Sunday, July 31, 2011

Now showing in the Red Room.

Community Park, North Annex, development and the fog of political obfuscation.

OSIN's Chris Morris braves the eternal glower of the county council's prez-for-life to report this story:

No decision yet on North Annex future; NA-FC Parks Department wants Community Park to remain intact

... Ted Heavrin, president of the county council, said no decision has been made about the property’s future. He said the layout of the area will limit development.

“You can’t build under power lines ... they should know that,” Heavrin said of the parks board.

Heavrin said before anything is decided, all parties involved will have a meeting.
Sound familiar? That's because we were discussing it on July 15: Is Floyd County seeking to develop up to 18 acres of Community Park? The discussion rather prematurely ended with this comment from Jeff Gillenwater.

I appreciate your time, Don (Lopp), but that really doesn't answer my question. You mentioned that the original thought was to make 4-6 acres available but that preservationists requested an expansion to 18 acres.

Why? What is someone going to do with 18 acres that they couldn't do with 4-6? Is there an entity proposing something specific that requires more land? What thinking led to the expanded offering?

Given their abysmal communication record lately, it would be helpful for the public to know what's happening on the preservation front *before* any governmental commitments are made.

So, what's really happening? Give that wheel a spin, will ya?

In the Open Air Museum: Never faster than 20 mph.

Ah, the joys of old-fashioned, leisurely travel in the Open Air Museum ... traveling 8th Street last Wednesday, all the way from Elm Street to the city garage on Grant Line Road, and never faster than a motorized wheelchair. The city truck's driver was having quite the animated conversation with his passenger. I could see him gesticulating in the driver's side rear view mirror, but because he never looked back, he didn't even see me shaking my fist at him.

REWIND: Caesar stars in "conflict of interest" night as council approves, but slashes, bucks to 1Si.

(Originally published on October 5, 2010)

As only New Albany's city council seems capable of doing to such an extreme degree of sad sack proficiency, the third reading of the "Money for Nothing" ordinance to provide taxpayer largesse to 1Si finally passed, although reduced, but only after an eternity of theatrical Duck Duck Goose that left onlookers exhausted and thirsty.

Admirably, Jeff Gahan and Pat McLaughlin had principled changes of heart, but Jack Messer and Dan Coffey also flipped -- in opposite directions, even though Coffey viciously pilloried 1Si before meekly voting to accept the compromise reduction in the amount of protection money paid them, but mind you, only for "past" services, which have not been itemized in any way, shape of form. It didn't matter to 1Si, which brought its heaviest, sub-Mendoza Line hitters into the fray to mechanically deny obvious political taints while flashing calculators to total the forthcoming amount of TG Missouri's Japan-bound air conditioning subsidy.

Over three readings, Kevin Zurschmiede and Diane Benedetti remained consistently in favor of ignoring 1Si's recent Frankenstein monster transformation into a political action committee; after all, KZ's a Republican already and DB might as well be, not least when she's wearing her nifty Savanarola outfit for Halloween and council conclaves.

And then there's Bob Caesar, 1Si member, 1Si advocate, 1Si fan, and sometimes even playing at being a councilman in real life. After exercising the most blatant conflict of interest vote since Benedetti's decision not to absent herself from her brother's real estate zoning appearances, Caesar took advantage of a five minute recess (for the purpose of council members receiving their stipends?) to bound across the room, beaming, and land in Michael Dalby's lap. The last time anyone saw giddiness like that, it was probably the high school prom. Unlike the aftermath of the prom, someone in this instance "got some."

One sits, and watches, and shrugs, and asks: If Bob Caesar, a downtown small businessman, cannot grasp the existence of other economic development models -- especially those pertaining to the place where he, himself, does business -- what hope is there of altering the failed corporate subsidy paradigm?

Caesar and many others like him just want to be accepted as members of the big boy's club, and the sad thing is that they never see the big boys openly snickering at them once their backs are turned. Imagine investing the money not as a corporate subsidy for billion dollar companies like TGI Missouri, but in helping to build the skill sets of our own people through education and training. Imagine the money actually reaching small businesses like Caesar's and the many others in New Albany.

1Si succeeds at its shell game because small-timers want to be part of the insider club. They'd be better off refraining from subsidizing the subsidizers, and instead of cradling the bottled water at networking functions, emulating Hemingway and using the bottle as a means of sovereign action by throwing it.

Other media coverage:
New Albany council cuts funding for chamber of commerce group (C-J)
New Albany City Council reduces, approves 1si money (Tribune)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Knable bests Caesar on two-way streets.

She thinks two-way streets will make downtown better, so after the first inning, it's Jessica Knable 1, Bob Caesar 0.

How will the candidates for the 2nd council district compare on other issues? A good place to start would be bridge tolls, a topic that Caesar miserably failed owing to his slavish devotion to One Southern Indiana pro-tolling, exurb enrichment program.

Meanwhile, while we're bound to disagree as the game progresses, the first-time candidate Knable at least seems willing to discuss issues and answer questions. Let's hope the Clere Channel Network doesn't teach her how to use the delete button.

Jessica Knable for City Council at Facebook

The New Albany location of Preston Arts Center is closing soon.

We had several tips, but I decided to wait and see. There's nothing at the web site yet, but probably will be.

The Frenchman's new colors.

The snazzy paint job? It's because the Frenchman is coming ... to the Bergman Building retail space on Market. Here's what the storefront looked like before.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Two-way traffic: "Most merchants ... want to see traffic stop and shop."

Earlier in the week, I posted my unofficial Merchant Mixer notes.

Merchant Mixer notes (1): New businesses, landscaping, parking, signage and dog poop.
Merchant Mixer notes (2): Empty storefronts, Harvest Homecoming and Bob Caesar's all-way street confusion.

Following are the official minutes, as submitted by Pam Peters. Your attention is drawn to one passage:

It was mentioned that one way streets are the best way to move traffic through. However, most merchants don’t want that. They want to see traffic stop and shop.
Mama, there goes that word: "Most." Let's now return to Bob Caesar's utterance during the same meeting:
"Change every street to two way (but) not Pearl Street. Pearl Street will NOT be two way."
So, don't just take my word for it: These official and generally dispassionate meeting notes deftly reiterate that Bob Caesar is completely out of touch with what the new generation of downtown merchants really wants when it comes to revitalization that's good for business.

How does Caesar's self-centered position constitute leadership?

Don't waste your time looking for excuses, because it does not. Nothing new there, either -- and that's the recurring, eternal problem. If CM CeeSaw can't or won't lead, here's a timely suggestion: Get the hell out of the way.


Merchant Mixer Minutes
July 26, 2011

An overflow crowd was present at the 8:30 a.m. mixer. Thank you to Don and Kathy for continually allowing the group to meet at Prestons, which is celebrating the 70th anniversary this year! Congratulations. The coffee pot was on and several brought breakfast items, including donuts from Sweet Stuff. Thanks!

Downtown business items discussed were the following:

1. HARVEST HOMECOMING: C. Peters reminded everyone that now is the time to apply for Harvest Homecoming booth space—especially if you want one in the front of your store. Contact the Harvest Homecoming office at 944-8572 or email to if you did not receive a packet of material.

The cost of a 10’ x 10’ booth has gone up to $350.00 since it is after the June 30 deadline. (People to contact: Beth and David White and Patty Fischer

2. I-64 SIGNAGE: Ed Clere is working with INDOT toward options on getting “Historic Downtown New Albany” signage on I-64 westbound. Signage is problematic since the exit to downtown New Albany is right after the I-64 bridge. A bi-state contract will be needed. He is also exploring the possibility of signage on I-64 eastbound but that is equally problematic because of the cut-off to 265 there. Ultimately, signage would, hopefully, include attractions. Restaurants would have to pay but official historic landmarks qualify without payment.

3. NEW RETAIL: Mike Kopp announced that interest in new retail and restaurant venues in the downtown area continues. “Dress and Dwell” on Spring and Louie’s French Restaurant on Market will open in September. The Reitz Building on Main is being sold to become a senior citizen living facility. A coffee shop will be opening in the Fair store on Market. The condo project at the river is moving forward. 209 E. Market will house a mineral/jewelry store and 6 loft apartments are going into 213 Pearl.

