Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spiral Dreams

You just never know what the public will submit next to MUFON's UFO Case Files. The most recent example in the Kentucky reports comes from a man named Joe, who didn't actually see a UFO, but had a weird dream:

"On the night of Nov. 22, 2009, I had a most bizzare dream of being in a place and going outside and telepathically being told to lay down on the ground and look up. As I did, A large square shaped sort of opened up the sky, a sort of portal I suppose. At that time I saw inside of the openeing two discs which counter rotated and passed through each other. They came to a point where they would reverse course and repeat. I saw some stars in the background of this opening but they were of a different resolution than the others that were not in the opening in the dark sky. Immediately thereafter, a large spiral formed inside of the "portal" and another smaller spiral came from the center of this larger one and came to just above where I was laying on the ground. The reason I am reporting this is because on the early morning of December 9, 2009 there was a similar sighting over Norway that was said to be a Russian Bulava rocket launch which had failed creating the two spirals. When I saw this, I was intrigued and actually quite stunned because, it was basically, a reverse of what I had dreamed. I felt it was a strange synchronicity of sorts. In my dream there was the "opening" in the sky first followed by the large spiral and then the smaller spiral. In Norway, it was reported in reverse. It was first the small blue spiral, then the large spiral, then the black hole looking image as the spiral dissipated. Not a conventional sighting, but something strange has happened and I feel it is beyond statistical probability to be a coincidence. I was so taken by my dream, that I entered the details into my dream journal immediately upon waking. When the Norway event occurred I called my father right away to tell him about the spiral in Norway and then to read my description from my dream journal. Additionally, and unrelated, my two daughters witnessed twice int the same morning, roughly one week ago, a definite ufo which my daughter snapped a nice photo of with her iphone. I will ask her to submit it and fill out a report. I just happened to stumble onto this site from Google and felt compelled to report my incident. Although not a conventional "sighting", I felt it had a definite connection to extraworldly phenomena. Kindly, Joe."

Now usually, I'd regard "I had a crazy dream" posts on a UFO sighting board as Junk Data, but there's a lot going on with these weird spirals in the sky lately, much more than meets the eye. Enough high weirdness is in the air right now that I'm willing to give Joe some benefit of the doubt.

The official explanation is that it's just smoke from a Russian rocket that spiralled out of control, but many people aren't buying that explanation. And on the same evening as the mysterious Norway Spiral incident, there was a giant pyramid over Moscow. Some say it's related to the recent mysterious doings at CERN and HAARP. (Not to mention the Russian equivalent of HAARP, known as SURA.)

And there are still other similar phenomena going on right now, such as this and this and this.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Genny's Diner Owner Must Save or Sell House

Back in the summer, I took some pictures of the great old run-down building next to Genny's Diner on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, and wondered why this beautiful old Victorian mansion was being allowed to rot and decay. Now a judge has ordered owner Frank Faris to either sell it, save it from collapse, or go to jail.

Read the whole story on my Louisville Mojo column!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Beriah Magoffin Monument

Beriah Magoffin was Kentucky's 21st Governor, serving during the Civil War.

Magoffin, who attended Centre College in Danville and Transylvania University in Lexington, believed strongly in the right of states to secede from the Union. Though he was sympathetic to the Confederate cause, he supported Kentucky's position of neutrality in the war.

As far as Civil War-era Governors go, Magoffin really wasn't terribly notable and his actions in office did little to sway the conflict one way or the other. Historically, he is probably best known for his telegram to President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln called for deployment of Kentucky troops on April 15, 1861, and Magoffin defiantly responded: "I will send not a man, nor a dollar, for the wicked purpose of subduing my sister Southern States."

After the Civil War ended, however, Magoffin became a civil rights advocate and urged passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.

His main legacy today is that he left behind an interesting tombstone: the Beriah Magoffin Monument is located in Spring Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Harrodsburg. The grave peculiarly renders Magoffin's bust in Neo-classical style, wearing a Roman toga.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Valley of the Drums

Way back in the day, most Bullitt Countians probably never gave much thought to the vast 23-acre expanse just outside of Louisville that was filled with chemical drums as far as the eye could see. After all, there was nothing illegal about such dumpsites back in our parents' generation. There were no laws regarding proper storage or containment of toxic waste.

