Category Archives: topical


60 Minute’s Pelley and CNN’s Acosta Featured at KY Book Fair: Listen

A pair of high profile American broadcast journalists will appear at the 2019 Kentucky Book Fair in Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Saturday, November 16.

60 Minutes Correspondent Scott Pelley, author of Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter’s Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times, is interviewed for UnderMain broadcast partner Eastern Standard on WEKU by Tom Martin.  Click on the book cover to listen and download.

Mr. Pelley will be in conversation with KET’s Renee Shaw on the University of Kentucky Main Stage at 11:30am-12:15pm.

CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, author of The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America, is interviewed for Eastern Standard on WEKU by former Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen. Click on the book cover to listen and download.

Mr. Acosta will be in conversation with Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader on the University of Kentucky Main Stage at 2:30pm-3:15pm.

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What’s A Railbird?

Definition- A well-known track fixture, hugs the rails, stays close to the action, probably loses more than wins.

Well, now the word has taken on a whole new meaning, as the grounds of Keeneland Racecourse will be the site of a spanking new summer music festival, Railbird, on August 10-11, 2019. AC Entertainment of Knoxville, Tennessee, founder of festivals such as Bonnaroo and Big Ears, producers of Forecastle down the road in Louisville, has been engaged to produce the multi-day, multi-stage festival.

Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLex, said at the announcement this past week at Keeneland that there been a desire for several years to have a signature citywide event that would strengthen Lexington’s brand both regionally and nationally. Working with local organizer, David Helmers, who was one of the organizers of the homegrown Moontower Festival, the partnership with Keeneland and with producing partner AC Entertainment, yielded a winning combination.

Ashley Capps, CEO and President of AC, spoke at the announcement of his organization’s focus on creating festivals, which include Moon River in Chattanooga, and High Water in Charleston, South Carolina, that have a strong sense of place. The combination of the beautiful, historic grounds of Keeneland, and the culture of music, bourbon, and horses in Lexington, made for a compelling addition to their festival portfolio.

The target ticket sales for this first year of Railbird is 10,000 tickets for each day. Premium bourbon and equine experiences and packages will be offered. The lineup of performers at the festival will be announced on March 25th, with a mix of musical genres on the stages.

The festival site,, has additional information and a video teaser and you can subscribe to newsletter updates about the festival. In addition, look for an upcoming segment on WEKU’s Eastern Standard, hosted by UnderMain co-publisher, Tom Martin, featuring an interview with local festival organizer, David Helmers.

Railbird Definition= A Winner!

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Body Language Debate?

There’s quite some distance between the violence of the ancient Italian sport of Calcio Storico and the interactive “debate without words” that happens when Shaun Leonardo leads a session of his social practice project, Primitive Games. But Leonardo, who will bring his art to the campus of Transylvania University on February 27, was inspired by the 16th century form of football-meets-rugby that got its start in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. 

“While I was taking this in and really studying it as a sport that enacts violence for the sake of violence, that has very few rules, I was also glued to television and witnessing what I experienced as the demise of political debate. The ways in which we once understood debates was evolving into simply a strategy of proving one’s side right over another,” Leonardo explained in an interview to be featured on this week’s edition of Eastern Standard on WEKU. Here’s a sampling:

Embed for Tom Martin with Shaun Leonardo

Through his project, Leonardo asks, “Are we, through non-verbal action, able to model and momentarily restore purpose to the act of debate, by seeing difference not as a hindering factor but as a necessary component to reaching consensus and enacting change?” 

Volunteers have been selected to participate in Leonardo’s Lexington workshop, including students, faculty, staff and Transy campus police chief Gregg Muravchick. Part of the university’s Creative Intelligence Series, his lecture will take place in Carrick Theater on campus at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27.


Tom Martin is a co-publisher of UnderMain, producer and host of Eastern Standard on Eastern Kentucky University public radio station WEKU, a columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, and Student Media Advisor at Transylvania University. 


