Saturday, August 31, 2019

The afterlife of the Trabant, 30 years on.

Later in 2019 it will have been thirty years since the Berlin Wall fell. At some point in late September of 1989 I passed back through Prague with friends. We were walking near the St. Nicholas Church in Mala Strana and came upon dozens of Trabants with DDR plates parked three deep by the curbs. Why? It wasn't even tourist season.

Only later did we understand that our stroll took place as crowds of East Germans were climbing the walls of the West German embassy nearby, seeking passage out of the Bloc. East Germany was in its death throes, and the cars we saw had been abandoned.

Trabants are a component of modern cultural history. I'm not an aficionado cars by any stretch, but I'll make an exception for these little guys. 

30 Years On, the ‘Worst Car Ever Built’ Has a Fervent Fan Club, by Laura Kiniry (Atlas Obscura)

Made in the former East Germany, Trabants have inspired many a mean joke — and a devoted community.

In the 1991 German comedy film, Go Trabi Go, a family from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) goes on a road trip to Italy in their beloved Trabant 601—the most popular car in East Germany before the collapse of the Iron Curtain. At one point their vehicle’s head gasket blows, and the father makes an emergency phone call. When he tells a mechanic over the line that he’s driving a Trabant 601, the mechanic chuckles and says, “I hope you’ve got some sticky tape.”

Over the years, the “Trabi” (as it’s affectionately known) has been the butt of endless jokes associated with East Germany. With its bare interior, oddly-designed stick shifter, and an exterior made of Duroplast—a rust-resistant, cotton-reinforced resin plastic that’s lighter and stronger than steel (and more importantly, could be manufactured in the GDR)—the standard four-seater Trabi sedan has been referred to as one of the “worst cars ever built,” and “East Germany’s terrible car that will never die.” Add to this its two-stroke engine, the same kind used in lawnmowers and Asia’s tuk-tuks, and it’s understandable why there are quips like “Why does a Trabi have a heated rear window? To keep your hands warm while you push.”

Produced from 1957 until 1991, the Trabi has earned the nicknames “spark plug with a roof” and “cardboard racer” because of its seemingly shoddy design. To many Westerners, Trabis remain a prime example of East German repression and the governing Socialist United Party’s archaic ways. Trabis had no fuel gauge, air conditioning, turn signals, or brake lights, and could only reach a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour. Once the Wall came down, Trabis just couldn’t compete with Western vehicles, and seemingly overnight East Germany’s most coveted car became almost obsolete.

Europe’s advanced emission standards mean you’ll see few original Trabis on the road today, though there are believed to be around 34,000 still registered in Germany. For collectors of this smoke-spewing, motor-sputtering vehicle, the Trabi is their pride and joy. It’s a car that calls to mind memories of Cold War-era holiday road trips into Germany’s Thuringian Forest and nude beaches along the Baltic Sea; one that some GDR families waited up to 16 years to receive, and that could be fixed using household tools. Trabis provided some independence in a country where independence was almost nil ...

Did I pass Victor Grossman on the street in East Berlin in August, 1989?

East Berlin, 1989.

I've heard of Victor Grossman, recalling his name from the period in the late 1980s when I abstracted geopolitical and current events magazine articles.

My job was discarded in order to travel abroad in 1989, a trip that included my first and only month in East Germany, where I spent three weeks as a paid employee of the East Berlin Parks Department. The Berlin Wall fell just before I returned home circa November.

As someone fascinated by the place and the period, I find this interview with Grossman to be compelling. Much of what he says strikes me as plausible in the sense that East Germany surely did establish a level playing field for much of its population with respect to fundamental living conditions.

But whatever the word "freedom" actually means, and we might debate this until the end of time, there wasn't enough of it in East Germany.

If there had been, East Germans eager for something more wouldn't have been streaming across the Hungarian border into Austria, in route to West German citizenship. The hemorrhaging was something ongoing during my stay in East German, although I didn't really understand it; speaking no German explains part of the fog, with the remainder owing to the fact of there being no independent sources of media information.

It was pre-internet, and you couldn't just go to a newsstand and pick up a diverse assortment of publications. At any rate, three decades later Grossman speaks for himself quite capably. Geography, politics and history buffs, you'll want to click through, read and absorb. Who knew Grossman was even still alive?

From Harvard to East Berlin: An Interview with Victor Grossman, by Julia Damphouse and David Broder (Jacobin)

In 1952 the Harvard grad Victor Grossman defected to East Germany, hoping to help build socialism on the ruins of Nazism. Thirty years after that state collapsed, he insists that we should see it as a land of contradictions, not just a totalitarian monolith.

Victor Grossman is the only person to have earned degrees from both Harvard and East Germany’s Karl Marx University. Born in New York in 1928, he joined the Communist Party as a Harvard economics student before being drafted as a GI in occupied Germany. From there he defected to the East, swimming across the Danube into the Soviet-controlled part of Austria before making his home in the self-styled German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Having been an eyewitness to the postwar Red Scare in the United States and the onset of McCarthyism, Grossman became an ardent defender of East German socialism. Even after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which brought the GDR to its final collapse, he has continued to live in the former East Berlin, writing of the social hardships caused by the sell-offs of formerly publicly owned workplaces, services, and housing.

Grossman recently toured the United States to promote his latest book, A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee. Jacobin’s Julia Damphouse and David Broder met up with him to discuss the successes and darker aspects of the GDR, his own experience as an American on the “wrong side” of the Cold War divide, and what legacy the twentieth-century left has for the recent resurgence of socialism in the United States.

Your brain (injuries) on football: "Perhaps evolving standards of decency will reduce football to a marginalized spectacle, like boxing."

Andrew Luck's exquisitely rational human decision to retire from football reminded me of George F. Will's essay, reprinted below.

In recent years, I’ve turned away from football because of the increasingly well-documented, regrettable, lifelong physical toll suffered by the players. It isn't just the professional game. The more I read about youth football injuries, the greater my disconnection.

We begin to see difficult subsequent lives, erratic adulthoods, and eventual dementia in a different light, and it’s easier to look away – not from the sadly afflicted, but from the violence of the game itself.

The gladiator as macho metaphor stops being entertaining when the suffering and death are real, not just implied in a voice over.

Click here for a list of NAC articles with the search label "brain injuries."

At any rate, Will's opening paragraph is worth the price of admission. Most readers will remain undeterred. To me, the world already is cruel enough without entertainment that cripples.

