Friday, August 31, 2012

We await the ATC's verdict.

The first steps toward improvements at Bank Street Brewhouse have been taken, and now we'll see what the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission thinks. The build-out for Lloyd's Landing and refurbishments in the WCTU Reading Room will take some time to finish, but the most important initial "to do" items have commenced. Stay tuned, because I'll be hitting you up for furniture suggestions very, very soon.

Bank Street Brewhouse's former patio will be rechristened as the WCTU Reading Room.

Movie night at the Amphitheater is off, but the Eikosi fest is on.

The Labor Day weekend movie night tomorrow is off ... but the Eikosi Wine & Beer Festival in Salem is still on, rain or shine. From the 'Bune:
NEW ALBANY — Due to the expected heavy rainfall this weekend, tonight’s [Saturday] double movie feature at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater has been canceled.

The movies “Jurassic Park” and “Despicable Me” were slated to be shown in concordance with Labor Day weekend, and the city is exploring opportunities to reschedule the event. For more information, visit the website

Mittled's core platform, at a glance.

To paraphrase Mencken, conservatism is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Mayor Fischer articulates Vision(less) Louisville while dribbling, driveling and drooling.

Bear in mind that even as a fan of professional basketball, I'm not entirely willing to concede that a pro sports team belongs in such a "vision" (delirious people have been known to have visions, too), although the economic realities of the downtown arena strongly suggest that college basketball occupancy alone will not be enough to carry its weight.

Slam dunk? Mayor Fischer’s Vision Louisville 25-year plan apparently includes an NBA team, by Terry Boyd (Insider Louisville)

Which got us thinking, “What is Mayor Fischer really trying to say, here?”

  • Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.”
  • Professional basketball star as the headline speaker.
  • Big discussion about a downtown arena.
  • Fischer’s first huge initiative devoted to asking Louisvillians for ideas about how to improve the city as the set-up.

We couldn’t help but think the whole event was about three little letters: N. B. A.

It's the "vision" statement itself that is filled with inadvertent hilarity.

Here’s the overall statement about Vision Louisville:


We are ready to harness our collective energy and chart our path to the future, to decide how we want Louisville to look, feel, and flow in 2040 ... Why now? Change is upon us – from the economy to the environment, the pace of change in cities world-wide is both rapid and far reaching. Meeting change head on and being proactive about our community’s future is not just about being competitive. Although being competitive is important, we also need to be about city-building — shaping our environment, building a beautiful and attractive city, and establishing a positive future.
Yep, by the year 2040, we'll have embraced "change head on", and presumably will do so by driving our Hummers to the NBA game on a tragically expanded, Eisenhower-era, private-auto-clogged, tolled, regional expressway and bridges system (which Greg Fischer supports), sans mass transit or any other form of environmentally friendly transportation infrastructure.

Really? Is this a "vision thing" just a joke, Mayor Fischer?

Steve Bush: " I can be a county elected official because I do not work for the county."

Pete posted a photo on Facebook, and I asked a question ... and to my shock and amazement, Floyd County Commissioner Stephen Bush promptly answered my question without so much as deleting it.

He must not have received Parson Clere's memo about how to misuse social media.

My question: "Must (Bush) conform to the new 'no cops get elected' law?

Commissioner Bush's answer: "My understanding of the new law is that I can be a county elected official because I do not work for the county. As a city employee, Senate Bill No. 167 states that I cannot hold an elected office in the city because it's the political subdivision's legislative or fiscal body. Hope that helps."

Fair enough. I admire Bush's immediacy and nuanced non-deletion, whether or not we are in agreement, but of course it didn't end right there.

Me: "I look forward to reading the candidate's platform, which I suspect will be filled with references to sidestepping the county's various funding obligations v.v. the city of New Albany."

Bush: "I find it very interesting that you would throw out accusations of sidestepping when you haven't attended a Commissioner's meeting where these decisions have been made or even asked me face to face about my position on these issues. I would invite you to sit down with me and talk about my stance on the issues and I can give you my side so you at least can get more facts before you make a judgment against me."

Whoa -- looks like I may have inadvertently brushed against a scab. My response:

"Two can play that game: I don't recall seeing you at very many city council meetings over the years. But this is small beer, and as you know, not particularly relevant. I'm perpetually time-challenged, but would enjoy the opportunity to hear your side of the story."

I intend to do so. A final amusing peripheral issue came from one of the candidate's friends.

David E.: "I suggest the County impose a $10 a bottle (or mug) imported beer tax to help raise the needed revenue to pay for funding obligations v.v. the city of New Albany."

That's like a lob pass.

Me: "DE may be on to something, although it might help to define 'imported beer' for the benefit of those who cling to the fiction that Budweiser, a multinational monolith with HQ in Belgium, still somehow qualifies as 'domestic'. As the owner of the only Floyd County-produced beer (after all, we on the flood plain actually do pay Floyd County taxes), I'd be delighted to enjoy tax-exempt status."

Strangely, the conversation ended there.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

ON THE AVENUES: Thoughts about independence.

ON THE AVENUES: Thoughts about independence.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

It’s simply a fact of life that almost every single working day during each calendar year, independent small businesses walk a high wire without a net.

Engorged corporate franchise teats for suckling? We have none.

Massive federal bailouts, available as soothing stress relief? Not exactly.

