Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hines, Armstrong and Bechet: A conjoined pop song, and other thoughts about jazz.

I grew up listening to jazz and swing, and now that 40 years have passed, there are times when the brain waves become muddled.

As an example, there is a song called Save It Pretty Mama.

This musical digression begins at a random encounter with an entirely different song, Jersey Bounce. It popped up in the right-hand column on YouTube, as performed by Benny Goodman, presumably because I'd been searching for a song of Goodman's that featured trumpeter Bunny Berigan.

When I saw Goodman's Jersey Bounce, it immediately occurred to me that I've always liked a version performed by Earl "Fatha" Hines and His Orchestra, which I located. It was recorded in 1941, when the pianist was leading a big band, and appears at this post's end.

However, by now I'd forgotten all about Berigan and began searching for information about Hines (1903-1983). Hines came to prominence while playing with Louis Armstrong during the latter's revolutionary 1920s period -- as an aside, if you know Armstrong only from his later period as beloved entertainer, it's worth your time to dig into his earlier oeuvre, as here. The jazz trumpet had not been played this way previously.

Fatha Hines takes a solo, and in fact, he's just as renowned for his innovative piano work with Armstrong during this period as the headliner himself with the trumpet. It's epochal stuff, indeed.

The next song to pop into my head was Save it Pretty Mama. I knew that Armstrong's recording with Hines was the version I knew best, because it was on a compilation LP from my youth. The song was recorded in 1928, and proved easy to find on YouTube.

So far, so good.

Now, what typically happens when a piece of music catches my attention is that after first hearing the song, it remains dormant for a period of hours before circling back to become part of the constant playlist playing constantly in my noggin.

This can be especially strange when I find myself whistling a forgettable pop song, only to realize I'd heard a snippet in the supermarket the day before.

So it went with Save It Pretty Mama, except the version I heard playing in my head a day later kept oddly morphing into something different, and I couldn't determine why. I listened to the Armstrong version again. Why did my brain insist on playing a completely different ending?

And, wasn't there a solo missing?

Finally the answer dawned on me. It's because there was a completely different performance I still recall from my days of youthful jazz immersion, this one in 1941 by a group led by the master of the soprano saxophone, Sidney Bechet.

These two very different versions have one common element: The pianist in both of them is Earl Hines. Over time, they'd become fused together in my musical subconscious. I've separated them again, but by the time this happens again when I'm 90, who knows?

In closing, here is the Earl Hines recording of Jersey Bounce.

Currently I'm watching a 1975 documentary about Hines, and will report on it when finished. Meanwhile, you know that imaginary free house I mentioned last week? There'd be lots and lots of older jazz played there -- hypothetically, of course.

Ed Clere's up for re-election. Here's a look at his first four District 72 races.

In 2016, Ed Clere is seeking a fifth term in the Indiana House of Representatives (District 72), and I thought it might be interesting to look back to his previous four races, courtesy of

First, here are the tallies of total votes cast, Clere's votes, and his percentage of the vote in these four contests.

2014: 16,040 ... 9,076 ... 57%
2012: 29,734 ... 16,177 ... 54%
2010: 22,215 ... 12,408 ... 56%
2008: 29,862 ... 14,985 ... 50.2%

2016 is a presidential election year, and a bizarre one. Total votes cast for District 72 can be expected to increase toward 2012 and 2008 levels, although it's certainly possible that many voters decide to stay home and the total falls below 29,000.

I doubt the presidential race will appreciably change voting behavior at the local level insofar as Clere and challenger Steve Bonifer are concerned, and with voter participation continuing to decline in the Democratic-heavy city precincts, it seems to me that Clere remains in the driver's seat.

Do you have an alternative scenario? Let me know.


Elections for the Indiana House of Representatives will take place in 2016. The primary election took place on May 3, 2016, and the general election will be held on November 8, 2016. The candidate filing deadline was February 5, 2016.
Steve Bonifer ran unopposed in the Indiana House of Representatives District 72 Democratic primary. Incumbent Ed Clere ran unopposed in the Indiana House of Representatives District 72 Republican primary.



Elections for the office of Indiana House of Representatives took place in 2014. A primary election took place on May 6, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was February 7, 2014. Kevin Sue Bailey was unopposed in the Democratic primary, while incumbent Edward D. "Ed" Clere was unopposed in the Republican primary. Clere defeated Bailey in the general election.



Clere won re-election in the 2012 election for Indiana House of Representatives District 72. Clere ran unopposed in the May 8 Republican primary and defeated Sharon Grabowski (D) in the general election, which took place on November 6, 2012.



Clere defeated Democratic candidate Shane Gibson by a margin of 12,408 to 9,087 to win re-election. The general election took place on November 2, 2010.
In the May 4th primary, Clere ran unopposed and received 3,613 votes.



On November 4, 2008, Republican Edward Clere won election to the Indiana House of Representatives District 72 receiving 14,985 votes, ahead of Democrat William Cochran who received 14,877 votes.

How long will Adam Dickey allow Steve Bonifer to talk about poverty and jobs before the muzzle and the chairman's honed incisors daintily flash?

Against all odds, Steve Bonifer has offered voters one and a half interesting sentences at his campaign web site.

Let us pause to celebrate this amazing achievement.

I'd have bet a five-spot that Adam Dickey would speedily excise any attempt at genuine platform content undertaken by one of his stable of well-groomed, ambitious future political fundraisers and gravy-ladling functionaries.

Bonifer, who is the mayor's brother-in-law ("New Albany Is Where You Should Be in One Famil-ee"), is running against Ed Clere in the District 72 House race. Bonifer also is the third consecutive school teacher to run against Clere, and that's just plain weird, isn't it?

Did the teacher's union bid that job? Meanwhile, I've highlighted the interesting one and a half sentences.

For the past eight years, I have seen my state regressing in many areas of concern to me. Infrastructure improvements, a multitude of education issues, equality of rights under the law for all residents, and the problems that stem from poverty in our state. We need meaningful, financially rewarding job opportunities for all of our citizens. These issues and more should guide decision-making and priorities in spending future tax dollars and the tax dollars the state has already collected.

During his 2015 campaign for mayor, Jeff Gahan studiously avoided mention of poverty and jobs. It looks like someone didn't get the talking points memo at the last Family gathering.

It probably will be found down by the levee, wrapped around some cigars. Is the flood control son-in-law still on the job, or has it passed to Mickey now?

Jeff Gahan's got an overly inflated opinion of himself and lots of leftover cash. Of course he's running for State Senate in 2018.

