Hot Air: The Flogger Blogger


Bright & Rags

What’s this I hear? Gregg (Rags) Rago and Susan Bright — proprietors of Nick’s English Hut — are opening a pasta joint right around the corner?

Homemade pasta — extruded right on the premises — and a variety of delicious sauces’ll be the menu mainstays, is what I hear. The name? Osteria (that’s Italian for a tavern that serves a simple dinner). Projected opening? December. The build-out’s going on right now in the old, original Bloomingfoods location just north of Kirkwood Ave., in the alley.

Can’t wait.

Poetry & Folk

Swierk & Gay

Here’s another thing I can’t wait for: Bloomington’s unofficial poet laureate Ross Gay will read from his previous bestsellers as well as from his forthcoming book Saturday, December 2nd, at the Book Corner. Ross will be joined by folksinger/songwriter Kacie Swierk, who’ll croon tunes from her debut album, This Is Water.

Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude has been a Book Corner hot mover for the last two years and shows no signs of cooling off.

Swing by and join the fun. Festivities will run from 3-5pm. The Book Corner is at 100 N. Walnut St., 812.339.1522.

The Big (Talk) Heat


And you don’t have to wait for this: my interview with urban designer/environmentalist Dana Habeeb ran Thursday afternoon. Habeeb spoke with me about the perils of city living over the next few decades due to global warming, especially for at-risk people like those with diabetes.

All is not glum, though, acc’d’g to Habeeb. If cities start planning now, they can slash the urban heat island effect and maybe save a few lives. Go here for the Big Talk feature that ran in WFHB, 91.3 FM and here for the original, mostly-unedited interview (as soon as I get around to putting it up).

Hot Air: Trophies & Brickbats

Tusk, Tsk

This is the defining moment, the raison d’etre of the Trump presidency:

[Image: Washington Post]

Dopey Sex

I just read about a local woman’s experience being roofied by another local person. The incident occurred a few years back and the roofie-er, a man, is now somewhat well-known in the community for positive accomplishments. The roofie-ee still suffers from the memory of the experience. As of this moment, she is weighing whether to identify the man by name, although a lot of people have deduced who he was/is.

This got me to thinking: Why would a man want to roofie a woman?

Okay, sure, he wants sex, desperately, pathologically, criminally — you name it. Well, we all want sex desperately, to some degree or another. The vast majority of us — I would hope! — aren’t prone to getting sex via knockout drugs. I mean, what’s the point?

I guess it’s the entertainer in me. I want my partner to be there, a hundred percent, with me as we do whatever we decide to do. I want her to be an appreciative audience. I want her applause — or the passionately carnal analog of it. And I want to applaud her in kind — and be certain she knows I’m giving her a standing ovation.

Sex with someone who’s sleeping is no sex at all. It’s a bodily function akin to excreting, something you have to do in order to satisfy one or another physiological urge. Good sex should be a celebrazione, a simkhe, something like a sacrament but sans the religious overtones. It can’t be if one of the partners is doped into oblivion.

It’s ironic — I’m a man, yet there’s very little about men that I understand.

Cop To It, Men!

[MG Note: Hah! I wrote this entry on Wednesday. I’ve been swamped the last couple of days so I haven’t posted here since. It turns out this was prescient. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken got nailed for being a horse’s ass back in 2006 and — wouldn’t you know it? — did precisely what I said guys like him should do. Read on.]

In another context, this’d be called fire prevention. Rather than waiting for fire to start, prudent people take care to minimize or even eliminate those conditions that can cause fire.

It works in a variety of circumstances, not solely in combustion. Take drug usage. A little background: Let’s go back to 1987, when St. Ronald Reagan nominated a fellow named Douglas


Ginsburg to be on the Supreme Court. Ginsburg, poor dope, had to pull out when it was revealed he’d smoked a little pot when he was a college student. Like, who hadn’t in the ’60s? Following that realization, times began to change. Not four years later, George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas was found to have puffed a time or two in college and it did nothing to derail his nomination. Even though recreational drug use was morphing into a shruggable offense, a bust and time served for, say cocaine dealing, could well kill the career of a celebrity well into the 1990s. Now, of course, youthful dope experimentation is as noteworthy as a scoop that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning. The news that a struggling young actor had moved a little blow when s/he was broke isn’t at all earth-shattering. Like I said, times change.

