Jun 062013
 

The business of revolution

Dakota Shaw of the Stoner Creek Boys hard at work at his temporary day job as CEO of Revolting! Inc. Photo by Patrick O’Dowd.

Dakota Shaw of the Stoner Creek Boys hard at work at his temporary day job as CEO of Revolting! Inc. Photo by Patrick O’Dowd.

By Patrick O’Dowd 

Walking up to the Lexington branch of the Land of Tomorrow gallery, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Earlier in the week, I had spoken to ELandF Projects founder Bruce Burris—the instigator behind this performance piece and countless others—and he had made it clear he didn’t have the slightest clue what Dakota Shaw and Paul Michael Brown had up their sleeves for the “Design Your Own Revolution” project. Burris even warned that it was well within the performers’ rights to not show up at all.

The revolutionaries-turned-startup-business-partners did show—or at least one of them did. Sitting behind a desk in Land of Tomorrow’s gallery space was Dakota Shaw. You might know him better from the local band Stoner Creek Boys, but I suspect it’s highly unlikely that when performing music Shaw is dressed up in a tie and tucked-in, button-down shirt—which he was today. The sight was some sort of cross between Office Space and the Brad Pitt character from that one movie about soap. When asked about the current location of his business associate, Paul Michael Brown, Shaw said he was busy running errands around town. They’re a young business on the rocks and certain hands about town had to be greased. Providing affordable revolutions in this day and age isn’t easy. It’s all about who you know.  Continue reading »

Jun 062013
 

By Robert Jensen

Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? That’s hardly surprising: Life as we know it is almost over. While the dominant culture encourages dysfunctional denial—pop a pill, go shopping, find your bliss—there’s a more sensible approach: Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish—and then get apocalyptic.

We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world. We are intensifying an assault on the ecosystems in which we live, undermining the ability of that living world to sustain a large-scale human presence into the future. When all the world darkens, looking on the bright side is not a virtue but a sign of irrationality. Continue reading »

Jun 012013
 

On the Fayette commons, part 3

By Danny Mayer

Don’t look to me for virtue, for high-minded feats or elevated speech that flows in a stream of lustrous silver—when cutting is my nature, meandering my path. Find me instead lowdown, landscape in tow as I take the way of least resistance, draining the uplands, purging the slopes.

From “The river issues a statement regarding its watery ethos,” by Richard Taylor

The Scape/Landscape Architecture design plan entitled “Reviving Town Branch” presents a compelling vision for a linear downtown urban park. The plan divides the Lexington, Kentucky, Town Branch watershed into four design phase/areas: Reveal (Rupp Arena), Clean (Vine Street to CentrePointe), Carve (CentrePoint to Thoroughbread Park), and Connect (the lower East End to Isaac Murphy Park).

Map from http://www.townbranchcommons.com/

Map from http://www.townbranchcommons.com/

The Scape map, like all maps of the area, lends itself to a certain reading. The stream’s textual and cartographic flow, Reveal/Clean/Carve/Connect, makes movement from left to right, upstream, seem natural. Reading it, one might assume that Town Branch’s source flows from a revealed Rupp, passes through a cleansed then carved downtown, and thence arrives, trickled-down rainfall depending, to a textually disconnected Isaac Murphy park.

To get Town Branch, or at least to get a different Town Branch, one that takes hydrology and history as its compass axes, it seems one must read the map backwards: from right to left, downstream, East End headwaters to Distillery District emergence, connection to carve, and thence to clean and reveal. What follows is a stab at that downhill backwards reading, what I’ve been calling (with many thanks to High Bridge river rat Wes Houp) “Town Branch by rheotaxis.” ~ d Continue reading »

May 082013
 

By Wesley Houp

Editor’s note: What follows is an account of Wesley Houp and Danny Mayer, intrepid paddlers of the Kentucky River watershed, as they branch into Tennessee waters.