That is, until it caught fire in 1966. It raged for over a week before firefighters could put out the chemical fire that filled Louisville's skies with some truly toxic smoke. This incident raised public awareness to the ecological disaster happening in Louisville's backyard, and eventually led to the Superfund act of 1980.

The Valley of the Drums, as it came to be known, was finally placed on the nation's list of most toxic sites in 1983, and it took them until 1990 to get it cleaned up to the EPA's satisfaction.

In 2003, the nearby creek sediment was discovered to be saturated with deadly PCBs. And in 2008, alarm was raised again when more rusting chemical drums that the cleanup crew missed were found on the periphery of the property. Further analysis showed the area is still contaminated by PCBs.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Ouerbacker House

The long-abandoned Ouerbacker House, on the corner of 17th Street and Jefferson Street in Louisville, has been falling apart for years now. It's very strange, since it would seem to have been a prime piece of real estate at one time.

According to Broken Sidewalk, Metro Louisville took control of this property from a foreclosed tax business in 2005, but the property became even more abandoned during the city's stewardship, experiencing advanced decay, vandalism, and fires.

Recently there was some fear that the house would be disassembled and shipped elsewhere, but fortunately, it's not to be. There's a new Ouerbacker House Restoration Foundation that's reportedly working on saving the place and making it inhabitable again for future generations.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Donder Society

Everyone knows that Santa has nine reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. (Well, not counting Egbert, Wilburn, Skippy, Smidgen, Angst, Bunsen, Kriemhild and Bob. But they're only the auxilliary backups in case of emergency.)

But guess what? You're wrong! It's actually Donder, not Donner, according to many scholars who know more about such things than you and I.

You may find this discrepancy to be less than Earth-shattering, but Louisville attorney Donald M. Heavrin has made it his life's calling to spread the word about the real name of this rogue reindeer. He's the commander-in-chief of the Donder Society, an ad hoc group dedicated to correcting the historical record and getting Donder's true name reinstated in popular usage. Each year about this time, the Society releases its annual report, letting the faithful know where we are in the great war against creeping Donnerian hegemony.

So what's the deal here? Well, it's complicated.

"A Visit from Saint Nicholas" made its first print appearance anonymously in New York's Troy Sentinel newspaper in 1823, and it had a reindeer named "Dunder". It was reprinted this way for the next thirteen years, until authorship was claimed by Clement Clarke Moore, a New Yorker of Dutch ancestry and professor of Biblical Studies at New York's General Theological Seminary. Moore published the poem in a book in 1844, and changed Dunder to Donder.

Thunder and lightning would be donder and bliksem in Dutch (transliterated) and donner and blitzen in German. The confusing part is that in naming Santa's two most majestic paranormally-powered Devil Deer "Thunder and Lightning", Moore chose to use one Dutch name and one German one. But hey, he can call 'em whatever he wants, it's his poem.

Or is it?

There's a growing revisionist school of thought that names another New Yorker of Dutch ancestry, Henry Livingston, as the story's true author. In 2000, scholar and textual analyst Donald W. Foster published his findings naming Livingston as the poem's actual source.

According to Snopes, which I regard as accurate only a quarter of the time, there have been many prior examples of Donder rendered as Donner, going as far back as 1906 in an article in the New York Times. However, I checked the online NYT database for 1906 and didn't find the article they speak of. Regardless, these examples are probably either typos or instances where editors well-versed in German thought they were cleverly correcting typos, mistaking Donder for Donner.

The real source of the Donner/Donder glitch was Gene Autry and his 1949 popular song "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", which said Donner, not Donder, and thus cemented this nomenclature in the public consciousness for the rest of the century.

In 1939, a coloring book called "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" was created by Robert May for the Montgomery Ward department stores. This, in turn, led to Gene Autry's song in 1949. Together, the book and the song introduced this ruminant-come-lately to the Santa mythology, and many regard his presence as being not strictly "in canon".

