NA Confidential’s Person of the Year awards began in 2011, when the blog was going strong and approaching the apex of its readership locally.
My own career in beer at the New Albanian Brewing Company seemed secure. Jeff Gahan had been elected mayor, and hard as it might seem to believe, I even supported his campaign.
Talk about nasty hangovers.
By the time I sat down on December 29, 2020 to consider the “person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that ‘for better or for worse…has done the most to influence the events of the year,’” NA Confidential was approaching the end of its 16-year run and was about to be placed into a state of cryogenic hiatus (where it remains).
My affiliation with NABC largely concluded in 2015, the same year that I joined the race for mayor (as an independent). Naturally I lost, but tallied more votes than Dan “Councilman Cappuccino” Coffey did when he ran in 2019.
As a nation we’d dealt first with a lengthy pandemic of epic virulence (Donald Trump), and the came another called COVID-19.
At any rate, choosing Nawbany’s persons of the year for 2020 was not difficult. They were frontline health care workers and Black Lives Matter (an affiliated) activists protesting for racial justice.
The previous winners:
- 2020 … Frontline health care workers and Black Lives Matter
- 2019 … Automobile Supremacy in Nawbany
- 2018 … Jeff Gahan’s Money Machine
- 2017 … #MeToo — the NA silence breakers
- 2016 … Chloe Allen
- 2015 … New Albany property tax payers
- 2014 … Heroic Non-Incentivized Downtown Developers
- 2013 … (tie) Houndmouth and “Quality of Life”
- 2012 … Bill “Slumlord” Allen
- 2011 … The Sherman Minton Bridge
The harder task for me came a few days later, when on January 1, 2021 it was time for a formal announcement of my retirement from politically-oriented local blogging, which then as now must be read as departing from grassroots participation, period, except for work-related duties.
Below you’ll find an encore of that January 1 NAC farewell manifesto, as reprinted in its entirety and intended as exhibits A through Z explaining my choice for RogerBaylor.com’s New Albany Person of the Year 2021: That’s me, Roger Baylor.
Why? Because unlike Team Gahan, I actually told the truth.
I said NAC was finished, and it is. I told you I was going away, and I did. Sure, I vented here and there on my web site and at social media, but these occasions accounted for a 92.8% reduction in polemics, well within the 10% margin of flatulence permitted by Richard M. Nixon’s ‘Checkers” speech.
Whatever I might decide to do with the remaining two weeks in 2021, here’s what I won’t be doing: attending municipal meetings, writing letters to the editor of the ‘Bune, campaigning for transparency, roasting the ruling clique, or constructing brilliant memes like this.
Rest assured, because the time I’ve saved has been put to good use.
Diana and I have made it through the pandemic as one loving unit, at least so far. We’ve completed several home improvement projects. I’ve been cooking quite a lot, and enjoying it. My jobs at Food & Dining Magazine, Pints&union and (soon) Common Haus are wonderful niches, enabling me to do what I love and make a few bucks in the process.
When the remainder of you tire of the status quo in Nawbany, maybe you’ll finally do something about it. Until then, enjoy the Pyongyang-style personality cult built around the Genius of the Floodplain.
Meanwhile, I stand by the points I made in last January’s article.
Congratulations to me.
The long-awaited day has arrived, and the anchor-festooned junta will be awash in Bud Light Peach-A-Rita. Your “Deez Trump Nutz” calendar for 2020 is headed for the landfill, it’s January 1, and NA Confidential has officially concluded its 16-year run.
Help me kill another decade, and maybe there’ll be a box set.
Until then, or whenever Google/Blogger gets around to further atrocities against taste and decency, I’m proverbially OUTTA HERE. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m a bit behind schedule getting the new web site in the water, but no worries. The past few months have been busier than expected, but the site will begin soon.
If you’re just tuning in, three recent essays explain why this has happened.
- A change is coming to the model village, and NA Confidential is winding down.
- On (or off) the Avenues, there’s got to be a morning after.
And the third, repeated verbatim today: ON THE AVENUES: Welcome to the last will and testament of NA Confidential.
It cannot be denied that I’m a slow learner, a late bloomer and a serial procrastinator.
This much is perfectly clear. Actually, I’ve never cared enough to even try dodging these compliments.
The odd part has always been that once I get around at long last to learning, blooming and/or making up my mind, it’s a done deal. Once a decision has been determined, right or wrong, it is pretty much irrevocable with me.
