Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Duggins, Gahan log into Priceline Dot Com as Riverview Towers residents are evacuated.

Not luxury hotels, though. That just wouldn't be right, would it?

However, it's nice to see City Hall's efforts to address the ever-widening Compassion Gap by sending the Rev. Toran to deal with the media instead of Gauleiter Duggins, who has been too busy blaming Bob Lane for Duggins' own multiplicity of shortcomings to notice that living, breathing humans are in need of attention.

It's a kinder, gentler public housing putsch, wouldn't you say?

UPDATE: Riverview Towers residents to be placed in hotels, by Aprile Rickert (Tom May 'Bune Picayune)

NEW ALBANY — The more than 160 residents of New Albany Housing Authority's Riverview Towers were evacuated Monday after the second small fire in a week cut power to the whole building.

The short happened around 10 a.m., when the fire damaged the wires that control the building's electricity. The process to get residents relocated began around 3:15 p.m. when electrical engineers determined there would not be a way to fix the electricity Monday.

“We were hoping for a fix and at that time we just had to call it and make sure our residents were secure,” Tony Toran, deputy executive director of NAHA, said.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Kalin Tavern, where a passport is required to cross the barroom.

At Conde Nast Traveler, Ken Jennings writes about a tavern divided.

Sitting on an international border can be bad for business.

Running a multi-national pub in the middle of nowhere can be tricky. Kalin pays taxes only in Slovenia, but has a separate phone number in each country. He doesn't get so many Croatian guests now that they have to show a passport just to get to his front door, so he only stocks Slovene beers. An old photo in the hallway shows Kalin's mom's dog in happier times, peeing on the border marker right outside the tavern door.

The Google street view above dates to 2013, affording a clean view of the Kalin Tavern on the left (note the awnings) and the border blockade running right across the street.

In Slovene, "gostilna" is an inn or pub.

You might recall a digression from last year, in which I recounted my first and only visit to Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1987, when there was no wall across the road because all of it was part of the late Yugoslavia.

30 years ago today: (May) An introduction to Yugoslavia in Ljubljana, then Zagreb and the way to Sarajevo.

Union Pivo (beer) figured into that one, too.

So many walls, too few bridges.

Monday, July 30, 2018

This letter is so poorly written that maybe Duggins actually dictated it.

This is David Duggins' second summer in charge of the residences (or is it "residents"?) at Riverview Towers (but maybe it's "Tower," singular).

Seems he would have known about "old and antiquated systems" all the way back in 2017.

If he did know, why wait for these systems to collapse before doing something?

If he didn't know, then isn't $125k per year a bit much to pay in salary to someone to be reactive rather than proactive for the sake of political propaganda when the well-being of residents (not residences) is at stake?

Because that's what this letter is, isn't it -- pure political propaganda?

Carnegie Center: "Artists Aberlyn, Rebeka Sweetland, and Katy Traughber share work that embodies the sanctuary they create for one another as women makers."

Aberlyn, Rebeka Sweetland and Katy Traughber are the artists, and as a self-interested confession, Katy was engaged by Joe Phillips to coordinate the decor on the first floor of Pints&union. In fact, the Green Mouse thinks there'll be an after party at Pints&union following the reception. 

August 3 – September 22, 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018
Members-Only Curator & Artists Talk | 5:30 PM
Public Reception | 6:00 – 8:00 PM

“For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

As they become known to and accepted by us, our feelings and the honest exploration of them become sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas. They become a safe-house for that difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is not idle fantasy, but a disciplined attention to the true meaning of ‘it feels right to me.’” –Feminist Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 1984

Inspired by the Audre Lorde quote above, artists Aberlyn, Rebeka Sweetland, and Katy Traughber share work that embodies the sanctuary they create for one another as women makers. The artists feel the Lorde quote also reflects their individual works both in a cerebral and physical sense.

“The conversations we were able to have based on this idea were really powerful. There is something very nurturing and yet fleshly… and the tension between the two also reflects the energy of our pieces.” –Katy Traughber

Municipal comprehensive planning: "More often than not, it is a mechanism to wrap a veneer of legitimacy around the large policy objectives of influential people."

Of course, it might help to make the proper observations, ask the right questions and gather the pertinent data prior to making the decision, then presenting the decision to be rubber-stamped by those who'd been neither observed nor consulted.


... I’ve come to the point in my life where I think municipal comprehensive planning is worthless. More often than not, it is a mechanism to wrap a veneer of legitimacy around the large policy objectives of influential people. Most cities would be better off putting together a good vision statement and a set of guiding principles for making decisions, then getting on with it.

That is, get on with the hard work of iteratively building a successful city. That work is a simple, four-step process:

  1. Humbly observe where people in the community struggle.
  2. Ask the question: What is the next smallest thing we can do right now to address that struggle?
  3. Do that thing. Do it right now.
  4. Repeat.

It’s challenging to be humble, especially when you are in a position, or are part of a profession, whose internal narrative suggests you know what to do. It’s painful to observe, especially when that means confronting messy realities that do not fit with your view of the world. It’s unsatisfying, at times, to try many small things when the “obvious” fix is right there. If only those around you just shared your “courage” to undertake it (of course, with no downside to you if you’re wrong). If only people had the patience to see it through (while they, not you, continue to struggle in the interim).

Yet what if we humbly observe where people in our community struggle—we use the experiences of others as our data—and we continually take the actions we are capable of taking, right now, to alleviate those struggles? And what if we do this in neighborhood after neighborhood across the entire city, month after month and year after year? If we do that, not only will we make the lowest risk, highest returning public investments it is possible to make, we won’t help but improve people’s lives in the process.

That is the essence of a Strong Towns approach.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Against the Grain to Citra its Ass Down in Okinawa.

You may be asking: Okinawa?

Japan’s southernmost prefecture is relatively close to Taiwan and Mainland China, and they have influenced its music, food, art and architecture.

The largest of the Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa was part of the independent Ryukyu Kingdom from the 15th to 19th centuries. It’s been part of Japan for a “mere” 135 years, so it’s not surprising that Okinawans are less attuned to the Japanese customs of the north.

As such, perhaps it's to be expected that a brewery priding itself on eclecticism and dirty underwear would find a locale like Okinawa, which goes against the Japanese grain.

Good work, gentlemen.

As a side note, the legendary Indiana-born journalist and war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed during the battle of Okinawa in 1945. The battle ended in June and was the last major engagement in the Pacific theater of operations. Japan surrendered to the United States on September 2, following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American atom bombs.

The late Aiko Allen, my aunt, was 14 when the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. She somehow survived, married my mom's brother (he was stationed in Japan during the Korean War), and lived the rest of her life in Henderson, Kentucky.

