Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chinua Achebe and various ways of learning.

I'd already decided to wait for the probable obituary in The Economist before noting the death of Chinua Achebe, but then my resolve to tarry was further strengthened when a regular reader pointed out that I far more quickly lamented Herbert Streicher's passing while (seemingly) ignoring Achebe's.

Well, of course; in days of yore, Harry Reems' cinematic adventures were (shall we say) more personally influential than Achebe's writing. In a home where certain forms of instruction were lacking, one chose to learn the basics of language first, before graduating to modes of higher expression.

Chinua Achebe (The Economist)

 ... A small man with an impish smile under his floppy berets, he teased and spoke in riddles, in part to mask a growing rage. Then, in his mid-40s, he let rip, with an essay about Conrad in the Massachusetts Review that shocked American academics. “The real question”, he wrote, “is the dehumanisation of Africa and Africans which [an] age-long attitude has fostered and continues to foster in the world.”

Boasting culinary Indiana Joneses?

I was on this tangent earlier in March.

My kingdom for a horse (sausage), part two ... the backlash bits.

My kingdom for a horse (sausage), part one.

Here's another Guardian consideration of the "horsemeat furore." Click through just to see the sexy chocolate grasshopper.

The horsemeat furore was compounded by foolish foodie machismo; Culinary Indiana Joneses like to boldly eat what others wouldn't try. But that's just showing off, by Jay Rayner (The Observer/The Guardian)

A few years ago, on a trip to Tokyo, I ate sperm from the fugu, the blowfish famed for the toxicity of its internal organs. This reads like a boast, doesn't it?

Skeletal remains found in New Albany.

Update: The remains in New Albany have been identified as that of local journalism.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The shocking report One Southern Indiana sought to suppress: "Nearness to Public Transportation Strengthens Home Values."

(Insert Ohio River Bridges Project joke here)

If Kerry "I Am 1Si" Stemler could hack through the cyber brush and delete this one, you bet your sweet ass he would. It rather contradicts his entire career of public disservice. Thanks to D for the link.

Study: Nearness to Public Transportation Strengthens Home Values, by Esther Cho (DS News ... "delivering stories, ideas, links, companies, people, events, and videos impacting the mortgage default servicing industry.")

“Transportation plays an important role in real estate and housing decisions, and the data suggests that residential real-estate near public transit will remain attractive to buyers going forward. A sound transportation system not only benefits individual property owners, but also creates the foundation for a community’s long-term economic well being,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Escaping from Hauss Square, Birmingham AL and L'America itself? Get it in writing first.

Earlier in the week there were ruminations on the general topic of intellectualism's cruel fate within the political precincts comprising the city New Albany.

ON THE AVENUES: Anachronisms and intellectuals, here and there.

Hence, the tendency of New Albanian intellectuals to seek refuge in the cool embrace of Progressive Pints.

Forget for moment the blinding speed with which local ink-stained wretches, their pockets filled with 'Bama doubloons and Gideon screeds, rushed forward to Tweet my very point as it pertains to the media.

Rather, consider Bluegill's subsequent suggestion of reading material:

America -- the Grim Truth, by Lance Freeman (Escape from America Magazine)

Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

Another excerpt addresses our own peculiarly runted newsie institution.

If the people cannot make a change, how about the media? Not a chance. From Fox News to the New York Times, the mass media in the United States is nothing but the public relations wing of the corporatocracy, primarily the military industrial complex. At least the citizens of the former Soviet Union knew that their news was bullshit. In America, you grow up thinking you’ve got a free media, which makes the propaganda doubly effective. If you don’t think American media is mere corporate propaganda, ask yourself the following question: have you ever heard a major American news outlet suggest that the country could fund a single-payer health system by cutting military spending?

If only the Garner administration had made good on its promise of a million bucks. Come to think of it, just a dollar per broken promise in these burgs would add up to a plane ticket -- and that's just the spewspaper

New and improved Food and Dining Magazine web site is up.

Publisher John Carlos White vows that when he's finished with a massive overhaul of Food & Dining Magazine website, all the columns I've written since about 2004 (really, that long?) are going to be archived. That's quite scary.

It's also possible that I'll be doing some periodic beer blogging at the web site, so join me in giving it a look see:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Woody Guthrie and the Eastern Front: "Miss Pavlichenko."

During the course of his research for the label of NABC Eastern Front (see excerpt below), graphics maestro Tony Beard stumbled across Woody Guthrie's ode to Lyudmila Pavlichenko. Guthrie performed the song with the help of a machine that kills fascists.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko

Lyudmila Mikhailivna Pavlichenko (Ukrainian: Людмила Михайлівна Павліченко; Russian: Людмила Михайловна Павличенко; Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko; July 12, 1916 – October 10, 1974) was a Soviet sniper during World War II. Credited with 309 kills, she is regarded as the most successful female sniper in history.

For additional beer release news, go here.

There’s a whole new identity for an old favorite: Eastern Front, formerly known as Elsa von Horizon.

Eastern Front remains true to the same idea of an Imperial Pilsner, as brewed seasonally during recent year, and as originally formulated by former NABC pub brewer Jared Williamson as part of the since-retired Brewers Best Friend series.

In recent years, David Pierce (NABC’s director of brewing operations), has honed our Imperial Pilsner into even more of an awesome seasonal release than it was before. Unfortunately, and perhaps curiously, Elsa has not resonated as well off-premise as when poured in our own two establishments, prompting a rethink.

Trust me: I didn’t make this decision lightly. Changing Elsa’s name and imagery is hard, primarily because of my respect and esteem for Jared and his long tenure at NABC. At the same time, we really want the idea to succeed, and not just in our own smaller marketplace. It has clearly been the case that the Elsa name and previous label design did not click with the wider pool of customers, especially in the bottled version. So, a plan for adaptive reuse was in order. The beer’s just too damned good to leave behind, and so we move forward with Eastern Front.

The name Eastern Front is layered, and it reflects my own interests.

