Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter reading 3: "Easter is a pagan festival."

There's the Easter trifecta: The death of a hypocritical Christian; an atheists' convention; and a final dose of pagan symbolism.

The pagan roots of Easter, by Heather McDougall (Guardian)

From Ishtar to Eostre, the roots of the resurrection story go deep. We should embrace the pagan symbolism of Easter

Easter is a pagan festival. If Easter isn't really about Jesus, then what is it about? Today, we see a secular culture celebrating the spring equinox, whilst religious culture celebrates the resurrection. However, early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practices, most of which we enjoy today at Easter. The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviours too.

Easter reading 2: An atheist gathering deep in the heart of Mormon.

Who knew we had an association?

I mean, one of the best parts of being an atheist is not having to belong to anything, or to articulate a "positive" approach in the sense of evangelizing nothingness.

As I've noted previously in this space:

Why must an atheist (like me) be compelled to articulate a “positive” approach, when atheism at root merely describes the absence of belief in unseeable, unknowable and unprovable supreme beings?

Negation is inevitable in the sense of my being without personal belief in phantasmogoria. When any such solid evidence in support of a deist's perspective should appear, I'm ready to consider it. Until then, there is nothing.

It is superfluous for either deist or atheist to imply that atheism must present a “positive” platform or doctrine. Supernaturally speaking, nothing from nothing equals nothing. Unlike religion's confusing and contradictory directives, we as atheists needn't flail ineffectually in the search for something that can be artificially tied to supernatural sanction as stated by scatter-shot "holy" books.

But atheists the new Mormons? Er, no thanks. I'll stay an indie, thank you very much.

Are Atheists the New Mormons?, by Michael Schulson (The Daily Beast)

Atheists are holding their annual convention in Salt Lake City, but things have been surprisingly cordial. Maybe these uniquely American groups have more in common than they think.

It’s a bit like holding the Republican National Convention in Berkeley: This weekend, the American Atheists are gathering in Salt Lake City for their annual conclave. Attendees can hear a keynote speech by outspoken former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, attend workshops with titles like “So you want to debate Christians?” and mingle during a karaoke night and a costume dinner.

Easter reading 1: Charles Keating returns to room temperature.

From just this one obituary, a space alien might grasp American culture at its root.

Charles Keating: Crusader and fraud

Charles Keating, moral crusader and financial snake-oil salesman, died on March 31st, aged 90

... Mr Keating was so doughty in this holy war that Richard Nixon appointed him in 1969 to the national commission on obscenity. When the commission produced a feeble report, Mr Keating dissented. He wrote that “Never in Rome, Greece or the most debauched nation in history has such utter filth been projected to all parts of a nation.” At meetings of his 300-chapter organisation, Citizens for Decency through Law, he would stride round with a big red Bible in his hand. Sundays saw him devoutly at Mass, with thousands of dollars given to Catholic causes. Such was his local influence that when the Supreme Court ruled that obscenity should be judged by “community standards”, every adult theatre in Cincinnati closed down.

Strange, then, that this knight on a white charger—as he saw himself—was also the man who bilked 23,000 investors out of their savings. The total loss was $250m-288m, and the cost to the taxpayer $3.4 billion ...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Let's just say that I won't be counting on Louisville.com to crusade for truth and accuracy any time soon.

At the risk of my eyeglasses taking on a rose-colored hue not previously mandated by the optometrist, wasn’t there a time when “media” (a loaded term, indeed) incorporated into its daily mission some semblance of commitment to getting basic information right?

I don’t mean to imply matters like editorial judgments, with which we all can merrily debate, but just basic facts: Times, dates, addresses and the like. These are the sort of elementary listings that should be easiest to get right, and when they aren't, we see corrections all of the time, whether in print or electronically.

The electronic media probably performs no worse in terms of accuracy than old-school print, given the latter's salacious and scurrilous salad days, but  every now and then, it's useful to be reminded of why the Internetz cannot always be trusted. As evidence of the lamentably scattershot world we currently inhabit, indulge me while I tell a story.

