⏱️ = 4-minute read (or so)
“The obstacle course is like American Ninja Warrior” — Miles, my four-year-old, describing the recently refurbished and reopened Tyler Park
Jenni Laidman contributed her first piece to Louisville Magazine in 2008, about an earthquake fault zone close to Louisville, and since then she has written stories for the magazine about sex-toy parties and guns and elephants and pediatric cardiologists and U of L women’s hoops and WDRB and WFPL and romance novelist J.R. Ward and cancer and bodybuilders and, believe it or not, the list goes on and on.
Her most recent narrative deep dive, titled “The Haunting,” is the result of months and months of work, beginning when reports started to circulate in December 2019 about 20 healthy, free-roaming horses shot and killed atop Cow Mountain in Eastern Kentucky. (Save it and read Sunday morning with your coffee?)
She writes, “Kentucky is a state that puts a horse on its license plates and adopts ‘Unbridled Spirit’ as its brand. It’s where regular people can name breeders and jockeys and favorite Derby winners and wish each other ‘Happy Derby’ like it’s a second Christmas; where Jefferson County Public Schools elevates a horse race to holiday status and closes every Oaks Day; where schools stage stick-horse Derbies — complete with the Call to Post — for galloping preschoolers. In such a state, how is any of this abandonment and abuse of horses even imaginable, let alone actual?
“I mean, what the hell, people?”
2. Quintez Brown, the 20-year-old U of L student, activist and writer, who I wrote about in the last newsletter, was found safe after he had been missing for almost two weeks. This week, he wrote, “Emotionally overwhelmed, I struggled to make sense of how I became entangled in a predicament that had me fighting for my life for several days. Emotionally overwhelmed, my loved ones struggled to make sense of how I ended up miles away in New York City with no prior warning.”
In a statement, Brown’s parents said: “We are asking for privacy and would appreciate everyone’s patience and support while we tend to the most immediate need, which is Quintez’s physical, mental and spiritual health. Through this experience, it has been evident that the institutions in Louisville are ill-equipped to support families and people in these situations. We encourage everyone to check in on those near to their hearts.”
3. Perry Bacon Jr., who grew up in Louisville and lives here now, joined the Washington Post as a columnist in May (read his columns here), and, before that, contributed political coverage to Time and FiveThirtyEight. His Bluegrass Beat newsletter, about Louisville and Kentucky politics, has become a must-read, including this analysis from two days ago titled “Will Louisville Add a Member to ‘The Squad’?” He talks about 2022, mentioning Attica Scott, who’ll go up against John Yarmuth in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives (a seat Yarmuth has held since 2007), and Charles Booker, who recently announced his plan to challenge Rand Paul for U.S. Senate. The whole thing is worth your time (e.g., “Republicans are considering changing the makeup of the state’s six congressional districts, so that they could win all six of them, instead of just five….If the district is dramatically changed, I would expect the 73-year-old Yarmuth to retire”), but this really stuck with me:
“The decisions by Booker and Scott to opt against running for a job (mayor) where there is no incumbent and the winner of the Democratic nomination is likely to be elected are a bit surprising. On the other hand, Scott could have this House seat for two decades if she wins, and Booker would be a serious presidential candidate the moment he was declared the winner over Rand Paul.”
4. Cleveland-based Euclid Media, which owns several alt-weeklies, has purchased LEO. In a note in this Wednesday’s issue (with a cover story about the service industry’s worker shortage), managing editor Scott Recker wrote, “Going from being independently owned to being scooped up by an out-of-state parent company can feel daunting for an alt-weekly, but Euclid seems like they want to do a soft takeover and let LEO continue to be LEO.
“Everyone on this staff is still local, and all of us deeply love this paper, and we’ll continue to work toward making the publication the best we possibly can.” Even if “it’s not exactly easy to know — even from the inside — what LEO will look like as it enters its next stage….”
5. In several recent newsletters I mentioned a project we’re working on to interview workers in the service industry. We asked a dozen or so questions — How do you see the future of downtown Louisville?; What’s your go-to comfort dish on the hard days?; What has the past year and a half taught you about the service industry? — and I’ve been making my way through responses from more than 100 people, including answers to: What do you wish more locals understood about food-delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats?
“They charge restaurants exorbitant fees, and we have no control over how drivers handle meals after they leave our door.”
“They are a bunch of thieves.”
“There’s really nothing positive I can say about them. I just wish no one ever used them.”
“They do not ask for permission to post your menu, the menu they have is often years out of date and we’re guaranteed not to receive a tip, which is a bummer on a $30 or $60 order.”
“The food coming from them is no longer fresh.”
