Monday, April 30, 2018

LIVE TO EAT on THE BEER BEAT: A tribute to the late Rocky's Sub Pub and a question: What's happening at Jeffersonville's "restaurant row"?

It was announced today that Rocky's Sub Pub, on the riverfront in Jeffersonville, suddenly closed. Danielle Grady's newspaper coverage is linked below, but first, a short piece I wrote for LEO back in 2009, when Rocky's debuted its beefed-up tap system. Ironically, now both Rocky's and JeffBoat are gone. 


During the time of its original incarnation opposite the boatyard in Jeffersonville, Rocky’s Sub Pub was a genuine beer list innovator.

To appreciate the extent of this achievement in the context of the time, it helps to know that the American craft beer revolution didn’t really arrive in the Louisville metropolitan area until the early 1990’s. Prior to that, beer choice hereabouts was measured in terms of imported and primarily bottled beers. Rocky’s had these in abundance, thanks in part to a fortunate convergence of factors.

Roughly a quarter-century ago, archaic Kentucky pricing laws provided a competitive advantage to Indiana package liquor purveyors, the most prominent of which was Cut-Rate in downtown Jeffersonville, where ubiquitous Kentucky license plates testified to the Commonwealth’s weekly loss in tax revenue.

A short distance away on 10th Street was the warehouse of the now extinct Nachand Beverage Company, a beer wholesaler owned by the late Ed Schueler, who quite simply was one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever met, in or out of the beer business. He saw a profitable, largely unserviced niche for the steadily escalating supply of imports, and marketed accordingly.

Thanks to Nachand Beverage, Cut-Rate had an uncommonly large off-premise retail selection of imported beers. Many of the same brands also made it to Rocky’s Sub Pub, to be enjoyed on site with the eatery’s signature pizzas and sandwiches. We’d sample beers at Rocky’s, and then stop at Cut-Rate on the way home to stock up on the ones we liked. It was the Sunny Side’s own version of triangular trade, one that added inestimably to my knowledge of beer.

Kentucky eventually changed its laws, dooming Cut-Rate. Ed died far too young, and the distributorship was bought out by an Indianapolis wholesaler. The orbits of my life and work completely changed, and at some point during all of it, Rocky’s Sub Pub changed, too, vacating its funky original site for reinvention as an Italian grill amid purpose-built, upscale digs in the shadow of the Clark Memorial Bridge.

It had been a long time between visits to Rocky’s when I passed through the entrance on a recent rainy Saturday afternoon, enticed by the news that the establishment had come full circle by adding a nifty new draft system that pushes the number of beer taps up to 32.

My friend Jerry and I ignored the vinyl banner outside touting a “domestic pitcher” special and settled onto comfy stools with women’s collegiate lacrosse displayed on one of several flat screens above the bar. I subjected the taps to the scrutiny of trained and periodically jaundiced eyes.

Happily, the prognosis is quite favorable. Only a half-dozen of the draft lines carry certifiably forgettable domestic mass-market specimens like Miller Lite, Killian’s and Blue Moon. All around them is evidence of intelligent design in the brand selection, which to a beer enthusiast means stylistic diversity: Doppelbock and Belgian Tripel, with Double India Pale Ale and Coffee Stout for accent – and many more. Gumball Head, anyone?

Recalling the legacy of imports at the Rocky’s of old, there now are proportionately fewer draft beers from outside the USA and an obvious (and fully justified) emphasis on American-made craft beers. Louisville-area microbreweries are well represented, and upwards of six taps were pouring Indiana microbrews on the day we stopped in. Five taps are devoted to seasonals from Sam, Adams, Schlafly, Upland, Bell’s and BBC,

As a minor criticism, the beers are being served tooth-numbingly cold, and in frosted glasses, both of which hinder one’s ability to taste good beer even if they render mass-market lager drinkable. However, there’s a bright side, in that bar patrons can pass time waiting for the beer to warm by snacking on a softball-sized roll of bread, olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese provided free of charge.

Now that Rocky’s has added such an array of beers suitable for experimentation in food pairings, I’ll return soon for a full meal and the opportunity to utilize another clever sales touch: Consumers can create their own flights of five sample draft portions, making it easy to tour the lesser known selections and match them with pasta, salads and pizza.

Rocky’s new drafts aren’t 1985 all over again. They’re better.


We met friends at Rocky's last summer. There were no issues with our meals, but I remarked afterward that it just felt tired. Restaurants have life spans, too, and sometimes, it's just time.

I don't know exactly why Rocky's closed. However, as with the shuttering of Feast BBQ and Comfy Cow in New Albany, the recent departures of Bristol Bar & Grill and Bearno's from the building on "restaurant row" across the street from Rocky's both can be explained for reasons of business cycles, better opportunities elsewhere, and so on.

Moreover, "restaurant row" has existed for almost two decades, and that's ancient history for any restaurant district. Maybe evolution and reinvention start now, because in my opinion, two overarching issues helping to explain these business transitions are the atypical maturity of the "legacy" brands (Rocky's, Bristol, Bearno's, Buckhead Mountain Grill and Kingfish -- throw in Hooter's, too -- probably average 30-40 years or more of existence overall) and the peculiar way that the age of these brands might actually be typecasting the district as intended primarily for older diners.

There's nothing wrong with this, and it's a good thing to be venerable, but maybe not all in one place; it's like in the woods when the bigger trees prevent other plants growing on the forest floor. At the same time, property values on such a strip probably preclude edgier start-ups and encourage mass-market approaches.

As much as it annoys me to say it, what all of this suggests in my mind is the likelihood of chain concepts filling these gaps. They're capitalized for the purpose, suited for tourist areas with a view, and accustomed to the lowest common denominator when it comes to offerings. I'm also told that the Rocky's building may have issues pertaining to drainage and erosion, so deep pockets probably are a must,

Rocky's Sub Pub announces closing, by Danielle Grady (A Plethora of Tom May Content)

JEFFERSONVILLE — Rocky’s Sub Pub in Jeffersonville announced abruptly Monday that it is closing after 41 years, effective immediately ...

... In recent years, the restaurant moved to Riverside Drive and was owned by Buckhead Management Group, the same company that owns the local Buckhead Mountain Grill chain.

The company is "working closely" with staff to help employees find work at other area restaurants, according to the sign on the restaurant's door. Management is also "actively" seeking a new use for the Rocky's property.

Other service industry businesses were clamoring for laid off Rocky’s workers on Monday. Horseshoe Southern Indiana sent an email to the News and Tribune, saying that the casino and hotel was hiring ...

The Economist on the WHCD, Michelle Wolf and snowflaking: "In the age of Trump, calls for civility are calls for servility."

As we debated the idiotic White House event,
"Ten journalists among 36 killed in Afghanistan attacks."

At Medium, writer John Zeratsky explains "Why I ignore the daily news and read The Economist instead (and how you can too)."

