Friday, September 24, 2010

653. About those songs . . . .

(It occurs to be that trips down memory lane shouldn't be taken after three or four glasses of wine. Nostalgia can honestly be depressing.)

By the way, this is a very long entry.

A few entries back was a list of the music my friends Lisa Tanner and Lauren Ingram recorded for me to play at the Birthday Celebration last Sunday. Thirty-eight of my thirty-nine favorite songs are listed, if you take into account that the list doesn't include any patriotic or religious songs, or Broadway musical numbers, which would extend the list by several more. Such songs would include America The Beautiful (especially as sung by Ray Charles), The Prayer of Saint Francis, and I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady.

Of the 38 listed of my 39 favorites, the 39th which isn't, is Puff The Magic Dragon, easily the first song I remember from childhood. I can still see that little red 45-RPM record going round and round on my Hi-Fi Record Player. For those of you under 30, you'll have to google it to get the image.

Music is said to be a or the universal language. It certainly allows one to relive memories, re-taste certain foods, re-smell certains aromas, and frankly revisit people and relationships no longer present - some of which are gone forver.

On this first Friday of the Second Century of my life, I've been thinking long and hard about people and events which got me from 1960 to 2010. It has been, as I am sure it is for everyone, quite a journey. Below are some thoughts next to the titles recorded on the CD. Some have deep personal meaning, others are quite simple and unimportant. Nonetheless, these are the songs which have been the music to which I've lived my life thus far. So after the title will be a short note or name which comes to mind when listening to that particular song.

To wit:

You’re Sixteen, Ringo Starr - Cheryl Eadens was the younger sister of a girl in my class, Glenda. I had a huge crush on Cheryl. I wonder what became of her.

Hotel California, The Eagles - just a song from high school. It came out my senior year at Durrett.

Piano Man, Billy Joel - Murphy's on Main Street, which had a piano room to the left. I enjoyed hanging out there requesting certain songs. As a piano player, although not a very good one, I konw many of the songs on this list are piano-based.

Free For All, Ted Nugent - another song from high school. It came out during my sophomore year, the most difficult of my life. Both of my grandmothers had died while I was 15. This was also the first year of court-ordered bussing in Jefferson County. A very tumultuous time. My brother was a Ted Nugent fan as well.

Undercover Angel, Alan O’ Day - no one or no thing in particular. This song and Chevy Van, which could have made the list alongside this one, just seem like fun songs.

Garden Party, Ricky Nelson - There comes a time when you feel more like a loner than a joiner - breaking away from the norms expected of you. This is what Ricky Nelson is singing about and I can easily identify. Like Puff the Magic Dragon, I think I've known this song most of my life.

Running On Empty, Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne is my favorite singer. I've liked this song since it came out in 1977. Another piano-based recording, it was released the very day I began my freshman year at the University of Kentucky. It is part of several songs which became standards for me and Mary-John Celletti in our visits back-and-forth between Lexington, Frankfort, and Louisville in our Young Democrat days.

Build Me Up Buttercup, The Foundations - This song, and a few others, remind me of my friend Rob. Next July Rob will have been gone 20 years.

American Pie, Don McLean - My dad turned me on to this song while he lived in Torrance, California, which was also home to the writer and singer Mr. Mclean. I first heard this song over the telephone played by my father on a guitar. I was ten years old at the time. At over eight minutes long, it is one of the longest songs on the playlist.

I’ll Be There, Jackson Five - I wrote last summer on the passing of Michael Jackson. He sang the lead in this song early in the career of the Jackson Five. I love the words and the passion with which he sang it in those early years. As an aside, my friend Keith, who now lives in Brooklyn, is a dead ringer for Jackson from the early years.

I Just Called To Say I Love You, Stevie Wonder - just a neat, simple song, seemingly played on a Hammond Organ as opposed to a piano. It mentions a Libra Sun. I suppose such is related to an Autumnal Equinox/Harvest Moon, which regular readers know got me excited a few nights ago. Erroneously, Wonder mentions an August Harvest Moon. I don't think that is possible.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen - Who, from the my age, doesn't like Queen?

Lyin’ Eyes, The Eagles - This song, and the next two following (and a few later in the list), reminds me of Janice Platt, a young lady I adored from the first moment I saw her when I was in 9th grade and she was in 7th. It was #264 on the jukebox at the old Busch's Tavern on Poplar Level Road.

My Eyes Adored You, Frankie Valli - The second in the series. If when riding in the car with my mother this song comes on the radio, Mom knows to end whatever conversation we are in, to be quiet, and listen.

Mandy, Barry Manilow - The third of three. I like a lot of Manilow. This one begins with the mellow keys of a piano. I like how his songs typically built up to a great crescendo, then played out.

