10 takes on what 2019 holds for Louisville, Kentucky and the nation

Dec 19, 2018 at 10:52 am

“One of Fred’s childhood memories was the arrival of the family in Louisville. How strange that dark sky had looked; how he had started and wondered. (You didn’t study “petrochemical smog” in the first grade.)

‘Daddy,’ he’d asked, ‘What’s that? Why’s the air so dark?’

‘That’s civilization, son,’ his father told him, not without pride. ‘That’s Ahmurrica. That comes from the factories where Daddy’s going to work and make good money and have a nice house with neighbors and ice-cream men and everything.’

‘That’s what killed the crops,’ Mom said.

But it hadn’t been the factories. The factories were doing their part in poisoning the air, of course, but their specialty was rivers. The broad old river that flowed past Louisville, coming from up north, past Cincinnati, where there were signs in public restrooms: Please Flush. Louisville needs the water. It had been automobiles, cars just like the one they were riding in.”

That’s an excerpt from “Future City,”a 1973 collection of 22 dystopian short stories (and a poem) by science fiction writers. This piece, “Meanwhile, We Eliminate,” is by Andrew J. Offutt. You may recall the name: He was the subject of a 2016 book by his son entitled “My Father the Pornographer: A Memoir,” which got national attention. As his son reveals, Offut, who lived in Haldeman, Kentucky, had written hundreds of pieces of published porno-erotica and many more that never saw print, in addition to science fiction and fantasy novels.

But we digress...

Offut’s futurist piece on Louisville reminds us that predictions are based on conditions at the time of the writing — what we believe will or should be better or worse. They use the now as a foundation for the then. While forecasts are fun and instructive to read in the present, they provide three perspectives when their futures arrive. They become measurements of progress or regression — time capsules.

Take “Meanwhile, We Eliminate” Offutt’s story about a case of road-riot rage in a future Louisville that is cloaked in smog. Louisville’s air was horrible in the 1970s. Congress had just passed the Clean Air Act, and in Louisville was starting to issue permits to regulate producers of air contaminants. Today, Rubbertown and Butchertown still smell. And the Ohio River Valley’s air still is horrible, ranking 21st among 25 of the most-polluted cities in the nation, the American Lung Association says.

And not much has changed regarding Louisville-Indiana relations. One driver in Offut’s story is a Hoosier driving an “old pale-blue Pontiac,” which prompts this paragraph: “‘Ought to close that damned bridge,’ someone else muttered, ‘and seal us off from those clowns from the other side of the Ohio.’”


For LEO’s Future Issue, our seers take on the present, future and what should be. Some grade their 2018 predictions, while others make outlandish, hilarious forecasts (we are looking at you, Ewing and Jennings).

At least no one from Indiana was insulted in this exercise.

More love for adult liquids in 2019

By Steve Coomes  |  [email protected]

Here’s my mix of hopes and predictions.

Hope: Louisville will get a true Jewish deli. (Meshugana, I know.) I ask my Jewish friends all the time: “With such a vibrant community of food-loving Jews here, why no Jewish deli?” Their collective answer is: “Well, you see, none of us wants to do it because everyone believes they know the only way how to make all those classic dishes. We’d criticize the poor soul out of business.”

Prediction: National press will give Louisville’s cocktail scene a deep look. Our chefs have deservedly enjoyed decades of good feels. Our bartenders are due comparable love. Our guys and gals behind the stick are brilliant. Patronize them.

Hope: Locals will venture into non-bourbon cocktails. Scared of gin? A brilliant gin cocktail will blow your mind. Tequila, too: You’ve had enough margaritas — possibly bad ones at that — so step easily into a paloma or step up to a bold moradita.

Hope: In 2019, people will stop asking, “Surely the bourbon boom will end soon, right?” Surely it won’t. You don’t have to travel far to find U.S. cities where all brown spirits still gather dust on the margins of big bar shelves. Kentucky Nectar hasn’t conquered America yet, much less the the globe. The boom has just begun, folks.

Prediction: The pace of restaurant openings will slow.

Industry insiders — operators, investors, distributors, etc. — predicted mass closures in 2018, but that didn’t happen. That’s a signal that the market is in relative balance.