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Voting Rights for the Dead

I've always felt that the biggest problem with modern society is that it doesn't take into account its own big picture. To the average American - who knows more about football stats than his own country's history - Millard Fillmore, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt might as well all be the same person or from the same time period. And the Bill of Rights means about as much to them as any other oblique and opaque document they had to study in school but never really understood, like the Magna Carta, the Emancipation Proclamation, or the Smoot-Hawley Act.

Despite the efforts of the ACLU and other organizations to try to hold the original spirit and structure of the U.S. Constitution in place, each generation of Americans is more ignorant than the last when it comes to basic civics. If only there were a way to keep the beliefs of the Founding Fathers alive in the brave new world of today.

A modest proposal:

Let's give voting rights to the dead.

And we can retroactively give a vote to the Founding Fathers, whose votes should count the largest, since they started this whole thing of ours, thus cancelling out the votes of the lowest common denominators who walk our streets today. (But of course, that doesn't include you, dear reader!)

Much of the atrocities we've seen in our lifetimes would never have been condoned by previous generations. Let's record how they felt and let their voices continue to carry weight today. Of course, there's the inverse problem that most of these older voices of cantakerous dead guys lack a certain progressiveness, and that many of them would not vote for things we take for granted today, like equal rights. This is, of course, why we need to give the biggest votes to the Founding Fathers and those who shared their ideals.

But on many pressing issues of the day, bringing in the dead-folks vote would help bring cohesion and fairness and save us all from an almost certain technocratic hell. Wouldn't you like to be able to vote now on certain things that may take place in the future, like "If, someday, it's proposed that we all have microchips in our asses that monitor our every move, do you support this?" and we can all vote "uh, no, thanks anyway, do not want."

What's more, we may not have to rely on the historical record of any given dead person's stated opinions to determine how they would have voted on modern issues. There's also the option of contacting them via channellers, spiritualists, Ouija boards, divination, what have you, and asking their ghosts directly what they think about, say, Obama's health care plan.

I submit to you an article found in the March 14, 1873 edition of the New York Times, in which an unattributed writer waggishly notes:

If ghosts continue to multiply with their present rapidity, there will have to be an addition made to the recent volume of census statistics. At the present rate, our ghostly population will soon far outnumber the Indians or the Chinamen, and we may expect to see a movement in favor of giving the rights of citizenship to resident ghosts, either by virtue of the phraseology of the fourteenth amendment, or on the pretext that they are included among the "other persons" mentioned in the original Constitution. A census that omits so important a part of our population is certainly incomplete...

The author goes on to illustrate two recent examples of ghostly incidents that had come to his attention; one was a pie-eating ghost in Ulster, and the other was in located in Kentucky. The author is somewhat geographically confused - there's no such thing as Lebanon County - but let's not let that spoil the anecdote:

(I especially liked the part about a flask of bourbon and a deck of cards being among the "articles necessary to the comfort of a Kentucky Gentleman", which called to mind my own words about how a good Transylvania Gentleman needs lots of pockets to hold all his swag.)

Of course, we could take the whole retroactive-rights idea even further and give a posthumous vote to each of the dead men and women who populated this hemisphere before the United States. That might be the fairest thing to do, even though it would almost certainly mean that most of us would find ourselves "voted off the island", so to speak.

Let's initiate a grass-roots campaign right now to stop disenfranchising our noble deceased ancestors, and to bring them in on the issues that face us young corporeal whippersnappers. To the polls, you spirits, spooks, and spectres!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waterspout in Kentucky?

This puzzling datum is from the New York Times, August 24, 1901.

A waterspout on a creek? Seriously? Is that possible? A waterspout is, by definition, a funnel cloud that connects from a cumuliform cloud to a large body of water, usually the ocean or the Great Lakes.

Kidnapped by Elvis

A 14-year-old Bowling Green girl was almost kidnapped by two men from North Dakota.