But hardly a week passes without various levels of government providing subsidies for the very same multinational monoliths best placed to decapitate the independent business segment, as procured by the same lawyers and lobbyists we cannot afford.

On and on it goes. Out there in the soulless exurb, the sheep working at one monolithic chain give each other gift cards redeemable at another, and the money inexorably hemorrhages out of the community, at least until it reaches terminal gravity at whichever offshore tax havens offering the best terms to the coddled white-bread Mitt Romneys of our era.

But you know what?

Digressions, rants and bitterness aside, I’m generally firm in the belief that most indies wouldn’t have it any other way.

The only true bottom line for me is moral justification. Getting out of bed each morning, safe in the knowledge that whether or not I get it right 100% of the time, I can still go back to sleep with my standards and integrity intact … well, that’s always been enough in my world, and enough for many others, too.

We sink, and we swim. We win and we lose. Often we’re too exhausted to know the difference. Bruised and battered, arrogant and triumphant, and every conceivable emotion falling between these extremes; small business people have felt them all, and the adrenalin rush we cherish when all the cylinders are hitting is enough to overwhelm those pesky, nagging problems – a Band-Aid here, another digit in the crumbling dike there.

And while I’m at it, this independent small business roller coaster ride has very little to do with money, at least in my case. We’ve always rolled most of the scant profits back into the business in an ongoing effort, admittedly scattershot, to continue improving it.

In personal terms, whenever I’ve had money, I’ve just gone and spent it, and usually had a whale of a time doing so, because I shan’t be taking it with me when I die, anyway. Personal financial gain is barely relevant, and most of the best things aren’t really that expensive, anyway: Books, music, a bicycle and a BLT when the local tomatoes are in season.

The real point in life is to beat both the bad odds and insufferable bastards stacked against you, and to do so as often as you possibly can before crawling back to the table to spin the wheel yet another time. It’s addictive that way.


Now, belatedly, I come to the topic of La Rosita, which is my all-time favorite local Mexican restaurant, and Israel Landin, the restaurant’s owner and mastermind, who is my all-time favorite local Mexican chef.

I might dispense with the adjective “Mexican,” and still be telling the full truth, although I’ll keep it in place as a modifier for those reading from afar. Note that is given the time to learn Russian, Kenyan or Burmese cuisine, Israel would be just as intuitive and creative a chef.

However, it’s no secret to food-loving New Albanians that the past year or so has been somewhat unkind to the La Rosita location on Pearl Street in downtown, which originated as the restaurant’s flagship before the ill-fated opening of a second location in Louisville. Israel spent virtually all of his time tending to the expansion, which now has contracted, and he’s back in New Albany.

This is a very favorable development, but perhaps as befits the personalized nature of independent small businesses, it does not come without a caveat of sorts: It is challenging to laud the impending revitalization of the La Rosita concept in New Albany without conceding, at least to some degree, the restaurateur’s own complicity in the decline preceding it.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, this reasoning applies to any of us, including me – perhaps ESPECIALLY me – and to any small business, including my own. If we spread ourselves so thin that bottom-line essentials go missing, we’ve only ourselves to blame. At the same time, know that we’d never knowingly or intentionally spread ourselves so thin. We do what we do because we think we’re capable of doing it. When we fail, rest assured that we’re the first to agonize over it … and learn.

We sink, and we swim. We win and we lose. There are no engorged corporate franchise teats to suckle, no massive federal bailouts to snuggle, and somewhere out in the exurb, tax abatements were just awarded to a spanking new Outback in gleaming faux-Australian.

Yes, Israel is back in New Albany, and judging from what I’ve seen in two recent visits to La Rosita on Pearl Street, he’s busting his arse like a man possessed to right a listing vessel. I can appreciate his efforts, because I’m engaged in a similar phase at NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse, albeit under somewhat different circumstances.

There’s no need to wag that finger. I know how many of you have told me that given the inconsistencies, you wouldn’t give La Rosita another chance. I’m here today to ask you to reconsider – not out of charity, but because Israel has proven to us many times over that when he’s on his game, it’s fantastic. He’s earned a do-over, in my opinion.

Give Chef Israel a bit of time to work on the service – the food’s been pretty good lately, and the physical plant is being scrubbed, repaired and upgraded – and dip a toe back into the water. At its inception, La Rosita was a game-changer, and it can be one again.

Atheism, employment discrimination, and New Albany's embryonic Human Rights Commission.

Jerry DeWitt was a small-town Louisiana building inspector and a firebrand preacher. When his faith disappeared, so did his job.

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader, by Robert F. Worth (New York Times Magazine)

On Dec. 1, his boss asked to meet him at a diner in town. Sitting at the table, the man took out two printouts from secular Web sites with DeWitt’s name on it. “He told me: ‘The Pentecostals who run the parish are not happy, and something’s got to be done,’ ”DeWitt recalled. “Half an hour later I was out of a job.” (His former boss did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.)

New Albany's new human rights ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of religious belief. Atheism is an absence of religious belief. But doesn't the DeWitt case amply illustrate that employment discrimination can be based on atheism?

If so, shouldn't the human rights ordinance be amended to boldly say precisely that?

33.145 - Public policy and purpose.
It is the policy of the city that it does not discriminate in the provision or implementation of its programs and services on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It is the public policy of the city to provide all citizens equal opportunity for education, employment, access to public accommodations and acquisition through purchase or rental of real property, including, but not limited to housing, and to eliminate segregation or separation based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, since an equal access to and use of public accommodations and equal opportunity for acquisition of real property are hereby declared to be civil rights.

