Hot Air


Mighty mite real estate guy John Saunders looks to be next in line to become chair of Bloomington’s Historic Preservation Commission. He was notified by current Commission member Marj Hudgins that he’d been tabbed. The full Commission will vote on new officers at one of the two upcoming February meetings.



The Commission, as of today, has two vacancies. Under normal circ.’s, some 13 B-ton citizens fill the board, with nine appointed by the mayor and four named by the city council. Just in case you were wondering, here are the members:

  • Jeannine Butler retired educator and current MCCSC board member
  • David Harstad real estate
  • Saunders real estate
  • Hudgins real estate
  • Marleen Newman senior lecturer, Indiana University, Dept. of Apparel Merchandising & Interior Design
  • Sam DeSollar architect
  • Chris Cockerham real estate
  • Doug Bruce architect
  • Chris Sturbaum construction company owner and city council member
  • Leslie Abshier Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington
  • Duncan Campbell historic preservation consultant and retired Ball State University architecture professor

BTW: Saunders says he attended Keb’ Mo’s show at the packed Buskirk Chumley Theater Tuesday night. The neo-delta bluesman shook the place to the rafters, the BHPC’s next chair observed.

Pence: Aw, I Was Just Joshin’

So, Gov. Mike Pence was really dedicated to his Just IN idea, huh?

Indy Star

Peeps have been saying his aborted state-run news agency will come back to haunt him as he chases the Republican presidential nomination. I say, Meh. Give the citizenry a month, two at the very most, and they’ll have forgotten it ever happened.

Open Season

The interwebs last week were abuzz with yet another story of cops gunning down a citizen. This time it was a teenaged white girl named Kristiana Coignard who was turned into a swiss cheese by constables from the smallish east Texas town of Longview.

Pix of the teen show a cute and delightful-looking little gal. Natch, the prevailing sentiment was Johnny Law had gone way, way, way too far. That’s two extra ways owing to the target’s Caucasian-ness.



Why, it was wailed, would the police do such a thing?

It occurs to me that there was a time when cops were well-known for solving problems with their fists or with hand held tools meant to inflict excruciating but not necessarily life altering damage. Think rubber hoses, nightsticks, and telephone books. Think also guys like Chicago’s notorious street sergeant nicknamed “Gloves” — he’d dramatically slip on kid leather gloves before administering one of his patented beatings to juveniles, be they delinquent or not. Civil rights and anti-police brutality crusaders worked tirelessly to get these kinds of police practices outlawed. To a large extent, police brutality has been reduced. At least the hand-to-hand variety.

Sadly, what we’re left with ain’t much better. In fact, it’s worse. A lot worse. Cops today, it seems, often fire their pistols at the drop of a hat. And prosecutors and mayors are reasonably happy to let them do so.

So why did the cops shoot this teenaged girl? Because they can.

Scientists Should Be Seen, Not Heard

The citizens of this holy land say they dig scientists. Only they’re not so fond of all that much scientists have to say.


A Scientist Works On An Old School Laptop

That’s the finding of the latest Pew Research Center poll conducted in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Scope these poll findings:

  • 87% of scientists polled say eating GMO food is safe; only 37% of civilians think so
  • 68% of brain geeks think eating pesticide-treated food is safe; a mere 28% of the public buys that
  • 87% of these scientists are sure humans have caused climate change; only half the people do
  • 98% of the scientists accept evolution; 65% of your neighbors do

The takeaway for scientists? Americans think you look great in your lab coats. But just shut up, wouldya?


Speaking of science, do you read the Natural News website?

Please don’t.

NN‘s majordomo, Mike Adams, who fancies himself “the Health Ranger,” is one of the wingnuttiest characters in this mad, mad, mad, mad world. I point this out because the name of his compendium of falsities, nonsense, and woo suggests a crunchy, peaceful, kumbaya message. It ain’t.

Adams is beloved by misinformation mavens like Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Food Babe, and scads of huffers and puffers about how there’s a worldwide arch-criminal conspiracy to turn us all into scurrying lab rats. He’s also from the moon.


Mike Adams And…, Hell, I don’t Know What It Is

Here are a few examples of what he believes:

  • GMO researchers are modern-day Nazis
  • In “chemtrails
  • In “quantum healing
  • HIV has nothing to do with AIDS
  • Parents should not have their children vaccinated
  • The Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax
  • Western medicines and doctors are useless
  • Barack Obama was not born in the United States
  • 9/11 was an inside job

Neurologica’s Steven Novella has said of Adams:

If it is unscientific, antiscientific, conspiracy-mongering, or downright silly, Mike Adams appears to be all for it – whatever sells the “natural” products he hawks on his site.