Boys Of Summer, Don Henley - Another song which appears for no reason other than I like it.

We Are The World, Michael Jackson and others - This collaboration from the 1980s is one of the greatest collections of voices anywhere to be found on vinyl. Lionel Ritchie plays the piano in my favorite version.

Killing Me Softly, Roberta Flack - While this song was first recorded in 1971 (and 1973 by Flack, a renowned pianist) and has been a favorite of mine for many years, it took on new meaning in February 2003 when I met Migael Dickerson. Migael is an excellent classical pianist and shortly after meeting him and learning of his musical ability, one snowy afternoon we visited the 851 Mansion, part of the old house within Spalding University's Administration Building. In the parlor of the house is a grand piano which Migael played for nearly two hours, completely mesmerizing me, a spell which remains to this day. If you watched the You Tube videos from the Birthday Celebration, Migael is the interviewer/videographer.

Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne - Another from California rocker Jackson Browne, this from his first album in 1972. And like so many songs herein, underlain by a piano - this one very, very upbeat. Like many songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, there is an interior verse or two which is strictly instrumental, something of a jam session and something which writers/singers no longer do. I miss jam sessions between the second and third verses of songs.

Take It To The Limit, The Eagles - Belinda Holloman was another girl from high school. She lived in Audubon Park and I spent many afternoons there. I haven't seen her in years but she come to mind everytime I hear this song. I know her mother Bonnie passed away recently.

1999, Prince - An anthem for my generation.

One More Try (Teacher), George Michael - This song came out in 1988. Several from George Michael sound alike but this is easily my favorite. Very mystical due to what sounds like a pipe organ, it reminds me of, really, nobody in particular, other than maybe Keith in Brooklyn.

Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody, David Lee Roth - This is just a very, very fun song, a remake of a big-band era (1929) less-than-fun song based on World War I life in Austria. David Lee Roth, the former and present lead man for Van Halen, hails from nearby Bloomington, Indiana.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Guns ’n’ Roses - Bob Dylan wrote this song in 1973 and it was later popularized by Billy Rose/GnR. It is another song bringing to mind my late friend Rob. He covered this on guitar. I like the music, Rose's rough voice (which my friend Keith mocks in a perfect impression), and the lengthy jam session, which is heavily laden with piano playing on the far right end of the 88 keys. It is a great song.

Load Out/Stay, Jackson Browne - the culminating song from the 1977 Running on Empty album, it is another of the long songs in the playlist. The falsetto from the Stay part of the song is memorable for many. And like so many of my favorites, it is played on the piano, starting from the fresh dark notes to the rollouts toward the end. It was the closing song for most of Browne's concerts.

Patience, Guns ’n’ Roses - This was the song for Rob and his girlfriend Tiffany, who lived over by Bowman Field. And, again, I'm an Axl Rose fan.

Black Water, The Doobie Brothers - I remember listening to this song over at my friend Janice's house on East Manslick Road when I was in the 9th or 10th grade. I used to ride my bike from my house to her's, a distance of exactly three miles.

Dream On, Aerosmith - Another high school fave.

Ben, Michael Jackson - What can I say? I loved the early sounds of a young Michael Jackson.

All Summer Long, Kid Rock - This is a very recent song, compared to all the others, debuting in the United States in April 2008, a crossover rock/country song. Admittedly, I'm not a Kid Rock fan but this is his greatest hit to date. I am a fan of the southern rock genre although very few songs on this list fit that category. Like Doctor My Eyes, many southern rock songs have an interior instrumental jam session. This song is an homage to Lynard Skynard and others from that era. I really like it.

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday, Boyz II Men - This a capella version of a 1975 Rhythm and Blues song was released in August 1991, a few very short weeks after the death of my friend Rob. "And I'll take with me the memories, To be my sunshine after the rain, It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday."

Seasons In The Sun, Terry Jacks - This is a song from my early teen years, reminding me of my friends up and down Whippoorwill Road, especially Susan LaCour and Debbie Bischoff. We spent a lot of time at Susan's, whose room - I remember to this day - was decorated in many shades of purple.

Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelburg - Janice Platt, again. Will it ever end?

I’ll Be Missing You, Sean Combs/Faith Evans - This HipHop ballad/homage to the late Notorious Big (about whom I know nothing) is a very moving song blending words from The Police's 1983 Every Breath You Take, and a line from the gospel song I'll Fly Away. It placed #1 on music charts all around the world following its release in 1997. Who among isn't missing a friend who we hope, as the lyrics say,"In the future, can't wait to see, If you open up the gates for me." Indeed.

Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd - I don't remember when, but at some point in 2004 or 2005, my aforementioned friend Migael took off to Cleveland. This song, which I've known forever, took on new meaning as I wondered if he would ever return to Louisville. He did.

