Archive for March, 2008

Not-Quite Cinderella Makes the Times

Posted in Basketball, Kentucky News, Media, Sports on March 27, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Clem Haskins

It’s not particularly news — at least to Kentuckians — that the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, feted in this year’s tournament as the possible Cinderella upsetters of UCLA tonight, were once dominant on the hardwood during the 1950s and 1960s. However, what might be news to some in this day and age is how the ‘Toppers became so dominant: by integrating far before most of their in-state rivals and peers. While those in the know — such as the excellent eponymous blog Billy Reed Says — have discussed Western’s rich basketball history, today’s issue of the New York Times takes the ‘Toppers unique story national:

…Memories of Western Kentucky’s run of dominance in the 1960s seem to have faded with the set shot and canvas sneakers. In part, the run came about because of Western Kentucky’s willingness to integrate its team at a time when such a policy was still taboo in the South. Those involved with Western Kentucky still take great pride in the university’s breaking of racial barriers.

“There’s so much that people don’t know,” said the former Western star Clem Haskins, who went on to coach at the university. “Western was out there, just like everyone in the country is captivated now with North Carolina and Duke.”

But memories of the 1971 Final Four, deep runs in the National Invitation Tournament and high national rankings come with raw memories of overcoming the thick racial tension in the South.

Haskins, who along with Dwight Smith in 1963 were the first African-Americans to play basketball for the university, recalled not being able to eat in segregated restaurants and watching movies from the balconies of theaters because seats in the lower sections were reserved for whites. Jim McDaniels, another black player, went to Western Kentucky in 1967 and recalled the former Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp’s halfhearted recruitment of him, which included spending just 15 awkward minutes with Rupp in the six days he spent in Lexington. The Southeastern Conference did not integrate until 1966, and Kentucky did not integrate until 1969.

The Western Kentucky coach at that time, John Oldham, had a police officer check his car at times in 1970 because of threats directed at him after he began starting five black players.

“So much of what we deal with right now is stuff that’s absolutely trivial,” said the current Western Kentucky coach, Darrin Horn, who played at Western in the early 1990s. “Coach Oldham and the players from that era, they were dealing with serious issues. That’s one of the reasons that I have so much respect for them.”

And that’s just the beginning. Anecdotes from Haskins, Oldham and McDaniels throughout the piece illustrate the tough times they and others associated with WKU’s basketball program had to go through — and with no Glory Road to immortalize them 40 years later.

Though our main rooting interest is in tonight’s Louisville vs. Tenessee game (tipping off just before 10 pm), we’re glad to root on the Hilltoppers in their game (running almost simultaneously).


What’s In the Weeklies? Week of Mar.26

Posted in Churchill Downs, Drink, Food, Media, Music, What's In the Weeklies? on March 26, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

LEO 3/26

It’s that time again, time for our weekly look at, well, Louisville’s weeklies. And continuing with last week’s installment, once again we’ll use a completely arbitrary and somewhat useless rating system in order to help you, our dear reader, find out which weekly reigns supreme. So here goes nothing.

LEO Weekly, March 25, 2008 issue:

Overall score: 28 points

Velocity 3/26

Velocity Weekly, March 25, 2008 issue:

Overall score: 18 points

Though the score doesn’t entirely reflect it, this week’s competition was much more, well, competitive. If Velocity ever deigned to publish some actual news or opinion pieces, they might well take LEO‘s crown on such a week.

Little Sturgis Rally In Trouble

Posted in Happenings, Kentucky News on March 24, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Little Sturgis

Kentucky’s own Little Sturgis Rally is in danger of legal action from the chamber of commerce in the more-well-known Sturgis, South Dakota:

Chamber officials said in the complaint filed in federal court in South Dakota that they have organized, sponsored, marketed and promoted the rally, spending substantial sums, and that they are filing the complaint to protect the return on that investment.

The complaint alleges the Kentucky group’s use of the name “Little Sturgis Rally” constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition.