A while back, it seemed as though my Twitter parodist had taken an extended holiday, then two NAC posts in late June prompted another labored Rogar wheeze.

Truth is stranger than fact: A whole day before the vote, Jeff Gahan publicly urges greater transparency in the hospital sale.

In s subsequent guest column, Nick Vaughn picked up the ball.

WITHIN CITY LIMITS: Episode X, A Look Ahead to 2019.

... I do not think Jeff Gahan will be running for a third term because he really shouldn’t be; three 4-year terms is slightly unprecedented, and only one Mayor has served more than two consecutive terms.

C. Pralle Erni served from 1948­-1963, enough time to make any follower of Jeffersonian Democracy shiver. (By the way, I found this cool excerpt about Mayor Erni from a book by Gregg Seidl, which you can read here. Beware though, annexation is mentioned!) So, although there is precedent for Gahan to run for a third term, I do not think he will. He will have been much too busy running for State Senate the preceding year.

Team Gahan specializes in soft, not hard evidence, and in politics, Viagra is money.

In 2010, with the District 46 State Senate seat open following Connie Sipes' retirement, the winning Republican Ron Grooms raised $183,000. When Grooms ran for re-election in 2014, his total zoomed to $527,000. Challenger Chuck Freiberger lost to Grooms both times. He raised $160,000 in 2010 and $149,000 in 2014.

The Green Mouse continues to be told Grooms will retire, and if he does, it's hard to imagine Gahan not trying to contest an open seat. It is Gahan's historic preference to compete when the seat is open (as both councilman and mayor), then rake in the chips for re-election, as Grooms did after four years.

Based on a reading of end-of-year 2015 campaign finance reports, Gahan had more money after last year's November election than before the campaign began. He probably already has about as much money as Freiberger raised in both his losing campaigns.

What's more, there is no risk. Gahan can run for State Senate in 2018, lose, and still remain mayor. He would be free to seek a third term as mayor in 2019, but anyone remotely familiar with hizzoner's resident megalomania knows that at present, he's daydreaming about brother-in-law Steve Bonifer somehow beating Ed Clere for the District 72 House seat in 2016, Gahan himself capturing Grooms' Senate seat in 2018, then enjoying the luxury of handpicking a new mayor from a list of underemployed relatives in 2019.

As Vaughn noted, this candidate might not be able to get past Al Knable, but this is another story for another time.

During the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu in communist Romania, there was a joke riffing on Joe Stalin's previous refashioning of Marxist doctrine in the USSR ("Socialism in One Country.")

In Romania, given Ceausescu's promiscuous habits of nepotism, people would say, "In Romania, we have socialism in one family."

My parodist "Rogar Bayler" is being disingenuous (sorry for five syllables, Shane -- and sorrier still that a whopping $466,494 of someone else's money couldn't win you Bill Cochran's old seat back in '10) when he/she/it says there is no hard evidence of Jeff Gahan running for State Senate in 2018.

Isn't a hard, swelled head and firm, bulging coffers always evidence enough when it comes to the ambition of the local political class?

(All dollar amounts are taken from

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jamey Aebersold is wrong about street safety. Evidently facts are for non-smoking campaigns alone.

13 Simple But Factual Ways Biking Is Better.

Ask musician/favorite son Jamey Aebersold about smoking, and he will bombard you with reams of research.

I've seen and heard him do it.

Ask Aebersold, and he'll readily tell you that it isn't merely his opinion on the matter of tobacco. He has gathered facts, and he'll go fetch before-and-after lung graphics from the trunk of his car to illustrate the point. He deploys factual anti-smoking information like a general wielding his legions.

In short, it is fitting and proper to use facts when making an argument.

However, when the topic turns to the proper use and management of city streets, Aebersold seemingly no longer is interested in facts. In short order, Aebersold becomes just another tone deaf guy pounding Bud Lights in a smoky bar, opinionating.


I don’t know why any biker would want to ride on Spring Street or Charlestown Road in New Albany. It’s way too dangerous. Those streets are for moving vehicles, not bikers. I think it’s a terrible idea to make bike lanes on those two city streets!

— Jamey Aebersold, New Albany

Think about it.

These streets are dangerous, so rather than make the streets safer by addressing the conditions that make them dangerous, the obvious solution is to remove all non-automotive elements from the streets -- you know, just like on the interstates.

That's shortenedbreathtaking.

There is no thought of the health of the city, through which these dangerous routes pass.

No mention of contemporary urban transportation trends.

No examination of the way that road design impacts property values and quality of life.

No evidence that Aebersold has researched the issue at all.

Perhaps Aebersold would be more convincing when pontificating on streets if he chose to embrace the same fact-based approach he uses to denounce smoking (did you know that his latest campaign is to convince the Harvest Homecoming committee to make its open-air street festival smoke free?)

I bet Aebersold has a few facts to back his "no smoking" request. What's more, he always has used his well-earned celebrity to advance his non-smoking agenda, and that's fine with me, because his smoking positions actually are factual.

When the facts evaporate, so does the credibility of his soap box. Of course, he's fully entitled to his own opinions -- just not to his own facts.

If Aebersold intends to become an advocate for street grid status quo, isn't he obliged to to operate under the same fact-based regime?

Perhaps Aebersold might begin by bringing himself up to date on concepts like this: Road diet. Believe it or not, the internet is filed with a wide range of ... (wait for it) ... facts about the topic. Heaven forbid, he might even read this important work, seeing as neither Bob Caesar nor Irv Stumler have bothered: Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposal.

Or do good ol' boys get an automatic Irv Fact Pass?

It's the economy, stupid.

So, we must help working people who are getting a raw deal, this raw deal being the result of the economic policies our own party relentlessly pursues.

Meanwhile, it's vital to support the party on social diversity grounds, because the anger directed against us by those on the other side, who tire of suffering the raw deal our economic policies perpetuate, and instead direct their frustration toward our social diversity -- did we mention the importance of ignoring the implications of neoliberal economic orthodoxy in this equation?

Rather, a properly staffed Supreme Court will enforce requisite social discipline, sparing us participation in democracy on the ground.

Doesn't anyone else find it odd that Democrats (minus the neutered Sanders insurgency) seem allergic to any discussion of economics?

In New Albany, we've already seen how this void operates. Last year's mayoral campaign featured an incumbent Democrat who rarely if ever mentioned jobs, wages and employment. He succeeded in completely ignoring pocketbook issues, while flashing photos of public works built with borrowed money.