One final shot: Last summer in a series of posts on NN, Adams repeated his claim that GMO researchers are the moral equivalent of Dr. Josef Mengele and his cronies and called for right-thinking folks to, well, murder them.

No, Natural News is decidedly not crunchy, peaceful, and kumbaya-ish.


Hot Air

A Refreshing Truth

I was sitting around shooting the breeze with a few MCCSC employees, one principal and two teachers, earlier this week.

Now generally I tend to run like the wind when there are teachers around but I have to admit that since I’ve moved to this town I’ve met some teachers who don’t make me want to scream. In fact, I’ve met a teacher or two hereabouts whom I’m actually fond of. Imagine that.

Take the principal from last night. S/he (See how cagey I’m being here? Just try to figure out who this is — I dare you.) told us about the parents at his/her school. A photo of them, s/he implied, could illustrate the dictionary def. of “helicopters.”

“They’re involved in everything,” this principal said — and it was no compliment. The stress this person put on the word every made his/her lip curl in disgust.

This inspired one of the two teachers to spout off about parents who post gazillions of pix of their little darlings on Facebook. “Yeah,” the other teacher chimed in, “and what about the all the people who have to comment about how gorgeous and cute the kid is.”

Mom Meme

Mom Meme

“And these parents who constantly say that their kids are the absolute joy of their life!” the principal said. “I mean, c’mon! No kids are that perfect.”

One of the teachers nudged the principal. “Tell ‘em what you told me that time about your kids,” the teacher said.

“Oh yeah,” the principal said. “You know how these parents go on and on about how their kids have brought nothing but joy into their lives? I mean, I love my own kids, sure, and they really do bring joy into my life but, honestly, they turn all the other joys of my life into shit!”

Now there’s an educator (and parent) who’s got this kid thing figured out.

B-foods Kirkwood Store to Shutter

Bloomingfoods is doing the right thing. Any time I’ve ever gone into the Kirkwood store, I’ve felt as though I’m walking into the set of some post-apocalyptic movie. Y’know, not much of a selection and no other customers around.


Ghost Town?

Sometimes you have to admit the times have passed you by. Besides, the place never did offer the caviar and Champagne fare the new breed of Richie Riches at Indiana University demands.

Know Your Homeland?

From Washington Post blogger Suzanne Dovi comes the news that nearly a dozen states may make passing civics tests mandatory for their high school students. A sample test reveals the knowledge demanded of HS seniors amounts to little more than memorizing a few dates and geographical locations of certain historic landmarks. Civics Lite, as it were.

From "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

Anyone? Anyone?

Dovi offers the following Q’s for a more thorough understanding of this holy land’s civic environment:

True or False:

  •  If the police knock and ask to enter your home, you don’t have to admit them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. (Answer: True)
  •  If the police come to your home and ask you to step out and you do, they no longer need a warrant for your arrest. (True)
  • If you are arrested outside and you accept any offers to let you go inside — to get dressed, for instance — the police can escort you inside and then search the rooms you enter without a warrant. (True)
  • The police are not allowed to lie to you. (False)
  • The right to videotape the police depends on the state you live in. Twelve states have adopted “eavesdropping” laws that prohibit videotaping police without the officer’s consent. (True)
  • The police are allowed to delete photographs or videos on your phone under any circumstances. (False)

Multiple choice:

  • If you feel that your rights have been violated by the police, to whom could you file a written complaint?
    • Police department’ internal affairs division
    • Civil complaint board
    • ACLU
    • All of the above
  •  Under OSHA regulations, an employer cannot retaliate against whistleblowers by:
    • Firing
    • Demoting
    • Denial of benefits
    • Reducing pay or hours
    • Blacklisting
    • All of the above

The answer to the T-Fers are T, T, T, F, T, F. Both multiple choicers are All of the Above. Howdja do?

A Boatload Of Criticism

I have no particular axe to grind concerning the Dave Matthews Band. Meh is pretty much the most voluble reaction I can muster regarding them.

Pitchfork music critic Jeff Weiss has schooled me, though, on turning a non-reaction into an emotional extravaganza, thanks to this critique written by him and passed along by bassman extraordinaire Gordon Patriarca:

Once upon a time/When the world was just a pancake/Fears would arise/That if you went too far you’d fall/But with the passage of time/It all became more of a ball.

