Hot Air: Not Budging An Inch

President Gag basically told this holy land’s intelligence people, both the individuals and organizations — of which their are an astounding many — that he buys Vladimir Putin’s bullshit more than their’s. Not that everything the spooks and spies of America come up with is bullshit but, well, y’know, Saddam and WMDs, 9/11, Vietnam, the Shah, Allende, Pinochet, Arbenz, the communist witch hunts — need I go on? Nevertheless, it’d be nice for the President of the United States to sorta stand behind his intelligence community.

Especially when standing at a podium next to the world’s most renowned practitioner of the spy arts and sciences.

And especially when the aforementioned master Russian spy has directed his sundry apparatus to eff with American democracy, such as it is — or was in 2016. I mean, big money and nefarious oligarchs and ideologues in this country for years have been throwing their own wrenches into the gears of our voting processes. Did the lupine Putin really need to float all those rumors, innuendoes, faux news stories, and shifty memes when our body politic has been so thoroughly tainted in the favor of our own avaricious wolves already?

Anyway, we Americans feel violated, what with Putin’s slimy fingers poking around in our voting booths. And the entire world knows he did it — except for you know who.

We can tolerate our own bad guys despoiling democracy but, gosh dang it, we’ll be damned if we’re gonna let some foreigner do it. Only, the way P. Gag is treating Putin, the Russkie strongman won’t be considered foreign on these shores for too much longer, it seems.

Li’l Duce and those who love him would like nothing better than for the US and Russia to become a hand-in-hand single entity devoted to the holy purpose of unfettered capitalism run by amoral plutocrats, with the pops. of our respective great nations serving only as docile, malleable producers and consumers. For pity’s sake, it was, after all, the Russians who came through for the Trump Empire when P. Gag’s American and western European lenders cut him off from the money teat. He owes Putin et al, and gladly.

None of this, meanwhile, means a goddamned thing to the people who voted for the Republican candidate for president nearly two years ago now. Like the rest of America, they’ve dug in theirs heels and are now engaged with the other side — my side — in a bizarre form of trench warfare. We won’t give them an inch nor will they give us one.

President Gag and his adorers don’t need any inches from me.

Don’t Miss It

Here’s the link to the podcast of Thursday’s Big Talk featuring publisher Dave Torneo of Ledge Mule Press and the poet Chris Mattingly, whose newest compilation, The Catalyst, is due out any day now from Torneo’s factory.

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm on Bloomington’s WFHB, 91.3 FM. And make sure to catch Big Mike’s B-town, in which a selected Big Talk guest is profile by me in the Limestone Post every fourth Thursday.

Talk soon.

Hot Air: Tons Of Fun

Words & Music

Big Talk Thursday again. My guests this week are the poet and the publisher, respectively, Chris Mattingly and Dave Torneo. The two are releasing Mattingly’s new collection of poetry, The Catalyst, his fourth book, later this month, under Torneo’s imprint, Pickpocket Books.

Mattingly (L) & Torneo in 2015 [Image: Limestone Post]

Funny thing is, each can be described by the other’s label. Torneo, a founder of Ledge Mule Press, is also a poet and obsessive letter-writer and Louisville’s Mattingly has a long history of working in the handmade, old-school, letter press book binding world.

Mattingly, BTW, years ago earned an athletic scholarship to the baseball hotbed Olney Central College, some 30 miles west of Vincennes as the crow flies. The erstwhile shortstop has the diamond game genes in him — his uncle is the former all-star first baseman for the New York Yankees, Don Mattingly. Chris, though, heeded the call of the Muse Erato and eventually became professor of poetry and literature at L-ville’s Bellarmine College, one-time home of social activist/Trappist monk Thomas Merton. Mattingly’s poetry is inspired by — and often can become — music.

Torneo, for his part, has a 30-year history of working with people in need, spending a number of years as a counselor for runaway and at-risk kids. Now he works as a case manager for CASA, the court-appointed special advocates for kids whose parents have gotten tangled up in the county’s justice system.

Mattingly, Torneo, IU prof Ross Gay, and several others used to run around together in a writing group headquartered at the late, lamented 4th Street coffeehouse, the Green Bean. There, they founded Ledge Mule Press.

Give a listen later this afternoon at 5:30 on WFHB, 91.3 FM. And, as always, I’ll post the podcast link here tomorrow AM.

Drink! Drink! Drink!

You think we have problems here in Bloomington with underaged binge drinking? Dang, mang, y’oughtta visit the University of Wisconsin-Stout. And no, that’s not a pun.

George Washington University English professor Margaret Soltan writes a blog called University Diaries, in which she decries the Twilight Zone-ish state our holy land’s institutes of higher ed find themselves in these days. She recently pointed out that things got so bad in Stout a couple of years ago that UW-Stout staffers actually went door-to-door to plead with students living off-campus to try, please, pretty please, to control dumping alcohol down their gullets in volumes resembling rainwater in a culvert during a summer deluge.