Anyway, in those transitional ’90s, standout comedian Tim Allen was one of the biggest stars on television, headlining the sitcom Home Improvement, based in large part on his standup persona. Even as his star rose, he harbored a secret: He’d been busted for dealing cocaine, specifically 1.43 pounds of the stuff, in 1978 and subsequently served 28 months in a federal joint. That was the kind of juicy tidbit grocery store rags like the Star and the National Enquirer would have loved to get their hands on. Had they, the revelation would have surely killed Allen’s career.

So, rather than let the tabloids wreck him, Allen decided to reveal the bust and prison term himself. He held a press conference, copped to the whole deal and, lo and behold, most of the nation painted him a stand-up guy. In fact, tons of folks sympathized with him. He swore he was now clean and acted sufficiently apologetic. The potentially explosive story became no story at all within a few days.

That’s fire prevention. See how it works?

Take the current corporate media rage for scoops on sexual improprieties. Louis CK got caught in the flames. Yet, immediately after he was publicly accused of waving his wang at unsuspecting females in inappropriate settings, he said, Yeah, sure, I did it. And I shouldnt’a.

Of course, he has yet to address why his junk is so important to him and seemingly always in his right hand. And still, his name is mud in a lot of arenas right now but, surely, the stink from the revelations about him is not as great as those following guys who swear up and down on stacks of Bibles that any such accusations are rotten lies. I’m willing to bet Louis CK’s rep will be rehabilitated long before Judge Roy Moore’s.

Which brings me to the obvious Q: Why doesn’t Moore simply say, Yeah, I did it. Those women are telling the truth. It was stupid. I was wrong. He can even cop a bit of a plea. He can say, Y’know those were different days. Morality was different then. And I was a dumb punk. Thank heavens I’ve grown up and learned since then. I hope to stand as an example for all young men who are tempted to pull pranks like that today.

And you know what? The groping and dating teenaged girls scoops just might be found on page 2 or even farther back in today’s newspapers had he done so the very day the first woman stepped forward. People could say he owned his idiocy and has atoned.

Why don’t any of the pathologically priapic goats being dragged into the court of public op. these days do that? What can be gained by denying the charges of five, ten, or a few dozen women? Once the revelations become routine, the logical among us conclude, well, smoke = fire.

Let me repeat: There’s very little about men that I understand.

The Right Move

Shelli Yoder, acc’d’g to my best sources, has divested herself of interest in a company that wants to open a waste transfer facility on the west side. Even Shelli’s biggest fans were aghast when it was revealed she was a co-owner of the operation. The fact that she’s a member of the Monroe County Council and therefore has a hell of a lot of sway in the granting of permission for the facility made the whole thing stink to high heaven.


And, as one observer pointed out, her husband, Josh Perry, teaches biz ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. You’d think he’d have cautioned her one evening over dinner. As far as I could determine, Yoder’s ownership in an outfit hoping to do business with the county was not illegal but, then again, neither is parking millions and/or billions in off-shore tax havens. My religious ethics teacher in high school, Fr. O’Malley, used to harp on what he called “technical virgins” during class, making the point that one could follow the letter of the law but still be morally suspect.

In any case, Shelli’s done the right thing and you can bet I’ll be on the horn with her trying to get her on Big Talk to explain how this mess came about.

[More notes: Go here for the state’s list of applications for Solid Waste Facility permits. Indiana Green Transfer and Recycling LLC’s application is the second down in the second page, permit #53-04.]

Hot Air: Poles Apart

Allow me, please, to simplify economics, especially now that we’re dealing with budget issues and possible tax reform on a national level.

There are two polarities — the Right and the Left. The Right, natch, is conservative and Republican, at least in this holy land. The Left is liberal (in the traditional 1950s & ’60s sense) and Democratic. And me, BTW.

Okay. The Left holds that everybody who’s born has a right to a fair piece of the pie. All humans in this mad, mad world deserve to eat, have a roof, get an education, and have access to health care. The wealth of the world is ours, in other words.

The Right says wealth must be controlled and allotted by a certain few, that the common clay is too rash and too undisciplined to be trusted with the planet’s treasure. Corporate execs and bankers are messianic figures who make certain the ledger book is neat and that the principles of vaunted economic theorists are honored.

The Left says need is paramount. The Right, process.

I fully expect to be upbraided for this thesis.

Cop Flop

I wish to remind the world there was once an American television show called Cop Rock. It was a mash-up of the gritty police procedural genre popularized by Steven Bochco (who was the show’s co-creator) and musical theater.

