Readers’ Choice 2020 Staff Choices

LEO’s readers voted in the Readers’ Choice Awards, but we didn’t want you to have all of the fun. Here are LEO’s Staff Favorites Awards.


Where the John B. Castleman statue stood.

My Favorite 2020 Memory
Bye, Castleman statue
The weekend of the Charlottesville incident, the John B. Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle got a bright orange makeover, courtesy of a can of paint, which continued to multiply even after surveillance was installed. As a Highlands resident and then-Nextdoor user, disputes over Castleman were a daily occurrence, with graffiti argued as somehow a much graver concern to public safety than what many saw as a specter of white supremacy. The Castleman statue wasn’t on a registry or in a Confederate uniform, but John Castleman was an eager volunteer for the Confederacy. Once protests over the tragic death of Breonna Taylor began rocking Louisville, the Castleman statue paid the price, quietly removed one morning in early-June to no fanfare. Art should reflect the times, and Castleman’s time is over, a small, but symbolic victory in otherwise troubled times. —Syd Bishop


The toothsome Noel.

My Favorite Social Media Serotonin Hit
The Animal Protection Association Facebook page
Whenever I am overwhelmed by 2020, when I am tired of scrolling through Twitter and shaking my fist at strangers and situations out of my control, I find refuge on another corner of the internet: One that is so pure, or should I say purr, that I momentarily shake the dread that comes with life in a crumbling republic. The Animal Protection Association Facebook page, documenting the lives of the Jeffersonville cat shelter’s feline occupants and adoptees, is full of photos of bonded cats snuggling, videos of kitten high jinks, and heartwarming updates on cats finding their furever home. A favorite resident of mine is the snaggle-toothed Noel, whose protruding fangs and black coat have earned her the nickname “Vampire Kitty.”And then there’s Bungee, a slave to Party Mix treats who gets results by “begging.”Both are not available for adoption (more scrolling fodder for me), but there are plenty of other page regulars that are. The shelter posts with such enthusiasm and frequency, you’d think their furballs were as famous as Grumpy Cat (RIP, little guy.) You’ll also see posts asking for donations and volunteers, and the content is so good — and so needed — that you might as well chip in. —Danielle Grady


My Favorite Place To Win My Children’s Approval Without Breaking The Bank
Dollar Tree
Every parent knows even the most well-behaved child is going to ask to buy something every time they enter a store. Dealing with the dreaded store tantrum is a rite of passage for parenting, and while it may feel like the most embarrassing thing ever, it’s all right. No one wants to say “no” to their child, but it’s part of the job. Besides, money doesn’t grow on trees, and daddy has a mortgage to pay. The truth is, your young kids don’t actually want expensive things, they just want… things. The answer is Dollar Tree. Walk in, hand them a cart and tell them they can buy any 10 things in the store and watch as their eyes widen, and you instantly become parent of the year. It’s probably going to be a cart full of green glitter slime, potato chips and nail polish, but that’s the child equivalent of living like a rock star. —Talon Hampton


The Grotto and Garden of Our Lady of Lourdes.

My Favorite Place To Find Some Peace
The Grotto and Garden of Our Lady of Lourdes
Trudging through the year 2020 has made me recognize the extreme importance of creating time to mentally and physically relax every once in a while. So if you’re in need of a place to reflect, regroup or maybe even do some meditating, The Grotto and Garden of Our Lady of Lourdes is a great spot to go. Nestled between Lourdes Hall and the University Park Apartments off of Eastern Parkway, the nearly 100-year-old, half-domed grotto and the garden inside is a hidden gem that are great spots to let go of the day’s stress. As you stroll down the path around the grotto you’ll see throughout the gardens painted stones memorializing its original caretakers (a group of neighborhood residents known as the Grotto Grannies and Grandpa’s) as well as paintings of the 14 stations of the cross along the walls. My personal favorite spot is at the back of the grotto under the dome. The bench back there is a great place to take a book or just sit and listen to the wind blow through the magnolia trees arching overhead. —Kathryn Harrington


