Monday, November 30, 2015

"Cold Old Fire," by Lynched: "Born to live and lie and die in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers."

Just know that the "button factory" refers to the dole office. The band Lynched bears a self-description as "Dublin Folk Miscreants." The resonance is striking.

We always sing, even when we're losing
'Cos Dublin's drone is hard enough especially when you're down and you're boozing
We sing the Oul' Triangle and then the Tommy Ryan
'Cos all the world's a jail and we can't remember why

Why we agreed to live and lie in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall

We look for signs that Dublin's heart's still beating,
That concrete and glass and peelers and mass, they haven't stopped the people from screaming,
Being trapped by all the cameras you're inclined to stay at home,
And forget some songs were written to remind you you weren't born

Born to live and lie and die in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall

We see the cracks under the foundation,
Smoldering on the faces of the people on the drip of isolation,
We hear the sounds come streaming across the crackling air,
The broken words of swine who would tell us that we were

Born to live and lie and die in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall
And when did we agree to live and lie and die in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers?
They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall.

10 years ago: "Street spam, sign sharks and the sheer joy of litter removal."

The following was published at NAC on December 1, 2005. It was the beginning of my sign sharking career, and while cumulative totals are not known, I'd estimate the number of signs personally confiscated and destroyed during the past decade to be in the range of 400. 

This is where it started. The CAUSS site is still active, although the forum is down. 


Street spam, sign sharks and the sheer joy of litter removal.

Here’s a far too common scene around town.

No doubt you've grimaced at the many "Buys Houses" signs, both on utility poles and in medians or along city streets. The circus posters were put up in September, and many still can be seen, rotting, where they were stapled.

These are examples of "street spam."

Q: What is Street Spam?

A: Street Spam is the term for illegal signs along roadways, at intersections, on traffic signs or utility poles, and even on private property. Illegal street signs are also called vertical litter, bandit signs, snipe signs, utility pole advertising and stuff on a stick (SOS). The signs may advertise local businesses, multilevel marketing schemes selling weight loss products, health insurance, sample sales, landscaping services and even pet waste removal services. Some of the most common spam signs have the come-on Work at Home, Work From Home, I Lost 30 Pounds in 30 Days, Have a PC, We Buy Houses, Affordable Health Insurance, Budget Health Plans, and Going Out of Business.

The preceding definition comes from the FAQ section of the Citizens Against Ugly Street Spam web site.

Until reading the CAUSS FAQ, I wasn't aware that I'm a "sign shark." During city walks, "street spam" has a way of coming off in my hands. As noted by CAUSS, illegal signage (exceptions being legitimate realtor's signs and the like) is nothing more than litter -- and who doesn't believe in picking up litter?

For a similar perspective, and abundant photographic evidence of the targets as identified by these and various other like-minded campaigns, visit Atlanta Street Spam Eradication Campaign.

Anyone for a "sign shark" roaming walk some afternoon?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dust in the Wind Turbines: Welcome Closer to Home, Carl Malysz.

Thanks, M; I needed an excuse to repost what just might be my favorite city council photo ever (2011).

Community Development Director resigns publicly (WKKG)

Columbus Community Development Director Carl Malysz publicly resigned during Wednesday night’s meeting of the Columbus City Council ... Malysz says that he has accepted a job offer with the Louisville Downtown Partnership as Deputy Director of Project Management and Strategic Planning.

Newspaper shocks area with truth: "Needs assessment shows lack of affordable housing."

And no, the "ripple effect" of corporate welfare isn't helping.

The disconnect is amply illustrated by one sentence.

Business and community leaders — about 73 percent — believe the market offers affordable housing while 54 percent of nonprofit service providers disagree.

Yes, the article is Jeffersonville-centric (aren't most of them?), but Elizabeth Beilman does a fine job describing an issue with which Baylor for Mayor's team was very familiar, seeing as we were the only campaign in Clark or Floyd County to so much as discuss affordable housing publicly, for which we were poo-pooed by the Luxury Mayor for being negative and refusing to adhere to the Disney water slide dialogue.

As an aside, can you so much as imagine this story in the hands of Chris Morris?

A bunch of people who won't work for a living are whining because their rent's too high. Why don't they get jobs? 

Let's take a look at One Southern Indiana's position paper on affordable housing.

Hmm, imagine that. There isn't one.

NO VACANCY: Needs assessment shows lack of affordable housing, by Elizabeth Beilman (News and Tribune)

SOUTHERN INDIANA — It's no secret to anyone looking that the United States is in the midst of a real estate boom — and Southern Indiana is enjoying particularly low housing costs.

But while many are rejoicing in the plummeting price tag figures, Jeffersonville Real Estate Agent Lincoln Crum said it's not such a happy picture for low-income residents.

Bored of Works just laughs: ADA compliance? In New Albany?

Walking on the north side of Spring from 4th to 6th ... how is it again that wheelchair users are supposed to be able to use the sidewalk when the fencing deprives them of ramps?

Warning: The "Street Cuisine" blog will make you hungry, as with the pølsevogn in Copenhagen.

Photo credit: Street Cuisine.

As accompaniment to the most recent installment of my 1985 European travelogue ...

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 23 … A fleeting first glimpse of Copenhagen.

... here's amore in-depth look at the phenomenon of the Danish pølsevogn, which is far, far more than your grandpa's weenie wagon.

The Danish Pølsevogn at Street Cuisine

Hotdogs and hotdog stands are popular almost everywhere, but I don't think anywhere takes the concept of sausage and bread as seriously as the Danes. A Danish hotdog stand called a pølsevogn can be found on almost any major street or torv in Denmark. Much larger and more involved than a typical North American hotdog cart, the pølsevogn is more like an outdoor mobile kitchen along the lines on an imbiss in Germany.

The Street Cuisine blog is amazing, but you may wish to eat first.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

All Jingle Walk/Holiday Fest events are "on" today, except the tree lighting and ...

