Thursday, May 31, 2012

Indiana oxymorons? Parking and reading comprehension?


Speaking of Indiana oxymorons, and "only in Southern Indiana," So. Indiana Wonka is on Twitter. It's a localized variant on the condescending Wonka meme. It is highly amusing. Look here: www.twitter.com, and ‏@soindianawonka

ON THE AVENUES: New Albany (remains) a state of mind.

ON THE AVENUES:  New Albany (remains) a state of mind.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Again this week we indulge in rewinding, this time to January, 2009, and my inaugural “Beer Money” column. It was written for the local newspaper that has been known as News and Tribune since 2011, when the agents representing the pensioners of Alabama merged two local newspapers and put an unceremonious end to (a) local autonomy, and (b) the column. Socrates awaits a coherent explanation, but I digress. In 2012, both Connor’s Place and the England administration are gone (I mourn the former), and soon, New Albany’s alleged “Democrats” will have their chance to endorse Mitt Romney’s politics of their exclusion. The examination mentioned here has proceeded apace, with and without the newspaper column, but in this city – as in America at large – the students remain loathe to study for it.

You might recall that roughly 2,500 years ago, there lived the Greek philosopher called Socrates, a man whose dogged pursuit of knowledge endeared him to succeeding generations of admirers, although not to his fellow Athenians. In fact, most of his neighbors considered him not only an annoyance, but a heretic, too, and if there’s anything to be gleaned from reading history, it’s that there’s always time enough for a priest to throw another heretic on the fire.

So goes the eternal tyranny of the majority, and yet thanks to Plato’s writings, we now recognize Socrates as a peerless moral and social critic. Appropriately, he has been honored by the tag of gadfly, a term for describing “people who upset the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or just being an irritant.”

That’s my kind of guy, although naturally gadflies are detested by small, non-expandable minds of the sort that are the norm in human societies the world over, and who assign themselves the task of protecting the status quo whether or not it is sensible.

Accordingly, you can picture the scene in the agora, with Socrates and his small band of youthful followers avidly questioning accepted beliefs, while the “little people” of Athens hover nearby, muttering, and eavesdropping on the dialogues.

These many centuries later, I can almost hear the anonymous bellow from behind the adjacent stone wall, followed by the pitter-patter of fleeing sandals:

“Hey, Socrates, if you aren’t happy here, then why don’t you get the hell out and leave us alone?”

Socrates stayed, of course, and was made to pay dearly for it. During a period of political upheaval, he was put on trial and convicted of corrupting the morals of Athenian youth. Offered the opportunity to devise his own punishment, the philosopher wryly suggested that his “sentence” include a regular monetary stipend and free meals for life.

Instead, the humorless judges gave Socrates the choice of exile or death, and he opted for the latter, drinking the hemlock, cementing his martyrdom, and proving that in ancient Greece as in modern-day America, folks don’t take kindly to having their premises examined, not to mention taxed … but let’s leave Their Man Mitch’s properties and proprieties out of it, shall we?

---

And so there I was, cradling a craft-brewed pint of beer within the cozy confines of Connor’s Place and reflecting on the dubious merits of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” when suddenly that nagging, familiar existential question reared up and bit me … again.

“New Albany is a state of mind … but whose?

Numerous other pressing questions have come and gone since I was a youngster growing up in Georgetown, experiencing the sort of small town ambience remembered with warm fuzziness primarily by those who never actually lived through the crushing boredom of it all, queries like, “Where can we get served?” and “Is it really cheating if the teacher doesn’t catch you?”

But nowadays the tough questions keep getting harder to answer, like this one:

Have you ever been standing in the supermarket, trying to fathom the industrial process bakeries use to remove the flavor and texture from white bread in order to make it marketable to the terminally fearful among us, when suddenly a remarkably obese woman down the aisle starts screaming obscenities at her own helpless children, and you realize that all this prattle about free people making informed choices to suit their individual needs must be coming from those who’ve never driven an automobile through New Albany’s decaying streets, artfully dodging listless vagrants, texting drivers and the occasional neglected, doomed dog or cat?

---

In 2008, Barack Obama enunciated “change” and “hope” as electoral mantras, and predictably, local voters went big for Obama’s befuddled Republican opponent. Therein lies a glimpse of New Albany’s personalized 800-lb gorilla, and the civic psychosis that so degrades our future prospects as a city. It is our persistent failure to muster any degree of comprehension as to what is occurring in the larger world outside the municipal devil we know, and to imagine another way of life.

As an example, consider the simple notion of riding a bicycle in an urban setting. Doing so in New Albany can be profoundly dangerous, in part because of the gaping potholes, and more importantly, as previously observed, because local drivers are notoriously unskilled and inattentive. However, the problem goes beyond an absence of empathy.

Numerous New Albanian drivers actually can’t imagine riding a bicycle, and moreover, they can’t imagine life outside the confines of an automobile – and if they can’t imagine something, how on earth could anyone else?

To them, anyone who is able to imagine biking and also to achieve it must be mistaken or defective, and poses a vague threat. Any person riding a bicycle surely must be too poor to afford a car, or is restricted to biking owing to mental illness, a DUI conviction, bad personal credit or contrarian tendencies.

In other words, a heretic. Do I hear the sound of flicking Bics?

In this and related matters, the New Albany Syndrome is a very real and self-defeating malady, and one of my goals in life is to somehow locate the source of the dysfunction and drive a stake composed of equal parts modernity and rationality straight through its heart so that future generations just might enjoy a better place to live and work.

Socrates had it right: The unexamined life is not worth living … and the examination begins now.

Live @ Five: "Text your friends and put it on your calendar."


(The poster has nothing whatever to do with Live @ Five, but it reminds us of Wisconsin's forthcoming recall election, and will annoy elected Republicans)

Tomorrow afternoon is the city's Friday concert series opener, with the Rumors performing at a temporary venue formed by the closing of a section of Market Street (including the State Street intersection). The party runs from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The city's Live @ Five press release and video is here. The same venue will be used for the street party  on Friday, June 8. I am told that on the 15th, the scene will shift to a different downtown setting.

NABC is catering the beer for the event in conjunction with Wick's. We'll be setting up at the alley entrances to the 100 block of Market Street. Our Rosa L. Stumblebus draft truck will be vending these NABC beers: Black & Blue Grass, Naughty Girl 2012, Propagator Dopplebock and Yakima Rye IPA. It is reported that Wick's will be selling those beers quaintly referred to these days as "domestics."


It lies excruciatingly near.


If memory serves, the direct predecessor of Exclusively New Albany was a gathering at the Little Culbertson in 2008. This was followed by two events at Mayor England's home (2009, 2010), and last year's version downtown. For a fifth fete In 2012, the scene shifts to Dewey Heights, where former council time server Steve Price hoards his own stash ... of treasure.

I know little else about the format on June 14, which should come as a surprise to no one. For once, Li'l Stevie and the Publican can bond over joyful ignorance.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beer ecumenism at Art on the Parish Green.

It is likely that Art on the Parish Green is the only event you'll see in 2012 with sponsors including NABC, Rep. Ed Clere and Develop New Albany. You see, ecumenical thinking in the context of beer drinking is alive and well even when we disagree on every other point.

NABC has provided beer for Art on the Parish Green since its inception, as coordinated and usually vended by one of our longtime Grant Line employees, Tabbatha Elble. Good luck and healthy sales to St. Paul's this weekend.

Art on the Parish Green is this weekend in New Albany; Festival features fine arts, crafts, music and food, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — Crafts, art work and food as well as musical entertainment and local beer and wine are on tap this weekend for the annual Art on the Parish Green festival.

