Friday, January 31, 2014

From Lafayette IN: "Amended or not, HJR-3 needs to die."

Silent Ron Grooms keeps telling us that he has a plan ... is it HJR-3?

Lafayette's newspaper of record doesn't think much of such a plan. Maybe Silent Ron can get excused.

Editorial: Amended or not, HJR-3 needs to die, Lafayette Journal & Courier

... Forget the technicalities. Forget the lawsuits that are bound to follow. Forget the heaping insults waiting to be hurled at Indiana by those who wonder how a state is willing to plant its flag on the wrong side of history.

Singling out a population of Hoosiers in the name of defending marriage — an institution under attack from plenty of traditional forces of the heterosexual variety (affairs, divorce, indifference) — is wrong from an ethical standpoint and it’s wrong from a public policy standpoint. The meaning of anyone’s marriage vows won’t change one iota if HJR-3 dies.

HJR-3, amended or not, is simply wrong.

Pull the plug on HJR-3 now.

Are football fans in a "morally queasy position"?

I covered much the same yardage a year ago, prior to the last Stupor Bowl.

Brain injuries, the NFL, and my indifference ... to football.

... Finally it has dawned on me that where there was never before very much interest in football on my part, now there's virtually none, and it is the increasingly well-documented, regrettable, lifelong physical toll suffered by the players which is to blame for my turning away.

It isn't just the pros. The more I read about youth football injuries, the greater understanding we have as to how, even only occasionally, difficult subsequent lives, erratic adulthoods, and those suffering from dementia far before their time might be explained.

Almond's piece in Sunday's NYT mag is being derided in the usual corridors as effete and namby-pamby. I don't agree, although the word "immoral" strikes me as a bit of a stretch. On the other hand, I'd say that watching the television advertisements definitely is immoral. No contest there.

Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?, by Steve Almond ("Riff" at the NYT Magazine)

... Recently, though, medical research has confirmed that football can cause catastrophic brain injury — not as a rare and unintended consequence, but as a routine byproduct of how the game is played. That puts us fans in a morally queasy position. We not only tolerate this brutality. We sponsor it, just by watching at home. We’re the reason the N.F.L. will earn $5 billion in television revenue alone next year, three times as much as its runner-up, Major League Baseball.

Which one is Brooklyn, and which one is New Albany? Think carefully ...

Images that sum up your city - readers' pictures

We asked you to send us photos or videos that encapsulated how you feel about the city you live or work in. Here is a selection of your photos from around the world.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

More ink for The Exchange, and a bonus Pop Up preview.

No one goes to The Exchange any more -- it's too damned crowded. In fact, just yesterday I steered a small party Ian's way because what they wanted in terms of spirits, we couldn't do at BSB. To follow: A fresh review, and the press release for a non-beer "pop up". Maybe next time, it can be with beer ... wink wink, nudge nudge ...


Robin Garr reviews The Exchange pub + kitchen ... " I’d rate it in the region’s top tier of gastro-pubbish eateries. It would be a standout whether it’s in New Albany, NuLu, Frankfort Avenue or Bardstown Road."


Italian Pop Up coming to New Albany: The Exchange pub + kitchen to host Italian Pop Up Restaurant

The Exchange pub + kitchen will be hosting an its first pop up restaurant next Tuesday night, February 2, 2014 on the mezzanine level of The Exchange. The private space will be transformed into Alla Buona Derrata, which translates to “The Good Stuff.” This will be a one night only event with limited seating available. The evening will featuring a five course dining experience, focusing on rustic italian fare, prepared by Executive Chef Robert Temple and his culinary team. An optional wine and cocktail pairing will also be available for an additional $25 per person. Tickets for Alla Buona Derrata will be available by reservation only.

“I am extremely excited about this concept. We have a beautiful space on the mezzanine level above The Exchange pub + kitchen that we get to showcase to our guests in a completely different manner. As a restauranteur, I get the opportunity to create, design, and develop an exciting new concept for one evening only. It's a small cozy space, with only 6-8 tables and the bar for seating. It also gives Chef and his culinary team an opportunity to get even more creative and think outside of their normal comfort zone, “ says Owner Ian Hall.

To make reservations for Alla Buona Derrata, please 812.948.6501 and reference "Italian pop up" or send an email to First seating begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information about The Exchange pub + kitchen, please visit our website at, or contact us at (812) 948.6501.

Menu to be as follows.

ALLA BUONA DERRATA "the good stuff"


peperoni sott'aceto, cavolfiore al forno con pancetta e olive verde, caccio roma
pickled peppers, toasted cauliflower with pancetta and green olives,
italian sheeps milk cheese from the roman countryside


Raviolo al Uovo
ricotta fresca, tartufo bianco, burro rosolato, balsamico, cicoria
egg raviolo, fresh ricotta, white truffle, brown butter, balsamic vinegar, chicory

Risotto alla Toscana
salsiccia, finocchio, funghi secchi, parmigianio
arborio rice, sausage, fennel, dried mushrooms, parmesan


Sorbetto ai frutti di bosco
mixed berry sorbet

IL Secondo

Braciole Frittelle di Rapini
bistecca brasato, marinara, parmigiano
braised flank steak in tomato sauce

Baccala alla Veneta Napoletana
acciughe, latte, polenta
italian salt cod, polenta, anchovies and milk

Involtini di Melanzane
sugo all'arrabbiata, parmigiano, ricotta
ricotta stuffed eggplant in spicy tomato sauce


Frittelle di rapini
broccoli rabe cakes

Peperoni fritti ala Napoletana
fried peppers from Naples

Verdure alla griglia
grilled vegetables


Budino di Rocotta
ricotta cheesecake

Panna Cotta al Cioccolato
chocolate cream pudding

Feature: Jeffersonville knows what to say to small business, while New Albany says nothing.

Let's say that you'd like to start a small food and drink business, or even a taproom. Having heard that Southern Indiana (specifically, what used to be called the Falls Cities) is a good place for this sort of thing, you hit Google and search, using the term "economic incentives."

You begin with New Albany.

Not much to work with there, except references to the regional industrial park authority. Maybe Jeffersonville?

That's better. Clicking through ...

The introduction sets the requisite tone; we understand, and we can help:

"The City of Jeffersonville understands how difficult it can be to start and run a small business. To encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and help drive new businesses in the area we offer a number of incentives aimed at small businesses, new restaurants, and improved building facades. For questions about incentives contact our office at (812) 285-6406."

But you really want to give the city of New Albany a chance, and so after a few minutes refining search terms -- omitting "incentives" and using "economic development" -- you land here:

Okay, good enough start, although the prelude lacks the warmth of Jeffersonville's intro:

"The City of New Albany’s Economic Development Department is committed to serving the community by aggressively pursuing new job opportunities and quality of life amenities for our citizens. We will accomplish this goal through both increased economic development and community development projects. Our department focuses on providing necessary leadership to our existing business community to ensure a vibrant business environment in all economic climates, while aggressively seeking new companies for our community."

It;s MBA-standard bureaucratese, but that's not uncommon, and as we scroll down, looking for some meat ...


It's probably a safe bet to doubt whether prospective small business owners have appreciable interest in CDBG rules of engagement, but even if they do, a quick glance at the calendar shows that we're arrived at 2014, not 2012.

Yes, it may be the case that the city of New Albany expects such inquiries to be directed to Develop New Albany, but even in the most charitable interpretation imaginable, how would one not already in the know glean from the city's website that prospective small business operators should check with a non-profit not directly connected to the city, and largely unfunded by it?

And if they did, what and whom among the volunteers at DNA would be helping them? Is it DNA that should be devising the incentives, and if so, with what? Confetti?