It all began with a posting by Alexis Messmer at Louisville.com on March 27, in which the city of New Albany was highly praised. So far, so good, in a buffed 'n' polished, chamber of commerce sort of way, except that amid the boosterism, the brief description of my business interests was badly skewed, and required correction.

I sent a request for these corrections to Louisville.com by way of its website reply form, and heard nothing back. A few days later, on Twitter (April 3), I managed to get through with a message to the editor, Elizabeth Myers, and explained the problems with NABC’s citation in the original story, which began with the heading itself: “New Albanian Brew Company Pizzeria.”

First, it is inaccurate. The name of the company is New Albanian Brewing Company, not "Brew," and the full name of the location in question is Pizzeria & Public House, which a cursory visit to our web site will confirm.

What's more, the inaccurate heading doubled as a hyperlink, errantly leading not to the pizzeria’s section of the company website, but to the Bank Street Brewhouse listing therein. Here is the text of Messmer's original posting.

New Albanian Brew Company Pizzeria: The New Albanian offers bistro cuisines that are accompanied by their own house beers. You can check out what’s on tap on their website for the full list of beer choices. They offer drink specials throughout the week and Sunday brunch. Be prepared to call a cab, because drinking one beer won’t be enough. Don’t forget to try to the Hoosier Daddy, Crimson and Cream ale paired with pizza, bread sticks, and beer cheese. YUM!

I offered other necessary corrections beyond the heading/hyperlink error, because as those familiar with NABC can see quite easily, the author had mixed various elements from two distinct locations into one misleading mishmash.

NABC has two on-premise locations, and we sell our beer to other
establishments through the normal distribution channels.

NABC Pizzeria & Public House
3312 Plaza Drive (off Grant Line Road)

NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
415 Bank Street (downtown)

After the incorrect (and broken) link, she mentions bistro cuisine … which is served at Bank Street Brewhouse, not the incorrectly named and linked “New Albanian Brew Company Pizzeria.” She is correct that beers are listed at the website, but the link is wrong. Did she even go to the web site?

Drink specials are the same at both locations. She mentions brunch, which is only at BSB, not the Pizzeria location. Finally, after trying to link the Pizzeria to Bank Street, she talks about the pizza – which is at the Pizzeria, not Bank Street (where the link would have taken folks if not broken).

To the editor, I pointed to the mixed blessings inherent in the rapid sharing of fundamentally flawed and garbled information.

It’s nice for both of us (NABC and Louisville.com) that the piece is being forwarded and linked electronically, but this paragraph is so muddled that I’m not sure it helps us very much. In short, for someone reading this without prior knowledge, it's likely to convey the impression that we serve pizza at BSB.

Beyond that, and while conceding that I can be an ass of epic dimension, getting some basic facts arranged correctly strikes me as a prerequisite of someone purporting to contribute content to a web site like yours. I know; I'm old, and have old-fashioned expectations. The NABC web site is fairly clear about it; the two locations have separate pages, and the descriptions are accurate. But the URL has to be right for it all to matter.

Here is the editor’s reply, also on April 3:

It is not old-fashioned for a business owner to have high expectations regarding the information distributed about his or her business. The web makes it far more difficult to do so, but I certainly understand your predicament.

I have removed the offending paragraph, so the article now has no reference to your business. I will forward your email to the writer (who happens to be a college intern in our office) and hopefully she can re-add the paragraph and correctly note the information you have so kindly given.

Again, so sorry you've had a negative experience. We are working very hard on a site redesign, and we have had a few server outages in the past weeks, so perhaps that is why your contact did not go through. In general it is best to contact me by email this address.

Thank you for your contact, and I hope you have a wonderful day, please let me know if I can be of further service.

Thus, we were completely expunged from the article, and I began looking periodically to see if corrections had been made. Crickets chirped; pins dropped. No correction was forthcoming, and so I decided to check back on the morning of April 18.