In a nod to the ubiquitous bumper sticker: Which party does Colonel Sanders belong to, anyway? The chickens are confused.

Hillary Clinton needs to wake up. Trump is stealing the voters she takes for granted, by Thomas Frank (The Guardian)

 ... Think about it this way. For years, Republican orthodoxy on trade made possible endless Democratic sell-outs of working people, with the two-party consensus protecting the D’s from any consequences. They could ram Nafta through Congress, they could do trade deals with China, they could negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, they could attend their conferences at Davos and congratulate themselves for being so global and so enlightened, secure in the belief that the people whose livelihoods they had just ruined had “nowhere else to go”.

In other words, it was only possible for our liberal leaders to be what they are – a tribe of sunny believers in globalization and its favored classes – as long as the Republicans held down their left flank for them. Democrats could only celebrate globalization’s winners and scold its uneducated losers so long as there was no possibility that they might face a serious challenge on the matter from the other party in the system.

Well, today all that has changed. The free-trade consensus lies in shards on the floor. The old Republican party has been smashed by this man Trump. It is a new political world out there. How will Democrats react to this altered state of affairs? How will they present themselves to voters now that the bipolar system of the last four decades has exploded, now that they can no longer count on free-trading Republicans to make their own passion for globaloney seem acceptable?

So far, Democrats are acting as though nothing has really changed.

Friday, July 29, 2016

DNA Mixer at the Underground Station on Tuesday, August 2.

Visit these locally owned businesses in the 

Underground Station

Green Earth Outdoors
812-510-GEAR (4327)

Dolce Vita Boutique
Dolce Vita on Facebook

New Albany Massage Therapeutics

Body and Brow Boutique

Aladdin's Cafe

Dream Boutique
Dream Boutique Website

Christine Cherry Photography
Christine Cherry Photography on Facebook

Underground Classic Cuts
Underground Classic Cuts on Facebook

The Olivet

Sew Fitting

EXP Realty

"Indiana could have avoided HIV outbreak," but Mike Pence was busy being all fundamentalist and shiz.

As an opening aside, best wishes to Lexy Gross as she decamps for law school. She's been doing a fine job covering our area for the C-J.

In this, one of her last dispatches, we are reminded that Mike Pence enjoyed governing from the pages of his Old Testament, and it took sensible members of his own party -- our own Ed Clere -- to treat matters of public health as ... exactly what they are.

Clere and Zoeller instrumental in Pence's needle exchange turnaround.

Which reminds me: I need to get to work on that endorsement of Clere for re-election.

Indiana could have avoided HIV outbreak, study shows, by Lexy Gross (C-J)

Not only was the nationally publicized HIV crisis in rural Indiana last year preventable, but other U.S. communities are at high risk for nearly identical outbreaks, according to a recently released study from the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

The study also reveals contradictions between what Indiana public health officials think is best for the state and the policies currently in place.


(Indiana Governor Mike) Pence signed an executive order in March 2015 that allowed Scott County to implement an emergency needle exchange for 30 days, although he still expressed his opposition of the programs. In May of that year, Indiana Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, wrote legislation ending Indiana's ban of syringe exchanges while chairman of the House public health committee. Counties can apply to start a needle exchange program after declaring a public health emergency due to rising HIV or hepatitis C cases.

John Muir: "Do we really know this man?"

Sounds like the perfect candidate to helm Jeff Gahan's parks department, especially the doggie water slide division, as it's built atop a sacred Native American ground.

Dog daze: With Gahan back in the safe house, civilian architect Timperman now is the city's official spokesman.

But enough of that, Here's Johnny ...

The Miseducation of John Muir, by Justin Nobel (Atlas Obscura)

A close examination of the wilderness icon's early travels reveal a deep love for trees, and some ugly feelings about people.

... The problem for Muir, for the National Park Service, for all of us, is that America was never a blank slate. And we know now Muir’s story was wrong. As new research by ecologists like Kat Anderson, of University of California Davis, shows, Native Americans in California, including those in Yosemite Valley, intentionally used fire to open land, increase pasturage, prevent even larger more catastrophic fires, and promote biodiversity. Muir’s sacred Yosemite was not a garden tended by God, as he wrote so passionately about, it was a garden tended by Native people.

Muir’s blurry human vision is something Native writers and historians have been grappling with for some time. “We do not know why Muir was blind regarding the original people in all of the beautiful National Park locations he waxed about so eloquently,” wrote Native author Roy Cook. “Indian people are the true conscience of the American character.”

Sporting news: AFC Wimbledon versus greyhound racing in a battle of London traditions.

Note the proximity of the pet store.

Three years ago, I was delighted to indulge in a quintessential "old" London experience: Pie, mash, eel and liquor (the latter is gravy).

Today in London.

Sadly, A. Cooke's has since lost its lease after more than a century in operation, which makes me even happier to have supped in the epicenter of Shepherd's Bush -- home of the 'orrible Who.

Roughly seven miles south of Shepherd's Bush is the London neighborhood described in this "long read." The rising fortunes of a venerable local football club are contrasted with the overall decline in the popularity of greyhound racing.

It's gentrification with a twist, and worth a look.

Underdog eat underdog: the victims of football’s greatest fairytale, by Oliver Bullough (The Guardian)

AFC Wimbledon are a fan-owned team who have beaten the odds. But there’s a catch. They can’t have the happy ending they want unless the last greyhound racing track in London is demolished.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

ON THE AVENUES: An imaginary exercise tentatively called The Curmudgeon Free House.

ON THE AVENUES: An imaginary exercise tentatively called The Curmudgeon Free House. 

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

In my previous column, published earlier at The Potable Curmudgeon blog, I recalled the growth of the "better" beer program 20 years ago at the Public House formerly known as Rich O’s, and found myself musing – is this word copyrighted? – whether a retro, back-to-basics, “better beer” pub program still might make sense in an era of HopCat and its 132 IPAs on tap.

AFTER THE FIRE: Before the deluge, or knowing how this whole beer business started

 ... My contrarian instincts tell me that the beer climate is ripe for a modest, thoughtful return to basics, emblemized by a relatively small list of classics on draft, and in bottles and cans, to be accompanied by some good, old-fashioned beer education, which seems to have been tossed aside in the era of mile-wide, inch-deep “craft” fandom.

It should be obvious that any conceivable template I might offer in this context, whether or not it has an immediate future, has been custom-designed in my brain for a specific potential user.

Namely, me. That's purposeful, by the way. I don't make detailed plans very often, and when I do, they're on cocktail napkins.

