⏱️ = 5 ½-minute read (or so)
“Dada, the next time these cicadas come I can have a beer with you.” — Miles, my four-year-old (egged on by his mom)
1. Three years ago (almost to the day), I met Matthew Barzun for the first time. This was before he became publisher of Louisville Magazine (though we discussed that possibility), and we mostly just chatted about life in what I’ve come to know is his natural habitat — surrounded by whiteboards. His office is called the Flower Shop because, sure, it’s an old flower shop, but really because it’s where ideas bloom. That day in May 2018, he scrawled on his whiteboards — his canvases — in a rainbow’s worth of marker colors. He was thinking through the earliest seeds that germinated and grew into his first book, The Power of Giving Away Power, available next Tuesday, June 1.
I witnessed the book evolve every step of the way and, well, I’m proud of it. I’d love it if you’d check out Matthew’s new website, where you can read an excerpt (and order a copy if you’re so moved). And to hear Matthew talk about the project, listen to him on A Bit of Optimism, a podcast from Start with Why author Simon Sinek.
In the book’s introduction, Matthew writes: “This book is a practical and sometimes personal history of an idea and a mindset. It chronicles my own growing awareness of an ineffable something that defines the leaders I most admire, and my attempt to give that a name and a shape. The journey takes us through history and across politics, industries, and national borders, mingling stories of near-forgotten gurus with stories from my life as an ambassador to Sweden and the UK and adviser to Obama’s presidential campaigns. We will see not only how this mindset started some of the most consequential organizations and innovations the world has ever known; we will also see that it even started the greatest idea for a country the world has ever known. And that’s where the story begins.”
2. Are you a cook? A food truck owner? A server? A bartender? A barista? Or do you know somebody who is?
Will you help me get the word out about a new project?
My goal is to interview every single worker from the Louisville area’s food and beverage service industry. I’m hoping to ask them questions about their lives over the past year-plus, and about how they see the future of our city’s food-and-drink scene. What have they learned about the service industry over the course of the pandemic? Does their business have enough employees? Have any customers shown support in surprising ways? What Louisville dish did they eat more than any other throughout the pandemic?
You can find my questions here: louisville.com/serviceindustry
3. Next Thursday, June 3, is five years since Muhammad Ali’s death, and the Muhammad Ali Center is putting on a festival from June 3-13, including an opening of the archives (fight posters, an autograph book from the 1960 Rome Olympics and other mementos) to the public for four hours on the eighth. On the third, visitors to Ali’s Cave Hill gravesite will receive a rose.
In December 2016 we published “The Greatest Goodbye,” a collection of stories about the week in June 2016 when the city and the world came together to send Ali home. Sometimes I wonder if my memory of June 10, 2016 — the day of Ali’s Louisville funeral procession, burial and service — is too hopeful, then I remember what Rasheda, one of Ali’s daughters, told the magazine: “If you looked at the people, it was exactly what Daddy would’ve wanted. It was every single race, every single religion was represented, every single skin color, every single age. We had tiny babies with Ali shirts on. I saw a man in a hospital gown with an IV — he must have walked out of the hospital and stood.”
The hearse driver told my former colleague Dylon Jones a quote I’ll never forget: “It was just people everywhere, people with different flags, people with signs they made, people shouting, tossing flowers on the hearse. When we got on the expressway, the flowers all kind of blew off. I remember feeling relieved about it. I was able to see for the most part, and then, once the flowers got to be so much, the wipers didn’t work anymore.”
In the 14-plus years I’ve been trying to help tell our city’s story, one of the most memorable interviews I’ve done was for “The Greatest Goodbye,” when Imam Zaid Shakir said to me, “I was right there at Ali’s bedside when he passed. In fact, it was during the call to prayer that he passed. That’s the first thing a baby hears when they’re born. Traditionally, the father makes that call in the right ear, and then a very similar call in the left ear. Those should be the first things a child hears when they come into the world. And that was the last thing Ali heard leaving the world. After he passed, the family wanted me to stay with the body. He’s lying in the bed, and I was always on the right side, so for a lot of that time I’m standing and just holding his left hand — the hand of the famous Ali jab.”
4. I mentioned this in No. 55: Last summer, for our annual Best of Louisville, I attempted to interview every high school senior from the 2020 class in the Louisville area. I’ve reached back out to them a few times, and did again last week. Here’s what more of them had to say:
The director of the CDC recently said, “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.” What’s one thing you had to stop doing that you’re excited to start doing again?