For Once In My Life, Stevie Wonder - What is there not to like about Stevie Wonder? This song is a lot of fun.

Good Bye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John - No repertoire of songs for a 50 year old would be complete without an Elton John or two. Crocodile Rock was an early favorite of mine, a song my friend Glen Shumate played for hours on end at his house on South Park Road. GBYBR is my favorite Elton John recording.

Free Bird, Lynard Skynard - Hell, yeah. At 9 minutes, 6 seconds, it is the longest song on my list, or probably anyone else's. Free Bird is the quintessential southern rock anthem. It is the quintessential anthem for a generation or two of Americans, especially those in the Old South, for which Louisville (just barely) qualifies. It is a song that irrespective of the weather, if you are driving, you are prone to roll down the windows, turn up the volume, and sing along. I've been doing that since I first started driving in 1976, cruising around in my 1967 Chevy II Nova. I miss it. I miss it all.


Well, that's it. Thanks for reading. What are your favorites? Why? And, how many of these have you been humming along with?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September 23rd

O to be in Louisville now that I'm 50.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

651. A Harvest Moon of Grand Proportion

I often write of the change of the seasons - what the late Colonel R. K. Walker called the cardinal points of the earth's progression around the Sun. Tonight at 11:09 pm Louisville time will be this year's occurence of the Autumnal Equinox, a special day for many people marking the change from longer days and shorter nights to shorter days and longer nights. It has always been a special time for me as for much of my life, it has fallen on or close to my birthday.

Tomorrow marks, at high noon, 12:00 pm, the 50th Anniversary of My Nativity, an event which took place at the old Norton Infirmary, once located at the northeast corner of Third and Oak streets, where Treyton Oak Towers now stand.

I've also written in the past about the rising and setting of the Moon, Earth's eternal friend and satellite. Different moons are called by different names - the Beaver Moon, the Strawberry Moon, the Hunter's Moon, and the one most of us have knowledge of, the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is that full moon which rises closest to the Autumnal Equinox.

Tonight, the two occur simultaneously. For lunaphiles like me - some might call us lunatics - this double phenomenon is worthy of a celebration. Combining that with my 50th Birthday probably means that at some point tonight, shortly after the 22nd changes into the 23rd, I will go outside, sit in my chair, light up a good cigar - I got three at my birthday celebration last Sunday - and gaze at the moon, a full Harvest Moon rising with the Autumnal Equinox.

Life is grand. Thanks be to God.


Below is an article from NASA's website, written by Dr. Tony Phillips, addressing this amazing alignment of time and space.

Sept. 22, 2010: For the first time in almost 20 years, northern autumn is beginning on the night of a full Moon. The coincidence sets the stage for a "Super Harvest Moon" and a must-see sky show to mark the change of seasons.

The action begins at sunset on Sept 22nd, the last day of northern summer. As the sun sinks in the west, bringing the season to a close, the full Harvest Moon will rise in the east, heralding the start of fall. The two sources of light will mix together to create a kind of 360-degree, summer-autumn twilight glow that is only seen on rare occasions.

The Harvest Moon of Oct. 3, 2009, photographed by Catalin M. Timosca of Turda, Romania.

Keep an eye on the Moon as it creeps above the eastern skyline. The golden orb may appear strangely inflated. This is the Moon illusion at work. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, a low-hanging Moon appears much wider than it really is. A Harvest Moon inflated by the moon illusion is simply gorgeous.

The view improves as the night wears on.

Northern summer changes to fall on Sept. 22nd at 11:09 pm EDT. At that precise moment, called the autumnal equinox, the Harvest Moon can be found soaring high overhead with the planet Jupiter right beside it. The two brightest objects in the night sky will be in spectacular conjunction to mark the change in seasons.

The Harvest Moon gets its name from agriculture. In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset. It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market. The full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox became "the Harvest Moon," and it was always a welcome sight.

This one would be extra welcome because it is extra "Harvesty."

Usually, the Harvest Moon arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall. It's close, but not a perfect match. The Harvest Moon of 2010, however, reaches maximum illumination a mere six hours after the equinox. This has led some astronomers to call it the "Harvestest Moon" or a "Super Harvest Moon." There hasn't been a comparable coincidence since Sept 23, 1991, when the difference was about 10 hours, and it won't happen again until the year 2029.

A Super Harvest Moon, a rare twilight glow, a midnight conjunction—rarely does autumn begin with such celestial fanfare.

Enjoy the show!

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

650. Thank you Mary Moss Greenebaum, or How I got to spend fifteen minutes with Richard Wolffe talking about Louisville history

I know - it is a long title.