– some Dave Matthews lyrics

You want a real American Horror story? Sit in the back of an SUV with off-key sorority house members singing along to Dave Matthews Band. “Dave” is a jam act with no jams. They make Perrier seem vibrant and ethnic. Dave Matthews croons like Kermit with a hangover, for a presumed intended audience of trustafarians and frat bros bonding via hacky sack and horseshoes. Them, and folks whose favorite book is The Da Vinci Code and favorite TV show is Two and a Half Men. They are permanently beige, the sonic instantiation of Ambercrombie & Fitch cargo shorts, South Carolina Gamecocks hats, and flip-flops flailing.

Weiss is a wordsmith. Permanently beige? Inspired. Trustafarian? Brilliant.
Sometimes the curmudgeon’s art must be acknowledged.
BTW: The DMB was involved in one of the grossest incidents in Windy City history a few years back. It seems the band’s tour bus was crossing over the Kinsey Street Bridge, one of the city’s landmark ironwork bascules spanning the Chicago River. Just at that moment, the bus driver opted to empty the vehicle’s septic tanks. Now, Chi.’s bascule bridges have iron grate roadways so the effluent dropped down toward the river below. Only the tour boat Chicago’s Little Lady, carrying a hundred passengers who, prior to the incident, were enjoying an architectural tour on a sunny afternoon, happened to be immediately below the bus.
They got hit with 800 pounds of the band’s piss and shit.
Kinzie St. Bridge

Chicago’s Kinzie Street Bridge

From a Chicago Tribune article on the driver’s plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct and water pollution, the tour boat’s passengers “described a downpour of foul-smelling, brownish-yellow slurry that ruined their clothes and made several of them sick.”
Happy Friday!

Hot Air

It Takes A Village

I waylaid Kari Costello this AM, digging for dope on the future of her and hubby Bob’s Village Deli, which came thisclose to being destroyed by fire this past Sunday afternoon.

Village Deli

The Bloomington institution’s hind end was devastated by flames during the Sunday breakfast/brunch rush. Nobody was injured even as thick black smoke and leaping flames forced the packed house to be evacuated in a hurry.

Anyway, K. Costello says she and Bob have entertained a couple of insurance co. appraisers in the three days since the conflagration. They still don’t know anything about when the restaurant will re-open nor how much actual repair work needs to be done.

Village Deli

The Front’s Cool

Of equal importance to is the plight of the V.D.’s staff. “A lot of them are college kids,” Kari says. “This was their only source of income. How are they going to pay their rent? We’ve got to do something for them, and quick.”

Some V.D. staffers will work temporarily at the Laughing Planet, also part of the Costello empire along with Soma Coffee. As for further info on the Deli’s re-opening, Kari says, “When we know something, you’ll know something.”

Moving On

And then who should drop by Table No. 1 at Soma but Alycin Bektesh, newly-emeritus news director at WFHB. She took a powder, unexpectedly and surprisingly, from the community radio station earlier this month. Her second in command, ass’t news director Joe Crawford, has been elevated to her chair and Alycin’s sticking around to help with the transition and finding a lieutenant for him.


Alycin Bektesh, Election Night 2014

I’ll tell you this: Alycin looks great these days. Her face is free of the stress of working virtually every day of the week, being on call from morning until night, and spending holidays, birthdays, and sunny summer days in the on-air studio.

Alycin doesn’t know precisely what the future holds in store for her but, natch, level-headed kid she is, she won’t be panhandling on Kirkwood Avenue any time soon.

All The News That Fits

Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.

– Allen Ginsberg


Gov. Mike Pence: Indiana’s Editor-In-Chief

Yeah, I’m as harrumphed as anyone in light of the news that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has started his own state-run news service. It’s called Just IN. Cute, huh? Y’know, taking the old TV newsman’s intro to a bulletin — “This just in…” — and doubling it down to to connote news and info just from the Hoosier State. Just for you. Just, I guess, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as the Guv sees it.

How, peeps are asking, can a supposed small-gov’t conservative justify using taxpayer dough to run a propaganda operation? What would the Founding Daddy-o’s, whom the Right never fails to cite when trying to win an argument, say about that?

