Sunday, December 31, 2017

C'mon, DNA: The time has come. A fact's a fact. Taco Walk belongs to her. Why not give it back?

Going into 2018, Develop New Albany has two huge unresolved issues to address pertaining to the Taco Walk last August.

One of these is DNA's encouragement of cultural appropriation during the event, which refers to sombreros, maracas and the Frito Bandito -- or, Mexican, Latina/o, Chicana/o, "Hispanic," Mexican-American, and Latin American stereotyping.

Tacky acts of cultural appropriation simply were not necessary for the success of the Taco Walk, which was intended to be a celebration of the restaurant community and a showcase for downtown. Needless to say, since August, people around the country have lost their jobs for less. I'm not suggesting a purge, but open public dialogue is needed most of all.

The second issue is DNA's blatant expropriation of intellectual property afterward. Simply stated, the idea for the Taco Walk was brought to DNA by Kelly Ott Winslow, a community-minded volunteer outside the organization, and now, in essence, the idea has been stolen from her -- and this is intolerable.

Why do I keep pounding this drum?

If only in part, because DNA is the recipient of taxpayer dollars. They're given to DNA each year by Jeff Gahan, and so he (along with mayors before him) shares responsibility in ensuring the money is spent responsibly. In the case of Taco Walk in 2017, it wasn't.

That's a problem.

Good, bad or indifferent, DNA's non-profit status does not exclude the organization from answering legitimate questions like these. Time and again, we see that stonewalling behind closed doors is New Albany's major problem, not its desired solution.

There is a simple way to resolve the situation.

To begin the New Year on a high note, the truly decent thing for Develop New Albany and Mayor Jeff Gahan to do is to say they're sorry, both for the cultural appropriation and the intellectual property violation, and to give the Taco Walk back to whom it belongs, although I'm forever mindful of that old Biblical observation about a camel and the eye of the needle.

First this. Then we have the open, above board discussion about cultural appropriation. There is no reason why this cannot be resolved satisfactorily.

Basic human decency, guys. I know you can do it.

It's not about me or my pen.

It's about doing the right thing.



DNA's and the newspaper's masks ... or, thoughts occasioned by an excellent essay called "Meet the man who hides behind a mask."

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: We keep trying to ask DNA about the Taco Walk, and DNA keeps making like Jeff Gahan on the down low.



Aug 19
Who'd have guessed? William Anthony Nericcio's "aggressive, relentless, and, at times, pathological interrogation of Mexican, Latina/o, Chicana/o, "Hispanic," Mexican-American, and Latin American stereotypes."

Aug 15

Aug 15

Aug 13

Aug 13

Aug 12

Aug 11

Aug 6

Aug 6

Aug 6

Aug 5

Your turn, Shelby Place: City Hall's insatiable Husqvarna envy claims a few more trees before year's end.

Top: December 30, 2017.
Bottom: Circa 2014 (Google Maps).

Has any previous mayor of New Albany hated trees as much as Jeff Gahan?

Mansoul, meet the Bardo: My year 2017 in books and reading.

Before teachers ever got their paws on me (cue the ancient Pink Floyd disc, please), I was teaching myself to read by looking at encyclopedias and other books we had on the shelves at home.

I'm just grateful my parents weren't religious, or else I might be an Ayatollah by now.

This DIY educational upbringing, along with roughly $3.25 (including tip), will buy at least one of us an excellent espresso at Quills.

However, it remains that insofar as my life of the mind remains intact and functional after 35+ years of drinking far too much alcohol, those daily stirrings occurring therein have much more to do with letters, words and reading than mathematics or spread sheets.

So it goes. It's who I am, and I'm fine with it. Unsurprisingly, no matter the ups, downs and in-betweens of my life, there has not ever been enough time for reading. I doubt there ever will be, and I've come to grudgingly accept this, but as it pertains to my forever inadequate reading time, I'll readily concede that I try to avoid wasting it on fluff.

That's because I didn't learn everything I need to know from one holy book or residency in kindergarten, nor from high school and college. To me, reading for pleasure is reading to learn something. This said, I may have gone a bit overboard on the intensity scale in 2017. Maybe it's because life itself has been so emotional lately.

As a side note, I failed in fulfilling my sole resolution for 2017, as based on the gist of this piece in The Guardian.

The non-western books that every student should read

Leading authors pick international classics that should be on student’s bookshelves, but are often neglected by universities

It looks like I have some catching up to do. The only requirement is time. Can I have some more? Following are the books I read this past year, listed in chronological order, beginning in January.


Novel Explosives, by Jim Gauer

The novel's publisher provides an apt summary.

Ambitious, groundbreaking, and fiendishly funny, Novel Explosives travels down the mean streets of venture finance, money laundering, and the Juárez drug wars on a torrent of linguistic virtuosity infused with a rarefied business I.Q. and mastery of everything from philosophy to pharmaceuticals, poetry to thermobaric weaponry. While an amnesiac, two gunmen, and a venture capitalist entangle and entwine in a do-or-die search for identity, at the palpitating heart of this novel, at its roiling fundamental core, lies an agonizing reappraisal of the way America behaves in the world, a project as worthy and urgent as it gets.

For the most part, Gauer's very "male" novel deals with money and power. Oddly, what's missing is sex, apart from a single interlude roughly halfway through. It might have tempered the violence, but even so there were many laughs along the way.

Among the names dropped by the book's reviewers in an effort to establish affinities are writers David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, and Richard Powers, as well as filmmaker Quentin Tarantino -- and again, it's hard to argue with these linkages.

Gauer's fictional territory isn't a place where I usually go ... and I'm happy I did, if only this once.


Capital in the 21st-Century
, by Thomas Piketty

As my friend Brandon said upon recommending Thomas Piketty's much-debated book, “It’s always nice when science confirms the obvious.”

Having finally gotten down to the business of reading Capital in the Twenty-first Century, I can concur with this conclusion. Most of us have long since grasped that since the inception of human planetary times, a relatively small proportion of the planet’s population has acquired and hoarded a disproportionate amount of its wealth.

I dimly recall the testimony of one or the other Greek philosopher to the effect that if we evenly distributed wealth among the world's population, it would be a futile gesture, as quickly the proportion would return to its previous imbalance.

