Mar 152012

From the November 1, 2011, performance of Rat Shed Radio, held at Homegrown Press. Other Rat Shed Radio paddles can be found here: Fayette floaters and the Fabled Canelands.

The first Kentucky River narrative to appear in North of Center. Volume 1, issue 12.

I moved here in 2000 for the state university located just south of downtown Lexington, but I stayed because of Jessamine County. Where Lexington and UK initially came off to me, arriving fresh off stints in Charleston, SC; Missoula, MT; and Athens, GA, as a sort of familiar letdown, the city equivalent of ambien and bourbon, it was my travels to Wilmore and High Bridge, Keene and Camp Nelson, that first fired my imagination and wonder for this place and the people calling it home. In Jessamine, I encountered guitar pickers who enjoyed playing through dawn in cold damp tobacco barns; suburban yard salers dabbling in E-Bay Porsche sales; radically anti-christian Asbury graduates; one-armed retards; serial masturbators; naturalists; drunks; pill-poppers; artists; ruffians; river rats; walkers; poets; paddlers; farmers; and other good and neer do wells. To this day, I trace most of my close friends to that county.

So pardon the intimate nature of this Rat Shed paddle through Jessamine County, these true accounts, playful stories and clear reflections of our lives traversing this place.


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Mar 122012

Friday, March 30

Al’s Sidecar, next to Al’s Bar at the corner of 6th and Limestone.

Some of North of Center’s readers may remember last year’s “Double Down Tour” featuring Peter J. Woods and Bryce Beverlin II, who over the course of two nights presented electric and acoustic noise sets, a monologue, and a physics discussion.  Well, Peter J Woods is once again venturing outside of Milwaukee, this time with the harsh noise/free improve group Phoned Nil Trio, which also features Dan Schierl (of Dan of Earth) and Neil Gravender (of Lucky Bone, and a recent Nohl Fellowship winner).

Because their sound is difficult to pin down, here’s a description from a recent Phoned Nil Trio press release: “The sounds are spastic and totally awkward, combining harsh static blasts with synth pulses, tape hiss, arbitrary vocal samples, and long silences in a way that barely holds itself together. Sounds awkwardly cut in and out, slowly reaching a point of equilibrium only to have it ruined by the next jarring idea, leaving the audience constantly in a state of intriguing confusion. Live, the group matches its bizarre sounds with a strange theatricality, including the band brewing a free pot of coffee for the audience at every show during the performance (the percolator often doubling as a musical instrument as well).”

Rounding out the show are Lexin’tonians Wretched Worst and Trance Substantiation.  Wretched Worst plays “gore-splattered, wounded-berserker, barebones squish-metal—metal too liquefied to bang your head to.” All you can do, one fan has opined, is “grimace and make a sour face, while shaking your head in disapproval, unable to turn away.” Trance Substantiation, meanwhile, makes for what NoC reviewer Matt Minter has called “uneasy listening” that comes “from the bottom of a barf bucket—like the radiation that is slowly giving you cancer, or the sound of somebody getting stabbed in slow-motion.”

Those hoping to imbibe more than the live-brewed coffee provided by Phoned Nil Trio ought to bring their own refreshments—It’s OK.

–Aaron German

Doors open at 8:30PM, Show at 9PM; $5 donation (more or less as you are able). Show location has been updated to reflect new location at Al’s Sidecar, next to Al’s Bar at the corner of 6th and Limestone.

Mar 082012

NoC News

The first statewide conference in Kentucky on human trafficking will be held at Georgetown College on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24. Information on the conference, registration, and events can be found at

In addition to the conference sessions, there will be a slate of community events:

Peter Mayer Group concert on March 22, 7pm

Theresa Flores Event and Fair Trade Market on March 23, 7pm

5K RUN FREE on March 24, 8am

Playground film screening with film director Libby Spears on March 24, 10am

PLAYFREE community-wide children’s event on March 24, 1-3pm

Mar 072012

We were not surprised to see Mick open the door of the house to which a neighbor directed us after hearing our strange request. She said that she would not sit on the discarded couch but that the people who lived a few houses down from her would most likely be game.

Earlier that day, Mick had spent time thinking about how he could get rid of a couch he and his wife owned.  Because they didn’t want to move the heavy, hide-a-bed on their own and because they like to support the Catholic Action Center, they decided to give it to them. In any case, Mick steeped outside in 22 degree weather even before we told him why we needed him to come with us to the curb.

Image and text by Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde, Discarded project.

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Mar 072012

Citizens United two years later

By Joy Arnold

Two years ago, I wrote an article for NoC about the then-new decision from the Supreme Court, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which removed all spending restraints on corporations regarding campaign finance. At that time, NoC readers knew what I was writing about, but if I went much deeper into the population, I got glazed-over stares.

Citizens United was far from the beginning of corporate dominance of our politics and government. The irony is, though it hasn’t always been this way, this has been going on for a long time. Piece by piece, right by right, corporations, with their limitless wealth, have hammered at the courts in order to accumulate every right they need to gain carte blanche–regardless of the cost to the environment or the price in human health and well being. Continue reading »

Mar 072012

By Wesley Houp

To say a river is a living system is a scientific truism that even the most scientifically uninitiated intellect can grasp with minimal cognitive stretching: rivers teem with life, from unicellular diatoms to aquatic invertebrates and on up to vertebrata, fish, amphibian, avian, mammalian.  Watersheds branch like trees, only their life-force moves in reverse from tiniest green-shoot to broad trunk, the faintest spring or rill gaining momentum, joining forces with other rivulets, debouching into larger creeks that eventually embolden the flow of master streams.   Geologists, taking the long view of things, give rivers human-like agency, noting how they “capture” and “pirate” this or that watershed, or “desert” and “abandon” this or that channel, ever insisting on a course of least resistance.  Rivers, like so much of life on earth, adapt to physiographic vagaries and persist through course of time as if accumulating the knowledge of experience.

Lock 3 is nearly topped by the Kentucky River, which ran at 16.5 feet on the Lockport gauge. Photo by Wes Houp.

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Mar 072012

By Barbara Goldman 

Almost daily throughout the fall and finishing this January, Lexington artist Aaron Skolnick recreated the same image of former American First Lady Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, known more popularly as Jackie O. The images, 55 of them, which all depict Onassis at the time of her husband John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas, were the result of Skolnick’s daily artistic exercises that included physical constraints, time limits, and drawing the image from memory.

One of the 55 Onassis images. Photo by Aaron Skolnick.

Although the pieces travel through a series of styles and mediums that grew from the artist’s daily exercises, they stay true to the original iconic image: the former first lady, adorned in her signature pink suit and hat, white glove in front of her mouth. Each piece spotlights different facial elements visible at different times. Continue reading »