4. LANDSCAPING: The mayor reminded the merchants to water the flowers which were funded by Horseshoe at the tune of $6,000. Peters asked for a list of those areas not being watered by the fire dept. or others. Michelle Christiansen said that MainSource Bank had approved replacement of all dead trees along their lot on State and Market and new landscaping done.

5. PARKING: Mayor England announced that the 2 hr. parking signs will be removed and “Parking for Customers and Clients Only” signs put up. He also passed around a map to be distributed to merchants showing the free parking areas. England reiterated that downtown residents must buy a $100/yr. parking sticker.

6. WAYFINDING SIGNAGE:: Places for the 29 wayfinding signs are site-ready. Cost of each sign is $1,100 and they will be put in as soon as the Louisville company is finished producing them. The signs can be modified and kept current.

7. DOGGIE BAGS: These are ready to be placed on the litter containers as soon as the street dept. has time.

8. EMPTY STORE FRONTS: Building and property maintenance codes are out of date. The city will contact the Urban Enterprise zone about paying for vacant window treatment. Dave Thrasher offered to work on a plan for putting public art in those windows; this would reflect dialogue with people on the street.

9. TWO-WAY STREETS: Spring and Market Streets are slated for going from one-way to two-way streets. A federal grant of $2 million is available but needs a 20% match. The question about also making Bank and Pearl two-way was discussed. It was suggested that there be a public hearing scheduled to discuss the pros and cons of this controversial issue. There is a question of money. It was mentioned that one way streets are the best way to move traffic through. However, most merchants don’t want that. They want to see traffic stop and shop. No preliminary study has been made by the City of NewAlbany. However, studies on this issue have been done for different communities and results are available.

10. The City of New Albany web page is being upgraded and redeveloped.

11. The downtown farmers’ market is thriving with 45 vendors. Timperman has been commissioned to design a new market for the bicentennial. Susan Kaempfer was thanked for the job she is doing with the market.

12. The lot at the corner of Spring and Pearl has been purchased for the purpose of creating a bicentennial park

13. First Tuesday in August will be at Marvin’s Auto on 8th street compliments of Dane Smith.

The next Merchant Mixer meeting will be on Tuesday, August 23, at Prestons’ at 8:30 AM?

- Pam Peters

Enquiring council minds want more information.

Neglected homework the hallmark of council underachievement?

Matt's right, and yet for those accepting the psychologically taxing burden of attending council meetings, it is painfully clear that obtaining the perpetually absent information is one thing, and knowing what it means once (if) found is something else. Mediocrity begets mediocrity. Just ask Bob Caesar.

NASH: New Albany City Council needs to do its job

It is important that the council members do their job and get the information they need before the start of a city council meeting.

Dale Moss on Paul Kiger.

A nice C-J shout-out for Paul: New Albany Realtor Paul Kiger breaks mold, makes sales; 31-year-old could be region's youngest agent of the year.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

DNA tells you what is happening in NA this weekend (and beyond).

The following comes to us from Develop New Albany, and yes, I'm guessing there'll be no good beer to accompany the Buffett homage ... but wait, now that I think of it, this is an excellent opportunity to gauge the vendor's creativity: Will there at least be Landshark Lager, as manufactured by AB INBEV, with all profits zooming right past the rusty quanset huts in Margaritaville, in route to international corporate headquarters overseas? Only time will tell ... and tell, and tell ...


Hi Roger A. Baylor,

Have a big weekend planned? Make your weekend even better with these special events occurring in Historic Downtown New Albany. Join us for free live music at the New Albany Riverfront on Friday and Saturday evenings. Get your miles in for the week at the Christmas in July 5 miler on Saturday morning and grab some fresh veggies at the Farmer's Market.

If you've not been downtown recently we hope you come on down and see what's new!

Free Live Music at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater this weekend!

"The Unlimited Band" performs Friday Night July 29th - 7pm

The Unlimited Band brings Smooth Jazz and Funky Funk to the Banks of the Ohio. The Unlimited Band is comprised of a collection of some of the best musicians and singers in the region. You will hear some of the smoothest of smooth jazz or the funkiest funk ever played!

Come on say it with me... "She's a Brick Hooouuse" Come on out and wear your dancing shoes!

"Lunar Beach House" is onstage Saturday Night July 30th - 7pm

Lunar Beach House is the premiere Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band! Join us Saturday night for all of your Buffet favorites including Cheeseburger in Paradise, Five-O-Clock Somewhere, Jose Cuervo and Margaritaville.

The weather will be perfect for a "cheeseburger in paradise" so grab your flip flops and come on down to the New Albany Waterfront!

Carnegie Center Community Discussion - July 28th - 5:30pm

The Carnegie Center wants your ideas about exhibits and programming! Join the Carnegie Center on Thursday July 28th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm for this community discussion.

Christmas in July Fun Run - July 30th - 7am Registration / 8am Race

Have you registered for the Christmas in July Fun Run? Don't get put on Santa's naughty list! The Christmas in July run is the final race of the "Summer Sizzling Series" brought to us by the following sponsors: Floyd Memorial Hospital, Pacers and Racers Running Store, Strandz Salon & Threadz Boutique, Main Source Bank and Develop New Albany. The race will be held on July 30th with registration beginning at 7am and the race beginning at 8am.

New Albany Farmer's Markets (Downtown & Floyd Memorial Hospital)

The Downtown New Albany Farmers Market is open Wednesdays 4-7pm & Saturdays 8am - 1pm. The Downtown Farmer's Market is located on the corner of Bank Street and Market Street in Historic Downtown New Albany.


There's a Farmer's Market at the Floyd Memorial Hospital on Tuesdays from 11am - 2pm. The Market meets in the hospital parking lot.

1st Tuesday Event - Marvin's Auto Service - August 2nd - 5pm-7pm

Marvin's Auto Service will be the site of the August "1st Tuesday" Event in Downtown New Albany. The event is free and open to the public. The "1st Tuesday" event is from 5pm - 7pm. Marvin's Auto Service is located at 1400 East 8th Street in Downtown New Albany. Ph#812-944-0362

The Carnegie Center Presents Heartbeats: Art Quilts by Penny Sisto

Heartbeats: Art Quilts by Penny Sisto continues through October 15th. Internationally recognized fiber artist Penny Sisto brings Native American history and culture to her quilt art.

Penny Sisto was born in the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland. As a health worker for the British Ministry of Overseas Development, she utilized her skills as a midwife and aided in health clinics for the Maasai, LuBukusu and Kikuyu tribes of East Africa.

During this time, Penny combined the embroidery, applique and quilting techniques she learned from her grandmother with the beading and collage methods of her African friends.

By the River's Edge Exhibit - Last Chance to view - July 31st

Continues Through July 31 at The Resch Gallery. The Resch Gallery is located at 138 E Spring Street in Downtown New Albany. The Resch Gallery is open on Fridays & Saturdays 11 AM - 4 PM Sundays 1 – 4 PM The exhibit contains Art & Artifacts from New Albany’s Steamboat History

ON THE AVENUES: Welcome to wherever we're going.

ON THE AVENUES: Welcome to wherever we are.

Local Columnist

I’ve never been very adept at working for someone else. Even before there was a viable option of self-employment, it was evident that my propensity for refusing the bridle would not mesh very well with the typical disciplinary constraints of corporate America.

These days, no matter how good, bad, ugly or just plain weird things sometimes get at work, it remains better than most of the alternatives. I’m the first to admit that after almost 20 years of self-employment, I’m otherwise unemployable, and so be it.

In a purely existential sense, it is my view that life’s all about fighting to the last gasp against the eternal void, and there’s no better way to pursue this mission than transforming work into a personal crusade on behalf of a better way – and against the laggardly forces of hidebound doltishness.

I am what I do, and this is okay by me, even if it unnerves random dullards.


A couple of years back, NABC’s three operating business partners agreed to stake their respective domestic ranches on craft beer’s glowing future. Consider today’s column a status report of sorts.

In early 2009, we opened Bank Street Brewhouse (a “gastrobrewpub”) in downtown New Albany, absorbing the myriad duties attendant to all newborns, human or business.

By summer of the same year, we were brewing on site, the distribution effort beginning with draft beer, augmented with 22-oz “bomber” bottles as of April, 2011. For the short term, our task is to use the bottles to expand our reach throughout Indiana and Kentucky, and to increase production to the point where a further brewing expansion is an option. Then, we’ll see what happens.

