Saturday, June 30, 2007

A few headlines for a midsummer weekend: Plotting pachyderms; sewage heist; conjoined CMs vs. police; and Taj Ma(city)hall.


Note to readers: The senior editor is taking a vacation day on Sunday, July 1. We’ll be back on Monday morning.

----

Headline: No quorum at Floyd County GOP caucus, vote delayed, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Low attendance pushed Thursday night’s Republican caucus to tonight, but with no competitors emerging, Brenda Scharlow is a virtual lock to be selected as the party’s District 3 City Council candidate.

Less than a majority of the district’s six precinct representatives came to the Admiral Bicknell Inn for the caucus, said party chairman David Matthews …


A more hospitable venue to encourage Republican unity can scarcely be imagined, although the toadstool scones and hemlock tea kick butt.

----

Headline: New Albany's sewer utility, EMC renewing pact, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Environmental Management Corp. has agreed to a new five-year contract to operate New Albany’s sewer utility.

I’ve searched high and low, in dusty history textbooks and seldom visited web sites, and there is nothing to be found therein to contradict New Albany’s utter uniqueness in being the only city in the United States, and perhaps even in the world, where a shadowy group of citizens plot and scheme not to seize the government, but to stage a “coup d’egout” for the purpose of controlling the city’s sewers.

Speaking only for myself, it would be more pleasurable to forcibly grab the library, or wrest away the underutilized Trinkle Dome. In the end, I’d rather nationalize the railroads. To the Luddite cabal, all I can say is: "Take the sewers."


Please.

Headline: NEW ALBANY: Take-home car policy loosened, by Jennifer Rigg (News-Tribune).

Following last week’s shooting of two Floyd County police officers, the New Albany Police Department is loosening restrictions on its take-home car policy to reassure residents with a strong police presence inside the city …

… “If they want to enact it they can,” said (Dan) Coffey, of District 1, out of frustration that the City Council was not consulted about the change. “They know the dire situation that the city is in in the way of funds. It’s just a shame that some would take that attitude.”


Predictably, the Wizard of Westside is more concerned with his own prickly vanity than any substantive discussion of police, public safety and law enforcement – matters of certain importance to CM Coffey’s isolated Hermit Kingdom, just so long as he filters them through his 1932 model Huey Long Ego Strainer before passing the information along to the less fortunate, who’ll be enduring four more years of grandstanding and ward heeling at the expense of their betterment.


Hence Coffey's campaign slogan: "Dan Coffey: Protecting you from improvement, 24-7."

NAC predicts that the take-home car topic will resurface during speaking time allotted to public officials at the July 2 city council meeting, that Coffey’s subsequent long-winded demagoguery will be judged superior to the effort expended by Sir Laurence Olivier in “Hamlet” at the Old Vic, and that if a council vote is ever taken on the matter, Coffey will dramatically lead off the roll call by holding to the code sacred to all Westendians matriculating at Bazooka Joe University, solemnly rise to his feet, and courageously intone …

“I’ll pass this time.”

What the heck; it worked on the fringe area vote last time. Meanwhile, two seats away:

District 3’s (Steve) Price said he would rather see the officers keep a mileage log and be required to reimburse the city for the personal miles they put on their cars. He also scoffed at the 10 and 20 gallon requirements per month.

“My God, I probably burn up $25 of gas a week just riding around here locally. In a time of high gasoline prices, they have got to contribute mileage. It’s just good business.”


As if we needed more disturbing evidence of CM Price’s obliviousness to the design features built by past generations into the fabric of his district, it now appears that he has taken no notice of the urban phenomenon commonly known as the “sidewalk.” Rather than use this pathway for pedestrians, the ever parsimonious Price gets places by “riding around,” preferring to “burn up” gas rather than use his legs.

How very sad.


From the councilman’s digs on Dewey Heights to the cluster of stellar rental properties he owns near the NA Confidential office suite is no more than a ten-minute walk, and probably less at a heart-healthy faster pace. By bicycle, it would be little more than five minutes for him to ride west on Main, and then north on 11th.

A whole fifteen minutes on foot would take our own “36% Solution” right into the heart of New Albany’s revitalizing downtown, but it may be unrealistic to expect him to walk or ride a bike into a part of his district where he has seldom been seen for four years, and in which the most good things are happening in spite of (because of?) his serial indifference to progress.

As Price merrily strums the coda of “Speeding along in my Automobile,” Cpl. Todd Bailey gets the final word on this topic, as quoted by the Tribune’s Rigg:

“We think it’s more important to have officers in the field than to bicker over insignificant gas dollars.”

Amen, brother Bailey. Please consider moving into the 3rd district. We need a counterweight to Price’s vision of institutionalized mediocrity as the “answer” to what ails us.

----

England: Shuffle offices to save money, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Democratic mayoral candidate Doug England is proposing moving city offices into the Spring Street firehouse and building a new fire headquarters in New Albany’s west side.

I’m uncertain as to whether the firehouse idea is the best one being floated for relieving the strain in the current City-County Building, but the comeback kid is to be commended for acknowledging that there is merit in the notion of adaptively reusing a downtown building for local government, and commencing public discussion of it. That’s a start.

Understanding that any such plan will require expenditures, it nonetheless would be heartening to see all or part of a historic block in downtown devoted to the same purpose, or, as County Councilman Randy Stumler once suggested, eventually constructing a new building as part of Scribner Place, phase two.

Perhaps Caesar’s will give New Albany $20 million more so that we can expend four more years fractiously arguing about not how, but if we should spend it.

See you Monday. I’m going for a walk.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ask a Mexican?

Like many others, I learned of “Ask a Mexican,” a column in the Orange County Weekly, by way of an article in last Sunday’s New York Times:

The column: “Ask a Mexican,” by Gustavo Arellano.

The NYT article: “The Mexican Will See You Now,” by Mireya Navarro.

Apparently there is a difference of opinion as to whether Arellano’s witty and sometimes confrontational writing on the broad topic of Mexican vs. American culture truly serves a useful purpose, but to me, anytime pomposity is punctured, idiocy exposed and sacred cows deflated, it represents progress in human affairs. I’m aware of only one regularly published New Albany writer who is seeking to engage us in such a needed dialogue with respect to the Hispanic/Latino presence in the area: Lillian Rose, local columnist for the Tribune.

Given that we Americans are an enduringly hypocritical lot, and it would be amusing to consider the undisputedly racist underbelly of the current anti-immigration phobia if not for our collective fondness for large-scale amnesia when it comes to attractively priced veggie platters and chef’s salads, it still strikes me that the city of New Albany might find it beneficial to make an effort, however minimal, to recognize its Hispanic/Latino community, which of course leaves unanswered the question of when we’ll come to grips with the African-American community.

After all, it’s the forever somnolent New Albany, where only one progressive act is permitted each century -- more than that, and you must answer to the Committee for Uncomprehended Activities, chaired by the luminous Councilman Crappuccino.

For more insight about a serious topic, consider examining the website of the Hispanic Connection of Southern Indiana.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Birthday greetings to Idealogy.

