Monday, September 30, 2019

LIVE TO EAT: Food for thought from Ryan Rogers.

The umbrella.

We like to say in the restaurant business that we can tell consumers what our restaurant is, but within six months, our consumer tells us what the restaurant is.
-- Ryan Rogers

For those with the wherewithal to elude Louisville Business First's paywall, there is an excellent short interview by Haley Cawthon with Ryan Rogers, founder of Feast BBQ, Royals Hot Chicken and bar Vetti.

You'll recall that his first restaurant was the now defunct Feast BBQ in New Albany (2012-2018), currently being remodeled as an addition to The Exchange.

Rogers' sentiments about Louisville's restaurant industry are worth noting.

Chef Ryan Rogers talks Royals expansion, Louisville restaurant industry

What’s your opinion on Louisville’s restaurant industry? Do you think it’s overly saturated?

I think it’s a healthy restaurant market. At the end of the day, the restaurants give the best service, the best food and the best value are the ones that are successful. I think competition is good in the marketplace.

The one thing I would say is that we have a lot of people who want to get in the restaurant business because they see it from the outside and think it’s a fun job to have. But it’s a job at the end of the day — it’s not a retirement plan or something you do as a hobby — it’s a seven day a week job.

I think that competition will only continue to improve the quality of the restaurants that we have in Louisville.

Know about Robert Johnson: "ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads."

Some time around 1993, there was an infrequent customer at Rich O's Public House named Chris, who said he was a member of the homebrewing club in Cleveland, Ohio obliged to visit Louisville now and then on business.

One night he brought with him the 2-CD box set of Robert Johnson's music, the one so many of my generation snatched up as soon as it became available. It united all of Johnson's sparse recorded output. Chris said I could borrow it until the next time he came through town.

We never saw him again, and later at a homebrewing function in Cleveland, I asked some of the club members there about him.

Not one of them had ever heard the name.

Robert Johnson Finally Gets an Obituary in The New York Times 81 Years After His Death

... The latest “Overlooked” is an oddity. Its subject may be the most famous person of all to get the belated Times obit since the series began. Robert Johnson’s alleged deal with the devil at the crossroads has become as foundational to U.S. mythology as John Henry’s hammer or George Washington’s cherry tree.

Very interesting.

Just watch this: "Utrecht: Planning for People, Not Cars."

Nice things we can't have in L'America.

More topics local candidates don't talk about: Shifting from building MORE infrastructure to making BETTER use of what we already have.

As usual, Marohn locates the center of the target. One important question voters should be asking the Gahanites: Exactly how are we going to pay future maintenance costs for all these bright, shiny (and in so many instances, unnecessary) objects?

The Strong Towns Approach to Public Investment, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

We’re done building infrastructure. The idea that any city in North America will, in the future, have appreciably more roads or streets, more sidewalks and curbs, more pipes or pumps or valves or meters, is absurd. Some may add a bit here or there, but for the most part we’re done. What we’ve built is what we’ve got. That’s it.

In fact, I suspect that many cities will have less infrastructure in a decade than they do now. Two decades from now, I suspect contraction of infrastructure will be a common and shared experience across our cities.

This means that the task of city-building must shift dramatically, from building more to making better use of what we already have. For over seven decades, we’ve culturally viewed expansion as our pathway to success. Now we must develop strategies for thickening up our places, for going back and wringing more return out of the trillions in existing investment.

An Obsession with Maintenance
In my book, Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity, I outline how local governments must use two complementary – but very different – approaches for making capital investments: maintenance and little bets ...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

I got your message: Tom May's sermons are opinions, not news. C'mon, journalists -- get it right.

It says right there it's a "column," which is a questionable assessment in itself, seeing as Preacher Tom May's screed is a religious "message" of the sort distributed by street corner Jehovah Witnesses, except in this instance it is published weekly in the pages of the Jeffersonville newspaper, to be filed on line not under "opinions," which is how columns generally are classified, but as "news," a term implying factual comment utterly absent from an evangelist's pitch.

Or, the News and Tribune's decline continues unabated.

Hunter Biden, et al: "Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, but prominent Americans also shouldn’t be leveraging their names for payoffs from shady clients abroad."

More essential reading. If we're to endure this impeachment process, it seems a shame to condone one variety of corruption while prosecuting a second, merely to suit the political objectives of the two-party duopoly.

Anyone got a big-ass broom for both?

Hunter Biden’s Perfectly Legal, Socially Acceptable Corruption, by Sarah Chayes (The Atlantic)

Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, but prominent Americans also shouldn’t be leveraging their names for payoffs from shady clients abroad.

How did this get to be standard practice?

The whistle-blower scandal that has prompted the fourth presidential impeachment process in American history has put a spectacle from earlier this decade back on display: the jaw-smacking feast of scavengers who circled around Ukraine as Viktor Yanukovych, a Moscow-linked kleptocrat, was driven from power. Ukraine’s crisis was the latest to energize a club whose culture has come to be treated as normal—a culture in which top-tier lawyers, former U.S. public officials, and policy experts (and their progeny) cash in by trading on their connections and their access to insider policy information—usually by providing services to kleptocrats like Yanukovych. The renewed focus on Ukraine raises jangling questions: How did dealing in influence to burnish the fortunes of repugnant world leaders for large payoffs become a business model? How could America’s leading lights convince themselves—and us—that this is acceptable?

Voicing this question now invites an immediate objection: “false equivalence.” Let’s dispense with it. What Donald Trump has done—in this case, according to the summary of a single phone call, lean on a foreign president to launch two spurious investigations in order to hurt political rivals, offering the services of the U.S. Department of Justice for the purpose—is shockingly corrupt, a danger to American democracy, and worthy of impeachment.

But the egregiousness of these acts must not blind us to the culture of influence-peddling that surrounds and enables them. That culture is fundamental to the cynical state we are in, and it needs examining. All too often, the scandal isn’t that the conduct in question is forbidden by federal law, but rather, how much scandalous conduct is perfectly legal—and broadly accepted ...

Not a Tom May topic: "Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power over Christian Values."

As The Economist noted in 2017 (photo credit above), the secret of evangelical support for Donald Trump lies in the prosperity gospel.

The idiocy of the "pastorpreneurs" -- or, the prosperity gospel, as lifted straight from the corporate capitalist playbook.

Money, power.

Is anyone detecting a trend?