I've been pointing to this strange, perennial detachment for quite some time, and quite frankly, I'm angrier today than ever. At least Jeffersonville knows what a small business entrepreneur would like to hear, which is that the city is engaged in its prospects and ready to help. One simply cannot view New Albany's bumbling, non-informational outreach without concluding that the city doesn't really get it at all, and until a change occurs, faith in something better only reminds me of the old revolutionary slogan: Men can't eat constitutions.

Currently, the truth is this: Jeffersonville is lapping, and we're napping.

ON THE AVENUES: Ray Mouton and his novel, In God's House.

ON THE AVENUES: Ray Mouton and his novel, In God's House.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

By virtually anyone’s reckoning, Ray Mouton’s non-fictionalized life story would have been noteworthy, even without The Case.

A native Louisianan with deep and colorful roots in the state, he lived the All-American dream and became a highly proficient, well-paid lawyer with all the trappings of success. Then, one day in 1984, Mouton was asked by the Catholic Church to defend an ordinary parish priest who’d gotten himself into a bit of a fix.

It proved to be more of a problem than anyone knew at the time – that is, anyone except the Catholic Church itself, because Ray’s appointment with destiny turned out to be with a wayward cleric named Gilbert Gauthe, who was a serial sexual abuser of young boys, and whose trail of tears had been repeatedly covered up by his superiors.

Now, for the very first time, the family of a victimized boy was refusing the usual hush money and insisting on their day in court, and the ecclesiastical higher-ups grudgingly realized they had no choice but to hire a mouthpiece.

Ray Mouton was that lawyer, and the rest is history.

In initially studying the case, Ray brought along his own prejudices. He’d been brought up solidly Catholic, and at the start he assumed that Gauthe was the exception to the rule, and a lone bad apple. Obviously, the priest needed professional psychological help (a concept barely registering with the Church at the time), and the best way forward seemed to Ray an insanity plea for his client, with time served in therapeutic custody, allowing for the children to become adults before Gauthe was again seen on the street.

But as Ray peeled back the dusty layers, the shape of things began changing. The Church hierarchy knew all about Gauthe, and had moved him from parish to parish to stay one step ahead of his irredeemable proclivities.

What’s more, there were numerous other pedophile priests in Louisiana alone, and it began to dawn on the lawyer that his own back yard was the metaphorical tip of an iceberg, one that we have since seen stretching to the horizon, as far as the eye could see … and the official policy of the Roman Catholic Church, whether written or whispered, was to deny the extent of the problem, to bury it, and to seek to preserve wherever possible its own autonomous sacred position beyond the arm of the secular.


Shortly thereafter, amid a pea soup fog of legal warfare, Ray joined forces with two reforming priests, and they conducted their own investigation of the molestation scandal, presumably with the blessing of the Church. Predictably, their findings were suppressed, and it is likely that their chief opponent at the Vatican was none other than Cardinal Ratzinger, who subsequently became Pope Benedict XVI.

Ray’s personal life became a casualty of these escalating revelations. It’s true that as a bayou Icarus, he might have crashed to earth in any event, but when he arrived at this intersection with history, the narrative current swept him along with it. He lost family, possessions and career. Significantly, he reclaimed his own life over a period of years living abroad, and then later took back the pedophile priest story in the form of a novel, In God’s House.

In God’s House, while a fictionalized version of real-life events, contains more than mere germs of overall truth. European reviewers (currently there is no American publisher) have called it a page-turner, and compared the novel’s tone to that of John Grisham’s legal thrillers, and these descriptions are apt. Perhaps more importantly, the novel is a Hollywood screenplay waiting to happen.

Destinations Booksellers might be able to score you a copy of In God’s House, and if not, it can be ordered on-line. I recommend it highly.


I’ve referred to the author as Ray because I know him, albeit casually.

In 1998, I checked off a personal bucket list entry by arriving in Pamplona, Spain, a day before the annual commencement of the Festival of San Fermin, and then remaining all the way through the revelry, until it was over -- eight days of hard partying even if one refrains from running with the bulls.

I probably wouldn't have gone to Pamplona -- wouldn't have tripped over the comatose bodies of Eurotrash, wouldn't have eaten Pyrenees trout stuffed with ham, wouldn't have drained bottles of anise-like Pacheran -- if not for my cousin Beak's trailblazing.

When Don landed his tenured position in Florida and started attending the festival on a yearly basis in the early 1990s, he immediately fell in with the anglophile expatriate coterie and met numerous and memorable aficionados, including a fellow American, Ray Mouton, author of a very well-regarded book about San Fermin.

That's why I have the pleasure of counting Ray among my acquaintances, and although I have not been to Pamplona for a while, and Ol' Paco still lives abroad, he's every bit as interesting as his press clippings suggest.

In 1998, on the festival's final night, with the week-long lunacy gradually settling into a post-coital reverie, the three of us had a quiet dinner for the first time in eight days, and then went for a cool, breezy walk at sundown atop the old wall that protects the old town from incursions from the valley below. Ray's arm was in a sling, because during the encierro, he'd been trampled -- not by a bull, but by another human being. The tales of his life's adventures were vastly entertaining, and it was an unforgettable end to an all-in.

I trust the novel helped exorcise a demon or two, assuming any still remained; Ray’s a tough hombre. Nowadays, you can follow him at Facebook and receive regular updates on pedophile cases, sadly as yet unfolding. He is a pitiless commentator as it pertains to the complicity of adults, and a tireless advocate for youthful victims.

One of the key passages in Ray’s novel comes when the fictional attorney is asked to describe his analysis of the situation. He replies simply: There are criminals, and there are children. As long as this continues to be the case, it is a case that Ray will continue fighting. I hope our paths cross again, some day.

City, newspaper combine to miscommunicate.

There are problems with announcements of this nature.

Grant Line to close!

First, seeing as Grant Line Road runs quite some distance, is a consideration of what the newspaper leaves unsaid: Which part of Grant Line Road is being closed? Important, don't you think?

Second, having read a bit further (which vast numbers of folks won't do) and knowing that the road closure will not impede business access in the College Park Brewing Corridor, wouldn't it be nice to receive advance notice from the city and not the newspaper?

Third, after reassuring those customers who've heard only that Grant Line Road will be closed, and not when, or whether the closure will affect Gravity Head access (remember that time when the rat bastards at the water company utility monopoly screwed us out of ten grand on a Gravity Head Friday night?), maybe we can pitch in for a sympathy card for the businesses located at the corner of Grant Line and Daisy.

Wouldn't you just love to hear about these things from the city, first, and not last?

Grant Line to close for New Albany stormwater project; Also: MAC awarded contract for Main Street work, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — A portion of Grant Line Road could close for up to 60 days for drainage upgrades city officials said are desperately needed to ease flooding in the area.

MAC Construction and Excavating will cut open Grant Line Road just south of the Daisy Lane intersection in order to replace four culverts. City officials said the system hasn’t been upgraded in 60 years, and flooding, especially near the Salvation Army Thrift Shop, has traditionally been a problem in the area.

ESPN's ombudsman follows up on the Dr. V story.

The source material is here: Heavy reading: A golf club, an outing, a suicide and Frank Sinatra. Robert Lipsyte's job is that of ombudsman:

ESPN appointed Robert Lipsyte for an 18-month term as ombudsman to offer independent examination and analysis of ESPN's television, radio, print and digital offerings.

For thoughts on ombudsman position in contemporary journalism, go here:

But in practice, the ombudsman jobs at such institutions as the Post and the New York Times have served primarily as safety shields for newspapers, with the ombudsmen catching, deflecting or containing the flak tossed by readers.

Finally, Lipsyte examine the Dr. V piece at Grantland:

Dr. V story understandable, inexcusable, by Robert Lipsyte (ESPN Ombudsman)

A young golfer’s obsession with an oddly shaped putter invented by a mysterious scientist and endorsed on YouTube? I will give that kind of story no more than a few paragraphs to grab my interest before I bail out, even if it is featured on a site known for compelling storytelling.