This marks the sixth year for the event, which will be Saturday and Sunday on the lawn of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located at 1015 E. Main St. in downtown New Albany.

Road diets: Abhorred from Indian Hills to Karolus Magnus.

In New Albany's case, resistance to a "road diet" for Spring Street must be coming from the "greater" public residing entirely outside town. Is there an Indian Hills in Clarksville?

Traffic jam: Brownsboro Road ‘diet’ pits the ‘greater public’ and their Ultimate Driving Machines against Blue Collar bikers, pedestrians


Run, pedestrian, run!








By Curtis Morrison, Louisville Courant
Progressive change, whether treating sewage or creating safe streets, does not come easily when the always petulant greater public is not getting its way.
Take for example the proposed “road diet” for Lower Brownsboro Road (closer to downtown), a plan to slow traffic by reducing the road to one lane each direction  from two lanes, with a center turn lane. The redesign would add a sidewalk, but commuters from the wealthy areas the road connects to downtown – including Windy Hills and Indian Hills – are less than thrilled.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Merchant Mixer this Thursday (May 31) at 5:30 p.m. at Strandz & Threadz.

From Dr. and Mrs. Peters ... and to those with whom I was speaking recently about Harvest Homecoming, and the increasingly quaint habit of the festival charging you for access to your own downtown business via a public sidewalk, it may just be the perfect meeting for you.

This is a reminder that there will be a Merchant Mixer this Thursday at 5:30 at Strandz & Threadz. One topic will be "Exclusively New Albany" on June 14. Another will be "First Tuesday" at "Sweet Stuff" and "Vintage Fire Museum" next Tuesday. Other items of interest can also be included.

Important reminder: Now is the time to turn in requests for Harvest Homecoming booth space so that you can get a site as close as possible to your place of business.

Where are "the purveyors of local and regional music"?

The obvious question: Where in Southern Indiana?

Looking for Local Music, by Sean Bailey (The Paper)

... As luck would have it, there are still a multitude of local shops that currently carry Louisville music. Some have increased their presence as purveyors of local and regional music, while others have only recently decided to venture into this sometimes tedious yet indispensable form of community advocacy, sharing the torch and carrying it on.

Another walkability study to read while driving.

While back in New Albany, we remain paralyzed at the terrifying prospect of sacrificing two minutes of automotive drive-through time by people who don't even live here.

Walkability drives Europe´s fastest growing housing market, by Alexander Ståhle [Post Car(d) Urbanism]

Stockholm is the fastest growing city in Western Europe. What then is so attractive here, except thriving businesses and a healthy environment? A recent big study shows that the housing market is basically driven by walkability.

NABC Bomber Blonde -- a League Stadium exclusive for 2012 Dubois County Bombers games.


At Potable CurmudgeonCraft beer at the ballpark in 2012: Dubois County Bombers and NABC.

NABC's one-man graphics department, otherwise known as Tony Beard, adapted our familiar 15-B "Vargas Girl" by dressing her in a slightly more family-friendly (not to mention baseball-centric) way for use as the mascot of Bomber Blonde. This newly formulated ale, which is representative of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) category 6B, is intended to offer a small-batch, craft-brewed alternative to mainstream lagers.

Bomber Blonde will be available only at League Stadium in Huntingburg for roughly 30 Bombers home games: From May 30 through playoffs in early August. Bomber Blonde is a fun experiment for NABC, and we think beer-drinking Bombers fans will like it. Also, the beer is something we can play with, available for purpose-brewing for similarly exclusive venues, i.e., the 2013 RiverRoots music festival in Madison, Indiana.

Monday, May 28, 2012

NABC on the Road, May 30 - June 5.

The old timers weren't joking when they said that summer begins after Memorial Day weekend, although I think they meant it was vacation time. It isn't so in the craft beer business. Every year is the same, and I feel it again: Knees and feet ache, I neglect to rehydrate with non-alcoholic water, and pretty soon it's October again.

Following are five places NABC will be in the next eight days.

---

Date: Beginning Wednesday, May 30
Event: Dubois County Bombers home games at League Park in Huntingburg, Indiana (through July)
Staff: Local crew. NABC staff will attend games when possible.
Beers: One tap rotating Beak’s Best/Tafel, and the new Bomber Blonde (available only at the ballpark) on the second tap.

Date: Friday, June 1
Event: Live @ 5, opener for the city of New Albany's weekly Friday evening street parties
Equipment: Rosa L. Stumblebus draft truck
Staff: Richard Atnip, Roger Baylor, Tony Beard
Beers: Black & Blue Grass, Naughty Girl 2012, Propagator Dopplebock, Yakima Rye IPA

Date: Saturday, June 2
Event: 7th Annual Keg Liquors Fest of Ale in Clarksville IN
Equipment: Rosa L. Stumblebus draft truck
Staff: Josh Hill and David Pierce
Beers: Black & Blue Grass, Naughty Girl 2012, Oaktimus, Propagator Dopplebock (Yakima Rye IPA in the Hop Tent)

Date: Saturday, June 2 and Sunday June 3
Event: Art on the Parish Green in New Albany; perhaps the only event you'll see in 2012 sponsored by NABC, Rep. Ed Clere and Develop New Albany ... see, ecumenical thinking is alive and well
Beers: The fest is vending pours of Tafel and Elector (tentative)

Date: Tuesday, June 5
Event: DNA First Tuesday at Sweet Stuff Bakery and the Vintage Fire Museum in New Albany
Beers: To be determined; Roger will be offering samples

In 2007 and 2008: The Muhammad Ali Center on Memorial Day.

Even if it means that by doing so, I risked forsaking my status as iconoclast? I can live with that. Just from idle curiosity, did Her Honor ever make a visit?

Thinking about Muhammad Ali and the Democrats on Memorial Day.

C'mon, who could turn down an afternoon at Louisville's Muhammad Ali Center?

Also: Muhammad Ali as Third-World Hero, by Gerald Early (Ideas, from the National Humanities Center)

Simple made complicated, yet again. Why?

"There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking."
-- Sir Joshua Reynolds

Scott Klink doesn't want to live in the past, and so he seeks an "act of Congress" as redress. But why the persistent amnesia as to the source of the funding imbalance, i.e., county government?

Board chair: Parks district best solution for New Albany and Floyd County; After veto of new agreement, Klink says district would guarantee funding, by Daniel Suddeath (Intrusive Pop Up and Roll Over Journal)

... According to the Gahan administration, the city paid about $4 million more to the parks department than the county since 2004. Under the terms of the contract, the city and county were to evenly fund the department based on population, which has been nearly equal over that span.

A better movie choice for Memorial Day?


You have to admire a trailer that doesn't give away the plot. It took me only three years to view Quentin Tarantino's "alternative" history of WWII in the European theater, and while it is by no means a classic, I appreciated a very strange ride.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

If you thought St. Daniels was a tolling atrocity, meet Mike Pence and his bridge fetish.

Growth for the sake of growth: The ideology of the cancer cell. Anyone heard what Mike Pence thinks about independent small business?

Pence talks bridges, jobs during Southern Indiana swing; Ellspermann joins Pence on tour after being announced as Lt. Gov. choice, by Daniel Suddeath (Pop Up Picayune)

NEW ALBANY — Defining the area as primed for growth, Indiana gubernatorial hopeful Mike Pence toured Southern Indiana Friday along with running mate Sue Ellspermann, who was announced Monday as the GOP lieutenant governor choice.

During a stop at the News and Tribune office in New Albany, Pence talked about economic development, educational advances and one of the region’s biggest issues — the Ohio River Bridges Project.