 ... the politicized street sweeper parade review and Oaf Oath of Office. These presumably will be conducted next Saturday.

Today's Jingle Walk (wine sampling) apparently is a go. Holiday Fest? It isn't yet clear.

It's 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, and I believe today's Jingle Walk is proceeding as scheduled at 1:00 p.m. However, signals remain somewhat mixed for today's Holiday Fest, which I'm taking to mean all events not pertaining to the wine sampling "jingle" walk.

As for this year's new twist of politicizing a Christmas festival with an "oath of office" ceremony, would you expect any different from the Genius of the Flood Plain?

Develop New Albany has done a good job with this day in recent years, and there always would have been a plan for rain or inclement weather, so it's hard to determine why this year's signals are so mixed.

A place to start is Facebook. If one were to search for "Jingle Walk," this is what comes up first: New Albany Jingle Walk EVENT page. I glanced at it on Thursday, and noticed a fair number of unanswered questions and some disgruntlement at the absence of stewardship.

But the city's Fb page consistently pointed the way to this COMMUNITY page, which actually has been regularly tended, and seems to be the "official" portal: New Albany's Annual Holiday Fest/Jingle Walk.

Note the difference: It's Holiday Fest first and Jingle Walk second. For the casual observer, the question is obvious: Which is which?

At around 7:00 p.m. on Friday, the city's Fb page further muddied this absence of clarity.

The city tries to delineate Jingle Walk and Holiday Fest by saying the former will proceed"rain or shine," but with the day's various branded components already confusing, the post's ambiguity is sending a message of uncertainty -- in short, sure death for the wine walk.

By 11:00 p.m. on Friday, DNA's president was on the event page belatedly answering unanswered questions (she may not have known it was there), and also sending this e-mail:

I feel badly for DNA. Uncertainty is the great killer of events, and the city hasn't helped their cause today by sending mixed social media signals.

Finally, in response to the questions I received: I know nothing about a beer component of the wine walk, so it's my ongoing assumption that sampling is confined to wine, only.

Why is City Hall politicizing today's municipal holiday festival with a premature "oath of office" rite?

What the Green Mouse wants to know: Who will take the Mayor's oath of office, Jeff Gahan or Mike Hall? (thanks MC)

(more on today's Jingle Walk, Holiday Fest and umbrellas here)

Is it because "Mayor Jeff Gahan Presents Christmas," too?

Has there ever been a "swearing in" ceremony held a full month before newly elected officials take office on January 1?

Whose idea is this, anyway?

I've asked the questions, but they're not being answered. In times like these, we yearn for a Fourth Estate, a Fifth Estate, or maybe an estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon.

Friday, November 27, 2015

New cidery downtown? Two-way streets would make Matt's business idea far more feasible.

Photo credit: Kevin Gibson.

Q: What do you get for keeping secrets?

A: Scooped.

Grr. That's twice in a week, but hey -- I'm happy to forward good news whatever the source. First, let's look at cider, and then conjecture how a functional civic economic development effort might transform this project into a better investment.

Big Four Burgers owner planning to open craft cidery in 2016, by Kevin Gibson (In-cider Louisville)

Downtown New Albany already has a pair of breweries and a winery to go with its many restaurants. Sometime in early 2016, the Southern Indiana city will add a craft cidery to that mix.

Matt McMahan, owner of Big Four Burgers + Beer, says the project is only just under way, but he hopes that by spring, the 9,000-square-foot space at 432 Pearl St. will be a place where people can come in for a good meal paired with cider.

Cider in America has come full circle, and is a growth category.

A popular alcoholic beverage from Colonial times until Prohibition, cider has begun to regain widespread recognition in recent years, with the largest beer companies releasing ciders to catch up to the growth. In fact, cider is now the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage, up more than 75.4 percent last year, according to market research firm IRI.

One of Matt's biggest issues will be navigating the thicket of state regulations.

The future cidery doesn’t even have a name yet, and McMahan says he is researching what kinds of permits will be needed to make cider in New Albany, given that cider is somewhere between beer and wine in the eyes of the law.

To make cider, I believe he'll need a farm winery license; cider for production is considered wine for regulatory purposes, although the excise tax levied is that of beer, or some such persistent nonsense.

If the cidery intends to sell alcoholic beverages other than the cider it makes, there must be a retail permit, and while it can be done, there are more regulatory obstacles in Indiana for small wineries than small breweries when it comes to the front of the house.

He'll get it done, through it won't be made easy for him.

Another impediment to ideal outcomes at the southeast corner of Elm and Pearl is dysfunctional street design, with high-speed Elm and Pearl both (still) one-way streets in defiance of experience throughout the globe.

As the following excerpts from Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposal clearly illustrate, one-way streets work AGAINST a business like the one Matt is planning to open.

The enduringly limited conceptual comprehension of a relative handful of downtown stakeholders notwithstanding, one-way streets act as a "convenient framework for making limited profit."

Which means that an ongoing failure to design streets correctly acts as a local government profit inhibitor, and an investment value reducer. Some businesses are doing okay, but it could be better.

As it stands, the city provides almost no assistance to entrepreneurs like Matt.

But if two-way streets offered a framework for making greater profits over a huge expanse of commercial ground, wouldn't a rational street grid be the BEST way the city might help? 

From page 100:

Catching up with writer Ray Mouton, his novel, and the Catholic Church's pedophilia scandal.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been deeply wounded and even destroyed. This plague of destruction would have continued unchecked had there been no Ray Mouton. In 1985-1986, Ray and I worked together daily when I was a canon lawyer in the Vatican Embassy. Ray fought fiercely to save children from the church. This is much more than a novel. It is an answer to the painful “why?” Why did this happen? Why did bishops put image above innocent children? I remember all Ray gave of himself, how he fearlessly spoke truth to power, and was never intimidated by the formidable opposition he encountered.”
-- ​Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, Leading Authority On Clergy Abuse

This morning while making coffee the face of Ray Mouton popped into my head. I'm highly honored to know this man. Two years ago around this time, I was reading Ray's novel, In God's House. My subsequent review of the novel is reprinted below.

