Jun 182013

Town Branch by rheotaxis, part two

By Danny Mayer

From the NY Time's "Mapping the 2010 Census." http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/map?hp

From the NY Time’s “Mapping the 2010 Census.” http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/map?hp

The root issue is land.

–Max Rameau

Writing in 1964, the sociologist Ruth Glass created the word “gentrification” to define what she saw at play in many of London’s working class neighborhoods. “One by one,” she noted, they “have been invaded by the middle classes—upper and lower.” What Glass saw should by now be familiar. Old Victorian homes long since broken into multiple blue collar domiciles begin to get restored to single family. Blocks of shabby homes transform into pretty domiciles with fresh paint. New businesses arrive weekly to serve the needs of the newly arrived residents. “Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district,” Glass observed of these London neighborhoods, “it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.”

In many ways, Glass was writing in 1964 about a topic of marginal interest to an American audience. Though gentrification did occur in select areas of large cities as far back as the 1950s, the general half-century trend that followed World War II here in the non-bombed-out United States was that of suburbanization. The middle class was leaving the city for the unclaimed spaces of newly ripped farmlands, and they were taking their public and private development monies and any other side-capital with them. Along with an aging infrastructure, the working class and poor were what remained behind. Only within the last two decades has this outward trend reversed, with American and global money, its sitcoms, media space, and middle classes now returning to the urban and near-urban core.

One of the first to note this switch was the academic Neil Smith, whose 1996 collection The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist city connects gentrification to the process of eighteenth and nineteenth century frontier land-claiming. For Smith, a geographer by trade whose first-hand observations of the gentrification of New York’s Lower East Side provide the framework for his book, both the present urban frontier and the past “western” frontier are economic and cultural things. Continue reading »

Jun 062013

Hatchling of the Chickasaw

By Ed McClanahan

This is part two of an intermittently serialized memoir by Ed McClanahan that takes as its working title “Hatchling of the Chickasaw: A Kentucky waterways story.”

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

Illustration by Christopher Epling.

My father, Eddie (Edward Leroy, officially), was born and raised—or, as they liked to say around there, “reared”—on a rocky little hillside tobacco farm in a rural community called Johnsville in Bracken County, Kentucky, about 50 miles east of Cincinnati, within a couple of miles of the Ohio River. As a boy, he swam and fished in the Ohio in the summertime, and even crossed it on the ice a few times, in bad winters. My mother, Jessie Poage, grew up in Brooksville, the county seat. During their courtship, she was a schoolteacher in Neville, Ohio, to which she commuted via the mailman’s rowboat. My own earliest clear memory is of moving out of our house in Augusta, a Bracken County town on the Ohio, in the flood of 1937 … in a rowboat. I was five years old, and I had the chickenpox. We three wretched refugees—Eddie and Jessie and this meager, itchy little fellow they called “Sonny”—disembarked at the soonest opportunity and immediately skeedaddled to Brooksville, the highest point in Bracken County, where we stayed for the next ten years, high and dry.

But the Ohio was never far away. Sometime around 1940, my dad and his brother Don and their cousin Charlie McCarty had partnered up with a jackleg carpenter named Punch Vermillion and built a little fishing camp (maybe the world’s first timeshare) on the riverbank at Bradford, near Augusta, fifteen miles or so from Brooksville, and my folks and I and the other partners and their families spent great chunks of our summers there during most of the 1940s. It was my favorite place under heaven: a broad river bottom, a sandy riverbank overhung with great, grieving willow trees, a serene river flowing before them like a benediction. Continue reading »

Jun 062013

The legal haze over the war on drugs

By Marcus Flores 

Ginny Saville had been waiting. Several months passed before Lexington police realized they should probably obey a court order—not the first—requiring them to return tens of thousands of dollars of purloined bongs and rolling papers to The Botany Bay, Saville’s eclectic little store. By May 15, according to the store’s Facebook page, some of the goods had been returned.

It was a minor victory in a local battle in the national war on drugs. However, Saville cannot breathe a sigh of relief just yet: since this is not her first entanglement with the law, she runs the real risk of felony charges this time around. Understandably, both she and Chris Miller, one of the attorneys representing her, were hesitant to go on the record when I requested an interview. Continue reading »

Jun 062013

By Sunny Montgomery 


Holler 52. Melissa Carter.

Holler 52. Melissa Carter.

It is no secret. I am Holler Poet’s Series’ biggest fan. In fact, if Holler handed out superlatives today, I would likely win “Most School Spirit.” The monthly series, which is held at Al’s Bar, includes an open mic, live music, and featured readings by local literary heavyweights such as Frank X Walker, Ed McClanahan, and Maurice Manning.

Over the years, Holler has also provided a truly grassroots opportunity to experience not just great writing, but also great artwork. Since its beginning in May 2008, Holler has relied upon the work of local artists John Lackey and Melissa Carter to help promote the literary gathering. The posters, distributed around town and offered at Holler for a nominal price, relate the time, location, gathering number, and featured presenters (two poets and a musician, normally). Beyond that, though, anything’s possible.

Continue reading »

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 Dave Cooper

In March I wrote an essay for North of Center about the excessive amount of outdoor advertising along New Circle Road in northeast Lexington.  My little screed, entitled “No more tube dancers!” was fun for me to write because I enjoy spreading awareness about the many insidious manifestations of our society’s corporatization.

Tube dancers are an advertising gimmick used by car dealers, check cashing firms, and other retail-oriented companies to attract the attention of motorists.  They are tall, brightly-colored, fan-powered “men” that wave and flail their arms as the traffic roars past.  I hate those things. Continue reading »