Eastern Front recognizes that throughout history, German and Slavic lands have overlapped, hence this strong, hoppy lager’s stylistic re-augmentation as a “Russian” Imperial Pilsner. It’s also a nod to graphics wunderkind Tony Beard’s artistic label inspiration: Female sniper teams posted to the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War (in the West, we still call it World War II).

Tony’s presently working on the label for Eastern Front, and as soon as it’s ready, you’ll see it here. This year’s batch will be draft only, with a limited allocation for outside draft sales in Indiana and Kentucky. In 2014, we hope to include a bottling run.

Hobknobb Roasting Company location on State Street is closed.

I'm not sure when the Hobknobb on State Street closed; I happened to notice the sign on the door while cruising past on Wednesday afternoon. The web site still lists it. The original Knobs location remains in business, and you still can read the owner's conservative "meme-a-day" postings on Facebook.

They're an interesting sociological phenomenon, and I really enjoy perusing them while seated at Quills, downtown, safely out of range of the exurb.

Keller: A personal defense of abortion rights.

Safe, legal and rare -- Keller's position, and mine, too. His essay is far too eloquent to suit the tub-thumpers, but then again, this is L'America.

It’s Personal, by Bill Keller (New York Times)

This will not be “succinct,” or simple, or likely to satisfy anyone who can reduce abortion to a slogan.

The closest thing I have to a guiding text on the subject of abortion is not a volume of constitutional law or a summary of the latest biological research on the origins of life. It is a black, three-ring binder containing hundreds of letters from readers who lived and suffered with the subject.

The letters arrived in response to a column called “Charlie’s Ghost,” which The Times published on June 29, 2002. It recounted the decision my wife and I made to end a badly troubled pregnancy, and the strong countervailing emotions that decision entailed.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

ON THE AVENUES: Anachronisms and intellectuals, here and there.

ON THE AVENUES: Anachronisms and intellectuals, here and there.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Francis Spufford’s novel is Red Plenty. The story takes place in the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev era, a time when ever so briefly, it appeared as though the USSR’s planned economy would make good on its promise of economic paradise. In fact, Khrushchev himself provided a firm date for the fruition: 1980.

(It didn’t happen, but you already knew that)

A narrator appears at the beginning of each of the novel’s main sections, providing a non-fictionalized background of historical events. The passages combine to serve as a concise Soviet era refresher course for those unfamiliar, and this is good, because nowadays, the USSR is fading from view everywhere in the world save for the deeper recesses of Vladimir Putin’s subconscious.

In the following excerpt, it is explained what occurred in Russia when the Bolsheviks were victorious in the Civil War, but found themselves still at odds with a distinctly Russian intellectual tradition, one actively opposing the Tsar, yet not necessarily welcoming the Bolshevik triumph.

The Bolsheviks had been having trouble with the old kind of intellectual ever since the revolution. The tiny professoriat they inherited – a fraction of an educated class which was itself a small fraction of Russia’s literate minority – was shaped by an ethical tradition more than a century old. Pre-revolutionary Russian intellectuals felt a sense of public obligation not shared by their equivalents abroad. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, it had been obvious to anyone educated that the tsarist regime was an embarrassing, oppressive anachronism. To be one of the lucky few who could read about the world outside therefore gave you a responsibility to try and do something about Russia; usually not in a directly political way, unless you were one of those with a very pronounced bump of idealism, but by building up an alternate Russia in culture, in novels and poetry and art where stupidity was not enthroned. Above all, to be an intellectual was to feel that you were, at least potentially, one of those who spoke truth to power. By teaching and learning at all, you were implicitly acting as a witness, as a prophet of a larger life.

Before going any further, exactly what is an intellectual?

An intellectual is a person who primarily uses intelligence in either a professional or an individual capacity. As a substantive or adjective, it refers to the work product of such persons, to the so-called "life of the mind" generally, or to an aspect of something where learning, erudition, and informed and critical thinking are the focus …

The real question is this: What happens when the life of the mind meets the daily reality of politics, which has been defined as “who gets what, when, and how”?

In Spufford’s novel, a flowering of youthful idealism in the USSR after the tyrant Stalin’s death shows signs of evolving into a skilled, influential – yes, even intellectual – force for change, one not seen since in the country since before the famine, purges and World War II, but ultimately the Communist Party’s domineering inertia proves far too entrenched to be dislodged. Intellectuals prove no match for bureaucratic time-servers whose governing habits are fixed, and self-interests pre-eminent.


So, what happens in New Albany when the life of the mind meets the daily reality of “politics as usual” … specifically, more years than not, of Democratic Party politics as usual?

Now, I’m not about to suggest a Soviet scenario from the age of Khrushchev is a perfect analogy with the decades-long political stalemate in New Albany.

At the same time, there are distinct similarities as they pertain to those of us hereabouts seeking to speak truth to power and prophesying a larger life – in short, those commonly finding themselves marginalized by the local Party’s fixed governing habits and traditionally insular self-interests.

Perhaps the common thread linking Russian Tsarism, Soviet Communism and our locally dysfunctional two-party political duopoly (Democrats as hegemonic in New Albany, Republicans in Floyd County) is that each one of them operated, or in our case continues to operate, in such a manner as to make it absolutely necessary for anyone capable of independent thought to reject their non-creative bureaucratic tendencies, and to seek instead alternate cultures where Spufford’s “stupidity” is not perpetually enthroned.

And, just as many Russian intellectuals regarded Communism as scant improvement on Tsarist rule, educated and progressive New Albanians understand that while the Democratic Party is largely inert and unresponsive, with year after year of underachieving gridlock in spite of 8-1 Democratic council majorities with sitting Democratic mayors, Republican Party rule would be Philistinism of an even more mind-numbing and pervasive variety.

Hence, the tendency of New Albanian intellectuals to seek refuge in the cool embrace of Progressive Pints.


Paraphrasing Spufford, “New Albany’s local Democrats have been having trouble with the intellectuals ever since LBJ lost the South.”

