Sep 282011

Mystical and sexual fetish: Goodlett opens at Institute 193

Institute 193 will present an exhibition of new mixed-media work by artist Mike Goodlett, entitled “Dress Socks and Other Diversions.” The Institute will host an opening reception Thursday, September 29 from 6:00-9:00 PM. The reception is free and open to the public.

In his most recent body of work, Mike Goodlett revisits and reinterprets the idea of the fetish as an object of mystical and sexual significance. He has magnified and manipulated isolated views of the human body, and rendered these ambiguous forms in ballpoint pen. He then meticulously and rhythmically pierces them with needle and thread, creating a secondary covering or skin. These objects distill sexual fetishism into its simplest form by replacing the typical imagery of desire with line, color, form and texture.

Goodlett, a native of Wilmore, Kentucky, received his BFA from the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1982.  Though he is widely known in this region for making intricate shadowbox assemblages, the stitched drawings in the Institute 193 exhibit are a departure from his previous style, and showcase a new direction in his work.

The exhibition will be on view at Institute 193 Thursday-Saturday from 10:00-5:00, September 29-November 26, 2011.

For more information see or email

The Prayer Project

Land of Tomorrow (LOT) is proud to announce The Prayer Project, the first solo show by Paul Brown. Opening on Friday, September 30, The Prayer Project is a sculptural audio installation exploring the congruency of reasoning and content of prayer across religions and geographies. Brown has collected several hundred prayers through various methods, including a telephone based recording device, written prayer submissions, and solicitation of individuals for their prayers. Prayers were organized directionally (Inward, Upward, and Outward), based on research by Dr. Kevin Ladd of the University of Indiana at South Bend, and separate tracks were recorded accordingly, and are projected through sculptures reflecting the directionality of these prayers.

In addition to audio work, the show includes drawings exploring prayer positioning that is seemingly universal among most faiths and is consistent with Dr. Ladd’s concept of directional prayer. The ash and graphite drawings are also organized directionally. Additionally, word clouds exploring word repetition and similar phrasing across faiths and  cultures will be analyzed by LWIC (Linguistic Word Inquiry Count) software to further examine the phenomena of prayer.

At the opening, psychology professor Dr. Kevin Ladd, who teaches at Indiana University-South Bend, will deliver a talk at 6 PM on his research covering spirituality, prayer and ritual, and how Brown’s work manipulates it for the installation. Following the talk, a reception will be held at the Gallery lasting until 11 PM. LOT is located at 527 E. Third Street.

National Avenue Art Festival

The second annual National Avenue Art Festival will be held at the junction of National Ave and North Ashland Ave from 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Featured will be local artists working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, wood, glass and photography. There will be art demonstrations, live entertainment, swing dance, and food and beverage vendors. Admission is free.

For more information, phone Debbie Hicks of Shumaker’s Art Supplies at 254-0930 or Chris Huestis at 351-9639.

Really, really free market

You’ve heard about the virtues of the free market in the Republican presidential debates.  Interested in seeing what a Really, Really Free Market would look like?  Come find out on Sunday, October 2 from noon to 4 under the big gazebo at Woodland Park.  Inspired by a similar event organized in Louisville by the Louisville Anarchists Federation Federation, the Really, Really Free Market will be a space where anyone from our community can gather to give away goods under a temporary gift economy.

Got stuff you want to give away? Bring it to the Really Really Free Market, where one person’s trash is another person’s treasure! Got skillz? Share ’em!

To be clear, everything at this event will be free.  NO MONEY. NO BARTER. NO TRADE. NO ADVERTISING. NO MARKETING. EVERYTHING IS FREE. Leave your wallet and negotiating skills at home.

Bring a blanket, sheet, or tarp to place your things on so folks know where to gander for treasures.

This will be a family-friendly event, so feel free to bring kids and grandparents to see what it’s like when a community comes together to share.

Spread the WORD!

Street tree initiative in Castlewood

The Castlewood Neighborhood Association is planning a fall street tree planting in the Castlewood neighborhood.

On November 12 and 19, neighbors and volunteers will be planting 30 street trees in Castlewood, with the hope of planting even more next spring for Arbor Day.

The last several years have been hard on one of the most important parts of our neighborhoods: the trees. Ice storms, blight, and old age have all taken their toll on the trees in Lexington. And when the trees go, so do their benefits. Trees are important in environmental and social ways. Of their many environmental benefits, they shade and cool our homes, clean the air, and reduce stormwater run-off.

Studies have also found that trees cut down on noise pollution by acting as sound barriers, increase property value, add beauty and character to neighborhoods, and, surprisingly, reduce the crime rate.

According to the Lexington Tree Foundation, “Many of our trees are in decline due to insects, disease, age and poor maintenance. Our new tree plantings are insufficient in number.” In other words, we need to plant more trees!

