Archive for February, 2008

Music This Weekend, Feb. 22-24

Posted in Happenings, Music on February 22, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Wax Fang

This Friday the 22nd, purveyors of one of the ugliest record covers I’ve seen in a while (see above), Wax Fang, headline, uh, at Headliners Music Hall with Ultra Pulverize and Venus Trap. Show starts at 7 pm, though I’m not sure if any tickets are still available (there’s no link to buy on the Headliners’ site).

KDS

Saturday, Shannon Wright plays the 930 Listening Room with openers Kings Daughters and Sons — consisting of Joe Manning, Kyle Crabtree (of Shipping News), Todd Cook (of Dead Child), Rachel Grimes (of Rachel’s), and Michael Heineman — and Tara Jane O’Neil.

And it’s not a weekend show, but on Tuesday the 26th in Lexington, Drag City recording artist Baby Dee plays at the University of Kentucky’s Niles Center for American Music with Attempt and Noisycrane.

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What’s In the Weeklies? Week of Feb. 20

Posted in Art, Food, Happenings, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Music, Politics on February 21, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Obedience

Before I get started summarizing what’s in Louisville’s weekly papers, I’d like to thank Blue Grass Roots for linking to us on Tuesday. Lots of new visitors to the site were the result, and to our new readers, hello!

So what’s going on in the weeklies this week? LEO‘s lead feature is “Spunky Doesn’t Give a Damn: A Year in the Life of a Dog-Training Class” by Cary Stemle, a fun but not particularly amazing piece on, you guessed it, dogs. In actual news, Stephen George covers last week’s I Love Mountains rally in Frankfort (as mentioned here last week), and Phillip M. Bailey chronicles the latest salvo in the West Side liquor wars:

In late January, Circuit Court Judge Martin McDonald dismissed the lawsuit filed by convenience storeowners, effectively enforcing last year’s 86-percent vote in favor of turning four Shawnee precincts dry.

However, last week, attorney Teddy Gordon, who represents two storeowners, filed a pair of appeals that have once again, through a judge’s ruling, put the kibosh on the alcohol ban.

The first continues to challenge the legality of the special election. The other raises the fundamental issue of whether crafting legislation based upon precincts is akin to gerrymandering.

Citing that no voters reside in the precincts of Churchill Downs and Louisville International Airport, which according to his argument violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, Gordon’s appeal potentially jeopardizes any law or vote based on the boundaries of precincts.

Agreeing to hear Gordon’s appeal last Friday, Circuit Judge Mary Shaw also imposed a restraining order, releasing the padlocks on alcohol sales in two of the four affected Shawnee precincts.

“This has become a frustrating experience,” Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, said in a statement. “If the judge believes and follows Mr. Gordon’s arguments, then not just all the wet-dry elections that have been held in Jefferson County but any other valid elections could be overturned on that basis.”

In Velocity, the Courier‘s faux-alt weekly, their usual front-page paean to consumer culture is eschewed for a rather thoughtful feature on local writer Will Lavender, whose debut novel Obedience is released this week by Shaye Areheart Books, a division of Random House. “The Bar Hopper” column consists of the previously-on-the-web review of Impellizzeri’s (with no corrected spelling), while “Food & Drink” runs tiny bite-sized reviews of Macca’s Grill, Oak Street Pizza, Sitar, Wolfgang Puck’s new place in the Convention Center on Fourth Street, and Turkey Joe’s. And most seriously, there’s a good piece on the “Homeless: Telling Our Own Stories” exhibit at the 930 Arts Center.

In music, both LEO and Velocity have short interviews with Shannon Wright, who plays Saturday night at the 930 Listening Room. Joseph Lord‘s article seems particularly perplexing (not exactly a surprise), given that it mentions that Louisvillians Kyle Crabtree and Todd Cook play in Wright’s band, but doesn’t mention Crabtree’s other, most famous band, Shipping News, or that Cook and Crabtree are also in openers Kings Daughters and Sons (with Rachel Grimes, Mike Heineman, and Joe Manning).

Good Ol’ Payola for Ernie Fletcher

Posted in Kentucky News on February 20, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Fletcher

(Yikes! You’d think the C-J would have a better photo on file.)

