ON THE AVENUES: It’s the beginning of the end of insipid Gahanism, so let’s look back at the Top Ten columns of 2017.


ON THE AVENUES: It’s the beginning of the end of insipid Gahanism, so let’s look back at the Top Ten columns of 2017.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

For the final ON THE AVENUES column of 2017, I’d dearly love to conjure something striking and profound, perhaps an all-encompassing summary like Donald Sutherland gave to Kevin Costner as they sat on the park bench by the Washington Monument in Oliver Stone’s JFK — but I don’t watch many films these days, and I’m not sure there’s a single written soliloquy left in me as this strange, confusing and exhausting year draws to a close.

No worries; the beatings must continue until morale improves, but you’ll be surprised and pleased to hear the wonderful news, because in my view, New Albany has witnessed the apogee of Gahanism, and the high water mark of this dull political mediocrity’s obsession with illicit campaign finance and Greg Fischer (on second thought, I risk redundancy).

The surreal and absurd Kim Jong-Jeffrey cult of personality that Gahan uses to extract so very much public money has become gut-punch laughable to almost everyone apart from his sycophantic bunker mates in the DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party, whose expressions are beginning to resemble those of the local Sarajevo administrators saying goodbye to the Archduke.

Gahanism’s fissures are visible, and the impending TIF drought risible. The onetime veneer salesman’s signature cash-stuffed envelopes will be markedly thinning, and by the occasion of New Albany’s next municipal election, it will have been 64 years since a mayor won a third consecutive term — and it won’t happen again in 2019.

For the record, C. Pralle Erni (D) served four straight terms from 1948 through 1963, totaling 16 years. Beginning in 1964, Republicans occupied the mayoral seat for 16 of the next 20 years, interrupted only by Warren Nash’s underachieving tenure.

I’m not saying the resistance will be easy. However, at all times we’re compelled to remember the example of Toto …

 … no, not THAT Toto or THIS forgettable prom song theme from the heyday of most current city council members, but rather Dorothy’s inquisitive mutt …

… who by pulling back the curtains, allows us to see that when push comes to puke, Gahanism is no more than smoke and mirrors. It’s a ruse, with no substance behind the endlessly vapid press releases.

I’ll continue to do my part while transitioning toward what I earnestly hope becomes Pub Mach II. Just remember the hash tag: #FireGahan2019

To end this year, let’s take a look at the ON THE AVENUES columns recording the most page views according to Blogger’s forever Byzantine metric.

Half of the year’s most-read columns dealt with what will be remembered by future generations as Gahan’s own personal Waterloo: Dear Leader’s hostile takeover (putsch) of public housing and his subsequent installation of the worst conceivable choice to act as human relations slapstick Gauleiter, David “Bag Man” Duggins.

Gahan’s mythology-impelled spite and ceaseless avarice with regard to New Albany’s most vulnerable population stand an excellent chance of splitting the local Democratic Party, and although Team Gahan’s cadres insist they didn’t read my accounts of their boss’s slow-motion but inexorable train wreck (the guffaws erupt), thanks to all of you who did.

Several other columns were about drinking, which remains the New Albanian’s traditional default mechanism for coping with the mendacity, cowardice and overall foolishness that permeate local pillars.

However, the single most pleasing aspect of this year’s most-read list is the fact that “number one” was written not by moi, but was contributed by guest columnist Cisa Kubley. It deals with one of the topics Team Gahan is most panic-stricken to even consider, and is least interested in exploring — verily the third rail of politics in this town, Harvest Homecoming.

And yet if everyone is delighted with the way Harvest Homecoming’s annual occupation trickles down on downtown each year, why would Cisa’s open letter record triple the page views captured by a typical column?

Cisa’s guest column was timely, analytical and well written. This makes me very happy. Remember that I’m forever ready to accept such contributions, and enjoy the following recap.

472 (January 25, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: A luxury-obsessed Jeff Gahan has packed a board and now seeks to break the New Albany Housing Authority. Can we impeach him yet?

In short, the updated comprehensive plan is equal parts fiction, theater and suburban-weighted dreckscape. Reading through these sterling commitments to bedrock facets of urban life that have remained entirely alien to the plan’s authors, most of whom don’t live these tenets and wouldn’t recognize one if it wandered by mistake into their Olive Garden chain-haven and pulled up a chair, you become jaded remarkable quickly.

For instance, I saw a handful of references to bicycling, felt a surge of excitement, then realized that all it really means is the procurement of more spray paint to draw sharrows, the most useless of a city planner’s excuses to do absolutely nothing, declare victory, and gaze lovingly at holiday photos of the time share.

478 (January 12, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: I can only handle one resistance at a time, please.

If you intend to “resist” Trumpism by doubling down on behalf of the Democratic Party as it currently exists and operates on a daily basis right here in the real world, as opposed to Disney World, then you’re in for yet another apocalyptic shock, because the party requires gutting down to the foundations, and probably beyond.

Speaking personally, I don’t care. Both major parties can go to hell, and the Democrats might as well go first. If the Democratic Party disappears, perhaps something better can be built in its place. How can it be worse?

Our gutless right-wing local version of pretend-Democrats is on life support, and the chairman’s delusional cluelessness seems to have become institutionalized. The humane thing to do would be to euthanize the party, and start all over again.

502 (August 26, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES SATURDAY SPECIAL: One-ways on the way out, because with downtown at a crossroads, they simply had to be exterminated.

Yes, I have a car, too. However, since around 1992 it has been my aim to organize my life so as to facilitate other transportation options – walking, biking, Uber-ing, light rail — whatever. I’d rather take the money and buy a plane ticket to a European city where I can ride the tram.

