Category Archives: Indianapolis Star

Hot Air

A Declaration

Y’know, it’s a damned shame I have to do this but considering the state of our bizarre, regressive, antediluvian, smug, arrogant state I have no choice.

Declaration

That last line, BTW, was originally written If you don’t like this, fuck you. Then I figured it’d be a tad more civilized the way it ended up. My original sentiment stands, though.

A Bold, Moral Stance

Kudos to the editors and publisher of the Indianapolis Star. Today’s front page is groundbreaking, even monumental.

Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s a welcome departure from the careerist, too-cautious, phony-baloney objectivity that characterizes corporate news media these days (with the exception of the amorally subversive Fox News).

Indy Star 20150331

 

Click Image To Read Complete Editorial

 

Let’s recognize the people who made this happen:

  • President and publisher Karen Ferguson
  • Editor and vice president Jeff Taylor
  • Editorial pages editor Tim Swarens
  • Designer Emily Kuzniar

Good job, folks!

Join The Club

A quick reminder: The second meeting of the Bloom magazine Book Club happens late this afternoon, 5:30pm, at FARM Bloomington’s Root Cellar Lounge.

Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders will read from his latest, the novel Divine Animal, and will answer questions. The Pencil will be there, too. You don’t even need to have read the book. Just come to hear the author speak and rub shoulders with people who dig reading.

More Word-y Stuff

The southern half of Indiana boasts a second, beloved independent bookstore down by the Ohio River in Madison. Friends of Bloomington’s own Book Corner, Village Lights Bookstore props. Nathan Montoya and Anne Vestuto have been peddling new and used tomes since 2008 in the picturesque river town.

The two also stage Poetpalooza, an annual bash for local and regional versifiers. This year’s event takes place Friday and Saturday and will include readings by former Poets Laureate Norbert Krapf of Indiana as and Maureen Morehead and Richard Taylor of Kentucky. B-ton’s Tony Brewer will pound out Poetry on Demand on his old-school typewriter throughout the course of the affair.

Brewer

Tony Brewer Loads His Smith-Corona

Here’s the 2015 Poetpalooza schedule:

Friday, April 3

  • 5:00pm Open Mic Kick-Off Emceed by Alex Acosta (IN) & Harlan Kelly (IN)
  • 6:00pm Tom C. Hunley (KY)
  • 6:30pm Barbara Sabol (OH)
  • 7:00pm Bianca Bargo (KY)
  • 8:00pm Book Launch “Black Achilles” by Curtis Crisler (IN)
  • 8:30pm Katerina Stoykova-Klemer (KY)
  • 9:00pm Film Screening “Proud Citizen”

Saturday, April 4

  • 10:00am Book Launch “The Work of the Body” by Jill Kelly Koren (IN)
  • 11:00am Maureen Morehead, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2011-2012
  • 12:00pm Norbert Krapf, Indiana Poet Laureate, 2008-2010
  • 1:00pm Tom C. Hunley (KY)
  • 1:30pm Barbara Sabol (OH)
  • 2:00pm Gerry Grubbs (OH)
  • 3:00pm Nettie Farris (IN)
  • 4:00pm Richard Taylor, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2011-2012
  • 5:00pm Frederick Smock (KY)
  • 6:00pm Curtis Crisler (IN)
  • 6:30pm Katerina Stoykova-Klemer (KY)
  • 7:00pm Book Launch “Eavesdropping in Plato’s Café” by Jack Ramey (IN)
  • 8:00pm The Reservoir Dogwoods (IN) — Jason Ammerman, Tony Brewer, Matthew D. Jackson, Joseph Kirschbaum
  • 9:00pm Film Screening “Proud Citizen”

It’s a two-hour car ride from Bloomington to Madison via SR 46 and SR7 (catch it at Columbus). The view is delightful as you enter the Ohio River Valley, though, so make it a neat day trip.

Four Dead In O-Hi-O

It’s been 45 years since four young anti-war protesters were gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen on the Kent State University campus.

Kent State became a touchstone term for a generation. It might well have been the most dramatic salvo in a general violent uprising — one that never really took place for a variety of reasons, many of which remain hidden or willfully unexamined to this day. A careful reading of the history of this holy land between the years 1954, when the US Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of the Topeka, Kansas, school district, and the January 27, 1973 treaty ending American involvement in Vietnam shows a nation perilously close to a second Civil War.

