Double-Naught tales from New Albany’s cement pond.

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C’mon – admit it.

The only thing that made the Clampett family members remotely tolerable was the saving grace of their vast oil wealth.

Otherwise, Jed, Granny, Ellie Mae and Jethro were unreconstructed simpletons who had no business living in Beverly Hills — or virtually anywhere else where civilized people reside.

Moreover, we welcomed them into our living rooms all those years not because we were particularly keen on the idea of ruffians spitting tobacco juice on the furniture and butchering the English language, but because we knew the Clampetts could buy and sell us many times over, and as Americans, money piled that high is virtually the only thing we respect on a consistent basis.

But those people across the street in the fourplex?

Don’t kid yourself. They’re the Beverly Hillbillies, all right, but without the cash.

And it’s nowhere near as funny in real life, but rest assured that within a month or three, they’ll be gone. Such is the reality of the slumlord glorification program installed by postwar New Albany’s leadership cadre in the glaring absence of other ideas pertaining to sustainable development, and as was the case with Communism in Eastern Europe, posterity is likely to determine that the slumlord’s iron grip is far easier to institutionalize than to reform, change or destroy like the metastasizing cancer cell he is.

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Last week, yet another disinterested bystander confirmed the most likely source of the weird and cockeyed rumor that was relayed to me by former mayor Doug England in May as we sipped beer by the Ohio River in Madison.

At the time, scuttlebutt had it that the formation of the city’s Riverfront Development Area (and its provision for special three-way alcohol sales permits) actually constituted a grand conspiracy between your humble correspondent and the current mayor, a sinister deal that allegedly would result in my being handed $2 million dollars (from where?) to build and operate a brewery inside the old Shrader Stables (yes, the infamous “green building”) on Main Street – facing Scribner Place, from where I purportedly would lure naïve Yuppie health nuts and ply them with $10 progressive pints.

Yawn. Very, very dumb.

This whopper surely must rank among the most unlikely and artlessly contrived rumors I’ve yet heard in a town filled with unfathomable gossip, on top of it being 100% false from the start, but given the fact that 1st District councilman Dan Coffey not only publicly embraced the story and repeated it to numerous others, but probably invented the tall tale himself, at least there’s a plausible symmetry of malicious fraudulence – Cappuccino’s pants on fire, and all that.

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In the wake of Monday’s city council meeting, and as we breathlessly await the Gang of Four’s (no, CM Kochert, doing the right thing one solitary time while chewing the scenery in a scene that would make Olivier proud doesn’t let you of the hook — quite yet) next last gasp, Hail Mary, dying breath, desperation potshot in the general direction of kneecapping Scribner Place and humiliating all those in favor of it, there arose a brief and predictably toxic spewing of trogaganda on the part of the city’s congenital obstructionists to the effect that Develop New Albany (DNA) has joined the mayor, NA Confidential’s founder, Kojak the bookseller and other dreaded progressives as targets for liquidation, lest the little people be forced, kicking and screaming, to turn their Burma Shave wall calendars to the year 2006.

It’s simply ludicrous, and indicative of the vituperative negativism that so cripples every effort to lift this city from its slumber into a position of achievement and competition in modern – not Cro-Magnon – times.

Certainly DNA is not beyond the reach of honest criticism, and there probably are ways to improve its overall performance, just as there are with my own business or any other undertaking, but by the same token, it’s not like the organization is being endowed with millions of dollars to pursue its mandated goals of revitalizing downtown New Albany. Many good people volunteer their time and make do on a shoestring. They do what they can, when they can. They’re making an effort.

Instead of targeting DNA for the usual round of Luddite bile and envious intemperance, perhaps the ever anonymous attackers might undertake an understanding of what DNA is trying to achieve, and how its tools might be strengthened.

Perhaps they might be of assistance, rather then posing as college professors or acting as sidewalk superintendents of fear mongering.

Instead, we have cornpone Jed and his stack of newspapers, whittling on the porch, while Granny plays with her abacus, Ellie Mae titillates the denizens of Hugh E. Bir’s, and Jethro plots against the prospects of improving his own city council district.

May we change the channel, please? While there’s still time?

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