Wednesday, December 31, 2008

427. End of Year Rambling

2008 comes to an end in a few hours, thankfully. The thankfully is both good and bad, as is always the case. Was 2008 bad? There were mistakes here and there and I had to do some work to keep a seat on the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee. There were campaigns with liars as their chiefs (or chiefettes) and others with calm, collected, and honest leadership. I met and worked with a Harvard Law School graduate who was a former College Democrats Executive Director who worried and fussed over every thing and led our first term congressman here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 to a second term in the 111th Congress, winning the race by receiving more votes than any other partisan candidate ever on a Jefferson County ballot. That was, thankfully, a good thing. 2008 brings (almost) an end to the eight years of a junta-led federal government, a government stolen from the voters by Katherine Harris and others in Florida and five members of a nine member panel with offices at #1 First Street NE in Washington, DC. 2008, thankfully, saw the election of an biracial president younger than me by eleven months, born in a state which was admitted to the Union just under two years before his birth. That was a good thing. 2008 also saw the collapse of the Republic's financial system, a collapse brought on by over-eager tax-cutters dating back to the late 1970s, whose political mantra has been to reduce government to a point that it would eventually disappear. They've caused weak-backed politicians to vote to cut taxes over and over, especially taxes on corporations. Most of the tax dollars that used to go into reinvestment in the governments now goes into overseas jobs which cost less to fund and mean more money in the pockets of the top brass of those same corporation. Thankfully this new young biracial president has an interest in building and rebuilding America's infrastructure, the way FDR did in the 1930s, the way Eisenhower planned in the 1950s, and with a zeal hopefully equal to that of JFK whose determination led America to the Moon within a ten year window. If only we had local officials with the same determination.

We'll leave that for 2009.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

426. Five Gold Rings

Earlier this evening a friend and I were tooling around town when he - my friend, who is an atheist - noted the number of Christmas lights still burning in windows and yards. I remarked we were only on the fifth day of the season, a remark met with a polite but obvious smirk. "What do you mean, the fifth day?" I answered, "Haven't you ever heard the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' and all the associated gifts?" I knew he had - he is a musician himself, and sang in the choir as a kid at both Ballard High School and Bates Memorial Baptist Church. He said he did, but never really knew there was a whole season devoted to Christmas, other than the marketing one "as seen on TV."

For Christians who follow the liturgical calendar, we are on the Fifth Day of Christmas, the one with the Five Gold Rings, which apparently did not refer to any rings on your fingers, but rather to the ring-necked pheasants popular with the nobility and royalty. There are, of course, twelve different days of gifts, from the first day's "partridge in a pear tree," to the twelfth's "twelve lords a leaping." The song first appeared in print as a poem in a British children's book in 1780, but probably dates back to a century earlier from France. In any event, we have seven more days of Christmas left, both in the song and in the season. Then comes Epiphany on January 6th. Very early in the blog, in the third entry, was a posting called Epiphany, although the text of that post was more about our local form of government than anything else.

Until the 6th of January, continue to enjoy the Christmas season, even if, for whatever reason, you do not celebrate the Twelve Days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

425. Annual Pilgrimage

Today was the day I returned to my roots. I tend to do it every year around this time, as do many other folks. It's one of those annual pilgrimages - mine to the malls for Christmas shopping - specifically Jefferson Mall, in Okolona, whence I came - my hometown, if you will.

As a rule - a strong rule - I do not shop at malls. Other than taking someone else to one, I avoid them. I try to shop locally, which for me means inside the Watterson Expressway, or more emphatically, inside Eastern Parkway. The exception to this shopping inside of Eastern Parkway is to do shopping in the little towns and burgs I encounter in my back road travels. Back in September during a visit to a Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee meeting in Auburn, Kentucky, I stopped along the way back shopping at the North Visitors Center of the Land Between the Lakes for some t-shirts. Elsewhere on that trip, I stopped again at a flea market just outside of Henderson along US 60.