I haven’t eliminated the need for a car, mind you, but have been shrinking it down, so as to be fit comfortably within the perimeter of a typical oil filter. I’ve purchased homes twice, one for each marriage, with this in mind. If I return to business, it will be downtown, where I can walk to and from work.

504 (March 16, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: It’s all so simple, says Jeff Gahan. Remove the impoverished, and voila! No more poverty!

They must be spiking the Kool-Aid with LSD.

Point “c” is an example of classic Gahanite circular reasoning. These “recommendations” are not to be found in the detailed program already devised by the professional, trained staff of the New Albany Housing Authority, but rather as stipulated in the form of demolition-friendly reductions forced on the NAHA by means of a daintily termed Memorandum of Understanding, a writ of annexation slated for approval by a board packed by the mayor with the usual servile sycophants, as fully intended to render the result Gahan has fixed in advance.

515 (October 26, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: Could that be David Duggins paddling across Jeff Gahan’s putrid cesspool? On second thought, I’ll take the blindfold.

The Green Mouse believes former Redevelopment Commission kingpin David Duggins, now the interim director of the demolition-of-housing authority, was a prime junket honoree, presumably as a measure of heartfelt thanks for his efforts on the city’s behalf to assist Denton Floyd’s and Vitality’s project at M. Fine – and as a prelude to whatever luxurious domiciles eventually are constructed atop the smoldering remnants of public housing in New Albany, which of course is one reason for Duggins being cozily ensconced within his current sinecure – this, and for catering to the eccentric whims of Dear Pretend Democratic Leader.

519 (December 14, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: My Franz Ferdinand heritage trail, 30 years ago in Sarajevo.

Picking up the story on Monday, 18 May 18 1987, I’d arrived in Sarajevo from Zagreb and found cheap, legal lodgings ($5.50 per night) in the spare room within the apartment of a man named Mickey (real name: Milenko Ćurčić). At the time, the street address was Ulica J.N.A. 37, or the Yugoslav People’s Army Street. Now it’s Ulica Branilaca Sarajeva 37 (the Defenders of Sarajevo Street).

558 (tie) (February 23, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: A stern side view of Gravity Head, nineteen times over.

Before the drinking starts, let’s return to the analogy of a ship leaving the dock and making for open water.

This was something we experienced first-hand just last year aboard a big Baltic ferry, first leaving Tallinn for Helsinki, then again on the trip back later the same day.

At night, the specific sensation might be described as lights fading, but by day it is the gradual disappearance of land as the ship moves farther away from shore. Depending on the weather and the strength of one’s eyesight, there comes a split second when land no longer is visible. It’s a melancholy feeling, like the place itself has ceased to exist apart from the imagination.

558 (tie) (March 30, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: Our great and noble leader is here to stay, so let’s break out the țuică and make a joyful noise.

Gahan proceeded to run down the list of previous multi-million dollar quality-of-life luxury improvements, praising the investments while never revealing their true cost in terms of municipal subsidies and post-ribbon-cutting maintenance.

Verily, Gahan’s done it all; laid the bricks, moved the dirt, smoothed the asphalt, sold hot dogs and swept the floor. It was repulsive and sickening, and within a few seconds it became evident to me as never before that short of getting caught in bed with a known book reader, Gahan has emerged as the odds-on favorite to serve indefinitely as New Albany’s de facto mayor-for-life.

The list of baubles, glitz and glitter – of bright, shiny objects that function as Potemkin facades, suggesting municipal progress while obscuring the ongoing rot proceeding apace underneath – has become as lengthy as Shane Gibson’s arm.

664 (February 9, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: I’d stop drinking, but I’m no quitter.

I drink very differently now than before, and far less overall, but drinking’s still a conscious lifestyle choice. So it goes.

Back to these fictional drinkers, who in my view reflect an existential aspect of the human condition. To be succinct, what else remains to be said, done or alibied when life’s fundamentally surreal futility strikes you as inescapable, and is best addressed and assuaged by peering through the bottom of a lifted glass, one deftly drained just seconds ago?

801 (November 16, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: Harvest Homecoming chairman of the board David White replies to Cisa Kubley’s column of November 2.

Cisa Kubley composed an open letter to Harvest Homecoming. In it, the owner of Sew Fitting patiently and meticulously explained why Harvest Homecoming isn’t always a positive interlude for independent small businesses downtown.

Cisa’s guest column proceeded to triple the number of page views one of my columns normally receives, and is by far the most-read ON THE AVENUES of the year to date. You can read it again, below, for reasons that soon will be obvious.

Even before Cisa’s column was published, I spoke with David White and asked him if Harvest Homecoming would tender a reply, for which I’d supply as much space as necessary. Here it is.

1,209 (November 2, 2017)

ON THE AVENUES: A downtown business owner’s open letter to Harvest Homecoming.

I am not asking that the festival be shut down or done away with. I am asking that the festival committee do more than offer excuses and hollow apologies to the dozens of businesses which are negatively affected because the festival is still set up and run as though downtown were a ghost town.

Take seriously the fact that refusal to change the festival model impedes the livelihoods of hundreds of downtown workers. If shops can’t be open, workers aren’t paid. The business generates no revenue and yet they still incur their regular expenses. How is our business community supposed to be sustainable when a festival that claims to celebrate that community actively gets in the way of business operations?

Recent columns:

December 21: ON THE AVENUES: Truth, lies, music, and a trick of the Christmas tale (2017 Remix).

December 14: ON THE AVENUES: My Franz Ferdinand heritage trail, 30 years ago in Sarajevo.

December 7: ON THE AVENUES: Say goodbye to all that, and expect the bayonet.

November 30: ON THE AVENUES: The 29 most influential books in my life.