Friday, September 30, 2016

Some final thoughts on the topic of two-way streets, and then it's someone else's turn.

Let's get sickeningly topical and make this blog great again.

The sex tape I'd like to see most of all is the one of Irv Stumler, Mark Seabrook and David Aebersold with a Padgett crane on a one-way street.

Use the hashtag #mmmf, please, and oh, by the way, I'll need full body condom to even begin entertaining the thought, as well as a few quarts of Old Grand Dad for the sake of these sad old grand-dads.

Accidental councilman Aebersold is the latest misinformed pillar to rush forward with opinions disguised as facts *, and while I know much of his scattershot drivel is preparatory groundwork for Seabrook's future masturbatory political aspirations, it has become wearying to wake up in the morning and know that if I don't publicly rebut these civic has-beens, no one else will.

Folks, it's been my pleasure these many years, and although I can't rule out an intervention in the next few weeks, New Albany's two-way street saga has become wearying to me.

Que sera sera -- and is it time to leave for Sicilian holiday yet?

I'm looking forward to seeing Mt. Etna close up and personal, drinking wine, and eating the local pasta dish made with anchovies and fresh sardines. Knowing they have mafia there, too, should make it feel just like home.

As for New Albany's street grid, at this point one of two things is sure to happen.

A. City Hall will make good on its many private assurances that HWC's full-tilt two-way street reconversion will occur, given that funding has been secured and project dates announced, even if the Board of Public Works and Safety continues to protest that a decision has not been made, right up until the point the otherwise pre-ordained vote is final.

I enjoy performance art as much as the next person, so let's hope Warren makes it convincing.

B. Superannuated opponents of modernity, slouching over there amid their bilge on the wrong side of history, will somehow manage to insert a spanner into the works, perhaps with a new surprise lawsuit, a trucking boycott, providential state GOP intervention or dramatic self-immolation.

If the latter, I can only hope they let me know, because I'd be delighted to throw out the first match.

I suppose it remains possible that we might see a partial reconversion of the streets, rationalized as the first of two phases, with the second being quietly forgotten. It strikes me as the least likely scenario, but there it is. Considering the petty games local "leaders" are so very fond of playing, it's impossible to handicap.

Of course, if the two-point-something-million-dollar scheme wasn't cleverly devised to leverage federal money for street paving, it wouldn't be considered at all, and one-way would remain the highway forever more.

It is my sincere hope that if you're one of the many two-way proponents eager to express an opinion, yet hesitant to do so openly because you grasp the historic frequency of half-erect pillar reprisals right here in river city, you've already dispatched your feelings to the official public opinion accumulator:

If not, please do so.

Pretty please?

One week ago, I challenged Irv to join me in sitting this one out.

ON THE AVENUES: On two-way streets, a modest proposal for the consideration of my disoriented one-way counterpart.

Then I disassembled his "survey" theses and tossed them on the ash heap of history.

ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART THREE: Survey says … Irv’s street grid agitprop won’t be putting Diogenes out of work any time soon.

There isn't anything left for me to do. It's difficult for me to disengage from something this passionate, and a guy has the right to change his mind, but you know what?

It's someone else's turn. Step up, folks. The microphone's on, and this forum is yours. It's time for me to study those Italian phrases instead.


* It's in the form of a mind-numbing letter seemingly copied in longhand from Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologica", and masochists can search the Courier-Journal for it, but I simply can't sanction links to pornographic content. 

About your residence in one of two bubbles.

I'm a longtime fan of Timothy Garton Ash's work. He was on hand in Eastern Europe during the latter end times, and saw first-hand the value of truth in bureaucratic and totalitarian settings.

Do you figure Mark Seabrook will be voting for Donald Trump?

Do you live in a Trump bubble, or a Clinton bubble? by Timothy Garton Ash (The Guardian)

The myths, exaggerations and lies of our fragmented media have distorted reality for both left and right. This is eroding our democracy

 ... A noble American cliche invites us to believe in the “marketplace of ideas”. What we are witnessing in this election is a market failure.

Hmm. I want to know about Bicentennial finances, CM Blair wants to know about aquatic center finances, and we're both being stonewalled.

You don't think there's a pattern of non-transparency in Team Gahan, do you?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

And why not?

After all, it's our most wonderful time of the year.

ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART THREE: Survey says … Irv’s street grid agitprop won’t be putting Diogenes out of work any time soon.

ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART THREE: Survey says … Irv’s street grid agitprop won’t be putting Diogenes out of work any time soon.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

In the finale of a 3-pk, we come back to the present, only to find that like always in New Albany, the past won't let the future be. 


The Green Mouse has uncovered a bonus copy of Irv Stumler's "Survey of Business in New Albany," as wrapped in a whoopee cushion made in China, and gifted to the Board of Public Works and Safety amid a room of eyes rolling in unrestrained mirth.

It isn’t a real survey, because Irv has made no apparent effort to present a fair case for the opposing side, and then to tally the ballots, come what may.

Rather, he’s circulating a petition, not a survey, and he intends to be given the “correct” answers, even if he is obliged to remind unfortunate listeners that one-way streets discourage atheism, dissuade onanism, and are better than milk and beefsteak for growing young drivers.

Naturally, Irv has a perfect right to post his selected theses (even his trademark feces) on any church door he chooses, at least once he’s browbeaten the attending minister for a few thumbtacks and plastic bags.

Concurrently, I feel the need to expose Irv’s ginormous honking whoppers, and today it is my grudging task to dissect this muddled, tragic and frankly hilarious mess, though with an important caveat.

Apart from a sole necessary exception, I’ll not be naming names. I harbor no interest in outing, or assembling boycott lists. To do so would merely perpetuate the divisiveness Irv seeks so mightily to conjure, and he can keep this dubious distinction for himself.

I hope he chokes on it.

When it comes to framing the many issues involved with our city’s potential to build a “complete” and calmed two-way street network downtown, Irv has shown neither an interest in, nor an aptitude for, any semblance of intellectual honesty.

His self-appointed task is evangelistic, to find fissures and to exploit them mercilessly – to foster division for the maintenance of the status quo, not so much of street direction itself as the prevailing local economic power structure.

A rebuttal is merited on both counts, and in formulating it, my only exception to the rule of discretion is Mark Seabrook, for reasons that should be obvious. As a funereal politician, High Commissioner Seabrook likes to have it both ways, and accordingly, I enjoy giving it back to him, good and hard, on a tarnished silver platter.

Someone’s got to do it, at least until the electorate has the good sense to turn him out.


What we have before us are several sheets of paper stapled together, with an introductory prelude written by a preschooler.

Exactly who has chosen to buy into Irv’s drivel?

Not very many, at least once the petition has been edited into vague comprehensibility, and as such, we can begin our sad survey of Irv’s bogus “survey” by consolidating repetitious entries, as when several signatures appear on behalf of a single business.

