#32: Lebanon, IN 6/27/16

We are burning through Lebanons like beer cans on a bonfire. Our second stop on the whirlwind Lebanon tour is Indiana, where someone at city hall is a virtuoso with video graphics.

“First order of business will be the, uh, Pledge of Allegiance,” Mayor Matt Gentry announced, before being upstaged by a rippling animation of Old Glory.

I pledge allegiance to the–wait, what’s happening to the mayor? Oh, god! It’s coming for him! Run, your honor! The humanity! Oh, the human–there he is again! With liberty and justice for all.

It’s tough to follow a screen-wiping flag, but one hotshot developer in a blue button-up sure tried. “There is, was, and still is a demand for nicer rental housing in downtown Lebanon. We’re dealing with a lot of young professionals. That is the kind of lifestyle they’re looking for.”

Yes, I bet many young professionals yearn to move to Lebanon, Indiana for the famous [look up something to put here] and the legendary [don’t forget to write something].

Youthful Councilor Corey Kutz wanted to know how the monied classes were living in Lebanon’s rival city. “What did the amenities look like? I know they’re maybe fetching $1,000 [per apartment] in Zionsville, but are they getting a pool? Are they getting a gym?”

The developer waved off the Z-town envy. “We’re in ‘downtown.’ We’re not sitting out in a corn field,” he slammed Zionsville, which is a puny little burg known only for [find literally anything interesting]. “We’ve got a historic gymnasium. You can’t compete with that!”

Councilor Corey Kutz: “What about massage parlors with full release? Does Zionsville have those?”

But sadly, Lebanon has a dark, noisy underbelly.

“I am Lebanon resident,” a bearded public commenter addressed councilors. “Grew up here, very proud of our community. And the two things I always brag is: we’re very neighborly and we LOVE the Fourth of July. We celebrate like no other city in central Indiana.” Yeah, shove that up your tailpipe, Zionsville!

But when you love something too much, sometimes the relationship turns ugly. “Saturday night, I sat up until 11:45 listening to what sounded like cannon shots right outside my bedroom window.”

And did he take this lying down? F*ck no. “I started looking into the ordinances,” this proud Lebanoner announced. “I found one that was passed in 1875 and it specifically mentions fireworks. It says they’re only to be set off on four days: July 4, Christmas, January 1, and Presidents Day.”

Councilor Kutz was kutzcerned. “Indianapolis just updated theirs [ordinance]. We could use a revamp on that….I don’t think it’ll happen before the fourth though.”

“I’m not trying to be a party pooper,” the commenter protested.

The role of party pooper went instead to the police chief, who stepped up to the mic.

“If it was up to me, there’d be no bass speakers, no dogs, and no fireworks allowed in the city, period.” The room erupted in laughter, but the chief looked as serious as a funeral. “I’d ban everything. Make it all quiet.”

More like Chief Buzzkill

Final thoughts: If the chief has his way, maybe Lebanon will at last have a cool factoid to its name: the quietest city in central Indiana.


#18: Lebanon, OR 5/11/16

The auction block was hot at the Lebanon city council meeting! People lined up left and right to annex land for their own kinky purposes, and the council was in charge of moving the merchandise.

Vest-clad, avuncular community development honcho Walt Wendolowski rattled off the three pieces of primo Oregon soil for annexation. Mayor Paul Aziz called out to the back of the room, “Would the applicant like to speak?”

“I just wanna say,” Applicant #1 reported, “I approve of the staff report and enjoy working with the city of Lebanon.” He promptly walked back to his seat.

Applicant #2 didn’t even bother getting out of his chair. “I think Walt covered it all,” he hollered.

Applicant #3 tied him in word economy, sitting down for all of two seconds simply to say: “I concur with Walt’s staff report.”

It was a scene reminiscent of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, when Abraham Lincoln famously retorted, “Yeah, I think Walt has the right idea.”

It is biologically impossible to disagree with Walt.

After approving all three requests, there was another land matter of what to do about a shipping container someone plopped down in a neighborhood. Here to talk about it was–surprise–our man Walt Wendolowski.

“You know, at the Rotary meeting, if you see a person this much, there’d be a fine for it,” he joked, taking out his wallet and pretending to put a dollar into the I’m-Talking-Too-Much bucket. The city could ignore the trailer or try to boot it, but “in the past 15 years we’ve had only two issues,” Walt noted.

“I’m not a big fan of government telling me what I can do with my property,” warned grizzled Councilor Rebecca Grizzle. “If I want to have something hideous in my backyard, that’s subjective. And I’ve had to look at hideous things in other people’s backyards.” Tell me about it! If I have to look out the window and see my neighbor’s butterface kids one more time–

“I agree. The whole aesthetic thing is….we’d start saying ‘can you not paint your house purple?'” Mayor Aziz concurred.

Lebanon will defend your right to make your house look like a hideous purple monstrosity.

Councilor Jason Bolen had a community update from his perch as the local youth baseball coach (go Warriors!).  “We have been able to install turf around all of the home plates and all of the mounds,” he bragged. “The kids just love them. You should see these kids learning how to slide coming into home. Instead of doing it on dirt and kind of doing a skid, hop, and a rollover, these guys are sliding in there when they have to and when they don’t have to!”

“I like the sign,” Councilor Grizzle whispered mischievously.

Councilor Bolen chuckled at the inside joke. “Yeah…I did that one. It says: ‘These are kids. They’re not professionals. Coaches are volunteers. Umpires are human. None of these kids are going to get a pro contract today. Relax.'”

Also, on the back of the sign: “Your dreams are dead. Fun is an illusion. Mediocrity is noble. Vote Bolen for Council.”

Final thoughts: From letting a disgusting trailer sit to making a sign that says your kid isn’t gonna make it, the Lebanon city council is a real “live-and-let-live” crowd. It’s the kind of place where I’d be proud to paint my house magenta. I give this meeting 7 out of 10 stars.