Hope: Every liquor retailer will follow the example of Liquor Barn’s low-to-no-markup, first-come, first-served, wait-in-really-long-lines releases of hard-to-get whiskeys.

Everyone deserves an equal shot at purchasing a tasty rarity.

Steve Coomes is a Louisville-born journalist and book author covering food, spirits and travel.

A girl can dream in 2019

By Hannah L. Drake  |  [email protected]

In a perfect future, we would have a government that doesn’t want to take away healthcare from those who need it the most; the homeless would have adequate housing, food and resources; and the Ninth Street divide would be a bridge connecting two seemingly different worlds.

Black people would not be forced to debate our humanity in a compassionate city. We would remove Confederate statues and replace them with statues of true Louisville legends such as Muhammad Ali, Oliver Lewis, Georgia Powers and Anne Braden.

We would legalize, grow and sell a plant that could finance pensions, bike lanes, affordable housing and infrastructure.

The funny thing is — these aren’t impossible dreams. These are all things that we can have. All we have to do is make it so.

One final thing — Jan. 1, 2019 cover story for LEO Weekly:

“Impeachment proceedings have begun”

A girl can dream.

Hannah L. Drake is an author, poet and spoken word artist. Follow her at writesomeshit.com and on Twitter at hannahdrake628.

Construction outlook in 2019... more cones

By Creig Ewing  |  [email protected]

The much-debated Topgolf facility finally breaks ground behind the Oxmoor mall. However, protesters from the nearby Hurstbourne area halt construction by defiantly walking their golden retrievers and Pomeranians across the construction site and refusing to pick up after them.

A Topgolf opponent takes to social media and posts ominous tweets such as, “We’re going to tear down your nets!” and “I’m going to grab your balls!”

St. Matthews police consider this terroristic threatening and ask the tweeter to turn himself in, as they are struggling to find anyone named “Topgolf Sucks” in the city directory.

The project is at an impasse until a LEO investigation determines that some of the protesters have secret plans to build competing TopCornHole venues across Louisville.

Topgolf finally opens to much success and traffic. Sensing an opportunity, road and sewer crews quickly finish all the downtown construction. They haul their orange cones out to the Oxmoor area to block off streets and dig holes to cruelly frustrate drivers in the newly bustling area.

Drivers in downtown Louisville are finally able to navigate city streets but are shocked to find that 18 bourbon distilleries were built while they were being re-routed across downtown.

Meanwhile, construction starts on six, 30-story, luxury high-rise apartment buildings on a quarter-acre at the corner of Lexington Road and Grinstead Drive.

The buildings will contain their own coffee shops, vape shops, mattress stores and the first TopCornHole facility in Louisville.

Creig Ewing is a Louisville comic and writer.

The Louisville Music Scene in 2019

By Zach Hart  |  [email protected]

Predicting the future of music is rough… just ask whoever invited the mini-disc player or the major label executives who thought CDs would sell forever. Knowing this, I’ll make my predictions wishes.

GRLwood, Frederick the Younger and BOA will all have a big year in 2019. Hopefully, all three of will release new material and break out on the national stage.

ATOMO will become your new favorite local live band. This energetic duo tears through a danceable and intelligent instrumental set exploring everything from funk to jazz at a whirlwind pace. If you see the name ATOMO on a bill, go to the show, and get ready for a fully immersive and entertaining musical experience.

Girls Rock Louisville will set records for donations. Girls Rock Louisville empowers girls, trans (regardless of identity) and gender non-conforming youth from all backgrounds by exploring music creation in a supportive, inclusive environment. They view music as a force for change and community building and as an opportunity to develop self-confidence, self-expression and involvement in social justice. If Louisville rallies around this amazing local organization, then 2019 can be another great year for the always amazing and important Girls Rock Louisville.

Donations can be made at: girlsrocklouisville.org

Zach Hart is a Louisville-based writer who has written for Consequence of Sound, Time Magazine, and his music blog We Listen For You.

A queerer Kentucky in 2019?

By Chris Hartman  |  [email protected]

Last year, I made some hyperbolic predictions for a queerer Kentucky in 2018. How’d we do?