It was set in Los Angeles, in a variety of station houses, courtrooms, and street scenes. The cops’d make a bust, for instance, and then, suddenly, burst into a song and dance routine. TV Guide called it “the single most bizarre TV musical of all time” and ranked in No. 8 in its list of the worst TV shows ever, period.

Here’s a clip:

Thank heavens there’s still capital punishment in this holy land. The wonder is how Steven Bochco has managed to escape the executioner’s noose for these many years.


Hot Air: She Goes There

Life Or And Death

Yesterday I went all anti-god. Today, the other side gets its crack at it all. Constance Furey is a religious maven at Indiana University, a professor who has studied such wide-ranging topics as:

  • Christianity in Early Modern Europe
  • Friendship and community formation
  • Devotional poetry
  • Gender and Religious Subjectivity

Well, I’ll be damned (probably, for all the things I’ve done) but C. Furey sure as hell ain’t no prim old priest wagging her finger at us. Add to that the fact that I have no idea if she’s even a pious sort — hell, she could be a interested in religion simply for the academic exercise of it all. I mean, one doesn’t go around pestering others with Qs like Do you believe in god?, How much?, What do you pray about?, etc.

Anyway, she wrote of death and life in a piece that ran yesterday in a journal called The Immanent Frame. The online mag carries articles dealing with “religion, secularism and the public sphere.” Furey’s piece is part of a series of essays called “Is This All There Is” (sans the question mark, I’d assume, by design). Constance’s foray touches on the deaths of her parents and relates them to a lesson she learned while, a small girl, watching the TV sitcom character Latka Gravas from Taxi.

I wonder if Constance was aware that for many years after his death, the man who played Latka Gravas — Andy Kaufman — was rumored to be alive and his purported passing merely an elaborate prank. Constance speculates on “the bright line” that may or may not exist between life and death. For a good five to ten years, Kaufman blurred that line so thoroughly it virtually disappeared.

I suppose now we can safely conclude that Kaufman is dead — but, again, what if the gag has come this far? What if he’s working in anonymity in some cafe, busing tables, just living, shorn of the onus of fame, the demands of celebrity, and the responsibility of constantly striking while the iron’s hot? Kaufman was known for slipping away and becoming just another face on the crowd even as his sitcom and his own star were ascendent. Can he have pulled off the trick for lo these 33 years?

If so, that’d mean he’s done something no other human ever has — he’s transformed himself, as it were, into Schrödinger’s cat.

Constance, in her way, suggests we may all be Schrödinger’s cat.

I think. Well, read the piece. It’s full of metaphysical supposition and inquiry and it’s chock-full of poetry (her own prose-poetry and the actual metricals of 17th Century versist Anne Bradstreet who, I have learned, was North America’s first published English-language poet).


Speaking Of Finger Wags…

Gov. Jerry Brown caught one from Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman yesterday. Apparently, he’d been speaking at the United Nations climate change summit in Bonn, Germany a few days ago when his talk was interrupted by protesters who chanted “Keep it in the ground!” The protesters were calling for California to ban fracking, something the state hasn’t done yet nor does it seem likely to. Many of the protesters were of Native American ancestry (the Dakota Access Pipeline protests of 2016 were led by Native Americans).

Brown, it seems, got a little hot when the protesters tried to drown him out. A recording of the exchange between him and the protesters went like this:

PROTESTERS: California’s fracking spreads pollution!

GOV. JERRY BROWN: Yeah, I wish…, I wish we could have no pollution, but we have to have our automobiles.

PROTESTERS: In the ground!

BROWN: In the ground.

PROTESTERS: In the ground!

BROWN: I agree with you — in the ground. Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here. Anyway….

Anyway, indeed. Goodman pointed out that telling a group of folks they ought to be put in the ground plays awfully rancid-ly when one considers that group’s forbears were holocaust-ed. Brown, for his part, said, essentially, the protesters were pissing him off.

In fact, he turned the finger-wagging around on her, scolding: “Now, Amy, don’t use your media outlet for this kind of silliness. That was an ironic remark in the face of a noisy demonstration when it’s very hard to even hear, much less keep your thought there.”

It was an unfortunate remark. No…, it was a stupid remark. But my fear is now good old Jerry Brown will be demonized by the very types of people who should be gathering around, behind, and in front of him in the fight against President Gag and the corporatization of the Democratic Party.

Jerry at that moment was an old geezer who’d decided he was in no mood at all to suffer loud interrupters. So he yelled, Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!

Truth be told, I’m getting awfully damed sick of these kinds of incidents being the story rather than what’s really happening in our holy land today.