Football’s enjoyment is on a fade pattern, by George F. Will (Washington Post)

This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 

Autumn, which is bearing down upon us like a menacing linebacker, is, as John Keats said, a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Actually, Keats, a romantic, did not mention that last part. He died before the birth of the subject of a waning American romance, football. This sport will never die, but it will never again be, as it was until recently, the subject of uncomplicated national enthusiasm.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease confirmable only after death, and often caused by repeated blows to the head that knock the brain against the skull. The cumulative impacts of hundreds of supposedly minor blows can have the cumulative effect of many concussions. The New York Times recently reported Stanford University researchers’ data showing “that one college offensive lineman sustained 62 of these hits in a single game. Each one came with an average force on the player’s head equivalent to what you would see if he had driven his car into a brick wall at 30 mph.”

Boston University researchers found CTE in 110 of 111 brains of deceased NFL players. In 53 other brains from college players, 48 had CTE. There was significant selection bias: Many of the brains came from families who had noticed CTE symptoms, including mood disorders and dementia. A Boston University researcher says, however, that a 10-year NFL linebacker could receive more than 15,000 sub-concussive blows ...

"The nihilism of the Popeyes chicken sandwich and its surrounding hoopla."

I posted this one on Food & Dining's web site, too. It continues to amaze me that so many friends and acquaintances who are directly or indirectly involved with independent food service businesses still merrily buy into chain restaurant logic -- with both sentiment and cash.

Fast food is bullshit, and we're all dumber for the transaction. This ends my rant, but Soleil Ho's is only just beginning.

The nihilism of the Popeyes chicken sandwich and its surrounding hoopla, by Soleil Ho (San Francisco Chronicle)

 ... The sandwich was delicious for what it was: a cheap product where the true cost is carried by marginalized people and animals besides the consumer. It seems that, as a culture, many of us who can afford to choose from many options of what to eat vacillate between caring a lot about the welfare of our meat animals and restaurant workers and being willing to put up with anything for the sake of momentary pleasure. Yes, life is hard and sometimes you just want to roll your eyes back and eat something good. At the very least, it’s nice to know what everyone else is talking about.

Snappy Twitter repartee, eye-catching bag designs, whatever political symbolism is inscribed in the object itself — they all function as distractions from the real-world consequences of the choices we make. It is possible to hold all of these truths together and sit with whatever inconvenient implications they lead us toward ...

Friday, August 30, 2019

Catching up with Cannelton, Part 2: Indiana Landmarks announces development opportunities in Cannelton.

Can-Clay outlined in red.

Catching up with Cannelton, Part 1: Recalling fun times at the Cannelton Heritage Festival.

NABC poured beer three times (2012, 2013 and 2014) at the Cannelton Heritage Festival. When Rob called in 2015, there wasn't much I could do to help him; my time at the brewery was drawing to a close, and I always knew our involvement wouldn't last forever.

I've no idea what happened next. It seems that Diana and I might have driven through Cannelton in 2016 for some reason, but this isn't clear, and in all likelihood four and a half years had passed since my last visit when Mark Cassidy invited me to accompany him on an errand to Tell City earlier this year. We planned lunch at the Pour Haus and Mark resolved to show me around his old haunts in Tell City.

After lunch, I suggested a Cannelton drive-through. Mark confided that it had been a very long time since his last time there. In all honesty, it looked like little had changed from 2014; Can-Clay must have just closed, and frankly the shuttered factory with its mounds of clay pipes reminded me of derelict sites in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s.

This is not to be taken as critical. Both Mark and I were deeply affected by the extent of the problems facing Cannelton. Obviously the city isn't unique in America. Perhaps those three festivals gave me a rooting interest in the outcome. 
Here's the Indiana Landmarks release that prefaced these ruminations.


Cannelton Announces Development Opportunities

Indiana Landmarks is working with Cannelton city and economic development leaders on two projects that could help spur much-needed revitalization.

In the late 1800s, coal, cotton, and easy access to the Ohio River made Cannelton a bustling commercial center, its streets lined with handsome houses and commercial buildings. More recently, decades of economic decline have taken a heavy toll on the Perry County community, leaving many of those buildings vacant and landing the Cannelton Historic District on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list two years in a row. Today, we’re working with the city and economic development leaders on two projects that could yield big results and help spur much-needed revitalization.

The first involves an unassuming-looking building targeted for demolition adjacent to Cannelton City Hall. Local preservation group Renew Cannelton and Indiana Landmarks convinced city officials to grant the building a temporary reprieve to see if a rehab-minded buyer would step forward. Built in 1855 as a German Methodist church at the corner of 7th and Taylor streets, the building occupies a key location in downtown Cannelton, where its redevelopment could have a big impact. The city is looking for a developer who will restore the building to its historic appearance and renovate the interior for office or commercial use. Proposals are due by Friday, September 27.

We’re also working with the City and the Perry County Development Corporation on a larger-scale project at the former Can-Clay property, now owned by the county’s redevelopment commission. The Can-Clay business closed earlier this year after more than a century of manufacturing clay sewer pipes and chimney flues. The city’s original plans called for clearing the 30-acre site in hopes of attracting new development, but Indiana Landmarks encouraged local leaders to see the property’s historic buildings – including a four-story factory and several beehive kilns – as assets that could be the centerpiece of a unique redevelopment. We’re currently applying with local community partners for a grant through the American Institute of Architects to develop a vision for the property.

Can-Clay factory, CanneltonTo learn more about either of these projects, contact Greg Sekula, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Southern Regional Office, 812-284-4534,

Catching up with Cannelton, Part 1: Recalling fun times at the Cannelton Heritage Festival.

This musing is prompted by an Indiana Landmarks mailing about two projects in Cannelton, Indiana. These will be the subject of the second part.

Catching up with Cannelton, Part 2: Indiana Landmarks announces development opportunities in Cannelton.

Some readers with long memories will recall NABC's appearances dispensing beer at the Cannelton Heritage Festival. It can't possibly have been seven years since the first of three appearances (2012 - 2014).

These posts are from 2013.

One lovely Saturday in Cannelton, Indiana.

NABC at the Cannelton Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 12.

I wrote a longer essay in October, 2012 as a recap to our first visit. It was published at the long defunct Louisville Beer Dot Com, and has not appeared in its entirety at NA Confidential.

Now's the time.


Tastes like coffee, just different.

Earlier this year, I was contacted by a civic-minded resident of Cannelton, Indiana, which is situated amid verdant hills on the Ohio River, a few big navigational loops downstream from Louisville. If you’re not traveling by boat, Cannelton is about an hour and a half away.