You can support the November planting in several ways.

If you live in Castlewood, have a tree planted in your parkway. Trees can be purchased for a modest price or through “sweat equity”—volunteer efforts during the planting.

Volunteer! The planting will need all kinds of able bodies and enthusiastic attitudes. Even if you can’t lift heavy things, you can still help with the event.

Finally, donate. You may not need a street tree, but your donation can a help a neighbor who does—and you’ll both benefit from the tree!

For more information, contact Beth at


Sep 282011

Incarceration and voting rights, part 2

By Christian L. Torp

Editor’s note: in our last issue, Christian discussed the disproportionate incarceration of minorities, especially blacks, in the U.S.

During the Reconstruction Era, the period immediately following the Civil War (roughly 1865-1877), the national consciousness was acutely aware of the danger that the newly emancipated slaves could again be relegated to a form of slavery. The Reconstruction Amendments attempted to forestall that danger. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery (except for those incarcerated): “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States”; the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed citizenship for all peoples born or naturalized in the U.S.; the Fifteen Amendment declared that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any state on account of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

On one hand, the U.S. Constitution clearly shows a substantial fear that people could be re-enslaved under color of law as all three of the Reconstruction Amendments grant Congress explicit power and authority for enforcement; the Fourteenth Amendment addresses the issue by saying: “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

On the other hand, more than one hundred years later, racial minorities make up a grossly disproportionate number of those incarcerated and disenfranchised in Kentucky. How could this be explained?

Reactionary history

Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution, the provision that bars those convicted of  treason, felony, bribery, or “high misdemeanor,” those incarcerated, and “idiots and insane persons” from the ‘right’ to vote, was ratified in 1891 and amended in 1955. I believe the times in which this occurred are telling. Though I have yet to find any specifically Kentucky references, the historical record is clear that similar restrictions on the right to vote were done in similar ways in nearby and formerly slaveholding states at about the same times—and for less than laudable (i.e. racist) reasons. Moreover, these two eras, the 1890s and 1950s are noted as times of discrimination and nativism (think: McCarthyism).

Throughout the South during the late nineteenth century, the definition of crimes resulting in disenfranchisement grew dramatically. In the 1870s and 1880s, minor property crimes were redefined as felonies in many Southern states; several states amended or revised their constitutions to define larceny or petit larceny as disenfranchising crimes. Finally, southern courts took to interpreting existing laws to include misdemeanor grade offenses as crimes of disenfranchisement. The historical record is rife with sordid examples of why so many things were criminalized; there’s no doubt about why it was done.

In 1875 The New York Times declared that the “evident purpose” of these changes was “to prevent colored men and poor white men from exercising the right of suffrage.” Green B. Raum, a lawyer, Union solider, and U.S. Representative from Illinois, wrote in 1884: “Negroes are frequently arraigned before petty magistrates on the most trivial charges of larceny, and a conviction in these petty courts is sufficient to disfranchise them forever. This conviction is readily obtained, and the whole proceedings clearly indicate, in many cases, that the prosecution is merely a pretext to deprive the negro of his vote.” Doesn’t that sound like how the “War on Drugs” is used today?

It is now more than a century later, the nation has its first black president, and yet Kentucky is one of only two remaining states that permanently disenfranchise all persons upon a felony conviction without a pardon from the governor. (The other state is Robert E. Lee’s own home state of Virginia, of which Kentucky was a part at the nation’s founding.) And though the Fifteenth Amendment specifically authorizes and empowers the U.S. Congress to fix this predicament—arguably demands it—Kentucky still has the second highest African-American disenfranchisement rate in the nation.

Our neighbors Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois automatically re-enfranchise all citizens upon their release from incarceration. West Virginia and Missouri automatically restore an ex-felon’s right to vote upon full completion of their sentence. Tennessee allows former felons to apply to the Board of Probation and Parole for restoration of their voting rights upon completion of their sentence (except in cased of certain serious felonies). All in all, the fact that so many nearby states allow former felons to vote doesn’t mean that they believe ex-offenders are more or less likely to commit a crime; it just means that those states think ex-offenders are still American citizens. (Maine and Vermont even allow persons convicted of felonies to vote from prison.)

Tough on crime?

What if we based our judgment about re-enfrachisement on crime prevention alone, just that and nothing else—let’s call it the “tough on crime” approach. We’d then ask: Does disenfranchisement have any beneficial effect on reducing recidivism, i.e. stopping future lawlessness? In a word, no—just the opposite has been shown. Reintegrating individuals into their community and empowering them has been shown to give them a vested interest in the health, future, and well-being of their society.