In 1984, Ray was the lawyer chosen by the state of Louisiana's Catholic Church hierarchy to defend the first priest ever to be charged in secular court with child molestation. Looking back on the perspective of the present day, we obviously know what became of all this, and that Ray's appointment with destiny was the first tiny peek inside a truly massive (and ongoing) scandal.

I wasn't expecting to be moved to such an extent by Ray's book, but I was -- and remain so. For more background, go here: Church abuse case haunts lawyer who defended priest, by Evan Moore (Daily World in Opelousas LA)

 ... Mouton no longer attends services — not since the case of the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, whose horrific crimes against children in the Diocese of Lafayette set off a wave of scandal in 1985 that reached across the USA all the way to the Vatican; not since Mouton defended Gauthe and almost ruined his life in the process.

Now, he enters churches only to light candles, candles for the children.

At Ray's page on Facebook, he still provides regular updates about a sad story seemingly without end, but his Thanksgiving message yesterday was decidedly upbeat.

It is with great gratitude that I reflect on the support all of you who follow this page have for the victims, the truth, and justice.

This has been a good year for the cause for all who stand on the side of people who were victimized as children and stand on the side of truth.

Thirty-one years ago when this journey began for me, Fr. Tom Doyle, and Fr. Michael Peterson, there were less than a handful of people on the right side of history.

Today, millions of people are on the right side of history, and progress has been made and will continue to be made.

Each of you should embrace yourself on this day and be grateful for the courage God has given you to confront the most powerful institution on earth on behalf of those who once believed they were powerless.

A lot remains to be done. A lot will be done. Justice will be done.

My review was published on January 30, 2014.


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

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.

Our holiday in three photos.

Beginning the day at a New Albany institution like no other.

Our first visit to Annie's won't be the last. Great Vietnamese food. 

It's Knable-vintage Korbel for Mimosas.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Again: "Buy thoughtfully and support our entrepreneurs and community businesses."

Originally published here on November 22, 2012.

Black Friday's a hard habit to break, I imagine. Not unlike smoking cigarettes, although for me, it's a bad habit I never began. "Cold turkey" may be an appropriate Thanksgiving analogy, but it isn't the most apt.

Shift happens.

Begin thinking about your expenditures by devoting a percentage of them to small independent businesses. Shift as you can, and shift where you can. Gradual shifting is just fine. Plaid Friday, not black.

And so on.

That Day After Thanksgiving,by Kate Caufield (New Albany 365)

... But part of understanding ourselves and our role in the local and national economy is realizing the impact of our buying habits. Where we spend our money determines much about how the country moves forward, and how we treat our workforce- as well as which political and moral causes get funded by the corporations where we shop. I don't want to create a political divide by assigning attributes to either side, but there are some really strong cases for bipartisan support of indie and small businesses. If we buy cheaply made items from another country at a mass discount at a mega chain, then that's what we'll continue to get. If we buy thoughtfully and support our entrepreneurs and community businesses, that's what will begin to thrive.

In an odd turn of events, Ed Clere is removed as House Public Health chairman.

In Indiana, wagon-circling is an Olympic event.

Rep. Clere removed as chairman of state health committee, by Elizabeth Beilman (N and T)

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, has been removed as chairman of the Indiana House of Representatives Public Health Committee.

While Clere claims it was his controversial stances on issues that caused his removal, House Speaker Brian Bosma said he made an administrative change because of Clere’s behavior.

Clere said Bosma called him last Monday to warn him of his removal, referencing an earlier conservation the two had in September.

“He told me that he and other members of the house Republican caucus were upset with me about a number of controversial issues and my stance on those issues,” he said, specifically referring to issues including needle exchanges and statewide Medicaid expansion.

But Bosma said his decision “had nothing to do with his position on issues and everything to do with how he has treated other people and his role as chairman” ...

ON THE AVENUES: Faux thanks and reveries (The 2015 Remix).

ON THE AVENUES: Faux thanks and reveries (The 2015 Remix).

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

My annual Thanksgiving Day column has evolved into variations on a predictable theme, during which I append something topical to regurgitated musings from the past.

Or, much like the procedure at family gatherings occurring throughout this nation today.

Cutting and pasting leaves more time for mandated eating and drinking, except that this year, for reasons unknown, there has been a catastrophic and shocking diversion from our usual holiday tradition.

Vietnam Kitchen somehow is closed on Thanksgiving in 2015. I haven’t been this disoriented since spring training in 1976, when the A’s traded Reggie Jackson to Baltimore.

The Confidentials will give Annie’s Café a try instead, and afterward, slip into River City Winery, because Gary says that while he gave everyone else the day off, he’ll be on hand to serve wine until 5 p.m.

In fact, carry-out spring rolls paired with dry local red wine sound very good together. We just may have a new Thanksgiving tradition in the offing.


I may not “give” thanks in traditional terms to non-existent deities using annoying code language, but it doesn’t mean I refrain from thankfulness. Top billing goes to wife, mother, friends and co-workers, all of whom comprise a diverse extended family.

To be truthful, I’ve always gotten by with a little help from everyone. Throughout this strange, transitional year, I’ve constantly reminded myself of how fortunate I’ve been in this life. There has been dumb luck, and I’ve also “made” some of my own breaks. Serendipity and opportunism both have played roles. I’ve worked, worried and plain bore-assed in equal measure.

I'm thankful for balance. That’s always the important thing.

For a quarter-century, I’ve been fortunate to make a living from drinking beer, most often in my natural habitat of the public house. Naturally it is a business, and profits always have been necessary for survival, but at the end of the day, intangibles and ideas invariably have mattered far more to me.

Being in a position to educate and challenge has been the real motivation, because the pub truthfully should be the poor man’s university. I’ve tried to make it that way as often as humanly possible.

