ON THE AVENUES: Another year older and deeper in debt, so let’s doo-doo it all over again.


ON THE AVENUES: Another year older and deeper in debt, so let’s doo-doo it all over again.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do.
— Ulysses S. Grant

End-of-year compendiums taunt as much as they tempt. While at times an adequate teaching tool, the glibness of 20/20 hindsight usually gets in the way of instruction.

Apart from the planetary scourge known as Homo sapiens, there are no neatly printed numerical calendars, just natural cycles of life and death, recurrence and the dialectic. Nothing ever really ends on December 31, or begins the following day. All of it is a continuum, until the final pervasive darkness overtakes us all. After that, calendar pages no longer turn.

Encouraged yet?

Awesome, so let’s begin the year’s end housekeeping with thoughts pertaining to the life of ON THE AVENUES itself. In short, there’ll need to be a slight adjustment.

That’s because speaking personally, the single biggest story of 2018 was the official debut of Pints&union on August 1, which put an end to three and a half years of my semi-retired underemployment. As the pub’s advent followed the long delayed final settlement of my NABC buyout, it became a judiciously considered exclamation mark affixed to what I view as a personal rebirth.

During my hiatus there were ups and downs, births and deaths, frustrations and exhilaration, but in the main it was a gratifyingly productive period. I’ll look back on those years as a cherished time to learn and grow. It was like earning a second undergraduate degree, or perhaps finishing a master’s program in creative synthesis.

Just as in an overall daily sense I’ve no idea where I’d be without my wife Diana, in professional terms this accolade now fully extends to my friend and employer Joe Phillips, to whom I’m grateful for the opportunity to reinvent a career in beer. We’ve had six-months to build a foundation, and in 2019, the beer program’s going to fly high.

It’s about time – and it’s all about time.

My work routine became established fairly quickly, but it has taken me a few months to sort through the scheduling implications for my sidelines of writing and blogging. Since the advent of ON THE AVENUES in 2011 it has been my weekly goal to publish the column on Thursday. However, my work week at Pints&union is front-loaded, falling largely at the beginning of the week (from Monday through Wednesday, and into Thursday).

Perhaps a better course in 2019 would be to publish ON THE AVENUES on Tuesday, giving myself the weekend to prepare — and what better day to begin than Tuesday, January 1, New Year’s Day?

Bernie Sanders tweeted on Friday.

The American people are tired of a president who is a liar, a fraud, a narcissist and a bully. They want leadership which unites us, not divides us. They want policies which work for all, not just the wealthy few.

I hastened to comment on this.

Welcome back to Nawbany, Bernie. We have one of those charlatans, too.

Because New Albany is similarly afflicted, it was another long, strange civic journey in 2018, and it’s going to be twice as annoying in 2019.

Fortunately, unlike the chaotic situation three decades ago in the People’s Republic if Romania, my fellow New Albanians will have the lawful opportunity next year to exercise their power of the ballot and remove our own under-educated, egotistical, image-replicating, cash-in-the-service-of-special-interests, bullying and personality cult curating Nicolae Ceausescu wannabe, along with the bootlicking clique of vapid lackeys drooling in his general vicinity.

We can get to Trump later. He’s minor league by comparison. First, it’s time to pluck the Genius of the Flood Plain from the comfy projected office chair in his palatial Reisz Mahal, and put him back into peddling veneer.

Wait …

Veneer: A thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material.

That’s it: Potemkin veneer. Come to think of it, the ideal epitaph for eight long years of toxic Gahanism.

Bring out your brooms, citizens. Behind the bright shiny Disney images, this place is a mess. Granted, it won’t be easy beating a campaign-finance-engorged narcissist of the 19th-century Tammany Hall model who genuinely believes his face must adorn Kroger shopping carts right next to where consumers toss their Metamucil, condoms and Rice Krispies Treats, but working together, we can do it.

Brevity may be the soul of wit, although it isn’t typically my specialty. Today I’ll play against type and keep it relatively short.

Returning to those pesky compendiums, a summary: It’s been a year, and next week there’ll be another one. Throughout the past year, I’ve struggled first to discover, and then maintain a balance between the varying public roles I’ve written for myself. Privately, I’ve confided in some of you why this has been the case.

Paranoia may be the big destroyer, but when you’ve no doubt the threat is real, there’s an obligation to calculate risks. That’s because bullies are cowards, and cowards often are disinclined to target the source of their rancor. Rather, they nibble maliciously at the periphery – family, friends, employers – rather than come straight to the source.

In this specific instance that source is me, and so kindly allow me to close the year by encouraging all those having something to say to me to cut out the middle man and come directly to … that’s right, me.

Mano a mano is the one thing they seem utterly terrified to try, preferring instead various chicaneries from afar to silence dissent rather than engage it through direct dialogue.

Yes, I can be a handful.

Yes: I say what I think, believe in what I say, and fight for what I believe. I care deeply about justice, fairness and equality of opportunity for all, not only those playing their big fish/little pond games. It’s not a switch or spigot capable of being turned on and off, although I’ve tried mightily to do so.

But you see, facts are the end game for me. My “side” has legions of them, and in the coming year, the facts will continue to be enabled to speak for themselves – with the necessary polemical assistance from the likes of me.

After all, that’s why I’m here.

Readers, thanks for another fine trip around the sun.

Recent columns:

December 20: ON THE AVENUES: Truth, lies, music, and a trick of the Christmas tale (2018 Remix).

December 14: A joyful noise? The six most-read ON THE AVENUES columns of 2018.

December 6: ON THE AVENUES: Straight tickets, unsociable media and whether Democrats should rally around Gahan’s gallows pole.

November 29: ON THE AVENUES: “That’s why I voted no,” explains Scott Stewart, pausing to duck rocks feebly lobbed by Team Gahan’s propaganda pygmies.