Well, history tells us the likes of Benjamin Franklin, who ran the Colonies’ first non-Crown post office, wanted low-cost and easy delivery of mail in large part so he and his cohorts could spread news about their Revolution. The current USPS (then called the U.S. Post Office Department)) was created in 1792 thanks to legislation sponsored by George Washington and James Madison. Its paramount raison d’être was to facilitate the dissemination of gov’t news.

So it can be said the post office has always been a propaganda machine. And the Founding Fathers wanted the taxpayers to foot most of its bills.

Just as Mike Pence does for his little venture.

Martin’s Music

Digital DJ extraordinaire Hondo Thompson passes along this news from Steve Martin’s Twitter account:

Starting now to record a new album with Edie Brickell. Peter Asher (CBE!) producing.

Just wondering: Is there a cooler guy in America than Steve Martin?


Steve Martin

BTW: While trying to find a nice image of himself, I came upon Martin’s speaker’s appearance agency. Apparently, he gets a cool $200,000 for each speaking engagement. Yow! My speaker’s fee is negotiable, in case you’re interested. I’ll be happy with $20. If that’s too much for your blood, I’ll take a White Castle gift certificate. Or bus fare. Your choice.

Nuh uh, Sez Michelle

Anything that’s a spit in the eye of a tyrannical theocracy (I apologize for being redundant) is good by me.

WaPo 20150127

Click Image For Full Story

Word Police

Benedict Cumberbatch, whom millions of females find alluring for some reason or another, consigned himself to the fires of hell by using the term “coloured” to describe black and brown people, ironically in a interview having to do with racism in both Great Britain and this holy land. Cumberbatch expressed dismay that his homeland is seemingly more racist than the US. He also decried the lack of opportunity for dark-skinned folk in theater, movies, and TV.

None of that means anything, though, to people who dig finding insults under every bed.

Just to recap: White man (who, physically, could be mistaken for a mobile home owner from Bedford, Indiana) places himself four-square on the side of the angels in terms of race relations in the Anglo-American world but, unfortunately, chooses to use a forbidden term to describe the oppressed group so he’s immediately cast as a racist on the order of a Grand Dragon .



So, I put it to my pal, a reasonably well-known African-American artist. This Cumberbunch dude, I said, used the term “coloured.” What’s your take?

After a few shrugs and a question or two about exactly who Cummerbund is, my pal finally responded, “Who cares?”

Bingo. Here’s the sham that passes for race relations in these United States today: Canary-in-a-coalmine sensitivities are elevated to moral imperatives even as real atrocities are committed day in and day out against America’s dark-skinned brethren and sisteren. It’s a trade-off everybody’s a party to — we whites promise not to drop N-bombs or other slurs and dark-skinned folks promise not to rise up en masse and kick the crap out of us for hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow, coded political catch phrases, institutionalized second-clss citizenship, and too many policemen using them for target practice.

Hypocrisy — as American as sweet potato pie.

Hot Air


The Bloomington Science Cafe gang will gather once again tomorrow eve at Finch’s Brasserie to hash over another hot topic. This time, Dr. Russell Lyons of Indiana University’s Math Dept. will talk about how we use statistics and numbers to fool each other.


From xkcd

Lyons is a big-time debunker, and you all know how I love debunking nonsense. He’ll use a specific case study — a highly-flawed research paper asserting that obesity is contagious — to illustrate how even supposedly respected scientists can flim-flam their way to notoriety through the use of sloppy statistical practices and outright numerical falsehoods. The paper in Q. actually contained the line: “You may not know him personally, but your friend’s husband’s co-worker can make you fat.”

The argument — and the whole paper, for that matter — was wrong and later discredited. Lyons decided that not only the general public but mass media reporters as well as reputable scientific journal editors needed refresher courses on good statistical methods. “Top journals,” Lyons says, “do not serve as the rigorous judges of quality that the public often assumes.”



The idea being we should all look at studies, papers, news stories about science, and the like with a critical, analytical eye. But before we can do that, we have to know what makes a set of numbers right or true.

Lyons’ll speak at 6:30pm in Finch’s upstairs events room. Questions will follow. Admission, natch, is free and open to the public. Such a deal: You get smarter while simultaneously eating and drinking. Sounds like heaven to me.

Civil Rights Slugger

You may think I’m getting all Ernie Banks-fixated but I ask you to try to understand how important Mr. Cub was to millions of native Chi-towners like me.

Anyway, WGN radio’s Patti Vazquez points out that Ernie persuaded the Cubs five years ago to sponsor a float in Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade held every June in the Boys Town n-hood. Thanks to Ern, the Cubs did indeed participate and, in fact, Mr. Cub himself rode on the float.

Gay Pride 2010

The Chicago Cubs Float Before The 2010 Pride Parade

(Photo: Cheryl Adams)

(Of course, it helped that the Cubs’ Laura Ricketts is herself the first openly lesbian major pro sports team owner in this holy land.)

The Cubs thereby became the first major American sports franchise to participate in a Pride Parade.

Can Ernie Banks’ rep get any more golden?

[h/t to Rick Perlstein]

Woo? Boo!

Thanks to our friends over at Wonkette, we learn that one of the Huffington Post‘s “medical” contributors who calls herself a “doctor” is really no doctor at all.

Lots o’folks on my side of the fence love, love, love HuffPo even though founder Arianna Huffington was able to rake in $315 MM selling the Left-leaning online news service after utilizing brilliant business practices like not paying her writers. HuffPo also panders to the soft-skull wing of the White Liberal Party by running scads of articles and opinion pieces touting woo medicines and diets.

F’rinstance, “Dr.” Sherri Tenpenny — the non-medico in question, has penned a couple of HuffPo articles on how childhood vaccinations are the bunk. That and a piece on Novartis, the uber-pharma outfit that she uses to frame her argument that prescription drugs and vaccines are poisons worse than all the Big Macs and Drano in the world put together.



In the fallout from the Disneyland measles outbreak, Tenpenny has found all her speaking engagements cancelled these days. She blames “the extremists” who are insisting that kids get innoculated against catastrophic diseases. Wonkette‘s Fare la Volpe writes:

Those extremists are quite difficult, what with their unreasonable demands that children not catch polio in the 21st Century. It was good enough for FDR, wasn’t it?

Just another little reminder that anencephaly does not only strike Fox News hosts and those on the Right.

Hot Air

Bim Bam Boom

Quickies today because I’m running late.

Hot Breakfast — Real Hot!

Because I was running late, I squealed out of the Soma Coffee parking lot but before I could burn rubber on Grant St. who should I see but Bob Costello, owner of the same as well as the Laughing Planet and the Village Deli.

The V.D., as all Bloomington knows by now, suffered an almost catastrophic fire yesterday at about noon. The thick black smoke emanating from the rear of the joint indicated to some that the B-ton institution would be a total loss, with neighboring businesses like Cafe Pizzaria (sic) perhaps suffering severe damage as well.

Appearances, natch, can be deceiving. The recycling and trash area of the restaurant was fairly well destroyed as was, apparently, the big walk-in cooler — which, thus far, seems to have been the origin point of the blaze.

Anyway, Costello was walking from the Deli to Soma, speaking meaningfully on the phone and carrying a sheaf of official looking papers — insurance docs, maybe. In any case, I honked and waved and Bob flashed a brilliant smile. I yelled out “Good luck” and he responded with a thumbs up.

So, either Bob feels he’s dodged a life-changing bullet or he’s the most sanguine guy in town. Here’s hoping the Deli reopens soon.

Old Man Music

I don’t know about you but I had the time of my life last night at Jeff Morris’s 70th birthday party, held at the Player’s Pub.

The old bird danced like a 69-year-old to some mighty fine music. Morris founded Bloomington’s community radio station, WFHB, back in the early ’90s. He’s still the guy who shinnies up the tower to tweak the station’s antenna. Shoot, he’s got 21 years on me yet he makes me look like his granddaddy.

Now then, it must be said: one of the acts, an ad hoc band comprised of, among others, Jeff Isaac on keyboards, Dave Baas on rhythm guitar, and Emily Jackson pounding the drums just might be, for my money, the best thing making noise in this town. Trust me, if you hear of them playing around anywhere again, catch ‘em.


The bitter party had themselves a confab in corn heaven this past weekend under the risible moniker the Iowa Freedom Summit. A passel of contenders and pretenders for the 2016 Republican nomination for president squawked at the crowd. Even Donald Trump was there, ensuring that no sentient person can take the GOP seriously just yet — even if the party is indeed in charge of Congress.

Anyhow, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who fancies herself presidential timber mainly because she’s anointed herself the Hillary Clinton Critic-in-Chief, wowed the crowd with these words:

Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike her, I have actually accomplished something. Mrs. Clinton, flying is an activity not an accomplishment.

Personal to Carly: I don’t think you fully grasp what it is the Secretary of State of the United States of America does. Until you do, you really aren’t prez timber yet. Maybe never.

A Man Of Joy & A Man Of Peace

Alright, kiddies, I heard this morning what just may be the greatest quote ever uttered by a professional athlete. NPR’s Steve Inskeep had interviewed baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks back in 2009. Here’s part of the exchange:

Banks: And my life is like a miracle. I mean, I don’t even know how I got into baseball. And I always felt bad about attention coming my way, for some reason. Something happened to me, I do something pretty exciting, and I didn’t want the spot light on me. I got an award the other day, at the Library of Congress, and I said, gosh, I’m getting an award for doing nothing. I haven’t done anything yet. Nothing.

Inskeep: Well, I think that record book would dispute you there.

Banks: No, but me personally, I mean. I always had a bigger goal, when I was 15, and that was to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And I think about that a lot. I dream about it. I see myself in Stockholm. That has been my journey. I mean I’ve been chasing the footsteps of my life to do something worthwhile. I haven’t done anything yet. I have not done anything yet.

Imagine that! His goal in life from the time he was a (not-so) dopey teenager was to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And because he never did that, he felt he’d not accomplished anything worthwhile.

Again, a pro athlete said that.

How could you not love Ernie?

Hot Air

Read Koryta

I wonder how many people in this town know about the Bloom magazine book club.

Yeah, it’s a thing. Here’s the deal: Bloom, being bi-monthly, will announce a new book choice each issue with a get-together of all participants approximately two months down the road. The current selection is Michael Koryta‘s Those Who Wish Me Dead.

Book Cover

Koryta, of course, is the local big-time novelist whose mysteries and suspenses have flitted onto the New York Times bestseller list now and again. He hangs out with bestselling author Michael Connelly and has garnered kudos from the likes of Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, and George Pellicanos. Here’s Koryta’s bibliography:

  • Tonight I Said Goodbye (he was 21 when this came out)
  • Sorrow’s Anthem
  • A Welcome Grave
  • Envy the Night
  • The Silent Hour
  • So Cold the River 
  • The Cypress House (optioned for film with Chris Columbus as screenwriter)
  • The Ridge
  • The Prophet
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead

Believe it or not, Koryta worked a bit as a private dick, interning with a licensed snoop a few years back. That’s how serious he is about his art. He began dreaming of becoming a novelist when he was 8 years old. He narrowed his ambition at 16 when he decided he’d write about crime. He sent a fan letter to Connelly, who later became his neighbor and pal. (Koryta also keeps a home in St. Petersburg, Florida.) Even after he became an honest-to-gosh author, he studied in a writing workshop run by Lehane down in Florida. He eventually worked his way up to teaching classes for Lehane.


Serious Man

By and by, Koryta branched off on a sort of supernatural tangent in his books. The detour’s success has been mixed at best: acc’d’g to services that measure such things, two of his paranormal books, Envy the Night and Silent Hour couldn’t even crack five figures in sales combined. No matter. “He’s a courageous writer,” Connelly told Wall Street Journal reporter Lauren Mechling for a 2010 profile on Koryta. Koryta insisted on trying his hand at ghostly stuff. “He was having a growing reputation and charting an upward trajectory [yet] he chose to take this risk,” Connelly said.

Koryta eventually became good enough in the woo racket to earn an initial press run of 35,000 for So Cold the River.

Thus far, five of Koryta books are in development for TV and/or film production and three of them have been tabbed among New York Times notable books of the year.

The first meeting of the Bloom mag book club will be Monday, February 9, 5:30pm, at Oliver Winery on the west side of Courthouse Square. That means you have two weeks to cop Those… and gobble it up.

Get reading.

Loan Sharking

The Herald Times reports this morning (paywall) that Mayor Mark Kruzan has some $32,000 in his campaign war chest and he’s not even running in this year’s beauty pageant.


Neher: Hat In Hand?

Betcha Darryl Neher’s pleased the mayor has endorsed him for the Democratic primary in May. “Say Boss,” Neher’s bound to whisper one of these days, “can you spare a grand or two? Y’know, just for expenses?”

Meanwhile, John Hamilton and Dawn Johnsen have been hosted powwows at their home, putting up coffee and tea for supporters and listening to them talk about local issues. And make no mistake: the power couple looked under the sofa cushions for spare change after the get-togethers as well.


Bloomington’s Future First Couple?