Alas, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter never made it down the Ohio to challenge the Belle — in fact, it’s presently sinking in its own quicksand of controversy and low attendance. Earlier this month, an Illinois city reportedly canceled a sponsored trip to the Ark after an atheist group’s complaint.


Outgoing Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s rainbow crosswalks celebrating Pride Month still stand, despite orders from the federal government to remove them. Louisville still lacks a rainbow walk, but the Big Four Bridge is frequently lit like a Pride flag, especially throughout June.


Kim. Davis. Lost. Her. Job.


Overall, not bad, Kentucky. Add Paducah and Maysville as the ninth and tenth Kentucky towns to ban discrimination with a Fairness Ordinance, and the upcoming 20th anniversary of Louisville’s Fairness Ordinance in January, I’d say we have a slightly queerer Kentucky. But there’s still so much work to do.

2019 will bring another Kentucky General Assembly with uncertainty for LGBTQ rights. Somerset is considering becoming the 11th city in the state with a Fairness Ordinance, but opponents have organized en masse. It’s more important than ever to be vigilant and present for our rights.

I predict you’ll join us in Frankfort on Tuesday, Feb. 26 for the Statewide Fairness Rally and Lobby Day! Check out Fairness.org for details.

Chris Hartman is the director of the Fairness Campaign.

Trump to be impeached for farting... in 2019

By Scott Jennings  |  [email protected]

What will happen in 2019?

So many things: Gov. Matt Bevin defeats Andy Beshear to earn re-election, although it will be with someone other than Jenean Hampton as his running mate.

Construction finally begins on Louisville’s TopGolf. While the anger of Hurstbourne residents burns with the heat of a thousand suns, the lights at Topgolf do not. They are just regular lights, people.

House Democrats impeach Donald Trump, claiming he unleashed “silent but deadly” flatulence on Speaker Nancy Pelosi while delivering the State of the Union. Trump’s base responds, and the president raises record sums from small-dollar donors into his campaign. Beto O’Rourke, a skateboard-riding goofball from Texas, ends 2019 as the Democratic frontrunner for president. Elizabeth Warren abandons her presidential bid after being asked to star as the sidekick in a “Lone Ranger” reboot.

After the Senate laughs off impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirms Trump’s third Supreme Court Justice following a surprise retirement. With 51 solid GOP votes, Trump’s nominee is so conservative that several Democratic cable pundits faint on-air when they hear the name.

Democrats introduce the idea that the United States needs compulsory voting, a horrific idea the media will love.

Merry Christmas!

Scott Jennings can be reached at [email protected]. He is a former advisor to President George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He is cofounder of RunSwitch Public Relations. He is on twitter @scottjenningsky.

Resist and dispatch in 2019

By Ricky L. Jones  |  [email protected]

America’s present is contested, and its immediate future will be no less so. But, I believe we will see slow clarification of what we’re dealing with as we march through the next few years. Some of us have been aware of this for a long time, but it is becoming more evident to others, that racism, ethnocentrism and nativism sit at the heart of the struggle as we try to bridge the gap between the country’s stated rosy ideals and unavoidable vicious realities. It is not an overstatement to say the false notions of superiority upon which the 19th century ideologies of white man’s burden and Manifest Destiny rested are alive and well. In fact, as demographic shifts in America accelerate, we are seeing fiercer and more openly aggressive white resistance to inevitable challenges to their dominance.

What we will see in the near future is what we have witnessed in the recent past — increasingly nasty political, economic and social examples of three major fears of a good percentage of white Americans. Call them what you will — neo-Confederates, the alt-right, supremacists, the Tea Party... or today’s conservative Republicans — you are talking about the same thing. These are people who fear three things: political disempowerment, physical displacement and, in extreme cases, genetic annihilation. America’s immediate future will be determined by how we resist and dispatch these types of anachronistic thinkers and actors.