You may recall Allen Howie's guest columns for the Tribune a little while back. The writing gig seems to have ended, and that's unfortunate because I learned something from each article, but Allen has kept his day job as president of Idealogy Design + Advertising, which is celebrating its tenth birthday this week. When it comes to pieces of useful advice that one might consider as examples of "common sense" for business people, and of course seldom are understood, Allen plain gets it. Consider the following, as culled from Idealogy's web site:

We always start with the same question. What’s the big idea?

What separates you from your competitors? Given a choice - and people always have a choice - why should they choose you over the next alternative?

Once we have the answer - whether you supply it or we help you find it - we can focus on getting you more business.


It may seem painfully simple, but look around; an incredible number of business people never grasp this fundamental point ... and Allen offers it to all of us, free of charge! How does he stay in business?

Okay, perhaps there's a bit more to it than that.

Happy birthday, Idealogy. I'll be down to see you later this afternoon, and just may come bearing a tasty gift or two.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My guess? "The Gary” probably doesn't subscribe to this one.

It gladdens my contrarian heart that numerous Tom Paines of the current era continue to question orthodoxy and spread discontent. The following excerpt is from James Howard Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle, “a commentary on the flux of events,” which is published weekly on Monday.

June 25, 2007: Peak Suburbia.

I get lots of letters from people in various corners of the nation who are hysterically disturbed by the continuing spectacle of suburban development. But instead of joining in their hand-wringing, I reply by stating my serene conviction that we are at the end of the cycle -- and by that I mean the grand meta-cycle of the suburban project as a whole. It's over. Whatever you see out there now is pretty much what we're going to be stuck with. The remaining things under construction are the last twitchings of a dying organism ...

... The implication in all this is that the activities that have become "normal" for us during the post World War Two era will very shortly become untenable. An economy based on suburban expansion and incessant motoring is on the top of the list of supposedly "normal" activities that will not be able to continue. I would maintain that even if we had 20 years, no combination of bio-fuels and other alternatives would enable us to keep suburbia running. But this latest work indicates that we have much less time to adjust.

This new information is consistent with my view that we had better prepare to make other arrangements for living in this country, by which I mean specifically re-localizing, de-globalizing, with an emphasis on local agriculture wherever possible, the emergency restoration of passenger railroad service and related modes of public transit, the rebuilding of local commercial infrastructures, and a radical rethinking of how we inhabit the landscape under New Urbanist lines.


----

For previous chronicles, visit Clusterfuck Nation Archives; the author's main web site is here: http://www.kunstler.com/.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Indiana Court of Appeals sides with New Albany Community Housing on Linden Meadows.

Here's a story that slipped beneath the community's radar screen last week, and understandably so given the Floyd County shooting tragedy. Even the masquerading professor Erika -- batting well below the Mendoza line on the steadily fading regressive team -- failed to pick up on the story, perhaps because it provides no opportunity to exalt her handler.

Here is an excerpt from New Albany's Linden Meadows wins court decision, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

The state Court of Appeals has sided with New Albany Community Housing in a group of residents’ challenge to the location of the Linden Meadows development.

Friday’s decision allows the nonprofit to accelerate renovation and marketing of 17 donated houses that were moved onto the former McLean Field more than two years ago.

Construction delays cost the project $100,000 to $200,000 that must be passed on to prospective buyers, said John Miller, executive director of the housing group. Rather than selling homes for $15,000 to $20,000 below appraised value, the discounts will be closer to $10,000, he estimated.


“Instead of being a very, very good deal, it’s just a good deal,” Miller said. “It’s just unfortunate that it took so long to grind through the legal system.”

For more information, visit the blogsite of New Albany Community Housing.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Deadly descriptive phrases in the English language, from the United Kingdom to Councilman Cappuccino’s patio.

I caught this on the Internet last week:

An upcoming video game from the maker of the "Grand Theft Auto" series came under fire Tuesday in the United States and Britain, where the government's ratings board banned sales for what it called an "unremitting bleakness."

Here in New Albany, “unremitting bleakness” refers not to a computer game, but to the future prospects for the 1st council district under the continued stewardship of Dan Coffey.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The household credit card statements don’t lie: Downtown New Albany is coming back.

In fact, the numbers are clicking frantically past my eyes like the inflated scores at an arena football league game, and increasingly, the entries are clustered pleasingly close to home.

Friends, that’s the whole point.

While it remains self-evident that a broad mix of specialty and niche businesses is needed to take New Albany’s downtown commercial district to the next step, and that crucial questions of core neighborhoods and downtown housing are yet to be fully resolved, only fools and Dan Coffey (pardon the redundancy) can argue that progress isn’t being made.

The most tangible signs of this are the three newest downtown eateries and watering holes, which naturally are a special interest of mine owing to the presence of locally brewed NABC craft beers on tap at each: Bistro New Albany, Connor’s Place and the recently opened Speakeasy. I laud one and all who are taking the risks to operate in downtown New Albany, whether hair care or computers, and whether long-standing or a start-up, and yet in my niche in life, it's the restaurants, pubs and performance venues that are closest to my heart.

It may seem to some that my perpetual advocacy of these establishments owes entirely to self-interest in the business sense, and there’s some truth to this, though not as much as one might believe. NABC is a mature company with a strong clientele at the home base on Grant Line Road. We derive far more profit from selling house beer by the “Progressive Pint” at Rich O’s and Sportstime than by vending it to resellers, and there’s always at least a chance that anyone I urge to dine and drink downtown might have deposited the same money into my own cash registers had I permitted them to remain seated at my own bar.

It’s deeper than that, and obviously, self-interest in the context bears considerably more complexity than a first glance may afford. In personal and professional terms, food, drink and music are primary, and my wife shares these and similar interests. We have chosen to invest in the city center by buying a house and living on East Spring Street, in the midst of an historic neighborhood, and just a short walk or bicycle hop from the city’s downtown business district.

For us, quality of life issues in New Albany certainly revolve around obvious concerns like law enforcement, municipal services and access to the basics, but also pertain to the proximity of those things in life that we like: Food, drink, music, museums, books, and places to walk and ride bikes, just to name just a few. The more of these available in New Albany, the better for us … and for people like us who enjoy them, too.

I can hear the objections now: What about existing businesses? What about Hugh E. Birs, Little Chef, Tommy Lancaster’s and the other downtown stalwarts who’ve been serving the public for decades? Are we elitists who are “too good” for places like these?

Not at all, ma’am.

Long may they prosper and grow as integral components in the retail fabric, but let there merely be other options for those among us with differing tastes, because believing in the merits of diversity implies a wider availability of choices. Let there be country music at Bir’s, eclectic courtyard stylings at the Bistro and Connor’s, and jazz at the Speakeasy, and let’s work together to make downtown a place where fans of all varieties of human experience can come and find something to their liking.

And support local business while visiting. Maybe they’ll decide to live and work here, too. Then, finally, we begin to enjoy the best from all worlds, to the benefit of resident and business owner alike.

Friday, June 22, 2007

More on CSX, the 15th Street corridor, sandbagging councilmen and steroidal egos.

Permit me to expand on the hurried posting from last evening. If you're just tuning in, please read it first:

Does the CSX railroad "own" the 15th Street right of way?