The Immoral Majority review: how evangelicals backed Trump – and how they might atone, by John S Gardner (The Guardian)

As a scandal-ridden presidency lurches towards impeachment, Ben Howe offers valuable insight into how it came to this

In his new book, Ben Howe attempts to explain something that should never have occurred: why most white evangelicals voting in 2016 chose Donald Trump.

Many observers thought Trump could not win because evangelical Christians could not support someone whose life (and tweeting) was so at odds with their beliefs and practices. Indeed, Trump failed to win a majority of evangelicals in any Super Tuesday primary.

Howe’s subtitle tells the tale: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power over Christian Values.


As Howe notes, “Trump evangelicals are very fond of binary choices”, many of which are in essence “false dilemmas” in which a supposed “greater moral consideration takes precedence”. This “whataboutism” was key. Could one have opposed Trump and Clinton? Of course – and Trump would have lost. Yet, as Howe reminds us, “putting God in one compartment” and politics in another “is clearly out of step with Christian tradition”.

This provides a further clue. Howe writes extensively about the impact of social media and cable news in deepening the political divide in America and intensifying it to fresh levels of vitriol and “hyperbolic outrage”, largely based on the idea of victimization. This had dramatic effects: a spirit of bitterness and a “persecution complex” on the right meant that “ [a]s the clicks came, and the ideas were reinforced through group dynamics, they became even more pronounced. Anger had become a currency.”


Trump promised power. “In the end,” Howe writes, “It’s what many absolutely believe Trump as president has given them.”

Power was one of the temptations the devil offered Jesus. He refused.

This is a deeply introspective, at times anguished book ...

Saturday, September 28, 2019

"Right now, the grim fact is that the Democratic Party has been constructed to lose, and we should stop acting surprised if it keeps on doing so."

Pretty much.

Doomed, delusional, divided and corrupt: How the Democratic Party became a haunted house, by Andrew O'Hehir (Salon)

Conflicted about ideology and identity and deeply compromised by history, the Democratic Party is built to lose

 ... I’m also not just talking about the party’s steadfast refusal to adopt coherent, progressive and broadly popular positions on issues like health care, gun control, marijuana legalization and electoral reform. But it’s important to grasp why Democrats in power won’t embrace those things — as opposed to embracing them on the campaign trail, which really doesn’t count — because the reasons go well beyond ideological confusion or political cowardice and into deeper, darker places.

Over the last 40 years, the Democrats have become an increasingly awkward coalition of affluent, cosmopolitan whites and urban people of color, and have largely abandoned their previous mistrust of corporate power, Wall Street and big capital in general. Go down the list of powerful congressional Democrats — especially the committee chairs and members of leadership — and pay attention to where and how they raise money, and who their major donors are. The corruption is widespread and deeply rooted, and it cannot be dislodged simply by anointing a reformer or “socialist” as the presidential nominee. If anything, that should be the end point of a renovation or redemption project that has not happened.

I’m not just talking about the peculiar fact that the 2020 Democratic campaign will likely boil down to a contest between three white people in their 70s, each of them with glaring and obvious flaws. I’m not talking about the unresolved post-2016 tactical and ideological struggle between “progressives” and “moderates,” which was a long time coming and is now playing out in the nomination contest. I’m also not talking about the exaggerated infighting on the left between supporters of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, which represents both substantive and symbolic divisions — and which, on both sides, also represents a profoundly unrealistic view of the nature of political power.

Those things can all be pulled apart and argued over individually, of course. But I am truly and honestly not arguing here for the victory of a particular candidate or faction or strategy. I don’t know how impeachment would turn out, and neither do you. I have no idea whether Sanders or Warren or Biden or Kamala Betogieg is the best bet to defeat Trump next year, and nobody else does either. That leaves us with the radical proposition that people should support the candidate they like best and we’ll see what happens, which I realize is deeply unsatisfactory punditry.

But all such questions, when considered piece by piece, ignore the deeper underlying narrative that frames them in the first place. They all signal toward the Democratic Party’s remarkable ability to manufacture defeat, even (or perhaps especially) when objective conditions seem overwhelmingly favorable to victory. The real problem here, I’m afraid, admits of no easy solution: The Democratic Party comprises a wide range of views and voices, some of whom are vigorously trying to change its direction. But all of them are trapped inside a haunted house. Troubled by the ghosts of the past and clinging to useless rituals, Democrats appear largely unable to perceive actually existing reality or react to it appropriately.

This is not exactly a new idea ...

Which of these monstrously ugly downtown structures is the worst of all?

Is it this one, where the absentee businessman thumbs his nose at the investments adjacent to his atrocious sheet metal storefront?

Or is it this one, where the rich lawyer thumbs his nose at the investments adjacent to his atrocious dilapidation?

Or is it this one, which looks like the poster for a horror flick?

Not even close, is it?

Happy 10th birthday to Toast on Market.

There is an inevitability to the comings and goings in the food and drink biz. Make it a year or two, and that's laudable.

Ten years after Toast on Market's New Albany location opened, the joint's still thriving, and in pleasant weather customers are waiting outside to be seated.

That's really something.

It's Toast on Market tomorrow morning. (NA Confidential on Monday, September 28, 2009)

Because I just read Jessica touting the magic moment of 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning as the long-awaited Toast on Market opening, I'm repeating it here.

That's Market Street in New Albany. The place we call the Fair Store Building. Tuesday morning.

Toast on Market sez: Open September 29.

Taking it a step further, here's the Spring 2010 profile of the "new" New Albany in Food & Dining Magazine. It's interesting to see who's still here, and who isn't.

To me, it seems like 10,000 years ago, not just ten.

Here are Nick's New Albany election predictions at The Aggregate.

Over at The Aggregate, Nick Vaughn has registered his New Albany Election Predictions. So far NA Confidential has issued endorsements (below), but not predictions as such.

I'll be getting around to those during the next few weeks.

New Albany Election Predictions

With the immense amount of nationally focused articles running in and around Southern Indiana, I felt that it was important to provide some more locally focused analysis of the upcoming municipal elections in New Albany.

The predictions outlined here are just that and can be taken however you'd like them to be. While no empirical data was used in determining these predictions, my experience in local politics, friendships with candidates and voters, and my gut feeling, were used to make these predictions.

These predictions will be categorized in the following ways: 1. Toss-up, meaning the race is a dead heat and could go either way, 2. Leans Republican, Democratic, or Independent, meaning the race leans between 2-4% points in one directions, and 3. Solidly Republican, Democratic, or Independent, meaning the race is 5% points or higher leaning in one direction.


NAC Endorsement Compendium:

Friday, September 27, 2019

Don't say I didn't remind you of the leaf sucking protocol for 2019.

