Sunday, February 28, 2010


The John Prine song "Paradise" - which has been performed by everyone from Dwight Yoakam to Jimmy Buffett to Jackie DeShannon to Hayseed Dixie - is actually about a real Kentucky coal town by the name of Paradise.

Well, it was a real town, anyway. Now its a ghost town, having been defunct since 1967, Very little of it remains today, joining the list of other Kentucky cities-now-gone including Cannel City, Fudge, and Scuffletown.

Click here for photos of the old Paradise in its glory days, on Their photo above shows Green River Boats at Paradise, circa 1900.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Metallic Sphere Outside Plane

The MUFON case files have a recent entry by someone who experienced not only a UFO aboard a commercial airliner en route to Louisville, but apparently a case of mass hypnosis as well:

I noticed a sphere about the size of a compact car approximately 200 feet off the wing of the plane.

It was dull in color. An unpolished metal nearly exact in the image of a VERY large ball bearing, it was perfect in it's spherical shape. Always looking for a logical, scientific explanation to anything paranormal first,I assumed it was a tiny bubble in the glass of the window or ice on the glass of the window. I studied it for about a minute and was astonished when i witnessed it move behind a small cloud.

I immediately looked down the aisle and noticed many other passengers were looking outside the window at the object as well. I looked at the object again and noticed it never swayed, dove or maneuvered at all. It was very static in it's position. This made me skeptical. How can any craft fly alongside another craft and never move, in any manner from it's present position? Anything in flight is always fighting the physics of the atmosphere every second i.e. barometric pressure, wind, air pockets, friction, etc...

I looked for an explanation. Maybe some strange tether to a weather balloon or refraction of light on the window? There was no physical explanation. It was what it was. My mind raced as I tried to understand how something so non-aerodynamic could possibly create lift. I looked for some sort of glow or exhaust or any type of radiation to explain it's terrestrial origin. Nothing. It sat at one position with no presence of any mechanical movement. It appeared as if it was observing us, though there were no visual ports or windows.

I didn't take my eyes off of the object as I knew I was witnessing something extraordinary and oddly beautiful. I, for the first time in my life was truly in awe. We traveled into a thick cloud formation. I witnessed the sphere pass through a patch of thick cloud and never resurface. as soon as it appeared it was gone.

Here is where things got weird. I looked down the aisle to hopefully catch eye contact with someone who was witnessing this event and could discuss this. What I witnessed next shook me to my core. All other witnesses, approximately 20 plus, just leaned back into their seats and continued reading their books, newspapers and laptops as if nothing happened. Why was I the only person who felt as if I just witnessed a magnificent moment? Whether it was a higher intelligence or something we created, it was a beautiful moment.

I reflected on this for several minutes up to the final hour of our flight. Once we reached our terminal,I had totally forgotten the entire experience. How could this happen? How could I forget an experience that shook my entire core and being? Several years later I started to slowly recall my experience. Why did the other passengers not even have any sign of expression on their face after the incident? Why did I totally forget the entire experience until many years later?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kentucky May Drop Reference to Dueling in Oath

From the Washington Post:

When you take the oath of office in Kentucky, you have to swear that you haven't taken part in a duel with deadly weapons. The promise usually elicits laughter, and state Rep. Darryl Owens has proposed amending the Kentucky Constitution to do away with the archaic language. The Democrat's proposal cleared a House committee Tuesday.

According to Carl Chelf (chuh-elf), a retired political science professor at Western Kentucky University, the language comes from Kentucky's frontier days, when the state was a hotbed for dueling. Chelf says the framers of the state constitution wanted to clean up Kentucky's reputation as a haven where people came to fight duels.

If the proposal passes the House and Senate, voters would be asked in November whether they want to take the language out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sports Hearse

Play it Again Sports in St. Matthews, KY has a hearse as their official car. I don't know why. Doesn't seem the right message to send for a fitness-themed place. The slogan on the door reads "killing our competitors prices", but I think they just came up with that to fit the hearse, not the other way around.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BGAD to Blow Up Nerve Gas Stockpile?

From the Los Angeles Times, yet another disturbing story about our very own Blue Grass Army Depot:

Under the gun to destroy the U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles — and now all but certain to miss their deadline — Army officials have a plan to hasten the process: Blow some of them up.

The Army would use explosives to destroy some of the Cold War-era weapons, which contain some of the nastiest compounds ever made, in two communities in Kentucky and Colorado that fought down another combustion-based plan years ago.