My contact, Rob, wanted to know if NABC would pour craft beers at an important annual municipal function in October: Cannelton’s Heritage Festival, which in 2012 was slated for double duty as the city’s 175th birthday celebration.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the preceding paragraph isn’t that someone in Cannelton would conceive of the idea of bringing better beer to the party. It’s that Cannelton actually is a city, as legally constituted, and not a town as many of us would perceive it. The population is only 1,200, making it one of the smallest city in Indiana.

Conversely, I grew up in Georgetown, Indiana, where 2,800 people live; rest assured, Georgetown never has been a city in most accepted urban senses of the word.

But whatever its organizational nomenclature, Cannelton has a long, rollicking and fiercely independent history. The city was founded 175 years ago by a group of regional investors, some from Louisville, with the objective of creating a riverside, coal-fired textile manufacturing center (“cannel” is a type of coal), and while this dream never came to fruition, Cannelton prospered – for a while.

The most prominent remaining symbol of Cannelton’s bygone industrial past is a huge sandstone cotton mill building by the river. When constructed around 1850, it was the largest such structure west of the Alleghenies. Recently refashioned into 70 low-income apartments, the hulking structure stands only blocks away from Cannelton’s public high school, the second smallest in Indiana.

Perry County is hilly, forested and sparsely populated, and in a statewide Hoosier context, its two population centers (Cannelton and the nearby county seat of Tell City) are quite isolated from commercial mainstreams. As one might expect, Cannelton hardly enjoys immunity from the litany of societal ills afflicting rural areas throughout the United States. As Rob freely divulged when I drove down for a look-see in August, “Our biggest problem is poverty.”

But there seems to be a spirited group of people working hard to perpetuate Cannelton’s sense of community, and now I know that at least some of them might like to drink a craft beer every now and then.

In approximate terms, this is how NABC came to be enjoying a brilliant autumn afternoon in Cannelton on Saturday, October 13, setting up shop at the Heritage Festival at 9:30 a.m., central time, and pouring until dusk, when attendees gravitated a couple blocks away for an all-classes school reunion and evening finale at the mass-market beer garden.

The usual NABC festival rig had been packed: Four-product cold plate, pop-up tent, cups, tools, change bag, banners, propaganda, and of course, kegs of beer. In addition to our own Gold, Community Dark and Hoosier Daddy, we hauled Upland Wheat and represented for our friends in Bloomington.

The serving area was in a small pocket park off Washington Street, near tables and tents where a quartet of Hoosier vintners was pouring samples and selling bottles of wine. Our catering permit allowed samples and full pours of draft beer. If we could have sold growlers, there’d have been more than a few takers.

The street was blocked off for the festival, and there were booths lining the sidewalks, staffed by artisans, craftsmen, church congregations and civic organizations. Not unexpectedly, the scale was far intimate than New Albany’s Harvest Homecoming, where the sheer immensity of the temporary festival typically obscures and overwhelms the physical setting downtown. In Cannelton, the festival blends more harmoniously with the streetscape.

It would be possible to imagine the historic old commercial buildings, many in obvious disrepair, brooding with ghostly intent behind the booths. However, to me there were strange inanimate grins emanating from the architectural embellishments, as though there was delight in the appearance of life in the streets.

To be sure, the daytime festival crowd in Cannelton wasn’t so much a drinking crowd, whatever the adult beverage, although the ones who ventured into our licensed enclosure were curious and open to trying something new. This suited me just fine, as I find it increasingly refreshing to talk beer with people who are relatively new to the craft beer world.

While it’s true they often harbor pre-conceived notions (for instance, the darker the beer, the stronger it must be), they also are blessedly absent the type of overbearing and often misplaced concerns, which can be both boorish and irrelevant when it comes to garnering craft beer’s next five percentile.

Explaining why a Belgian-style Wit tastes the way it does, and being compelled neither to trace the specific agricultural lineage of the organic coriander used within, nor recall the late Pierre Celis’s shoe size, is liberating for me. Better yet, it’s plenty enough for the folks standing metaphorically just outside our collective craft beer tent, waiting patiently for the motivation to enter … in layman’s terms.

They’re interested, and they’re looking for beers and breweries to believe in, and to be loyal to. They may come to the geeky complexities later, or not at all. I say to them: Pull up a pew and have a few. After all, there’s no sense letting anyone languish in the corporate mockrobrew section of the aisle if a solid, locally-brewed alternative lies nearby.

Education always has been the key, and I believe this pendulum is swinging back with a vengeance. Events like Cannelton’s strengthen my resolve to do promote exactly that, and to spend more time teaching. This year, a keg in daylight; next year, maybe two at night.

The Good Soldier Švejk, and why "dimwittedness -- genuine or feigned -- is a vaccine against epidemics of madness that grip nations."

By artist Josef Lada, from the linked article.

Ignore the essay's title and forget progressive or regressive shadings, because this isn't about modern political definitions. Švejk is universal, because idiocy is everywhere -- on all sides, in each nook and every cranny.

I, too, have been fixated on Švejk for a very long time. Way back in the beginning of Rich O's Public House I borrowed Švejk's face from an illustration in one of Michael "Beer hunter" Jackson's books and used it to adorn the beer list. Švejk was never far from my own thoughts during those sessions in traditional Prague pubs during my communist-era travels.

That's why I say Švejk Day surely is a promotion Pints&union should consider staging annually. The Pilsner Urquell awaits, and Chef Dalton can conjure the pork.

This needs to happen. In the interim, this is a classic essay about an equally timeless fictional creation. I can't hope to summarize it, so I'll merely show you the way.

Why Every Progressive Should Read The Good Soldier Švejk (Literary Hub)

Paul Goldberg on How to Stay Sane in a World Besieged by Idiocy

A copy of The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War—a classic comedy by Jaroslav Hašek, a countryman, contemporary and peer of Franz Kafka—is never far from my desk.

I leaf through it, check out the ditties, drink in the cartoony illustrations, get a bolus of inspiration from a page or two.

Huck Finn defines America. Eugene Onegin defines Russia. Josef Švejk, a professional dog thief and, literally, a certified dimwit who stumbles through World War I, is the quintessential Czech. As it serves up bawdy tales and run-on non-sequiturs, this novel accomplishes much more than to define a nation.

It defines the idiocy of war and the men who wage it, and not just the Great War, but all war. And not just the idiocy of war, but idiocy itself—the big “I.”