Money porn at the GOP confection.

There's porn, and there's food porn. Maybe even beer porn.

Then there's money porn, otherwise known as the GOP platform.

Frank Rich on the National Circus: Chris Christie, New Jersey Sun King

... This is the same patrician stance that both Romneys always take: That we, the little folk, should just “trust” them — and not worry ourselves about the fine details, whether those details pertain to their unreleased tax returns or the specifics of his policy initiatives should he be elected president. No reason to believe that this noblesse oblige tactic will fly any better today than it has so far. And as for this notion that Ann Romney can fix Mitt’s “likability” gap by giving him a transfusion of humanity, that’s a fool’s errand. Indeed, the Romney gurus seemed to have embraced a Wizard of Oz strategy for filling in the blanks of Mitt’s public persona — Ann Romney was to give her brainy hubby a heart and Chris Christie was to imbue Mr. Etch A Sketch with courage. Don’t they realize that this makes Mitt the Tin Man?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The new math, as taught by our superintendent.

In 2010, based on Hibbard administration recommendations, the former NA-FC School Board closed three elementary schools (including two in New Albany), assuring the community that demographic projections supported the decision.

In 2011, a somewhat revamped school board, with the support of the Hibbard administration, sold both closed New Albany elementaries for a tenth of a pittance compared to what the community had invested in them.

This year, the very same school board is developing a facilities master plan and the Hibbard administration is already warning that at least three elementary schools, including two in New Albany, are facing difficulties due to limited available space with demographics suggesting such space issues will increase.

Hibbard, of course, was recently given a raise alongside significant cuts in other areas owing to fears that the board would be unable to find anyone else as competent. Given his gift for numbers, it's a wonder whether he noticed.

Bill Nye: "We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future."

Bill Nye offers the perfect antidote to the pervasive superstition and sheer doltery parading sans intellectual clothing in Tampa.

Bill Nye Isn't Dead, He's Gone Viral (

In the video, Nye says that while everybody is entitled to his/her own opinion, creationism is unequivocally wrong, and that people who still believe it -- or more importantly, insist it is taught to their children -- hold society back for everybody. Nye argues we need a scientifically literate and educated population.

In his words: "I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems."

For the life of me, I can't explain why every four years around this time ...

... I can't stop thinking about Leni Riefenstahl. Must be a coincidence.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Bicentennial Park deserves a Bicentennial Ale ...

 ... and NABC will be brewing it for sale throughout 2013, both in draft and bottles.

The only question is what to call it. The recipe will be the same as last year's Steamboat Common, which was brewed to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first steamboat journey on the Ohio River.

Here are a few finalists, in approximate order of my personal preference.

New Albany, Nefariously
Wonderfully & Delightfully Us
Ale, CeeSaw!
Stormwater Premium Export
Erika's Extra Special Bitter (EESB)

Submit your ideas to me -- I have an inside connection to the brewery.
New Albany bicentennial park builder to be selected today; Council waiting on funding events planned for 2013 celebration, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

... As for the park, the commission received two bids earlier this month, the lowest of which was $537,000 as submitted by MAC Construction and Excavating. The second bid for the park — which will be built at the corner of Spring and Pearl streets downtown — was for $548,076 and was received from EZ Construction.

Those bids were taken under advisement for staff review, and while the Gahan administration wouldn’t confirm which company will be suggested to receive the contract, the money appropriated for the project indicates it will be MAC.

Along with the $312,000 approved by the council, the city also garnered a $225,000 grant from the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County for the park. Those amounts add up to $537,000, which was the sum of the MAC bid.

Richard Florida: "The Geography of Craft Beer."

The article is short, but interesting: The Geography of Craft Beer, by Richard Florida (The Atlantic Cities)

America has more craft beer breweries today than at any other point since 1887. Merriam-Webster added the term to their dictionary this year. Even President Obama has his own brew.

The number of breweries is increasing dramatically, according to the Brewers Association, a trade organization — just take a glance at this nifty chart on their website — and 350 more were added between June and the same time last year. Among these breweries, 97 percent are "craft brewers" — meaning they are relatively low-production, independently owned, and "interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent."

Resisting the temptation to expound (yet again) on the teetotaling Mittled Romney's intrinsic unsuitability for high office, it's worth following the link to mull over the demographic and economic patterns.

With the help of my colleague Charlotta Mellander, I took a quick look at how the concentration of craft breweries per capita correlates with key state demographic and economic characteristics. As usual, I point out that correlation points only to associations between variables and does not imply causation. Other factors may come into play. Still, this analysis points to a number of interesting patterns.

Income is a wash, education is good for craft beer, while religion ... not so much. Which brings us back to Mittled. Why risk the White House brewery for a Dry?

Rules of engagement for the Big Four.

I agree that skateboards and rollerblades can only detract from a cyclist's primary imperative, after dodging oblivious drivers: Avoiding fellow cyclists who insist piloting their bikes as thought they were skateboards.

Plan to walk, bike, run, but not skate over Louisville's Big Four Bridge, by Sheldon S. Shafer (Courier-Journal)

Runners and walkers are welcome; cyclists, too. You can even bring your dog, as long as you use a leash.