My Favorite Place To People Watch
Cherokee Park
There are several layers to the magic of a crowd, but people watching is very high in the power rankings. It’s how we learn about behavior patterns, style and how humans can be remarkably kind or gigantic assholes. According to official COVID-19 data, bar fights, strangers making out with each other in public and random sidewalk screaming matches about unmeasurable pieces of pop culture are down a staggering 300,000% this year. Humanity, in all of its ridiculous drunken glory, is lagging a bit behind on Saturday night antics. But, during the pandemic, another, maybe better (although more depressing), form of people watching emerged in the metro parks. During shutdown, Cherokee Park was packed, a place to escape to. As the data on the virus shifted, so did people’s attitudes. There were peaks of collective paranoia, everyone being extremely cautious. And there was also the weekend that marked where everyone stopped giving a fuck. When the bars reopened, half the crowd vanished. At least we’re still predictable. —Scott Recker

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My Favorite Way To Empower Black Entrepreneurship
Buy Black Lou
The first time I encountered the Buy Black Lou app was when all my Facebook friends were going wild over the farm-fresh produce box from Barbour’s Farm. COVID-19 had just rocked our worlds, and about 10 of my friends were sharing how they had picked up a box of produce for $30 in what we’d soon call a contactless transaction. Loving entrepreneurship like I do, I knew this was a trend I had to get on fast! A couple months later, I met and hired Ebbs & Lowe Paint Company & More, an interior finish contractor, for a small design project I sourced on Buy Black Lou. As one of the 35,000 members of the Buy Black Lou Facebook community and app users, I got to see all the times Steve Ebbs was tagged on painting and carpentry recommendations. I love what Steve did for my office at WorkThrive -— a huge, 15-foot dry erase wall for all our clients’ brilliant business ideas! I talked with Buy Black Lou founder Tanika Bryant about why she started her economic empowerment Facebook community in May 2019. She told me she was trying to be more intentional after learning that a dollar earned in a Black community circulates for six hours while a dollar earned in a non-Black community circulates for months. Now, Tanika leads the Buy Black Lou Facebook community, publishes the Buy Black Lou Directory (available on the web and as a smartphone app), and drives economic development through the nonprofit Black Business Association. Promoting Black-owned businesses, BOBs, is a big part of Tanika’s mission, and between the Facebook community and the app, Buy Black Lou delivers! I recently discovered a new favorite lunch salad from The Salad Chick, and I cannot wait to go to Four Pegs for a round of smoked wings and beers. Every time I need to source a contractor, I check Buy Black Lou first. It’s now my favorite Facebook buying channel and my go-to for patronizing Louisville BOBs. Like Tanika told me, with Buy Black Lou, “We get to see all this Black excellence that we didn’t know was out there!” You can find your next Black doctor, lawyer, chef, and fashion consultant at theblackbusinessapp.com. Be sure to list your BOB in the directory and to patronize BOBs on the regular. It’s great for the Black community, it’s great for non-Black communities, and it’s great for Louisville. —Megan Campbell Smith


Grind’s Capri Sun — to go!

My Favorite Place To Get Your Inner Child A Drink
Grind Burger Kitchen
Some days, run-of-the-mill pandemic drinking just isn’t enough. Some days you need a special treat, something bright and cheery, just a little sweet, in beguiling packaging with a bendy straw you can nostalgically stab into a colorful plastic pouch. You know, like an adult Capri Sun, which is exactly what Grind Burger Kitchen at 829 E. Market St. serves up  on their to-go cocktail menu. And, oh… the choices, so much more tempting than fruit punch and surfer cooler. There’s the Spicy Cranberry Margarita (with smoked jalapeño simple syrup), Prickly Pear Margarita, Wisconsin Old Fashioned, Uffda Mule, and my two favorites: Cherry Soda and Grind Iced Tea. The Cherry Soda is made with gin, Luxardo liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters and Luxardo cherry juice. The Grind Iced Tea is a Long Island-style tea with pineapple rum, Tito’s Vodka, Mala Idea Mezcal, Grind’s house triple sec mix and a splash of Coca-Cola. They’re a party-favor splash of fun in an otherwise party-less time. So whimsical, they make you happy before you even take a drink. —Laura Snyder