Kent State

Protesters Take Cover As Shots Ring Out (Image: Reuters)

PBS will air a new documentary, Kent State — The Day the ’60s Died Tuesday, April 28th, at 8pm. Documentary production company Room 608 Inc. and PBS also will release the 60-minute film on DVD. The program is part of a week of specials airing on PBS to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of our nation’s Vietnam War.

One more thing: Kent State gets all the ink and the attention but a mere 11 days later, Jackson police and Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers opened fire, killing two and wounding 12 students at Jackson State University. The campus, like hundreds of others across the nation, had been roiled by anti-war and civil rights protests that spring. Back in 1970, though, the killing of black students was deemed not as newsworthy as that of whites by the then-mainstream news media.

Things change, natch, even as they stay the same.

Hot Air

Do They Follow Or Lead?

The Indy Star tells us this morning the “religious freedom” bill that passed the Indiana House yesterday is “controversial.”

Indy Star

Um, let me correct the equanimous editor who concocted that headline. The bill passed 63-31, which, in political horserace terms, is a goddamned landslide. You see, it’s obvious the entire nation is four-square against this gay marriage stuff and our esteemed statehouse representatives are merely reflecting that will of the people.

I mean, am I right? It couldn’t be that our state legislators are woefully out of touch with the zeitgeist of the 21st Century, could it?

Here in Indiana?

Send Him To Hawaii

As of nine o’clock this AM, Owen V. Johnson has raised only $70 of the $3000 he’s aiming for in his gofundme effort to get to Honolulu. He’s hoping to get there so he can participate in a ceremony noting the 70th anniversary of the death of Indiana’s own Ernie Pyle, the nation’s most famous and beloved combat correspondent during World War II.

Johnson is a retired Indiana University prof. of journalism and is known as the nation’s foremost expert on Pyle. He’s been invited to give the commemoration address at the dedication of a new gravesite for the legendary Hoosier. The only things standing between him and the April ceremony are 4200 or so miles, airfare, hotel accommodations, cab fare once there, and maybe enough scratch for a few decent meals.

Johnson

Owen Johnson

Johnson has set up the crowd funding page to cover his expenses. One of his biggest cheerleaders is City Council member Steve Volan who calls Pyle “one of the greatest Hoosiers who ever lived.”

Pyle, born near Dana, Indiana, in 1900, served in the US Navy Reserve during World War I and attended IU after peace broke out. He studied journalism here and edited the IDS. After graduation, Pyle went to work for the Washington Daily News where he eventually became something of a travel correspondent. His editor there described his writings as having “a Mark Twain quality.” His travel columns eventually were syndicated nationally.

Pyle became a war correspondent in 1942 and, unlike other journalists covering the action, he shunned hanging around the generals and commanders, preferring instead to hunker down in the mud with the grunt soldiers. His focus on the little guys endeared him to the nation’s newspaper readers. In fact, he even suffered what used to be known popularly as “battle fatigue” and was officially termed “war neurosis.” (It’s now called PTSD.) For instance, he wrote of visiting the French town of Falaise immediately after a vicious battle there: “Everything is dead. The men, the machines, the animals — and you alone are left alive.” Historian Rick Atkinson writes of Pyle’s mindset after Paris was retaken in The Guns at Last Light, the third volume of his Liberation Trilogy about the Western European campaign:

Among the Allied casualties was Ernie Pyle. “If I ever was brave, I ain’t any more,” he wrote a friend. “I’m so indifferent to everything I don’t even give a damn that I’m in Paris.” The war had become “a flat, black depression without highlights, a revulsion of the mind and an exhaustion of the spirit.” In a final column from Europe, he told his readers, “I have had all I can take for a while. I’ve been 29 months overseas since this war started; have written about seven hundred thousand words about it…. The hurt has finally become too great.”

Pyle recharged his batteries in the US and then went back to covering the war in the Pacific. On the atoll island of Iejima, he was riding with a regiment commander in a Jeep when the vehicle came under fire from a distance machine gun nest. Pyle and the lieutenant colonel jumped into a ditch until the firing stopped. The two peeked over the rim of the ditch and Pyle, smiling, asked the colonel, “Are you alright?” At that moment, he caught a machine gun bullet in the left temple. He was killed instantly. The date was April 18th, 1945.