I had a great evening, more of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of my nativity. My friend Michael Garton, a wonderful young man, joined me for the Kentucky Author Forum which tonight featured David Plouffe of the Obama for President campaign and Richard Wolffe, a journalist and author. Mr. Wolffe interviewed Mr. Plouffe for one hour on the Bomhard Theater Stage at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. It was a very interesting talk about Plouffe's book The Audacity to Win, and other events surrounding the candidacy and election and subsequent presidency of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States. Mr. Wolffe is one of the few national correspondents I can identify and I am a big fan. Of course I'm a fan of Plouffe as well as he is largely responsible for Mr. Obama's election. But meeting Mr. Wolffe was a big deal for me.

After the interview, Michael and I made our way with about 50 others across Main Street and up to the 25th floor of the Humana Building. Midway across Main, I was introduced to Mr. Plouffe by Mary Moss Greenebaum, the lady responsible for the Kentucky Author Forum, now in its sixteenth year. I thanked him for his work with the president as well as his visit to Louisville.

Upstairs in the Humana Building a dinner was to be served but there was an interval of time while drinks were offered that the crowd and the special guests mingled and chatted. Mr. Wolffe and I found ourselves out on Humana's 25th floor "porch" which overlooks the Kentucky Center, I-64, the Ohio River, and into southern Indiana. It was at this time that, after introductions and a picture (which is frankly too dark) I gave Mr. Wolffe a brief fifteen minute history of Louisville, dating back to the reason the Ohio River was formed - here at the southern edge of the Wisconsin Glacial Episode, forming the river some 30000 to 10000 years ago. I spoke of our Falls as the porting point for travelers and the reason for our modern founding by George Rogers Clark. We talked of the southern Indiana cities of New Albany, Clarksville (and especially the Colgate clock and plant), and Jeffersonville. I recounted the renaissance in downtown Louisville in the 1970s and 1980s with the construction of the Belvedere, The Kentucky Center, the building we were in - the Humana Building, and the beginnings of the Waterfront Park. We also discussed why interstates were built along the rivers in the 1960s and I gave him a quick 8664 primer, recalling how Interstate 880 - the Cypress Street Viaduct - was levelled by the 1989 "World Series" earthquake in San Francisco and how that levelling sparked an interest in doing the same thing here but without the earthquake and with completion on I-265 in northeastern Jefferson County. That led to a brief discussion of the current mayor's race and a reminder that while Kentucky was a "red state" in the 2008 presidential election, Louisville and Jefferson County went "blue" for Obama. We had just began a discussion on urban planning, a subject of interest to both of us, when the dinner bell called us off the porch and into the dining area.

With Michael and I at our dinner table were Cathy Yarmuth, Chris Nolan, Keith Runyan, Mary Ellen Weiderwohl, and Ned and Nina Bonnie, two of Kentucky's great philanthropists. One table over were the two author-guests. Also seated with them were the host Mary Moss Greenebaum, my friend Michael Nordman from the Greg Fischer for Mayor campaign, Aaron Yarmuth, and Christie and Owsley Brown, two more of Kentucky's great philanthropists. The other forty or so guests were scattered at other tables. We dined on salad, asparagus spears, bison, and a rice patty. Dessert and coffee came later.

After the mean, each of the authors addressed the gathering for about fifteen minutes. They discussed in more intimate detail their respective books - Mr. Wolffe's is entitled Renegade and also covers the Obama campaign. It was a most enjoyable evening.

For this evening I have Mary Moss Greenebaum to thank. The tickets for Michael and I were a present from her for my birthday. I had a wonderful and engaging time and I know Michael did as well. If you see Mary Moss, let her know how grateful I am. And to Michael, thank you too.


On a sad note, I've learned this evening of the passing of Father Jim Lichtefeld, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville and a friend of many years. Father could be a little rough around the edges but was always a great man to be around. I enjoyed his stories and his dedication to most everyone he knew. One of his closest friends was Kenny Gephart, a former neighbor of mine on Ellison Avenue. Kenny died last year. The two of them, along with Kenny's wife LaVerne, managed to have a great deal of fun in everything they did, especially the road trips they took around the country. Fr. Jim will be sorely missed.

May his soul and the souls of all the departed Rest In Peace. +

Monday, September 20, 2010

First Addendum to #649. Links to Videos and a Song List for the Birthday Celebration

The last entry discussed the celebration. Unbeknownst to me, my dear friend Migael Dickerson, along with Curtis Morrison (, were busy making two videos - a walking/talking documentary of the event - which have been posted on YouTube. The links to the videos are below.

