Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Column #11: Ear X-tacy's troubles give one's awareness a jolt

I love mountains. I also love air, oxygen, kittens and other nice things. However, I've become aware that our community has a problem, people. There are so many gas-guzzling cars on our roads declaring their love of mountains through the poor man's canvas — the bumper sticker — and yet how many mountains are being saved by this declarative decoration?

Tip O'Neill famously asserted that "All politics is local," though, being a Bostonian, we only narrowly avoided having to quote "All politics is a local wicked pissa."

When I lived in Boston, people were very concerned with being aware that we shouldn't look at each other while riding the subway. When I lived in California, people were concerned with being aware that it's less fun to surf in a horribly polluted ocean.

Here in Louisville, I've been made very aware that mountaintop removal mining is a horrible practice. It has terrible consequences on jobs, health and our natural environment. It is happening just a few hours' drive away from here, though, and its impact has been felt here by good folks raising awareness that it's happening, over there. They raise our awareness with benefit concerts and with those stickers (which don't mention the issue of mountaintop removal, sadly leaving bored drivers uneducated on the issue).

Are you aware? If there's anything I've realized lately, it's that I need to be more aware. There's Haiti, of course. I'm aware of that situation. It's bad, folks.

This month, I'm aware that snow gets in the way of a lot of stuff. We have a lot of homeless people in this town, and in every town. A lot of children are not getting healthy, nutritious meals. Plus, there's Heidi Montag to worry about.

On a side note, I'd like to ask any well-meaning liberals who haven't yet removed their Kerry/Edwards '04 bumper stickers to stop reading right now, and go do so. Twenty percent of the Highlands, I'm talking to you. It was still kind of inspiring in '05, bittersweet in '06, pointless in '07, a huge wasted opportunity in '08, and today... well, I hate to use the "s" word, but doesn't advocating your support of John Edwards today make you feel kind of stupid? Hey, I used to like the guy, too, before I got to know him.

While we're in the Highlands, are you aware of the problems facing our beloved Ear X-tacy Records? If you haven't heard, store owner John Timmons held a press conference recently, in which he told our community that our iconic store has been losing money steadily and is in danger of closing.

I used to work there, and I later operated my own small, independent and unsuccessful business. Once, John and I had a nice chat about the difficulties of running a business. Sadly, it was at the Jazz Factory, another great local spot unable to survive.

John's announcement was sad, and it was very brave of him to come forward and speak honestly about their dilemma. One fact he mentioned was that the Facebook "Save Ear X-tacy!" page attracted 19,000 fans in three days, while the official store page has less than 5,000. Many of us love joining causes, on Facebook or at benefit concerts, but how many do more than that?

Most people are smarter than John and me and have never owned a business. Many of the killer expenses are unseen or unappreciated by customers. The money you pay for that cool indie record doesn't just cover the cost of getting it from the distributor. Some of your cash pays the LG&E bill, the water bill, the phone bill, insurance, workers' comp, employee paychecks — and more.

How many people who love the store will remember that they need to spend money there every single week? All 19,000 of them? I doubt that.

The people who are working to save mountains also have bills to pay. As John Timmons admitted, there are no easy solutions. I just hope that you're more aware of that now.

c. 2010 Velocity Weekly

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