Some who live near the two installations worry it's a face-saving measure, driven by pressure from U.S. adversaries, that puts the safety of citizens below the politics of diplomacy and won't help the U.S. meet an already-blown deadline.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Notes from New Orleans

As promised during our Fat Tuesday in Kentucky post, our friend Terry has filed a report on her exciting trip to New Orleans:

"We walked with the Skull and Bone Gang at 6am from the Treme through the French Quarter (first time since 1819 they've ever gone through there!) and back- about 3 miles or so. There was a stilt-walker, and kid-skulls. They carried huge, fresh pigs feet and knocked on doors with them, saying, "Wake up! Do not be late, it's Mardi Gras mornin', got to celebrate!", and "We come to remind you to get your life together - by the time you see me, it's too late to cry!" The stilt-guy chanted "You better stop the killin', or you gonna have to come with me; you better stop the lyin' or you gonna have to come with me..." "Wake up out the bed!" They rang doorbells and rocked people's cars, and then hugged anyone who opened their doors.

I am pleased and proud to say I did not set one foot on Bourbon Street. We made it to one big parade in hopes of seeing the Muses, but they were late, and it was fucking 40 degrees and windy like Chicago. So, we caught a few beads and went back home. Can't wait to go back..."

"1.) with Ronald Lewis, who runs the House of Dance and Feathers (a museum he runs in his back yard in the Lower 9th Ward) at the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the Treme
2.) sewing feathers with SpyBoy Ricky for the Little Queen of Yellow Pocohantas
3.) with George, Wild Man of the North Side Skull and Bone Gang
4.) helping Ida Mae, Big Queen of the Creole Wild West finish her Suit on Mardi Gras Day
5.) Ida Mae's grandson Adam, a Little Chief wearing his first Suit ever."

Photos by Charles Silver. Check out his great photographic work on his website and his flickr account.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thanks, Costco!

Thanks to all my pals who came out to keep me company at Costco during my book-signing today!

Honestly, I hadn't expected much enthusiasm from Costco's grocery-shoppin' clientele - especially when I found out this was their first-ever author signing event - but the response turned out to be spectacular.

I met a lot of wonderful people, many of whom already had my book and were buying more copies for friends and relatives. Swapped stories, anecdotes and info with lots of folks. And the Costco employees were all really great too, and I was surprised how many of them were thoroughly familiar with the book.

It especially did my heart good to see a lot of youngsters interested in reading. A very young strawberry-blonde girl - maybe 9 years old - tentatively approached the table and asked what the book was about. "Oh, It's all about ghosts and UFOs and fun crazy things," I said in that annoyingly patronizing way that grownups often talk to kids.

"You know, I think one of the most interesting things about Kentucky is that it is bordered by so many other states and therefore is influenced by many different regional cultures", she replied.

D'oh! She probably should have written the book instead of me!

Friday, February 19, 2010


The Truly Nolen pest control company has a delightful car mascot: a Volkswagen Bug, tricked out to resemble a mouse with a tail and a pair of decidedly Mickey-esque ears. Thanks to our friend Ellen Bush in Lexington for the photo!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Louisville Pipe Band

The Louisville Pipe Band is a competitive and performing "Grade Four" and "Grade Five" Pipe Band based in Louisville, Kentucky. Members are drawn from throughout the state and southern Indiana, and they meet to rehearse on Sunday evenings from 5-7 PM at Buechel United Methodist Church, 2817 Hikes Lane.

They'll be performing at the St. Patrick's Day parade on Bardstown Road in Louisville - and that's at 3pm, Saturday, March 13, 2010. Don't miss it.

What I find especially interesting about the band, however, is their tartan. They chose as their uniform kilt the ancient Henderson Tartan in honor of Richard Henderson, he who founded the Transylvania Colony with Daniel Boone on the land that would later become Kentucky.

Because of this supreme honor and respect the Louisville Pipe Band have paid Henderson, they are being considered, collectively and individually, for honorary membership in The Old Older of Transylvania Gentlemen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday in Kentucky

Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras - and all the magickally attached psychic tentacles that come along with them - are mere mortal concepts, of course. You don't actually need to eat jambalaya and drink hurricanes and wear plastic beads and throw colorful coins and flash your breasts to strangers and listen to Luis Russell records to feel the New Orleans spirit (and it is, literally, a spirit).

But hey, it couldn't hurt, right?

Meanwhile, I'm having my very own New Orleans of the mind right here at Chez Jeffy's, and will mixing up some sort of heady concoction in my Pat O' Brien's hurricane glass. I'll probably fry up some cajun-style blackened grouper too. But really, that's just another day around here. My real homage to the Loa of Orleans Parish will come later, when I go downstairs to that locked room beside my wine cellar and I open the wooden doors of the you-know-what and light the something-something in honor of you-know-who.