The only speaker during non-agenda item public speaking time was our famously self-appointed “citizen’s advocate,” Ms. Bolovschak, who addressed the council (minus CMs Donnie Blevins and Jack Messer, who were absent, and Bev Crump, who had to leave on short notice).

Bolovschak, who serves as Minister of Railways in the troglodyte shadow cabinet, discussed her tirelessly free-lance efforts to bring CSX to heel for repairing the 15th Street corridor, to the tune of $1.8 million in necessary improvements. She stressed that such huge expenditure would not be borne solely by the railroad, and that the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) might be induced in cooperative funding in concert with a tithe from the city of New Albany.

All well and good so far.

She went on to say that the key to it all would be the city’s willingness to curb alley crossings of the tracks, presumably so all major streets would have appropriate signals. At this point, matters rapidly escalated into entertainment, as CM Kevin Zurschmiede asked, “Do you represent CSX?”

Bolovschak responded, “They asked me to come to the council. Why would you ask a question like that?”

The sparring then began in earnest, with Zurschmiede asking, in essence, who she was, why she was there and why she cared to be the conduit of information for absentee railroad executives, Bolovschak arguing the merits of safety for area residents and dismissing concerns over the alley curbs, and Zurschmiede aggressively insisting that he wants actual representatives of CSX to be in the room addressing the council.

Seeing as we now understand the origin of the suddenly confrontational Zurschmiede’s surprise counter-attack, i.e., the subsequent revelation that Sewer Board attorney Greg Fifer believes that CSX does not own the right-of-way after all, the display makes much more sense. Sewer Board members Zurschmiede and CM Larry Kochert (council president and wielder of the selective gavel) were only too glad to kneecap the unelected “advocate” with information, as yet ongoing and unverified, of which she was apparently entirely unaware.

Boy, those old-line Republicans really stick together when it comes to disciplining interlopers … but wait – Larry Kochert’s an old-time Democrat, not an old-line Republican.

Same difference, apparently.

Amid the presentation by the unelected citizen’s advocate and the most recent addition to the council, with the former sprinkling her self-referencing narrative with future Erika tag lines and the latter shaking frequent quasi-socialist fists at the railroad and issuing ultimatums, one extreme example of a Freudian slip came forth in all the grandeur that inflated egos are capable of mustering.

Zurschmiede asked Bolovschak to explain the point of it all, and she responded thusly: “If I pull this off … I mean, if we pull this off ... "

‘Nuff said, indeed.

Does the CSX railroad "own" the 15th Street right of way?

Near the end of last evening's City Council meeting, during non-agenda public speaking time, CM Larry Kochert unexpectedly divulged that legal research conducted by Sewer Board attorney Greg Fifer indicates that the city of New Albany, not CSX, actually owns the right-of-way for the rail line.

Even the self-appointed citizen's advocate at the podium was taken aback at this revelation.

Moments before, CM Kevin Zurschmiede had uttered a seemingly hard-line challenge to the railroad to repair the 15th Street corridor or, in effect, get out of town. Given the traditional status of the nation's rail companies, this seemed foolhardy ... until CM Kochert spilled the legalistic beans.

Now, the obvious question is: True or false? Suddenly, NAC's proposal to nationalize the corridor seems almost capable of being achieved.

There'll be more on the Thursday meeting later this weekend. Cheers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How to extend your fringe, to curb your butt, and to recite the Lord's Prayer -- and other city council items.

The agenda for tonight’s city council meeting can be found here.

Buried in the “tabled ordinances” area, where it has been moldering since late winter, is the floundering council kingpin Larry Kochert’s Omnibus Diversionary Behavioral Modification Ordinance, otherwise known as G-07-02: An Ordinance to Prohibiting Smoking in Specified Areas.

While there is no indication that the council intends to revisit this controversial proposal, legendary local jazzman and prolific anti-smoking crusader Jamey Aebersold recently offered a letter to the Tribune on the topic of the council's smoking ban inaction, in which he expresses indignation over the legislative body's unwillingness to address the issue.

Alas, it would seem that Aebersold is so understandably ecstatic in the unexpected turn of events that finds New Albany in possession of a new club (the Speakeasy) both jazz-oriented and smoke-free that he has failed to notice an “unwillingness to address the issue” as a council default setting rather than a one-off occurrence -- although in this case, the foot-dragging just might be an indication of sanity given the passions aroused by such measures.

Be that as it may, here’s what Aebersold had to say.

----

LETTERS: June 17, 2007

Where’s New Albany’s smoking ban?


On Feb. 22, 2007, many citizens met at the New Albany City County Building to present to the City Council a comprehensive smoking ordinance for New Albany.

After presenting overwhelming evidence of the importance of such an ordinance, a committee of three was appointed: Kevin Zurschmiede, Beverly Crump and Jeff Gahan.

It is now three months later and the committee has yet to meet. Repeated e-mails and phone calls to committee members have been met with silence.

Citizens run for various public offices because they feel they can contribute to the betterment of the city and their presence will make a difference. The people on this smoking ordinance committee are shirking their duty and need to answer the question — “Why haven’t you met?”

I feel it is disrespectful to New Albany’s citizens to continue to remain silent. Why form a committee if there is no intention of meeting and discussing the issue? I also feel one shouldn’t have to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper in order to communicate with public office holders.

— Jamey Aebersold, New Albany

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tomorrow: Blood drive honoring Officers White and Denzinger.

The following reminder came yesterday from an NAC correspondent, and is detailed in Whole community shares grief, by Harold J. Adams (The Courier-Journal):

At the Buffalo Trace office of the American Red Cross, plans were being made for a blood drive in honor of Denzinger and White. The blood drive is scheduled tomorrow from noon until 8 p.m. at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church at 2212 State Street in New Albany.

Red Cross manager Karen Cook said cards will be available for donors to sign that will go to the officers' families.

We're honoring a respectful pause for reflection in the local blogosphere, and will be back on Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Surreal senselessness.

You're probably aware that there was a shooting yesterday near Georgetown. From this morning's Louisville Courier-Journal:

Teen suspect, one deputy dead; 2nd deputy wounded
Following the shooting and a subsequent standoff, police found the body of a 15-year-old boy in a house in a rural area of Georgetown.

Also, useful advice from the Tribune: Talking to your kids about the tragedy

Nothing glib or articulate springs to mind. Consult your consciences, and please keep the families in your thoughts.

Monday, June 18, 2007

In the Mood: Saturday at the Speakeasy with the Glenn Miller Orchestra ... and more than a few ghosts.

(Noon update Monday: Here's the Tribune's Monday web "extra" coverage: Speakeasy opens with a bang)

"The clarinet lead, handsomely intoned by Wilbur Schwartz, and the swaying melody pinned to the first beat of each measure evoke a vanished age, even for those who never knew the age."

--Gary Giddins, on Glenn Miller’s original recording of “Moonlight Serenade.”

The Speakeasy’s grand opening was Saturday night, and as many readers probably already know, the Glenn Miller Orchestra played two sold-out shows. With only three “soft” work days under their belts, Brad, Lori and the staff at Speakeasy were setting the bar fairly high by hosting such an auspicious event so early in the game, and they performed admirably under extreme pressure. There were a few problems, but I think most in attendance understood the situation and gave the Speakeasy high marks for attempted difficulty.