Blurred lines: Extol's "End of Summer Bash" and the Southern Indiana Community Housing Corporation's "charitable" status prompt the reincarnation of Lt. Columbo.

It's a good thing when local magazines sponsor free community gatherings. Naturally blog readers are encouraged to support this Extol function and events like it. Go there, have fun, and rock on.

I'm taking great pains to make it clear that what you're about to read is not blanket criticism, or a call to boycott anything, or some sort of hatchet job. It isn't, not at all.

Rather, as Lieutenant Columbo once said, "There are a couple of loose ends I'd like to tie up."

On the surface of it, surveying the obvious synergies implied by the fest's sponsors, just about all of it is benign and sensible.

For instance, there's participation from New Washington State Bank, which is about to make its presence felt downtown by occupying space in the former Jimmy's Music Building, which is being remodeled by Steve Resch, whose son Jacob is an outstanding musician booked to play the fest.

It makes perfect sense.

There are invaluable community assets like the Horseshoe Foundation and SoIn; the tourism bureau and Extol collaborate to publish the annual area visitor's guide.

They make perfect sense, too.

The fest's sponsors include AllTerrain Paving, a company whose profile recently has risen markedly via aggressive bids on Team Gahan's local construction projects. The company has ties to Neace Ventures, and the latter also has had past involvement with Extol as an investor. Denton Floyd is in charge of the Reisz Building/City Hall project and previously had the brief for Mansions on Main in the former M. Fine Building.

Perfect sense as well.

Of course, both AllTerrain and Denton-Floyd (as well as John Neace of Neace Ventures) have donated heavily in the past to Mayor Jeff Gahan's campaign finance fund, and if I'm not mistaken, they've all also made election tithes to the (unsuccessful) county commissioner and (ongoing) at-large city council campaigns of Jason Applegate, who with wife Angie Fenton is the owner of Extol and the sales agent for the magazine.

Regular readers know that we pay close attention to campaign finance, and yet all of the preceding strikes me as boilerplate. Movers move and shakers shake; so it goes in any small city, and readers may draw their own conclusions, if any. Thus far, there's not much to see.

Still, echoing Columbo once again, "there's just one more thing." 

Extol identifies the non-profit Southern Indiana Community Housing Corporation as a "charity" worthy of inclusion in the bash's charitable outreach. Proceeds and donations will be disbursed to SICHC ("benefiting the residents of NAHA"), WHAS Crusade for Children and USA Cares via Extol Charities, a fund of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana.

However SICHC is by no means an autonomous "charitable" organization. It is an appendage of the New Albany Housing Authority, itself captive to Jeff Gahan's staffing and board appointments, several of whom have board seats on both entities, NAHA and SICHC.

This is a charity? In a world where Bud Light is called "beer," I suppose anything is possible when mangling semantics. As non-profits go, SICHC's involvement as a "charity" is stretching the limits of propriety.

I'm told that SICHC originally was set up by deposed NAHA chieftain Bob Lane as a means of advancing voucher housing off site of the various NAHA properties. It may also have been necessary in legal terms to make applications for tax credit-driven projects Lane was pursuing to regenerate NAHA's physical plant -- these being the projects Gahan vehemently rejected in the run-up to the mayor's seizure of NAHA and subsequent firing of Lane.

Of course Gahan's choice to replace Lane was the woefully unqualified (and overpaid) David Duggins, previously Gahan's chief fixer at Redevelopment, where Duggins took great care to involve entities ... yes, like Neace Ventures, AllTerrain Paving and Denton-Floyd in big-money redevelopment projects.

Did Extol consider all this?

Glancing at Elevate, we see that whatever else SICHC does to "benefit" residents of NAHA, it is the owner of eight or nine small properties around town (many tied to the abortive Linden Meadows project) and one very large one: Cross Creek Apartments on Green Valley Road.

It's hard to see SICHC as a "charity" worthy of inclusion in Extol's festival, and so I sent multiple messages to both Applegate and Extol asking for this relationship to be clarified. Neither of them have replied. 

There may be a simple answer, but if so, it isn't being given, at least yet, although this does explain Applegate sightings at the NAHA administrative offices.

If we still pretend to believe in something approximating journalism, my question is a legitimate one to ask of Extol. Why is SICHC being referred to as a charity when there is so much relevant background being ignored?

Applegate seems oblivious to the plain fact that wearing multiple hats has a way of blurring lines and prompting legitimate questions. After all, he's the owner of a media outlet who sells ads to many of these entities, and he's a candidate for local office as an open and enthusiastic supporter of a corrupted mayor whose only real platform is political patronage tied to campaign donations and pay-to-play chicanery ... and who advertises heavily in Extol.

Speaking for myself, I have no personal grievances"against" anyone mentioned here, even the ones immersing themselves in Gahan's soiled web. Rather, my grievance is with the process as we've grown to tolerate it, and it's critical to remember that most folks hereabouts never wanted local government to be about dark money to such a large extent that we're obliged to spend time following it to the sources.

Unfortunately the political patronage system that always bubbled on low heat has been injected with steroids by Gahan, Adam Dickey, Warren Nash and other exalted Democratic Party functionaries, and consequently we've come to a place where the money must be followed.

I regret it this mess, but I didn't create it, and since "real" journalists like Chris Morris and Susan Duncan refuse to ask these questions, I will, if for no other reason that stubbornness. As Morrissey once observed, the more you ignore me, the closer I get.

I earnestly encourage Applegate and/or Extol to provide an answer, and we'll provide space here for it, free from extraneous commentary on my part.

Better yet, maybe just commission the esteemed David Duggins to write it, given that SICHC's involvement probably was his idea to begin with.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Good luck to Jason Thomas, who is leaving the News and Tribune to join Business First as managing editor.

During Jason Thomas's time at the News and Tribune, we often agreed, although there were a few spirited disagreements. It's even possible that I was in the wrong on occasion, but no more than once or twice.

Jason always listened, always engaged, and always replied. I respect the hell out of these traits because they're rare hereabouts, and while I wish him all the best at Business First, his departure is a blow to local journalism in our neck of the woods.

The ranks of quality are thinning, and Bill Hanson isn't exactly improving -- something I reminded him about earlier today.

ON THE AVENUES: Welcome to "Pagan Life," a weekly column devoted to heathens, infidels, idolaters, atheists, non-theists, irreligious people, agnostics, skeptics, heretics and apostates.

