A @HeraldLeader Issue Worth Reading

321 Henry Street – Home of BC Wood Properties and subject of a Tom Eblen column in
today’s Lexington Herald-Leader. Photo: Peter Brackney

An appointment this morning left me in a waiting room with a copy of the Lexington Herald-Leader at my disposal. It’s been awhile since I skimmed the pages of the local daily, and I was surprised with what I found.

Rarely do I remember the pages being filled with so many columns of interesting local fare. Especially for a Monday which is traditionally a bore for newspaper readers.

Local history, preservation, and natural conservation all held prominent places in the black-and-white print. I’m almost persuaded to renew my subscription, though my schedule doesn’t regularly permit me to peruse the hard copy.

Still, explore what was in today’s Herald-Leader after the jump.

I attended a lecture last Wednesday at the public library in Nicholasville. The topic was the natural resources of Jessamine County and how they can be preserved. It was a great lecture with various participants discussing forestry, the land itself, and the unique species of flora and fauna that inhabit Jessamine County. Greg Kocher had a great writeup on this lecture.

Further north, Lexington’s tree canopy covers approximately 25% of the city’s core. This is a good number, but it could be improved. Beth Musgrave digs into the numbers on steps being taken by the city to improve urban forestation.

And if you want to improve your own tree canopy, an AP squib identifies how trees seedlings can be purchased from the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

The photo above was taken during a BGT deTour of 321 Henry Street. I’ve been derilect in getting a writeup posted on this site, but you can read Tom Eblen’s column on the incredible restoration of the old coal and feed company into modern office space.

And in the Feedback section, Hayward Wilkirson argues against the Maxwell & Broadway location for a new downtown multiplex in favor of a site within the Rupp Arts & Entertainment District.

Yes, there was a lot in today’s Herald-Leader. I wonder what will be there tomorrow?

What Kicks Ass? Kentucky Does.

Remember that attempted Super Bowl ad a couple years ago? The failed $3.5 fundraiser to promote Kentucky brought a lot of attention to Kentucky for Kentucky, an group of brilliant marketing gurus who love our Commonwealth.

Their latest effort? Realizing that “Unbridled Spirit” just isn’t cutting it, they’ve recommended to the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet a new tagline: “Kentucky Kicks Ass.” Awesome, right? Officials didn’t think so:

We certainly would not sanction or endorse that phraseology. These guys are Kentucky natives and they love the state. But they have a different constituency. Which is no one.

Ouch. No one? We’ll see. Which one do you think represents Kentucky? Unbridled Spirit or Kentucky Kicks Ass. To help you decide, watch the video after the jump. And this evening at Lexington Beerworks, check out the Kentucky for Kentucky Pop-up Shop where you can support this great new branding effort!

Kentucky Kicks Ass – Rebranding Kentucky from Kentucky for Kentucky on Vimeo.

“A re-distribution of happiness”

Postcard of the Fayette County Court House – Lexington, Ky.

On Tuesday, I arrived at the office to find a letter and postcard from Mr. Lowell Joerg of Tucson, Arizona. It was generically addressed to my office, but both found their way to my desk. The postcard, above, is of the Old Fayette County Courthouse. His letter follows:

June 14, 2012

Good Morning:

I sure hope this letter brightens your day.

I was at an antique store here and found this old circa 1939 picture of your beautiful courthouse. How the card got to Arizona we’ll never know.

It’s an old time classic, for sure. I thought to myself, by golly, I’d send it home where it can be appreciated. Our heritage is valuable to all of us. Lots of changes over the years, I’m sure. Enlarged it will make quite a display.

Well, I gave 6.00 for it so if you want it for 7.00 or 8.00 or so why that’s sure o.k. Throw in a little postage if you want, too.

And my wife says if I hear from you I’ll have to take her to lunch. I am eighty-four years old and still going strong.

I like to call my littly hobby, “A re-distribution of happiness.” Our world sure needs it.