The city's leaf removal protocol for 2019 is to petition Superman, and he'll take care of it all by himself. Actual quoted passage:

"Mayor Jeff Gahan is pleased to once again aid the citizens of New Albany with leaf removal."

Well, he's the Wizard of Bling, and he can do ANYTHING.

Of course it's the stormwater utility's employees who'll be doing the actual work, like always, but naturally this doesn't stop Anchor City's narcissist-in-chief from claiming credit for the labor of others. After all, that's why he's here.

But don't look for the information at the city's web site.

Don't look for these, either, or Bob Caesar will set your leaves on fire.

Rather, the lowdown comes with the stormwater utility's periodic paean to Dear Leader's re-election campaign.

Short version: If you want your leaves sucked, keep them out of the curbs, gutters and streets, or else ... absolutely nothing will happen to you.

Redevelopment machinations and those awesomely cute townhouses coming to Vincennes Street where the demolitions just went down.

You may have noticed the demolitions on Vincennes.

Photo credit: Bruce.

These five lots between Ekin and Shelby ...

 ... were purchased by SBG Development from the city of New Albany earlier in September. 802, 804, 806 and 808 Vincennes appear to be a unit, as reflected here; 802 Vincennes is to be considered an umbrella listing.

The lot at 810 was a separate transaction.

SBG is a familiar face: Chad Sprigler.

Although bizarrely, the Elevate site has SBG listed as a Kentucky company located at 1122 Rogers Street in Louisville. That's curious, because this address links with the Marian Group, also a collection of developers.

Back to the fate of those five lots on Vincennes. We turn to the Redevelopment Commission meeting of August 13.

Here's the pastel rendering.

Totally keeping in the character of the neighborhood, eh?

Meanwhile, at the September redevelopment meeting (minutes as yet not posted), a bid by Carter Management (Underground Station's developer) was approved to to rehab the building at 624 Vincennes.

And as we know, the Carters do fine work.

Here in "walkable" Nawbany, our grandiose Reisz Mahal won't even have a Main Street entry portal, so make sure and bring your car.

That's right, we're spending millions to remodel a building that won't have a Main Street entrance. Be sure and enter with your car, to the rear.

But please don't mention "public art," because it could get far worse.

ON THE AVENUES: Socialists for Seabrook, because we desperately need a new beginning in New Albany.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The New Albany Blues Brews and BBQ Festival is Friday and Saturday.

Beginning tonight -- Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. -- both traffic lanes on Market Street between State and Pearl will be closed until Sunday morning. Sidewalks will not be blocked.

The reason for the closure is to allow public space for professional BBQ teams to cook their meats for the weekend NA Blues, Brews and Barbecue Fest. You are encouraged to attend this event.

Speaking personally, if we're to be genuinely walkable as a city, then disruptions like this are of little or no consequence.

However, reality on the ground dictates this reminder that there's a parking garage at the corner of State and Market, and parking by the levee at the foot of Pearl -- and quite a few curbside parking spaces everywhere, even on a busty weekends, just a short distance from the event and the affected businesses on both sides of the closed segment of Market Street.

It should be seasonable the next few evenings. If you're driving, park somewhere and have a nice walk, then a bite and a drink. Don't have too much of the latter if you're driving.

And ponder the question of why we purpose-built Bicentennial Park to be problematic and barely usable for events, and naturally insist on constantly using it for such events even when the Riverfront Amphitheater would be far more appropriate.

ON THE AVENUES: Socialists for Seabrook, because we desperately need a new beginning in New Albany.

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, "Oh, how fine are the Emperor's new clothes! Don't they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!" Nobody would confess that he couldn't see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said.

 -- Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” recently quoted at Jeff Gahan’s campaign kick-back-off


NA Confidential’s 15th birthday arrives on October 20, 2019, to be followed two weeks later by Election Day.

That’s when we will learn if Jeff Gahan’s time-tested platform of power-grabbing, influence-peddling and campaign finance loot accumulation has been crass enough to buy him a third straight term as Anchor City’s Wizard of Bling -- something that hasn’t occurred since 1955, when C. Pralle Erni did it on a platform of support for public housing, as opposed to Gahan’s palpable and ongoing war against the community’s least fortunate.

But enough of that.

You already know how I feel about Gahan’s vapid Reign of Error, and so today we examine a viable alternative. In retrospect, NA Confidential’s entire 5,475-day-long journey through New Albany’s Open Air Museum of Ignorance, Superstition, Backwardness and Treachery now seems to have been pointing to this juncture, all along.

I suppose it has taken 15 years because I’ve always been a methodical learner, suspicious of sudden epiphanies and more disposed to trust the accumulation of evidence that seeps through, day by day, over long periods of time. The learning curve is a harsh mistress, and it can be a maddening maze, so I allow plenty of chances for front porch cigar pondering before jumping to my conclusions.

Taking all of it together, there is a strong likelihood that I’ll begin drinking at the blog’s forthcoming 15th birthday party, and continue the process until after the ballots have been counted.

Don’t worry, readers. I’m a trained professional. Beverage alcohol contains the minimum daily requirements for all mandated food groups, just so long as you continue eating tacos and pizza throughout the binge.

As such, let’s avoid the late October politics rush. If you’re looking for quality endorsements, you’ve come to the “right” place for a lifelong leftist like me.

In 2019, this European-style Social Democrat will be voting for Mark Seabrook for mayor of New Albany.

Before telling you why, just a wee bit of personal background. I’ve come to understand that my political frame of reference is utterly negated by America’s two-party system and the “traditional” call-and-response psychoses stemming from it.

I’ve lived in Floyd County, Indiana my entire life, the most recent half within New Albany city limits, and yet in political terms I might as well be in exile. As such, a born contrarian’s iconoclasm outranks even booze as an escape mechanism.

The votes I cast must be examined on a case by case basis amid forever shifting circumstances, which come down to this: What course of local action is most sensible, and which candidate is best suited to pursue it, irrespective of political party affiliation?

It took a long time to see that simple lockstep ideology cannot suffice for me, as neither major political party in America takes an interest in expressing my beliefs. I’m left to cope as best I can, honing my intellectual survival skills, and searching the dumpsters for discarded fish bones and carrot shavings to make a thin soup of sustenance.

Pragmatism, here I come, and it feels good.


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy
-- Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, quoted at a recent Redevelopment Commission meeting

Let’s begin by stating for the public record that Mark Seabrook’s lengthy experience as an office holder in both city and county government, and more importantly to me, his career as an independent small businessman, recommend him highly for the office of mayor according to any prevailing criteria of which I’m aware.

