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4.9.2021, No. 49


⏱️ = 2½-minute read (or so)

“A lot can change in a short period of time.” — Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, founder and CEO, Racial Healing Project


1. Last week, readers seemed to enjoy all of the old Louisville Magazine covers I shared, so let’s do it again. Our next print issue, out later this month, will include 71 covers — one from each year since our 1950 founding, with commentary from Louisvillians today.


For example, here’s the inaugural issue, from March 1950, with thoughts from Brianna Harlan, the west Louisville-raised artist and community organizer.

Louisville Magazine's inaugural March 1950 cover.
March 1950

Harlan: “As someone studying in New York, the City of Dreams, I think of home and, really, every city as a city of dreams — and dreamers. Looking at this cover, I wonder what the magazine was filled with in 1950. What did they dream Louisville could be? I wonder if their dreams came true — and then — will ours? The author of The Little Prince says that a dream without a plan is a wish. Religion, whether we practice one or not, says that there’s no faith without work. So, here we have: to feel the need, to plan for it, to work to make it happen. I know the most impacted of systemic issues have worked for generations and will work for more generations. I also see the same dynamics that have prevailed throughout history: those without power demanding, appealing to those with power, to give them their due. I wish for this, but I do not plan on it on its own. I don’t believe my voice to be that much more compelling than my ancestors’. To make Louisville the city we wish it to be, I believe that planning has to include a complete shift in dynamics and imagined possibilities. When we plan, do we see the other side? Do we think on how to maintain it? Is it generative or is it a goal that, when we capture it, we’ll look at each other asking: What’s next?


“A wish can be a dangerous thing when left unattended. It has to be held properly or it festers and twists into something…other. So my big question is: Who are we counting on to tend to our wishes? That’s the question I hear behind, ‘What will Louisville look like in another 70 years?’


“The beautiful thing is, we can all wish, we can all plan, we can all work. That already matters. When we do it together, there’s no established power more powerful.


Show them. Make Louisville.”


November 1958

The cover caption (apologies!): “Girls seldom grace the cover — or even the inside pages — of this businessman’s magazine….” (The Louisville Chamber of Commerce owned Louisville Magazine until the early ’90s.)


Olivia Griffin, owner of the Limbo, Riot Cafe and Mysterious Rack: “Reading this caption from 1958 is astounding because Louisville has so many vibrant women in business now. However, a lot of typically male-dominated industries are STILL dominated by men — and mostly white men. As a woman who owns a bar — without any male investment, I might add — I am among the minority of bar and restaurant owners in Louisville. Though we have a lot of retail shops, gift shops, coffee shops and bakeries owned by women, there are far fewer in the bar and restaurant categories. It is also pretty normal for me to flip through a local publication boasting the top 10 chefs of Kentucky or the top 10 beverage directors of Kentucky and most of them, shock me shock me, are white men.


“I’d like to see things shift a lot in the next 10 years. Not just more female business owners but more women of color or transwomen in places of power. People who don’t have the easy path often are better equipped, tougher and more creative about how to run a business. I want Kentucky to lead the way and pave the path instead of being 10 years behind everyone else. I believe it starts with your story, and your business practices, and putting those values first. I value women and transwomen in business, and I am here to solidly support them in every way possible.”


May 1964

Roberto de Leon, co-founder and co-principal of de Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop: “This magazine cover has a design aesthetic that is definitely of its time. I’m reminded of the iconic movie posters produced in the 1960s by graphic designer Saul Bass. The use of simple color-block shapes is quite clever in how it interprets the repetitive vocabulary of suburban structures. The recombination of this kit-of-parts attempts to create variety, but ironically emphasizes that they are essentially identical. The fact that these shapes are gathered into a rectangular box also underlines a sense of isolation and a ‘blank slate.’ It’s a perfectly mown lawn. I wonder if the cover is a satirical graphic commentary on suburban architecture.”