The Allen household always contained arts, crafts and bric-a-brac from Japan, among them a calendar from Okinawa that Aunt Aiko gifted me when I was six or seven. It might be stored in a box somewhere downstairs.

All of which has nothing to do with beer, and so be it. Beer may be life, but life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

Best wishes to Against the Grain; too bad NABC's expansion plan to Old Albania back in 2013 never worked out.

Against the Grain partnering with Japanese entrepreneur to open brewery in Okinawa, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

Against the Grain Brewery is partnering with a Japanese entrepreneur to open a brewery in Okinawa. The endeavor is expected to be up and running by this fall.

Against the Grain Ishigaki, which is located in downtown Ishigaki on the island in the Okinawa prefecture, is already open as a restaurant, selling American-brewed Against the Grain beers and serving Japanese dishes that pair with the beers.

The beers, which will be brewed at the small brewery, will be based on the American beers but altered to better fit Japanese palates. Adam Watson, a partner in Against the Grain, said Japanese people tend to want clean, crisp beers — meaning that Citra Ass Down likely won’t be in play ...

Duggins spreads blame, manure as the air conditioning at Riverview Towers fails on HIS watch.

Can anyone remember a single instance of a Team Gahan operative admitting to error? Cults of personality are like that, you know.

More than 150 NAHA residents without air conditioning, by Aprile Rickert (Tom May Almanac)

Fans issued, portable units coming, fix could take weeks

NEW ALBANY — More than 150 residents at Riverview Towers in New Albany have been without air conditioning in their apartments since Tuesday, and although temporary measures are in place, they may have to wait up to a month for permanent repairs.


Duggins said the issue that caused the short is due to the age of the facility, which has not had a major upgrade since the 1970s.

“Unfortunately because of the age of our system and the condition of all public housing in New Albany, we have issues of this nature,” the text message states.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

"Lech Walesa: The Shipyard," a film by Errol Morris.

I haven't watched the other two films in this series. I find this one tremendously moving -- and funny at times. When you win, there's the luxury of self-deprecation.

Lech Wałęsa kept getting fired from his jobs for being an agitator, but then the Communist government realized it wasn't a good idea to keep him jobless, because then he had more time to sabotage the government.

Therein lies a lesson of some sort for the anti-Gahan resistance, although I'm too tired right now to divine it.

The former Polish president Lech Walesa explains how he defied Communist rule to help bring down the Iron Curtain. Part 2 of “Three Short Films About Peace.”

The Double Barrel bourbon lounge on Main Street is open for business.

Double Barrel opened yesterday. It's on Main Street opposite the forthcoming Reisz Mahal, in the former Match cigar bar location.

I think it's savvy of them to emphasize the bourbon. Establishments need to angle for distinctive niches amid what we all hope will become a pedestrian-friendly downtown zone.

New Albany's only bourbon lounge opens, by Danielle Grady (That Tom May Show)

NEW ALBANY — Louisville has so many bourbon bars, there are online lists devoted to picking out the ones most worth your time. Southern Indiana? Not so much.

Double Barrel, which opened on Friday at 147 E. Main St., will be New Albany’s only.

The lounge, which replaces the former New Albany location of Jeffersonville’s bourbon bar, Match Cigar Bar, will serve over 30 different kinds of bourbon: from I.W. Harper to Knob Creek.

WDRB also ran a segment.

New Albany has a new downtown hotspot.

Double Barrel Bourbon Bar opened for business Friday afternoon on East Main Street. The owners said it's the first high-end bar of its kind in New Albany.

There's no food served, but Double Barrel features a relaxed atmosphere where customers can enjoy drinks before or after dinner.

(Just a thought: best have that freezer in back packed with hot dogs and buns, and a microwave. Instant coffee, powdered milk. Been there, done that ... ATC citation.)

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: A casual soft opening for Pints&union on a frenetic Friday evening in downtown New Albany.

Pints&union cleared its first hurdle on Friday evening. It was a very soft opening, with beers and drinks and nibbles.

The handles looked nice, although the learning curve was/is strenuous. There's an inevitable process of dialing in keg boxes, and making draft beer work right is like breaking a horse, with each system a bit different from the next. As attractive as these handles might appear, we're all in agreement that we should retrofit with something shorter, like basic black knobs. I'll be getting started on this in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

The upstairs, captured by Ed Needham. We need a name for this space. Steve Resch just might have been overheard suggesting "better times."

Ground floor, from the stairs.

Tasty red lentil hummus with naan bread. Joe and Aaron will be broadening the menu range once the kitchen hood installation is complete, hopefully Monday.

The scene earlier in the afternoon, with Joe, Calvin and Bryan. We didn't want to do a conventional invitation-only type of soft opening and resolved to unlock the doors and see what happened.

It happened, all right.

The grand opening is next Wednesday, August 1. Don't hold me to this, but I believe the opening time will be around 5 or 6 p.m., with the music at 8. There'll be primarily evening hours at first, with exceptions for Saturday and Sunday; closed on Monday. Once a routine is established, anything might happen.

In closing, my back hurts and the draft delivery system still needs work. The draft beers tasted great and were depleting fairly evenly. Staff was sharp and the overall mood jovial. Resch Construction's work exceeded expectations, as they've always somehow managed to do.

Congratulations to Joe, Regina, their kids and families; it's the start of something good, and the legacies begin now.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Looks like ESNA and HyperCars are closerthanthis, which is why reality is so much more humorous than fiction.

What's a concerned citizen have to do to get back on the neighborhood association mailing list?

Thanks to the Green Mouse for forwarding what my eyes obviously aren't supposed to be viewing.

On Wednesday August 1 at 6:00 PM Hyper Cars Auto Detailing, located at 13th & Spring St, will hosting a special Open House for members of the ESNA. Please come and see the improvements made to the building and property. On August 7th the owner, Christian Betz, will be requesting a special exception at the BZA to sell a limited number of high-end cars at the location and he would like to have support from members of the neighborhood.

Hope to see you there.

Greg Roberts
ESNA President

It appears that ESNA's president-for-life has decided to hop into bed with HyperCars over "luxury" auto sales; given the bed already is occupied by Jeff Gahan, it may be time to upsize.

Have you noticed the default? Just about anyone who become aligned with city hall in any way suddenly feels the need to discourage dialogue and communication, keeping as much activity as possible below the surface.

That ugly word again: Plan Commission to consider "luxury" car sales at HyperCars on 13th and Spring.

When I finally was allowed to attend an ESNA meeting recently and the question of used car sales at HyperCars was raised, the association's Greg Roberts said there'd be none.

Yesterday I asked Greg for a clarification, and he offered this revision: it seems the neighborhood elders have been monitoring the situation, and they knew all along that HyperCars someday would seek to park no more than seven cars at a time on the lot for sale, but no one thought the business actually would pursue an exception this quickly, and learned of it only when the Plan Commission mailing arrived.