For anyone who’s weary of the frantic daily news cycle, The Economist is a breath of fresh air. It’s a London-based weekly magazine (although they call themselves a newspaper) covering global political, social, economic, and business news. They are moderate, quirky, and unconventional.

Zeratsky's analysis almost perfectly mirrors my own, except that I've been reading The Economist since 1988, and subscribing during all but a handful of these years.

A few years back, The Economist explained itself.

Is The Economist left- or right-wing? Neither. We consider ourselves to be in the "radical centre."

I offer these two preludes as preparation to consume the main course, which is Michelle Wolf, and what we're to make of her monologue at a dinner which shouldn't even take place -- and the fact that while this is the main point, it's being missed in the usual hyped-up furor over showflaking.

The Economist's take is spot on, so here it is, in its entirety, with the important passages highlighted.


The Wolf at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, by J.F. (The Economist)

In the age of Trump, calls for civility are calls for servility

FULL disclosure: I have never been to a White House Correspondents’ Dinner; I will never go to a White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The American political press already has a bias toward reverence and access preservation; journalists yukking it up with powerful people whom they are supposed to cover impartially is unseemly. Partly for this reason, The Economist has for several years not sent anyone along. Usually the dinner passes in a flurry of photos and articles about who wore what, which celebrity sat at which publication’s table and a recounting of the hokey jokes told by whichever safe comedian they wangled into hosting. But occasionally something more interesting happens.

Over the past two days Washington has worked itself into a tizzy over Michelle Wolf’s unusually scathing monologue. She mocked everyone: Donald Trump (“the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab”), Kellyanne Conway (“If a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree”), Ivanka Trump (“about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons”), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (“She burns facts and then uses the ashes to create a perfect smoky eye”), and the press (“[Mr Trump] helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off him.”).

Matt Schlapp, a conservative lobbyist and the husband of Mercedes Schlapp, a White House communications director, tweeted that he and his wife “walked out early from the wh correspondents dinner. Enough of elites mocking all of us”—though precisely what definition of “elite” includes a stand-up comic but excludes high-ranking White House officials remains unclear. Several people, liberals as well as conservatives, demanded that Ms Wolf apologise for mocking Mrs Sanders’s appearance—though of course Mr Trump has made juvenile derision of people’s looks his stock-in-trade.

Margaret Talev, the head of the White House Correspondents’ Association, tut-tutted that Ms Wolf’s monologue “was not in the spirit of [our] mission,” which was “to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honouring civility [and] great reporting…not to divide people.”

Among those who failed to receive that message, apparently, was Mr Trump, who in a nifty bit of counterprogramming held a rally in Washington, Michigan during the correspondents’ dinner. He skipped the event for the second straight year. Mr Trump accused the media—whom he has previously called “the enemy of the American people”—of making up sources and hating his supporters who attended the rally. One worked-up attendee at the rally screamed at reporters, whom he called “degenerate filth”, to leave the country.

After the speech, Mr Trump’s people pressed their advantage. Mrs Schlapp told a reporter that “journalists should not be the ones to say that the president or his spokesman is lying.”

This raises an obvious question—if not journalists, then whom?—with an equally obvious answer: nobody. Mr Trump’s communication staff would prefer it if nobody pointed out when he and his media team lie.

Ms Talev invited Mrs Sanders to sit at the head table because she “thought it sent an important decision about…government and the press being able to work together.” But of course, that is precisely what should never happen, particularly with an administration as ambivalent about the First Amendment—among other norms and laws—as this one. (The Justice Department recently removed a section entitled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” from its internal manual for federal prosecutors.)

Calls for press-corps civility are in fact calls for servility, and should be received with contempt. Some might argue that insults do not deserve the same protection as investigative journalism, but that is a distinction without a difference. Anyone who wants to outlaw or apologise for the former will end up too timid to do the latter.

In open societies, self-censorship—in the name of civility, careerism or access preservation—is a much greater threat to the media than outright repression. The only person owed an apology here is Ms Wolf, for being scolded by the very people who invited her to speak, and who purport to defend a “vigorous and free press.”

Long read from Strong Towns: "What housing vouchers can and can't do."

Riffing on yesterday evening's post ...

It's déjà vu all over again as the NAHA and New Hope ask the BZA for variances to build housing units in three locations near West Street.

... here's a detailed examination of housing vouchers, upon which Team Gahan and David the Wonder Bureaucrat are pinning their affordable housing hopes, insofar as they have a plan at all. I'll highlight a few sections, but for the full impact, go to Strong Towns -- and while you're there, browse around.

Shouldn't every elected official in Floyd County be reading Strong Towns on a daily basis?

WHAT HOUSING VOUCHERS CAN AND CAN'T DO, by Daniel Herriges (Strong Towns)

The headlines about (Your Place Name Here)'s housing affordability crisis are numbing these days. It doesn't seem to matter where you live: Nationwide, only 21 units affordable to extremely low-income renter households are available per 100 such households, and every county has a shortfall. Last year, eleven million low income households paid more than half their income in rent, a 20% increase since 2007.


There's a common misconception that if developers would just settle for a little less profit, they could build working-class housing without subsidy. This is almost never true. The reality is that, much as lower-income people usually buy used cars, lower-income people usually do not live in newly-constructed homes. This was true in 1920, it was true in 1950, it was true in 1980, and it is true today. The primary source of affordable housing is older housing that has "filtered" down from a higher price point.

The difference today is that in much of America — especially wealthy coastal America — even the middle class can no longer afford a new market-rate home or apartment. Over at Shelterforce, Rick Jacobus extends the car analogy to make this point: the problem isn't that we're building new Lexus housing, it's that we no longer build very much Ford Focus or Toyota Camry housing at all.

The middle classes find ways to make it work. They sacrifice location or amenities or square footage, they double up with roommates, they live with their parents for longer in their twenties, but they make it work.

The poor aren't so lucky.


1. Public housing directly owned and operated by government entities.

(A lot of the stigma that still follows public housing today, for the record, is based on outdated stereotypes, and there's evidence that most of it actually works quite well.)

2. Project-based housing subsidies, which entails paying a developer (often a nonprofit organization) to build housing and rent it out to income-screened tenants at a reduced rate. This is the premise of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program ...

3. Local rent regulation, including inclusionary zoning (requiring developers to include a share of affordable units in their projects) and rent control (capping allowable rents or rent increases). These are ultimately indirect subsidies, paid not out of a governmental budget, but out of the profit margins of land owners and developers and the rents of market-rate tenants ...

4. Housing vouchers — a direct subsidy which follows the tenant/household, rather than the housing unit itself.

Today I'll give an overview of housing voucher programs, their history in the United States, what they do well, and what they don't do well. This is not to say that the other options don't have their place in providing affordable housing, just that they'll have to be a topic for another essay and another day.


Ultimately, (these affordable housing issues) have to do with the contradictory expectation that housing will be both broadly affordable and a good investment vehicle. Daniel Hertz nailed this paradox a couple years ago in The Atlantic:

These two ideas are almost entirely mutually exclusive. The first essentially says, “Use housing policy to keep home prices down”; the second says, “Use housing policy to keep home prices up.”

