ON THE AVENUES: He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day.


New Albany’s municipal election took place more than a month ago, and you’ve no doubt noticed that I’ve had very little to say about it.

On some fronts this reticence will be viewed through a lens of chortled gloating with a Bud Light Lime chaser, while others might simply be puzzled.

It isn’t nuclear physics. From the standpoint of newsworthiness, exactly what is there to say?

Jeff Gahan, the incumbent mayoral candidate with the biggest stack of cash and the widest network of political patronage, correctly deployed the famous dictum of noted military strategist Nathan Bedford Forrest: “Git thar fustest with the most mostest” (money … and yes, I know it’s a misquote). Gahan kept his fix rammed firmly inside the city’s body politic, good and hard, and so the junta abides even if the Astroglide remains optional.

If it’s an Oriental despot you want, the governing shtick and jive is all yours. Until New Albany is gifted with its own John Galt, someone capable of stopping cold these wheels of greaseball Gahanesque commerce, here we are.

Of course the city’s dissidents, of whom I remain one, understand the necessity of the longer game. There’ll be a period of reformatting, followed by numerous opportunities to make tactical sorties against Chief Duncecap and his Merry Band of Looters.

Nothing much will change except the snowballing size of the city’s debt, and yet voters resoundingly chose to ignore this reality for fear of looking in the mirror and examining their own rampant mythologies.

So it goes; and so be it, but as the forgotten band Moving Pictures once asked so presciently, what about me?

On Election Day my Twitter parodist Rogar — Susie, her daughters and their bootlicking Fairmontian accomplices are endlessly creative — had this to say about the election results.

“Looking back on my life no one will remember my work in craft beer or local business advocacy, my entire legacy will be “the guy who hated the guy who was mayor of New Albany for a few years” and I feel great about this”

It isn’t surprising that Team Anonymous Troll is mistaken.

I have absolutely no regrets, and although there generally isn’t time to waste contemplating legacies, I know mine is secure. Granted, no one’s going to be inducting me into the cool kids’ hall of fame any time soon; frankly that’s a relief rather than a disappointment, as well as a persuasive reaffirmation that knowing one tried to tell the truth is the best way to “look back” on life.

And, as we used to say in high school, fuck the Gahanites if they can’t take a joke — or the truth.

For me the four years elapsing since 2015, when I cashed out my farthings and stepped away from NABC, have been tantamount to a pants-down, post-graduate university degree. It hasn’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Next year I’ll turn 60 years of age, once a daunting number, now a hopeful platform for navigating the next two decades. I’m fortunate to be working with beer and words, and while neither job pays a lot, it hasn’t ever been my habit to chase riches. The Baylor family is doing fine, thank you, and I’m feeling quite good.

My own personal reformatting proceeds apace, and when I scan the local horizon, I see others who are capable of mounting an alternative to the numbing corrosiveness of orthodox Gahanism.

Either this next generation steps forward to lead, or they don’t, but either way I’m taking a break from charging machine gun nests across no man’s land all by myself. I pledge my assistance to the next wave of resistors, whenever practicable. Overall, I’ll be spending my time differently.

This said, before year’s end I’ll return to this space to explain why there is cause for optimism in the makeup of the reshuffled city council.

This dynamic might be enough to periodically fill gasbag Gahan’s gas tank with sugar, toss the random spanner into the rigged works, shine light into the down-low bunker, and compel Greg Phipps to wish he’d stuck with the relative anonymity of sociology.

Perhaps the usual brown-nosed sycophantic suspects will pant and gasp after finally being made to actually work hard greasing the wheels of Tricky Jeffie’s legion of pay-to-play campaign donors.

I certainly hope so.

Anyone that clueless with so much money should be opposed on general principle alone, and to repeat, I’ve no regrets at having written the alternative history and formulated the case against Gahan from precepts ranging far beyond simple contrarianism, even if I inherited my father’s stubbornness. Posterity will be kind to me, indeed, and all I need do is live long enough to see it happen.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned a crucial lesson these past six years: There are very few “progressives” in New Albany, probably one of every twenty who describe themselves this way.

Most of you who continue to claim you’re “progressive” are lying to yourselves, straight up.

You’re fine with abstractions, talking points and sanctimonious Facebook proclamations, but you possess no intent whatever to apply these rumored-only principles to your favored local Democratic Party’s purported “leadership,” which is as bereft of ethical moorings as the Trumpians you love to hate.

Gahan’s given you, the pretend-progressives, a teeny-tiny slice of power, and you’ve grabbed this illusion like a little kid pursues the forbidden cookie jar; unfortunately, as with those comfy sweets, it’s all empty calories, and as the crumbs fly, your ability to think critically has been lost.

To be brutally honest, if we’re to base these judgments on real-world performance — as opposed to self-delusion — supposed Democratic politicians like Gahan, Phipps, Pat McLaughlin, Bob Caesar and Jason Applegate are conservatives who could just as easily be Republicans. At times they’re more Republican than the GOP, and yet the bait ‘n’ switch of bright, shiny objects charged to the TIF One Card keeps so-called progressives chasing glitz on a string.

Eventually they’ll choke on it. This saddens me, so I’m voting for Bernie Sanders and taking a break from commenting on the localized idiocy.

Professionally, I’ll be programming beer at Pints&union, writing for Food & Dining Magazine, and looking for other ways to make a buck here and there.

Personally, beyond the prime imperative of spending quality time with my beloved, there’ll be cats, reading, walking, a new bicycle, traveling and lots of learning.

I’ll also keep one eye on the pendulum. It will swing back, and when it does, then there may be new opportunities.

In closing, the late Vaclav Havel ofers sound advice for the coda.

“The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world. In other words, I can only recommend perspective and distance.”

Recent columns:

December 5: ON THE AVENUES: Ladislav’s language, 1989 – 1990 (Part 2).

November 28: ON THE AVENUES: Ladislav’s language, 1989 – 1990 (Part 1).

November 21: ON THE AVENUES: Rest in peace, Kevin Hammersmith. Eight years later, you’re very much missed.

November 14: ON THE AVENUES: The famous mishap in Madrid, November, 1989.