Thank you, and Godspeed in your work. Have a wonderful and progressive year.

Lowell Joerg

PS: Send along a little about your place today if you want. I enjoy souvenirs, too, if it’s o.k. with you. I chose you at random off the net.

It was a delight to receive and read Mr. Joerg’s letter. A Google search reveals that he is a retired insurance salesman and that he sends out two or three of these postcards a month to recipients across the country.

I wrote Mr. Joerg back yesterday telling him of the great history of our courthouse. I also shared with him the twist of irony: that the day prior to his letter, the city of Lexington indefinitely closed the old courthouse. I also included with my letter printouts from this website on the two pictured buildings:

  1. Old Courthouse & Lexington History Museum (Oct. 2009)
  2. Fayette County’s old courthouse is all history (March 2012)
  3. Lexington’s Old Courthouse Indefinitely Closed (July 2012)
  4. Fayette National Bank Building (Lexington’s First Skyscraper) (June 2011)
  5. “The Worst Kept Secret in Lexington” – 21C is Coming To Town (April 2012)
I hope that Mr. Joerg enjoys learning a bit more about these two terrific buildings. His concept for the “re-distribution of happiness” is fabulous and we should all attempt to share joy in our own way! Thanks, Lowell Joerg!

Sports and Art Worlds Lost A Legend: LeRoy Neiman

Neiman’s UK Basketball Game

Famed American sports artist LeRoy Neiman passed away yesterday at the age of 91. His famous works captured some of the greatest moments in sport with his exquisite, short brush strokes. Neiman captured the essence of boxing great and Kentuckian Muhammad Ali, he painted the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby, and he created the official imagery of the 2010 Kentucky-hosted World Equestrian Games.

For Kentucky basketball fans, Neiman painted the most famous painting in our beloved team’s history. Commissioned by Ashland Oil in 1977, the original of Neiman’s “UK Basketball Game Between UK and St. John’s, December 17, 1977” hangs on display in the UK Art Museum. Below is my write up on this spectacular work of art:

Another “see blue” work which I noted was a Leroy Neiman oil depicting a 1977 basketball game between the UK Wildcats and St. John’s University. Of course, UK has recently played and handily beaten St. Johns which was a repeat of this 102-72 affair featuring Kentucky greats Jack Givens, James Lee, Kyle Macy, Mike Phillips and Rick Robey.

This oil was exquisite and the short brush strokes gave it a fervor that would have been present during the UKIT and throughout the season as our Cats would go on to a record of 30-2 and a National Championship (defeating Duke) under the helm of Joe B. Hall.

Rest in peace, LeRoy.

A Kentucky Joke Worth Repeating

I just received this and thought it quite funny. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

The year is 2016 and the United States has just elected the first woman president who happens to be from Kentucky. A few days after the election the president-elect, whose name is Debra, calls her father and says, “So, Dad, I assume you will be coming to my inauguration?” 

“I don’t think so. It’s a 10 hour drive.” 

“Don’t worry about it Dad, I’ll send Air Force One. And a limousine will pick you up at your door.” 

“I don’t know … everybody will be so fancy. What would your mother wear?” 

“Oh Dad,” replies Debra, “I’ll make sure she has a wonderful gown custom-made by the best designer in Washington.” 

“Honey,” Dad complains, “you know I can’t eat those rich foods you eat.” 

The President-elect responds, ” Don’t worry Dad. The entire affair will be handled by the best caterer in Washington; I’ll ensure your meals are salt free. You and mom just have to be there.” 

So Dad reluctantly agrees, and on January 20, 2017, Debra is being sworn in as President of the United States. In the front row sits the new President’s dad and mom. 

Dad, noticing the senator sitting next to him, leans over and whispers, “You see that woman over there with her hand on the Bible, becoming President of the United States.” 

The Senator whispers back, “You bet I do.”  

Dad says proudly, “Her brother played basketball for Kentucky!”

Go Cats!

Happy Birthday, Kentucky!