Also, I mentioned that Lisa Tanner and Lauren Ingram made some CDs for me, something I referred to the "music of my life." I had them arrange the music in a particular order and I've listed the playbill below. I absolutely enjoyed listening to what I could during the celebration but couldn't hear all of it. I've since been listening while at home. Here is the list:

1.You’re Sixteen, Ringo Starr, 3:59
2.Hotel California, The Eagles, 6:30
3.Piano Man, Billy Joel, 5:38
4.Free For All, Ted Nugent, 3:20
5.Undercover Angel, Alan O’ Day, 3:40
6.Garden Party, Ricky Nelson, 3:59
7.Running On Empty, Jackson Browne, 5:20
8.Build Me Up Buttercup, The Foundations, 3:00
9.American Pie, Don McLean, 8:33
10.I’ll Be There, Jackson Five, 3:57
11.I Just Called To Say I Love You, Stevie Wonder, 4:16
12.Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen, 2:45
13.Lyin’ Eyes, The Eagles, 3:58
14.My Eyes Adored You, Frankie Valli, 3:37
15.Mandy, Barry Manilow, 3:19
16.Boys Of Summer, Don Henley, 4:47
17.We Are The World, Michael Jackson and others, 7:02
18.Killing Me Softly, Roberta Flack, 4:47
19.Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne, 3:11
20.Take It To The Limit, The Eagles, 4:47
21.1999, Prince, 6:25
22.One More Try (Teacher), George Michael, 5:17
23.Just A Gigolo, David Lee Roth, 6:00
24.Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Guns ’n’ Roses, 5:40
25.Load Out/Stay, Jackson Browne, 9:06
26.Patience, Guns ’n’ Roses, 5:56
27.Black Water, The Doobie Brothers, 4:17
28.Dream On, Aerosmith, 4:24
29.Ben, Michael Jackson, 2:44
30.All Summer Long, Kid Rock, 4:57
31.It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday, Boyz 2 Men, 3:07
32.Seasons In The Sun, Terry Jacks, 3:36
33.Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelburg, 5:20
34.I’ll Be Missing You, Sean Combs/Faith Evans, 5:30
35.Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd, 4:53
36.For Once In My Life, Stevie Wonder, 2:52
37.Good Bye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John, 3:14
38.Free Bird, Lynard Skynard, 9:06

Do you like any of these songs? Let me know. A few of them remind me of specific people or specific times in my life. Others I simply like. If you were at the party, you could have heard all of them since the play time runs right at three hours.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

649. A most excellent celebration

I am a very happy man tonight. Later this week I will be 50. Today, I was joined by 165 friends and about ten members of my family - also friends, for the record - for a birthday celebration. I just can't say how pleased and happy the day has made me.

But, never being a man of few words, I'll try.

First, I need to thank the people who helped me put it together. My friend Jessie Phelps was there before it started and helped me end the day by loading the car with all the presents I specifically told people not to bring but they did anyway. She is a great friend.

I had food from Ken Herndon who makes the most excellent Chicken and Pasta Salad in Louisville. He also brought some Avacado/Corn relish and other things. Susan Clark brought a hot dish and my boss, Brent Ackerson, brought the largest birthday cake in the shape of our great Commonwealth anyone has ever seen. There was plenty for everyone. There were a few other dishes on the table - I don't know who brought them but I am very grateful.

My bartenders for the afternoon were Michael Seewer, Christa Robinson, Jacob Conway, Bryan Mathews, Rande Swann, and her husband Don Swann. Thanks to all of you for making that part of the day (beer, whiskey, wine, and soft drinks) a success.

For music, I sent a list of the three hours of songs I wanted to hear to my friends Lisa Tanner and Lauren Ingram. They made me a set of CDs to play which required me to do something I've never done before - buy a CD player. I did so yesterday while out in Shelby County on my way back from visiting Cropper Days, a rural neighborhood festival in northeastern Shelby County. Thank you Lisa and Lauren. I now not only have the music of my life, but also the means by which to play it. The frist song of the night was Ringo Starr's "You're Sixteen." The final song was Lynard Skynard's "Freebird." In between were songs from Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, George Michael, the Eagles, Elton John, Michael Jackson, several from Jackson Browne, and a few others.

The party took place in the auditorium of my church, the Episcopal Church of the Advent. We had decorations leftover from the church's Annual Fundraising Dinner which was last night. Helping me coordinate things with the church were Fr. Tim Mitchell, Sam Dorr, Bryan Hoover, and Christopher Skye. Several members of the church were in attendance. I am so grateful to be a part of their church family.