Hang in there, guys.

There has been an authorized touring version of the Glenn Miller Orchestra since 1956. The 2007 edition is again being led by Larry O’Brien, who has been at the orchestra’s helm since 1988. The band’s members are youthful virtuosos, stubborn jazz aficionados, and graduates of music schools nationwide. On Saturday evening, O’Brien graciously showcased trombonist Chris Fortner, a Floyd Central graduate who brought his area fan club for the 9:00 p.m. performance. The veteran O’Brien observed that it was one of the few times that audiences were not bewildered by mention of “Floyds Knobs.”

Fortner merely played brilliantly.

Judging from the listing of tour dates at the orchestra’s web site, most of the band’s shows these days are in concert hall settings. The Speakeasy’s gig was described as a dance, and that’s considerably different. The music originally performed and perfected by big bands was designed to serve as entertainment in venues where drinking, laughing, eating and dancing were part of the expectation of those in attendance. In old air checks from the golden days, you can hear glasses clinking and conversations humming during the brief silence between songs. You can almost hear the cigarettes being smoked.

The atmosphere was like that at the Speakeasy for the Glenn Miller Orchestra on Saturday night, minus the tobacco smoke (malfunctioning kitchen vents are another story), and I was very happy for the informality of the evening. Formality would have been too much. Sunday was Father’s Day, and my dad, who died six years ago, was a Glenn Miller fan without equal. Obviously, to me, there can’t be one without the other, so here’s a bit more about the music in context.

----

Long before teenagers in suburban bedrooms played “air guitar” to Eric Clapton or Eddie Van Halen, there undoubtedly were “air trumpet” displays in the vicinity of crackling urban household radio sets, with young fans patiently waiting for the end of FDR’s fireside chat to listen for the sophisticated big band arrangements aired live from clubs and ballrooms, knowing by heart when the solos from Ziggy Elman, Bunny Berigan, Roy Eldridge and dozens of others would come blasting through the damp night, to be imitated and admired.

It was all the norm during the Swing Era, or the Big Band Era, or any other convenient phrase coined long afterward to describe a pervasive phenomenon whose zenith was long ago, short-lived and very far away from the present time of computers, terrorists and global warming. Thankfully, the art form is being kept alive today by sturdy traditional practitioners like the 25-year-old players and 74-year-old musical director currently inhabiting the Glenn Miller Orchestra, which does 300 road shows a year.

Many theories have been advanced purporting to explain the demise of the “big bands,” from transportation costs to technological and communications advances. Truth is, the world just went and changed, but one of the beauties of today’s niche-driven marketplace is that there’s still an audience for big band music, which is at its most vital performed live before an enchanted local audience.

These musical aggregations, which combine elements of small group improvisational jazz with the more formally scored tradition of symphonic bands, enjoyed their golden age in popular culture from the mid-1930s to the end of World War II. During the post-war era, big bands barely survived, being supplanted first by a greater emphasis placed on individual vocalists, and then later by various tsunamis of rock ‘n’ roll, pop and country, and the myriad cultural diversities of an ever smaller planet.

Big bands never really went away, but their pulse grew very faint as time inexorably marched, and generations of people who played the music or knew it as their own sadly passed from the scene.

To my mind, the “big band era” in America did not truly end until May, 1992, when Johnny Carson departed from the “Tonight Show.” He took with him Doc Severinsen’s “house” big band, which was the last regularly broadcasted link with the halcyon days of Miller, Shaw, Goodman, Ellington and Dorsey, a sound accessible weekly to any person with a television set and rabbit ears. During the fifteen years that have followed, big bands have gone from being an active memory for many in the populace to occupying a status somewhat in line with Civil War re-enactors, who are charged with making ghosts relevant and educating those who aren’t in the know.

How many people under the age of 50 know that Glenn Miller abandoned the music business at his band’s commercial peak and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942? That Miller subsequently organized a military orchestra that eschewed his trademark civilian arrangements for jazzy reworkings of stodgy marching band music, annoying hidebound military traditionalists and entertaining hundreds of thousands of Allied troops overseas? That Miller’s airplane mysteriously disappeared over the English Channel in December, 1944, with the wreckage never located?

The author is 46. I knew all about Glenn Miller, his music and the songs and stories of the big band era courtesy of my father, for whom these numbers and legends were the soundtrack accompanying his military service in the Marines in the Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1945. Growing up at the tail end of the baby boom generation, I spent countless Sunday mornings listening to long-playing 33 & 1/3 compilations of big band swing – “sweet” ballads, “hot” orchestral charts, novelty tunes, and the radio fodder of wartime.

It was almost more fun watching my dad listen, tapping his feat, with songs like “Sentimental Journey” or “String of Pearls” prompting stories and memories of the time in his life when he was a part of something far, far bigger than himself. He came back home after it was over, lived his life by his terms, worked six days a week, and relaxed on Sunday morning over sausage, eggs and Glenn Miller … and usually went back out for more farm work on Sunday afternoon.

That’s a hard habit to break (the music, not the fence mending), and the tradition lives on in the Confidential household on most Sunday mornings, albeit without children present for instruction. For this reason, I’m depending on readers to pass this information along to someone younger, and perhaps even join in listening to a few of the standards like “American Patrol,” “In the Mood,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000, or one of my signature songs for late at night, “Serenade in Blue.”

I can loan you the CDs.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hey, dude -- that's more than one oversized item for the weekly trash pick-up, all right?


Unless, of course, they're really meant for the recycling bin, to be reduced to wood pulp and reconstituted as the cute little umbrellas that the Shirley Temples served at area watering holes have ... or perhaps reused as copier paper for the long awaited sewer budget.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Perhaps they can flip a manhole cover for it.

NEW ALBANY CITY WRAP: Who’s the boss? Drainage job spurs dispute, by Eric Scott Campbell (News & Tribune).

The local municipal-worker union’s relationship with New Albany took another tumble Friday, this time over a hole in the road.

Two drainage department workers refused to follow a work order from drainage-management contractor Environmental Management Corp. on June 8, officials from city government and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said after a Stormwater Drainage Board meeting Friday morning.


Say, was that Councilman Cappuccino standing just off-stage, yelling, “Fight! Fight!”?

It's enough to make a guy agree with Governor Mitch Daniels about the merits of privatization, but it may owe to personal trauma and trepidation as my Miller Lite date approaches.

By the way: We need a platform from the Scharlow camp. I’d really hate having to sit out another 3rd district race.

The Confidentials are hoping to see some of you at the sold-out Glenn Miller show tonight at the Speakeasy. When's the last time a scalper was seen in New Albany?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Treet's now open for Saturday breakfast; neighborhood association volunteer effort noted.

The following is good news from Helen Spudich, Membership Chairperson of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association. I trust she won’t mind my sharing it with NAC readers.

In a related note, don't forget that the New Albany Farmers Market is up and running at 8:00 a.m. Saturdays (and also Wednesday afternoons). It is located at the corner of Market and Bank, a stone's throw from Treet's.

----

Thank you so much for patronizing Treet's Bakery CafĂ© on the four Saturdays hosted by East Spring Street Neighborhood Association and S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association! The effort was a tremendous success for the organizations and for Treet's. As a result, Treet's will now be open every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon for breakfast.

