Monday, September 01, 2014

Solidarity Forever: Songs about working and working people.


Note the note on Woody Guthrie's guitar, and follow the link to hear the songs.

Top Ten Labor Day Songs, by Peter Rothberg (The Nation)

In honor of the Labor Day holiday, I've revised a previous attempt at the impossible task of naming the best songs ever written about working people. The list is highly debatable; songs about working and working people cut across musical genres and generations. I know it's a travesty to not include "Which Side Are You On?" or Johnny Paycheck's classic "Take This Job and Shove It." I also feel terrible neglecting Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, Nina Simone and John Mellencamp and giving short shrift to the rich history of punk rock odes to the insanity of wage slavery. Hopefully, these songs will get you thinking about your own favorite musical celebrations of the blood, sweat and tears that exemplify the working condition.

Top Ten posts at NA Confidential for August, 2014.

The August Top Ten is determined by numbers of unique hits, as reported by Blogger. The list begins with No. 10, and ends with No. 1.

174

Jackie Green on Louisville AND New Albany: "We need to address the real problem in any (traffic) lane: mass and velocity."


177

ON THE AVENUES: Party time in the trickle-down, one-party city.


179

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 31, with annotated scenes from another week of pallet-nailers ruling the streets, unhindered.


183

Once again, Wick's Pizza falls victim to the hegemony of the Orange Shirted Harvest Homecoming Mafia. Who runs this town, anyway?


193

ON THE AVENUES: Learning from the Warehouse.


194

The Warehouse Bar is closed. Will it be back?


213

What's on the agenda for 1609 E. Market Street?


231

One Southern Indiana's hypocrisy is absolutely reprehensible.


239

Irish Exit makes its ... exit.


296

Fear the gorilla: Harvest Homecoming's head honcho demands downtown merchants "understand what the festival is all about."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

New exhibitions at Masters of Soviet Art ... and big news from the proprietor, A. Gamborg.

"I just saved Angela Davis from the Moscow rains and winters. A big girl. Made in the 1970s, and she has been outside for at least 10 years. Just needs the hand of a gentle restorer. We shall overcome ... "

Over the years, I've repeatedly doffed my ushanka in the general direction of Allan Gamborg. It's hard to believe 27 years have passed since I first met Allan, Kim Andersen and Kim Wiesener during the rambunctious summer of '87. These three Danes of the apocalypse have been artfully weaving in and out of my travel narratives ever since, as during this famous escapade (in Allan's own words):

For example, I still think of the evening in that Belgium beer place (2000?), where all got complete rat-assed and the party just dissolved in utter chaos.

Ah, those were the daze.

Allan has lived in Moscow for at least 15 years, and somewhere around his third or fourth career in the workaday world, he assumed yet another identity: Purveyor and advocate of Soviet-era art and artists. You can use the handy Blogger search feature with "Gamborg," and view previous postings at NAC. The format's usually the same, and it's always worth a few minutes to peruse the art. You need not be a Commie to enjoy Allan's web site, Masters of Soviet Art.

This time around, there's a significant addendum: Allan's getting married, and quite soon. In fact, it might have been possible for us to attend one of the weddings, but logistics wouldn't bend. So, all the best to Allan and Irina.

There'll be time, down the road, when we'll all coincide once more.

---

Dear Friends,

We have a series of new exhibitions on the web:

THEMES
Anti Colonialism Posters
In the 20th century, the USSR represented themselves as the foremost enemy of colonialism and imperialism, and thus politically and materially supported Third World revolutionary organisations who fought for national independence. These countries included Cuba and South American countries, many African countries, as well as South East Asia. We show a series of posters stating that point of view.

He Who Does Not Work Shall Not Eat ! (Кто не работает, тот не ест !)
A famous slogan of the Soviet Union, part of the overall campaign to develop Socialist behaviour in the Soviet Population. The origin is from the bible: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat” is a Biblical aphorism derived from II Thessalonians 3:10. According to Vladimir Ilich Lenin, “He who does not work shall not eat” is a necessary principle under socialism, the preliminary phase of the evolution towards communist society. The phrase appears in his 1917 work, The State and Revolution. Through this slogan Lenin explains that in socialist states only productive individuals could be allowed access to the articles of consumption. We show here a series of works from 1963 by various famous poster artists interpreting that theme, for example by Viktor Govorkov, Veniamin Briskin and Valk.

