Saturday, April 28, 2007

NFL Draft Day

Today is the NFL Draft. The World Champion Indianapolis Colts had the last selection in the first round. It was number 32 overall.

The Colts' off season losses have been staggering. It is especially troubling that most of their losses have come on the defensive side of the ball. The defense last year was a liability and now is more depleted than before.

Do the Colts address their defense with their first pick? Oh no. They draft a slot receiver. Anthony Gonzalez out of Ohio State. You got to be kidding me. Alan Branch and Paul Posluszny were still on the board and would have been immediate help. Of course both were scooped up immediately after the Colts draft yet another offensive player.

Bill Polian may have made his first bone headed pick since taking the reigns for the Colts.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Adding slots to the two Indiana race tracks is a hot issue for the current Indiana General Assembly. Proponents see the extra revenue as an opportunity to provide higher purse money and in turn more competitive and quality horses. Those against the expansion see the adding of slots at both Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs as a further expansion of gambling. The Star has even framed the issue as whether the Governor will allow Indiana's first land based casinos.

I hate to break it to the Star but we already have a land based casino. It is in French Lick. The developer of that casino built a moat and a non-navigable "boat" as the casino. The boat at French Lick is a land based casino with a contained flooding problem.

The cost to the two tracks for the right to put in the slots was initially set by the current House at 100 million. Then the Senate cut down the number of slots licensed by a thousand and increased the fee to 400 million. Apparently the casino lobby came to town and made sure that the possibility of competition for the gambling dollar ended by placing it out of realistic reach of the tracks.

I am not objective on the subject. My father is a horse breeder and trainer. I go to several races a year and it is my opinion that the slots are a needed source of revenue. The purses for the races need to be increased to make the tracks more competitive with our neighboring states all of which allow horse racing.

Is it an expansion of gambling? Absolutely. But the reality is gambling in Indiana is an industry. Gambling in Indiana is a very big industry. If it is an industry then why not allow it to be competitive? To be competitive with its neighboring states the horse tracks need other sources of revenue. The State would benefit greatly from the extra tax revenue provided.

You can decry gambling all you want but the General Assembly made a decision in the eighties to allow it. It has done much good in the areas where the casinos and the tracks are located. It has brought in much tax revenue that has benefited many Hoosiers. There will eventually be a limit to gambling expansion (do you really want to see slot machines at your corner grocery store?) but I don't see slots at the tracks as so shocking to the conscience to stop its approval. Give them the slots, take them off the subsidy the tracks now receive, and use the added sources of revenue for much needed property tax relief or scholarships for our deserving students.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Market Square Development

Today was the deadline for submission of bids for the old Market Square Area site. For several years the site has sat vacant as a parking lot since the demolition of the Pacers' old home. A previous promised development fell through a few months ago.

Two proposals were submitted. One involves a fourteen story building of mixed use residential and commercial. Opposite of the fourteen story building is a retail development featuring a Target store. The second proposed development will feature two buildings, one twenty one stories high while the other will reach fifteen. The second proposed development will also feature a large amount of space dedicated to retail.

Initially I am disappointed. For one the architecture for both is bland and suburban in design. Second with such a large amount of land available I had hoped for a bold and taller building. I had hoped for a building that would rival our largest building, the Chase Tower.

However from a realistic standpoint a building has to be economically feasible. This market simply cannot sustain that sort of development. This became obvious by the much grander project that was previously proposed and that ultimately did not pan out due to lack of interest.

The builders have already indicated that to be "economically feasible" they will need what has now become familiar to the city for new development, the subsidy. Because the city will already sell the land under market value I find the subsidy troubling. However this might be an opportunity for the city to gain sometime from investment. The City County Building was built in 1962. The city's population has grown and similarly, so have the need for governmental services. However the space available at the City County Building has not grown. If the city is going to subsidize the project anyway, why not require the builder to add additional floors for the City's use? Because the new development will already involve commercial development including additional space to lease to the city for a nominal (say $1) fee would be easy to incorporate. Obviously with the residential component of the development, incorporating the criminal courts would not work due to safety concerns. However putting space in the development for other governmental services will open up this space at the City County Building for the government's growing needs.