Beginning on Saturday, June 16, Teresa will be offering a BREAKFAST BUFFET, full of your favorites! You'll have a chance to enjoy many different breakfast treats, including eggs, gravy, homemade biscuits, Teresa's famous home fries, French toast casserole, and more! You may start your meal whenever you're ready and dine at your leisure.

In addition, bakery items will be available to order separately.

Thanks again for your support during our volunteer effort. The neighborhood associations sincerely appreciate your help, and together, we've made a difference for a new business.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We're helping sponsor BMX racer Tommy Board in the UCI World Championship. And you?

Tommy Board, who lives right here in New Albany, is a professional BMX racer. For the uninitiated, Wikipedia helpfully explains BMX racing:

BMX (Bicycle Moto-cross(X)) is a form of cycling on specially designed bicycles which usually have 20-inch wheels. The sport includes races on earthen tracks—BMX racing—as well as the performances of tricks —BMX freestyle. Recently, BMX racing's international governing body—Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)—began sponsoring the UCI BMX World Championships.

In a posting at our New Albany Bicycle Coalition blog, Tommy recently recounted his recent participation in USA Cycling’s (USAC) first BMX Championship in Waterford, Michigan on June 9th.

I participated in the 30 and over men and 35-39 cruiser classes and I had a shot at both titles, but fell a little short.

I slipped the gate in my 30 and over men's semi race and couldn't make the moves to get into the main event; however, I was able to make the main in the 35-39 cruiser class!!! I drew the perfect lane position and I felt that I was just 30 seconds away from becoming the first ever USAC Champion for our class. When the gate fell, I guess I was a little too excited and spun-out on the pad below, all the while the rest of class was boogie-ing down the first straight. I was able to make it back to 4th or 5th position on the second straight, but people were all over the place and I was pretty much pushed off the track. I finished 6th overall and I'm now qualified to represent Team USA at the UCI World BMX Championships in Victoria, Canada!

Based on his strong performance in Michigan, Tommy feels like he has a strong chance at becoming world champion for his class, but his existing sponsorships are good only for National Bicycle League (NBL) sanctioned events.

The reality is this: Tommy needs financial help to get to the UCI World Championships in Victoria (BC), Canada. He tells NAC that the dates are July 26-29 (actually beginning on the 23rd for three practice days before the championships begin, with total costs for licensing, entry fees, plane tickets, hotel room and food to be in the range of $2,000. Tommy can handle some of it, but not all.

In his original posting at the NABC bicycling blog, Tommy noted that he’d be willing to work in exchange for assistance:

I'm willing to cut your grass, wash your car, walk your dog ... pretty much whatever.

Our aim today isn’t the hard sell; we all get enough of that on an everyday basis. I’ll simply note that in some combination of monies from the New Albanian Brewing Company and my own checkbook, there’s an opening pledge of $200 – and Tommy can work it off after he wins the championship. We’ll need a photo of the awards presentation for the pub, too.

If you’d like to pitch in, please send an e-mail to the senior editor. It will be forwarded to Tommy, and you can discuss the matter directly with him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

3rd district independent council race? "There are no good reasons for empowering this dysfunction any longer."

With the filing deadline for independent candidates fast approaching, let’s take a final look at the mathematics of the 3rd district council race.

The numbers are as cruel as they are inevitable.

Certain truths are unchanged. In political terms, the incumbent councilman Steve Price is little better than a massive block of impervious, weighty and perpetually muddled cement tied to the ankle of New Albany’s downtown revitalization effort, both in terms of the city’s core neighborhoods and its historic business district. In spite of his halfhearted pre-election promises that he intends to represent all of his constituents, he has failed to do so through four underachieving years of his first term, and almost certainly won’t improve on this record of neglect if he is re-elected this fall.

There is a simple reason for Price’s inability to honor his pledge: An inherent disinterest in, and in many cases active antipathy to, the things in life that motivate those people who aren’t like Price. The councilman suffers from an utter and complete absence of future vision, of palpable interest in his own further education, of appreciation for diversity, and of basic political gravitas.

To be succinct, there is no hope for a recovery on Price’s part because he has no discernable desire to learn anything at all beyond what he already grasped as an adolescent. He is a political cipher, contemptuous of knowledge, and he will not change. A penurious mode of cautious, whining, drawling urban damage control is Price’s genetic default setting, and we had might as well get used to it.

Why?

Because in these reactions to a planet he does not understand, Price unfortunately is not alone, and because he is not alone, and because there is an unchanging (at least until death, relocation or imprisonment) bloc of similarly non-minded individuals inhabiting his long-suffering district -- and because most of them, whether Democrat or Republican, buy into the self-identification of the two-party system at its most insanely futile -- it is highly unlikely that the incumbent can be beaten in a three-way race. This has now been proven in successive Democratic primaries.

It is not likely to be disproved now that the Republican Party has declared its intention to select Brenda Scharlow as the GOP candidate in the 3rd district.

Another truth as yet unchanged is that logic and experience indicate that there is only one way to defeat Price, and that is through absolute unity behind a single opposition candidate.

Unity obviously cannot be achieved by fielding an independent candidate and splitting the anti-Price vote, although as I write there are numerous trial balloons being floated and just as many rumors disseminated, and as usually is the case in such self-aggrandizing matters, it is virtually impossible to distinguish the sincere statements of intent from the unhealthy zeal for politics-as-usual game-playing that is the fundamental reason for New Albany’s enduring two-party, small-pond political dysfunction.

There are no good reasons for empowering this dysfunction any longer. I’ll not be running as a candidate, and as the situation stands, there exist no valid case for supporting an independent candidacy of any sort in the 3rd district. Perhaps in 2011, but not this year. The window was cracked open this spring, and an enduringly inexplicable unwillingness on the part of residents to communicate openly with each other slammed it shut. So be it. I -- we -- have other things to do.

But make no mistake: Realism isn’t the same as defeatism, and I’m not discouraged, deflated or otherwise desiring to retire from the struggle on behalf of progressive thinking in the future tense.

In fact, I plan to be quite busy laying the groundwork for ultimate success by continuing this on-line advocacy in the blogosphere and devoting even more time to supporting business ventures – embryonic ones of my own that are under development, and those of others already on the ground, vibrant, and contributing to the revitalization of downtown New Albany, especially the tracts within Price’s own council district that he has done next to nothing to assist during four wasted years of wrongheaded council obstinacy.

Although the anti-Price forces in the 3rd district have yet to show a willingness to unify and win, I remain confident that the helpful cause of interpersonal communications will be advanced, if not now, then later. Self-interest eventually will bring us all to the table, with the only question being how long we'll wait to see it.

I have not contacted Brenda Scharlow prior to writing this essay, and now take this opportunity to publicly request of her a comprehensive platform for her fall campaign. Assuming she complies, and that her planks seem reasonable to me (an open hint: omit the standard GOP fascistic social agenda and you’ll be fine), I’ll proceed to publish her platform in this space, to endorse her candidacy, and to offer to meet her at Bistro New Albany or Connor’s Place (or both) to publicly make good (and be photographed doing so) on my onetime promise to drink Miller Lite before ever again voting Republican.