Or I like to go to bookstores. Through the year, my tendency is to stop in Carmichael's on Bardstown Road or Poor Richard's in Frankfort on Broadway. Out in the state, I've shopped this year at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, the Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, the Kentucky Horse Park north of Lexington on Iron Works Pike, and at Lonnie Napier's Clothing Store on the square in downtown Lancaster.

But, there comes a day that whatever hasn't been bought for Mom and Dad and Kevin and the kids, and the handful of others I usually do a gift for, must be bought. For me, that day is today. And for me, when in need I travel to suburbia along Outer Loop at Jefferson Mall. Frankly, it is an alien world of moms and dads and teenagers and grandparents waiting in line for the kids to see Santa, who was stationed just outside the Sears (still there after all these years) at the eastern end of the mall. I had already planned to go there to buy some things for someone very special in my life - me. I am in need of some new dress shirts and the S&K Mens Store, where I like to shop, had sent me a 60% off coupon.

As it turns out, I would going out that day today anyway, taking my father home, which is to say to my mother's, from Norton Hospital, where he has been for a few days. Mom still lives in the house I grew up in which is not far from Jefferson Mall. I can clearly remember when Jefferson Mall wasn't there and Outer Loop was a common country lane, two lanes wide, from start to end - Third Street Road to Fegenbush Lane. Have you ever checked out the 100 block of Outer Loop? Without question, it is the longest numbered block in Louisville, running from 3rd Street Road to a little east of New Cut Road, a distance of more than a mile. In theory, that should be eleven or twelve blocks, and not just one. But, I digress.

Jefferson Mall's address is 4801 Outer Loop. It sits in what used to be a corn and soybean field, a part of the farm whose homestead still sets on the north side of the road, opposite Robbs Lane. The farm ran from just east of Carol Avenue/Schooler Avenue to just past Robbs Lane, and north to the old Egypt Lane right-of-way, which has been closed since even before the mall was built.

That happened in the 1970s and it has provided employment for a number of people I knew growing up, including me and my mother. In the 1980s, I worked at the Tinder Box Cigar Shop, owned by Norman Igar. The entrance to his walk-in humidor was marked with the appellation Igar's cIgars. Cute. I've also watched nearly every acre of space between the mall back to Preston Highway be developed. There are current plans to develop the land east of the mall, the only large parcel of land left in Okolona generally untouched by development.

When I worked in the mall, it was arranged somewhat differently, and there was no humongous food court, a place where today perhaps one thousand of God's souls were enjoying food fit for very few if any. And there were no mid-aisle kiosks, or kiosques, as I have seen it otherwise spelled. Today, the central aisle is filled to the max with these small free-standing heralds of economic activity. I saw my young Pakistani friend from the old Dad's Food Market on East Broadway operating one of these. He is a college student who aspires to be a doctor, and I asked him how the schooling was going. He reported it is rough but he is progressing, a good thing.

Many of the store names have changed or they have simply disappeared. The mall was originally anchored by Stewart's and Penney's and Shillito's and Sears [with no apostrophe as it was once Sears and Roebuck's], if I remember correctly. Stewart's became Bacon's which became Hess's and a slew of other names, one starting with an L, before it disappeared altogether. At the original western entrance was an Orange Julius place. Now, I'll be honest, I hadn't thought about Orange Juliuses in years until about a week ago when in a walk over to the Henry Clay Hotel downtown, one of my fellow travellers mentioned she remembered coming downtown to have an Orange Julius, somewhere down closer to Fourth and Broadway. Admittedly, she is older than me and I do not remember the store in question. But, I do remember Orange Juliuses to be had at Jefferson Mall in the 1980s and 1990s. And since she mentioned it the other day, I've been wanting one, but not enough to seek one out. Well, there is still a place there to get one, although I was so excited about seeing the display, I have no idea what the place is actually called. Then, I realized just how long ago it has been since I've had an Orange Julius at Jefferson Mall. And proving I am getting to be an old man, I told the server behind the counter a story which began with the words, "You're not old enough to know this but . . . " Any story which begins with those words is usually told only for the gratification of the story-teller as opposed to the young listener. Today's episode was no different. He just looked at me as I explained where the Orange Julius store used to be. It occurred to me that since he was probably 16 or 17, it is entirely possible that even his parents are too young to remember the old location. Nonetheless I rambled on as he prepared the concoction, pouring the powder and the ice in the blender, whizzing it around for a minute, and serving it up in a cup. That made the whole pilgrimage worthwhile.