The Courier-Journal reported last night around 11 pm (and in today’s edition of the paper) that former Governor Ernie Fletcher’s administration oversaw a Medicaid-reimbursement payment of $3.4 million dollars to Pikeville Medical Center. Now, this ordinarily wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except that the payment came at the tail end of the administration,. Additionally, last week Fletcher was hired as a consultant to the PMC, so of course now it looks pretty fishy:

Records from the state Department for Medicaid Services show that last Oct. 9, the state agreed to pay $3,446,836 in exchange for Pikeville Medical Center dropping its claims for additional reimbursement.

Although 45 hospitals have made similar claims against the state, it was the only settlement reached late in the Fletcher administration and one of only two last year.

The settlements left the other hospitals wondering why they were left out, said Stephen R. Price, a Louisville lawyer who represents 32 of them.

“I’ve been kind of shut out from settlement discussions,” he said. “I’ve had more than one client ask, ‘Why couldn’t we get the same deal?’ ”

Fletcher couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

But David Fleenor, who was his general counsel at the end of the administration and is authorized to speak for the former governor, said he sees no conflict between the consulting job and the settlement.

“That (the settlement) was done through the (health and family services) cabinet,” Fleenor said. “That was not done though the governor’s office.”

Even if every aspect of this transaction is above-board, it sure stinks, timing-wise, for Fletcher, who looks bad enough given the budget problems he left for the Beshear administration. Speaking of which, Beshear’s Medicaid commissioner, Elizabeth Johnson, said that settling such claims is unusual:

Johnson said the cabinet’s policy under Beshear is generally not to settle such claims. She said her understanding is that the reimbursement decisions conformed to regulations and that no errors were made in calculating amounts.

She also said that the agreement with Pikeville Medical Center and a $12.8 million settlement in March 2007 with Baptist Healthcare must be paid without the help of federal matching funds.

The federal government, which normally covers 70 percent of Medicaid’s costs, refused to participate in the two settlements on grounds that the original fees paid were consistent with the state’s reimbursement rules, Johnson said.

That means the state, at a time when it is facing severe budget problems, could be solely liable for up to $180 million in claims if the other hospitals prevail, Price said.

I don’t know much about Pikeville Medical Center, but a quick perusal of its humbly-named web site reveals its mission: “to provide quality, regional health care in a Christian environment.” Yeesh. And there’s this little tidbit from the article:

Officials and employees of Pikeville Medical Center contributed at least $16,250 to Fletcher’s primary re-election campaign for governor last year, and at least $14,500 to his unsuccessful general election campaign against Beshear. They also gave at least $14,000 to Beshear in the general election.

Lookin’ good, Ernie!

Whichever Way WHAS Blows: Schulz Out?

Posted in Louisville News, Weather on February 19, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Ken Schulz

(archival photo from lkyradio.com)

The ‘Ville Voice is reporting that longtime weatherman Ken Schulz may soon be gone from WHAS-11 TV:

Our sources tell us that Schulz was given a choice during contract negotiations — take a pay cut and move to weekends, or quit. This is probably his last week on the air at WHAS-TV.

The same source told us that weekend weatherman Jeremy Kappell, now in his fifth year on the Storm Team, will not have his contract renewed, but will remain at the station if Schulz leaves.

General manager Mark Pimentel said yesterday that the station is in the process of negotiations with Schulz, but wouldn’t comment further, except to say this: “We value Ken and we’re talking.”

Schulz has been a weatherman at the previously Bingham-owned station since 1978 (when I was three years old). The change in personnel could come despite WHAS cleaning up in the local ratings, which seems sort of strange, given how Schulz is — along with WAVE-3‘s Tom Wills and John Belski — a veteran weatherman trusted by viewers. Schulz replaced another trusted weatherman at WHAS, Chuck Taylor, as the lead weatherman in the mid-1990s, as Taylor died of cancer in 1997.