That's poor communication on several levels.

Whereas I'd previously declined to get involved with this situation, I can feel the dander's upward creep.

Ironically, after the last ESNA meeting Roberts told me it would be okay for my address to once again be added to the mailing list, from which it had been removed after I foolishly assumed a few YEARS back that I could "reply to all" in an effort to facilitate communicating with neighbors -- but NO; this apparently is a violation of East Gregland protocol.

Add another column to the Chronicles of New Gahania: I'm being excluded from a neighborhood association that barely exists because dialogue is a threat to "proper" communication.

Shrug. If you're a 3rd district voter, hasn't eight years of this been enough?

Precinct by precinct: "An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Presidential Election."

I'll just leave this here. In the context of our eternal city versus county division, we've compared the position of the Floyd County Democratic Party in forthcoming 2019 municipal elections to that of the last-ditch Alamo. The first map above illustrates this very clearly.

An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Presidential Election

Do you live in a political bubble? Start exploring the map by searching for a place you know.

Right here in my own neighborhood ...

This is a Clinton precinct. The surrounding area is in the 72nd percentile for Clinton. The nearest Trump precinct is right next door.

How this precinct voted:

Candidate  Votes  Pct.
Clinton      206     52%
Trump       154     39%

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: A Pints&union preview in the News and Tribune.

Pints&union will be opening for regular business hours next week. This much I know. Otherwise, please connect with the Facebook page to keep informed about details.

Now for another pub preview, courtesy of the local newspaper. As of about 2:00 p.m. today, all the draft lines should be up and running, and a big shout-out goes to Kenny Henson of Monarch Beverage/World Class Beer for his efforts in fine-tuning the keg boxes. Joe and the rest of the team have been putting in the hours. All that remains is to tie up 1,001 loose ends and unlock the door.


UK-inspired pub opening in New Albany next week, by Danielle Grady (News and Tribune's Deep Repository of Tom May Content)

NEW ALBANY — Pints & Union is a United Kingdom-inspired pub that doesn’t have to slap you in your face to tell you that it is one.

Instead of Union Jacks plastered to the walls and the sounds of generic folk music being piped through the sound system, owner Joe Phillips has hung Victorian-esque paintings he found at auctions and opted for modern, British-inspired tunes.

The limited selection of nine beers on tap will feature European favorites (a Guinness stout, a Fuller’s London Pride and the Czechian Pilsner Urquell), but the food, served small plates-style, will be world-inspired with a bar bites twist: tikka masala wings and pickles coated in Lebanese spices.

The British Empire did once extend to almost every continent, after all, Phillips reminds ...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Proud boys, wild boys -- but no boy toys, at least yet.

I received a message from a 20-something friend.

proud boys at B. can we run them off?

I'm no longer affiliated with B, and subsequently there may have been a disturbance, but that's irrelevant. My attention was directed to "proud boys," the meaning of which I somewhat correctly guessed.

However, be forewarned that proud boys aren't the same as Duran Duran's wild boys from the distant mirror known as the year 1984.

Interestingly, the band's song was written with a previous example in mind.

The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead is a novel by Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs. It was first published in 1971 by Grove Press. It depicts a homosexual youth movement whose objective is the downfall of western civilization, set in an apocalyptic late twentieth century.

Maybe the two are closer than it seems. The Urban Dictionary yields clarification.

Proud boys

This is what happens when a bunch of redneck wankers finally get the truck running long enough to leave the trailer park and drive around yelling names at anyone who doesn’t wear a MAGA hat and smell like beer piss.
Those proud boys were sure as hell surprised to find out that the 6’ 2” 275 lb power lifter didn’t like being called “libtard”.

Uncivil Wars for $500, Alex.

ON THE AVENUES: Maybe, just maybe, you really can go home again.

ON THE AVENUES: Maybe, just maybe, you really can go home again.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

You’ll recall that some months ago, a warning was served to habitués of this blog.

To wit: When Zero Hour arrives and the Pints&union project leaves dry dock, there’s a very good chance of my beer- and pub-related obsessions getting the better of me and monopolizing the conversation.

In short, dear readers, I’m presently doing a poor job of offering varied content. Then again, beer is my life, and much of my life has been spent reposing in pubs, observing people and their beers, so you’re just going to have to humor me.

(Pints&union will be opening for regular business hours next week. This much I know. Otherwise, please connect with the Facebook page to keep informed about details.)

As many of you know, I’m working for Joe Phillips, caring for the beers at his emerging establishment and purely grateful for the opportunity.

What I’m doing isn’t exactly “curating” (how I’ve come to hate that word). Rather, it’s picking the right beers, getting to know them all over again and organizing these beers the right way.

It’s about shedding unnecessary baggage, retaining useful devices, and making a short but expressive list of beers to be enjoyed in a casual pub setting.

In the current milieu, it’s also incorporates a sizable dollop of this timeless axiom: “Don’t do something -- just stand there.”


In 1983, I lucked into a part-time job downtown at Scoreboard Liquors and started learning about beer and the business of selling it.

Back in those days, when Model T Fords were the norm on city streets and sewer pipes in New Albany were only a rumor bandied by the regulars at Ernie’s Tavern, there weren’t many “beer lists” at dining and drinking establishments in the metropolitan Louisville area.

Beer lists were not a thing, and one simply didn’t ask. To have done so would be to risk ridicule, ejection, or at the very best dumbfounded amazement, as though you’d waded into the Tumbleweed or Lancaster’s and spoken a dialect of Estonian.

Bartenders who bothered to keep a straight face would shrug: “We have both kinds of beer, High Life and Miller Lite.” 35 years later, down that long and winding road to nowhere, the beer list pendulum hasn’t merely swung to the other extreme.

It has become disengaged from the pivot, torn a gaping hole in the side of the building and currently is gaining warp speed at 35,000 feet in route to the next flavor-of-the-millisecond paradigm shift.

Consider that in 1992, I bought a poster called "Brewpubs and Craft Breweries," which showed a map of breweries operating in the United States, all 300 or so of them.

Or, fewer than were operating at the time in the Bavarian region of Franconia, which is the size of what we refer to as Southern Indiana.

Looking back, there was only one brewery each in Indiana (Broad Ripple Brewpub; Indianapolis), Kentucky (Oldenberg; Ft. Mitchell), and Tennessee (Bohannon's/Market Street). As of April, 2018, the brewery counts for these states are 137, 52 and 82, respectively. Combine the current numbers for these three states, and it’s almost as many breweries as in the entire country in 1992.