And another thing — lost in the snappishness was Brown’s line, “we have to have our automobiles.” It’s all of us — including the protesters — who demand cheap fossil fuel for our lighting and heating and clothes washing and plastic-making and getting from here to there. We, protesters included, are as culpable as the oil company execs in turning our little whirling spaceball into a hot marble.

Until we all grasp that, we aren’t going to get any farther along than to harrumph about a cranky old bird’s stupid remark.

Hot Air: Men, Women & Sex

Was reading Bill Bryson’s very entertaining and informative book about the English language, The Mother Tongue, last night. He made a point that, to my knowledge, had only ever been addressed once before, and that time by George Carlin.

The point? For many decades — in fact, stretching into centuries — American English was the only language in which it was a common practice for the speaker to advise a person at whom s/he was angry or dismissive or contemptuous to engage in the supreme human pleasure. Or, as Mark Twain wrote, the recreation humankind has placed “far and away above all other joys.”

In other words, no other language boasted anything analogous to Fuck you.

How weird that is, Bryson rightly observed. It’d be like saying to someone, in lieu of bopping them one in the snoot, “Have a nice day!” or “Make a lot of money!”


Back in the ’70s, Carlin quipped: “I mean if we’re trying to be mean, we really should say ‘unfuck you!'”

Or, as Germaine Greer once stated, throwing in an added wrinkle: “They still say ‘fuck you’ as a venomous insult; they still find ‘cunt’ the most degrading epithet outside the dictionary.”

Of course, now that American English has become the global language, pretty much every language has embraced the Americanism as its own.


In any case, this little bit of info illustrates our holy land’s almighty bizarre attitude toward sex. We live in a nation where breasts are commodified on a par with gold or uranium. Grinding and twerking are essential elements in our popular arts. Young women are taught their basic value as humans is all wrapped up in how comely, sexually, they are. Young men are winked at when it’s learned they have conquered so many dozen young maidens. Men of power use sex to control women — and sometimes other men — in asymmetrical relationships. Old goat politicians are excused for their obsessions with underaged girls.

Yet women who wish to use birth control or must occasional abort unwanted fetuses are pilloried by huge swathes of the populace.

In other words, we Americans are almightily fucked up.

We’re Weird


A little bit more on Twain. He was as baffled by our sexual mores and attitudes back in the 19th Century as I am today. Here are a few trenchant lines from his typewriter:

  • …[T]he human being…. natually places sexual intercourse far and away above all other joys — yet he has left it out of his heaven! The very thought of it excites him; opportunity sets him wild; in this state he will risk life, reputation, everything — even his queer heaven itself — to make good that opportunity and ride it to the overwhelming climax. From youth to middle age all men and all women prize copulation above all other pleasures combined, yet it is actually as I have said: it is not in their heaven; prayer takes its place.
  • From the time a woman is seven years old till she dies of old age, she is ready for action, and competent. As competent as the candlestick to receive the candle. But man is only briefly competent:… After fifty his performance is of poor quality; the intervals between are wide, and its satisfactions of no great quality to either party; whereas his great-grandmother is as good as new.
  • When Adam ate the apple in the Garden and learned how to multiply and replenish, the other animals learned the Art, too, by watching Adam. It was cunning of them, it was neat; for they got all that was worth having out of the apple without tasting it and afflicting themselves with the disastrous Moral Sense, the parent of all the immoralities.


And — wouldn’t you know it — just as I’m finishing up today’s post, I come upon Neil Steinberg’s latest column. Danged if he isn’t thinking about men, women, and sex as well! Here’s his opening argument, picking up as well on Greer’s wrinkle:

Religion fancies itself as manifesting the word of God….


However, a skeptical person — me for instance — gathering together all doctrines, could be forgiven for viewing orthodox religion as something else: an elaborate system to dominate women.

Women get the short end of the stick in every major faith. The Judeo-Christian tradition certainly stumbles out of the blocks. No sooner is Eve crafted from Adam’s rib — to give him a lackey, remember — than she gets mankind booted from the Garden of Eden, earning her painful childbirth and divinely ordained second-class citizenship forever (“And he shall rule over thee”). The starting gun to an endless series of indignities commencing with Genesis and rolling right up to Louis C.K.


I won’t take the time to outline the degradations served up by Islam, except to note that when Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive — in 2017 — it was considered a breakthrough. For all its spirituality, in Buddhism enlightenment is seen as something that doesn’t happen to women.

Is it any wonder I’m a non-believer?

