Wednesday, August 31, 2016


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

But why all these newfangled 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 August 31st?

Bicentennial commission financial trail? What's two (yawn) weeks (shrug) after 463 days?

August 31 update: Make that 8 weeks since the FOIA record request due date and  504 days since I asked Bob Caesar to tell us how many books were left unsold, and how much the city's 200-year "summer of love" fest cost.

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 iniquitous, bond-slush-engorged municipal corporate attorneys who customarily are handsomely remunerated 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 disoblige.



verb (used with object), disobliged, disobliging

1. to refuse or neglect to oblige; act contrary to the desire or convenience of; fail to accommodate.
2. to give offense to; affront: to be disobliged by a tactless remark.
3. to cause inconvenience to; incommode: to be disobliged by an uninvited guest.

Origin of disoblige

Middle French
1595-1605; Middle French desobliger, equivalent to des- dis-+ obliger to oblige

And, the word used in a sentence:

The intended spirit of open public access to government information isn't necessarily the same as local practice, as when the default setting of officialdom is to disoblige those making requests.

Eastern USA Road Trip 2016, Day 2: Across Ohio and New York to Brattleboro, Vermont.

There were times during the drive across the Green Mountains to Brattleboro from the New York state line when I wasn't sure if our 4-cylinder Ford Fusion would make it up another steep grade.

My father famously avoided New England because he viewed the region as having too many people and not enough mountains, but in southern Vermont -- and in neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and even in western Connecticut -- there are hills aplenty.

What it comes down to is my dad's fervent embrace of the Old West's mythology, all that rugged individualism, snow-capped peaks and men being men. I respect him for this, though he missed out on some first-rate scenery in the eastern states.

On our first evening in Brattleboro (population 12,000), we took possession of our Airbnb apartment and made a brief orientation drive through downtown.

The city has parking meters and public parking lots (short and long term). Prices are reasonable; the long-term lot we entered costs 30 cents an hour, and is free after 6:00 p.m. and on weekends. Metered spaces seemed to constantly open, which of course is the whole point.

Every town in New England situated by a watercourse is a former mill town. Sawmills and gristmills were first in Brattleboro, which lies on the Connecticut River. Later came industries of all stripes, including an church organ factory.

I kept looking for these pills in the pharmacies. They sound useful in a small city with three breweries.

Over at the Potable Curmudgeon blog there is an overview of drinking and eating on our first night in Brattleboro.

A hand-pulled pint at McNeill's Brewery in Brattleboro, Vermont. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Eastern USA Road Trip 2016, Day 1: MLB, Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians.

"Bungle in the Jungle"? We heard it while enjoying pre-game drinks, prompting a rumination on "classic rock" and the way it has become the Muzak of our age, which is a shame. Of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, so perhaps it's all part of the municipal contract.   

Our eastward swing began with the easy drive to Cleveland, and a baseball game at Progressive Field. With the hotel just blocks away, downtown Cleveland walkable and perfect weather, it was a memorable evening.

The woebegone Twins were competitive, but the Indians staged a comeback and remained in first place in the AL Central. Coverage the following day centered on the dismal Tuesday evening attendance. Why only 14,000 paid attendance for a division-leading team?

It's a question I can't answer, although as modern ballparks go, this one's a beauty. Our $40 seats were down the third base line, coincidentally (yeah, sure) located only seconds away from the best beer selection I've ever seen at a major league game, albeit at $12 for a 19-oz pour.

Helluva beer selection at Cleveland's Progressive Field; the price is high, but I can live with that (at the Potable Curmudgeon)

The food was good, too. The Italian sandwich dispensed by Fat Head's was ridiculously large. It could have fed three adults at $13.75, though as a trained professional, I ate the whole damned thing.

I apologize for the absence of ballpark photos of the missus. As we departed for vacation, my iPhone lapsed into terminal illness. It was being held together by rubber bands, and it died before I could shift the trip photos to the cloud. Not much was lost, but a couple of husband-and-wife selfies were among them.

Meanwhile, you already know I'm a baseball fan. Here's the rundown of 56 years watching games.

I've seen a game in these major league parks currently in use: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Seattle

I saw games in these major league parks, now demolished: Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Chicago Comiskey Park, Cincinnati Crosley Field and Riverfront Stadium, Detroit Tiger Stadium, Minnesota Metropolitan Stadium, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Stadium, St. Louis Busch Stadium

I looked through the locked gate but couldn't enter because it was the off-season: Denver and Oakland (both currently in use) and San Francisco Candlestick Park.

Next: Brattleboro, Vermont and feeling the Bern during three Green Mountain days.

ASK THE BORED: Can we all have a banner atop the levee, or just the school corporation?

I've had several reader questions about the NAFC schools banner currently hanging on degraded remains of the structure atop the levee by the amphitheater.

Because I'll be out of town, I cannot attend this week's BOW meeting and ask them. Perhaps someone else will.

Strictly speaking, the marketing campaign in question is about student recruitment, and in theory, the banner does not reference the referendum.

However, it's been a thinly veiled sidestep all along, with "YES" in big letters and "enroll" written very small. Rightly or wrongly, there's no doubt in the minds of many in the city that the secondary intent of these and other variously sized "yes" signs is to encourage a "yes" referendum vote.