Dr. Ricky L. Jones is chair of Pan-African Studies at UofL and host of iHeart Media’s award-winning “Ricky Jones Show with 12 Mr. FTC” radio show and podcast. His next book, co-authored with Marc Murphy, is “Colin, Confederates and Con-Artists.” Visit him at rickyljones.com

Mayor: A growing Louisville in 2019

Mayor Greg Fischer sat down with LEO to predict Louisville’s future in 2019. He saw “positive things,” he said, mostly for the economy.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum right now as a city from our built environment and our economy, so absent any major economic shocks, the future looks really good. We’re focused on making sure everybody feels like they’re connected to a bright and hopeful future, so workforce development is really important, continued partnerships with JCPS and UofL are very important so that we can continue to grow as a city. That’s what people want. They want opportunities, and we need to be in the opportunity creation business here …

“…Affordable housing is another area that we want to continue to invest in. All that stuff is going to be a challenge. There’s money associated with it … due to the pension crisis, so our focus here is on building an equitable economy, and so by that I mean one that everybody’s involved with … and while we continue the growth in the city from a built environment perspective. So in this next year, you’re going to see a lot of progress in the billions of dollars of construction that’s going on in West Louisville, the new soccer stadium district, you’ll see that coming out of the ground in a more pronounced way, the completion of the northeast library in the Lyndon area. So people are seeing the city change, and that creates a lot of excitement…

“…So, we’re always thinking about public safety and public health issues. The homeless problem is part of that and people understanding the challenges associated with reducing homelessness and dealing with severe mental illness, substance use and addiction issues on the street. So, that’s an area we’re going to have to continue to make progress in.”

“…The number one issue, a top issue for us in Frankfort is to get some type of resolution to this pension crisis that we’re in right now. We need a pension fix, but then also we need a funding mechanism to fill the hole that was created by lack of funding in the pension… so if Frankfort is not going to provide that money, they need to provide local control, so cities and counties could figure out ways to develop that revenue.”

Need better answers in 2019

By Marc Murphy  |  [email protected]

This year, to look forward, I first looked back. Last year, I asked questions about the future. 2018’s answers couldn’t have been worse, so, I’ll add another question this year: Is it too late?

Here are last year’s questions, with their disappointingly obvious answers:

Will the United States attempt to retake the place it relinquished among world leadership in human rights, climate change and the support of democratic institutions? In 2018, the United States aggressively continued to relinquish not only leadership but even support for these principles. From the perspective of policy, Uncle Sam is becoming a pariah state among nations.

Will elected representatives at every level choose country over party or their personal interests? No, generally, and, perhaps where it matters the most, our own Sen. Mitch McConnell has not.

And will not.

Will civilian, religious and other leaders preach empathy and hope rather than hate and fear? Hate and fear continues to drive national and state policy, largely through current Republican leadership. It is no longer reasonable to believe those leaders will change.

So, those leaders must be changed.

Maybe it’s lazy, but I see no reason to ask new questions for 2019.

We just need better answers.

Marc Murphy is a trial lawyer in Louisville and Courier Journal political cartoonist.

Action required for #Resistance in 2019

By Molly Shah  |  [email protected]

In 2018, much of the #Resistance has become focused on Russia Gate and the latest spelling errors in Trump tweets. Meanwhile, anti-racist, anti-capitalist activists have looked at this current political landscape with increasing horror; modern day Cassandras trying to warn of the Trojan Horse of liberalism that corporate politicians are rolling into the city.

Louisville has a majority of Democrats on Metro Council and Greg Fischer, who won re-election with 61.3 percent of the vote, yet Louisville ranks seventh in the nation for evictions. The rich keep building luxury hotels, while it takes 84 hours a week of minimum wage work to afford a two bedroom apartment. A man goes on a racist shooting spree, while the mayor drags his feet in committees over removing Confederate war and anti-immigrant statues. Kentucky’s only abortion clinic is under threat of closure, yet no safety zone has been established outside to protect the patients.

In 2019, if Louisvillians care about smashing the patriarchy, fighting fascists and reducing wealth inequality, then they should confront local politicians publicly, frequently, in a variety of ways and with a variety of tactics. Louisvillians should form alliances with other working-class comrades and demand a city that is actually compassionate, not #CompassionateCity.

Molly Shah is an activist and organizer with Parents for Social Justice.