Today’s Tribune column: “Cappuccino’s Pendulum.”


Which world is real, and which one fantasy?

In one world, as reported in today’s Tribune, a New Albany councilman barely capable of finishing high school lays claim to higher legal knowledge than the interpretation by a former Indiana Attorney General holding that, “pay for elected officials may not be reduced to less than the amount of their salary from the previous year.”

(1st district councilman Dan) Coffey said Tuesday he intends to proceed with the resolution, adding that he researched the state law before writing the measure and believes it to be on par with Indiana code.

In the other, which perhaps will be posted to the newspaper’s web site at some point today, but that I’ll reprint in its entirety below as a reproach to tardiness, an amok elected official disturbs the tranquility of a squirrel, has a siding moment, and dances to hip hop.

BEER MONEY: Cappuccino’s Pendulum.

Somewhere down Culbertson way, a mangy brown squirrel reposed peacefully on artfully crumbling bits of disintegrating concrete at a place once known as the curb, last repaired during the giddy euphoria of the C. Pralle Erni years.

Lazily gnawing on a discarded ice cream wrapper (his favorite flavor, cherry red), the squirrel spied a faded blue pickup slowly approaching. The squirrel took no note of the truck’s perpetually scowling driver, but immediately spotted a ventriloquist’s puppet dressed vaguely like the late Porter Waggoner, propped atop the stained passenger seat.

“Some nice wood on that one,” mused the squirrel. “Too bad he’s with dummy.”

Concurrently, an agitated Councilman Cappuccino took no note of the masticating tree rat, but immediately spotted the decrepit curb.

“We’d better do something about that,” spat Cappuccino to Li’l Stevie. “Let’s make sure none of them people come here and start a business. Heck, pretty soon they’ll improve the area, property values will rise, the city will waste taxpayer money fixing the sidewalk, and then the curb, and maybe give ‘em a patio, too. Where would we be then?”

“10th Street,” said Stevie, glimpsing a tottering street sign.

“I have some rentals right near here, CC. Let’s stop and make my tenants buy us a round of cold ones, hee hee. They don’t have a choice, seeing as I don’t let ‘em keep beer on my property unless they buy it from me – and none of that microbrew %^#$, either.”


As Cappuccino slammed on the brakes, Li’l Stevie clattered to the floor, and the poor squirrel … well, he remained safely ensconced amid the rubble, wondering exactly what had halted the noisy humans.

“See that cash cow of a quad-plex over there? Just look at the gorgeous beige vinyl siding,” cooed Cappuccino. “It adds real character to that crappy old historical house.”

“It says, ‘Rent me, depreciate me, don’t you ever appreciate me.’ Why, it’s so fluffy, I could die!”

The infatuated councilman immediately jumped out of his truck and began running across the street to caress the cherished siding, but he didn’t see that enormous land yacht coming …


The squirrel covered his beady eyes and recoiled, but luckily, there was no sickening sound of molded aluminum meeting legislative corpulence. Out in the middle of Culbertson, Cappuccino waved his fist.

“If I’d have let myself have city council insurance, you bet your bottom dollar I wouldn’t have used it – even if you killed me!”

Suddenly trumpets sounded, and emerging from the car was a Roman centurion, complete with diamond-studded breastplate and 24-carat plumed helmet.

“Halt, vilest jaywalker, for it is I – Tiberius Severus Octavian Elagabalus Septimius Augustus Claudius Hadrian, the Protector of Pearl, Deliverer of all Downtown Datedness, Master of the Mercantile, and Guardian of the Gates. You will be brought before the municipal court, except that we have no such thing, so I shall immediately signal for the city clerk.”

“Yo,” squealed Li’l Stevie, reaching for his banjo. “It sure isn’t Halloween, and that’s no gladiator. It’s Councilman Seesaw!”


Please let me floss my jewelry
So much ice make ya eye sight blurry
Jewelry, this ain’t even half my jewelry
It’s gettin’ kinda cold ‘n here I’m serious
Everybody starrin’ cuz we rockin’ big jewelry


Seesaw’s and Cappuccino’s jaws dropped in unison.

“Thank you, thank you – it’s great to be back here on Culbertson,” exclaimed the performer, adjusting his rhinestones. “I don’t let my tenants listen to hip hop – unless I sing it for ‘em. That usually puts a stop to it, and they can get right back to good ol’ Neil Young.”

Tugging at his epaulets, Seesaw said, “I’m sorry I almost ran you down, Cappuccino, but I’m late for a very important date. One Southern Indiana’s secret public policy committee is meeting to decide how to spend the $70,000 we voted to give us.”

“Nay,” interjected Li’l Stevie.

“C’mon, Seesaw. There are still two readings left,” said Cappuccino. “I want that money to stay right here in New Albany, because we – I – need a new outhouse at my – our – park in Westendia.”

“Hah! But we – they – have the votes, Cappuccino. It’s 5-4, and the money goes to us, I mean to 1SI, for our – their – nifty marketing campaign.”

“I vote no – no,” Li’l Stevie repeated.

“Marketing? I thought they – I mean you – wanted the money because you – I mean they – brought all them book-readin’ alcoholics downtown.”

“Nah, Cappy, it’s for putting tolls on the bridges we already paid for, so in 25 years we’ll have still more bridges, and maybe there’ll even be some petroleum left by then to run semis across them. Here’s 1SI’s new slogan: ‘You pay more to work over there, and they pay more to shop over here.’ Catchy, huh?”

“No,” shouted Li’l Stevie, “No tolls! No Nazis! No dark beer! I’ll just play some more hip hop. That’ll keep ‘em on Frankfort Avenue.”

Cappuccino glowered. “Seesaw, you’d best not count your organic eggs before those pergessives overpay for them at the Farmer’s Market. That Naygain flip-flops more than IHOP, and then there’s McWafflin.”

“Maybe,” said Seesaw, “Although it’s hard for me to believe that Councilman Cappuccino and Li’l Stevie are voting with Ponder and the progressives, when it’s 1SI that’s got all the vinyl siding you need. See you on Thursday, gentlemen.”

The squirrel abruptly turned and ran, spooked by an emerging mandolin.


“Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool,
Loving you both is breaking all the rules.”

Roger is looking forward to non-stop operatic karaoke in the 1st and 3rd districts during next year’s election. For the only blog that New Albany reads, go to