At times a higher percentage of filthy lucre would have been useful, and yet the absence seldom bothered me. I've never been rich, and likely won’t ever be, but I’ll stand on my record when it comes to teaching, agitating, creating lasting memories and trying to get to the heart of the matter – whether it’s beer, localism, streets, running for mayor or all the above, tied together as they should be, sensibly and coherently, because nothing exists in a vacuum.

Legacies needn’t depend on wealth. Most aren’t. “Profit” and “non-profit” are mere concepts in the mind of the beer holder, and we won’t be taking any of it with us, money or beer.

Legacies are about doing what you can, while you can, as best you can, and producing history impervious to calculations of interest, percentages and historical revisionism. Twenty years on, if someone smiles because they recall good times at the pub, then it’s the best return possible on my time and investment.

Meanwhile, bear in mind that the game isn’t over until the lawyers stop slinging. The more you hurry me, the slower I get.

Saturnalia, NABC’s annual celebration of winter seasonal and holiday drafts, begins tomorrow (December 27) at NABC’s original Pizzeria & Public House location, and runs through the month of December. Josh Hill’s first solo batch of Naughty Claus was tapped a few days ago, and will pour until it’s all gone.

I’ve had nothing to do with any of it this year. Still, Saturnalia is a personal favorite fest, and a memory maker, primarily because so many fine people return home for the holidaze.

Seasonal beers like these provide suitable accompaniment to the joys of reconnecting, sharing war stories, and remembering those who no longer are with us -- the folks I’m very thankful to have known while they were here.


A few years ago in the Jeffersonville News & Bugle, I made an observation: There’s never any better time than Thanksgiving for an iconoclast’s thoughts to be made public.

Naturally, it remains futile to expect anyone to read my outpouring of words on Thursday, the holiday itself. Given the inability of many New Albanian readers to wade through my commentary without scratching their heads in confusion, it’s plainly impolite to ask them to waste valuable football viewing time by engaging in a frustrating, household-wide search for seldom-used dictionaries and thesauruses.

But I am nothing if not stubborn, so let’s revisit the notion of “iconoclast”:

1. A breaker or destroyer of images, esp. those set up for religious veneration (like those chintzy, totalitarian-style, mass-produced photos of a leering Jeff Gahan that we’ll all soon be expected to place strategically behind our desks and at the entrance to area pay toilets).

2. A person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition … rather like your humble correspondent.

My heroes have always been iconoclasts. From Socrates through Tom Paine, and not exempting 20th-century polemicists like H. L. Mencken, there’s nothing as thrilling as an iconoclast taking a headlong swipe at unexamined assumptions.

In recent times, as Russell Brand’s revolutionary rantings remind us, the most wonderful aspect of iconoclasm is that personal dissipation does not pre-empt the message. It actually may enhance it (see “pub” above).

Consequently, it is my duty to remind you that Thanksgiving, while perfectly enjoyable from a hedonist’s standpoint, and wholly conducive to this bibulous trencherman’s standards, actually stands for something more than gluttony and sports.

This certain “something” isn’t the prevailing pastel-colored viewpoint of Puritans and Natives merrily gathering for a quaint New England picnic, pausing only occasionally from the consumption of corn chowder and non-alcoholic cranberry wine to pray before their respective deities.

The need for apologetics aside, and whether or not Squanto miraculously facilitated a peaceful first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, the subsequent history of the white man on the North American continent featured the unabated slaughter of Native Americans, incessant pillaging of the environment, and an exculpatory doctrine of “manifest destiny” interwoven with prevailing religious belief, as intended to ease the consciences (if any) of those pulling the triggers.

We’ll leave the open approval of African-American slavery, emanating for many generations from Christians occupying American pulpits, for another day of faux “thanks.”

In the context of genuine American history, and to the exclusion of mythology and wishful thinking, the holiday we term “Thanksgiving” is ironic, to say the very least. I prefer reflections on all human history to be in accordance with the record, and as events actually occurred, without the tidying impulse to obscure and sanitize them.

I accept that people in all places and times do what they can with what they have, and believe that the best we can hope for is to learn from the past in the hope of learning worthwhile lessons and avoiding mistakes. In my opinion, the worst error of all is to misrepresent the historical record to justify theological needs.

Like what’s about to happen to Jeff Speck’s traffic study when it finally is “implemented” beyond recognition for maximum monetization by Gahanism’s resurrected, non-book reading Orwellian cadres.

Yes, I observe Thanksgiving, too.

It’s just that I do so realistically.


America’s Christmas shopping season started on July 4, and it will reach a crescendo tomorrow, which frenzied pop culture vultures have dubbed Black Friday.

Pavlov’s overworked and fever-ridden mutt can be expected to salivate continuously as university economics school analysts (I’m gazing at you, IU Southeast) read imported tea leaves to guess whether holiday season retail sales will be sufficient to keep Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and Meijer’s solvent for another year.

I prefer Plaid Friday, and shifting my shopping to independent small businesses. But at least there’s food on Thanksgiving. As noted above, this means seeking new Asian digs this year, and I’m sure Annie’s will suffice wonderfully.

Iconoclasm aside, I enjoy the traditional Norman Rockwell bird-spread as much as anyone, but cooking it at home simply isn’t an option. Our Thanksgiving indulgences take the form of alternative cuisine, from exotic peppery veggie noodle dishes to clay pot catfish.

After all, to each his own “tradition” – and may yours be peaceful, and not harmful to others.

Một hai ba, yo!


Recent columns:

November 19: ON THE AVENUES: Beer, farthings and that little-known third category.

November 12: ON THE AVENUES: The mayor’s race was about suburban-think versus urban-think. The wrong-think won.

November 5ON THE AVENUES: Confusion, exile, ignobility and resistance.

October 29: ON THE AVENUES: A year later, the backroom politics of pure spite at Haughey’s Tavern still reek.

October 28: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: How many businesses already have died because of City Hall’s street grid procrastination?