Pyle

Ernie Pyle

Pyle was buried first at the Army cemetery on Okinawa and then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu. He was one of the very few civilians awarded the military’s Purple Heart.

If you figure it’s worth it to kick a few dollars into Johnson’s kitty for the trip, do so. Go here.

Make It A Fair Fight

Al Jazeera America reported yesterday that the magnificent African elephant is nearly extinct. The cause? Poachers are killing the creatures for their tusks.

African Elephant

Beauty

As of now, the elephants are just a few decades from disappearing in the wild. The world has lost some 80,000 members of the species to poachers in the last eight years. Man, I wish elephants could fire guns, just so they could have a chance against the bastards.

Boggling The Imagination

The foreign-born Ted Cruz utilizes a secret weapon in his stump speech, according to a BBC online magazine post. He used the word “imagine” some 38 times during his candidacy announcement yesterday at Liberty University in Virginia.

Political reporter Anthony Zurcher writes that Cruz’s speaking style is a “cross between Atticus Finch and Tony Robbins.”

Cruz

Imagine This Man As President

Zurcher cites political strategist Frank Luntz re: “imagine”:

‘Imagine’ is still the most powerful word in the English language because it is inspiring, motivating and has a unique definition for each person. When you want to inspire, imagine is the language vehicle.

In other words, “imagine” conjures up whatever the hell the listener wants to believe. Which pretty much encapsulates the strategy of too many of today’s pols.

Me? I see Cruz as a lot like Robbins and not so much at all like Atticus.

Groupie Nuns

Sounds like a punk band name, no?

A gaggle of cloistered nuns almost knocked Pope Frankie over during his visit to a cathedral in Naples this past weekend. They charged him in an effort to touch, presumably, the hem of his garment.

Pope Francis

Rock Star

On the other hand, one cardinal also in attendance shouted as the nuns surrounded the Pontiff, “They are going to eat him! Sisters! Sisters!”

Can the Catholic church get any psycho-sexually weirder?

Selfie Nonsense

I thought you’d get a kick out of this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 1.10.45 AM

In the real world that I inhabit, this poor dope would either be sucked out of the cockpit and tumbled to his certain doom or the force of the near 600-mph wind drag would sever him at mid-thorax like a deli slicer cutting through a fresh Genoa salami. That is if he could even get that cockpit window open, which he couldn’t because it’s a pressurized cabin.

The kicker is there are enough people in this mad, mad world who believe this kind of bushwa to constitute, say, an entire political party.

Our World, Take It Or Leave It

From New York University prof and social media marketing guru Peter Shankman:

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Hot Air

The Very Visible Bridge

My fave historian is sitting on top of the world these days.

Rick Perlstein has been chronicling the rise of the Right in two previous well-received books, Before the Storm and Nixonland. Now, his latest entry in the series, The Invisible Bridge, is earning kudos and brickbats left and right (well, kudos from the Left and brickbats from a very few corners on the Right, natch.)

Perlstein

Rick Perlstein Laughs At Himself

The New York Times Book Review featured him on its front page this past Sunday. Today he’ll appear on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air program on local NPR affiliate WFIU. The media blitz doesn’t stop there. Perlstein will be on MSNBC’s Morning Joe tomorrow and Rachel Maddow’s gabfest Friday.

The Invisible Bridge covers the years from Richard Nixon’s resignation to the ascendance of Ronald Reagan at the 1976 Republican National Convention. History indicates that the GOP went with the wrong guy that year. President-by-Chance Gerald Ford was nominated to run against squeaky-clean Georgian Jimmy Carter. After years of Watergate, the American public was sick and tired of Nixon and anything attached to him. Ford, although himself above reproach, was Nixon’s hand-picked VP, selected to replace the disgraced Spiro Agnew. Many experts believe Ford was tabbed because Nixon was confident he’d pardon the future ex-Prez — and the former Michigan congressman did just that.

Carter/Ford

Jimmy Carter (l) & Gerald Ford

Ford ran a lackluster campaign against Carter. The argument can be made that the Dem candidate was going to win that year no matter who he was or who his opponent would be. Still, many in the GOP swooned over Ronald Reagan in the run-up to the convention and are convinced he’d have been able to beat the Democratic candidate.

I’m eager to get my hands on Perlstein’s new book. It arrives today at the Book Corner. For my money, you can’t read a better history of the 1960s and early ’70s than Nixonland. Many of my conservative friends think it’s an even-handed look at a a nine-year period in which this country very nearly tumbled into a second Civil War. If Perlstein’s take is half as good on Saint Ronald, I’ll be happy.