Three weeks since the original piece ... two weeks since we exchanged thoughts ... and the net result, as it appears now, is that my being a business owner with high expectations translates into permanent removal from an article, merely because I pointed out not just one, but several errors.

Before I write about this experience on my blog, I'm just curious to know if this was the intended outcome from the start. Would it have been better for me to say nothing and tolerate the errors, because at least then the reference would remain?

I must say, all of this confuses me.

The reply came later on the 18th.

I am very sorry you've had a negative experience. In general, when an error on the site is pointed out to me I do my best to fix it right away. As I am personally unfamiliar with your business, I removed the paragraph entirely, to avoid the continued distribution of any misinformation.

Certainly it was not the preferred outcome for your business to be removed entirely from the article. The site is run mostly on contributions from freelance writers, and when a larger rewrite or edit is needed I contact the author of the article in question. I forwarded your email to the writer in this case, and it looks like she made the decision not to include your business in the article. I would guess that decision had to do with timing; as I'm sure you know, the site updates daily, and by the time you and I had our exchange, the article in question was completely "off the radar".

We do our best to make the site informative, fun to read and well written, and I am constantly working on the balance of content and quality. I appreciate your patience in dealing with us and pointing out our error; believe me, we love to know when we can fix a problem. I hope in the future one of our writers will cover your business in a more detailed and helpful way.

Have a great weekend

In short: As the person in charge, what do you expect out of me -- results? Let's try to absorb this stunning admission of editorial and administrative impotence.

An an entertainment news “source” deriving content from amateurs, free-lancers and interns. Louisville.com relies entirely on them to make corrections of their own mistakes, with cooperation purely optional, even when the corrections already have been provided free of charge, and although the editor, ostensibly better trained at some variety of “journalism” than these randomly selected contributors, cannot herself incorporate these proffered corrections, she can casually ask the contributors to do it if and when they wish – and anyway, after a certain amount of time, the whole shebang is dated, and no one, least of all the editor, cares any longer about what’s accurate and what is not … and golly, maybe next time one of our writers spins the coverage wheel, it will turn out better. Maybe. 

It's just plain breathtaking, isn't it?

If NABC paid these people for advertising, I wonder if the listing would be corrected, or merely offered to the originator for improvement if the chance arose -- no hurry or anything, and by the way, can you please provide more content, accurate or otherwise?

It's "The Front Page" for modern times, I suppose. Is it any wonder I’m bitter about the state of the information nation?

Answer the question, John Rosenbarger: Can Jeff Speck's ideas work here, or not?

Jeff Speck was in town this week to take his first detailed gander at New Albany's antiquated, Caesar-Standard street , and I was reminded that at several junctures during the past six months, planning Machiavellian John "Just call me Gail Wynand" Rosenbarger has been given credit for connecting Speck with the city.

In a literal sense, I won't dispute it, although button-pushing is a display of manual dexterity, nothing more.

When it comes to the bigger picture, recent months have amply illustrated Rosenbarger's decades-long double public life, in which he constantly assures the progressive-minded of his victimhood at the cruel altar of politics, whilst at the same time tightening the vise of political cruelty through inaction, and appeasing unreconstructed Heavrinites by doing next to nothing to align New Albany's infrastructure with a contemporary world.

If Elvis were to return, he'd no doubt say to John Rosenbarger, "A little less conversation, a little more action please."

Rosenbarger would reply with a stream of the usual vacuous nonsense, and endorse another paycheck, and those two bicycle lanes on Spring Street would continue to run in the same direction down a one-way arterial street, from nowhere to nowhere, uncontrolled traffic actively discouraging their use, with Rosenbarger eager to cite them as proof of his achievements.

Which, of course, they are.

I'm reminded of a February chat between Rosenbarger and a city resident, reported to me after the fact amid much head scratching and puzzlement. Paraphrased, the conversation was reported as such:

1. Dude (Rosenbarger) talks a lot, says nothing. I was there to get/share info about using a
public space. He thought it was really important that I know what all his kids are
doing, for some reason. That was the first hour.