But this isn't my point. 

Does every organization have equality of opportunity to use this elevated space for ads?

Is there a Board of Works procedure for such?

NA Confidential would love to have the exposure. Where do I register? Can someone point me to the Board of Works minutes indicating discussion and approval of the school corporation banner as currently placed?

Or, is it first-come, first-served?

By the way, here's the list of school board filings for the fall election, and here's a link to a previous letter exploring our school corporation's marketing strategies, because ...

As enrollment declines, L.A. public schools borrow a tactic from the charters: marketing, by Anna M. Phillips (Los Angeles Times)

Monday, August 29, 2016

NA Confidential is on late summer break, kinda sorta. Or not. Beats me.

It's a one-man show around these parts, except when Nick Vaughn and Bluegill check in on occasion.

Consequently, I'm taking a short break, although it's never been clear exactly what I mean by statements like this.

There may be posts. There may not. I take pride in publishing with consistency, but at times, each of us needs to say the hell with it and live a little.

That's what I propose to do for a few days. There'll be some down time over the weekend, so if you have ideas or links, send them to me at Facebook, Twitter or here:

An Orwellian wetting of beaks -- or, some thoughts about the Mt. Tabor arterial enfluffment and timbering project.

It's been a week since the Mt. Tabor Road neighborhood was spoon-fed details about road-building decisions already reached within the spacious confines of John Rosenbarger's self-satisfied aerie.

Following are a few random observations.

First, a resident who grasps the underlying essence of the controversy, as quoted by the News and Tribune's Jerod Clapp.

Mt. Tabor Road, Klerner Lane concerns linger in New Albany; Residents raise issues.

 ... “I’m really hoping all the bluster will go away and we can have these conversations,” Turner said. “We all want a safe road, but we don’t want all that industrial traffic.”

To reiterate, from inception the Mt. Tabor "project" was intended to add traffic to a neighborhood road regarded by the powers that flee as an arterial. Make the arterial easier to navigate, and what happens? Drivers fill the available space and drive faster.

Only later, reeling from criticism, did the city's spin doctors get to work in earnest, yielding the Mt. Tabor Road Restoration and Pedestrian Safety Project. That's a bushel of syllables, intended to give the arterial enhancement an Orwellian touch, and coming from people who rarely read.

How did they find those spiffy words?

By now, it should be clear how these projects work. To fund roadwork is to maintain the system of political patronage with the same-old construction and paving interests. To do so with federal 80-20 funding matches is better, because then someone else is priming the pump, and local monies that might go toward infrastructure improvements can instead be diverted to water slides and mobile concerts.

The aspect of federal funding means that roadwork like this is planned years in advance, almost never with public participation, which would require talking to real people and engaging with them.

Invariably, when proposed changes finally bubble to the surface (as these did in 2013), there is a cycle of opposition, typically mollified with minor changes, most of them pre-determined as expendable, as with the removal of the roundabout.

But you see, there's no way a euphemism like the Mt. Tabor Road Restoration and Pedestrian Safety Project cannot happen, once the federal funds have been committed. If someone else pays, the money must be used, whether to grease an arterial or construct a subway to Xanadu.

Beaks must be kept wet. This is the cycle of political life, and it need not be connected to master plans or larger truths. It simply is.

Back to Clapp's coverage.

 ... (Al) Knable said he understood the concerns of residents who don’t want more industrial traffic traveling to or from Grant Line Road. He said that could be an issue, but one the city council could resolve through reviewing the laws it has enacted.

“It might make this a more likely thoroughfare for some traffic,” Knable said. “It might be more attractive for trucks, so we may have to go back and rewrite some of our ordinances on truck traffic.”

I'm glad CM Knable said this. Might the council's attention be extended to whatever ordinance resulted in this sign hanging ignored at the intersection where no one at City Hall cares to protect the safety of pedestrians?

How many heavy trucks pass beneath this sign every single day?

Just saying, Doc. Just saying. Now, some love to the C-J ...

New Albany's Mt. Tabor road project draws ire, by Madeleine Winer (Courier Journal)

Plans to restore Mt. Tabor Road in New Albany have angered residents that live near and draw on the corridor.

 ... and finally, a prescient thought entirely lost in the hubbub, as offered by a 93-year-old homeowner on Mt. Tabor Road in a letter to the editor of the N & T.

Hundreds of trees will be lost. 

If the members of our lost Tree Board turn up anywhere, can someone ask them about this?

No conscience for football players? As Colin Kaepernick is savaged, let's not forget August Landmesser.

"If you can't stand for the national anthem, get your sorry ass out of this country."
-- Courageous Facebook Lodger

Conscience is a tough concept, isn't it? We're for it, until we aren't. It's absolutely vital to safeguard OUR right to the exercise of conscience, but yours?

Of course -- so long as we agree with each other.

I've seen the photo above many times, and back in 2014, I finally decided to see if there's a story.

There is. The significance to me is that while the circumstances in this instance are ones about which we've long since reached general agreement (Nazism, Hitler, the Holocaust), it is not banal to suggest that non-conformists of many sorts in our own purportedly "free" country can imagine themselves in Landmesser's shoes.

