Aug 242011

A letter from the editor

By Danny Mayer

North of Center began publication in May, 2009, with a paltry print run of 800 copies, no Facebook page, and no online presence. Since that time, we have kept up a biweekly print schedule—we surpassed issue #50 earlier this summer—and entered the 21st century with a local web site, a Facebook page, and a nationally-focused blog. With the addition of several donated outdoor and indoor distribution racks (thanks La Voz and Smiley Pete), our print run now numbers 2400 copies of each issue. Were it not for Mayor Jim Gray’s sting operation of Lexington graffiti artists, which had the byproduct effect of running out of town an artist in the midst of painting 6 of these donated magazine racks, the distribution number might be closer to 3000 copies per issue circulating around town.

For the most part, our growth into the community has been accomplished through the work of a small group of committed volunteers who have labored to research, write, edit, draw, lay out, distribute and talk-up the paper and the many stories contained within it. Their work has allowed this paper to become what it is today. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

By Jeff Gross

Last week, news emerged that four members of the Urban County Council (Vice Mayor Linda Gordon, At-Large member Steve Kay, First District’s Chris Ford, and Fifth District’s Bill Farmer, Jr.) met privately with Bishop Gainer to ask him to address concerns about the Catholic Action Center. The Center is independently run, but the property is owned by the Diocese of Lexington. Beverly Fortune’s “Neighbors’ complaints about Catholic Action Center get Attention at Lexington’s City Hall” in the Herald-Leader outlined the common complaints against the Center and potential actions being weighed by the councilmembers. The Catholic Action Center’s response, available on their Facebook group page, convincingly articulates their record for service and their commitment to working with the neighborhood. You can also search North of Center’s archives for my previous writing on this topic.

In response to complaints about loitering, noise, public intoxication, and litter, Kay suggests that one potential solution would be to expand the city’s nuisance ordinance to cover commercial property: “The current ordinance says if you have more than two police citations in a certain period of time, the building can be closed for one year.” In a moment of forced austerity, especially for already impoverished and struggling Americans, and in light of Lexington’s budgetary cuts to social services and public safety, the legal loophole nuisance ordinance “solution” poses an especially dangerous and impractical threat to private agencies that provide a safety net for vulnerable citizens. If government agencies cannot care for citizens (especially those who suffer from addiction or mental illness), then they must find ways to work with the agencies that can and will do that work. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

By Clay Wainscott

Could it be the entire edifice of contemporary art is simply irrelevant? Or, more precisely, not up to the job at hand. Big time art just wandered off somewhere following fame and money, a self-referencing cult of acquisition as volatile as the stock market, but peculiar, the brand name so much more important than the product. Surely there must be something more to say about a renowned artist than the highest price paid at auction, the presiding metric of accomplishment and a working index of fame. They’d have you think the irrelevant part was the art itself. Somewhere along the line, art, as an expression of personal aspiration and universal connection, seems to have left the tracks.

In the early fifties, the Abstract Expressionists invaded, conquered, and subjugated all of art, banning representational images of anything. They were radical fundamentalists, turning the art clock back to year one, or at least to the level of a three or four year old. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

Crawfish, bicyclists, and humans beings in the city

Von Jon Finnie

Editor’s note: Sometimes NoC editors make decisions while at Al’s Bar after we’ve run up a tab. While we always stand by those decisions as sound, if not cutting-edge brilliant, they do sometimes seem, um, unusual in hindsight. Hence this piece in German by Jon Finnie. If readers clamor, perhaps we can talk Jon into translating it into English next issue.

From the author: “Every day, I ride my bike from my house next to SCAPA/Lafayette High School on my way to WRFL, the DLC, Al’s, London Ferrell Community Garden, and so on. I pass over a creek that runs behind Lafayette. There I met a kid who fishes for crawfish. The article frames this kid’s fishing in the context of Lexington’s water quality issues. More broadly, the piece is about what you can learn by biking around the city and, coupled with this kid’s activity, it’s implicitly about how people inhabit their modern urban habitat in ways that are pretty human.”

