Tuesday, July 31, 2012

City press release: Live @ Five taking August off, will conclude with September dates.

Straight from the wire.

Live@5 Schedule Changes

Today, City Officials announced that the Live@5 Concert Series will wrap up in September, rather than the previously planned August. Both the weather and the return of the school year were cited as reasons for the break, along with wanting to host City Events come fall.

“We will not be holding Live@5 during the month of August, both to allow the extreme heat that we have been experiencing to subside, and to allow families some time to adjust to their new schedules with the return of the school year,” began Mike Hall, City Operations. “With the summer months winding down, we at the City also wanted to host some events in the fall for citizens to enjoy leading up to Harvest Homecoming.”

“Live@5 will resume in September to escape the August heat and to coincide with cooler outdoor temperatures in the run up to the Harvest Homecoming Festival,” stated Mayor Jeff M. Gahan.

Live@5 is scheduled to return on September 7th. The City of New Albany will a also be hosting its Labor Day Celebration on Saturday, September 1st at the scenic, New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater. To best keep informed on the new lineup for Live@5, along with all City of New Albany news, please “like” the City’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/NewAlbanyIN and visit the City’s website at CityOfNewAlbany.com.

This Saturday: Drinking with the Dead.

Gregg Seidl's at it again, and better yet, you are invited to join in the stroll.

Join me for some "spiritual" fun on Saturday, August 4, 2012. The guided walking tour begins at Hugh E. Birs at 7 p.m., and before the night is through, we'll visit several downtown New Albany establishments where you'll enjoy a cool drink of your choice while hearing of some of the bizarre and ghastly events that took place within thier walls, as well as learning of other gruesome events that happened in the places we'll pass along our way.

Novelists and non-fiction: Frank Bill's House of Grit.

Late last year, when we first encountered Frank Bill's name, he was advising readers of Granta to avoid the vicious, meth-laced ganglands surrounding S. Ellen Jones Elementary School.

Pair of sneakers beats a full NSP house?

There has been an animated off-line discussion about this piece, which appeared in Granta way back in September, when our attention was diverted from gangs to gaping bridge holes. My guess is that Bob Caesar won't be asking Mr. Bill to write the forward for James A. Crutchfield's bicentennial book.

There's still trouble in the heartland. Now it's out there in the fields.


Scorched Earth in the Midwest

John Sommers II/Reuters
Withered corn plants on a drought-stricken farm near Evansville, Ind.

IT’S July and the temperatures throughout southern Indiana and northern Kentucky are an inferno, in some cases scorching to over 100 degrees, and we know it’s not even August yet; it’s only going to get hotter. Several days in a row I get a mind-splitter headache; it’s so bad, it hurts to blink.

Frank Bill is identified as the author of a "forthcoming novel" called Donnybrook. His web site is Frank Bill's House of Grit.

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It?"

For a heplful corollary, see this morning's first post: "Many conservative Americans have seen their livelihoods threatened by the very neoliberal economics their party seeks to extend."

Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It?, by Peter Edelman (New York Times)

... A surefire politics of change would necessarily involve getting people in the middle — from the 30th to the 70th percentile — to see their own economic self-interest. If they vote in their own self-interest, they’ll elect people who are likely to be more aligned with people with lower incomes as well as with them. As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top than with those on the bottom, we are doomed. The obscene amount of money flowing into the electoral process makes things harder yet.

"Many conservative Americans have seen their livelihoods threatened by the very neoliberal economics their party seeks to extend."

See: Chickens, Colonel Sanders, et al.

The world as seen by Republicans, in a land of myth and amnesia; US conservatives are increasingly keen to interpret their country's woes primarily in terms of threats from abroad, by Gary Younge (Guardian)

... But while liberals are more likely to see the roots of this crisis as domestic – growing economic inequalities, religious zealotry, corporatisation of media and politics – conservatives are increasingly keen to perceive the primary threat as external: immigrants, Islam, foreigners and foreign trade.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 is the year of Rumpole, at least in our house.

The timing wasn't intentional, but just days after the 10th anniversary of the actor Leo McKern's death, the Confidentials approach the end of an epic viewing cycle.

There are 44 or so episodes in the Rumpole of the Bailey canon, and only three remain for us to watch. For the uninitiated, these are atmospheric British courtroom dramas, originally produced from the mid-1970's through the early 1990's.

Here's an overview, written in the aftermath of McKern's passing a decade ago: Appreciation: Rumpole, farewell!

I'm not sure what it means, but we've been watching British television almost exclusively this year. Maybe it's time to travel again.

Behind the mask: Erika defends Chick-fil-A's "virtue" against gays like us while even babies laugh hysterically.

But, of course, she's just as anonymous as ever, oozing courage with every feeble cursor curlicue: WE SUPPORT CHICK-FIL-A...

In fact, Erika's piece is so stimulating that I printed it out and passed it around.

Rain, clouds, Batman and Naughty Girl(s).

We went to the Georgetown Drive-In on Friday night. It was rather wet, at least in the beginning, which confounded our neighbors in the pick-up truck to the left of us. They got very damp trying to configure a makeshift tarp, and then left a huge pile of garbage on the ground when departing. All of this provided me with pleasing memories of growing up among the rednecks, from whom I learned the simple lesson of ignoring the state prohibition of alcohol from the grounds.

Having brought growlers of, er, um, homemade cream soda, I quickly popped outside during a brief lull in the downpour to procure a refill from the handy trunk cooler -- and whoa! There was the cloud depicted above. It made me wish I'd brought an even stronger variety of cream soda.

Here's the same cloud, a moment later, looking south.

But in due time, the precipitation stopped, and for the first hour of the movie, a spectacular lightning show danced around the edges of the movie screen. The film itself? Entertaining, and a suitable ending to the trilogy. Most of the evening, I found myself dreaming about the prospects for a Craft Beer Drive-In. If you have money to invest ...

Since 1951 and now on Facebook: Georgetown Drive-In

Saturday, July 28, 2012

See, even vegetarians can enjoy Feast BBQ.

Maybe it's just me, but when a noted local foodie of the vegetarian persuasion chooses to devote a blog entry to the fare at a barbecue restaurant -- located in New Albany, not Louisville -- it's a very good thing, indeed.

Apart from tofu and seitan, Feast BBQ has elicited much discussion among New Albanians since the restaurant debuted on July 4. The vibe has been overwhelmingly positive, with scattered comments about inconsistent opening hours and frequent menu depletions.

My two cents is this: It's part of the game. The most accurate business plan in the world is altered the moment the first customer walks through the door, and it's worth remembering that learning curves are an integral part of the process.