But if you’re a skateboarder or rollerblader, don’t plan on using the Big Four Bridge cross-river skywalk once it opens in December — the rules likely won’t allow it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What we did in 1907, we cannot do now.

In 1992, we drove to Indianapolis and took the train to Chicago just for the fun of it. I had an ill-fated job interview in the Windy City, and what I remember about the ride was that we went very slowly owing to tracks rated for freight, not passengers; the only beer on board was Budweiser; and in Lafayette, Indiana, the train halted right in the middle of a downtown street to let passengers on and off.

At some point since then, Lafayette redirected its train tracks to a corridor right alongside the Wabash River, and the eastern approach to the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge (site of Saturday's superb beer festival) is constructed to move walkers over the rails first, and then across the river itself. The station and plaza in front of it both gleam, local buses stop there, and there were people in the vicinity at most hours of the day.

It's a very urban, European tableau, at least until one realizes that only two passenger trains stop at the station each day, one going to Chicago and the other coming back, and then ... outside ... (sighhh) ... it's America, again.  

Rusty by design.

CM CeeSaw would not approve. He likes his decay to be achieved the old-fashioned way, through abject neglect, rather like Bill "Community First" Allen does over on Main Street.

Constructing a Facade Both Rugged and Rusty ... The new Barclays Center uses 12,000 separate pieces of what is called weathering steel, deliberately covered by a layer of rust, by Elizabeth A. Harris (New York Times)

At the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn, dozens of men and women in hardhats are scurrying about each day, hanging this and attaching that, preparing the Barclays Center for its opening, which is now just a few weeks away. The lights have come on inside, some treetops are visible along the arena’s edge, and some bright blue signage has gone up along the building’s facade, an undulating shell of brownish steel.

After years of building, and even more years of bickering, the arena is almost finished — but this is not immediately obvious to all those who wander by.

“Is it meant to be that way, with the rust?” one woman asked, squinting at the steel.

“I thought they were going to paint it,” said a man who stopped to stare.

No, they are not.

Jenkins: "Would you want to go before that court?"

Even the most casual of sports fans surely held an opinion about Lance Armstrong, just as they did in baseball with Barry Bonds. I remain firmly within the Armstrong camp in spite of recent developments, primarily because of the hypocrisy surrounding concepts like "cheating" (you mean to tell me that so many individuals and institutions venerated by Americans do NOT lie, cheat and steal?), but that particular discussion can be saved for another day.

For now, one can scour the Web for testimonials for and against Armstrong, and find just the right one to mirror personal points of view.

I merely offer this one by Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post, which asks us to consider the point at which the odiousness of the policing transcends the villainy of the crime.

Lance Armstrong doping campaign exposes USADA’s hypocrisy

... Quite independently of Lance, with whom I wrote two books, for a long, long time I’ve had serious doubts about the motives, efficiency and wisdom of these “doping” investigations. In the Balco affair, all the wrong people were prosecuted. It’s the only so-called drug investigation in which the manufacturers and the distributors were given plea deals in order to throw the book at the users. What that told us was that it was big-game hunting, not justice. It was careerist investigators trying to put athletes’ antlers on their walls. Meanwhile, the Fourth Amendment became a muddy, stomped-on, kicked-aside doormat.

Veggie by necessity?

Hilariously in this year of drought, there is as much an absence of American political "leadership" on topics like this one as there is rain. That's because patriotic American exceptionalism, rationalized by the purported deity's preference for robber baron capitalism, teaches us to scoff at the planet's needs.

Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists ... Water scarcity's effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed population expected to reach 9bn by 2050, by John Vidal (

Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world's leading water scientists.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dig IN, earlier today.

"On August 26, 2012, Indiana growers will make their way to White River State Park to showcase their high quality, locally produced products, and remind Hoosiers there is much more than corn in Indiana. Dozens of Indiana chefs, brewers, wineries and food artisans will gather in the park to celebrate all that Indiana agriculture has to offer."
--from the Dig IN web site

My brewery crew would like to have Sun King's truck. I just want the delivery bike. We stopped to investigate Dig IN while driving back to New Albany from Lafayette, and it looked like a really good show to come.

Bridging the craft beer gap in Lafayette.

The John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge connects Lafayette and West Lafayette, spanning the Wabash River. On Saturday, it was the site of the first Beers Across the Wabash craft beer festival. Above, the bridge is pictured in its everyday guise.

The Hilton Garden Inn lies on the West Lafayette side of the bridge (Lafayette's Amtrak station is on the other end), and on Saturday, the most familiar clue to a coming event was spotted on the street below our window, because where there are Port-a-Potties, there's going to be beer.

Early in the festival, the bridge was filling with samplers. Soon after I took this photo, there no longer was any time to take photos. First-time events are notoriously hard to stage, but the organizers had it mostly right, and it will take place again next August on the same weekend.

Meanwhile, we thoroughly enjoyed what's being offered on both sides of the Wabash. Two hours after the beer event ended, a jazz and blues festival revved up in downtown Lafayette. There was music, street food, and a few civilized pints of Bitter at the Lafayette Brewing Company.

A Beers Across the Wabash fest account in the Lafayette newspaper is here

Labor Day weekend at the Riverfront Cinemas with a double feature and craft beer.

NABC will be there with Progressive Pints. I've found India Pale Ale to be an especially compelling accompaniment to Despicable Me.