Reagan

Superhero

Funny thing is, there’ve been precious few balanced and sober looks at the rise and ascension into heaven of the greatest leader any country in the history of the world has ever had. Other than fawning hagiographies penned by Reagan insiders and apologists for the Right or demonizing screeds from those on the Left, the only book worth reading thus far on RWR has been Sean Wilentz’s The Age of Reagan.

Here’s hoping Perlstein’s effort doubles that list.

Hard Time

Speaking of disgraced public officials, former Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman’s future hangs in the balance these days. Yesterday in an Owen County courtroom, the special prosecutor and Gerstman’s lawyer had their plea agreement rejected by Judge Lori Quillen.

Acc’d’g to the Herald Times (paywall), Quillen told the lawyers the agreement wasn’t hard enough on Gerstman. My guess is special prosecutor Barry Brown okayed a deal wherein Gertsman’s repayment of the dough she skimmed from the County via unauthorized credit card usage as well as, probably, some community service would do the trick. Quillen just might want Gerstman to do some hard time.

I’m all for the hard time idea, especially because Gerstman was supposed to be the watchdog of the county’s cash.

Final Editions

Gannett Co., owner of the Indy Star, USA Today and other newspapers, is spinning off its print business from its radio and TV holdings to create two separate companies.

The media giant sez it’s doing so to “create two focused companies with increased opportunities to grow organically.” Don’t be taken in by PR bullshit. Gannett’s divorcing its foot-in-the-grave newspaper biz from its more vital electronic and digital ops just so the latter can fly without being dragged down by the former’s losses.

Indy Star

Soon To Be History Itself

Gannett at the same time announced a $1.8 billion cop of the shares of Cars.com it doesn’t already own, further doubling down on its new media stake.

USA Today is Gannett’s big dog in the print world, although insiders say the co. is hot to transform the paper into a purely digital news outlet sooner rather than later. USA Today‘s cover price not long ago jumped to $2.00, which is way too much to pay for any rag that isn’t the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. I get the feeling Gannett, in upping the price, wants to wean readers off paper.

You wanna know how valuable newspaper holdings are? Gannett is giving its print properties aways to its shareholders. No sentient being these days is willing to plunk down real money for newspapers.

The end of an era is here but don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.

 

Hot Air

Yes And…

“Life is much richer when you say ‘yes’ than if you say ‘no.'”

So said Richard Branson to the Chicago Sun-Times some years ago, as reported by Neil Steinberg in his column today.

Branson

Richard Branson

Apparently Branson’s bank account (accounts?) would bear this out. He’s one the the richest guys around, natch, making his dough through such ventures as Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways. It isn’t just money, though, that makes for a rich life. As long as you have enough to eat, a roof over your head, health care, an education, friends, and family, your life can be as rich as Donald Trump’s (or richer because I can’t imagine Trump’s world being at all fulfilling — either to me, theoretically, or him, in reality.)

Anyway, Branson appears to be one of those guys whose def. of success does not include the annihilation of you, me, or anyone else. He’s a win-win type of primate. Capitalism of late seems a hyena-versus-lion proposition, as in I’m eating and if you’re starving, what do I care?

Today’s world, as defined by Trump, the Kochs, the oil companies, and the Wall Street banksters, is a win-lose prop.

So huzzah for Branson and his riches, pecuniary and otherwise.

Saying Yes has been a philosophy I’ve tried to adhere to (often with success, even) ever since I studied comedy improvisation under the late Del Close and Charna Halpern at the improvOlympic (since renamed, thanks to trademark lawyers, iO Chicago). I started going up on stage to create skits and scenes without a script back in the winter of 1986. I even was part of an improv troupe that put on a weekly stage soap opera called “Children’s Hospital,” along with such notables as comedy guru Mick J. Napier and musician Jim Tomasello. At the then-improvOlympic, I worked with and watched such future Hollywood stars as Mike Meyers, Chris Farley, Lili Taylor, Joel Murray and a raft of others.

Close/Halpern

Del Close & Charna Halpern

The single defining commandment of iO was “Yes and….” In fact, boss Charna Halpern‘s business card read “Yes and….”