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Reformers to Radicals: The Appalachian Volunteers

It began on January 20, 1961 with this historic call-to-action:

The challenge President Kennedy made to the nation in his inaugural speech continued to resonate in the wake of his assassination and on January 8, 1964 was narrowed in focus in the State of the Union address of his White House successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Johnson trained his sights on the nation’s Appalachian region.

President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, greet Tom Fletcher’s family in Inez, Ky., in 1964. Fletcher was an unemployed saw mill worker with eight children.

How politics and ideologies can transform and mutate the best of intentions is detailed and examined in the pages of Thomas Kiffmeyer’s book, Reformers to Radicals: The Appalachian Volunteers and the War on Poverty. The Morehead State University history professor talked with Tom Martin on a recent edition of WEKU’s Eastern Standard.

Listen to Eastern Standard on 88.9 WEKU for UnderMain artist interviews and updates on cultural events in the region. Programs are available as podcasts on NPROne, iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher. You can listen online at and download the WEKU app to your mobile device.

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Confessions of a Bread Junky

... almost invariably the door will open, the person walks in and the nose will go up in the air and this look of bliss comes over their faces.

Few things in life comfort the soul more than freshly baked bread. To learn more about its making, I recently sat down with Bluegrass Baking Company owner (and UnderMain contributor) Jim Betts.  Here, you can read or listen to our conversation – or do both.

Listen to the interview on WEKU’s Eastern Standard

Tom: When and how did you get into this business?

Jim: Well, it started as a hobby. In college, I was part of a food co-op and my first two jobs there were dishwashing and baking bread and I went with baking bread. It’s just it’s anyone who’s baked at home knows it’s a very satisfying and relaxing activity, so it just drew me.

Tom: All that kneading.

Jim: Yes.

Tom: With a “K-N.”

Jim: And eventually with an N. It’s a great stress reliever and it’s one of those things that you can fit into your schedule.

Kneading bread at Bluegrass Baking Co.

Tom: So, when you decided to go into business with this, how did you develop a product line?

Jim: A lot of that was kind of ‘what do we like to do’ and also ‘what does the public like?’ When we first opened someone would walk in and say, “Do you make this?” I said, “No, but funny you should mention that, I was planning on doing it tomorrow.” So, we’ve tried anything at first and then as we got a little bit more successful we started honing our product line.

Tom: I think of the bakery business as being a very early morning endeavor. Is that true? Do you have to get up early in the morning?

Jim: Oh, yes, yes, and we’d stay up late. We basically are baking twenty-four hours. But, yes, if you want fresh goodies at 7:00 o’clock in the morning, someone’s up at 4:00 or 3:00 making those.

Tom: And, are you able to hold it down to a five-day week or is it more than that?

Jim: Well, I don’t consider myself to be a particularly good manager, so I tend to work six to seven days a week.

Tom: I put out a call on Facebook to offer some questions for you and we have one here Meg Tipton Boden. She asks: “What is your favorite bread recipe? What’s your favorite item in your bakery?”

Jim: My favorite bread to make is a baguette. It’s water and flour and yeast and salt. The baguette is as simple as you get and it’s all about technique. And I’d like to say the bread will rat you out. If you do it well, it shines, it glistens. The baguettes crackle when they’re done, they have a beautiful golden hue. And if they don’t work well, it’s pretty obvious – you’re pretty naked with them.

Tom: The tension between making a product look really good, versus tasting good, but not necessarily looking good. If you have to go one way or the other, which way do you go?

Jim: We’ve always skewed towards tasting good. And the great thing about a well-made baked anything is that it looks good, even the rustic ones, even the hand-formed ones. Look at the pie that granny makes. It looks amazing when she’s serving it to you. We’re more of a rustic style bakery as opposed to a French high quality high standard look and so, we tend to skew towards taste.

Tom: Okay. Another friend from Facebook, Debra Alexander, asks: “Is it possible to make a good gluten-free bread?”