On Saturday, September 1st, the City of New Albany will be celebrating Labor Day by hosting a double feature on the scenic, New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater. The fun will begin at 8pm, with the first movie, Despicable Me, beginning at dark. After the first movie, which runs 95 minutes, there will be a 15 minute intermission. The second movie, Jurassic Park, will begin promptly after that.

Despicable Me is a 2010 animated tale about a criminal mastermind and the three orphan girls who get caught up in his evil plan to steal the moon. The film is rated PG for rude humor and mild action.

Jurassic Park is a 1993 adventure in which Dr. Alan Grant, one of the world’s most renowned paleontologists, attempts to survive a park overrun with newly cloned dinosaurs.

Jurassic Park is rated PG-13 for intense science fiction terror. Given the rating, parents with young children should use their best discretion on whether this film is suitable for them.

Vendors will be on location to provide food and drinks for moviegoers. No outside alcohol will be allowed on the premises. This event will be free to the public.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lloyd's Landing progress continues.

The hedge had become infested with weeds, and the tree was half-dead. We needed a clean retaining wall for fencing. I hate killing vegetation, but we'll have a landscaping program in place by next spring, by which time perhaps there'll be some rain. The Lloyd's Landing buildout will continue in fits and starts, with the ultimate objective of facilitating the enjoyment of locally brewed craft beer in the great outdoors. Your patience, patronage and support are appreciated.

And that's not a bicycle rack, either.

New Albanians have been given a vague impression that a half-million or so dollars will be spent on Bob "My Way, Not Two Ways" Caesar's Bicentennial Park, which increases the likelihood that while the future garden space directly in his daily line of sight will gleam, the municipal parking lot pictured above (on State Street adjacent to Wick's) will continue to resemble a smudgy pile of civic disinterest.

Couldn't Clean and Green occupy it, or something?

Bill's right.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What's the frequency, Kenneth? (2012 remix)

I took the photo on Thursday. Indeed, it has been a fine summer for roving bands of  utility monopoly contractors to destroy recently paved streets, but this is the weirdest array of sidewalk hazard markers yet.

Domestic vs. Muslim terrorism.

Food for the kitchen table.

The benefits of hindsight: The need for more monitoring of domestic terrorism, in The Economist

... since coming under Republican control in 2010, the House Homeland Security Committee has held five hearings on Muslim radicalisation, and none on right-wing threats. Yet America’s right-wing extremists commit a vastly greater number of murderous attacks (though leading to fewer deaths) than Muslims do.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ON THE AVENUES: My Three Step Therapy for the Tolling Blues.

ON THE AVENUES: My Three Step Therapy for the Tolling Blues.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Southern Indiana’s resident economic oligarchs have diligently labored, backstage-leveraged, and eagerly licked exposed posteriors to provide the metropolitan Louisville region with a gift for the American post-industrial age so woefully inadequate that to this very day, it all seems like a Bill Maher satire piece.

But it’s the Ohio River Bridges Project, an auto-centric, Eisenhower-era, top-down “mobility” solution for the resource-gobbling individualist.

Think of the ORBP as a garishly wrapped box, which when opened, reveals a steaming pile of cattle dung and a slot to drop quarters for the privilege of continuing to smell it.

While other communities nationwide explore futuristic transit options, we get Kerry Stemler’s pre-pubescent idea of an erector set, with his leering tumescence enabled by naked steel girder eroticism, not unlike Dagny Taggart’s attraction to Reardon Metal in that crazy dead woman’s book that the wacko teabaggers still believe is literature.

I’ve never been more proud to have been labeled as an toxic obstructionist than through my adamant opposition to the ORBP. Indeed, the fight isn’t over. Show me where the Sunnyside version of the Alamo stands, and I’ll man the crumbling ramparts against One Southern Indiana’s zombie polo-shirted hordes until the first wildly inaccurate Wilbur Smith revenue estimate causes the river crossing fee to quadruple in mid-sensor-scan.

That said, the odds for us are worse than before. The Feds have laughed aloud and told us that if we’re so determined to be obstinately dunderheaded, please be their guests; the grants can go to mass transit elsewhere, and it tolls are inevitable, the Feds suspect that with educational standards hereabouts at such a low ebb, we’re sure to relax and enjoy it.

If bridge tolls eventually become reality, three things need to happen.


First, we must consider the status of the Sherman Minton Bridge – New Albany’s bane as recently as last year, when it was closed for repairs, but in the future, potential symbol of our civic free lunch.
As a disclaimer, label me skeptical. In spite of the oligarch cadre’s insistence, the mere existence of Horseshoe Casino, and the need for untrammeled (read: untolled) access to the all-night gaming we depend on to indirectly fund waning social programs probably will not permanently spare the Sherman Minton from taxation.

However, for so long as it remains safely off the tolling grid, the city of New Albany has a tailor-made, providential civic slogan, one we must repeat over and over:


Forget Trickle Back City, Open for Business, Riverview is Our Savior and all the other half-baked suggestions that make reasonable people wonder whether we’ve lost our minds. Compared with our brethren over in Jeffersonville, who are about to be relentlessly pulverized, first with unnecessary downtown bridge construction detritus, delays and clutter, and then, when all of it has been nicely carted off and paved, with the sheer villainy of tolls themselves, New Albany will be able to market itself as an island of sanity amid the turbulence of KStem’s self-serving tumescence.


