Louisville Magazine

JAN 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 1.19 47 interesting life really gets ahold of you. I think an interesting life is very important, including one's own death. I've spent an awful lot of my time and energy trying to encourage people to become activists in their own lives and to take a hands-on approach — because I do think life can be extremely interesting and I do think that we have more control over parts of it than we let ourselves believe. And to the degree that we have control over part of it that will make our lives interesting and other lives more humane or kinder, we should do it. It's hard. It's hard when you sit down and start thinking about the thousands and thousands and thousands of people who just have nothing. Nothing. And you don't know whether poverty does 'em in or their lack of attention to their resources or lack of access. You know, we've all got something. We've all got things that we can use with a little imagination. And our lives are a big imagination — big." What have you been up to lately? "Yesterday I had a meeting here, a lunch for 12 or 13 volunteers for the Louisville Central Community Center, which is a social-services center. I've been on that board for ages. And I was trying to think of somebody we could choose for next year to honor who would bring in money. e kids are doing theater down there (at LCCC). Oh, it's so cool. And I get bored in bad theater. I went to the last one. It was fantastic! Some of those kids are really musical! I had a fundraiser (here) one night two or three years ago and there were some children — girls, about four or five of them — who came and they were kind of bored and we were outside and I asked them if they wanted to go in and watch TV. ey came in the house — they loved it. ey could not get over the (drawing of the) naked woman in the kitchen. at did it. ey just stood there like they were shocked. ey were looking at somebody's pubic hair! In the kitchen! It was an education. But they loved to go through the house because it's so different. ey're from the projects and this is a really rich lady's house. It's a good house for little kids. When I bought this house I pur- posely wanted to make it interesting for children because my grandfather's house down in Old Louisville was one of those three-story things, cold, dark. I hated to go. It was so depressing. It was just awful and I thought, Make it fun for kids. I love color. I guess you can tell. ese windows are why I bought this house. is house was in shit shape and the woman who had bought it to be a fixer-upper had no taste. ere was fake brick linoleum on the kitchen floor and the walls were covered in royal blue and silver wallpaper and I thought, ugh, but I have friends who told me that the reason I felt the way I did about this house wasn't just the windows, it was the feng shui in the front room. "But I stay minimally busy with the ACLU, which is my main passion and has been. I was an English major, so of course I went to the ACLU. And that's about it." Connect being an English major with gravitating toward the ACLU. What do those have in common? "One of the things that in this part of the country the ACLU was useful for were times when books and libraries in schools were being removed on the basis of being too scatological, too un-American, too bad, bad, bad. And the ACLU is the pri- mary defender of the First Amendment of the United States. e First Amendment prohibits communities and libraries from (removing) noxious, according to one entity or another, literature. So immedi- ately when you have a school board, say, make a fuss over Slaughterhouse-Five or whatever book is now being attacked, the ACLU is the organization in that area, if there is an ACLU, to stand up and say, 'No! e First Amendment prohibits that.' It says government may not make any law restrictive of a person's right to read. And that's like mother's milk, it's just a given. It leads to a disproportionate number of ACLU members who are English teachers or just plain readers, you know?" What was your time as ACLU executive director like? "I was a one-person operation. I had a half-time person who came in to open the mail — she was my best friend and didn't do shit. But at least there was some company. e reason I have this deck out here — when I bought this house I was the ACLU director. I used to get the lawyers that I knew together for dinner once a month, feed them to get them to take ACLU cases for free. So when I looked at this house, it ended right there. It's got two bedrooms upstairs; downstairs it's really small. I had moved from a big house over near Atherton (High School). Big, big rooms, a big den with a fireplace, a big living room with a fireplace. I had moved into this and I thought, Oh, my god, what am I gonna do? So I put that deck out there. I thought, I can feed people; that'll take care of that. at is really an ACLU-dedicated deck. Of course, then af- ter a couple years I left that job. I couldn't survive in it any longer. One of the single most self-destructive things I've ever done was work there. Really, really hard. Really hard." What was so hard about it? "It touches everybody's hot buttons at one point and if they know where you are, they find you. Right before anksgiving one year I was having the family — my family, my mom and dad, my sister and brother — for anksgiving. I was in the kitchen cooking and I get a call from somebody who hated me and hated the ACLU and I answered the phone — how did I know? — and just hatred and vitriol. ey find you." What were they upset about? "Anti-church stuff or they hate abortion. ere are so many people who hate the idea of democracy and everybody hav- ing the same rights — and communists shouldn't have them and gay people shouldn't have them and black people. Oh, my god, the racism in this community is just — you could cut it with a knife. So I was very visible. I was in the newspaper a lot. I was on TV a lot. I was the only person. I had to. at's what you do in a little barely surviving nonprofit like that. So everybody knew me. In fact, I'd walk into meetings — big meetings — and I remember somebody said, 'Over there, there's that awful Suzy Post.' And I got that a lot. I mean, this is not a progressive environment in Louisville. It's very, very unprogressive. It's Christian rights — very Christian, very Catholic: Abortion? You know, and how can you be with the ACLU and not support choice? It's just a given. So they get you for that. How can you be for the ACLU and not support racial justice? For anybody who's gonna go into something public, spending a month in the ACLU office and hearing some of that would be a really good education and teach him or her about their community in a way that they wouldn't get just being on the ground. It's a lot of hatred."

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