Beginning with the coming week, Feast BBQ's hours are these:

Tuesday - Saturday ... Dinner from 5 p.m -10 p.m. (or later on Friday and Saturday)

Owner/chef/chief bottle washer Ryan Rogers adds: "Thank you for the overwhelming support that has been rolling through the doors. Hopefully this will be our last change in hours until we can expand our kitchen/cooler and once again expand our hours."

Where to Eat in not-exactly-Louisville: Feast BBQ, at Consuming Louisville

It’s a pretty well known fact that I don’t venture across the river to visit our neighbors to the north very often. But someone making the effort to make sure vegetarians have something good to eat at a barbecue restaurant? Well that’s enough to get me across the river.

I represented team vegetarian and my dining companion represented team “mmmm bbq chicken is good” for our meal at Feast BBQ last week.

History & photography: "What East Germany Was Really Like."

To know me is to understand my enduring fascination with the German Democratic Republic, which I glimpsed during a month's visit in 1989, just prior to the country's demise. I stumbled upon this link, and the story and photos are simply incredible.

Photographic Treasure Trove: What East Germany Was Really Like, by Solveig Grothe (Spiegel Online)

They wanted to clean up the basement but found a treasure trove of photos instead. After Berlin teacher Manfred Beier died, his sons stumbled across 60,000 pictures. Their father, it turns out, created one of the best documentations of life in East Germany, and the first days of the West.

Barry Bernson at Destinations Booksellers today.

If you've spent any amount of time observing Louisville's local television scene, then Barry Bernson needs no introduction. He will be signing his book at Destinations Booksellers today, and for more background, pass through to Amanda Beam's N and T article.

Don’t Miss Barry Bernson Saturday

He’s a local author with a local publisher presenting his book at a local independent bookstore. Talk about New Albany First!

Beloved broadcaster and morning show host Barry Bernson will tell tales from his professional biography, Bernson’s Corner: A Reporter’s Notebook, on Saturday, July 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. here at the store.

Friday, July 27, 2012

As Olympics begin, Romney is in gold-medal gaffe form.

Well, what do you expect from the sort of candidate who'd receive an endorsement from Floyd County's illustrious GOP cadre ... and far too many of the county's so-called Democrats?

Prompted by my friend JV's quip elsewhere, I devoted a Facebook status update yesterday to thanking Groucho Marx for clearly anticipating the advent of the buttoned-down, teetotaling, flip-flopping Mitt Romney:

"He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot."

More ammunition in defense of Groucho's assertion comes from abroad, specifically the UK, where even the conservative politicians chortle at the Mittster.

Oh, Mitt: those Romney gaffes in full ("US News Blog" at The Guardian)

From criticising the biggest sporting event Britain has held in over 40 years, to "looking out of the backside of 10 Downing Street", Mitt Romney's first foreign trip of his presidential candidacy hasn't gone quite as well as he might have hoped. As the former Massachusetts governor continues to gaffe his way across London, here's a round-up of Romney's red-facers. So far.

Good news: Another Ohio Valley Greenway ribbon is cut.

Matt Nash was on hand Wednesday morning for the dedication of the Greenway from 18th Street to Silver Creek: OHIO RIVER GREENWAY RIBBON CUTTING, by Matt Nash.

Meanwhile, the pop-up, roll-over 'Bama newspaper's Jerod Clapp covers the same ground in greater detail here.

In spite of work to come on the Greenway's stretch between 18th and the vicinity of the Riverfront Amphitheater in New Albany, the true "final frontier" of the trail is the trestle over Silver Creek and the path through some of Clark County's grittiest industrial landscape to a connection at Mill Creek. The trestle itself will cost a lot to retrofit, and complicating matters on land, archaeological sifting must be completed before the trail is constructed.

But at least the work continues, as does activity at the Big Four Bridge, and the day approaches when New Albany will be connected to Louisville's waterfront by a bicycle route, albeit it one passing through our neighboring communities to the east.

Obviously, we must conserve our strength and resources for the very last piece in the puzzle: Wresting  the K & I Bridge from the cold, dead hands of Norfolk Southern, and completing the necessary loop. Perhaps we can "occupy" it some sweet day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

No they don't.

I now have a photograph to illustrate the July 8 post linked below. Ironically, while roaming downtown Indianapolis during Indiana Beer Week just a few days later, I happened upon a festival in Monument Circle staged by Indiana's dairy farmers. The only thing calculated to make me flee faster would have been an appearance by St. Daniels, who drinks milk and imposes tolls.

Drink milk? By the glass? You're joking, right?

To me, it's always been aesthetic. Milk is little more than liquid snot, and to drink it by the glass has struck me as revolting for over thirty years.

ON THE AVENUES: Bring it on home to me.

ON THE AVENUES: Bring it on home to me.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Earlier this summer, unexpected circumstances dictated more than the usual number of visits up there, to the ancestral homestead.

With each passage through the vicinity of Georgetown, scattered random memories would come bubbling to the surface, demanding conscious attention. Given my ruminative proclivities, the curious aspect of these thoughts was an utter paucity of nostalgia. It seems I have no desire whatever to revisit those days of old, and advanced in adulthood, no particular eagerness to live “out in the country” ever again – not that it even resembles Green Acres, Petticoat Junction or Mayberry any longer.

The home where I spent my earlier years is situated at a gradual point of demographic and socio-economic convergence, where the open countryside to the west gives way to the cookie-cutter march of suburbia as metropolitan Louisville draws ever closer to the east. It has been this way for almost forty years, the paved-over pace quickening during “good” times and the ranch-style despoliation slowing when the economy is “bad,” leaving observers pondering a state of affairs that makes it difficult to discern which economic condition is worse.

This being L’America, sprawling gentrification inevitably would have occurred in Floyd County at some point during these decades, but those of a certain age understand, even if they don’t always concede, that the direct historical impetus for numerous subdivisions and developments occupying former farmlands -- culminating with the Woods of Lafayette and that atrocious quasi-strip mine on the edge of the Knobs off of Old Hill Road -- came about back in 1975 with the advent of court-ordered busing to desegregate Louisville schools.

What followed was white flight, plain and simple, and it was sufficiently repugnant that I could grasp it even then. Commencing with my sophomore year in high school, there were numerous new faces to meet, most of them recently arrived from Kentucky, and their pace of debarkation only accelerated in the months and years to follow. Some of them became very good friends of mine, and now I realize it was at least in part because they brought with them the dreaded urban cultural contagion, which in fact I was quite eager to contract.