Piketty sets out to prove the persistence of inequality, using statistics from as far back as the French Revolution -- when the top 1% controlled about 98% of the wealth in France. Insofar as inequality has lessened in the world since then, it's because tumultuous (read: expensive) wars, both I and II, and confiscatory tax rates had the dual effect of redistributing wealth.

In short, the counter-revolution began in the 1980s thanks to Maggie and Ronnie, and now we're back to a widening gap between the haves and have-nots -- something obvious, though it's nice to have academic support when shopping for pitchforks.


The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, by Lisa McGirr

A compelling and often ignored subplot to America's entry into World War I is the hastening of Prohibition's arrival.

It's a case made by Lisa McGirr in her book The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, in which sobriety, once mandated by reason of Protestant fundamentalism and anti-immigrant sentiment, suddenly merges with teetotalism as a patriotic imperative in wartime, and BOOM ... the foundations of greater government intrusion in our lives became established for the first time, and once given a platform, was expanded in all directions during the decades to come.

This is a must-read for the bibulous. We must always be reminded of the existence of batshit crazy legislators of faux morality, and be prepared to fight them when need be.


My Crazy Century: A Memoir, by Ivan Klíma

As a boy, Ivan Klíma was sent to the Terezín concentration camp with his parents; amazingly, all three survived the Holocaust. Subsequently, the writer witnessed the entire 40-year trajectory of communism in Czechoslovakia, from beginning to end -- and he's not dead yet.

Undoubtedly a dissident, and punished accordingly after the abortive Prague Spring by being relegated to menial labor, Klíma also took liberties with the etiquette of resistance. A singular figure, indeed.

Klíma's memoir is called My Crazy Century. It's an appropriate title. "Sometimes it was funny crazy," he remarked in a recent interview. "But mostly it was crazy crazy." The two great crazies of the last century – and of Klíma's personal experience – were fascism and communism. He describes the "Communist movement" as "a criminal conspiracy against democracy". As for the Nazis, Klíma had no idea growing up that he was Jewish and therefore was shocked to discover that "I was so different from other people it might give them a pretext to kill me". He was in fact christened by his Jewish parents – "under the foolish illusion that they would be protecting … me from a lot of harassment". The harassment came anyway.


You Are Not a Gadget, by Jaron Lanier

An overview from The New Yorker:

In the nineteen-eighties, Lanier belonged to what he calls a “merry band” of Internet pioneers who believed that the digital revolution would mean a groundswell of creativity. But, he argues in this manifesto, around the turn of this century the dream was hijacked by “digital Maoists,” who value the crowd above the individual. Their influence, he writes, has led to an online culture of mashups, “pervasive anonymity” (which encourages bullying and moblike behavior), open access (so that individual ownership is devalued or lost), and social-networking sites that reduce “the deep meaning of personhood.” He fears that these characteristics are perilously close to “lock-in”: becoming permanent features of the Web. Lanier’s detractors have accused him of Ludditism, but his argument will make intuitive sense to anyone concerned with questions of propriety, responsibility, and authenticity.

These words of Lanier's constitute the whole of my notes.

Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth. The body starts consuming itself. That is what we are doing online.


Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, by Andrew Coe

Andrew Coe’s 2009 book Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States entertainingly traces the lineage of Chinese cuisine’s adaptation to local conditions on the North American continent. It has been a Long March, indeed.

From origins in xenophobic fear and derision, we’ve come to the stomach-warming point of finding a Chinese restaurant, buffet or food truck in just about every American town with a population of 1,000 or more – sometimes two of them, as well as a gradual flanking movement toward greater authenticity, as with the “authentic” Chinese menus offered by Louisville restaurants like Jasmine and Oriental House.

What's the beer that tastes best with sea cucumber or pockmarked granny's bean curd? I'm still working on it, so stay tuned.


Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph of Bunny Berigan, by Michael P. Zirpolo

Roland Bernard "Bunny" Berigan’s high water mark as a big band leader came during the late 1930s, when the swing era still was in its ascendancy. By the standards of the day, he had it all: professional respect, personal popularity, a wife, children, house and car.

But by 1942 Berigan was dead, his liver ravaged by cirrhosis, the victim of stunningly heavy drinking. Three-quarters of a century later, very few Americans remember Bunny Berigan, but for a while before most of us were born, he could do no wrong. Even Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong thought as much.

Having read not one but two biographies of Berigan, I'm reminded yet again of the strange and tiny niches of my obsessions.


Jerusalem, by Alan Moore

It's impossible to briefly summarize this sprawling, crazed edifice. Someone at Goodreads takes a stab at it.

In Jerusalem, we travel to the metadimensional world that overlays our own – or at least, that overlays the Spring Boroughs area of Northampton which is Moore's primary concern. Here, the dead mix with the angels (rebranded in Moore's cosmology as ‘angles’), peering down into the individual slices of time which, frozen as though in amber, or blending together, make up our own experience of the world.

Three months after my mother died, I dove into this1,200-page novel, substantial portions of which address the afterlife -- more accurately, the inner lives of ghosts. The living and the dead co-mingle in Northampton, the author Alan Moore's hometown, which hasn't been well served by neoliberalism; obviously, the way to make sense of all this is for Moore to stipulate that Northampton is the pivot of all human history and cosmology.

There were times reading this novel when I screamed in agony, demanding Moore be savagely edited as a curative for repetition and over-writing. Two pages later, I'd be crying, profoundly moved by passages of great skill and beauty.

I'll not be able to look back on the year 2017 without thinking about this book, as well as a song by Deep Purple called Birds of Prey, but that's a different essay.


Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams, by Mark Ribowsky

It's a testament to something in American pop culture -- exactly what isn't clear -- that an ill-fated performer who died seven years before I was born nonetheless has remained a constant presence throughout my life, whole decades later, although I'm not a fan of his music.

Perhaps proximity to the original heartland of country music is a factor, or the career of Hank Williams, Jr.; at any rate, for Hank's relatively limited output of songs, his enduring influence is incredible, indeed.

He's never really gone away. Is it really better to burn out than fade away?


Shadow Gods: Escaping the Cave of Religious Deception, by Daniel Jones

Encouragingly, Daniel Jones is a graduate of Floyd Central High School. The book's description:

Many Christians are convinced their worldview is not a man-made religion, but is directly & uniquely from God. Those arguments persist, but produce far more heat than light. A core reason for this failure is a lack of focus. We waste time quarreling over peripheral issues rather than properly confronting the core, relevant question: Should we believe the supernatural claims of the Bible? This book attempts to address that question, simply and directly, while helping Christians understand the existential forces keeping them chained in the religious cave.