As an atheist, permit me to inform you that it happens all the time. In my reckoning, any time it's the occasion for all of us to perform the same rote act (pray publicly, declare allegiance to the flag) at once, it's time to consider dissenting.

Speaking for myself, I'll always stand for the national anthem and pledge of allegiance in honor of my father, a World War II veteran of the Marines. But I will not recite the pledge of allegiance aloud, because "under God" has no place in it.

August Landmesser, The Man Behind The Crossed Arms (All That Is Interesting)

 ... There is no telling how many men in that crowd were acting out of fear, fully aware that failing to salute the Fuhrer was akin to signing his own death certificate. Knowing that it was, in fact, Hitler standing before the crowd makes the disobedience all the more admirable, but what may seem like an act of justified transgression was at its core a gesture of love. August Landmesser, the man with his arms crossed, was married to a Jewish woman.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lower speed limits "can set expectations for traffic calming redesigns in the future."

Last week, when Mayor Jeff Gahan finally emerged from the down low bunker to speak publicly about two-way streets for the first time in months, the News and Tribune's Elizabeth Beilman recorded a typical potted Gahanism.

"What we don't want is the volume to turn Spring Street into a raceway," Gahan said.

I hate to be the one to break the news to a sheltered guy who spends most of his time underground reading his own press clippings, but dude -- Spring Street's been a raceway since about 1960.

Since it was made into a one-way street

For Gahan to suggest that speeding on New Albany's one-way street grid won't become a problem until tolls come into force constitutes a pole-vault beyond delusional, straight to profoundly sad.

Portland Wants to Rethink Speed Limits By Factoring in Walkers and Bikers, by Angie Schmitt (Streetsblog USA)

For cities trying to get a handle on traffic fatalities, dangerous motor vehicle speeds are an enormous problem. Once drivers exceed 20 mph, the chances that someone outside the vehicle will survive a collision plummet.

But even on city streets where many people walk and bike, streets with 35 or 40 mph traffic are common. Cities looking to reduce lethal vehicle speeds face a number of obstacles — including restrictions on how they can set speed limits ...

 ... Street design is a more important safety factor than speed limit signs, of course, but lower speed limits can still send a signal to motorists to proceed more cautiously — and they can set expectations for traffic calming redesigns in the future. If the speed limit is 30 mph but motorists consistently go faster, the design clearly needs to change.

SoIn: "Welcome to the Southern Indiana’s Clark and Floyd Counties."

The Clark-Floyd Counties Convention-Tourism Bureau's new branding doesn't mention the sunny side, and if you ask me, it's about time. The web site is easy to remember:

Below are the bureau's board members (NA appointees with a star):

Contact info:


Clark-Floyd Counties Convention-Tourism Bureau
800.552.3842 • 812.282.6654 • fax 812.282.1904
315 Southern Indiana Avenue • Jeffersonville, Indiana 47130

"Chronicling America provides free access to millions of historic American newspaper pages."

1904: Little is known about the Ohio Valley Worker.

Thanks to M for the link. FREE access to MILLIONS of pages.

The time-wasting possibilities are endless, so we'd best get started.

Topics in Chronicling America (Library of Congress)

Chronicling America provides free access to millions of historic American newspaper pages. Listed here are topics widely covered in the American press of the time. We will be adding more topics on a regular basis. To find out what's new, sign up for Chronicling America’s weekly notification service, that highlights interesting content on the site and lets you know when new newspapers and topics are added. Users can use the icons at the lower-left side of the Chronicling America Web page to subscribe. If you would like to suggest other topics, use the Ask a Librarian contact form available on the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room site. Dates show the approximate range of sample articles.

Sunday "must read": Aaron Renn's review of Hillbilly Elegy.

It isn't a reinvention of the wheel to observe that in the more capable of hands, boilerplate constructions like obituaries, ballgame recaps and book reviews (among others) can become probing, insightful essays in their own right, ranging beyond the expected into complementary areas of inquiry.

Aaron Renn's review of Hillbilly Elegy moved the book's author, J.D, Vance, to acknowledge Renn in a tweet: "Thanks to Aaron for a thoughtful review (not entirely positive, btw, but I learned something in reading it)."

You get the conclusion ...

Hillbilly Elegy nevertheless remains remarkable for its first-person portrayal of Appalachian culture from someone who has affection for its people—indeed, still sees them as his people—but also the courage to admit its flaws. The larger problems come less from the book itself than from the way in which educated readers have seized on it to confirm their own negative impressions of the white working class—and, by extension, to flatter the superiority of their own cultural values and their sense of moral entitlement to the success they enjoy.

... and the opening paragraph. Don't stop here. Read it.

Culture, Circumstance, and Agency: Reflections on Hillbilly Elegy, by Aaron M. Renn (City-Journal)

In his bestselling new memoir Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance takes a blended view, recognizing the role of economic and personal circumstances in poverty and life dysfunction but also stressing the way that the culture of his own working-class Appalachian tribe has crippled its response to life’s challenges. He comes down firmly on the side of individual agency and the ability of people to overcome obstacles through hard work and adopting the cultural habits of successful groups. He writes, “This book is about something else: what goes on in the lives of real people when the industrial economy goes south. It’s about reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that encourages social decay instead of counteracting it.” And: “The truth is hard, and the hardest truths for hill people are the ones they must tell about themselves.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Marc Bolan, T. Rex and a substantial musical legacy.

