ON THE AVENUES: Where do we go from here?


I’m …

“Chicago is an edgy avant-garde fusion rock band”

… old, and this song from 1970 perfectly encapsulates my mood in the down-buzz aftermath of last Tuesday’s primary election.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that keyboardist Robert Lamm wrote it. He was the band’s most prolific composer during the early years, and served as mouthpiece for a decidedly left-wing political conscience that faded later as the hits came fast and furious.

Actually “Where Do We Go From Here?” was the first song ever penned by bassist Peter Cetera, later to become a middle-of-the-road love-song-emoting pop star. The horns are absent. In it, Cetera surveys the socio-political landscape in America at the time and emerges hopeful, if puzzled.

That’s understandable. The Summer of Love had passed through Woodstock in route to a big crash at Altamont; now Richard Nixon was on top, the crew-cut adults were keen to crack the whip on a counter-culture that itself was becoming ever more disillusioned. Moreover, Vietnam remained an 800-lb gorilla.

Here’s the pivot: Where do we go here in Nawbany, circa 2019?

Deaf Gahan’s hefty wallet was enough to defeat David White, and the incumbent is the DemoDisneyDixiecratic nominee for mayor despite hemorrhaging 15% of his 2015 primary vote total, something other analysts seem determined to ignore.

Wait — we have other analysts apart from NA Confidential?

According the usual suspects it was a quasi-Biblical outcome, with Hitching Post fried chicken and loaded Rice Krispies Treats standing in for fish fingers and loaves. The Kool-Aid flowed like wine, or at least it cascaded in the fashion of storm water obeying the laws of gravity from the heavenly heights of the Summit Springs chain-think strip mine.

One Gahan functionary, evidently disturbed by the imminent prospect of a job loss, happily took to Facebook to celebrate, crediting God herself for preserving pay-to-play patronage in our fair town.

It would have been the ideal occasion for a gospel choir “come-to-Duggins” moment, except that during Gahan’s 16-year career of mind-numbing mediocrity he’s done almost nothing to empower minority rights and advancement in this city.

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”?

Perhaps, but for now Deaf is most fond of “Disneyland Uber Alles.”

Naturally it was disconcerting to watch as the misgoverning clique, their elite party hacks and various other engorged sycophants merrily pelted the opposition with Jorge Lanz’s ceaseless C-notes while thumbing their noses at the Election Board’s dignified request to behave at the polling places, prior to doubling down on the Bud Light Mang-O-Ritas.

However, as previously noted, the electoral math emerging from May 7 is looking quite solid for Republican challenger Mark Seabrook.

Most importantly, Gahan’s intrinsic crookedness no longer can be doubted. He’s a con man, a bully and an addict, dependent on the campaign finance revenue stream from out-of-town contract seekers, and thus compelled to keep the Ponzi scheme alive with projects funded by cash infusions from wherever he can pocket them.

Soon Team Gahan will be “borrowing” money from eatery tip jars. Whatever. Your grandchildren can deal with it.

Precipice, meet Wile E. Gahan. Few of White’s supporters will vote for Hizzoner. Some of them may sit out the general election, but most will opt for Seabrook. Combine the corrosive trends of two-term attrition with those 300 votes Gahan lost Tuesday, and Dear Leader’s autumn ceiling is looking like 3,000 votes at most — and this doesn’t factor the chunk subtracted from the Democrats by Dan Coffey’s probable independent candidacy.

(May 15 update: for a consideration of Coffey’s potential impact as an independent candidate, go here and here)

Seabrook can win in November, and he might win convincingly. To be sure, Gahan will have $175,000 of pay-to-play money available for saturation sliming, and he’ll be willing to spend every last cent of it to keep the gravy train rolling. All the same I believe a derailment is coming, so it’s straight to hell (or the Cayman Islands) for our malignant narcissist-in-chief.

Anchor Elvis soon will be leaving the building, because I have a feeling God will be siting out the general election.

My post-primary thoughts have been sober and reflective, as with Eric “Otter” Stratton’s prescient 1978 pronouncement.

I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.

Customarily this task falls to me, and yet I’m also mindful of Groucho Marx’s famous injunction.