Second, seeing as this potential New Albany advantage has one significant drawback, we must reverse decades of Real-time, Caesaresque inertia and get radical, aggressive and determined about our own streets, what they mean for the people who live here, and what we can do to facilitate them for use by people as well as automobiles.

It should suffice to say that maintaining our holy writ of a quasi-Stalinist 1960’s grid of one-way speed enhancers, with the novel magnet of an untolled Sherman Minton Bridge attracting drive-throughs and fly-overs through the city’s neighborhoods in unprecedented numbers, traveling as quickly as possible to save two bucks, and ignoring what we have to offer as they put the pedal to the metal, would be suicidal to our future prospects.

They will not stop here any more than casino clients already do (they don’t). Let’s “complete” New Albany’s streets now, and cure with a dose of intelligent design the illnesses we now try to “treat” with old-fashioned Georgia speed traps.


Third, let’s resolve to never forget that the ORBP is happening not because of genuine concerns for safety, or comprehensive thoughts for the future of transportation in the metro Louisville statistical area, or whatever other drivel we’ve been fed in a effort to solicit support for the project where precious little exists among just plain folks.

Rather, this is happening because the oligarchs and their ancillaries need to make their money the Mitt Romney way, in the exurbs, at places like River Ridge, where the jobs added by the likes of Amazon can only subtract independent small businesses from their homes down the street in the urban core.

In short, the ORBP is capitalism all right, but in a very restricted, profit-making sense of channeling the largess in directions so obvious that Nostradamus needn’t return to help us guess.

From the ORBP’s beginning until now, it has been representative of American robber baron capitalism of the old, heavy, monopolistic school, where Gohmann Asphalt’s soulless flunkies issue pious public intonations of “for your own safety” even as they ink the bids for the business constructing the project itself, “sealing” the deal with watery Bud Light Limes at a vapid chain restaurant somewhere on Veteran’s Parkway.

Thus, my third suggested bit of pre- and post-tolling therapy is simply this: Let’s never forget from whence this foolishness has emanated.

Granted, we cannot vote against the likes of Kerry Stemler, Steve Schultz and the rest of their merrily fluffing oligarch’s advancement society.

However, politicians are another matter, and when it comes to the ORBP and the likelihood of the regressive tax we’re all still euphemistically referring to as “tolls,” we have a clear idea of who is responsible.

Anyone seen Ed “Pro-Tolls” Clere or Steve “I Heart Tolls” Stemler lately? Remember them, will you?

"New Albany anti-discrimination law draws raves from Kentucky."

I've forgotten to welcome the Courier-Journal's Grace Schneider back to the NA-FC beat. She returns to cover a city that somehow manages to move forward in spite of itself, as with this progressive recognition of human rights, one sure to be attacked by the usual troglodyte saboteurs at their earliest opportunity.

New Albany anti-discrimination law draws raves from Kentucky, by Grace Schneider (C-J)

... New Albany’s new law bans discrimination in employment, education, housing and public accommodations based on an individual’s actual or perceived race, religion, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, or disability.

As newly appointed members of the commission prepare to meet for a formative meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the city-county building, groups in Kentucky have praised the city for passing the law.

Construction on Lloyd's Landing at Bank Street Brewhouse begins this week. Here are the plans and details.

From the inception of NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse in 2009, it has been our ultimate aim to annex the remainder of the parking area on the building’s north side, and to build an outdoor garden for use in seasonable weather -- although I realize “seasonable” is somewhat the subjective term these days.

I’m happy to announce that finally, the time has come to begin this project. On Thursday (August 23), work will commence with the construction of walls and fences to delineate the rectangular outdoor space, thus complying with state alcoholic beverage regulations governing its future use by craft beer drinkers.

This all-ages outdoor space will be called Lloyd’s Landing, in honor of our cherished friend, the late Lloyd “Highwayman” Wimp.

It is my belief that we can have Alcohol and Tobacco Commission approval for this new “patio” (legally, it will be referred to as a “patio,” not a “beer garden” as such, although this is a mere technicality) in our hands by the first week of September.

This means a few changes, clarifications and explanations.

(1) From the time that construction starts this Thursday, vehicular access to the parking area will cease. According to ATC regulations, there can be no back-and-forth in the ground’s daily usage. Once the parking area has been licensed by the ATC for people and their beers, it no longer can be used to park their cars.

(2) Parking alternatives are many. There is unmetered parking on Bank Street itself. The parking lot across Bank Street once again is open, and the lot adjacent to the Carnegie Center, while signposted for Carnegie use, can be used in daytime. The Fox Law parking lot on the south side of Bank Street Brewhouse can be used after 5:00 p.m., and so can the Schad Law parking spaces, just east of the Carnegie Center and visible from Bank Street Brewhouse. For those interested in centrally located parking to facilitate roaming throughout historic downtown New Albany, please be aware that the city’s parking garage on the corner of State and Market Streets is free on weeknights (after 5:00 p.m.) and on weekends. This is three blocks from Bank Street Brewhouse to the southwest.

(3) The former roofed patio, which was modified earlier this year by the installation of garage doors facing north, now will be considered part of the original building’s extended floor plan, thus enabling us to build out and use the rear bar area. This former patio space will be referred to as the WCTU Reading Room, for reasons to be explained elsewhere.