“I think everyone senses with the recent bridges agreement, the potential for extraordinary growth,” said Pence, a U.S. House member who is seeking to replace Gov. Mitch Daniels and retain the gubernatorial seat for the Republican Party.

When asked about the tolling aspect of the project — which as planned would entail the addition of downtown and east end bridges as well as the reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction — and concerns by some that Hoosiers will be paying more than Kentucky residents, Pence said Indiana has been leading the effort on the proposal.

“I support the bridges agreement and concept, and I support the process that’s under way,” he said.

Pence added “the full weight” of his administration would be behind implementing the project, though he didn’t specifically refer to tolling as a part of the plan.

"Carnage," a film not about bridge tolls.


Short and merciless: "As a psychiatrist friend once put it, small triggers, big explosions; human nature is incendiary and our behaviour is barely kept in check by social conventions." (Urban Cinefile)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Indiana’s Smoke Free Air Law goes into effect on July 1.

You're recall that the state's revolutionary smoking law is riddled with exceptions, exclusions and vivid testaments to endemic political cowardice, topics sufficient to provide hours of worthy discussion -- but the whole issue has come to bore me intensely. The long and the short of it remains: The legislature has decided that some employees are more worthy of workplace safety than others. So be it.

Aroused by legalese? Read the law in its thrilling entirety.

Dr. Tom, who seeks to "reduce some of the drama generated by the uninformed,"   provides the Health Department's point of view.



"I will be returning to work at this site when it has been made safe for children."

After a few days of confusion, perhaps the urban garden craziness is getting clearer. Keep New Albany Clean & Greens's Jerry Finn had this to say in a note to NAC:

"Michele (Finn) was taking the lead on the Urban Fusion garden, but community gardens have been an initiative of Keep New Albany Clean and Green since it was first incorporated in April of 2011. We will move forward with community garden plans, and look forward to the day that Michele is able to get re-involved."

Michele herself speaks in this mailing to her urban gardening group, reiterating what she'd written in blog comments and on the newspaper's web site.

---

Hi Garden Gang,

If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, here is the link for the Tribune article.

http://newsandtribune.com/floydcounty/x915988550/Organizers-say-lead-contamination-won-t-hinder-community-garden-in-New-Albany

I didn't get a chance to speak with Daniel before the article ran. He had tried to contact me, I had tried to call him back. It didn't work out.

The lead content is at a level of est. 393 ppm. Not safe for pregnant women and children range is from 300-999.

From UMASS EXT office~

*If estimated lead totals are above 300 ppm, young children and pregnant women should avoid contact with the soil. Estimated levels of lead above 2000 ppm are considered a concern for all users and may represent a hazardous waste station.

So it's at a level safe for adults, just not expecting adults or children where brain development is still in the works.

Jerry and I have been working together and documents will be provided regarding the procedures used to make this site completely family friendly. I believe that we will see positive results. I will be returning to work at this site when it has been made safe for children.

Greg Sekula plans to use the Emery's building painting as an education tool for the public. He plans on teaching ways of testing for lead and how to remove toxic paint safely once it has been found.

We are still looking at other garden sites in conjunction with this site. If you have any other questions, fire away. There are bumps with all projects and this is one is no exception.

We would love even more community involvement with this project!

If you have questions for Jerry or Greg their addresses are

jfinn@horseshoefoundation.org
GSekula@indianalandmarks.org

Thank you for your support!

Insert New Albany Bicentennial protest joke here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

One reason why the choice of River View retail tenants matters.


As noted yesterday ...


Are they protesting loudly?

Previously: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ... and Hauss Square.

Films, street parties, music ...

In the beginning, the Riverfront Amphitheater was judged to be too distant and large to justify weekly events, and what came to be known as Live@5 was designed as a modest street party to be placed at the Farmers Market.

Then, what was to be a simple TGIF gig steadily grew in emphasis and became Live@5, and now the Amphitheater will be used after all, for non-alcoholic films, thus isolating the boring teetotalers by the waterside.

I approve of this solution.

(My two cents: Flag-waving is trite, and a far better film for Memorial Day is "All Quiet on the Western Front," which can be watched here in its entirety. But you really need booze for that)

Also, it should be noted that for the inaugural Live@5 on Friday, June 1, NABC (craft beer) and Wick's (otherwise) will be vending adult beverages at stations located at the alley entrances to the closed section of Market Street.

This is possible owing to the existence of temporary and catering permits, which include detailed site plans, and typically must be submitted to the state ATC for approval no less than 15 days in advance. Given this fact, and if the city intends to have beer and wine at Live@5, it would be useful for whomever acquires the permits (NABC pulled the June 1 catering paper) to know where the events actually will take place. It is something the ATC insists on knowing, and it can be funny that way.

A final note: Many of us were vociferous critics of the England administration's insular effort to be entertainment arbiter and booking agent for the Amphitheater. By comparison, the Gahan administration now has doubled its skin in the showbiz game by booking both music and films, and at multiple locations in the city. The Green Mouse says that much of the impetus for the Gahan team's musical thrust comes from the Mom's Music/Maxwell/Crashers empire. Film choices are anyone's guess.

My point is this: Allowing for due time to see how these entertainment-related experiments play out, ultimately we are compelled to apply the same critical criteria to these decisions as those used during the England regime. One significant and welcomed change in 2012 is that the Amphitheater can be booked for use by entertainment entrepreneurs, and admission charged -- finally permitting a somewhat free market to operate.

Top Gun showing Saturday at the New Albany riverfront; First Live@5 show will be held at intersection of Market and State, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — In honor of Memorial Day, the city of New Albany will show the movie “Top Gun” on its new 40-foot screen at the Riverfront Amphitheater Saturday.

The movie will begin at dark, and the event is free to attend. There will be activities for kids, food vendors and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase ...

... On June 1, the Live@5 summer concert series will launch with a performance by The Rumors. The shows will begin each Friday at 5 p.m. at varying downtown venues through Aug. 31.

The Rumors will be performing on a stage that will be assembled at the intersection of Market and State streets next week. The intersection will be closed during the event, which is expected to last until about 8 p.m.

Succinct tips: "How to Not Kill a Cyclist."

The basic problem with comprehensive essays like this one is that the motorists most in need of instruction cannot or will not read -- unless, of course, they're reading essays like this one while they're driving.

How to Not Kill a Cyclist, by Matthew Baldwin (The Morning News)

I’m not a better driver than my friend—in fact, quite the opposite. But I am a cyclist, while he is not, and he appreciated knowing more about how we operate.

Alexis Tsipras warns Greek crisis is also Europe's

Maybe Henry Miller really did have an inkling about the Greeks. Maybe Americans will come to have an inkling about the Europeans. Maybe I've had too much to drink.

Alexis Tsipras warns Greek crisis is also Europe's; Greece's leftwing leader tells Paris audience that other EU countries will be next if they fail to oppose radical austerity drive, by Kim Willsher (guardian.co.uk)

 ... "We are here to explain to people in Europe that we have nothing against them. We are fighting the battle in Greece not just for the Greek people but for people in France, Germany and all European countries."

"I am not here to blackmail, I am here to mobilise," he said.

"Greece gave humanity democracy and today the Greek people will bring democracy back to Europe."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Urban Fusion and 707 Culbertson: Curiouser and curiouser.

(8:40 p.m. update: Michele Finn has provided clarification in two comments -- thanks for taking the time)

You may have read Urban Fusion lynchpin Michele Finn's words to her peeps, as reprinted here a week ago:

Urban Fusion update: Soil remediation necessary at 707 Culbertson.