Jim: No. You can approximate. You can make something that if you couldn’t eat gluten, you’d be thrilled to have. But there are huge differences.

Tom: What’s the most useful tool in your shop?

Jim: Our oven. We have a big deck oven. If you think about a pizza oven that is massive, that’s what we have. It’s stone-floored, steam-injected, and it allows our breads to be crusty. We bake at 480 degrees and it gives a beautiful heat for breakfast pastries and the like.

Tom: Have you ever encountered any unexpected challenges with owning and operating a bakery?

Jim: When we started the bakery, we just liked playing with breads and we thought, well, this is something we know how to do, let’s open a bakery. Probably the biggest concern with running a bakery is the running of the bakery. We can bake the stuff, but managing all the bits and pieces of what it is to be a business owner was not what I thought I was getting into when I opened the bakery.

Tom: Steve Stone is asking “what is a good bread to start with and work on? Maybe sourdough?”

Jim: I would say sourdough is sort of a graduate level bread just because the sourdough itself is something you need to manage.

It’s very easy to make a starter at home; it just takes a lot of management. Someone says it’s like having a pet, you have to feed it, you have to take it out and exercise it every now and then. I would say a white bread – a yeasted white bread is very easy to make at home. You can make it with just the four ingredients I mentioned, you can also add all kinds of things to it.

Tom: We were talking about kneading earlier; Julie Wilson wants to know how you know when to stop kneading.

Jim: I’m sort of a junkie about bread. Bread is very satisfying, has a great visceral feel. Pick up a loaf of bread, smell it, it just transports you to different places. Kneading, the same way. You knead, you knead, it’s kind of rugged and rough and eventually you’ll get to the point where it starts getting smooth. I say if it kind of feels and looks like a baby’s butt, you’re right in the right department.

Tom: On the business-side of baking, what sorts of market dynamics and trends do you watch?

Jim: The whole “buy local” movement has been something that we’ve been really interested in. We watch what can we do to utilize the locally grown materials around us. We’re working with UK to see if we can grow some bread wheat. Kentucky has more of the pastry low-gluten type of flours, so we’re looking to see if we can work with UK Ag department. And we’re probably a year or two away from being able to grow all the flour that we need for our business here in Lexington.

Other market dynamics: what do the restaurants want? What are people eating? And how does that fit in with what we want to do? We don’t want to just cave to the public demand, we want to maintain the integrity of our business design, but at the same time we want to give people what they want.

Tom: Okay. Another question from Facebook friend, Tanya Tyler. She asks: “what is the optimum temperature for yeast?”

Jim: Ah. Well, yeast likes body temperature between 80 and 100 degrees, it is very happy very active. If you’re not using it, keep it in your ‘fridge, that will keep it retarded, slow it down. So, lower temperature, 70, 80 degrees is good. It takes longer, the flavor results are excellent.

Tom: In your twenty-seven years in the bakery business, do you have a favorite story or experiencey?

Jim: Probably my favorite thing is to watch a new customer walk into the bakery and almost invariably the door will open, the person who walks in and the nose will go up in the air and this look of bliss comes over their faces. They take a sniff because I say if you walk into a bakery and it doesn’t smell good, you should turn around and walk out. Baked goods smell good. So, that’s a daily reminder of how good it is of what we have.

But, every year at the beginning of December, we have a cookie-decorating workshop and we throw the – this is sort of Norman Rockewelly of me, but we throw the bakery open to the kids. We cover our tables with plastic, put milk crates up and whole bunch of cutout shapes and icings and sprinkles. And just watching thirty or forty kids pile around this table, it’s probably – I’m not going to say that. Group of kids piled around the table and sharing their enthusiasm is a wonderful thing and it really makes you – it evokes what I think is the best of baking.

Tom: What is your vision for the future of your business your bakery business?

Jim: Continuing with our artisanal line of goods. Artisanal basically means hand-shaped, hand-worked. It means that we’re taking the extra time to work it by hand. So, we’re going to continue with that and continue playing with local or ancient grains trying to derive a more healthy and flavorful product.