Daydream Believer

Hot Air: They’re Back…

…But Were They Ever Really Gone?

We’ve seen sons of bitches like these many times before, going back as far as the 1970s when skinheads boomed in Great Britain.

Lunkheaded, proudly uneducated, gleefully hateful fireplugs with shorn pates and a pathologically misguided sense of patriotism, right wing hoods started marching in the streets of working class England back then to protest hippies, what they viewed as “socialism,” dark-skinned people, and anything else that didn’t remind them exactly, precisely, of themselves.

Now they’re swinging their Doc Martens, their torches, and their fists in Poland, calling for…, well, and end to everything that isn’t white and gloriously Polish in that eastern European nation.

[Image: CNN]

Poland, recall, is where the Nazis felt most comfortable parking their death camps. Connection? Hard to say, but keep in mind the Third Reich didn’t site its Final Solution crime scenes in Czechoslovakia or Greece, although they could have, easily.

Some 60,000 right wing nationalists took to the streets yesterday in Warsaw, muscling in on Poland’s Independence Day festivities, calling out, “Death to the enemies of the homeland,” and demanding the country return to its mytho-religious roots.

Further proof that today’s right wing wave of shitthought is not exclusive to our holy land and that President Gag is not the illness but the symptom of a worldwide resurgence of of the kind of ugliness that we’d figured had gone out with scratchy, grainy, old black and white newsreel clips.

The Root Of The Problem


My friend, the actor and director Wm Bullion, tosses out this observation in the wake of the recent deluge of sexual impropriety accusations being made against dudes in high places:

Perhaps there is something inherently wrong about the accumulation of power…

My only amendment? Scratch the Perhaps.

We Should All Be Veterans

Something that Col. John Tilford pointed out to me when I had him on Big Talk back in September: Since the military draft was ended in January, 1973, many, many Americans have not been placed in close quarters with other Americans from different states and regions, of different races and religions, speaking different accents and dialects, having had different educational backgrounds, coming from a variety of economic strata — in other words, being forced to see what a huge heterogenous nation this is.


Not that the draft during the Vietnam era was at all equitable. It wasn’t that rich kids got their SSS letters and had to serve, or those whose pops had pull were powerless before the call of conscription. But During World War II and especially after Harry Truman integrated the Army in 1947, scads of American males had to learn how to get along with, sleep with, shower with, die with, eat with, and look forward to getting out alive with white, black, brown, red, and yellow tinted people. College boys had to share mess with high school dropouts. Alaskans had to listen to the snoring of Floridians, and vice versa.

That imposed intimacy, short-lived as it may have been — the US military became the enclave of minorities and the poor right around the time we began sending up to half a million soldiers to Southeast Asia — had, as an unintended consequence, a democratizing, an equalizing, effect on millions of young men.

Bill Clinton was the first president in nearly 50 years not to have served in the military. Since then, only George W. Bush donned a uniform and he took the Vietnam-era escape hatch from combat by volunteering for the Texas Air National Guard, a path for many privileged young men in the Sixties and early ’70s.

How different our public political discourse might be if we’d had a draft — a fair draft, a universal service requirement for all young citizens — all these years.

Louis Székely


Now that I think about it, Louis CK did talk a lot, a lot, a lot about his pud.

Whether he’s whacking off in the basement next to the water heater in one gag or miming jacking off for long minutes in another (yeah, he did do that), his junk plays a lot in his comedy and, apparently, in his overall life.

Smoke. Fire.


Hot Air: Strong Women

Click The Pic

Here’s yesterday Big Talk with HOPE Mentoring project founder and director Theresa Ochoa.

Sex Roles

Sat in on a meeting the other night. About ten people, four women and six men. The men, natch dominated the discussion, as they always do. A couple of them were experts without peer, if their miens and postures and papal-like pronouncements were any indications. The fellow who chaired the meeting suffered them with grace and patience. Not that much of what they had to add to the conversation wasn’t valuable, but their carriages and attitudes suggested infallibility.

One of the women wasn’t so fortunate as to be endowed with such insight and wisdom, nor did she possess, of course, male genitalia. The meeting was supposed to be informational, so all of us in attendance could could know the proper procedures and processes to do our jobs. Unfortunately, the aforementioned men spoke as if everyone in the room should know all the latest and most advanced techniques and developments in our field. They spoke in a patois, throwing out technical terminology, speaking like tsars issuing ukases.

After a few moments of such posturing, one of the women piped up. “Excuse me,” she said, “but what are we talking about? I don’t understand everything that’s being said.”