May 1984

Adam Burress, co-owner of Hammerheads: “This cover honestly makes me happy 😆! The age of thin mustaches, perms and ridiculous, gimmicky restaurant attire! What’s not to love? Not to mention the joy and excitement I get from the intense evolution of the food revolution. I was born in ’86 and remember the days of single-origin cuisine and zero plate presentation. Thank God we’ve embraced multicultural fusion. Long live Louisville’s Meritage cuisine!”


October 2011

Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, founder and CEO, Racial Healing Project: “A lot can change in a short period of time. Louisville will forever be defined as pre-Breonna Taylor and post-Breonna Taylor, and the future of our city hangs perilously in the balance. While the power brokers of Louisville cling to what was and has been, something new is being born. A new power is emerging in Louisville: the power of the people. Will the old guard see the power in their vice grip evaporate through their fingers? Will we see a wave of progressive leaders set a new agenda for our city? Who will run this town? It’s an open question.”

Support for Louisville Magazine comes from Phocus, the Louisville-founded caffeinated sparkling water that just announced new can designs. Phocus is available nationwide, including in town at Heine Bros.’ Coffee, Kroger, Paul’s Fruit Market, Rainbow Blossom, Thorntons, Party Mart, Liquor Barn…and, as anybody who has been to the magazine’s office can attest, the small refrigerator in the kitchen, where cans (I go for the natural flavor) seemingly disappear.


A little something MORE from the LouMag archive.



With the Derby three weeks from tomorrow…

July 1985

Pat Forde, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: “From the Sansabelt slacks to the old reporter’s notebook, this is a period piece to be sure. But there is something timeless about mornings at Churchill Downs. The sights and sounds and smells remain much the same today as they were in Billy Reed’s day, and for decades before him, dating to when the Kentucky Derby became a great American sporting event in the late 1800s. Billy, who worked for the C-J and Sports Illustrated,  did as much as anyone in the latter decades of the 20th century to keep alive the romance of the race, and what it means both to the sport of horse racing and to the city of Louisville. The Derby is Louisville, and Billy loved — still loves— the Derby as much as any Louisvillian.”


And one more, from 2010 — which, after the year we’ve just been through…

February 2010

Laura Ellis, director of podcasts and special projects, Louisville Public Media: “Wow. It’s funny to see a cover about how to enjoy ‘The Great Indoors’ and know it was only addressing a month or two worth of winter boredom. I would love to read this article and see how many of the ideas are things I’ve seen people do throughout the pandemic, while we were all ‘enjoying’ the great indoors for longer than we ever thought we would!”


(Some of the suggestions from the 2010 package: rock-climbing at a big gym in the Bluegrass Industrial Park, hot yoga, “body-rejuvenating services” at Z Salon, blacksmithing classes in front of a blazing forge, watching swim meets inside the toasty natatorium on U of L’s campus. All of which would’ve been closed during lockdown. Writer Jenni Laidman knew what to do, though: “Comfort food is a can’t-miss medication. Chicken potpie, made with a cream sauce with a touch of sherry, is like therapy for the whole family, without the embarrassing show of emotions or need to open old wounds.”)


Back to Ellis: “I actually bought a house on June 1, 2020 — I was a renter before — and I wouldn’t recommend moving while simultaneously covering a global pandemic and racial-justice uprisings. But it definitely kept me from getting bored during lockdown. I was a little envious of people picking up new instruments and languages. For me, my three little dogs, Wilson, Radar and Barkley, made my house feel like home. Radar reminds me to move, Barkley reminds me to rest and Wilson reminds me to clean the floor and not skip dessert. (Wilson’s 16. She pees where she pees, and she eats gelato every night before bed.)


“Now that we’re on the road to being vaccinated, I do look forward to having a delayed housewarming…and maybe I’ll ask people to bring samples of all those dishes they learned to make during COVID-19!”

Josh Moss
editor, Louisville Magazine

Read past newsletters here.


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