But what it really meant was that an influential alliance of socio-economically dominant citizens (read: the white ones) and ambitious (“greedy” being such a quaint word) property developers exerted a politically irresistible “demand” in the marketplace, one as ever functioning far less freely than polemicists might lead one to imagine, and the weight of public policy, i.e., prolific subsidies, was placed behind the emptying of cities, which were left behind to serve as preserves for the less economically advantaged, while infrastructure for a pell-mell escape into the countryside was gleefully constructed in all directions.

It is forever instructive to contrast this metastatic approach with responsible growth strategies as exercised elsewhere, and to shorten the story, it should suffice to say that once I commenced my travels in Europe in the 1980’s, and saw first-hand the value of urban milieus when they are maintained with public policies, rather than intentionally gutted by them, it had a profound effect on me.

Until those journeys abroad became possible, my thinking was inchoate, and as long as I didn’t dwell on my existential discomfort very much, simply staying put amid what remained of the Floyd County landscape generally was okay by me. After all, that’s how I had been raised, and beer had a pleasant, if temporary, dulling propensity.

Well, wasn’t one supposed to live amid acres of grass to mow and maintain, as far away from the city as could be, and then drive dozens of miles to work (usually for national and multi-national corporations), before driving back again later the same day? It seemed almost scriptural in a “don’t you dare question this lifestyle” sort of way.

Fortunately for me, experiencing the urban scene in Europe set into motion an inexorable process of erosion as pertaining to personal values and a subsequent transformation, helping me to see what cities historically had been and might yet be, and to realize that concentrated urban amenities have a greater attraction for me than dispersal into the fields and woods – not to mention being a less wasteful application of resources.

In Europe, I might be residing in a youth hostel in central Vienna, hop a bus or tram to the train station, buy an affordable train ticket, and find myself within a short walk of the fields and woods whenever the mood struck me. A monthly public transportation pass might cost the same as a month’s parking in downtown Louisville. Urban density and rural sparseness on the continent were (and are) clearly delineated, and controlled by more stringent land use regulations than we typically experience hereabouts, where creativity-deprived families enjoy entire careers carving up cornfields into strip malls constructed with balsa wood and duct tape, or naming their subdivisions for whatever natural feature was obliterated to establish them.

Of course, aesthetic deprivation makes their conceptual discombobulation and bone-dry cash flow during recessionary times even more amusing.

There has been much talk lately about the fiscal life-and-death struggle of Floyd County vs. the city of New Albany, all of which strikes me as a remixed mash-up of arguments I’ve been hearing since childhood. In my mind, these present day disputes are aftershocks, as emanating from decisions made long ago to disproportionately subsidize the suburb/exurb at the overall expense of the urban core area.

Nowadays, in the current fiscal place and time, it makes a lot more sense to intelligently reuse the urban core than to subsidize sprawl, even when the outward movement is confined by the boundaries of such a small county as ours. Perhaps implicitly recognizing this, county government apologists like to say that city and county should act as one, with economies of scale suited to the specialized needs of the suburb/exurb, rather than the freshly revitalizing urban core, and this is precisely why New Albany’s mayor has been entirely justified in his prickliness on topics ranging from parks to emergency services.

It’s too bad, then, that a persistent Blinder Bloc within an otherwise improved city council seems intent on ignoring the evidence. But that’s a discussion for another time, isn’t it?

Alexander Cockburn.

As a hick from somewhere close to French Lick, muddling along from regional backwardness to a place approximating planetary citizenship, I first became aware of Alexander Cockburn's work not during my university tenure, but while working at UNI-Data Courier in 1988/89.

The task of abstracting The Nation generally fell to me. It radically enhanced my radicalism, with Cockburn's "Beat the Devil" column a major factor in this wonderful education. What I remember about his writings is a fierce, tenacious, unyielding prose style. I borrowed a phrase from Cockburn that I still deploy today: "Health fascist."

"Rest in peace" simply doesn't pass muster in this instance. Perhaps "polemicize in perpetuity" makes more sense.

Alexander Cockburn, by James Fallows (The Atlantic)

... As Michael Tomasky points out in this appreciation, Alex Cockburn essentially pioneered the modern persona for which Christopher Hitchens became much better known: the fancily Oxford-educated leftie Brit litterateur/journalist who would say all the outrageous things his bland Yank counterparts lacked the wit, courage, erudition, or épater-spirit to utter on their own. As both Tomasky and James Wolcott make clear, Cockburn was far more committed and purposeful in his outrageousness. His own brutal obituary about Hitchens both explains and exemplifies the differences. Short version: Cockburn said that Hitchens always knew just how far he could go; Cockburn knew, and kept on going.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Revitalization in Roanoke, Virginia.

Certain revitalization themes therein seem applicable to us, while others not. Thanks to W for the link.

Virginia Developer Is on a Mission to Revive His Town, by Melena Ryzik (New York Times)

... Ringed by the Blue Ridge Mountains and for generations a successful rail hub, it now has a median income of about $35,000 and is trying to reinvent itself for a different economy: a medical school opened in 2010, and a bike shop is planning to move into the massive old transportation museum.

Live @ Five on the 400 block of Bank Street this Friday, with Unleashed!!

This week's Live @ 5 (Friday, July 27) moves back to the 400 block of Bank Street, by the Carnegie Center and Bank Street Brewhouse. NABC, Wick's and River City Winery will be vending, and perhaps also Habana Blues, seeing as their mojitos went over quite well last week.

As for the music, this sounds intriguing:


UNLEASHED!! is comprised of 3 very talented young musicians from the Louisville School of Rock, Hunter Borowick(13) , Luke Stanton (13), and Elise Hagan (18). Brought together by director/ Coach Chip Adams. Though they are a relatively new band, they play as though they have been playing together for years. Look for UNLEASHED!! to make a impact on the local music scene in the near future.

No Tolls Cat immortalized at Riverfront Amphitheater.

We didn't ask the Board of Works, either, but that's okay. The No Tolls Cat's plaque is cardboard. Maybe soon we'll all have a plaque, made of nice metal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

VIDEO: New Albanian Brewing Co. 25 Years of Beer and Loathing event.

Follow the link to view Amanda Arnold's video of the festivities on Sunday, as posted by the News and Tribune.

VIDEO: New Albanian Brewing Co. 25 Years of Beer and Loathing event

Gonder: "We can ask for better than what has appeared on State Street."

We chatted with John Gonder during NABC's 25th anniversary picnic, and as always, it was an enlightening conversation, as is this essay at his blog. Slowly but surely, our council is being populated by potential. It is gratifying.

Windows? We Don't Need No Stinking Windows

... New Albany sits at a crossroads, thanks to the opportunities presented by a revivified downtown and a building trend of support for local businesses, in both goods and services. We have a chance to get this right. We must revisit building standards and undertake the difficult work of making those standards fit the needs of what is possible in New Albany today. We can ask for better than what has appeared on State Street. We can do better.