The BBC video is called Marc Bolan: The Final Word (2007).

Fellow glam rock star Suzi Quatro narrates a documentary which examines Marc Bolan's childhood ambitions of fame and where it led him, using previously lost TV and radio interviews, rediscovered Top of the Pops recordings, unseen concert footage and unique home movies.

Includes contributions from his companion Gloria Jones, brother Harry Feld, producer Tony Visconti, Queen's Roger Taylor, Steve Harley, Zandra Rhodes and more, with Visconti also deconstructing the track Ride a White Swan.

Once again, it goes back to junior high school and the serendipitous placement of Circus Magazine at the Key Market in Edwardsville. I'd have never known about Marc Bolan and T. Rex if not for the printed word, and even then, it wasn't until the 1990s that the catalog beyond Electric Warrior and various Greatest Hits packages became accessible.

My favorite T. Rex song is "Children of the Revolution."

Imagine that.

The BBC video makes it clear that the advent of punk was a potential convergence for Bolan.

This critic elaborates:

Dandy in the Underworld (Allmusic)

Marc Bolan welcomed the advent of punk rock with the biggest smile he'd worn in years. The hippest young gunslingers could go on all night about the influence of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, and the Ramones, but Bolan knew -- and subsequent developments proved -- that every single one of them had been nurtured in his arms, growing up with the ineffable stream of brilliant singles he slammed out between 1970-1972, and rehearsing their own stardom to the soundtrack he supplied. With tennis racquet guitars and hairbrushes for mikes, they stood before the mirror and practiced the Bolan Boogie. Of course, most punks only knew three chords. That was all Marc ever taught them.
Unfortunately, Dandy in the Underworld had just been released when Bolan died in a car crash. Until viewing the documentary, I was completely unaware of Bolan's personal and professional relationship with American singer Gloria Jones, who was at the wheel that tragic night.

Jones and Bolan had a young son, and for those of you still mourning David Bowie's passing, this "where are they now" story completes the circle.

'David’s generosity helped my mother and me survive': How Bowie saved Marc Bolan's son (Daily Mail)

Shall we read each at the two-way street hearing? "50 Reasons Why Everyone Should Want More Walkable Streets."

They left one out:

#51. Walkability gives Bob Caesar heartburn.

The full report is here.
50 Reasons Why Everyone Should Want More Walkable Streets, by Adele Peters (Fast Company: Exist)

From making you live longer to making cities more resilient: If you want a reason to make your city more walkable, it's in here.

As more cities try to improve walkability—from car-free "superblocks" in Barcelona to heat-protected walkways in Dubai—a new report outlines the reasons behind the shift, the actions that cities can take to move away from a car-centric world, and why walkability matters.

"The benefits of walkability are all interconnected," says James Francisco, an urban designer and planner at Arup, the global engineering firm that created the report. "Maybe you want your local business to be enhanced by more foot traffic. But by having that benefit, other benefits are integrated. Not only do you get the economic vitality, but you get the social benefits—so people are out and having conversations and connecting—and then you get the health benefits." A single intervention can also lead to environmental and political benefits.

Complacency is killing us: "The morbid and mortal toll of sprawl."

I've no glib preamble. I spent the first 25 years of my life in a state of unquestioning acceptance as it pertains to auto-centrism and the pre-eminence of the car. Since 1985, when I had the good fortune to travel through Europe for three months without once being compelled to drive, it's made no sense to me that the pendulum has swung so far in America. I never liked driving, anyway.

But enough about me.

The morbid and mortal toll of sprawl, by Robert Steuteville (Congress for New Urbanism)

The ‘elephant in the living room' of rising and preventable US traffic deaths and injuries is government-funded roads in drive-only places.

 ... Ironically, we build thoroughfares that lead to death and injury in the name of safety. Wide thoroughfares and enormous intersections, which greatly increase speeds and are deadly to pedestrians, for example, are “justified” by safety concerns. That’s our federal, state, and local tax dollars at work. In a recent Public Square article, Vince Graham offers a succinct history of how this wrong turn in transportation occurred.

Why I still love The Economist: Bog snorkelling and a really big tomato fight.

The Economist Espresso is a short morning briefing that comes to me via iPhone app. It isn't published on Sunday, and on Saturday, the tone turns more lighthearted.

I'd heard of the Spanish fiesta dedicated to tomato fights.

Saucy: La Tomatina"​On Wednesday, Buñol in Spain will again host the world’s biggest food-fight. The first rule is your weapon must be a tomato."

However, this is a new one.

Murky affairs: bog-snorkelling"Held annually in Wales, the competition attracts athletes from around the world, who must swim two 55m lengths through a trench of murky, leech-filled water."

It'scoming close to 30 years for me as a subscriber to The Economist. Good stuff still.