2. In order to get back to the streets/sidewalk topic, I brought up the Speck
presentation. Rosenbarger then launched into a lengthy diatribe about how something
like that could never work here. Geez, what a negative guy.

Rosenbarger's appearance at the FAN Fair followed much the same script, including open public doubt as to whether what he is paid to do, can ever actually be done in this city.

It begs a rather obvious question:

Then why pay you at all?

Jeff Speck in New Albany: “I’ve never seen anything like that in America."


Jeff Speck's reconnoitering of New Albany eluded the News and Tribune's grasp, although the more "local" of our two chain newspapers did manage a bold pitch for Christianity.

Fortunately, the C-J's Grace Schneider catches the priceless moment when Speck repeats the timeless question most asked about this city in general terms:

OMG, what were they thinking?

(Incidentally, the answer is pure Ockham: They weren't.)

As a side note, given the historic obliviousness of the populace, Grace's piece will be the first inkling for many that such a concept as walkability even exists. The reaction may be instructive. Or, this being Apathy City, it may not.
Walkability advocate studying New Albany street grid

City planner and architectural designer Jeff Speck stood in the middle of Market Street in New Albany last Wednesday, making notes and puzzling over something he claims he’d never seen before in his travels to dozens of cities each year.

Two short blocks between his position at Hauss Square and State Street feature a grassy, shrub-filled median dividing Market Street — with both lanes of traffic running eastbound.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in America,” Speck said, because medians imply two-way traffic.

Life on Padgett Avenue.




How do future street grid changes factor Padgett's need to move block-long cranes and ancillary vehicles, generally oversized, along the company's currently preferred route -- using 4th Street as the axis, anchored to Elm and Spring?

It's both a serious and legitimate question, isn't it?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Making sausage.


Yesterday I remarked to the Bookseller that I can see editorial cartoons in my head, but lack the ability to draw. But where there's a will, there's a way.

Merchant Meeting ... Tuesday April 29th, 8:30 a.m.

Will the fried chicken be ready that early?

This meeting represents an effort to revive what used to be called "Merchant Mixer" gatherings, the most (in)famous of which was in 2011, and featured Councilman CeeSaw uttering the immortal words:

Emperor Caesar in 2011: "Change every street to two way (but) not Pearl Street. Pearl Street will NOT be two way."

As we await the inevitable self-immolation (with novelty cigarette lighter), here's Stefanie Griffith with the merchant meeting details.

---

Hi everyone wanted to let you know we are having a merchant meeting at Daisy's Country Cooking on Tuesday April 29th from 8:30-9:30, please help spread the word to your neighbors!

The plan is to start having monthly meetings again so we are able to plan events and pass information.

At this one we will talk about Night Out New Albany, a new event similar to the trolley hops in Louisville with a twist, have introductions because we have so many new neighbors and get your input, concerns, idea's so we will know more about what areas we need to be working on.

See you then and remember please tell your neighbors, the more of us that are on the same page the more we will all grow!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SCOOP: The Freedom to Screech pavilion during Thunder.


"Hi, I'm a friend and supporter of Freedom Of Speech -- can you direct me to their reserved seats?"

"Of course, madam ... right this way."



ON THE AVENUES: Breakfast is better with kippers.

ON THE AVENUES: Breakfast is better with kippers.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Scoff if you wish, but I like to eat fish for breakfast.

Among the rotating selections from the cupboard at dawn’s early light are pungent smoked kippers and crackers; piquant pickled herring on buttered rye bread; and on special occasions, lox with the requisite bagel, cream cheese and just a light sprinkling of capers. On special occasions, just for garnish, there’ll be a garlic-stuffed olive.

Yes, there are repercussions to such preferences. From nowhere, impatient cats find me as I’m walking down alleyways, and they make an eager, impromptu parade. Some mornings I get in a hurry, forget to brush my teeth, and inadvertently breathe on a prim, proper, crisply suited banker – and he wilts, as though beaned on the noggin by a stray aesthetic revelation.