Just a few moments into reading that very story recently on Grantland, it was shaping up as another one of those bloated selfies that clog the arteries of sports-lit these days.

Four graphs and I was gone.

Thus, even though “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” was hastily hailed in the Twitterverse as another long-form masterpiece, I didn’t get back to it until after what would turn out to be a powerful backlash -- an angry and anguished firestorm captured in this e-mail to the ombudsman from Brenna Winsett of Minneapolis:

“If ESPN writers can hound a transgender person to death over something like a golf club, is there any line they won't cross?” she wrote. “This garbage makes a mockery of this woman's life and encourages readers to view transgender people's identities as frauds.”

Now, the story had my attention.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

East Main project comments: More one-way traffic.

Regular reader B points to another hallmark of one-way politics in New Albany: Communication, as in the web site of the East Main Improvement Project.

Am I mistaken? If you want to make comments you are welcome to do so,
but you can't see any of the comments made by anyone else?

Is that in the public interest? Okay, I know, I said it anyway...

B is exactly right. Several links lead to a form for sending comments to Wes Christmas, chief engineering suspect, but comments made thus far in the process do not appear anywhere.

Make mine anonymity. Have we reached 1914 yet? scoop: Flat12 Bierwerks (Indianapolis) will open a taproom in Jeffersonville.

(January 30 update: The N and T's article is linked here; it includes thoughts from Jeff's Mayor Mike Moore, Jay Ellis and me)

This news strikes me as more important than beer blog fodder, and proof of what I've been saying for a very long time: Hoosier beer, tapping into the metro Louisville market.

To review: A brewpub (Red Yeti) already is under construction in Jeffersonville, and Donum Dei Brewery looks to be brewing beer and serving food at the old Earth Friends location off Grant Line Road by Derby Day. The Flat12 press release makes no mention of brewing, so I'm assuming a conventional tap room.

NABC has shared many laughs with Flat12 since its inception in 2010, so this news sounds like fun. Maybe I can take Rob into telling me how much help Jeffersonville's economic development agencies provided for this ... but make no mistake: Thumbs up from me and NABC.

The Jeffersonville scoop at

Flat12 Bierwerks recently began distributing in Louisville.

NABC, Founders and Flat12 will be taking over taps again this year during Gravity Head.

Excuse me, says Stemler, as amended HJR-3 moves to Silent Ron Grooms's desk.

I was told yesterday that Steve Stemler is a kind and wonderful man, who might have voted "yes" or "no" to HJR-3, but decided to opt out, because of, er, well ...

Stemler now can be defined by an inability to participate in a measure he once deigned to co-author. Would he have opted for neutrality in WWII? Is his brain hurting?

At any rate, the House has spoken, sending HJR-3 to the Senate, where we now have the great pleasure of watching Silent Ron squirm. Yesterday, every "yes" vote was a Republican.

Indiana House passes HJR-3 with changes, sends measure to Senate (Dan Spehler at Fox59)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—The Indiana House passed the amended version of HJR-3 Tuesday afternoon.

The bill passed the full house by a vote of 57-40. The measure will now be sent to the Senate.

On Monday, lawmakers dropped HJR3′s controversial 2nd sentence.

NABC’s Hoptimus Inception Reception is at Bank Street Brewhouse on January 31, 2014.

Now that I know Peter can write, it's time to begin squeezing out some copy. Meanwhile, we're having a birthday party for Hoptimus, and why not? It's NABC's biggest selling off-premise brand, and has been since our second brewing location opened in 2009. I'd be interested to know how Hoptimus ranks in sales among locally-brewed, year-round Imperial IPAs in the Louisville market. I suppose this begs the question: Are there any others?

NABC’s Hoptimus Inception Reception is at Bank Street Brewhouse on January 31, 2014, by Peter Fingerson, NABC Brewer

While many of the facts of Hoptimus’s remarkable birth (rather, its immaculate inception), remain unknown, it can be said with inimitable truth that Hoptimus is a beer of the utmost merit. Even from its fledgling beginnings, the beer had a mind with its own agenda: It was determined to leave a mark on the craft beer scene, and it has done just that.

New catalogs at the Masters of Soviet Art website.

From time to time, I reintroduce my friend Allan Gamborg. He's Danish by birth, a longtime resident of Moscow, and truly a citizen of the planet.

Allan has enjoyed much success in his "second" (third? fifth?) career as a purveyor and advocate of Soviet-era art and artists. You can use the handy Blogger search here at NAC, use "Gamborg" as the search term, and see previous postings. These days, the website is called Masters of Soviet Art, and it's always worth a few minutes to peruse the art. You need not be a Commie to enjoy the links to Allan's on-line galleries.

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


Dear Friends,

In February we will issue a new catalogue (number 6) in the series “Master of Soviet Art” – with the artists Vera and Tatyana Livanova: Socialist posters, circus posters and costumes, theatre stage designs and costumes, film set designs, Siberian landscapes and power plants.

As a pre-view teaser, we can show – on our website -  the images of the art-work that will be included the catalogue. Please see below – and do look forward to the catalogue !

VERA LIVANOVA (1910-1998) 
Vera Matveevna Livanova was born in Moscow. Her mother was Natalia Valeryavnovna Lyubavskaya (born Zyzykina), and her father was Matvey Kuzmich Lyubavsky - historian, professor and chancellor at the Moscow State University before the Revolution. In 1930 she graduated from the Theater Design department of the Vkhutein art institute - among her teachers were three icons of pre-war Soviet art, Gennady Gerasimov, Lev Bruni and Piotr Konchalovsky. Her style as a poster artist was shaped under the guidance of well-known masters of early Soviet art Aleksandr Deineka, Yuri Pimenov and Vladimir Tatlin. Vera Matveevna started her career as a professional artist in Perm doing theater designs. After two years in Perm she moved to Kiev where she started working as a poster artist. In 1936 Vera Livanova settled down in Moscow and in 1938 she became a member of the Moscow Union of Artists. Being very productive, from 1937 to 1968 Vera Livanova worked as a poster artist for the “Izogiz” and “Soviet Artist” publishing houses. In the period from 1958 to 1968 she carried out commissions for “Agitplakat”.At the beginning of her career with “Izogiz”, Livanova’s posters focused on topics related to the rise of agricultural and industrial standards under the Soviet regime. Common topics were those connected with elections, anniversaries and other political events celebrated by the Soviet ideology. Her posters show her mastery as a colourist, not being afraid of innovative colour solutions. During World War II Vera Livanova’s work focused on mass propaganda themes. The first poster announcing the defeat of fascist Germany was created by her. After the war Livanova turned to the concept of post-war reconstruction of Soviet agriculture. She also published posters dealing with elections, with titles such as “Elections to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR” and “The Constitution of the USSR”.Livanova’s posters of the fifties demonstrate the artist’s fascination with the traditional Russian “lubok”. Her series of posters dedicated to Moscow’s 800th anniversary depict a composition and a range of colours very much alike the style of popular lubok images. The sixties focused on international themes. Slogans such as “Freedom to Africa!”, “May. Peace. Labour!”, “Peace and Happiness for the World!” are typical of that period. Through her career Vera Livanova traveled extensively in the Soviet Union - all documented in her masterful pencil drawings and gouaches. Destinations were Khosta in 1957, Gurzuf and the Crimea in the 1960s, and the developing Siberia of the1960s - Divnogorsk, the Enisei river, and the construction of the Krasnoyarsk hydro power plant in Dudinka.Vera Livanova and her husband German Livanov, architect and theater director, provided a significant artistic inspiration for their daughter Tatyana, and Vera Matveevna designed several posters together with her daughter. 