Tom Martin is co-publisher/editor of  UnderMain, host of WEKU’s Eastern Standard, a columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Student Media Adviser at Transylvania University and keyboardist with the Patrick McNeese Band

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Lexington Considers Matthew Shepard

Music has the “capacity to encompass, transform and transcend tragedy. Powerfully cathartic, it leads us from horror and grief to a higher understanding of the human condition, enabling us to endure” – a Washington Post description of Considering Matthew Shepard, an evocative touring choral drama coming to Transylvania University’s Haggin Auditorium (Mitchell Fine Arts Center)on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

The performance will occur nearly 20 years to the day from the date when Matthew Shepard’s life was taken in an anti-gay hate crime.

Composed by Craig Hella Johnson, the choral and instrumental masterpiece tells Shepard’s story and reverberates with larger questions. “Matt’s story is not unique,” his mother, Judy Shepard, reminds us. “It’s a universal story.” 

Listen to Tom Martin’s conversation with Johnson on WEKU’s Eastern Standard:

Tom Martin is a co-publisher/editor of UnderMain; the producing host of Eastern Standard on WEKU; a columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader; and Student Media Advisor at Transylvania University

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Opioids: How did this happen?

Drug overdoses last year took the lives of nearly 72,000 Americans. Two-thirds of these deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, involved opioids.  It’s a record number – higher than death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths.

By now, it goes without saying: the opioid addiction crisis is huge and it’s many-headed hydra.

How did this happen?

It’s the focus of the book Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemicby Barry Meier, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative reporter for the New York Times and a 2002 recipient of a George Polk Award for outstanding journalism.

Meier is the keynote speaker at the Howard Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum today (September 24) at the Griffin Gate Marriott in Lexington. The Forum, hosted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, is focused on Substance Abuse in Kentucky. 

Foundation president and CEO Ben Chandler was invited to interview Meier on the WEKU current affairs program, Eastern Standard. Here is their conversation:

Tom Martin is co-publisher of  UnderMain and the producer and host of WEKU’s Eastern Standard.

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Film Premiere to Illuminate Kentucky’s Energy Future

In the fall of 2015, Kentucky filmmaker Ben Evans bought his first electric car, a used Nissan LEAF. This week his new documentary film, EVOLVE: Driving a Clean Future in Coal Country, premieres at the Kentucky Theater in downtown Lexington. It is a “one night only” showing. The film is about electric cars, their evolving place in Kentucky transportation, and the reach of the new energy economy into Eastern Kentucky, long the dominion of Big Coal.

“After I got my LEAF,” said Evans, “it was in the spring of 2016 when I was contacted by Stuart Ungar to see if I’d make a short promotional film about Evolve KY.” Evolve KY is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization of electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts that Ungar co-founded in Louisville to promote electrified personal transportation. Evans was known for his award-winning films, YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip and NERVE.

“This kind of followed a similar creative trajectory to my previous film NERVE,” said Evans. He was contacted in 2014 by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation to make a film short about KEF and its work with the issues of chemical weapons disposal at the Bluegrass Army Depot in Richmond. The project expanded into a full-fledged documentary, over an hour in length. EVOLVE also became a full-length documentary, about an hour in length.

“What happens,” said Evans, “is that, as I learn more, the initial subject becomes increasingly interconnected with others, and I end up feeling like I can’t do it justice within a short promotional format. I like things that have a story arc and emotional connection.” As with NERVE, Evans, with concerned parties, undertook an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in order to raise money for the EVOLVE film.