The front of the house at Bank Street started slowly. We were ambitious, perhaps overly so, but we kept at it, making small and coordinated changes in offerings, hours and procedures. Over time, traffic got steadily better, and I believe we’ve found the sweet spot where customer expectations and our ability to meet them are matching.

Any independent small business is only as good as the people working there, and NABC has been fortunate to have so many of them, but turnover is inevitable. As owners, there are times when we handle it well, although other times, not so much. At Bank Street Brewhouse, six of seven “key” people on duty in March, 2009, now have departed.

Indeed, trying to find that elusive “perfect chemistry” can be maddening. I try to keep it in perspective, and remember that somehow, the Yankees have survived and thrived as a baseball team even after Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson no longer played.

In 2011, Chef Josh Lehman moved on, as did other important employees, including Jared Williamson, brewer at the NABC Grant Line branch (R & D Brewery). A general manager change recently has been made at Bank Street Brewhouse. For the most part, we continue to try first to promote from within, and without exception, newly assigned employees have stepped up to the challenge.

All the while, we’ve tried to stay nimble and continue adapting as we go. I’m the very first to admit that Bank Street Brewhouse has survived so many egregious management errors (most of them mine) that I cringe when recalling them, but when asked recently what advice I’d give others about to dive into a brewing start-up, all I could say was this:

“Try to have a good attitude about the sheer (expletive) number of mistakes you’ll make, and don’t stew over them as long as you try to learn something from each one.”

And so, here we are, still standing. The anticipated daily trench warfare continues, with steady, incremental progress amid the personnel changes, vicious economic vicissitudes, and the natural ebbs and flows of downtown revitalization – the latter not peculiar to New Albany alone, but experienced anywhere in the country.

When I think about the many optimistic, forward-looking people in the food and drink business who have invested in downtown New Albany – the majority of whom are surviving, if not printing fresh greenbacks on a daily basis – it makes me proud of what my town has achieved, and not a little stubborn, too.

While NABC’s downtown experiment may have been occasionally inelegant in execution and stumbled, it was the right move for us to make, and at the right time.

In like fashion, the downtown New Albany food and drink contingent is here to stay, joining the assortment of retail and service businesses that previously outlasted the seismic changes of long decades separating New Albany’s post-war commercial acme and the present revival. Together, we’ll continue to fight, until the next wave of specialized retail and expanded housing takes shape.

But will some of the older dogs downtown be able to learn new tricks, and become part of the solution as we move the perimeter forward? I hope so. If not, I suppose they’ll be swept away by the cruel logic of the ever-mutating market.


Regrettably, NABC’s prolonged expansion grind has deprived me of the necessary time to write regularly about beer, apart from fulfilling my carnival barker’s duties to call attention to our own output. That’s too bad, because we’re living in a golden era, with the dizzying growth of craft brewing providing voluminous material for consideration.

In terms of beer writing, the biweekly LEO “Mug Shots” gig sufficed for a few years, until the unfortunate and unnecessary “don’t insult well-heeled mega-swill advertisers” imbroglio in June of 2010. Away went my soapbox, although sometimes standing up for a sacred principle does that.

On this front, there now is a comeback strategy: The embryonic web site, founded by my friend John Campbell, which will provide me with a biweekly column format at a brand new cyber locale. Look for it at, and expect an August 1 site launch.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thumbs down and demanding a refund, sans erection.

Thanks to J for this video buzzkill.

Perhaps I'd feel differently if I were seated on the 1Si secret policy Politburo, but if that happened, I'd have to shoot myself.

The Undertow Art Show "Against the Current," in support of Planned Parenthood, is this Saturday.

Two NABC employees have taken the lead in organizing this art show on Saturday, July 30, and given the stated aim of helping support a worthy, besieged cause, I could not be more proud of them. Will Parson Clere attend and give the benediction? Doubtful, but a dissident can dream. For complete details, visit the show's Facebook site.

Undertow also is a LEO staff pick, as follows:

Saturday, July 30

The Undertow Art Show

The Art Store

205 E. Market St., New Albany, IN

Free; 2-11 p.m.

The intent of this, the latest in a thankfully never-ending stream of art/bands/beer events, is to support Planned Parenthood of Indiana. If this doesn’t speak to your interests, move on, it’s a free country. The organizers state, “The goal of this group exhibit is to showcase artists with a message.” Such artists have been invited to participate by expressing their take on pressing issues of the day (just like the hippies did!), such as the economy, the wars and other “natural” disasters. “From the creation of art, we can open conversation and reach new depths of communication,” they pledge. And did I mention the beer? New Albanian Brewing Company will be selling their drinkable art, and bands like Shawn Sleeps Naked and Bunny Day and the Mercy Buckets will provide the aural art. — Peter Berkowitz

Are we winning yet?

Clancy Sigal's essay is less concerned with the amazing 102-year World Series title drought of the Chicago Cubs than what is implied in a larger sense by "losing" and "losers."

What's so great about winning, anyway?, by Clancy Sigal (

If, like me, you're a baseball addict and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, you learn to live with being 'a loser'. It's a human condition.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Merchant Mixer notes (2): Empty storefronts, Harvest Homecoming and Bob Caesar's all-way street confusion.

Here's the second part of my notes on this morning's Merchant Mixer meeting.

Previously: Merchant Mixer notes (1): New businesses, landscaping, parking, signage and dog poop.

Empty storefronts: The second-most interesting topic of the day was concern with doing something to improve the appearance of empty storefronts, the theory being that with so much happening down town, the appearance of unused properties should be enhanced.

Carl Malysz immediately expressed frustration that the city’s property maintenance codes allow windows to be boarded, suggesting that it precludes action. After a brief discussion, Carl ventured the viewpoint that the Urban Enterprise Association (UEA) might be delighted to spearhead a program of window treatments for vacant properties, because the UEA, “In fact does have some cash.”

Of course, the question left unasked is this: If we are to suggest using UEA money to treat windows on vacant building that we possess no legal means of squeezing, what about the many downtown buildings currently IN USE that have boarded windows?

Curt Peters actually asked this question, albeit without mentioning the names of furniture stores downtown. No answers were given, and none were attempted.

Harvest Homecoming: It was asked whether all merchants located in the area of the booths had arranged for their access points.

Two-way streets: John Rosenbarger explained that the city has procured a Federal street conversion grant subject to various Federal restrictions, which must have a 20% match from the city: $1.6 million from the Feds, and $400,000 from the city. Mayor England volunteered that while it’s “no slam against the council,” it would be the council’s job to find the money, which might come from EDIT.

Councilman, jewelry dealer and part-time Roman centurion Bob Caesar responded by defending the council, and added (italics mine): “One-way is the way to move traffic through a city; it is proven by numerous studies all across the country.”

The discussion continued, with the owners of Preston Art Supply joining Caesar in defending the inviolable sanctity of Pearl Street’s one-way flow, and this led to Caesar stating bluntly, unprompted and aloud:

“Pearl Street will NOT be two-way.”

I asked him how he could say this; he looked away and did not respond, but after the meeting, he walked past me and we had one of the most useless discussions in recent memory. If I were to have stated that 2 + 2 = 4, I'm certain he would disagree.

In short, after I asked him why he invariably opposes change and new ways of thinking about downtown areas, Caesar denied it, and explicitly permitted me to divulge this exact quote:

"I am for change. Change every street to two way (but) not Pearl Street. Pearl Street will NOT be two way. It's more convenient for people to park without having to drive around the block."
Don Preston added that all police departments support one-way street grids. Previously, Kathy Brennan had warned that if streets are two way, big trucks will park in traffic lanes to unload ... and what then? Throughout, listening to it, you'd think that cities are scary places, indeed, and meant for dashing into and away from as quickly as possible, in a car ... always in a car.

I realized (yet again) how so many of the older generation of merchants sincerely believes that whatever works out yonder in the soulless exurb should be implemented downtown, whereas the way I see it is that whatever can be done to create the polar opposite atmosphere downtown – including people-friendly, slower-moving traffic to accommodate humanity, and alternative modes of transportation apart from the automobile – should be the desired goal.

NAC has extensively and exhaustively made the case for two-way streets: Two-way traffic: A city permitted to function as designed is good for business.