That’s because if she runs, voting Republican is what I’ll be doing in the 3rd district council race this fall, and in doing so, understand that I most emphatically will not be voting “against” a Democratic Party that itself possesses those cherished ideals closest to my own.

Rather, I’ll be voting “against” the incompetent rogue and vacant charlatan Price’s ongoing political blasphemy against those Democratic principles that I possess even if not participating as an active member of the party structure. Herewith the local party is encouraged to jettison those reactionary elements within it that have done the most to disgrace these principles, including Price and his like-non-minded partners in grime like Dan Coffey. Perhaps the party will step forward yet and offer substance that the rest of us can embrace.

Discuss if you wish, or not at all, and sincere thanks to all who have taken an interest in the topics considered here. Your opinions and counsel have been invaluable, and are much appreciated.

I -- we -- aren't going away. Going to work ... going to the mattresses ... going for a Progressive pint or three ... but not away. See you around town.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Send away the tigers.

I ducked into Kaiser’s Tobacco Shop yesterday afternoon to purchase stogies, and in the process came under the watchful eye of Councilman Dan Coffey.

We exchanged patently insincere pleasantries, and I proceeded to the case to select my babies. Meanwhile Bluegill stepped through the door, and for a brief moment the progressives outnumbered the regressive two to one.

The moment quickly passed, and as we exited onto Pearl Street I looked straight across at the parking lot currently owned by one of the slumlord Gregory gang, recalling early childhood memories of the post office that used to stand there until it was leveled by an earlier generation of movers and shakers who couldn't be bothered with tiresome tasks like thinking.

And so less than fifty years separates the last sunrise for an example of public architecture that signifies an ascendant city’s willingness to succeed, from the sunset decline gleefully presided over by semi-literate hack politicians and their "property investor" paymasters.

Strange place, this.

But the cigar was quite good.
---
Photo credit: www.epodunk.com

Monday, June 11, 2007

Albania: Sent down to the Bush leagues.

I’ve not visited “old” Albania since 1994, and yet before today it would have been difficult to persuade me that the impoverished ex-Communist Balkan country might ever be more surreal now than it was then.

Er … never mind.

Bush greeted as hero in Albania.

Looks like I picked a bad Monday to stop drinking. Here’s the previously published account of my first and only trip to the domain of Enver Hoxha:

"Old" Albania: Beer in the Land of the Eagle.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

On the waterfront: Same old song and dance .

How many times in my life have I walked into a bar and asked the hopeful question: What type of beer do you have?

Far too many times the deflating answer has been, “We have all of them – Bud, Miller and Coors.”

This familiar recitation of self-imposed limits came back to me while reading this article in the Saturday edition of the Tribune: New Albany to host Fourth of July party, by Chris Morris.

WAKY radio made its mark in the Louisville area with colorful personalities and classic music from the 1960s and ’70s.

On July 4th, the two will be reunited again on the New Albany Riverfront.

WAKY has returned to the Louisville airways, at 103.1 FM, and many of those same disc jockeys from the station’s earlier days are back. Many of them will be at New Albany’s July 4th event to help showcase music from the 1960s and ’70s.

“I thought they were a natural partner with the music I wanted this year,” said event organizer and New Albany Riverfront Director Bob Trinkle.

That would be the same music he wants every year.

During every waking movement of his stewardship of New Albany’s single most underused asset, Bob Trinkle has proven himself to be entirely unaware of any musical or cultural development since his StoneDeaf zenith of semi-professional altruism during the mid-1980’s -- or before.

According to my calendar, it is 2007, although there may be older dates exhibited in the unused upper floors of downtown New Albany buildings. Yes, I realize that the relentless march of time is disturbing to many; nevertheless, we remain in the here and now irrespective of personal wishes to the contrary.

Attention, mayoral candidates: Can one of you promise us that New Albany’s waterfront will be used for something remotely contemporary – pray tell, perhaps even ethnically and culturally diverse – during the next four years of downtown revitalization?

----

Previously at NA Confidential:

June 17, 2006: Not spectacular enough? Maybe they should play some Zappa, instead.

September 5, 2005: If given the chance, how would you operate New Albany's riverfront "Trinkle Dome" amphitheatre?

July 15, 2005: If he's not going to use the Riverfront Amphitheater, would Bullet Bob mind if we borrowed it and made some money?

CJ's Pam Platt: "Discussing civility and the Internet with an expert."

Yesterday I offered a brief satire purloined from the venomous pages of the Freedom to Screech character assassination blog and offered a preview of the first annual "NA Confidential Dissembler Award" for purely atrocious playacting.

THE AWARD GOES TO...AND THE ENVELOPE~PLEASE!

By satirizing the babblings of the purely fictitious Professor Erik, who in real life is an embittered former local government employee who has dedicated her sunset years to singing the praises of a self-styled “citizens advocate” for whom she pines -- who in turn should be openly blogging for herself rather than endorsing trognonymity -- am I merely pointing out the obvious?

Yes, I am.

In the past, some NA Confidential readers have expressed concern that by doing so, I may be stooping to the level of the dysfunctional denizens of the Luddite Bar & Grill, as expressed in varying shades of acrid bile at the FOS blog. Is this assessment accurate?

Yes, probably so, but …

To my contrarian mind, I’m not empowering bad manners so much as engaging in open dialogue in full public view, even if the person or persons espousing the opposing point of view insist on hiding from the sort of scrutiny that accompanies full disclosure. Most readers know by now that I regard Internet anonymity is cowardly, though others -- perhaps even a majority -- do not.

You may agree or disagree that such a state of affairs compromises the efficacy of the Internet as a communications tool, but either way, a piece in today’s Courier-Journal by columnist/ombudswoman Pam Platt should be of interest to all. I’m providing an edited excerpt below, but by all means, peruse at your leisure the whole article at the C-J’s site. Platt's topic, “The rude, crude brood you can find on the Internet, and what, if anything, to do about it and them,” applies to more than just Internet incivility.

Pam Platt: Discussing civility and the Internet with an expert.

… (A) third conversation took place on the Internet, and it featured P.M. Forni, author of Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct and professor at Johns Hopkins University. I had invited him to take questions from Courier-Journal readers, and me, about this issue, and he graciously agreed. Last Thursday morning, he went online with us for an hour …

… I think what he had to say is very important and deserves to have the widest possible airing, because it deals with everything from parenting and teaching, to personal responsibility, to human nature, to democracy.

And in the past several days, like you I've read about a local case of road rage, which included a shoot-out in a grocery store parking lot (who needs a gun for a lettuce run?), and I watched video of an Alabama legislator smacking a fellow solon in the face on the floor of the state senate, and I think everyone ought to be talking about this ...

… Professor Forni on how the anonymity offered by Internet communication fosters a "disinhibition effect":

" . . . Anonymity and stress have long been identified as main causes of uncivil behavior. It is part of our human make-up that we need incentives to be good. We need incentives to be decent, to be considerate, to be kind. Anonymity takes away some of our incentives to behave as decent people.

"Also, since its very beginning, the Internet has projected an image of informality. It has billed itself as a place where maximum democracy could be achieved. Everybody could communicate with plenty of freedom and in very informal ways.