Until we address this root contradiction, treating housing unaffordability one tenant at a time, or one unit at a time, is always going to be inadequate.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

ON THE AVENUES: The wonder years.

ON THE AVENUES: The wonder years. 

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(I'm a bit late, sorry)

Even our esteemed Gauleiter Duggins knows the word “year” is a noun.

It’s … The time taken by a planet to make one revolution around the sun.

And also … The period of 365 days (or 366 days in leap years) starting from the first of January, used for reckoning time in ordinary affairs.

These numerals from the solar system are pure science, at least until humans arbitrarily string them together, and so because the Christians decisively defeated vast hordes of Roman deities in the original God Bowl (the Muslims hadn’t yet been granted an expansion franchise), we’re currently observing 2018. It’s already been an eventful year, but aren’t they all?

Have you ever wondered which year was the most eventful ever?

Obviously, millions of years have passed unnumbered, and overall the question is limited by the comparatively short span of human history, as well as something complicated by cultural differences.

As such, for many indigenous people in the Americas, the most eventful year ever probably was the one in which they were slaughtered by invading Europeans.

History’s a harsh dominatrix, you know.

Some might say it’s Year Zero – not the Khmer Rouge, but the year of Jesus Christ’s birth, from which several thousand planetary excursions have been demarcated, backward as well as forward.

Maybe it’s 1776 and the start of the American Revolution, or 1967, when the arch-criminal mastermind Dr. Owades invented light beer. There’d also be votes for 1989. Not only did the Berlin Wall and Commie dominoes fall, but my beloved Oakland A’s won the franchise’s most recent World Series title.


Perhaps it’s easier to pinpoint the most eventful years in one’s own life. Obviously there are fewer to consider, and each one of us has been present every step of the way, although there are times when we probably wish we hadn’t been.

Like 1996. There's one I'd like to have back.

For many people, it would be the year they graduated, got married, had their first child, got divorced, won Employee of the Year, golfed an exclusive course or retired.

Life’s tricky, and the chronology of mortality gets in the way. We regularly celebrate our birthdays, although none of us had a say in it, and we can’t look back on our deaths even if doing so might be the most instructive perspective of all. Maybe for a little while, some of us are remembered by others.

For a reality check, take a walk through Fairview Cemetery.

Historians will tell you that while important events occur in a single year, they cannot be cleanly delineated in terms of causes and effects. The surrender of Confederate forces in 1865 ended four “official” years of Civil War – and also inaugurated endless decades of Reconstruction, which may or may not have happened.

Accordingly, in one’s own life it’s probably better to think in terms of eras. Graduating from IU Southeast in 1982 represented the end of my formal education after 16 years in school. Lindsey Buckingham was right: I’m never going back again.

My first extended European trip came in 1985, and it irrevocably changed my life, but similar journeys in 1987, 1989 and 1991 deeply affected me, too, suggesting that these explorations constitute a 7-year post-graduate package tour.

Let this be a public notice that I’m willing to accept an honorary Master of Arts degree for habitual beer travel.

In 1992, after two years of prevaricating, I decided to enlist full-time in a family business formerly known as Sportstime Pizza & Rich O’s Public House, later to become the New Albanian Brewing Company.

This entrepreneurial era lasted until 2018, when the exit treaty became final. It encompassed the end of one personal relationship and the beginning of another; many wonderful travels, albeit mostly visits of shorter duration than those in the 1980s; the deaths of both my parents (and way too many friends); and my whole blogging career.

I’m not sure if NABC made me famous, or infamous. Truth be told, I prefer the latter.


Today’s seemingly aimless rambling is occasioned by the unexpected return one morning last week of a thought, this being that of all the years constituting my “NABC era,” a strong case can be made that 2014 was the single most eventful one.

The reasoning is both personal and professional, and not for the first time, the explanation owes to my choice of music on Wednesday morning.

In 2014, the album “Pure Unadulterated Joy” by the British band called Morning Parade was a welcome surprise. It became a major ear worm, but no sooner than I declared this group to be the latest in a series of new musical favorites, it quietly disbanded.

I couldn’t forgive the ungrateful wankers.

Consequently, either I consciously declared a boycott of Morning Parade – or, without a follow-up CD to remind me, it’s more likely I just plain forgot. Either way, when I listened to the album last Wednesday for the first time in at least two years while driving to the veterinarian for Nadia’s prescription cat food, I almost had to pull over.

Crying while driving sober isn’t as bad as being drunk or distracted, but tears make it awfully hard to see the damn road.

For me, music possesses a fabled ability to rearrange my brain molecules, usually in a euphoric way. But one must be prepared to play whatever hand the chords deal, and this time, I was unprepared for an emotional reaction.

It all became clear to me soon enough. I hadn’t listened to Morning Parade’s album since my mother died, and these songs took me back to the early summer of 2014, when she sold the family house in Georgetown and moved to the Villages at Historic Silvercrest, there to remain until her death last spring.

In retrospect, my mom’s move in 2014 was more traumatic for me than it was for her. She decided it was time, and just like that, a 47-year stay ended. She never looked back, and meanwhile, I was a wreck. I really do believe in ghosts; not the supernatural spirits, just the ones inhabiting my own head space.

Like the spiteful ghosts of business decisions past.

In 2014, as myriad contractual, legal and real estate wheels started turning toward the Georgetown property sale and my mom’s big move, my workplace became inordinately chaotic and stressful even by the nerve-wracking standards of a company that always managed to function, albeit only in an exceedingly dysfunctional way.

That’s because we were in the process of closing the original kitchen concept at Bank Street Brewhouse in May. The operating numbers were undeniable and there was handwriting aplenty adorning the wall. We did what had to be done, kept slogging forward -- and it killed me inside.

Fortunately, Diana and I already had planned what proved to be a restorative trip for September of 2014. After lengthy absences from Berlin, Bamberg, Brugge and Poperinge, it was time to return. Rediscovering these sources of inspiration, and clinking glasses with old friends, proved to be like a homecoming. The whole stay, I was walking (and drinking) on air.

When we returned home, I went back to work, and it was undeniable. Something had changed. I was numb to the probing of the fork; still, it poked me, and I was done.

It wasn’t burnout. It was a forest fire. As one of three co-owners, I lost a succession of 2-to-1 votes about the future of Bank Street Brewhouse after the kitchen’s demise, and in fact, the business hadn’t worked out the way it was intended. As early as 2012, the “craft” beer world began morphing into something narcissistic and unrecognizable. I suffered an allergic reaction to these cultural shifts, perhaps because it was clear I’d had a hand in enabling them.

The IBUs in my favorite hoppy beers declined as the bitterness in what vaguely passes for my soul escalated.