These duplications account for roughly 15% of the total signatures on the document. Out they go.

Next to be removed are the names of those companies who’ve already publicly voted against street grid reform by joining the 800-lb reigning Tsar Padgett in threatening to sue the city (see “lawyers at their feeding troughs,” below).

Irv would like us to believe that each time he goes pandering, a fresh new wave of like-minded drones materializes. Alas, this isn't the case. His latest petition is littered with the usual suspects, and we already have been made painfully aware of their opposition to street grid modernity.

So, chuck 'em.

Moreover, a typical business’s employees (as opposed to its owners) are in most cases unauthorized to represent their employer’s interests. Their signatures can be set aside; I've already fact-checked two instances of this occurring without management’s knowledge, and I'd guess there are at least a half-dozen more.

Nice try, but no dice.

C’mon, Irv. You should at least stick around long enough to speak with the person in charge.


What about “survey” signatories who don't actually live in New Albany?

Seeing as the pompous perpetual power-brokering windbag (and high commissioner) Seabrook has informed the newspaper that street direction opinions from people who "don't live here" cannot be trusted, we must take the conniving time-server at his word, and immediately dismiss the dozen-plus business owners who are opposed to two-way streets, but as yet reside outside city limits.

(Personally, I’d be inclined to accept the signatures of these out-of-town business owners, since they’re investing something concrete in New Albany, but who am I to dispute High Commissioner Seabrook’s stellar reasoning?)

Which makes this a good juncture for a digression.


Consider these mad-as-hell downtown business owners living elsewhere, generally in sedate rural settings, safely segregated from urban neighborhoods obviously intended by God herself to use as industrial corridors, and yet they are grievously offended that "a very vocal group" of homeowners (read: homo-owner-sexuals) who actually DO live downtown, “on the east side of the city,” keep insisting on measures to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood.

The unmitigated gall.

If all the city slickers agreed to be herded into a housing project by the crane works, just think how high profit margins might go!

Aren’t urban dwellers supposed to be inconvenienced by industrial activities that wouldn’t be permitted anywhere near the business owners’ homes?

Concurrently, I'm absolutely comfortable in guessing that 85% or more of Irv’s "survey" signatories are white males well past the age of 50, and as such, readers are invited to do their own social justice deprivation mathematics.

Be forewarned, for it’s a grim sum, indeed.

Various “survey” blatherings about safety and common sense are pure unadulterated hokum, appended as afterthoughts, doing little to obscure the basic fact that Irv's tireless solicitation of respectable people is directed primarily toward the preservation of local white male power elites, of which he is a part, as underwritten by self-appointed pillars of suitability, of whom he is one, and who aren’t saying that streets must be kept as currently configured to ease the passage of trucks and heavy machinery alone.

No, it’s much more than this.

What they're really saying is that people not operating vehicles powered by internal combustion engines have absolutely no right to the road, and by definition, respectable people do, because they have cars, trucks and motorcycles.

In fact, Irv’s purported “survey” is a document detailing social judgments borne of class warfare, not engineering conclusions.

Tiger's owner Joe Zeller ominously tooted this particular dog whistle at last week's public meeting, noting that whenever them dainty Spandex bicyclists get too close to one of his fully erect 18-wheelers – well, hell, we all know who always wins such confrontations, just sayin’, WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE, and it’s certainly not any of Zeller’s responsibility to cede a square inch of tarmac ON A PUBLIC ROAD to make such conflicts less likely.

Rather, as Irv told BOW in high dudgeon, any piddling pedestrian scared of high-speed street traffic best get his spindly yellow ass up on the sidewalk, where his kind belongs.

To repeat: Irv’s absurd “survey” is about who belongs, who does not belong … and who decides, and in High Commissioner Seabrook, Irv has an eager applicant for the task of tattoo artist.


A handful of attorneys also signed the petition, probably from the mistaken notion it was a paycheck. I believe each one of them has either suckled at the teat of Seabrook's tender GOP in the past, or continues to do so now.

Are their expressions of concern for trucking public safety genuine, or are they applying a little more Astroglide for the process of saying what must be said, so as to facilitate the continued wetting of beaks, considering that the most persistent opponent of street sensibility other than Irv is a Floyd County Commissioner and Republican Party stalwart named Mark Seabrook? After all, they're lawyers, serving on councils and committees.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go take a shower.


Finally, I don't begrudge the stated "opposition" to two-way streets on the part of a duo of specific signatories whom I know personally.

Except that I've been around them long enough to know their beef with the city has nothing to do with streets. Their non-directional complaints with City Hall probably are legitimate, but their signatures on Irv's petition are plainly irrelevant.


When the smoke has cleared and the mirrors have all shattered, Irv’s jihadist screed adds up to far less than the sum of its ballyhooed parts. What does it tell us?

Just this.

In the past few years, dozens of new businesses have been established in downtown New Albany. Of these newer businesses, less than a half-dozen of them deigned to sign Irv's most recent poison pen petition.

This may be because Irv simply didn’t bother approaching the ones he knew would ignore him, or he conveniently forgot to record their true feelings after a series of swinging doors graced the fabric around his posterior. From beginning to end, Irv’s petition has been a contrived exercise in propaganda, one that never was intended to be scientific, and he feels no compunction whatever about spinning yarns.

Significantly, these many new businesses – the ones NOT rallying around Irv’s white flag of capitulation – symbolize the future of downtown New Albany as an inclusive, diverse and representative modern economic and residential entity.

Appropriately, this new breed of downtown business owner hasn’t once advocated for the exclusion of crane operators, veneer companies, wholesalers, funeral homes and trans-shippers, but merely sought civic equality, and as it stands, HWC’s street grid plan represents a compromise for all downtown stakeholders.

Why isn’t this compromise sufficient, Irv?

Mr. High Commissioner?

Almost unanimously, New Albany’s new generation of downtown business owners has rejected Irv’s desperate entreaties to keep New Albany configured for the rapidly diminishing past, as opposed to a constantly evolving future.

Ironically, then, Irv has done the city a great and purely unintended favor. In his blind zeal to discredit the future, he has revealed the obstructionist obstinacy of his own coddled ilk in refusing to compromise for the betterment of all.

For this, I think both Irv and Mark deserves plaques, to be permanently embedded by a crosswalk beneath our feet in the pavement of a two-way street.

I'll take great pleasure in walking there.


September 29: ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART TWO: Inkem binkem notamus rex, protect us all from the city (still) with the hex (2014).

September 29: ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART ONE: Chocolate covered frozen banana republic, or "understanding" Harvest Homecoming, our peculiar institution (2014).

September 22: ON THE AVENUES: On two-way streets, a modest proposal for the consideration of my disoriented one-way counterpart.

September 15: ON THE AVENUES Now for my next amazing conversion trick (KABOOM!!!) – look at those pretty windows on Schmitt Furniture.

ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART TWO: Inkem binkem notamus rex, protect us all from the city (still) with the hex (2014).

ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART TWO: Inkem binkem notamus rex, protect us all from the city (still) with the hex (2014).

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

Back in April, 2014, there was a precursor to the current unpleasantness. Doug England's bizarre plan to hand the mayor's office to Irv Stumler had ignominiously failed, and now Jeff Gahan was poised to interfere with Irv's municipal flowery ashtrays. There was a bad moon rising, and so most of us did the sensible thing and just stayed drunk.


"You know what I think I'm going to do? I'm going to go home, have me a little nap, and then go on over to Thelma Lou's and watch a little TV. Yeah, I believe that's what I'll do. Home. A nap. Then over to Thelma Lou's for TV. Yep, that's the plan. Home. Little nap.”
-- Barney Fife (The Andy Griffith Show)

Absurdity describes a quality of harebrained preposterousness, and arguably, it is rooted in real-world empirical judgments. Surrealism embraces a more unearthly, dreamlike weirdness of the sort that emanates from Colorado now that marijuana is legal there.

So, was Tuesday afternoon in New Albany merely absurd, or did it ascend to the rarified level of surreal?

Or both?

To even begin making a determination, one must parse a few pansies. It was only a few weeks ago that volunteers under the aegis of Keep New Albany Clean and Green were out and about, tidying the flower planters placed in recent years by the organization on downtown street corners.

Full disclosure dictates personal honesty: I’ve had plenty of issues with the planters, even as I appreciate and respect the good intentions of the organization. In the first place, the planters have tended to look like (and be used as) ashtrays. Moreover, as an ambulatory adult who walks downtown on a daily basis, I’ve found it annoying to be forced to reach an arm’s length over the planters to click the street crossing button.

What’s more, it has been obvious to many (apart from Clean and Green itself), and for quite some time, that those among us most in need of a signal’s assistance in crossing New Albany’s almost entirely unregulated streets – namely those in wheelchairs, the handicapped, the elderly and children – were being more than merely inconvenienced by the positioning of the planters, at least some of which effectively blocked any reasonable ease of use.

I’ve mentioned it, both to Clean and Green and city officials, and have found little evident traction, generally being looked at (yet again) as a space alien, primarily because there isn’t a single member of either city government or Clean and Green who has even the slightest grasp of the theory and practice of walkability, and as one might expect, even fewer are willing to learn.

But I digress.

For weeks, and perhaps even months, Clean and Green has petitioned the Board of Public Works to grant it permission to place even more of these saucer-like planters downtown, and the board has continually dragged its feet, pleading for more time to amass the single item most often missing from the collective hard drives of city officials – namely, crucial information.

Apparently Tuesday was the time of denouement, during which the needed information abruptly materialized, and a conclusion finally was reached: Not only was Clean and Green precluded from expanding the planter program, but the planters currently in use would have to go, lock, stock and petunia.

Thus ensued a textbook illustration of the city’s innate, enduring, politicized dysfunction; with any semblance of compromise yanked inelegantly from the table, a Keystone Kops movie abruptly broke out, the city moving with uncommon, absurd and perhaps even surreal speed to remove the offending planters, while Clean and Green’s own volunteers were racing just as quickly to move their dirt bowls out of the way, or collect them altogether, before the other side got to them first.

That’s right. They’re adults … at least in a chronological sense.

Predictably, the city has since re-circled its wagons and imposed the usual embargo on clear rationales and public explanations, and of course, Clean and Green has taken to the Court of Facebook to decry the death of private-public partnerships – except in truth, the organization’s work has never been a public-private partnership in any coherent, readily transparent way.

Because that’s not the way we do things New Mayberry.


Rather, the “partnership” dates (what slipshod stop-gap mechanism doesn’t?) from England Doug and Carl Ford Maalox’s calculated electoral jury-rigging in 2010/11, back when Irv Stumler was declared overnight to be Hizzoner’s anointed successor.

With the Urban Enterprise Association’s till set for emptying, Stumler’s Clean and Green would then function as a source of elder-think beautification monies that the dynamic duo couldn’t or wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the current Gahan administration, which seems to believe (how would we ever know for sure?) that the only way to think outside a self-imposed economic development box and actually do something (anything) to incentivize entrepreneurial activities downtown is to convince the Horseshoe Foundation to give away millions of dollars for use in a county that rejected the casino – not once, but twice – has decided to seize upon the street corner planters to publicly humiliate Clean and Green, a prime mover of which is Jerry Finn … who has his hand on the Horseshoe spigot.

Talk about winning friends and influencing people … so why bother writing fiction when reality keeps handing you pre-written comic opera scripts?

In other cities, there are economic plans, creativity and empowerment. People read books, and parking ordinances are enforced uniformly. Vital improvements occur without deforestation, and farmers markets somehow operate successfully atop the asphalt of parking lots.

But in New Albany, we rerun old Andy Griffith episodes on imaginary Bicentennial Park drive-in screens, dating from the collective childhood of a leadership caste that imagines itself comfortably ensconced in Floyd’s familiarly comfy chair, with sideburns trimmed and tonic dutifully splashed, and as such, Deputy Fife said it best -- and he never even lived here.

All I'm saying is that there are some things beyond the ken of mortal man that shouldn't be tampered with. We don't know everything, Andy. There's plenty going on right now in the Twilight Zone that we don't know anything about and I think we ought to stay clear.

Jeff Speck has no idea what he’s gotten himself into, does he?


September 29: ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART ONE: Chocolate covered frozen banana republic, or "understanding" Harvest Homecoming, our peculiar institution (2014).

September 22: ON THE AVENUES: On two-way streets, a modest proposal for the consideration of my disoriented one-way counterpart.

September 15: ON THE AVENUES Now for my next amazing conversion trick (KABOOM!!!) – look at those pretty windows on Schmitt Furniture.

September 8: ON THE AVENUES: It no longer keeps me waiting.

ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART ONE: Chocolate covered frozen banana republic, or "understanding" Harvest Homecoming, our peculiar institution (2014).

ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART ONE: Chocolate covered frozen banana republic, or "understanding" Harvest Homecoming, our peculiar institution (2014).

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

From October of 2014, a rumination that shows how far we've come ... or haven't. As this year's two-week blockade of Underground Station merchants attests, there is a long way to go, and given a coming influx of downtown residents, will the 800-lb gorilla finally be backed into the corner? 


Love him, hate him, or anywhere in between … but you simply cannot deny that John Gonder is a New Albanian civic rarity.

Gonder is a Democratic Party member and an elected official of a certain age who nonetheless is capable of breaking free and thinking independently. He is aware of the outside world, and comfortable in this apostasy. Generally speaking, he surveys terrain situated outside his party’s perennially self-delineated Dixiecrat box. Less often than I’d like, he is an essayist, and invariably his thoughts are witty and articulate.