Behind the wheel of a Tesla in Whitesburg, KY

Evans says the film starts with a focus on electric cars in Kentucky and the work of Evolve KY, then reaches into Eastern Kentucky energy. “It was important to me to get out to Eastern Kentucky and explore what’s going on out there with the energy transition because this relates directly to how we’re powering our electrified transportation future,” he said. “It’s a part of the country where they’ve been locked into a boom and bust coal economy for a long time, and as the world moves away from coal, they’re trying to figure out what comes next and how they can be a part of it. I was surprised to see how eager a lot of these communities are to find sustainable foundations for their economic future. They understand much more than what they are often given credit for by the national media, and, at the end of the day, they just want durable jobs that will let them stay in their communities with their families. All the better if they can build something that will preserve their mountain heritage.”

The film shines light on the solar farm created in Winchester by the Eastern KY Power Cooperative. The University of Kentucky Solar Car Team is also featured.

UK Solar Car Team

A visit to the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham finds an array of rooftop solar panels that have been built onto the museum, marking a potent symbol of change.

Kent Lewis on top of the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum

Then the film takes an in-depth view of EnerBlu.

EnerBlu proposes to become a very big deal for Kentucky. Its executive headquarters are in Lexington, while its manufacturing facilities will be atop the former Marion Branch coal mine, 154 flattened acres in the mountains of Pikeville that will be home for the production of advanced energy storage batteries based on eLTO technology.

The company will bring approximately 1,000 jobs to the region, and its technology will advance the renewable energy sector. It will be the first manufacturing company in the U.S. to work with this specific kind of battery technology, though that technology was first developed here.

The film also features Adam Edelen, founder of Edelen Strategic Ventures, who is spearheading plans for a 50-100 megawatt solar installation in Pike County. It would be the largest solar installation in this part of the country, and would also occupy another vast former mountaintop removal mining site. “Bringing Republicans and Democrats together is far easier than bringing together solar developers and coal executives,” Edelen said to Kentucky Today. “But we’ve got it and we’re doing this big important thing; and if it works, it will be transformative.” The project would retrain 400 out-of-work coal miners for jobs at the installation.

Kenny Stanley of Berkeley Energy Group on the site of a future 50-100 megawatt solar farm

“There’s a certain poetic justice in the possibility that some of these mountains that were sacrificed to extract coal might now be able to help save other mountains by showing new paths to sustainable energy production, job creation, and prosperity,” said Evans.

The film’s soundtrack includes Kentucky musicians. Evans says he has a good working relationship with Gill Holland, who founded the Kentucky record label, SonaBLAST!, giving the filmmaker access to much of that catalog. Kentucky artists on the soundtrack include the “new folk” band Beady, Ben Sollee, Bastion, and The Pass. Evans also included music by Owen Evans, his younger brother out in Arizona. 

The premiere of EVOLVE is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 6, at the Kentucky Theater and is being presented by EnerBlu, UK Student Government, and Evolve KY. Tickets can be purchased at or at the door, and UK students with student IDs will have free admission. Two or three electric vehicles will be parked in front of the theater that evening for a pre-screening EV showcase. A post-screening panel discussion with stars of the film will include Michael Weber, Executive Chairman of EnerBlu; Adam Edelen, Founder of Edelen Strategic Ventures; Wrensey Gill, VP of Evolve KY and Director of the Lexington Chapter; members of the UK Solar Car Team; and the filmmaker.

For tickets and information, click here.

Ben Evans gets a thumbs up from the film’s audio engineer Jordon Ellis

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UK Cafe: Why is There a University of Kentucky Themed Restaurant in Osaka, Japan?

There are more connections between Osaka, Japan and Kentucky than one might probably expect. Firstly, the University of Kentucky has a very close relationship with Osaka’s Kansai Gaidai University and has been sending students abroad there for decades. In addition to this academic connection, in 1985, following the victory of the Osaka-based underdogs of the Nippon League, the Hanshin Tigers, at the Japan baseball Championship Series, some rowdy Tigers fan removed a statue of Colonel Sanders from the front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and threw it in the Dotenburi Canal from Ebisu Bridge, as an effigy to Tigers’ foreign slugger, Randy Bass, who had helped carry the team.