While it is true that I’ve often railed against cults of personality in the local political realm, and pined for the seemingly unreachable ideal of teamwork and multiple minds coming together, what I'm imagining here is a small, sustainable specialty beer café, not a multi-million-dollar City Hall filled with obscure departments and shuffling time servers.

At least it wouldn't be boring having a personality aboard ship who is capable of staging a floor show in addition to sweeping up and taking out the garbage. Entertainment and education? Been there and done that. Anyway, differentiation seldom has been a problem for me.

At the present time, I’m only thinking aloud, curious about the possibilities. Before describing them further, you must endure a digression.


It's a story I’ve told on many occasions.

In a year’s time, Diana and I bought an old house on Spring Street in New Albany (in 2003), and George W. Bush was re-elected to a second term (2004).

These two seemingly unrelated occurrences converged with a third contingency, because by 2005, I was looking back on 15 years as a principal player in the New Albanian Brewing Company. It proved to be the right time for a sweeping reappraisal, with a mind toward the future.

Where was I going personally? What about the business, not to mention the whole country?

Providentially, my private life already had evolved for the better, because Diana completed me. It’s always best to have a solid foundation. We did, and do.

Next came a survey of the blighted downtown New Albany landscape of the period, and an insatiable urge to know what caused these empty urban doughnut holes in America – and by extension, why self-described local “leaders” seemed powerless to do anything about them.

Finally, with the curse of W forced on me a second time, there came an epiphany. As an individual, there was next to nothing I might do to change the wider world. However, perhaps the local grassroots provided the best opportunity for participation, to improve the basic building block of community, and to help make it a more solid foundation.

NABC had raised the local bar for better beer. Might my personal future as well as that of my business also be tied to the revitalization of the city’s most undervalued assets, its historic downtown business and residential districts?

Beginning in 2005 and 2006, I embarked upon a journey through a labyrinth of ever-widening learning curves pertaining to urbanism, independent business, street engineering and the enduringly senseless nature of small town hack politics. It truly has been a Long March, and the accumulation of wisdom along the way has proven exhausting.

Eventually I lost an election and gave up the business, but in the process, I regained some semblance of a soul. The jury remains sequestered in deliberation, and the learning curve goes on forever. It should suffice to say that as progress in New Albany pertains to politics, beer, business and urban affairs, there remains much work to be done.

As for me, at some point I'll have to do something with my life, right?


In consideration of these interrelated themes, and noting the strengths and weaknesses of the startling “out of nowhere” downtown New Albany food and drink scene, a hypothetical plan is taking shape in my brain. It’s just for the fun of it, and here is the overview.

The Curmudgeon’s (purely imaginary) Free House would need a suitable location in downtown New Albany, close to my home. Why? Because it’s better to live as you preach. City officials might even try it sometimes -- you know, walk to lunch.

Limited square footage is preferable, so as to make the Free House affordable. Walkability and bikeability are musts, but as I’ve noted previously, the implementation of these realities depends entirely on the whim of King Gahan the Unclothed.

A stopped clock is right twice each day, and he’s past due. Cross your fingers, and hope that no one else is killed before he finally gets the memo.

With numerous indie eateries located near this fictional location, a crucial bit of cost reduction stands to be achieved, because absolutely no food will be served, save for that required by Indiana ATC statute. The infamous $10 prepackaged frozen weenie sandwich springs to mind, as microwaved by the eater himself, thus ensuring minimal health department involvement.

Customers would be free to order carry-out or procure delivery from the establishments nearby. There’d be bags of pretzels and crisps. That’s all. What is needed is a beer classroom, not another eatery struggling to find, train and keep workers.

An easy and inexpensive two-way Indiana beer/wine license would suffice, allowing for a few supplementary whites, reds and ciders if so desired. There is no need for liquor, and after all, the Grant Line Road location of NABC never once had a three-way permit.

Opportunism is the watchword. Limited business hours would be timed to coincide with peak times for neighboring food and drink businesses and civic events, with groups and seminars by appointment. The object is to construct a one- or two-person operation, limiting expenses and enhancing expertise.

Finally, why have distracting gadgets like televisions when everyone has a smart phone? Persistent rumor insists that Emperor Gahan of Eastridge is bringing wi-fi hot spots to downtown. That'd be useful. Otherwise, FM radio channel WFPK works just fine, and I’d be free to bring a few CDs with me to work – Bulgarian Women’s Choir today, Queens of the Stone Age tomorrow.

In short, just like the old days at the pub, when we listened to what I wanted to hear.


I’ve put together an imaginary opening beer list. The rationale includes brevity, availability and diversity of style. There’d be appropriate glassware, which doesn’t mean “branded” glassware, just the right kind of vessel.

There’d be two everyday drafts, and one or two rotating taps (depending on the size of the keg box). Permanent fixtures would be Guinness Stout (nitro) and Victory Prima Pils, with the third spout pouring some hoppier English or American ales. A seasonal tap would take up the fourth tower.

Generally speaking, drafts would be at or near session strength (4.5% or 5% abv, depending on the definition).

The organizational conceit for a bottle and can list of 30 or so selections is my own personal experience. They’d be exclusively drawn from (a) breweries I’ve visited, both in America and abroad, and (b) breweries right here in Indiana.

Cantillon Classic Gueuze
De Dolle Oerbier
Delirium Tremens
Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek
Fantome Saison
La Chouffe
Poperings Hommelbier
Rochefort 10
Rodenbach Grand Cru
Saison Dupont

Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen Rauchbier
Reissdorf Kolsch
Schneider Weisse
Uerige Classic

Fuller’s ESB
JW Lees Harvest Ale
Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

UNITED STATES (brands to be determined)
New Holland
Alternates to be named


Lots and lots of choices exist at the present time: Black Acre, Bloomington Brewing Company, Central State, Daredevil, Flat12, Salt Creek, Sun King … and others.

You may be wondering about the emphasis on imports, given my advocacy for American-brewed beer. It’s a valid question, and of course, there’d be an American “craft” beer presence (in cans) on the list.

The short answer: So goes the mind of a contrarian.

My career in beer began with imports, and then I spent many years advocating for American "craft." Now American “craft" is everywhere, and the Old World classics have been overwhelmed and often forgotten. Maybe it’s time to pick up the abandoned string of Classic Beer where it started, in Europe, and once again allow the presentation to evolve where it will, as it did 25 years ago.

Will any of this actually happen?