I’m told that John Gonder currently is on the “shit list” maintained by the ruling circle. This is an honor and a distinction, because when one insists on being a progressive thinker in this benighted locality, they sure don’t record your name with a pencil.

I'm delighted to read Gonder’s typically measured reasonableness about Harvest Homecoming, especially since at the moment, the bruised and battered downtown landscape is littered with decapitated straw men, while those politicians willing to speak for attribution mostly mimic the stenographer’s pure drivel as they muster the forces to repel this latest incursion of elitism threatening our most peculiar of institutions.

As previously noted, Harvest Homecoming is the “third rail” of New Albany politics, and as a reminder, this is a metaphor deriving from mass transit rail systems, in which the third rail is the conductor of electricity and as such, quite hazardous to the touch.

third rail

A dangerous area of discussion, a point at which the mere mention of a subject result is disaster. Commonly used in politics.

Somewhat uniquely among the purported local “leadership” cadre, John Gonder is willing to grasp the third rail and challenge the 800-lb gorilla, albeit it with a gentler touch than I’ve been able to muster.

A Moveable Feast

... Since Mr. (Jeff) Cummins welcomed ideas, and since the Tribune has elevated the festival topic to wider discussion, it seems the future of the festival and the continued health of the downtown revival could be best served by making the Harvest Homecoming a moveable feast, migrating from one part of downtown to another, as conditions change and dictate. New Albany's downtown was benefitted by the stimulus of the Harvest Homecoming in the festival's early years. I believe the festival still is a net plus for the city, but it could be a greater contributor to the city which welcomes its pitching of the tents each year at no small cost to the taxpayers.

Creative suggestions like Gonder’s fully mirror many others offered here and elsewhere, to the effect that the festival might alter its configuration of booths to acknowledge modernity, and avoid interfering with existing year-round businesses.

Alas, the councilman’s fundamental rationality – moreover, the combined rationality of every single one of us who endeavors to imagine contemporary ways of thinking and acting outside traditionally constraining municipal boxes -- probably isn’t enough to compel the leaden weight of Harvest Homecoming to willingly concede even the first ounce of hereditary privilege, and this shouldn’t strike anyone as particularly unusual.


Having been given carte blanche for 46 years, Harvest Homecoming as an institution has not been compelled to justify its existence, or to prove its worth with facts, as opposed to feelings. It simply is, and must continue, and like any entrenched bureaucracy, it will not surrender voluntarily what it regards as “earned” territorial rights.

Consider the attitude of just one Harvest Homecoming functionary, the festival’s reigning "head honcho" (as dubbed not by me, but by the Gnaws and Trombone). When given the opportunity by the newspaper’s ever accommodating Chris Morris to address downtown business owners prior to his business model’s annual downtown takeover, Jeff Cummins promptly elucidated an intriguing Tao of the Homecoming Harvest.

I want to try and get downtown merchants to understand what the festival is all about.

I cannot stress this point often enough: It’s about downtown day-in, day-out downtown investors and stakeholders being compelled to “understand” Harvest Homecoming’s annual footprint, and not the other way around.

Later, during a Facebook discussion about Harvest Homecoming’s and the city’s ill treatment of Wick’s Pizza, Cummins barged into the room.

Do not speak about what you do not know as being fact. Speculation makes one a fool … The back and forth on social media, 3rd party conversations and assumptions accomplish nothing. Go direct to whom you have the issue and discuss it face to face … Don't play games, it's wasted unproductive time spent. Ask the question.

With Cummins on the “direct” line, so to speak, I prompted him to introduce himself to those who didn’t know him, and provided a link to the aforementioned newspaper article. Then, I asked him two questions.

Does Harvest Homecoming understand what WE'RE about? In the past, I've observed Harvest Homecoming officials telling people that they could not distribute handbills amid the booth area. Now, it seems to me that this is perfectly legal -- freedom of expression, if you will. On what legal basis can the city "lease" free speech on public right-of-ways to a private entity?

The head honcho was ready with his answer.

Not going to debate on here. You have a large tendency to misconstrue what is said to suit your needs.

Which places me in a league with ... Harvest Homecoming. So much for demanding that we ask questions, but unfortunately, it gets even worse.

Given that debating is unworthy of a head honcho's time, Cummins remains eager to remind those 52-weeks-a-year downtown business stakeholders that the fault for booth day disruptions is theirs, not the festival's. From Morris’s fluff piece:

Cummins ... conceded that some businesses fare better than others, but added that some establishments do more to prepare for the thousands of visitors that come to New Albany by adjusting their product offerings for the event.

Businesses just like these, as reported on Fb:

The business I work for will have to close during those days and send four employees home with no pay.

We do 33-50% less business during the week of Harvest Homecoming. Great success.

I lose money every time HH comes to town. We move a lot of equipment and usually can pull up to my building to do so. Because of HH I'll use the alley to get as close as I can. One of their officials came into my store and began screaming and cussing at my employee, "Who's F***ing van is in alley, move it or it will be towed." We had to throw him out. Now, he did this while customers were in the store. And of course when I proceeded to move my vehicle I was severely cussed at and threatened. This is only one negative incident. There are plenty more.

Well, who are you going to believe? Your own eyes, experience and balance sheet, or the head honcho?


Or, for that matter, the mayor.

The leadership of Harvest Homecoming has been “adaptive and accommodating” and tweak the festival by offering new events in recent years, Mayor Jeff Gahan said Monday.

But of course they have. Third rails tend to be that way, don’t they? And then there’s John Gonder, doggedly daring to channel the late Bobby Kennedy:

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

Or an even better one, far less often quoted:

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.

Politically, John Gonder is completely outnumbered by the "C" and "D" students, by the adults who weren't elected to student council as students and missed the prom, and consequently shall be punishing us forever more for these omissions, by the big fish who find the meandering currents of the small pond much to their liking, and by the grandees of Gonder’s own arthritic Democratic Party, in which he might well be the only Floyd County dues-paying member who could reside anonymously in Massachusetts without being regarded as a Ted Cruz-caliber interloper.

Billy Joel was right, and honesty is such a lonely word, indeed.

Harvest Homecoming isn’t about the parade, the booth placement, elephant ear vendors from Keokuk, roving carnies, Chinese-crafted trinkets, corn hole champs, pay-for-play monopolies or even the true believers among attendees, whom even I have little desire to offend; after all, I never said I wanted it to end, only to adapt.

Rather, it's all about the power – this minor league, small potatoes, penny ante power, but power just the same.

That’s right: Harvest Homecoming graciously welcomes any and all ideas, so long as it is understood that nothing whatever can substantively change, and these ideas, once received, are daintily flicked into nearby wastepaper baskets once the petitioners have departed the vicinity.

I understand it perfectly, Jeff Cummins.