“My Old Kentucky Home” – Bardstown, Ky.

Oh the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home … 

On June 1, 1792, two-hundred twenty years ago, Kentucky was admitted as the fifteenth state of these United States. The road to statehood was not easy.

Kentucky originated as part of Virginia’s massive Fincastle County and was made its own county of the Commonwealth of Virginia effective December 31, 1776. Its bounds were:

to the south and westward of a line beginning on the Ohio at the mouth of Great Sandy creek and running up the same and the main, or northeasterly, branch thereof to the Great Laurel Ridge of Cumberland Mountain, then south westerly along the said mountain to the line of North Carolina.

The Virginia legislature divided the single Kentucky County into three (Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln) in 1780. Over the next six years, the number of counties in Virginia’s “Kentucky District” grew. With them, so grew the rumblings of statehood.

In 1784, at Danville, Kentuckians held their first constitutional convention. It would be the first of ten such conventions before Kentucky would gain admittance to the Union. A major hurdle — acceptance by Virginia — was overcome on December 18, 1789 when Virginia’s legislature authorized Kentucky to apply for statehood.

The tenth convention occurred in April of 1792. At Danville, forty-five delegates (five from each of Kentucky’s nine counties) gathered including some of the greatest legal minds then in Kentucky. Among them, Col. George C. Nicholas who was the chief draftsman of the convention’s final product. For his efforts, Nicholas is known as the “Father of the Kentucky Constitution.”

The produced document was certainly not perfect and it only remained in effect for seven years before a new Constitution was adopted in 1799. But the document was sufficient to meet the Congressional deadline. For on February 4, 1791, the third session of the First Congress passed the “Act Admitting Kentucky into the Union.”

source: courts.ky.gov

Read that “the said district should be formed into a new State an received into the Union by the name of the ‘State of Kentucky.’ … [and] that upon the aforesaid first day of June, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, the said new State, by the name and style of the State of Kentucky, shall be received and admitted into this Union as a new and entire member of the United States of America.”

Happy Birthday, Kentucky! Help us celebrate and let’s get #HappyBirthdayKentucky trending on twitter. If you have a twitter account, use that hashtag!

Gr8ness! GO Big Blue! #BBN

Senior Night (2012) – Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

Tonight, the University of Kentucky Wildcats will face the Jayhawks of Kansas in the National Championship game. Having defeated two Kentucky schools en route (Western Kentucky and Louisville), only one more hurdle stands in the way of bringing Kentucky back to hang a NC banner. GO CATS! 

Join Kaintuckee’s Bracket Challenge!

Rupp Arena

Ready to bleed blue?  March Madness is upon us. Join the Kaintuckeean March Madness Bracket Challenge (for the pride of being the greatest Kaintuckeean since Ali) at ESPN by clicking here.

No cost. Just fun. And since we are Kaintuckeeans, we have a lot of fun basketball to watch! Remember:

One Commonwealth. One #1 in the Nation. Two Top 10s. Three Top 25s. Four Teams in the Tournament. The Fourth Team just played in front of the President and British Prime Minister in an awesome comeback. 

I love March! So join in on the fun with the Kaintuckeean Bracket Challenge!

New novel on assassination of Governor Goebel is a must read

I recently wrapped up reading a fantastic novel written by Howard McEwen, a freelance writer from the Cincinnati area.

Wrath – the life and assassination of a United States Governor dealt with the life and machinations of the only sitting governor in United States history to suffer at the hands of an assassin’s bullet.

The journey of William Goebel was a difficult one. Born in Pennsylvania, Goebel became for a few years the “man of the house” while his father served in Lincoln’s army. Debt-ridden before his enlistment and still financially suffering after his service, Goebel’s father took his family down river to Cincinnati. The family was deposited at the cheaper port across the river: Covington, Ky.

Basil Duke Historic Marker –
Georgetown, Ky.