Eight years of Democratic Party propaganda would have you believe that Gahan’s ascendancy to power came via divine right, as though the goddesses themselves sent him to us as the only human being truly capable of ruling the New Albanian rabble -- hence Gahan’s surreal, unintentionally hilarious cult of personality and his fatuous claims to have made not one single error his entire time as an elected official.

That’s sheer bullshit, of course.

Even the majority of local DemoDisneyDixiecrats know that Gahan’s pipe dreams of glory and grandiosity are disturbing and delusional. They bow, scrape and toe the line only because so many of them are in it for the beak-wetting, and that’s why we must continue to follow Dear Leader’s financial trail: In Pecunia Veritas.

Seabrook is perfectly capable of being mayor, of performing mayoral tasks and delegating responsibilities to mayoral appointees.

Seabrook has wider experience in elected office than Gahan, and having been elected to multiple terms in office and not only one, he has benefited from far more hours of real hands-on time governance than presumed kingmakers like Gahan’s venal and cadaverous toady Warren Nash, who was a veritable Olympian of mayoral ineptitude until his clothes-free protégé came along to make veneer great again.

Seabrook has given no indication that he seeks the office of mayor in order to be a paid media superstar with his face attached to shopping carts, crosswalks, full-page lifestyle magazine advertisements, and any other unfortunate inanimate objects lacking the good sense to get the hell out of the way.

Seabrook will be surrounded and advised by the most capable cast of adjutants and actual thinkers that we’ve seen for a while in this city, including (although not confined to) sitting councilman Al Knable, (hopefully soon to be) councilman Scott Stewart, State Representative Ed Clere, party chairman Shawn Carruthers and quite a few others, and with a younger generation of energetic, principled leaders on the horizon.

Seabrook can be expected to appoint similarly solid representatives to serve on non-elected boards, and to see that these boards remain transparent and answerable to elected officials -- and hence, to the ratepayers themselves.

Seabrook will be questioned by some who doubt he possesses the stamina to serve as mayor, but he has been admirably pro-active and transparent in addressing his physical health concerns. As I can personally attest, those interacting with him lately encounter a nimble and fully engaged mind. I won’t begrudge Seabrook a nap now and then; imagine the vast amount of time he’ll save by NOT wasting the many hours Gahan needs each day to preen, posture and pretend to be an omniscient messiah.

Seabrook’s fitness for office cannot be denied, although Democrats lacking other suitable cudgels will lie about it. When they do, ask these increasingly wild-eyed ward heelers if they’ve ever experienced shame. Some actually might have.

Seabrook proposes that our city return to the task of efficient daily management, while ceasing to function as convenient set props and stage furniture for the tinhorn theatrical aspirations of a failed wood products salesman.

Seabrook aims at transparent operations and accountability, not exaggerated claims and play-acting. To summarize, he seeks to return governance to functional adults who possess long attention spans and small egos, and this is exactly what we need in New Albany at this point in time.

Seabrook will need all these attributes as well as a skilled team to begin cleansing our tainted City Hall.


Q: What do Gahan supporters say when the Kool-Aid and Loaded Rice Krispies Treats run out?

A: Dude, this mayor really sucks.

Now for a few random thoughts about Mayor Seabrook’s probable challenges.

Future costs must be identified and contained.

Among Gahan’s ritualistic bait ‘n’ switch tactics has been an infrastructure Ponzi scheme, borrowing massive sums of money against future “growth” and shifting the burden of repayment to the children and grandchildren of voters dazzled by bright shiny objects.

The problem: As we add infrastructure embellishments of questionable need, and considering the cost of borrowing to finance them, we’re also steadily adding maintenance and upkeep expenses that aren’t “included” in the glossy touts.

It is likely that one of Seabrook’s first tasks as mayor will be to conduct a complete and thorough audit of the city’s finances. Given the inevitable filing cabinet bonfires we’ll see on December 31, this might prove to be a daunting task, but a necessary one to restore sanity to the municipality’s tortured financials.

Gahan’s pestiferous swamp must be drained.

Seabrook will conduct a purge of the Democratic Party’s fat and sassy governing clique, and it’s about time. Nowhere within the code of ordinances can be found commandments proclaiming the feather-bedded entitlement on the part of gilded functionaries like Nash, party chairman Adam Dickey and Irving Joshua to lifetime sinecures on appointed boards.

A cleansing flush is necessary, and waiting off to the side, whether Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, Druids or Monarchists, there are bright individuals, fresh ideas and new blood patiently awaiting their long overdue turns at the wheel.

I’m convinced Seabrook and his team will act to enable them.

The Democratic Party’s doctrine of non-cooperation must be curbed.

One hallmark of the Democratic Party’s perennial stranglehold on municipal government is an absolute refusal to cooperate with Republicans at any level. Granted, there are social policy occasions when this makes sense (see Pence, Mike), but the little-discussed flip side in a state like ours possessing a solidly Republican governmental apparatus is Gahan’s legacy of missed opportunities for cooperation with people like Clere and Ron Grooms, so as to leverage scarce resources toward genuinely useful goals. Gahan prefers putting it on the TIF One credit card, and this politically-motivated non-cooperation means we pay more than we should.

It won’t happen with Seabrook as mayor.

City-county relations must be improved.

It’s true that even in a county as small as ours, there’ll always be differences between urban, suburban and rural residents as they pertain to definitions about “quality of life.” The more I’ve learned about urbanization, suburbanization and guy-in-the-backwoods-hut-ization, within the contexts of transportation, land use, environmental impacts and a score of other considerations, the greater the complexity.

We may not know the answer to every question, but a house divided still can’t stand. Governmental units working together rather than separately might actually be useful -- for a change. It needn’t be “unigov” to cooperate where applicable for the collective good. It’s just sanity.

Ever since Democrats misplaced their mojo outside city limits, the party has pursued a policy of open hostility to county government. Indeed, at times this has been fact-based. Far more often the motivation has been one of pure and spiteful disruption. I think daily life is challenging enough without waging an ongoing Uncivil Cold War, and I believe the Floyd County Republican Party doesn’t bear the primary burden of bad behavior in this matter.

With Seabrook as mayor, perhaps we can begin thinking about rowing together when applicable.


Is Mark Seabrook flawless?

Of course he isn’t.