Good luck to Jason Thomas in all his future endeavors in journalism. He's a classy guy, and we need more like him.

ON THE AVENUES: Welcome to "Pagan Life," a weekly column devoted to heathens, infidels, idolaters, atheists, non-theists, irreligious people, agnostics, skeptics, heretics and apostates.

Long ago I humbly accepted the existence of a redemptive force in my daily life.

It’s called the “music gene,” and I seem to possess it -- or, maybe it possesses me. Unfortunately when the music gene was downloaded it came to me incomplete, and I'm absent commensurate musical ability of any identifiable sort.

Even so, music has spoken to me from the beginning, and as long as my hearing holds out, we’re good. Had my formative years been spent with musicians as role models rather than athletes, perhaps it all would have turned out differently. As it stands, I’ve no complaints.

The innate pleasure to be derived from listening to music is more of an essential heartbeat than an optional amusement, and I can’t imagine life otherwise. If the music in my head ever stops playing, it will be the unmistakable sign of imminent death -- and as all atheists know, death is a symphony without encores.

Speaking of atheists and death, let’s drop into local journalism’s intensive care unit.


It’s been at least two years since the foundering News and Tribune doubled its column slots for religious advocacy, from one to two – or, approximately two times as many as needed.

In vain, I’ve asked: What about an “equal time for pagans” slot? Even better, perhaps the long overdue humanist food column, as suggested by the estimable Goliath.

Guys, I’m tanned, rested and ready -- and unlike Nancy Kennedy, I actually reside here. Each week, I’d begin by refuting a theist’s fallacy, end by pelting an effigy of Ken Ham with rotten fruit, and fill the space in between with tips on how to make the perfect fried chicken sandwich out of leftover school paste.

But no. We get the same uninspiring inspirational tracts, week in and week out. Management remains AWOL, and it was left to a reporter (now departed to greener any journalistic pastures) to attempt this explanation:

"A large portion of our readers are Christian. If you have specific questions or complaints, I would advise you contact our editors via email."

Like they'd reply?

This argument from majority rule is drearily predictable, and fallacious. In terms of catering content to pre-existing readership preferences, surely a majority of the newspaper’s steadily dwindling readership base utilize their filthy kitchen microwaves far more often than a featured Lynx Sedona 42-Inch Built-In Natural Gas Grill With One Infrared ProSear Burner And Rotisserie L700PSR, now only $3,399 at … and yet there’s been an informative regular barbecuing column for a decade or more.

A majority of the newspaper’s readers don’t hunt, fish and trap, preferring their vistas of the great outdoors to come through a handy window somewhere in the vicinity of their incessant televisions … and yet we now have at least one column about efficient creature-stalking.

As an aside, publisher Bill Hanson might be interested in knowing that “pantheists” believe god is to be found in nature, a position with no room for Jesus' teachings, and a stance antithetical to Hanson’s yearning to transform his inexorably fading newspaper into a vehicle for a particular Christian sect's proselytizing.

Verily, as for sports, I enjoy vigorously rebutting proselytizers even as I remind them to #getoffmyporch, using a lighted cigar for pointed emphasis, and the garden hose if necessary.

It’s a shame we can’t have this newspaper failure dialogue publicly; alas, not unlike Jeff Gahan, Hanson is hesitant to share his reasoning with wild-eyed heretics like me (for Hanson, "heretic" is defined as a non-subscriber; for Gahan, it's a non-donor). You’d think Sweet William and I could develop an invigorating “Saintly Christian versus Ghastly Atheist” point-counterpoint shtick, twice monthly.

But no ...

Meanwhile, for atheists like me, the calendar pages may turn, but irrationality rarely changes. It remains the norm that theists respond with annoyance (or worse) whenever an atheist has the unmitigated gall to come out of the closet and seek even the slightest measure of equality in discourse.

That’s just a bit hypocritical, and rather snowflaky as well. Think of every religious adherent who ever came knocking at your door while you were busy eating, drinking, sleeping or fornicating in the privacy of your own damn house.

Think of the transformative zeal of generations of ravenous Christians, traveling overseas for the sanctified purpose of subduing decadent native cultures, and conveniently spreading toxic Western diseases even as they blamed the dying natives for falling sick, urging them to immediately find God as the necessary cure just prior to the sacrificial massacre to follow.

Think of how so much of the history of organized western religion is one of evangelical outreach, and by its very nature, how evangelism is invasive and intrusive with regard to the physical and intellectual space of non-believers.

Not only that, but in the ever widening search for market share, think about evangelists from one coin-flip of a sect freely targeting those who ascribe to differing versions of ostensibly the very same supernatural source.

You’d think that believing in any God would do, and yet it’s never enough for them, is it?

Either way, if an atheist dares to attempt an explanation of why he or she doesn’t accept any of it, out comes the fear-mongering rhetoric.


Granted, I spent many years evangelizing for good beer, although it isn’t like I’ve ever gone door to door creating a public nuisance. By extension, not once have I positioned myself at the entrance of a Christian church on Sunday morning in protest against the worship therein, or flashed an A’s team pennant at a devout John 3:16-er busily lofting signs at a ballgame.

Never have I sneaked up into the cathedral balcony and menacingly waved my portrait of Bertrand Russell at the minister, demanding that he repent from sin -- or whatever Nancy Kennedy and Tom May insist on calling this nonsensical concept.

That’s why, in the final reckoning, it would be somewhat hard to write an “atheism column,” because atheists are rationalists, offering no positive claims with respect to knowledge derived from outside the realm of human experience and perception. We’ve got nothing to sell, and that’s the whole point.

In the absence of verifiable evidence, atheism is a negation. It is the theist who is obliged to prove that God exists -- not the other way around. Perhaps it’s true that some atheists go a step further and proselytize in the manner of the religionist, but the percentage remains quite small.

During the past two thousand years, far more people have been asked to convert to religion at the point of a bayonet, routinely dying as a result of their refusal, than have been forcibly “converted” to atheism, all known variants of “communism” notwithstanding.

In my experience, atheists generally just want to be left alone, and prefer that religious belief remain a matter of private conscience and not a public policy lever.

They respect a separation of church and state precisely because history makes it abundantly clear against whom this public policy stick typically is wielded, generally resulting in a sad continuation of the war, violence and strife accompanying organized religion throughout human history.

It’s too bad, albeit perfectly in keeping with past practices, that Hanson isn’t interested in his readers hearing another side of the story. It’s a shame he doesn’t grasp the interests of the smaller segment whose viewpoints differ from his own. Has he considered them, even once?

