I’m pretty impressed by you, Louisville, Ky., and I love you.
Maybe I haven’t said that enough lately.
A person could do a lot worse than to grow up here and stay for good.
I’ve rambled around in my life and will again. I’ll always come back to you, though, because you’re a good town and nearly everyone I like lives here.
You look great in the spring, Louisville. The city planners and landscape architects who ingeniously connected your stunning park system with wide tree-lined boulevards were really on to something all those years ago. The city has grown up around the parks and parkways, and I feel damn lucky every time I drive to Iroquois, Cherokee or Shawnee parks under the regal canopy of giant oaks, sycamores and maples-oh-my that stretch into the distance like a woody colonnade. Hopefully we can take care of the treasures our city fathers left for us.
Louisville, when I was a boy, I didn’t like coming downtown. I remember a bleak, uneasy feeling riding in the backseat through streets that felt empty and uninviting. Now, as an adult, I feel a bleak, uneasy, abject horror when I find myself confronted with the Disneyland of conspicuous consumption that is Fourth Street Live. Lots of folks like it, though, and hopefully warfare will not erupt over parking and ticket prices when the new downtown arena opens next season. (Go Cards.)
There’s a plan to construct a Botanical Gardens near Waterfront Park. This is the best idea I’ve heard in a while, and it makes me glad. Unfortunately, the 15-lane behemoth bumble-cluck freeway some folks hope to erect would make quiet contemplation amidst delicate exotic plants a little difficult. Sure a couple of good old boys could line the pockets of their road contractor buddies and the high-speed lane would hum with commerce, but it would also completely demolish 15 years of thoughtful development that have made your waterfront a success, drawing some of the venom from a wounded downtown bitten by neglect.
The fact that nobody can pay for this crippling generational disaster is about the only good thing the economic downturn has done for you, Louisville. We can do better.
Louisville, your arts community and the cloud of creative genius that hovers over you like a fiery corona is a topic that deserves a volume of its own. We like art in these parts. If only we could fill all the vacant studio condos that lie fallow downtown with the hip young professionals who’ve been so slow in arriving. Maybe they could finally support local artists who would sincerely appreciate actually being paid for the lifetime they’ve spent honing their crafts. The dreamed-of hip professionals might just blow their whole paycheck on Jagerbombs at Angel’s-Underwear-Bar on Fourth Street. Maybe. We’ll never know.
Louisville, we put on a big-ass horse race once a year, and it’s sort of a pain. I’ll admit, though, I enjoy putting on a suit and shot-gunning beers as much as the next guy, and I am annually surprised at how happy it makes me to waste a perfectly good Saturday in May with friends and family singing “My Old Kentucky Home” with tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats. Huzzah.
Louisville, you’ve got good folk who have made a home here. Sure, there are some goons on noisy motorcycles who litter everywhere. But, damn, there are some good folk here, too.
The delicate alchemy of our size, geography and award-winning drinking water has conspired to create a community where the directive to Think Local may still escape the trappings of a bullshit catch phrase.
You’ve got one of the healthiest local food movements in the region. More and more people are supporting small farmers and have decided that knowing where their food comes trumps convenience.
Recently, a record store that cradled the Louisville music scene from a babe in arms asked for some help, and help arrived. Let’s hope it will be enough.
A gentle figurehead, friend, musician and artist got sick with the cancer this year. I’ll be damned if everybody didn’t pull together in one benefit event after another to help a brother out in an expression of solidarity and communion that took my breath away.
Louisville, you’re a good town. Someday I’ll move to the country for some quiet, but I love you, and you’ll always be home to me.