If you're looking for something a little more conventional this day, however, there are plenty of good Mardi Gras festivities going on around our fair state, I hear tell.

The Dish in Lexington is having some sort of event called Dish'n Out Mardi Gras.

Tonight there's the annual Mardi Gras For Homeless Children, at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. $55 per person, for a darn good cause, and Grand Marshaled by none other than Doug Pelfrey.

This page says that Infernal Dreams, a lively bunch of horror enthusiasts in Winchester, are having a Mardi Gras celebration, but I didn't see a mention of such on their website. Inquire.

Cafe Lou Lou sounds like a snappy place to be snackin'. According to their press release:

Every day of the year, Café Lou Lou intertwines the city of Louisville and the state of Louisiana. In case you’ve ever wondered, that’s also where the name “Lou Lou” derives. Their specialty is always bringing Cajun-style and Cajun-flavored cuisines here to the river city. And, when Louisiana’s, and arguably the entire nation’s, biggest party happens 3 states away… thanks to Café Lou Lou, you won’t even realize you’re not right on Bourbon Street!

Believe me, I'll realize the difference. Heh. But still, sounds like a swingin' time down at Lou Lou's. Furlongs and Joe's OK Bayou are also having Fat Tuesday festivities today.

But nothing says New Orleans like, well, New Orleans. Catclaw's own Terry is down in the heart of the quarter diggin' the scene live and firsthand right now as we speak, and I'm jealous, dammit. Last we heard from her, she's havin' a ball and will file a full report with the head office when she returns and recovers.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Weird Kentucky" Book Signing at Costco!

I thought I was done with book-signing appearances for my book Weird Kentucky, but like Al Pacino, they keep pulling me back in.

I've been asked to make a personal appearance at Costco after strong holiday-season sales, signing copies for one and all. That's the Costco on Norton Healthcare Blvd, from noon to 3pm on February 20th.

Book signings are so weird; you just never know how they'll turn out. Sometimes people are lined up and shaking my hand and saying such nice and flattering things that I get a swelled head and need a bigger hat. Other times, you sit alone at a table with a stack of books and a sharpie, looking like a total fool - "but... but... doesn't anyone want my autograph?" Really dreadful.

And this being at a Costco rather than a bookstore proper, I'm assuming a lot of folks are there to buy macaroni and cheese dinners by the pallet-load, and containers of mayonnaise the size of anti-freeze jugs, not to see some weirdo from Estill County who paints scary clowns.

So, friends and allies, come on out and keep me company and give me some moral support here, k? I could probably use it.

(Media inquiries: contact my publicist at Sterling Publishing, Leigh Ann Ambrosi, at (646) 688-2503. Or my agent, Rebecca Quartieri of Telecrylic International, at

Sunday, February 14, 2010

White Castle Wedding in Louisville

Almost a year ago, we reported on a White Castle wedding in Laurel County. Now that Castillo Blanco magic has struck the wedding bells again.

WLKY is reporting that a young couple named Tiffany and John Galli have tied the knot in a Louisville White Castle. But unlike the Laurel Countians, who did it out of genuine sentimentality for the place, these two did it because they won it as part of a contest from The Ben and Kelly Show on radio station WDJX.

The "Ben and Kelly's White Wedding" package includes a fully-catered (well, as fully as a White Castle can cater, anyway) wedding, $5,000 worth of jewelry, deluxe hotel accommodations and a trip to Los Angeles to see Black Eye Peas perform live.

The ceremony was officiated by Judge Joan Byer and, humorously enough, the Rev. John Slider.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reward Offered for Colonel's Head

The stakes have been raised in search for the stolen bronze bust of Colonel Sanders, recently stolen from a KFC in Berea. The management have decided to post a reward - $500 worth of free chicken - for the man or woman who brings them the head of Harland Sanders. (How much for Alfredo Garcia's?)

Far be it from me to carp, but a mere 500 bucks worth of food seems like a rather chintzy reward. I mean, the head's worth way more than 500 bucks cash, but 500 bucks chicken? Me, in this economy, were I some sort of Boba Fett-like bounty hunter sent out on a mission to retrieve the stolen idol by any means necessary, I'd say keep your fried birds, Clyde, give me shekels, folding green, mazuma, dead presidents, filthy lucre, do re mi, money.

(Graphic filched from The Consumerist).

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Rialto

One from our Voraxical Theatre blog:

At one time, there were a great many theaters in Louisville, and of course, entropy being what it is, most of these beautiful places have been destroyed by some not-so-beautiful humans.