Meanwhile in Nawbany, whatever early hope had been attached to Jeff Gahan’s mayoral accession had long since tarnished and become satire and parody, and my escalating polemical absorption seemed to be pointing me toward putting my scant money where my rhetorical mouth already rested. My failed and fascinating 2015 independent mayoral campaign was the result.

To summarize, 2014 was a tremendously eventful year for me. By New Year’s Day of 2015, I knew something very fundamental had been altered; to be sure, changes initiated in 2014 took their sweet time to play out, and now, returning to the notion of eras, this transformative period of my life should be concluding on the evening quite soon when Pints & Union opens.

I’m going to help my friend Joe Phillips as much as I can so he can achieve his pub-owner’s dream. We’re going to have a classy joint. There’s a sense of peace and acceptance about what’s happened up until now, and most (not all) of my beer demons have been boxed up, silenced or sent out for Chinese.

Diana's been patient and supportive. We're going to rock these next few years together. Indeed, it’s hard for me to imagine either passivity or contentment, and there's a lot yet to prove. I think a golden era is coming.

How many more will there be?


Recent columns:

April 19: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Our great and noble leader is here to stay, so let's break out the țuică and make a joyful noise.

April 12: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: In Havel, I trust.

April 5: ON THE AVENUES: New Albany's downtown food and dining scene is solid ... for now.

March 29: ON THE AVENUES: Al Knable doesn’t lie, but the local Democratic Party is a flood-plain Pinocchio. Let’s censure it at the ballot box.

It's déjà vu all over again as the NAHA and New Hope ask the BZA for variances to build housing units in three locations near West Street.

The Board of Zoning Appeals meets this Tuesday evening (May 1), and three items on the BZA agenda, each seeking a variance, bear a striking similarity to each other.

The past few days have been hectic, and I haven't had time to research this thoroughly (paging my friend Mike), so I'm going to wing it.

The fact that these 30 duplexes and five single-family dwellings represent a marriage of the New Albany Housing Authority and New Hope suggests they're leveraging Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), as explained in this article.

The LIHTC program does not provide housing subsidies. Instead, the program provides tax incentives, written into the Internal Revenue Code, to encourage developers to create affordable housing. These tax credits are provided to each State based on population and are distributed to the State’s designated tax credit allocating agency. In turn, these agencies distribute the tax credits based on the State’s affordable housing needs with broad outlines of program requirements from the federal government. This is done through the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) process.

And, given the lengthy bureaucratic process involved, I'm also going to guess that these unusual non-demolition projects fell into David Duggins' lap (dance) courtesy of former NAHA director Bob Lane, who took me on a tour one day a few years ago and pointed out these pieces of property as future building sites.

In short, the colonizing forces would seem to be following the pre-existing plan put together by the deposed Lane. Consequently, I'm issuing a Gahan Personality Cult Alert (GPCA), and you should be on the lookout for the mayor and his vicious sycophantic lickspittles taking credit for someone else's work.

Because they can, and will. If I'm wrong, let me know and I'll make the necessary corrections.

TO: New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals
FROM: Scott Wood, Director
SUBJECT: Regular Meeting, Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
DATE: April 26th, 2018


The regular meeting of the New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals will be held on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 at 7:00 p.m., in the Assembly Room (Room 331) City-County Building, New Albany, Indiana, at which time a Public Hearing will be held to consider the following petitions ...

We're only concerned with the last three public hearings. I've inserted satellite photos after each docket.

Docket B-20-18: The New Albany Housing Authority, by David Duggins, and New Hope Development Services Inc., by James Bosley requests a Land Use Variance to permit 18 duplexes (36 units) and two single-family dwellings that will not meet development standards in the R-2, Urban Residential district, at 801 through 826 Linden Meadows Court and 750, 752, 754, 756, 758, 761, 763, and 765 Linden Street.

Docket B-21-18: The New Albany Housing Authority, by David Duggins, and New Hope Development Services Inc., by James Bosley requests a Land Use Variance to permit nine duplexes and that will not meet development standards in the R-2, Urban Residential district, at 66 Valley View Court.

Docket B-22-18: The New Albany Housing Authority, by David Duggins, and New Hope Development Services Inc., by James Bosley requests a Land Use Variance to permit three duplexes and three single-family dwellings that will not meet development standards in the R-2, Urban Residential district, at 320, 323, 329, 333, 335, 342, and 346 Ealy Street.

Got something to say about it? Here's how you can be heard.

Written suggestions and/or objections to said dockets may be filed with the New Albany City Board of Zoning Appeals, Room 329, City-County building, New Albany, Indiana, on or before the date of said meeting. Written objections to the proposal that are filed with the Secretary of the Commission before the hearing shall be considered. Interested persons desiring to present oral comments on the proposal shall be given the opportunity to be heard at the above-mentioned time and place.

Said Public Hearing may be continued from time to time as may be found necessary by the BZA. Any person that may require reasonable accommodation to attend the meeting or to comment upon the above-listed docket may make their wishes known in writing, or by contacting the Commission at 1(812) 948-5333 (Voice) Indiana Statewide Relay 1-800-743-3333 (Hearing Impaired).

Lancaster-themed "Micro Lofts" soon will inhabit Duggins' anchor wasteland at the corner of Market and Vincennes.

If there isn't a solid chicken-fried steak with requisite non-lumpy milk gravy coming out of one of the eateries in this planned "Lancaster nostalgia" development -- think of it as Break Wind Too -- then all the retro branding will have been in vain.

As an aside, the Green Mouse was told that former redevelopment kingpin and chief Breakwater public subsidy coordinator David Duggins, currently in charge of ensuring that public housing resembles the post-tsunami templates above, actually moved into an apartment at Breakwater at some point last year, his HWC benefits plan having expired.

Perhaps soon he'll be given a summer home at Lancaster Flats (oops -- "lofts").

It also means that Duggins will be eligible to run for office in New Albany when next year's primary rolls around -- and that's far more terrifying than the Amazing Colossal Man, primarily because we don't need a $125K councilman.

Now there's a guy who can demolish public housing lickety-split. Indeed: when will it (the corruption) stop?

Read all about the micro-lofting proposal by a company that's so progressive, they even include it in the name.



The regular meeting of the New Albany Redevelopment Commission was held on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 2:30 p.m., in the Assembly Room, City-County Building, New Albany, Indiana.