I also had friends from all corners of my life. From my teenage days were Danny and Patty Meyer - they lived on E. Brandeis Avenue when I was a teenager. (By the way, I love the pic. Who is that handsome kid with the skinny waist and a full head of hair?) Another person who arrived early was Jimmy York, a Bellarmine College friend who lived in Germantown and later Pewee Valley. From my college and Kentucky Young Democrat days was Mary John Celletti and Mark Henry and a few others. Harry Johnson and I worked our first campaign together in 1979 - Thelma Stovall's race for governor. From my personal list of friends, some old, some very new, were Kevin Hickey, Susan Clark, Mark and Linda Weisemann Mulloy (with whom I worked many years of Friday nights for Bellarmine Booster Bingo), Michael Lucchese (whose card reminded that we've been friends for 17 of his 31 years and which he then added was nearly 1/3 of my life). Chris Bizzaco, Lynn Fischer, Margaret Harris, and Michael Nordman were there from one of the two campaigns I'm presently working in. Also present were Hazel Hartley who once sold me a pickup truck on a handshake. Linda Howell and Joan Powers were friends from my days in the Jefferson County Attorney's Ofice. My two closest friends, Ken Herndon and Irvin Montero-Garcia, were both present. I have to admit I was particularly happy to see Stuart Perelmuter, Michael Garton, Aaron Jent, Michael Lucchese, and especially Migael Dickerson. Honestly, there were too many people to name and I know I'm leaving some one or two or three of the 175 or so who were there out of the list.

However, as a part of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party family, I am obliged to mention the electeds who were present. (It is something we all do to impress ourselves mostly since the general public really doesn't care). Present to celebrate Birthday #50 with me were Congressman John Yarmuth (who is running for re-election), State Senators Tim Shaughnessy and Perry Clark, State Representative Darryl Owens (also running this year), Louisville Metro Council members Judy Green, Tom Owen, Vicki Welch, and my boss, Brent Ackerson. Also Jefferson District Judges Katie King, Sadiqa Reynolds, and Erica Lee Williams. Judy, Vicki, and the three judicial candidates are all of the ballot in November. Also present were Jefferson Circuit Clerk David Nicholson and Jefferson PVA Tony Lindauer. Tony is on this fall's ballot as well. Candidates Ken Herndon (for 6th District Council), Marty Meyer (for the 38th Senate seat once held by his father), John Sommers (for 23rd District Council), and Bryan Mathews (running for County Judge/Executive) were also present.

Finally, my family members were, with the exception of my niece Kavesha, all present. My parents, Barbara Hockensmith and Gene Noble; my uncle and aunt Chris and Ann, my Aunt Judy,; my one and only sibling Kevin, five of his children - Lindsey, Jacob, Aubreana, Kevin, and Elijah, and my brother's girlfriend Tenesa. That was all great.

I found out a few others were celebrating birthdays this week. Brandon Coan (whose party was last night) will be 30 on the 22nd - he popped in for a minute not quite recovered from last night's festivities. Laura Cullinane, Steve Barger, Steve's wife Willa, and Marty Meyer - all present today - are all getting older one day very soon. And while they weren't there, but while we are on the subject of birthdays, my dear friend Will Carle will be 30 tomorrow; my friend since from my teenage years Tim Allgeier is 50 today, and Sharon Holbert will be 60 the day I turn 50, later this week on the 23rd.

It's going to be a great week. And the week has started with a great celebration today. Again, I'm very happy.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

648. Ninety-Five Degrees

Do you realize it is 95 degrees right now - 5:36 pm. 95. As in "damn near 100." The normal temperature for today is 75 - as in 20 degrees cooler than it is. Tomorrow it is going to cool off to a more comfortable 85. At least there is a nice southeasterly breeze.

Monday, September 13, 2010

647. Off to Oldham, and back

After work today I ventured up to Jefferson County's neighbor to the northeast, Oldham, and specifically to the small village of Westport, an idyllic gathering of maybe six city blocks of one-lane roads (and one large modern subdivision) set on the banks of the Ohio River about eighteen miles upriver from Louisville and eight miles due north of Oldham's county seat, La Grange - or LaGrange, without the space. I usually use the space. Westport at one time served as the County Seat for the county - in fact it did it twice before La Grange finally took the title for good in 1838. Westport is a very old village, as old as (or perhaps a year or two older than) our hometown of Louisville here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. If my math is correct, Westport is somewhere close to Milepost 588.

Getting to Westport is simple. Go out US42 until you come to KY524. KY524 intersects US42 at two different places. If coming from the east at Sligo, it is about a five and a half mile journey. From the west at Skylight it is just over a three mile journey. While the directions are simple, the road itself is a little treacherous with its narrow shoulders and undulating pattern. I wouldn't want to have to drive it on any regular basis nor would I want to drive it at all on snow or ice.