I’ve no idea. These hypotheticals are by no means impossible, but they rely on controlling costs and curtailing bells and whistles. The more spartan the setting, the greater the importance of effective performance art and other intangibles.

Perhaps that's the point. These simple factors also have been neglected in an era of sheen and polish. I used to think that an intelligent beer bar wasn't a contradiction in terms, and still do. I believe in fundamentals and essentials; as you may recall from the 2015 campaign, these strike me as vital every single day, as opposed to every now and then.

Can better beer be repurposed this way, and taken back to the future? It’s an enticing thought, so as always, tell me what you think.

Who knows?


July 21: ON THE AVENUES: We have our own Big Four Bridge. They’re called Main, Market, Spring and Elm.

July 14: ON THE AVENUES: Weeds, porch appliances and our civic Gospel of Appearances.

July 7: ON THE AVENUES: You say you want a resolution?

June 30: ON THE AVENUES: Irv Stumler screams, "We don't deserve two-way streets!"

June 23: ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business -- and it's none of your business.

Equal time: "This was a night dominated by the hollow men of the Democratic Party."

I watched Bill Clinton speak to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, then Joe Biden, Tim Kaine and Barack Obama on Wednesday.

Oddly, given social media's resident mania about SCOTUS, I can't recall one of the four so much as mentioning the court appointments to come.

At any rate, I kept waiting for the flame to be reignited in my barren soul. It remained extinguished. St. Clair's notes brilliantly cover the Wednesday program, beginning with a reminder of how much each and every one of us should be missing Hunter S. Thompson just about now.

Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention, by Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch)

+ Since my co-editor Joshua Frank prefers to go surfing rather than do his reportorial duty and watch the DNC Convention from gavel-to-gavel, he’s telling me that I have to write another account of tonight’s proceedings. I’m not sure I’m up to it ‘frankly.’ What would Hunter Thompson do? Oh, yes, he would get his body and mind in fighting form by having breakfast. I guess I’ll follow the good Doctor’s example: “Four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert.” All to be consumed while naked. Snarf! Sniff! Belch! ALRIGHT! I’m primed. Bring on Biden!

+ Margie Kidder was one of Hunter Thompson’s best friends. I asked her if this menu remotely resembled his real appetites. Margie told me that she and Hunter were together during the 1984 Democratic Convention in San Francisco, where his main obsession was in scoring some cocaine to get him juiced for covering the tedium of the convention.

“Here’s what Hunter would do,” Margie told me. “He believed firmly in getting your cocaine first, which at that convention involved spending a lot of time with a gay friend of mine he referred to in his writing as “the bowl of fruit”. Then you got your drinks lined up and we would sit and watch the TV in the press room. I kept insisting in going out onto the floor to interview what often turned out to be ex-lovers of mine, who I couldn’t really quote for obvious reasons. He was disgusted with me. At one point, back at the St Francis hotel, Hunter screamed down the hall at me “You are a political neophyte! You are a dangerous woman!” Then he went off to a party at Ann Getty’s house or apartment and called her a fascist dyke and punched a hole in her living room wall and Pat Caddell (the Democratic pollster) and I had to race over with my trans driver Greta and our 1960s Cadillac convertible loaned to me by the gay community and rescue Hunter from the well-dressed and horrified Democrats. Sen Patrick Leahy thought he was funny. Few other Democrats did. But then Leahy often rode around with us in that Cadillac.”

The GOP and its actual record: "For the entire history of modern conservatism, its ideals have been wedded to and marred by white supremacism."

Typically, whenever I remind contemporary gated-community Christians about the legacy of the Crusades and the Inquisition, the hushing is audible -- and a bit angry.

I'm told not to distort history, and that while this may have been true at one time, much has changed.

Many of these same advocates of Republican White Jesus now inform me that the period of my life span, which after all I've observed with my own two eyes, didn't actually happen at all. They remind me that the GOP directly reflects the ideals of its founding prior to the American Civil War, and furthermore, insist that Democrats remain as firmly unreconstructed as those representing the Deep South in the 1920s.

As the guy denouncing the two-party system, and now has little use for either "side," allow me to remind you this argument is a farrago of bullshit, perpetuated by folks who might read books other than the Bible every now and then. Most man-on-the-street Republican voters wouldn't buy it, because they know full well why the GOP appeals to them.

The subterfuge isn't necessary. My sense is that it's an ideological security blanket constructed by suburban white conservatives to keep their cognitive dissonance manageable.

But you needn't trust me.

Rather, take it from a Republican.

A Republican intellectual explains why the Republican Party is going to die, by Zack Beauchamp (Vox)

 ... “Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,” Roy says. “We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.”

Conservative intellectuals, for the most part, are horrified by racism. When they talk about believing in individual rights and equality, they really mean it. Because the Republican Party is the vehicle through which their ideas can be implemented, they need to believe that the party isn’t racist.

So they deny the party’s racist history, that its post-1964 success was a direct result of attracting whites disillusioned by the Democrats’ embrace of civil rights. And they deny that to this day, Republican voters are driven more by white resentment than by a principled commitment to the free market and individual liberty.

“It’s the power of wishful thinking. None of us want to accept that opposition to civil rights is the legacy that we’ve inherited,” Roy says.

And ...

This soul-searching led Roy to an uncomfortable conclusion: The Republican Party, and the conservative movement that propped it up, is doomed.

Both are too wedded to the politics of white nationalism to change how they act, but that just isn’t a winning formula in a nation that’s increasingly black and brown. Either the Republican Party will eat itself or a new party will rise and overtake its voting share ...

 ... For the entire history of modern conservatism, its ideals have been wedded to and marred by white supremacism. That’s Roy’s own diagnosis, and I think it’s correct. As a result, we have literally no experience in America of a politically viable conservative movement unmoored from white supremacy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Time for another Caption Contest: "Mayor in the Open Air."

Thanks to CA for the prompt. The last Caption Contest came back in May, and I'm not sure whether a winner was declared, although in New Gahania, every 1's a winner, baby -- that's no lie.

Caption contest! Papa Ga's got a brand new bag, and he's fixin' to PREsent it.

Ten weeks later, the suit's the same, but check out the exciting new erection on the church.

"Padgett: Viagra for the Spire" ... photo credit: Indiana Landmarks.

Mencken meets Manics: "A farrago of nonsense" ... because "the penalty of intelligence is (everlasting) oblivion."

I awoke to the word "farrago" as it fought for release from my tortured conscience, no doubt an inevitable side effect of watching Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday evening.