If it doesn’t render the banker entirely unconscious, I’ll breathe on him a second time. That usually does it.

It’s clear: I like deceased marine life in the morning. Captain Crunch isn’t even close. Pop Tarts need not apply. Eggs will do, when pickled. Breakfast fish is real food for real people.

Obviously, these dining strategies are best complemented by stiff, aromatic black coffee, such as that produced through the saving grace of our home Saeco espresso maker. As side orders, just for balance amid the oil, vinegar and brine, properly bitter orange marmalade on toast and the occasional serving of Greek-style yogurt with fruit work quite well. Indeed, pungency settles the humors.

Until the pallid likes of Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel grasp the eternal wisdom of gustatory treats like these, it’s hard for me to take them seriously as contenders for my early morning dollars. May these franchised monuments to white bread, Velveeta and decaf never, ever besmirch the shining shores of Scandinavia, where so many years ago I learned to eat breakfast right.

---

It was in Oslo, Norway, that I experienced pickled herring for the very first time, almost 30 years ago. Thanks to a tremendous, short-lived exchange rate in 1985, Scandinavia briefly became almost affordable, and when I stepped off the overnight train from Copenhagen to explore Oslo’s main station in search of a bite to eat, a handy restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet actually was reasonably priced.

For the budget traveler, buffets meant two or maybe even three meals, not just one. A clean freezer bag could be stuffed full of meat and cheese when no one was looking. I went for it, and during the course of gorging on the goodies, noticed three ceramic pots positioned behind the rest of the food.

My guess was jam, and with curiosity aroused, I removed the lid and reached for the spoon … which was a fork. It didn’t smell anything like fruit, and the funky aroma tickled my proboscis. I hadn’t ever eaten pickled herring, not once, but I knew what it was when the filet was impaled on the fork. It was love at first chew.

Later that week in Bergen, Norway, I treated myself to a culinary splurge. For three hours at lunchtime, a renowned local eatery ran an all-you-can eat seafood buffet for the equivalent of $15. Bearing in mind that my daily budget for lodging, meals and alcohol was $25, this was a budget-buster, but the fact that it has lingered in my memory three decades later attests to the correctness of the decision to abandon fiscal rectitude.

The buffet served as a rube’s introduction to smoked salmon, something quite rare in the rural, corn-fed Indiana of my youth. In 1985, I had no way of knowing the same-but-different confluences between Norwegian smoked salmon and Jewish lox (the latter cultural norms just as uncommon as Vikings in Baptist-laced Hoosierland), or the meticulous strategies for preparing such treats, which are every bit as traditional, proud and locally varied as American barbecue methodology.

I just liked it. A lot.

The summer of 1985 was a veritable appetizer, and an introduction to all things European. I was enamored of the continent, and have remained so these many years hence. Specifically, engaging in strange, subversive encounters with un-American methods of consuming fish became a thread running through subsequent journeys, from pie, mash eel and liquor (gravy) in London just last summer, ranging back to the snack tray at Suzanne’s wedding on the Baltic in 1996, which included a different species of eel, this time smoked.

But my single proudest moment came when I enjoyed the distinction of being the oddball foreigner who introduced my pals, the Copenhagen residents, to the grandeur of the Faergekro restaurant at Nyhavn (“new” harbor) in their own city.

The daily herring buffet is a highlight of western civilization. At least ten varieties of pickled herring (with sour cream, curry and Madeira sauce, among others) are offered, along with dense dark bread, butter, and garnishes like raw egg, onion and caper berry. Whole smoked herrings are carved from the bone and replenished.

Beer is available, as well as Akvavit (Scandinavian schnapps), with the wonderful northern custom of providing house-made infusions of herbs and spices for flavoring the firewater and washing down the tasty pickled and smoked morsels.