(3) The officially designated smoking area will be the entirety of the Lloyd’s Landing outdoor garden expanse, as accessed through the door to the left and rear of the WCTU Reading Room. Because the WCTU Reading Room is a building and not a patio, state law forbids smoking inside it.

(4) Our newly evolving public areas have specific purposes. Lloyd’s Landing is intended as an outdoor area for the enjoyment of beers, entertainment and special events (weather permitting). When fully weatherized, the WCTU Reading Room is intended as a year-round casual use area for beers. Weather permitting, it will be a garage-doors-up, natural extension of Lloyd’s Landing. It also will be capable of adaptation for special events, tastings and gatherings (like the Prost room at NABC’s original location). Because Bank Street Brewhouse’s kitchen is small, food service will remain a feature of the BSB main dining room, bar and current street-side Taxpayers Memorial Patio. Eventually, you’ll be able to enjoy a pleasant drink outside, and then be seated when a dining area table is ready.

(5) These first steps (fencing and licensing) are only the beginning. They will be followed by much more work: Lloyd’s Landing surfacing, furnishings and landscaping; WCTU Reading Room roof, furnishings and bar completion; and the step-by-step process of coordinating them all. We will complete these steps as time and money permit.

Thanks for your patience as we begin the build-out. Your suggestions and questions are welcomed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bank Street Brewhouse's former patio will be rechristened as the WCTU Reading Room.

See also: Construction on Lloyd's Landing at Bank Street Brewhouse begins this week. Here are the plans and details.

With the imminent expansion of Bank Street Brewhouse to the north, creating an outdoor garden to be known as Lloyd’s Landing in honor of the late Lloyd “Highwayman” Wimp, we will rechristen the former covered patio space as the WCTU Reading Room.

This requires a brief explanation.

Once upon a time, there were three separate lots between the Fox law office building to the south of Bank Street Brewhouse, and the Ricke agency to the north. Three grand houses built during the city of New Albany’s 19th-century adolescence stood on these lots until just after World War II. The first house to be demolished was the middle one, around 1950. Bank Street Brewhouse now operates from the remodeled garage building erected there.

Circa 1955, the houses on either side also were taken down, to be replaced by parking lots. It so happens that the house on the north side of Bank Street Brewhouse was owned for a very long time by New Albany’s branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. City guides dating from 1954 all the way back to 1919 identify the house as the WCTU’s chapter headquarters.

The NA-FC library’s web site contains a snippet about this long forgotten structure, as written in 1937 – just after Prohibition mercifully ended.

In the year 1852 Mr. John Crawford built and sold to Mr. Silas Day the large brick house on the west side of Bank Street now owned by the W.C.T.U. This was an example of a New Albany home of the better class in the 1850s and 1860s, and Mrs. Bowman, a daughter of Mr. Day, gives us a glimpse of the family life. She says, "I have a vivid memory of a morning when the family gathered in the back parlor for prayers, a daily institution in our home. I can see the large room, the light filtering through the shutters upon the white and gold walls, the green velvet carpet, the black haircloth furniture, and the tamboured muslin curtains, and I can see the form of my sister, a bride, lately returned from her wedding journey, sitting at the melodeon, leading us in our usual morning hymns. I remember her morning robe of buff pique, form-fitting, and opening all down the front over an under robe of white embroidery. She looked beautiful to my admiring eyes. The melodeon was always used at prayers and to accompany hymn singing on Sunday evenings.

I’m uncertain precisely when the WCTU came to inhabit the house, although in 1882, New Albany’s chapter merited mention in the “Minutes of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of the State of Indiana at the Annual Meeting.

It is reasonable to surmise that the New Albany WCTU’s zenith came in the early years of the 20th-century, during the successful campaign for nationwide Prohibition. Accordingly, Prohibition’s myriad and well-documented subsequent failures corroded the strength of America’s teetotalers. These days in New Albany, the craft brewing revolution flourishes on the very spot where its enemies once thrived, and symbolism like this is too delicious to ignore.

Hence, the evolution of the WCTU Reading Room at Bank Street Brewhouse. Your suggestions and questions are welcomed.

Saturday wine trek to Turtle Run and Grateful Goat.

The top three photos were taken at Turtle Run Winery, located just west of Lanesville. The grape harvest is underway, and the press was going full tilt when we peeked out the winery door.

The bottom two photos were taken at Grateful Goat Vineyard & Winery, located north of Palmyra. As you can see, there are goats ... and New Albany's Kevin Rees playing afternoon sipping music.

Tea partiers, recoil; here's more about how Ed Clere's bridge tolls will be calculated.

The Courier-Journal's Marcus Green reminds us that future bridge tolls will be tantamount to taxation without representation. I suggest you remember this inconvenient fact come November.

No requirements that tolling decisions will include Louisville-area residents

The power to set and adjust tolls on new Ohio River bridges will fall to a yet-to-be formed “tolling body” that will draw on two boards with few residents of Louisville and Southern Indiana ...

... A recent analysis by two local economists found that the bulk of the tolls would be paid by Indiana drivers, who would be the heaviest bridge users. Kentucky residents would pay $3.6 million annually based on a $1, one-way toll, while $8.6 million would be charged to Hoosier commuters.