October 26: ON THE AVENUES EXTRA: Gahan says speeding sucks, but street safety can wait until after he is re-elected.

October 22: ON THE AVENUES: My career as a double naught capitalist.

October 19: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Courtesy bicycle to the Hotel Silly (2010, 2013).

October 15: ON THE AVENUES: To the New Albanians, each and every one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

BREAKING: New Albany’s Mayor Jeff Gahan announces refugee acceptance program, effective immediately.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s recent refusal to admit refugees into the state was the last straw for Jeff Gahan, New Albany’s mayor and a future gubernatorial hopeful at Adam Disney World.

“I saw people were suffering, and it’s too cold to use the water slide,” said Gahan on Wednesday as he announced imminent accommodations for up to 300 refugees from the target demographic. “We had to do something humane, whether the county pays its share or not.”

The mayor pointed behind him.

“I know my BFF and constant advisor Greg Fischer is so proud of us here in New Albany,” said Gahan. “We’re breaking wind – I mean water – no wait, ground at Council Flats today for the absolute best luxury millennial resettlement facility that TIF funds can buy.”

“I call it the business of prime refugees, and the open sign is lit, baby.”

Throngs of enthusiastic city employees and party functionaries cheered from the sidewalk adjacent to one-way Spring Street, taking care not to get to close to speeding traffic.

According to David Duggins, who has been named the city’s Bocce and Fiber Optic Coordinator for Refugees, the luxury millennial internment facility has been on the drawing board for a while.

“With all those Syrians going to Louisville, there’ll be nowhere left for millennials to survive in their natural habitat,” yelled Duggins over the din of passing semi rigs. “Mayor Gahan built and manages all these trendy restaurants downtown for a reason, you know, although we could use another espresso bar.”

"It all flows from him," concluded Duggins, "just like the fountains in Bicentennial Park."

Gahan, who said he wasn't finished yet, concluded the brief ceremony by reading a poem he’d written especially for the occasion.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

“It’s amazing,” sobbed an obviously moved Duggins. “Not only do we have the best mayor ever, who’s the leading element in our society and the straw that stirs my drink, but he writes poetry, too! I mean, I FLUNKED that class in high school – and just look at me now. It’s so beautiful and thought provoking.”

Duggins paused, noticing the red light was off.

“Okay, enough of that shit. Everyone, let’s get over the Roadhouse for some longnecks. Just because those refugees drink craft beer, it doesn’t mean WE have to.”

Steve Coomes on the "serious labor shortage" faced by metro Louisville restaurants.

Celebrate Food & Dining: The magazine's 50th issue is on the street, and my column is inside it.

A Thanksgiving coincidence? It's been a good week to talk about food and dining.

Monday: We welcome Staggers, Morris and the Gospel Bird with open arms and our senseless one-way streets.

Tuesday: The Gospel Bird is coming, so let's remember what preceded it in the Bader Building and Parthenon.

As usual, there is a flip side.

In recent years, I've caught my share of heat for pointing out that exuberance in craft beer isn't always rational: Will there be enough retail shelf space and loyal on-premise taps to sustain all the start-ups geared toward production and distribution?

Strategies suggested by some for future brewery survival include a conscious return to the basics. In short, get your "brewpub" on and sell fewer beer at higher margins from your own space. In the absence of mobile street food culture, this generally implies having a kitchen, which in turn suggests another potential issue.

Namely, staffing.

Throughout the year, Steve Coomes has been writing about a restaurant labor shortage in the area. There is yet another side of this coin for Southern Indiana: Assuming the continued growth of the restaurant and bar segment on the sunny side, what happens when tolling comes into effect -- not just as it pertains to customers, but also workers?

Perhaps we need to consult the "effect on Indiana small business" study conducted by the Bridges Junta.

Except they never did such a study, did they?

A serious labor shortage, not restaurant openings, is Louisville’s main concern, by Steve Coomes (Insider Louisville)

... The sheer number of openings has this upside: the mark of a healthy dining scene and an acknowledgement of Louisville being a favorable place to open such businesses.

Brett Davis, partner in Falls City Hospitality Group, at the site of the future JQ Public House.
Brett Davis, partner in Falls City Hospitality Group, at the River Road site of the future JQ Public House, which will employ a large staff. | Photo by Steve Coomes
The troubling issue is what customers don’t see, namely that the skilled labor pool required to run these new places is nearly dry. Alongside many menus posted in restaurant windows is, all too commonly, a Help Wanted sign. And if that plea isn’t in the window, it’s in an ad on Craigslist or a post on Facebook ...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Jason Isbell: Grimey's Records and Small Business Saturday.

Jason Isbell talks record stores and small businesses. Watch the video here.

The Gospel Bird is coming, so let's remember what preceded it in the Bader Building and Parthenon.

As announced on Monday, a new downtown New Albany restaurant called Gospel Bird is being developed by Louisville chefs Eric Morris and Dustin Staggers, and is slated to open soon in the Jacob Bader Building at 207-209 Main Street.

We welcome Staggers, Morris and the Gospel Bird with open arms and our senseless one-way streets.

Steve Resch now owns this prominent building, as well as the adjacent historic bank known by New Albanians as the Parthenon. Resch also will be rehabbing upstairs living space at the Bader Building, a project started by a previous owner but never completed.

Gospel Bird will be the fifth dining/drinking establishment to occupy the Bader Building site since 2007. Others have been located in the Parthenon space. Following is a brief rundown of previous occupants ... because institutional memory is important in a city where selectivity is the norm.


When the Mr. and Mrs. Confidential moved downtown in 2003, the Bader Building’s street level commercial space was occupied by Maytag Laundry & Dry Cleaning, which had been in operation for decades.

At the time, both building and business were owned by Carl Holliday and Steve Goodman, who had purchased them in 1999. I’m unclear as to exactly when Maytag closed, although it was still operational in 2006.