You can spend whole days in a joint like this, and one time in 1989, I did just that, starting a tab at Faergekro for lunch, and finally arriving back at my temporary Danish doorstep in a taxi, pea soup fog choking the street as well as the inner recesses of my cranium, fully tempted to join WC Fields in asking: “Was I here last night, and did I spend $300?”

(Whatever the words for “yes you did” are in Denmark)

That’s good. I thought I lost it!

"Walkability - planning from the sky vs. designing on the ground."



It's a video: Walkability - planning from the sky vs. designing on the ground, from Gracen Johnson; as recommended by Bluegill.

St. Marks UCC: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stained Glass Gallery: On the right side of New Albany street grid history.


NABC beer dinner at MilkWood tomorrow (April 17) or city council? You know the answer.


At the Potable Curmudgeon blog, I mentioned an NABC beer dinner at MilkWood. The menu is above, and the story link below. As of 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, a few seats remain available. This one's looking epochal already, so consider skipping the city council meeting and joining the party.

Halfway to LCBW, all the way with NABC to MilkWood this Thursday.

New Albany's streets: Screwed by design. Why?


The YMCA is on the south side of Main Street, with parking on the building's west side. Feast BBQ and The Exchange (sorry, but the Hour/Tower/Shower of Power doesn't count) are on the north side of Main. Soon, across W. 1st Street on the north side of Main, there'll be the Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli, and of course the antique store already operates on the corner.

A half-block to the north are the municipal parking lots where the farmers market probably should be, if we were in the habit of thinking and acting in the interest of multiple usage.

The are multiple traffic lanes at W. 1st and Main in the approach to the stop light at State, and people crossing the street from the western parking areas more often than ever before. All that's missing is a crosswalk, as can be seen in the photo. I'd just bounded across after being cursed by a driver who'd be forced to wait an entire 10 seconds for my passage.

As it pertains to rationalizing the city's street grid, there are two 800-lb gorillas perched downtown. One is Padgett, which uses East 4th and Spring as its private driveway for maneuvering block-long heavy equipment from its site, which quite simply is increasingly obsolete in a revitalizing urban context.

The second is QRS (formerly Riverside) Recycling. Heavy trucks formerly bound for QRS from the east now divert from Main Street and barrel down Spring, unimpeded by the city's non-enforcement regime; meanwhile, those approaching from the interstate thunder past downtown businesses on State before turning onto Main at a point just to the left of the view in the photo. Of course, Main also serves as the conduit to the casino.

Naturally, when called upon to address the section of Main most in need of a refrofit, the city is devoting its time and resources to the residential stretch of the street in front of John Rosenbarger's house, picking winners in one neighborhood, and shifting pressing issues elsewhere (monster trucks on Spring), thus dully ensuring that the counter-productive situation with unregulated heavy truck traffic downtown will be downplayed for another decade or three.

Of course, we are perpetually assured that somewhere behind closed doors sans public input, this problem is being carefully studied -- but let's leave Democratic Party central committee bowling events out of it.

In the meantime, any number of calming and enforcement measures might be deployed to improve street scenes like the one depicted above. But in New Albany, we've only gotten one design issue right: Our streets are designed for chaos, and chaos is what they produce, on a daily basis.

Does it have to be this way?

"(Intimidation) is exactly what drivers are counting on when they barrel through marked crossings."


Earlier this week: Crosswalks.

This 2013 story of a pro-active police "sting" operation targeting drivers who disregard crosswalks (Toto, we're not in Indiana any more) yields delicious nuggets, which I've pulled below.

When walking New Albany's increasingly dysfunctional, plainly unsafe arterials, the foot traveler's first obligation when walking against one-way traffic is to be on the lookout for drivers who approach on side streets and look only in the direction of oncoming traffic, not the other way. At this point, most of the time they've already violated the crosswalk space (if any). Perhaps three drivers out of ten pay heed to walkers or crosswalks.