ARTISTS
KONSTANTIN GNEUSHEV  (BORN 1922) 
Konstantin Grigorevich Gneushev was born in Gneushevo, Orel. As a boy he went to a specialised art school. In 1938 he entered the MIPIDI, Moscow Institute of Applied and Decorative Art. In 1941 he volunteered for the army, and served on several fronts: He was seriously injured in 1942, and he received several distinguished medals for his service. After the war and several years of hospitalisation, he entered the Stroganov Institute, where his main teacher was the famous Pavel Kuznetsov. Other teachers were Aleksander Kuprin, Sergei Gerasimov, and Egorov. Konstantin Grigorevich's favourite media since the 1960s is the pastel. His style is light and full of life, showing a direct link to French impressionists. That was also noted mockingly by Alexander Kuprin during a students' exhibition at the Stroganov Institute. Gneushev was always very fond of sports. This can be observed in his numerous pastels and oils of the 1960s, depicting gymnastics, ice hockey, fencing, and swimming.  In the 1970s he was enchanted by the world of ballet and opera. In the mornings and the afternoons he would go to the theaters, most often the Stanislavsky, and paint the ballerinas and the corps de ballet during rehearsals and before the show. The circus is one of his passions. In his vintage years, Konstantin Grigorevich is painting mainly landscapes and still-lives, all in his favourite media - pastel. In his landscapes the sun always shines.

BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS
Hans Christian Andersen Fairytales, illustrated by Nika Golts
Ганс Кристиан Андерсен, иллистрации Никы Гольц
A series of original illustrations to Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales by famous Moscow book illustrator Nika Golts. On show are illustrations from The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, The Princess on the Pea, The Emperor's New Clothes, Little Ida's Flowers, The Money-Box, The Little Match-Seller, The Tinder-Box, Ole-Luk-Oie - The Dream-God, The Brave Tin Soldier, The Red Shoes, Soup from a Sausage Skewer, and The Shepherdess And The Chimney-Sweep.

Difficult Verses (Elena Blaginina) - illustrations by Marina Uspenskaya, 1960
Трудные стихи (Елена Благинина) - Марина Успенская, 1960
Original Illustrations by Marina Uspenskaya to the children's book from 1960 "Трудные стихи" (Difficult Verses) by Elena Blaginina. Publishing house: Detgiz. Printed in 70.000 copies. Price was 1.60 Roubles.

Enjoy the shows !

Responding to the "squeeze" with more of the same suburban sprawl "logic" would bring us closer to the clinical definition of municipal insanity.

Everyone has an off day now and then, and maybe this explains the article in Business First. It's non-sequential, mixes causes and effects, and overall is somewhat confusing.

My alarm bells started sounding with this.

New Albany mayor, business owner talk about city’s growth, by Caitlin Bowling (Business First)

“I think New Albany has become more visible to people,” said New Albany mayor Jeff Gahan.

Gahan expects traffic through downtown New Albany to increase after tolls are introduced on the two new Ohio River crossings.

People who currently drive over the Kennedy Bridge to get to and from Jeffersonville and Clarksville might opt to reroute through New Albany rather than pay a toll to cross the river via Interstate 65, he reasoned.

Given the article's uncharacteristic muddle, it is possible that the mayor was quoted out of context, but to the casual reader, the preface of "visible" sounds very much like the words of those who believe the axiom about traffic counts determining the viability of a business's location.

It is crucial to understand that this is an axiom rooted in the "logic" of suburban sprawl, not core urban reality.

The fact that these two realities are utterly incompatible helps to explicate, if not explain, the perennial cluelessness of downtown business operators like Bob Caesar. He looks out at the surrounding historic buildings and sees a strip mall paradigm, not a dense urban center's. He fails to recognize the reason for his own success: Skill and ability at what he does, qualities that would not change if Pearl Street were replaced by four lanes of one-way traffic -- although amusingly, in such an imagined case, he'd no longer have any customers at all, because they'd be driving past too quickly to care, eager to get to the other side and a Kay Jewelers somewhere in the exurb.

Reading the mayor's words in Business First, and accepting them at face value, yields a terrifying thought: Is the molasses-intensity slowness of the city's street grid planning to be understood as increased traction for the Caesaresque, dreamworld notion that a vastly higher volume of traffic passing through New Albany to access the untolled Sherman Minton Bridge could be a truly wonderful thing, because we'll be able to show off our charming, revitalizing downtown to even more people, who'll stop here, spend money and forget why they "chose" New Albany in the first place?

My succinct rebuttal to this viewpoint during the subsequent Facebook discussion:

The primary point is, and remains: If an untolled bridge is central to a driver's reasoning, then whatever route he or she chooses is going to be about the quickest way to and from the untolled bridge. What lies in between is utterly irrelevant. And that's the problem.

Jeff G. then offered a summary of sorts, one worth reprinting here, prompted by those people contemplating the implications of an untolled Sherman Minton, and advocating what seems to them the easy "cure" of making it possible for the hoards of pass-throughs to traverse New Albany as quickly as possible by retaining one-way arterials, even widening them, and increasing speed limits.

After all, it's what the gospel of suburban sprawl ordains.

But we're just not suburban, are we?

