 2006 performance in Salzburg of Mozart's "The Magic Flute," and while entirely unrelated to Christmas, the choreography was inspired, and the female singers displayed much cleavage. Thumbs up. This was followed by snippets of a schlocky Bavarian idyll, rather like the Osmonds meeting Lawrence Welk in lederhösen and dirndls, then a quick bout of channel surfing to Berlin and a performance by Max Raab and the Hotel Palast Orchestra. For the uninitiated, Raab and the boys do 1920's arrangements of popular music of the day. He sings in the style of the society orchestra hearthrobs, all the while cultivating a dry stage presence reminiscent of Joel Grey in "Cabaret."

Finally, the Arte network was screening "City Lights," the not-so-silent masterpiece by Charlie Chaplin. There is no dialogue, but a soundtrack as a concession to the new technology of 1931. In it, the Little Tramp falls for a blind flower girl ... and meets a drunken millionaire along the way. For the first time in years, I remembered checking out Super-8 versions of Chaplin's one-reelers ("Tillie's Punctured Romance"?) from the New Albany Public Library, taking them home, and resolving to make silent films.

I must go now to await the Nürnberg airport courier in precisely the same way as kids look for Santa. Tomorrow, the Cafe Abseits beckons, with Schlenkerla reopening Sunday. Monday is a short bus ride to Memmelsdorf and a meeting with Herr Straub at the Drei Kronen brewery (and restaurant, and hotel), and on Tuesday, I hope to locate Stephan at Mahr's for a brewery tour.

A cellar man's holiday.

Our senior editor may yet report in from Bamberg, but yours truly is making like the boys from New Albany's former Paul Reising Brewing Company who, according to the Indiana Room's historic image collection at the NA-FC Library, may or may not be pictured above doing what I'm getting ready to do with family and friends.

If the photo inspires you the way it does me, NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse is open tomorrow from 2:00-11:00 pm. I might see you there.

Until then, enjoy your holiday.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today's Tribune column: "Saturnalia or bust."

And that's all I have to say about it.

BAYLOR: Saturnalia or bust

The roots of my longstanding Yuletide antipathy might be traced to any number of Freudian conceits, Jungian counter-thrusts, references to childhood toilet training habits or the sheer pervasiveness of psychological repression stemming from Jethro Bodine’s inexplicable role as my 3rd District councilman, but in truth, it’s far simpler than all that.

4. The French have not released my bag, and I, too, shall surrender soon.

We spent the morning shopping for little knick-knacks and more groceries to tide us through until Saturday, when many eateries and stores reopen. Quite a few will be closed through the weekend, meaning that I may have to trek to the train station for beer. Let's hope that the people's choice, Fässla, is open for carry-out bottles.

The students and youngsters were out in force last night. With a drinking age of 16 for beer, this translated into long lines at the "to go" windows and mayhem in the streets. It was a long day, with lunch at Spezial with Dan Shelton (of the importing company) and his wife. We met Urban Winkler of the Weissenohe brewery, toured the Spezial brewery, then walked to the Wunderburg neighborhood for quality time at Mahr's with Stephan Michel. Dan and Tessa split to return to their digs west of here, and after checking at the flat for the first of our bags (where in Paris is the other one?), we adjourned to the impossibly packed Schlenkerla tavern.

Unable to find Matthias Trum, and desirous of some peace for dinner, plans changed and the next stop was Klosterbrau for an excellent meal of venison, boar and a special seasonal black bock. Back home, I vaguely recall watching an interview with Michael Palin while snacking on pickled herring before passing out.

After greeting Bamberg in a blizzard, all the snow has gone and the sun is brightly shining as I type. The Christmas market in Maximillianplatz disappeared overnight, and all morning today and into the afternoon, businesses closed one by one, and the streets grew more and more quiet as people retreated to their homes and families. The next two days will be subdued, but I'm guessing that by Saturday, they'll have had enough of domesticity and will be looking for a place to get their drink on. I aim to be right beside them when this happens.

Resch to buy Shrader Stables property.

Deal struck for Shrader Stables, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

The New Albany Redevelopment Commission has reached a deal to sell the Shrader Stables property to Resch Construction, Deputy Mayor Carl Malysz confirmed Wednesday.

Malysz said details of the transaction would be divulged during a Jan. 12 commission meeting.

As is mentioned in the article, Steve Resch has been involved with the renovation and adaptive reuse of several downtown New Albany buildings, including NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse.

Here's hoping for another success story.

Heritagisation: A community will be as a community does.

From Cyril Isnart; Investigador Auxiliar Convidado; Universidade de Évora; Centro Interdisciplinar de História, Culturas e Sociedades; Évora, Portugal; to my friend and mentor Rory Turner to NAC:

The notion of heritage is surely one of the best tools social scientists have at their disposal to analyse how societies deal with their past, especially regarding their complex and ambiguous relationship with history and memory. However, heritage is also a way of constructing our present and locality, in transnational contexts as much as in local communities.

The recent concepts of Biodiversity, Cultural Diversity or Intangible Cultural Heritage proposed by Unesco to defend non-architectural heritage have met with considerable success, reinforce the centrality of such principles as loss, safeguard, and development that have already changed the social and economic landscapes of sites classified as World Heritage.

However, critical views on heritagisation are strikingly uncommon because heritage, either material, natural or immaterial, is often looked upon as authentic or irreducible civilisational testimony, as well as a real powerful tourism-related tool of economic development. Heritage is generally studied and used by specialists in charge of it (curators, politicians, economic agents or associations) as a «corpus» *per se*, to be considered and valorised as a mere ‘civilisational trace’ , cut off from the social, historical and cultural context that produced it. The constitution of museum collections or the publication of Unesco’s world heritage lists are nevertheless the result of an act of classification whose criteria are as much reliant on cultural and historical factors and the people involved in selecting and manipulating heritage, as it has been observed in other social phenomena, such as kinship, religion and economy.

In other words, the potential elevation of natural, material and immaterial items to a heritage status – and the effects this may have – must be taken and analysed as a social fact like any other. The recent development of heritage studies inside academia and the growing interest in heritage outside of it offer an ideal opportunity to think heritagisation as a social practice and a world view, inscribed in the bricolage dynamics that we find thriving between the global and the local, between history, memory and identity.

In other other words, "How does the idea of spending more than $500,000 on restoring the Cardinal Ritter house appear to the residents of the transitional neighborhood surrounding it?" It's not a harsh judgment. It's a question relevant to all of our futures.

Correspondingly, the Ritter House may be a convenient, recent example but the principles are readily transferable.

What do the neighbors think? How did they get to be neighbors? Who will be neighbors five years from now? Who will want to be a neighbor five years from now?

What are we doing to affect that wanting and is it specifically purposeful or disjoint and random?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3. Tale of one city and many breweries and basketball therein.