“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”

Short of Falling Run being renamed “The Rubicon,” there’s a camel somewhere in a full-body cast. This time the post-election housekeeping feels different to me, even transformational. Resolutions aplenty are in the offing, one in particular.

Granted, I’m always venting about an impending exit from the resistance treadmill, only to drag myself back into the maelstrom when the second-raters annoy me. Now something seems to have changed. If I can’t entirely disengage, how exactly to reformat the nature of engagement?

I’ve been asking myself lots of questions like this, leading to one central query: I’ll be 60 years of age in August of 2020, and accordingly, what can I see myself doing these next few years?

The top answer to emerge from this dialogue is what I cannot visualize myself doing, and that’s serving as 3rd district council person.

Consequently, Greg Phipps will be delighted to learn that he’s safe. I’m not seeking public office this year. What the future holds is anyone’s guess; after all, never say never. However, I’m saying “highly unlikely” — and for the following reasons.

First and foremost, I’ve said all along that my candidacy was exploratory and depended on the well being of family and household. We’re doing fine, thank you, but we’re coming very quickly to a time of numerous decisions that will impact our future. Simply stated, the inhabitants of the 1117 East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, human and feline, come first.

I’d make a damned effective council person, and even if Phipps won this fall, I’d make him work far harder than he has before for the right to continue as a obedient rubber stamp for a soulless, agoraphobic mayor. In so many ways, one passive and the other manipulative, they’re perfectly matched politically. The real fun comes in imagining Phipps’ council performance to come, when outnumbered by Republicans, without the mayoral safety net.

I imagine he’d resign rather than face the challenge.

In addition, working with David White for the past 18 months has gifted me with valuable lessons. Love him or hate him, David’s conception of public service (his “people first” really wasn’t a slogan) and his commitment to the ideal of this service are admirable qualities, and as such I believe the Democrats sacrificed an opportunity last week when he lost.

Contrasting David’s service-oriented outlook with my own office-holding inclinations led to intense introspection. Is public service really what I want to do? Is this my preferred place in the cosmos?

Honestly, no. It isn’t. The sweetest spot of all for me in terms of dedication and intensity is the daily practice of writing, and in the art of the polemic in particular. It’s what makes me tick, and how I can best contribute.

Especially now, with the News and Tribune coming off its most vacantly inept performance in recent memory while pretending to “cover” a New Albany municipal election, NA Confidential has taken on greater importance as an alternative source of information.

The News and Tribune has proven definitively that it won’t be part of any conceivable solution, at least in Floyd County. This newspaper is dead to me, and I propose to treat it accordingly from this point forward.

It’s not pinin’! It’s passed on! This newspaper is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the floor it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-NEWSPAPER!!

Finally, there’s the matter of my ongoing involvement with Pints&union, where Joe has been remarkably indulgent and supportive as I’ve followed my local political obsessions to their logical conclusion. We have a deal and I intend to honor my part of it by doing my utmost to help make Pints&union the success it deserves to be.

Coincidentally the demise of Bank Street Brewhouse has contributed mightily to my current frame of mind, as did attending the funeral of my friend Rick Lang last week. These whiffs of mortality conjure considerations of legacies, and they also prompt an assessment: How much is left in the tank? How many minutes are on the game clock? How best to direct my energies?

Where do I go from here?

To repeat: Home and Hearth … Pints&union … NA Confidential.

I’ll keep writing, agitating, clarifying and informing. I’ll keep these writing and publishing options open. I’ll continue to help as best I can as reporter, satirist and polemicist. I’ll follow my muse, and there’s no backing away from the resistance, albeit not into another campaign for office.

But find me a way to live in Belgium, Estonia, Sicily or Western Massachusetts, and every single word I’ve written today goes right out the window.

As always, thanks for your support.

Recent columns:

May 6: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Ghosts within these stones, defiance in these bones (2018).

May 5: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Our great and noble leader soon will be going away, so let’s break out the țuică and make a joyful noise.

May 3: ON THE AVENUES HORSE RACE REHASH: Sadly, the Kentucky Derby no longer is decadent and depraved. It’s just another vacuous capitalist bait ‘n’ switch.

April 23: ON THE AVENUES: Gehenna, Franklin Graham, Jean-Paul Sartre and Fred Astaire lead us straight to Hell.