The second item of Old Business was the Update for the Former Market Boy/Tommy Lancaster’s Site. Matt Toole, of Progressive Land Development, presented a concept for the site. Their goal with this project is to tie in a concept back to the heritage, to include Tommy Lancaster’s and a design similar to the Mercantile Building. They are looking to build loft apartments with mixed use retail on the first level of this three story three-sided brick with HardiePlank siding on the back of the building. Handouts detailing the design of this project were passed out to the Commission Members. Mr. Toole stated that the total square footage would be about 36,000 square feet, 12,000 square feet on each floor. He explained that they had a market study conducted on the entire southern Indiana market. Mr. Toole stated that this project will include Micro Lofts, which is a new concept seen in bigger cities, geared towards Millennials and Empty Nesters that want to be able to travel and go and come as they please. Mr. Toole stated that he believes that this concept is fresh to the market country wide but is a hit in the larger Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Mr. Toole stated that they have invested three years in to this possible development. The development will include Micro Lofts as well as a larger one bedroom unit and retail space below to include small restaurants and boutique style businesses. He explained that a goal with this development is to revitalize that corridor as well as encourage residents to utilize the Ohio River Greenway to help drive growth to the City of New Albany. Mr. Barksdale stated that the Vincennes Street, uptown corridor needs help and focus. He believes that this could be the anchor to start revitalizing that area. Mr. Barksdale asked if the retail is going to face Vincennes Street only. Mr. Toole stated that they have to work around the IDEM concerns and as a result of those, the retail will mostly face Vincennes, with some of the amenities coming off of Market Street. Mr. Toole stated that there will be green space on the property as well. He stated that they meet the parking quota. The President noted that the rendering was 4 stories. Mr. Toole stated that they pulled a design that was close to what they were looking to build. The Director asked for the total project cost. Mr. Toole responded a total of $3.5 million including site improvement. The President asked if there are any potential commercial tenants. Mr. Toole stated that nothing has been finalized, but they have had interest. Mr. Middleton asked for a target completion date, to which Mr. Toole stated this would be determined by the starting point, but that this project, weather conducive, should take no more than 8-10 months. Mr. Stewart asked if these would be rentals, to which Mr. Toole responded that they would be rentals. Mr. Dickey requested that the final renderings be sent in when they become available. Mr. Barksdale motioned to approve the Development Agreement for Lancaster Lofts contingent upon legal review. Mr. Dickey seconded and the motion carried 5-0.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Rats are always fleeing something, whether a ship, a burning house or impending catastrophe.

Yes, I'm three days late this week. 

When the rats mutiny, it's time for Cappy Deaf Dick to go down with his ship -- isn't it?

'Like Rats Fleeing a Sinking Ship': A History (Merriam-Webster)

An idiom that goes back centuries

The idiom like rats fleeing a sinking ship, used in reference to people abandoning an enterprise once it seems likely to fail, has shown great linguistic tenacity, having been in regular use for over four hundred years. However, the wording and form of this standby has changed quite a bit over the centuries.

Almost all the early uses of the 'sinking ship' analogy were in reference to political scandals.

The original setting for the fleeing rats was a decrepit house, one that was on the verge of falling down. Both rats and mice, in the 16th century, were said to have the ability to know when a structure was on the verge of collapse, and would accordingly decamp some time before this happened. By the early 17th century the behavior of the rats begins to see use as a simile.

Don't suffer your Selves to be buffetted from Post to Pillar, by Pinning your Faith upon such that propose no more than to find a way out for themselves, like Rats that quit the House before it falls.
— Anon., A Dialogue Between Two Members of the New and Old East-India Companies, 1600

As a guy who enjoys an honest tipple, this stands out.

Yea, if but sicknesse come, these carnall delights will runne from you, affrighted like Rats from a house on fire.
— Richard Younge, The Drunkard’s Character, 1638

Then, to paraphrase Pete Townshend, the rats started going mobile.

It is not until the latter portion of the 17th century that the rats decide they’ve had enough of running from collapsing and burning houses, and the expression took on a new mode of egress: decamping from a foundering ship ...

Decamping from a foundering ship that's ANCHORED into place? Not yet. Maybe it's because some of them would have trouble finding another boat quite as ... er, bountiful.

What's the highest elected office attained by an African-American in New Albany and Floyd County government?

Yesterday I was asked a question, and to be honest, I don't know the answer. Maybe a reader does.

What's the highest elected office attained by an African-American in New Albany and Floyd County government?

Neither the questioner nor blog management is interested in the whys and wherefores, primarily because we already understand the overarching context of social and political history in places New Albany and Floyd County.

But I have to admit, it makes me curious. Who's got something?

Friday, April 27, 2018

THE BEER BEAT: "Putting the taproom first and building the rest of your business around an own-premise model gives a brewery unprecedented control, insight, and flexibility."

History is endlessly fascinating for a variety of reasons, among them the uncanny way that what goes around, comes around. In today, out tomorrow -- and destined to return when conditions change and the dialectic of trendiness (or purely efficient reasoning) ordains.

This whole craft brewing revolution began very locally. You trundled down the street with a metaphorical pitcher, had it filled with beer, and hoped to make it back home without drinking it all -- or, the way it was done back in pre-Prohibition times.

Then these many new breweries began packaging, which required a learning curve and the advent of reasonably priced equipment, which in turn created a bubble of sorts when approximately 3,000 brewery start-ups nationwide entered the world of wholesale beer distribution at the same time, even as satanic entities like AB-InBev acted decisively to grab as much shelf space as they could via the charming institution of Trojan Zombie Afterlife brewing  (Goose Island, Elysian, etc).

Now we've traveled full circle to the imperative of a rock-solid taproom model -- on-premise, or own-premise -- which is persuasively documented by Maine brewery owner Peter Bissell in this instructive article at Good Beer Hunting.

As an aside, here's an interesting source of information called Seek A Brew: "Use the menu at the top of the map to highlight which states a brewery distributes to. Click on a state to show a list of breweries that distribute there."

There’s Always Money in the Lemonade Stand — How the Own-Premise Model is Rewriting the Beer Industry’s Future, by Peter Bissell (Good Beer Hunting)

 ... In most sectors of business, there exists a collective assumption that everyone operating in that industry must have the same, or at least very similar, goals. This form of illusory correlation is easy to understand. In an era of laptop entrepreneurship, commercial brewing still has all the trappings of red-blooded classical American Capitalism—tangible assets, investors, bank loans, supply chains, and distribution networks. As such, there’s overwhelming acceptance and enthusiasm behind the “growth is good” and “more is better” capitalistic war cries resonating in the beer world with every announcement of a major expansion, distribution into a new state, or corporate acquisition.

And growth is good. As we have all heard hundreds of times at this point, “craft” beer consumption still represents a small percentage of total beer consumption worldwide. There is, indeed, still lots of potential for the industry to grow in volume. But what happens when the long tail gets infinitely long? What happens when the rate of new breweries and increased capacity at existing breweries is far outpacing even the most optimistic estimates of “new” craft beer drinkers? What happens when there are 7,000 breweries in the country? How can you plan for growth in this environment?

In this arena of unprecedented saturation, we must come to accept that “growth” will mean different things for different people. Producing more beer doesn’t necessarily mean a better situation for your company. Indeed, we’ve never in history had so many communities be able to tout their neighborhood breweries as producers of world-class products. For many of us, producing more beer is not just a question of tank and floor space, hop contracts, and brewery staffing, but of where else could this beer go that people will buy it? In the last few years, I’ve watched as numerous brands—respected, even legendary, in their home areas—enter the Southern Maine market only to see permanent, gigantic pyramids of their products sit on the floor of Whole Foods in perpetuity. Indeed, it seems that regions known for great beer attract out-of-market brands looking to expand—but demand for these beers wanes in lieu of local options.