Lunch at noon at Spezial the day before Christmas Eve turns out to be something that leads elsewhere, namely Mahr's, Schlenkerla and Klosterbrau. Whoa.

And, ending at Fässla to jostle among the high schoolers for carry-out bottles as part of the process of laying in for the holidaze. Whoa again.

Last night's Brose Baskets win over Paderborn was lopsided. Bamberg's team is good, but I can't say that the quality of play was much beyond mid-major college in the States. Entertaining, but limited. I'll remember Casey Jacobsen and Elton Brown, but moreover, I'll remember the way the crowd reacted to the American named Eric Taylor, a European league lifer (born in 1976). Also, there's Predrag Supat, the Serb, who dominated the first half for Brose. Bamberg is a basketball city in German terms. Bob Knight would approve.

I'm fairly blitzed at this point, and will say Tchuss.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The fez sez.

While our senior editor is making clothing decisions in a foreign country, I'm making local decisions based on foreign clothing. This old Shriners fez was recently sold on eBay but unfortunately not to me. Otherwise, I'd be announcing my new title.

It's the third word - Tuckyanna - that intrigues me anyway. It's what we used to be called. As a regional moniker, it strikes a better balance than Kentuckiana and, let's face it, Indyucky is just plain dumb. By comparison, Tuckyanna sounds downright beguiling.

Besides, it's slightly reminiscent of Christiania and our single-street bike lane is beginning to look a little like Copenhagen. When one compares the images conjured by "Denmark" to those by "Kentucky", kin or no kin, I'm with the Danes.

In a nod to those forefathers and mothers who built strong public spaces on both sides of the river and public transit in between, I'm using the name they gave us, hereafter referring to the falls cities in sum total as Tuckyanna. Join me if you like.

2. To buy or not to buy.

Through the ever helpful offices of Bliss Travel, we now have the scoop.

We're in Bamberg, and our bags are still in Paris. They had been rerouted onto a flight Sunday night, which was cancelled. Then, with the northern regions of Europe beset with snow and ice, with resulting snafus, our luggage was placed back in the queue to await storage space on one of Air France's four dailies to Nürnberg, all of which were sold out on Monday and Tuesday.

But it's better knowing than not knowing, and with temperatures now up in the forties and the snow all melted in Bamberg, we spent the morning shopping for a set each of replacement wear and light toiletries. There as yet has not been the first communication from Delta or Air France as to when we might expect to receive our things, and in this uncertain atmosphere, it seems senseless to spend too much until necessary.

Then, when necessary, comes the complete Lederhosen outfit.

Here in an hour or so we'll be heading out to the Jako Arena for a German Bundesliga basketball game between the Bamberg Brose Baskets and Paderborn. Gerhard at the Cafe Abseits, a good beer bar on the east side of town, is a basketball fan and was running a ticket promotion from the cafe. He graciously set aside two, and we visited him at lunch to redeem and chat. I had a fine Helles Bock from Mönchsahmbach and an equally good countryside Rauchbier from a brewery that slips my mind. Will there be beer at the game? We'll know soon enough.

Tomorrow I'm slated to meet beer importer Dan Shelton at Spezial for a summit that should include a visit to Mahr's. All this, and there has not been time to have an Eiche at Schlenkerla. Matthias understands. Spezial has been the attraction thus far, and there's nothing shoddy about that.

Monday, December 21, 2009

1. Apart from one tiny glitch ...

We are safely in Bamberg, but our luggage is not, and only Air France has the information, although CM Coffey still does not and probably never will. If we do not have our bags or a suitable lead by Tuesday, it will be time to buy clothes. Needless to say, this was not a primary reason for us to visit Germany, but so be it.

Know this: German keyboards are different.

üµäö ... although nothing compared to others I have used.

It snowed quite a lot here over the weekend, and temps today probably were in the low twenties. Fortunately, we are staying a stone's throw from both Fässla (the bottling line is just outside our window) and Spezial. Last evening's Ochsenbrust in horseradish sauce with dumpling took a bit of the sting out of wearing the same clothes for 24 hours, now 48, although perhaps it was the gently smoked amber Lagerbier that Spezial does so well.

My initial take on Franconian Christmas: It is festive, and there is much excitement, and even Christmas music in the Biomarkt down the street, but all of it seems to take place without the considerable surface glitz that we enjoy in the States. Decorations are subdued, and very naturalistic for the most part.

More as we go. Tchuss.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Neighborhood Stabilization Program: Stories from other cities.

Thanks to NeighborWorks America for sharing these video NSP stories from partner organizations around the country.

Elkhart & Goshen, IN

St. Louis, MO

Chelsea, MA

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Upcoming presentation on blogging, Internet journalism and First Amendment issues.

I ran into Robyn Sekula yesterday and she told me about a forthcoming event that could be of interest to local bloggers, although it's doubtful we'll be seeing Professor Erik or Dan Coffey in attendance.

If this presentation is of interest to you, let me know and I'll provide you the contact information or forward your thoughts to Robyn.


So you’ve posted a new item on your web site or blog. Comments began pouring in. But one commenter says that the main story subject beats his wife. Can you edit that? Can you delete it? What if you do nothing and the comment goes live – can you be sued? And does it make a difference if the person who posts the comment is anonymous?

Noted media and first amendment attorney Jon L. Fleischaker will guide you through these murky waters in a noon presentation for the Society of Professional Journalists. The event will be held Tuesday, January 26, at Louisville Public Media, 619 S. Fourth Street, in the performance studio. The program is $10 for SPJ members, $12 for non-members and includes a box lunch and drink from City Café.

Don’t miss your opportunity to learn how to handle this emerging media problem from the foremost expert on First Amendment issues in the region. SPACE IS LIMITED. Deadline for reservations is Thursday, January 21.

You lose some, and then you lose some.

"I tawt I taw a potty police!"

"I did! I did taw a potty police!"

Yvonne Kersey avoids jail time, by Chris Morris (News and Tribune)

Former New Albany mayoral candidate Yvonne Kersey avoided jail time Thursday after pleading guilty to maintaining a common nuisance, a class D felony, but had three other charges against her, possession of marijuana, dealing marijuana and possession of paraphernalia, dropped.

Friday, December 18, 2009

That's an improvement.

(photo credit ... MK)

Open Thread: City council meeting of Thursday, December 17.

The Tribune's Daniel Suddeath provides coverage of last evening's council meeting. It looks like our mercifully outgoing council president fought yet another losing battle with familiarity of his body's procedures ... not to mention the council's.

Council says no to flooding, police funding requests

Council President Dan Coffey — who along with Gahan and McLaughlin voted to allocate the $400,000 for flood victims — said the council has helped developers and businesses and should help residents that have suffered this year.