So it was last week when I awakened to thoughts about NA Confidential’s future, and concluded it has none, at least in its present format. I’ll continue writing elsewhere, and soon the blog will cease to exist as an active, ongoing entity.
NAC began in 2004 as a way of channeling a long-gestating insight, this being the importance of grassroots localism. It was and remains my view that people tend to obsess about hugely complex national and international topics to the exclusion of approachable issues outside their front doors, and in their own communities, because theatrically pontificating in broad terms is easier than getting involved with the grit and grime of specifics.
NAC started out as a diary of sorts, a place to chronicle my journeys, promote the beer businesses I was involved with at the time, channel my inner Mencken, and write about anything I damn well pleased. Other folks helped out with writing (Randy, Jeff, Lloyd), and then they didn’t.
The blog grew into a public gathering spot, a function that ebbed drastically once social media exploded. All along, it was a spot to broach subjects no one else would. I followed these stories where they took me, and it didn’t always make people happy.
They’re entitled to their own opinions, although not their own facts.
NA Confidential’s first post was on October 22, 2004. Who even imagined we’d still be talking about it in 2020? I didn’t.
You don’t need a gumshoe with rotten breath and one too many alimony payments to figure out the problem with this town. It’s something in the water that causes people here to lose their vision. Q: What do New Albanians call Southside’s mashed potatoes? A: Freedom Foie Gras. Well, we’re here to change all that.
Change all that?
A tad cheeky, and ultimately a point to debate, although others can decide the extent, if any, of the blog’s influence hereabouts. Irrespective, the blogging experience has changed me, and nowadays I’m at a crossroads amid the crossfire. Consequently, there are several good reasons for acknowledging various irrefutable realities and drowning the blog in the nearest available bathtub.
Allow me to explore the reasoning.
Localism? Not so much. Between our toxic social media fixation, the pandemic and Trump’s invasive cult of personality, interest in provocative takes on local matters in Nawbany has largely disappeared. Readership has responded accordingly, by plummeting. This should please my betters.
Part of this decline owes to the scattershot essence of Blogger; it is an utter piece of crap, and a dysfunctional platform overall. For at least a decade Blogger has been unsuitable for my intentions. Now it’s largely unusable owing to recent revisions, and I should have exited long ago when the going was good. That one’s on me.
In addition, I turned 60 in August, and began paying attention to what the mirror (and my wife) was trying to tell me about the meaning of life. In short, it’s time for an autumn (of my years) deep cleaning and reboot. What better time than multiple, horrifying daily existential crises?
Then an e-mail notice came, reminding me it was time to renew my rogerbaylor.com domain name. Having finally learned a bit about WordPress owing to my position as digital editor at Food & Dining Magazine, and with the publication’s house web guru Jason around to advise me, starting anew at my own web site suddenly became an attractive option.
The year 2020 already was the most tumultuous year of my life, and probably yours, too. Why not end it with closure, by euthanizing NAC, and moving forward to something different?
Of course there’s another aspect to the blog’s impending termination, a process which began in earnest the moment last year’s municipal election cycle concluded.
Jeff Gahan’s unprecedented third mayoral term (save for C. Pralle Erni’s four), and especially his increased margin of victory in the 2019 election, constituted voluminous (and perhaps inevitable) handwriting on the wall. It was a clear, unmistakable vote for civic fantasy, and against truth telling, whether by a malcontent like me or on the part of perpetually somnolent local newspapers … or anyone else, for that matter.
It was, in fact, a slam dunk.
Accordingly, a solitary dissident at a blog parked at the woefully deficient Blogger hell hole simply cannot hope to make a difference in such a dismal, uncomprehending milieu. Ironically, what it can do is make the dissident’s own position unsustainable — and it has.
None of this thrills me, but the truth of it is simply undeniable, and that’s why I’ll go through the narrative a final time before NAC self-destructs. Accordingly, let’s award credit where it’s due, sans snark.
I fought Nawbany, and Nawbany won.
That’s it, in a nutshell. As an intelligent, well-educated and worldly person, I can fully appreciate the tactical deficit of my coordinates in this pandemic year, as pinned down in a fox hole with massed (metaphorical) artillery pointed in my general direction.
Well played, dominant cadres. I’ve learned that “it’s the way things work here” is more than a recurring promise; it’s a big-ass buzz saw, and I’m sliced, diced and vanquished.
Evidently “check mate” means the same thing in all of those European languages I wish had come easier to me so as to facilitate being a joyful expatriate. It looks like we’re marooned here until the house is paid off. After that, Ireland (or Malta, or Bolivia; whatever), here we come.