Tatyana Germanovna Livanova was born in Perm. Her father German Livanov was an architect and theater director, and her mother, Vera Livanova, was a famous Soviet poster artist. She graduated as a designer from the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. During her career, Livanova has been working as a set and costume design artist for the circus, cinema, ballet and drama, as well as for TV productions. Livanova formed herself as an artist under the guidance of outstanding masters, such as Yuri Pimenov, Grigory Schegal and Joseph Shpinel. Her graduation work was set designs for the film by Nikolai Pogodin “The Kremlin Chiming Clock”, and her first official assignment after graduation was costumes to the film “A War Secret”.In the early 1960s she designed  costumes, posters and programs for the Soviet State Circus. During that period she designed several political posters, together with her mother Vera Livanova. All through her career, she designed sets and costumes for a large number of films, e.g. the Mosfilm productions “Summerfolks” (Maksim Gorky), “The Youth is with Us”, “The Only Way”, “The Birds Fly North”, and the TV productions “Two Captains” and “Truth Is Good But Happiness Is Better“ (Alexander Ostrovsky).Tatyana Germanovna considered the most important period of her career was her work with director Boris Babochkin at the Maly Theater, for example with the Ostrovsky plays “Truth Is Good But Happiness Is Better“and “A Profitable Place”, the Maksim Gorky plays “Dostigayev and Others” and “Counterfeit Money”. She also did designs for “Zar Potap” (Alexander Kapkov), “Mother’s Field” (Chingiz Aitmatov), “The Road To Calvary” (Aleksei Tolstoy), “The Wedding” (Mikhail Zoshchenko), “The Glass  Menagerie” (Tennessee Williams), “The Comedy of Errors” (William Shakespeare), and about 20 more plays. Livanova prepared costumes and stage designs for the Tatar State Theater of Opera and Ballet’s production of “Sleeping Beauty” (Peter Chaikovsky), and for the ballet “Leili and Medzhyn” (Sergei Balasanyan).

Enjoy the shows !

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

And the message is: Move further north as fast as you can.

The problem with my theory is right there, making it into the top 30: Indianapolis. Wholly Jeeebus, why must Indiana be so much like the Confederacy, when we were a UNION STATE IN THE CIVIL WAR?

Top 10 Godless Cities in the United States

R.I.P. Pete Seeger: "I will tell you of a hero, who's now dead and gone."

"For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action."

Substitute the words "better beer" for "folk music," and you'll understand by regret at not being able to play a musical instrument. But you use whatever tools are at your disposal, and for Pete Seeger, they were songs.

Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94, by Jon Pareles (New York Times)

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y.

His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

Steve Stemler excused from a decision yet again as the House excises an HJR-3 clause and fundamentalist notjobs reach for their Bics.

Gazing at the "how they voted" list, one sees the name Steven Stemler and a word that prompts Yogi Berra's "deja vu all over again."

That'd be "excused." Not exactly a profile in courage, and yep; we've all been here before ... in 2011.

Same-sex marriage: One in the win column for Rep. Clere, who refrains from supporting the "language of hate."

Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville, was excused from House action on Tuesday and did not vote. However, he was listed as a co-author of the bill.

As this was the case again yesterday, douchebaggery has a new poster child. Meanwhile, the Indy Star's reporters explain the shape our GOPsters are in, which I can describe with brevity: Like I've always told you, fundamentalism simply is bad for business.

Indiana House amends HJR-3, possibly delaying referendum, by Tony Cook and Barb Berggoetz (IndyStar)

 ... Democrats say Republicans are in a bind for several reasons. They're torn between two traditional bases of support: the business community and social conservatives. They also fear growing opposition to gay marriage bans could hurt them in future elections.

"The governor made it clear he didn't want the amendment on the ballot in 2016," said Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary. "So, now, what do they do? They are between a rock and a hard place. They are killing themselves even nationally with this whole issue. Why would they continue to pursue this when most of the folks who were opposed to this are their friends – big business (and) the (Indy) chamber" ...

The straight lead paragraphs:

In an atmosphere of rapidly shifting opinions on gay marriage, nearly two dozen Indiana House Republicans bucked their leadership to strip a same-sex marriage ban of the clause opponents find most objectionable.

The House voted 52-43 to remove the proposed constitutional amendment's second sentence, which would have banned civil unions and similar arrangements. That leaves only the first sentence, which would still ban gay marriages ...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Brian Howey: "Bosma and the second sentence."

It's now 1:30 p.m. What happens next?

Brian Howey: Bosma and the second sentence

... Why wouldn't attorney Bosma - acknowledging the amendment is flawed with the second sentence - insist on its removal? If this is important enough to enshrine in the state's constitution, shouldn't it be done correctly?

The problem is, Gov. Mike Pence - while being a long-time advocate of the amendment - doesn't want to run for reelection in 2016 with HJR-3 on the ballot. And he should know how hot button social politics can impact a campaign. He became the first governor in 50 years to win office with less than 50 percent of the vote in 2012, and it happened because another candidate on the ticket made outrageous remarks about abortion and rape, and it sent female voters fleeing the Republican ticket in droves.

As for maintaining a House majority, Bosma and the Republicans have 69 seats and HJR-3 might endanger a handful of them in college towns, urban and some suburban areas ...

VFW pushes snow off its parking lot, onto public sidewalk.

And nothing happens. Welcome to enforcement-free New Albany.

The PC at "A craft beer toast to opposing HJR-3."

I spent a few minute searching the Internet for a clue as to the whereabouts of Rep. Steve Stemler, District 71's Democrat-pretend, and evidence of his existence is elusive. His last on-line newsletter was in August of 2013, although he mustered the time earlier in January to congratulate a local volleyball team. Evidently there is no available wi-fi when you're up the butt of the ORBP.

First, the C-J on Republican HJR qualms; then, my weekly column ... this time, about beer and activism.


Indiana House members wavering on marriage amendment
More than a third of the Indiana House members who voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2011 now plan to vote against it or are wavering (Courier-Journal) FULL ARTICLE »

There's a reason why the phrase "These Machines Kill Fascists" lies near and dear to my heart.

A craft beer toast to opposing HJR-3

Seated amid the cheesy 1960s-era veneer that delineates New Albany’s primary civic meeting room, idly monitoring a city council meeting, I was wishing there’d have been time at The Exchange for a third martini (sweet Jeeebus, why don’t they run a cash bar at functions like this?), when suddenly a beer discussion broke out on Twitter. My two cents quickly dispensed via the miracle of the iPhone, it was back to the numbingly predictable provincial political skullduggery

Then a friend tweeted.

“You own a brewery? I thought you were a city engineer or something.”

Sometimes I wonder myself ... (read the whole article at

Part 3: The World of Yesterday, by Stefan Zweig; three lives in a three-part review.


With the Great War passed, Austria fatally diminished, and the postwar inflationary period finally behind him, Stefan Zweig is in the prime of his professional life, and in his memoir, he’s ready for a spate of industrial-strength name dropping. Forever preoccupied with a comfortable, respected, bourgeois existence of art, writing, music and punditry, during the 1920s he thoroughly insulates himself from the approaching storm clouds.

Granted, there are hints of bad times around the corner. A trip to Italy provides a glimpse of Mussolini’s black-shirted thugs in action, amazing Zweig by their mobility and skilled training. Later, two weeks in the fledgling Soviet Union impress him, so determined are the workers there, ostensibly forging a new society, but with the providential assistance of a surreptitious note belatedly passed to him on the penultimate night abroad, he departs with the realization that it’s all just a Potemkin village under rapid construction by a looming Stalin.

Everywhere he travels, Zweig is enamored of the kindness and nobility of ordinary, simple folk, evidently never seeing in the hearts of the masses an innate, vocational ability to drop their pitchforks at a whistle’s notice and man the concentration camp guard tower – as many were about to do, and with pure glee. As could be seen even then, the period after the end of World War I was filled with societal trauma on a massive scale, which contributed mightily to another global war to address unfinished business. Zweig sees these things, but doesn’t. Even after the fact, he isn’t quite able to put them into perspective.