Messer called for Coffey to either relinquish his president’s chair or follow Robert’s Rules of Order, which frown on the president offering comments while the council is debating an issue.

Robert’s Rules of Order were accepted by the council in 1957 and amended to the form OK’d by the body in 1992.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My opinion: New Albany's city council should address the fundamental problems with drainage, and ditch the Kris Kringle garb.

Yesterday’s Tribune article previewing tonight’s 2009 city council finale cannot be found on-line at this time, so forgive me for not linking to reporter Daniel Suddeath’s article.

His coverage begins with a rhetorical question: A council that typically refuses to approve stormwater and sewer fees commensurate with the cost of their governing bodies being able to do their jobs correctly is being asked to spend $400,000 in the form of a bailout, with monies to be given to people who suffered damages from the year’s floods.

As such, is the money better spent as one-time compensation for damages, or as part of a properly funded effort to fix the problem so it (perhaps) doesn’t happen again?

We know the tale: It rained quite a lot at various times in 2009. On more than one occasion, the sheer volume of water pouring from the skies led to flooding in certain New Albanian neighborhoods. Some of the damage resulted from run-off, and some of it from overwhelmed storm water drainage and sewage systems.

Subsequently, in a process that is ongoing, those suffering damages from flooding have sought numerous forms of redress, ranging from claims against their own insurance policies to tort claims filed with the city’s carrier, and including applications to federal and state agencies for relief and assistance. Without assembling an actual scorecard, it would seem that these efforts have resulted in mixed success, if even that much.

Perhaps there is a reason for that, and perhaps not.

Particularly after storms in early August, the city council chamber became the chosen venue for citizen gatherings and petitions, and that’s fitting, proper and perfectly understandable. What is less understandable to me is the council’s apparent eagerness to accept the city’s responsibility for a state of affairs that is far more complex than pointing pudgy fingers at various elected and appointed officials.

Not that I don't feel badly for the waterlogged. As previously stated, I’ve been there and done that. When my ex-wife and I bought our house off Castlewood in 1997, there were foot-high water marks on the concrete walls in the unfinished basement. The message was fairly clear to us, and within weeks of moving in, these marks were exceeded in height. Rest assured that we had not laid carpet or put up drywall in the interim.

But: Does the act of distributing “one-time” (until the next time?) checks in the form of a transparently and politically expedient bailout really do anything at all to address root causes of the issue, especially the eternal preference of the grandstanders on the council to exclusively blame developers and zoning conspiracies for the drainage problems rather than realizing that each and every one of us has acquiesced in the way this city has been developed and redeveloped over the years?

Citywide involvement and input might be helpful in advancing responsible development, but it must occur during the boring times when anger isn't dominating the discussion.

More importantly, isn’t it true that the same politicians who have loudly decrying storm water damage have also habitually voted against equitable funding solutions for stormwater and sewers?

As such, are they prepared to blame themselves along with favored targets in City Hall?

That would be refreshing, and it’s as likely as Miller Lite somehow developing flavor.

In Suddeath’s article, John Gonder seems to be the councilman who is taking these points most rationally. Let’s hope his viewpoint resonates among the others, because the precedent of the bailout is not a very good one. If the money is to be spent at all, it should be spent on addressing and repairing the cause, and accompanied by a rate increase that’s enough to assist in the effort. Masquerading as Santa Claus is not the correct response, but if you walk into the meeting room tonight and see Jeff Gahan dressed in red …

Today's Tribune column: "Muh-muh-muh-my thesaurus."

He he he.

From the very beginning, I've referred to my weekly Tribune column as "Beer Money," followed by the title of the specific piece.

"Beer Money" was Bluegill's suggestion, one made after I griped about the pay scale, and he observed that it still was enough pocket change to buy beer. However, 49 straight times, the words "Beer Money" were omitted before the column was published on-line -- that is, until today. I doubt that the physical newspaper reflects this, but no matter. To me, it's always been beer money, and always will be.

In fact, I believe I'll throw caution to the wind and spend this week's paycheck on beer. I wonder if the Alabama state pension system might consider paying me in Euros?

BEER MONEY: Muh-muh-muh-my thesaurus

Much like your brand new puppy, these anonymous character assassins simply haven’t yet been trained, but unfortunately, cute little Fideaux has a statistically better chance of being taught to refrain from soiling the carpet than his “mad as hell” human owner.

Latest exhibitions at the on-line Gamborg Gallery.

Regular readers know that from time to time, I reintroduce my friend Allan Gamborg, Danish by birth and a longtime resident of Moscow, who has enjoyed much success in his "second" (third? fifth?) career as a purveyor and advocate of Soviet-era art and artists.

Use the handy search feature with "Gamborg," and see previous postings. The format's usually the same, and it's always worth a few minutes to peruse the art. You need not be a Commie to enjoy the links to Allan's on-line galleries.

As in the past, permit me to thank Allan for his boundless hospitality and to share his latest posting.


Dear Friends,

We have a series of new exhibitions on the Gamborg Gallery on the web:


Artists’ Double Lives in the Soviet Union
In the Soviet Union many artists led a double life. On the one hand, they earned their state commissions and a right for a decent studio to work, and on the other hand they painted according to their personal interests and passions. This exhibition confronts these two sides for a number of artists of the Soviet period. We show the artists Sergei Nikiforov (monumental socialist works vs church frescos), Roman Zhitkov (book illustrations vs landscapes), Boris Sholokhov (industrial themes vs. portraits), Mikhail Rojter, Nikolai Tereshenko (political posters vs landscapes), Boris Dyatlov (monumental communist murals vs landscapes), Vadim Volikov (political poster vs landscapes), Veniamin Briskin (political posters vs landscapes), Boris Uspensky (political posters vs ballet).

Russian Folk Tales
Soviet artists often depicted the classic Russian folk tales, for example “Brother Ivanushka and Sister Alyonushka”, “The Crane and the Heron”, “Vasilisa the Wise”, “The Little Hump-Backed Horse”, “The Fox and the Hare”, “The Tower Room”, “The Bean Seed”, “The Flying Ship”, “The Frog Prince”, “The Turnip”, “The Three Bears”. We show works by artists Evgenia Endrikson, Natalia Gippius, and Dmitrii Dmitriev.


Dmitrii Minkov (1908-1998)
Well-known Moscow graphics artist and book illustrator. Worked with industrial themes, mainly with illustration and drawings from the coal industry, including the Donbass.

Konstantin Lekomtsev (1897-1977)
Konstantin Lekomtsev studied at the famous VKhuTeMas institute. Amongst his teachers were Geramisov, Kardovskii, Falk and Fyodorov. In the early 1930's he taught at the Perm Art College, where he met his future wife Natalia Gippius (1905-1995). They later worked together on various graphic arts and lithography projects at the famous VKhuTeMas Institute in Moscow. In the early 1930's he mainly painted genre landscapes, inspired by the Russian avant-garde. In the late 1930's he adopted a form of "soft" socialist realism, to be seen in a series of genre portraits. He is famous for his portraits of the 1950's in the classical Russian realism style. During this period he painted many children and young people.