When David Himmel departed Bistro New Albany to open his own bar, the Maytag floor space was remodeled and Connor’s Place was born in May, 2007

By September of 2008, Goodman and Holliday had placed both the Bader Building and the Parthenon up for auction (eventually they were sold to new owners), but Connor’s Place had been gone for more than six months.

Himmel put Connor’s in storage in mid-2008 while opening The Market Street Fish House (current location of the Louis Le Francais), then re-establishing Connor’s Place in the freshly rehabbed space now housing Bella Roma. It opened there during Harvest Homecoming, 2008.

The MSFH closed in November, 2009, and Connor’s Place became defunct in May of 2010.

In the early summer of 2008, Studio’s Grill and Pub took over in the Bader Building. Studio’s was owned and operated by Trish Meyer, formerly a key employee at Sam’s Food & Spirits. Studio’s was the scene for many city council unhappy hours, and was reviewed favorably on more than one occasion.

Studio’s closed in September of 2010, and almost immediately, Matt McMahan opened The Irish Exit. It wasn’t terribly Irish, and apart from a brief period in early 2011 when Drew Scharlow manned the Exit’s kitchen, the establishment generally functioned as a nighttime drinks mecca.

In November of 2011, McMahan announced The Bank Fusion Cuisine + Lounge in the Parthenon space, but it never really jelled. By November of 2012, The Bank had become a music venue called Dillinger’s, which enjoyed a longer run, through 2013 and into 2014.

The Irish Exit ran for four years, making its final exit in late August, 2014. Shortly thereafter, Don Vito’s Italian Bistro became the second downtown restaurant to feature Italian cuisine. There was optimism when Don Vito's was announced, but considerable snark in the opening innings proved to be a harbinger of short life to come, as Vito left after less than a year.

Resch has owned the property since early 2015, and his team is at work preparing for the Gospel Bird restaurant's opening.

Join me in wishing good fortune to everyone involved!

Late supplements: 

Jeff Jackson reminds us that Journey Church met in the Parthenon for nine months in late 2013 and early 2014. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Another new propaganda twist: Santa Claus administers the oath of office at open air rally this Saturday.

City of New Albany Government sez:

Join us this Saturday, November 28th at 4:30 pm at Bicentennial Park for the official Oath of Office ceremony for New Albany Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, and Georgetown Town Board.

That's right: The same day as Jingle Walk. Who says these guys aren't reading their totalitarian history books?

We welcome Staggers, Morris and the Gospel Bird with open arms and our senseless one-way streets.

Others among us recall it as Connor's Place.

Do you remember the businesses previously located in this spot?

I've known about this project for a while, but was pledged to silence and kept the vow. Someone owes me, but make no mistake: The Gospel Bird is big news for downtown New Albany's dining scene.

The new and expanded Bread and Breakfast will be only a few steps away at Underground Station, as will Ian Hall's Brooklyn and The Butcher at the corner of Bank and Market. Another new watering hole about to open is the Red Dragon Pub, located on Main Street in the approximate space formerly occupied by Cafe 27.

The story is folded into IL's Monday morning business tout, so click the link and scroll down. Just imagine the multiplier effect of these business start-ups with a functional street grid.

Louisville chefs head to New Albany to open their next restaurant, by Caitlin Bowling (Insider Louisville)

Chefs Eric Morris and Dustin Staggers are heading across the river for their next concept.

It’s been a whole two months since the Staggers crew opened its second Epic Sammich Co. store, so it was about time for them to announce a new venture.

Here it is: Tentatively called Gospel Bird, the restaurant will be the love child of Morris’ Loop 22 and Staggers’ time at The Monkey Wrench. Gospel Bird is a term for fried chicken that is eaten on Sundays, the traditional church-going day.

The menu will feature dishes including butter beans, rotisserie chicken, cauliflower grits, chicken-fried rabbit and Brussel sprouts. It will cover the South, from the Appalachian Mountains to the low country to New Orleans and hints of Florida — and include some ingredients from New Albany’s farmers market.

“We are just trying to make country food,” said Staggers, noting that all the fried items on the menu will be fried in a cast iron skillet.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Selected "Southern Indiana leaders talk LGBT protections bill."

Indiana is a lamentably lop-sided one-party state, but earlier this year when Governor Mike Pence's GOP triumphantly embraced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, numerous sycophants from the usual corporate-weighted economic development cadre finally got the willies.

Now, for our entertainment, the same legislators who brought you the idiocy of RFRA will provide anti-discrimination laws to countermand it -- well, mostly. There'll have to be bigotry maintenance exceptions, you know.

Our local state representative broke ranks over RFRA, and accordingly, Ed Clere is quoted here.

State Senator Ron Grooms as yet touts the wonderfulness of RFRA, evidently as viewed from his residence on Fantasy Island, but fortunately, he is not interviewed here.

However, there is one paragraph in need of explanation.

(New Albany council person Greg) Phipps said he's happy to see New Albany's anti-discrimination ordinance working. Though the human right commission hasn't heard any cases, he said a couple of instances of alleged LGBT discrimination have been mentioned, but not acted upon.

It works, though it hasn't been used, and discrimination not brought before the HRC did't occur because there was no action.

In short, Gahanism in a nutshell: Fundamental change is imperative, so long as nothing fundamentally changes. 

Southern Indiana leaders talk LGBT protections bill, by Jerod Clapp (Clark County Today)

SOUTHERN INDIANA — A bill to include LGBT people in existing anti-discrimination laws is on the slate for the State Senate's upcoming legislative session.

The draft, written by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, comes after the state's heavily criticized passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from last spring. The new bill grants protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender people.

Though some local government and business leaders see the proposal as a step in the right direction, they expressed concern over religious exemptions.

But the implications of the bill don't stop at the rights of LGBT people, but also what it could ultimately mean for the state's business environment and economy are also concerns among leaders.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance on building local equity through redistribution.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) discusses the release of its 2015 annual report. I refer to this fact primarily owing to the opportunity to emphasize a specific passage.