42-year-old Dragan Jovanovic and 19-year-old Elvis Tahirovic, both residents of Fargo, ND, drove all the way to Bowling Green and attempted to sign the girl out from Henry Moss Middle School, pretending to have authorization to do so.

Unbeknownst to the bumbling would-be child-stealers - who really are starting to sound like Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare - the girl was absent from school and was safe at home. The school officials immediately saw through Elvis and Dragan's scam.

The Bowling Green Daily News has reported that both men, as well as Jovanovic's 14-year-old son, had met the girl online through a social networking site. Jovanovic pled guilty to second-degree unlawful transaction with a minor and is facing three years. Tahirovic's case is pending.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Kamel" Graffiti Gang

Graffiti and vandalism have been a growing problem in Butchertown, and now four persons have been caught on security video vandalizing the Eye Care Institute building at 1536 Story Avenue. The "Kamel" gang are wanted by police for multiple counts of vandalism and criminal trespassing.

I'm of two minds regarding graffiti - on one hand, much of it is very beautiful and essentially harmless. On the other hand, some of it causes a lot of financial hardship for those whose homes and businesses have been vandalized by bored know-nothing teenage spray-painting retards. The problem will probably only continue to grow, unfortunately, and is doomed to be among that set of signs-of-the-times that I call Unsolvable Problems.

Click here for more details in my Louisville Mojo column.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kentucky Ale Beer Cheese

One from our Transylvania Gentlemen blog:

Yes, dear friends, long and arduous is the gravel road I have traveled, lo, these many years to seek out prime examples of the uniquely Kentuckian tradition known as Beer Cheese.

Many times have I been on safari, deep in the heart of darkest Boonesboro, making my way through a sea of drunken river rats with lunch in their beards, salty women whose hair smelled of Suave conditioner and fried chicken, disreputable hillbilly mechanics in back rooms of garages in parts of Madison County that bear no name, and smoky rural diners with yellowing countertops and teeth. I've nocturally traversed tick-filled weedy farmlands with justified and ancient cornfields, and I've slogged knee-deep in black rotten stinking creek mud to get from Point A to Point Beer Cheese, ever seeking what's around the next corner, the next door, the next tree, the next quantum particle.

And I did it all for you, dear reader; your humble servant am I. Selah.

In the course of these scholarly duties and advanced Appalachian studies, this jaded palate has experienced it all - or so I thought. But Kentucky Ale Beer Cheese is a new taste sensation for me.

It differs from the lowbrow pepperiness of Southern Salads and the steady, stoic blandness of Hall's store-bought spread and the Popeye-muscled horseradish power of River Rat. The synergy of Kentucky Ale with this Beer Cheese somehow gives a downright mustard-like tang. Sure enough, there it is in the ingredients: mustard powder. Beauty!

The texture is grainy, not gloppy, and - this is the mark of a truly worthy Beer Cheese - it makes me wanna ditch the crackers and just eat the damn stuff right oughta the tub with a butter knife.

Funny thing is, I don't even particularly care for Kentucky Ale as a beer. One of the little ironies of life in the commonwealth. (Now, their super-fancy Bourbon-barrel ale is a whole 'nother story. Mmmmm, that's the stuff!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Naked Civil War Battle

An interesting historical anecdote about a nude combat skirmish involving John Hunt Morgan, from the Washington Times:

"The Union pickets didn't know what to think of soldiers fighting as naked as jaybirds," Confederate Lt. Bennett H. Young wrote in an unusual report to his superiors about a skirmish between Union and Confederate forces on the Cumberland River in western Kentucky on July 2, 1863.

In late June, Morgan's men scouted the rain-swollen Cumberland River marking the border between Tennessee and Kentucky. The normally placid river was now half a mile wide, choked with floating logs and other storm runoff. Anxious to get his raid on the road, Morgan began crossing his men on July 2 when the river was still overflowing its banks. He had more than 2,500 with him, 1,000 more than his orders authorized.

The impetuous Morgan should have waited for the swirling river to fall, as it was an impediment to keeping his men together, but because of the flood conditions, the Federals on the Kentucky side had relaxed their patrols. The Federals believed no one would try such a dangerous crossing.