"Now, there is often a thin line between informality and incivility and the communication on the 'net often crosses that line. It seems that as a society we use very often the 'net as a dumping ground of what's least attractive in who we are. However, when we do that, we don't really free ourselves of those unpleasant thoughts, unpleasant traits, social toxins, because that mode of communication ends up bouncing from the online world to the world of bricks and mortar. So the coarse, extremely informal language of the 'net provides the new standard for the communication in the real world, and that is certainly a cause of concern."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

CHDO is building houses in downtown neighborhoods.

From the blogsite of New Albany Community Housing (CHDO) comes another timely reminder of progress:

New Homes Under Construction!

New Albany Community Housing (the CHDO) has poured one basement and set the footers for a foundation for two homes this week. These are the first two (of four) new houses of the current grant. The three-bedroom, two-bath camel back shotgun houses in the Oak Street Historic Neighborhood will be ready for homebuyers this fall.

More information can be found at the site: The chdo - nonprofit housing developer in New Albany, Indiana.

THE AWARD GOES TO...AND THE ENVELOPE~PLEASE!

Is it possible to plagiarize the babblings of a non-existent, transgendered "professor" whose rampant delusions are lifted straight from the miniscule pages of Bazooka Joe as viewed whilst ingesting acid like Gatorade?

I didn’t think so. If you suspect that I’m inventing these satires from whole cloth, you have a higher opinion of my abilities as fiction writer than is merited.


Visit the web site of my chief cut ‘n’ paste gag writer and see for yourself.

----

The NA Confidential Dissembler Award (purely atrocious playacting) directs public and local readers’ attention to promote to specific issues where much better grammar is needed, and quickly. It also prevents poor paraphrasing of predictably unattributed original sources (
see them here at the Golden Fleece website) by motivating bloggly ghost writers to deploy cowardly anonymity and thereby avoid the spotlight.

This spotlights important facts that deserve attention to the shadowy motives of the Gang of Four, as expressed therein.

Our American freedom of speech can only work if readers and the council members have the information they need to make informed decisions about who ultimately is pulling the strings behind shambolic attack blogs. Decisions with an informed debate are far less likely if the people lacking the intestinal fortitude to be themselves pursue policies of character assassination behind their masks. They are unsound.

By giving readers the facts about
how local shadow governments devote their time to behind-the-scenes Rove-ian dirty tricks empowers denizens of the blogosphere to better ensure that their reading time is not wasted by breathtakingly bad writing.

The NA Confidential Dissembler Award serves notice on Department heads, City Boards, members of our City Council, and current Administration not to give undue credence to those who dishonor genuine freedom of speech by cowardly and self-serving anonymity.As they say: Disguises off and no personal attacks without disclosure!

Finally, NA Confidential plans initially to announce Awards "occasionally" as good gut laughs come to our attention.

Footnote: The first ever NA Confidential Dissembler Award (purely atrocious playacting) winner will be announced Sunday~June 10, 2007.

Who will it be?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Baize-Island tenants arrested and/or evicted: The curious view from Main Street.

We're pleased to share great law enforcement news from Main Street, courtesy of the Letter From New Albany blog. Pay close attention to the comments section for each posting. These make for fascinating and informative reading. Will the reprobates stay in jail? Will they set up shop elsewhere? Will the absentee slumlord revamp or merely reload?

Best of luck to the long-suffering neighbors. This being New Albany, you're sure to need some.

Thursday, June 7: The end of an era

I couldn't sleep last night. At sun-up I watched from my front porch as soft light entered my neighborhood. Then it hit me! "My" neighborhood. It felt like MY neighborhood for the first time since I've lived here. Until Tuesday, my neighborhood was "their" neighborhood, but they are all in jail now.

Wednesday, June 6: Candy & Cowboy - A New Albany Love Story

Today our neighborhood is breathing the first sigh of relief, after so much mayhem and so many pleas for help...the folks at "Ho-Island" were all arrested yesterday for drug-dealing and generally maintaining a public nuisance!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Good times this weekend and beyond: Art, beer, Speakeasy & more.

As was made clear by yesterday’s self-congratulatory posting, beer is the senior editor’s life, but as was pointed out long ago in this space, there is a strong case to be made for craft beer (and numerous other small-scale, niche-driven consumer preferences) in the context of downtown revitalization.

Beer Basics considers pubs, restaurants and downtown revitalization (June 15, 2005).

To me, it’s simple. We need people who, in large measure, are drawn from a readily identifiable demographic. Provide them with the amenities they seek, and they just might like it here. When it comes to food and drink, examples of these amenities currently can be found downtown at Bistro New Albany and Connor’s Place.

A third example is Speakeasy, the downtown jazz bar and restaurant that is planning its sold-out grand opening for Saturday, June 16. Brad, Lori and the crew hope to be doing “soft” business next week, although currently the exact details are not known. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, another example of synergy is provided by the happy marriage of craft beer and the arts. The New Albanian Brewing Company is donating beer to help raise money for two arts-related events in Floyd County.


Art on the Green … St Paul's Episcopal Church is reviving an old tradition, with a one-day St. Paul's Art on the Parish Green showcase of visual arts and fine craft to be held June 9th on the grounds of the historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church (corner Main & East 10th). There’ll be a keg of NABC Elector for sale alongside Bud Light, with both extremes being vended for public consumption.

Magic at the Mount … Staged by the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts at the artist colony’s home base at Mt. St. Francis, only 15 minutes from downtown Louisville off Highway 150. We’ve donated a keg of Community Dark for the enjoyment of the artists and performers. I’m not certain what provisions will be available to the visiting public.

Also this weekend, NABC’s brewers, Jesse and Jared, will be in carrying the company banner to the 12th Annual St. Louis Microfest in St. Louis, Missouri, where during last year’s event NABC sold numerous “These Machines Kill Fascists” t-shirts without having to explain to a single person what the phrase means.

Soon, that might even be true here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

An accolade for Rich O's Public House: RateBeer's Best Beer Bar list "gold" for 2007.

Something akin to a press release ...



Rich O’s Public House has achieved gold status for the second consecutive year in RateBeer’s annual list of Best Beer Bars. According to the popular web site’s 2007 rankings, we finished in sixth place out of 93 establishments worldwide that were awarded gold certification.

I'm a realist, and grains of salt always come in handy at times like this, but it's very flattering just the same, and we’re sincerely appreciative of the honor. The list in its entirety can be viewed here: Best Beer Bars 2007. I've been to some of the other gold-medal beer bars mentioned, and they're high-powered, indeed.

For those just tuning in:

Rich O’s Public House, founded in 1990, is the pub arm of the New Albanian Brewing Company, which also incorporates Sportstime Pizza, which predates the Public House by three years and will be celebrating its 20th anniversary later this summer on July 14. The pub and pizzeria offer 34 taps pouring NABC house beers and rotating guest beers from America and around the world; 650+ beers have been on tap at one time or another since 1987. The bottle list includes 225+ hand-selected brands of beer, cider and mead. Our food menu specializes in pizza, lasagna, sandwiches and salads.