Floating on the upper Duck. Photo by Wesley Houp.

Floating on the upper Duck. Photo by Wesley Houp.

By the time we’ve trimmed the gear and bungied loose odds and ends, the sky has turned to pitch, not quite the “bible-black” of Tweedy’s predawn, but close enough.  The waning crescent, locked out, fails to backlight the low cloud-cover.  It’s only 5:30pm but it might as well be midnight.  The magnetic sibilance of shoalwater dilates my pupils as I turn in the current to face the dark downstream.  This is Danny’s first Duck River paddle, a stretch we’ve planned for months, and we’ve already had to trim eight miles off the front, concession to wives and children waiting patiently at journey’s end.  We’ll miss the Little Hurricane and Fall Creeks, but we’ll still camp tonight at the mouth of Sinking Creek above the nameless island and mussel-bound braids of Shearin Bend.  We find our line, hit the chute and shoot down the middle in quick succession, boats for tongues in a manner of articulation, the river, the ultimate grammar, its nominals of stone and deadfall submerging and emerging, modifications lisping and lapping, auxiliary perfect and progressive with modal: “Even when you’re gone, I will have been traveling over the stones for an eternity.”

Danny lets out a joyous little “whoop”, but I’m momentarily distracted; some water finds its way over my gunnels and into my shoes, reminding me of what I’ve forgotten: waterproof boots.  My worn out Sperrys sponge up the slosh.  At least the night is mild, and with only a thirty percent chance of rain perhaps my feet alone will suffer the indignities of damp.   As if to lighten the mood, the bottle of Jim Beam #7 clears its throat: “Shoes come and go, but a river lasts forever.  Bottoms up.  Downstream and seaward!”  Danny drifts up beside me, and we heed the call. Continue reading »

May 082013
 

The Leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

Image by Christopher Epling.

Image by Christopher Epling.

A confidential source has provided The Leek with a surreptitious tape of a strategy session held by senior officials of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The recording was made on April 18, 2013, the day after measures banning assault weapons and extending gun buyer background checks were defeated in the Senate.

The confidential source told The Leek that he entered the meeting with a recording device concealed in an oversized ammunition clip attached to an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The weapon did not arouse suspicion and was not searched.

The Leek took no direct part in making the recording. Therefore, whatever the legality of the recording, The Leek is exercising its First Amendment right to publish the manuscript, and is held harmless from legal liability under Supreme Court precedent set in the case of Bartnicki v. Vopper.

The participants in the NRA meeting appear to have been senior policymakers and legal specialists within the organization, but could not be identified.  Continue reading »

Apr 052013
 

On the Town Branch, part 2

By Danny Mayer

I first heard about the Town Branch in a geography class at the University of Kentucky, early in 2001. We didn’t talk much about the creek itself. It was the thing that oriented us differently on the maps: our skeletal framework, a northwesterly axis, something railroad ties covered.

It would be another six years before Town Branch appeared to me in all its cavernous damp wonder. While visiting a farm in Keene, Kentucky,  I happened upon an urban caver and all-around fire-master—a man who introduced himself as “Thom-with-an-H,” the last three syllables rolling away from the lazy ‘m’ like the sharp uncoiling of a lasso (tom,with-in-atche). Over a long fire that spanned several days, Thom-with-an-H recounted to me stories of cave trips taken beneath the greater Lexington substrata. Several of these stories began or ended nearby the Town Branch Creek; a few involved walking up-creek from the edge of the Rupp Arena parking lot, into the culvert, and underneath downtown.

During that summer of 2007, I sat for hours and listened to Thom-with-an-H  talk, marveling all the while at the holes his caves were poking into my Lexington maps. It was quite heady stuff to imagine one descending underground at Cardinal Valley and emerging in Southland, or disappearing into the west end of Rupp only to re-appear one block east of the East End. Continue reading »

Apr 052013
 

By Tony Stilt

The print version of this piece included poems by Eric Scott Sutherland and more photos by Brian Connors Manke. Follow the link to see the Sutherland poems and more Connors Manke images.