Pyotr Ossovsky (Born 1925)
Pyotr Pavlovich Ossovsky studied at the Surikov institute under Gerasimov. Famous landscape and genre painter, as well as graphics artist. In 2005 he became a member of the Academy of the Fine Arts.


Go - I Don't Know Where, and Bring Back - I Don't Know What
Original watercolour illustrations from 1949 by Evgenia Endrikson to Russian folk tale in Aleksei Tolstoy's retold version: "Поди туда - не знаю куда, принеси то - не знаю что" (Go - I Don't Know Where, and Bring Back - I Don't Know What)

Fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen
Original watercolour illustrations from 1954 by Marina Uspenskaya to famous Danish storyteller. The book was issued in German.

Lace from Vyatsk
Original gouache illustrations from 1982 by Marina Uspenskaya to book by Stanislav Romanovskii "Вятское кружево", issued by Detskaya Literatura.

Enjoy the shows !

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sad, but there it is.

Today, our mad-as-Health blogger, who on widely scattered occasions manages to wipe the foam from his mouth and venture a blog post on esoteric topics like health, as opposed to the vicious monolithic ungodly left-wing campaign to dictate the color and flavor of therapeutic Jolly Ranchers, tackles the topic of anonymity.

Why Anonymity

Anonymity is sometimes criticized on this and other blogs. But there are legitimate reasons why anonymity is at times appropriate.
After this bland beginning, the formerly pseudonymous (when it suited hospital politics) Dr. Dan rapidly and paranoically devolves to regular form, presenting a lengthy, verbatim recitation of a Heritage Foundation missive on Proposition 8 in California, one depicting brave resistance fighters ducking down hinged plastic tree stumps leftover from the Hogan's Heroes set in order to evade nazi-like Obama-ist harassment and complete their holy mission of sticking it to the non-Biblical gays in the name of theocracy.

We constantly read these logic-as-twisting-mountain-goatpath polemics to anonymity as the very epitome of courage, but what floors me is how people otherwise disposed to exalt manly virtues never quite get around to explaining why standing tall behind one's name isn't indicative of similar ethical principles.

Maybe that's hypocrisy, or maybe it's cowardice, but either way, it's no place I want to be.

Then again, I'm not the one screaming bloody murder while tumbling through space somewhere on the fringe of a paranoid conspiracy theory.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Seborgan prince dead at 73.

There's a lesson here, because somewhere on Shelby, "King" Larry is thinking, hmm, wish I'd thought of establishing undiplomatic relations with him ...

Giorgio Carbone, Elected Prince of Seborga, Dies at 73, by Douglas Martin (New York Times)

After convincing his Seborgan neighbors of their true significance, Giorgio Carbone was elected prince in 1963. He gracefully accepted the informal title of His Tremendousness, and was elected prince for life in 1995 by a vote of 304 to 4. Voters then ratified Seborga’s independence, which, by the prince’s interpretation, it already had.

Monday, December 14, 2009

(Re)cycling idea(l)s.

Streetfilms again. Copenhagen again.

Open thread: Think of it as our local version of the hot stove league.

Where does New Albany Township Little League's hope for a new baseball complex fit, in the sense of many competing funding requests (and fund drives) locally?

If they don’t fund it, will it come?, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune).

Mayor Doug England is supporting it, but the New Albany City Council could throw New Albany Township Little League a curveball as it pertains to building a new baseball and softball complex.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Not only that, Patricia, but I get paid for it, too.

The following letter to the editor appeared in last week’s Tribune, perhaps on Tuesday, although it was not archived on-line.

Note the header, and the complete absence of a connection between it and the muddled thinking of the writer. What if I titled this post, "Another satisfied reader of NA Health?"

Three cheers to Mr. Dave Matthews

I thought of writing several times, but couldn’t come up with enough 12- to 15-letter words that would meet Mr. Columnist’s standards. Yes, he has his rights via the First Amendment, but to me the garbage he writes is legal slander. I can’t believe the paper continues to let him use them. They should tell him to shape up or ship out.

If he finds New Albany and its people such a bad and corrupt place to live, he should pack his bags and be on the next plane to a place that acts and thinks as he does.

P.S. As I believe there is some good in everyone, his article on his trip to Germany was readable.

--Patricia Elliott, Sellersburg
Er, if it's slander as such, then it's illegal, as opposed to legal, right?

Moreover, isn’t it amazing how often we hear Americans thundering about the Constitution when it comes to saving a few bucks in taxes to buy more plastic Chinese trinkets at Wal-Mart, but when the notion of free speech comes into play, speedily tossing the holy founding document aside like so much used toilet paper?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Elinor Ostrom: Sustainable commons, suckers, and diverse institutions.

Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University recently won the Nobel Prize in Economics for good reason. City Council Member John Gonder wrote about her conceptual framework as well and, as always, we hope his good thoughts continue on from blog pages into council chambers.

Here, in a brief lecture presented by the Stockholm Resilience Centre as part of their Stockholm whiteboard seminars, Ostrom explains "how people can use natural resources in a sustainable way based on the diversity that exists in the world."

Her focus on local knowledge of complex systems and trust as central tenants of successful resource management - and I would add built resources to a long list of natural ones - begs for more universal application. Replace the word "meadow" with "riverfront" or "neighborhood" and she could be talking about metro Louisville as easily as alpine agriculture.

We surely suffer from our share of anti-social types who would make suckers of us in exchange for a quick, short-lived buck, but I've been encouraged as of late by the increasing number of people I've been meeting who see value not just in our physical commons but in the development of community around them. It's that strength in community that will ultimately save us, perhaps from ourselves at times with diversity of thought, but most certainly from petroleum-based replacement schemes and the pernicious, individual selfishness they represent.

As we move away from a model concerned with who's wrong to one of who's most right, Ostrom's explanation, beautiful in its simplicity, is even worthier of engagement in New Albany as well as Stockholm.

Today in beer.

There is much enrichment on today's beer calendar, none of which has anything to do with college basketball's core fraudulence:

Today's Anstich keg at the Public House: Hartmann Märzen ... plus, today's NABC events.

I've found that a glass full of good beer helps the NCAA's hypocrisy go down, so feel free to join NABC at various points throughout the day. Chef Josh's Cuisine a la Biere at Bank Street Brewhouse helps, too.

We might allow you to watch the games.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Today's Tribune column: "Hot Hofstadter, cold Cappuccino."

Code enforcement alert: Today's column knowingly and indiscriminately violates the city of New Albany's ban on words of four syllables or more. I'm at home this morning and available to be cited and/or arrested.