With commencement of downtown Louisville demolition, Kerry Stemler's ORBP cadre transcends the village. Now they're the nation's idiots.

12-Lane Highway Gets Started with Ceremonial Wrecking of Downtown, at Broken Sidewalk

Monday, July 23, 2012

Newspaper cheers the advent of the Human Rights Commission.

'Nuff said. Now we'll see if the council is prepared to support the concept.


... to the New Albany City Council members for voting 8-0 to form a municipal Human Rights Commission on Thursday.

The commission will weigh human rights complaints that can be submitted by any New Albany resident. Upholding equal opportunity for education, employment and property acquisition are among the charges of the body. The body will consist of five members, two appointed by the mayor, two selected by the council and the remaining person elected by the four designees.

Along with serving a working function, the move is also symbolic for those who may want to live or work in the city. It’s a step forward in showing that New Albany can be a community that accepts those from all walks of life, of all races, of any sexual orientation.

It’s a small step for sure, because to change actions, you have to change attitudes. But it’s progress nonetheless in making people feel more comfortable and safe in the community.

It’s also a chance for other municipalities or elected bodies to follow suit.

— Editor Shea Van Hoy

Big mushy wet kisses for NABC Nation.

Judging from the stack of empty kegs (not a Bud Light in the pile), I'd say that somewhere in excess of 1,000 celebrants gathered by the riverside yesterday. There were significant numbers of families present throughout the day, and the children's area was busy. The music was uniformly excellent. I realize that there wasn't enough food, but that's the very hardest part to plan, and we'll do better next time.

NABC long has been interested in promoting musical events at the Riverfront Amphitheater, and so yesterday was a bit of a dry run for future considerations. Perhaps those of like mind can work together in 2013.

Simply stated, heartfelt thanks to everyone who celebrated 25 Years of Beer and Loathing with us yesterday, but thanks most of all to our customers, who have supported NABC's various incarnations for a quarter-century. You are part of a community of diverse interests and backgrounds, but a shared purpose, and you rock.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Songs about work 1: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

This highly touted young band from Ireland was just hitting it big worldwide in the summer of 1987, when Barrie Ottersbach and the not-yet-Publican were trekking across Europe. We saw U2 perform at the soccer stadium in Cork, a show scheduled between legs of the star-making Joshua Tree tour. A month or so later, I set foot in Sportstime Pizza for the very first time, unaware that by doing so, a quarter-century of my existence (so far) was being plotted.

25 years later, this remains my finest worksong (with apologies to REM). Truly, I believe the best is what's next to come, although there are times when getting there seems like trying to find a street with no name.

Songs about work 2: "Live Forever."

Sometimes you take the path, and other times the path takes you, but in the end, the option not chosen bears as much of an impact on the final score as the bubblegum wrapper behind door number two. That's the only explanation I can offer.

Songs about work 3: "The Show Must Go On."

If you're in the position of flamboyant rock front man Freddie Mercury and know you're dying, what better way to go out than this observation of what one must do in order for the doors to open for business on this and every other following day?

Strip away the window dressing, and finding the will to carry on with the show is what it's all about, every morning. NABC's mission may be interpreted as pizza, frites, beer and a ballgame on television, but what it's really about is performance. When it comes to performing, the show must go on. Most of the time it's fun. Occasionally, it can be quite grim ... but the smile still stays on. At least it should.

I'd post a few more of these, but I need to be on site. Enjoy today ... and remember, let's be careful out there.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sarah models "25 Years of Beer & Loathing" t-shirts.

FYI: On sale tomorrow at the event, at a cost of $20 each. Limited numbers of these will be available, and we anticipate having credit card processing capability for t-shirt sales.

Billy Reed on Penn State football: "Universities do not exist mainly to sponsor teams."

Billy Reed still can bring it. His essay at louisvilleky.com comes close to matching the gold standard set by Charles Pierce last fall: Penn State child rape deception: "One more lie to maintain the preposterously lucrative unreality of college athletics."

Reed: Death to Penn State Football, by Billy Reed

In the name of simple decency, Penn State needs to give itself the death penalty. Cancel the 2012 football season. It won’t begin to atone for the atrocities that the late Joe Paterno refused to see through his thick glasses, but it will be a symbolic gesture that shows the university understands how disgusting and shameful the tragedy is.

"Guernica at 75."

It is among the most compelling pieces of art that I've had the good fortune to view.

Guernica at 75: symbol of art's triumph over war. The bombing of Guernica in 1937 has become less an emblem of the horror of war than its redemption by art, by Amy Goodman (Guardian)

Seventy-five years ago, the Spanish town of Guernica was bombed into rubble. The brutal act propelled one of the world's greatest artists into a three-week painting frenzy. Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" starkly depicts the horrors of war, etched into the faces of the people and the animals on the 20-by-30ft canvas. It would not prove to be the worst attack during the Spanish civil war, but it became the most famous, through the power of art.

Friday, July 20, 2012

City council unanimously approves a human rights commission.

I heard the names of the mayoral appointments before the meeting even began, and felt good enough about it to do other work rather than attend the meeting.

Now comes the fun part: Funding it. I suspect the caterwauling will return to the fore once money comes into the picture.

Until then, it certainly is refreshing to have a progressive, intelligent and forward-looking 3rd district council representative. Kudos to Greg Phipps for his work in removing eight years of Budweiser karaoke stains from the community fabric.

New Albany human rights commission gets approval; Council splits vote over bill payment authority, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — A white university professor and a black state Senate moderator are the first two appointments to the municipal Human Rights Commission, as the New Albany City Council established the body on final reading Thursday.

With an 8-0 vote, as Councilman Pat McLaughlin was absent, Councilman Greg Phipps’ ordinance ordaining the commission passed after it was approved unanimously on first and second readings earlier this month.

The commission will weigh human rights complaints that can be submitted by any New Albany resident. Upholding equal opportunity for education, employment and property acquisition are among the charges of the body.

The ordinance was revised between second and final readings in order to “tighten up” the definition of disabled as well as to ensure the council must approve any procedures the commission chooses to implement, Phipps said.

While there was little discussion on the measure before it was passed on final reading, Phipps said previously he would like to see board appointees “reflect the diversity of the community.”

The body will consist of five members, two appointed by the mayor, two selected by the council and the remaining person elected by the four designees.

Mayor Jeff Gahan’s selections for the commission were announced by his staff after the ordinance passed.