All Bob Caesar and a handful of downtown reactionaries can offer in response are “numerous” studies, which he has so far failed to produce, and the admittedly honest (and I believe amazingly self-serving) stance that because he personally regards a one-way street as critical to his business (as though people cruising past a jewelry store are slamming on the brakes when they decide, spur-of-the-moment, to park next to the Endris front door and buy some bracelets), he will damn the torpedoes and impede potential two-way solutions in the same manner as he denounced the aborted proposal to divert the Harvest Homecoming Parade down Pearl Street.

Sometimes, as in the case of the usefulness of two-way streets, the future indeed is the past. A few questions occur to me:

Exactly when was Bob Caesar awarded veto power over the 21st century?

Is it true that Caesar, the most nominal of Democrats, is supporting Jameson Bledsoe, a Republican, in the 3rd district council race?

Am I the only one who cannot wait to see how Develop New Albany manages to avoid takng a position on two-way streets?

And: Why is rationality such a precious commodity 'round here?

Merchant Mixer notes (1): New businesses, landscaping, parking, signage and dog poop.

This morning’s Merchant Mixer at Preston’s yielded much information, and so a hearty thanks to Curt Peters for emceeing and Preston Art Supply for hosting the gathering. Roughly 30 people were in attendance.

New businesses: Mike Kopp noted two new businesses moving into the spaces adjoining and above Colokial on Spring Street. One is called Dress & Dwell, and the other will be a wedding/bridal boutique (as yet unnamed).

Mike said a development company from Mishawaka had placed an offer for the old Reisz building on Main, with an eye toward rehabbing it into a senior citizens’ assisted living facility. The two frame buildings to the east would be demolished. Also, he noted that the Bobo building at 213 Pearl finally had received historic preservation tax credits, and would begin renovations into six housing units.

Finally, Mike provided these nuggets: The Impellizeri’s deal is off … the “Frenchman” is coming to the nicely repainted former Fish House space in the Bergman Building … Quill’s Coffee (also on Market St.) should be open in a few weeks … and establishments described as “Asian” and “steak” are interested in opening.

Flowers and landscaping: Mayor England told us that the fire department had gone out to water the $16,000 of flowers provided by Horseshoe Foundation (through Clean & Green?) because not all merchants were doing their share of watering. Michelle from Main Source observed that the bank would be ding landscaping around its building, and Dave Thrasher suggested folding this into a public art project.

Parking: A public parking map of downtown was handed out. It shows full-time parking lots and other places where there is free parking after 5:00 p.m.

Directional and way-finding signage: Scott Wood displayed the nice new directional signs that have been in the works for years; 29 of them will be erected “as rapidly” as possible in the next few weeks, as the street department can get to them. There’ll be a second phase next year, all of it funded by a grant from the Tourism Bureau.

State Representative Ed Clere then outlined the myriad difficulties in getting interstate highway signage for downtown New Albany, and said he’s working on it.

Doggie litter bags: They are to be hung from trash receptacles so that dog owners can clean up after their dogs. No mention was made of education to convince dog owners to do so.

(Part Two coming as soon as I get the notes typed)

Ideas for Strassenfest? It's coming to the Riverfront Amphitheater on Saturday, Sept. 17.

This much is clear: New Albany’s second annual Strassenfest will be held on Saturday, September 17 at the Riverfront Amphitheater. Once again, admission is free.

New Albanian Brewing Company (NABC) is coordinating beverage catering for this date, and we’re going to be doing something we haven’t done before: Using genuine Bavarian yeast from Kloster Andechs to make Helles and Marzen (Oktoberfest) lagers. As with last year’s Strassenfest, there’ll be a tie-in with Louisville Craft Beer Week. There’ll also be wine, and perhaps an inaugural tasting of German schnapps. Other components of the day, including music and food, are still in the planning stages.

It is instructive to note that while many Americans instinctively associate the concept of Oktoberfest with the Bavarian style of its celebration, other locales in Germany are less bound to the template. An autumnal harvest fete can take numerous forms, and with Bavarian-style beers providing the consistent thread, there’s plenty of room for us to improvise in New Albany, especially seeing we have no German heritage organization in Southern Indiana the equivalent of the Celts on the River group.

What can be done to expand New Albany’s embryonic Strassenfest beyond the stereotypical Oktoberfest party, while retaining sufficient German themes to make the day worthy of the name? Even I’m not sure, but the possibilities intrigue me, and ideas are welcomed.

If we could just get Kraftwerk to headline … at any rate, as you brainstorm, here’s a September/October calendar check:

September 11
Sandkerwa NA begins at NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House. It is our annual draft-only homage to German beer styles, including American craft brewery interpretations.

September 16 – 24
Louisville Craft Beer Week, with events throughout Metro Louisville

September 17
Strassenfest at New Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater

October 1
Harvest Homecoming Parade in New Albany

October 6 – 9
Harvest Homecoming Booth Days (and NABC’s 4th Annual Fringe Fest at Bank Street Brewhouse)

October 28
Reverse Recycling & Decommissioning Party at NABC Bank Street Brewhouse. Leticia Bajuyo will be dismantling her temporary Bicentennial Art Project sculpture, “All Bottled Up,” and recycling components

Monday, July 25, 2011

NA-FC School Corp makes the Times...thanks to the dimwitted decision making of Daniels, Clere, Gardenour, et al.

Back before State Representative Ed Clere had proven his unshakable bona fides as a conniving Chamber of Commerce fille de joie, I used to bother asking him really complicated, esoteric questions like, "How will [insert latest GOP wealthy appeasement plan] help improve the quality of life for your constituents?"

He never had an answer. He and the rest of the accomplices still don't. Unrepentant ideologues simply aren't concerned with such practical matters, instead choosing to govern by fiat both on paper and, in columnist Ed's case, in the paper.

The Indiana Exception? Yes, but..., by Michael Powell and Monica Davey, The New York Times.

In southern Indiana, the New Albany-Floyd school system has closed schools, consolidated classes, pared administrators and imposed a pay freeze on teachers. That is still not enough. Next year will bring layoffs.

Many state officials, and even some local board members, are unsympathetic. Rebecca Gardenour, who serves as vice president of the school board, voted for the property caps, without regrets. She regrets only that she voted to build two big new schools a few years back.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Farmers Market in Blacksburg, Virginia: July 23, 2011.

Blacksburg (Virginia) Farmers Market

Two-way traffic: A city permitted to function as designed is good for business.

It’s good to see that parking ticket non-enforcement, i.e., the curious Open Air practice of specifying which infractions will not be fined and where they won’t be, even as other violations in other places are ticketed with a expectation of payment, is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Merchant Mixer meeting.

Next Merchant Mixer gathering is Tuesday morning, July 26.

Permit me to suggest that the dormant status of two-way street conversions is another potential topic for Tuesday’s breakfast meeting at Preston’s. Curious as to how long we've been talking about two-way traffic, I did a brief search of NAC postings, which revealed that we’ve been considering it at least since 2005.

The classic thread surely was this one from 2009: Open thread: Entitled to one's own opinions on two-way streets, but not one's own facts?

Around the same time, I devoted a whole Tribune column to the pressing need for two-way retrofitting: BAYLOR: Two-way, better way.

Ah, but it wasn't just the malcontents and toxic wastrals at NAC who spoke of the need to go both ways. During his successful 2007 campaign for mayor, Doug England said on more than one occasion that two-way street conversions were his number one priority. Four years later ... well, it's four years later.

As I’ve written previously, if our downtown streets ran both ways, I could give these simple directions (from Louisville) to the Bank Street Brewhouse:

"Take the I-64 (west) exit ramp onto Elm Street, and turn right on Bank Street."

As it stands, I must say:

"Take the I-64 (west) ramp onto Elm Street, turn right on 3rd Street, turn right on Spring Street, then turn right on Bank Street."

Plainly, our confusing one-way streets are bad for a revitalized downtown's businesses, so if every downtown merchant signed a petition of support for two-way streets, what would the argument against it be?

That no one wants it?

In which case, who wants a rational street grid, and who does not? Perhaps the polling can begin at Tuesday's meeting.

Yo, Councilman CeeSaw ... just a moment of your time, sir ...

Next Merchant Mixer gathering is Tuesday morning, July 26.

Curt Peters sent this notice; if you're doing business downtown, plan to attend.