Not a single human being occupying elected office is free of error, in spite of Deaf Gahan’s incessant, mirror-gazing and narcissistic insistence to the contrary. Seabrook’s record in city and county government can be thoughtfully dissected like any other, as with the coal dust disposal scandal occurring during his tenure as commissioner, or those disagreeing with his advocacy of the hospital sale.

No one’s perfect, leaders are elected to make decisions, and the chips fall. Some imperfections merit a higher level of scrutiny than others. However, of most importance to me as a lifelong left-winger is this consideration:

I wouldn’t endorse Seabrook or any other Republican if I thought for a moment they harbored secret plans to impose a vicious right-wing dictatorship on New Albany.

Yes; the higher the elected office, the more this prospect does concern me, but it’s entirely irrelevant insofar as City Hall in New Albany is concerned. After all, Gahan the purported progressive darling has made no effort whatever to impose a vicious left-wing dictatorship on the city.

Mind you, he has imposed a vicious, elitist, cliquish dictatorship dedicated to duping progressives in order to satisfy cash-hungry sycophants. However, this isn’t to be confused with left, right or any other ideological standpoint. Rather, it’s all about a small-timer, C-minus homeboy student’s obsession with pay-to-play patronage and cold, hard cash.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t endorse Seabrook if the best I could say about him is, “Well, at least he isn’t Gahan.”

If the equation devolves to “anyone except Gahan” then I’d be obliged to consider Dan Coffey’s independent mayoral candidacy, and although I know precisely what it means in political terms to be in Coffey’s position outside the two mainstream party camps, surely we all grasp that this election is about Seabrook and Gahan, one on one.

In conclusion, both tactically and cynically, I might support Seabrook to supplant Gahan, who simply has to go.

Personally, I’d rather vote FOR Mark Seabrook out of conviction that he’d be a good mayor.

And he would.

So I will.


Endorsement Compendium:


Recent columns:

September 12: ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business, and it's none of your business (2016).

September 5: ON THE AVENUES: Welcome to traditional Danish lunch in Copenhagen, September 1989.

August 29: 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.

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

"The car is a very specifically American symbol of freedom, but like so many instruments and symbols of American freedom, it is a tool of domination and control."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Not only is car-centrism, or "automobile supremacy," a form of imperialism. It is perhaps the last remaining form of imperialism almost entirely free from social stigma.

"The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives."

When we get behind a wheel -- all of us, including me -- our assumption of acceptable behavior changes every bit as much as when we savage people on social media. We demand to be in control, and we insist the rest of you get the hell out of our way.

The headline is to be taken as sarcasm, by the way.

, by Jacob Bacharach (The Outline)

Cars are pushing out bikes and pedestrians to the applause of the influential and powerful.

 ... Nationally, pedestrian and cyclist deaths have spiked since 2009. The ubiquity of cell phones and the growing preponderance of integrated screens in vehicles is a major contributing factor, as is the American preference for trucks and SUVs, with which their taller front profile makes them far more deadly in collisions than the lower, slanting hoods of normal cars.

There is also the unrelenting, often murderous hostility of drivers toward pedestrians and people on bikes. No cyclist I know has not been menaced by an enraged driver — brushed past within inches, bumped at an intersection, run off the road — and most of us have been menaced more than once. No pedestrian who has to cross at a mid-block crosswalk is unfamiliar with the experience of a driver actually speeding up when they see you; no one who has crossed at a regular intersection is unfamiliar with a turning driver laying on the horn and waiting until the last second to jam on the breaks as you scurry out of the way.

The car is a very specifically American symbol of freedom, but like so many instruments and symbols of American freedom, it is a tool of domination and control. A car is a missile and a castle, a self-propelled, multi-ton fortress, hermetically sealed against the intrusions of weather, environment, and, of course, other people. Drivers view the world through the lenses of speed and convenience — most of the anger at cyclists, in my experience, is at having to drive at something resembling a normal urban speed limit because there’s a bike in front of them — but also through the lens of ownership. Streets belong to cars. The rest of us are interlopers, invaders, invasive species.

In fact, most Americans, and certainly most of our political leaders, seem to view our car-based infrastructure as essentially organic and inevitable, and anything that impedes, slows, reduces, or provides an alternative to the circulation and storage of internal combustion vehicles is an engineered scheme to alter an essentially natural order. Newspapers relentlessly editorialize about massive road and highway projects as absolute fundamentals of economic wellbeing and development, whereas rail and bike lanes and other multi-modal transit options are generally treated as luxe amenities at best, or public menaces at worst.


But cars are not creatures and have not evolved to fit their environment; we have designed our environment around cars ...

 ... And here, curiously, we find a great undiagnosed cause at the root of our supposed cultural malaise. (Also, incidentally, a great undiagnosed source of national violence: cars kill as many people in America — around 40,000 a year — as guns.) These, too, are persistent bugaboos of op-ed writers and pundits: fragmentation and atomization; loneliness and disconnection; declines in communal values and an absence of interpersonal interaction.

Well, easy enough to blame it on the internet, but for a century now we have been putting things farther and farther apart and, more and more, traveling to and from everyplace in single occupancy vehicles, grimly zooming from garage to garage, interacting with no other humans along the way except for that fucking cyclist taking up the whole goddamn road! The interactions that presumably create the sorts of communities that conservatives and columnists so frequently lament losing require more than a front porch on which to sit; they require some strolling passersby as well.

Resch, Sprigler, Bass and Donaldson present plans for Union Restaurant & GameYard, a new downtown Jeffersonville entertainment center.

Not quite the resonance of CSN&Y, but give them time. Also not to be confused with Pints&union, mind you.

Back in August we had a look-see.

Steve Resch plans a new entertainment venue in Jeffersonville.

Unnoticed Ironies, Volume 3,465: While everyone loses their minds about parking for this new venue, (a) considerable housing is being erected nearby within walking distance, and (b) the prime force "driving" folks to downtown Jeffersonville continues to be the Big Four pedestrian/bicycling bridge.

Plans surface for new downtown Jeffersonville entertainment venue, by John Boyle (Bill Hanson's Tom May's Pulpit)

JEFFERSONVILLE — The vision for a new downtown entertainment venue is becoming more clear now that the proprietors have released their plans.

At Tuesday's Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeals and Plan Commission meeting, developers Steve Resch and Chad Sprigler revealed plans for a project that will sit near the corner of Pearl and West Chestnut streets, directly adjacent to Parlour.

"What we're bringing to the table is an asset to Jeff," Resch said. "It's going to be a destination to bring people downtown. You can tell by the drawings that we've put a lot of thought, time and effort into it. We're going to throw the right amount of money at it to make it a good project."