Morgan's men carefully wrapped their cap-and-ball weapons and paper cartridges in rubber blankets and tossed them into make-shift rafts and leaky boats. Many forgot modesty, stripping off their clothes to keep them dry. They jumped into the river, literally swimming bareback or holding onto their horses' tails.

It is hard to hide 2,500 men, scores of wagons and hundreds of mules swimming a river. Union patrols discovered the crossing and rushed to the bank to start shooting at the men in the boats that they could see. What they could not see was that hundreds of Confederates had already landed and were now hidden from view by the bank's slope and trees.

Nineteen-year-old Lt. Bennett Young of Morgan's command, who would gain fame the following year for leading a raid on St. Albans, Vt., remembered: "Those who had clothing on rushed ashore into line. Those who swam with horses, unwilling to be laggard, not halting to dress, seized their cartridge boxes and guns and dashed upon the enemy. The strange sight of naked men engaging in combat amazed the enemy."

Wayside's Hotel Louisville

Louisville's Wayside Christian Mission has continually met with resistance from the city over their attempts to maintain a large-scale homeless shelter. No one wanted a homeless shelter in their own backyard, and neighborhoods said no everywhere that the idea was proposed.

Regardless of what one may think about Wayside Christian Mission - I don't know much about them and I'm not even sure what I think about them myself - I gotta say, their solution was a stroke of genius:

They bought a high-rise hotel on Broadway and are charging a penny a room, thus bypassing all zoning regulations that would apply to a homeless shelter.

And the powers-that-be are having a conniption fit! State Senator Tim Shaughnessy has announced: "the state wants that property for the college", meaning Jefferson Community and Technical College. "At the end of the day, the state will take that property."

There have been rumblings about seizing the property under eminent domain laws, but Wayside seems unruffled. So certain are they that they're here to stay, they installed a giant white aluminum cross on the building's north wall last week.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stalked By Homeland Security?

A man in Louisville has been pursuing a legal case against the Bush-Cheney administration as well as Obama's, claiming to be a victim of relentless harassment by shadowy government agents in black Crown Victorias.

(The Men In Black, perhaps? "Unlimited technology from the whole universe, and we cruise around in a Ford P.O.S.")

His case has now ended prematurely, having been denied a rehearing by an appeals court in Washington, DC. Get the scoop here on my latest Louisville Mojo entry!

Ruth Montgomery

It's a little-known fact (at least to me, because I just learned it tonight) that the world famous psychic Ruth Montgomery lived in Louisville, KY for a time.

Born in Illinois, Ruth Schick married Robert H. Montgomery while pursuing a career in journalism with the now-defunct Louisville Herald-Post newspaper.

In 1958, she became interested in psychic phenomena and gradually became aware of her own extra-sensory abilities. She reached international fame with A Gift of Prophecy, her 1965 biography of psychic Jeane Dixon.

In her 1971 book A World Beyond, Montgomery revealed that in a past life she had dwelled in Christ's time and geographical area. She claimed to have been Lazarus' third sister Ruth, although there is no mention of this third sister in the Bible.

Other popular books penned by Montgomery include: Strangers Among Us (1978), Aliens Among Us (1985), and The World to Come (1999).

Montgomery died in 2001, but her writing is getting better than ever: The Macombers, an entire family of spirit channellers, have been dutifully transcribing her latest literary works via Automatic Writing from beyond the grave.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jefferson Davis Monument

And hey, speaking of obelisks, how about the Jefferson Davis Monument in Fairview, KY? (That's the one in Todd County, by the way - Kentucky has several Fairviews)

Most people, for whom the Washington Monument is their only frame of reference for obelisks, do a double take when they view this for the first time.

The Jefferson Davis Monument is the tallest unreinforced concrete structure in the world - no steel was used to reinforce the concrete. I don't know about you, but that makes me more than a little concerned. Then again, the building has stood up just fine since 1924.