BAYLOR: Hot Hofstadter, cold Cappuccino

On Monday evening, I overheard a New Albany city councilman explaining to a bystander how much more he knows about drainage issues than any number of trained experts in the field, and that our problems with stormwater primarily result from virulent conspiracies between city planners and a veritable mafia of builders.

I reached for my steaming wand, and thought immediately of Bayard R. Hall.

R.O.C.K.'s chapter in Athens stocks up on petrol and Bics.

The Guardian talks sex lives of the ancient Greeks, and we can only hope that the exhibition described within eventually comes to rest across the street from the creation museum up in Kaintuck.

The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust – and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why.

Eros, the god of love and the great loosener of limbs, was many things: irresistible, tender, beautiful, excruciating, maddening, merciless and bittersweet. There was no position, no touch, no predilection too outre to pay homage to him. From the affectionate embrace to group sex, love came in many forms.

"The Greeks were anything but prudes," said Nicholaos Stampolidis, director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, where the show will run for six months. "Theirs was a society of great tolerance and lack of guilt."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

No time for discussing property tax caps -- there's beer to be sold.

I'm off with the sales crew (both of them) to Indianapolis for a day of NABC draft sales. NABC currently has somewhere around 15 accounts among points north, including Indy, Muncie, Noblesville and Zionsville. We'll be visiting current and (hopefully) future accounts across the city, then cap the day with an appearance at the Barley Island brewery's new location in Broad Ripple for the tapping of Indianapolis' only keg of Hoptimus this year.

If Bleugill feels so inclined, he may choose to drop in and post. If not, I'll be back with you late tonight or tomorrow morning. Ciao.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

New Albany grocery coop meeting tonight ... and other NA events.

NAC's odometer clicked over ...

... 400,000 hits, late on Monday night.

Council notes from Monday, December 7.

Here are my unedited notes from last night’s council meeting. We were eating wings and drinking beer by 8:30, so yo can't say it was a bad night.


The recently self-deposed former council attorney Stan Robison is nowhere in sight as another city council meeting is brought to order. But who will keep the Prez from bowing to temptation, as the Lord’s Prayer (why?) asks him?

Tonight’s spinning wheel of council chamber Internet access came to rest on “connected to the server, but server not connected to the Internet.” Some day, can there be consistent service?




APPROVAL OR CORRECTION OF THE FOLLOWING MINUTES: New Albany City Council Regular Meeting minutes of November 19, 2009 … done.


1. New Albany Baseball: Plea for the realization of plans to build baseball facilities atop the mesa behind Home Depot off State. Says that the Mt. Tabor facility outmoded and about to be supplanted by road widening. They have spoken to the county, state and others. Sees some potential in co-operation for various other land use needs, including aquatic park, youth shelter, etc. Says incoming tournaments can benefit businesses. No questions from the napping.

Thought for sure Steve Price would disagree. Doesn’t he always?

2. Penny Kessler: May 15 flooding victim. Noticed that August flooding gets the press, but wants to make sure the “bailout” reaches her, too. She is reassured.

Coffey: For the council’s information, no need in hiring a new attorney for two meetings, so Shane Gibson is the stand-in. Shane observes that questions can be thrown at him, not objects. The fun is being drained form the proceedings.


Jeff Gahan: Sewer utility budget demands a work session. Two items stand out: (1) $300,000 to Georgetown; (2) $100,000 of bonuses for EMC – good news because it means benchmarks are being met, but would like to talk more about it.


Coffey actually lets C. Malysz speak. Usually he does not. Looks like the end-of-year charm offensive is fully under way.

Carl Malysz: Reiterates NA Little League message. Solutions being sought. Mayor England stresses this as forward-looking effort, and would like for it to be taken under advisement.

Also: A memo distributed that outlines $25 million in thoroughfare projects, with complete details, estimates, etc. Not to be confused with the paving program. Report for the previous paving expenditure has been made. A few ancillary things yet to be contracted, and may be needed to recapture some money at the beginning of the year by resolution.

Bob Caesar: Wants there to be an end date on the Daisy Lane project completion. The last segment took too long.

DISCUSSION REGARDING THE 2010 SEWER BUDGET: Already broached by Gahan.




A-09-20 Additional Appropriation in the Rainy Day Fund To Storm water Fund in an Amount of $300,000 Loan (Benedetti 1&2)

Benedetti: In discussions with Kay Garry, it was suggested that we borrow “from ourselves” (from Rainy Day fund) so that Stormwater can begin working on Castlewood.

Steve Price: “On the loan thing, I don’t know, we’re going to be borrowing money from ourselves and paying it back at 1% interest … will the storm rate go up in the future … could this lead to another rate (increase)?”

Benedetti explains that the previous dollar stormwater rate wasn’t sufficient to leave reserves to borrow against. Price says he can’t support it because it will have to be paid back with interest, if miniscule, and this could lead to another rate hike, and by God, the twelve bucks a year more already makes him work way to hard (I made that part up).

Gahan proposes just flat paying for the work out of Rainy Day. He says he wants to get it done either way and is open to anything.

Stormwater chairman Brinkworth explains that they suggested paying it back as a loan. They wanted a rate increase to do more projects, but that was denied by the council. However, $300,000 up front will enable them to get started while waiting for the dollar increase to accumulate in the coffers.

Kevin Zurschmiede: For it, but wants a balance sheet and financial information. Details for the projects planned?

Answer is a Castlewood detention basin on the Mt. Tabor church/school properties. This will hold water at the upstream end of the drainage system, and let it out slowly. Also, two sets of catch basins on Castlewood itself. Landholders agree, and negotiations and plans under way.

KZ wants it in black and white.

Sealed bids being put out, satisfying Li’l Stevie’s query.

Brinkworth: Will not impact the Master Plan, but solve a problem. Castlewood project “a number one priority.”

Benedetti: She’s seen the budget numbers, and Stormwater is doing okay staying within boundaries.

Coffey: If you have to borrow it, not as good as if we appropriate it. Maybe we should just finance it outright.

Brinkworth: That’s more than we expected.

Price: He’s paying two more dollars on his garbage and now he erupts because no one will guarantee that there’ll be no rate increase.

Brinkworth: “I can’t guarantee what I’ll be wearing tomorrow.”

Price: “Why don’t we just give them the $300,000?”

Messer: It’s just 1%. Rainy Day money is for an emergency … aren’t we always saying they’re supposed to be self-financing? Let Stormwater borrow and pay back with slight interest.

Coffey, grandstanding, says he knows of other places that are worse than anyone Brinkworth quotes, primarily because Coffey has no training. Or something like that. Says he knows more about it. “We need to ahead and get started.”

Brinkworth thinks that they can have two big ones knocked out in two years, but Coffey says that isn’t fast enough, and KZ pitches that the loan should be forgiven if the work gets done on time.