And exactly how does he know the exact religious fetishes of his dwindling band of subscribers? Atheists pay, too. Shouldn't their needs be considered?

Here's the gospel truth: The $30 George Foreman Grill in our kitchen does a damned fine job, and the $3,369 we saved by rejecting the outdoor Manly Man Model Char-Master is more than enough to enjoy a nice, humanistic European holiday.


Once upon a time during a tavern chat, I was asked if I could identify the source of my atheism. Was I rebelling against the religion of my parents?

No. While my childhood was not without general religious assumptions and a nebulous, largely unexamined “faith in something bigger” approach to talking points, there were no onerous obligations or regimented teachings, and overall, both my parents were remarkably open and tolerant.

If rebellion were the only goal, I’d have likely become a fundamentalist owing to the complete absence of instruction. Echoing the music gene, and adding to it my belief that mankind concocts religion to assuage its recognition and fear of death, maybe what I lack is the God gene, a predisposition toward accepting one or more versions of a deity.

I’m only guessing, since I’ve no experience with such a state of consciousness.

In all honestly, I cannot remember a time in my life when such a concept as God seemed plausible to me. Rather, it seemed mythological, a phenomenon best placed on dusty outmoded shelves beside ancient Greek small-case gods, Mayan rituals and Norse sagas.

Only later, in university, did I learn there was a name for the God gene’s absence: Atheism. It was the ultimate in revelations, for it was revealed to me that others felt the same way, and could explain their non-belief rationally. I needn’t embrace the palpably untrue, after all.

A musician like J. S. Bach certainly thought his considerable musical skills were gifts from God, intended to glorify and exalt Him. The simplistic vision of angels cleverly arranged on cloud banks, deploying a phalanx of harps to while away eternity, surely derives from this idea of music intertwined with holiness.

It doesn’t resonate with me. Music may well “have” its own gene, but its manifestation in a tangible, real world is a human construct. When liturgical music strikes a tuneful “holy” chord, it’s because of the meanings we’ve been taught to read into it, not a deity’s intervention in the composition.

Of course, if given the chance to choreograph my final departure, Samuel Barber’s "Adagio for Strings" would be a fine choice for greeting eternity. The music would play through, then end, and on the very next beat so would I. There would be the final silence, and life would continue without me.

Although on second thought the concluding power chord of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” would work just as well. It makes no difference, as I won’t be around to feel it.


Recent columns:

August 22: ON THE AVENUES: The 32 most influential books in my life.

August 15: ON THE AVENUES: Breakfast is better with those gorgeous little herrings.

August 8: ON THE AVENUES: Unless you open your eyes, “resistance” is an empty gesture.

August 1: ON THE AVENUES: The whys and wherefores can drive a man to drink; our lives just ARE, and that's that.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Pedestrians and bicyclists in Amsterdam -- and Deaf Gahan's Nawbany.

On Monday I was walking down the sidewalk on the south side of Market when I saw a bicyclist riding down the sidewalk toward me. At this time of the morning there were no cars whatever on Market, and yet there she was, so I politely asked if she would stop for just a moment and entertain a question or three in the interest of science, and she was amenable.

From a former to a current bicycle rider, do you always ride on the sidewalk?

"Yes, almost always," she said.

But shouldn't bikes be on the street?

"It isn't safe out there -- there's no bike lane."

There's a bike lane on Spring Street.

"Sort of. The traffic still moves too fast, and anyway the bike lane ends and I'm back on the sidewalk again."

What do you think of sharrows?

"You used to ride a bike? Then you know sharrows aren't safe."


I thanked her and kept walking, confident that this brief conversation of two or three minutes was two or three minutes linger than any chat ever held between Jeff Gahan's inept minions, his corrupt contractors and a real human being on an actual bicycle.

By the way, there are problems in Amsterdam, too.

Can Amsterdam’s Cyclists and Pedestrians Learn to Get Along? by Sophie Knight (CityLab)

As Amsterdammers jostle for space, the city government is trying to ease conflicts between those on bikes and on foot.

Urbanists around the world swoon over Amsterdam’s cycling culture: residents trundling around cobbled streets with a child balanced on their handlebars or a friend on the back, everyone blissfully free from the road rage that infects car-heavy cities such as London and New York. What’s not to like?

Well, a few things, if you’re a pedestrian. An oncoming cyclist may barrel through a red light or crosswalk or suddenly swerve onto the sidewalk. Cyclists in Amsterdam often park their bikes haphazardly, cluttering street corners and blocking the passage of strollers, wheelchairs, and suitcase-bearing tourists.

And woe betide those who accidentally step onto a bike path. “This is Amsterdam!” is one of the kinder reactions.

“Cyclists are even more antisocial than drivers,” complains Jennifer Brouwer, 37, who is registered blind and who moved to the city’s quieter outskirts from its busy West district because she was tired of conflicts with cyclists. “They’re more likely to think, ‘Oh, I can get away with that,’ like cutting people up, cycling a hair’s breadth away from you… There is just no enforcement.”

Efforts to educate cyclists or tame two-wheelers are met with opprobrium in anti-authoritarian Amsterdam, according to “street coaches” hired by the city to do so. Nevertheless, the local government is trying to balance the needs of cyclists and pedestrians. Aware of pressure on public space as the city’s population swells, the municipality said in 2017 it would prioritize both groups, not just cyclists, in its five-year Bicycle Plan starting that year ...

The imperative of infill: The first candidate to say something coherent about it might just get my vote.

Yes, Team Gahan can harness TIF and political patronage to incentivize large infill projects like Breakwater and Lancaster Lofts, but what we need are a dozen smaller infill projects with minimal financial chicanery, not two more big ones. A walk through downtown reveals plenty of open space in need of use.



Are you a candidate for city council but still have no idea what I'm talking about? You're not alone. Here's a brief explanation, and there's plenty more information out there.

Is Urban Infill a Sustainable Solution to Development?, by Matthew Pinsker (Daniel Silvernail Architect, Inc.)

Urban infill may be a viable solution for cities seeking to build tighter communities by utilizing space to its fullest potential. Conscious implementation of developments on underutilized land may be an effective sustainable agent that reduces daily vehicular travel time and the resulting environmental byproducts.

The National League of Cities’ Sustainable Cities Institute defines urban infill as “new development that is sited on vacant or undeveloped land within an existing community, and that is enclosed by other types of development.” Benefits include removing eyesores and safety concerns, supporting populations required to attract certain amenities (parks, community services, retail), and increasing the supply of affordable homes. Risks include improper management by local governments, demolishing historic buildings, and displacing residents of homes ...