The sprawling layout for Union Restaurant & GameYard will comprise two houses sitting on West Chestnut St., the parking lot that separates them and an empty yard behind one of the houses.

The parking lot will be transformed into a green space that will be lined with astroturf. In place of the grassy void will be a 3,922 square foot structure, which will serve as the main dining and gaming area for the venture.

"It's not a nightspot," Resch said. "It's a family-oriented, communal-type restaurant. We want to be user-friendly to everybody. There are games, food. It's different than a typical bar or restaurant."

Though Resch and Sprigler own the buildings, Bobby Bass of Southern Hospitality is partnering with Levi Donaldson as the owner of the concept being brought to the location. Bass and his wife are behind other popular operations in the area, including MESA in New Albany ...

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Vote your conscience for New Albany City Clerk, as both candidates are excellent.

To be perfectly honest, I've agonized over the question of an endorsement for the city clerk's race.

The incumbent Vicki Glotzbach (D) has been unfailingly courteous and professional since she became city clerk in 2012. Prior to her two terms in office, she was a deputy city clerk. Obviously experience favors her.

However I greatly admire challenger Kelly Feiock (R) for her relentlessly fact-based involvement with the Mt. Tabor Road Project resistance movement. It's very important for all seats to be contested, and she's a powerhouse activist and a solid candidate -- and the only candidate to whom I've personally donated.

At the grassroots level, I tend to believe two terms in office are enough. Then again, the office of city clerk has yet to be overtly politicized.

The major imperative in this year's municipal election is to drive a garlic-lubed stake through the heart of the Democratic Party's pay-to-play political patronage machine, but I can't make the case that the city clerk's race is central to this civic necessity.

So there. I'm stymied. Glotzbach or Feiock; vote your conscience, and I'll vote mine.


Endorsement Compendium:

Power move: Him Gentleman's Boutique and Mane Alley Color & Extension Bar to transform the moribund Preston Arts Building.

"There’s going to be signage for an actual business that’s going to be there, it’s not just going to be something that was once there that hasn’t been. It’s going to be current and fresh and exciting. We’re just excited — that’s all I can say."
-- Diana Hylton

Boy, does she nail this sentiment. Sorry, but that Preston storefront has been a notable eyesore for the past eight years, ever since the business moved.

Great story here, with Him Gentleman's Boutique and Mane Alley Color & Extension Bar purchasing and revamping a moribund building. Downtowners have known about this for a while, and it is good news indeed. Construction at RecBar across the street is underway, meaning that quite soon TWO redundant structures will have been put back to use.

Gary, is it time yet for an update on the River City Winery?

New Albany businesses moving into Preston Arts Center building, by Brooke McAfee (Tom May Proselytizer)

NEW ALBANY — For eight years, the former Preston Arts Center building in downtown New Albany has stood vacant. But with the growth of two local businesses, the space will be given new life.

The owners of Him Gentleman's Boutique and Mane Alley Color & Extension Bar in New Albany have bought the empty building at 315 Pearl St., located just across the street from their current locations on Pearl Street. Construction is expected to last three to four months, and couple Ross Wallace and Diana Hylton plan to move their two businesses into the building by early 2020.

Hylton said since Him opened, they have seen the empty storefront of Preston Arts Center each day, and they would think about how they wanted the space to come back to life ...

Monday, September 23, 2019

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Divisiveness, or the condition wherein your opponent disrupts, but never you.

You may have noticed that the Floyd County Democratic Party seldom has anything positive to say about Republicans hereabouts ... and quite often the other way around, too.

Not exactly a revelation, but a factoid worth noting.

It's not a stretch to suggest that Democratic Party chairman Adam Dickey's default setting on the urban hustings is to dissent from Republican-dominated county government, disparage the dastardly opposition, mobilize city voters and seek to produce a majority of a single ballot from the discord thus engendered. 

Rather divisive, wouldn't you say?

Well, of course it is. Divisiveness is a hallmark of the two-party system. Both "sides" do it -- and if "unity" is the aim, why are there sides on the first place?

The whole point of politics is to divide the pool of voters into more or less likely groups for delivering a sales pitch, then to secure the support of the ones who seem to lean toward one's own side rather than the opponent's. Divisiveness is inevitable, isn't it? The trick is to reunify once the election's through, and that's a can of worms in itself.

None of this is particularly novel. I raise the topic of divisiveness (a four-syllable word, and consequently illegal in New Albanian political discourse) because we gadflies -- as well as our fellow dissenters, apostasists, resisters, contrarians, non-conformists, dissidents, skeptics, objectors, protesters, refuseniks, heretics and just plain stubborn yokels -- aren't being divisive at all.

Rather we're questioning the established order, examining the prevailing power structures and exercising free speech to do precisely what a newspaper would do if we had one: To ask questions of the pillars and expect sensible answers from them.

When the emperor prances about without any clothes, shouldn't we point out the absurdity? And shouldn't someone get him a damn robe, or something?

Telling the truth isn't divisive at all. It's obligatory, and an antidote to the prevailing Kool-Aid. The closer to the grassroots you are, the more necessary it gets.

No one ever said it would be easy. The path of least resistance is to accept the platitudes and go along to get along.

But what's the fun in THAT?

Essential reading for HWC's Jim Rice: "Four Ways Traffic Engineers Thwart Public Will."

Marohn dissects a situation in Springfield, Massachusetts; it's about traffic in front of a library, and a clueless board of works, and ... you'll just have to read the whole essay.

Please read it.

Four Ways Traffic Engineers Thwart Public Will, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

 ... There are four common methods traffic engineers use assert their power and thwart the will of elected officials and the public those officials represent. They are all unbecoming of a profession that is supposed to be about public service. The August 6 letter from the Springfield Director of Public Works contains all four. I’m going to review those today in the hopes that, if we can’t affect change in Springfield, at least other cities can learn from their (repeated and ongoing) mistakes.

#1: A Focus on Process, Not Outcomes
Time and again I’ve watched engineers talk down to public officials, minimizing their concerns, by pretending there is some long and dignified legacy of deliberation that goes into every action taken by an engineer ... I touch on this first because the arrogance deeply bothers me. This issue keeps coming up because people keep getting hit, getting killed, and those responsible for the dangerous situation—those who could do something about it—seem unwilling to do anything. People have been elected because they said they would find answers. To fall back on process—silly councilors, we’ve already considered this many times—when it’s clearly not working is tone deaf, at best.