Today there are 6,000 craft breweries, and if each one of them brews six different beers a year, that’s 36,000 beers for us to try, except this production estimate is too conservative by half -- and what about imported beers, both craft and classic?

From this seemingly infinite and ever-changing array -- certainly tens of thousands of potential choices worldwide -- several hundred have been culled by wholesalers for availability to us in Indiana, perhaps one thousand or more annually if all the state’s breweries are included.

On the flip side, those establishments selling beer brewed by others find themselves challenged on a daily basis by finite spatial limitations. Even the manager of the most voluminous, warehouse-sized package store or cavernous walk-in cooler at the multi-tap must make hard decisions about which beers to keep in stock.

One solution, especially as it pertains to draft beer, is for on-premise restaurants, bars and pubs to constantly rotate their offerings. A regular customer who makes weekly visits to a bar with 15 handles might end the year having been exposed to two hundred different draft beers – and consumed more than a few of them.

Remembering is another story.

Of course I must concede to a significant role in helping create this model while serving my time with NABC at the Public House. But even in the early 2000s, it often occurred to me to speculate about my future consciousness once everyone else started emulating the scattershot kaleidoscope approach.

Would I go back to Stroh’s?

Stop drinking beer entirely?

Become a teetotaler and declare war on demon rum (and rum-barrel aged pastry stouts)?

Nah. The barroom chose me, and I’m not a quitter. At the same time, there’s a new goal in this beer drinker’s life: escaping the beer selection tilt-a-whirl and commencing a counter revolution. Why? As the late, great Norman "Doc" Holliday was fond of saying, "Why not? I can't dance."

Those of us condemned to diligently self-medicate our innate contrarianism know it isn’t a question of whether or not we’ll rebel, only a consideration of when.

At some point in the recent past I stepped into bar somewhere in America, saw a beer list of 50 drafts, found myself unable to recall half of the names on the chalkboard, and came down with a nasty case of the epiphany.

If someone like me in the craft beer business couldn’t keep up with new breweries and their beers, then what about the many guys and gals who like better beer but don’t wish to take a college course or remain glued to an iPhone app all evening long just to navigate the beer list and order a pleasant, tasty beverage?

And if the customers are confused, what about the employees during an epoch of constant turnover?

How many times have I heard a server say something to the effect of “That beer just got tapped, and I just started working here, and I don’t know much about it yet”?

And: That'll be $8 for a 10-ounce pour, please.

These past three years sitting on the end of the bench, slowly nursing my chronically burned-out inner world back to a semblance of ruddy good health and contemplating a return from the voluntarily retired list, it has become clearer than ever to me that better beer in America is somehow managing to alienate a silent majority of beer drinkers who find constant rotation of drafts (or hundreds of packaged selections at the liquor store) utterly bewildering.

Furthermore, I believe these folks tend to keep this perfectly understandable confusion to themselves for fear of appearing uninformed at a time when the loud ubiquity of stylishness arbiters among the priestly caste stand forever eager to wield their superior knowledge against neophytes eager to dip a toe into the Dunkel. To the extent that I helped impel THAT type of attitude, many apologies.

Hence this Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) USSR anecdote, which I’ve been peddling for years.

It's the stagnant Brezhnev era, circa 1970s, but Soviet scientists finally have solved the riddle of death, immediately applying the potion to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's embalmed corpse.

Lenin springs back to life, dusts off, and looks around the room. Asked by the scientists if they can get him anything, Lenin requests access to his office in the Kremlin and all the back issues of Pravda since he died. Fawningly, the scientists comply, and Lenin shuts himself in the office.

Day after day passes by, and while the scientists are terrified to bother Lenin, they eventually begin to worry. Finally they decide to break down the door. Inside Lenin's office they find issues of the newspaper strewn everywhere, but no Lenin.

On the desk he has left a note:

"Comrades, everything’s gone to hell in a hand basket, so I'm off to start the revolution all over again."


I could go on and on, as I have in the past, and will continue doing in the future, but the point of it all is the opportunity to begin a new chapter by applying old thinking.

The book on my nightstand is Michael “Beer Hunter” Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium, published in 1992 and revised several times before Jackson’s death in 2007. This period of 15 years coincides with many of my visits to Belgium, when we maintained a beer list of several hundred at the Public House, of which perhaps 50 – 75 were Belgian.

It might as well have been 1892. Any number of seismic factors have changed the planet irrevocably since those early days at Scoreboard, running through the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the internet and the appearance of 6,000 breweries that didn’t exist when my feet first touched European soil in 1985. But in my noggin I remain the sum total of all these past experiences. They're valuable to me, and I sense there's a baton in need of passing.

Consequently, no sales figures were consulted in preparing the prospective beer list at Pint&union. Metrics and algorithms were completely shunned. Most of my final decisions didn’t even occur until the interior was nearly completed, when I could sit in different spots and imagine what beers would taste like alone in winter seated on a bar stool, with old friends in a booth, or leaning against the wall beaming with pleasure as a rookie tastes Schlenkerla for the first time.

Like Tommy and pinball, I play beer by intuition. There may eventually be a light, low-calorie lager on the list -- or an Anstich keg pouring from the counter, or both at the same time.

Now we’ll see how it all works out. Thanks, everyone.


Recent columns:

July 19: ON THE AVENUES: Confusion, exile, ignobility and resistance amid various other Chronicles of New Gahania.

July 12: ON THE AVENUES: Thanks to Joe Phillips, there'll be pints, union and good times downtown.

July 5: ON THE AVENUES: For Deaf Gahan and the Reisz Five, their luxury city hall will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.

June 28: ON THE AVENUES: Said the spider to the fly -- will you please take a slice of Reisz?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: The forthcoming beer list at Pints&union (bottle and can edition).

This one's NOT on the list.

Yesterday I wrote briefly about the opening draft list at Pints& union, but first a quick reminder: when we're ready, that's when we'll open for business, and the best way to know is to follow the pub's progress at Facebook.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Kevin Gibson's look at Pints&union in Insider Louisville.

Today, the bottles and cans I've chosen.

Old-timers will notice the presence of "comfort beers," "neglected classics" and "greatest beer hits" alongside beers like Stroh's, Old Style and Little Kings. The juxtaposition is purely intentional.

Indeed, it's a more egalitarian list than I would have written at the peak of polemical fervor, with fewer local craft brews; as noted previously, in my view the revolution has succeeded in large measure, and there are numerous American craft beers being vended in downtown New Albany.

The best possible outcome for my city is when folks wander from place to place, sampling the offerings.

When available choices number in the hundreds, decisions must be made. I've opted for stylistic diversity, and relaxed my vigilance a bit. In point of fact, Stroh's, Old Style and Little Kings are what I drank in my twenties, until the imported bug bit. However, the beer list's Trappist and traditional German games are strong, too.