Understanding that Jones' arguments won't convince the diehard theists, his efforts nonetheless are thoughtful, well-executed and appropriately phrased for delivery to those who may be harboring doubts and are in need of an introductory text. It's a refreshing take, and recommended by this lifelong, unrepentant atheist.


Demons (formerly The Possessed), by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Yes, it's another of those 600-page novels about competing ideas and world views in Tsarist Russia that leaves you craving vodka and pickled fish.

A revolutionary sect intent on overthrowing both Romanovs and their Orthodox prelates infiltrates a provincial Russian town. At first, it isn't clear if the gang can shoot straight.

Eventually it does, and the denouement is completely unnecessary. The LA Times reviewer in 1994 may have been overly optimistic about Russia shedding its ideological skin.

"Demons" is the Dostoevsky novel for our age; in fact, it is a key novel as such for an age that has come to recognize the evils of ideology--any ideology. At the time it appeared in Russia, it could be read as the other sort of "key novel," a roman a clef , based as it was on the ideologically rationalized murder of a party member who had strayed from the fold. Millions and millions of ideologically rationalized murders later, it is infinitely more timely. Dostoevsky could not be published at all in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist years, and even in the relatively liberal post-Stalinist period this novel remained taboo and thus virtually unavailable in popular editions. Now that Russia has renounced its ideology it is being read with a vengeance: "Demons" tells Russia's story in microcosm, and in advance.

What makes the novel prophetic, however, is not so much how closely Dostoevsky's ideas approximate their 20th-Century counterparts as how deadly he makes any idea that assumes absolute priority. Each of the ideas has a voice very much its own, the voice of the character who professes and to some extent personifies it.

Demons was my September travel book. I simply don't do escapism well.


Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Admittedly, given the litany of mortality in close quarters during the past two years, there was a certain wariness in my mind about reading a second novel in six months pertaining to death, ghosts and the afterlife.

So, what did I do?

Lincoln in the Bardo was shorter and a faster read than Jerusalem, though no less weighty in the sense of the ruminations engendered. In fact, contrary to expectations, I was deeply moved by Saunders' narrative daring.

No other figure occupies a central position in American mythology anywhere close to Lincoln's, and Saunders adroitly leverages it to telling effect, primarily by means of the observations of the transitioning dead (a concept also embraced by Moore).

Surreal to be sure; so was Jerusalem. The novels are poles apart, one quintessentially English, the other peak Americana. Right now I'm drinking a book about the history of beer. Neither Mansoul nor Bardo, at least for a little while.

Pretty please.


War and Turpentine, by Urbain Martien

Belgian author Urbain Martien’s great-grandfather was a professional (and sadly impoverished) artist who eked out an existence on commissions from Catholic churches in and around Ghent.

His son, Martien’s grandfather, also wanted to be a painter, but he was compelled to work in an iron foundry as a pre-teen to support the family following his father's premature death. Somehow he survived multiple gunshot wounds and made it through four bloody years of the Great War, returning later in life to painting as an amateur, and dying at 90 in 1981.

Before he died, Martien’s grandfather gave him a hitherto concealed written chronicle of his life, which the author waited almost 30 years to read. Once he finally did, it lit a spark and produced this amazing synthesis of fact and fiction.

Of special note are the descriptions of family life in pre-WWI Flanders, and having read them, I'll never again look at those stolid, picture-perfect "old" towns and villages in quite the same way. The royal houses of Europe presided over incredible inequality and poverty, and the most shameful part about it is that millions had to die for it to end.

And it hasn't even ended.


A Good Comrade: Janos Kadar, Communism and Hungary, by Roger Gough

In 1956, an otherwise undistinguished 44-year-old Communist party functionary named Janos Kadar arrived at a turning point in his life.

An illegitimate child with a hardscrabble upbringing, clever and street smart but with little formal education, the youthful Kadar embraced the then-illegal and oppressed party, viewing it almost as a surrogate father.

Now his comrade Imre Nagy was steering Hungary into a revolutionary confrontation with the Soviet Union, the country’s overlord, and Kadar had a choice, either to man the ramparts against the tanks of the invader, or to reaffirm the “internationalist” character of Communist orthodoxy by allowing himself to be installed by Nikita Khrushchev as the USSR's chosen restorer of legitimacy and order.

Kadar wavered, then opted decisively for the latter. The revolution duly was crushed, certain accounts were quickly settled and several hundred of his countrymen were executed, including Nagy himself.

Hungary remained a bound Soviet satellite, and Kadar became undisputed top dog in the country for an astounding 32 years, finally losing power to Communist party "reformers" in 1988 and dying just a year later, right before the Berlin Wall fell, on the very same day Nagy was formally "rehabilitated" with great pomp and ceremony.

Under Kadar’s stewardship, Hungary was noted for “goulash communism” -- pushing the limits, attempting comparatively ambitious economic reform campaigns, and enjoying a weird status as the presumably happiest barrack in the bloc's prison.

But the reforms mostly were illusory, and depended primarily on escalating loans from the West. Interestingly, amid the steady disintegration of party control in 1988 and 1989, and as Kadar suffered from emphysema and senility, he openly and bizarrely grappled with his inner demons, as though Nagy and the other revolutionary martyrs were alive again and standing before him, demanding an explanation.

After Roger Gough's book was published, it was revealed that near the end of Kadar's life, he summoned a priest.

This almost Shakespearean tale of choices, fate, power, betrayal and guilt ended my year in books and reading, 2017.

For 2018, I really need to learn how to appreciate lightheartedness. Doubtful, but still.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Looking back on 2017, Gahan screams "I'm Moore perfect than Mike, indeed I am!"

The walls of the Down Low Bunker must have been all aquiver. I wouldn't want to the the Domino's delivery man or the meter reader in times like this.

How can there be two mayors so close together, neither of whom without a single mistake in six years?

Jeffersonville's Moore looks back on 2017, ahead to more growth, by Aprile Rickert (Obviously Jeffersonville Gazette)

JEFFERSONVILLE — In the past year, Jeffersonville has seen the start of new retail growth, housing opportunities and major infrastructure improvements that Mayor Mike Moore say will carry the city into a brighter future for decades to come ... “If you sat down and tried to create a perfect scenario for a community to grow and prosper, Jeffersonville is the perfect example of it.”