It is slightly less of an issue when walking in the same direction as one-way traffic; the walker is more likely to be seen, although at times, as for me last week, and the egregiously obese male Kentuckian in the SUV, the walker is seen, and the driver violates the crosswalk anyway.

Over the past half-century, cars have claimed the streets, and cities have acquiesced. As I continue to point out, having one city official out of 20 not wedded to his or her car, and who walks or bikes, and attitudes toward civic pro-activity when it comes to walkability might be immeasurably heightened. What we can do as walkers and cyclists is reclaim the streets, even inches at a time. Perhaps some day the city can be compelled to join in.

Police Stings for Drivers Who Don't Yield in Crosswalks: Does It Really Work?, by Sarah Goodyear (Atlantic Cities)

... Well, actually, pedestrians are not endangering the drivers just as much, and everyone involved knows it. That intimidating fact is exactly what drivers are counting on when they barrel through marked crossings. And when pedestrians are crossing in crosswalks – which is where the Fort Lee police are doing their thing – you, as a driver, are supposed to be watching out for them and traveling at a speed that will enable you to stop in time to avoid hitting someone.

The problem is that roads in much of the United States are engineered for speed. Straight, wide, free of any obstacles, the modern American thoroughfare sends drivers the clear message that this is their domain, over which they should reign undisputed. Bright yellow signs with silhouetted figures and white lines on the asphalt can’t begin to convince people behind the wheel of anything different, not to mention some rule from driver education that they forgot as soon as they got their licenses.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Applying the Bloomington solution to New Albany's farmers market.


From New Albany to Bloomington. Ninety miles, and at least that many years.


Let's go right ahead and spend lots of money on the farmers market.

But let's not do it at the current location.

Rather, let's do it in a way that has multiple uses and has potential ripple effects, serving higher purposes beyond temporal paybacks to the same old suspects.

Let's move it down to the city parking lots shown above, thus improving what frankly are perennial, decrepit eyesores. They'd be daily parking lots just as they are now, except on Saturdays and Wednesdays (in season).

Meanwhile, the corner of Bank and Market could function as a pocket park until sold some day for infill. The city's parks department could run both farmers market and the future infill pocket park.

DNA would be out of the equation, and could return to doing whatever it is that a New Albany Main Street organization is supposed to be doing ... like selling real estate in Georgetown and Jeffersonville. What it should be doing are things like this: Mission Pedestrian.

We'd be moving the center of farmers market gravity a few blocks west, which is good for Westendia. Putting some love into this area might encourage Schmitt Furniture to uncover its windows. Furthermore, there'd be a natural affinity between the farmers market and the forthcoming Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli.

It wouldn't be the parking garage, with all its nasty oil spots and shadows and spiders and snakes.

It makes sense to me. What about you?

A theory of river towns, civic assets and underperformance.

It's remarkable how at various points in their lives, New Albanians glance around them and remark, "well, we're just a dirty ol' river town, and things will never change here."

Seems Aaron Renn has heard it, too. Bluegill recommended this essay, and it's a stimulating read. It may actually be less of "it's in the water" than bad habits learned during two hundred years of practice.

On the Riverfront, by Aaron Renn (Urbanophile)

Thursday I took a look at my “Cincinnati conundrum,” namely how it’s possible for a city that has the greatest collection of civic assets of any city its size in America to underperform demographically and economically. In that piece I called out the sprawl angle. But today I want to take a different look at it by panning back the lens to see Cincinnati as simply one example of the river city.

There are four major cities laid out on an east-west corridor along the Ohio River: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis (which is not on the Ohio River, but close enough. I’ll leave Memphis and New Orleans out of it for now). All of these are richly endowed with civic assets like Cincinnati is, having far more than their fair share of great things, yet they’ve all been stagnant to slow growing for decades.

Mission Pedestrian: "Our mission is to improve the pedestrian environment in Santa Cruz."