Cliff Staten, a white professor of Political Science at Indiana University Southeast joined Tonye Rutherford, a black state senate moderator and former city council candidate as Gahan selections.

Phipps requested the council make its appointments during its next meeting, which will be Aug. 6. Council President Diane McCartin-Benedetti requested council members submit names of nominees to her so they can be considered prior to that meeting.

Beers, pours and pricing for "25 Years of Beer & Loathing."

Event details here

Matt Nash and the Bar Belle on 25 Years of Beer and Loathing.

Matt commences with an ominous sentence, considering the record of the early years ... but it's a nice segue into his personal account of pizzas, beers and so much else. I'm happy to say I was there on the night when Matt and Amy met, because if memory serves, it also was the night that Barack Obama was elected president.

NASH: A quarter century of beer and pizza, by Matt Nash (News and Tribune)

JEFFERSONVILLE — My personal relationship with the New Albanian Brewing Company goes back to a few years before I was even able to drink beer, legally.

Sara "Bar Belle" Havens of the Louisville Eccentric Observer interviewed me two weeks ago and incorporated the results into her column.

Bar Belle: A salute to NABC, by Sara Havens (LEO)

When I was 25, I drank like shit — cheap, American swill chased by shots of Jager or Rumple Minze. Unfortunately, some things haven’t changed. But throughout my years of socializing after dark, I’ve learned to appreciate good bourbon and craft beer.

Rich O’s/Sportstime Pizza/New Albanian Brewing Company in New Albany is celebrating its 25th birthday this month, and you better believe there won’t be a Miller Lite or shot of Jager anywhere near the place. In fact, co-owner Roger A. Baylor is renting out New Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater to throw a big party. Mark your calendars for July 22. It’s free, starts at 10 a.m., and features live music, NABC beer, wine and a bloody mary bar (link here). I caught up with Baylor to reminisce about the last 25 years.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chain, tacky and opposed to human rights? Three strikes, and Chick-fil-A is out.

Robin Garr has it down at his Louisville Restaurants Forum, and my viewpoint is expressed in the title. 


Chick-Fil-A under fire again

We've had debates before about Chick-Fil-A's overt conservative Christianity prompting the chain to shut down on Sundays, posting signs urging everyone else to refrain from work (and, presumably, attend church) on that day. Okayfine. I find that a little pushy, but agree that it's not strong grounds for a boycott. But now the chain is trending on Twitter and Facebook and the blogosphere again over its owners' strong words against gay marriage - and the revelation that it spends millions of dollars in support of anti-gay organizations.

To me, that changes the equation: I'm even more strongly inclined to withhold my dollars from a situation in which some of them are likely to be channeled directly to organizations like the Marriage & Family Foundation, that has been called a "hate group."

What do you think? Is Chick-Fil-A a no-go zone for you, or do those tasty poultry sliders and waffle fries still call your name?

Dan Cathy, the president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, said in a radio interview this week that same-sex marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

Appearing on “The Ken Coleman Show,” Cathy spoke of his company’s pride in its socially conservative character, but then offered an assessment of same-sex marriage that might lose the popular fast food chain a few customers.

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” said Cathy.

“I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about,” he added.

The Huffington Post reports that in 2010 Chick-fil-A, through its WinShape Foundation, donated approximately $2 million to groups that oppose same-sex marriage, most notably giving $1,188,380 to the Marriage & Family Foundation. In 2009 the company also reportedly donated $2 million to such groups.

Cathy is the son of the company’s founder and chairman, Truett Cathy.

The unapologetic social conservatism of Chick-fil-A’s leadership has caused several headline-grabbing brouhahas, including a decision this year by Northeastern University officials not to allow a franchise on the college’s Boston campus.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/07/18/chick-fil-a-president-gay-marriage-is-inviting-gods-judgment-on-our-nation-audio/#ixzz216MmDBaJ

Also: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/chick-fil-a-has-spent-5-million-trying-to-stop-gay-marriage/discrimination/2012/07/02/42684

What do Mumford & Sons and NABC Black & Blue Grass have in common?

They'll both be at the Great Lawn/Louisville Waterfront Park on August 13.

ON THE AVENUES: What about Howard Sprague?

ON THE AVENUES: What about Howard Sprague?

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

(After publishing the original version of this column a couple weeks back, I decided to go back through and update it for the year 2012. Part of the reason for doing so is that it is almost impossible for me to remain satisfied with something previously written. Another is that there always are new readers. And, finally, I like to make On the Avenues the court of record. Apologies for the repetitions, which I realize bear a resemblance to summer reruns)

When confused and uncertain, we generally recoil from the challenges of the future, reverting instead to comforting visions of one or the other redemptive halcyons from a past viewed with rose-tinted hindsight, and accordingly, cultural mythology tends to supplant rational thought, not buttress it.

This being a presidential election year, we can expect reams of historical revisionism masquerading as irrefutable argumentation. America’s Christian theocracy is particularly adept at such pipe-dream panaceas, its televangelistic hawkers mounting gleaming Chinese-made soapboxes to beseech us: Turn back the hands of time, all the way to a state of being that never existed in the first place … and don’t forget your checkbook, sinner.

Nostalgia is a vehicle powered by the warm fuzzies of selective memory. There’s nothing necessarily wrong about that, at least until comfortable reveries are mistaken for public policy, which brings us to an otherwise forgotten New Albany city council meeting that took place three years ago.

During a brief and typically ephemeral discussion of community policing “wants and needs,” the since deposed 3rd district councilman Steve Price launched into a meandering tangent addressing his views of modern methods of law enforcement. Of course, untangling Price’s stream-of consciousness syntax was a constant challenge throughout his eight years of chronic council underachievement, but at the time, his point was relatively clear.

He was lamenting the disappearance of old-fashioned, user-friendly civic drunk tanks, those helpful domiciles formerly providing wayward inebriates a warm place to sleep and voluminous black coffee before releasing them into waiting streets (and revolving barstools) the following morning.

Price concluded that nowadays, such pitiably harmless transgressors actually are compelled to pay their way out of jail; lacking cash, their incarceration contributes to the overcrowding problem therein. His former council colleague Jack Messer, a full-time police officer, asked Price to explain how the city might better handle such time and space continuums, and Price responded with this bit of sage advice:

"We need to do things like Andy used to do 'em."


So, to which person named Andy was the ex-councilman referring?

Was it Andy Warhol? That’s unlikely, because the Ruthenian-American pop artist certainly was too avant-garde for a down-home devotee of Dave Ramsey.

Maybe Andy Kaufman, the late and lamented inter-gender wrestling champion and performance artist? Obviously, too ironic.

Andy Roddick? He’s too athletic for New Albany, and in the wrong sport.