The Green Mouse says he received this rebuttal scrawled on the back of a discarded promise to public housing residents, then stuffed into one of David Duggins' old piggie banks.

"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "

"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.

"They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

On second thought, this doesn't sound at all like Jeff Gahan. Too much wordplay for a C-minus student, but boy, that Mike Hall's getting cleverer and cleverer, isn't he?

By 2020, he might be ready to challenge Ed Clere.

THE BEER BEAT: Saying goodbye to 2017 with an assortment of links.

In the leadoff slot today, December 30, is this reminder to Hoosiers from Amy Haneline of the Indy Star:

Liquor stores will be closed on New Year's Eve, because Indiana.

You know what to do, and when to do it.

Looking ahead, the fifth anniversary presentation of Tailspin Ale Fest 2018 on February 17 draws ever nearer. We'll be in Portugal, crawling from one port lodge to the next in Vila Nova de Gaia (be still, my throbbing heart), but if you'll be around for Tailspin and want to attend, it's time to start planning.

I'm guessing that NABC's Gravity Head will follow on Friday, February 23, but as Liam Gallagher once sang, it's nothing to do with me.

It may surprise you to learn that as 2018 dawns, I remain a one-third shareholder in the NABC businesses, albeit excluded from participation them since 2015 (welcome to my daily existence of "all risk, no reward") -- none of this being my exact idea when I decided to divorce -- although recently my lawyer has been informed by their lawyer that the long-awaited financial settlement might be concluded by February.

If so, I might even drop by for Gravity Head this year and bask in the warmth of an institution I created.

Life goes on, and businesses come and go; goodbye, BBC St. Matthews. With the death of Steinert's a few years back, my guess is that Vic's Cafe is the oldest licensee in New Albany, even if the tavern isn't located in its original building.

Am I right?

Paul Revere drank here: A quest to find Boston’s oldest tavern, by Brian MacQuarrie (Boston Globe)

Boston has been a drinking town through nearly 400 years of Puritan brewers, ale-quaffing patriots, drunken sailors, and picky millennials in search of the latest craft beer infused with grapefruit.

But in a city meticulous about its past, finding the oldest tavern can be a Byzantine quest. Prepare to burrow past dubious marketing pitches bolstered by obligatory knockoffs of Paul Revere portraits hung under rough-hewn beams and low, dark ceilings.

It’s enough to make the curious reach for a pint, and then another, to bring order — or not — to the competing claims and counterclaims of three popular finalists for the bragging rights ...

Assuming Pints&Union opens this year (cross your fingers), the establishment will for a time be the newest pub in New Albany. Because each swing of the pendulum leaves a segment of the market undervalued, our plan is to turn back the clock to the notion of daily excellence, and maintain a small, largely fixed selection of very good draft beers.

There will be very good bottles and cans, as well; my original thought was to have a few of the quality imports in bottles, the American craft selection in cans, and for these to be from breweries I'd personally visited, whether here or abroad.

However, this article is so thought provoking that the plan might be modified.


... Consumer perception aside, another reason cans have yet to catch on throughout Europe is that most countries there have strong returnable bottle markets, wherein consumers can return glass bottles for a deposit.

While slow to move in their native countries, breweries have begun exporting canned offerings to the States, where there’s no such stigma against putting a premium product in cans. And though cans are en vogue across America, breweries across Europe are not always going lightly into the package.

It's been so long since this article was written (in March) that a whole new trend probably has supplanted NEIPA -- perhaps sour IPA, which I was reading about recently.

However, for the record ...

The beer world's next big trend? Look out for NEIPAs, also known as hazy IPAs, by John Verive (LA Times)

IPA is the undisputed king of the craft beer world. The aromatic, often intensely bitter style stands in sharp relief to the bland brews that defined American beer for decades. And the ever-increasing demand for IPA drives the growing craft brewing industry. It’s a style that’s evolved along with beer drinkers’ tastes, and the latest evolution shows off the softer, less bitter side of IPA.

An East Coast import, and alternately dubbed the “North Eastern IPA” or “New England IPA” (NEIPA in either case) this new breed of IPA is all about showing off fruity hop flavors without the bitter hop bite. As brewers have developed new techniques for squeezing more hops into a beer, they’ve also discovered that many common brewing processes strip out some hop character. While not all craft beers are filtered, most are clarified to some degree to remove particles and increase the brew’s clarity. Not NEIPAs — they range from opaque to downright sludgy as a complex soup of proteins, suspended yeast and hop compounds form the haze that defines the style. Which, alongside the vibrant fruit flavors from modern hop varieties and a higher perceived sweetness led to another nickname: the juicy IPA.

You may have missed this essay from October, which briefly inspired much debate. The discussion might have been even more entertaining had the author actually talked about the elephant and named some names. He didn't, and while he has a valid point, I find the argumentation muddled.

No more free passes: Not every new craft brewery is good and we need to admit it, by Jonathan Wells (Charlotte Five)

We need to talk about an elephant in the room: newly-opened craft breweries putting out subpar beer.

Finally, in 2017 there were 124 posts at NAC tagged with THE BEER BEAT, and the two with the most page views were "The Bechdel Test, and what 1980s lesbians can teach us about beer" (with 636) and "It's a cornucopia of ephemera, from Quaff On to Lazlo Toth" (1,021).

I have only one beer resolution for 2018: End the self-imposed exile, and get back in the saddle.

Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.

Food swamps have four unhealthy options for each healthy one, and they're a strong predictor of obesity rates.

I am shocked -- shocked -- to learn that fast food is an unhealthy option, and if I hadn't read this book a full 16 years ago, I'd be even more scandalized.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
(2001) is a book by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser that examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry.

First serialized by Rolling Stone in 1999, the book has drawn comparisons to Upton Sinclair's classic muckraking novel The Jungle (1906).

It's another swamp in need of draining, but at the same time, just about every day I'll read the social media comments of a local citizen demanding that he or she be given more chain restaurants and expanded fast food options -- or else we turn out the thieving bastards in charge.

In reality, most of these comments emanate from non-voters, and it's necessary to understanding that in an exploitation-driven economic system, the affordability of sustenance is key, whether or not it kills you in the end.

Rest assured, Jeff Gahan is working assiduously to provide more of these chains, especially up on the multinational strip mine known as Summit Springs.