The web site of Mission Pedestrian (Santa Cruz CA) includes the classic Declaration of Pedestrian Rights, but it goes considerably further than that. For resident New Albanians, it's a model for action; the introductory "Who we are" reminds us of the importance of clear, concise mission statements. Just imagine if Develop New Albany spent more time doing this, and less time touting real estate in outlying areas. Although I've linked to this site previously, reminders never hurt.

Mission Pedestrian

Who we are

Mission Pedestrian is an organization of residents, business people, and neighbors who live and work in Santa Cruz. We support safe, comprehensive, convenient, accessible and attractive pedestrian travel ways.

We believe vibrant business districts and livable neighborhoods facilitate foot traffic between businesses and between homes and businesses. Our mission is to improve the pedestrian environment in Santa Cruz.

We encourage you to use this web site to arm yourself with useful information, voice your opinions, share ideas, and build a strong, supportive, pedestrian advocacy community here in Santa Cruz.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Indie icons, Bloomington-style.

There is ecotourism, sex tourism, sports tourism, alco-tourism and perhaps even just plain tourism. There also is root-for-the-home-team tourism, and so understandably, Bloomington boasts quite a few establishments that vend Indiana University-themed wearables and souvenirs of seemingly infinite variety.

One such shop is on Kirkwood, and we usually peek inside to examine the close-out rack. By doing so, I noticed something different – at least to me.



Apologies for using all caps, but emphasis is required.

THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT.

Of course, Indiana University itself is the big kahuna, but here is an example of iconic independent local businesses openly declaring their status as icons, and justifiably so; think of all the former students coming back to the places they frequented in simpler times.

Indie icons. I like it.

On that "drunk mouth-breathing hilljack," and a reminder that Harvest Homecoming draws ever nearer.

The comment below was posted on Facebook, and while my friend LF refers in this instance to her home in downtown Jeffersonville during Thunder Over Louisville, it might also describe the wonderful, recurring sensations to be experienced "In the Heart of the City" during New Albany's four-day-long Harvest Homecoming, coming this October whether we want it or not.

As a side note, the city of New Albany continues to insist that it stands ready to arbitrate the increasingly burdensome HH presence in downtown New Albany, and has a person in place for just such a pro-active thrust.

Mind you, the city hasn't done anything to date, but hey; it's only April, and we have $19 million in parks projects on the periphery to finish prior to next year's election.

Yawn. Take it away, Jeffersonvile resident.

Ahh, the joys of living downtown. Some drunk mouth-breathing hilljack walking by on her way into the event zone, slurring about how she's already had so many beers - pushing a stroller - trips over her own feet and breaks a flip-flop. Starts cussing like a sailor, tries to balance her beer on my fence, it spills everywhere - her, baby, my yard. So she's hanging out barefoot in front of my place while her Mexican companion heads in the opposite direction, probably to walk to the Dollar General to buy her a new pair of shoes. A fairly accurate representation of 75% of the people who have walked by so far. Most of them multitasking by casing the contents of my car as they pass. #Thunder baby!

On the farmers market in Bloomington, and how smart things make us look dumb.


Here's an interesting tidbit: The Bloomington Community Farmers' Market is run by the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

As I've noted following past trips to Bloomington, the farmers market takes place on the grounds of City Hall's parking lot, which as you can see, implies a commitment to multiple usage that died in New Albany shortly after the Scribners landed and began performing their unique style of Jimmy Buffett karaoke minstrelsy in the Ohio River mud.

It is striking that while we speak of ways to operate the farmers market in New Albany as though it were entirely divorced from the remainder of our downtown infrastructure (Bicentennial Park, Amphitheater, et al), Bloomington's farmers market is wholly integrated -- run by a city department, situated astride a bike path, connected in myriad ways with the city around it, and sharing a parking lot with the equivalent of our City-County Building.

As usual, I already discern the objection of the Know Nothings: But Roger, Bloomington is different.

If so, the primary difference is that Bloomington is smart, and New Albany is dumb. Really, really dumb. We seem to like it like that, so hit it, Joel!

If it suddenly ended tomorrow
I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son of a bitches
I've seen more than I can recall