So then, how do you make the right decisions regarding growth, when it's very clearly a fluid, subjective concept in the totally splintered beer market of 2018? For Bissell Brothers, and for many breweries in the Northeast and elsewhere, the answer was, and is, the taproom. The taproom! The on-premise experience. Putting the taproom first and building the rest of your business around an own-premise model gives a brewery unprecedented control, insight, and flexibility—all crucial tools when navigating this exciting and complicated time in the beer business ...

Bullying, or the routine aggression that characterizes bad driving behavior.

We begin with the basics.


My favorite paragraph from the following is this:

See someone crossing the road ahead? Slow down and be prepared to stop. If braking at the sight of human beings in the path of your car feels like an unbearable imposition, you might be a garbage person.


How to Not Be a Bully Behind the Wheel, by Angie Schmitt (Streetsblog)

We’ve all been there. You’re crossing the street, thinking you have a clear path, when the driver waiting at the light starts lurching into the crosswalk, itching for the green signal. Before you know it, you and everyone else crossing has to squeeze around this bully.

Inspired by a recent Jonathan McLeod post (headline: “Stop fucking driving your car at people”), I set out to catalogue a few of the most obnoxious behaviors people routinely engage in behind the wheel of a car.

Intersection bullying — when motorists occupy a chunk of crosswalk real estate that belongs to pedestrians with the right of way — is just one example of the many nasty, antisocial, and downright dangerous things drivers do when they’re interacting with people outside their car.

There’s a ton of bad driving behavior that should be socially unacceptable, but for some reason, granted the anonymity of a car, people engage in it anyway. This routine aggression needs to be called out for what it is — bullying. To start things off, I’ve compiled this short list of things that people should never do behind the wheel ...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is last year's two-way street grid build-out to blame for a business slowdown? "Six months of confusing traffic patterns during peak season really put a lot of people in the hole."

At Facebook, Gary Humphrey, owner of River City Winery, shared last evening's SweetFrog revelation that it was experiencing hard times and would be launching a Go Fund Me in order to stay afloat.

SweetFrog: "Please help save your only frozen treat option in New Albany."

Gary prefaced his "share" with this viewpoint about the relationship between infrastructure and small independent businesses downtown.

Here it is, very lightly edited. What do you think?


Downtown is needing your help! 

I know a lot of people are wondering what is going on in downtown with all these leaving or failing businesses. Well here's the skinny. I've had my pulse on downtown for two decades, with the last one as a business owner. So here's what happened ...

With years of slow sustainable growth we were able to slowly bring on new businesses while slowly increasing downtown's customer base. It was working.

Then something great happened. Downtown suddenly became the "IN" place to open a business and a flurry of new businesses came in all at once. That sounds great, but it's only great if a flurry of customers follow. That didn't happen as quickly but it was beginning to happen. By the spring of 2017 things were really starting to pick up.

Then, the dagger. Last spring a TV crew sat outside my business and wanted me to go on camera to talk about the changes and upcoming construction. What changes? What construction? I asked. I had no idea what was getting ready to have a huge affect on my business and certainly wasn't able to plan for it. The TV reporter notified me of the two-way conversion and road construction.

Great! I heard the rumors ... never heard the plan. I wanted two-way streets before and I want them now, and I love the two-way. Two-way streets are great for downtown, and I'm a big fan of them -- but here's the part that no one knew or had any input on. The conversion would put confusing cones, confusing lines, confusing signs, confusing lights all around us while all confusingly contradicting one other. 

We can survive this for a month, I thought ...

Then a month went by ... then two ... then three ... coming out of the slowest part of the year, winter, we now headed right into the slowest part of the decade and it was completely unforeseen and out of our control.

I was a cop in this town for 20 years and know these streets like the back of my hand but even I was confused. I'd look at the sign, look at the lines, look at the cones and I hadn't a clue what lane they wanted me to be in. It was confusing! 

I drove around town like I was in the bumper car ring at King's Island. There weren't many accidents but many people stayed away. They stayed away until October.

Six months after it started, the streets reopened to two-way traffic ... and I love it, but six months of confusing traffic patterns during peak season really put a lot of people in the hole. Right in a hole, heading back into winter. Many of them didn't make it and more probably won't unless that flurry of customers we needed then, happens now.

Every day, too: "NFL Owners Sure Came Off Like Dumbasses When They Met With Players About Protests."

"Don’t ever get old. Don’t ever get rich."

Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Bills, might be interested to know that Charlton Heston retired from the National Rifle Association in 2003 and died in 2008.

One wonders if Pegula ever read a book.

NFL Owners Sure Came Off Like Dumbasses When They Met With Players About Protests, by Tom Ley (Deadspin)

... How do advanced age and generational wealth affect a person’s ability to have a meaningful discussion about a heavy subject? Not well, it seems. The Times reports that the meeting was full of school-room invocations of Wise Men Of History—Falcons owner Arthur Blank quoted Thomas Paine while Dolphins owner Stephen Ross brought up Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Selma—and failed metaphors. Bills owner Terry Pegula was in rare form.

Then the pinnacle of foot-shot references from Pegula, who made his fortune in fracking.

And then Pegula came back with whatever the hell this idea is:

Pegula offered that he thought the league was battling a perception and “media problem.” He said it would be great for the league to find a compelling spokesman — preferably a player — to promote all of the good things they were doing together. He suggested that the league could learn from the gun lobby in this regard.

“For years we’ve watched the National Rifle Association use Charlton Heston as a figurehead,” Pegula said. “We need a spokesman.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SweetFrog: "Please help save your only frozen treat option in New Albany."

SweetFrog is a frozen yogurt shop located at 302 Pearl St Suite B, New Albany, Indiana 47150. That's the northeast corner of Market and Pearl, adjacent to the forthcoming Longboard's.


Dear family, friends and loyal customers,

As most of you are aware, my husband and I opened sweetFrog Downtown New Albany in little over a year ago. While we were excited to endeavor on this new adventure, opening a new locally owned small business is hard.

We are sure most of you have seen the slew of restaurants and stores that have closed just in this year alone. We had a very hard winter as well and are feeling the effects of being painfully slow during those months. Unfortunately we are still trying to catch up on bills from the winter months. Additionally due to our frozen yogurt machines being cooled on City Water, we have quite a large water and sewer bill that has become impossible to pay. We are trying to raise funds to made good on our outstanding bills and furthermore install a glycol coolant system that will eliminate the need to cool on city run water.

➡Here's what you can do to help!

We are asking that you invite everyone that you know to the store this weekend to help us raise some additional funds. While we are in the process of attaining some financial aid loans, unfortunately it's come to a head and we either have to decide to leave on May 1st or pay our landlord a certain amount on May 1st in order to avoid being forced to close.