“The drivers are extremely hard workers and should receive more respect.”
“I think people are starting to become addicted to these services, and instead they need to go into local businesses and support them directly.”
“They took full advantage of small businesses during the pandemic and gave us no discounts or breaks whatsoever. Well, at least Postmates and Uber Eats.”
“The restaurant staff makes absolutely ZERO off those orders.”
“They are not our enemy — we definitely needed them to help us with getting the food to our customers! I think we will see engaging ways to handle food distribution in months to come. They do mark up prices, but we are working with them on all ends to improve processes and create a pleasant experience for all concerned.”
“Once it leaves the restaurant, everything is out of our control.”
“They don’t tip us. You tip the drivers, and they deserve that! But we go through the trouble of preparing the food and making the drinks and packaging everything. I’d rather hand you your food face-to-face than have a middleman.”
“We take the time to prepare the orders correctly, but the prices are theirs, the drivers are theirs and the REFUNDS are theirs. We can’t issue a refund at the shop level because we don’t have the customer’s money, the app does. We don’t know where the driver is when he is late or delivers your food to the wrong location. The drivers don’t work for us.”
“We have blacklisted one third-party company at this point.”
“They will add restaurants to their website without permission from the businesses. When a restaurant is on their website, but not a partner, they will often have inaccurate menu information. These companies will blame the restaurant if you order something that’s not on the menu anymore, even though it was the delivery company who had the inaccurate menu information.”
“Try FoodChing, locally owned and operated!”
“Please call in your order and save money!”
A little something from the LouMag archive.
Remember last time, when I mentioned that the magazine’s most controversial cover (at least during my time at the magazine since 2007, but maybe ever) was this one from October 2009?
Well, I’d forgotten about this one of a kindergartener from November 2012:
On the table of contents, my friend Kane Webb, who was editor at the time, wrote: “It’s a bubble pipe. Again: NOT A REAL PIPE. No tobacco used. Hold your cards and letters.” We started hearing from readers (including a priest!) the moment the issue hit mailboxes:
“I was disappointed to see a child smoking a pipe on the cover of your 2012-’13 School Guide. It sends a poor message to children. I will not be leaving this one out on the coffee table.”
“I don’t care if it’s a bubble pipe on the cover of your November issue. Lousy choice. Exactly what message are you trying to convey? Beats me.” Kane wrote that the boy, costumed as the “tweedy professor,” was a way to “poke fun at the clichéd stereotype of the haughty intellectual.”
“Who decided to put the pipe in the child’s mouth? What are we teaching children? That smoking a pipe is debonair or elegant or some kind of positive behavior? Wrong message, especially to children.”
And from the priest:
“Yes, I did read the ‘fine print’ disclaimer (that the pipe is a toy bubble pipe). I decided that it is important that you hear from me anyway.
“Apparently, the lead article in this issue is supposed to showcase children of our Louisville community who have super talent and ability in a wide variety of areas. The article itself is a good idea, because everyone should know how blessed we are with such children in our midst. The problem is the fact that I see none of that illustrated or even suggested by a young child holding a pipe in his mouth.
“It seems that the intent was to present something other than the innocence and joy of childhood — and it certainly does not offer the kind of image or behavior that should be emulated by other children. Your request is to ‘hold your cards and letters.’ Do not be surprised if you receive many more cards and letters from those who react to this cover image the same way I do.
“By the way, I haven’t read any further than the front page and inside-page disclaimer — and I do not intend to!”
Apologies for not sending the newsletter last week. I planned to but wasn’t able to finish it while up in Cleveland for the funeral of Bri’s grandpa: Bernard E. “Bernie” Rickelman, 95 years old, husband of 70 years to Doris, father to six daughters, grandpa to 15 grandchildren, great-grandpa to 29 great-grandchildren (including Emilia and Miles). My lasting memory of him is from 2017, when Miles had just turned one. Bernie, a man who had perfect posture and golfed into his 90s, came around a corner and Miles, arms outstretched, walked right up to him, this friendly man he had just met the day before. Bernie bent down and lifted Miles, just as he had for so many generations of children.
Bernie loved the stories I wrote about the Ohio State Buckeyes while interning at the Columbus Dispatch after I graduated from Ohio University. (Bernie played football at Kent State but had grandkids who played sports at OSU). When I started at Louisville Magazine in 2007, I sent Doris and him a subscription. On more than one occasion they gifted me pens, which I used to fill the pages of my reporter’s notebooks.
One of the first stories I wrote for the magazine was a profile of Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner. Bernie told me, “She lived quite a life.” He would know.
editor, Louisville Magazine