In fact, that may have been the reason for the pilgrimage. People tend to go on these religious pilgrimages because it is something they and their parents have done for years - a tradition. Often they go without knowing what good - or bad - will come of the journey. If they find some inner light or raison d'etre, so be it. That is a big deal and very important to them. For me, on a much lighter and personally fulfilling note, returning to the burbs and hitting the mall had a purpose - finding an Orange Julius and remembering the way Jefferson Mall used to be back in the old days.

That's all for now - I still have a few things to go buy.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

424. Tis the Season

Happy Hanukkah. I'm not Jewish but some people I know are - my friend Jessie, my first boss in Okolona Mr. Klein, another boss at Jefferson Mall from back in 1980s Norman Igar, Jacob Payne over at PageOne, and several others, such as my congressman and his PR guy, my dear friend Stuart. Hanukkah, an eight day celebration also known as the Festival of Lights, began at Sundown several hours ago earlier this evening.

Today, of course, was the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, and thus the first day of Winter. Mother Nature responded here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 with an influx of cold air and strong winds. It is currently 10 degees with the mercury expected to fall a little more before Sunrise tomorrow.

For most of today, as well as yesterday, I was moving furniture - both mine and my friend Morgan's. We both chose the coldest and shortest day of the season for a lot of work, for which, frankly, I am getting too far old. My move was about six blocks; his was closer to 50 miles. He had rented a U-Haul trailer in which we moved the larger pieces of each of our collections of furniture. We have just finished in the last few minutes. We've both vowed that this will be our last move.

This move of mine is one the three big changes I have been preparing for the last few weeks. The second of these is a change in jobs. It has been announced over at City Hall that I will be joining the Metro Council as a Legislative Aide to the newly elected Democratic 26th District Councilman, Brent Ackerson. Brent and I will assume our new roles on January 5. Brent is the first councilmember since merger who was elected to a district previously held by a member of the other Party, in this case Republican Ellen Call.

The third big change is one I've not quite settled on yet, and it appears that my self-imposed deadline of making a decision on this matter by December 31, 2008 will not be met. It was a deadline I set back in the summer of 2003. But, I have been regularly attending the Episcopal Church of the Advent, participating in activities and making a weekly contribution to the collection. This week, as part of Advent's decoration of the church for Christmas, I donated a Pointsettia in memory of my friend Rob Spears. And I expect I'll be attending Mass there late on Christmas Eve. But, I'm still on the fencepost.

Last week the Mass included a Receiving Service for adults previously baptised or confirmed, who were moving their church home to the Episcopal Church and specifically to the Episcopal Church of the Advent. There were four "receivees" accepted by the Bishop, the Very Reverend Ted Gulick, who was present (as required) for such a service. I outted myself to several people there admitting this was something I had been pondering but had not committed to. As regularly as I have been attending, some were surprised I am not already a member, if not at Advent, then at least at some Episcopal Church. But, not yet.

Finally, 'tis the season. Christmas is upon us, a time of renewal, hope, joy, emergence, and redemption. For the first time in much of my life, people are actually into the religious aspects of the season. We are living in an era of gloom and doom, ill-winded economic forecasts, and layoffs and cutbacks and furloughs and pay reductions. It has given most of us pause - a time to reflect - meaning to look back or again, but more importantly, a time to look forward, to the Christmas Season, and to 2009 and the changes on the way for our Republic.

Thanks Be To God.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

423. Some Fun. Copied from another blog.

The instructions are to copy and paste the list in your own blog and color all of the things YOU have done. Things you haven't done will be in black. Since I don't know how to do colors, the things I have done will be in regular Roman letters; those I haven't will be in italics. I'll make comments along the way.