"David Koch was a rich man who used his fortune to influence our politics with an eye toward further enriching himself."

One malign influencer has gone, and of course that's for the greater good, but Koch's passing does nothing to alter the rot because his money remains right here, undoubtedly to be used for the same nefarious ends as before. 

David Koch Got What He Paid For, by John Nichols (The Nation)

The late Koch brother bought influence using PACs and other proxies. A prank call to Scott Walker revealed the truth about how the Kochs had their way with Republican politicians.

 ... Enter Scott Walker, a struggling Wisconsin politician who was angling for a governorship. The Kochs threw their support behind Walker, with David Koch declaring: “We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years. We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.” According to The Palm Beach Post, where the quote originally appeared, Koch used “we” to refer to Americans for Prosperity, the group that he and his brother used as one of their vehicles for manipulating our politics.

Even before he knew the Kochs personally, Walker recognized what the brothers had done for him, and for ambitious young men like him. Spending by the Kochs, via direct donations and independent expenditures, played a definitional role in generating the “Republican wave” of 2010, the year Walker was elected.

Walker’s understanding of this debt led to an incident that revealed much of what Americans will remember about David Koch, even though he was not an actual participant. In February 2011, as tens of thousands of teachers, nurses, librarians, and their allies marched in opposition to Walker’s attack on unions and collective-bargaining rights for public employees, the phone rang in the governor’s office. The caller identified himself as David Koch and was put through to Walker.

The caller—a brilliant prankster (the late Ian Murphy) who was pretending to be Koch—was soon trading notes with the governor about the “vested interest” that Koch Industries had in Walker’s assault on unions. The 20-minute conversation revealed the obsequious deference of an elected Republican governor to the benefactors of his 2010 race—and, as it would turn out, of the campaigns that followed for Walker, who faced a citizen-demanded recall and tough reelection fights before he was finally defeated in 2018.

Here’s the critical exchange from 2011:

Koch caller: “Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.”

Walker: “All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support in helping us move the cause forward…”

Koch caller: “Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. ”

Walker: “Well, that’s just it.”

Yes, that is just it.

The manipulations of democracy that David Koch and his brother funded—extreme gerrymandering, defenses of an Electoral College that has prevented popular-vote winners from becoming president, voter suppression schemes, and assaults on unions—did much to elect Republicans like Walker. But the most recent Republican president has turned the movement David and Charles Koch envisioned toward extremes that more closely mirror the fever dreams of their father. And if Democrats ever get their act together, they will, for the sake of not just their party but the future of society and the planet, be required to upend what the Kochs have done.

So the full measure of David Koch’s influence has yet to be made.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

It took the consummate narcissist Jeff Gahan a full 16 years to say the word "opioid," and now the hypocrite-in-chief thinks he's Jonas effing Salk.

Crazy, isn't it?

"Silent Jeff" Gahan served eight excruciatingly underachieving years as a councilman, followed by seven years and 238 days as the city's second-worst mayor ever (behind Warren Nash) before at long last becoming vaguely aware of an opioid crisis in New Albany -- wait, I'm sorry, make that "Floyd County" -- none of which has the slightest thing to do with a tough re-election fight just around the corner.

Whatever. I pulled the only relevant paragraph from Gahan's boilerplate recitation of things we already know.

The City of New Albany has already taken an important step by bringing legal action against the manufacturers and distributors. Floyd County officials, unfortunately, have opted to not join the lawsuit against opioid distributors. I am urging county leaders to recognize this problem and join the lawsuit. Now that we have solid data concerning the problem, we need to do more as a community.

It's the ceaseless war against Floyd County government, yet again. This war is the only imperative for Gahan's tenure, and not a single Democrat in New Albany can recall exactly why it's being fought apart from their need to preserve political patronage as local Democrats have always featherbedded it.

This emperor has no clothes; Gahan cares not a jot about societal ills apart from his skill in spinning them to his advantage. Now, how about an uplifting round of  loaded Rice Krispies Treats?


LIVE TO EAT: Many familiar faces as 1816 Modern Kitchen & Drinks debuts in Corydon.

Here's the team: Mesa's Bobby and Ysha Bass, and Rod and Esperanza Juarez; Executive Chef Scott Dickenson, formerly of The Exchange in New Albany; and General Manager Levi Donaldson, also previously of The Exchange and more recently Wild Rita’s.

To learn about the history of the location, you'll have to click through to my article at F&D. Here's a clue: Old-timers like me ate in the same building when Richard Nixon was president.

1816 Modern Kitchen & Drinks is open in Corydon (Food & Dining Magazine)

Corydon was Indiana’s first state capitol (1816-1825), and for those of us who grew up in the area, the town always will be synonymous with the term “Old Capitol.”

Time marches on, and today, 203 years after the town’s historic Hoosier moment, 1816 Modern Kitchen & Drinks makes its debut at 100 E. Chestnut (the Shafer Building), around the corner from the landmark original capitol and across the street from Butt Drugs ...

Gahan eats a Danish, installs campaign finance-themed pedestrian crossing signals.

The Green Mouse received a link from a friend: Danish city installs Viking-themed pedestrian crossing signals (text below). What happened next was very predictable.

It's 2:00 a.m., and a phone rings near Main Street, muffled by the ornamental grasses in a nearby median.

"See here, Rosenbarger. This Viking crosswalk light thingy has potential. Didn't the Vikings raid and pillage everywhere they went? That's some really good shit, but $150 to convert the lights? Say what? How do those Danish mayors get their families to Disney World twice a year on $150? Look, some of our Special Friends can do these for at least $500 each, although you need to make sure we're getting the volume warehouse discount for $100 actual cost, then we can convert every light in the city and put those cute anchors on them -- wait, that's no fun, how about my FACE on each one?

"HAH! That Chowchewsku guy never managed THAT, did he?"

Now for the straight dope.

Danish city installs Viking-themed pedestrian crossing signals

Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A city in Denmark is celebrating its Viking heritage by replacing the crosswalk signal lights with the images of the historic Scandinavian warriors.

The city of Aarhus, which was founded by Vikings in the 8th century, unveiled the first of the Viking-themed crossing signals Monday. The city is planning to install the lights at 17 crossings in the city.

Buenyamin Simsek, a councilor in the Aarhus city planning department, pitched the scheme early in the year and the Moesgaard Museum, located just outside of the city, teamed up with officials to bring the idea to fruition.