This, then, is my major annoyance with The World of Yesteryear. Looking back from the vantage point of his own exile and disabling, demeaning statelessness, he can see only that numerous others also ignored the earning warning signs of Hitlerism, while at the same time generally exempting himself from responsibility – as though to say, well, after all, I was so very busy rubbing elbows with the creative classes that I never bothered to exercise my voting franchise or take part in any way, so why are they coming after me? I was busy with art and the finer things in life. How could I have known?

Perhaps by opening the window, wetting a finger and raising it to the fetid air, but almost nothing Zweig sensed or saw was permitted to stand in the way of his own meteoric, glittering writing career. If he was prescient on the down-low while others donned blindfolds, might there not have been the chance of him taking some sort of action to mobilize his numerous loyal readers across the planet in the interest of sounding a warning? Of showing a semblance of a pulse?

At last, somewhat alerted by the muddled fate of his operatic exercise with the scheming composer Richard Strauss during the dawning days of Chancellor Hitler (Zweig pens the libretto and sees the piece performed in spite of his Jewishness, which by this point is virtually outlawed), he makes half-hearted preparations to leave Austria, and finally does, although frequent visits back occur throughout the 1930s as the Anschluss draws ever nearer. Does it ever dawn on Zweig that his own dilettantish artistic tendencies might have dulled his antennae? I think not.

I won’t dispute that in the book’s waning pages, a degree of elegiac reflection often emerges, arguably redeeming the whole exercise. Zweig writes movingly of a dying Sigmund Freud, elderly, pain-ridden and stranded in exile in London, but still plumbing mankind’s inner depths. Without a passport or a country, Zweig exists by the courtesy of his hosts in England, America and later Brazil, and describes the disorienting sensation of statelessness with accuracy and pathos.

Still, throughout, he seems only periodically to grasp that the pain and displacement being suffered by vast swaths of humanity surely outweigh his own surprisingly detached annoyance at a productive routine and successful career unfairly and tragically disrupted. Zweig is curiously narcissistic, and the self-centeredness mars an otherwise insightful tome.

1. January 25
2. January 26

Sunday, January 26, 2014

R.I.P. Andy Trout.

Apologies for missing this notice, which was posted January 15. It remains my fond hope that someday, the newspaper will relent and permit me to pay it an on-line viewing fee without subjecting me to the onslaught of tasteless Hanson Ads in their variously intrusive pop-up, roll-over and audio varieties.

That said, Andy Trout was teaching history at IU Southeast during my tenure there (1978-82), and although I never had him as an instructor, he was a certified legend on campus. Later, when the Public House began in the early ninties, he came in often -- not to drink, but to hang out with the other professors.

At some point, I casually mentioned my interest in jazz and early recorded music, and it turned out that Andy was an avid devotee of popular dance music recorded by society orchestras of the 1920s and 1930s. It's an esoteric niche, to be sure; he'd bring cassette compilations, and I'd play them in the bar.

At least two of us enjoyed these times. It was my bar, after all.

Andrew P. Trout Jr., 83; Illinois

Private graveside services for Andrew P. Trout Jr., 83, Illinois, formerly of New Albany, and Des Moines, Iowa, will be at Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines. He died Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, at Pine View Care Center, St. Charles, Ill.

He was born April 5, 1930 in Des Moines, the son of Andrew P. and Nelle Gertsch Trout. He served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was a professor of History at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany for 25 years. Andrew loved teaching and with that passion, authored City on the Seine a chronicle and tableau of seventeenth century Paris, to give others the opportunity to experience, through his eyes, the city he loved.

He is survived by his brother John Trout and his wife, Lily, Geneva, Ill.; nephews, Michael and his wife, Patricia, Steven, Robert and his wife, Jeanne, and John and his wife, Muffet, and many other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

For the 10th straight year, NA Confidential fails to bring back a Pillar Award.

I'm glad trib_daniel was able to temper his annoyance and summarize the annual DNA fete with tact and professionalism.

Actually, they may have gotten them all correct this year.

Worth the recognition: Develop New Albany hands out Pillar Awards; Annual meeting held on Thursday

NEW ALBANY — The 15th annual Pillar Awards were bestowed to individuals and businesses deemed to have contributed to the restoration and continued revitalization of downtown or uptown New Albany.

During its annual meeting on Thursday, Develop New Albany recognized Steve Resch, Michelle Kristiansen, The Exchange pub + kitchen and Star Cleaners with Pillar Awards.

Part 2: The World of Yesterday, by Stefan Zweig; three lives in a three-part review.


The onset of World War I provides the first challenging transition in Stefan Zweig’s comfortable, predictable Viennese world. One lifetime passes, and another begins. He observes that the death of imperial Habsburg heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo barely causes a stir in his own social milieu, and why would it? The heir was the objectionable sort, cranky and scowling, and nowhere near as trustworthy and seemly as the ancient whiskered Emperor and other reliable royal court figures like Karl, the new and far more youthful figurehead in waiting.

Reading between the lines, it’s likely that at some point, Zweig actually did meet Franz Ferdinand at a gala, or while strolling along the Ring, and the latter’s unchanging expression and general disinterest in the welfare of human beings did not provide sufficient grist for another Zweig-cum-Zelig moment. Of course, perhaps the doomed heir’s manner suggested that he didn’t like Jewish writers, whereas former mayor Lueger was overtly anti-Semitic but is given a pass by Zweig as being unthreatening, and merely playing to the crowd.

Perhaps Zweig was so relentlessly self-absorbed that none of it registered, ever. One has to wonder. Perhaps by necessity, all memoirs must display a degree of self-absorption, such is the difficulty in finding perspective between personal and public worlds. The distance seems unsurpassable in Zweig’s autobiographical case.

Naturally, Zweig’s summer holiday in 1914 was planned in advance, and occurs in the vicinity of the Low Countries, because he is right there watching as troop trains roll forward near the beach. Mobilization of the European armies is in full swing, according to secret plans written to the rhythm of railway timetables. The writer barely makes it back to Österreich before the national borders slam shut, ending the blissful eras of peace and passport-free travel.

Back home in Vienna, Zweig finds himself too old to enlist and too young to die, and instead handily nabs a featherbedded sinecure in the library of a military branch, all the while continuing to write, to be published and to get paid as the world around him falls to pieces.

Zweig’s eyes finally are opened (or so he reports) during a public relations junket to the Eastern Front, during which he nominally performs his official duties by pawning them off to local Jewish “factors,” and later, shares a filthy hospital train with the dying flower of Austro-Hungarian manhood in route from the hellish trenches to lovely Budapest, where the juxtaposition of death’s gritty squalor and the Hungarian capital’s seemingly unchanged quaint urban ambience so moves him that he makes an important decision: He’ll depart Vienna and wait out the conflict in Zurich. After all, only in neutral Switzerland might Zweig see his remarkable anti-war play staged. Seems the belligerents weren’t interested in sanctioning peaceniks.

Eventually even Zurich is too close to war’s messiness, infested as it comes to be by refugees, spies and operatives, so Zweig moves even further away from the epicenter of the tumult, to a quiet nearby town. It’s mostly about his work, of course. Granted, he has interesting points to make about art and culture in the context of the war, and how the international fraternity of writers came to be as conflicted by patriotism as the workers abandoning the socialist international. Zweig expresses pain and disappointment, and he watches the clock.

With the war over and the Central Powers in shambles, Zweig drags his bulging wallet back to Salzburg in emasculated Austria, pausing at the border to observe ex-emperor Karl heading for exile in the other direction. It’s very cold those first few months in the foothills of the Alps, as inflation rocks the ruined rump, and rowdy Bavarians flock across the border to drink beer until they drop, never anticipating their own prospective inflationary comeuppance, so soon to come.