Greenway work begins, but when it comes to the boat club, the fix is still in.

And yet these questions remains unanswered.

ON THE AVENUES: Federal funding mechanisms total eighty percent. The other half is unalloyed political malice.

What is the true story behind the New Albany Boat Club returning to its moorings and building astride the prospective Greenway?

And here:

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: Greenway timbering east of the (former?) boat club.

If the boat club is coming back, it can only be at the behest of the city. But why?

Note to all the ambitious young journalists: Ask city officials to explain the boat club saga, and the eminent domain story that accompanies it. They don't want to talk about it. This should tell us all something important. Thanks.

Now, to the triumphant installation of vehicular "recreational" (that's a cruel bureaucratic euphemism, isn't it?) roadways where shared-use walking and bicycle paths should exclusively be.

But wait: Maybe "recreational" should be read as "access road to the boat club" -- right, Chris Gardner?

Greenway work to start in New Albany next week, by Madeleine Winer (Courier-Journal)

Construction on New Albany's $2.5 million portion of the Ohio River Greenway project will start next week.

The work will extend the greenway from East 8th Street to East 18th Street. Water Street will be restricted to local traffic only early next week, according to a release from the Indiana Department of Transportation. The over three-quarters of a mile of construction will include two boardwalks, a recreational road and a shared-use trail.

Seven views of the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater's deteriorating observation deck.

Thanks to N for the photos. This strange structure, which looks somewhat like a coastal defense facility from the Spanish-American War, is dilapidated even by the standards of the amphitheater itself (apart from the new canary yellow roof dating to England III).

Will anything ever be done to improve and actually utilize the amphitheater? It seems highly unlikely in the sort term, and it's a huge waste of potential.

Friday, August 26, 2016

I read the news today. Jeff Gahan has made a brief but articulate public case for two-way streets. No, I'm not drunk.


The News and Tribune's staff reshuffle earlier this week placed Elizabeth Beilman in the local government coverage chair, and immediately, if though by magic, the most substantive words about two-way streets ever spoken by Mayor Jeff Gahan for attribution are right there, out of the down low bunker and on the public record.

Maybe City Hall didn't think highly of Bill Hanson's 11-month news blackout, either.

Could it be that without a New Albany beat reporter, there was no reporter to ask a simple question like, "What's up with two-way streets?" Imagine if this had been Chris Morris instead of Beilman. He'd have called in an Irv Stumler propaganda strike to provide the opposing point of view from the respectable, venerated elder strata.

It's bad form for me to reprint this article verbatim, so I won't, but PLEASE proceed past the opening tease, click through and read entire piece. You'll be shocked and amazed. It's Jeff Gahan as you've never, ever heard him ... apparently reading straight from my NAC teleprompter.

As the bookseller notes elsewhere ...

A win is a win, but I'm still cautious.

That's sums it up on my part, too. Trust but verify, and I'll believe it when I see it. There'll be much more to say, but for now, the dog gets his day.

New Albany two-way streets hearings coming next month

Mayor: Decision to be made by end of year

NEW ALBANY — The city of New Albany is hosting public hearings to discuss two-way street conversions as early as next month, Mayor Jeff Gahan said.

"There's no question we have too many one-way streets in New Albany," Gahan said.

The discussions come after an 18-month waiting period wherein city officials reviewed a proposal from planner Jeff Speck on converting New Albany's one-way streets to two ways.

Gahan said the "extended process" has allowed for internal discussions on all options.

"Before the end of the year, we’ll be making some decisions on which streets will be continue to be one way and which one will be converted," Gahan said.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

ON THE AVENUES: You won't believe what happens next.

ON THE AVENUES: You won't believe what happens next.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

Someone asks if you “know” a person, and you reply.

Yes, no, maybe, a bit, fairly well or not at all. You might know him through his music, or know her in the biblical sense. Maybe he’s someone you’d like to get to know, or you just don’t know enough about her. The list goes on.

Some of you know me as a blogger, a publican, an activist and a candidate. These tidy nouns somewhat cover the waterfront during the past 15 years or so, and yet they’re still an approximation. There’s a whole branch of philosophical study devoted to the proposition that we can’t know anything (or anyone) at all.

It occurs to me every time I attend a Redevelopment Commission meeting.

There are those long-term acquaintances going back even further, who will recall my early European travels, our college days at IU Southeast and the way I used to pretend to be an athlete while in high school. Lots of things happen to make up a life. Some are public, others not.

Along the way there was an infamous underground newspaper start-up, various musical obsessions, walking, biking and even a few years patronizing a gym. There have been many good books, a million words written and time enough for the judicious application of beverage alcohol.

But absolutely none of it will have prepared you for today’s shocking revelation. I advise finding an upholstered seat, pouring a stiff drink and igniting your choice of leaf.

At the tender age of 56, I am enrolled in the 2016-2017 Discover program of Leadership Southern Indiana, or as it would prefer being known these days, Leadership SI. Today is the first scheduled activity, an overnight retreat.

It feels like waiting for the bus that first day of grade school in 1966, albeit with an iPhone in my pocket. I didn’t vomit then, so let’s hope my luck continues.