Andy Dick? Too clever by half.

Andy Capp? Too impenetrably English.

Andy Garcia? Too confusingly ethnic.

No, it’s none of the above, because given Price’s preferred homilies, paranoiac utterances and ceaseless non sequiturs, there could be only one answer.

He meant the fictional Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, as played on television by the late comedian Andy Griffith in his eponymous show, which was produced back in the Golden Age of Post-War Faux-Paneled Imperial America, a time period coinciding with Price’s blissful youth and visions of Otis Campbell’s nightly resting place dancing soothingly in his head.

I recalled Price’s words in the wake of the iconic Griffith’s recent passing, as otherwise sensible people immediately focused their attention on hazy objects depicted in the nation’s rear view mirror and advocated a “return” to the Mayberry ethos, which would provide workable solutions to the pressing problems of our troubled times, while recapturing lost innocence, albeit it for the small price of forgetting everything we’ve learned since kindergarten.


Unfortunately, Price never has been alone in suggesting that a city like New Albany in the milieu of the Internet, crystal meth, iPhones, EPA sewage treatment decrees and state-imposed starvation budgets can be governed according to lessons learned from a television series originally broadcast in black and white, featuring a folksy sheriff in a rural town, with a switchboard operator listening on party lines, and a habitual vandal whose repertoire does not extend beyond rocks thrown at picture windows.

Like so many others, I watched The Andy Griffith Show as a child, but then something happened to me. I grew up. Four decades have passed since the series went off the air, and in light of experience, I see Mayberry a bit differently.

Sheriff Taylor’s town didn’t boast much in the way of ethnic and religious diversity, did it? In fact, it was the era of enforced segregation in the South, and there wasn’t an African-American or Hispanic to be seen. Most of the women depicted on the series were in the kitchen frying chicken or baking peach cobbler, and Helen Crump’s job as schoolteacher was about the highest point on the professional ladder for a female. Suffrage might have been bragged about, but was it truly universal?

Do you really think any of those toilets led to a sewage treatment system? Rather, think of leaky pipes emptying into yonder creek, and maybe a septic tank or three. Television news was a monopoly of three major networks, newspapers toed a Democratic or Republican line, and American foreign policy strove to support “our” murderous tinhorn dictators so as to forestall Communist-installed versions of the same.

And then, there’s the demographic reality we always neglect in places like Mayberry in the 1960’s: Young and talented people left town in droves, as soon as they possibly could, leaving older citizens and second-raters to navigate a decline into irrelevance, something that should be all too obvious to New Albanians surveying the local scene in 2012.

Mayberry was, and is, an entertaining place, but like Andy Taylor himself, it was, and it remains, entirely imaginary. If pressed, we might find other useful role models from the era: Rooster Cogburn, Captain Kirk and maybe even Puff the Magic Dragon.

But seriously, in the year 2012 – how does any of it help us?

Live @ Five on Market Street this week.

The Live@5 for Friday, July 20, will be held on the 100 block of Market Street (between Pearl and Bank). It's from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and this week's performer is J.D. Shelburne. NABC, River City Winery and Wick's are this week's vendors.

Rep. Clere has all of us working!

And that's a wonderful thing, because now the Amazon monolith can hire the very same people it puts out of work. Gotta love American capitalism, eh? Have I been assigned to a multinational yet? That's what is meant by "right", right?

We've seen the Amazon job "pro," so now for the "con."

Bridges, water, filtration, salt ...

Discussion, anyone?


East End Bridge over Louisville Water Co. filtration system means salt, spills could ‘shut down water system for 800,000 people’

By Curtis Morrison
When salt is put down on the East End Bridge to combat winter ice, it could mix with oil, grime and other gross stuff on the roadway, then end up in our Louisville Water Co. drinking water.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Woody Guthrie and Dust Bowl adobe.

Previously we've covered Woody Guthrie's allergic reaction to Irving Berlin, and the singer's anti-fascist angle, which my company has embraced as a timeless badge of sorts.

"Talking seventh inning blues.”

Now there's even more: A novel about much more than adobe.

This Land Was His Land; Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Novel, by Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp

The legend of Woody Guthrie as folk singer is firmly etched in America’s collective consciousness. Compositions like “Deportee,” “Pastures of Plenty” and “Pretty Boy Floyd” have become national treasures akin to Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack” and Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” But Guthrie, who would have been 100 years old on July 14, was also a brilliant and distinctive prose stylist, whose writing is distinguished by a homespun authenticity, deep-seated purpose and remarkable ear for dialect. These attributes are on vivid display in Guthrie’s long-lost “House of Earth,” his only fully realized, but yet unpublished, novel. (His other books, “Bound for Glory” and “Seeds of Man,” are quasi-fictional memoirs.)

Not us. We build **** for cars here, mister.

In New Albany, drivers express outrage because they cannot drive in the parking lane on State Street.

In Copenhagen, they would be told (with politeness) to shut up. They should be here, too, except that we do not progress. We coddle.

COPENHAGEN JOURNAL: Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway, by Sally McGrane (New York Times)

... The cycle superhighway, which opened in April, is the first of 26 routes scheduled to be built to encourage more people to commute to and from Copenhagen by bicycle. More bike path than the Interstate its name suggests, it is the brainchild of city planners who were looking for ways to increase bicycle use in a place where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day.

“We are very good, but we want to be better,” said Brian Hansen, the head of Copenhagen’s traffic planning section.

Take two: Get off of my porch, Journey Church. Go away. Leave me be.

Good news: This one was on the door handle, not in the letter box.

Bad news: We just went through this on Sunday, and now it's more litter for the landfill.

Sunday rant: Get off of my porch.

There was feedback from a friend after Sunday's post, which refers to the handout shown above. My guess is that it's legal, but isn't it also legal for me to remind the church's roaming ambassadors of litter to GET OFF OF MY PORCH?

Journey is going to hold Bible school in the S. Ellen Jones (they must mean Ritter) Park this summer. Is that legal?

Here's the church's mission statement:

“Journey Church has a vision to become a healthy, reproducing community of believers sold out to the Gospel while planting new churches on the local, national and global levels.”

Here's their website: http://www.journeyindiana.com/new-here/vision/

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Got a Drinking Problem? "Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell."

To all the teetotaling trolls I've known before ...

Paging Bob Caesar ...

Nah, never mind.

City leaders partner with Walnut Hills to advance two-way street conversions

The negative impacts of one-way streets through urban neighborhoods have been long documented, and cities across the country are beginning to convert these stretches of roadway back to two-way traffic. Thus far there have been encouraging results.