Another hour of my life, wasted without strong drink.

Flashing like motel neon just adjacent to "farrago" was the name "Mencken." It's tempting to take the easy way out and extract all of Shane's excellent future words from Mencken's writings. Typically I must consult the dictionary several times per Mencken essay, as with "sempiternal" (eternal and unchanging; everlasting).

Of course, the word "everlasting" takes me directly to the Manic Street Preachers.

But I digress.

Mencken's famous observation that the Book of Genesis is a "farrago of nonsense" is included herein, in an essay embracing a general theme that will be painfully familiar to New Albanians who've watched the unfolding Chronicles of New Gahania.

"The human race seems doomed to run, intellectually, on its lowest gear."


Forgotten Men, by H. L. Mencken (American Mercury, March, 1928, pp. 280-282)

Happy nations, said Cesare Bonesano Beccaria, have no history. Nor, it appears, have intelligent men; at all events, they are seldom remembered generally, and almost never with respect. All the great heroes of the human race have preached things palpably not true, and practised things palpably full of folly. Their imbecilities, surviving, constitute the massed wisdom of Homo sapiens, lord of the lion and the whale, the elephant and the wolf, though not, as yet, of the gnat and the fly, the cockroach and the rat. So surviving, these august imbecilities conceal the high probability that, when they were new, they must have been challenged sharply by doubting and dare-devil men—that sober reason must have revolted against them contemporaneously, as it does today. But of that revolt, in most cases, nothing is known. The penalty of intelligence is oblivion.

Consider, for example, the case of those ancient Jews whose banal speculations about the origin of things still afflict the whole of Christendom, to say nothing of Islam. Is it possible to believe that, in the glorious Eighth and Ninth Centuries B.C., all Jews swallowed that preposterous rubbish — that the race was completely devoid of intelligent men, and new nothing of an enlightened public opinion? I find it hard to go so far. The Jews, at that time, had already proved that they were the best of the desert tribes, and by long odds, and they were fast moving to the front as city folks, i.e., as civilized men. Yet the only Jewish document that comes down to us from that great day is part of the Book of Genesis, a farrago of nonsense so wholly absurd that even Sunday-school scholars have to be threatened with Hell to make them accept it. The kind of mind it reveals is the kind one encounters today among New York wash-room attendants, Mississippi newspaper editors, and Tennessee judges. It is barely above the level of observation and ratiocination of a bright young jackass.

Are we to assume that this appalling mind was the best Jewish mind of the time—that Genesis represents the finest flowering of the Jewish national genius? To ask the question is to answer it. The Jews, you may rest assured, were not unanimously of such low mental visibility. There were enlightened men among them as well as sorcerers and theologians. They had shrewd and sophisticated fellows who were to Moses and the other patriarchs as Thomas Henry Huxley was to Gladstone. They had lost and happy souls who laughed at Genesis quite as loudly the day it was released as it is laughed at today by the current damned. But of these illuminati not a word survives in the records of the Jews. Of their animadversions upon Moses’s highfalutin tosh—and no doubt those animadversions were searching and devastating—we lack even so much as the report of a report. Thus all we know today of the probably brilliant and enterprising intellectual life of the ante-Exile Jews is contained in a compilation of balderdash by certain of their politicians and ecclesiastics. It is as if their descendants of our own time were to be measured by the sonorous rumble-bumble of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and Otto H. Kahn. It is as if the American civilization we sweat and prosper under were to go down into history in terms of Calvin Coolidge, Henry Ford and Arthur Brisbane.

Well, why not? Those, perhaps, are the precise terms in which it is to go down. On second thought, I change perhaps into no doubt. What has happened invariably in the past will keep on happening to the end of the chapter. Certainly we can’t expect to escape the fate of Greece and Rome—and both Greece and Rome are chiefly remembered today (and venerated by the learned and unintelligent) by the records of their second- and third-rate men. Is it seriously argued that Plato was the most enlightened Greek of his age? Then it may be argued with equal plausibility that Upton Sinclair has been the most enlightened American of this one. Item by item the two match: as political scientists, as professors of esthetics, as experts on the natural processes. In some ways, true enough, Plato was clearly superior to Sinclair: for one thing, he was better versed in the jargon of metaphysics, heavenly maid—which is to say, in the jargon of organized nonsense. But I think that no one will undertake to deny that Sinclair beats him on the pharmacology of alcohol, on the evils of voluptuousness, and on the electronic vibrations of the late Dr. Albert Abrams.

Plato survives today as one of the major glories of Greece. Put upon oath in a court of law, more specialists in dead ideas would probably rate him as the greatest Greek of them all. But you may be sure that there were Athenians in his own day who, dropping in to hear his Message, carried away a different notion. Some of them were very bright fellows, and privy to the philosophical arcana. They had heard all the champions, and had their private views. I suggest somewhat diffidently that there were ideas in the Republic and the Laws that made them retire to the nearby wine-shops to snigger. But no one remembers those immune Athenians today, nor the hard-boiled fellows who guffawed at the court of Philip of Macedon. The world recalls only Plato.

Here, I sincerely hope, I shall not be mistaken for one who seeks to cry that great man down. On the contrary, I venerate him. There is implicit in his writings, though not often explicit, the operation of an intellect of a superior order. Whatever may be said against him, he at least refrained from ratifying the political, theological and epistemelogical notions that were current in his time. He was no Athenian Rotarian, but his very intelligence made him remember, when he got up before his customers, that it was necessary to adapt his speculations to their capacities and prejudices. Like Woodrow Wilson in a later age, he had a weakness for oratory, and got himself enmeshed in its snares. Some of his principal works are no more than reports of his harangues, and the heat in them singes the sense. He suffered, as all reflective men must suffer, from the fact that what is put into words for the general ear can never come within even the remotest reach of what is pondered in the privacy of the study or praying-room.