We love downtown New Albany and everything it's about. I mentioned opening a small business is hard-not only is it financially hard, but emotionally as well when you put your heart and soul into something that you truly believe can bring happiness to a community in the form of a healthier sweet treat and then have it potentially taken away. We truly hope that we are able to continue to stay open give you the best Froyo experience you've ever had.

Again please share with your family friends, colleagues--anybody that you know would love to support us and see us stay open. Please help save your only frozen treat option in New Albany.

Donations are always welcome as well and can be sent through the GoFundMe link below.

Thank you to all our loyal customers and blessings to each and every one of you!

Leah and Justin Alexander

In New Albany, Jeff Gahan still is "cowering before the demands of drivers," but "more and more cities are deciding to wrest control of their streets back from the tyranny of the automobile."

Thanks, B.

Jeff Speck devised a plan for downtown street grid reform. It was emasculated by Deaf Gahan's anointed and indemnified cleaver-wielding assassins at HWC Engineering. Gahan declared victory and moved to the next opportunity to bundle campaign finance.

In New Albany and Florida, bicyclists and pedestrians remain at risk when planners refuse the change car-centric nature of the street grid.

Jeff Gahan's de-Specked two-way street reversion led HWC Engineering to tack on bike and pedestrian infrastructure without changing the car-centric nature of the state's transportation planning.

Actually, almost all the biking infrastructure suggested by Speck was removed amid gleeful cheering by the irresolute likes of CM Greg Phipps (has he ever actually been on a bicycle?), but the analogy holds.

The two-way street grid project has not been transformative because Gahan didn't allow it to be ...

There's plenty of cowering and cowardice in New Albany. Maybe -- just maybe -- in 2019 we can start the process of changing the retrograde default into a paradigm that looks forward.


Cars Are Ruining Our Cities, by Justin Gillis and Hal Harvey (New York Times)

(Mr. Gillis is working on a book about climate change. Mr. Harvey is the chief executive of the research firm Energy Innovation.)

SAN FRANCISCO — We might be living through a new age of miracles. Last month, Los Angeles decided against adding lanes to a freeway, an unexpected move in a city that has mistakenly thought for years that more lanes mean fewer traffic jams.

Shortly before that, Germany’s highest court ruled that diesel cars could be banned from city centers to clean up the air. Mind you, Germany is the land where diesel technology was invented ...

 ... As we write these words, we can sense the bile rising in some drivers. Americans have such a sense of entitlement about cars that any attempt to limit them can provoke a fight, as New York has discovered.

Yet the truth is that people who drive into a crowded city are imposing costs on others. They include not just reduced mobility for everyone and degraded public space, but serious health costs ...

The bottom line?

The bottom line is that the decision to turn our public streets so completely over to the automobile, as sensible as it might have seemed decades ago, nearly wrecked the quality of life in our cities.

The shrinking remnants of Moser Tannery can't take much more of this strange "love" from Team Gahan.

There was a fire over the weekend at, in or near the former Moser Tannery, which the city of New Albany purchased last year as part of its plan to render the Loop Island Wetlands into a proper, campaign-finance-accruing parks unit for the greater glory of Gahanism.

WDRB mentioned the fire, but did not follow-up. Don't even ask about the Collected Works of Tom May, formerly known as the 'Bune, which evidently was busy sponsoring a barbecue coloring book contest somewhere near River Ridge.

The fire was the second in the vicinity of the tannery since early March, when a late-model industrial warehouse adjacent to the remaining brick building went up in flames. 

Is it just me, or has the abuse of the tannery site -- graffiti, vandalism, garbage and fires -- escalated noticeably since City Hall (ahem) took control?

I'm sure Dear Leader's official party line still calls for the reclamation of the main structure into something suitably luxurious to impel the mayor up from the bunker and out for a ribbon-cutting.

But right about now, it looks like the longer the city sits tight doing nothing at the Moser footprint, the greater chance there'll be nothing left to do anything with. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

LIVE TO EAT: The News and Tribune really likes A.S.S.

Now THAT's a great multinational beer list.

Allow me to make an observation, but before I do, kindly note that my point is not directed at the establishment known as A.S.S. -- or, American Smokehouse Stadium, which is located somewhere in Jeffersonville, slightly removed from my usual migratory route.

Mundane beer list aside, I have nothing whatever against the establishment, and what's more, I don't know anyone involved with it -- and by the way, A.S.S. is not a dig; it's purely intentional on the part of ownership (see logo above).

May they live long and prosper.

Rather, I find it fascinating that today's News and Tribune article about A.S.S. is the third one since September last year, and the second to be tagged as a "feature."

The first article previewed the restaurant, the second surveyed its progress, and the third (today's) offered insights into a recent ownership shuffle and menu reboot by a new chef.

In short, the sort of routine things that occur fairly regularly in the restaurant business.


Am I missing something?

Is it normal for one restaurant of many to be given this much attention?

How many local restaurants have had three separate News and Tribune stories in a seven-month period?

Does Bill Hanson's nephew work at A.S.S.?

Is the restaurant paying to play, given all this coverage?

Or, is A.S.S. the one cowering in terror behind the cabinetry -- "please, no, not another article; coverage from the Tom May Gazette is the kiss of death."

With the newspaper two reporters down (Morris on leave and nary a replacement for the departed Beilman), New Albanians already know which areas of coverage will be cut first.

Perhaps there are two asses, not just one.

ASK THE BORED ENCORE: What the hell do we do when a street light is out? Shouldn't this Duke Energy link be featured on the city's web site?

Today's installment of ASK THE BORED is an updated encore presentation of an unanswered question from November of 2016. 


You're outside walking the pooch after dark, and you trip on a malformed sidewalk that hasn't been repaired since the Kennedy years.

"Damn," you curse. "If only the street light would have been functional, I could have minded the gap."

And so you go to the city's snazzy upgraded web site, the one where you're greeted by a billboard-sized portrait of Our Beloved Leader, in order to report the street light outage, because you know the sidewalk's gonna be toast at least until the second Chelsea Clinton administration.

So much for that -- and be aware that searching for street light, street lamp and their plurals also comes up empty.

Surmising that the city probably has outsourced all such matters to the utility monopolies, which play a central role in campaign finance for those aspiring to be President Chelsea's local branded representative, you're off to Google.

Problem is, Duke says "no can do" in Indiana.

However, hit another link recently posted on a Facebook page, and there's this.

It appears to be a procedure for reporting street light outages. I tried it this evening (marked in red below).

This week's question to the Bored, destined to remain unanswered just like the rest: Exactly what is the procedure for reporting a street light outage? Is it Duke, or must citizens take a half day off from work to pay homage to Chairman Warren in person?

And: Shouldn't this information be on the city's web site?

Also this: Is it Happy Hour yet?

Martin Luther "prefigured modern-day evangelicalism, and a look back at his life can help explain why so many evangelicals support Trump today."

In 1989 during my month's stay in East Germany, three of us skipped work one day and took the train to Lutherstadt Wittenberg on the Elbe River to the southwest of Berlin.

