ON THE AVENUES: They’re coming to take me away.


ON THE AVENUES: They’re coming to take me away.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

I was raised to give a damn, and it isn’t easy stepping away from that.

Conversely, I taught myself to self-medicate in times of extreme duress – and staying upright while inside a bottle is no picnic, either.

This year it’s been harder than ever.

I gaze longingly at those nice, clean receptacles of gin, bourbon and rum, and dream about blissful weeks drinking breakfast by dawn’s early light – or after lunch, whichever comes first.

For the most part, I’m sidestepping temptation. I may need a hobby, or a job.

Gads. It’s come to that?

This year there have been numerous sources of dissonance worthy of attribution, and yet they’re little more than blips of background noise compared with the 800-lb simian’s source of unrelenting daily pressure: Trump, Clinton, and the deplorables on all sides of the most offensive exercise in so-called democracy I’ve ever seen in 56 years of near certainty that the only Americans who aren’t certifiable lunatics are those who remain oblivious to the idiocy, whether through drugs, alcohol or sheer cantankerousness.

I’d dearly love to join them, except I just cannot seem to succeed in tuning out the clatter. Why was my upbringing so oppressively responsible?

My parents weren’t deep readers. They perused the daily newspaper, watched television news and listened to the radio during a forgotten age when worthwhile chunks of genuine information sometimes penetrated the advertisements.

Perhaps my father’s keen interest in news and current affairs was compensation for the absence of formal education. He joined the Marines, went off to war at the tender age of 17, and later completed his G.E.D., but I always had the sense he felt something was missing.

At any rate, whatever the motivation, he taught me to care about the world at large, and for this I’m appreciative.

My maternal grandfather was involved in civic affairs in Henderson, Kentucky, and my mother inherited his interest in politics, generally referring to herself as a “Yellow Dog Democrat,” which means she’d sooner vote for a yellow dog than a Republican.

Vulgar talking yams (to quote Charles P. Pierce) are another matter. My mom just turned 84, and when I went to see her earlier today at Silvercrest, she was watching Donald Trump speak in Florida.

Mother: What do you think of Trump?

Son: He’s an idiot.

Mother: You don’t think he’ll win?

Son: Doubtful. He’s an idiot.

Mother: I sure hope he doesn’t.

Her absentee ballot rested on the coffee table, and my guess is you can chalk one up for Hillary Clinton. After all, my mom would sooner vote for a yellow dog than a surreal absurdity.

As for me, I’ve been examining the sample ballot in a desperate attempt to spot viable options, whether local or national.

As previously noted, I’ll be voting for Dennis Roudenbush (Floyd County Commissioner) and Ed Clere (State Representative). Because I can trust Randy Smith (at-large) and Rebecca Gardenour (District 4) to reject the “good old boy” network of acolytes eager to shine Superintendent Hibbard’s shoes, they’re my choices for NA-FC school board.

I met Dale Bagshaw for the first time last year, and he’s both earnest and honest. Moreover, it’s been fascinating to see his position on two-way streets evolve. Dale has my vote for County Council.

Beyond these races, the labored mulling continues as the liquor cabinet beckons.

For President of these Disunited States, I simply will not waste my vote on a major party candidate. The most likely choice remains the Green Party’s Jill Stein as a write-in, although I’ve toyed with the idea of writing in Bernie Sanders, Jeff Gahan, David Duggins, Max the Wonder Chimp or even me.

If you detect notes of sarcasm, disdain, derision, contempt and disgust, you’re about halfway there, and I’m not sure the second half is traversable without more martinis than my liver is prepared to ingest.

Of course, this is the crux of it. As with the music I can’t avoid hearing at the supermarket or the road signs I am unable to stop reading, it seems impossible for me to ignore the Great Electoral Train Wreck of 2016.

I want so badly to push it aside – to digest edifying novels, not installments of Five Thirty Eight; to imagine Mike Pence playing outfield for Rockheads (I mean Rockies); and to pretend that the Democratic Party is sufficiently progressive for me to support it.

Alas, I’m condemned to pay attention, reel in revulsion, take a second glance, vomit, gaze at the peanut gallery, and remain frozen unhappily into place, destined for further and unceasing punishment. Waking every morning to a news cycle guaranteed to insult the intelligence of our concrete retaining wall feels like a sledgehammer to the cranium.

And yet, I keep coming back for more. Is it a braindeath wish? Hypnotic suggestion? Misguided sobriety?

Two weeks ago, addressing New Albany’s maddening, protracted gavotte with those gold-paved Disney-endorsed two-way streets running through Jeff Gahan’s head, I wrote that it has become wearying to know that if I don’t publicly rebut malarkey-spreaders and civic has-beens, no one else will.

I’ve managed to refrain. Don’t ask me how. Going to Wisconsin for the weekend helped – the Badger State has its own problems, but at least escaping the stifling inanity of Harvest Homecoming had a calming effect on me.

So will our Sicilian holiday during Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to seeing Mt. Etna close up and personal, drinking wine, and eating the local pasta dish made with anchovies and fresh sardines. There may be pistachio gelato, and a day trip to Malta.

Knowing the mafia is busy wetting beaks should make the city of Catania feel just like a Redevelopment Commission meeting, albeit one where the language is more sensible to innocent bystanders.

Pardon the digression.

It is tremendously frustrating to keep one’s counsel when misinformed community pillars dispense propaganda about two-way streets that’s so distorted Trump would blush, but I’ve managed, and maybe this is a turning point.

Yes, it’s excruciatingly hard to disengage from something this passionate – and as noted, it’s someone else’s turn, at least for a while.

Did I mention we brought home three and a half cases of beer from Wisconsin? If you’ll pardon me, it’s time to put the hammer down and inventory those tasty sedatives.

October 6: ON THE AVENUES: His nose knows tolls and polls (2010).

September 29: ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART THREE: Survey says … Irv’s street grid agitprop won’t be putting Diogenes out of work any time soon.

September 29: ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART TWO: Inkem binkem notamus rex, protect us all from the city (still) with the hex (2014).

September 29: ON THE AVENUES 3-PK, PART ONE: Chocolate covered frozen banana republic, or “understanding” Harvest Homecoming, our peculiar institution (2014).

September 22: ON THE AVENUES: On two-way streets, a modest proposal for the consideration of my disoriented one-way counterpart.