#2: A Reliance on Standards, Not Observation
An engineer working for their own priorities, instead of the priorities of the elected officials or the public at large, will quote industry standards as if they are inviolable laws instead of what they really are: guidelines for the typical scenario. This letter includes plenty of that. Here’s one example ... the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is a favorite for engineers to cite, but in a unique situation like that being examined along State Street in Springfield, the rote standards don’t easily apply. That’s why we have professional engineers, not merely technicians. Engineers are supposed to think, to use their professional judgement in places where it is warranted.

#3: Elevating Engineering Values Over Human Values
I’ve written about how engineers assert their own values into design decisions, holding them up as truth when in fact they are a subjective ordering that should be made by elected officials. The decision to prioritize traffic flow over safety, for example. Another is the decision to establish a design speed incompatible with the neighborhood. These decisions are made without presenting them as options to elected officials, even though they are an assertion of values, not truth. This letter is full of the engineer’s values being asserted as truth ... the letter talks about “traffic queues” and “Level of Service” as if they were commandments handed down from a divine authority, not merely a set of values being asserted by the Public Works Department.

#4: Pretending to be Powerless Due to a Higher Authority
The fourth way engineers thwart the will of elected officials and the public is to assert that they are powerless, that ultimate authority resides elsewhere. Layered on this assertion of powerlessness is the implied threat that the real governing authority is not very nice, that they are likely to react poorly if provoked by such silly requests.

This is the kind of thing I did when I was a kid and used to babysit. You know, I would let you stay up late, but your mom said I needed to get you to bed on time and we don’t want her mad at us, do we. It’s juvenile, but as part of the broader conversation, it provides the final knockout blow. There is a false sense of empathy projected while simultaneously deflecting any responsibility from the engineer ... of all people, politicians should understand this to be false. None of these decisions are absolutely technical; they are all somewhat political. This is especially true in a unique situation like State Street, where multiple deaths have occurred. It’s a stretch to suggest that reasonable action here might require state board to provide some type of waiver, but it’s absurd to suggest the city could not make a compelling case.

Cities are not powerless. Great local engineers that want to assert the values of the community (instead of opposing them) can become strong advocates for the community with state appeals boards. 

Vote Al Knable and Christina Estill for New Albany City Council At-Large.

Call it an endorsement if you will, or think of it as my personal support, backing, seal of approval, recommendation or advocacy.

This 2019 election endorsement series began last week. Thanks to those who've read the picks in city council districts 1 through 6. Before looking at the at-large council field, a reminder:

Municipal candidates who are not endorsed in this space are welcome to offer their counterpoint. I will publish your statements in this space sans commentary of my own.

The entire city votes for three at-large city council seats. The three Republican Party incumbents are Al Knable, David Barksdale and David Aebersold (in descending order of vote totals in 2015). Their Democratic Party challengers are Christina Estill, Sam Charbonneau and Jason Applegate. Voters may choose as many as three candidates from this list of six -- or two, or one.

(As an aside, do independents and libertarians ever run for at-large seats?)

I intend to vote for Knable and Estill, and to leave the third slot blank.


Al Knable's record of service speaks for itself. Agree or disagree with him -- and I surely HAVE disagreed with him -- the conversation remains thoughtful and respectful. In addition, Knable is transparent and approachable. His work ethic as a council representative is exemplary.

In retrospect, perhaps the biggest mistake Knable made during his first term in office was trying to be non-partisan, and to cooperate with Gahan's Goons during 2016 and 2017. Through no fault of Knable's, it proved to be a phony detente, and bipartisanship served only to subject him to an attempted kneecapping by the Dickeyites.

I believe Knable learned a valuable lesson about the Bud Light Lime Mafia from this experience in early 2018.

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

Christina Estill is a welcome rarity among local Democratic Party candidates in that she's genuinely working class and self-made, which is the sort of thing the gentrifying Gahanites can't truly grasp. She is who she is, and that's refreshing. As such, here is Estill's pitch in her own words.

My name is Chrstina Estill, and I am your candidate for New Albany City Council At-Large. I am the single mother of 3 sons, Anthony 21, Alexander 18, and Adrian 13. I am a social worker by trade, and a community advocate by passion serving on the Board of Directors of Let Us Learn, and Community Action of Southern Indiana where I serve as the boards Secretary. I am a graduate of Spalding University with two bachelor's degrees in Social Work and Psychology.

As a professional Social Worker, I use my training and experience in conflict resolution and effective individual group process to make change happen in the lives of my clients, and I will approach my job as your city councilperson the same way with a focus on embracing diversity, and seeking community input and involvement in decisions before us as a body. By focusing resources and time to issues facing all of our citizens, and advocating as a voice for social justice, I will bring my full attention to bridging the gap for a stronger, safer, and compassionate New Albany.

That means looking forward for sustainable development and infrastructure repair that keeps business owners big and small and taxpayers concerns and needs in mind, accountable and transparent service as your council person being your voice at the table, and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars with an eye on responsible governance. This is of the utmost importance to me because as an advocate for diverse representation in government we must also act with future generations social, economic, and environmental needs in mind.

Lastly, I will work to be a consensus builder. In these times of divisive rhetoric emerging nationally, I will never shy from bold and dynamic solutions while still working for the best result possible. Elections are debated on the campaign trail, but after taking office a true public servant works to lead. Strong and spirited debate is essential, but we must not allow that to be a roadblock to what is right for our citizens.

A lot has changed in the years since I came to New Albany, and great changes lie ahead in the years to come. My passion for people, our community, our environment, and future generations is always in the front of my mind in all that I do. We need leaders who represent the community they serve in all aspects. The city council is in need of a more diverse perspective, and I can provide that voice.

Knable and Estill; that makes two. For me, that's all. At this juncture, there are reasons why I cannot vote for any of the four remaining candidates, although to reiterate, they are welcome to contribute their rebuttals to this space. Maybe I can yet be convinced.

Charbonneau and Applegate are both interesting and personable fellows, and I've enjoyed chatting with them. I like them personally. However, because they've enthusiastically chosen to be joined to the mayor's duplicitous, catastrophic hip, I must rule them out as candidates. Politically they're on the wrong side of municipal history ... and I can't go for repeating the same old lines.

This leaves Republican incumbents David Aebersold and David Barksdale, and both are problematic in the political context.

Aebersold has lengthy experience as an independent small business owner, and of course that's a good recommendation in my world.