Cards Squeeze the Orange, and More Local News

Posted in Kentucky News, Louisville News, Sports on February 19, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Cardinals

Last night the Louisville Cardinals outlasted the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team, fresh (excuse the pun) off a win over Georgetown on Saturday, by 61-50 at Freedom Hall. Again, the Cards’ defense was the story of the game, as they grabbed a season-high 53 rebounds. However, their offense was nearly non-existent in the first half, as they shot only 27-percent from the floor. Thankfully, a little Rick Pitino reverse-psychology seemed to do the trick:

In Saturday’s 80-72 win at Providence, the Cards were outrebounded 44-41. Pitino repeatedly told them they would have “not 10 percent, not 5 percent but a zero percent chance” to beat the athletic Orange (17-10, 7-7) with a similar effort.

“They took it to heart,” Pitino said.

In other Cardinal athletic news, don’t forget that Friday is the baseball team’s season opener, 2 pm at Jim Patterson Stadium versus Cleveland State.

smokin'

In other Louisville news from today’s Courier-Journal, a study by the UK College of Public Health claims that toxins found in restaurants and bars dropped by 97% since the smoking ban took effect in July. I haven’t had a chance to actually see or read the report (it’s not on the UKCPH site yet, as far as I can tell), but that sounds pretty definitive. Yet, some Louisville restaurant and bar owners aren’t giving up the fight:

Cres Bride, owner of two local bars and president of the Louisville Metro Hospitality Coalition, said he’s not surprised by the results, but there’s a larger issue at play.

“Primarily, first and foremost, the smoking ban is a freedom of rights issue for all restaurant and bar owners,” Bride said. “It’s about the freedom of bar or restaurant owners to run their business as they see fit without governmental interference.”

The hospitality coalition has fought the smoking ban and successfully sued to have an exemption for Churchill Downs removed from the ordinance.

“I just find it hypocritical that the people who run our government are so concerned with smoking habits, and yet are pushing so hard for casinos, when study after study shows gambling is disastrous for a society.”

Speaking of casinos, approximately 200 people rallied at the Capitol today in Frankfort against Governor Beshear’s casino proposal. That isn’t what I’d call amazing public turnout on the issue, but as mentioned here and many other places, opposition in the Legislature is quite formidable. Pol Watchers is reporting that Jodi Jenkins, D-Shively, has proposed an alternate plan that allows for only 9 casinos.

And briefly, be careful what craigslist ads you answer: Louisville Metro Police may be watching (from the 2nd item):

Twenty-seven people were arrested on prostitution charges this weekend after Louisville Metro Police placed ads on craigslist, a popular Internet site that provides local classifieds and forums for jobs, personals, services and events.

Detectives placed an ad in the Web site’s classified section for erotic services, said Alicia Smiley, a police spokeswoman.

The officers arranged to meet the men who responded at a location on Phillips Lane on Friday and Saturday, Smiley said. When each man arrived, he was arrested and charged with prostitution, Smiley said.

Yikes.

Louisville Food: World’s Largest White Castle

Posted in Food, Happenings, Louisville News on February 18, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Harold and Kumar

Haven’t had a food-related post around here a while, so I thought today would be a good day to start with the latest culinary (and otherwise) happenings around Louisville.

Last Friday morning, the world’s largest White Castle opened in Louisville. Mayor Jerry Abramson was on hand to serve the first sliders off the grill (I’m not sure why WC actually spells ’em as “slyders” on their web site). While this is definitely pretty cool, let’s make sure someone at White Castle corporate HQ made sure the traffic flow is a little better planned than at the White Castle on Westboro Road (see the hilarious photos from Gravy Bread).

Business First ran an interesting profile on Todd Richards, Executive Chef at the Seelbach Hotel’s Oak Room, and recent contestant (versus Bobby Flay) on the Food Network‘s “Iron Chef America.” Richards lost to Flay, but the secret ingredient — carrot — probably wasn’t easy to work with. Richards told Business First:

When the show’s secret ingredient, carrots, was revealed, “it was quite shocking,” Richards said. “I thought, ‘We’re in trouble.’ “

All that aside, Richards was a compelling and innovative contestant for the show, and seeing him compete so strongly on the show most likely helps raise the profile of Louisville’s burgeoning restaurant scene.

Speaking of the Louisville restaurant scene, ‘Ville Voice Eats reports that Louisvillle Originals — a group of more than 50 local restaurants — has ended its association with the national Dine Originals group, echoing the familiar complaint that the national group didn’t offer enough support to local chapters. Business First followed up with a larger piece in their Friday edition. However, Louisville diners probably won’t notice any difference.