“The heavy anchor of the Foucault Pendulum hovers lazily over a blue and gold map of the United States.” Photo by Brian Connors Manke.

“The heavy anchor of the Foucault Pendulum hovers lazily over a blue and gold map of the United States.” Photo by Brian Connors Manke.

Everyone who knows the Lexington Central Public library knows that the fifth floor doesn’t matter—it is comprised of administrative offices, board rooms, et cetera. But the other four floors have a life of their own…

Floor One

The heavy anchor of the Foucault Pendulum hovers lazily over a blue and gold map of the United States, its golden pointer aiming one moment at Ohio, the next at an area I assume to be Missouri, but it doesn’t matter. It is swaying and it is the centerpiece and it is ignored, largely. Across from it a congregation is forming: people in ragged-looking coats and winter hats stand before a set of metal doors, watching them. Ding. The noise echoes through the building, its high pitch ringing into the creases of the New Releases; it rustles the protruding slips of names hanging from items on the “Requests” shelves; its persistence breezes lightly its neighbor, the pendulum, towards Georgia. Continue reading »

Mar 062013
 

By Mary Grace Barry 

In late February, this email showed up twice in my inbox:

“Vote Lexington! The Bloomberg Mayors Challenge is nearing the finish line. This is a competition for the best ideas to improve cities. Our idea, CitizenLex.org, created by our citizens for all citizens, is up against ideas from 19 other cities nationwide. Million-dollar prizes are at stake. Starting today, you have the opportunity to Vote Lexington at www.huffingtonpost.com/mayors-challenge. Vote Lexington at the Huffington Post site, now through March 6. Tell your friends, tell your family, use Facebook and Twitter, tell everyone…Vote Lexington!”

(Didn’t you get it? Must not be on the city’s email blast list. Or, you’re not in the right network. Hopefully, we’ll have a website to ameliorate that soon.)

The Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge is a contest to spur national innovation through initiatives developed in cities, initiatives that can be replicated in other cities. In other words, it’s an attempt at an end run around national governmental programs in a time when the capacity (or will) of federal government to address problems seems to be floundering. Bloomberg Philanthropies will pony up $9 million to the “five boldest ideas”: $5 mil to the winner, $1 mil to the next four runners-up. 305 cities submitted proposals; 20 finalists were chosen; Lexington is in that 20 (hence the email). Continue reading »

Mar 062013
 

Valley View to Paint Lick, part two

By Wesley Houp

Danny nudges me awake.  The fire has relented to a glowing heap.  I check my watch.  It’s 3:43am.  “What’s that noise?” he whispers.  I listen, having momentarily lost my bearings to sleep.  At first I hear nothing and look back at Danny’s dark and uncertain face.  Then I discern a sound issuing from the back of the cave, a deep, raspy chirp sustained over several seconds.  Suddenly, the presence of the stranger, Free Willy, comes rushing back.  The sensation sends a ripple through my reptilian brain.  The chirping ceases, and then the voice follows.

“Don’t be alarmed, good fellows.  It’s just poor Jenkins.  He’s singing a lamentation.  Does it every night.  Throw me one of your torches and I’ll show you.”  Danny sits up and tosses his headlamp into the darkness of the cave.  The light flicks on, and there is our strange guest, holding the lamp up to a mason jar filled with water glowing like a cathode ray.  “Meet Jenkins.”  He holds the jar up in the light for us to see. Continue reading »

Mar 062013
 

The leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

Breaking new ground in the movement to give corporations the same rights as people, the state of Texas has become the first to impose the death penalty on a corporation. On midnight of February 1, Lone Star Diesel and Fixins’ had its Articles of Incorporation blown to pieces by shotgun fire, in the first known state-sanctioned execution of a non-human entity.

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

Continue reading »