Unfortunately he also has proven to be an uninformed advocate of car-based urban infrastructure to the exclusion of other non-automotive users, and of course that's very bad. Truthfully, I'm on the fence with Aebersold, but unless new evidence surfaces I'm forced to refrain. It might be a last-minute decision.

Barksdale's lapdog support of the Reisz city hall project simply cannot be excused, especially his breathtakingly far-fetched comment to the effect that government workers situated in a plumbed, climate controlled City-County office building with elevators, cushioned seats and WiFi somehow are being subjected to "inhumane" working conditions.

There's no doubting that Barksdale has done many positive things for the city, and yet this comment is a singular nadir in local political history, and plainly it disqualifies him to represent residents, roughly 25% of whom exist south of the poverty line, whose working conditions really are physically and mentally demeaning in ways that Barksdale evidently cannot fathom.


Endorsement Compendium:

Just tell me why we should refrain from pointing to the wealth amassed by religious personalities like the late Rev. Berniece Hicks.

The Main Street "house" owned by the late Rev. Hicks is up for sale.

Meanwhile in Indianapolis, I believe Session 5 of the estate auction is scheduled in October.

Even the auctioneer is thunderstruck.

In nearly 30 years as an auctioneer, I’ve never seen a collection as large as this one”, said Darin Lawson, CAI, President, Wickliff Auctioneers. “Our staff is eager to begin the process of sorting and cataloguing all items, and making them available for worldwide bidding.”

Hicks was a preacher, and she had a church. Maybe she owned the church; maybe it owned her. Obviously she owned lots of stuff. One needn't devote hours of research to grasp that the church Hicks founded has been controversial almost from the beginning, as this front page from 1979 attests.

Note the effort made 40 years ago by the Courier-Journal to get Hicks' and her church's side of the story (naturally the News and Tribune didn't bother in the aftermath of Hicks' death, preferring the usual platitudes), and indeed, even I am compelled to admit there are two sides.

I heard from local residents over the weekend who've lost family members to what they consider is a cult. Others have spoken of love and service to mankind.

And: A million dollar house in New Albany, and a collection of valuable so vast that is makes a luxury auctioneer's head spin.

I'm an atheist, and my skepticism pertaining to religion predates all the other aspects of my life (travel, beer, politics, small business ownership) that readers may know about me.

From mainline mega-churches old and new to Christianity's hundreds of bizarre splinter sects, about the only points of agreement amid the cacophony is derision toward rationalists like me.

I've no desire to proselytize non-belief -- it doesn't even make sense to do so -- but from my perspective as an onlooker, the "prosperity gospel" alibi used to shield personages like Hicks surely is the most cynical P.T. Barnum-like of all notions somehow derived from the figure of Jesus as handed down to us. Even a cursed, filthy, drunken atheist can read desert scrawlings and conclude that the Jesus narrative, real or contrived, had nothing to do with wealth accumulation. 

But didn't all those church members tithe voluntarily?

I'm sure many did, although in any power structure there's a long discussion to be had about the nature of "voluntary," because it's seldom all that simple. Significantly, even if the members tithed "voluntarily," this fact in itself tells us nothing about the manner by which their faith was manipulated and their money spent.

Lifestyles of the ostentatiously rich and pious? Okay, but don't expect me to look the other way. 

Following is an excerpt from Elmer Gantry, the classic satirical novel, which makes this point in gripping fashion.

Elmer Gantry, the traveling evangelist who loved whiskey, women and wealth, was conceived by Sinclair Lewis in a best-selling 1927 novel. Lewis went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Gantry went on to lofty-synonym status: Displays of hypocrisy and showmanship will often evoke his name, especially in reference to preachers — and, increasingly so, to politicians.

In this passage, the garrulous wealth-accumulating charlatan preacher Gantry converses with the humble and impoverished true believer, Pastor Pengilly – and it happens in Indiana, of all places.


He came with a boom and a flash to the town of Blackfoot Creek, Indiana, and there the local committee permitted the Methodist minister, one Andrew Pengilly, to entertain his renowned brother priest ... when he heard that the Reverend Elmer Gantry was coming, Mr. Pengilly murmured to the local committee that it would be a pleasure to put up Mr. Gantry and save him from the scurfy village hotel.

He had read of Mr. Gantry as an impressive orator, a courageous fighter against Sin. Mr. Pengilly sighed. Himself, somehow, he had never been able to find so very much Sin about. His fault. A silly old dreamer. He rejoiced that he, the mousy village curé, was about to have here, glorifying his cottage, a St. Michael in dazzling armor.

After the evening Chautauqua Elmer sat in Mr. Pengilly’s hovel, and he was graciously condescending.

“You say, Brother Pengilly, that you’ve heard of our work at Wellspring? But do we get so near the hearts of the weak and unfortunate as you here? Oh, no; sometimes I think that my first pastorate, in a town smaller than this, was in many ways more blessed than our tremendous to-do in the great city. And what IS accomplished there is no credit to me. I have such splendid, such touchingly loyal assistants — Mr. Webster, the assistant pastor — such a consecrated worker, and yet right on the job — and Mr. Wink, and Miss Weezeger, the deaconess, and DEAR Miss Bundle, the secretary — SUCH a faithful soul, SO industrious. Oh, yes, I am singularly blessed! But, uh, but — Given these people, who really do the work, we’ve been able to put over some pretty good things — with God’s leading. Why, say, we’ve started the only class in show-window dressing in any church in the United States — and I should suppose England and France! We’ve already seen the most wonderful results, not only in raising the salary of several of the fine young men in our church, but in increasing business throughout the city and improving the appearance of show-windows, and you know how much that adds to the beauty of the down-town streets! And the crowds do seem to be increasing steadily. We had over eleven hundred present on my last Sunday evening in Zenith, and that in summer! And during the season we often have nearly eighteen hundred, in an auditorium that’s only supposed to seat sixteen hundred! And with all modesty — it’s not my doing but the methods we’re working up — I think I may say that every man, woman, and child goes away happy and yet with a message to sustain ’em through the week. You see — oh, of course I give ’em the straight old-time gospel in my sermon — I’m not the least bit afraid of talking right up to ’em and reminding them of the awful consequences of sin and ignorance and spiritual sloth. Yes, sir! No blinking the horrors of the old-time proven Hell, not in any church I’M running! But also we make ’em get together, and their pastor is just one of their own chums, and we sing cheerful, comforting songs, and do they like it? Say! It shows up in the collections!”

“Mr. Gantry,” said Andrew Pengilly, “why don’t you believe in God?”