Know just this: Once you’ve returned to consciousness, there is nothing you can say that I’ve not already covered in one of several lengthy internal dialogues.

The struggle is real and the anxiety palpable.

Am I soon to become a team player, wearing crisply tailored Wal-Mart suits and “reaching out” to one and all, awash in jaw-breaking jargon-speak, and emboldened to undertake a career in financial services or River Ridge enfluffment after enjoying an ice-cold Miller Lite at a chain concept bar in the exurb?

Come now.

Honestly, I don’t think any of these transformations are going to happen, and such is my steadfast commitment to transparency that I’m right here on the blog, with you now, ready and willing to explain why. Afterward, I’ll be available for hanging in effigy, though Bicentennial Park is closer to the house, and I could walk there in a flash.

Leadership SI has been around for many a year, and to be honest, up until right about now I’ve paid absolutely no attention to it.

Insofar as Leadership SI periodically drifted onto my radar screen, I dismissed it as a staged contrivance for corporate appeaser cadres, and a likely appendage of the biggest regional stooge of all, One Southern Indiana.

Perhaps I exaggerated a tad. Here’s the overview, straight from the organization’s web site.

Leadership Southern Indiana is an organization that exists to train local professionals on how to better impact their community. Our goal is to create cross-sector, multi-generational leaders who become mobilized to transform the region as a whole.

Benefits of Leadership Southern Indiana:

Individual Growth: Our programs build your knowledge and skill sets, taking an internal focus to foster an external impact.

Key Relationship Development: With over 1,300 alumni, you will build lifelong friendships, critical professional contacts, and cross-sector partnerships to increase community collaboration.

Community Transformation: Programs and events will open your eyes to the opportunities to get involved–from volunteerism to philanthropic efforts and board membership, you will become more aware of the part you can play in total community improvement.

Actually, my first experience with Leadership SI came in early fall of 2015, when it sponsored the three-way mayoral candidate debate at New Albany High School, which as you may recall was unfortunately rendered into a two-person spectacle because incumbent mayor Jeff Gahan refused to participate.

Now, that’s leadership, Nawbany-style.

At the time, I noticed that Gahan’s behavior seemed to annoy the Leadership SI debate organizers as much as it did me, and I did a double take. There’s nothing like common cause to create empathy.

It wasn’t until the spring of 2016 that the idea of my involvement in a Leadership SI program was minted by a friend of mine, Dr. Daniel Eichenberger.


This, too, will come as a profound shock to some of you, though it shouldn’t. I’ve known Dan since 1981, and while we could not be any more different in terms of politics, at times publicly disagreeing in heated and strident terms, it has not stood in the way of remaining friends.

He’s also been my personal physician since 1997, and he says my health is almost as sound as Hillary Clinton’s. I believe him even though he's a Republican.

Months ago, Dan asked me if I’d ever considered Leadership SI. I answered no, and recited my stock reasons for non-involvement. We chatted, and the gist of his persuasion was this: There might be things I can learn from the program and its participants … and there also might be things they can learn from me.

You know, a two-way street, like we don’t have enough of in New Albany. Dan's comment moved me, because I hadn’t looked at it that way.

There’s also the matter of my being without work for quite some time, awaiting justice from my former business partners as a phalanx of lawyers put new spark plugs in their bulldozers and ready some chaos.

Who knows what's next, so in short, what the hell? Maybe an old dog actually can master a new trick or two, and even dispense shards of wisdom along the way.

(As usual, can we begin with the beer selection? Shock Top? Leinenkugel Shandy? Seriously? Let’s just say that if Leadership SI is dedicated to the local community, it might be a good idea to have local beer at the alumni reception. I’m packing a cooler to the program-opening retreat just in case, and maybe a flask).

Finally, it isn’t the first time I’ve “joined” previous sources of suspicion with the objective of taking a closer look. I served terms on the boards of Develop New Albany (meh) and the Urban Enterprise Association (yeah). I tried running for council as a Democrat before having enough of the beast’s insipid belly flops, and opting to remain Independent as a mayoral candidate. I learned from each of these forays. It's what you do.

You learn.

I concede that the question remains valid. Exactly what might an aging polemical maverick of a contrarian and curmudgeonly rabble-rouser hope to gain from a Leadership SI program?

Dan’s testimony aside (he’s also sponsoring me, for which I thank him very much), I wouldn’t undertake the Discover program commitment unless I thought there was something of value to be gained on the part of all involved. I may be a cynic, but I wouldn’t waste the time and money of others.

Truthfully, I’m at a crossroads. My latent entrepreneurial side has started advancing cautiously from the containment zone of scar tissue following the business divorce. Since I’m both shy and extroverted, I need the energy and input of others -- so long as there is time to be alone to process all of it and write about it afterward.

At a very hazy level, I see that leadership in this context is going to be about redefining my relationship with others. I'm not sure what this means, but there it is. I'm about to find out.

My muse has always been a crowded barroom. I’ve gotten away from that, perhaps to my detriment. Maybe it’s time to get back, and I believe that stepping outside of the box -- something I’ve never hesitated demanding of others – might be step in the right direction for me. It's as simple as that, and I'm looking forward to something different.