The more fully a former criminal is integrated into their community, the less likely they are to return to crime or resort to it once they’ve run out of other options. In fact, reducing the level to which an individual can return to law-abiding society increases the likelihood of their re-incarceration. (I would even argue that the prevalence of background checks as a precondition of employment exacerbates this problem.)

In other words, don’t complain about crime if that’s the only job you allow former felons to have.

The fix

How can we fix this? What needs to be done to have the America we learned about in Civics class? The solution to this problem in Kentucky lies in one of two places. The simplest, though least direct or effective means is your gubernatorial vote this fall (if you’ve got a vote, that is). The chief executive officer of the state has the pardon power, the “executive pardon” laid out in Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution.

Our two most recent governors illustrate how this actually works. Former Governor Ernie Fletcher required former felons to submit a poll-test like essay (poll tests are illegal), along with character references in their application for pardon. While Governor Beshear has simplified the process, his process does not specify when, or if, any reply will be received. Beshear’s process is also devoid of criteria as to what constitutes a successful application.

Moreover, an executive pardon is a discretionary privilege of our governor. Even though the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 makes it clear that “[n]o voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color,” the governor can do about whatever he or she wants, so long as the governor doesn’t say that an applicant’s protected class (i.e. race, color, religion, etc.) was a factor in the decision.

The second fix for this injustice is by amending the Kentucky Constitution.

Since 2005, the Restoration of Voting Rights Coalition (ROVRC) has been working to introduce and pass the Restoration of Voting Rights Act or House Bill (HB) 70. The ROVRC is a group of diverse citizens’ organizations working toward a just society including the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), the ACLU, the NAACP, the Kentucky Council of Churches, and the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice. Because granting former felons the right to vote after completion of their sentence would be a change to the Kentucky Constitution, it needed a referendum to be put on the ballot after it passed the House and Senate. HB 70 would put a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot so that the people of Kentucky can decide whether or not we want to carry on the racist remnants of the nineteenth century.

Unfortunately, every year that HB 70 has been introduced, it gets held up in committee by one of our state’s more ‘progressive’ legislatures—a legislature that obviously cares about the people’s wishes by blocking a referendum that would allow the people to decide themselves. In other words, it is clear that some of our elected officials, namely the chair of the Senate State and Local Government Committee Senator Damon Thayer of Georgetown, Kentucky (Senate District 17, Grant, Owen, Scott and part of Kenton counties), don’t believe that we can govern ourselves.

Even though HB 70 passed out of the House on February 10, 2011 with a vote of 77-21, Thayer blocked the bill, not letting it out of committee. Thayer won’t even trust us with the option of saying “yes” or “no.”

And that’s how it is. Even though it can be shown that re-enfranchisement statistically reduces recidivism and therefore the crime rate, and even though the linkage between felony disenfranchisement and late nineteenth-century racist politics are clear, we still haven’t done away with this injustice in Kentucky. I feel really proud to be a Kentuckian right about now, don’t you?

The first martyr of the American Revolutionary War was a man of African descent, Crispus Attucks, who lost his life to the Redcoats in the infamous Boston Massacre. And despite the fact that the United States now has its first African-American at the helm as commander-in-chief, there’s a statistical probability that Crispus Attucks would be a disenfranchised former felon and unable to vote if he were alive today; in fact, if the first martyr of the Revolutionary War were in Kentucky now, he’d have a 1 in 4 shot of not being able to vote…but he was certainly good enough to be shot.

Christian is an attorney working in, among other areas, criminal, civil, family, and employment law.

Sep 282011

The Spooky Qs formed in 2007 as a three-piece band. Four years later and with a real-live drummer (Chris Oaks), the Q’s have put out 2 records, Winterband and the more recent Rid of You, both of which are available as vinyl record or fee download (donations welcome) on the band’s website. NoC caught up with the band to ask them about their long-planned album of resistance music, rumored to be near the recording stages.

NoC: Have you released Rid of You yet?

Jack Cofer: We have! For free digital download on the web site. Also, we have the vinyl ready, but not their sleeves. Still seeking someone to assist in the printing of those.

NoC: Where are you all in your album of resistance music? When are you hoping to have it completed?

JC: Truthfully, we had hoped to have this completed by….a while ago, but as good prefects go, this one grew and grew and now we are in the stage of rehearsing them for recording. Continue reading »

Sep 272011

“The problem is not civil disobedience. The problem is civil obedience.”

Howard Zinn

North of Center is seeking motivated journalist-writer-activists to cover the growing stories of the American protest movement.