It’s a simple idea. Whatever suggestion or proposition someone makes on stage, you go along with it. You build on it. You say to the person who proposed it, “Yes, and…,” and then you build an even taller skyscraper of imagination. If your stage mate says, for instance, Here we are an a spaceship to Mars…, you don’t say, Aw, that’s crazy. You say, Yes, and when we get there, we’re going to hunt for extraterrestrial badgers with our ray guns. Won’t that be fun?

On our first day in class Charna (who taught the intro course) told us the Yes and…. thing not only would make us good improv performers but would actually help us in our daily lives. It sounds almost cultish or at least self-help-ish to say this, but she was right.

I’ve striven to say Yes rather than No as much as humanly possible in the ensuing three decades. Think of all the arguments you’ve ever had; as a rule, they arise when someone, maybe you, says No.

Some examples:

  • Wife: You know, sometimes I feel you don’t pay attention to my issues.
  • Husband: No. You don’t pay attention to my issues.

  • Person A: Life is bleak. I wonder why I should go on.
  • Person B: No, it isn’t. You just need to snap out of it.

  • Person X: The Israelis must be able to defend themselves.
  • Person Y: No. They’re murderers!

  • Person 1: The Palestinians must be able to defend themselves.
  • Person 2: No. They’re murderers.

On the other hand, one can go too far, albeit rarely, in saying Yes to everything. To wit:

  • Rush Limbaugh: Sandra Fluke is a slut.
  • Sane person: No she isn’t. You’re an asshole.

The No-sayer (in most cases) puts a halt to the progress of any conversation or plan. The word itself is combative. It’s fearful. It stops time. I try to say Yes whenever I can (and, as I say, I occasionally succeed.) Yes is freedom; No is not.

Try saying Yes all day today. You might be surprised.

Career Counselor

Who is this son of a bitch, Abdul Hakim-Shabbaz?

That was the first thing that jumped into my mind when I read his horribly mean-spirited piece in Tuesday’s Indy Star recounting his clever, fun prank of asking panhandlers for money.

Hakim-Shabbaz

Abdul Hakim-Shabbaz, Social Reformer

He wrote:

There is nothing more annoying than trying to enjoy a meal, cigar or just some quiet time and have people come up to ask for money. And since the City-County Council Democrats continue to block any meaningful proposal to get these guys off the streets, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I decided to turn the tables on the panhandlers and start asking them for money.

So he hectored panhandlers for money. What a wit, no?

No — as if it’s necessary for me to answer that for you.

In order to put these poor, homeless bastards in their place, he actually asked them for a handout. Pardon me, while I catch my breath; I may laugh myself into a heart attack.

And that would be because I, unlike Hakim-Shabbaz, actually have a heart.

He thinks a lot of the panhandlers he must endure as he digs the good life in downtown Indianapolis are really frauds and leeches. There’s the woman who “claims” she’s disabled but is able to push around all her Earthly belongings in a shopping cart (now there’s a great con job, eh?) Then there’s the kid who’s selling candy for charity but the sharp-as-a-tack Hakim-Shabbaz notes the charity is a different one every day.

Hoohoo, haha! — he began asking them for money. Oh man, he’s killing me!

So who is this social observer on a par with Wilde, Dickens, Sinclair, or even Marie Antoinette? Turns out he’s a talk radio host/attorney/standup comedian/college law instructor. Here’s his own bio on his website.

I suppose Hakim-Shabbaz might advise Indy’s crew of panhandlers to do as he did; that is, get jobs as talk radio hosts/attorneys/standup comedians/college law instructors. Then they wouldn’t ruin his day by asking for money.

You know, it may be easy to become a talk radio host/attorney/standup comedian/college law instructor just like him. All you have to do is work hard at being an asshole.

Paris

Here’s the latest on the passing of RE Paris.

Paris

According to her son, Eric, she began having trouble breathing at home Wednesday morning. She managed to call for an ambulance but by the time it arrived, it was pretty much too late. No details yet on why she had trouble breathing, although she’d been physically ill for a while, thanks in large part to being too broke to afford health insurance premiums.

Hot Air

Who?

My friends who know a little something about soccer tell me the USA victory over Ghana yesterday is a big deal.

Search me. The extent of my knowledge of the world’s most popular game is so sparse, as the saying goes, it could be fit into the navel of a flea.