Given the Dixiecratic, ward-heeling tendencies of a local Democratic Party so long ensconced – so firmly enamored of right-wing Heavrinist twaddle that when Doug England anointed a longtime Republican named Irv Stumler to succeed him as Democratic mayor, it took weeks for anyone on the inside of the machine to get the joke, and they still didn’t – I find myself annually tolerating the Democratic Party’s municipal stranglehold as the only alternative to future Republican jihad, while not exactly popping corks at the sclerotic inability of Democrats to innovate during times that have fairly demanded agile improvisation.

Indeed, England’s colossal (and hilarious) Stumler miscalculation in 2011 provided a rallying point for the candidacy and eventual electoral success of Jeff Gahan, but significantly, the argument then was not about platforms and policies. Rather, it concerned who was a member of which club, and who was not. The minuscule differential in substance between the two intra-party camps was inconsequential, and moot still ruled.

My point: Forget the –isms. In the USSR, an entrenched and elephantine Communist Party could not make reform possible until it collapsed of its own weight, a quarter-century after Khrushchev’s sloppy ouster.

In New Albany, are we fated to endure the parallel track, remembering that Gorbachev’s “reforms” in the USSR (glasnost, perestroika) were far too little, way too late?

Accordingly, should our native intelligentsia celebrate the local Democratic Party’s recent turn toward new leadership?

To be sure, they’re younger and brighter than before. Some of them might actually have voted for Barack Obama, and are willing to defy the odds by openly admitting to it. Verily, one cannot entirely dismiss hope, however naïve, that the local Democratic Party will cease being a Tsarist-style anachronism, especially in the absence of any semblance of coherent Republican counterweight – itself, as always, a far less savory specter of dim-witted theocratic fascism than Democratic stasis.

But I will tell you this, and with considerable pride: I have no apologies whatsoever for harboring progressive inclinations and intellectual leanings … no regrets for witnessing, reading, thinking, dreaming, speaking truth to what passes for power and pointing to the possibility of a larger civic life in New Albany. After all, there is a noble progressive political and ethical tradition to uphold, even here in battered New Albania, and we remain hard at work “building up” the alternate culture. If we don’t, who will?

The local Democratic Party may or may not have noticed any of this, and if it has, comprehension may as yet be lacking.

But does that really matter?

Far away from this masquerade.

During its early 1970s heyday, the band Three Dog Night featured three (!) singers, a rotating cast of competent backing musicians, and an uncanny ability to pick and arrange just the right songs as covers. The result was a hit machine, with a gazillion singles and albums sold, and key placements on the soundtrack of my elementary school world.

The roster of songwriters selling tunes to Three Dog Night includes Randy Newman, Hoyt Axton, Laura Nyro, Harry Nilsson, Paul Williams, John Hiatt … and Leo Sayer.

Sayer wrote “The Show Must Go On,” and his recording was a hit in Britain, but the best known version is Three Dog Night’s. In 1974, it was the group’s last big chart presence. Having forgiven Sayer his later disco era excesses, I’m quite prepared to concede that his original “The Show Must Go On” probably is to be preferred in the sense of unquestionable authenticity and rugged charm -- and who doesn’t adore a few bars of scat singing?

However, Three Dog Night’s take, while glossy and madly over-produced, is more compelling than it might seem at first glance, primarily owing to Chuck Negron’s handling of the vocal chores. Negron, whose drug-addled private life eventually became so wretched that his autobiography was titled “Three Dog Nightmare,” absolutely inhabits these lyrics. One gets the very strong impression that for Negron, life was imitating art.

Just about all of us can relate to these emotions. We feel vulnerability and bravado, desperation and self-pity, and yet we’re still able to shake a fist in defiance, plodding ahead, although there are times when the pivotal role of simple fatigue cannot be discounted.

One of my favorite anecdotes from Jim Bouton’s Ball Four baseball confidential is the tale (paraphrased) of an extremely hung over Mickey Mantle given the day game off, but being asked to pinch-hit in the late innings. Dragging himself slowly to the plate, he abruptly launches a game-winning home run, and upon returning to the bench, says to no one in particular, “You have no idea how hard that was.” The older I get, the more it feels the same.

For most of us, the fame and fortune are absent, but we must let the show go on. There’s no real choice, is there?

For the entirely different tune with the same name and similar but more operatic sentiments, here’s the last song on the last album (Innuendo) that Freddie Mercury recorded with Queen, released in 1991.

Cabbages and kingpins, one year later.

Last year around this time, NAC was reaching out weekly to One Southern Indiana, selflessly offering to help our regional oligarch's benevolent society find a new kingpin. Among our candidates was the Angry Easter Bunny (April 8, 2012).

We got bored and suspended the search in May, and they ended up hiring a Queenpin instead:

1Si makes one small step to reduce CEO sexting, hires non-Wassmer female exec from Benton Harbor as kingpin.

At least when our routine reached its curdling of a sell-by date, we knew when to stop. Here is a reprise, as summarized in the final episode.


Kingpin of the week: There's only one, isn't there? (May 11, 2012)

JAY-sus, are these people EVER going to hire someone?

It sure would be nice to direct the cannonade toward a specific target rather than the scattershot practice adopted during the past eleven weeks, but as watchdogs, we have little choice in the matter.

Consequently, while not exactly running its course -- there's always time to casually eviscerate One Southern Indiana for its pandering imperiousness -- our "kingpin of the week" thread has reached its sell-by date.

It is striking, the extent to which 1Si as a marketing-driven design feature perfectly mirrors the mundane conformity of the exurb: Chain-centered, chock-a-block, whitewashed and identically-costumed Ken doll wannabe, seeking to "drain the hills and the sea of color." 1Si offers the safety of the herd, of business lingo buzz-speak, and the necessary assurance to peddle insurance. All around One Southern Indiana, there are potential grassroots movements aimed at the ways to come, and yet there persists our locally endowed (why?) chamber of (past) commerce, dedicated to foisting tolls on the populace merely to suit the prerequisites of River Ridge.

Can there ever be such things as glasnost and perestroika in such an organization? It is unlikely. But 1Si is adept at staging frequent and self-reverential Nurnberg rallies, as with one forthcoming on May 22, to which a friend refers in this Twitter post:

Yes, I'm proud to be a solid pain in Kerry "Oligarch" Stemler's ass, and not just because someone needs to do it.