1st vote on it!!

Price votes aye even though there was no guarantee made. Huh?

2nd: Also unanimous.

A-09-21 (Gahan)
Placed on the agenda today after press time. Wasn’t posted. Deals with which monies will finance the water bailout giveaway program. No discussion.

G-09-21 Amendment to Ordinance A-04-73 Passed 12/6/2004 Setting Policy and Fees for Fairview and West Haven Cemeteries (McLaughlin 3)

The leather jacketed Price objects here as so often before. Fee jumps are too large. People may have to get jobs if this continues.

3rd reading:
No from Price, otherwise unanimous. Passes.


Sewer work session to answer questions? Coffey puts it in Gahan’s hands. Sewer Board wants EPA to be involved, but this can occur later.

Coffey wants an executive session to discuss litigation with the storm water. Benedetti says a hearing already is scheduled (January 4) … Shane says it’s a hearing. Coffey apparently didn’t know this. Coffey still wants a discussion.

Coffey wants John Gonder to consider a committee for the ballpark issue.

Coffey wants to know whether the Kelly PUD has expired? Scott Wood says yes, an 18-month clock ticks down, and it reverts to its previous state of zoning. It has expired, and so it’s a dead issue.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A global moment.

INTERNATIONAL EDITORIAL: Copenhagen climate change conference: 'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation'

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

Anybody wanna bet this won't be a topic of conversation at tonight's City Council meeting?

Turning the past into a future.

As much needed conversations about the role of preservation efforts begin, the C-J's Diane Heilenman highlights how New Albany's historic surroundings can be used in pursuit of a more viable, creative future. The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project pays homage to our past but refuses to dwell in it, instead choosing to celebrate contemporary art and culture as a vital part of the city's public life, the same as it was centuries earlier.

What happened so many yesterdays ago is interesting and informative. How that knowledge will be interpreted and recast as a part of tomorrow is the reason we work and invest. It's instructive then that Heilenman, as perhaps the area's best known art and culture commentator, was drawn to the most modern of the various media thus far proposed for the project as the lead in telling the story.

Ebb and flow, indeed.

HEILENMAN: The Rising: Art project tells the story of New Albany

Sometime in late April, the Ohio River will flood the front wall of the new YMCA building at 33 State St. in New Albany, Ind. It will continuously rise (and ebb) for at least a year — but leave your snorkel and fins at home.

The “Flood” will be a large-scale video production on the building's facade created by noted new-media artist Valerie Sullivan Fuchs of Shelby County, Ky.

She is one of the first five artists selected for the New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project, which will eventually place 20 works around downtown that will tell the story of the city's history, in time for its 2013 bicentennial celebrations.

* image courtesy of the New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project and Valerie Sullivan Fuchs

Sunday, December 06, 2009


For more of Ed's images, go here.

My visit to PassiveAggressiveLand.

(It’s a non-revitalized neighborhood of the Open Air Museum)

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but this time I will, primarily because it’s been a wonderful weekend.

An anonymous writing critic spewed at Voice of the People, and I responded, although not to the critic’s satisfaction. The topic is my column in Thursday’s Tribune: BAYLOR: Long ago in Slovakia.

Seeing as teeth marks from a hooded canine wannabeen remain imbedded in the denim of my jeans, here’s the “dialogue” to date.

Anonymous said...
What does being an Atheist have anything to do with St. Nicholas day or having Germanic heritage in a Slavic nation? What was the point or the need for that information? What was the author getting at? The column would have been a very good one if wasn’t for the first two paragraphs. It would have been par with the one about Armistice Day.

Roger said …
St. Nicholas Day is on the 6th. The column was published on the 3rd, hence (a) the topical reference to St. Nicholas in the intro, and (b) the fact that it also was mentioned in the text about Slovakia.

Anonymous said …
I sorry but your response doesn't answer any of my questions sufficiently. They are just oblique answers. The intro was irreverent or not necessary.

Roger said …
Shrug. I got paid to write it, and you didn't. 'Nuff said, hooded one.

Anonymous said …
I think the questions are viable. You have accused others of making irrelevant comments etc. What does being an Atheist have anything to do with St. Nicolas Day? What relevance did it have to do with the story? How is being paid, to write in the Tribs editorial section, have anything to do with explaining the relevancy of being an Atheist and St. Nicolas Day. If you are paid shouldn’t your column be of the highest quality of writing? The Trib will print just about any person’s letters or allow anyone to be a guest columnist when they make you a staff reporter or editor then you may have something to brag about. And yes, I do read your column along with others please help me understand yours better.

Roger said …
I suspect I'll eventually address your "questions," probably at NAC, but not here.

What is the one thing held in common by each of the roles you cite, from letter writer to columnist, and including editors and reporters?

They all sign their names to their work. Consequently, I'm not interested in a serious conversation with passive/aggressive anonymous folks like you. Create whatever rationalizations or excuses you like for anonymity -- indulge yourself and be creative -- but it doesn't imply that I have any responsibility to cooperate with the indulgence.

I stand behind what I say and write. If I'm correct, there's credit, and if wrong, there's blame. So it goes. Why should I waste more time than the five minutes its taken to write these words to "discuss" something with someone who doesn't share my ethos?

It's just all Bledsottian to me (it's a new word I just invented).

Thanks for reading nonetheless.


As for the more blatantly obvious passive/aggressive deficiencies of the anonymous writer (“Bledsottian” references this trait), these can be discussed another time. For now, I’ll try again to answer the questions asked, because for some of you, it may provide an insight into the creative process.

Following two weeks of poking sticks through the bars of the Open Air Museum’s theistic and holiday season cages, I wanted to write something counter-intuitive, but that still referenced the preceding discussions. The holiday piece from 1991 seemed appropriate, but it needed an introduction.

The common theme chronologically was St. Nicholas Day, which was mentioned in the original story, and which would be coming three days after the publication date of the column. To even the most casual of observers, and as such traditions go, St. Nicholas Day in America is traceable to European immigrants, primarily those from Central Europe.

Recalling that ethnic Germans once lived across broad swaths of Central Europe, including areas that are now “Slavic” nations (Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), and in non-Slavic Hungary and Romania, and that my family background comes entirely from German immigrants, it didn’t strike me as far-fetched to combine these elements in the introduction.

Anonymous asks: “What does being an Atheist have anything to do with St. Nicolas Day?” and “What relevance did it have to do with the story?”

Having devoted previous columns to atheism, and having established my family’s Central European roots in theism, with the strong possibility that like the people I met in Slovakia, earlier generations of my family would have celebrated St. Nicholas Day in the immigrant tradition, there is attendant irony in my having emerged these many years later as an atheist. There’s also the fact that a century ago, it might not have been very healthful for a family member to confess atheistic leanings openly, which today can be done without overt fear of persecution apart from anonymous critics.