Since all the taller obelisks are constructed of blocks of stone, that also makes the Jefferson Davis Monument the tallest poured-concrete obelisk in the world.

It's generally regarded as the third tallest obelisk in the world, behind the San Jacinto Monument and the Washington Monument. However, the San Jacinto Monument is not quite a true obelisk, and so technically the Jefferson Davis Monument should be number two.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Black Obelisk

Not the famous Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, but one found recently in Lexington Cemetery, with a reverse-engraved image of the deceased youth, and a rather impenetrable inscription.

An obelisk is a tall, narrow, four-sided, tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top. It originates in ancient Egypt, where it symbolized the sun god Ra. During the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten, the obelisk was also said to be a petrified ray of the Aten (the sundisk god) and that he literally inhabited the structure.

Because of the Egyptian funerary associations with the shape, obelisks remain a popular type of grave marker today; but it's doubtful that many people realize the occult symbology they're taking part in.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Death in Sloans Valley Cave

From the Courier-Journal:

TATEVILLE, Ky. — A man slipped into a deep pit and was killed Wednesday while exploring a treacherous southeastern Kentucky cave, officials said.

Crews worked for hours to recover the body of Steven Troxell, 21, who died of blunt force trauma, said Pulaski County Coroner Richard New.

Troxell and two companions were walking inside the Sloans Valley cave when he fell into the cone-shaped, 30-foot-deep pit. His companions called 911 about 3 p.m., officials said. The coroner said the three were not experienced cavers.

The opening to the cave is located on private property, and it was not clear whether the owners were aware anyone was exploring it, New said.

Troxell's body was found about three-quarters of a mile inside the cave, which is part of a system that meanders about 25 miles beneath private and public lands in a part of Kentucky known for its outdoor recreation. The system is one of the longest in the world.

“It's probably one of the most treacherous caves in the county and probably in the cave system,” New said.

The photos shown here were found on ElZorroTOX's Tabblo, and I noticed they have a photo of a bat in the cave that seems to have traces of the mystery bat-attacking fungus beginning to grow on its ears.

Chicken vs. Child

From the New York Times, September 24, 1903, this story of a chicken attacking a child, with much significance seemingly placed on the fact the rooster was from Kentucky. Why? I'm not sure. It would be decades before Colonel Sanders would make the words "Kentucky" and "chicken" go hand in hand.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kentucky Most Cancerous State

Yikes! Here's a newsy nugget the tourism department aren't going to like. The Centers for Disease Control have announced that Kentucky has the highest cancer death rate in the entire United States of America.

Kentucky averages 211.2 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with the national average of 180.7 per 100,000.

Kentucky has also the fifth highest pre-term birth rate and seventh-highest cesarean delivery rate and low birthrate weight. Also of interest is the fact that Kentucky is statistically high in terms of cellphone use - 21.4 percent of Kentucky households have a cellphone as their only phone, compared with 14.7 percent nationally.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Men in Black

In the course of researching the Weird Kentucky book, I spoke to a man in Madison County who told me an interesting tale. He didn't want to be named on the record, and I lost track of the story while hoping he'd reconsider going on the record. Now I've lost track with the guy entirely.

In a nutshell, he claimed that in the 1970s he was visited by a pair of suspicious-acting, pale, cadaverous men wearing dark glasses and dressed in old, musty-looking black suits and ties.

In other words, the classic Men In Black mythical archetype. As Wikipedia describes them:

Men in Black (MIB), in popular culture and in UFO conspiracy theories, are men dressed in black suits who are government agents who harass or threaten UFO witnesses to keep them quiet about what they have seen. It is sometimes implied that they may be aliens themselves. The term is also frequently used to describe mysterious men working for unknown organizations, as well as to various branches of government allegedly designed to protect secrets or perform other strange activities.

The fellow in Madison County said the men were claiming to be selling subscriptions to the Richmond Daily Register and other periodicals. However, their patter was rambling and unpracticed, like someone uttering the words for the first time rather than someone who had been saying the same thing over and over at every door he knocked on. Rather than have a stack of "take one" flyers with more information, they had only one flyer, and it looked water-damaged and dog-eared as if they'd found it on the ground. And he definitely felt as if one MIB was craning his neck to peer inside the house while the other MIB was distracting him.