The occasion was the Friends of Westport forum for candidates. I went to see John Waltz, the Democratic candidate for Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District at the invitation of my friend (and fellow State Party Committeemember) Lisa Tanner. Besides Mr. Waltz and his opponent, the Republican incumbent, there were also speeches from candidates for the State House and Senate. Not speaking but mingling in the crowd were two judicial candidate as well as an old friend, former Jefferson District Judge John Carter, an Okolona native and Southern High School graduate who is the Republican nominee for Oldham County Attorney. I've known Judge Carter for many years and we had a nice chat. Danny and Patty Meyer, more friends of many years, were also present. Danny was the 8th Ward Aldermen and later the 38th District State Senator in Louisville in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. He and Patty retired to the outskirts of La Grange a few years back. I had seen them earlier in the day at a press conference held by their son, my friend Marty Meyer, who is running to reclaim for the Democrats the Senate seat formerly held by his father.

The setting for the event in Westport was quite simple - the local firehouse. All the trucks had been pulled outside opening up the floor for a dais and chairs. Actually, there weren't many firehouse chairs and the townspeople had been advised to bring their own chairs which most did. About 30 people were gathered for some simple speeches from the candidates. Although the county sheriff stood at the firehouse door, it was all a very friendly affair, complete with pitchers of lemonade and kool-aid, along with several varieties of cookies. I focussed on the peanut butter cookies. It took me four before I decided whether or not I actually liked them. I did.

After the forum the townspeople returned to their homes, many on foot carrying their fold-up chairs, while the out-of-towners trekked back to civilisation along KY524 and US42. Before leaving the little village (a place I've been to maybe six times over the years, and along with Taylorsville, one of the first places off the beaten path I drove to when I was sixteen and alone behind the wheel) I lit a nice cigar and took a walk.

The firehouse is located at 3rd and Clinton streets - again both not much more than one-lane wide. I walked down the alley beside the firehouse to Second Street, or Covington Ridge Road as described on the map. Turns out that alley was actually Court Street. Then a few feet eastward was another extension of Clinton Street which takes you down the hill toward the river and Front Street. The older part of the town is up on the hill. There is a market, a restaurant, a Baptist Church, and a post office. Oldham County government maintains a park and boat ramp at the foot of Main Street near to the river. My walk took me down to the water's edge where, following an ancient tradition, I slipped off a shoe and sock and stuck my toes in. Two women sitting on a boat pier watched my little performance but said nothing, at least while I was within earshod.

The first time I went out there in 1977, there was no new subdivision. The Jack Taylor Place subdivision of large homes on large lots was built in the 1980s. It is to the west of the town on a cleared plain. West of town means west of Washington Street, another one-lane road and east of Eighteen Mile Creek, which empties into the Ohio just above Eighteen Mile Island. On the outside corner of Fourth and Washington, at what appears to be the original southwest corner of the town, is the Westport Public Cemetery. Another cemetery, also on Fourth, on the east side, meaning two blocks away, is a walled cemetery named for three families. Unfortunately, only one caught my attention - Palin. I wonder if the former governor of Alaska's husband has any kin back here in Kentucky. Almost every family which went west does. Maybe Todd Palin is no exception.

After my walking tour, about 3/4 mile, I returned to my car and, like the other non-locals, made mmy way back to US42, and thence southwestwardly home. It was a pleasant little trip.

Friday, September 3, 2010

646. Americans

A group of us from the office went over to the WorldFest today for lunch. This two-day festival draws together all the cultures to be found in Louisville and anyone who knows the city knows we have quite a few. From eastern Europeans to Indians and Asians and Africans and, mostly, Latinos from throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Today we got 371 more. Walking back to the office, I cut through the Kentucky Center for the Arts where a ceremony had just concluded with United States Judge John Heyburn administering the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America to these 371 new fellow Americans.

Here is the standard Oath:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

Although I missed the actual ceremony today (by just minutes) I have witnessed these ceremonies in the past. I recall one in the Federal Court House on Broadway and another in Jefferson Square several years ago. This is the fifth year in a row that such a ceremony has taken place during the WorldFest celebration. They are among the most emotional of events I've ever attended. And there are no words to fully express the jubilation in the room afterwards. Cameras flashing, videos rolling, and phones flicking of the new Americans holding their Certificates of Naturalization and Citizenship. These new Americans and their families spilled out the back doors of The Center into the WorldFest, and out the front doors onto Main Street, the main street of a city, state, and nation they can now call their own, most carrying a small version of the Stars and Stripes alongside their Citizenship papers. I congratulate them one and all.

And, just for a minute, take the time to re-read the oath these new Americans took. It is an oath of words which none of us born within the boundaries of America have probably ever uttered. Most of it would be second nature to most of us, but there is that one line - "that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law . . ." Would all of us answer such a call were it made? "Civilian direction" I suppose (and I am strictly guessing) means a call by the mayor or governor or president to do some duty in times of need. My only recollection in recent memory of such a call was from President Bush after the events of September 11, when he told us all to go shopping, to keep the business of America going. While he was ridiculed at the time for such a menial request, it probably was in the national interest.