This incident led to the “Curse of the Colonel”, which is believed to have caused an 18 year long losing streak, which was not broken until the statue was pulled out of the river in March 2009. The statue was still missing it’s glasses and left hand, but, nonetheless, the curse was broken and now all KFCs in Osaka have been ordered to bolt down their Colonel Sanders statues (especially when the team is playing well.)

Here is video of when they found the sunken statue.

While the connections are obviously there, most Kentuckians may only be aware of Osaka Japanese Restaurant in Lexington, but likely don’t realize that there are 3 University of Kentucky themed restaurants, all called UK Cafe, in Osaka and Hyogo Prefectures.

When most people around the world, and in Japan, hear “UK”, they likely think United Kingdom, but for the initiated Big Blue Nation fans, we undoubtedly think University of Kentucky every time. As a UK alumni and Wildcat fan, I decided to venture to western Japan to interview the owner of UK Cafe, Yoko Hirayama, who is from Osaka, and runs all 3 UK Cafe restaurants. She picked us up from Sakura Shukugawa Train Station on a rainy Tuesday in her Cadillac and told us her story.

In 1979, Hirayama’s husband went to the University of Kentucky for one year as an exchange student and was inspired by the American diner food that he had at student potluck parties. Initially, when he arrived, he didn’t speak English and was very timid. While he was here, he started playing billiards and, through that, met some friends. When he came back to Japan, to settle back into the Kansai area, he wanted to start a diner that had similar “American Size Power Food” for other university students in Osaka who were in need of late-night high calorie meals. He loved the University of Kentucky and thought about naming the restaurant Lexington Cafe, but he ultimately decided on UK Cafe and that was the beginning.

The first UK Cafe opened up in Eastern Osaka in 1980 and, now, there are three different UK Cafe restaurants, including the second Osaka shop, in Sakai Ohama Nishimachi, that opened in 1992. and the most recent shop, in Hyogo Prefecture, opening in 2010. The menu is based on the travel experiences of the Hirayamas and their trips to Kentucky and every state in the U.S., trying specialty foods that they discovered on the way. They arranged these items, like Denver Omelets, to fit the Japanese palate and quickly gathered a large following of people hungry for good food, for a cheap price, and lots of it. In fact, people constantly steal their handwritten menus because of the stories attached to each item.

The menu is divided between main dishes, salads & sandwiches, breakfast & lunch, burgers, spaghetti, & omelets, desserts, and drinks. There are bourbon cocktails and there is a UK Special Sandwich, which is made up of potatoes, country ham, and cheese. There is also an item on the menu called Super Soul, that is a spicy Gyu Motsu Korean dish connected to former WLAP-FM Lexington radio DJ, Billy Love. Initially, they were open all night, 365 days of the year, but lately, due to a shortage of personnel from 3-8AM, they’ve been closing for a few hours in the late morning.

Before her husband’s passing a few years ago, the couple visited Kentucky many times together and, when I asked Hirayama what her first impression of Kentucky was, she mentioned Kentucky’s beautiful farms and it’s unique fencing. The couple modeled the fencing in the front of the Hyogo Prefecture branch of the restaurant with the same type of Paddock Fence design motif. The couple also thought that Lexington was a beautiful university town that was very safe and peaceful and had a unique connection to Japan via Toyota and other Japanese businesses. The crowd at the restaurant is a mix of Japanese students, families,  and the occasional visitor from Kentucky. Hirayama told me that the UK Men’s Basketball team has visited the Higashi-Osaka branch of the restaurant.

The restaurant is decorated with UK Wildcat posters, tables with the Kentucky state flag on them, and tons of model cars all over the interior. There is even a set of JBL speakers that play Bob Marley, The Doobie Brothers, Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, and mostly southern classic rock. There is another special Kentucky item in the garage of the Hyogo restaurant, in the form of a 1963 Chevy Corvette Stingray split-window, which the couple bought in the US about 30 years ago and had it shipped to Japan. The car was her husband’s favorite car, and he dreamed of owning one since he was in elementary school. A rare site,  even in the states, 1963 was the only year that Chevrolet produced these Corvettes with the split window in the back.