Velocity ran an online-only (as far as I can tell) review of the new Impellizzeri’s, long my favorite pizza joint in Louisville, so happy that it’s back and thriving in the Highlands. Reviewer Josh Thomas really nailed the down-home atmosphere of Impellizzeri’s in the following paragraph:

One of the best things I saw all night, though, came during the dinner rush, as tables were vacated and starving, soon-to-be customers waiting in the wings peered over the partition to spy the empty tables. I saw co-owners Benny Impellizeri and Wes Phelps clearing tables, wiping them down, getting them ready for the next bunch of hungry people. And while that may seem tangential to this review, it’s very important to the atmosphere of a business.

Despite being in fancy new digs with HDTVs — a far cry from the old strip-mall digs further down Bardstown Road near Electric Ladyland — Impellizzeri’s hasn’t really changed its attitude. And as far as I can tell, they still don’t have a web site. The new Impellizzeri’s is located at 1381 Bardstown Road, just off Edgeland Avenue, call (502) 454-2711 for hours and table availability, they’re always packed.

Lonnie's Best Taste of Chicago

And finally, Friday for lunch I hit up Lonnie’s Best Taste of Chicago, oddly situated in the white-bread East End suburb of St. Matthews (photo from Louisville Hotbytes). Having lived in Chicago from 1998 to 2002, I was definitely pleased with Lonnie’s, as it’s the closest I’ve been to a Chicago-style hot dog joint outside of Chicago. I had a Clark Street Dog (the typical north side Vienna dog loaded with vegetables and pepeprs) and a Maxwell Street Polish, both of which tasted excellently like the real thing. Since you can’t actually get a Polish on Maxwell Street any more (Jim’s Original is now located on Union Street, a little bit off Halsted), eating at Lonnie’s in St. Matthews is the next best thing. Lonnie’s Best Taste of Chicago is located at 121 Saint Matthews Avenue, call (502) 895-2380 for hours. One final note: definitely loved the White Sox-centric decor.

CORRECTION: As Michelle from Consuming Louisville notes in the comments below, Impellizzeri’s does indeed have a web site, at www.impellizzeris.com. Impellizzeri’s is spelled with two l’s and two z’s, which both Velocity and your humble editor managed to miss (no wonder I couldn’t google the site!).

Is Jeffrey Lee Puckett Asleep At the Wheel?

Posted in Music on February 16, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Jeffrey Lee Puckett

Given my earlier mini-rant in an earlier post about the rather sorry state of Louisville music criticism, the following isn’t really that surprising (and, truth be told, isn’t really a big deal), but what was Courier-Journal music critic Jeffrey Lee Puckett smoking when he wrote this in Friday’s “Sound Effects” column:

Tim Finn was a force in pop music throughout the 1980s and early ’90s, leading Crowded House to major international success with songs such as “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”

Even though the band’s initial American buzz faded, Finn has maintained a loyal cult following with a series of solo albums and collaborations. A good hook and literate lyrics will still draw a crowd given half a chance.

He performs tomorrow at an unusual venue: the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in the Highlands, 1938 Al Fresco Place, as part of the church’s expansive entertainment program (8 p.m., $20).

Granted, I could really care less about Tim Finn and the sort of dad-rock that he represents (disclaimer: my uncle is also named Tim Finn, but he doesn’t play music and ain’t from New Zealand), but even a quick perusal of the dude’s Wikipedia page reveals that Tim Finn is the brother of Crowded House leader Neil Finn, and is not the primary songwriter of the group (both Finns were members of the earlier band Split Enz). Yes, Tim Finn did join Crowded House for their third album, Woodface, but that was their third album, released five years after their debut (which contained their biggest hit “Don’t Dream It’s Over”), and Tim Finn left the group soon after.

Like I said, this hardly matters, except in terms of accuracy. Given that the Courier-Journal is the biggest game in town, journalistically-speakin’, Puckett and his editors should probably try a little harder to get the basic facts right. I’m sure nobody at the show tonight will really care, but hey, there it is.