It is my belief that these demands for uniformity reveal deeper sociological and psychological trends, although it's a topic for another day.

Food Swamps Are the New Food Deserts, by Olga Khazan (The Atlantic)

It’s not just a lack of grocery stores that’s making us fat. It’s an overabundance of fast food.

The term “food desert” conjures the image of a forlorn citizen, wandering through a barren landscape for miles and miles (or, by definition, for more than a mile) to reach the nearest fresh-food market. Populating food deserts with grocery stores is a favored cause among nutrition advocates, but the concept became controversial after some recent studies found the distance to the nearest grocery store doesn’t correlate with a region’s obesity rate.

(Because it’s nutrition, other studies have shown the opposite. Either way, most people would agree it’s nice to be able to buy produce with relative ease, even if doing so doesn’t make you fit into your high-school jeans again.)

Now, new research suggests food deserts might not be the culprit—or at least not the only one—for the high prevalence of obesity in certain areas. Instead, food swamps might be to blame.

In addition to being low on grocery stores, food swamps are also crammed with unhealthy food options like corner stores and fast-food places ...

Friday, December 29, 2017

Encouragement: "Since Trump’s Victory, Democratic Socialists of America Has Become a Budding Political Force."

To which I'd add CounterPunch.

"When Donald Trump won, she started questioning the analyses she’d read in her usual media outlets. She switched from The New York Times to leftist publications like The Intercept, In These Times, and Jacobin. The narratives of American politics that she found there, she told me, were 'just completely different from anything I’d seen.'"

Perhaps you were watching the coverage of the candlelight vigil in protest of Jeff Gahan's public housing putsch and saw a Democratic Socialists of America (Louisville chapter) banner.

Curious? Learn more at The Nation.

Since Trump’s Victory, Democratic Socialists of America Has Become a Budding Political Force, by Anna Heyward (The Nation)

Why an army of young people is joining DSA.

This past October, on a Saturday afternoon in a Unitarian church in Philadelphia, about 50 people were seated in a loose configuration of folding chairs, taking turns raising their hands to speak. Most were in their mid-20s; they wore jeans, sweaters, the occasional nose ring, and backpacks decorated with pins.

It's a long read, so I'll snip to the conclusion.

It’s hard to imagine what DSA should look like, because there aren’t many precedents. The most common political groups either work the way political parties do, requiring some adherence and loyalty to a party line, or through delegation, whereby believers pay their dues and staff members then go out and organize. DSA’s model can be disorderly, because it’s based on radical democratic participation. When every voice is amplified to the same level and everyone’s participation is weighted the same, there are moments when it’s unclear what they’re even doing together.

DSA has a newly youthful feel to it, startlingly dissimilar from the geriatric-seeming organization before 2016. Sometimes, speaking with these newly minted socialists, I wondered whether the lack of clarity could present some advantage. This generation may need a new definition of “democratic socialism,” one that departs from its previous history.

DNA's and the newspaper's masks ... or, thoughts occasioned by an excellent essay called "Meet the man who hides behind a mask."

Before linking to a very good column written by assistant editor Jason Thomas of the News and Tribune, kindly permit me a necessary digression.


Earlier this year I exchanged e-mails with N and T's editor, Susan Duncan, on the topic of Develop New Albany's Taco Walk, during which several of the organization's higher-ups decided it would be hilarious to wear sombreros, shake maracas and sing the Frito Bandito's corn chip theme song.

Needless to say, not everyone found it so funny. For more on why it isn't, revisit this posting about William Anthony Nericcio's "aggressive, relentless, and, at times, pathological interrogation of Mexican, Latina/o, Chicana/o, "Hispanic," Mexican-American, and Latin American stereotypes."

Actually I wrote to the newspaper in part because DNA consistently refused (and continues to refuse) to so much as acknowledge receiving my e-mails inquiring about the circumstances of the Taco Walk.

Here is the text of my letter to Duncan.


Dear Susan,

Last Saturday, Develop New Albany sponsored a Taco Walk. Member(s) of DNA’s board thought it would be cute to bring sombreros, mariachis and other stereotypical symbols of Latino culture of the sort that led to a major scandal at the University of Louisville during James Ramsey’s tenure.

I’ve personally spoken with an employee of a downtown eatery – a first-generation American with Mexican roots – who said she mustered every last bit of discipline to avoid crying when DNA’s own board members came into her establishment brandishing these items, and singing the theme to the old Frito’s commercials (ay, ay, ay ay).

This surely ranks on a par with blackface in the lexicon of appropriation and inappropriateness, and yet not only did the News and Tribune completely fail to notice, but it also published at least one photo documenting the tastelessness that utterly evaded editorial scrutiny (see attachments).

Naturally my efforts to engage DNA have been met with silence.

In vain, I’ve asked the question to them: If it was wrong for James Ramsey, why is it right for you?

As with U of L, DNA is the recipient of taxpayer support. As it pertains to individual participants, if someone wants to indulge in this manner it’s his or her free speech; tone deaf but permissible. But taxpayer-supported organizations simply must aspire to a higher bar. 

To me, DNA’s response is simple: “We’re sorry it happened, here’s why it’s inappropriate, and it won’t happen again.”

It’s a teachable moment, and for once would place DNA in the position of educating about its own National Main Street mandate. Instead, DNA has circled the wagons. It’s a virtual arm of city government, and as the newspaper seems determined to avoid addressing, NA’s current city government is not a transparent entity.

Since the Charlottesville incident, the pages of your newspaper have been filled with earnest denunciations of bigotry and white supremacy. This is fitting and proper. Does a sombrero during a Taco Walk equate with the lessons of Charlottesville? Perhaps not in scale, but certainly it’s a branch of the same tree – and in your eagerness to capture the forest, you’re missing this particular tree.




To Duncan's credit, she quickly replied, although handily avoiding the non-vetting of her newspaper's questionable photograph (above).

Thanks for keeping us updated. We are likely to run an editorial about this, if nothing else as a reminder to be more culturally aware. Event organizers missed an opportunity to promoted Mexican heritage and cuisine, instead tapping into stereotypes. Insensitive, yes, but I doubt it was done maliciously, likely without thought.

Then a month passed. DNA continued to stonewall, and so I asked Duncan what had happened.