Ultimately the space would be best served to address the city's space problem with the City County Building. A Justice Center at the site would go a long way to improving efficiency of the criminal justice system and public safety. Because the leadership of the city will choose not to go that route, at least they create the additional space at the City County Building for these growing needs for the same cost as they are already going to expend for the subsidy.

Painful end to season, summer full of questions

The Indiana Pacers laid a real goose egg in their 40th season in the Circle City. This season, full of promise just nine months ago, will come to a painful end tonight. The Pacers end their season tonight and will miss the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Missing the playoffs in the Eastern Conference is quite an accomplishment considering the lack of quality teams.

The Pacers will likely have hit the double whammy too. They gave up their number one draft pick in the Al Harrington trade. They could have retained the pick (thus becoming lottery eligible) had they ended up with one of the tenth worst records in the league. As it stands the Pacers will end up with the 11th worst record. So not only will they not make the playoffs but they won't have a draft pick either. The Pacers already traded their second round pick for James White, whom they cut. They won't have a draft pick in this year's draft which is considered one of the deepest in years.

Everyone will be looking to apportion the blame on someone. Some will point to the players. Some will point to Coach Rick Carlyle. Ultimately the blame will be placed on the Coach (as is customary in the NBA) and he will get his walking papers. However the real blame falls on the two making the decisions: the front office tandem of Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh.

Bird and Walsh are the ones who orchestrated some of the biggest bone headed trades in recent memory. First the traded Anthony Johnson, who had played his heart out during last years' playoffs. Then they traded Austin Croshere, a popular player on and off the court. In doing both trades they put their faith in Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels, the latter acquired from Dallas. Both have been injured for a good part of the season and both have had their off court troubles this season. The off court troubles of the current team have certainly contributed to the team's lack of fan support.

The Pacers also abandoned their biggest off season acquisition, Al Harrington, way too soon. Before the trade the Pacers looked like a team destined for the playoffs. Afterward, they looked like a mess. The new roster never meshed well. Luckily the trade put them over the cap by an additional 32 million or so. So no draft picks and no reasonable chance to be a player in the free agent market. The Pacers may not be a playoff team for several years to come.

There will be a lot of pressure to trade the Pacers' centerpiece, Jeramine O'Neal. I hope the Pacers resist that urge. For one, O'Neal's contract is massive and I can't imagine there will be that much interest in bringing him into the fold by another team. Even if a trade took place it would only bring another player only of his caliber and carry the same financial baggage. Based on that, it would make no sense to move their most popular player. O'Neal's community involvement also deserves a lot of credit.

Larry Bird and especially Donnie Walsh have done a lot for the franchise. Because Walsh has done so much for the Pacers if he chooses not to retire, he has earned the chance to get the Pacers back on track. I am glad that task falls on him and not me. I wouldn't know where to begin with this group.

The Pacers have slashed ticket prices in response to its attendance problems. Ultimately if they don't put together a team of selfless players, the kind of team that defined the Pacers in the late nineties, it will little matter what the price is of admission if the fans can't wrap their arms around the team and their play.

Midwest Music Summit

One of Indy's best events of the summer the Midwest Music Summit is taking a hiatus for 2007. Its web site notes that it is taking the break in "the best interest" of the event. I am not sure if the MMS is giving the full details about its hiatus. The last MMS I attended appeared very well received and well attended so hopefully this is not a financing issue or due to lack of interest. I look forward to its return in 2008.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP, Kurt Vonnegut

Hello, babies.
Welcome to Earth.
It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
It's round and wet and crowded.
At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here.
There's only one rule that I know of, babies:

God damn it, you've got to be kind.

So it goes

Monday, April 9, 2007

Forgiveness now optional?