I can't go into why he felt the men were part of some secret agency, without divulging key information regarding his identity. But I found his story compelling.

That's because I had an MIB experience myself.

In 1991, I was living with a girlfriend in a house in Lexington's Bell Court, and hosting a weekly rockabilly radio show on WRFL. I was just wrapping up my show at the station when I got a phone call. It was a man from Richmond, who said he just happened to be driving through Lexington and just happened to hear my radio show and just happened to have a carload of ultra-rare rockabilly records that he'd like to get rid of, cheap. Would I be interested? Oh hell yeah.

I gave him my address and told him I'd be right home in minutes, since I lived close to the station. Did he know where Bell Court was? "I think I can find it." He was already waiting there when I rolled up just moments later. He was of average height, short dark brown hair combed back, mustache. He was very friendly and professional-seeming in a nice dark suit and tie.

I invited him up, and we hauled the boxes of records up to my room. It was a treasure trove of some of the rarest vinyl possible - Elvis on Sun, super-rare Elvis white-label RCA DJ copies, Bill Haley DJ copies on pink-label Decca, Gene Vincent LPs, and various valuable 45s of obscure artists. And all in fantastic condition. We're talking thousands of dollars worth of classic rockabilly vinyl.

I told him I couldn't even begin to be able to afford to buy the collection, but if he'd let me cherry-pick some of the best ones out, I'd buy those now and try to buy more later. He smiled a warm and friendly smile and said, "Tell you what. I'm in Lexington all the time. I live in Richmond and work at the Blue Grass Army Depot. You keep the records and I'll stop back here in a couple days. That'll give you a chance to look through them and make your decision."

I was stunned that he would trust someone he had just met with all these valuable records, but gladly agreed. He wrote his name and number down on a scrap of paper for me, we shook hands, and he headed to his car. And I never saw him again.

When he didn't show up after a few days, I called the number he'd given me. I got the loud shrill three notes and the recorded robotic message: "We are sorry, you have reached a number that is disconnected or is no longer in service." I looked up the name he'd given me in the phone book. He wasn't there. I called the Depot and asked for him but was told they'd never heard of him.

What the hell?

At the time, I hadn't connected him with the Men In Black myth. I was just thinking "Well, I guess the records are mine now." But it bothered me that he knew exactly how to find me, so why wasn't he trying? Even if he lost my number, he knew where I lived. Even if he forgot that, he knew I worked at WRFL. Even if he forgot where that was, he knew I did a rockabilly show there and could have called the station.

For a third Kentucky MIB story, there's purportedly one in Bart Nunnelly's Mysterious Kentucky, but I haven't read it yet because Bart never sent me my copy ;)

And then there's yesterday's Masked Ninja Home Invasion story.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Masked Ninja Home Invasion

Thursday night, two masked men dressed in black full-body armored outfits, similar to those worn by ninjas or by SWAT riot police, invaded a home on Louisville's Greenwood Avenue and terrorized a grandmother, her daughter, and her grandchildren.

The two men broke into the house simultaneously and tactically, one through the back door and one through an upstairs window. They had ample handcuffs for everyone, cuffing Thelma Briscoe and her family. The men were also reportedly carrying high-tech hand weapons with laser sights.

Who were these terrifying men in black, and what did they want? Read the whole story in my Louisville Mojo column!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kentucky Clucky

From the Associated Press:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's slumping horse industry appears on pace to be overtaken by poultry farming as the king of the state's agricultural sector.

In a state where horses are a mainstay of the cultural and economic lifeblood, the new top perch for chickens in the pecking order of Kentucky agriculture once seemed unlikely.

But the equine sector has been battered by deep recession, and the poultry industry has enjoyed years of steady growth. As a result, University of Kentucky agricultural economist Lee Meyer predicted receipts from the poultry sector this year would outpace those from the horse industry by about $180 million.