It isn't what he does "for" the community, it's what he and his acolytes are doing "to" it: Shackling the community with policies, mind-sets, beer preferences and personal wardrobes that reflect an economic development mindset of corporatist, top-down exploitation and extraction, all of it having to do with the enrichment of the ownership and managerial elites forever enshrined in 1Si's country club ethos, and always at the expense of ancillaries (i.e., the rest of us) so eager to please these faux exemplars of propriety that we squeal like little kids playing grown-up games -- while the grown-ups ... while people like Kerry Stemler ... laugh at us for being so stupid.

If that's your idea of "economic development," feel free to bake some mud pies. Perhaps the idea can be franchised at a networking function. Meanwhile, One Southern Indiana is no more than a personal fiefdom, and the only tinhorn kingpin who ever really mattered is Kerry Stemler himself. He's the twelfth winner of the trophy, and I have a suggestion for where the trophy case should be located.

Previous weekly winners of Kingpin of the Week ...

CDM (formerly Wilbur) Smith
Thunder Over Louisville
Margaret Thatcher
Angry Easter Bunny
Sancho Panza
Sean Payton
Jethro Bodine
Rush Limbaugh
Vaughan Scott
Benny Breeze

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New song from Houndmouth premieres at Rolling Stone.

And the group's first full-length album will be released on June 4. Go listen:

Houndmouth Confront Self-Doubt in 'On The Road' - Song Premiere ... Indiana rockers pair sunny, ambling melody with lyrical sadness

Keep tabs on Houndmouth at Facebook.

Heresy in New Albany: "Are Parking Meters Boosting Business?"

In the wake of a muddled New Albany municipal tradition of unofficial non-enforcement of downtown parking rules, the England Administration's hurried "solution" a couple years back was to officially muddle the non-enforcement regimen and (of course) declare its mission blissfully accomplished, which is to say that parking downtown henceforth would be entirely free of rules (and costs) even as police continued to issue tickets in other places, ones falling beyond an utterly invisible line that hasn't once been made clear to the public in all the time since.

Huzzahs were unleashed, red wine decanted straight from the box, and the Central Committee went back to millennial snoring.

Last week, Bloomington was in the news: Bloomington council OKs revised parking meter plan (Associated Press, via IBJ).

It's a plan to balance metered spaces with garage and "free" spaces, and by way of explanation, Mayor Mark Kruzan said something entirely unimaginable in New Albany.

"The message is not revenue, it's behavior."

Ye Gods, just imagine it. Actually thinking a problem all the way through, even if a proposed solution seems counter-intuitive at first, and stepping outside the self-imposed box.

Are Parking Meters Boosting Business? More evidence that business receipts rise with parking costs, by Eric de Place (Sightline Daily)

... How is that possible? Can higher parking costs actually boost business?

It may sound counter-intuitive at first, but on inspection it turns about to be totally sensible. By increasing turnover in on-street parking and ensuring that spaces are available for customers, well-calibrated parking policies really can increase patronage. (After all, would you rather grind through congested downtown streets in the rain while hunting for a parking space or pay a few bucks to stash the car curbside until 8?) In fact, boosting business is exactly what Seattle set out to do when officials adjusted meter rates and extended paid hours downtown.

Humans needed beer, and we still do.

My guess is there's an exhibit at the Creation Museum differing with Kahn's conclusions, but that's why I stopped watching cartoons.

How Beer Gave Us Civilization, by Jeffrey P. Kahn (New York Times)

HUMAN beings are social animals. But just as important, we are socially constrained as well.

We can probably thank the latter trait for keeping our fledgling species alive at the dawn of man. Five core social instincts, I have argued, gave structure and strength to our primeval herds. They kept us safely codependent with our fellow clan members, assigned us a rank in the pecking order, made sure we all did our chores, discouraged us from offending others, and removed us from this social coil when we became a drag on shared resources.

Thus could our ancient forebears cooperate, prosper, multiply — and pass along their DNA to later generations.

But then, these same lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation — the other human drives that make for a vibrant civilization.

To free up those, we needed something that would suppress the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive. We needed something that, on occasion, would let us break free from our biological herd imperative — or at least let us suppress our angst when we did.

We needed beer ...

Silver Hills rail link, mobility solutions, and what we will or won't learn.

Kudos to these spirited volunteers, and yes, to Councilman Caesar, too.

As always, the challenge in a place like New Albany is to take this 122-year-old lesson, lift it from the realm of museum piece fetish, and apply it to "modern" times. Count me among those not willing to hold their breaths.

Silver Hills line leads group on a search for history, rail link to the past, by Grace Schneider (C-J)

For the last six months, Kelly Carnighan and a group of helpers have dragged mounds of old tires and cleared scrub from the hillside overlooking New Albany’s Main Street to unearth a 122-year-old relic.

It’s the path of the New Albany Highland Railroad Co., a two-mile electric streetcar line that ran from western New Albany to Silver Hills starting in 1891.

The volunteers found a steel rail, five original railroad ties, and, best of all, an idyllic corridor carpeted with myrtle and dark green ivy.

They’re planning to share what they’ve found May 18, exactly 122 years and a day after the electric railway took its inaugural ride. They expect to unveil an historical marker, pass out brochures and send hikers and history buffs on self-guided tours of the line.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Photo essay: The Great AccuWeather Blizzard of 2013.

Photo of the view from my window at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 26.

We had a negligible patina of barely noticeable accumulation by noon; the Great Blizzard of '13 in NA, amid the chastened silence of the weather geeks. My derision is high. If my words could drip sarcasm when writing "weather geek," there'd be a larger puddle of venom at my feet than snow currently on the ground, cumulative, since last Friday.

Anyone got a mop?

NA Confidential press release takes third straight top press release award in its own competition.

1117 EAST SPRING STREET NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION — NA Confidential was named Blog of the Year for the third consecutive year in the Best of NA Confidential blogging competition for 2012.