The other Sturgis is a town of about 2,000 in Western Kentucky. Its 16th annual Little Sturgis Rally and Races for Charity is planned for July.

The Kentucky rally brings in about 20,000 people a year and has raised about $2 million for charity since it began, Little Sturgis Rally board President Billy House said last week.

He said he was not aware of the lawsuit and does not think the Kentucky rally benefits from any perceived affiliation with the South Dakota rally.

Considering the Sturgis rally in South Dakota is probably the best-known, best-attended motorcycle rally in the world, we’re not sure we buy House’s contention up there. Still, it would be a shame to change the name of the Little Sturgis Rally — to what, we have no idea.

Slow News Day

Posted in Basketball, Churchill Downs, Horse Racing, Kentucky News, Louisville News, Sports on March 21, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Cats Lose

It’s a slow news day out there this Friday. Not surprising, we s’pose, considering the Wildcats lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last night, so Kentucky fans will have nothing to do for the next few weeks except cry and point the blame at either:

  1. Billy Gillespie
  2. Tubby Smith
  3. Injured Players
  4. The NCAA Selection Committe
  5. All of the above

We’d rather not get too into any debates about why they lost, so instead let’s do a roundup of whatever news we can find on this slow, but beautiful day.

Dozens sickened in parish church (from the Courier-Journal):

At least three dozen pupils at St. Martha Elementary School were sickened while in the parish church this morning, according to Louisville emergency officials.

About 400 pupils were in church when one child fainted and then several others started complaining of other ailments, such as headaches and nausea, said Dr. Neal Richmond, director of Metro Emergency Medical Services.

None of the children was seriously ill, but 34 students have been taken to area hospitals to be checked out, he said. A few others were being checked at the scene at 2825 Klondike Lane in the Buechel area.

What caused the children to become sick was not immediately clear. No chemicals or gases were found inside the sanctuary, said Maj. Richard Haines of Louisville Fire & Rescue.

Professional jobs increasing in Louisville (also from the C-J):

Louisville has a greater share of professional and technical jobs that pay well than regional competitors like Indianapolis and Memphis, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

The report, to be released today by the nonprofit Greater Louisville Project, shows that nearly 36 percent of Louisville’s workers are in fields ranging from law and health care to finance and information technology.

And since 2000, the city has added those positions at a faster rate than nine of its peers in the Southeast and Midwest — including Nashville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus.

“We are just beginning to see some signs of momentum around trying to grow more of what we call ’21st century’ jobs,” said Carolyn Gatz, director of the nonpartisan civic group, which issues an annual update on efforts to make the city more competitive.

By the way, we haven’t commented on the Courier‘s web site redesign, mostly because our opinion is not too far out of line with the consensus. That is, it stinks.

Churchill looking for ‘Chief Party Officer’ to oversee Derby infield (from Business First):

Churchill Downs has launched a nationwide search to find someone to fill a brand new executive position — Chief Party Officer of the infield at this year’s Kentucky Derby.

As the official host of the infield party, the CPO will get to walk the Derby red carpet, participate in media interviews, and spend Derby Day in an elevated infield “boardroom” that includes private wagering machines and restrooms.

The CPO will get to choose seven “board members” with whom to share the experience, and those members each may bring three friends.

The CPO also will receive Derby merchandise valued at $500, while each board member will receive $300 in merchandise.

A video from Churchill Downs describing the kind of applicant being sought for the CPO position is available online at

The CPO contest is free and open to U.S. residents age 21 and older. Contestants must upload a video to describing why they should be selected. They also must complete an online application at and include a link the YouTube video.

Applications will be accepted through Sunday, April 13, and the winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 15.


Music This Weekend, Mar.21-23

Posted in Happenings, Music, Music This Weekend on March 20, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Louisvillians are lucky this week, as we’re spoiled with some of the best live music around the region. So get out there and go see some stuff, people!