“The street design should help make the Walnut Hills business district a destination again, instead of serving as a raceway through the neighborhood,” said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls (C) in 2010 after introducing a motion to move forward with additional study work.

Riverfront Development three-way alcohol permits now to include gratis brownfield studies.

Just kidding. Why is it the phrase "community garden" keeps popping into my head?

New Albany to provide grants for brownfields studies; City says program could encourage development, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — Brownfields doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

In general terms, a property is considered a brownfields site if it had previously been developed. Typically before a new development can occur on a brownfields site, studies have to be performed to determine if there’s any contamination on the property.

Remembering Jon Lord.

In honor of the late, great Jon Lord, here's an original cut from the epochal Deep Purple album, In Rock. It isn't heard as often as "Child In Time," off the same album, but it's hard to find a better showcase for the musical elements that made this group's second lineup (Mark II) so very memorable.

I saw Deep Purple perform at the soccer stadium in Kosice, Czechoslovakia in the fall of 1991. Singer Ian Gillan was not on board at the time, replaced temporarily by the serviceable journeyman Joe Lynn Turner, but Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore were in fine form, and the rhythm section of Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums) shook the adjacent rabbit hutch high rises.

What I remember most from this 1991 experience is something I surely would have failed to notice at a live show during the days of my earlier youth, when Deep Purple ruled the rock world. The classically trained Lord consistently interjected classical quotations during his numerous solo opportunities, but not just the random Bach and Beethoven snippets.

Rather, Lord's embellishments (at least, the ones I caught) were drawn from Smetana and Dvorak, heroes of the Czechoslovak orchestral tradition. It is an understatement to note that the crowd appreciated the gesture.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Sartre and Camus in New York."

What would Bastille Day really mean without French philosophy?

Sartre and Camus in New York, by Andy Martin (The Opinionator blog, at the New York Times)

In December 1944, Albert Camus, then editor of Combat, the main newspaper of the French Resistance, made Jean-Paul Sartre an offer he couldn’t refuse: the job of American correspondent. Perhaps, in light of the perpetual tension and subsequent acrimonious split between the two men, he was glad to get him out of Paris. What is certain is that Sartre was delighted to go. He’d had enough of the austerities and hypocrisies of post-liberation France and had long fantasized about the United States. Camus himself would make the trip soon after, only to return with a characteristically different set of political, philosophical and personal impressions.

We've seen the Amazon job "pro," so now for the "con."

Here's what the newspaper told you:

A river of jobs: Lines were long for Amazon job fair with 1,000 positions promised, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — It’s said the early bird gets the worm, and in New Albany on Thursday, there were plenty of applicants hungry for one of the 1,000 jobs Amazon.com Inc. has promised to bring to Southern Indiana by 2015.

Here's what the newspaper didn't tell you (heavily excerpted):

I Want It Today: How Amazon’s ambitious new push for same-day delivery will destroy local retail, by Farhad Manjoo (Slate)

In response to pressure from local businesses, many states have passed laws that aim to force Amazon to collect sales taxes (the laws do so by broadening what it means for a company to have a physical presence in the state). Amazon hasn’t taken kindly to these efforts.

But suddenly, Amazon has stopped fighting the sales-tax war.

Why would Amazon give up its precious tax advantage? This week, as part of an excellent investigative series on the firm, the Financial Times’ Barney Jopson reports that Amazon’s tax capitulation is part of a major shift in the company’s operations.

Now Amazon has a new game. Now that it has agreed to collect sales taxes, the company can legally set up warehouses right inside some of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation. Why would it want to do that? Because Amazon’s new goal is to get stuff to you immediately—as soon as a few hours after you hit Buy.

It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly this move will shake up the retail industry. Same-day delivery has long been the holy grail of Internet retailers, something that dozens of startups have tried and failed to accomplish. (Remember Kozmo.com?) But Amazon is investing billions to make next-day delivery standard, and same-day delivery an option for lots of customers. If it can pull that off, the company will permanently alter how we shop. To put it more bluntly: Physical retailers will be hosed.

Amazon is investing $130 million in new facilities in New Jersey that will bring it into the backyard of New York City; another $135 million to build two centers in Virginia that will allow it to service much of the mid-Atlantic; $200 million in Texas; and more than $150 million in Tennessee and $150 million in Indiana to serve the middle of the country.

Sunday rant: Get off of my porch.

I don't stuff circulars into YOUR mailbox, do I? You know, envelopes with weird, rambling invitations to superstition, ink pens and batteries -- that's right, a battery, perhaps implying that mine is dead, and only Jesus can start me moving again? Christianity as Energizer bunny? At least Sojourn's circular actually was pinned to the door, but the same goes out to them: Get off of my porch, and keep your waste paper to yourselves.

(Yes, I edited myself)

"Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?"

Considering the identity of the author, I was prepared to be annoyed with this piece. In the end, I am annoyed, but at least he took a stab at balance in the end.

Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?, by Ross Douthat (New York Times)

... Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mainland Properties circles back, trickles off, and responds to Redevelopment.

Anita Massey, project manager of the moribund River View development, is the originator of the infamous "trickle back" reference.

June 14, 2011: Trickling back: It's about gravy, not gravity.

Earlier this week, New Albany's Redevelopment Commission finally decided that "trickling forward" wasn't enough, and besides, it had become weary that the money kept not getting shown.

July 10, 2012: New Albany Redevelopment Commission rescinds agreement over River View property

Trickle Platz wasn't thrilling us, either. But you already knew that.

July 12, 2012: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: River View's sweet dreams are not enough.

Here Massey "reaches out" to Redevelopment (and the public) in a piece wisely deemed by the newspaper as "opinion."

NEW ALBANY — Mainland Properties responds to recent NARC decision

... Mainland Properties understands that Mr. (Adam) Dickey may have questions about the development, and we invite him to meet with us to explain our progress. If he has questions about the draft option, we encourage him to work with the NARC attorney to address his concerns. Of course, we regret that Mainland Properties was denied the opportunity to speak on our behalf at the Tuesday meeting, as we very well may have been able to avoid an outcome that belittles our efforts over the years and undermines public confidence in the redevelopment approval system.

Fortunately, given the ease with which these issues can be addressed, we see no need to issue a new RFP, and encourage NARC members to reconsider their position at the next meeting. It could hardly be in the interests of the City of New Albany and its citizens to recommence a process that is likely to take years to reach fruition when a “shovel ready” project sits at their doorstep. Such a capricious decision would send a terrible message to businesses contemplating investing in the community.

Tasting Thursday at Artisan Market: La Bocca, on July 26.

"Artisan Market connects customers with artisans to purchase quality hand craft and speciality food items featuring makers from Indiana and Kentucky."