---

In terms of the "counterintuitiveness" of it all, there's a really simple way to put it: Build for more cars, get more driving. Build for transit, get more transit ridership. Build for bikes, get more bicycling. Same for walking. Subsidize sprawl as we have for a few decades now, get more sprawl. The notion that whatever you plan/build for is what you get has proven true repeatedly all over the country. It's actually very intuitive, only made difficult by people being so unable to envision anything other than what they've seen recently. The truth is, a good portion of New Albany's on-the-books street laws still reference multimodal use. There is an expectation of cars but other modes of transport on equal footing as well. That's how and why our streets were meant to properly function ...

Drawing an arbitrary line through the middle of the metro and charging people to cross it in the name of better connections, as our state and regional "leaders" are doing, is dumb. Responding to that on a more localized level by making New Albany a less attractive place to live via the purposeful welcoming of even more high speed, neighborhood killing, pass-through automobile traffic would be dumber. To then suggest that more residential development is needed while simultaneously touting factors like increased, high speed traffic that make a place a less desirable residence is dumbest. I'm not sure what comes after dumbest, though I fear we may get a clearer picture of it pretty soon ...

Gas taxes and automobile related fees only cover about 35% of road expenses in Indiana and Kentucky. Drivers haven't actually been paying for roads for a long time. We rob other areas, i.e., give up services we could otherwise have, to pay for them. Instead of either raising those taxes and fees to actually cover expenses or curtailing so much car-centric development, local governments and developers just keep building more and more automobile infrastructure and new construction requiring services knowing they don't have the money to pay for it, let alone for the long term maintenance and negative impact of sprawl. It's hollowed out our cities and left us in a financial lurch.

Blocks of buildings sit nearly empty or in severe disrepair while we're busy building more blocks that won't generate enough revenue to cover their own expenses. We already have far more built environment here and all over this country than we have people to use it and pay for it. "Growth" and "development", as usually defined, are counterproductive. That's why cities and states around the country are focusing more and more on their older, close-in, more densely populated neighborhoods with transit, bicycling, and walkability. It's cheaper, leads to more positive economic outcomes, and is sustainable over the long haul.

Our metro is so far just flat out too dumb to follow the many examples from around the country and world. All of this is stuff Roger and I and lots of others have been talking about for years with regard to New Albany, the Bridges Project, and the region in general. Now that it's too late and we're stuck with this monstrosity, the outrage that should have been made very apparent during those previous years is finally starting to kick in ...

Refusing to be a part of the Sprawl is one of the primary reasons we moved to older, denser New Albany. Had we understood how strongly the sprawl mentality still dominates City thinking even downtown, we may not have made that choice. A lot of us keep hoping, begging, pleading, and hollering for them to get past it, to make so many private investments (aka the Renaissance) worth it, but local and regional governments have been inexplicably slow to even acknowledge it. See: Bridges Project and responses to it ...

Bridge honchos know good and well they're creating more traffic and devaluing older, inner-city neighborhoods. They know that the traffic projections they fudged to justify the project in the first place have not been remotely accurate over the many years we've now had to judge them. They don't care. The project was specifically designed to promote sprawl and benefit those who profit from it. That's the Bridges Project's primary function. State transportation planners have publicly stated they expect approximately 30,000 cars per day or so diverting through New Albany to avoid tolls via the Sherman Minton. Privately, those same planners have told NA city officials they actually expect substantially more than that. If even a relatively small percentage of the increased traffic cuts through our neighborhoods as many do already, we're sunk without adequate preparation. Inviting them in via larger, faster roads while providing no alternative to driving is the poorest strategy possible.

The opportunity cost of reading a newspaper is that your parakeet must wait to poop.

Now that public art is a concept to be displayed across the street from the 'Bama Post & Folderol's nerveless center in Jeffersonville, suddenly it exists.

Meanwhile, in New Albany, we've taken a two-track approach. The private sector has tried to promote and fund public art as a concept, even as the public sector has gazed longingly at its "Dogs Playing Poker" office prints and shrugged, preferring to channel the bulk of its abbreviated attention span in other directions, ones more calculable for accruing chits redeemable in the great game of local patronage politics.

My personal view: What the Carnegie Center has done these past few years in terms of public art has been amazing. Too bad we've tended to pit arts organizations against each other when it comes to allocating resources, and even worse that at a larger level, we've squandered those resources on "quality of life" bricks and mortar projects like an aquatic center destined to be unused most of the year.

Why do I return again and again to the aquatics center?

Because it illustrates the concept of opportunity cost. City Hall's decision to prioritize an aquatics center cost us opportunities to expend time and resources elsewhere.

To me, public art is like street grid reform. The all-encompassing ripple effects from both embrace much larger swaths of the city's terrain, involving greater numbers of people, and are available for consumption every single day of the year -- not merely during the height of summer. The aquatic center represents a suburban "Leave It to Beaver" ideal of plaque-mounting expenditure, promoted by reference to undefined ideals, like those painfully amorphous "quality of life" words.