It was from this Kenton County city that William Goebel learned to hate Confederate veterans and sympathizers, the railroads, and a host of others. One of this chief rivals was Basil Duke – a Confederate veteran who had served in General Morgan‘s cavalry and railroad executive of the L&N Railroad.

After a number of negative experiences, Goebel pulled himself up through handwork and self-made connections to develop his own political machine. It was during Goebel’s rise to power that other Kentucky political machines, chiefly Boss Klair, got their first taste of politics.

Statue of William Goebel – Frankfort, Ky.

Murder, proverbial backstabbing, back-room deals, and some of the most corrupt political acts imaginable (our current legislators might even shudder at what Goebel pulled) create the background that led to Goebel’s infamous (though largely forgotten) assassination that occurred just steps from the state capital in Frankfort.

Using the Goebel biography written by James C. Klotter as a factual spring board, McEwen weaves a well-written and marvelous background to a dramatic time in Kentucky. Without further research, it is difficult to know where fact ends and McEwen’s fiction begins (making me want to read Klotter’s book soon!).

Goebel was, without a doubt, power hungry and got great satisfaction from any power he acquired. Quite focused, he is portrayed to have not given way to the normal temptations of political life.

But perhaps the greatest accomplishment in McEwen’s work is his portrayal of the assassin. Although history does not give us his identity, we assume the “mountain man” came and disappeared from the hills of eastern Kentucky. McEwen creates an accounting of this unnamed person, as well. In each chapter, the sad tale of the mountain man – also one of wrath – brings the two toward an inevitable collision in 1900.

Beta Testing and Kentucky Coffee Stout

In software development, there are two basic types of testing: alpha and beta. In alpha testing, you don’t let your product out-of-house as you work out kinks in the system. Beta testing brings the product to the public – or a small subset of the public – for feedback.

I believe Kentucky Coffee Stout is in its own version of beta testing. With much hype on twitter throughout the preceding day, a keg of the first new brew from Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company was tapped at Lexington Beerworks. A few other locations also have the stout on tap.

Alltech launched Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale in 2006 and this is their first new beer since. Other brews in the lineup are Kentucky Ale and Kentucky Ale Light. I’m a huge fan of all of their beers and was very excited to try Kentucky Coffee Stout so I didn’t tarry on my walk to Lexington Beerworks.

A few sips in, I remembered to snag a photograph. As I talked with the barkeep and a few other patrons, we all had very similar tasting notes. First and foremost, the flavor was great. Starting with a good beer like Kentucky Ale and adding in an excellent coffee bean, Alltech has produced a fantastic flavor.

Flavor is the beer’s strength, but its body is its weakness.

2011 Alltech National Horse Show - Lexington, Ky.The coffee beans are from parent company Alltech’s Café Citadelle – a fair trade coffee from Haiti. (Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries, is located on the western half of Caribbean island Hispaniola, and had a devastating earthquake in 2010 bringing worldwide attention and assistance but has since gone forgotten.) I first tasted Café Citadelle at the 2012 National Horse Show in Lexington (sponsored by Alltech) and found the coffee to be really good. Dumping twelve pounds of the stuff into a batch of beer? Brilliant.

The problem with Kentucky Coffee Stout, however, was its body. A sip of a stout beer (think: Guiness, an Irish stout) should leave a slight weight on your tongue. The head on a well-poured stout should occupy about the top inch of the glass, but by the time the Kentucky Coffee Stout hit the bar its head was gone. A slight twirl of the glass left no foam stuck to the side of the glass, again something that should occur in a stout. I can attest that it was not the fault of the barkeep; I’ve already had a few perfectly poured stouts at the Beerworks. This fault, unfortunately, lies with the beer itself. I believe I dubbed it a stout with erectile dysfunction.

It is therefore a question of Shakespearean proportion: would a beer by any other name taste so good? Ignoring the label ‘stout’ for a minute, you’ve got a damn good tasting beer. Dark and flavorful, maybe the texture is purposeful? We’ll find out when this beer leaves beta testing. And it will. Because it is good.