There is much to cover. Nationally, as the paper goes to press between 500 and 3000 activists have been encamped for over a week at a park nearby New York City’s financial district as part of a movement to occupy Wall Street. Modeled after the nonviolent democratic uprisings that took hold in the Middle East in places like Egypt’s Tahrir Square, the Wall Street occupation continues to grow despite draconian police tactics (arrests for using sidewalk chalk and setting up tarps to keep dry, pepper-spraying of peaceful demonstrators, and the use of giant orange nets to make mass, indiscriminate arrests) and a nearly complete media blackout by large corporate media outlets. (This city’s local paper, the Lexington Herald Leader, has devoted a single 200 word article to the growing demonstrations.)

The Wall Street occupations are not the only uprising around. On October 6, things will move to the Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. Like the Wall Street demonstrations, the October 2011 protests in the nation’s capital will be long-term non-violent occupations featuring acts of civil disobedience. October 2011 is part of a string of recent gatherings in D.C. Just last month, to cite one example, thousands of activists protested in front of the capital to pressure corporate stooge Barack Obama to say no to an oil pipeline slated to run through the country’s midwestern states, bringing low-grade dirty oil from Canada to Gulf ports for transport to the highest-bidding countries across the globe.

More locally, Eastern Kentucky activists have led the way in resisting the destruction of their homes and communities for cheap profits by out-of-state corporate coal companies. River-keepers have resisted the plundering and destruction of the Kentucky River watershed. Kentuckians for the Commonwealth have been campaigning for re-enfranchisement of Kentucky felons; UK students have started to become fed up with the n0-education corporate policies of their education administrators and management/faculty.

As the current conditions deteriorate and our public leaders–global, national, regional and local–are uncovered as frauds whose interests lie with the already-rich and well-off, we here at NoC are guessing that dissent will increase. We would like somebody to research, attend, participate in, interview and otherwise immerse themselves in these growing protest movements.

Coverage should reflect the Howard Zinn truism that one can’t be neutral on a moving train. Mass protests have not yet hit the slackwaters of Lexington. For whatever reason, citizens here have not created the critical mass necessary to pressure leaders. (Perhaps they are too busy worrying about who Coach Coal signs in the next recruiting class, or which downtown bar will be the next ‘hot-spot’ for rich out of towners.) NoC sees this reporting as vital in both informing and demonstrating to Lexington citizens that alternatives and outlets for engagement do exist.

Anyone interested should contact Danny Mayer at We can help provide contacts for regional activists and will do our best to help facilitate any travel.

Sep 142011

Musings from the Woodland Arts Fair

By Matt Sullivan

The food stands seemed pushed off to the side, like the losers the cool kids didn’t want around. The smell of hot grease and sugar, and the overwhelming sun overhead, gave the whole area a carnival feel, a feeling not in tune with rest of the art fair in Woodland Park. Passing through the outskirts of the fair had me dodging old men and unaccompanied children. Jewelry stands and booths with paintings and photographs, metal fused with glass, wooden rocking chairs, and soaps created alley ways, twisting every which way, revealing more and more booths, until you came to dead ends created by SUVs and vans. A chiropractor’s tent and a local foods advocacy group had also set up tents. Wondering around, I also saw booths and tents with sculptures made of stone and possibly soap. Everyone was milling around, glancing at items and half smiling, like they thought they were supposed to appreciate everything there. I didn’t see anyone buy anything, but I’m sure someone did. Continue reading »

Sep 142011

By Graham Cleary-Budge

The queer community in Kentucky is blossoming with talent and promise, and they’re happily willing to share. Queerslang is a music, film, and learning festival geared towards Lexington’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Ally community. Conceived, planned, and created by UK radio station WRFL’s grant director, Jack Cofer, upon hearing of the LGBT part of South X Southwest, Gay X Gay Gay.

As a satellite event to the Boomslang music festival, Queerslang will be an all-day extravaganza on Saturday, September 24. The event will feature a choice of four different workshops, and two independent documentary film screenings. Attendance at just one hour-long workshop will slash your ticket to the dance after-party at Cosmic Charlie’s from $15 to $8. (A Boomslang weekend or Saturday day-pass wristband will get you in for no charge.) Continue reading »

Sep 142011

By Erin Brock

Everyone loves cake, so why wouldn’t everyone love a book with paintings of cake as well as poems to accompany them?

Two local artists, poet Carrie Green and painter Lori Larusso, have worked together in order to produce It’s Not My Birthday, That’s Not My Cake. The chapbook consists of 12 poems and paintings of cakes. While the paintings focus on the physical presence of the cake and its surroundings, Green’s poems delve deeper into the social and psychological contexts of the cakes.

“This body of work was realized using found and appropriated imagery, and the flat image lends itself to intentionality of mark making. Representations of generic and stereotypical middle America are reminding us of the culture we maintain on a daily basis through our every action,” Larusso said. “Very often, our ideals are a reflection of the way we wish things were, rather than a product of the way we actually experience them. I find this conflict to be in direct connection to the representational image.” Continue reading »