Our next Merchant Mixer is Tuesday morning at 8:30 at Prestons' Art Center on Pearl Street between Market and Spring. The mayor plans to be present. Topics will include information on new businesses, how taking care of the flowers is working out, how not giving parking tickets is working out, what to do about improving the appearance of vacant buildings, signage, and dog refuse. Bring your additional topics. I will invite Ed Clere and Scott Wood for the signage topic and Matt Denison on the dog refuse issue. PLEASE INVITE OTHER MERCHANTS AROUND YOUR PLACE TO COME. If you want to bring a brunch snack item to share, that would be fine. We will be finished by 9:30.

We got the heat, we got The Fervor.

A lot of you have probably seen this already. We're late in posting it.


Golden aura
on a wave of paranoia
I can feel it
laying tracks down in
my head

conjoined with a video of New Albany?


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Before, Now, and Later: Digital Archives and Historypin.

Along with the Historical Image Archive at the New Albany-Floyd County Library, the University of Louisville's Digital Collections are a treasure, educational if not always pleasing.

109 West Market Street, New Albany, July 1965

109 West Market Street, New Albany, December 1965

Check out UofL's Photographic Archives on Historypin as well. Launched globally on July 11, Historypin allows users to view and post photos of various eras from around the world, comparing images of the same space over time, including the present via Google's Street View technology.

A video introduction:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Up with people, upriver.

While Louisville metro dullards contemplate suicide by concrete, Cincinnati is choosing life on its riverfront. Debt free.

Envy Cincinnati's already under construction riverfront park more here. Thanks to J for the link.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

ON THE AVENUES: Brother, Can You Spare $12,500?

ON THE AVENUES: Brother, Can You Spare $12,500?

Local Columnist

(As we pull back the moth-eaten curtains on a makeshift television studio squeezed into the back corner of the City-County Building’s hardscrabble 3rd floor, our bloodshot eyes are assaulted with cheesy psychedelic strobes and out-of-focus camera angles. A tall man emerges from the shadows, and the studio audience begins whistling and cheering. The intensity is at frantic, near-Board of Zoning Appeals levels as the Rumors hit the final note of “Margaritaville” and all those Bics begin flicking)

Karl Maalox:
Welcome to another edition of Ask the UEA, the quiz show that answers the question: “Hey pal, do you have any spare change?” I’m your host, Karl Maalox, joined by Mike Ladd, the Urban Enterprise Association’s eternally nominal director.

Nominal? But I …

Hey, I’m just kidding, Mike – like when the mayor and I have a few gratis drinks over at the country club and talk about how we’re going to put you on a slow boat to China. We’re not laughing with you, buddy!

(audience chortles)

Well as long as …

But enough of this jocularity! It’s time to get down to the agenda items at hand, so let’s get down to grants and donations. Here to introduce our first contestant of the day is our new favorite co-producer of a studio announcer, Parson Clere!

(polite applause)

Parson Clere:
Thank you, Carl. You know, the Fourth of July has passed, but the fireworks aren’t over. Fireworks can be entertaining, but they can also be harmful, and such is the case with some of the political fireworks that keep going off, and because my esteemed political idol, Mitch Daniels, inspired me to seek this job, I’d like you to welcome our first guest on Ask the UEA: Mr. Historical Preservation himself, Bob Vilakula!

(more polite applause)

(Nudging and winking) Welcome to the show, Bob! And as a reminder to the studio audience, Bob was chosen yet again, entirely at random!

Thanks Karl, and thank you so much, Parson Clere. It’s some coincidence to be back on the 3rd floor. You know what we say over at Landmarks: The UEA’s the show with the only remaining dough!

(crowd oohs and aahs)

What was … ?

(Beaming and nodding in the direction of a gigantic off-stage hook) Aw, don’t mind him, Bob. He’s not really here – at least he won’t be for long. Okay, we know you always come prepared with a great question, so go ahead and Ask the UEA – and don’t forget to ask nicely!

(wild applause)

All right, Carl, my question for the UEA is, “We have a preservation project, so give us some of your money, or else.”

(hand-picked crowd of selfless volunteers laughs and cheers)

But that’s not a question at all!

(Waving off Ladd) All right, folks – it seems the UEA has chosen to appeal. Goody goody! As you all know, in case of an appeal, we must ask the official judge for a ruling. Oh, judge, where are you … look, there he comes … here comes the judge -- over there!

(Maalox gestures off-camera, then quickly dons his Mayor Shetland mask when the audience looks away)

Look, here I am. I’m the judge, and I’m ready to rock.

Karl, you’re wearing a Groucho mask. You’re not the mayor.

No, it’s me, definitely me, Mayor Shetland here, and since I can’t actually be here tonight, I’ll have to get back with you about whatever it is you want.

(Maalox drops the mask and kicks it away while pirouetting)

Meanwhile, I, er, Mayor Shetland would like for me to convey to you that the UEA’s answer was incorrect, and must be rephrased correctly, or else the city will cease doing any official business with UEA board members who dare to vote against it. Mike, in order for Bob to win the $12,500 jackpot as planned, you must respond, “Yes sir, Mr. Vilakula, how much money do you need from the UEA?”

But our organizational charter …

Screw the charter! Give ‘em the cash! Way to go, Guido! It’s about time.

(a pompom squad materializes out of nowhere)

"Sit in the car
Press on the gas
Move aside
Let DNA pass"

What are you guys doing here? This is my show, damn it.

We’re Develop New Albany, and we approve this message. Besides, we get to ask the next question. How else do you think we’d be able to afford a paid staff person?

This is an outrage!

Duh! Of course it is, Mike, but after all, this also is New Albany, and we only have five months left before our world comes to a premature end. Now if you would, please make the UEA’s check out to “Business As Usual”, and run along like a good outsider.

(chaos now descends as the Bobbing for UEA Dollars segment gets underway)

I’m afraid we’re out of time. Parson Clere, can you pass me that set of thumbscrews? I don’t suppose any of you have an ice-cold Big Flats, do you … come here, Mike – you can run, but you can’t hide …

Dan Coffey:
Wait just one minute … Maalox stole my information! Thief!

"The NFL star and the brain injuries that destroyed him."

As substantial portion of the populace has no clue what to do with themselves on fall and winter Sundays without the lure of dawn to dusk football. Currently the professional players and owners seem about to resolve their latest labor dispute, and the sighs of relief from the hinterlands are palpable, and yet in all of the current anguished verbiage, only Jim Brown's comments in the past Sunday's New York Times have remained with me.

"I don’t want the game to be a killer of our players.”
Yesterday morning, The Guardian's Ed Pilkington picked up the story. It is not a pleasant read, reminding us of the physical toll exacted by the modern game.

The NFL star and the brain injuries that destroyed him

Before the former American football player Dave Duerson killed himself, he asked that his brain be left to researchers studying head injuries among athletes. What it revealed shocked the scientists.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NA Open Air Museum: Straight ahead.

Gregg Seidl's "Drinking With the Dead" Haunted History Tours are coming.

Gregg Seidl is gearing up his fun, informative and libational "Drinking With the Dead" Haunted History Tours.

The first date is this weekend (Saturday, July 23) from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., with additional dates of August 6 & 20, and September 3 & 17. Check out the additional details below, and visit the FB page.

Spirits, fun, and ghastly tales with local author and historian Gregg Seidl.

Location: Tours start at Hugh E. Birs, corner of East 4th and Market streets in downtown New Albany. 21 and over only.

Tours start at 7:00 p.m. at Hugh E. Bir’s on the corner of East 4th and Market streets in New Albany.

Tour stops include The River City Winery, Habana Blues, The Irish Exit, and The New Albanian Brewing Company.

Tickets: $10

Tour Dates: July 23th Aug. 6th Aug. 20th Sept. 3rd Sept. 17th

Tour ticket does not include the price of food or drinks.

For tour information and tickets: Call (812) 948-1195 or contact or Gregg Seidl on Facebook

Tour Size is limited. Call now!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

UEA's market study the subject of three-part OSIN series.

Daniel Suddeath's three-part OSIN newspaper series examining the Urban Enterprise Association's 2010 retail site assessment survey, and its context within the city's overall economic prospects, concludes today. Links are provided below. The UEA's market study by the Buxton firm was first suggested during my tenure on the organization's board, and unlike certain other viewpoints, it falls squarely within the UEA's stated mandate.

MISSION: The mission of the NAUEA is to improve the physical, business, residential and socioeconomic environment of the New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone through collaborative, public-private initiatives that stimulate private investment in real and personal property.

This creates a continuum of jobs, including “living wage” jobs; and provides a supportive atmosphere for employers, employees and zone residents alike.