At that moment, the woman became my favorite person in the room. I, too, had been baffled by much of the discussion to that point. She, though, was the only human in the room with the guts and smarts to say, Whoa!

The fellow who chaired the meeting threw the emergency brake and patiently explained what was being said. The infallible guys, the ones who spoke from on high, bit their lips.

I’ve just described pretty much every meeting in the world today that includes both men and women.


Hot Air: Nuts & Bolts

Nutella Nuttiness

Do you love Nutella? I do. Or did. I was intro’d to it decades ago by a pal who’d visited Seville, Spain and came back with the news that everybody — he stressed everybody — had Nutella on their toast for breakfast.

Well, hell, I figured, I’d better jump on that bandwagon. Even when I found out the stuff was laced with hydrogenated fats, I played devil-may-care and kept cramming my Nutella’d toast into my facehole.

Then, after my taste buds and salivary glands were zapped into near nothingness during last year’s chemoradiation episode, my cravings for sweet chocolate things vanished. I haven’t had Nutella in almost two years now, so I haven’t known about the big news.

That is, the Ferrero Group, maker of Nutella, has changed its recipe. And the sophisticated among us who crave the spread have gone bonkers over it. Ferrero did not announce the change at first. It was discovered by a German food watchdog gang called the Hamburg Consumer Protection Centre. Then there was a social media storm and, finally, Ferrero had to admit it’d upped the percentage of powdered skim milk as well as its sugar content. Both increases meant the total amount of cocoa in Nutella has gone done. Now, the percentage-increases of milk and sugar seem minimal at first glance — 1.2 and .4, respectively — but connoisseurs swear they can taste the diff. Ferrero says they’re nuts.

Speaking of nuts, Ferrero developed Nutella during World War II when there was chocolate rationing in the US. They’d been making a chocolate spread prior to that and, when the US gov’t slashed the co.’s chocolate allotment, it decided to mix in hazelnut paste to stretch the stuff out. Consumers loved it and Nutella’s been a fave every since.

The lesson in all this? You can steal health care coverage from people, funnel the world’s wealth more and more into the pockets of the 1%, and continue to burn fossil fuels at a rate that’ll turn us into Venus or Mercury within a few months, but don’t — repeat, don’t — fuck with their breakfast confection.

All Attitude

It isn’t often that I leap to the defense of our town’s city council but I’m doing so today. Tuesday night’s meeting featuring city planner Terri Porter talking about Bloomington’s draft comprehensive plan was a doozy. She took longtime councilbeing Chris Sturbaum to task.

During the confab, Porter said Sturbaum was “fearmongering” re: the plan’s density proposals. “You’ve taken this in a direction that is not intended,” she finger-wagged. “Worse, you’ve actively promoted division.”

Sturbaum had claimed the plan is contradictory. The plan, acc’d’g to him, calls for both protecting single-family ‘hoods and adding density to same.

Porter said Sturbaum was way off base. Her scolding seemed awfully in keeping with the current mayoral administration’s attitude. Sort of a We know what we’re talking about and you don’t kind of thing.

Sturbaum raised issues that may or may not be valid. It’s Porter’s responsibility to put his and his constituents’ minds at ease. Is he using scare tactics? Search me. Then again, one only has to look at the history of development and redevelopment in these parts over the last, say, 15 years to realize, scared just might be the only reasonable response to talk about the future of this sprawling town.

HOPE Chatter

Tune in this afternoon for this week’s Big Talk. My guest will be Assoc. Prof. Theresa Ochoa of Indiana University’s Dept. of Education and founder/director of HOPE Mentoring. Her


org. connects volunteer undergraduate mentors with kids doing time in any of the state’s three juvenile correctional facilities.

The kids in stir rarely, if ever, think about what they’re going to do with their lives after they’re sprung. If they think at all of what work they might want to do, acc’d’g to Ochoa, they talk about being big movie or music stars or astronauts — the kind of pipe dreams six-year-olds entertain. Ochoa’s volunteers helped steer the kids toward more realistic goals while serving as adult role models and confidants.

Ochoa’s one of the biggest cheerleaders you’ll ever hear. Spin your radio dial to WFHB, 91.3 FM, during today’s Daily Local News at 5pm. Big Talk usually runs at about 5:14 or so. And, as always, I’ll post podcast links here tomorrow morning.

And, hey, in case you missed them, check out this fine pair of articles on Theresa and HOPE that ran earlier this year in the Limestone Post (the pieces weren’t written by me — nevertheless, they’re top-flight).