The case of Abraham Lincoln immediately recalls itself. He was, I believe, one of the most intelligent men ever heard of in his realm—but he was also a politican, and, in his last years, President of the Federal Union. The fact worked an immemorial cruelty upon him when he visited the battlefield of Gettysburg, on November 19, 1863. One may easily imagine the reflections that the scene and the occasion must have inspired in so sagacious and unconventional a man—at all events, one may imagine the more obvious of them. They were, it is highly probable, of an extremely acrid and unpleasant nature. Before him stretched row upon row of new-made graves; around him ranged the gaunt cinders of a witless and abominable war. The thought must have occurred to him at once that --

But before him there also stretched an acre or two of faces—the faces of dull Pennsylvania peasants from the adjacent farms, with here and there the jowls of a Philadelphia politician gleaming in the pale Winter sunlight. It was too cold that day to his badly-cushioned bones for a long speech, and the audience would have been mortally offended by a good one. So old Abe put away his reflections, and launched into the tried and sure-fire stuff. Once started, the furor loquendi dragged him on. Abandoning the simple and crystal-clear English of his considered utterance, he stood a sentence on its head, and made a pretty parlor ornament of it. Proceeding, he described the causes and nature of war in terms of the current army press bureau. Finally, he launched a sonorous, meaningless epigram, and sat down. There was immense applause. The Pennsylvania oafs were delighted. And the speech remains in all the shool-books to this day.

Lincoln had too much humor in him to leave a diary, and so we do not know what he thought of it the day following, or a month later, or a year. But it is safe to assume, I believe, that he vacillated often between laughing at it sourly and hanging himself. For he was far too intelligent to believe in any such Kiwanian bombast. He could no more have taken it seriously than he took the strutting of Mr. Secretary Seward seriously, or the cerebral steam-pressure of General Grant. He knew it, you may be sure, for what it was. He was simply doomed, like many another good man before and after him, to keep his soundest and loftiest thoughts to himself. Just as Plato had to adapt his most penetrating and revolutionary thoughts to the tastes and comprehension of the sophomores assembled to hear him, so Lincoln had to content himself, on a great occasion, with ideas comprehensible to Pennsylvania Dunkards, which is to say, to persons to whom genuine ideas were not comprehensible at all. Knowing their theological principles, he knew that, in the political field, they grazed only on pansies.

Nor is this all. The highest flights of human intellect are not only inordinately offensive to the overwhelming majority of men; they are also, at least in large part, incapable of reduction to words. Thus the best thought of the human race does not appear in its written records. What is set down in orderly and seemly sentences, even today, always has some flavor in it of the stilted rubbish that the Sumerian kings used to engrave upon their tombs. The current cliches get into it inevitably; it is never quite honest. Complete honesty, intellectually, seldom expresses itself in formal words: its agents of notification are rather winks and sniggers, hip flasks and dead cats. The language was not made for it. Reading Shakespeare, a man of penetrating intelligence, one frequently observes him trying to put a really novel and apposite thought into words—and falling helplessly into mere sound and fury, signifying nothing. The groundlings pulled him and the deficiencies of human speech pushed him. The result is many a magnificent salvo of nonsense, vastly esteemed by the persons who esteem that sort of thing.

I propose no remedy. In fact, I am convinced that no remedy is possible, or even imaginable. The human race seems doomed to run, intellectually, on its lowest gear. Sound ideas, when by chance they become articulate, annoy it and terrify it; it prefers the sempiternal slobber.


Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these new words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, like the ones you're sure to hear when asking the city's corporate attorney why the answers to my FOIA/public records request for Bicentennial commission finances, due to be handed over on July 8, still haven't arrived on the 27th?

It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even these very same flippant, bond-engorged municipal corporate attorneys customarily paid to suppress information can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate what they knew and when they knew it, all we have left is plenty of time -- and the opportunity to learn something, if we're so inclined.

Today's word is farrago.



noun, plural farragoes

1. a confused mixture; hodgepodge; medley: a farrago of doubts, fears, hopes, and wishes.

Origin of farrago: 1625-35; < Latin: literally, mixed crop of feed grains, equivalent to farr- (stem of far) emmer + -āgō suffix noting kind or nature

Merriam-Webster has more to say about the word's origins.

Farrago might seem an unlikely relative of "farina" (the mealy breakfast cereal), but the two terms have their roots in the same Latin noun. Both derive from "far," the Latin name for "spelt" (a type of grain). In Latin, farrago meant "mixed fodder" - cattle feed, that is. It was also used more generally to mean "mixture." When it was adopted into English in the early 1600s, "farrago" retained the "mixture" sense of its ancestor. Today, we often use it for a jumble or medley of disorganized, haphazard, or even nonsensical ideas or elements.

The great American wordsmith H.L. Mencken provides our usage quote.

Yet the only Jewish document that comes down to us from that great day is part of the Book of Genesis, a farrago of nonsense so wholly absurd that even Sunday-school scholars have to be threatened with Hell to make them accept it.

The essay from which this sentence is quoted is a great favorite of mine, and is being posted alongside today's excellent new word for Shane, who makes far too much money to remember it -- or his own stated deadlines.

Mencken meets Manics: "A farrago of nonsense" ... because "the penalty of intelligence is (everlasting) oblivion."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

1968: A mere 48 years ago, in Chicago with Mayor Daley for the Democratic National Convention.

The video source is unknown. It's a shaky reproduction without opening or closing credits, but remains a credible overview nonetheless.

For accompanying text, go here:

1968 Democratic Convention, by Haynes Johnson (Smithsonian)

The 1968 Chicago convention became a lacerating event, a distillation of a year of heartbreak, assassinations, riots and a breakdown in law and order that made it seem as if the country were coming apart. In its psychic impact, and its long-term political consequences, it eclipsed any other such convention in American history, destroying faith in politicians, in the political system, in the country and in its institutions. No one who was there, or who watched it on television, could escape the memory of what took place before their eyes.

Paging Irv Stumler, Bob Caesar and Padgett Inc: Here are three ways to make streets safer for pedestrians.

Rather keeping New Albany fast and dangerous, perhaps there's a better way.


Strong Towns advocates for financial solvency and productive land use in American cities. Places that are built for people, using traditional development patterns, can help us achieve both of those goals. On the other hand, neighborhood streets with wide lanes, huge clearance zones and other dangerous design features cause thousands of pedestrian and car passenger deaths every year. Dangerous roads do not make productive use of our land or our lives. Furthermore, they depress investment in our cities by making our neighborhoods less pleasant places to be.

People are the indicator species of success. We know that pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are more economically productive, healthier and safer. We need to build places where people want to be.

To be specific ..


... As someone whose brain has been trained for decades that streets are for cars only, the persistent presence of pedestrians triggers a sympathetic nervous system response that is stressful to say the least. Still, I love it. Pedestrian activity is an indicator of vibrant neighborhoods and a healthy local economy, and upon my return to Columbus, Ohio in a few months I hope to do whatever I can to duplicate this environment. But how can we bridge the dangerous gap between the current culture and one in which pedestrians feel safe to be in the street and drivers are attentive and courteous enough to allow this to happen? I'd like to discuss three strategies that may help.