Wittenberg is where Martin Luther may have posted his 95 theses on the cathedral door (this isn't definitively known), but it's definitely where he kicked off the Protestant Reformation. Soon I'm hoping to begin digitalizing the slides from the trip, and maybe after seeing the photos I'll remember a bit more about the day apart from buying bottles of beer and drinking all the way back to base camp.

All I knew about Donald Trump in 1989 is what I'd read while abstracting magazine articles at the long defunct UMI-Data Courier. It wasn't a favorable appraisal, and my impression cannot be said to have improved.

Trump's more vinegar than vintage wine ... but when it comes to the sweet taste of exposing the breathtaking fraudulence of white American evangelicals, I've got to hand it to the kitschmeister. It may be the only mission he's accomplished as president, but I cannot think of a more important one.

How Martin Luther Paved the Way for Donald Trump, by Michael Massing (The Nation)

To understand why evangelicals support the president, look to the first Protestant.

 ... The verdict is clear: In supporting this thrice-married, coarse, boastful, divisive, and xenophobic president, evangelicals are betraying the true nature of Christianity. In making such charges, however, these commentators are championing their own particular definition of Christianity. It is the Christianity of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus blesses the meek, disdains the rich, welcomes the stranger, counsels humility, and encourages charity. “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also,” he declares—a most un-Trumpian sentiment.

Yet this irenic message is just one strain in the New Testament. There’s another, more bellicose one. In Matthew, for instance, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword”—to “set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” In John, he declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through me”—a statement long used to declare Christianity the one true path to salvation. The Book of Revelation describes with apocalyptic fury the locusts, scorpions, hail, fire, and other plagues that God will visit upon the earth to wipe out the unbelievers and prepare the way for the Messiah.

From the earliest days of the faith, this militant strand has coexisted with the more pacific one. And it was the former that stirred the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther. In his fierce ideas, vehement language, and combative intellectual style, Luther prefigured modern-day evangelicalism, and a look back at his life can help explain why so many evangelicals support Trump today.

In defending the cause of Christ, Luther was uncompromising. No one, he wrote, should think that the Gospel “can be advanced without tumult, offense and sedition.” The “Word of God is a sword, it is war and ruin and offense and perdition and poison.” In Luther’s famous dispute with Erasmus of Rotterdam over free will and predestination, the renowned Dutch humanist suggested that the two of them debate the matter civilly, given that both were God-fearing Christians and that the Bible was far from clear on the subject. Exploding in fury, Luther insisted that predestination was a core Christian doctrine on which he could not yield and that Erasmus’s idea that they agree to disagree showed he was not a true Christian ...

Monday, April 23, 2018

THE BEER BEAT: Speakeasies here, speakeasies there, and not an original thought to be found anywhere.

It's far easier to be "magical" when your family has profited immensely from LEGAL liquor sales, the budget is unlimited, and you're not scraping for crumbs to implement good ideas -- but money can buy neither love nor an exemption from imminent prosecution for inexcusably pretentious word abuse.

The CJ's writer somehow keeps a straight face, this being a skill I never learned.

Blink and you might miss the latest trend to hit Louisville bars: Speakeasies, by Bailey Loosemore (Louisville Courier Journal)

 ... "It's sort of out of time and out of space," said Maud Welch, co-owner of Hell or High Water in downtown Louisville. "You walk in and you feel like you're part of an escape."

Welch and her brother, Stirling Welch, opened Hell or High Water earlier this year after spending 18 months constructing their bar within the Whiskey Row development.

The Louisville native said she was inspired by the speakeasy trend that picked up in New York during the four years she lived there.

"I just fell in love with the concept, especially in New York where in the hustle and bustle, you were able to go into these hidden underground spaces to have a quiet moment with a friend," Welch said. "It was pretty magical."

All together now:

"Speakeasy" is voyeurism, channeling the thrill of that danger without having to encounter it.


From June 2, 2017

THE BEER BEAT: "Please stop calling your legal, open-to-the-public bar a 'speakeasy' " -- and other adventures in fake news.

Allow me to suggest that far too many lamentations about the scourge of "fake news" are found to emanate from those who routinely and unquestioningly absorb vast mounds of extraneous bilge written and photographed in the service of food and drink promotion.

It isn't so much that many of the press releases I read from food and drink businesses are badly written, though stunningly often, they are.

Cringing in the expectation of further abuse is no way to enjoy your morning coffee.

Rather, it's when these hype sheets refer to the imperative of Hagio-Simmered Whey Encrusted Virgin Pork Gills, somehow combining pretentiousness, snobbery and loin of PT Barnum in a single phrase. We're supposed to nod knowingly, so that others will, too, even if none of us has any idea what it means.

As another example, a word like "speakeasy," unraveled here. To use this word without having a clue as to its proper context and historical meaning ... well, is that not fake?

If it isn't fake, what is?

And before someone asks, the late Speakeasy in New Albany was a restaurant, bar and musical venue that didn't claim to be something it wasn't. It was a proper name, not an implied identity. 

Fantasy is fun, and it appears that vast numbers of us were raised on pretending, though spouting utter nonsense doesn't make you a card-carrying member of the 1%, precisely because the 1% still holds all the cards -- and intends to keep it that way.

Better to learn something, act on one's convictions and teach the coming generations how life really works. End-times extravaganzas financed by plastic might prove only to presage the end times. I'd prefer to think and move otherwise.

I remain supportive of the various revolutions in food and drink, and always will, but the time has long since passed to raise a hand and call "bullshit," whether to drivel oozed by national political figures, local economic dishevelment directors or the posturing that accompanies restaurant openings and new beer releases.

Now, I'm going to make a statement (again) without really knowing how I intend to back it up, but speaking only for myself: It's back to hitting fungoes and shooting those hundred free throws every day. My world needs to be about fundamentals, genuineness and dependability. The train must become reacquainted with the rails, and those rules that matter learned prior to breaking them.

Rant over. Enjoy your damned weekend.

Please stop calling your legal, open-to-the-public bar a "speakeasy", by Esther Mobley (SF Gate)

Just because your bar doesn't have a sign does not make it a "speakeasy."

Other features that, sorry, still don't make it a speakeasy: a hidden door. A reservation-only policy. An intimidating gatekeeper.

And here's something that definitely precludes your bar from being a speakeasy: You send out press releases and post endless photos on Instagram, no matter how many old-timey mustaches or antique medicine bottles may appear in said photos.

For a while I've been biting my tongue, willing to let this term go the way of "handmade" or "artisanal," wearing itself out to the point of meaninglessness. But it's gone too far now.

The latest offender is the Grid, the new "Tron"-themed "speakeasy" inside the arcade-cum-bar Coin-Op. (Though there's some confusion even among its operators about what to call it: All press releases call it a "speakeasy." But one partner prefers "VIP lounge" to "speakeasy," which, don't even get me started on "VIP lounge.")