1. Started my own blog - you are reading it.
2. Slept under the stars - several times, including during the blackout from Hurrican Ike.
3. Played in a band - unless you count elementary school.
4. Visited Hawaii - the one state I've missed.
5. Watched a meteor shower - at Cherokee Park, on the golf course. By the way, there was a meteor shower last night.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity - not many times, but thankfully more than once.
7. Been to Disneyland/world - Once, to Disney World.
8. Climbed a mountain - Mount Greylock, North Adams, Massachusetts. But the one I really want to climb is Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa in Welch.
9. Held a praying mantis - lots when I was younger.
10. Sung a solo - At Prestonia Elementary School, in the 5th grade, singing It Came Upon The Midnight Clear. It wasn't supposed to be a solo. No one else knew the words.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - yes, when I was 5, with my mother and my Aunt Jean Moore, back when you could go al the way up to the top of the torch.
18. Grown my own vegetables - regularly.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train - I really want to do this sometime.
21. Had a pillow fight. No comment.
22. Hitchhiked - back in the late 1970s.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - no comment.
24. Built a snow fort - I can only remember doing this once, in 1966 or 1967 as a very young boy.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping. Several times, most memorably in Benson Creek behind the North Benson Baptist Church.
27. Run a Marathon (yeah, right!)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse - yes, at 2:00 one afternoon here in Louisville in the 1990s.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - regularly.
31. Hit a home run (Little League) - I did try, but no.
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - but I was little and can;t honestly say I remember it.
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - every time I go to Frankfort.
35. Seen an Amish community - there are several south of Louisville.
36. Taught myself a new language - I've tried with some success to learn Arabic thanks to my friend Sattar Al-Soddoun.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - When, Lord when?
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing - not interested.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke - at Saint Therese's Summer Picnic.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt - I want to, though.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant - more than once.
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted - sort of. Not painted but drawn by charcoal and by a caricaturist. The latter was my late Uncle Don, who regularly drew all of us.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain - this brings back unprintable memories.
53. Played in the mud - we had crawdads and snakes in my back yard growing up, so yes.
54. Gone to a drive-in - the old Preston when I was kid.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business - if my political consultancy counts.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen - at the Fransciscan Shelter House on Preston Street.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - regularly.
65. Gone sky diving. You know, Dottie Priddy did that once.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check - regularly.
68. Flown in a helicopter (hot air balloon?) - both, the latter in Frankfort.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - several.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial - yes, and I will again on January 19 or 20.
71. Eaten caviar - yes, once, and no more.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square - twice, but need to again.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job - at least twice.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - several.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - once, with my brother at the wheel (so to speak).
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car - actually a truck, my old 2002 Ranger, which now belongs to my friend Morgan.
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper - a few times.
85. Read the entire Bible - more than once.
86. Visited the White House - once, but plan to again someday.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox - when I was a kid.
89. Saved someone’s life. I could only hope.
90. Sat on a jury - once.
91. Met someone famous - several, including the president-elect.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one - see the previous entry.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit - a few here and there.
98. Owned a cell phone - isn't this a little too common a question?
99. Been stung by a bee - and nearly died.
100. Ridden an elephant - no, but I have ridden a horse.

Are you as bored today as I am?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

422. Happy Birthday Rob

December 13, 2008 would have been the 35th birthday of my friend Rob. Rob died in a motorcycle wreck on July 24, 1991, at the age of 17, or 17 1/2. It has been about 17 1/2 years since his passing. I often think of him. He has now been gone for as long as he was alive.

Happy Birthday Rob.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

421. Trivial Answers, and a highway

Ok, I'm a little pissed that no one bothered to fill out any of my trivia answers. Maybe no one is really reading. So, I am giving you part of it - the trivial part.