Officials said each walking signal costs about $150 to convert.

Monday, August 26, 2019

To park or not to park? Conflicting signage is the question.

A regular reader sent a note to the Green Mouse.

Just noticed this yesterday on Vincennes, just before DePauw. Nice parking spots complete with a no parking sign. All that’s missing is a no-progress anchor.

Our crack graphics team can fix that.

Downtown taco turmoil: Sinaloa and El Rico Taco are gone, but Tacolicious To Go opens Tuesday at 111 W. Market Street in New Albany.

Last week all traces of El Rico Taco disappeared from Destinations Booksellers (604 E. Spring St.), and that's too bad. They were friendly people and their food was quite good. I'll remember those tamales for a long while.

It's worth remembering that even in such a restaurant incubator setting, eatery owners need operating capital to get through the first six months to a year. Goodbye, El Rico Taco. It seems we hardly knew ye.


Once upon a time the occupant of the storefront at 111 W Market (between Firestone and Hitching Post) was Aladdin, which moved to Underground Station and is still serving great Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.

Then came La Tiendita, which appeared to have two sets of owners, both of them charming and family-oriented.

However at some point earlier this year Tiendita seemed to have been targeted (literally) by a hostile takeover, resulting in the emergence of El Sinaloa.

The latter was closed for a while owing to licensing issues and never seemed to gain traction. Now it is gone, and according to the signage there's a new occupant as of tomorrow (Tuesday, August 27): Tacolicious To Go -- apparently not to be confused with the San Francisco mezcal bar.

And that's about all we know, for now.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Design elements: Is it Market Street beautification or Il Duce's Italy?

Who knew Jeff Gahan was a student of pre-WWII fascist history? It's only a matter of time before Dear Leader channels Il Duce: "We must create a new art, an art of today, a Gahanist-HWC art."

As Bluegill wisely noted:

New Albany’s Market Street project is depressingly familiar - big money, long time, the usual political patronage, generic ugly car-centric result. New Gahania in a nutshell.

This nutshell includes the beautiful people rushing to praise the emperor's nudity as they overlook what he's done to terrorize the less fortunate among us.

Therein lies the biggest part of our city's problem -- that, and street light poles made out to look like Roman plinths for enormous ceremonial statues, which they might yet become during a third Gahan term.

We'll be invading Clarksville before you know it.


"Here are some leading examples of the dwindling currency of neoliberal thinking."

We can only hope.

The Sunset of Neoliberalism, by Max B. Sawicky (Jacobin)

To anyone who lived through the Clinton years — or merely remembers the Obama era — the discrediting of neoliberal ideas that were once sacrosanct among Democrats is nothing short of astonishing.

Cheer up. The Left is winning the battle of ideas. Ideas are the basis for organization, and organization is prior to change. The signs are in the evolution of statements and platforms presented by Democratic presidential candidates. As the economist John Maynard Keynes wrote, eighty and some years ago:

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

It’s our “madmen” (and women) who are more in evidence these days — not as public personalities, but in the guise of campaign commitments offered by leading Democratic politicians. Their ascendance parallels the decline of neoliberal ideology.

In this essay, I’d like to give credit where it is due for the raising of consciousness. In the process, I would like to foster a keener appreciation for the difference between progressive and neoliberal doctrine. What does it mean to be left these days? Everybody knows the extreme point — wholesale socialization of the commanding heights of the economy. But where is the separation between hackneyed liberalism, “woke” and otherwise, and emerging progressive platforms?


As this article was being written, the Sanders campaign released additional, detailed plans pertaining to labor rights, the Green New Deal, and how law enforcement deals with race. In this respect, his opponents are invariably more fated to play catch-up than to reject his proposals. The few who tried to plant a flag on their opposition to socialism are passing from the scene. It’s as if Democratic voters have been thirsting for progressive proposals for decades, and now they will drink as much as can be offered. No candidate so far has proven willing to rain on this parade.

That’s why I say we are witnessing the sunset of neoliberalism.

Andrew Luck has some money. He took back his life. More power to him.

"No one else besides the NFL is stupid enough to keep engineering ways to sustain an unsustainable game."

Andrew Luck's description of the cycle of injury, pain and rehab sounds a lot like the current state of cancer-ridden capitalism, except that "rehab" hasn't really occurred. But good for Luck; human rationality is such an elusive thing.

What Andrew Luck Means, by Drew Magary (Deadspin)

.. They want you to enlist. They want you to serve your team for God and country. That is the blueprint. The NFL has always been in love with its war metaphors. So it’s fitting that the league now finds itself existentially lost when trying to deal with the consequences of REAL human wreckage—of players discovering that this sport will kill them, and it will kill them faster the longer they play it. The NFL doesn’t want players like that. They want something beyond mere passion. They want players too obsessed to see the danger, or to feel the pain. They want you, pardon the expression, brain damaged. Andrew Luck knew better than to give his entire life to this league. He won’t be the last. In some critical ways, he is merely the first.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A belated accounting of my year in music for May and June.

It's the song by the Smiths, as performed by Johnny Marr at Glastonbury. New Albanians know it as Team Gahan's response each time I write about them.

It's axiomatic: The music of my life means much more to me than it does to you, a statement of even greater relevance given that I ceased being an arbiter of musical trends at the dawning of the age of rap and hip hop three decades ago.

However, if you're of like mind I may have been listening to something of interest -- and vice versa.

As noted previously, there has been a great change in procedures during 2019. Finally I've acquiesced to streaming, most often experienced via a nice pair of noise-blocking headphones. My CD purchases are perhaps 25% of what they were before, limited to what I enjoy the most.

Unfortunately I'm as susceptible as ever to forgetfulness, and this is why the following brief rundown of albums and music from May and June is so late. First, snippets from the handful of CDs acquired during these months, followed by links to musical musings.

The Amazons … Future Dust

Bruce Springsteen ... Western Stars

Sammy Hagar & the Circle … Space Between

Bastille … Doom Days

Yeah, well, I liked Van Hagar, and I like Sammy's new album with The Circle. Fight me.

ON THE AVENUES: Let's lift our voices for another verse of "Talking Seventh Inning Blues."

Four decades later, Disco Demolition Night has not aged well.

What Steve Resch has in mind for the Jimmy's Music Center building downtown.

I'd rather read Elton John's autobiography than watch the biopic.

Jazz master Sidney Bechet was born on this day in 1897.

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say ...