Hope that helps. I’d love to sit down with you and drink a beer while discussing it further, except you refuse to follow the blog policy of disclosure, and hoods remind me of the Klan.

Things like that just don’t help the nectar go down.

Thanks for reading.

In today's Tribune: Vic Megenity on historic preservation.

Vic Megenity's guest column in today's Tribune ostensibly is a statement of intent with respect to the current fundraising drive to create a museum for the preservation of the late Fred Conway's antique fire equipment.

However, the paragraph reprinted below forms the crux of his argument, which extends past the specifics of the proposed fire museum. It is a lamentation of narrow-mindedness in the past, and an appeal for historic preservation in what strikes me as the narrowest sense of protecting and preserving buildings.

That's fine, and I'm for it. At the same time, as we've recently considered in this space, there are broader elements to historic preservation, and in order to make this point, I'll be blunt: How does the idea of spending more than $500,000 on restoring the Cardinal Ritter house appear to the residents of the transitional neighborhood surrounding it?

It's encouraging to see a dialogue under way with respect to this and other aspects of the urge to preserve. Speaking only for myself, preserving a building without context in a more pervasive societal sense strikes me as a less than conducive exercise. Should the North Annex building be adaptively reused? Yes, but not only because of what the building itself is, or perhaps symbolizes.

What will its reuse mean to the people of the area? Historic preservation pitched too narrowly can come to resemble dilettantism, especially when it comes to the perception of the clueless Philistines we typically elect to office -- like the ones who mechanically signed the demolition permits to facilitate the 1960's era destruction that Vic so effectively decries.

We all must do a better job of casting preservationism in a sense of how it will impact the day-to-day life of the individual, who is otherwise disposed to stand on the sidelines absent a sense of personal involvement with the principles being espoused.

But pleae feel free to disagree with me or to expand upon this brief digression. For more on historic preservation in Floyd County, see reporter Harold Adams's story in today's Courier-Journal. Here is Vic's excellent column.
MEGENITY: Antique fire equipment presents unparalleled opportunity for city

New Albany has a checkered past in preserving its most valuable assets — the history and heritage of the City. When I first moved to this community in the early 1960s to start my teaching career, I was amazed at the rich history that I found. Steamboat building, glass works, iron works, woolen mills, to name just a few important industries. The architecture was outstanding with scores of 19th century buildings, but then something terrible happened. During 1961-62, I observed the demolition of four historic buildings: (1) on the southeast corner of State and Spring Sts., the County Courthouse; (2) on the southwest corner of State and Spring Sts., the City Hall; (3) on the northeast corner of State and Spring Sts., the fortress like Jail, made famous by the hanging of the notorious Reno brothers; (4) on the corner of Spring and Pearl Sts., the magnificent Post Office.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I tried reading anonymously ...

... but found that the mask garbled my words.

Photo by Andy Terrell, from last weekend's reading relay at Destinations.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Weekend NABC update: Food, beer, art, outside sales and our webmaster.

In the upper right hand corner of NA Confidential's main page, there is a photo link to the area of New Albanian Brewing Company's web site, where you can sign up to receive NABC's weekly newsletter. Here's a delectable excerpt from this week's edition.

Chef Josh Plans Weekend Surprises for Bank Street Brewhouse Dinner Menu

Josh Lehman, our Chef at the BSB Brasserie, is getting playful again and is already shaking up his dinner menu, at least for this weekend.

Look for Pork Ribs in a roasted red pepper barbecue sauce and served with cabbage and beans to join the dinner lineup on Friday and Saturday evenings. Chef Josh is also planning to offer a Shrimp and Grits dish with sauteed shrimp, locally cured ham, poached egg and polenta; Beef Short Ribs with roasted shallots, mayonnaise and a baguette; and a Country Ham Plate with ham from Kentucky's Newsom Farm - Josh says they offer some of the best ham in the country.

Josh is also considering a Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad for Sunday.
Obviously, I'd like for you to dine at Bank Street Brewhouse this weekend. However, my ulterior motive here is to note that I haven't lately seen many weekly brewery/pub newsletters as comprehensive as NABC's has become, and you should know that this has nothing much at all to do with me.

Rather, it is the work of New Albanian resident Michael Burp, who also is our webmaster. Michael's been laboring in obscurity, and I want to give him a nod and thank him for all the hard work. He's a valued member of the team, and we appreciate it!

Other NABC weekend highlights:

Saturnalia Winter Solstice draft fest, beginning today at the Public House.

The Female Art Collective's Mustache Bash, Saturday at the Public House.

NABC has beer on tap at 50 locations in Indiana and Kentucky.

LEO's Sara Havens profiled Bank Street Brewhouse's Sunday build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, and in Velocity's "The Beer Issue," both Bank Street and our original location were noted.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

C-J: "Floyd Prosecutor says Camm will be tried again."

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said Thursday the state will retry David Camm.

We don't know how much it will cost, but we do know that a third trial will lead to another book, and maybe expanded television coverage.

Nonetheless, it had to be a tough, tough call for the elected prosecutor who insists that justice has nothing to do with politics. This time around, can he perhaps see to it that the trial has nothing to do with inadmissable evidence?

No cynicism here. Just fatigue.

Today's Tribune column: "Long ago in Slovakia."

I enjoy keeping them guessing.

BAYLOR: Long ago in Slovakia

The winter's first snow has come and gone, and although we didn't get very much, it was enough to add a cheerful hazard for pedestrians in the forms of sleds, multitudes of them, some of old fashioned wood construction, others of molded plastic. More sleds than I've ever seen have appeared as if by magic from closets and storage rooms, to be pulled by their brightly outfitted young owners and steered at breakneck speed down any and all available slopes, inhabited or otherwise.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Northeast corner of Spring and Ninth.

The siding's been off for more than a year, and the when the big fleet vehicles are parked on either side of the corner, it's a sight hazard for driver, cyclist and pedestrian alike.

Should we care? Or is it free enterprise to let this house rot?

I'm all hung up.

In today's Tribune, Vince Garmon defends Christianity and God against the "hang-ups" of the columnist (me).

LETTERS: Reader respond to columnist’s religious ‘hang-ups’

Roger Baylor has been quite candid about his hang-ups with religion in his columns over the past couple of weeks. I am an evangelical Christian, and I must confess that I do not necessarily agree with a few of Mr. Baylor’s opinions. But, his Nov. 19 and Thanksgiving Day columns have made me think a lot lately about the poor impression that people who call themselves Christians can leave on the rest of the world.
In the end, Vince disagrees with me and I with him, but the significant thing to me is that he actually read what I wrote.

That's shocking. Dave Matthews might want to take heed.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Market Street Fish House and Connor's Place will combine.