 ... Some have stated that we can make 707 Culbertson Ave safe quickly. I personally will not accept a quick fix. According to the University of Massachusetts Lab levels of over 300 ppm are not safe for children or pregnant women. They would be at risk for lead poisoning. The current level is 393 ppm. My children will be with me all summer and we have gardener(s) that are expecting. Even if we made the back of the lot safe, the dirt mounds around the Emery's building and the lead paint on the building itself would contaminate our clean soil. Not to mention, where would the money come from to do so? Where would the money and efforts come from to fix the Emery's building? We have lost this season's planting window already. It's time keep looking.

Previously, NABC had donated to the community garden, and Michele phoned me over the weekend, reiterating that because the 707 Culbertson site was now off the table, I had the option to withdraw the contribution ... which I'd been told would be routed to her on behalf of Urban Fusion through Keep New Albany Clean and Green -- not that Clean and Green was running the Urban Fusion show.

Yesterday I asked her to send back the money, and I will redirect it to whatever project Michele comes up with. The point in all this? From the start, Urban Fusion seemed to be Michele's baby. Meanwhile, Daniel Suddeath's newspaper report today makes no mention of Michele at all.

So, who's the organizer, anyway -- and who's in charge?

Organizers say lead contamination won’t hinder community garden in New Albany; Levels were only slightly above trigger level, officials say

NEW ALBANY — Organizers said Wednesday they will proceed with a community garden despite lead contamination being discovered on the Culbertson Avenue site.

The amount of lead found in the soil at 707 Culbertson Ave. is only slightly more than what is considered an acceptable level and measures have already been taken to guard against exposure, Keep New Albany Clean and Green Vice President Jerry Finn said.

The organization is heading the effort to open the Urban Fusion Community Garden at the site, and recently the historic Emery’s Ice Cream Shop building was moved to the property to serve as a planting and canning education center.

ON THE AVENUES: Wichita, or maybe Targu Mures.

ON THE AVENUES: Wichita, or maybe Targu Mures.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Indiana’s euphemistically termed “Democratic” party has nominated John Gregg to seek the office of governor. As running mate, Gregg has chosen Vi Simpson, compelling the News and Tribune reporter to delineate:

Simpson has been a defender of abortion rights, while Gregg has been noted for his anti-abortion stance.
Not only that, but Gregg has made public his opposition to equal marriage rights in Indiana, thus placing him in opposition to the incumbent President from his very own party.

Whether any of this will help him garner support from Indiana Mouth Breathers for Pence has yet to be seen, although it seems highly unlikely. That it will abjectly disillusion leftists like me is fairly obvious, and so be it; I’m hardly a party stalwart.

This week’s column is a repeat. Originally it appeared in the newspaper in January, 2010. I’ve rewritten the first paragraph to reflect the outcome of the Roeder trial. Otherwise, it has not been edited.


---

In January, 2010, Scott Roeder went on trial in Wichita, Kansas and was convicted of murdering Dr. George Tiller during a church service in May, 2009. Roeder methodically stalked and killed Tiller because the doctor was an “abortionist” – just like John Irving’s fictional Dr. Wilbur Larch in Cider House Rules, although Tiller’s life ended somewhat more suddenly, and far less whimsically, than Larch’s.

When I hear the word “abortion,” I think about the dingy gray apartment blocks in Bucharest, capital of Romania. It is probable that few readers will have the same reaction, so kindly permit me to explain.

Romania’s 20th-century history was decidedly turbulent. Its pro-fascist leaders entered the Second World War on the German side, mimicking their Nazi overlords by expelling, and later savagely murdering, native Jewish and Gypsy populations. Romania volunteered troops for the German invasion of the Soviet Union, but when the fortunes of war reversed, the country lay squarely in the path of the Communist military steamroller as it drove westward.

The Kremlin fiddled, and Romania danced. As a Soviet client state during the decades that followed, Romania’s socioeconomic ideology mirrored that of the USSR’s. Consumer goods were not a priority, and contraceptives generally could not be obtained. However, as in the Soviet Union, abortion was perfectly legal, readily available and absurdly cheap. Some estimates suggest that there were four abortions for every live birth in Romania by the year 1966.

Meanwhile, by the mid-1960’s, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had consolidated power, embarking upon a quarter-century reign of thuggish oppression, personal megalomania and sheer doltishness noteworthy even by rock-bottom Warsaw Pact standards.

Accordingly, Ceausescu decreed abortion illegal in 1967, a change that occurred over night, without warning. Apparently the self-described “Genius of the Carpathians” had determined that Romania’s population needed to be increased, and a ban on both contraceptives and abortion would help achieve his aim – not that any thought had been given on feeding the extra mouths, or how they would be educated and employed, or where they would live.

Ceausescu’s abortion ban had the abrupt, short term effect of doubling the birth rate, but this spike was not accompanied by commensurate gains in material living standards. Romanians managed to adapt, and a steady decline in births commenced, to the point that some twenty years later, the country’s population had ceased to grow at all.

Black market contraceptives were one factor in the birth rate’s fall. Another development was more lethal in its effect, because the only Romanian population statistic that steadily increased during the years following the anti-abortion decree of 1967 was the country’s maternal mortality rate, which cruelly tripled. The likeliest explanation is that those women dying from the effects of botched, illegal abortions were included with statistics documenting those who had died during childbirth.

Until Ceausescu’s long overdue toppling and immediate execution in 1989, the Romanian governmental bureaucracy actively intervened in the sex lives of the country’s citizens, sating the dictator’s psychotic desire that greater numbers of New Communist men and women be created to man the steadily decaying ramparts of a collapsing society. Ceausescu’s motivation was purely secular, although it just as easily might have been religious. Either way, the effects would have been just as damning.

“Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days,” available through Netflix, is a harrowing and compelling Romanian film that tells the story of a university student’s illegal abortion in the year 1987. It is reality at its grittiest, and not an easy movie to watch. There are no flatulence jokes, car crashes, gun battles, transformers or “Sex in the City” romantic escapism.

I shan’t reveal the plot, which is eloquent in its simplicity, but it bears repeating that the film’s action takes place against a stifling backdrop of sanctioned, stifling fanaticism, in this instance big government’s punitive intrusion into the lives of ordinary people. In 1987, as for twenty years before, all parties involved in transacting an illegal abortion faced lengthy jail terms if caught. In addition to the threat of maiming and even death, a Romanian woman who in the enforced absence of legal contraceptives sought to terminate a pregnancy could be imprisoned and her career – her very life – irreparably ruined.

There may be little outside of cynical Cold War politics and a certain dollop of regional backwardness to justify the dismal record of tin pots like Nicolae Ceausescu, and yet there exists a minority among us, right here in America, some resplendent in their gated communities, others with no worldly possessions, but irrespective of station, possessed of a fervent belief that leaden control must be exercised over the individual’s reproductive freedom.

If asked, at least some among this minority would advocate the imposition in America of the semi-literate Romanian strongman’s solution: A complete ban on abortion, and whatever expansion of a police state is necessary to universally enforce it.

There are still others – a tiny handful, perhaps including the convicted murderer Scott Roeder – advancing purely terroristic violence as a means of curbing a practice that they decry in precisely the same terms, which may be an eye for an eye, but makes little sense from the “prince of peace” religious standpoint in Christianity. That’s enduringly frightening to me.

Speaking only for myself, no single issue better illustrates the struggle for equality on the part of fully half the world’s population than the right of reproductive choice for women. While a woman’s freedom to choose the option of abortion may well represent the extreme component of reproductive choice, one surely capable of being reduced in frequency with continued education and access to contraception, a clear majority of Americans believe that it should remain just such a legalized, regulated, and defined option.

What happened in Romania (for that matter, in Kansas) should not happen in America.

Should it?

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ... and Hauss Square.