“Go out with my friends, especially to indoor places like the theater and bowling alley. I am so ready to not feel guilty every time I stand too close to someone.” — Holly Kissel, student at Bellarmine
“I stopped going to the gym as often as I did before the pandemic hit. The gym I go to is smaller and more personal for me. With the pandemic they had to close and, once they reopened, I didn’t have the motivation I once did. I’m excited to go back and regain my confidence this summer.” — Simona Sofronova, student at JCTC
“Breathe. I feel like I’m finally starting to get back on my feet from economic struggle. My mother is undocumented, she was laid off in March and we had to survive on odd jobs and selling masks. I feel like I can live again.” — Joseph Falcon, student at Centre College
“Go out and dance. Hug my closest friends. I have been missing concerts and the overall high of being with a bunch of strangers all gathered to experience someone sharing their talent. I love the pounding music and being able to lose myself in the crowd.” — Adelaide, who recently returned home after working on a goat farm in Washington
“Showing facial expressions.” — Catlyn Simmons, student at Murray State
“I really enjoyed shopping for art supplies with my friends. Now that we’ve been vaccinated, I have been going out more to shop ’til we drop!” — Lian McKernan, student at Bellarmine
“Singing with my church choir again.” — Caroline Frederick, student at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut
“I never actually stopped doing certain things. I did everything I used to do, but with a mask.” — Isel Spears, student at the University of Nebraska
“To exist in a public space without worrying that every stranger who comes near me will end up giving me COVID.” — Dylan Mears, student at UK
“I was finally able to see my best friend after more than a year apart. Cheers to vaccinated life!” — Sophie Weber, student at Hanover College
If you could travel back in time one year and give yourself advice, what would you say?
“To embrace every single second of the present.” — Peyton Stanley, student at IU
“Check in on random people in your life. You never know when they could use a pick-me-up.” — Megan Osting, student at Xavier
“Be kind to yourself. We’re in the middle of one of the biggest public-health crises in a century, and it’s understandable if you’re not operating at peak functionality. It’s OK if some days all you can do is get out of bed at noon to get some food.”— Mears
“Start working out! I had all of this time on my hands, but I didn’t do much with it.” — Zachary Brown, student at Murray State
“Online classes will be challenging, but don’t give up.” — Spears
“It’s sucks right now, but you will be OK.” — Simmons
“You’re going to get through this.” — Frederick
“I’m proud of you, keep working hard and I love you.” — Falcon
What’s your biggest fear right now?
“An inability to readjust to everything being in person without masks. Being autistic, some changes that have happened due to the pandemic have actually been really beneficial, like classes happening via video call, masks hiding the weird face things I’m always inclined to do, and having a good excuse not to attend public events. Next semester, all of my classes are going to be in person, which will only be made harder by the fact that I’ll be recovering from a pretty big surgery. I hope that the accommodations that sprung up due to the pandemic won’t disappear.” — Mears
“Another strand of COVID-19.” — Frederick
“Wasted potential.” — Adelaide
“Tuition.” — Falcon
“Not knowing if I’m making the right decision with my life. I’m constantly hearing the opinions of my family and friends and what they think is right or wrong. But who really knows if I’ll live up to the successful woman I see myself as in the future.” — Sofronova
“I’m scared that people who aren’t vaccinated will unmask and cause a regression in the progress we’ve made toward normal.” — Kissel
“Honestly: spiders.” — Jordan Cunningham, student at Kentucky State
What’s your biggest hope right now?
“That all future high school graduates are able to enjoy what we missed out on my senior year. I am loving to see things like prom photos from the class of 2021.” — Weber
“Getting a normal college year with more in-person events.” — Osting
“In-person college classes. Virtual classes were very difficult for me.” — Spears
“I am hopeful that I will be able to see my classmates’ faces for the first time this fall semester.” — Kissel
Will you describe (or share a photo that shows) something you took for granted before the pandemic?