It’s hard up there on the hillside, in the former lodge of a bishop, but Zweig always has a check in the morning mail … and across the valley, on the mountain opposite his, up on Berchtesgaden, is the man who’ll soon be taking it all away.

A fellow named Hitler.

1. January 25
3. January 27

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Ordinary Love": Of U2, me and great times.

I'm an unreconstructed, unrepentant, unembarrassed fan of U2. I accept it as unimpeachably and undeniably axiomatic that the world is a better place when there is new music from U2. And The Edge ... well, The Edge remains bad ... as my friend Roz Tate would say.

This song has grown on me considerably. Maybe not a classic, but very encouraging nonetheless, with the long-awaited new album hopefully dropping in April. The guitar and vocals in the bridge give me shivers, perhaps not for what they are, but for what they conjure. That's enough for me.

I sometimes forget the extent to which U2's music has been accompanying me for more than a quarter-century. It has defined so many milestones, European trips, love affairs, business endeavors ... and as I've always pointed out, I'm the same age as the band's members. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen are my lads, and my chronological contemporaries.

Three past mentions of U2 here at the blog:

Achtung Baby and the greatest rock reinvention.

Travel Music 4: In the open air with Genesis and U2, 1987.

Ruminations just for the hell of it.

Part 1: The World of Yesterday, by Stefan Zweig; three lives in a three-part review.


These days, Stefan Zweig’s name seldom appears in lists of important 20th-century writers, and yet between the two world wars, he was prolific, and a veritable monolith of the written word. The Austrian-born Zweig wrote poetry, plays, fiction, biographies and newspaper commentaries, which were translated into numerous languages and sold across the planet.

Oddly, Zweig is remembered now primarily for his strange end. Displaced and disoriented by the conflagration of anti-Semitism unleashed by Nazi Germany, he fled Europe and wandered from place to place, eventually settling in Brazil. There, in 1942, in a famously documented final act, Zweig and his wife committed suicide together.

Among Zweig’s final achievements was to complete his autobiography, which he originally intended to call “Three Lives,” in reference to the three distinct periods in his life: Birth and youth to the commencement of World War I; from war’s end through the advent of the Anschluss (Austria’s forced absorption into Nazi Germany); and finally, exile. The proposed title is telling in light of Zweig’s sad demise, for apparently he was not able to envision a fourth life.

Given the eventual choice of The World of Yesterday as the book’s title, one might reasonably inquire: The yesterday of which of Zweig’s lives?

The “yesterday” of most relevance to me is the one prior to World War I. In the absence of closer examination, I mistakenly imagined the entire book as dealing with this period, which is of interest owing to the imminent approach of the Great War’s centennial. How did a continent seemingly so progressive and at peace with itself erupt into such a bloodletting?

Zweig is right there, on the scene, at 33 years of age in the summer of 1914. His explanation of the events leading to war is little different than most offered during a century of post-war analysis: Societal dynamism constrained by top-heavy monarchical systems, which led to what can only be referred to as boredom on the part of those ignorant of war’s true costs, and when pent-up demand for action (an sort of action) was released by inbred dunderheads scheming at the top of the societal pyramid, catastrophe was the result.

To be fair, there is an elegiac tone to Zweig’s pre-war ruminations. He trumpets the seemingly settled, hierarchical, perennially ordered nature of Viennese society (easier to do nearer its top than the bottom), exalting the abundant theatrical and musical scenes, which interest ordinary citizens as sports do now. One depends on favorite cafés, newspapers and stage luminaries. Life passes. Change seems unlikely.

As to Zweig’s own background, his memoir is conspicuously absent the usual rise from hardscrabble poverty by sheer force of will. In fact, it emerges that he is fairly well off from the very start. A pattern is established: The world is a rosy place for bright young men, and bright young men are far too busy reaping their effortless opportunities to be very much concerned with messy everyday disagreements. Zweig’s is a halcyon world, and this wouldn’t necessarily be noteworthy if not for one small point: He is Jewish.

Jewish -- though not ardently so in any duty-bound sense of religious ritual; nonetheless, identifiably Jewish in pre-war Vienna, and pre-war Vienna is famed as the place where modern anti-Semitism gets its (non)-intellectual bearings. Adolf Hitler, who spends his Vienna period as underemployed and angry as Zweig is ascendant and serene, lives in a miserable flophouse not far from Zweig’s cultured block, and takes his formative ideological cues from the stridently anti-Semitic Viennese mayor, Karl Lueger.

What’s more, while the multi-ethnic and polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire functions with charm and aplomb at the heap’s top, working class Vienna is by most contemporary accounts a rough and tumble, seething reflection of the empire’s considerable intramural tensions. But Zweig notices little of it. Rather, the citizenry is united in respect for the elderly emperor Franz Joseph, and even Lueger isn’t always such a bad chap, after all. Vienna’s relative smallness means that pastoral picnics or woodland strolls await at the end of the tram line.

Is everyone happy in his or her place? It seems so to Zweig, who emerges as the effortless prodigy, forever insulated from the unseemly. School is a lark, and everything he touches turns to gold, gained in his youth without palpable blood, sweat or tears. Zweig churns out flawless copy, and everyone wants some of it. He writes plays and coyly hints at their presumed existence, and immediately there come offers to stage them come from directors at renowned theaters. If there were a German language phrase for “Aw, shucks,” Zweig would be uttering it … often.

Thus, Zweig embarks upon a lifetime of happenstance brushes with the famous and powerful. Zweig eerily presages Zelig, title character of Woody Allen’s 1983 mockumentary, by means of the annoyingly repetitious habit of managing always to be where someone “important” is about to stumble past and ask for a cigarette, or directions to the loo, followed inevitably by the author’s earnest ruminations on the epochal slice of history he just witnessed. We expect Albert Einstein to respectfully ask Zweig for assistance with his latest theory, or Mae West to make an offer for the use of her upstairs room.

And then, all of it crumbles.

2. January 26
3. January 27

An impolite message to winter.

Please, sir, might you consider ... shoveling ...

... your effing walk. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Books and articles about World War I.

The book I'm reading is 1913: The World Before the Great War, by Charles Emmerson. It follows The World of Yesterday, the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig's autobiography, which includes his personal accounts of Europe prior to the conflagration. It will be reviewed here shortly. Emmerson looks at the year 1913 in twenty-three cities scattered across the globe, the idea being to describe life in these places before the big changes brought about by the Great War.

The Guardian is putting up fine pieces in conjunction with other European newspapers as the centennial of World War I approaches.

First world war: memories of the last survivors ... We talk to some of the few who still recall those momentous events.

First world war: 15 legacies still with us today ... The great war may have been destructive, but it also generated so many startling developments – in medicine, warfare, geopolitics and social relations - that its influence still resonates today. Here are 15 lasting legacies of the war.

Embittered Knobs developer Thieneman succinctly encapsulates community spirit.

Being rejected by the county sprawl commission is a headline itself, but Don Thieneman takes it to a whole new level:

“It’s disappointing. I guess we’ll have to put in a Super Walmart.”

Atta boy, Don. Let's do what's best for our community.

Plan Commission rejects apartment rezoning near Knobs' Highlander Point, by Grace Schneider (Courier-Journal)

The Floyd County Plan Commission voted Wednesday night to forward an unfavorable recommendation on a proposed rezoning for an apartment complex near Highlander Point center in Floyds Knobs.

Score it a victory for a group of residents who’d spent recent months mounting a campaign against the plans to build 152 apartments northwest of the U.S. 150 and Old Vincennes Road and a defeat for developer Don Thieneman.

Although the matter goes now to the Floyd County commissioners, most are betting they will uphold the advisory recommendation during an election year.

Look out your window at the one-way street, while absorbing this: "The Government Is Really Bad at Predicting Americans' Driving Habits."