Did you know that $20,000 is .000465116279% of $43 million?

Skin tight, Kevin. Skin tight.


River View gets a new option; Deal would extend to 2014, requires $20K and signs of progress at site, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

... New Albany City Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede, who is also on the redevelopment commission, said he’s voiced concerns in recent months that Mainland Properties and its head, Jack Bobo, should put “more skin into the game” in order to retain the option on the real estate.

“It sounds like the developer has heard those concerns, and is willing to step up to the plate,” Zurschmiede said.

Bobo was present with other members of the Mainland Properties team to provide the commission with an update on the estimated $43 million project, and agreed to the terms set forth by Zurschmiede and the commission.

Finland.



"The Fenni live in astonishing barbarism and disgusting misery: no arms, no horses, no household; wild plants for their food, skins for their clothing, the ground for their beds."
Tacitus (c. 55-120) Germania

Society: The only way is Finland, by Tim Walker (The Independent)

America may once have been the Land of Opportunity, but thanks to its rising levels of inequality – not to mention the nightmarish visa restrictions – our political class now has another destination in mind. "If you want the American Dream," Ed Miliband says, "go to Finland." This week, the Labour leader told a conference on social mobility that "if you are born poor in a more equal society like Finland, Norway or Denmark, then you have a better chance of moving into a good job than if you are born poor in the United States".

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

21st Century Schizoid Man.

Let me see if I understand this probable doomsday scenario: The woman with the real Democratic credentials, whom I'd happily vote for, is stuck on the under card. She's yielding her Indiana Senate seat to play second fiddle to the male nominee, who already was significantly wrong on at least three major issues before the primary even was held.

Robert Fripp was right: "Politicians' funeral pyre," indeed.

Given that Gregg now appears to be a Ted Heavrin-style Democrat, at least we don't have Larry McAllister running for Lieutenant Governor. Thank Allah for small favors.

Gregg picks Simpson for Democratic ticket, by Tom LoBianco (Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg is reaching out to his party's base with his pick for lieutenant governor.

Gregg tapped Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson as his running mate Tuesday. Simpson is giving up the Bloomington Senate seat she's held since 1984 to run with Gregg.

The addition of Simpson, an abortion rights supporter, to the Democratic ticket should shore up support for Gregg among liberal Democrats. It could also open up the wallets of Democratic donors turned off by Gregg's anti-abortion stance and opposition to same-sex marriage.

Bob Caesar's commute is about to get easier.


We at NAC advocate that the road on Spring Street hill should be tolled in perpetuity to help finance repairs. No matter that it is an existing piece of infrastructure. Also, bicycles and walkers should be able to avoid tolling by traveling under their own power, which is a wonderful cardiovascular statement.

Only in this way will those laboring under CM CeeSaw's pre-conceived notions even begin to understand the implications of matters ranging from bridge tolls to personal fitness.

On the other hand, when perception is purely optional ... well, never mind. He'll never, ever get it, will he?

Spring Street Hill Road repair to begin around June 1, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — Since last November, a plan to repair and reopen Spring Street Hill Road has been on hold.

On Tuesday, the New Albany Board of Works and Public Safety gave final approval to proceed with the project, as work is expected to begin around June 1 on the road that connects the city’s West End with Silver Hills ...

... Councilman Bob Caesar, who sponsored the council measure and is a Silver Hills resident, said the reopening of Spring Street Hill road will be a “big deal” for the community.

“We just wanted to make sure this was done once and done right,” he said ...

... City officials firmly stated their intentions to install and enforce vehicle weight limits for Spring Street Hill Road.

“I’d even recommend a camera on that hill to keep heavy trucks off of the hill,” Caesar said.

Ohio River Bridges: Centuries of transportation perspective.

Due to rising fuel prices and other costs, TARC is having budget issues again. Routes are threatened and fare increases have been deemed necessary. Hoosiers are trapped again as our state is a minor player owing to its paltry contributions.

Indiana provides TARC approximately $1.2 million (less than 2% of its total budget) annually for transit service in the Hoosier state. TARC typically subsidizes the remaining costs of the service from other funds.

If Indiana doubled its commitment to $2.4 million per year and then agreed to set aside an amount equal to its share of the Ohio River Bridges Project to pay for it, the doubled TARC obligation would be covered in full for more than 500 years.

If Indiana only set aside what it has agreed to pay for the Drumanard tunnel and East End approach in Kentucky, it would cover the doubling of TARC funding for more than 300 years.

Likewise, if Indiana provided 10 times as much transit funding annually, the Bridges amount would cover its TARC obligation for over 100 years. The tunnel and eastern approach amount alone would cover over 60 years.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Life's too short to dance with ugly men."

That's what a friend of mine's bumper sticker used to say. It's too short to vote for them, too.

Only in Indiana could a matter of conscience turn your electoral attention toward a reality TV refugee.

Flying in the face of the national trend in favor of same-sex marriage, Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg announced his support of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions on the same day President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. Gregg's Republican opponent, far-right Congressman Mike Pence, also supports the discriminatory amendment. Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham, the former Survivor reality show star, has already announced his support of full marriage equality for all Hoosiers.

Remediation at 707 Culbertson: "Alluvial soil + 200 years of industry = polluted sludge."

Here is what I've gleaned from weekend conversations, as previously discussed here: Urban Fusion update: Soil remediation necessary at 707 Culbertson.

Apparently Michele Finn will be pulling the Urban Fusion Community garden from its projected home at 707 Culbertson and looking elsewhere for a site.

At the same time, Keep New Albany Clean and Green will proceed with remediation (leads, toxins) at the original site.

Last week, NAC reader Gina had an excellent comment on this remediation work, which is applicable whether Urban Fusion remains there or not.

I think this is a great opportunity to raise residents' consciousness about the alluvial soil we live on. It's the perfect Bicentennial project, too.

Q: How do you restore soil that has been contaminated by 200 years of industry to a quality that food could be produced from?

This is a real world challenge, one each of us who owns an urban yard should think about. Alluvial soil + 200 years of industry = polluted sludge, probably two feet thick under our feet. Yum! Do you want to eat tomatoes grown in arsenic and lead? There are also many strong electro-magnetic fields that affect gardens and trees in New Albany.

I say: Let's keep going with Fusion Garden at Culbertson, and have the Phase I part be about REMEDIATION of toxins. What great knowledge to spread; the whole city is a toxic waste dump. Our goal should be actual native life-forms in the Falling Run creek as we clean the upstream watershed.

We have been "abating" our property at Main & 7th for five years now, and we are just getting to wormy good soil, although I still won't eat out of it. But bees and birds and bunnies are back, and this is a good sign.

Again, I think the city has a challenge we shouldn't miss to show how far forward, over time, a city lot can go with the right organic processes.

Calendar check: New Albany Public Art Walk is Sat., June 23.


Stay tuned for more. 

New Albany Public Art Walk

Join us for the official celebration for the 2012 New Albany Public Art Project: Bicentennial Series, with a Public Art Walk featuring the Project artists, on Saturday June 23, 2012 from 6:00-9:00 pm (rain date June 30). After starting at the Carnegie Center, visitors can drop in at the six artworks between 6:00-9:00 pm to speak with the artists and learn more about the project themes. The 2012 themes are: Parks & Recreation, Neighborhoods & Architecture, and Education. A walking tour booklet for the 2012 Public Art Project, which includes a map of the 2011 and 2012 installations, and information about the 2012 artists and historical themes, will be available at the Carnegie Center and at the sites.

