Inbox - June 10, 2015

Jun 10, 2015 at 3:11 pm
Inbox - June 10, 2015

RIP, PHT

Phoenix Hill Tavern initially consisted of a one room. It was a humble second story room, found atop of a long steeply graded red carpeted staircase. Like other Highlands’ venues of the time, it was a simple dive. Bardstown Road was littered with dives. They in turn fell to Louisville’s upcoming fascination with restaurant culture — and upscale restaurants.

The Hill catered almost exclusively to Louisville’s reemergence of local ‘70s bands. Typical of The Hill’s entertainment, forward 1976, would be Red Beans & Rice, Jill Thorpe & The Beat Boys, possibly Will Carey.

The Hill sprouted a new room addition every couple of years or two. The character and the direction of the club changed, without controversy. One conceptual flaw was the club’s growing intrusion upon the very residential neighborhood where it stood.

Local entertainment still dominated, only Red Beans acoustically evolved (so said) into Another Mule, electrified, louder, often playing the larger sized Hill. Former LEO columnist CD Kaplan heralded the Mule (prior My Morning Jacket) as Louisville’s best homegrown party band.

Original bands and their niche audiences were slowly displaced by cover groups and their larger commercial audience. On the bright side: big name ‘club’ acts soon became another entertainment staple at The Hill. It was Louisville’s fleeting answer to CBGB’s, as even the Ramones played there; recall that there was, for a time, no Headliners or Mercury Ballroom. My last visit to The Hill was to see the New Orleans Radiators.

Theme nights came into play, gimmicks needed to fill the ever-sprawling club. The Hill sponsored an extravagant Friday happy hour. Legal challenges resulted, objecting to serving two for one drinks. Another problem was growing neighborhood opportunists, quick to realize a small dollar investment could net an eventual $40 dinner.

The meat market element came into play — or was simply present along. Ironically, one could hook up at The Hill, possibly find a marital mate, age, graduate from The Hill, divorce and later find themselves returning to Jim Porter’s (“Wrinkle City”) for round two. So one could take such action, construed from either clever design by club’s proprietor, or by simple derivative chance — but that’s another story. Goodbye honky-tonk pianist Marcia Ball.

Lance Crady, Clifton  


NLRB applying wisdom of Rosa Parks

Those who watch Fox News and read The Daily Caller or The Washington Free Beacon already know that the National Labor Relations Board is preparing to gut the so called right-to-works laws. So they say, anyway. Let’s get back to the real world now. Just look into this story a little deeper and you’ll see that the NLRB is much less ambitious than the extremists say. Essentially, the NLRB is applying the wisdom of Rosa Parks. Hang in there with me for a few more moments.

To begin with, it has been widely reported in the media that the NLRB is re-examining their 40-plus year prohibition on fees for grievance-representation that some labor unions would like to charge non-members in the so called right-to-work states. Back then, the NLRB had theorized that non-member fees are discrimination based on membership. Today, they aren’t so sure. That might be because many legal scholars have argued over the years since then that the NLRB’s prohibition is wrong as a matter of law. Labor unions that offer services only to employees who pay for the services they want are only discriminating on the basis of who pays and who doesn’t pay. That’s simply good business sense. It means the labor unions serve non-members who pay fees the same as members. This practice is not discrimination based on membership, the legal scholars say.

That brings us to the famous story of Rosa Parks. Remember that Parks wanted her personal right to take a seat on the city transit bus for which she had paid the fare. She did not want a free bus ride. Likewise, non-members who do not want to pay anything to the labor union that represents workers in their workplace should not want a free ride either.

Tom Louderback, 40205