⏱️ = 3-minute read (or so)
“Summer is going by faster than the Flash.” — Miles, my four-year-old
1. My fave Louisville story I’ve read this week:
WFPL arts reporter Stephanie Wolf (you should subscribe to her newsletter) did a story about WhoWeLostKY.org, a beautiful “repository of remembrances of people killed by the coronavirus” in Kentucky, Wolf writes, with submissions “written by a loved one or friend.” One woman told Wolf she wanted to participate “because so many people still think that (Covid-19 is) not serious. And there’s some people that even say that it’s fake.
“Well, it’s not fake, because I lost the love of my life.”
I spent a teary-eyed morning reading all the stories on WhoWeLostKY.org, and so many details have stuck with me:
“My father worked at GE for most of his adult life. The radio never worked in the car he drove to the plant, so he drove with his right hand and serenaded himself, playing a harmonica, which he held in his left hand.”
“My father called me from the hospital asking for me to bring him some underwear. I told him I was at work and that I couldn’t leave. He told me, ‘Make your money, son.’ That was the last conversation I ever had with my dad.”
“You miss the taste of her creamed potatoes”
“Noel was an inquisitive child who liked to take things apart to see how they worked, including his mother’s mantel clock and the engine of his father’s 1930 Buick.”
“My husband’s grandpa Rodney always had his hair long. He kept stocked up on hairspray and combs. Sometimes I feel the urge to buy him some even though he’s been gone since January.”
“Thank God for the nurse who held his hand.”
“I left the room while they disconnected the tubes and equipment. When I came back, I held his hand and hugged him while he took his last breaths. He just stopped breathing. No struggle. Just peaceful rest. His heart kept beating, his pacemaker doing its duty even after his lungs could not. His nurse used a magnet to quiet the device…and my John was gone.”
2. I’m still working on that story I’ve mentioned about people in our food-and-drink service industry. Here’s how workers answered the question: Does your business have enough employees?
And here are just some of the answers to the question: Besides your own, what Louisville restaurant/bar/coffee shop/food truck/etc. should more people know about?
“La Chandeleur Creperie. If you’ve not been in their place on the 300 block of Woodlawn Avenue in Beechmont, you’re missing out.”
“Falafel House undoubtedly has the best falafel, baba ghanoush and lentil soup in the city, and is a contender for best hummus. It’s cheap, immigrant-owned, family-run, and the guys who run the spot are super-nice and good at remembering regulars.”
“Leaven Bakery! Started by two chefs out of their home during the pandemic, and they just opened a store front in New Albany. Everyone should try out their treats.”
“Cottage Inn. Hidden and delicious.”
“DaLat’s Gateaux and Cafe has THE BEST bánh mì in town. Completely overlooked. The bread is the heart of bánh mì, and the bakery does it right.”
“Sweet Peaches because she puts everything into her business.”
“Mellwood Tavern has the best fried chicken in the city.”
“Sinclair’s Smoked Salmon. Best salmon ever.”
“The Black Italian. Owned and operated by one of the cutest couples.”
“Flo’s House of Soul for comfort foods.”
“Toasty’s Tavern. Best damn burger in town and probably the world. I’ll fight people on this.”
“Annie’s Cafe in Beechmont. Just such a perfect neighborhood dive with some seriously incredible food. That pho is addictive!”
“Happy Belly Bistro food truck. Follow her. Find her. She’s a brilliant chef and an incredible woman. Her food is flavorful and filled with her spirit.”
3. The Netflix documentary series Heist includes a two-parter titled “The Bourbon King,” about the so-called Pappygate scandal from 2013, when hundreds of bottles of Pappy Van Winkle were reported missing from Buffalo Trace in Frankfort. It’s a story about softball and steroids and “the good-old-boy code” and marriage and fatherhood and a publicity-hungry sheriff and the black market and (a “word” I promised I’d never use) bourbonism, with a surprising ending. The story “wasn’t just statewide. It wasn’t regional. It wasn’t national. It wasn’t northern hemisphere. It was worldwide,” says the “ringleader” (scapegoat?), Toby Curtsinger, who started working in the warehouse at Buffalo Trace in 1988 making $7.51 an hour. “It’d be like working in a bank or, say, Fort Knox with the vault wide open with no guards.” At one point, Curtsinger describes how bourbon became “like this sacred nectar from Mount Olympus.” (WDRB also interviewed him for their Uncovered podcast.)
Recounting how law enforcement hounded her son, Curtsinger’s irritated mother says, “It’s whiskey, for god’s sake.”
Curtsinger: “Think about it: If you worked at Buffalo Trace right now and you had an opportunity to stick two 20-year-old Van Winkles down your pants and walk out with nobody seeing you, are you gonna do it if you don’t get caught?”
4. The last time I mentioned SPORTS in the newsletter, six weeks ago, former U of L hoops star Donovan Mitchell was two games away from making the NBA’s Western Conference Finals. But the newsletter must’ve jinxed him because his Jazz were eliminated from the playoffs after losing four games straight.
I’d thought Mitchell was gonna settle the U of L-UK debate at the NBA level for this season, but then former Wildcat Devin Booker scored 42 and 40 in back-to-back games in the Finals. On Tuesday, Booker’s Suns lost the title to the Milwaukee Bucks, and last night, over beers outside at Dundee Tavern, My Buddy Eric Who Has A Vintage Cardinal Mascot Tattooed On His Ass™ reminded me that former U of L player Jordan Nwora is on the Bucks roster (and on Nigeria’s Olympics team).
“Do you know what Nwora’s shooting percentage was in the Finals?”
Nwora played one minute total in the six-game series, taking and making exactly one shot.
“That’s 100 percent!”
5. Haiku Review
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Stones tour rescheduled,
without Cardinal Stadium.
Support for Louisville Magazine comes from the March of Dimes, whose premier fundraiser, the Signature Chefs Auction, will be Nov. 11 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, with more than 30 local chefs featuring tastings of their creations.
A little something from the LouMag archive.
Today and through the weekend, the West Louisville Tennis Club is hosting the Arthur Lloyd Johnson Memorial Tennis Tournament at Chickasaw Park. I’m reminded of this 1955 cover photo, taken at Old Louisville’s Central Park.
Earlier this year, while working on an archival project, I shared the image with West Louisville Tennis Club president Aretha Fuqua, who said, “My initial impression is: Thank God for grace, mercy, diversity and inclusion! For African-Americans, there was a time when participation in cost-prohibitive sports such as tennis was limited, as you can see from your 1955 cover.
“Historically, in the game of tennis, there have always been exceptional ‘players of color’ to include — people like Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, Zina Garrison, Chanda Rubin and Venus and Serena Williams, just to name a few. As a result of the diversity and inclusion initiatives undertaken by the United States Tennis Association and many other noteworthy local organizations, such as Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Louisville Parks & Recreation and USTAKY, tennis has become a viable recreation alternative for underserved communities, too. I played basketball in my high school and collegiate career, but I never viewed tennis as a viable option. It’s a shame, too. My earliest memory of playing is around 1984. It was in Louisville, right in Chickasaw Park.”