During the Art Walk, participants can make their own three-color screenprinted poster designed by Ron Jasin of Madpixel Art and Design and facilitated by local artists and volunteers. Live music will begin on Bank Street at 7:00 pm, featuring Ten Penny Nail, and the Midnight Hour Sound System. For more information visit www.napublicart.org and www.facebook.com/napublicart, or call 812-944-7336.

Monday, May 21, 2012

We wouldn't want visitors to see the problems behind the Potemkin village.


Why this obsession with appearance, as opposed to genuine substance?

I can support beautification -- really, I can -- but can we also get Clean and Green's money, time and input into complete streets, two-way street conversions and traffic calming?

Wouldn't these measures impact the lives of residents in a way far greater than greeting signs? And isn't it supposed to be about the people living here?

New sign for New Albany's Spring Street entrance still in the works; City may request public input, Stumler said it’s time to get it done, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — Sprucing up the gateway — at least the public portion of the segment — into New Albany from Clarksville via Spring Street has been on Irv Stumler’s mind for three years.

“It’s an awful way for people to make judgments of New Albany,” said Stumler, who is the president of the nonprofit Keep New Albany Clean and Green.

“We need to put on a better face for people who come into New Albany” ...

... The entrance into New Albany from Clarksville is a concern to the administration, but it’s public property so providing residents the opportunity to suggest ideas on upgrading it would only be fair instead of limiting it to one person or organization, Gahan said.

Indiana University Southeast Distinguished Alumni award goes to Jerry Finn.

Darn ... I lost out again; that's 29 straight times.

On the other hand, there's the old Groucho Marx line: "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member".

Jerry Finn wins distinguished alumni award; IU Southeast recognizes Horseshoe director for work with youth, philanthropy, by Jerod Clapp (N and T)

... Finn said he was overwhelmed to learn he won the award, noting he didn’t feel like he had done anything beyond what others are called to do, but he’s glad to find ways to make a difference in the lives of young people.

“Old folks like me are already set in our ways, but young people have such a passion and idealism about them,” Finn said. “They’re at a point in their life where they feel like they can take on any issue and make a difference. Anything we can do as a community to harness that energy and passion is beneficial to everyone.”

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Too many cooks spoil the broth?

How disappointing that Average Josef can't get "purgatory" right.

Spell check, Mein Führer.

Craig application over siding again denied in New Albany; Preservation commission’s first decision was upheld by court of appeals, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — A retroactive request to allow vinyl siding to be used to replace the original wood material of the house that quarters Bradford Realty was denied by the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission this week.

It was the second time the commission rejected Bradford Realty owner Ron Craig’s petition for a Certificate of Appropriateness — or COA — for the installation of vinyl siding, and the previous decision was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals in March.

A thought for the day.


After all, the largest American-owned brewery is Yuengling.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Matt and Amy are tying the knot today.

We're happy for them, and grateful to know them. Congratulations on your momentous day, and best wishes always.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Separate but equal but not really (wink, wink).

The City of New Albany has recently spent an amount on Spring Street Hill Road nearly double the state's total $1.2 million annual TARC outlay to fund transit in the whole of Southern Indiana.

That poorly located, two-fifths mile of engineering accident serving a very limited but very specific population was deemed a high priority necessity for all the goofy reasons Bob "adverse and disproportionate are good, right?" Caesar and a handful of well placed others could muster.

But cut multiple bus routes on which other parts of the city depend for work, groceries, trips to the doctor, etc.? Shucks and shrugs all around. Sorry about your luck.

Given that we're about to spend another million or so on Governor's Balls and the like patting ourselves on the back for 200 years of ongoing something or other, isn't it about time we address the blatant, class-based attitudes that fuel our politics as much now as they did when Washington C. DePauw owned our government?

City council: It isn't our area. Yes it is. Well, maybe. Someone ask Kerry Stemler what we should do, okay?

"Symbolism doesn't count? Tell that to Rosa Parks."
-- IAmHoosier, at Twitter

As usual, expecting consistency of thought from New Albany's city council is tantamount to believing the Cubs will win the World Series, or that Lucy won't yank back the football at the last second, leaving Charlie Brown (and the city) in the mud.

Last fall, Dan Coffey became an overnight paragon of localism, suggesting that two-way street conversions begin immediately so as to offset the traffic complications of the Sherman Minton closure. Now, he denounces sound barriers on grounds of them costing too much for a project he ostensibly opposes. Contrast Coffey's somersault with fellow westender Shirley Baird's principled grasp of the tolling paradigm.

Meanwhile, as ever hoodwinked by his desperate need to be seen frolicking at the respectable adults' cafeteria table, Bob Caesar claims to grasp tolling's toll, but nonetheless suckles at Kerry Stemler's teat to advocate finishing something, anything, however monstrous, and in spite of how adverse or costly it is. Caesar is able and eager to "lead" by calculating future property taxes to the last digit in order to defeat a bid to redevelop a rotting building a block away from his shop, and cares not at all to do the math on the Ohio River Bridges Project's fifty-year drain.

Also inexplicable is Scott Blair's bizarrely jesuitical position: The ORBP is not the council's brief to address, and yet he addresses it nonetheless, by voting "no." Wasn't this instance precisely one befitting the classic abstention? Note that Blair said it was not the council's place, but simultaneously, still took a side on the resolution.

One thing's for sure. This council now has openly opted for One Southern Indiana's "if tolling rape is inevitable, pass the lube" party line, and accordingly, it's now time for everyone in town to press the council as to how it intends to address our streets in preparation for the onslaught of diverted traffic. Are we to enhance our reputation as a drive-through ramp to elsewhere, or commence ordering the grid for the benefit of those actually living and investing here?

Ah, but forgive me for jumping the gun.

First and foremost, might this council attempt a definition as to what actually IS its proper bailiwick in the life of the city?

New Albany City Council defeats bridges resolution; Measure called for sound barriers in New Albany, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

Urban Fusion update: Soil remediation necessary at 707 Culbertson.

(Submitted by Michele Finn. Let's hope there is a solution at hand)

---

Agenda we covered for May 9th Meeting

Opening garden update.

Accomplishments since our last February meeting are as follows.

We have located a garden site which Indiana Landmarks has provided.

We pursued our own 501c and were offered services by Brandon Smith of Faith Ingle Smith.

During that time Keep New Albany Clean and Green offered for us to work under their status and will help us with insurance for the first year. This will save us close to $900, which is the approximate cost of the non profit status and also will help with the need of insurance.

Christina Pfau has provided us with a wonderful garden rendition.

Nathan Fessel has provided us with two great logo choices.

We have priced cedar raised beds already made at a cost of around $170 and decided we could probably save a lot of money building them ourselves. We have contacted New Albany's PC Lumber and they are offering us lumber at cost!

Dan Cristiani from Earth First donated a tri axel of rich top soil for the back of the garden site.

Jerry Finn & Mark Seabrook donated equipment to be used and Irv Stumler leveled the garden area.

Mark Seabrook, Kevin Zurschmiede & Irv Stumler worked to take down black walnut tree that was covering the back of the lot. Black walnuts are very toxic to almost all plants and the tree was damaged.

Eco Tech provided the dumpster for the tree removal.

The Emery's building has been moved to the site.

We received the test results from the soil samples. It took five weeks to get them back.

Because of the results, elevated levels of lead in the soil, we will have to remediate the site to make it safe for everyone. We are not experts in this dept. Precautions such as fabric barriers, raised beds, heavy mulch can be applied.

What should we do?

All of this work has been done with in kind donations.

We can use our best efforts to make it safe but the Emery's building will have to be scraped following a proper procedure and painted with lead incapsulating paint before we can move forward with making the site safe.

We must take a pause and see if we can make a summer or fall garden.