I'm still adjusting the wording for the styles. Anyone can look on-line and identify a beer by style; the problem is that different sources don't always agree on terminology. I reserve the right to tweak and make these identifiers as comprehensible as possible for the general public.

We're still in the process of sorting through our cooler space. Once we're up and rolling, another 12-15 beers in bottles and cans slowly will be added to the list. If those beers with a shorter shelf life don't move, we'll remainder them and flip another coin. The somewhat permanent list should land in the range of 45 selections.

Other Indiana wholesalers will get into mix as time passes. I've opted to keep things simple at the start, and once the ground game is established, we'll fire up the passing game.

What else? Prices are yet to come, sorry; we just got there today, and the POS is being programmed.

BOTTLES AND CANS (bottles unless noted)

Anchor Steam (California Common; 12oz; 4.9%; CA)
Boon Oude Geuze (Lambic; 12oz; 7%; Belgium)
Central State Garden (Gose; 16oz can; 3.6%; IN)
Daredevil Vacation Kӧlsch (Kӧlsch; 16.9oz can; 5%; IN)
Duvel (Strong Golden Ale; 11.2oz; 8.5%; Belgium)

Little Kings (Cream Ale; 7oz; 5.5%; OH)
Newcastle Brown Ale (English Brown Ale; 11.2oz; 4.7%; England)
Old Style (American Lager; 16oz can; 5%; WI)
Orval (Trappist Ale; 11.2oz; 6.2%; Belgium)
Orkney Skull Splitter (Wee Heavy; 11.2oz btl; 8.5%; Scotland)

Rochefort 10 (Trappist Ale; 11.2oz; 11.3%; Belgium)
Rodenbach Sour Ale (West Flanders Red; 11.2oz; 5.2%; Belgium)
Saison Dupont (Classic Saison; 12.7oz; 6.5%; Belgium)
Sam. Smith’s Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout; 11.2oz; 5%; England)
Sam. Smith’s Organic Perry (Perry/Pear Cider; 11.2oz; 5%; England)

Schlenkerla Marzen Rauchbier (Smoked Lager; 16.9oz; 5.1%; Germany)
Schneider Aventinus (Wheat Bock; 16.9oz; 8.2%; Germany)
Schneider Weisse (Bavarian Wheat; 16.9oz; 5.4%; Germany)
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (American Pale Ale; 12oz can; 5.6%; CA/NC)
Smithwick’s Ale (Irish Red Ale; 11.2oz; 3.8%; Ireland)

St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Trappist Ale; 11.2oz; 10%; Belgium)
Stiegl Grapefruit Radler (Lager & Fruit Soda; 16.9oz can; 2.5%; Austria)
Stone IPA (India Pale Ale; 12oz; 6.9%; CA)
Stroh’s (American Lager; 12oz can; 4.6%; OH)
Three Floyds Alpha King (American Pale Ale; 12oz btl; 6.5%; IN)

Upland Wheat (Belgian-style Wheat; 12oz can; 4.7%; IN)
Upland Champagne Velvet (Pre-Prohibition Pilsner; 16oz can; 5.2%; IN)
Vander Mill Hard Apple (Apple Cider; 16oz can; 6.8%; MI)
Westmalle Tripel (Trappist Ale; 11.2oz; 9.5%; Belgium)

Collector's Series of 2019 Mayoral Election Memes, Volume 1: Warren's Motivations.


62,572 annual reasons (and 26 cents) why "a great experience is priceless" is the worst answer for any city employee to give.

GREEN MOUSE SAYS: Let's talk about Jeff Gahan and his personal fire department's handy tire changing service, and nepotism, and ...

Short-term spending to buy votes? How can Steve Bonifer be AGAINST this without threatening the tranquility of the next family picnic?

Councilman Phipps meets the enemy -- and finds that they are him.

Several times in the recent past we've cast a flabbergasted glance at these duplicitous machines of sheer uselessness.

The "distracted pedestrian" is a myth, but distracted engineers and planners are another topic.

Neither City Hall nor HWC Engineering sees a problem with this mishap-plagued intersection. Maybe we should appeal to Floyd County government for help.


At Strong Towns: "4 Reasons We Must Build Our Streets for People (Not Just Cars).

3rd district councilman Greg Phipps' first mistake was to accept Jeff Gahan's watered-down two-way street grid paving project without a substantive murmur, insisting all the while that to question mayoral authority was even more treasonous than breaking bread with Vladimir Putin.

A neighbor's social media post yesterday about those idiotic solar-powered pedestrian danger crossings puts it all into perspective.

Just throwing it out there: there needs to be a highly visible driver education campaign to teach drivers what this sign and signaled light actually mean. I pushed this button to turn on the light to signal drivers I wanted to cross the street, and had I proceeded, I would’ve been mowed down by nothing short of 10 to 12 cars. Drivers did not even hit the brakes. I think these are a great safety move and I am glad they were installed, but they will not be effective in actually protecting pedestrians until drivers are educated.

A respondent tagged the councilman.

Greg Phipps....any ideas? Or any changes that the city is planning on implementing?

I have mentioned this at least 5-6 times at council and board of works. They are unwilling to add signs in the middle of the street like at the high school :(

What about a public education campaign? It’s seriously a tragedy waiting to happen. I shudder to think if someone made the assumption the traffic would slow and stop. Or children growing up and learning to cross the street. Scary stuff. The street was actually safer without these lights installed. These provide a dangerous false sense of security.

There has been an article in the tribune, but very few read it.


Let's go back to this: They are unwilling.

Who are they, anyway?

Isn't Greg Phipps "they"?

Phipps is a Democrat. BOW is populated by Democratic Party appointees, and party appointees trashed Jeff Speck's street grid plan and installed these pathetic, non-functional pedestrian crossing sitting duck mechanisms. 

Phipps passively notes that no one reads the newspaper, and laments being ignored at Board of Public Works meetings?


They and them ARE he and him, one and the same. Phipps was elected to office with C-minus junta support, and has voted with the governing clique roughly 95% of the time. He's one of only nine councilmen (not a single woman) in the entire city, and yet he cannot determine a way to make his voice heard.

Instead, he merely whines in response, not unlike a lashed cur.

But he has the means at his disposal to make "them" listen, doesn't he? After all, he's one of them. Phipps' council vote has immense significance should he ever decide to wield it tactically.

Just imagine if Phipps' vote in favor of the Reisz city hall relocation boondoggle had been made conditional on his fellow Democrats actually DOING something about the pedestrian safety problem, rather than ducking, covering and kicking sand in his face.

A "no" vote on the Reisz Mahal's first reading in May, accompanied by some genuine spinefulness, might well have resulted in both of Phipps' desired outcomes: real-world safety measures on streets AND relief for the oppressed, inhumanely housed city workers. 