Blues Control w/ Brian Turner

(Blues Control w/ Brian Turner via Backseat Sandbar courtesy our own flickr page!)

Blues Control flier

First off, on Friday our good friends Blues Control from Queens, NY will be playing a pretty underground-ish show somewhere in the proximity of Sixth and Oak (on the northeast side) with Softcheque (featuring chanteuse Dane Waters) and Beat of Blood (9 pm, free!). We saw Blues Control on March 9th in Cincinnati, and it was a fun show, but I know Louisville can represent better than those bunch of buckeyes. Here’s a song from Blues Control’s recently released CD reissue Puff (on our friend Chris’s Fusetron label):

Blues Control, “Always On Time”


If we weren’t already going to see Blues Control, we’d head to Lexington to see Times New Viking, Psychedelic Horseshit, and Eyes and Arms of Smoke at the Frowny Bear (9 pm, $3-$5 suggested donation). Seriously, these crazy Columbus bands with their no-fi sound are great!

Saturday brings Ohio legends Pere Ubu and Louisville faves The Web to the Pourhaus (9 pm, tickets are $14 at ear X-tacy and will likely be gone soon!). We wrote about how fantastic it is that the Web is playing this show last week (and even included some rare mp3s), so you know we’re hyped. Can’t wait for this one!


Also Saturday night, Lincoln & the Lost Prayers, The Olympia Three and the Town Criers are playing Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge (10 pm, $5). Too bad this conflicts with the Pere Ubu/The Web show, otherwise we’d check it out for sure. Here’s a free track from the Olympia Three’s self-titled album (via Louisville Hardcore):

The Olympia Three, “I’m Still Here”

Of course, the big show getting lots of hype is that N.E.R.D. is playing City Block on Monday, but whatever. That’s going to be a madhouse.

The Teeth

And it’s not this weekend, but the Teeth are playing a free show at the Pink Door next Wednesday. Should be a good time.

What’s in the Weeklies? Week of Mar. 19

Posted in Basketball, Louisville News, Music, What's In the Weeklies? on March 20, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Apologies from Casa de Commonwealth about the lack of updates this week. Due to our internet service going out on Tuesday, a bad reaction to some allergy medication, and the general lackadaisical-ness induced by, oh, two days in a row of nothing but rain, we just didn’t get anything accomplished. Oh well.

Enough of that, and on to our normal feature, What’s In the Weeklies? This week, we’re going to adopt a “scorecard” format with a completely arbitrary and somewhat useless rating system, so here goes:

LEO 3/19

LEO Weekly, March 18, 2008 issue

Overall Score: 30 points


Velocity Weekly, March 18, 2008 issue

Overall Score: 4 points

The overwhelming winner this week is LEO. Tune in next week to see who wins!

Last Call for the Jazz Factory

Posted in Drink, Happenings, Louisville News, Music on March 17, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Jazz Factory

Well, this sucks. Granted, we hadn’t been there in the six months since I’ve been back in Louisville (maybe that tells something about the quality of booking), but the Jazz FactoryLouisville’s only night club dedicated to jazz — is closing:

Ken Shapero, who owns the nightclub/restaurant with his wife, Dianne Aprile, said in a release that “during the five years we have been open, we have not found a way to make the business support itself. As a result, Dianne and I, together with our partners, made the difficult decision to close the doors at the end of this month.”

The club, located in the basement of the Glassworks building at 815 W. Market St., has not canceled any of its currently scheduled shows. A grand finale is planned for March 29 featuring Harry Pickens and his trio leading a jam session with dozens of musicians who have performed at the club in the past.

“All of us at the Jazz Factory want to thank you, our faithful patrons, for your support, encouragement and attendance over thse past five years,” Shapero said in the statement.

Doesn’t seem to be much more to say, other than this is a huge loss for Louisville. Somehow, not to be pessimistic, but we doubt that most people in town will even notice. This “World Class City” could use a bit more cultural appreciation.