The answers are:
a) one who has never held public office -- W. BRUCE LUNSFORD
b) one who has ran as both a Democrat and a Republican -- JOHN YARMUTH
c) one who has been elected in all three branches in two different governments -- IRV MAZE (County Commissioner (legislative), County Attorney (executive), Circuit Judge (state judicial))
d) two who have served in both the state and the federal legislatures -- ANNE NORTHUP (State House, Federal House) and BARACK OBAMA (State Senate, Federal Senate)
f) two who have ran for the old Louisville Board of Aldermen -- JERRY ABRAMSON and JOHN YARMUTH
g) two blacks -- DENISE CLAYTON and BARACK OBAMA
h) two who have ran for Jefferson County Commissioner -- IRV MAZE and JOHN YARMUTH
i) two originally from Okolona -- this one is a mistake I think. If it isn't, the answers are IRV MAZE and DAVID STENGEL, but I think Stengel would be the 11th highest vote-getter. Has to be my mistake because I know a few of these who've probably never been to Okolona.
k) two who have ran as Republicans -- JOHN YARMUTH and ANNE NORTHUP
l) two who presently serve in the only office to which they’ve ever been elected -- SHERIFF JOHN AUBREY and CONGRESSMAN JOHN YARMUTH
m) two sitting judges -- DENISE CLAYTON and IRV MAZE
n) two who commonly go by their middle names -- W. BRUCE LUNSFORD and F. DANIEL MONGIARDO
o) three who won Jefferson County but lost the rest of the state -- W. BRUCE LUNSFORD (2008), F. DANIEL MONGIARDO (2004), and BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA (2008)
p) three whose first name begins with the letter J -- JOHN AUBREY, JOHN YARMUTH, and JERRY ABRAMSON
r) eight presently in office -- This one is wrong. It should say seven who are in office. Lunsford is the odd-man out, but I had originally included Obama, failing to remember that he had resigned his now very controversial United States Senate seat.
s) eight Kentuckians (although at least two of them were born in other states) -- All but PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA, who was born in Hawaii. IRV MAZE was born in Indiana.
t) and one is listed twice, but for two different offices -- IRV MAZE, as County Attorney and at the top of the list as Circuit Judge.

Thanks for playing anyway.


Unrelated, today being entry #421, I could have written about one of Kentucky's forgotten US highways, US421, which meanders across the Commonwealth in a northcentral to southeast direction in anything but a straight line. From Louisville, the closest points to intercept it are in Trimble County at US42 in Bedford, or in Franklin County down along Wilkinson Boulevard in one of Kentucky's original settlements, Leestown, which was later made a part of Frankfort.

But, I didn't. I gave you some trivia instead.


I'll be back soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

420. A Trivia Quiz to keep you busy while I am away.

Here is a quick entry of some political trivia.

Question: Who (what candidate) in any race is the top vote-getter in Jefferson County?

Question: Who (what candidate) in a partisan race is the top vote-getter running in all the precincts in Jefferson County?

Question: Who (what candidate) in a partisan race is the top vote-getter running in all or part of Jefferson County?

Below are some numbers. They represent the highest vote totals for one person in a race in all or part of Jefferson County. To whom do you think they belong?

1. 229,293 - __________________
2. 222,527 - __________________
3. 203,843 - __________________
4. 198,541 - __________________
5. 197,736 - __________________
6. 196,435 - __________________
7. 195,564 - __________________
8. 173,258 - __________________
9. 171,601 - __________________
10. 170,384 - __________________

Here are a bunch of hints.

The answers include:
a) one who has never held public office,
b) one who has ran as both a Democrat and a Republican,
c) one who has been elected in all three branches in two different governments,
d) two who have served in both the state and the federal legislatures,
e) two women,
f) two who have ran for the old Louisville Board of Aldermen,
g) two blacks,
h) two who have ran for Jefferson County Commissioner,
i) two originally from Okolona,
j) two Jews,
k) two who have ran as Republicans,
l) two who presently serve in the only office to which they’ve ever been elected,
m) two sitting judges,
n) two who commonly go by their middle names,
o) three who won Jefferson County but lost the rest of the state,
p) three whose first name begins with the letter J,
q) five attorneys,
r) eight presently in office,
s) eight Kentuckians (although at least two of them were born in other states),
t) and one is listed twice, but for two different offices.

Finally, the eldest of these elected officials is more than 22 years older than the youngest.

Even if you can’t match up the numbers, at least give me the names. And don't cheat. All the answers are easy to find.


See you in a few weeks.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.