Building Local Equity: ILSR’s Impact in 2015

 ... Since our founding, building equity has been a core value and aim of our work. The word “equity” originally meant fairness or equality. Today the term has degenerated into a narrow reference to the ownership of property or stock. A growing movement is trying to recapture its original emphasis, and is shaping public discourse from the neighborhoods of Baltimore to the Vatican to the Presidential campaign trail. ILSR is part of that movement.

The conventional debate about economic inequality focuses on income redistribution. We believe a redistribution of power makes possible a redistribution of income. 

ILSR fights the centralization of economic and political power in pivotal sectors – energy, waste, telecommunications, retail, and banking – and argues for decentralized systems and rules that are just and fair ...

Michael Hutchence died 18 years ago today, and as yet, there is "Not Enough Time."

Michael Hutchence died 18 years ago today.

In 2012, INXS finally had the good sense to give it a rest, and the convergence of the band's retirement with the anniversary of its singers's untimely death prompted a series of reflections. These are linked below.

This recurring fixation goes back to my salad days as a younger man in Europe during the 1980s, coinciding with the band's period of peak popularity. Simply stated, the older I get, the more I realize how much my inner life still incorporates the personally written mythology centering on my relationship with the city of Prague. The singer's band accidentally wrote the soundtrack, so now it's all been mashed together as one.

Here are the series links.

REWIND: Not Enough Time, Part One.

REWIND: Not Enough Time, Part Two.

REWIND: Not Enough Time, Part Three.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Reason's Greetings! We've re-upped in the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

"If you have had it up to here with faith-based initiatives, creationism and clerical prying into our private lives, FFRF is the organization for you. This scrappy group brings lawsuits against church-state entanglements and puts up witty billboards and bus signs promoting, well, freedom from religion. Reason's Greetings!"
-- Katha Pollitt

Consider joining the Freedom from Religion Foundation. We recently renewed our membership, and support the valuable counterpoint FFRF provides.

Join FFRF or Renew Your Membership

Membership supports FFRF's hard-working 13-person office, our educational and legal work, and includes: Ten issues a year of 24-page Freethought Today newspaper fully reporting on FFRF actions and news, as well as "Private Line" (a twice-yearly insider report on the Foundation). It also gives you a vote during elections at the annual convention (household memberships get 2 votes), and discounted prices for FFRF books and CDs. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

Perhaps next year the time will be right to begin the new tradition of a shadow event: The Non-Mayor's Humanist Community Breakfast.

Anyone in?

Dude: City Hall sure soft-pedaled that mayor's prayer breakfast this year, didn't it?

Economic localism: "The $80 Billion Shift We Need Now for Economic Democracy."

We talked about these issues throughout the mayoral campaign.

All too often, community tax dollars benefit the few at the great expense of the many. Our economic development decisions are maintaining a system of inequality.

In a "new economy" how would economic development create real community prosperity?

The executive director of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) provides an overview with selected curatives.

Doing Better: The $80 Billion Shift We Need Now for Economic Democracy, by Michelle Long (via Huffington Post)

Local independent business owners simply must cease performing the ritualistic Kool-Aid communion with municipal officials who are unable (read: unwilling) to understand these points.

You're simply not being helped by their glib assurances.

You're being hurt.

Here are five ways to kick start the necessary shift, but please, click through and read the entire article.


Shifting up to $80 billion (the money spent annually on economic development incentives) presents a massive, ready-made opportunity. Doing better would mean new eligibility rules for community economic development incentives. A community's dollars should be used to support its own people, with particular focus on the areas with the greatest need. If we want the majority of people to receive the maximum return on their community's investment then small businesses must be strengthened at every turn. Minority and women ownership should be prioritized to level the playing field. Bigger businesses should be supported in their efforts to transition to employee ownership.

Here are five ways to start the shift tomorrow:
1. Use incentive dollars to instead back local business hubs and networks that are focused on place, health and equity. These systems of support for locally owned businesses nurture local supply chains, enable peers to support each other, and foster the kind of collaboration necessary to make local food distribution viable or renewable energy locally affordable.
2. Re-direct corporate subsidies to organizations that provide technical assistance to micro enterprises. Groups like Rising Tide Capital are adept at strengthening these businesses to create jobs, and they generate nearly $4 in economic impact for every $1 invested. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity has shown that if just one in three microenterprises was strengthened to hire a single employee, the US would be at full employment.
3. Invest in shared infrastructure for local "economies of scale." For example, a foundation in Maine invested in a local grain mill, providing needed processing that made the resurgence of regional grain farmers viable.
4. Purchase land for the community. Agricultural and community land trusts preserve affordability for residents, farmers, and local business owners in contrast to speculative gentrification. Use land banks to bring vacant and blighted lots under the control of a public authority to redevelop the land for productive uses.
5. Support the creation of worker owned businesses, and support larger businesses, particularly those going through founder transitions, to become employee owned through ESOPs. Businesses from Dansko to Eileen Fisher to New Belgium Brewery have traveled this path in recent years. Said New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan, "One of the things that we think is a big societal issue is this widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. And we realized that we had an opportunity to support people owning something that was increasing in value. Shared equity has been an incredibly powerful engine for us."

Weyland versus Duggins on two-way property development.

Photo credit: Broken Sidewalk.

Broken Sidewalk tells the story of developer Bill Weyland's latest Louisville rehab project.

City Properties Group is planning to converting the 125-year-old Louisville Chemical Building on the northeast corner of Jefferson Street and Hancock Street into a mixed-use complex of apartments and retail ...

... Weyland is the right fit for this rehab project—he’s probably renovated more old buildings in and around Downtown than anyone else. His most notable projects include the Henry Clay, the Guthrie-Coke Building on Fourth, the Whiskey Row Lofts, and the Glassworks Building. Like these other historic renovations, Weyland plans to help fund his latest project using historic tax credits.