Outdoor aquatics may be viewed as "special" during a strictly seasonal usage, but the center differs not one jot from what political mediocrities in other cities have been able to painstakingly conceive, absent groundings in modernity that might suggest alternatives.

By focusing on the aquatics center, we've lost opportunities to make the city "special" on a daily basis, because being "special" every single day is what compels attraction and commitment. It's what might bring people to New Albany to live, not just visit. It's what affects those already living here the most.

Art can do that. So can complete streets, and walkability. They establish an unmistakable atmosphere that says we're serious about being serious. The newspaper joins both local political parties in being unable to fathom it, so I suppose we'll keep making the point right here.

In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources. Assuming the best choice is made, it is the "cost" incurred by not enjoying the benefit that would be had by taking the second best choice available. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen".

Sunday morning coffee reading: "Why Orwell was a literary mediocrity."

The author does not begrudge Orwell's talents. Rather, he feels "less well-disposed to those mediocrities who slavishly worship at the shrine of St George."

A Point of View: Why Orwell was a literary mediocrity, by Will Self.

... The trouble for the George Orwells of this world is that they don't like the ways in which our tongue is being shaped. In this respect they're indeed small "c" conservatives, who would rather peer at meaning by the guttering candlelight of a Standard English frozen in time, than have it brightly illumined by the high-wattage of the living, changing language.

Orwell and his supporters may say they're objecting to jargon and pretension, but underlying this are good old-fashioned prejudices against difference itself. Only homogenous groups of people all speak and write identically. People from different heritages, ethnicities, classes and regions speak the same language differently, duh!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 34: Mayor Gahan believes these race-downs are making us fundamentally better.


I mean, he must believe it. After all, he's doing nothing to address OR to resolve the problem. Perhaps Wi-Fi doesn't penetrate the city's bunker mentality.

Meanwhile, I received this note the other day:

"Coworker has rental house at 13th and Elm. Trucks were going down 13th and ripped power lines off the house. Firefighters said it was like the 3rd time in one week."

The photo at top was contributed by regular reader MB, who notes:

"Courtesy of the Main Street Deforestation Project. The semi just barely fits. Look how close the one-way street sign is!"

That's right, MB, and look at how the daily onslaught of pass-through trucking completely obscures the downtown landscape, which we already mistakenly believe is being viewed by pass-through cars speeding alongside the trucks, down one-way, unenforced city streets.

It's what Bob Caesar believes. And as long s Mayor Gahan does and says nothing, we must conclude it's what he believes, too.





Locally created/produced: Because olive groves are so very ubiquitous in Indyucky.

Must be produced locally in our region?

Here's a fellow who walks the walk.


On the other hand, when I asked the representative pictured to explain the origin of his vinegars, the answer I received was this, verbatim: "They're crushed in California."


I supposed the terms "created/produced" are sufficiently elastic to allow Wal-Mart to set up at the farmers market, all of which points to DNA's new and truly pioneering definition:

Localism is what happens seconds after you've given money to DNA.

Now all we need is a cigarette.

Downtown Farmers' Market - August 30th

Visit the Downtown Farmers' Market for fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as fresh flowers, local crafts and baked goods. 
Items sold must be created/produced locally in our region (from Southern Indiana, Northern Kentucky, Ohio, etc). Market Hours are from 8:00am - 1:00pm on Saturdays.
The Farmers' Market is located at the corner of Bank and Market Streets in Historic Downtown New Albany. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

If the city hurries, it can create a vacant lot in this space before repairs are concluded.



The house next door was left to rot some time around 2009. As recently as this past spring, the city's frequently stated opinion was that the house was as yet was owned by the same man as before, a douchebag absentee named Harold residing elsewhere, who inexplicably was continuing to pay taxes on it while permitting it to fall down.

This never made very much sense, but at any rate, subcontractors for a firm bidding out such work from a major (unidentified) bank have appeared on the scene and started to make basic repairs. They have 90 days to finish, including clearing the jungle by the alley, and they believe a sale will take place shortly thereafter.

David Brewer, if you're reading this and not otherwise preoccupied with stoking the mayor's demolition fetish, you may wish to drop by and take a look.

The NABC Weekend: It isn't May 1, but it's Labor Day nonetheless.

The Bicentennial Park concert series closed last Friday with a rainout, and Labor Day usually provides a break between the crowded summer schedule and the insane amount of events crammed into September and the first two weeks of October.

Of course the very fact of the coming weekend's dedication to "labor," in a country opposed to a living wage, illustrates our customarily oblivious American exceptionalism. We've detached our "labor" holiday from the rest of the world’s.

For more than 125 years, May Day also has been considered International Workers' Day, which we Americans eventually chucked to another time on the calendar (Labor Day, at summer’s end) so as to avoid confusion with the Commies. Why? Labor and left-wing political movements first established May 1 as International Workers’ Day in memory of those who were killed and wounded during the Haymarket Massacre in 1886, which took place in Chicago.