Today I saw the sign at the Market Street Fish House, and it says what we'd been hearing. It's moving across the street to become part and parcel of Connor's Place, now to become all-in-one.

Reopening date for the new kitchen is December 15, and the menu at Connor's reportedly will retain some of the items (sandwiches?) available there previously. As always, we wish Dave Himmel and the Connor's crew the best of luck.

Note: I ran into Matt Bergman later at First Tuesday, and he says that the search for a new tenant is under way.

Develop New Albany's First Tuesday (today), plus a listing of upcoming downtown events.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thoughts on making preservation and sustainability matter.

Tomorrow evening, a group of community leaders will officially meet for the first time to discuss the possibility of forming a new nonprofit aimed specifically at achieving historic preservation goals in Floyd County. For those interested, the meeting is at 7:30 pm at the Cardinal Ritter House, 1218 E. Oak Street, in New Albany.

As discussion around the topic has increased, a document has been circulated outlining some thoughts presented at the National Trust's annual Forum Luncheon by Donovan Rypkema, an economist well respected for his interest and research in preservation. Those thoughts, available at his blog here, challenge his audience to change attitudes about preservation by changing its focus from one of history to one of heritage, that is, less about bricks and mortar and more about the culture surrounding their creation and use.

Though I may quibble with a few details and word choices, it's a viewpoint I largely share.

Those who know me well know that, after much mind changing, nail biting, and a few beers to settle down, I'm in the process of applying to graduate school as an MA student in Cultural Sustainability. As a part of that process, I was asked to provide a brief biographical sketch highlighting how I came to be interested in such matters. Since it was involvement in New Albany that mostly drove me to it, New Albany, and its personal but universal challenges, quickly became the topic.

An excerpt from that biographical essay is below. I certainly can't claim the depth of knowledge or talent that Rypkema demonstrates but I was struck by our somewhat similar themes. Readers will notice that both neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation receive mention. They are topics that I do not separate. It's my hope that these initial thoughts, both from Rypkema and me, will help to encourage the blending of the two in the ongoing conversation.

Readers are of course encouraged to share their thoughts as well.

I am a neighborhood activist in New Albany, Indiana, a city of approximately 37,000 along the banks of the Ohio River that was once the largest, most prosperous in the state.

About the city, a downriver 1850’s newspaper in Evansville said: "the glory of New Albany is in her construction of magnificent steamers. In this noble art her mechanics stand unrivaled. She is second only to Pittsburgh in the number of tons launched from her shores; but in the size of her boats, their models and strength, beauty and finish, she has no rival. The mechanics that have framed the Shotwell and Eclipse, and given them their grace, beauty, and speed, may challenge the world."

Today, much of the infrastructure and building stock created to support steamer construction and related industries still exist, representing a standard of public investment and private entrepreneurship not often replicated in contemporary small cities. The mechanics and craftspeople that created and utilized them, however, have largely vanished along with the vibrant culture their activities generated. A friend jokingly refers to it as an open-air museum. If so, it’s a museum whose programming has been woefully insufficient for decades.

That was the problem with which several others and I started a few years ago. After a year of individual study and research, I was lucky enough to begin making connections with regional community development leaders, sharing knowledge and beginning to identify the cohorts of my more private community within the larger, more public whole. They in turn provided access to an even broader contingent of consultants, a national network of professionals affiliated with NeighborWorks America, a Washington, DC, based nonprofit organization “created by Congress to provide financial support, technical assistance, and training for community-based revitalization efforts.” That access culminated in my participation in a national pilot program for place-based training that brought the NeighborWorks Community and Neighborhood Revitalization Professional Certificate curriculum to the Louisville, KY, metro area. It was as part of that training that I became familiar with the Healthy Neighborhoods approach to community revitalization.

The Healthy Neighborhoods approach seeks to establish neighborhoods (or communities) of choice, places where it makes economic sense to invest time, money, and energy; where neighbors have the capacity to successfully manage day-to-day issues; and where they have confidence in their investments and their futures.

The methodology involves focusing on four primary factors as defined by David Boehlke, a major proponent of the approach:

Image: In an asset-oriented strategy that builds both household and neighborhood equity, it is important to promote a positive identity. That for older neighborhoods to compete successfully, they need to draw on their assets and tell their unique stories (for example, historic homes, urban parks, and so on). Residents and outsiders will see the neighborhood as attractive.

Markets: Each neighborhood has a unique market niche. All investments must reinforce the housing market and increase home values. Investment in one property improves the value of all properties within the neighborhood.

Physical conditions: We need to target outcomes, not outputs, because numbers don’t tell the story. Outcomes measure whether the neighborhood is improving as a place for residents to invest and to build equity and neighborly connections.

Social connections (neighborhood management): Prospective homeowners and residents – not community development corporations, government agencies, or other funders – are the most important neighborhood decision makers. Traditional approaches often subsidize households with the greatest needs and provide housing as an end itself. Instead, we need to work to create and improve social connections by engaging residents in their neighborhood and community.

In essence, each of these factors deals with a notion of value— a sense of worth that can be experienced individually, shared with others, and promoted for the greater good. While Healthy Neighborhood outcomes are often discussed and measured using the type of market-based language most often associated with real estate, the ideas of believing and belonging are central to their resident-driven success. It’s that understanding that helped my initial exposure to cultural sustainability make sense.

As mentioned previously, the physical bones of my geographic community are largely intact. We, along with many other similar cities and towns, enjoy the type of built environment that those with New Urbanist leanings are currently investing millions to recreate under the guises of Smart Growth and environmental sustainability. Historic preservationists have also taken an interest in the structures that have long provided us a sense of place, more recently tying their efforts, too, to wider ranging environmental concerns via concepts of adaptive reuse.

Those interests are certainly important if we’re to make the most of the limited natural and financial resources available to us. Simply put, they will help allow us to continue living. What’s missing from those respective equations, however, is the less tangible but more important proposition of what constitutes “living” in the experiential sense. Though the relationship between people and their built environment is one of mutual impact and can serve to inform legacy, a community’s culture is not limited to products. As such, it’s not the products themselves but rather the endeavor to create the products out of a shared understanding of and desire for potential benefit that’s key to cooperatively striving for betterment.

It’s that type of camaraderie, that shared belief in the possibility of the better - whether it takes the form of preserving the old or initiating the new - that forms the basis of community and culture and allows us to sustain ourselves in new and not-so-new meaningful ways.

Artist, author, and copywriter Hugh McLeod said, “The market for something to believe in is infinite.” From firsthand experience, I know that to be a tough market. But it’s not so much the mechanics and craftspeople themselves that have been missing from my neighborhood but the passion, creativity, and general spirit they brought to the place. Fostering belief in those assets, both within the community and as a marketing function directed toward external audiences, is the problem I have now as revitalization efforts move forward.