That’s why any tolling body should include some representatives from Jeffersonville, said Dennis Julius, a Jeffersonville City Council member who has raised concerns about the impact of tolls and construction on the I-65 bridges.

“I think we ought to have some kind of representation, because we’re going to be probably the most affected of anybody, in my opinion,” he said.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Today's newspaper quiz: Why does it matter whether or not they're married?

The opening paragraph repeats this startling fact:
CLARKSVILLE — A married couple was arrested Monday after the Clarksville police removed 45 marijuana plants with an estimated value of $100,000 from their home.

I suppose it's time to get suspicious about the married couples around here.

GOP buffoon Todd Akin: What's next, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"?

I really loved this Todd Akin fellow on "BJ and the Bear."

What's that? Oh, right. Claude Akins. Dead since '94. Never mind.

But seriously, while we all know that today's typical Republican "leader" favors turning back the clock, setting the timepiece in the 13th century is impressive, indeed.

Next stop: Pleistocene.
'Legitimate rape' – a medieval medical concept; The idea that rape victims cannot get pregnant is a very old medical theory, by Vanessa Heggie (Guardian)

 ... The idea that rape victims cannot get pregnant has long roots. The legal position that pregnancy disproved a claim of rape appears to have been instituted in the UK sometime in the 13th century.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Inappropriate Bill Clinton in a meme that really matters.

Consider this a public service for those readers (how many?) not residing on Facebook. In the past, I've been critical of those on social media who post photo after doctored photo, seemingly unable to express their own points of view without resorting to another's creativity.

Today, I emulate them, and not because of my eagerness to point to the absurdity of Vladimir Putin's prosecution of a punk band. This already has been achieved with consecutive Trotsky/Pussy Riot posts.

It's because this meme is the funniest single thing I've seen on FB the entire year. What makes the gag work? Neither the look on Bill Clinton's face, nor Barack Obama's resignation. It's the aide walking behind Clinton, who's thinking of the movie Caddyshack.

Whomsoever the comic graphic genius, I congratulate you.

Video: "Trotsky's assassination remembered by his grandson."

Trotsky's assassination remembered by his grandson – video (Guardian)

Earlier: ON THE AVENUES: “Trotsky,” by Robert Service (NAC)

"Mitt Romney doesn't drink beer, because his God forbids it."

Thanks to MN for the link.

Hands down, the single most morbid web site devoted to baseball players.

It's The Deadball Era, it's necrology at its most methodical, and I recommend the "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" section.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Madison, WI: Pleasant memories of baseball, a Farmers Market and the Great Taste.

On Friday night, we attended the Madison Mallards game. The team belongs to an upper Midwest college summer league, and its home games utilize every last trick in the Bill Veeck promotional playbook. The Duck Blind is especially popular. A ticket covers admission, unlimited ballpark grub and as many craft beers as one might choose to sample. Above, Graham returns with bratwurst from the concession line, and following the game, the empties are loaded for removal.

The Dane County Farmers Market remains a must-visit. On Saturday mornings in season, it surrounds Capitol Square on all four sides.

Our reason for commuting to Madison each August is the Great Taste of the Midwest, a beer festival staged for the past 26 years by the city's homebrewing club. Shown above are two friends named Fred: Fred Bueltmann (left) from New Holland Brewing Company in Michigan (dressed as a zombie), and Fred Swanson (right), one of the Great Taste's chief organizers. There's more on the Great Taste at my Potable Curmudgeon blog.

The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Great Dane is a favorite stop each summer when we're in Madison for the Great Taste of the Midwest. We always stop by the downtown location (shown here), and this year, there was time to visit Great Dane's Fitchburg and Hilldale outposts. Pictured above are glycol-jacketed, gravity-fed cask ales, queued and ready for pouring. Below are "before and after" views of Great Dane's locally sourced chocolates, served with the beers that went into them.

Yet another opportunity for NA's city council to get redistricting right.

Perhaps KanyeZ filched the microfiche of the rejected 2008 plan?

Redistricting likely to soon see New Albany council vote; Public hearing slated for Sept. 20, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — After months of committee meetings, the New Albany City Council has slated a public hearing in September over a new redistricting plan.

Required to redraw the voting maps following a U.S. Census, the council must approve a redistricting ordinance by the end of the year. The topic has caused a mix of emotions in recent years, as a lawsuit was filed by residents against a prior council to lawfully redistrict, and the mere mention of redrawing the boundaries has sparked arguments and accusations.

Much of the debate centered around a 2008 redistricting committee that included plaintiffs in the case against the council. In part, the lawsuit was dropped due to the formation of the committee, though its redistricting plan was ultimately rejected by the council.

Meet “Frank,” a teabagger.

Yesterday afternoon, in route to Turtle Run, we exited the interstate at Edwardsville. There, in a yard facing State Road 62, was a huge hand-lettered sign in someone's yard extolling the virtues of Romney, Ryan and Mourdock. It might as well have been "Frank's" yard.

When ignorance becomes a movement: Meet ‘Frank’ from Louisville, a ‘Tea Party guy’, by Brian Tucker (Insider Louisville)

... Although my work will likely never be completed, I have arrived at a milepost of sorts and am now able to begin filing my report that shall ultimately be my life’s work – defining and debunking Teabaggery.

At first I thought it would be an easy venture -and it has been in some ways- because people love to tell you everything they know about politics.

Especially when they are dead wrong.

Meet “Frank.”