The election's next year.

Isn't it time for a change in the 3rd district? 


Windmill dunk by Richard Florida: "America devotes far too many of its precious resources to parking."

Outside, it's New Albany, and in this map prepared a few years back by Jeff Gillenwater, parking areas in downtown are colored red. Granted, not all are public auto-friendly spaces, and perhaps pieces of the wasted acreage have since disappeared for infill, as with Breakwater.

The point remains: the red splotches should be vastly reduced -- and as far as Harvest Homecoming's parking needs for one week each year are concerned, just don't go there.

Would you rather generate income 51 weeks each year, or only one?

The article at CityLab is Parking Has Eaten American Cities, and Richard Florida's conclusion is the place to start.

America devotes far too many of its precious resources to parking. This is especially troubling given that driving is in decline. For example, the share of Seattle households with a car has fallen for the first time in at least 40 years, and the percentage of U.S. high school seniors with a driver’s license is at “a record low”—down from 85.3 percent in 1996 to 71.5 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, ride-sharing is up, and cities and real estate developers are striving to reduce parking requirements.

Joni Mitchell famously sang: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” It’s time we reclaim our cities from car storage and use the space for what we need more of, from housing and bike lanes to sidewalk cafes and parks.

As always, Florida offers statistical evidence.

Parking eats up an incredible amount of space and costs America’s cities an extraordinary amount of money. That’s the main takeaway of a new study that looks in detail at parking in five U.S. cities: New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Des Moines, and Jackson, Wyoming.

The study, by Eric Scharnhorst of the Research Institute for Housing America (which is affiliated with the Mortgage Bankers of America), uses data from satellite images, the U.S. Census, property tax assessment offices, city departments of transportation, parking authorities, and geospatial maps like Google Maps to generate inventories of parking for these five cities. (The inventories include on-street parking spaces, off-street surface parking lots, and off-street parking structures.)

Friday evening is going to be an interesting test case. There'll be two food and drink openings downtown, and maybe a third, and also Schmitt Furniture's birthday concert is at the amphitheater. Friday's always the busiest night of the week for eating out, anyway.

If all this comes down on Friday and the top two levels of the (free) parking garage are still mostly empty ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Kevin Gibson's look at Pints&union in Insider Louisville.

I spent the afternoon filling it with cans and bottles.

As always, Kevin's reporting is impeccable, so read all about it -- and there are photos, too. Just don't ask me to tell you exactly when. When everything's ready, that's when.

Meanwhile, I'm like a kid in the damn candy store, albeit with back and knees throbbing from stocking cans and bottles today. It feels wonderful. The keg boxes are almost ready to pour; just a few more tweaks tomorrow.

I don't suppose it hurts to release the opening day (whenever that is) lineup of drafts.

Anchor Porter (Robust Porter; 5.6%; CA)
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (India Pale Ale; 7%; MI)
Fuller’s London Pride (English Bitter; 4.7%; England)
Guinness Stout (Irish Dry Stout; 4.2%; Ireland)
Pilsner Urquell (Bohemian Pilsner; 4.4%; Czech Republic)

Falls City Classic Pilsner (American Pilsner; 4.5%; KY)
Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier (Bavarian Wheat; 5.4%; Germany)

Assuming the keg box layout works as planned, there'll be another seasonal beer on tap: Daredevil's Munich Dunkel, because what Daredevil's doing with their lager program is out of this world. I can't promise with any precision yet, but I think it will work out.

It's all going to work out, in fact. I just don't know exactly when. Cue Carly Simon's "Anticipation" song from the ketchup ad, and remember: "these are the good old days."

Pints & Union: A first look at the New Albany pub, expected to open in early August, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

Pints & Union, the long-planned European-style pub in downtown New Albany, is days away from a soft open trial run and likely just a couple of weeks away from an official grand opening.

As of this writing, the business, owned by Joe Phillips, was awaiting final licenses to begin serving liquor, but Phillips let Insider in for a first look at what the pub has in store.

For anyone who has been inside an actual pub in western Europe, chances are you’ll feel right at home at Pints & Union, which is located at 114 E. Market St. Wood floors, exposed brick and a general rustic feel is what you’ll find, accented with quirky décor, including antique art, breweriana and lots of taxidermy ...

Rhiannon Giddens: "The musician reveals all about her mission to put the black back into bluegrass – and Shakespeare."

It's completely embarrassing to admit that up until now, I've know nothing about Rhiannon Giddens and her music. At the same time, it's just another crucial reminder that the opportunity to learn is ever-present, even if we abstain from it or miss the chance the first time around.

'White people are so fragile, bless 'em' … meet Rhiannon Giddens, banjo warrior, by Emma John (The Guardian)

She pours fire and fury into powerful songs that target everything from police shootings to slavery. The musician reveals all about her mission to put the black back into bluegrass – and Shakespeare

‘We’re all racist to some degree,” says Rhiannon Giddens. “Just like we’re all privileged to some degree. I have privilege in my system because I’m light-skinned. I hear people say, ‘I didn’t have it easy growing up either.’ But when did it become a competition?”

As someone on a mission to bridge such divides, Giddens thinks about this stuff a lot. The Grammy-winning singer and songwriter was born to a white father and a black mother in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the late 1970s. Her parents married only three years after the landmark Loving v Virginia decision, which reversed the anti-miscegenation laws that had made interracial marriage illegal. Their union was still shocking enough that her father was disinherited.

While much has changed in the 40 years that Giddens has been alive, her latest album, Freedom Highway, is a powerful testament to the inequality and injustice that remain. It opens with At the Purchaser’s Option, a devastating track inspired by an 1830s advert for a female slave whose nine-month-old baby could also be included in the sale. “It was kind of a statement to put that one first,” says Giddens. “If you can get past that, you’ll probably survive the rest ...”

LIVE TO EAT: Longboard's Taco & Tiki will open this Friday, July 27.

Let the record show two verified food and drink establishments debuting in downtown New Albany on Friday, July 27: Longboard's Taco & Tiki and the Double Barrel bar.

There may even be a third; more on that some other time.

At Longboard's, the Halls are cross-culturally adapting tiki to tacos, and throwing into the mix a Mexican-style lager beer brewed in Indianapolis -- and I like it. Such creative fusion makes perfect sense to me.

Tiki never was some sort of rigorous local tradition. It was a ingenious hybrid from the very start. Ironically, what's often forgotten is the founding connections between tiki and Chinese food, something that probably could have happened only in 1930s California during the pinnacle of Hollywood chic.