It’s rather like a one-party, one-festival state, isn’t it?


September 22: ON THE AVENUES: On two-way streets, a modest proposal for the consideration of my disoriented one-way counterpart.

September 15: ON THE AVENUES Now for my next amazing conversion trick (KABOOM!!!) – look at those pretty windows on Schmitt Furniture.

September 8: ON THE AVENUES: It no longer keeps me waiting.

September 1: ON THE AVENUES: Complete ventriloquism, or the stagecraft of "throwing" your two-way streets.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Here's how to give two-way streets feedback without Irv pestering you.

The linked PDF is courtesy of Develop New Albany; it's what the Board of Public Works and Safety distributed at last week's public meeting. If you're against two-way streets, you need do nothing. Irv's got your back. However, those in favor of two-way streets should let the city know via this form.

Two-Way Streets Feedback Due - October 3rd

Two Way StreetsDocument your support for the proposed downtown street grid improvement projects involving State, Pearl, Bank, Elm, Spring, Market, Main and Vincennes Streets.

The proposed project includes converting five one-way streets to two-way streets. Click here for more information on the proposal.
Comments received before October 3rd will become part of the official hearing transcripts/public record.

Email your support to Joe Dabkowski of the RQAW Corporation at the following email address:

Trumple-down carny economics: The needs of Fiesta Rides outweighs the needs of bricks and mortar indie businesses at Underground Station.

When all is said and done, locally owned businesses at Underground Station will be inconvenienced for almost two weeks by the closures required to stage Harvest Homecoming's carpetbagging carny rides.

During the past couple of years, Harvest Homecoming has started listening, and it should be credited whenever it "gets" the needs of year-round businesses downtown. When it doesn't ... well, who else is in a position to defend the interests of the indie business community if not city government itself?

It must not be forgotten that Harvest Homecoming cannot operate on city-owned ground without the city's permission. No one is asking for Harvest Homecoming to go away, only to adapt. Only City Hall truly is in a position to facilitate this adaptation. It claims to be doing so, and this may be true, but a nagging question remains: Why isn't the process of engagement more transparent?

Following is a sampling of opinion from merchants and customers at Underground Station.

They are set in their ways, and as long as no one challenges them, they will continue to decide things unilaterally. As I was discussing the parking situation with the lady in charge, she said this is how it's been for the past 44 years, since Harvest started, and it will continue that way. So, in her logic, what worked and was ok in the early 70s, should be ok now in 2016. As if time has stood still, and no growth, developments, or population increases have have occurred throughout the years. This is the logic we are dealing with.

Businesses should be the priority. Harvest Homecoming in part should be to introduce visitors to the local businesses.

It's very frustrating that the small local businesses are over looked for the sake of money for the city and harvest homecoming. Having a new business in the area, it's scary to have to practically shut down for a close to a week- due to lack of parking and access for our clients. It's even more frustrating the lack of care presented by the city to us when we voiced our concerns.

No one is saying that Harvest is NOT a wonderful benefit to New Albany. All we are asking is that we as small business owners are considered when they plan it. All of the above comments are coming from owners of local businesses in the Underground Station! We also are apart of new development of NA. Losing commission for a week as an employee vs business owners losing a lot of revenue. Sorry you disagree. We as well do not want to see change in NA besides working with us or at least hearing us out. They will not even give us a sit down meeting. We are not asking for a lot. Only access to a parking area for our customers. Harvest comes around once a year. We are here all year long.

Irv's polling results from Fairview Cemetery show 234 residents against two-way streets, none in favor.

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Shats, frog stranglers and bat hides.

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 September 28?

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

September 28 update: Make that 12 weeks since the FOIA record request's due date and  532 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, paving-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, a fun link provided by the inimitable Scott Wise of Scotty's Brewhouse fame.

30 words and phrases that will soon disappear from American English, by Thu-Huong Ha (Quartz)

American English is rich with idiom and slang. But as new words enter the lexicon, many old expressions fall into disuse.

Earlier this month the Dictionary of American Regional English, a project to capture the ebb and flow of the country’s regional vocabulary, released a list of 50 “endangered” words and phrases to try and keep them in use.

Keep New Albany Clean and Green demands new mandatory city anthem.

It isn't clear why Keep New Albany Clean and Green has allowed itself to be hitched to Irv Stumler's one-way Edsel. Maybe it needs one of these.

Tune courtesy of Today's Trucking

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On certain omissions in yesterday's News and Tribune about deez nuts opposing complete streets.

Of course, to share the News and Tribune editorial's URL on Facebook is to generate a huge image of Donald Trump, thereby defeating the editorial's anti-Trump message via glorious imagery.

OUR OPINION: Trump's harsh words sacrifice our principles

That's why I'm going with this instead.

Furthermore, given who occupies seats on the newspaper's editorial board, one can't help but ponder the comedic potential of emulating SCOTUS and publishing "dissenting" points of view from voices within the board.

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Susan Duncan, Digital Editor Claire White, Assistant Editor Chris Morris and Assistant Editor Jason Thomas. Responses can be sent to

For the sake of argument, consider the possibilities if the editorial board were to write in favor of two-way streets in New Albany, a position contrasting with that of board member Chris Morris, who previously transformed 80,000 of speeding heavy metal into a pathetic victim.

This notion is proffered in jest, although perhaps there's a grain of topicality in the suggestion that Morris, having used column space to dissent from two-way streets, still bears a responsibility as senior editor to make both sides of the story available.

Unfortunately, yesterday's streets piece by Elizabeth Beilman has gaping holes. It isn't mentioned that a perpetually whining Mark Seabrook, a longtime favorite of Morris's, is more than just a business owner. He's a county commissioner, too. Also, the Cummings veneer company was (still is?) part of the 2015 lawsuit against the city(update -- I'm informed this was noted; sorry, missed it)

Aren't these facts pertinent?

Furthermore, didn't the upholstery shop have a rather large "(Irv) Stumler for Council" sign in front of it last year, even though the store's location lies outside the 2nd council district?

Finally, among the businesses listed in the article as signing a petition collected by an unidentified citizen (Stumler?), Gospel Bird's owner has expressed confusion on social media, and stated he'd never been asked for his opinion.

So, lots of holes. Isn't Morris the New Albany editor, and isn't it the editor's responsibility to catch problems like these?

And, if not him, then who?

By the way, the Trump editorial is nice. You need to do something about the photo, though.

ASK THE BORED: It's Harvest Homecoming's turn to run the city, so let's talk street grid reform.

Today marks the beginning of BOW's unofficial annual vacation.

There'll still be Tuesday morning meetings this week and next, but in effect, Harvest Homecoming is a surreal suspension of municipal reality (and governance), and little of substance will be done until the festival concludes.

Consequently, let's talk about the street grid, upon which BOW will rule at some point in October or November. Specifically, we must remember a pertinent fact.