We all take our citizenship for granted. We shouldn't as these 371 new Americans demonstrated today. To them I say congratulations and welcome to the family, welcome home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

645. I'm biased, but those numbers have a problem

In the November 2000 election in Jefferson County (which has twelve precincts more than the 3rd Congressional District), of those persons who cast a ballot, 59.43% were Democrats and 32.87% were Republicans.

In the November 2002 election in Jefferson County (which has twelve precincts more than the 3rd Congressional District), of those persons who cast a ballot, 59.58% were Democrats and 34.05% were Republicans.

In the November 2003 election in Jefferson County (which has twelve precincts more than the 3rd Congressional District), of those persons who cast a ballot, 60.08% were Democrats and 34.25% were Republicans.

In the November 2004 election in Jefferson County (which has twelve precincts more than the 3rd Congressional District), of those persons who cast a ballot, 58.45% were Democrats and 33.99% were Republicans.

In the November 2006 election in Jefferson County (which has twelve precincts more than the 3rd Congressional District), of those persons who cast a ballot, 59.21% were Democrats and 34.14% were Republicans.

In the November 2007 election in Jefferson County (which has twelve precincts more than the 3rd Congressional District), of those persons who cast a ballot, 60.64% were Democrats and 33.30% were Republicans.

In the November 2008 election in Jefferson County (which has twelve precincts more than the 3rd Congressional District), of those persons who cast a ballot, 60.51% were Democrats and 32.53% were Republicans.

Today, Survey USA released a poll in which they say that the electorate will be 50% Democratic and 40% Republican - 10% fewer Democrats than have, on average, voted in every election since 2000 and 7% more Republicans than have, on average, voted in every election since 2000. During all those elections we've elected a Republican president and governor as well as a Democratic president and governor. Still, the numbers don't change. My guess is they wont change much this year either.

For the Survey USA poll to be accurate, which on its face it isn't, they'd need to poll about 60% Democrats and 34% Republicans. That is who actually votes. They didn't poll those numbers. When they do, I'll pay closer attention.

As I said, as a consultant to the Yarmuth campaign, I am biased. And for the record, this is not a statement from the campaign; it is just me rambling on about numbers, something I do with regularity. Numbers are numbers and these, on their face, are wrong.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

644. September Opens with a Democratic Opening

First, Happy September. Today is Buddy Vaughn's birthday. He is a friend from college days in Lexington and is a year or so older than me. To celebrate he sent me, via Facebook, Jerry Orbach's recording of September Song from the Broadway musical The Fantasticks. The Fantasticks opened off-Broadway the year I was born and ran continuously for forty-two years, making it the world's longest running off-Broadway musical. It reopened in 2006 and is still running. The story is a combination of Romeo and Juliet along with A Midsummer's Night Dream. But then most everything to me can be reduced to something from either Shakespeare or the Bible. Still, the song is one of my favorites. But this isn't a theater entry.

Rather, this is a political entry, albeit brief. If politics isn't your cup-of-tea, click on the "travel" link on the right and read about something else.

If you are still with me, it has been a good day politically here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. The Democratic Party opened its Coordinated Campaign Headquarters, which is being co-sited with the Jefferson County Headquarters at 640 Barret Avenue, behind the old Jillians, a few feet northwest of Broadway, specifically in precinct L115, the home precinct of State Representative Tom Riner.

A crowd of about 250 gathered in the parking lot under warm but comfortably breezy skies for the occasion which featured speaking from Congressman John Yarmuth, mayoral candidate Greg Fischer, State Representative Reginald Meeks, and U. S. Senate candidate Jack Conway. Food and drinks were served.

After that, I attended a fundraiser for Greg Fischer at the home of Congressman Yarmuth. For the purposes of full disclosure, I am a paid consultant to both campaigns and this criss-crossing of the two was convenient for me, if nothing else. After the fundraiser, I stuck around the Congressman's home with other friends and family members for several discussions of great import. Needless to say, I learned a lot simply by listening.

I'm not one to take too many pictures and I keep forgetting my phone doubles as a camera (among other things). I did snap a picture today of my friend Shawn Reilly at the earlier Democratic rally. I've always been appreciative of the fact that Shawn, along with Josh Mather, were the first people who came over to Yarmuth's headquarters after the '06 Primary in which their candidate for Congress came up short - within a few days. That was classy on their part. Here is a pic of Shawn at today's event.

That's all for now. September should prove to be interesting - and far more comfortable than August.

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.