The blog — with offices in the aging laptop belonging to the senior editor — competed in the “Only New Albany Blog That Matters” category, which is the only category awarded, and was honored by itself for comprehensive coverage of the devastating errors found in CNHI publications based locally but owned from afar. Individually honored in the “only New Albany blog that matters” category were Bluegill, who was named Junior Editor of the Year in his most recent year at the blog, and Senior Editor Roger A. Baylor, who was named polemicist of the year for the third time in the past four years of voting for himself after precluding other entrants.

NA Confidential received praise from a team of NA Confidential judges for “breadth of coverage, strong photography and initiative” in everyday news and civics coverage, but especially in the aftermath of the latest offenses against taste and decency committed by the CNHI publication based locally but owned from afar, which dreadfully bored readers in Floyd County, Clark County and surrounding areas, according to an NAC news release.

“During the CNHI publication’s reign of terrors, I watched as our reporters, photographers and designers did some incredible work documenting a horrific time in this area’s journalism history,” said NA Confidential’s Roger A. Baylor. “They went about their business as clock-punchers, but what really struck me at first read, though, was how everyone did their work with such devotion to posting Bible proverbs.”

"Now if you'll excuse me, I have a pop-ad to foist on unsuspecting on-line readers."

Baylor, who has worked in blogging for 10 years and in five states of booze-addled consciousness, added, “The residents of Clark and Floyd counties are served by some of the best and brightest producers of birdcage lining anywhere in the country. I’m so happy for the parakeets able to use that as a target and for their aviaries.”

The NA Confidential blog has won Blog of the Year each year a competition has been held for itself, run by itself, and with nary a merger in sight.

NA Confidential serves more than 130 readers housed in at least 23 separate New Albany street addresses. The annual Best of NA Confidential recognizes the individual and collective works of the company’s two contributors and sole voters.

Ken Pyle Medicine Money: It's time to step up and give Ken a hand.

Ken Pyle is a New Albany resident and longtime owner/operator of the Rudyard Kipling in Louisville. He's a legend, an icon, and universally adored in the food, drink and entertainment communities. I'd heard he was ill, and now there's a way to be of assistance when he needs it most. Verily, Ken has provided the metro area with uncounted good times, but more importantly, so many good vibes; believe me, the Rud's been a labor of love, and not a license to print money. Consider a donation, and spread the word.


Family and friends of Ken Pyle have set up a fundraising campaign to help with uncovered medication costs. Please show your support!

Ken Pyle is a prince of positivity. Whether it be with his family, his friends, his church or his one-of-a-kind establishment The Rudyard Kipling in Louisville, KY, Ken has always emphasized joy and peacefulness in all things. Recently, Ken was hospitalized with an infection caused by complications with his knee replacements. He has had 2 successful surgeries but still suffers from the infection that spread to other parts of his body. Ken has Medicaid which covers his doctor bills, hospitalization, and what at the time of this campaign looks to be 6 weeks in nursing home, but his very costly medication is not covered. This campaign is raising funds for this.

Coming in April: Bloomington Craft Beer Week and Festival.

IU is alive in the ongoing basketball tournament, but what I'm looking forward to experiencing is the third annual Bloomington Craft Beer Festival, which takes place on Saturday, April 13 at the Woolery Mill. Here's a scene from last year.

The Brewers of Indiana Guild site has the lowdown on the festival and Bloomington Craft Beer Week, which this year precedes it. Promotions like these are a common strategy to educate and celebrate, and depending on the outcome of the roundball brackets, there may be even more to tout than usual.

The Duke and the Cat.

Apparently William Alonzo "Cat" Anderson's trumpet register closing "Rockin' in Rhythm" was so stratospheric that the film director didn't even hear it, and so he failed to zoom in.

I prefer the version of this song found on Duke Ellington's 70th Birthday Concert, which probably lies near the top of my "favorite big band album" lists. For the incredible Anderson showcased to far better effect, listen to "Satin Doll" from the 70th birthday concert -- but be prepared for neighborhood dogs to bark.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Clere to businesses impacted by tolling: "Have some cake, dudes."

Because Ed Clere has long since picked his winners for the greater good of oligarch enhancement, he can afford the condescension. And how do we select which of us makes the ultimate sacrifice for Kerry Stemler's boondoggle? It hardly matters; we're all in this together, remember?

Southern Indiana proposes picking up part of Kentucky's tab for new Ohio River bridges to avoid tolls, by Marcus Green (Courier-Journal)

 ... State Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, said he met with (Paul) Fetter recently and has seen the tourism board’s proposal, which he described as “wishful thinking.”

“Instead of trying to undermine a project that is going to be tremendously positive for all of Southern Indiana, I’d rather see them spending money on helping businesses that may be impacted,” Clere said.

And some mighty ugly buildings, too.

Courtesy of the Twitter feed of Packages & More Liquors (803 N. Dixie Avenue in Elizabethtown, Kentucky) ...

"Rite Aid wants you to check out their craft beer selection. What's next? Fine wine?"

"Another scene from local Rite Aid. Vodka belongs in the candy aisle, right?"

Hmm, I dunno. "M&M's and Whiskey" may make sense for one of those cement block Rite Aid pillboxes, but it just isn't a song I can imagine Alice Cooper singing.

Recipe File: Vegetarian Cincinnati Chili.

Whenever I cook at home in 2013, I'm taking the ancient recipe cards and transcribing them for future reference. Sometimes I'll post these recipes here. As often as possible, I try to cook with beer, so expect it. Also, most of the recipes I cook on a regular basis are vegetarian, or have been been changed to exclude meat. 

Vegetarian Cincinnati Chili

4 – 6 “medium” servings

This recipe is from my mother’s file, via her next-door-neighbors (the Mulloys), and revised extensively by me. Kidney beans take the place of the ground beef, so if you take your Cincinnati Chili without beans, this recipe may not be for you.

Chili fixings

Olive oil or other cooking oil

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

12-16 ounces beer … malty beers work better: Red Ale, Brown Ale, Doppelbock and Dark Lager are examples, but if you have some Rauchbier taking up space … feel free to get creative.