Tomato and watermelon season draws to close, and while it's far too early (and hot) to contemplate autumn's symbolism, I'm beginning to feel elegiac. My guess is that this too shall pass ... as soon as I go to work.

"This Blue World" by Elbow.



It may help to know that I've barely a shred of musical training, consequently embracing an almost mystical approach to listening. It's all about mood and feel -- what grips me in ways I can't explain. This is the ideal. Lyrically, I'm notorious for not listening to the words at all; there are songs I've been hearing for 40 years that would stump me if asked to recite them.

I already knew of Elbow. It is an uncommonly literate and thoughtful musical group of the sort that transcends easy categorization, and isn't always easily grasped on the first listen. The new album arrived about three weeks ago, and it did not make an immediate impression. However, and perhaps significantly, there were enough smaller, nuanced pleasures to compel repeated playings.

In particular, there was the album's opener, "This Blue World." The music itself seemed melodically sparse at first, until the elegant, subtle hooks began emerging from the orchestration. The whole notion about "tears of joy" -- it never really made sense to me, and yet I'd listen to this song and feel them welling up. The song was beginning to exercise its hold.

Then, on about the sixth or seventh listening, it finally was time to read the lyrics. I was, and remain, flabbergasted. The words don't speak to me in any specific, personal way. They're just extremely moving, in a universal, timeless sense, as though to suggest that no matter where we are today, we remain a composite of everything that came before.

There isn't enough beauty in this world, but a song like this gives me hope -- in art, achievement, possibilities and redemption.

"This Blue World"

This blue world and her countless sisters
And all that came before that day
Our atoms straining to align
Was the universe in rehearsal for us

When all the world is sucking on its sleeve
You'll hear an urgent morse in the gentle rain
And if you plot your course on the window pane
You'll see the coldest star in the arms of the oldest tree
And you'll know to come to me

In the back of a broken car
When the blizzard blossom flew
Reading aloud with our fingers
What we both already knew
And the blizzard blossom flew

A sober midnight wish
Flies over the roofs and down through the years
Would that you and yours are sleeping
Safe and warm in size formation
While three chambers of my heart beat true and strong with love for another
The fourth is yours forever

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Irish Exit makes its ... exit.

Matt McMahan reveals all on Facebook:

Well....four years in the making... The Irish Exit has been sold. We've pissed off a lot of people. We've made a ton of friends. But the time has come to let it go. The new owner is changing the name , concept and all. Wish Cyle the best of luck. And now on to the opening of Charlie Nobels Eatery + Draught House in Sellersburg , Pride bar + lounge downtown NA and we also we be announcing the location for Big Four Burgers New Albany soon too!!!

I'm told the new owner will open an Italian bistro called Don Vito's.

Personal note: I still believe a solid American-style Irish pub would work here. And a downtown taqueria. But I think two Italian joints are one too many. Just my opinion, nothing more. The market will decide.

ON THE AVENUES: On the blood red atavism of social media.

ON THE AVENUES: On the blood red atavism of social media.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Long ago, when both of us were considerably younger, I was drawn to the artistry and musicianship of the Who’s Pete Townshend owing to his determination to be articulate in contrast to rock music’s less thoughtful cultural propensities.

Townshend was, and perhaps still is, searching for proper context, as might be phrased something like this:

“Now, stop applauding so I can explain to you what this song really means. How can you understand anything amid all that screaming and drooling?”

Consequently, it’s both pedantic and refreshing to contemplate milieus that bear at least a trace possibility of being edifying and educational, because posterity surely will record that the current era is one of unceasingly vapid entertainment, no longer balanced by anything remotely substantive.

Then again, perhaps I’ve been spending too much time surveying America’s latest vast wasteland, social media.

Of particular interest to me lately has been the practice of mob-baiting on Facebook, a phenomenon I’m sure has a buzz phrase attached to it, although I’ve taken to describing it as “throwing raw meat to the piranhas.”

It begins with individuals collecting “friends” as the basis for an ideological mailing list, one designed to function as a repository for fans and sycophants, not the sort of genuine friend with whom one might periodically agree to disagree. Businesses do this, too, but more on that in a moment.

With the viewing (not “reading”) audience thus secured, the next step is to contrive stimuli calculated to jerk knees. Any such content need not be factual; in fact, the more emotionally untethered and intellectually ridiculous the better: “Obama,” “Koch brothers,” “atheists” or whatever else serves as alleged content sufficient to push all the pre-programmed cultural buttons in gorgeously choreographed cadence.

The reaction is swift and decisive. As the propagandistic raw meat is waved in the general direction of starving dogs, they react as Pavlov’s mutt might have predicted, by flailing, thrashing and foaming at the mouth. “Atta girl” … “those bastards” … “kill the infidels” … and so on, and so forth. I’m actually softening the vicious tone of the attacks.