RateBeer is an on-line forum for beer drinkers to exchange information and share opinions of beer. In addition, users can write opinions of cider, mead and sake. RateBeer has more than 1,112,000 ratings, lists nearly 60,000 beers from 7,270 breweries, and has grown to become the largest beer information web site in the world in addition to serving as a forum for discussions about the craft brewing industry (the preceding is courtesy of Wikipedia).

Thanks to Steve Hall for tipping me. Crossposted at the Potable Curmudgeon site.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

South Side nostalgia index high, but business sale price falling, says C-J.

On Monday, the Courier-Journal noticed that New Albany still exists. Predictably, the ensuing article focused on a hidebound tradition lost, implying that the absence of one steam table of several is something to be mourned.

South Side's fans recall past with hunger pangs; Generations ate at New Albany icon, by Dick Kaukas.

Wait -- don’t say it.

As a business owner, I’m not in favor of any fellow entrepreneurs failing, and although mounds o’ starch ‘n’ carbs aren’t my gig, I’ve always supported South Side for what it is even if it isn’t my preference for dining out. But, having offered this disclaimer, permit me to point out that the most important section in the C-J article is this one:

But while (the South Side’s closing) is disappointing, it is not a disastrous setback for the city, said Greg Sekula, head of the Historic Landmarks Commission of Southern Indiana and vice president of Develop New Albany, a nonprofit group that works for economic development and preservation.

"It's a loss, but it's also part of the evolution of downtown," Sekula said. "Businesses will not last forever. Tastes change. It's certainly not a nail in the coffin of downtown."

He said he was optimistic that a new tenant will be found for the space at 114 E. Main St., "and we'll move on."


“Tastes change.”

Truer words have seldom been spoken hereabouts, and presumably you’ll not be reading them in political campaign literature any time soon -- yet the sooner we come to grips with it, the better.

The fact that I can’t conceive drinking mass-market light lager doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for it. Conversely, the fact that certain New Albanians wouldn’t be caught dead sampling sushi doesn’t rule out a gifted culinary artisan crafting the metro area’s best in the same place where fried chicken and dumplings once ruled.

Kudos to Greg Sekula for speaking the truth for attribution, and let’s hope that someone puts something in the South Side restaurant space that mirrors the future hope symbolized by the YMCA complex currently rising yards away. After all, just because the building is historic doesn't mean the concept has to be.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Open thread: Tonight's council meeting?

8:50 a.m. update - Coop provides coverage of the meeting at his blog, New Albany 15A: Council Meeting June 4 2007

The senior editor did not attend tonight's council meeting, and NAC may or may not be providing coverage. If you were there and wish to report, please do so in the comments section.

Lameducklamebrainorjustplainlame: Council follies resume.

The Tribune previews tonight’s city council meeting.

NEW ALBANY: Light night for council Monday?, by Eric Scott Campbell.

The final votes on a $3 million slate of appropriations are scheduled for the New Albany City Council’s meeting Monday night.

Most of the items had been approved by resolution before their official allocation at the May 17 meeting. The exception is a $400,000 disbursement from the city’s Caesars Indiana casino revenue share.

The agenda’s only new bill would allow a medical office at Ellen Court and Green Valley Road.

Seeing as development projects near Ellen Court generally provide the best grandstanding opportunities for lame duck 2nd councilman Bill Schmidt, we look for him to vote “no” early and often, or possibly to opt for self-immolation as a preferred development strategy.

Council watchers should note that while its Gang of Four's congenital obstructionist bloc was cut in half after the most recent primary election, 14 grueling meetings remain before the changing of the guard in January. Whatever configuration a future council has, it's difficult to imagine it being worst.

However, this is New Albany.

Expect frequent and insanely improbable exhortations of engineering, drainage and reconstructive surgery expertise by Bazooka Joe U. grad Dan Coffey; equally numerous protests of governmental, societal, and economic impotence on the part of Steve “37% Solution” Price; and an inability (or most likely, an unwillingness) of the savagely and transparently biased council president, Larry Kochert, to run a fair council meeting.

In other words, more of the same senseless and self-defeating drivel … but to echo New Albany’s renowned academic poseur, there are only 211 days left until the shelf life of the Gang’s reign of error finally expires, and we can begin to write the history of how damaging their dysfunctional tenures have been for the future of the city.

Time to spit on our hands, hoist the black flag ... well, perhaps you recall the rest of H. L. Mencken's words.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

He did select a mighty fine smoke.

It is a law that I’ve cheerfully violated dozens of times during my European travels, but then again, I’m neither the governor of California – nor council president Larry Kochert, who has also been known to ignore laws he doesn’t favor.

Attack lapdog poodles, anyone?

Was Schwarzenegger's cigar a Cuban?, by Michael R. Blood, Associated Press Writer.

The celebrity governor known for his love of premium cigars was headed to the Ottawa airport Wednesday when his motorcade made a detour to a hotel. There, Schwarzenegger picked up a Cuban Partagas cigar in a shop, with the $14.83 bill paid by an aide traveling with him, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.

Under trade restrictions, U.S. citizens are prohibited from buying Cuban cigars anywhere in the world.


If I had a Partagas in my possession, I’d take it to Northern Kentucky, light it up, and blow smoke rings around the new Creation Museum; coupled with the ridiculous Cuban trade embargo, they’re two reasons to suppose that the bill of goods we’re selling to people in places like Iraq is “fundamentally” miscalculated.

Is this a good time to talk about Michael Moore’s latest?

---

See also: IUS professors join academics in signing statement questioning Kentucky’s Creation Museum, from the Tribune.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Keeping it simple can be inordinately complex.

A New York Times article I was reading over coffee and kippers made reference to “Occam’s razor,” a term with which I’m familiar owing to studies in philosophy – although a refresher course never hurts, especially 25 years and a few thousand beers later.

Take it away, Wikipedia:

----

Occam's razor (sometimes spelled Ockham's razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating, or "shaving off," those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory.

The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae ("law of parsimony" or "law of succinctness"): entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, which translates to: entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

This is often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest hypothetical entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.

Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a
heuristic maxim that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity in scientific theories.

----

No mention of politics here, perhaps because there is no simplicity to be found in its pursuit.

Or is there?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mr. G and the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.


At the New Albany Bicycle Coalition blog, we’ve been following Greg Gapsis’s bicycle journey northward along the newly christened Underground Railroad Bicycle Route from Mobile, Alabama to the Canadian town of Owen Sound on Lake Huron.

Bicycle path through New Albany: The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.

At last word, Greg was making for Niagara Falls, and had decided to stop there rather than push on into Canada. He may be heading back this way by now. Here are links to the updates, with the most recent listed first. The ones penned by Greg himself make for excellent reading, and have provided NAC’s senior editor – as yet unable to bicycle himself owing to the shoulder surgeon's orders – with a wonderful opportunity to live vicariously through Greg’s adventures.

'Twas a Dark and Stormy Night (and the suspicious Christian minister said "hit the road")

Mr. G update.

Update: Mr. G crossing into Pennsylvania today.

Central Ohio--Frosty Night Coming Up

Mr. G now well into Ohio.

Oh, the beautiful Ohio!

Mr. G hits the trail, and we'll keep you posted on his progress.

---

Here are some links about the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route: