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    From my article "Navigating Bardstown Road's non-Starbucks coffee culture": Ray's Monkey House "will most likely be where the revolution takes place, if it ever gets going."

    It's getting started.

    Nimbus Couzin, the owner of Ray's Monkey House (1578 Bardstown Road), announced on Monday his intent to run as an independent for mayor of Louisville.

    Who cares about politics--how's the campaign going to affect the coffee?
    So will Couzin's campaign turn the popular coffee shop into Louisville's version of Castro Camera from "Milk")?

    "This may be our office, our ground central, our headquarters," he said. "It's all up in the air."

    And if Couzin gets elected mayor in 2010, what happens to Ray's? Couzin said he'd retain ownership and promote one of his employees to be the manager. "I've got some good people working for me," he said.

    In addition to running Ray's, Couzin is a professor of physics at the University of Louisville Medical School.

    An independent business begets an independent candidate
    And as Couzin is the owner of a small business, not the manager of a Starbucks, it shouldn't be a surprise that he's running as an independent.

    "I don't want to have to answer to some higher party that tells you what to do. I want to be truly independent. I think that's what the people want. I think you're going to get a better governing system if you actually are thinking for yourself rather than having some other people tell you what to do."

    "Congressmen are told what to do by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and they basically have to do it," Couzin said.

    "I met with [Congressman] John Yarmuth. He repeats party lines and talking points. So he's not thinking for himself."

    Why Couzin is running for mayor
    Key platform issues for the self-described fiscally conservative, socially liberal Couzin include

    • "sustainability over growth and that involves a lot of things, such as public transportation, bicycles, supporting local business versus out-of-town business"
    • "community policing where...police actually get out of their cars, get off their bicycles, and walk a beat like they did in the good old days" (in the two years that Couzin has owned Ray's he says no police officers have ever entered his store just to interact and build a rapport)
    • improving education by stressing "academics over athletics," increasing teacher pay and emphasizing critical thinking

    Couzin's credentials, according to Couzin
    Among his credentials, the 43-year-old Chicago native cites

    • firsthand knowledge of the Louisville's business environment, including where government is an obstacle
    • leadership and public-speaking experience gained through teaching
    • "I have a lot of education [a PhD in physics], so I'm obviously semi-intelligent at least, which is useful"
    • insight into how other cities address problems similar to ones facing Louisville, which he's gained from living in several other cities

    (No monkey puns were consumed in the course of writing this article, although an iced tea from Ray's was.)

    For more information: Read how Ray's Monkey House compares with the other coffee shops on Bardstown Road.

    (Photo: Zach Everson)

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