1 & ½ teaspoons apple vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 & ½ teaspoons allspice
1 & ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 can Rotel (habanero; 10-oz)
1 can Rotel (green chili; 10-oz)

3 cans (16 oz) of dark kidney beans, rinsed


Saute chopped garlic and onions in oil until tender.

Add the remainder of the ingredients except kidney beans. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and simmer for two hours.

After two hours, add beans, again bringing chili to a boil before reducing temperature to simmer. Cook for another 45 minutes.

To serve

Boil and drain a box of spaghetti
Grate some cheddar cheese
Chop a couple of onions
Have on hand some hot sauce on the Tabasco model and a box of oyster crackers

Serve the chili atop the spaghetti and dress it out.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rare sighting of the city's Ethics Commission returns focus to Ladd's UEA 2012 "norwooding."

The Gahan administration has a mint condition Ethics Commission, and according to the newspaper's Suddeath, perhaps they're willing to let it be taken it out for a spin.

New Albany Ethics Commission may not have to review past cases

NEW ALBANY — The members of the New Albany Ethics Commission have been chosen, and the group has held two organizational meetings, however, the body may not hear complaints filed over matters that occurred prior to its establishment.

A complaint against a high-ranking administration official wouldn’t be heard if the commission doesn’t review past cases, however, Mayor Jeff Gahan said this week the body should still review the matter as he added he’s confident the body would find “everything in order.”

Specifically, there's the matter of the Bookseller's complaint over the handling of Mike Ladd's ouster from the Urban Enterprise Association.

Local businessman Randy Smith submitted a complaint for the commission to review that cited several alleged violations by David Duggins, economic development and redevelopment director for the city, in his involvement in the firing of former New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone Association Executive Director Mike Ladd.

Why does this "old" news still matter?

Let me phrase it this way: If you lost your job owing to allegations of malfeasance, and there was an opportunity to set the record straight, wouldn't you prefer future employers to view your past record as it was, not as unsubstantiated insinuations have continued to depict it?

Meanwhile, persistent rumor has it that New Albany has a brand new Human Rights Commission parked somewhere out of mind and sight. Perhaps the HRC also will be declared street legal soon, as opposed to something we can feel good about on the city website, but never actually drive.

We have all been here before ...

Ethics Commission receives shovel-ready complaint.

UEA decapitation: Different tactics, same desired outcome, and still just as wrong as before.

ON THE AVENUES: A decapitation, coming tomorrow.

Sunday sermon: "A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran."

Presupposing either of them reads. See also John Nichols at The Nation: A Dying Iraq Vet's Indictment of Bush and Cheney

The Last Letter

A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

New Albany Public Art Project (Bicentennial Series) artworks and histories for 2013.

2013 Artworks and Histories are up at the web site.

The New Albany Public Art Project: Bicentennial Series is a 4-year program featuring a rotating schedule of outdoor artworks that will be installed each year in the downtown area, beginning in 2010 and leading up to this year’s commemoration of New Albany's bicentennial. The 2013 art installations will be installed in April and May. The community is invited to explore the artworks and talk with the artists during the New Albany Public Art Walk on June 22, 6-9 pm (rain date June 29).

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The passing of travel guidebooks? Expected but regrettable, too.

I wanted to travel, but it took Arthur Frommer's Europe on $25 A Day (early 1980s edition) to reassure me that the seemingly impossible was quite capable of achieving, even for a painfully shy hick from somewhere near French Lick. Later came Let's Go and Lonely Planet, and for a long while, I've managed without a sacred text, instead utilizing the many sources mentioned by Rushby. 

Standing on an Athens street corner in 1985 with a copy of Frommer's book in hand may have marked me as a conspicuous touristic rube, but these many years later, I'm entirely free of regrets or embarrassment. One must start at the beginning, and those guidebooks helped me to so just that.

The death of the guidebook will open up new worlds, by Kevin Rushby at The Guardian

The BBC's sale of Lonely Planet is not before time. Guidebooks are a relic of a bygone age that have little to do with travel now.

Random readings in history.

Following is a diverse mix of stories for history buffs. Did you know that in 2013, two Americans are receiving monthly veterans benefits because their fathers fought in the American Civil War?

US war costs last for more than a century, monthly payments to Civil War vet families, Associated Press via 

Former professional baseball start Eddie Waitkus has been gone a very long time, but Ruth Ann Steinhagen, the obsessed fan who very nearly murdered him more than 60 years ago, passed away only recently.

A Demented Fan and the Natural, at Philly Sports History

In rural Ireland, a historian has spent eight years curating a collection of Irish history documents secretly amassed by a fish merchant.

History Evergreen, at the New York Times

RIP at WFPL: "Grady Clay, An Urban Visionary."

It's a fine appreciation of Grady Clay's life and work, but all I the only person chuckling at the irony of Keith Runyon's authorship?

Grady Clay, An Urban Visionary

Credit The photo is courtesy Oldham County Historical Society
Grady Clay
When Jane Jacobs wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961, perhaps the most significant book on American urbanism in the 20th Century, it was not a surprise that one of the experts she quoted was Grady Clay. He was the urban affairs editor of The Courier-Journal, and anyone who cared about city planning knew Grady and the work he was doing in Louisville in those days. It must have been a good life for them; both were born in 1916, and each lived nine decades. (Jane Jacobs died in 2006; Grady died early Sunday morning.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Two angles on St. John Presbyterian Church, only 76 years apart.

I snapped the photo while standing in the alley between Elm and Oak, just to the west of St. John Presbyterian Church. It's a rather mundane contemporary scene, at least until you contrast it with this painting by James L. Russell, one of the Artists of the Wonderland Way.

Apologies to the Carnegie Center; staff was not aware
that I ignored the "no photos" prohibition ... but I didn't use flash.

In Russell's painting from 1937, described as the view from his backyard, it looks as though St. John's is located in a Bavarian village, not a residential area in New Albany.

The Artists of the Wonderland Way exhibition runs through April 6. You need to see it.

Spring Break Wine & Salsa Night at Artisan Market on March 28.