In at least one significant way, Weyland's checklist of necessary preconditions for success differs from those blithely discarded by Jeff Gahan during the run-up to corporate welfare for Flaherty-Collins and its subsidized construction of "luxury" apartments at the former Coyle site in New Albany.

“Jefferson Street needs to be two-way,” Weyland said. The five- to six-lane one-way road behaves more like a superhighway that results in dangerous conditions for all road users. Just last month, two motorists collided at Campbell Street, sending their cars into an uncontrolled spiral that hit a 160-year-old townhouse and causing its eventual demolition.

Insider Louisville heard Weyland make the very same point.

“Everything works in concert with each other,” Weyland told IL. “As we get more residents, there will be additional opportunities for restaurants and retail.” One hindrance, however, could be Jefferson Street, he said. The street needs to be turned into a two-way road, providing people easier access to Liberty Green and the medical district and making it safer by slowing vehicles.

“It is critical from my standpoint,” Weyland said.

In the beginning Flaherty and Collins made similar noises, to the effect that the firm would "prefer" to see Spring and Elm functioning as two-way streets, because a proper street grid would support their investment in luxury housing, not hinder it -- as truck-choked, one-way interstate traffic tends to do.

But just as quickly, New Albany's economic dishevelment czar made it clear that Flaherty and Collins was perfectly content to accept massive public monetary lubricants with or without a rational street grid. It's easy to imagine the back alley conversation:

Flaherty and Collins: Listen, hayseeds, these things work better with the correct infrastructure.

Duggins: Do you want this pile of money, or not? By the way, the slot for Gahan campaign donations can be found in my right rear pocket.

Our reigning suburban-thinkers? They're not finished yet.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Conservatives to Padgett: "The heaviest road users are the ones who get the biggest subsidies."

Narcissus, still gazing at that pesky erection.

Wanna know what's really funny?

The Padgett-led heavy trucking coalition seeks to sue the city of New Albany for failing to maintain city streets suitable for their interstate-grade vehicles.

And yet, when it comes to overall maintenance of roads in this nation, note the disparity.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that trucks already cost the public as much as $129 billion annually more than they pay in road user fees.

Whoa! That's a lot of TIF bonds.

But wait, because here's the punch line: In the article below, which explicates "asphalt socialism" in our autocentric nation, the air is being let out of the truckers' tires not by liberal leftist pinko fags, but by the Padgett Political Action Committee to Elect Republicans' very own beloved conservative element.

That's rich, indeed. The hypocrisy flies over their heads as quickly as the dump trucks speed down Spring.

I'm reprinting the entire article here, because it's just too good to excerpt.

House Republicans’ Asphalt Socialism, by Joe Cortright (The American Conservative)

The House of Representatives has hit on a clever new strategy for funding the bankrupt Highway Trust Fund: raid the Federal Reserve. Their plan calls for transferring nearly $60 billion from the profits earned on the Federal Reserve’s operations—basically fees paid by member banks—to bail out the Highway Trust Fund.

For years, many macro economists have been urging the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy by using its power to effectively print money in the form of a “helicopter drop”—simply crediting every American with a certain amount of extra dollars in their bank accounts. The idea has been suggested as a way to jump start consumer spending in a moribund or deflationary economy by economists of some stature, including Ben Bernanke and Milton Friedman. The idea was advanced as a way of accelerating the sluggish growth we’re currently experiencing in an article in Foreign Affairs. But while it might make theoretical sense to economist, it was simply politically impossible, because as The Economist intoned, the idea of a helicopter drop would be anathema to Republicans.

But when it comes to a helicopter drop for highways, there’s no such problem. Remarkably, the proposal to tap the Federal Reserve’s funds comes not from radical Keynesians, but from the Republicans in the very conservative House of Representatives. And apparently, the same people who preach personal responsibility in almost every other field of endeavor want to insulate automobile drivers from paying the costs of the roads they drive on. While they may espouse the virtues for the free market in almost everything else, this position makes them “asphalt socialists” when it comes to transportation.

The best estimates are that drivers now pay only a tiny fraction of the direct costs of building and operating roads, not to mention causing huge externalities in the form of crash-related injuries and deaths and pollution. As we’ve noted before, the heaviest road users are the ones who get the biggest subsidies: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that trucks already cost the public as much as $129 billion annually more than they pay in road user fees. And a report from TransitCenter and the Frontier Group recently detailed the $7.3 billion in parking tax subsidies drivers get every year as well.

(Even with these subsidies, however, increasing fuel efficiency and the decline in per capita driving have pushed down revenues for the Highway Trust Fund, and contributed to the current crisis.)

While this latest chapter of dysfunctional public finance and ideological hypocrisy is playing out at the federal level, it’s equally prevalent in the way states and localities treat driving, too. Local governments have parking requirements that drive up the cost and drive down the supply of housing to subsidize car ownership. In Seattle, parking requirements add something on the order of $250 a month to the price of a typical apartment.

The new transportation bill will favor cars in other ways, too. Local highway projects will get an 80 percent federal match, but transit projects will get only 50 percent. Meanwhile, important sources of funds for transit, pedestrian, and bicycle programs, including TIGER grants and the Transportation Alternatives Program, were cut or imperiled.

While advocates of the road system regularly cloak their arguments in the rhetoric of choice and the free market, our transportation system is actually characterized by heavy government intervention on behalf of private vehicles. Massive, taxpayer-supported subsidies effectively bribe people to drive, and insulate them from the financial consequences their choices impose on others.

Drivers want more roads—as long as they don’t actually have to pay for them. The fact that there’s no stomach for increasing the gas tax—even though gasoline prices have fallen by more than a dollar a gallon in the past year—shows that when put to the test of the marketplace, there’s actually little demand for more transportation.

The irony, of course, is that transportation is clearly one policy area where traditional free market principles would put a serious dent in the problems of traffic congestion, air pollution, and safety. If car users faced anything close to the actual costs of building and operating roads (and mitigating or preventing the injuries and pollution effects), we’d see much less driving, and much less demand for additional capacity.