For the record I didn't have a clue who Don Imus was until this recent controversy. I had never listened to his show nor knew he even had a show. Apparently the guy is a little over the top. He went way over the top recently when he characterized the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos".

You can only imagine that this statement, this horribly stupid and inappropriate statement, has got a few people a little steamed. Two of the people he has ticked off include the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Imus went on Al Sharpton's radio show today (honestly who knew the guy had a radio show) and apologized. Imus probably didn't win himself many converters when Sharpton scoffed at his apology and Imus replied that "you can't win with you people."

I am not going to defend Imus or his comments. They were dumb and offensive and people have every right to be ticked off. What I find a little concerning is Sharpton's reluctance of forgiveness. The Kid isn't going to sugarcoat it. I haven't been to Church in awhile. But I am not absent of faith and I always believed and still do that the hallmark of the Christian faith is forgiveness.

Now granted some apologies are hollow. But can you really judge an apology initially or do you have to give it some time to judge the actions of the person to see how sincere they really are?

Can someone help me out? Isn't Christianity always stood for forgiving others for their sins and transgressions? Or has that now changed Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton?

Flipping the bird

I was surprised to see Liam Gallagher of Oasis basically "flipping the bird" on the Yahoo main page today. Yahoo had an accompanying article noting that Oasis and some other bands were planning rerecording the Beatles Sgt Pepper Album for its 30th anniversary. The backwards peace sign is an offensive gesture in the UK and many of its former colonies. I doubt if the editor who chose the file photo realized that Liam is essentially saying f--k you with his hands.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy Easter

As a child I always loved Easter. Not to devalue the religious significance of the holiday, but as a kid I knew what a great scam Easter really was. For Christmas you had to be good and behave yourself. If you didn't you could possibly be without presents on Christmas morning and find yourself with coal in your stocking. I stopped believing in Santa Claus relatively early but I hedged by bets by behaving myself from late October on until I was seventeen years old to ensure a fruitful holiday.

But with Easter, there was really no affirmative effort on your part. No one ever told you to behave yourself or the Easter Bunny wouldn't come and leave you presents. You got the idea that no matter how rotten you really were as long as you put out a basket you were cool with the bunny. You didn't even have to bribe anyone like you did Santa by leaving out milk and cookies. All you had to do was make eggs with smelly vinegar. The bunny didn't snack on those either. So you got candy, died eggs, and presents all for nothing. What a sweet deal.

The only possible thing that kept you in line was the slight chance that you might run into the big man himself. I don't know about you but I haven't seen a bunny at the mall around this time that didn't scare the hell out of me. That bunny's face is enough to scare the toughest criminal straight. No wonder all those kids cry when they are getting their picture taken with the bunny.

Hope you enjoy this snowy Easter. And just for kicks, try to make up some crazy story about the Easter Bunny to tell your kids or nieces and nephews so they will fly straight at least in the month of April. They will catch on to the scam soon enough.

New Music, etc.

Because of time constraints, I can't keep up with posts on music as I want to. Notwithstanding that I thought I would drop a post on new music and shows coming our way.

There have been several good releases already in 2007 with several more to look forward to. My top three for the year (very early) would be: 1.) Kings of Leon, Because of the Times; 2.) Arcade Fire, Neon Bible; 3.) Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. I don't necessarily think Kings of Leon are for everyone, but their latest release is by far their most mature and accomplished to date.

My favorite songs of the year thus far include "Knocked Up" (it is exactly what you think it is) and "Arizona" by Kings of Leon; "Antichrist Television Blues" by Arcade Fire; "Methamphetamine" by Son Volt; and "Ruby" by the Kaiser Chiefs.

I am looking forward to several new releases this summer. Local heroes Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos have an EP planned for a June Release. Wilco's latest will drop on May 15th. Artic Monkey's sophomore effort comes out on April 24, 2007. And the new formation of Smashing Pumpkins are scheduled to release an album in July. There are still rumours of a new Radiohead CD out in 2007. Axl Rose has also promised to have Chinese Democracy out by 2010.