... Perhaps there are more people who, like me, will learn how enjoyable and economically productive pedestrian-friendly environments can be and carry the torch back to their own hometowns!

Conversely, perhaps you live in a bastion of ignorance like New Albany.

I'd like to renew the challenge I've offered numerous times in the past (though never accepted), as directed not merely to predictable reactionaries like Stumler, Caesar and the heavy trucking lobby, but also to people like Jeff Gahan, Terry Cody and Warren Nash.

Come out and walk with me. Not just around the block, but up and down one of our arterial one-way streets. See what it feels like.

Experience the thrills of auto-centrism in your own shoes. I guarantee enlightenment.

Have these folks always been scared of the truth, or is it just simple ignorance?

Maybe this final question is best left unanswered. Haven't they done enough to persevere in doing nothing, already?

Tully: "In (Todd) Young, Republicans have a particularly strong candidate."

In 2012, I had the pleasure of hosting our U.S. Representative Todd Young for a brewery tour and lunch at Bank Street Brewhouse. It was a genuinely enjoyable chat with Rep. Young and his local organizer, Deb Johannes, who I've known since elementary school in Georgetown.

Rep. Young is knowledgeable about beer, and he actually drank a beer with me. We exchanged travel stories. He has a sense of humor (see his note above). It was a good time, and I thought about it when reading Tully's article, below.

Does this mean I'm voting for Todd Young for U.S. Senate? I don't know. Evan Bayh is an impressively empty suit. Does he stand for anything? I disagree with Young on many issues, and yet he's actually taken positions.

As for me, I'm a traditionalist in such matters. All politics is local, and breaking bread or enjoying an adult libation both mean something to me.

At the very least, Tully's piece isn't what you'd expect, given his evisceration of Mike Pence.

Tully: Evan Bayh is back, but Todd Young isn’t blinking, by Matthew Tully (Indy Star)

Two weeks ago, Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Young was on what appeared to be an easy glide path to election as Indiana’s junior senator. His Democratic opponent, the hardworking former Rep. Baron Hill, was trapped in a campaign that had failed to catch on, with either fundraisers or voters, in a state that leans Republican.

Then Evan Bayh happened.

The former senator and governor replaced Hill as the Democratic candidate and the Senate race suddenly was transformed. Young, a former Marine and father of four from Bloomington, is now facing arguably the most popular and enduring politician in modern Indiana history, one who also happens to enjoy a massive fund-raising and name ID advantage.

That easy glide path? It’s been replaced by an extremely turbulent flight ...

 ... “My hope is that the election comes down to issues and to who can bring people together to actually solve problems,” he said. “But I also think character matters. I think presence matters. And to the extent that we talk about things that make Evan Bayh uncomfortable — well, I guess that is unfortunate.”

Two weeks ago, Indiana’s Senate race didn’t seem worth watching. A lot has changed since then. Now, Todd Young is trying to do something nobody has ever done: beat Evan Bayh in an election. It’s a daunting task but, in Young, Republicans have a particularly strong candidate.

ASK THE BORED: One year ago, the New Albany Street Piano was utterly perplexing Team Gahan's artistic sensibility.

An omen is an event regarded as a portent of good or evil, and sometimes both.

This morning it dawned on me that I have failed to receive the weekly e-mail agenda of the Board of Public Works and Safety's Tuesday meeting.

No doubt this is a providential omen, freeing me from the crushing burden of observing the bureaucracy of local infrastructure, and suggesting that I make better different use of my time this morning.

Keep the questions coming. Meanwhile, let's take a fond look back to last year, and the Bored's bumbling performance in the legendary case of the New Albany Street Piano.

The following three posts include most of the other links to this most enduring and hilarious of stories.

As a refresher, here is Bluegill's summary.

First, there was a request to place a piano on a public sidewalk in New Albany; a fun, harmless, and completely normal happening around the world. Then there were months of city officials sidestepping and ignoring that request. Then there were additional weeks and multiple meetings of artificially constructed and wholly irrelevant hurdles put in place. Then there was media attention and, by New Albany standards, an expression of public support for the piano and exasperation with the City sizable enough to embarrass the officials involved. And then there was finally approval, with an almost equally embarrassing rearguard attempt to claim officials had supported it all along. I wish any of that was out of the ordinary but it's a near perfect example of what ordinary is here, even and especially when the stakes are much higher. Playing a new tune couldn't be any more welcome.

And the links ...

Bored of Works no more: Today at 4:00 p.m., the New Albany Street Piano becomes a reality.

Fundamentally delayed: The New Albany Street Piano "Grand Opening" is Saturday, September 5.

Celebrate the New Albany Street Piano, while remembering Team Gahan's dismal reaction to it.

Fleetwood Mac's Tusk: "The result is a beautiful and terrifically strange album."

In the old-fashioned parlance (times two), I carry a torch for double albums.

In the original vinyl era, they meant greater bang for your buck. Of course, some were padded with filler, but others were strong from start to finish. The CD era produced numerous releases that would have been double albums on vinyl, like Def Leppard's Hysteria.

Much to my regret, the digital era has rendered most of these discussions moot. With the caveat that double live albums deserve their own category, personally preferred examples of double albums in my own collection include these.

Quadrophenia ... The Who
Exile on Main Street ... Rolling Stones
(White Album) ... The Beatles
Physical Graffiti ... Led Zeppelin
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ... Elton John
The Wall ... Pink Floyd
Jesus Christ Superstar (Original London Concept)
Chicago Transit Authority

And then there's Tusk.

Fleetwood Mac: Tusk, by Amanda Petrusich (Pitchfork)

Fleetwood Mac's beautiful and terrifically strange 1979 LP Tusk poses the question: What happens when love dissipates, and you have to find a new thing to believe in? What if that thing is work?

The autumn of 1979 was, by any reasonable accounting, a challenging time to be alive. The world felt tenuous, transitional: panicked families were fleeing East Germany via hot air balloon, China was restricting couples to one child each, fifty-two Americans were barred inside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, pending release of the Shah. It was also the year of Tusk, the album in which Fleetwood Mac, a soft-rock band second only to the Eagles in their embodiment of easy 1970s gloss, completely lost their minds. It was the band’s twelfth album, though only its third with the now-iconic lineup of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, keyboardist Christine McVie, and singer Stevie Nicks, and it reflected a personal tumult so claustrophobic and intense it felt global in scale—an after-the-fall re-telling of catastrophic heartache and its endless reverberations.