So I did a little digging. Ghana, it turns out, is located in that western protrusion of the African continent that’s home to a whole passel of anonymous (to us) little countries like Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo. The capital of G. is Accra, which is sort of known, I suppose. Its population is 2.27 million with a total of four million in its greater metropolitan area making it, overall, about as big as Rome or Sydney.

Ghanians

Ghana Soccer Fans

English is its official language although its diverse pop. also speaks tongues like Asante, Ewe, and Fante. That diversity is represented by ancient and traditional tribal groups known as Akan, Mole-Dagbon, the aforementioned Ewe, and others. Ghana gained its independence from Great Britain in 1957 and now is a constitutional democracy. Ghanians produce gold, cocoa, and a barrel or two of oil. Some 50 percent of them work in the service industry. The country is known as one of the most stable and advanced on the continent.

I doubt if I’ve ever met a Ghanian. I know I would have been hard pressed to point it out on a map before doing this bit of seat of the pants research. I’d never heard of its president, John Dramani Mahama. Its air force is only two years old.

Fútbol aficionados in this holy land are delirious about the world’s last remaining superpower’s glorious triumph over little Ghana. I don’t know precisely who the USA is playing next in this World Cup shebang.

Perhaps Ellettsville.

A House Divided

The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that the state’s casinos are “losing money.”

Let me repeat that. Casinos in the Hoosier State are losing money. Losing money!

Friends, that’s impossible. It should not happen. It cannot happen.

The house never loses. That’s the single Commandment in the bible of the gaming industry. In fact, the games that are offered in casinos and other such centers of culture and competition are designed to give the edge to the house. Simply setting up the games and letting anyone, no matter their ability play them, automatically guarantees the house operator a winning certainty.

Take blackjack. The player always goes first. If both the dealer and the player go over 21, the house wins because, under the rules, the player has gone first and therefore loses.

Players cannot count cards but very astute dealers do. When a good dealer notices the deck’s edge going to the player, s/he simply reshuffles.

Chips

How about roulette? You’d think the odds of winning would be 50/50, split between the house and the player. After all, you either get red or black, right? Only casino roulette wheels have either one or two extra spaces, a zero or double zero. When the ball lands there, it’s a win for the house. So the odds favor you know who. Over time that slight statistical edge pays off handsomely.

Poker tournaments are big deals in casinos. The house wins no matter what because it takes a cut off the top of every ante. Winning players get paid from their opponents, not the house.

Craps is a big money-maker for the house. Whenever a dice thrower scores a big win, there is screaming and cheering. This automatically draws players to the table, the majority of whom will lose — the odds are built into the dice — so the house loves to pay out big.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say the reason the Outfit got itself cozy in Las Vegas was the guaranteed revenue of gaming. There is next to no risk in operating a casino (other than, of course, getting your brains blown out for cheating the Mob out of its cut.)

So how can Indiana’s casinos be losing money?

Simple. The state of Ohio has allowed several new facilities to open up near Cincinnati. That’s only an hour from three of Indiana’s riverboats and “racinos.” The gaming industry here wants land-based casinos. The state legislature has been loath to allow that for years. Keep in mind this is a state that still doesn’t allow liquor sales on Sundays; just getting floating casinos here was fairly revolutionary. House Speaker Brian Bosma is exhibiting no sign that he’s about to start thinking about allowing brick and mortar casinos.

So things don’t look good for Indiana’s gaming people right now, that is, unless Bosma is wearing his best poker face. Should he push for land-based casinos, the state might get back the millions of dollars lost to the Ohio competition and even maybe even make more than that. Pols, just like gamblers, hate losing dough.

At this moment, the state of Ohio is the house. It’s gonna win. Bosma may feel the need to make Indiana the house once again.

Where It’s At

Jazzman and political science prof. Jeff Isaac stopped in to the Book Corner yesterday. He’s a magazine freak, tending toward titles like Downbeat and Perspectives in Politics, natch. He had to elbow his way to the checkout counter with said titles in hand as this correspondent was holding court with the usual revolving gang of cognoscenti.

Isaac

Ivory Tickler

“Let me through so I can do some business with this man,” Isaac said. He paused a moment, scanning the semi-circle of faces. “Man,” he said, “this is the nerve center of Bloomington right here.”

So it is.

To wit: State Rep. Matt Pierce paid a visit about an hour later. He says he and his statehouse colleagues are wrapping up last minute business in Indy these days and then they’ll take a few months to get themselves reelected this fall.I told the Rep. I was worried about what the 538 political numbers blog is saying about the November beauty contests. I figured Pierce might try to snow me with partisan cheerleading but he spoke frankly. Bad news on the national front, Pierce observed, trickles down to the local. He’s not worried, personally, as he’s running unopposed to retain his District 61 seat.

We went on to talk about US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s earth-shattering primary loss last week. I told the Rep. Cantor was ousted because only 12 percent of the voters in his district even bothered to show up. Pierce nodded. “You only get the true believers when that happens,” he said. True: If there’s one thing that’s dangerous in politics, statecraft, or religion, it’s a true believer.

Pierce

Pierce added that only 13 percent of Hoosiers voted in our May primary. “It’s ironic,” he explained, “that the people who can really benefit from voting don’t, so then when pols get in who do nothing for them they conclude that system is broke. Then they become even more alienated from the process. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.”

The Big Mike take-away: An apathetic electorate is just as dangerous as a gang of true believers.

Libation Information

Attn: Pencillistas! I want you to add another blog to your bookmarks. It’s local and it’s goddamned good.Author and playwright Joni Herkimer runs the A Cocktail A Day daily bleat. It’s funny and informative.

From A Cocktail A Day

Monday’s Concoction

Here’s a little taste from Sunday’s post:

I think if I got to choose my royal title, I would choose Countess. I don’t know why exactly, but the title has always appealed to me much more than Queen, Princess, or Duchess. I don’t even know exactly what a real Countess is or does, but I am pretty certain I would enjoy being one.

Keep a close eye on Countess Joni: She’s working on a play right now that’s sure to blow this town sky-high if and when it gets finished and produced. It deals with one of the biggest news stories in our great metrop.’s recent history. Everything you think you know about it, JH swears, just may be wrong.

Other than that, my lips are sealed about the project.

Hot Air

Blue Skies Ahead

Just wondering: Can it be any more perfect in Bloomington this morning?

Fair

The sky is a rich, deep blue and cloudless. The high should be near 70. The next two days should be clear and mild as well.

This is what we wait all winter for.

From Ho-hum To Wow!

Do I need to point out the difference between, say, the Herald Times of Bloomington and this communications colossus?

I mean, one very well-respected member of our community has told me that he’d much rather read about a pressing local issue here in The Pencil than in B-town’s daily newspaper. The Pencil’s take, he sez, is always more interesting and provocative.

Far be it from me to brag. In fact, I’ll point out that The Pencil hardly scrapes the surface of Bloomington and South Central Indiana’s news because, hell, I’m only one guy and I have a day job, too. I hammer on local issues only when they strike me. Plus, I have an irresistible need to pontificate on national and world happenings as well as pop culture, art and science, all of which eat up space here.

The day the Bloomington City Council counts among its members someone as entertaining as Michelle Bachmann, I’ll begin fixating on that person. Although Steve Volan is trying in his own inimitable way. And Susan Sandberg does wield a fiery ukulele.

Anyway, back to the Herald Times. The paper’s lead feature this gorgeous Sunday is a profile of the wife of IU basketball coach Tom Crean (paywall). I’m not going to reveal any details of the piece, mainly because I haven’t read anything more of it than the first paragraph. Why? Because I don’t care.

H-T

Do You Care?

All I know is, the new Big Talk interview series continues Friday with an eight-minute feature on WFHB’s Daily Local News at 5:30pm and the release of this month’s Ryder magazine, which will carry the full-version of my hour-long chat with Bloomington’s political doyenne, Charlotte Zietlow.

I have my doubts that Coach Crean’s wife can tell me about living under tyrannical rule in Czechoslovakia or upending a decades-long political order here in Bloomington in 1971. Charlotte can.

Big Talk is a joint production of The Electron Pencil, WFHB, and The Ryder. We tie together this town’s cutting edge media outlets. And unless an IU coach’s wife discovers a remedy for global warming, you won’t have to worry about us profiling her herein.

On The Other Hand

The H-T today does carry an excellent piece (again, paywall) on the Democratic Women’s Caucus here in Monroe County. The article points out that back only a decade ago, in the 2003 election, our town could boast only two female candidates for public office: Regina Moore and Uke-baby Sandberg.

Moore

City Clerk Regina Moore (right)

The article quotes one political scientist who claims that voters seem to prefer women candidates for office but the problem is females are not as eager to run as men are. Women, this expert suggests, need to be dragged into the political arena. Read the piece.