There you have it: It’s Facebook, your Personalized Piranha Feeding Device. Just add a chosen enemy, click, and watch as the water turns blood red … and you become your own cult of personality.

---

As the decline of literacy becomes ever more depressing, and with imbecilic auto-entertainment sufficing for the majority – sadly, I’m probably not overstating the case – then how might those of us in the minority seeking some semblance of idea-compelled existence move forward with living a life of authenticity?

The answer eludes me, but I’ve been trying my best to locate the thread in what seems like a room filled with screaming, angry people. Speaking only for myself, authenticity means being myself; yes, there’ll be cynicism, profanity and a caustic tone, though not to the exclusion of intellectual honesty and constructive suggestions.

Authenticity means it might take a good long while to sort through issues and problems, because they tend to be what they are owing to their fundamental difficulty, not a simplicity that’s too good to be true.

I think that authenticity involves forcing oneself to step outside the circle of the like-minded, and to listen to what others are saying, preferably those who have experienced the world in a different way, from a different place, and with different eyes and ears.

---

For a very long time, my inner world has been engaged in a struggle to apply the concept of authenticity to my working station. Beer is my life, but “craft” beer lost its grip on authenticity so long ago that the narrative may be impossible to reclaim.

Once upon a time, better beer was about a thought process. It was about teaching and educating, illustrating the whys and wherefores. In the current age, “craft” beer has devolved into hedonism, masturbation and ephemeral trend chasing – on the enthusiast’s end. It’s just another form of entertainment, miles wide and millimeters deep; like the bike lanes in my hometown, “craft” beer begins and ends nowhere, and is connected to nothing in a wider, inter-related world.

Meanwhile, “craft” brewers adept at the imperatives of capitalism are busy constructing a new boss that looks suspiciously like the old. The late historian Tony Judt reminds us that capitalism isn’t about a small, artisanal brewer making really good beer. Rather, capitalism is about brewers selling a great many units of beer. There was a time when “craft” beer thrived on refuting this statement. Now, in many ways, it doesn’t even bother trying.

Full disclosure: I’ve lived varying forms of inauthenticity, too, and it would be foolish of me to deny it. Still, if it’s all about the beer, then it needs to be all about the beer. If the beer itself isn’t authentic, how can anything else spawned by it be authentic? My own company continues to explore these and other questions in an effort to find answers that constitute greater authenticity than previous ones. We haven’t succeeded, and we haven’t failed. We’re in that most dangerous of places in robber baron capitalism: The middle.

Why do we even bother with thinking?

Perhaps instead we might expediently gather the hungry piranhas, and lob some raw meat into the scrum, as one of our fellow local breweries did on Facebook just last week, when it inelegantly savaged a customer for an innocuous complaint, and was loudly applauded by a fawning, obsequious mob of home slices echoing Tim Rice’s lyrics in Jesus Christ Superstar: “Crucify him!”

Watching all this, I wanted to vomit, but it would have passed unnoticed amid the agitated, ricocheting saliva. I elected to go against the grain, and swallow.

Well, if that’s authenticity, you can both have it and keep it. If that’s what is meant by taking over the world for “craft” beer, then it’s a world you can exploit to your heart’s content. I may have helped in this world’s creation, but I no longer recognize it, nor do I require self-aggrandizement of such magnitude in my daily life. The one redeeming factor about the words “fuck ‘em” is that they are multi-directional.

I’m older now, but my determination to be articulate in contrast to “craft” beer’s less thoughtful cultural propensities is greater than ever. Fortunately for me, my list of personal needs does not include applause, drooling or raw meat. What happens next is anyone’s guess, although it’s certain that something will.

You are encouraged to log off Facebook for a few minutes and go for a walk, accompanied by your own thoughts.

Learning remains barely possible that way.

Mayor Fischer issues a challenge. Whither ours?

As a resident of New Albany, should I classify this piece as brilliant, or just beat the rush and go fetch the irony sickness bag?

FISCHER URGES LOCALS TO PARTICIPATE IN “THE MAYORS SHUT THE FUCK UP CHALLENGE", at Germantown Times.

Mayor Greg Fischer called a surprise meeting with the press this morning asking everyone to come together as a community and “shut the fuck up.” Over the last few years as Mayor, Fischer has challenged citizens to walk more, ride their bikes to work and to eat healthier. After just a week of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the death of comedian Robin Williams, Mayor Fischer says he was inspired to challenge his neighbors, colleagues and people across the country to shut the fuck up.

“It’s really starting to get out of control,” said Fischer. “It’s not only online. Everywhere I look I just see more and more people that should shut the fuck up.”

Fischer says there’s no charity or sponsors, this is just a good old fashioned challenge.

“Look if you want to donate some money to a charity, then do so privately,” said Fischer. “There’s nothing more to my challenge than everyone simply relaxing, sitting on their couch with their loved ones, maybe watching some Cheers or Roseanne, and just shutting the fuck up.”