The most depressing reason why the past year and a half of New Albany's street grid history has been utterly wasted isn't just that we might already be enjoying the benefits of two-way streets. It's that these benefits remain unknown to so many, as the time might have been used by the city to educate the populace about street grid reform's civic multipliers, whether walkability, small business enhancement or property value. 

And it was not. 

Unfortunately, as is its reflex habit, the city has chosen to publicly frame the street grid issue on a last-minute basis, and almost exclusively in auto-centric terms. By doing so, the city has chosen to invite rebuttals framed in exactly the same terms, and with discussions of ancillary benefits forever kept on the down-low, Luddites like Irv are free to wander through town, peddling bilge and inciting fear about where-oh-where will our poor trucks unload?

As detailed previously, Irv's peripatetic enumerations of presumed community support are generally contrived or thin-air fiction, designed to divide stakeholders and create rancor. They're primarily partisan knee-jerks, and as such, it's truly striking that some downtown business owners who strongly support City Hall also loudly oppose street grid reform.

If you're Jeff Gahan, how on earth do you let this happen?

Answer: When you've spent the past four years making like the proverbial clam, refusing to expend political capital and to publicly support what you privately insist is your own pet project. Gahan has not been willing to own two-way streets; therefore Irv happily has occupied the void, pulling New Albany's flat-earthers along with him.

Yes, Irv is as mistaken about streets as a human being can be, but he knows a gift horse when he sees it.

It remains that if I were to tail Stumler and follow his street grid hyperbole with a rational presentation, it is highly likely that I, too, could construct a petition favorably jigged to my point of view.

Come to think of it, I've done so previously on more than one occasion during those lengthy periods of City Hall silence on the matter. I'd also be willing to bet that both our lists would contain the same names. All we'd have proven is that there are solid reasons for keeping ballots private.

Ultimately, even if Gahan follows through and implements the watered down HWC version of Jeff Speck's stirring proposals, these grid changes will come as the result of a writ issued from on high, and not through grassroots education, persuasion and leadership. That's a colossal wasted opportunity, isn't it?

Perhaps the best we can hope for is tacit support from many business owners who trust the private assurances and ignore the plain fact that Gahan has yet to GO TO BAT for these two-way ideals. I wish they'd organize and speak out, and yet I know how this works. Beating a drum for 13 years can grow tiresome. It's someone else's turn to advocate.

In the end, it's possible that we'll get some of what is needed most, although tellingly, the most persuasive reason for supporting HWC's plan probably will turn out to be the way it cleverly leverages federal money not just to restripe one-way streets and transform a downtown, but to completely mill and repave each and every targeted street to make it suitable for two-way traffic ... and to release local paving slush funds for politically remunerative projects elsewhere.

To repeat: I know how this works.

HWC Engineering's two-way streets proposal

OMG -- how will we know where to unload our trucks?

Equal time for the fossilized Luddites - but shouldn't Mark Seabrook be clearly identified not just as a funeral home mogul, but also as a Floyd County Commissioner?

Apart from that, the same old boilerplate: The sky is falling down; we're too stupid to learn what the rest of the world already knows; we can't possibly improve street safety for all users without compromising auto-centrism; and so on, and so forth, until the last hope for a new generation of New Albanians is squelched.

Yawn. But at least Chris Morris had a fist-pumping moment as the paragons of same-old-thinking struck back against ... against ... what, exactly?

I almost forgot: The owner of one of the businesses listed herein as opposing two-way streets already has said on Fb that he can't understand being mentioned seeing as no one asked him.

There's your Irv Stumler scientific polling methodology.

Some New Albany business owners oppose two-way street changes, by Elizabeth Beilman (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — While the vocal majority seems in favor of two way street changes in New Albany, there's a faction of downtown business owners that would rather things just stay the way they are.

"I think it's going to kill traffic in downtown New Albany," Mark Seabrook, owner of Seabrook Dieckmann and Naville Funeral Homes, said.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Irv unveils new supertruckinglobby group -- and then it's time for show and tell.

Ever notice that he never tries to keep Tiger green?

In a dramatic appearance at the McDonald's on State Street, Irv Stumler has announced the formation of the Justice League of New Albany. He even hired 89-year-old Doc Severinson to perform JLNA's theme music.

Stumler spoke to a packed table that included every corporate signatory to the 2015 "we've got a great big convoy" lawsuit against the city ...

Narcissus still gazes adoringly at his erection.

 ... as well as two poor schmucks who had the misfortune to wander in to Ronnie Mac's for coffee, only to be waterboarded into signing Stumler's petition to restore Calvin Coolidge to the throne.

"Today, the Justice League of New Albany is here today to outlaw Jeff Gahan forever," Stumler thundered. "The bombing begins in 10 minutes!"

Amid chuckles, Stumler proceeded to rebut HWC Engineering's two-way street proposal in exacting detail, using cool flash cards he bought at Office Depot.

Here's a transcript.

"The Trucking -- wait, I mean "Justice" League has the perfect answer for toll dodgers!"

"And speeders!"

"Not to mention all that good two-shoes walkability!"

"When we hear the words 'quality of life,' we reach for our keys."

"Those small business operators who want to get ahead, well, have they thought about joining our dynamic and growing segment?"

"Safety? If there's a conflict between the Justice League and one of those goofy Spandex bicyclists, well, we all know who's gonna win that one."

"Gentlemen, start your engines!"

Biers on Parade returns to the Farmers Market on Harvest Homecoming Parade Day (Saturday, October 1).

On Saturday, October 1, 2016, NARBA Presents:

Biers on Parade

A pop-up at the New Albany Farmers Market

Local beer and food at the Farmers Market (City Square), at the corner of Market and Bank in downtown New Albany, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 1.

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) once again is partnering with the New Albany’s Farmers Market and Harvest Homecoming to stage Biers on Parade, a family-friendly food and drink showcase at the Farmers Market pavilion at the corner of Market and Bank Streets on Saturday, October 1.

Biers on Parade coincides with the Harvest Homecoming Parade through downtown New Albany. The Farmers Market will operate from 8:00 a.m. to around 1:00 p.m. on October 1, then Biers on Parade will set up shop. Food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks will be available from 2:00 p.m. through 6:00 p.m.

Biers on Parade offers beer brewed by all three of our city’s breweries: New Albanian Brewing Company, Donum Dei Brewery and Floyd County Brewing Company.

There’ll also be food prepared by Taco Steve, Chef Walker BBQ, Mama’s Kitchen and Boston Joe’s Lobster Rolls, as well as wine from River City Winery.

Proceeds benefit NARBA and Harvest Homecoming’s selected charities. NARBA is applying for non-profit status as a 501(c)6 professional trade group:

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit trade organization serving the independent restaurant, bar and on-premise food and drink industry in New Albany, Indiana. NARBA serves as the unified voice of its members on government and public relations issues. It also provides programs that offer educational and operational benefits for members. NARBA represents New Albany’s best known and most vibrant local independent business segment, and is dedicated to the advancement and preservation of New Albany as an urban community.