I did follow through with broaching this in a meeting of the editorial board. The consensus opinion was that a better result would occur if we challenged DNA before next year’s event to use it as an opportunity to promote cultural awareness. The thinking was that too much time had passed since the taco walk, that running an editorial now would have seemed out of place and resulted in less chance for real change.

As an interesting side note to all this frantic circling of wagons, both here and in Jeffersonville, it helps to know that a member of the community first conceived of the Taco Walk idea and brought it to DNA with the best of intentions, imagining that by doing so, the community would benefit.

While DNA has alluded to the event being a windfall success financially (DNA will not release exact numbers), the volunteer concluded she wasn't happy with the way her idea was implemented -- cultural appropriation was among the reasons for her decision -- and so, working under the assumption the Main Street organization possesses a fundamental sense of decency, she told DNA she'd be taking it back for a future reboot.

Um, nope. Seems the anchor already had been dropped.

DNA wasted no time in sending her packing: Taco Walk belongs to DNA now, and the organization will do with it as it pleases -- and don't bother running to Big Daddy Gahan, because the fix is always in.

It was horrendous treatment of a person who was just trying to be helpful, so let's hope the N and T follows through in 2018 and holds DNA's feet to the fire as it prepares to profit once more from the idea it purloined.

You might even say lots of community pillars in New Albany are wearing masks, if not Frito-encrusted sombreros, which brings me to Thomas's recent essay.


As aspiring writers, we're constantly advised to write about what we know, and so it might make perfect sense to write about oneself; surely we know ourselves better than anyone else, right?

Alas, not so much. Autobiographical honesty is fiendishly difficult to achieve, and that's why full credit goes to Thomas for trying. This piece is very good, and I'm glad he wrote it.

Maybe the other members of the editorial board read it, too.

A boy can dream.

Meet the man who hides behind a mask, by Jason Thomas

Who am I?

I am white. I am male. I am a father. I am a fiance.

Other than that, I'm not sure.

Who are you?

I wear a mask. It cloaks me in confidence, in extroversion, in a self-prescribed aura of coolness.

The mask is ugly.

Behind it is a man of broken faith, a man unsure of his footing, a man who says he would die for his son and his son's mother. Would he?

A man — a person — like many of you.

I watched a movie on Christmas night that made me think. Really think.

It was called "Get Out." It has received considerable attention, in part, for its exploration of white people's exploitation of black culture. And for many other underlying themes that made me, a white male of privilege, squirm in my flannel-pajama-wearing cocoon of comfort ...

Jeffersonville's call to artistic creativity is a sad mirror held to New Albany's anchor-bound cult of personality.

It's so very telling that in Jeffersonville, artists are ASKED.

In New Albany, artists first must conform to Dear Leader's vision of dogs playing poker on every street corner -- and a Velvet Gahan above every hearth.


THE STORY OF US: Jeffersonville asks artists to submit ideas for riverfront signage, by Jenna Esarey (That Jeffersonville Newspaper)

 ... During reconstruction of the downtown marina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a memorandum of agreement stipulating details like trees to be planted, among other things. “One of the stipulations called for the installation of interpretive signage,” said Dawn Spyker, Public Art Administrator for the city.

“I thought, could this actually be a piece of art? Let’s make it a sculptural interpretive sign. This could work,” she said.

On Dec. 22 the city issued a call to artists to create a sculptural piece to celebrate and interpret the city’s river heritag ...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

LIVE TO EAT: Two tasty documentaries about street food the world over.

I appreciate the sedate, measured pace of these two documentaries, as opposed to some of the more frantic Food Network extravaganzas. This comes as no surprise, given the documentaries are produced by Deutsche Welle (German public television), circa 2016.

Asia - Cradle of street food tradition

Asia is famous for its street food delicacies - especially scorpions and insects. Every region has a specialty, every street vendor a story to tell. Explore Asian culture through a culinary journey to China, Thailand, Japan and Vietnam.

The English language voice-overs are almost seamless, although in one of these films some German sneaks through -- and you'll notice the texting is in German, albeit spoken in English. 

Street food -Tales of Tacos and Burgers

A cross-continental street food journey – from Oregon in the USA to Peru via Mexico. On every street corner, chefs are busy frying, grilling and roasting. Each region has its own culinary delights and the filmmakers are keen to try everything.

Team Gahan swears its engineering contractor will listen to your comments about the Mt. Tabor deforestation project at the mere formality on January 2.

Taken BEFORE Gahan's NAHA putsch.

Way back on December 22, we provided fresh news (thanks S) about an unexpected chance for the public to play its part in fulfilling the city's legal obligations, so the Mt. Tabor Deforestation and Campaign Finance Enrichment Project might finally begin.

Comments on the pre-determined Mt. Tabor deforestation and auto enrichment outcome can be given on Jan. 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (1752 Scheller Lane).

The Bookseller immediately issued an appropriate reminder.

As you well know, a "public information meeting" as run by this administration will not allow for any public comments by the citizenry. These are so far removed from "public hearings" as to be from different planets. I hope you will use your platform to remind the mice how such meetings go - first with divide and conquer breakouts where one might ask a question of a single official, but no opportunity to publicly address concerns.

Five whole days later, the News and Tribune somehow meandered around to the story, including an half-assertion this meeting will be different; this time around, there'll be some down-home, old-school listening going on.

Uh huh. Does anyone have a grain of salt the size of size of Jeff Gahan's ego?

Meeting scheduled to discuss Mount Tabor Road project, by Chris Morris

NEW ALBANY — It looks like residents will once again have an opportunity to voice their opinion on the proposed changes and improvements to Mount Tabor Road coming in 2018 ...

... Because the project is federally funded, the city must follow the National Environmental Policy Act. According to Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Manning, the approved environmental document shows the project will involve a four-way stop, which is what exists now as previously reported by the News and Tribune. INDOT reviewed documents submitted by the consultant at the request of Mount Tabor Road and Klerner Lane residents. State officials discovered that while the city changed the intersection design, the NEPA documents don't reflect this change ...

... At the meeting representatives from the engineering design firm Beam, Longest and Neff, LLC will be available to answer questions from concerned residents.

This is amazing.

It's been so long (2013) since this project was minted that it actually predates the time of HWC Engineering receiving all such contracts. Let's hope Beam, Longest and Neff have been updated on cash-stuffed envelope protocol since David Duggins hit the pay-packet lottery at the New Albany Housing Authority.