In August, I'll be representing NABC at this monthly event ... stay tuned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Greg Johnson Guides Us Through New Albany’s Corridor of Cool."

This may or may not be official, but we're cool. This is a fine, succinct guide to downtown NA eateries.

TGIF Local Lunch Post – Greg Johnson Guides Us Through New Albany’s Corridor of Cool, by Cindy Lamb (LouisvilleKy.com)

Cross the river this week as TGIF Local Lunch Post pays a visit to our Hoosier neighbors in New Albany. Our guide is Greg Johnson, whose byline informed and entertained us in the Courier-Journal for over three decades.

Queen at Live Aid; July 13, 1985.

These clips are a primer: Stadium Rock Basics 101. I was watching at a pub in Sligo, Ireland, cradling one Guinness after the next and amazed that 72,000 attendees at Wembley would sing along to "Radio Ga Ga."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: River View's sweet dreams are not enough.

ON THE AVENUES: River View's sweet dreams are not enough.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Yesterday, the Redevelopment Commission voted to rescind a River View option extension for Mainland Properties, and in light of this, I believe this column bears repeating. It originally was published here on January 23, 2012.


At a lazily advertised work session last Thursday evening, New Albany’s city council learned that the River View waterfront development project would no longer be coming to town as originally conceived.

That is, if it comes to town at all.

I couldn’t have been the only onlooker catching an unmistakable whiff of airborne desperation, because far from making the River View dream more palpable by openly addressing past concerns and doing pleasant touch-up work to the architectural renderings, Mainland Properties’ most recent presentation instead revealed a slew of major fundamental alterations.

These changes muddy the project’s conceptual basis, and cry out for intensified scrutiny on the part of city officials, who must yet toss a parking garage into the collection plate before the first pitch is thrown.

Mainland has now gone on record, implicitly or explicitly, as conceding virtually every objection previously voiced about River View. By doing so, it has rendered null and void the alleged toxicity of previous questioners, an obfuscation used to justify the England administration’s persistent inability to be truthful in answering queries about the development.

Improbably, the latest, revised River View build-out raises even more questions than the original version, although predictably, the city council chose to ask none of them at Thursday’s work session. I choose to believe that council members were stupefied by sheer incredulity in the face of the fantasies they were being asked to embrace, and I trust they will recover their senses when River View returns to their inboxes.


Critically, the revised three-phase plan for River View 2.0 utterly contradicts Jack Bobo’s oft-stated goal for his project, as stressed time and again from inception: It will enable a bold, game-changing caste of condominium owners in downtown New Albany, whose very presence will “trickle back” myriad benefits to the remainder of the community.

Doubtful in the best of times, but for the sake of argument, I’ll temporarily accept that up-market condominium occupants are capable of single-handedly shifting downtown paradigms, and ask this question:

Given the altered three-phase development plan, what is the chance of these transformational condos ever being built?

In answering, let’s first dispense with the fallacious number “three” in reference to River View’s supposedly escalating phases, each one proceeding from the presumed success of the one before.

Of course, there is a fourth phase, actually the very first phase, and without it, not one other domino can so much as consider falling into place: The city of New Albany’s essential “TIF Tithe” for the construction of a 500-unit parking garage.

Both literally and figuratively, River View is to be built atop this commitment.

We must soberly recognize that no matter the continued expediency of River View’s evolution, the city of New Albany’s founding stake cannot ever change. Without the TIF-enabled parking garage, there is nothing, because Mainland has no capital without it. The city’s opening phase is a fait accompli, and so the city must play its hand cautiously as steadily worsening odds suggest another question:

What is the chance that even with a functional parking garage, River View is ever completed as proposed?


Before Thursday’s River View remix, New Albany was to have been promptly rewarded for providing Mainland with the necessary parking garage collateral, in the sense that the vital condominium occupancies would be animated right out of the gate.

Now, with Mainland at long last acknowledging prevailing banking, investment, economic and cultural realities, and admitting to errors in creating so many lofty and unlikely expectations, River View’s entire reason for being – its game-changing condominiums – is being pushed all the way to project’s end, and slated to come last, if at all.

In the interim, before the condos are ever close to coming on line, there are to be rental housing units – perhaps useful to Mainland as cash-flow mechanisms, but to repeat, quite contradictory to every previous stated aim of River View as helping to create a residential ownership society downtown.

Besides, do we really need to strengthen the anti-ordinance enforcement bloc, one traditionally dominated by rental property owners, by adding another bloc of rental properties?

And yet for all of Mainland’s lofty, messianic housing aims, Version 2.0 of River View as now described hinges not on residential occupancy, but retail proliferation. Frankly, that’s a risky proposition, and as a cure, it might be worse than the malady.

Realtor and primary Mainland sales appendage Mike Kopp openly divulged to the council on Thursday that the recent merger of his Blue Sun real estate startup with Remax was for the express purpose of tapping into the latter’s commercial strengths, so as to locate a prime retail anchor tenant for River View. These usual code words reek of chain retail covetousness on Mainland’s part; what are the chances of such a retail anchor tenant being an independent local business?

Worse (better?), what are the chances that any of the coveted, cookie-cutter retail chains will occupy space in downtown New Albany prior to the proximity of new condos, their free-spending owners, and the anticipated ripple effect of their presence? Kopp surely is good at his job. At the same time, he’s no miracle worker.

Furthermore, if the “first” phase of River View (to follow the required parking garage) is about retail occupancy, and if no retail anchor tenant can be found, chain or independent, why would banks and investors mandating the phased-in approach still agree to finance the next rental and condo phases?

And, if River View stalls, how exactly does Mainland “pay” for the necessary parking garage?


Let’s review.

River View was supposed to benefit the community by creating a residential ownership society, which would “trickle back” benefits to downtown, justifying a $15 million publicly financed parking garage.

Now, in order to approach this goal, Mainland must create not condos, but retail, and on a scale unseen in downtown New Albany since the 1960’s.

Next, it must build on the retail upsurge by adding rental apartment housing, which already inundates the city.

Then, and only then, Mainland will be able to proceed with the condo ownership society, which from the very beginning was the confidently predicted benefit to the community, one worth a $15 million publicly financed parking garage to achieve.

To some, this revised plan for River View will appear sensible. It is difficult to see how. Speaking personally, I’ve nothing against any of the project’s originators or its acolytes, but I’m as yet unconvinced. It’s sad, because it’s such a nice dream, but River View has no clothes. Wishing won’t make it otherwise, and its time for the city to move on by addressing existing infrastructure needs downtown.

(In 2011 at NACHighlights & Lowlights: Picking and rewarding the River View winners)