“Getting to hang out and just be together.” — Frederick
“The picture is of me and my Ecology of Middle Earth class at our service-learning project last semester, when we planted about 1,200 trees in the Cumberland Plateau as a restoration project of an old surface mine. It really highlighted a lot of things I took for granted before the pandemic. Being able to spend time with my friends who are outside my ‘bubble’ without masks, not having to worry about a mask getting in the way while doing physical labor, spending time in nature without having to worry about others who are trying to do the same. I find nature to be a fundamentally healing place, and as fun as the project was, I can’t help but wish that we did it under different conditions.” — Mears
“It shows happy me in high school before it was shut down and I wasn’t able to see my friends anymore.” — Simmons
“It shows me and a few of my closest friends looking goofy during a high school performance. Every day I spent with them were some of the happiest moments of my life. If I could go back and make more memories, I would.” — Simona Sofronova
“Traveling has always been a very important part of my family’s routine and is something that I have been excited to get back to.” — Stanley
“In December 2019 I went to Washington, D.C., ignorant of how different the world would become in just a few months. I enjoyed the trip, but sometimes I wish I could’ve let myself enjoy it more. When COVID hit and travel stopped, I had never felt more constricted, more caged, more isolated. I stayed in my room. I missed the people, the smiles, the good times that come with traveling, even going with friends on car rides. I yearn for it sometimes.” — Falcon
“You don’t have to ‘get over this.’ I did see prom and graduation photos and teared up. I still am hurting about what I missed out on, and that’s perfectly normal and OK.” — Frederick
“As we’re coming out of the pandemic, there’s been a lot of talk about going back to work. Largely due to the circle of people I’m in, there’s been a lot of conversations specifically about employers not finding employees. They’re all confused about why nobody would want to go back to work, which I think is a bit naïve. Workers are happy to apply for a job that’s well-paying and at a place that cares about its employees. To make a long history short, after the Black Plague laborers had the leverage to join together and demand to be treated better, and I think we’re seeing that again today.” — Mears
“This pandemic has its ups and downs, but really I’ve saved a ton of money!” — A’Nyah Jones, student at WKU
5. Today is the one-year anniversary of the first Breonna Taylor protest in our streets, known by many as Day One, and the C-J has an oral history, which includes this quote from Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer: “Initially, I thought (the gathering) was just about George Floyd, because everybody had just heard about what had happened. And then you started hearing them yelling Breonna’s name. I thought, ‘Oh, my God.’ It had been two months of us trying to get people to even listen to what had happened to her. So to know that people were saying her name — you had this feeling, ‘They’re listening now.’”
Support for Louisville Magazine comes from the Community Foundation, which is encouraging nonprofits to start registering June 1 (and throughout June) for this year’s year Give for Good Louisville, which will be Friday, Sept. 17. The Community Foundation’s new report outlines how, since 2014, Give for Good has raised nearly $37 million for hundreds of local organizations.
A little something from the LouMag archive.
This cover, published in 2016 after Ali died, is one of 71 (one for every year since our 1950 founding) featured in our new print issue, with present-day comments from locals. I asked Louisville native Tracy Clayton, a writer and podcast host (Back Issue and Netflix’s Strong Black Legends), to share her thoughts.
“I love how, to the untrained eye, this cover is just a pair of boxing gloves. But to those who know better, this is a picture of fire.
“It’s so important that Muhammad Ali was from Louisville; it’s both the beauty and the ugliness of our city that drove him to fight, both literally and figuratively. The fire that drove him into the ring with Louisville’s name on his lips time and time again is the same fire that continues to send Black Louisville into the streets with Breonna Taylor’s name on theirs. To me, this is a symbol of what it takes for the silenced and ignored to make it in this city and the world at large. This is a portrait of the West End, Shively, Shawnee Park and Portland. This is a monument to Black Louisville and the hands that picked up Ali’s fight once he had to put it down.
“If you are from Louisville, you instinctively know what this picture means. If you are Black and from Louisville, you know the way it feels.”
And now, some more songs from the 2020 grads for the (mostly) summer-y playlist I introduced last week:
What song captures your mood right now?
“‘Twerkulator,’ by City Girls. Because I made it through my freshman year of college in a pandemic.” — Jones
“‘What You Know,’ by Two Door Cinema, is getting me excited for the summer!” — Stanley
“‘Levitating,’ by Dua Lipa. Things are looking up.” — Osting
“‘Quiet as a Rat,’ by Amigo the Devil. It really portrays the feeling you get when you realize that the commonly accepted ‘way things are’ are actually super messed up and don’t really help most people. It repeats the phrase ‘born against,’ which really resonates with me. I’ve never really understood why things are the way things are. Things that are commonly accepted — like our governmental system and how the economy has been constructed — fundamentally confuse me. They’re built to create hierarchies, which always end up having people at the bottom.” — Mears
“‘A-O-K,’ by Tai Verdes. Despite everything that’s happened recently, it’s all working out.” — Brown
“‘Photograph,’ by Ed Sheeran. This is an old song, but I see all of the pictures come up in Snapchat memories from before the pandemic and can’t wait for it to be the same after.” — Emily Moats, student at Bellarmine
“‘Move Mountains’ from the show Carole & Tuesday is my mood right now because I feel like we have all come so far since COVID hit. I feel like if I can get through anything else that comes my way.” — McKernan
“‘Brutal,’ by Olivia Rodrigo, reminds me of high school and how simple yet chaotic life was. Now I’m an adult, gossip isn’t something that I care for anymore and I have bills to pay. *sigh*” — Sofronova
“‘Brutal’ emphasizes the pressure teenagers feel every single day.” — Frederick
“‘The Less I Know the Better,’ by Tame Impala. It captures my mood because of how chill, relaxed and happy I am in life. That song is such a vibe and will instantly get people to smile, dance and sing to it.” — Clayten Bynum, student at U of L who’s considering leaving to attend the L.A. Film School
“Because I’m finally fully vaccinated: ‘Mask Off,’ by Future!” — Weber
editor, Louisville Magazine