In all its endeavors, the NAUEA shall strive for the common good and reciprocity among its many stakeholders.
As most readers should know, I no longer serve on the UEA's board, but then, as now, my primary personal interest in this topic has to do with expanding opportunities for independent, local and small businesses, which have proven their resilience, especially the ones located New Albany's revitalizing downtown during the past few recessionary years.

When the market study idea first surfaced, my questions were appropriately narrow. Would such a study be used as chain bait alone? Would we be looking for the Qdobas and Bed & Bath & Whatevers that form the basis for the endless, soulless exurb (see: Veteran’s Parkway?

In the end, I was satisfied with the answers proffered, to the effect that the results would take the form of a factual compendium with a broad range of potential uses.

Oddly, my reading of the second installment of Suddeath’s series seems to reveal that a strange, latent affection for a larger-box retail presence downtown among some of the district’s boosters has never really gone away. The chosen euphemism for these trial balloons would seem to be the words “large” or "larger." Speaking for myself, it would be informative to hear more about what is meant by “large” when the word is used in this way, and whether the speakers truly understand why a small businessman like myself fight - and whom.

To repeat something written here numerous times in the past: Downtown is a case for a strategy approximating that of branded destination marketing.

Downtown business will succeed to the extent that its businesses and its overall feeling represent the polar antithesis of the exurb. Small, independent, local and niche are the keys. Not only is such a strategy possible; it is practical, and it is proven in cities across the country. NA 1st, the city's first-ever grassroots small and independent business alliance, exists for precisely this mission, and not only in downtown.

1. Despite low economic segments, some say New Albany’s consumer base still strong

Bringing business to New Albany: Study shows city capturing more than its share of the market

Next wave for New Albany: Officials: Education, housing and marketing must be focal points for city’s economic future

All You Fascists Bound To Lose.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Private party closes Bank Street Brewhouse this Thursday, July 21.

This Thursday (July 21), Bank Street Brewhouse will be closed to the public all day for a large private party. We hope this does not inconvenience any of you, and remind you that the original Pizzeria & Public House will be open as usual to serve your craft beer and pizza needs.

Dodgy dog daze of year-round.

As the temperatures (and humidity) this week are set to demonstrate, these are the dog days of summer.

The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks (see, e.g., Aristotle's Physics, 199a2).

The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise (heliacal rising), which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.

Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, Quinto raged in anger, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies" according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813. [1]
I have nothing witty to add to this, other than to contemplate how, in the context of the concluding paragraph, an outsider observing the parade of local color in the Open Air Museum might justly conclude that in New Albany, the dog days never really end.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Okay, another one: “Beauregard’s Retreat from Shiloh.”

See the earlier post today: Civil War songs: "I’m a Good Old Rebel," but assuredly not like this.

Reader JF wrote: "I still treasure my copy, thank you. Doesn't Tony Randall merit a mention?"

He certainly does. The late actor Randall does the narration of “Beauregard’s Retreat from Shiloh,” and to reprise, it's from “Songs of the Civil War” (New World Records 80202), with liner notes by Charles Hamm; the series is The Recorded Anthology of American Music, produced by New World Records.


Beauregard’s Retreat from Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh took place when the Confederate army under General Albert Sidney Johnston attempted to prevent the North from occupying western Kentucky and seizing control of the Mississippi River, a vital communications line. In the early spring of 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant, moving up the Tennessee River with forty-five thousand Union troops to link up with General Don Carlos Buell and his twenty-five thousand men coming down from Nashville, camped around Shiloh Church, a country meeting house no more than twenty miles from the Confederate army camped at Corinth, Mississippi.

Johnston decided on a surprise attack before the two enemy forces linked up, and early on the morning of April 6 the Southerners struck, routing much of the Northern army. At first it seemed to be an overwhelming victory for the Rebels; but Grant finally succeeded in improvising a defense line, and Southern morale suffered when the popular General Johnston was mortally wounded. General Pierre G.T. Beauregard took command of the Confederate force. During the night, Buell arrived after a forced march with his men, and the second day was a reversal of the first, with the North recapturing all ground lost in the initial attack and forcing the enemy to withdraw to Corinth. The South had failed in its objective; the North had gained a morale-raising victory to offset defeats in Virginia and had found a winning general in Grant.

Casualties were high, some thirteen thousand for the North and ten thousand for the South. Most of the men on both sides were in their first major battle; one observer called it “a fight between mobs of armed boys.” Even in this most horrible of wars, Shiloh stands out as a nightmare. Most of the wounded lay all night on the battlefield unattended, drenched by a cold rain, crying for help or death. At the end of the second day, the Confederate wounded were hauled twenty miles over rough roads in wagons without springs to inadequate medical care in Corinth.

A Northern nurse, one of the first to reach the wounded on the battlefield, wrote, “The foul air from this mass of human beings at first made me giddy and sick. When we give the men anything, we kneel in blood and water. ”There was slaughter and heroism and panic; when Union General William Nelson arrived with his men during the first day’s battle, he found “cowering under the river bank...from 7,000 to 10,000 men frantic with fright and demoralized.”

The anonymously composed (with “a running accompaniment by Skedaddles”) Beauregard’s Retreat from Shiloh mostly ignores these human aspects of the battle in favor of objective, if caustically humorous, narration of the chief military events. It is an interesting mixture of two nineteenth- century types of composition.

As a battle piece, it continues a tradition dating back to the late eighteenth century. One of the most widely published piano pieces in America at the turn of the century and into the nineteenth was The Battle of Prague by the Czech-English composer Franz Kotzwara, who died in England in 1791. A descriptive, episodic work for piano, it features trumpet calls, patriotic airs, low bass rumbles in imitation of cannon fire, spirited passages for marching and attacking armies; each section bears a title or a description of what aspect of the battle is depicted in those measures.

James Hewitt wrote a similar Battle of Trenton in 1797, and battle pieces continued to be written and played well into the nineteenth century. An unusual feature of Beauregard’s Retreat is that in addition to descriptive comments for each section there is a narrative to be recited while the music is being played. It is thus also a melodrama, the technical term for vocal recitation against music.

Melodrama was sometimes used to good effect by nineteenth-century composers of art music (in Weber’s opera Der Freischíütz and Berlioz’ monodrama, Lelio, for example). And scattered throughout the nineteenth- century popular repertory are pieces for parlor recitation with piano accompaniment, which made it possible for people with training in dramatics or elocution, but no ability in music, to take part in home entertainment. Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden is a survival of melodrama as late as the turn of the century.

(Beauregard’s March.) Beauregard marches from his entrenchments at Corinth. Beauregard expects to reach our lines in time to attack our Army on Saturday, April 5th, 1862. Beauregard’s men, however, are unused to marching. A severe rain storm, on the night of the 4th, drenches his troops in bivouac. Beauregard reaches the intersection of the roads from Pittsburgh—and Hamburg on Saturday evening.

(The Assembly.Word of Command! The Assembly call of the National Troops. To Arms! Drums! Response of the enemy in the distance. Drums!) (Prayer of the National Soldiers.) Previous to the fight, the National Troops offer up an Invocation to the God of Hosts for strength to defend the right, and scatter the enemies of the Union. (Forward Skirmishers by the right flank.)

(The Attack!) Beauregard drives in our pickets. Beauregard advances on the division of General Prentiss. The regiments of Prentiss’ division are taken prisoners. Beauregard falls on our advance lines. Our entire advanced lines, under Generals Sherman and McClernand, are driven in. Generals W. H. L. Wallace and Hurlburt gallantly defend the reserve line for nearly six hours. General Wallace is mortally wounded, and Beauregard’s forces occupy nearly all our camps. General Grant takes command. A. S. Johnston, the rebel commander, is killed. Beauregard comes within range of our gunboats. The Tyler and Lexington belch forth thunders with terrible effect while Colonel Webster places our guns in the best possible position for our protection. The National
troops perceive the advance guard of General Buell under General Nelson.The 6th Ohio cross the Tennessee and form in line of battle. Beauregard is told of the arrival of Generals Buell’s and Lew Wallace’s* divisions. Beauregard withdraws his forces for the night. During the night the fire from our gunboats compels Beauregard to fall back. Beauregard’s forces are dispirited. Our brave troops sleep on their arms amid the cries and groans of the wounded. The morning dawns, Monday, April 7th. Beauregard is attacked by Generals Nelson and Lew Wallace. Beauregard has drawn back, and we have resumed the positions we occupied on Sunday morning. Beauregard in full retreat to Corinth. Our cavalry pursue the retreating columns of the enemy until night prevents further progress. Beauregard enters Corinth with his beaten troops.