Harvest Homecoming’s booth days in downtown New Albany begin on Thursday, October 6 and run through Sunday, October 9. For more information:

Oct. 1: Biers on Parade at New Albany City Square
Oct. 1: Harvest Homecoming Parade
Oct. 6 – Oct. 9: Harvest Homecoming Booth Days

Cousin Willie ain't no dope.

It appears that Dan Sieg has been diligently perusing back issues of NA Confidential.

Precedent suggests Duggins should have offered Sonoco roughly $1.33 million to close AFTER the election.

 ... May we surmise that a completely imaginary relief package, similar to the $7 million pretended to be thrown at Pillsbury's moving vans by Duggins and Mayor Jeff "But Water Park" Gahan, as part of crass political theater believed by absolutely no one in town not named Pat McLaughlin, is being devised for Sonoco as we speak?

Just look at the figure being sought by Ramsey Popcorn Company to facilitate its expansion at the former General Mills site.

Popcorn company one of multiple potential buyers hoping to acquire General Mills factory, by Caitlin Bowling (Insider Louisville)

According to Sieg, General Mills wanted $9 million for the facility. He is seeking $7 million from investors, which Sieg said he believes would allow Ramsey Popcorn to submit a competitive bid on the property.

Inquiring minds?

They're hungry.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I'm overwhelmed and grateful for the collision of Indie Fest, Sativa Gumbo and NABC on Saturday night.

Photo by John Voyles.

New Albany Indie Fest took place on Saturday. On game day, the event went off with very few hitches, although several seemingly impassable mountains were climbed just to get to the 24th.

However, these are topics for another day, so allow me to thank my fellow committee members and everyone else who helped in any way to pull this one off. To attempt an exhaustive list would be to risk an omission. You know who you are. At the same time, I'd be remiss to ignore the central role Marcey Wisman-Bennett has played in keeping the dream alive.

Special thanks to the cast and crew at Bank Street Brewhouse. The band Sativa Gumbo's anniversary performance was a major impetus for the musical component at this year's Indie Fest, and for it to take place on NABC property ultimately felt right in a way I didn't anticipate. I cannot take credit for the idea. I'm just glad it happened.

The emotion I felt last night is hard to explain. I wasn't expecting to be gobsmacked. To be honest, I never was a die-hard "fan" of Sativa Gumbo as a musical collective; let's face it, I'm a British-influenced pop/rock kind of fellow, but this distinction is irrelevant, because I've always been a hardcore fan of the musicians in Sativa Gumbo -- admiring them for their talents and skills as individuals, and also adoring them for the family vibe they've engendered over two decades.

There were lots of folks in one place last night who probably haven't been together for a while, and their love and enthusiasm was a reaffirmation of life itself. There are many degrees of connectivity, and all sorts of overlapping circles, but for me it's acknowledging the huge part all of them, musicians and spectators alike, occupied in my own working career.

Whether it's my place to say so or not, I'm awfully proud of them. NABC alumni have gone on to do awesome things. It was incredibly moving for me to see past and present employees mixing with the many longtime customers of the businesses, who're the real superstars keeping the train rolling for so long.

It's the closest I'll come to knowing what it felt like for Bob Youngblood, witnessing the success and good works of former students, and knowing he made a difference. It's gratifying to have played a part, albeit small, in so many players moving up to the majors ... and mixed metaphors be damned.

I wasn't expecting Sativa Gumbo's comeback to generate epiphanies, but one must take them as they come. Peace and serenity are so important, and Saturday night helped me clarify a few decisions. They may as yet be difficult, though they'll be easier than before.

Thanks, everyone. You rock.

So, you think you've heard it all about Nazi Germany? Welcome to the "untold story of the Third Reich’s relationship with drugs."

More placid Sunday reading.

High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history, by Rachel Cooke (The Guardian)

.. The book in question is The Total Rush – or, to use its superior English title, Blitzed – which reveals the astonishing and hitherto largely untold story of the Third Reich’s relationship with drugs, including cocaine, heroin, morphine and, above all, methamphetamines (aka crystal meth), and of their effect not only on Hitler’s final days – the Führer, by Ohler’s account, was an absolute junkie with ruined veins by the time he retreated to the last of his bunkers – but on the Wehrmacht’s successful invasion of France in 1940. Published in Germany last year, where it became a bestseller, it has since been translated into 18 languages, a fact that delights Ohler, but also amazes him.

Courier-Journal sez: "New Albany's rebirth attracts young residents." Whaddya think?

Somehow Bailey Loosemore is able to pen and publish an article about New Albany without longtime rural resident Irv Stumler intervening to pontificate about the urban viewpoint from the aging chassis of a 1953 Peterbilt.

This is an indescribable blessing, and perhaps she'll consider sharing her secret. A muzzle, perhaps? I'd even buy one from Wal-Mart if it would do the trick.

New Albany's rebirth attracts young residents, by Bailey Loosemore.

Therein, the C-J's reporter identities "three key events in the city's history that most New Albanians agree led to the downtown's rebirth."

(Nice use of the term "New Albanian," by the way ... where did THAT come from?)

  • 2000: The creation of the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission.
  • 2006: David Barksdale and commercial realtor Mike Kopp's idea to establish a riverfront development district, "which allowed restaurants within three blocks of a waterway to purchase three-way liquor licenses for $1,000."
  • 2008: The Floyd County Family YMCA opened its doors.

Do you agree?


Jeff Gahan seldom speaks for the record, but when he does, he denies homelessness is a problem in New Gahania.

There's nothing like six whole days notice, but: "We Want Your Input on the City's Comprehensive Plan!"

ON THE AVENUES: On two-way streets, a modest proposal for the consideration of my disoriented one-way counterpart.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Jeff Gahan seldom speaks for the record, but when he does, he denies homelessness is a problem in New Gahania.

Welcome to contrasting points of view.

First, the mayor of New Albany, who says that rental property registration is the cure for homelessness, which doesn't actually exist.

“Anytime someone is homeless without a safe place for the night, it’s a serious issue for those individuals ... however, the data does not support an assertion that New Albany has a homeless problem.”

Gahan's confusion reveals why he seldom speaks for the record. Meanwhile, "them people" who actually work with the homeless see matters differently.

Jesse Floyd, board president of the Tri-County Health Coalition of Southern Indiana, said that he’s never seen homeless numbers like he is now in New Albany, and he speaks from experience. He’s been with the organization 30 years.

Who are you going to believe? Jeff Gahan or your own two eyes?

Wait -- caped crusader Irv Stumler demands equal time, or else he'll hold his breath until Tiger Trucking is put in charge of the street department.