It’s hard to imagine me doing this without writing about it. Please stay tuned, and I’ll let you know how it goes.



August 18: ON THE AVENUES: There has never been a better time for an Independent Business Alliance in New Albany.

August 11: ON THE AVENUES: DNA, National Main Street, the Four Points, and how it might yet be possible to get this thing right for once.

August 4: ON THE AVENUES: Federal funding mechanisms total eighty percent. The other half is unalloyed political malice.

July 28: ON THE AVENUES: An imaginary exercise tentatively called The Curmudgeon Free House.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Toll readiness as defined by ... by ... by ... say, what is this, invisible ink?

Yes, that's the one.*

Yesterday with open arms we welcomed cynicism back into our lives. It had been nearly thirty minutes, and I was starting to sweat.

A new buzz phrase enters City Hall's bunker-speak: "Downtown Grid Modernization Project." We believe it's a synonym for "non-existent."

If you read the subsequent newspaper account of the state of Indiana's auto-centric million-dollar grant to Southern Indiana, and specifically New Albany -- for future state senate candidates, "asphalt aplenty" money like this far outranks Viagra -- you'll have noticed this passage, as attributed to the straw that stirs our collective Shirley Temple.

"(The) downtown grid modernization project, which is a review of the downtown grid that will allow the city to ready itself for the completion of the Ohio River Bridges Project and the associated tolls."

Stop laughing and pay attention!

Shouldn't there be a follow-up question something like this one?

"Mayor Gahan, seeing as tolls begin in less than six months, can you explain precisely what this 'readiness' means, in the real world, and in the short-term, because after all, there is no long term when it comes to toll imposition."

The question hasn't been asked, except by me. A reporter should try asking it, for the only response I ever get goes something like this:

(crickets chirp)

(pins drop)

(somewhere, a dog forlornly barks)

(public access requests can be heard fluttering into garbage cans)

* thanks, J

Aladdin's Cafe is up and running at its new Underground Station location.

Aladdin's Cafe's page at Facebook has the story.

Good News Aladdin's friends and fans. The move is complete, and we will be open Wed. at 12:00 in the Underground Station. Come enjoy our brand new location and beautiful courtyard seating. In the following few days, we will also be introducing delicious additions to our menu.

Aladdin's Cafe, 37 Bank St. Suite #2, New Albany, Indiana ... (502) 489-7969

"God Can Change Gays," says former Kentucky governor Julian Carroll.

My first reaction upon seeing this story on Twitter (below) was incredulity: How could it be that Julian Carroll is still alive?

(He's 85).

And he's a state senator in Kentucky?

And he's a DEMOCRAT?

If you don't already follow Jacob Payne on Twitter, I recommend doing so. Hoosiers have precious little room to laugh, if any, but some of the political tidings in the Commonwealth are breathtaking, and Jake covers them all. Scroll back a few days, and he has much of interest to say about Carroll's (shall we say self-serving) remarks.

God Can Change Gays, Says Former Kentucky Governor & Current State Senator (The River City News)

It was a story about how being gay in a Kentucky campaign was a surprising non-issue.

Jim Gray, the Lexington mayor who is the Democratic Party's nominee to face incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul in November, is openly gay.

"Does anybody care?," asked the headline in Roll Call, the DC-based political newspaper ...

 ... The part about Gray's allies who may still believe that being gay is a choice seems to point to former governor Julian Carroll, now a state senator representing Frankfort. Carroll, a Democrat, is quoted towards the end of the lengthy profile published Monday. Here's what Roll Call included from the Democratic Minority Whip ...

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Putrescent, especially after 497 days of curing, Caesar-style, just like surströmming.

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

But why all these newfangled 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 August 24th?

Bicentennial commission financial trail? What's two (yawn) weeks (shrug) after 463 days?

August 24 update: Make that 7 weeks since the FOIA record request due date and  497 days since I asked Bob Caesar to tell us how many books were left unsold, and how much the city's 200-year "summer of love" fest cost.

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 iniquitous, bond-slush-engorged municipal corporate attorneys who customarily are handsomely remunerated 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 putrescent, as prompted by Keith Olbermann's Olympic observation about Hope Solo.

Ironically, Team Gahan views itself as courageous, too. The truth?

Well ...


[pyoo-tres-uh nt]


1. becoming putrid; undergoing putrefaction.
2. of or relating to putrefaction.

Origin of putrescent

Latin 1725-1735; < Latin putrēscent- (stem of putrēscēns), present participle of putrēscere to grow rotten

How long does it take to count a stack of unsold books?

Oh, yes ... I almost forgot surströmming.

Fermented herring, surströmming

Never has rotten fish smelled so bad but tasted so good. Small Baltic herring are caught in the spring, salted and left to ferment at leisure before being stuffed in a tin about a month before it hits the tables and shops. The fermentation process continues in the tin; ‘souring’ as the Swedes refer to it, and results in a bulging tin of fermented herring or surströmming. The aroma is pungent, and the taste is rounded yet piquant with a distinct acidity.

Thank you, Sweden. I'm so hungry that I just might go out and buy a diamond.

Any jewelers around?