Follow the link for the full grandeur. In essence, the miscalculated uppermost lines are the basis of various excuses to build two unneeded bridges, and in turn, are just as likely to preface calculations aimed at preserving New Albany's antiquated one-way street grid. That's because the same old faces doing the studies tend toward the accepted miscalculations, as above, which are more profitable for all concerned than actual truth. Thus, dysfunction is perpetuated amid shrugs that "after all, the numbers don't lie."

Except they do.

What was that?

This is just now coming to your attention?

The Government Is Really Bad at Predicting Americans' Driving Habits, by Emily Badger (The Atlantic Cities)

... What's startling about this latest chart isn't the difference between that thick black line and the 2010 projection. It's the fact that the government seems to have made the exact same miscalculation repeatedly, and despite growing evidence that something quite different is going on. These projections also aren't wobbling off course years after they were first produced (no one expects a prognosticator to perfectly predict what will happen 10 or 20 years from now). They've turned out to be grossly inaccurate sometimes months after their release.

"The era of one-way streets in downtown Louisville may be coming to an end."

You can almost hear the wooden gears grinding in Mayor Fischer's head.

I supported the ORBP because of all that increased traffic, but how do we handle all that increased traffic unless we make the streets wider and faster, not less -- except if there isn't going to be all that increased traffic, in which case, why did I support the ORBP? What if ... maybe ... aaargggh.

Besides that, Greg, if a Kentucky governor is for it, there has to be catch somewhere, right?

The memos also may be flying fast and furious near Hauss Square in New Albany; after all, if the Kentucky governor is for it and the Louisville mayor is confused, can't we just drop the whole thing and reinstall streetside ditch sewers?

Downtown Louisville two-way street project gets boost in proposed highway plan, by Marcus Green (WDRB)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The era of one-way streets in downtown Louisville may be coming to an end.

As part of his two-year highway plan, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has proposed spending $3.1 million to begin converting 10 streets to handle traffic in two directions as early as this year.

Gout and me.

Gout visited me for the first time in 1998. I woke with a golf ball lodged beneath the skin of my left big tow joint, and the most horrific scenario imaginable was if an ant might elect to crawl slowly across the oh-so-sensitive protuberance.

In contrast to the advice dispensed in this link, my GP, Dr. Oakengruber, informed me that gout is primarily genetic; your body deals with uric acid, or it doesn't, and you suffer accordingly. In this view, the disease of kings was less attributable to their uncommonly rich diets as their inbreeding and hierarchical position at the top of society, where courtesans were there to hear them moan. Meanwhile, farm workers were in no position to be heard or to phone in sick. They merely endured.

I had an aftershock while clamboring across Estonian cobblestones in 1999, and maybe a slight reminder a couple of years back. Otherwise, my gout is manageable with Allopurinol, a prescription drug of considerable longevity. It helps dispose of uric acid before the unresolved bits migrate to a relatively cool nook and morph into millions of tiny razor blades.

Let's drink to relief from gout, shall we?

Gout's on the rise – so how can you avoid it?, by Sarah Boseley (The Guardian)

This excruciatingly painful condition now affects 1.6 million people in the UK. Beer can bring it on, but so can wine and even some 'healthy' foods.

Culbertson Mansion is hosting the black-tie Benevolence Ball on February 1.

I've also been told that come June, there'll be a repeat of last year's lawn party, which proved to be great fun.

Benevolence Ball event page at Facebook

In celebration of William Culbertson's 200th birthday, the Culbertson Mansion is hosting the Benevolence Ball! This black-tie affair will host community leaders from New Albany and Louisville, with entertainment by John Austin Clark of Bourbon Baroque and Audrey Walstrom, a mezzo-soprano from Cincinnati. Ticket price is $25 each and includes food, drink, and fancy! Guests may tour the 25-room Victorian mansion and will witness the first Culbertson Mansion Benevolence Award. Reservations and formal dress are required! This is a 21 and over event.
Call 812.944.9600 to reserve your tickets. LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE - this event will sell out, so don't delay!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ON THE AVENUES: Planners only love you when they’re planning.

ON THE AVENUES: Planners only love you when they’re planning..

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

“Right now I wish I was home in my slippers, creating hatred in the family.”
--Rodney Dangerfield

Let me tell you, it was a bizarre dream.

There I was, wearing only slippers and a jock strap, in a room filled to overflowing with planning professionals. Suddenly Tyler Allen sidled over.

He asked, “Who are these people, anyway?”

“They’re professional planners,” I said.

“Wow,” he nodded. “And they don’t know these things?”

“If they do, they’re not letting on.”

“That’s what I thought. If I had dreams like this, I’d consider foregoing sleep. You ever considered moving?”


But was it really a dream?

The room began shaking, and I leaped from my bed and ran to the window, all the better to view two 18-wheelers, side by side, thundering in the same direction down Spring Street as an officer on speed trap duty shone his radar gun on a box of multinational doughnuts.

Like MLK, I have a dream. Unlike him, this isn’t it. Then again, I’m not a professional planner in New Albany.


Well, was it a dream, or was it Memorex? At times it’s hard to tell.

In the aftermath of Jeff Speck’s library chat last week, I asked New Albany’s economic development director to explain the nature of local resistance to two-way street calming.

The reason for my curiosity? Apart from tangled, strangled, plaintive social media wails here and there, discernible organized opposition to street grid reform has not been visible. No less a personage than the economic development director’s boss once told me that in his view, there exists no community sentiment either way. Such a statement implies no pro, no con … just inert. But I’m pro. Where’s the con – that whole action and reaction dichotomy? The economic development director was quick to answer.

“Oh, it’s there. We hear it all the time.”

“But from whom?”

“We get phone calls and e-mails.”

“Look, I’m out on the street every day. I’m the face of the two-way lobby, so why aren’t they saying it to me?

“Why would they do that? Of course they won’t say it to YOUR face. They’re afraid they might have to talk to you.”

“Isn’t that what we want, a discussion?”

“C’mon, Roger; be serious. You DO have a reputation, you know.

“For what, being right?”


“You know exactly what I mean. You and your buddies, always talking down to people with facts and evidence. These people don’t have a fighting chance if they go and reveal their identities.”

“If they’re afraid of revealing their identities, then why on earth should their opinion matter? Anyway, they can always go vote, right?”

(long silence)

“Oh, I see.”


As I was writing today’s column, Twitter informed me of the best straight line, ever.

“Tonight's New Albany Plan Commission meeting has been cancelled.”

If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no planning commission member on hand to hear it, can we have two-way streets yet?


However, what started the conversation was purely semantic. On the topic of Speck’s message, I thought it was self-evident, but I was asked to be more legalistic in my dialectic.

“Roger, why do you keep saying we’re not for this, when we’re not actually against it?”

“But not being against something isn’t the same as being for it.”

“That’s my point. Right now, we can only not be against it, at least until a study lets us know whether we’re for it. Look, we can’t know we’re for it unless someone tells us to be for it.”

“Wait a minute. You’ve been for several other things lately without someone telling you to be for them. Parks, aquatic centers, Main Street improvements, farmers market upgrades … ”

“Duh! Those are for feel-good parks and hallowed rows of mansions, and everyone’s for them, including us! It’s easy to be for it when no fundamental changes are necessary. It’s when you have to change something, then obviously you can’t be for it unless an expert tells you to be for it.”

“What about the Democratic grandees? Do you need their permission, too?”

“Hell no – wait, let me get this call.”

(Yeah … uh huh … thanks Mrs. Sipes, will do)

“Now, what was I saying? Right: Of course we need their permission. What do you think this is, a red city?”

“So, assuming you need an expert to tell you to be for it even though something has to be changed to do it, are you going to hire the expert who spoke today? Jeff Speck just told you what to do. Isn’t that cover enough?”

“Seriously, Roger, will you just try to understand the way life works? To preserve the disposable appearance of objectivity, as soon as we decide what we’re against – I mean for – then we’ll hire the same experts we’ve always hired previously. That Jorge Lanz; what a great guy, and he speaks bureaucratese without an accent. Incredible.”