"We need to plant flowers over there -- just move that homeless person out of the way."

Good work by the News and Tribune's Aprile Rickert.

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: New Albany Homeless population struggles to cope; local officials notice growing number of homeless

On dying (2): "Supporting a terminally ill loved one."

It is a noteworthy yet unremarkable achievement to have attained the age of 56 without ever thinking much about this topic. More than anything else, serendipity deals the cards in life, and I've been damned lucky. There have been mercifully few instances of my having to face up to facts when a friend or loved one has received a terminal diagnosis.

Our friend and colleague Lloyd Wimp did. Lloyd's been gone almost six years, and when I think back to the period preceding his death, it was me who remained in denial, not him. This recognition informs me rather forcefully that perhaps a burden of improvement lies within me

As this insightful and very useful article makes clear, there is no concise television movie script to follow when it comes to support, and circumstances will vary. Ultimately, in life or death, we humans learn by doing. It's a strange thing, but there it is.

Terminal illness: Supporting a terminally ill loved one, by Mayo Clinic Staff (Mayo Clinic)

When terminal illness affects a loved one, it isn't always easy to know how to react. Find out how to offer support and deal with grief.

On dying (1): A new book about FDR's last months.

We can argue these points forever, but the fact remains that in 1945 the Red Army occupied the territories in eastern central Europe subsequently slated for duty as Soviet satellites, and given an ongoing war with Japan (and general Patton notwithstanding), there was little the United States could have done about it short of continuing military operations against the USSR.

Did Roosevelt's failing health have anything to do with any of this? I don't think so.

Stalin specialized in fostering delusion in the minds of wishful thinkers. Did Ronald Reagan's creeping dementia hasten the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the belated "end" of World War II? It's probably irrelevant, because by this juncture, Mikhail Gorbachev had assumed the role of wishful thinker.

Meanwhile, issues of presidential health have resurfaced during the reeking 2016 presidential debacle. Shall we have a discussion of whether Tim Kaine or Mike Pence is capable of carrying Harry Truman's jockstrap?

If so, you can count me out. I'm investing in booze futures as a hedge against the coming stupidity. Either way, you'll all be getting exactly what you deserve -- good and hard.

Did F.D.R. Know He Was Dying? Did Anyone? by Lynne Olson (New York Times)

The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt
By Joseph Lelyveld
Illustrated. 399 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $30.

 ... Roosevelt’s cover-up of his failing health in the 1944 campaign was an egregious deception of American voters and helped contribute to a climate of cynicism about politicians that has fed today’s demands for transparency by candidates, including the public airing of details about their health and finances. By refusing to confront the possibility of his dying, Roosevelt also left behind a hornet’s nest of problems for others. He failed, for example, to brief his new vice president, Harry Truman, about such critical issues as the development of the atomic bomb and the West’s unraveling relationship with the Soviets.

Lelyveld offers several explanations for Roose­velt’s silence, including the rationale that he was no different from earlier presidents in his “arms-length relationship” with his vice president. In fact, thanks to his grave illness, Roosevelt was in a very different position. His reluctance to acknowledge that fact ended up making life extremely difficult for his unprepared successor, who was forced to make crucial decisions about both the atomic bomb and the Soviets in the first few months of his presidency.

There’s also the continuing controversy about whether Roosevelt’s obvious frailty impaired his judgment at Yalta ...

2016 highlights from the Urban Fusion Community Garden at 8th and Culbertson.

A positive 2016 community garden recap by Mallery Waters, as well as confirmation that the Wiemann building's rehabilitation (shall we say) did not turn out as originally promised. Perhaps as yet a new owner can make a difference. Congratulations to Mallery for her successful stewardship of the garden.


Garden Supporters,

Thanks for your continued interest in and support of Urban Fusion Community Garden on Culbertson Ave. 

If you've passed by the garden lately, you may have seen that the garden property is for sale along with the Weimann building, which is at 8th Street and Culbertson Avenue. The owners of the property have had a lot of changes in their life since they bought it several years ago and have decided to sell it. (Keep New Albany Clean and Green leases the garden property from these private individuals.) In the meantime it doesn't sound like anything will change for the garden. We will see what happens once it sells.

While I'm at it, though, just a few highlights from what has been a good year for the garden:

  • Added whimsical, hand painted signage made of driftwood from the Falls of the Ohio by Michael Jukeson of The Loving Year
  • Welcomed more garden neighbors as gardeners this year
  • Started the season with all the plots spoken for
  • Ended the season with relatively pretty, well-tended gardens (considering the unusual weather and usual general busyness of summer)
  • Shared extra vegetables with the women at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Charities as well as folks at Shepherd's Kitchen at St. Paul's Episcopal Church
  • Passed out free wildflower seeds to neighbors of the garden - donated by Earthly Goods
  • Enjoyed the use of a rain barrel (they really are cool!) donated by Floyd Action Network for watering the gardens

Anyway, thanks again for your support. Here's to a lovely fall!

Take care,


Friday, September 23, 2016

"It can be difficult to separate fact from myth regarding the House of David and its baseball history."


I could have sworn that I'd mentioned the House of David's barnstorming baseball cultists previously. Evidently not.

Ryan Ferguson's piece is a good introduction to the hirsute, pepper-playing celibates of yore, although I must concede to a measure of annoyance that the author is seemingly unaware of the Oakland A's of the early 1970s. Long before Boston's "idiots," the Swinging A's pioneered bearded and mustachioed modernity in baseball.

Ironically, I wrote about it only recently.

ON THE AVENUES: It no longer keeps me waiting.


The A’s became my team, and Reggie Jackson my favorite player. Unbeknownst to me, the A’s also were about to become quite good, winning five divisional titles in a row from 1971-1975, and three consecutive World Series crowns in 1972, 1973 and 1974. The players grew outlandish mustaches and beards during this period and wore white shoes, all of which outraged the older generation, endearing the team to me even more strongly.

Oddly, I cannot recall my father expressing an opinion either way about the House Of David. At the same time, he wasn't much of a churchgoer.

The religious sect that became baseball's answer to the Harlem Globetrotters, by Ryan Ferguson (The Guardian)

The House of David was an Adventist cult that banned alcohol, sex and shaving. But it also loved baseball – and its teams toured the country to enraptured crowds.

In recent years, extravagant facial hair has become increasingly popular in Major League Baseball. The fad likely began with the 2004 Red Sox, as Johnny Damon and other self-proclaimed idiots wore flowing manes in contrast to the clean-shaven Yankees, who they eventually toppled to win the pennant.

Since then, many players have gained attention for creative beards, with former Giants closer Brian Wilson perhaps the most famous. Yet while these modern exponents are perhaps more recognizable, the art of fine baseball beards can be traced back over a century, to the House of David, a virtuoso team of religious believers that toured the country for almost five decades. Theirs is a compelling tale.