Chronicles of New Gahania, demolitions (s)edition: Tear it down! Or, appearances versus fundamental reality.

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What’s interesting to me about Brexit was the horizontal split in the UK’s major vertical political silos.

Among both Tories and Labour, there were “leave” and “remain” factions. There may be a parallel phenomenon in America, in the anti-establishment (nodding to Bob Caesar here) candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

It’s too deep and broad a topic for today, and I mention these developments only as a segue into an observation about life in New Gahania, wherein we find a common view shared by seemingly disparate elements.

This view is the absolute imperative that things must LOOK better, rather than be made to WORK better, or to BE better in any fundamental way.

One of the foremost proponents of this philosophy of the Potemkin facade is Irv Stumler, who created New Albany Clean and Green as a sort of political action-meets-landscaping committee, such that every street corner in town must resemble a well-manicured, idealized manifestation of suburbia, even as one-way traffic roars past it, negating every conceivable benefit from the planting of flowers.

Apart from deeding the city to Padgett, Inc., one of Stumler’s many other recent jihads is urging the demolition of derelict houses, which aligns him with folks like Greg Phipps who inhabit spaces across the aisle.

Again, the objective isn’t safety; if it was, Stumler would advocate for ways for helping humans find affordable housing and living wages (does Phipps do even that?)

Rather, the aim is to make this place LOOK better, so that people speeding past while texting will know that New Gahania boasts the right kind of propriety.

And the odd part is that Phipps is in agreement with tearing things down and creating vacant lots, absent the sort of principled advocacy (sustainability and the greenest house we have is the one already standing) he’d undertake elsewhere.

It’s very strange, this social justice as flower urn. Then again, so is the theory and practice of New Gahania.


Irv at BOW — and by the way, work on Spring Street between Vincennes and Beharrell begins on Monday, July 11.

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