* Since the meeting several of you have emailed or called me all with the same thought. As one of you put it, we have put all of our eggs in one basket. I've also had some of you call and tell me we need a garden at a safer location. I'll be honest, this site is the only one that was offered in the midtown/downtown area. The only other proposed location is at Northside Christian Church. I haven't spoken to them recently but I hope their garden operation if going smoothly! The original idea was for an urban garden to set an example in the city and have it accessible by walking or bike riding. All garden members are welcome to search for another garden site so that the Urban Fusion Community Garden can start planting as soon as possible.

Some have stated that we can make 707 Culbertson Ave safe quickly. I personally will not accept a quick fix. According to the University of Massachusetts Lab levels of over 300 ppm are not safe for children or pregnant women. They would be at risk for lead poisoning. The current level is 393 ppm. My children will be with me all summer and we have gardener(s) that are expecting. Even if we made the back of the lot safe, the dirt mounds around the Emery's building and the lead paint on the building itself would contaminate our clean soil. Not to mention, where would the money come from to do so? Where would the money and efforts come from to fix the Emery's building? We have lost this season's planting window already. It's time keep looking.

The turn around time for soil test results is two weeks. If you know of a sight that might work, go ahead and take a sample. I'll attach a link on how to do so.

Click on Routine for Home Gardens

Keep your thumbs green! We have come very far since November and we will make Community Gardens a reality in New Albany!

Michele Finn, UFCG

Thursday, May 17, 2012

News and Tribune reports: NA council votes no to anti-tolling resolution.

Dan Coffey, Bob Caesar, Diane Benedetti, Scott Blair and Kevin Zurschmiede voted no. Shall we interpret this vote as an obedient toeing of the One Southern Indiana party line -- in effect, a vote in favor of bridge tolls, in favor of a downtown bridge, and in favor of New Albany as a victim of traffic diversion chaos?

Or, did the objections arise from procedural grounds, i.e., that it isn't the elected council's place to consider such issues? If you were there, or if you're on of them, we'd love to hear the reasoning.

"Yes" votes came from Greg Phipps, Pat McLaughlin, Shirley Baird and the resolution's sponsor, John Gonder. Thanks to all four for looking past the Stemlerisms to the genuine interests of New Albany.

"Then Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear changed it, so obviously that was a lie."

Only days after a (higher ranking) editor at the very same newspaper advised readers that if (bridge tolls) rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it, ostensibly because it's less troublesome to throw in the towel than offer due diligence, the copy editor Reschke offers one of the finest opinion pieces in recent 'Bama Getaway memory.

Promote this man immediately. He gets it.

RESCHKE: My Amazing Ohio River Bridges Project Plan, by Michael Reschke

I think the Ohio River Bridges project, as it currently stands, is a bad idea. So I devised my own plan, which is as follows. Please, hold your applause until the end ...

... I’m going to keep my job as a lowly journalist, so there’s not much I can do to stop the tolls, but I support every effort to prevent tolls and to build an east-end bridge first, no matter how futile they may be.

ON THE AVENUES: It no longer keeps me waiting.

ON THE AVENUES: It no longer keeps me waiting.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

At some point around 1970, when I was ten years old, family finances were at last sufficient to purchase a subscription to the recognized Bible of athletic endeavors in America, and the weekly arrival of The Sporting News to our home in Georgetown, as facilitated by that quaintly geriatric institution known as the US Mail, was a cause for great joy.

It also signified a certain rite of passage, although the rite’s precise definition proved to be a matter of mild dispute. While my father generally would leaf through an issue, he surely was hoping The Sporting News would inspire me to spend more time practicing baseball and basketball, so as to achieve his cherished goal of me growing into a ballplayer.

As usual, we were on divergent paths. What quickly came to interest me as much as the games and athletes therein was the publication itself, the way The Sporting News was organized into recurring coverage and special features. Moreover, I was drawn to the regular columnists, who had their own distinct styles.

Unless one of these writers happened to be interviewed on the NBC Game of the Week (that’s right, the solitary baseball game shown on television every seventh day), I had no idea how they spoke, but owing to the way their written words were conveyed, distinctive vocal inflections and regional accents might yet be perceived. The New York writers sounded exactly as one might imagine, as did the fellow from Alabama.

Most importantly, The Sporting News was just about the only way for sports fans living in the hinterlands to comprehensively follow America’s major league teams, which amounted to baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey, in order of my personal interest at the time. Sports Illustrated? Too many photos, and too few statistics.

The two (that’s right, two) Louisville newspapers covered the Cincinnati Reds on a daily basis during the season, and provided random highlights from elsewhere in baseball, but where else to read the beat writers, review the box scores and scan updated statistics than The Sporting News?

In addition, the invaluable presence of The Sporting News helped me transcend the limited boundaries of my upbringing and arrive at one of the single most telling decisions any boy of the era was compelled to make.

What’s your favorite baseball team, eh?

---

In elementary school, all my friends cheered for teams from the senior circuit, otherwise known as the National League. It was purely geographical, with the nearby Reds ranking first in allegiance, along with a sprinkling of St. Louis Cardinals fans.

The American League was an under-valued stock, ripe for the plucking, and perfect to capture a fledgling contrarian’s attention. Owing to family ties in Detroit – and especially after his idol Ted Williams retired from the Red Sox – my father was a Tigers fan of sorts. I resolved to follow suit, and to choose my team from the “other” league. With the assistance of The Sporting News, considerations commenced.

The damned Yankees could be ruled out from the start. I admired the traditions of teams like the Red Sox, Orioles, Senators, White Sox, Indians and Tigers, but overall, they seemed too stodgy and old-school. What on earth was a Twin, if not a truncated Twinkie? The expansion Kansas City Royals made my short list, and the Milwaukee Brewers (formerly Seattle Pilots) surely would have been a finalist a bit later in life ... but in the 4th grade, even I hadn’t started drinking (yet).

My gaze extended to the West Coast. Heretical even then, the name Angels did not excite me; had it been the Devils, we may have been in business. This left the Oakland as the final team to be scrutinized, and the advantages of the Athletics soon became apparent.

American League, not National League.
As far away from Indiana as a team could be.
Long and noble history as a franchise, first in Philadelphia, then Kansas City.
An outspoken, lunatic owner in Charlie Finley.
Players clad in green and gold – fashionable, and also the colors of Floyd Central High School, which I’d be attending.

The A’s became my team, and Reggie Jackson my favorite player. Unbeknownst to me, the A’s also were about to become quite good, winning five divisional titles in a row from 1971-1975, and three consecutive World Series crowns in 1972, 1973 and 1974. The players grew outlandish mustaches and beards during this period and wore white shoes, all of which outraged the older generation, endearing the team to me even more strongly.

By my reckoning, 2012 is my 43rd year of being an A’s fan. The team may soon be located in San Jose, but I reckon on remaining in harness. By now, it’s a family tradition.

---

In those earliest days, The Sporting News was my vital link to the Oakland A’s. It served as a weekly summary of the team’s season, because otherwise, virtual blackout conditions prevailed. Games played in California missed the morning Courier-Journal’s deadline, and might be in the afternoon edition of the Louisville Times. If neither, I’d be two days behind on scores. The three local commercial television channels might read American League scores if time allowed; presumably, a coin was flipped to determine the decision.

If the A’s played in Chicago or Detroit, game snippets could be overheard on the 50,000 watt AM radio stations, at least until overtaken by sleep or static. By 1978, the AM station in Jeffersonville had a phone number to call for tape-recorded results, and it was the most timely link ever.