Case in point: the Rialto, which did a splendid business at 616 S. Fourth Street from 1921 to 1968. It was demolished in 1969 and turned into a parking lot, just like in the song. With its imported European crystal chandeliers, dazzling white marble staircase, walls covered in Rookwood tiles, enormous Pilcher organ, and breathtaking facade in the Italian Renaissance style, it was something truly marvelous to behold.

Reportedly, the last film to play the Rialto was Doctor Dolittle.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grüss vom Krampus!

America's favorite meower, Krampus the Cat, gets a big writeup on Louisville Mojo today, in a gentle satire of the "parenting and children" articles hosted there. Let's hear it for the boy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Frog Doll in Eastern Cemetery

Last summer, Victoria and I were doing some cleanup in Louisville's troubled Eastern Cemetery, picking up trash and straightening fallen flags and shepherd's hooks.

This very old stuffed frog was mounted on a stick at a baby's grave and had fallen over, so we propped it back up to its proper upright position. About 15 minutes later, it began to spontaneously speak, freaking us both out considerably. (Apparently there was still a tiny charge left in its ancient battery, but weak enough to cause a long delay after having inadvertently pressed its talk button.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kentucky = Detroit

Kentucky and the auto industry aren't exactly thought of in the same breath. But even without taking into consideration that Kentucky is the home of the Corvette, perhaps it's time people recognize:

The Toyota Camry (pictured above) is the best selling car in the United States. It's manufactured in Georgetown, KY.

The Ford F-series (pictured below) is the best selling truck in the United States. It's manufactured in Louisville, Kentucky.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Louisville Police Wrongfully Accusing Citizens

What's that, you say? Cops sending innocent people to jail isn't news, it happens every day?

Fair enough, but at least this time the media's giving it some attention. Check out my Louisville Mojo column for the story on an LMPD policewoman who's coming under some serious fire from the Courier-Journal for the long trail of malfeasance and wrecked lives she's been leaving in her path.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tater Day

Tater Day is a festival held on the first Monday each April in Benton, KY. But don't be fooled by the name - this is (unfortunately) not a celebration of the noble potato, but the sweet potato. According to the lore built up around the event, it's supposedly one of the oldest indigenous festivals in the state, and grew out of the old "court day" events dating back to 1843, when farmers would set up selling and trading their livestock and produce in the town square.

Above: a float in the Tater Day parade. Below: Tractor tailgate party! (Photos by kilowat1946.)

Wikipedia, at the moment, has a humorous entry about the event that reads like an advertisement, apparently posted by an overzealous promoter:

"It includes Political floats, Marshall County High School marching band, horse and buggies, clowns, vintage cars, horses, Ms. Tater Day, and other things for which Marshall County is known. There is also junior ms. tater that is allowed for little girls ages 5 to 12, and a little Ms., little Mr., tiny Miss, and baby Ms. Tater day pageants and floats for the younger kids. Tater Day also has carnival rides, games, a market, mule pulls, and several other exciting events. Ms.tater announces a speech about how grateful she is to be Ms. Tater. Other exciting events are the biggest potato contest that attracts large potatoes from across the town and a potato eating contest. They find the potatoes from the Potato bake sale hosted by MCHS. All in all The Tater Day festival has a plethora of exciting events and is for tater-lovers of all ages!"

Fontaine Ferry Park

While everyone else moistens their hankies over the news that Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom is closing its gates forever, come over to my Louisville Mojo column and join in me in remembering a far greater amusement park, one from the old old school - Fontaine Ferry Park.

Had it not been abandoned to rot and eventually burn up in a fire, Kentucky would still have a glorious retro amusement park, nationally revered, on the level of Coney Island or Palisades Park. But now we can only scrutinize old photos and texts, and quietly wonder about the majesty of such Fontaine Ferry rides as the Scenic Railway, the Racing Derby, the Loop-the-Loop, the Velvet Racer, the Comet, the Little Comet, the Whip, the Rock-O-Planes, Ye Olde Mill, the Loop-O-Planes, the Rocket, the Turnpike, the Scrambler, the Tilt-A-Whirl, the House of Mystery, the Tumble Bug, the Haunted House, the Caterpillar, the Scrambler, and the Ghost Train.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Betsy Layne, KY

So, who was Betsy Layne, and why is there a town named after her in Floyd County?

According to UK's Kentucky Atlas, "Betsy Layne is an eastern Floyd county village on the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River. It was founded around 1875 and named for Betsy Layne, a local resident. The original location of the town may have been nearby on Betsy Layne Branch. That site is now known as Justell. The Betsy Layne post office opened in 1908."