Non-profit Plutocracy

Did you catch that Democracy Now! piece yesterday AM about the various corporations and uber-wealthy individuals who are parking their millions and billions offshore in a Bermuda tax haven?

It turns out our very own Indiana University, via its foundation, is stashing some of its billions there as well, so as to dodge US taxes. It’s all legit, natch, but gosh dang, it stinks to high heaven when a state institution that purports to be a non-profit and brags every chance it gets about how its sole purpose in this universe is to serve the highest and best interests of the general public involves itself in a scheme like this. Dodging taxes sure as hell doesn’t fit that suit, babies.

The IU angle was a WFHB News exclusive yesterday.

Hot Air: Joan, Janet & J-school 101

Joan Didion made her bones with the publication of her groundbreaking series of magazine articles that were eventually collected in a book describing the wild and woolly, the groovy and the far-out California of the Sixties.

The book was called Slouching Towards Bethlehem and was published in 1968. One of the essays in the book takes the reader into San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, the locus of burgeoning hippiedom and headquarters for 1967’s “Summer of Love.” Didion writes of visiting a very young mother and her five-year-old daughter. The little girl, it turns out, is tripping on LSD, given to her by her parents. Didion presents the scene in the detached manner of the professional journalist. In later years it’d be learned that Didion was repulsed by much of what she saw in the Haight. But her reporting style demanded she allow the reader to come to her or his own moral conclusions. The piece is a staple of J-school courses on maintaining objectivity in non-fiction writing.

Didion, now 82, is the subject of a new documentary, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne. Her recollection of the little girl on acid scene serves as the exclamation mark of the film.  Here’s a description of the scene from writer Rebecca Mead in a recent New Yorker piece:

Dunne asks Didion what it was like, as a journalist, to be faced with a small child who was tripping. Didion, who is sitting on the couch in her living room, dressed in a gray cashmere sweater with a fine gold chain around her neck and fine gold hair framing her face, begins. “Well, it was . . .” She pauses, casts her eyes down, thinking, blinking, and a viewer mentally answers the question on her behalf: Well, it was appalling. I wanted to call an ambulance. I wanted to call the police. I wanted to help. I wanted to weep. I wanted to get the hell out of there and get home to my own two-year-old daughter, and protect her from the present and the future. After seven long seconds, Didion raises her chin and meets Dunne’s eye. “Let me tell you, it was gold,” she says. The ghost of a smile creeps across her face, and her eyes gleam. “You live for moments like that, if you’re doing a piece. Good or bad.”

And we wonder why a lot of people despise journalists.

It would follow, then, that the journalists milling around outside the emergency room at Parkland Hospital that sunny November Friday afternoon 54 years ago were nudging and winking at each other because, they too, were witness to news gold. Same thing when the 33 bodies were dug up from under John Wayne Gacy’s house. And how about those journalists who watched the World Trade Center towers collapse?

Great times, no?

Reminds me of the case of former Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke. She’d written a piece in September, 1980, entitled “Jimmy’s World,” the tale of an eight-year-old heroin addict. Cooke described in stunning detail Jimmy’s horrifying home. He’d been, she wrote, addicted to junk since he was five. Here’s a graf from the story:

Jimmy’s is a world of hard drugs, fast money and the good life he believes both can bring. Every day, junkies casually buy herion from Ron, his mother’s live-in-lover, in the dining room of Jimmy’s home. They “cook” it in the kitchen and “fire up” in the bedrooms. And every day, Ron or someone else fires up Jimmy, plunging a needle into his bony arm, sending the fourth grader into a hypnotic nod.

The nation was aghast. And Cooke and the Post reaped the highest award journalists can win in this holy land — the Pulitzer Prize.

Only it was all a lie. Cooke had fabricated the story. That one and, it turned out, several others. She was forced to return her award and has since left journalism. On the other hand, her talents certainly lie elsewhere, as the poet Gabriel Garcia Marquez observed: “[I]t was unfair that she won the Pulitzer Prize, but also unfair that she didn’t win the Nobel Prize in Literature.” Some 16 years later, Cooke sold the rights to the story of her “story” to Tri-Star Pictures for a cool $1.6 million.

Like Didion said, it was gold.