“But aren’t guys like him the same ones who told you to do it the wrong way in the first place? Didn’t you hear what Speck was saying today?”

“Well, yes. I guess you could say that. Politically, we’re not against doing it the right way; it’s just that we’re not for it, either.”


“You’re the city’s economic development director, and what we’re trying to explain to you is that for the sake of independent small businesses downtown, two-way streets ARE economic development. Can’t you do just this one thing for us as a group?”

“We already do things for you. I’d offer you a matching façade grant right now, only the UEA’s skint since we cashed it in. Don’t you know anyone from Jeffersonville?”

“Compared to what the industrial park gets … "

“What the industrial park gets is totally justified. The industrial park is about job creation.”

“Really? My 20 employees at Bank Street Brewhouse will be happy to hear that they don’t have real jobs.”

“Roger, you just want what’s right for you.”

“Are you saying TGI Missouri does not?”

“That’s different. Just quit saying we’re not doing anything. Of course we are. We’re tap dancing as fast as we can. We’re just now learning all these newfangled ideas. We have a double secret plan, and we’re not like you, with all that time to read and ask questions. We hired away someone from One Southern Indiana, for chrissakes. Just remember: We’re not against it. But being for it … well, there’s a limit to what we can do.”


Tyler Allen, if you’re reading … did you have a destination in mind?

Too much more of this dreaming, and I may be ready for a nap.

"Noel Gallagher reviews Oasis videos and hates them all."

As curmudgeons go, Noel's a role model for me. The videos he "reviews" below are all from the early days of Oasis; the performance clip above is from the group's final 2008 album. I remain a fan, and unrepentant in my fandom. That is all.

Noel Gallagher reviews Oasis videos and hates them all (Buzzfeed, via Guardian Music)

A YouTube user has edited together Noel's most scathing comments from his DVD commentary – and it's well worth watching.

Forget the 2009 time stamp, because they're just now hearing about the modern world.

These periodic time capsules are worth the digging.

They have a tendency to vibrantly illustrate a basic New Albany truth: As those in positions of authority dig their claws into the upholstery as you attempt to compel them to gaze past the county line, they like to dismiss the topic of the day as something newly brought to their attention, raised only now by wild-eyed, book-reading radicals with hidden agendas. They invariably play to the peanut gallery as pitiable victims of fresh thinking and new ideas, when the thoughts expressed actually extend well into the past, even allowing for local standards of comprehensive indifference to modernity.

And so it was April, 2009, and my column in the newspaper, which means that these words were not confined to a blog that no one ever reads until it needs rebutting, in which case someone else reads it aloud to them so they they needn't concede using their own eyes. Nowadays, Steve Price is back to playing music, which he does quite capably, and Dan Coffey's running for commissioner, having assisted today's current administration in spending more discretionary "quality of someone else's life" money than the Garner and England regimes combined.

I'm not entirely sure where the bloody shirt has gone, although the odds are it isn't in the landfill.

The two words I'd most like to take back are struck through. Other than that, I'm delighted with being so prescient. Thanks for asking. Now, go and read a book. Any book.


Two-way, better way.

What is the desired outcome, and how do we get there?

If the desired outcome is boosting New Albany’s future prospects as an urban entity, a key element is improving the city’s quality of life in residential districts adjacent to downtown, and linking their inhabitants to niche-oriented commercial redevelopment in the historic business district.

A restoration of the city’s two-way traffic grid is rightfully viewed by a diverse cross-section of the community as an achievable centerpiece of future downtown redevelopment strategies, with added benefits for residential and business interests alike.

If the desired outcome is doing as little as possible to avoid offending a steadily shrinking minority of city residents who view the future as a threat to be “nickel and dimed” into leaving us alone, the chosen political alternative is lethargic decay management, a strategy preferred by those of our local council ward heelers adept at “boiling the bitter Coffey.”

Who are they, and what is that? Let’s begin with a digression.


Out there – in the wider world, beyond the Knobs, and even past the state line – there is broad agreement as to the merits of slower, calmer automotive traffic patterns.

According to the bigger picture, speeding and certain other manifestations of dangerous driving are viewed as street design issues, not law enforcement issues. To design a traffic grid that encourages speeding and reckless driving is to achieve exactly that. Aggressive law enforcement should be a given, and yet approaching the problem from a design perspective offers more lasting and substantive relief, as well as a long list of added attractions for urban areas.

By requiring greater driver attentiveness, two-way streets and related traffic calming measures lower travel speeds, and lower speeds reduce the number of accidents as well as their severity, further lessening repair costs and the number and extent of injuries. Lower speeds also are green, reducing noise and automotive emissions.

Planners of a previous generation responded to the advent of suburban sprawl and the corresponding desertion of the historic city core with one-way, arterial street refittings, manipulating the transport grid as a means of motoring people in and out as quickly as possible, and jarringly dismissing the patterns of urban life prefacing the city’s original layout.

Now, in 2009, as conditions in the real world outside New Albany constantly change, it’s plainly mistaken to persist with an antiquated one-way traffic pattern that defies all efforts to revitalize New Albany into a human-friendly, future-oriented city, creating a more civilized, less threatening streetscape for pedestrians, cyclists, residents and visitors, improving livability in the city’s neighborhoods, and helping to attract fresh New Albanians by offering them a better quality of life.

The rational future of downtown lies in its transformation into an overtly-stated, explicitly-billed antithesis of the plastic, big-box exurb, and what is more perfectly representative of the soulless exurb than its cruelly auto-centric traffic requirements?

Conversely, how better to jump-start the process than allow the city center to function as the city center was originally designed to function?


Let’s return now to New Albany’s stunted political culture.

The phrase "waving the bloody shirt" came into common usage following the American Civil War. It describes a familiar trait of political demagoguery, wherein a politician points to the bloodshed suffered by “our side,” as heinously inflicted by the enemy (“them people”). The tactic is a conscious effort to deflect criticism and avoid honest consideration of the topic.

In the lexicon of the New Albany Syndrome, the bloody shirt might be paraphrased as “boiling the bitter Coffey,” wherein a local politician attacks the source (“them people”) of ideas, innovations and hope in a conscious effort to deflect criticism, avoid honest consideration of the topic at hand, and protect “our side” from a difficult, demanding future.

Accordingly, to “boil the bitter Coffey” is to be trapped in a state of perpetual political obstructionism, inexorably bound to the nonsensical principle that “them people” – i.e., those residents who are eager, educated, capable and willing to assist in the process of change – are arrogantly and callously demanding unaffordable and effete luxuries, something that the saintly and penurious “little people” must oppose at all costs, supposedly on financial grounds, but actually on ones vaguely reminiscent of the GOP’s culture wars – except that our Coffey boilers are always Democrats.

We’re about to see a high volume of Coffey being mercilessly boiled, right down to the darkest dregs, because these standard bearers of the city’s embittered and increasingly irrelevant wannabeens seem fully prepared to go to their mattresses in an offensive against the current administration’s efforts to rebuild and re-energize New Albany.

In addition to proposals for comprehensive paving and two-way street conversions, a full range of uniformly exciting and long overdue public and private investments currently are on the table, including the second phase of Scribner Place, ongoing riverfront enhancements, rehabs for existing housing, and positive ideas for West End redevelopment, all aimed at improving the quality of life for residents and businesses within the city’s historic core, and providing a platform for future growth.

The two council districts with the most to gain from progress are the 1st and 3rd, congenitally under-represented on the city council by Dan Coffey and Steve Price, surely the city’s most predictable proponents of deflated defeatism, penny-wise, pound-foolish fiscal deconstructionism, and outright malice toward a modern world that neither seems to comprehend.

Decay and death, or progress and life?

Can we afford not choosing the latter?