Poultry production, concentrated in western Kentucky, is expected to generate about $930 million in receipts this year, Meyer said. The equine sector is projected to generate about $750 million this year, down from more than $1.1 billion in 2007, he added...

In 2001, poultry receipts totaled about $260 million but had doubled by 2003 and mushroomed to $918 million in 2008. Meyer projected poultry receipts of $976 million in 2010.

"I can't imagine a scenario where horses would come back to predominance for three years," he said.

The poultry sector has benefited from strong consumer demand, solid exports and the popularity of chicken products at fast-food restaurants, Meyer said.

"Usually you increase supply, prices come down," he said. "But if demand truly increases from a preference perspective, then you can have higher prices and higher production. And that's what happened."

He predicted that Kentucky equine receipts will reach an estimated $807 million in 2010.

Jones said those figures don't include the considerable tourist dollars generated by the horse industry.

"You don't get those tourism dollars from the chicken industry," he said in an interview. "If you counted all the dollars, I think the horse industry would still be ahead."

Oh, now, don't be so sure that there's no chance for chicken-industry tourism! The World Chicken Festival seems to be doing just fine, thankyouverymuch, and we have Kentucky Fried Chicken headquarted here, plus the Claudia Sanders Dinner House and the original Sanders Cafe.

Think big, people. We can have chicken petting zoos. Zoological museums showing all the many fascinating varieties of chickens. We could hold chicken races. We could also start racing toy chickens instead of toy ducks. Gov. Beshear could pardon chickens randomly on special occasions, much as the President pardons turkeys on Thanksgiving. Oh yeah, and we could even encourage people to eat chicken on Thanksgiving instead of turkeys. We could make the chicken Kentucky's state bird.

We could come up with a cartoon chicken mascot - "Kentucky Clucky", we could call him - and plaster his likeness all over t-shirts, notebooks, stickers, and commemorative limited-edition collector's plates.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nicknames on Graves

Some people have an interesting nom de tomb chiseled onto their headstone:

Both "Hoss" (probably the dog's name) and "Bud", Centerfield, KY

"Uncle L", Shelbyville, KY

"Prophet", Berrytown, KY

"Snookum", Lexington, KY

And of course, "Tent Girl", Georgetown, KY, wnose real name was unknown for thirty years after her death.

Urinating, Meat-handling Man Invades Kroger

The title kinda says it all, doesn't it? Read more on my Louisville Mojo column here.

Gotta love that Dixie Highway.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brightside's Trashmobile

This Brightside public objet d'art - a car filled with garbage - was seen recently in E.P. Sawyer Park in Anchorage. I have to wonder, did someone actually get grant money to do this? And has any goofy stunt like this ever really made any litterbugs change their ways?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ronald McDonald Dies in Ashland

Michael Polakovs, the original Ronald McDonald clown for McDonald's commercials, passed away this past Sunday at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, KY. Polakovs died of complications from a stroke at the age of 86.

According to an obituary in the Ashland Daily Independent:

Polakovs, who lived in southern Boyd County, was a giant in the world of clowning.

He spent his entire life performing in circuses, was highly respected by his peers and was major source of inspiration for several generations of clowns. A number or the routines he developed are still used by clowns worldwide.

In 1966, the McDonald’s Corp. hired Polakovs to design Ronald McDonald. He designed the outfit and makeup that is worn by the character to this day. He also appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as Ronald McDonald and appeared in the first eight TV commercials that featured the character.

In addition to creating the Ronald McDonald character, Pokalovs was internationally known as Coco the Clown, a persona he inherited from his father Nicolai, also a world famous clown in his day. Pokalovs also helped found the Ringling Brothers Clown College.

The early Polakovs version of Ronald McDonald is actually quite different from the fey and well-groomed fellow we know today. He was scruffy-haired, more striped, wore a giant bib around his neck and a dixie cup over his nose, and balanced a giant to-go box on his head. You can see him on YouTube here and here. Pokalovs was also behind the later redesign of Ronald, which made the character more streamlined and ostensibly less scary.