A few years after that, there was cable television, but only in the city at first. When the Loma Prieta earthquake brought the 1989 World Series to a halt, I was in Ireland. It took ten days for the series (won by the A's over the San Francisco Giants in a sweep) to resume, and by that time, I'd transitioned to Spain, eventually catching up on events with the help of the International Herald Tribune newspaper.

These days, I begin most mornings with a glance at the headlines from the New York Times and BBC World Service, and then proceed to ESPN for scores – all by means of apps on my iPhone. In mere seconds, it is finished, verifying that the catsup advertisements and Carly Simon turn out to have been wrong: Anticipation, at least in the sporting sense, no longer exists.

Does The Sporting News have an app?

The Uptown New Albany Bourbon Stroll is Friday, May 18.

The rescheduled Uptown New Albany Bourbon Stroll takes place tomorrow (Friday evening, May 18), as situated in businesses along the Vincennes Street commercial corridor. That's the area in New Albany we call Uptown, and all the information about the stroll itself is at Facebook:

Uptown New Albany Bourbon Stroll

Are complete streets an effective defense against negative Bridges impacts in New Albany? The feds seem to think so.


In urging New Albany's Common Council to join Jeffersonville and Clarksville in passing a no tolls, East End Bridge focused resolution, the New Albanian yesterday alluded to the long-term, negative impacts a toll financed Bridges Project would bring to the city, saying "... it is imperative for New Albany to take back the city's streets now, with a plan for two-way traffic, traffic calming and 'complete streets', before our avenues become a de facto grid of on-ramps for pass-through traffic." The City's best defense against the unwanted, toll-based behemoth beyond project related activism is a proactive approach to improving the streets over which we have more direct control.

His comment is mirrored by the Federal Highway Administration as part of the Bridges Project's Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement. The FHWA not only suggests an increase in mass transit to offset the public burden of the Bridges, but refers to New Albany two-way street reclamation and other traffic calming measures as a means to mitigate negative impacts as well. The relevant bit is shared below, emphasis mine:


The City of New Albany developed the New Albany Inner-City Grid Transportation Study (NAIGTS) in 2007 to identify solutions to make transportation in downtown New Albany safer and more pedestrian friendly. Because of its location and proximity to I-64, New Albany experiences a notable amount of “cut through” traffic. New Albany’s streets, particularly Spring Street and Elm Street provide connections to I-64 for motorists in Harrison County, Clarksville, and Jeffersonville. This study sought strategies to manage traffic in the downtown area to improve efficiency, safety, pedestrian use, and the quality of life of city residents.  The goal of the Study was to examine traffic calming solutions that would create a more pedestrian friendly downtown area. Speed was the primary concern in regards to safety issues for those living and working in the downtown area, as opposed to traffic congestion. The majority of respondents indicated that the conversion of the one-way street system to a two-way system would be a desired to improve traffic movements and reduce travel speeds.  

The traffic calming solutions examined include changes in street alignment and installation of other physical barriers to reduce traffic speeds and/or cut through volumes in the interest of safety, livability and other public purposes.  Traffic calming techniques include the use of speed tables, raised intersections, traffic circles, and travel lane width reductions to slow travel speeds, and increase the safety of pedestrians while providing an increased quality of downtown livability. The study noted that increased pedestrian foot traffic as a result of increased safety could have effects resulting in increased economic viability of the downtown area and overall community cohesion.     
  
In relation to the LSIORB Project, these types of traffic calming measures could reduce the desirability of using these roadways to avoid the tolled I-65 bridges. The implementation of speed reduction techniques on these urban roadways may increase travel times to the extent that traffic would not seek these roadways as alternatives to the Modified Selected Alternative.  

Buy Local 1st Fair at the Water Tower on Sunday, May 20.


Completing NABC's trifecta of events on the third weekend in May, 2012, is the fourth edition of the Buy Local First Fair, a celebration of local artisans and businesses, on Sunday, May 20.

Kentuckiana craft brewers will be on hand, although at this precise moment, I'm unsure which ones will be pouring apart from NABC. Here's the lowdown.

Buy Local First Fair

Sponsors: Louisville Independent Business Alliance, Grasshoppers Distributing and the Louisville Visual Art Association

When: Sunday, May 20, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Where: The Water Tower, 3005 River Road in Louisville KY

More information: rebecca(at)keeplouisvilleweird(dot)com

Description: The Buy Local First Fair, a celebration of locally owned/operated boutiques/shops, galleries, restaurants, breweries and much more. There will be farmers market booths, local art, handmade treasures, a variety of delicious food, live music, "Top Chef" competition, a kids area, craft beer and raffle. Please note: Pets are not allowed at the event.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bicentennial Commission: The budget, the bank account, the Horseshoe Grant, and what's in store for Bicentennial Park.

(courtesy of the city council's agenda packet ... newspaper coverage is here)












ORBP tolling resolution: Contact your city councilperson, please.

I seldom do this, but let's try something different. As reported here (with a link to the original News and Tribune article), New Albany's city council will be considering a non-binding resolution at its Thursday evening meeting.

Below are the council members and their contact information. It would be a good time for blog readers to contact your councilpersons and express support for the resolution. Here are three bullet points why, although other reasons apply:


  • Adverse economic impact on those least able to afford it.
  • Adverse economic impact on independent small business, threatening the one sector arguably responsible for NA's recent turn-around.
  • "Negative impact on traffic flow" in New Albany, something far less considered, but perhaps more important for New Albany's future than anything else. 


From Daniel Suddeath's newspaper piece:

The resolution differs from the Jeffersonville measure in that it suggests that if the bridges project is approved with tolling, that sound barriers be installed along Interstate 64 and I-265 in New Albany.

The reason being is that the Sherman Minton Bridge is unlikely to be tolled for at least the initial phase of the project, which includes the addition of the downtown and east-end bridges as well as the reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction, (John) Gonder said. Thus, more traffic would likely be diverted on the Indiana side to New Albany as motorists would look to avoid tolls required to cross the Ohio River in Clark County, he continued.

Such a pattern would have a “negative impact on traffic flow throughout the city,” Gonder said. He added the sound barriers would be needed to restrict noise pollution in the city due to the additional traffic.

This final consideration is the one I've been emphasizing when contacting councilpersons, while concurrently urging that irrespective of what happens with the Ohio River Bridges Project, it is imperative for New Albany to take back the city's streets now, with a plan for two-way traffic, traffic calming and "complete streets", before our avenues become a de facto grid of on-ramps for pass-through traffic. It's hard to imagine a more worthy program of work for the Bicentennial.

Please consider a phone call or e-mail to your representatives.

City Council

At-Large - Shirley Baird
3202 Plaza Drive Apt. 99
(812) 725-7527, sbaird@cityofnewalbany.com
At-Large - John Gonder
602 Captain Frank Rd.
(812) 944-3121, jgonder@cityofnewalbany.com
At-Large - Kevin Zurschmiede (Current Vice-President)
1636 Slate Run Road
(812) 945-7827, kzurschmiede@cityofnewalbany.com
1st District - Dan Coffey
425 West Seventh Street
(812) 949-1262, dcoffey@cityofnewalbany.com
2nd District - Robert Caesar
614 Camp Ave.
(812) 945-8744, rcaesar@cityofnewalbany.com
3rd District - Greg Phipps
1105 E Spring Street
(812) 949-8317, gphipps@cityofnewalbany.com
4th District - Patrick McLaughlin
1739 Florence Ave.
(812) 949-9140, pmclaughlin@cityofnewalbany.com
5th District - Diane Benedetti (Current President)
1343 Slate Run Rd
(812) 945-6240, dbenedetti@cityofnewalbany.com
6th District - Scott Blair
3925 Rainbow Drive
(812) 697-0128, sblair@cityofnewalbany.com