Hilariously, although probably inadvertently, Morris recycled previous thoughts from John "Pinocchio" Rosenbarger, still merrily denying culpability in ignoring this "final public hearing" requirement, and still just as happily suckling on the government's teat after all these long, wasted years.

John Rosenbarger, New Albany Public Works projects supervisor, said in a previous interview the city intends to build a signal as planned. He thinks a signal will work best at that location and will improve traffic flow. "You can time signals ... You can control flow with a signal. You can't with a four-way stop," he said.

As an aside, it's instructive to understand that deep down inside, Wile E. Rosenberger has his own embittered and self-serving complaint, which might be explained like this: he's chronically under-appreciated.

Such a tragedy.

It seems that from the start of Rosenbarger's career as veritable Rasputin of Redevelopment, those politicians for whom he has toiled, and the voters who placed them in office, both are irretrievably stupid.

They simply have not ever grasped the sheer grandeur of Rosenbarger's professional essence, and because of this, while he forever and always has possessed the very best and most brilliant Wile E. solution to any problem, seldom was he allowed to bring these solutions to bear -- because, had he undertaken to argue for what is correct from a sense of deep and abiding principle, the single worst outcome of all might have occurred.

This being that Rosenbarger might have been fired -- sacked, cashiered, terminated, made redundant, discharged, tossed, dismissed, axed, given a pink slip, kicked out and sent packing.

In turn, this means that the only deep and abiding principle Rosenbarger ever possessed was personal job security. If you're not already hugging a commode in revulsion, there's more here: Ranting on John Rosenbarger's fundamental contradictions in the aftermath of an atrocious day in the neighborhood.


ON THE AVENUES: It's the beginning of the end of insipid Gahanism, so let's look back at the Top Ten columns of 2017.

ON THE AVENUES: It's the beginning of the end of insipid Gahanism, so let's look back at the Top Ten columns of 2017.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

For the final ON THE AVENUES column of 2017, I'd dearly love to conjure something striking and profound, perhaps an all-encompassing summary like Donald Sutherland gave to Kevin Costner as they sat on the park bench by the Washington Monument in Oliver Stone's JFK -- but I don't watch many films these days, and I'm not sure there's a single written soliloquy left in me as this strange, confusing and exhausting year draws to a close.

No worries; the beatings must continue until morale improves, but you'll be surprised and pleased to hear the wonderful news, because in my view, New Albany has witnessed the apogee of Gahanism, and the high water mark of this dull political mediocrity's obsession with illicit campaign finance and Greg Fischer (on second thought, I risk redundancy).

The surreal and absurd Kim Jong-Jeffrey cult of personality that Gahan uses to extract so very much public money has become gut-punch laughable to almost everyone apart from his sycophantic bunker mates in the DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party, whose expressions are beginning to resemble those of the local Sarajevo administrators saying goodbye to the Archduke.

Gahanism's fissures are visible, and the impending TIF drought risible. The onetime veneer salesman's signature cash-stuffed envelopes will be markedly thinning, and by the occasion of New Albany's next municipal election, it will have been 64 years since a mayor won a third consecutive term -- and it won't happen again in 2019.

For the record, C. Pralle Erni (D) served four straight terms from 1948 through 1963, totaling 16 years. Beginning in 1964, Republicans occupied the mayoral seat for 16 of the next 20 years, interrupted only by Warren Nash's underachieving tenure.

I'm not saying the resistance will be easy. However, at all times we're compelled to remember the example of Toto ...

 ... no, not THAT Toto or THIS forgettable prom song theme from the heyday of most current city council members, but rather Dorothy's inquisitive mutt ...

... who by pulling back the curtains, allows us to see that when push comes to puke, Gahanism is no more than smoke and mirrors. It's a ruse, with no substance behind the endlessly vapid press releases.

I'll continue to do my part while transitioning toward what I earnestly hope becomes Pub Mach II. Just remember the hash tag: #FireGahan2019


To end this year, let's take a look at the ON THE AVENUES columns recording the most page views according to Blogger's forever Byzantine metric.

Half of the year's most-read columns dealt with what will be remembered by future generations as Gahan's own personal Waterloo: Dear Leader's hostile takeover (putsch) of public housing and his subsequent installation of the worst conceivable choice to act as human relations slapstick Gauleiter, David "Bag Man" Duggins.

Gahan's mythology-impelled spite and ceaseless avarice with regard to New Albany's most vulnerable population stand an excellent chance of splitting the local Democratic Party, and although Team Gahan's cadres insist they didn't read my accounts of their boss's slow-motion but inexorable train wreck (the guffaws erupt), thanks to all of you who did.

Several other columns were about drinking, which remains the New Albanian's traditional default mechanism for coping with the mendacity, cowardice and overall foolishness that permeate local pillars.

However, the single most pleasing aspect of this year's most-read list is the fact that "number one" was written not by moi, but was contributed by guest columnist Cisa Kubley. It deals with one of the topics Team Gahan is most panic-stricken to even consider, and is least interested in exploring -- verily the third rail of politics in this town, Harvest Homecoming.

And yet if everyone is delighted with the way Harvest Homecoming's annual occupation trickles down on downtown each year, why would Cisa's open letter record triple the page views captured by a typical column?

Cisa's guest column was timely, analytical and well written. This makes me very happy. Remember that I'm forever ready to accept such contributions, and enjoy the following recap.


472 (January 25, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: A luxury-obsessed Jeff Gahan has packed a board and now seeks to break the New Albany Housing Authority. Can we impeach him yet?

In short, the updated comprehensive plan is equal parts fiction, theater and suburban-weighted dreckscape. Reading through these sterling commitments to bedrock facets of urban life that have remained entirely alien to the plan’s authors, most of whom don’t live these tenets and wouldn’t recognize one if it wandered by mistake into their Olive Garden chain-haven and pulled up a chair, you become jaded remarkable quickly.

For instance, I saw a handful of references to bicycling, felt a surge of excitement, then realized that all it really means is the procurement of more spray paint to draw sharrows, the most useless of a city planner’s excuses to do absolutely nothing, declare victory, and gaze lovingly at holiday photos of the time share.


478 (January 12, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: I can only handle one resistance at a time, please.

If you intend to “resist” Trumpism by doubling down on behalf of the Democratic Party as it currently exists and operates on a daily basis right here in the real world, as opposed to Disney World, then you’re in for yet another apocalyptic shock, because the party requires gutting down to the foundations, and probably beyond.