Verily, the governing Nawbanian clique’s “lone dissident on the grassy know-it-all” containment strategy for the past seven years has proven to be highly effective. Granted, it took a few dozen of them to whip one blogger acting alone, but make no mistake: The lash of the nabob’s whip is real, and accordingly, I’m whupped.
Cutting me off from any “official” political and governing dialogue is only a small part of it, because the community pillars have completely succeeded in institutionalizing a local perception of me as social misfit and pariah, to be shunned by “right thinking” people as if I were a member of India’s untouchable caste.
Evidently if you whisper often enough that Roger’s a dangerous nutcase, otherwise sane and intelligent people will start to believe it. The ones who don’t? They’ll merely say they regret the inconvenience, but just can’t risk being seen with you – you understand, they’ll say amid the furtive glances, it’s just business.
Yes, I understand the obligations of current accounts, although frankly, some of you should be ashamed to spend hours denouncing the perfidy of national Republicans while simultaneously encouraging crickets to chirp when it comes to the equally repellant habits of local Democrats. That’s cowardice, and it’s also hypocrisy. I genuinely feel bad for you, but really?
Toss a starving dog a bone. Maybe just a wee shred of resolve, every now and then?
What’s more, in so many of these “tsk tsk” instances, it has not mattered in the slightest what I actually said or wrote to prompt a flurry of finger-wagging; folks have concluded automatically that I’m mistaken, not to mention disreputable, based on what they imagined me saying or writing, and not actually hearing or reading it. Purportedly it is understood by those who – you know – understand these sort of things.
Frustrating, but also quite brilliant.
I’m stymied, hung out and left to dry. Like I said, full credit where it’s due. The Kool-Aid is strong, and I am weak. Long live the junta!
Furthermore, the ruling elite came to an astute recognition that while they cannot hurt me personally, people around me are vulnerable. It’s a crude, blunt-edged form of reprisal, as well as a highly efficient one. In good conscience I can no longer risk the threat of collateral damage to innocent bystanders.
Additionally, because the leading element in New Albany has successfully characterized NA Confidential in its diverse entirety as the equivalent of deranged snuff porn fetishism, the blog’s “brand” is compromised, stuffed into a straw man’s cubbyhole and tainted by association.
My earnest efforts in 2020 to remove the political element from the blog have been easier than I imagined, but ultimately it’s futile. The torture is unlikely to stop, the Blogger platform remains inadequate for future writing, and the blog as currently constituted is dead in the water, adroitly blockaded by local arbiters, blithely shunned by the aspirant vanguard, and abjectly short-circuited by its own host platform.
I can take a hint and surrender, dear (leader).
Granted, I might start again at a new website and continue calling it NA Confidential. But it needs to be retired. At the forthcoming Roger Baylor Dot Com there will be an archive of the 15,000+ posts appearing at NAC since 2004, albeit completely inactive in terms of new content. It will be maintained strictly for historical interest, and as a sketchbook for future writing.
Resurrecting NAC wouldn’t be the same. I played the game and lost. So it goes. It may not have been fair or square, and yet make no mistake; I knew exactly the nature of the surreal absurdity I was getting into way back in 2004, purporting to chronicle the life and times of a city that hasn’t been on the cutting edge of anything since the 19th century, and probably never will.
As proof, note that in their most recent races, Donald Trump (Republican President), Jeff Gahan (Democratic Mayor) and Scott Blair (Independent City Council) each won the 6th council district by almost exactly the same percentage of vote as the others.
Huh? If you can explain that, then it’s your turn to grapple with this town’s psychotic DNA.
Looking at it objectively, NAC can be said to have accomplished some positive outcomes; just the same, it is exhausted. So is the blog’s creator.
NAC is the only Nawbany blog that truly mattered, ever, except blogs seldom matter here, ever, especially when pursuing the sort of subject matter that differs with the prevailing “mentality” (rest assured I use this term guardedly).
In the beginning, back in 2004, good friends warned me that we’re a barely literate, perennially dirty little river town, and likely would always be this way, forever.
I laughed. I’m laughing no longer. Stick a fork in me, because I’m done.
To those who have read, thanks for reading, and for all your support over the years. When the new digs are ready, I’ll let you know, as long as you let me know if we ever arrive at answers to the opening questions.
New Albany is a state of mind … but whose? Since 2004, we’ve been observing the contemporary scene in this slowly awakening old river town. If it’s true that a pre-digital stopped clock is right twice a day, when will New Albany learn to tell time?
Splitting the atom was far, far easier than this.