"So, no — when Clinton is elected, we will not enter a post-gender society. Instead, we will face another convulsion of bigotry from the defeated foes."

Nine white males on the New Albany Common Council ... and this excellent commentary by the editor of LEO. I usually read Erika Rucker's column, but little else. Maybe it's time to dig a little deeper.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No post-gender society, by Keith Stone (LEO)

Watching the Olympics, you cannot help but be mesmerized by the world-class female athletes who are killing it in their events and showing the world how to take absolutely no shit. Like 19-year-old Lilly King, who matched her outrage over Russian doping with an outrageously-fast, winning swim. Or Simone Biles, who may be the best female gymnast ever and whose performances in Rio drew cheers from teammates and competitors alike. And then there is Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming.

Maybe their domination presages what could be America’s Year of The Woman. After all, in less than 100 days we choose between Cheeto-wrought, worldwide mayhem and electing the first female president ...

 ... Will we become gender-blind? ... Not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

ENCORE: Proposed yard signs for the new "There's Only One Way to NA" anti-2-way streets group.

I'm told the first organizational meeting will take place in Clarksville, the second one in Floyds Knobs, the third ...

(originally published in January, 2015)

In New Albany, orange construction cones might not stand a chance, though guerrilla tactics are all we have left.

Sorry for the gap -- Facebook video embedding doesn't seem to translate well to this platform.

Lori may be onto something here. It's been my observation, admittedly unverified apart from a few radar gun samplings, that since the upper Spring Street project started, speeds have noticeably increased on my stretch of Spring.

It's as though having been slowed by orange cones for a few blocks coming into the city, drivers regard Vincennes as a welcome "green flag," signalling an immediate shift into hyperspace -- and down uncontrolled Spring they fly.

In NA, too? "Traffic Safety Advocates Taking Action Into Their Own Hands."

Would guerrilla orange cones work in New Albany?

Will anything work in New Albany? Thanks for the video, Lori.

Guerrilla Bike Lanes Show Cities How Easy It Is To Make Streets Safer, by Adele Peters (Fast Company)

Since the city won't keep bikers safe, a group of San Francisco bikers is taking matters into its own hands, using a very simple tool—traffic cones ...

... In a few recent interventions, the activists demonstrated how much better design can help. On Golden Gate Avenue, for example, a new painted bike lane was ignored by cars, and it was filled with traffic. When the activists put up simple orange construction cones, cars immediately started staying in their own lane.

A new buzz phrase enters City Hall's bunker-speak: "Downtown Grid Modernization Project." We believe it's a synonym for "non-existent."

Shane's getting two vocabulary words this week.

Kremlinology: The art of observing, deducing and guessing what is really happening within a secretive organization. (So called from the Kremlin, headquarters of the top government leaders in the Communist era Soviet Union.)

And so it is that in New Albany, we must resort to Bunkerology, minutely examining the nuance and wording of press releases in an effort to fathom the gist of nods and winks being exchanged between the denizens of the Down Low Bunker.

Unexpectedly and after a long silence, City Hall spoke twice today. Our crack team of gin drinkers immediately spotted a mysterious phrase common to each press release.

The first (underlined) isn't capitalized.

City Receives $1 Million Grant For Road Improvements

 ... The grant, totaling $1 million, will go towards improving street infrastructure within the city of New Albany. Three projects were submitted by the City of New Albany for consideration in the Community Crossings program: the city-wide paving project, the full reconstruction of Bono Road, and the downtown grid modernization project.

“We are thrilled to receive these funds that will help us continue to improve our infrastructure throughout the city,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.

But the second is.

City Works to Minimize Morning Commute Traffic Congestion During Construction

 ... “These traffic congestion issues are the product of many factors, including the interchange re-construction and traffic accidents. We are doing our best to ensure that we are reviewing all traffic patterns and how we can best accommodate them during these construction periods. Long-term, we hope that these issues will be mitigated by our Downtown Grid Modernization Project,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.

Of course, we quickly surfed to the city's site and searched this hitherto unknown term.

Foiled again by the Eastridge Encryptor. Perhaps if we subpoenaed the minutes of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association ...

"Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words."

Not only that, but a second documentary about Frank Zappa is in production. Thanks to D for the cue.

New Frank Zappa Doc Wows at Sundance 2016: 'Eat That Question' charts iconoclastic musician's entire career through archival clips and Zappa's own words, by David Fear (Rolling Stone)

It would be somewhat easy to do a straightforward documentary on Frank Zappa: zoom in on some grainy B&W pictures of him as an R&B-loving teen; chart his rise from Sixties avant-rock bandleader to symphonic composer, from antiestablishment iconoclast to anticensorship activist; interview some of the dozens, if not hundreds, of musicians inspired by him; drop in a few nuggets of We're Only In It for the Money or 200 Motels–era concert footage. Of course, Zappa was never one to do anything the easy, or easily comprehensible, way — we're talking about an artist who composed a concerto for two bicycles and railed against the norm at every opportunity. Better, then, to honor his life and work with a jagged, collage-like assembly of archival footage. And, given the eloquence and biting wit he displayed in his lyrics, Congressional testimonies and conversations, to let the man speak for himself.