UkeTones

Susan Sandberg (right) And The UkeTones

BTW: You know who’s a big deal in the Dem Women’s Caucus? That’s right, Charlotte Zietlow. Just sayin’.

It’s On Us

Speaking of politics, we can wail, moan, and gnash our teeth all we want over the Republican strategy to reduce voter turnout around the nation, but really we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

The Indy Star today offers a piece explaining that embarrassingly low turnouts in many counties and precincts for the May 6th primary were due to, well, folks being too gosh darned busy.

Vintage Voting Machine

Which is bullshit of the highest order. The article quotes no-show potential voters as saying things like traffic was too bad and they had to, presumably, do housework. The least thing a citizen can do in a democracy is to vote. And if you can’t find a half hour to vote every two years, then you don’t deserve democracy.

You can wring your hands all you’d like at Republican effort to suppress voter turnout but the GOP has far too many aiders and abettors in their efforts. To mangle a quote: We have met the enemy and they are us.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglass

DIBS ON DEBS

Wow.

That’s all I have to say.

Wow.

The Indy Star today ran a front pager on radical labor leader and committed socialist Eugene V. Debs in honor of Labor Day, natch.

Debs In Canton, Ohio

Now, the Star is not to be confused with the old Daily Worker newspaper or even Mother Jones magazine. In fact, the Star pretty much reflects the rocked-ribbed Republican base in Indiana. For pete’s sake, the paper was started by an industrialist, George F. McCulloch, back in 1903.

Industrialists don’t generally start up papers — or television stations or websites, for that matter — in order that the sweating classes might be whipped into rebellion.

That’s what Eugene V. Debs did all his adult life. He was deemed such a threat to the good order of the nation that he was thrown in prison twice for being, essentially, too charismatic.

And by the way, that good order of the nation? It’s still the same today — those that have, fight like tigers to keep it; those that don’t and make noises about it are called traitors, terrorists or, even worse, liberals.

Debs was born in Terre Haute, which partially explains why the Star might deign to write about him on Labor Day. He was so popular that when he was sprung from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary by President Warren G. Harding in 1921, a crowd of 50,000 greeted him when he returned home to Terre Haute.

Anyone who wonders why he was imprisoned twice in his life need look no further than than for a reason. Guys who can draw crowds of 50,000 are either top-flight quarterbacks or dangers to the nation.

Debs Before A Crowd

Anyway, Debs is one of the most important Americans in history. He’s generally seen by the Far Right as something akin to a child molester. The thankfully-almost-forgotten Glenn Beck once described Debs as a racist/communist.

So, cool, the Indy Star gives the home-state boy his due. Maybe — just maybe — things aren’t all as lost as they sometimes seem.

Here are some good reads on Debs and the American labor movement:

TEACHERS UNION RALLY

For my Chicago friends, get on over to the Daley Center Plaza today at 10:30 for a rally in support of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Meet Here

Chicago Public School teachers may go on strike a week from today because contract negotiations have bogged down. School starts tomorrow.

Here’s an irony: the billionaires who own the Chicago Cubs want the city and the state to pick up several hundred million dollars of the cost for a proposed massive refurbishment of Wrigley Field. If the city screws its school teachers out of nickels and dimes but then throws a pile of cash at the Ricketts family and the cash cow that is the Cubs, I wouldn’t blame a soul for taking to the streets.

THANKS

The AFL-CIO presents 36 Reasons Why You Should Thank A Union. Here are a few:

  • Weekends without work
  • All breaks, including lunch
  • Paid vacation
  • Sick leave
  • Minimum wage

  • Overtime pay
  • 8-hour day
  • 40-hour week
  • Pensions
  • Workplace safety standards
  • Holiday pay
  • Equal pay for men and women doing the same jobs

Just in case you were wondering what we were celebrating today.

LIVING FROM CHECK TO CHECK

Finally, speaking of nickels and dimes, make it your business this week to buy Barbara Ehrenreich’s fabulous book on the working poor, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.”

It’s worth ten academic treatises on labor for illustrating the lives of people for whom a five dollar bill is an important thing.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The BishopMusic: Jens Lekman Listening Party; 9pm

ONGOING

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 30th

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 30th

  • “Workers of the World, Unite!”; through December 30th

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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