Just wondering, will we ever see the day when election campaigns will be completely publicly financed? In fact, the feds first started pretending in 1971 that the body politic could foot the bill for those running for Prez. You know, the Q at the top of your annual tax form that asks, “Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?

Let’s see, that was 44 years ago. Y’think my yearly three bucks counterbalances the hundreds of millions the likes of Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Boys pitch at the candidates?

Hot Air

Let’s Play Two!

A Cubs giant is now playing with the angels.


Ernie Banks, January 31, 1931 — January 23, 2015

Givin’ ‘Em What They Want

Funny, I just happened to glance at the numbers for this global communications colossus and whaddya think I found? Yeah, the Pencil in recent weeks has garnered some of its biggest daily unique visitors stats since its inception.



For those of you unhip to the jargon of the interwebs, unique visitors are individual people who request to view pages within a given period. The number is much more indicative of a site’s or a blog’s popularity than simply the number of hits it gets. If I, f’rinstance, visit the website for the North American Nude Motorcycle Riders Association I’m a unique visitor. But if I visit the site, say, 23 times in a day, each visit counts as a hit. Then NANMRA can brag it got 23 hits out of me when in reality I’m just one guy doing, um, research.

So, yeah, I’ve been drawing unique visitors by the bushelful of late. Only I’ve hardly been posting at all since the first week of December.

The conclusion? The populace of this holy land prefers looking at a blank page than actually reading a Pencil post. Thanks, America!

Meet The New Boss

So, while I’ve been busy transcribing interview tapes for Charlotte Zietlow’s memoir, Bloomington’s 2015 mayoral race has begun to take shape. The front runners right now appear to be City Council member Darryl Neher and 2011 mayoral bridesmaid John Hamilton. Both, naturally, are Democrats.


Neher (L) & Hamilton

There are, to be sure, a couple of Republicans who’ve declared their candidacies. If you want to know who they are or what they look like, check the milk carton in your refrigerator.

Unless some surprise Dem candidate jumps into the fray, this town’s next mayor will be Neher or Hamilton. I can live with either. Neher has been blessed by outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan. Hamilton’s the darling of Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law where his bride, Dawn Johnsen, is a prof.

Whoever cops the big office, he (or she, should a woman opt in and win) will be in charge of an historically small town that has designs on big city-ness. Hotels are sprouting up like fungi. Tallish apartment developments have turned College Avenue near Courthouse Square into a mini canyon. Quaint shops and Mom & Pop stores have been replaced by glitzy sports and wine bars downtown. Moneyed students from around the country and, for that matter, around the world are tooling down Kirkwood Avenue in shiny luxury SUVs and even Maseratis.

Townies loathe the new Bloomington. IU digs it the most. Hamilton, as mentioned, has an IU connection — his campaign once again will be raising scads of cash from law school instructors. Neher is a senior lecturer at IU’s Kelley School of Business. Loads o’folks are going moan that either candidate will be doing the dirty work of the archcriminal Michael McRobbie. Problem is, that’s a facile charge. IU Prez McRobbie’s wishes by and large would be granted no matter who claims the mayor’s chair, even if it were someone like a young, contrarian, Charlotte Zietlow.

With Citizens Like These, Who Needs….

“Citizens United” may be two of the dirtiest words in the English language these days.

That’s the moniker attached to the landmark US Supreme Court decision allowing corporations and large organizations to send dump trucks full of cash to political candidates despite legislation and regulations designed to minimize the effect of money on the electoral process. Citizens United, the group, argued that money is speech and the Reagan/Bush/Bush court gleefully agreed.

As a result, elections today give us the finest candidates money can buy.

Citizens United is a Right Wing gang that screeches for our holy land to withdraw from the United Nations, considers the ACLU to be at war with America, has worked hand in hand with the thankfully dead Andrew Brietbart to portray the Occupy movement as a mob of rapists and drugged-up vandals, and even characterized John McCain as a dangerous liberal. In short, it’s a club for lunatics.

The club is holding its annual Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend, wherein bitter, suspicious, xenophobic sociopaths can gather and tell each other how saintly and patriotic they are. Speakers this year include:


Joni Ernst: Leading America Into The 1950s

Attendees will fall all over themselves cheering for these rage monkeys. Ayn Rand’s and Ronald Reagan’s names are sure to be strewn about like pocket candy at a child molesters convention. Oh, and Jesus Christ himself is sure to be welcomed in spirit. Not, of course, the spirit the “son of god” intended but, y’know.


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