My journalistic idol, Mike Royko, reacted strongly to the Cooke fiasco. He speculated about how the Post editors read the story and, presumably, rubbed their hands together in greedy glee, thinking they had a real winner here. In the story, Cooke wrote that she called the kid “Jimmy” because she’d sworn to protect the identities of him and his caretakers, as well as all the other adults in the room in exchange for access. Post editors, Royko rightly noted, played along with the agreement because it was more important to them to have a blockbuster story than to, perhaps, rescue an eight-year-old from living hell. Royko wrote:

I’ll tell you what I would have done if I had been the editor and a young reporter came to me with that same story. I would have said something like this:

I want the name of the kid now. I want the name of the mother. I want the name of the guy giving the kid heroin. We’re going to have that sonofabitch put in jail, and we’re going to save that kid’s life. After we do that, then we’ll have a story.

But would it be gold?

Shayne In Spain

Should you find yourself around a copy of the current Ryder magazine (dated Oct. 9 to Nov. 20), pick the danged thing up and check out Shayne Laughter‘s piece on her fabulous jaunt into Spain this past summer.

The lucky dog, she’d hooked up with some kind of English-language immersion program for adult Spaniards so, for two weeks in July, she held court at some sweet digs — a luxe hotel in Madrid as well as some venerable castle out in the Iberian boondocks.

Apparently, the gig is open to all who fancy themselves fair teachers of our tongue, have the spare couple  of weeks, and can pop for the trans-Atlantic round-trip fare.

The whole shebang sounded like a hell of a lot of fun.

[MG Note: The piece hasn’t been posted yet on the Ryder website so you’ve got to go old school and find a hard copy.]


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Hot Air: Lightning Hits

When Normalcy Returns

I’m just assuming that one day in the foreseeable future we’ll again have a president and an administration that don’t stun us with their childishness, their pettiness, their ignorance, and their thin skin every single goddamned day of the week.

Will we become bored then?

Then & Now

I noticed the other day that gasoline had hit $2.79 a gallon. Quite a jump from a few months ago when, IIRC, the price-per had dipped, albeit briefly, below two bucks.

It made me think of Nov. 2009, eight years ago exactly, when Barack Obama stood at the same point in his new presidency as the Bad Man who holds the same office today. Similarly, gas prices had leapt during O’s first year.

Social media went wild with people shrieking that the rise in the cost of motion lotion was due solely to the presence of BHO in the White House and, further, was concrete proof that he was a (pick one):

  • Communist
  • Kenyan
  • Muslim mole
  • Secret homosexual
  • Cocaine addict

This year? Those same people have been oddly quiet.


The governor of a state tweeting prayers in the aftermath of tragedy is code for, “Ain’t nothin’ I can do for ya.”


Neighborhood/town/city/country reels after shooting/bombing/flood/tornado/hurricane is journalists’ code for “I left my Roget’s at home today.”

The Real Heroes

I’m sure those mourning their murdered loved ones are feeling quite a tad better this AM knowing that Sarah Silverman and Britney Spears have chimed in on yesterday’s mass shooting in Texas.

Hack Writer

As for Donna Brazile’s book, it’s best to keep in mind the raisons d’etre for any and all political books written by candidates, operatives, or power brokers are to portray the authors as extraordinarily perceptive and heroic and/or to absolve them of sin.


So, the “antifa apocalypse,” AKA the civil war-cum-overthrow that was scheduled to begin Saturday, per Fox News, Alex Jones’ InfoWars, and every other lunatic-run “news” organization in this holy land didn’t come off.

My, my, my…, how to explain that? Oh, yes! It was the president himself who thwarted it!

Don’t ask how. It’s best not to ask too many questions at all. Just sleep tightly now, kids.

Fire & Rain

Lots of folks have been lamenting the lack of fall colors this year, with some of them attributing it to our rainless summer and early fall.

Let me assure you, the colors yesterday were out in…, well, Technicolor™, for pity’s sake. The Loved One and I motored through Brown County State Park, then out to Columbus, and finally through Seymour and back toward civilization via State Roads 50 and 446. The colors were vivid.

Enjoy them now when you have the chance.

As we sped westward in SR 50, brilliant, jarring flashes of lightning exploded in the distance. TLO, no fan of threatening weather, immediately whipped out her smartphone and put herself in touch with every meteorological service known to humankind. “Tornado warning,” she announced, somberly.

Sure enough, when we turned north on 446, the skies opened up, the winds howled, and atom bomb blast thunderclaps buffeted us. We had to pull over for long minutes. The wind not only rocked our hot rod from left to right but at certain moments, up and down.

I loved it. She didn’t.

Anyway, here are some color images and a shot of the deluge.

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