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 33: Another fine day on the Spring Street Entrance Ramp.


The heavy truck pictured above, as it rumbles down the Spring Street Entrance Ramp early this morning as though to herald the imminent arrival of thousands of like-minded, pass-through-city toll evaders, area-wide, intent on everything EXCEPT pausing to gaze in wonderment at the political luminaries populating Hauss Square ... well, it's the 200th photo in a series. That's a tiny fraction of the daily chaos that City Hall stubbornly refuses to acknowledge.







Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fear the gorilla: After all, Harvest Homecoming's business plan has never been designed for inclusivity.


Yesterday we recalled the wonderful annual experience of an alien spaceship landing in the middle of downtown, with nice orange-shirted functionaries showing us a book entitled, "To Serve Man".

Fear the gorilla: Harvest Homecoming's head honcho demands downtown merchants "understand what the festival is all about."


Following are selected comments from the Fb discussion that ensued. I've rendered names into acronyms and highlighted NAC staff comments.

DBR
Harvest is a great idea that could be a huge boon for local business if only those involved, or the city that sanctions it, would ask "how can we do this better," rather than stating "learn to like it our way" out of hubris and apathy.
22 hours ago · Like · 1

KC
Thanks Roger the gorilla made my morning. A few observations: 1. Loss of revenue for about a week for a small business is huge. 2. Why no effort to supply frontage for said businesses? Don't they bring in revenue year round for the city? 3. Why not move the whole thing over the flood wall and not block business frontage at all? 4. Why is it the cities responsibility to cover the nut of churches and non-profits? Churches and non-profits already get the benefit of not paying taxes and they are constantly having events for themselves. 5. Perhaps a weeks amnesty from taxes to compensate for loss revenue?
22 hours ago · Edited · Like · 4

MBW
Here's a solution, cut out all non-local, for-profit crap vendors, spread the festive out one more block down Market Street and 4th street, and leave openings along the way so attendees can shop in the local stores.
22 hours ago · Like · 4

TC
It is sad when non-profits forget what they are there for, and get too big for their own good. It would seem to me that the greatest good from having the event is to get people into downtown New Albany, and to see how things have positively changed, and to spend money in the local stores. If not, then why even have it?!
22 hours ago · Like · 1

TA
It’s not just four days of booths, its four days of miserable business, that drives my regular customers away. Four and 1/2 if you count the loss of Wednesday business after 5:00 when the streets are shut down. We have never made up any extra business during HH that offsets the loss of of regulars. We made a conscious decision to not get a booth this year. I don't think I should pay rent for the space in front of my store, and I don't believe access to my business should ever be cut off for the benefit of another business, whether they are for-profit or non-profit.
21 hours ago · Like · 6

Roger A. Baylor
MWB has it; that's basically my view, too. Reform, not eliminate. The problem with imposing an entirely different business model over the existing one is that they contradict each other. And make no mistake: Downtown businesses are not asked, and are not part of the conversation.
21 hours ago · Like · 3

KC
Honest the event has gone down hill greatly from what it was in the past. Booths in the past had handmade art, craft, goods etc. Now it's mostly junk that looks like it came from the dollar store.
21 hours ago · Unlike · 1

TA
Not to mention, you won't improve your relationship with downtown merchants by telling me to understand your point of view, with no concern for my point of view.
21 hours ago · Unlike · 3

Jeff Gillenwater
It would be interesting to see what would happen if downtown businesses ever organized.
21 hours ago · Unlike · 1

KC
To think that the City of New Albany is exempting their business owners from any input about the event just floors me. It's like calling up your neighbors and telling them your having a party and people will be parking in their yard, using their pool and bathroom facilities and sleeping over for a few days. Don't like it, screw you!
21 hours ago · Like · 1

Roger A. Baylor
Existing downtown businesses would benefit from a looser, more dispersed HH model. But HH benefits from a form of "monopoly" borne of concentration. It can't go on, but City Hall is terrified. Seeing a pattern yet?
21 hours ago · Like

KC
I know St. James Art Fair in Louisville has a board that qualifies booth applicants to see if they bring positive aspects to the event. New Albany apparently allows anybody with a check.
21 hours ago · Like · 1

MBW
When I was working in City Hall, or as I like to call it , the Portal to Hell, I learned very quickly that during Harvest time HH rules the city. All city officials are supposed to just step back and cater to their every need and whim. It even stated on vendor permits that the permits did not cover the booth days and that the permit holders would have to pay for a separate booth rental/permit from HH to ply their wares in the downtown area. Furthermore, HH never has to go to the Board of Works and Safety to have the street closures approved and permitted, they don't have to pay for any of the over-time for the clean-up or security provided by the City and they are allowed to hang street banners where other organizations are prohibited to hang them.
21 hours ago · Like · 1