Speaking personally, I don’t care. Both major parties can go to hell, and the Democrats might as well go first. If the Democratic Party disappears, perhaps something better can be built in its place. How can it be worse?

Our gutless right-wing local version of pretend-Democrats is on life support, and the chairman’s delusional cluelessness seems to have become institutionalized. The humane thing to do would be to euthanize the party, and start all over again.


502 (August 26, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES SATURDAY SPECIAL: One-ways on the way out, because with downtown at a crossroads, they simply had to be exterminated.

Yes, I have a car, too. However, since around 1992 it has been my aim to organize my life so as to facilitate other transportation options – walking, biking, Uber-ing, light rail -- whatever. I'd rather take the money and buy a plane ticket to a European city where I can ride the tram.

I haven't eliminated the need for a car, mind you, but have been shrinking it down, so as to be fit comfortably within the perimeter of a typical oil filter. I've purchased homes twice, one for each marriage, with this in mind. If I return to business, it will be downtown, where I can walk to and from work.


504 (March 16, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: It's all so simple, says Jeff Gahan. Remove the impoverished, and voila! No more poverty!

They must be spiking the Kool-Aid with LSD.

Point "c" is an example of classic Gahanite circular reasoning. These "recommendations" are not to be found in the detailed program already devised by the professional, trained staff of the New Albany Housing Authority, but rather as stipulated in the form of demolition-friendly reductions forced on the NAHA by means of a daintily termed Memorandum of Understanding, a writ of annexation slated for approval by a board packed by the mayor with the usual servile sycophants, as fully intended to render the result Gahan has fixed in advance.


515 (October 26, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: Could that be David Duggins paddling across Jeff Gahan's putrid cesspool? On second thought, I'll take the blindfold.

The Green Mouse believes former Redevelopment Commission kingpin David Duggins, now the interim director of the demolition-of-housing authority, was a prime junket honoree, presumably as a measure of heartfelt thanks for his efforts on the city’s behalf to assist Denton Floyd’s and Vitality’s project at M. Fine – and as a prelude to whatever luxurious domiciles eventually are constructed atop the smoldering remnants of public housing in New Albany, which of course is one reason for Duggins being cozily ensconced within his current sinecure – this, and for catering to the eccentric whims of Dear Pretend Democratic Leader.


519 (December 14, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: My Franz Ferdinand heritage trail, 30 years ago in Sarajevo.

Picking up the story on Monday, 18 May 18 1987, I'd arrived in Sarajevo from Zagreb and found cheap, legal lodgings ($5.50 per night) in the spare room within the apartment of a man named Mickey (real name: Milenko Ćurčić). At the time, the street address was Ulica J.N.A. 37, or the Yugoslav People's Army Street. Now it's Ulica Branilaca Sarajeva 37 (the Defenders of Sarajevo Street).


558 (tie) (February 23, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: A stern side view of Gravity Head, nineteen times over.

Before the drinking starts, let’s return to the analogy of a ship leaving the dock and making for open water.

This was something we experienced first-hand just last year aboard a big Baltic ferry, first leaving Tallinn for Helsinki, then again on the trip back later the same day.

At night, the specific sensation might be described as lights fading, but by day it is the gradual disappearance of land as the ship moves farther away from shore. Depending on the weather and the strength of one’s eyesight, there comes a split second when land no longer is visible. It’s a melancholy feeling, like the place itself has ceased to exist apart from the imagination.


558 (tie) (March 30, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: Our great and noble leader is here to stay, so let's break out the țuică and make a joyful noise.

Gahan proceeded to run down the list of previous multi-million dollar quality-of-life luxury improvements, praising the investments while never revealing their true cost in terms of municipal subsidies and post-ribbon-cutting maintenance.

Verily, Gahan’s done it all; laid the bricks, moved the dirt, smoothed the asphalt, sold hot dogs and swept the floor. It was repulsive and sickening, and within a few seconds it became evident to me as never before that short of getting caught in bed with a known book reader, Gahan has emerged as the odds-on favorite to serve indefinitely as New Albany’s de facto mayor-for-life.

The list of baubles, glitz and glitter – of bright, shiny objects that function as Potemkin facades, suggesting municipal progress while obscuring the ongoing rot proceeding apace underneath – has become as lengthy as Shane Gibson’s arm.


664 (February 9, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: I'd stop drinking, but I'm no quitter.

I drink very differently now than before, and far less overall, but drinking's still a conscious lifestyle choice. So it goes.

Back to these fictional drinkers, who in my view reflect an existential aspect of the human condition. To be succinct, what else remains to be said, done or alibied when life’s fundamentally surreal futility strikes you as inescapable, and is best addressed and assuaged by peering through the bottom of a lifted glass, one deftly drained just seconds ago?


801 (November 16, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: Harvest Homecoming chairman of the board David White replies to Cisa Kubley's column of November 2.

Cisa Kubley composed an open letter to Harvest Homecoming. In it, the owner of Sew Fitting patiently and meticulously explained why Harvest Homecoming isn't always a positive interlude for independent small businesses downtown.

Cisa's guest column proceeded to triple the number of page views one of my columns normally receives, and is by far the most-read ON THE AVENUES of the year to date. You can read it again, below, for reasons that soon will be obvious.

Even before Cisa's column was published, I spoke with David White and asked him if Harvest Homecoming would tender a reply, for which I'd supply as much space as necessary. Here it is.


1,209 (November 2, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: A downtown business owner's open letter to Harvest Homecoming.

I am not asking that the festival be shut down or done away with. I am asking that the festival committee do more than offer excuses and hollow apologies to the dozens of businesses which are negatively affected because the festival is still set up and run as though downtown were a ghost town.

Take seriously the fact that refusal to change the festival model impedes the livelihoods of hundreds of downtown workers. If shops can’t be open, workers aren’t paid. The business generates no revenue and yet they still incur their regular expenses. How is our business community supposed to be sustainable when a festival that claims to celebrate that community actively gets in the way of business operations?


Recent columns:

December 21: ON THE AVENUES: Truth, lies, music, and a trick of the Christmas tale (2017 Remix).

December 14: ON THE AVENUES: My Franz Ferdinand heritage trail, 30 years ago in Sarajevo.

December 7: ON THE AVENUES: Say goodbye to all that, and expect the bayonet.

November 30: ON THE AVENUES: The 29 most influential books in my life.