Tiki was, and still can be, so much more than kitsch. First, the food: a lot of Americans, certainly among the food nerd set, can now differentiate between Thai and Malaysian food, or Mandarin and Hunan dishes. But in the '30s, Don the Beachcomber was opening up a whole new culinary world when it served short ribs, pot stickers, and egg foo young to its guests. (Sunny) Sund had to import ingredients like oyster sauce directly from China, and she called her menu Cantonese, which, though we might scoff at the dishes now, was very sophisticated for the time.

The only reason I know any of this is the book I read last year in preparation to wrote about Chinese cuisine at Food & Dining MagazineBOOK REVIEW: Chop Suey – or how Chinese food came to be taken for granted in America.

As a side note, the book's author Andrew Coe explains the interesting history of beggar's hash (chop suey) in this story at Food Republic. I'll resist drawing the obvious parallels between cultural fusion and a welcoming immigration policy. Take it away, Ms. Grady -- and best wishes to Ian and Nikki.

Owners of The Exchange do it again with Longboard's, by Danielle Grady (Tom May Country Diner)

NEW ALBANY — For the past 12 months, Ian and Nikki Hall have kept pretty quiet about their new restaurant — barely posting on social media. But behind the wooden doors of 302 Pearl St., they’ve been busy. Really busy.

The two restaurateurs, owners of The Exchange Pub + Kitchen and Brooklyn and the Butcher, have labored over every detail of Longboard’s Taco & Tiki, which opens to the public at 5 p.m. Friday.

Even when describing the restaurant’s concept, Ian Hall delves deep into the coastal origins of the Tiki bar — talking about its surprising start in California, not Polynesia, and describing the creator — an entrepreneurial New Orleans-native who drew inspiration from his trips to the South Pacific.

Take the level of research that Ian put into understanding the history of tiki and multiply it by a thousand to get Longboard’s food and drink menu ...

Monday, July 23, 2018

Long read, necessary read: "Systemic, collaborative localization is ultimately the most effective antidote to authoritarianism."

James Dean Bradfield sings Nicky Wire's lyrics in the opening track of Resistance is Futile, the Manics' new album: "There is no theory of everything," or in other words, no comprehensive equation to describe the entire universe.

(I've just now realized The Theory of Everything is the title of a Stephen Hawking biopic; as noted previously, I'm good for a handful of movies a year at best.)

I think Nicky's just being poetic. For my money, this article is about as close as we'll get to a theory of everything as it pertains to globalization. It's long, it's deadly, and we mustn't forget to follow the money.

Localization: A Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism, by Helena Norberg-Hodge (Transnational Institute via Common Dreams)

In order to see how corporate deregulation has led to a breakdown of democracy, to increasing fundamentalism and violence, and to the rise of far-right political leaders, it is vitally important that we see the broader connections that mainstream analyses generally ignore.

For those who care about peace, equality and the future of the planet, the global political swing to the right over the past few years is deeply worrying. It has us asking ourselves, how did this happen? How did populism turn into such a divisive and destructive force? How did authoritarianism take over the political scene once again?

From my 40 years of experience working in both industrialized and land-based cultures, I believe the primary reason is globalization. When I say globalization, I mean the global economic system in which most of us now live – a system driven by continual corporate deregulation and shaped by neoliberal, capitalist ideologies. But globalization goes deeper than politics and the economy. It has profoundly personal impacts.

Under globalization, competition has increased dramatically, job security has become a thing of the past, and most people find it increasingly difficult to earn a livable wage. At the same time, identity is under threat as cultural diversity is replaced by a consumer monoculture worldwide. Under these conditions it’s not surprising that people become increasingly insecure. As advertisers know from nearly a century of experience, insecurity leaves people easier to exploit. But people today are targeted by more than just marketing campaigns for deodorants and tooth polish: insecurity leaves them highly vulnerable to propaganda that encourages them to blame the cultural “other” for their plight ...

LIVE TO EAT: The stunning new Dragon King's Daughter -- and three food & drink establishments debuting in the coming days.

Photo credit DKD NA.

Kevin gets it right at Insider Louisville (link below). The new location of Dragon King's Daughter at 129 W. Market is one for the ages. It's open now, and rolling. Sitting at the robata grill, you'll think you're in Chicago.

We also know that Pints&union will debut later this week (114 E. Market; date and time TBA).

In addition, the folks at Double Barrel (147 E. Main) have announced the bar's grand opening for this Friday, July 27 at 3:00 p.m.

Finally, Longboard's Taco & Tiki (302 Pearl Street) should be starting at any minute. Watch the Longboard's video here, and remember that these four new establishments are within three blocks each other ...

... and on evenings and weekends, parking is free on ALL levels of the State Street Parking Garage. The upper two levels are free every day.

Dragon King’s Daughter reopens with a new direction in expanded New Albany space, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

I’ll always have a soft spot for Dragon King’s Daughter, the offspring of a long, lost favorite, Maido Essential Japanese.

When former Maido owner Toki Masubuchi opened the original Dragon King’s Daughter, or “DKD,” she took with her a few of the favorite maki rolls and happy hour specials. She would then open a DKD in New Albany with a slightly different menu, and it did as well as the Highlands location.

Now, Dragon King’s Daughter in New Albany has taken a step up, reopening a few blocks away in a larger space and adding a few extra touches. Based on a visit there, it was a fine step up ...

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Pints&union will be opening later this week.

The obscure and long-awaited regulatory incantation from the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission arrived this morning, freeing the way for the doors to Pints&union to be opened to the public at some point later this week.

Specific times and dates will be coming soon. The best way to stay abreast of what certainly will be a crazy week is to hook up at Facebook: Pints&union.

Following are six recent postings about the pub's advent.

ON THE AVENUES: Thanks to Joe Phillips, there'll be pints, union and good times downtown.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Pints&union beer list theory and practice.

As the finish line nears, a few interior views of Pints&union.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Recalling "Love on the Beach" and taking note of changing times.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: On beer lists, beer-speak, and beer geeksplaining.

There's a preview of Pints & Union in the new issue of Extol Magazine.

Click here for the links to all articles using Pints & Union as a label.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: When Old Mister Lew tells a story, you're advised to listen closely.

It's an American "craft" (microbrew?) history lesson from Professor Bryson, but don't panic. Think corrections, not catastrophe. The scene may seem to be in upheaval, but as Lew entertainingly points out, we've all been here before -- in the late 1990s.

As an aside, which may or may not be relevant to Lew's thoughts, I've finally started reading a book previously only skimmed: Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium, first published around 1992.

My copy is the revised hardback edition from 2006, which was given to me as a gift. Jackson updated the text one last time in 2007, just before his death, and it came out in paperback form the following year. The book is wonderful, and Jackson's prose styling remains elegant and informative.

I miss his writing tremendously.