Jeff Gillenwater
When citizens, businesses, or other groups go to the City to ask about using public space and are told they have to get permission from a private, non-elected, non-accountable, third-party, there are obviously issues. Eventually, someone is going to have to push the conversation along via civil disobedience. It would be helpful if the business/property owners most directly impacted would do it en masse.If HH doesn't have to go before the Board of Works to secure the space in front of your building for that time period, then neither do you, right?
21 hours ago · Like · 3

TC
Don't feel bad guys. It's not just downtown businesses, as they put off other local businesses as well. I work for New Albany Broadcasting, and not only do we not get any media buys to promote the long week of events, but we were not allowed last year to even have a float in the parade!! What the heck is that all about?
18 hours ago · Like

Jeff Gillenwater
That's a hoot, TC. 20 years ago or so when I worked for what was just transitioning from a local cable station, we used to shoot a bunch of the events and show them on the local access channel for free. But then a fledgling ProMedia contracted with HH to shoot some of those events. When we showed up in community service/journalism mode to do what we'd done before, HH honchos tried to kick us off public property claiming they had granted exclusive rights to ProMedia. This "authority from thin air" crap has been going on a long time.
18 hours ago · Like

There's a community dialogue about Harvest Homecoming's clash with changing times. Harvest Homecoming won't instigate it. The newspaper currently is cowering somewhere in Jeffersonville, and the city has shown that it is abjectly terrified of becoming involved with modernity in any form.

Jeff's right: Local businesses must be the agents of change. To do so, we must organize, reject the antebellum Bob Caesar mindset, and not be afraid to break a few eggs in pursuit of an omelette. I suspect we refrain because so many among us are hesitant to be viewed as radicals, but as we see in New Albany on a daily basis, conservatism merely yields the same tired results, over and over again.

On the Stroad, Ferguson and the predictability of auto-oriented decline.

And what is a stroad?

A STROAD is a street/road hybrid and, besides being a very dangerous environment (yes, it is ridiculously dangerous to mix high speed highway geometric design with pedestrians, bikers and turning traffic), they are enormously expensive to build and, ultimately, financially unproductive.

Now, on to Ferguson, Missouri. As the author observes, he cannot comment on the racial aspect, but can offer a few ideas about how we Americans so enjoy designing for decline.

Stroad Nation, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

We can’t over-simplify the dynamics of all that has happened in Ferguson, but it’s obvious that our platform for building places is creating dynamics primed for social upheaval. The auto-oriented development pattern is a huge financial experiment with massive social, cultural and political ramifications. It is time to start building strong towns ...

... What I see with Ferguson is a suburb deep into the decline phase of the Suburban Ponzi Scheme. The housing styles suggest predominantly 1950’s and 1960’s development. We’re past the first cycle of new (low debt and low taxes), through the second cycle of stagnation (holding on with debt and slowly increasing taxes) and now into predictable decline. There isn’t the community wealth to fix all this stuff -- and there never was -- so it is all slowly falling apart.

Decline isn’t a result of poverty. The converse is actually true: poverty is the result of decline.

The Warehouse to reopen as Pride Bar + Lounge.


Get the scoop at the official Fb page.

Previously:

ON THE AVENUES: Learning from the Warehouse.


The Warehouse Bar is closed. Will it be back?


The Warehouse generates a tsunami.


"New Albany's first LGBT bar is now open."


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Reinstate Pete Rose? Even I have to admit it's time.

What's on the agenda for 1609 E. Market Street?



Hmm, a new 210 (Liquor, Beer & Wine Retailer ... Restaurant ... Incorporated Area).

Mike Kopp didn't mention this one last week.

Who has the scoop?

Fear the gorilla: Harvest Homecoming's head honcho demands downtown merchants "understand what the festival is all about."


We understand, all right.

Harvest Homecoming is about Harvest Homecoming, and if any further proof is needed that city government has done less than zilch/nada/nothing to address this recurring issue since last year's complaints ... well, here you go.

Merely note that Jeff Cummins proposes not trying to understand the point made by downtown merchants, but to insist they understand that all those non-local food and trinket vendors represent "nonprofits and churches"?

Really?

How's that Harvest Homecoming reform program coming along, anyway?

The head honcho of New Albany's Harvest Homecoming; Jeff Cummins takes over leadership of huge New Albany festival, by Chris Morris (of course; N and T)

(Jeff) Cummins said two areas he wants to improve on as president is the relationship with some of the downtown merchants who have voiced concerns about how booth days hurts their business. He also wants to recruit more volunteers, and try to get more youth involved in the festival.

“I want to try and get downtown merchants to understand what the festival is all about. It’s not just four days of booths, it’s about allowing nonprofits and churches who get to set up booths and for many, make their budgets for the year,” he said. “It’s about the college scholarships, all the free kids events. Some don’t understand, but many do.

“The Harvest Homecoming Festival is not just booths — it’s about giving back and giving New Albany the opportunity to show off a little. If they [visitors] don’t visit a business during the festival, there is a good chance they will come back.”