Some of the other items on their menu include a dish called “Goodbye Donkey”, which is taking a jab at the generic Japanese burger chain restaurant, Bikkuri Donkey. There is also a dish called Mr. Trucker’s Sandwich, which is a huge cheeseburger with onion, ham, and pickles, dedicated to very large Union 76 truckers that the couple met everywhere.

My friend from Gunma, Chef Shinya Matsubara of Tokiwakan, told me that while he was a college student in Osaka, he often went to the Higashi-Osaka branch and ordered the Good Bye Nagoya, which is a piece of miso-katsu-sauce-covered sinewy meat atop a pile of fried rice. When he was reflecting on his time there, and how many interesting canned American beers that they used to have, Shinya remembered that the cafe was relaxed, affordable, and gave you a lot of food; the perfect place to power up for a busy Osakan university student. However, when I asked him if he was aware that the theme of the cafe was based on the University of Kentucky, he said, “Honestly, most people probably think it’s based on the United Kingdom, but I guess I was wondering, where are all the fish and chips?”

Check out my interview with UK Cafe Owner, Yoko Hirayama, with interpretation assistance from Junko Takahashi.

If you can’t make it to Japan, you can visit UK Cafe’s website at

However, if you can make the trip, here is the information that you’ll need:

UK WILDCATS CAFE – The larger shop with the 1963 Corvette in Hyogo Prefecture
西宮武庫川店 (Nishinomiya Mukogawa Branch)
1-15-27 Tsunematsu
Amagasaki-Shi, Hyogo-Ken 661-0046
Hours: Open 365 days of the year from 9AM-3AM
Link to the Yelp page: Here

UK WILDCATS CAFE – Honten (the original Eastern Osaka shop)
高井田店(Higashi-Osaka Takaida Branch)
5-4-30 Takaida-Nishi, Higashi-Osaka-shi 577-0067
Hours: Open 365 days of the year from 10AM-4AM
Link to the Yelp page: Here

UK WILDCATS Cafe – Southern Osaka location
堺大浜店 (Sakai Ohama-Nishimachi Branch)
23 Ohama Nishimachi, Sakai-shi
Sakai-ku, Osaka-fu 590-0977
Hours: Open 365 days of the year from 9AM-Midnight

Also, if you are from Kentucky, why don’t you send them something nice? 🙂

Listen to a conversation with Chuck on WEKU’s Eastern Standard:

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CivicLex Is Live!

For the past two years UnderMain has been collaborating on a new civic engagement project, CivicLex. Initiated by the board of directors of ProgressLex (now evolved into the board for the new project), UnderMain has been proud to partner on the development and realization of CivicLex. The aim of CivicLex is to, “…to build a more civically engaged community by providing easier access to information and building stronger relationships between citizens and those that serve them.”

A major development milestone was reached this past week with the project’s online site going live. The website,, allows citizens of Lexington to explore vital local issues in depth in one online location, and provides resources to explore the issues in more depth and to engage with those issues and decision-makers more fully. For example, the website has a searchable feature to identify a citizen’s council member and has schedules of critical meetings related to the issues the site is covering. In doing so, CivicLex provides tools for people to navigate what can often seem to be byzantine and opaque civic and governance systems and processes.

CivicLex developed an excellent brief video to orient visitors to the project and the website.

In addition to its online presence, CivicLex, has opportunities for Lexingtonians to participate in live events concerning issues of local importance. Over the past few months project staff conducted a series of workshops concerning different sectors of the city’s budget, and the budgetary sector reports are included in the website’s resource hub. It is important to note that CivicLex is an ongoing project and will continue to roll out coverage of new issues on its issues hub and through live presentations, workshops, and other forms of civic engagement.

CivicLex is supported through grants by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Blue Grass Community Foundation, and donations from individuals from across Lexington. Access to the website is free and users are encouraged to subscribe to the newsletter and make one-time or monthly donations.

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