There are several great shows this summer. Wilco will return to Indy on June 15th. Elf Power is making an appearance on April 18th. That show is only ten bucks at Centrum Live. Kings of Leon will be at the Vogue on May 15th. The Indy Jazz Fest returns with Chick Corea and Bela Fleck closing out the festival on June 17th. For those who don't mind a road trip, Pearl Jam will headline this years Lollapolooza in Chicago on August 5th.

If anybody has heard any good music this year or know of any good shows on the horizon, drop a comment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hey, at least we're not as bad as Ohio...yet

Same-sex marriage ban defeated

It was defeated by a tie vote in committee. There is always next year for the religious right, but for now at least we're not on the way to being like Ohio and the other 25 other states with constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Beer and the Tournament

Tonight I am going to watch the game and like many Americans have a cold beer. Tonight's beer of choice is Schlafly Pale Ale from the St. Louis Brewery. I used to drink it like mad when I lived in St. Louis. It has finally made its way to Indy and I am thrilled. For the pleasure, it cost me ten bucks for a six pack.

Indy's bars and liquor stores have a great selection of beer. I haven't pined for too many. Especially because Mexico's only truly great beer, Sol, finally made its way to the Hoosier State a few months ago. I can also get San Miguel here now, a wonderful beer prevalent in the Philippines. I was in the Philippines for a month in college. Because beer was cheaper than bottled water consumption of beer was a matter of survival.

My wish list for beer in the city is relatively short now. I would love to see Yuengling and Vermont's Magic Hat No. 9 make it here. But I can't wait for the mother load to drop and finally make its way to Indiana. One of North America's great beers, Fat Tire, should eventually be available in Indiana. It made its premiere in Chicago last summer which could only signal its arrival here shortly.

But I digress. Back to the game. As much as I would love to see Indy's own Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden cut down the nets, Florida's experience will come through. I see Florida by 10. And if anyone remembers my predictions from a few weeks ago, this Kid knows his college basketball.

Indianapolis 2011

Indianapolis formally submitted its bid to hold the Super Bowl in 2011. Our competitors will be Dallas and Arizona. Both cities have or will have a new stadium at that point. Indianapolis' own Lucas Oil Stadium will be open in time for the 2008-2009 season.

The NFL has rarely gone to cold weathered cities for its big event. Two such cities Minneapolis and Detroit both have hosted the Super Bowl. As a reward for building a new stadium Detroit hosted the Super Bowl two years ago.

There is some question whether or not Indianapolis has the entertainment options to satisfy the masses who come to the Super Bowl city. How long do you think it will take the corporate types mixing it up at Ike and Jonesys or Tiki Bobs to realize they aren't at South Beach?

Truth be known Indianapolis does have some disadvantages but has a great advantage in its downtown. Many of the guests will be able to stay near all much of the nightlife downtown. The proximity of the stadium to many of the entertainment options in the city makes it an attractive option when compared to the last host, Miami, which did not have the same logistics.

Personally, I hope the city gets the Super Bowl and there is no doubt that the city would put on quite a show. Indy has routinely put on big events, including the Final Four multiple times. I spoke to a guy last year who was attending the Final Four and had attended the Super Bowl in Detroit. He said that Indy put on a better show for that event than Detroit did for the Super Bowl. I don't doubt it. Heck, even the 15 people who came for the World Basketball Championship a few years ago were impressed with the Nap.

Hopefully the leaders of the NFL will be too. Here's hoping that we get the big game in 2011 and the Colts become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home city.

More pregnant Indiana women smoking

I don't have anything more to add. The headline speaks for itself.

The New and Improved(?) One Indiana Square

Photo from Indianapolis Star

The design for the new and improved One Indiana Square is now available. The building was damaged in a windstorm during last year's Final Four.
Banner eXTReMe Tracker