Artisan Market is hosting a Spring Break Wine & Salsa Night on Thursday, March 28th, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There'll be wines from Turtle Run Winery and Wenning's Tequila Lime Salsa.

Artisan Market explains itself:

Artisan Market is located at 318 Vincennes Street, next to Strandz and Threadz Salon in historic Uptown New Albany. We support small, independent businesses through our wide offering artisan made home decor, stylish accessories and specialty food items. Join us during our "Tasting Thursday" for a casual, fun and relaxing after work mixer, and find Artisan Market on Facebook:

Inspiring views from New Albany's bicentennial coloring book ...

 ... as pilfered from Bob Caesar's night stand, and with the crayon marks duly laundered.

(thanks to KC)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

ON THE AVENUES: Walk on dead men.

ON THE AVENUES: Walk on dead men.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Yesterday was the 79th day of 2013, and it was my 70th day outside, walking for at least half an hour and often more. Most of these walks have been round trip jaunts from my house on Spring Street through downtown New Albany’s historic core.

This regimen has been intended to keep me active until it warms enough for biking, but it has been such a pleasant change of pace that a modified version of it is likely to continue throughout the year in conjunction with the two-wheeler. The overall plan is to be more regularly active, because exercise makes the good beer taste even better – almost like a reward, if you will.

Sadly I’m reminded that March walks in New Albany can be a difficult undertaking, not so much physically, but in terms of reduced human morale. This particular city, and probably many others like it, is best viewed when conditions are ideal. It is never more unattractive than in March, when the coldest weather already has passed and the growing season hasn’t yet arrived.

Until the greenery comes, one can clearly see every blemish and imperfection – the unkempt houses, the doggie droppings, and the voluminous garbage strewn seemingly everywhere.

There’s no mistaking: It’s depressing. We take it for granted that we’re a modern society – although I harbor no delusions pertaining to “enlightenment,” and what is meant by “modern” usually remains safely unexamined – and yet glancing around, one can’t help wondering whether New Albany’s chronic Battered City Syndrome (thanks, GC) is just too pervasive to be shaken.

And so I always think while walking: New Albany is 200 years old. Was it always this way?


To know me is to understand my longstanding fascination with history.

When we stopped by the Carnegie Center last weekend to view the “Artists of Wonderland Way” exhibit, the paintings almost were secondary. I wanted to know more about the artists – their lives, times and stories. I wanted to know what this place was like when they were in their primes, and how they felt about it.

Back then, was there hope for a reasonable civic future, or did the low common denominator we tolerate (exalt?) in this present, benighted millennium suffice for them as absently as it does for us?

The answer’s probably obvious. Times change quickly, and people grudgingly.

One of my favorite modular phrases of late comes in handy, one restating Pogo’s most famous axiom: New Albany doesn’t have a (fill in the blank with annoyance) problem; it has a resident problem. Yes, the phrase is too cynically glib by half, but my guess is that even before World War I, frustrated New Albanians were muttering it amid the stasis.

Getting back to the art of the stroll (and the bike), walking affords ample time for reflection, and while the moments are filled with the usual ruminations on work and play, this botched bicentennial year has had me thinking about the uses of the past.

Most of us possess a personal narrative, a chronology of depleted years we’ve lived through, and of course our editorial attitude toward their recitation can be quite subjective. Some people actively erase their memories, often for very good reason. Why relive rotten times?

Others obsess over events and episodes, affixing artificially enhanced impact to their recollections. My own ghosts are many and varied, and words like “shoulda, woulda, coulda” bubble to the surface on occasion, but through it all, I try to stick to the task at hand and keep matters in my world moving forward.

Insofar as historical perspective assists this imperative, I indulge it. Some times it’s more useful, albeit it challenging, to make a clean break and innovate.


As an individual consumed with history, I harbor no intrinsic objections to the notion of historical preservation. Generally speaking, I support it. At the same time, it strikes me that any unquestioned doctrine merits periodic surgical strikes of skepticism, and in the context of New Albany in the current age, there’s always room for ample doubt.

So it is that I keep asking myself and others: Why has the city’s bicentennial celebration thus far been so predictably, infuriatingly white-bread mundane, attitudinally speaking?

Maybe it’s because the past, while fascinating, also can be an 800-lb gorilla wearing a conceptual straitjacket. It can be re-interpreted, and these shadings actually change as time passes, because without learning from experience, what point is there? Still, overall, the historical record is fixed. It is what it was; for one to become immersed in it to the exclusion of future possibilities is like keep a foot clamped on the brake even after the light changes.

Somehow, for all my skepticism, and in spite of the March uglies, I remain convinced that the life and times of New Albany can be better and more expansive than this.

I believe New Albany can have nice things, new as well as old, though not just what the old persist in thinking is new, when it isn’t.

I believe that we actually can think our way through a wet beer label and grasp the modern world, in addition to respecting our history. Let’s have it all for a change.

I believe, contrary to the usual conditioned socio-economic responses and cultural proclivities, that older dogs can indeed learn newer tricks – and be a better animal for it.

New Albany’s not the only burg in the world where business “as usual,” blood feuds and certain fixed firmaments of the remote past tend to make progress toward the future more difficult. It’s just that I live and work here, and not in another burg somewhere else in the world. Hence, the chronology of my shtick.

New Albany doesn’t have to be the state of mind wherein focusing on remembering the past has the unintended consequence of constantly repeating the same mistakes. The present is its own future historical moment, isn’t it?

Can we please get started on it?

Herbert Streicher has died. Stage name: Harry Reems.

“Nobody under 50 even knows who I am now. Unless you’re a porno historian, and then you’re really sick.”

“I’m the thread to tell the story of social change in America.”

-- Harry Reems, quoted in 2005 (see "The Afterlife of a Porn Star," by Dave Itzkoff)

It isn't everyday that a Utah real estate agent's death merits national headlines: Harry Reems dies at 65; porn actor starred in 'Deep Throat' (Los Angeles Times)

Let's hear it for target demographics.

"I tought I taw - I did! I did! I did tee a pop-up ad!"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As bridge tolls loom, is New Albany's street grid our number one quality of life issue? I think it is.

Let's review, shall we?