A "local resident". Okay, but... but... what else? What's so special about Betsy?

Just south of Betsy Layne is Laynesville, which, according again to UK's Atlas, "was founded in the early nineteenth century and named for the settler James Shannon Layne".

Hmmm. Okay, so as it turns out, James Shannon Layne was an important early settler of Kentucky:

James Shannon Layne of Amherst County, Virginia arrived near the present day Betsy Layne about 1796. he had married Caty Hager, daughter of John Hager, who himself immigrated here a few years later. Col. Harry Stratton was here and located nearby the mouth of Toms Creek, as was Cornelius McGuire, the first Methodist preacher who settled near the same place. McGuire constructed a cabin nearby, but soon moved to upper Johns Creek He preached the first Methodist sermon in the valley at the house of Henry Stratton, near the present Ivel in 1796. Tandy Stratton, who had married Mildred Layne, a daughter of William S. Layne, and a sister to James S. followed his brother·in-law - if indeed, he did not arrive at the same time. Also came Solomon Stratton, veteran of the Gen.George Rogers Clark Illinois Expedition, as did Richard Stratton, his son. Thomas Johns, who had married Nancy Layne, sister of James S. followed after his in-laws, and founded an influential family.

But still no explanation of who Betsy was. Could she have been James' mother, perhaps? That's my guess, because Knott Kentucky Kinfolk lists his descendants as being Tandy Middleton, Jennie, John Lewis, William Henry, Lindsey, Sam George, Nancy Porter, Solomon, Mary, and Arminta. Nary a Betsy in the bunch.

I wonder if the locals are so used to it that they don't even think about the name anymore, or if they're always, in some recessed part of the backs of their minds, aware of this mystery woman. There's no escaping her: a glance at the city directory shows a Betsy Layne Auto Sales, Betsy Lane Pharmacy, Betsy Layne Dairy Bar, Betsy Layne Elementary School, Betsy Layne Volunteer Fire Department, Betsy Layne Flea Market, and of course, the Betsy Layne Church of Christ.

(I also wonder if locals often encounter the typographic error of "Besty" for Betsy, since humans seem to have something hard-wired in them to type "Pasty" Cline instead of Patsy.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Louisville's Firebug "Angel of Death"

Kentucky already had one "Angel of Death" (Donald Harvey) and now they have another. Troy Adams of Louisville, who burned down his own home and has confessed to at least one more arson, told authorities that the voice of his father in his head instructed him that he is "The Angel of Death" and that it is his divine mission to destroy, burn, and kill. Get the full story on my Louisville Mojo column!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lizards for Liquor

From News of the Weird:

In Morehead, Ky., in December, two men, ages 44 and 18, were charged with theft for allegedly swiping an 18-inch-long bearded dragon lizard from the Eagles Landing Pet Hospital and trying, in two beverage stores, to exchange it for liquor.

The full story, found on WHAS-TV, gets even kookier: they also took it a gun shop and tried unsuccessfully to pawn it.

Stupider still, when they entered the pet hospital to steal the lizard, they signed in at the front desk with real name, address, and phone number.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Search for the Colonel's Bronze Head

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

A bronze bust of Col. Harland Sanders was stolen from the KFC on Chestnut Street in Berea on Jan. 24.

Four young men had been the only customers during the time frame that the bust disappeared. After they left, an employee "discovered that the colonel had left also," said Capt. Ken Clark of the Berea Police Department.

Restaurant manager Cassie Tipton, said the bust was present in the lobby when an employee was cleaning that area Sunday afternoon. She left the lobby and when she came back, the bust, valued at about $1,200, was missing, Tipton said.

The four young men were high school or college age and left in a silver passenger car. Anyone with information should contact Berea police at (859)986-8456.

Gosh, I just can't imagine who would want to steal a bust of Colonel Sanders. If I were the police, I'd make inquiries who might have a motive in wanting to attack KFC in such a petty and childish way, and maybe research whether there are any local members of militant anti-KFC groups out there.

(Especially ones that have recently protested a Colonel Sanders statue in nearby Corbin.)

Monday, February 1, 2010


This last remaining sign fragment from an old Louisville burlesque club is strangely tragic on one level, yet comforting on another. I think it qualifies, in spirit anyway, as a Ghost Sign.


One from our Transylvania Gentlemen blog:

More JSH than you can shake a stick at, you stick-shakers. Those obsessive folks at Telecrylic, who have apparently made it their life's work to be monks in endlessly recapitulative study of my droppings, have a new blog that promotes me better than any of my own ever could. Click here to check it out.