Whether good, bad or indifferent, the past few years for me have been a period of reckoning. Chronology afflicts me; so many deaths, so much change. Outside the walls of our house, where Diana and I constantly remind each other of how fortunate we are to be together and to live rich, loving lives, the chaos seems unceasing.

I'm a realist, and while circumstances differ, it's all happened before. When I look back on periods of my life that seem wonderful in retrospect, most of them were just as chaotic and uncertain as now. Perhaps one aspect was fantastic, and that's the part I've chosen to remember, and the way to keep the dissonance at bay.

There isn't one answer to a multiplicity of life's questions, but we can do as Lew advises -- and in his own unique voice, Jackson surely would have seconded -- by filling a glass, breathing deeply and embracing the narrative. Put down your phones, and have a conversation. Tell stories. Teach and be taught.

In a universal context, time's always running out for each one of us. The trick is to address those diminishing sands in the hourglass by slowing down, not speeding up. 


 ... The sky is falling!

Breathe, brothers and sisters. Grab a can, fill a glass, take a seat at the bar … and breathe, while Old Mister Lew tells a story.

Let's talk about the 8% and their affordable slots in the 14-story luxury middle finger high atop Summit Springs.

Before proceeding, click through to Facebook and watch a brief video about Summit Springs watersports. 

You probably remember this.

New Albany Plan Commission: Phase 2 of Summit Springs needs more detail, by Danielle Grady (Tom May and Friends)

NEW ALBANY — Plans to start a phase two of the Summit Springs commercial and residential development are not detailed enough for New Albany’s plan commission yet. At a Tuesday meeting, the voting body tabled requests by the developers to consider plans for a 14-story residential tower and more on top of a hill overlooking State Street.

Also this.

The developers hope to sell the condominiums in the residential tower for prices starting at $250,000 and costing as much as $1 million for the penthouse, said David Ruckman, who is a land surveyor working on the project.

As for the sliding, a geotechnical study conducted for an original iteration of the project read at the meeting by a resident, says that the slopes in the area are only marginally stable. Ruckman acknowledged that there could be sliding on slopes, but only if they’re not maintained. Summit Springs would maintain the slopes in several ways, including a property owner’s association, he said.

But you may not remember this, as written in the city's newly minted comprehensive plan.

From the moment Team Gahan switched sides and triumphantly announced the city's partnership with the Kelley Greedniks for the development of a purely inappropriate hilltop, Dear Leader's propaganda ministry has been crowing about this marvelous public-private partnership.

Have there been public incentives and subsidies involved?

Look at it this way: the city is paying for the road, and short of a privately financed gondola, there can be no hilltop strip mine development without a road past the white elephants (I mean, bison) to the, er, summit.

Want to bet the city's own 8 percent rule won't apply to living spaces within the Gahan Memorial Tumescence Tower?

Odds makers, beware.

"Turning horror into comedy" in the brilliant film The Death of Stalin.

Undoubtedly The Death of Stalin is the best film I've watched this year.

It's also the only film I've watched this year.

These two positions are compatible because I know how to pick 'em, having grown to hate wasting time on waves of comic book crap when I could be reading instead.

It's a satire overload, and I'm reminded just a bit of the original cinematic version of M*A*S*H, insofar as the viewer can be gut-laughing amid scenes depicting death and deathly seriousness, with humor and revulsion occurring all at once.

Dargis' review (linked below) aptly summarizes the experience. As a longtime student of Russian and Soviet history, I'll add only that the characterizations are surprisingly accurate, if exaggerated for comic effect.

Khrushchev really did perform the part of the buffoon to mask his own ambitions, and Molotov really was willing to sacrifice his own family for the greater good of the party. Beria was an epochal, world-class sociopath whose messy end may actually have paralleled the film's jarring conclusion.

The Soviet leadership struggle following Stalin's death was the last one to feature murderous mayhem as default strategy. When Khrushchev was overthrown by Brezhnev in 1964, he was retired, not killed. Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko died of illness and old age. The plotters against Gorbachev in 1991 placed the last Soviet leader under flabby house arrest, and folded like a house of cards when Yeltsin rallied support against the coup.

Then there's Molotov, played superbly by Michael Palin in the film. He survived all the preceding luminaries save only Gorbachev, and died peacefully in hospital in 1986 at the age of 96.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. In the context of my admittedly narrow tastes, it's a masterpiece.

Review: The Slapstick Horror of ‘The Death of Stalin’, by Manohla Dargis (New York Times)

The comedy of cruelty is rarely funnier or more brutal than when it comes from Armando Iannucci, a virtuoso of political evisceration. A comic talent who should be household famous, he is best known for “Veep,” the HBO series about Washington politics that was a satire when it first hit in 2012 but now seems like a reality show. He also directed the movie “In the Loop,” an aptly obscene burlesque about the run-up to the Iraq War. He only seems to have abandoned contemporary politics in his latest, “The Death of Stalin,” an eccentric comic shocker about a strong man and his world of ashes and blood.

The laughs come in jolts and waves in “The Death of Stalin,” delivered in a brilliantly arranged mix of savage one-liners, lacerating dialogue and perfectly timed slapstick that wouldn’t be out of place in a Three Stooges bit. Turning horror into comedy is nothing new, but Mr. Iannucci’s unwavering embrace of these seemingly discordant genres as twin principles is bracing. In “The Death of Stalin,” fear is so overwhelming, so deeply embedded in everyday life that it distorts ordinary expression, utterances, gestures and bodies. It has turned faces into masks (alternately tragic and comic), people into caricatures, death into a punch line.

The movie opens in early March 1953. The iron-fisted Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin), 74, has ruled the Soviet Union for decades and racked up countless crimes against humanity and millions of victims. A near-monosyllabic thug with a helmet of steel-gray hair and a retinue of flatterers — Khrushchev and Molotov are among the names crowding this familiar roll call — Stalin likes classical music and old westerns, a casual reminder that barbarism and civilization are often partners in crime. Squirreled away in a dacha, a relatively modest woodland retreat at a remove from the Kremlin, Stalin kicks back with his toadies only to fall grievously ill later that same evening.

He briefly hangs on, gasping but mute, throwing his nominal comrades in arms into a fast-spiraling panic. The most appealing, or rather the least obviously terrible, of these is Khrushchev (a superb Steve Buscemi), the minister of agriculture and a cunning, outwardly drab schemer. Like a seasoned standup, Khrushchev tells his wife which of his jokes made Stalin laugh, an accounting that she dutifully preserves for future reference. When he learns that Stalin has taken ill, Khrushchev hastily pulls a jacket and pants over his pajamas and rushes to his side, where Beria (Simon Russell Beale, brilliant), the head of the secret police, the N.K.V.D., has already taken up position and begun plotting ...