Gefilte fish

My Favorite Food That Looks And Sounds Nasty
Gefilte fish
Ground fish in gelatin or broth? Sounds tasty, no? It looks like it sounds, which for many people who did not grow up eating it is… well, it looks nasty. But I love it. Gefilte fish is a Jewish delicacy that you can find typically around Jewish holidays, mostly because that is when stores carry it. First thing to understand is that there is no such thing as a gefilte fish. It is made from poached, ground, deboned fish, usually whitefish, pike or carp. Gefilte means stuffed, how it was made long ago. Now, gefilte fish basically are sweet or savory fish dumplings. I am not religious, and I was raised only marginally so, but the holiday foods were always a treat and anticipated. The matzo, matzo ball soup, noodle kugel, brisket (often dry), challah, macaroons and, yes, those patties of sweet fish mush in gelatinous liquid. I grew up on the ubiquitous Manischewitz, the company that makes just about everything for a Kosher table (even candles) but is known mostly for its cloying fruit wine. It sells gefilte fish in many forms, including in liquid, jelled broth (extra ew) and frozen, pre-sliced. The jelled version was on my family’s table. My new favorite brand of gefilte fish in broth is Yehuda, made in Israel and sold at Kroger. It is deceptively simple: water, carp, onions, sugar, egg whites, matzo meal, carrots, salt, potato starch, pepper and carrageen. It is wonderful on matzo with a little horseradish or as an accompaniment to a vodka martini with a twist. If you still think gefilte fish sounds nasty, don’t look up another Jewish delicacy — lungen. —Keith Stone


My Favorite Hiking Trail
Harrods Creek Park
Who says you must leave the county to go on a hike? No one, ever. Harrods Creek Park is northern Jefferson County’s best kept secret when it comes to hiking trails. This park located in Prospect, boasts well maintained and clearly marked trails totaling just under three miles. There are four color-coded trails — red, blue, orange and green. Each trail is clearly marked and has easy to identify mile markers along the way. The red, blue and green trails are shaded. The orange trail, the easiest of the four trails is open and offers views that parallel the creek. Everyone who enters the park begins on the blue trail. However, it’s best to decide which path you want to take using the trail map prior to entering. Once in, you are in for an earthy treat as the paths offer a unique experience from easy to moderate. If you really have to stop and soak in the views, there are swinging benches along the orange trail that offer an even closer view of the creek and a small beach area. Have I walked all four trails? Absolutely! I’ve also challenged myself by running a few of the trails as well. So, lace up, grab some friends and get one with nature! —Kenya Turner


A pint from Louisville Cream.

My Favorite Place To Throw Away My Diet
Louisville Cream
I’ve been using the pandemic quarantine lifestyle as an opportunity to eat cleaner. Most weeks I fly the straight and narrow, cooking at home, eating chicken, rice and leafy greens. But like clockwork, I hop on Instagram and see some wildly aggressive pastry or ice cream combination on the Louisville Cream IG that gets so embedded in my mind that I can’t carry on through life without experiencing it. From the small-batch ice cream that hits your taste buds like a bass drop to the ding-dongs that make Hostess look like child’s play. LC is the place to go when “f*ck it” is on the mind. This is coming from someone who is wildly lactose intolerant, but what’s a life without risk? —Dante Wheat


My Favorite Walk
Bardstown Road in The Highlands
Bardstown Road takes a lot of crap from those of us who “remember what it used to be like.” Sure, there’s plenty of room for improvement. But, it remains my favorite route for ambulatory exercise. Between COVID-19 quarantining and entertaining a 1-year-old who wants nothing more than to be outside (and loves watching cars), walking up, down and around Bardstown Road several days a week is our path of choice. Yes, it’s busy and loud. In many spots the sidewalks are battered to rubble, while others are choked by overgrown plants, poles, trash cans and parking meters. And, of course, there are a decent number of smoke shops. (Plus, in the evenings, you risk an occasional contact high from passing cars.) But there’s a lot more nuance to Bardstown Road — economic, social and cultural character that can’t be gleaned through a car window on your daily commute. And, while 2020 has exacerbated everything to its extreme, Bardstown Road remains the best bellwether for the city. I’m seeing a variety of new, locally-owned eateries, including small specialty shops that may never be rated by food critics — for example, Healthy & Delicious, The Sweet Spot or Rawnaissance Desserts. I love seeing how some establishments are adjusting to the coronavirus and changing health guidelines. Sol Aztecas, for example, turned their plain, storefront sidewalk into a beautiful outdoor seating area. And, most important, there are kittens. Every walk includes kittens at Purrfect Day Cat Cafe, where you can walk right up to the window and watch a playroom full of kittens — playful kittens, sleepy kittens, kittens too small to jump onto the windowsill (all kittens having the best kitten time, while waiting for their permanent home and family). If at any point if you want to escape the noise and traffic, there are ample detour opportunities to beautiful neighborhoods or parks. But, if you really want some entertainment on your walk, and a sense of what is going on in the city, nowhere is better than Bardstown Road. —Aaron Yarmuth

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