Die Geographie meines Lebens ist folgendes. Ich wohne in der Nähe von Picadome Elementary und Lafayette High School, studiere und drehe Platten bei der Universität Kentucky und mache ein Praktikum in der Innenstadt. Samstags melde ich mich freiwillig zu einem Garten an Third Street. Wenn ich Freizeit haben, höre ich live Musik, in letzter Zeit beim umlängst verstorbenen Crib Death und Al’s. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

Science teacher Martin Mudd recently returned from a two hour stint in Governor Steve Beshear’s office as part of the ongoing Sit-In for the Mountains. Mudd spent his time there lying on the ground beneath a homemade tomstone that read, “RIP: In memory of our friends in Appalachia past present and not yet born who suffer under the sin of strip mining.” North of Center tracked down Mudd, a Lexington resident living in Kenwick, to ask him a couple questions.

NoC: Why were you in Frankfort last weekend?

Mudd: I went to Frankfort last Thursday to occupy the Governor’s office and send the message to Steve Beshear that people are dying in Appalachia and we will not be ignored. I also wanted to participate in the weekly sit-in that has been happening at the Governor’s office since the Kentucky Rising action in February. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

By Michael Benton

This is the start of our seventh year for the Bluegrass Film Society.  We are still dedicated to providing a forum for BCTC film students and filmmakers to watch films from around the world.  Due to our involvement with BCTC’s Peace and Conflict Studies, we also are continuing to choose films that explore conflict as well as meditations on the possibilities for peace.  As always, in the spirit of our Humanities department, we seek to find films that celebrate creativity and imagination.  All films are at 7:30 P.M. in the Bluegrass Community and Technical College auditorium and are always free of charge. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

Music calendars, such as the one published regularly in these pages, are organized around strong blurbs—quick snapshot statements about artists you’ve not yet heard about. If you’re looking for one about Morgan O’Kane, it’s this, from Woodsong’s Michael Jonathan the last time O’Kane tore through Lexington with his banjo, kickbox suitcase, and cast of cellists, dobro and fiddle players: “If Uncle Dave Macon married Bruce Springsteen their love child would be Morgan O’Kane.”

Too much home cooking? Fair enough. Here’s another comparison blurb, this one coming from San Jose, California: “If Jimi Hendrix played the banjo, he might resemble O’Kane.” Continue reading »

Aug 242011

By Danny Mayer

The term idiot derives from the Greek idiotes (“person lacking professional skill,” “a private citizen,” “individual”) and the emphatic adjective idios (“uniquely one’s own”). Idiots referred to a large segment of a small slice of male residents, wealthy all, granted the right to vote in the Greek city-state Athens. As a class of moneyed men expressing neither interest nor aptitude in public affairs, the idiotai were considered worse than useless, the antithesis of a good citizen.

Though we understand the word today as a simple descriptor for someone who lacks an education (“a dumbass”), idiotes were not stupid. In a society that excluded over 90% of the population from voting, Greek idiots comprised much of the upper crust leisure class of enfranchised citizens. Economically, culturally and politically, they were the chosen ones. Nor were idiots incapable of formulating and advancing coherent positions to an audience of inquiring peers. According to Josiah Ober, scholar of Greek political thought and Athenian democracy, land-owning idiotes rarely participated in public civic debates, but they were common fixtures in “the law court, in the course of defending or prosecuting a private lawsuit (dike).” Continue reading »

Aug 242011

By J.T. Dockery

I just finished reading, from my Kentucky exile in Vermont, the two reviews of the blockbuster Marvel/Disney production of Captain America: The First Avenger by Bill Widener and Kevin Martinez. I respect Bill and Kevin, both of whom have big brains that process junk culture in ways I admire and have learned from over the years. It was no surprise that I found both of their reviews insightful, yet I am not going to see the film.

Both Martinez and Widener mention that Captain America was co-created by the artist Jack Kirby (with Joe Simon). Bill mentions that the creation of the character and its popularity in WWII essentially built the house we now call Marvel. Kevin mentions that Stan Lee makes a cameo in the film, breaking his own rule that he only makes appearances in films of characters he had a hand in creating. I just kind of wished they’d extended these statements a bit to shine more light on what it means that Jack Kirby had a major part in creating this iconic figure. Continue reading »