(Recall of Cavalry.) At the sound of the Recall, our gallant Cavalry give up the pursuit of Beauregard’s scattered forces. On nearing their former position at Shiloh, our Cavalry hear the Bands playing our National Melodies previous to the Tattoo. Tattoo in the distance. At Tattoo all lights and fires are extinguished and the men retire to their tents.

(Previous to retiring to their Tents, the troops sing Jefferson Davis’ Requiem to the tune of the New Dixie.)

(The New Dixie.) Beauregard and Jeff Davis having “died in the last ditch” are carried down the stream until they reach the ford of a dark river, where they make the acquaintance of Old Charon, an ancient Ferryman, from whom they beg a cup of the waters of Lethe to enable them to drown the remembrance of their inordinate pride and ambition. Charon—acting under instructions —declines their request, but rows them gently over the Styx and conducts them to his majesty King Pluto in whose “Old Dominion” it is hoped they will ever “be let alone” and never be tormented by the presence of a Hessian, Lincolnite, or Yankee. At all events, this being the place farthest removed from unity, is the proper one for the establishment of a Kingdom in which the Yankees leave Jeff and Co. alone in their glory.

*The author of Ben-Hur.

Note: The ability to recite poetry and dramatic texts effectively was a desirable social skill among educated people in mid-nineteenth century America. Young men and women often took instruction in elocution, learning proper diction, posture, and dramatic poses for various types of texts. Just as amateur singing reflected the styles of famous artists, so recitations given as part of home entertainment mirrored the styles of actors and orators of the time. By our standards, this style was stilted, unrealistic, often overly melodramatic.

Civil War songs: "I’m a Good Old Rebel," but assuredly not like this.

During the mid-1970’s, I spent way too much time pillaging the LP collection at the NA-FC Public Library, borrowing albums and committing them to cassette tape. These archival finds delightfully augmented my nascent musical tastes with a sheer breadth of material that would have been fiscally impossible for a high school student to manage on the open market.

Taxpayers of the time are duly thanked for the opportunity.

The Bicentennial year came in 1976, and at some point afterward, probably as late as 1978, I noticed the arrival of numerous attractively packaged LPs at the library: A 100-album set called The Recorded Anthology of American Music, produced by New World Records. The idea, as originally funded by a Rockefeller Foundation grant, was (and is) to trace the history of America through its music. As you can see by following the New World Records link, the effort continues more than three decades later.

As a side note, an almost completely intact, second set of the Anthology was placed at WNAS, New Albany High School’s radio station; I saw it there while substituting teaching during the early 1980’s. Seeing as the vast bulk of the original albums present classical works and formal composition, these had not been touched by discerning high school students. Only a handful of LPs were missing. Whether at the library or the high school, this set of albums was a mother lode for me.

Appropriately in this sesquicentennial Civil War year, I’ve been listening to Songs of the Civil War (New World Records 80202), with liner notes by Charles Hamm. It’s always been my favorite of them all. I've chosen just one of the songs to examine today: "I'm a Good Old Rebel," which to my mind illustrates the ultimate success of Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy -- which was still playing out on the ground when these liner notes were written, about to come to fruition under Ronald Reagan during the 1980's.

These days, it's the Republicans and Tea Partiers who are singing these songs. Isn't that plagiarism or something?


I’m a Good Old Rebel

Many Southerners refused to be “reconstructed.” Some went west after the war, a few went abroad, and many of those who stayed in the South nursed a deep hatred for the North for the remainder of their lives while outwardly conforming to the realities of postwar life. These intense feelings brought about a political climate that unified the South against the Republican Party for almost a century. Rarely has hatred been so directly and convincingly expressed as in these lyrics.

A number of mysteries surround the present song. American War Songs claims that it was entered for copyright by A. C. Blackmar in Louisiana in 1864, yet the words were clearly written after the war. The earliest edition gives “J.R.T.” as the author, yet most historians of song agree that the tune was known as “Joe Bowers” and was by R. Bishop Buckley of Buckley’s Minstrels, the text by either Adelbert Volck or Major Innes Randolph, a “cultivated Southerner of letters. ”This edition (used for the present recording) appears to have been published in New Orleans in 1866 and bears an ironic dedication to “the Honorable Thad. Stevens.” The first musical phrase differs from the version printed in such anthologies as Songs of the Civil War and Singing Soldiers, though the remainder of the music is almost identical.

It may well be that most of these allegations are true, that the many contradictions in this story can be resolved. The tune may have been known in oral tradition before the Civil War: many of its melodic turns, and its use of a “gapped” or incomplete scale (the fourth note is absent, and the seventh is barely touched on), are characteristic of much Scotch-Irish traditional music. Buckley may have appropriated the tune, perhaps polishing it to make it conform more nearly to the tastes of minstrel-show audiences; a certain number of minstrel songs, including “Old Dan Tucker” and “De Boatman’s Dance,” show similar evidence of having been adapted from oral tradition tunes. Volck, or Innes, or both may have fitted a new topical text to a tune they knew either from folk tradition or the minstrel repertory.

This text was probably too extreme to be widely circulated in a printed version, even in the postwar South, and its chief popularity was as a song passed on by ear through several generations. It seems not to have appeared in print between the one edition in 1866 and the several versions taken down from oral tradition in the middle of the present century, and the differences between the nineteenth- and twentieth-century versions are not unusual for a song that has bounced back and forth between written and oral versions. On this album it is sung in an unaccompanied version.

Whatever the case, the song in all its versions is yet another demonstration of the intensity of feeling aroused by the war.

O I’m a good old Rebel,
Now that’s just what I am,
For this “Fair Land of Freedom”
I do not care AT ALL;
I’m glad I fit against it,
I only wish we’d won,
And I don’t want no pardon
For anything I done.

I hates the Constitution,
This great Republic, too,
I hates the Freedman’s Buro,
In uniforms of blue;
I hates the nasty Eagle,
With all his braggs and fuss,
The lyin’, thievin’ Yankees,
I hates ‘em wuss and wuss.

I hates the Yankee nation
And everything they do,
I hates the Declaration
Of Independence, too;
I hates the glorious Union—
’Tis dripping with our blood—
I hates their striped banner,
I fit it all I could.

I followed old mas’ Robert
For four year near about,
Got wounded in three places
And starved at Pint Lookout.
I cotch the roomatism
A campin’ in the snow,
But I killed a chance o’Yankees,
I’d like to kill some mo’.

Three hundred thousand Yankees
Is still in Southern dust;
We got three hundred thousand
Before they conquered us;
They died of Southern fever
And Southern steel and shot,
I wish they was three million
Instead of what we got.

I can’t take up my musket
And fight ‘em now no more,
But I ain’t going to love ‘em,
Now that is sarten sure;
And I don’t want no pardon
For what I was and am,
I won’t be reconstructed
And I don’t care a dam.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Problem is, there are no (passenger) trains.

Is Floyd County seeking to develop up to 18 acres of Community Park?

The Green Mouse went out to forage last night, and he came back with this interesting tidbit -- today's special at the Floyd Boobocracy Rumor Mill.

Amid talk of Floyd County's perennially unimaginative political leadership cadre replenishing its coffers by selling Community Park's Grant Line Road frontage to property developers, thus making short-term profitable asphalt sausage from the last existing green space inside the beltway, now comes a strong hint that up to 18 acres of parkland is being considered for future development.

I'm told by a reliable source that county planner Don Lopp recently released a Request for Development (to the general development population) for proposals to devour up to 18 acres of Community Park for development, and that the Parks Department had no prior knowledge of this action.

As such, the smelly morass of parks district legislation proposed earlier in 2011 bubbles yet again to the surface, in the sense that seemingly just last week, political seat-holders now expressing keen interest in paving the city's green space were accusing the parks board of precisely the same objective.

Who to believe? And how many showers must one poor blogger take when reporting the news of greed? Okay, readers: Tell us what you know, up front or down low.

We know there'll be jazz at the Amphitheater this weekend.

First, a bit about Jamey Aebersold, Bobby Falk and the relevant musical facts. As a devotee of jazz, which I sense is a dying breed, it's good to see some of our Riverfront Amphitheater time devoted to the genre. The following was copied from from Develop New Albany's weekly e-mail.