When the dust settles and the Stemleresque bridges boondoggle is foisted irreparably on the community, and as the remainder of the planet laughs at our utter simplicity as a people, tolling will change traffic patterns,

New Albany's Sherman Minton Bridge is to remain toll-free, at least until the same thieving oligarchs change their minds, although there is at least some reason to believe that they won't, given that the sole reason for the Horseshoe Foundation's one-man presence on the Bridges Authority committee of obscenity-riggers was to preserve a toll-free corridor to the Casino, from whence all our diminishing social services originate in this era of uncontested GOP asscappery.

Indirectly, this has bequeathed to us many gigantic downtown plastic ashtrays, one of which was serving as a stormwater downspout collection basis last weekend, but I digress.

When tolling commences, the Sherman Minton Bridge immediately will become a magnet for toll evaders, who will glance upon New Albany's ridiculous, outdated, LBJ-era arterial one-way streets in the same fashion as piranha fish regard Bob Caesar's pasty white hand dipping into the fish tank to retrieve glittering paste gone astray. These drivers will regard this city as a convenient pass-through, and abuse our quality of life (those dreaded words again) accordingly.

However, if between now and then, New Albany's downtown, midtown and uptown street grids were to be retrofitted back to two-way and "completed" for maximum human benefit, i.e., for walkers, bicyclers, and various other forms of the human experience not predicated on automotive exhausts, two major victories would be achieved.

First, the livability of core neighborhoods and attendant businesses would be bolstered in a fashion proven again and again in places where people actually read books.

Second, the deleterious effects of toll-evading motorists, while not entirely removed (it isn't for nothing that the ORBP is a world-class mistake), would be considerably evaded, giving us a fighting chance to avoid the worst of it, and achieving something so very elusive during this city's inglorious history: For once, being ahead of a curve.

The Gahan administration is on its way to bonding millions to pay for aquatics and parks, which it has identified as pertaining critically to our quality of life as a community, although somewhat weirdly included on this king-sized credit card bill is street paving, which might be identified as a quality of Gohmann Asphalt issue.

But could anything be more crucial to our quality of life than the havoc sure to be wreaked upon us by the egos of our oligarchs and the well-meaning people they've cynically used?

Once again, I ask this administration: What are you planning to do about it?

Anything at all? If the answer is no, then I'm not entirely sure a water park alone is sufficient to wash away the stain of a missed opportunity.

Consultants: $1 tolls likely for frequent users; Final tolls not set; process would be electronic, by Braden Lammers (local out-of-state-newspaper)

Frequent commuters can expect $1 tolls each way on three area bridges based on a study prepared by a consulting company preparing a traffic and revenue study for the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Frequent users will pay via a transponder, and other fees are projected at: $2 for “nonfrequent” two-axle vehicles; $5 per “medium” truck; and $10 per “heavy” truck, according to a press release from the bridges project.

How many egregious mistakes can YOU spot in this city-sanctioned solicitation?

Target Marketing has graphic designers, but not spell check.


This fellow breathlessly called me on Monday, saying he represented the city of New Albany. I thought maybe we hadn't paid the sewer bill, but it's even worse than that, because the city (yet again) has authorized this "publishing sans spell check" company to shill for ads in its map.

As a business owner who must listen to sales pitches constantly, permit me to point out how annoying these asinine hawkers can be. But to me, it's a whole new level of aggravation when your own city foists them on you under the rubric of "partnership."

To be fair to the Gahan administration, this isn't the first time. I've been complaining about parasitic practices like this since the Regina Overton interlude, because do we really want to empower semi-literate sales flacks from somewhere else to encourage the illusion that they're working with, for, or at the city? That's exactly what they do, and just like most of their grating ilk, they don't like taking no for an answer. My time is valuable, and frankly, I resent this business "model."

Here's the meat of the pitch. First, the absurdly error-marred main text, with ad examples removed lest other businesses think I'm exposing them to ridicule. I'm not, but dudes, there's got to be a better way than this to spend your money.

Afterward, there's a .pdf of the letter from the mayor, which my caller Anderson seemed to feel would be a hook impossible for me to ignore.

Yo, Jason, I've got news for you. Somehow, I'm managing to avoid writing a check.

Go away.


Hello Roger,

The City of New Albany is in the process of reserving spaces for its #1 requested item, (The Official New Albany City Map & Resource Guide), which is the only and most updated Area Map & Resource Guide that the City endorses.  We are now in the process of updating the new edition for all the local businesses and organizations. 

We hope to count on your support and participation. We would like to promote Roosters under the Restaurants category in the upcoming edition with us.

Attached is the letter you should have reveiced, signed by Jeff Gahan (Mayor) announcning it.

There will be 10,000 full color copies of the printed version going out over the next 18 months along with an online counterpart which will be linked from the City of New Albany’s webpage. 

-          The 10,000 copies will be distributed by the City for free to new families and re-locators moving into and around the area.  They will also be distributed to over 150 high traffic locations around the community such as banks, schools, libraries, restaurants, etc.

-          You will receive your own supply for personal use.
-          The online counterpart will list all participating businesses/organizations by category, pinpoint your exact location, list your contact information, and will feature a direct link back to Roosters’ website as well.

There are 3 different options in which to participate:  Each of them only have a ONETIMEcost to be featured for the next 18 months.  Below/attached are some examples of businesses/organizations who participated in the previous edition to show you the format.  I also attached a portion of the previous edition as well.

Whichever route you decide to take, would simply invoice you for it, you would have 30+ days to take care of it if need be. 

Business Card Display - $349.00

Double Business Card Display (Twice the size for more exposure) - $599.00

A Premier 4x9 Panel Display for maximum exposure (entire 4x9 page for yourself, magazine quality, first seen displays, only 1 remaining) - $1,500.00

We have graphic designers that can make artwork for you which will be able to revise and make any desired changes, or you can email us your own artwork to use. 

We hope to count you in!

Talk to you soon,
Jason Anderson
Marketing Consultant

Target Marketing, Inc.

Phone: 800-933-3909 ext.1041
Fax: 866-481-7962