New Albany's Jamey Aebersold Performs this weekend at the Riverfront Amphitheater

New Albany’s Internationally Famous Jazz Musician & Educator Jamey Aebersold will perform Saturday evening at 7:30pm at the New Albany Amphitheater.

Aebersold's "Play-A-Long" series of instructional books and CD collections, using the chord-scale system are an internationally renowned resource for jazz education. More than 126 of these collections have been published by Aebersold. Jamey is also a very talented pianist, bassist, and banjoist.

Aebersold has also run the "Summer Jazz Workshop" sessions at the University of Louisville. Many leading educators and performers have served as Workshop faculty. The week-long event is billed as a place to learn jazz through hands-on experience, and provides an intensive learning environment for musicians of widely varying ages and levels. The standard Workshop curriculum includes master classes, ear-training sessions, jazz theory classes from beginning to advanced, and concerts by faculty

Also performing this weekend: The Bobby Falk Band

The Bobby Falk Band is a progressive band that incorporates jazz elements with covers and originality, constantly trying to appeal to more diverse audiences.

The band leader Bobby Falk has been a jazz musician all his life, as a composer, drummer and percussionist. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Studies (Percussion emphasis) from the University of Louisville School of Music in 2005, which included jazz studies abroad in Brazil, and performance experience/recording with Lew Soloff, Phil Woods, Curtis Fuller, Lionel Hampton, John Fedchock, Kenny Werner, Jimmy Heath, Jerry Coker, Bob Mintzer, among others.

The Bobby Falk band will take the Amphitheater stage on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
This leads me to my second, subsidiary point, and a paragraph in the weekly e-blast from the Clark & Floyd Convention and Tourism Bureau, in which it was noted:

"The music starts both nights at 7 pm at the Riverfront Amphitheater. Local merchants and organizations will offer food and beverages including craft beers from the New Albanian Brewery."
Given that I've heard nothing about our beer there until now, I suspect this is a misprint; inquiries are being made, so in the meantime, I'll repeat publicly what I've told so many of you privately.

There cannot be a free market when it comes to alcoholic beverages. State liquor regulations apply, and beer vendors at venues like the Amphitheater must operate under a three-way catering regime. The playing field is tilted from the start, and certain licensees (i.e., two-ways) are unable to play so long as vendors must acquire the necessary permits.

Also, as importantly, the Amphitheater is City Hall's domain, and City Hall makes rules of its own. Consequently, the riverfront committee is charged with deciding who vends and who does not, subject to the state's rules and the city's directives.

NABC is happy to do business with these chosen vendors, and to assist them in buying beer from us for resale to a grateful public. We always are eager to help them understand the nature of the craft beer demographic and how serving it could help them make money, but as we do not know who the chosen vendors are, and remain unaware of the committee's overall vendor policies this year, there is little NABC can do except hope that vendors approach us with their requests.

For those many local consumers who have expressed annoyance with the absence of craft beer choice at this year's events, I thank you for your comments, and I repeat: Please make your feelings known to the vendors and the committee. As a consumer, your job is to make demand known, and to clearly indicate the factors that inform your purchasing power. The semi-free market will adapt, or not; it's as simple as that.

Thanks. I appreciate the feedback.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stop the presses: Exciting new plan for Trickle Platz at River View.

(Okay, it's really a model of Alexanderplatz in the former East Berlin, but if not for the functional rail service giving away the joke, you'd have bitten. Thanks to JG for the idea)

ON THE AVENUES: He's questioning the call.

ON THE AVENUES: He's questioning the call.

Local Columnist

My early childhood coincided with the centennial of the American Civil War, and summers were consumed with baseball, a testament to my father’s passion for the sport.

Appropriately, two non-fiction books I’ve recently finished reading are set in the transformative era of 19th-century America: “Baseball in the Garden of Eden,” by John Thorn, and “1861: The Civil War Awakening,” by Adam Goodheart.

These excellent and recommended narratives, which you can order from Destinations Booksellers, are linked by the unlikely, middling figure of Abner Doubleday (1819-1893), a career military man and oddball transcendentalist.

Thorn’s volume enjoyably traces the roots of American baseball, both pastoral and urban, and although at this point in time there’s really no need to disprove yet again that Doubleday “invented” the game in Cooperstown, Thorn does so convincingly.

Moreover, he illustrates that while numerous societal elements always have conspired to use baseball as a convenient sporting analogy for patriotic myths of the country’s founding, the professional game in its infancy was just as prone to skullduggery, dishonesty and the corruption of money as we persist in suspecting it is now – rather like the country itself.

Naturally, Doubleday never even knew of his seminal role in devising the American game. He died several years before the self-serving and unctuous Albert Spalding gathered an early 20th-century cabal of self-important baseball oligarchs to assign the game its proper American credentials, the chest-thumping tenets of which reflected the political dreams and social mores of the creators, rather than observing the relative inconvenience of historical record.

But Doubleday already enjoyed a genuine place in the historical record book of the United States, having found himself stationed with the tiny, inadequate garrison of Fort Sumter in 1861. After the South Carolina secessionists swung first, initiating the bloody aggression of America’s brutal Civil War with an opening cannonade, Doubleday lobbed the first Union artillery shot back toward Charleston.

Unfortunately, like a weak dribbler down the third base line, the cannonball bounced harmlessly off the Confederate fortifications.

Goodheart’s overall premise is an effort to convey the uncertain mood in the United States (generally, in the North) before and after Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency, as the socioeconomic and political dominoes stacked precariously for four score and five years begin falling, culminating with the South’s counter-revolution and subsequent conflagration.

Interestingly, as one aspect of the tinder box, Goodheart points to the information explosion of the antebellum age: Competing newspapers, better mail service and the advent of the telegraph, all combining to shape and move public opinion in a way not possible previously.

One cannot get more American Heritage than debating baseball and the War Between the States, and most of us assume we know the rest of these stories, but do we?

Consider just these two lingering notions of utter falsehood handed down to us by our elders: Doubleday “invented” baseball in a summer’s afternoon, and the Civil War was about “states rights.” Not gospel truth in any sense or in either case, but rather complete fabrication, serving only to buttress the insupportable to appease other, less savory motivations.

In fact, bat ‘n’ ball games are depicted on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and cricket remained vibrant in the former colonies of North America until after the Civil War. Numerous other sporting endeavors of like dimension, from rounders to town ball and varying forms of “cat,” serve to make the point that while baseball as we know it evolved here (primarily, in the North), it cannot have been born stateside.

And: “States Rights” actually meant nothing outside of a narrow confine wherein a state had the “right” to enslave human beings. The intrinsic conflict of the institution of slavery came from the tortuous context bequeathed to future generations by the compromises of the Founders: “All men are created equal,” or in slavery’s case, decidedly not equal, a stumbling block ingeniously passed on to Doubleday’s generation to resolve.

They did so, and in just as prevaricating a fashion as their deal-cutting forbearers, first by fighting a catastrophic internecine war to define the principle of freedom, and then sheepishly waiting another century before (tepidly) enforcing the lessons learned, which meant that after a few 19th-century appearances by African-American baseball players during Doubleday’s lifetime, they were excluded from participation until Branch Rickey propelled Jackie Robinson through the color barrier – yet only after two additional cataclysmic world struggles had been fought and won to prove the same point, all over again.

All this is to say: Much of what we’re raised to believe is bunk, and this is precisely why it is fitting and proper to ask questions as often as possible.

Whether these questions have to do with baseball, the Civil War, the forever clandestine maneuverings of New Albany’s elected officials, or the predetermined imperatives of the economic oligarchy buttressing the Ohio River Bridges Project doesn’t so much matter. We must ask them nonetheless.

We must continue asking them, even when the answers coming back are grudging, evasive and not particularly helpful, because in the end, the mere act of asking questions openly challenges belief systems constructed to serve as unassailable dogmas. Most are not. Recent examples in the community have been instructive to me.

I’ll get back with you.
(She didn’t)

That’s a great idea, and I’ll push for it.
(He never bothered)

I’m unaware, having no clue what you mean.
(You aren’t, and you do)

You and your questions are toxic.
(But that’s not an answer, is it?)

Next in the reading rotation is another dose of Americana, this one fictional: “Argall: The True Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith," a novel by William T. Vollmann.