In a scene reminiscent of recent events here in B-ton, university and town officials stood on their heads to try to curb the entrepreneurial impulses of a certain few bar owners. Those proprietors had come up with any number of gimmicks to get students — both those over and under 21 — to pour spirits and brews into themselves. The ensuing rape culture and sport-violence many students consider requisite parts of their educational programs seem not to ruffle the feathers of the aforementioned publicans.

Meanwhile, sez me, a burgeoning number of college grads find themselves saddled with lifelong student loan debt and lessening prospects for good jobs.

Ain’t America great?

[h/t to loyal Pencillista George Bull]

His Pizza Isn’t The Worst Thing About Him

Meanwhile — again, thanks to Pencillista Bull — we learn that Indiana’s own Ball State University is a grateful recipient of big dough from disgraced former Papa John’s Pizza racist-in-chief John Schnatter.

Even though Schnatter, whose long history of tone-deafness and utter insensitivity to racial issues cost him his job at the top of the pizza-like product empire, Ball State has yet to announce it’ll scratch his name off the new John H. Schnatter Institute for Entreprenship and Free Enterprise on the Muncie campus. See, Schnatter and his right wing, Rand-ian, aspiring overlords of the globe at ALEC gleefully footed the bill for the fascist-capitalist shrine to Darwinian economics.

So, for the foreseeable future, a big Ball State facility will continue to bear the name of a man who thinks race relations aren’t so bad nowadays as long as we refrain from chaining black men to the backs of pickup trucks and dragging them to their agonizing deaths.

Dang, all you belly-aching black folks out there, what more do you want from us white people?

Journal-Ism

Back when The Loved One and I first arrived in this town, I started working for WFHB’s then-news director Chad Carrothers as a reporter along side the affectionately-ncknamed “news hound” Shayne Laughter.

She’s since migrated over to WFIU where she now produces a spanking-new podcast called Reader’s Radar, in which she aggregates and recaps compelling pieces from the still-thriving world of literary journals.

Laughter reads selected pieces from the many Hoosier journals still in existence and will interview the producers thereof about why they continue to do what in the hell they do. It’s been said, ad nauseum, that people don’t read anymore. Yet literary journals continue to publish and aspiring writers continue to submit creative, often fascinating work to them.

Yet another reason why I dig living in this sprawling megalopolis the most.

Beaulé Ball

Those of you who know Cindy Beaulé are aware she’s one of the most beloved of Bloomingtonians. An inveterate activist, volunteer, patron of the arts, and cultural touchstone in her own right, Cindy has amassed a lengthy list of pals and admirers around these parts.

Beaulé and her boy, Steve Pollitt.

She’s turning 60 this year and — to her great credit — isn’t afraid to say so. In fact, she’s throwing herself a big 60th b-day bash Thursday, August 30th, at the Players Pub. The orgy of music and fun also will be a benefit for WFHB, which happens to be celebrating its 25 anniversary this year as well.

See you there.

Hot Air: Fly, Robin, Fly

Faceless

You can be excused for thinking workplace sexual harassment is an evil exclusive to big time board rooms, movie producers’ offices and living rooms, US Senate chambers, or television studios. Corporate media coverage of the metoo movement seems to have focused almost exclusively on those scenes of the crime. In fact, the vast, vast, vast majority of cases of bosses wielding their might over working women in an effort to get their junk fondled takes place in the most modest, unassuming and all too common job sites — restaurant kitchens, break rooms, real estate offices, factory cafeterias, and all the other locales where tens of millions of women earn a sliver more than minimum wage.

Of course, those women aren’t glamorous or wealthy enough for the rest of us to give a single fk about.

At least, that’s what the decision-makers at the likes of CNN and the USA Today must think.

And that’s why people like Alissa Quart and Barbara Ehrenreich are invaluable to a land that likes to pat itself on the back for having a vibrant, free press. The two penned a recent piece in the New York Review of Books about the faceless victims of all the criminal extortions covered by what we now so casually refer to as metoo.

You’ve read me extolling Ehrenreich to the skies time and again in these precincts. Her books, Nickel & Dimed and Bright-Sided, are dead-on indictments of the moral, political, and financial rot at the center of our timid new world. I don’t know much about Quart at this moment but you can bet I’ll be reading up on her, in depth, sooner rather than later.

Music Man

We had a neat Big Talk this past Thursday with Darran Mosley, DJ and KJ. In case you’re the biggest square on the planet who doesn’t know what a KJ is — as I was before I found out about it a couple of weeks ago — it’s a karaoke jockeyNote: If I have to explain what a DJ is, forget it — you’re beyond redemption.

Anyway, Mosley runs Misfit Toy Entertainment, an outfit he founded with the express purpose of making karaoke fun and dynamic, rather than the same old flotsam your dull-as-a-PBS-pledge-drive cousin thinks is wacky-creative because she sang “Afternoon Delight” at a karaoke bar Saturday night.

Darran’s various karaoke venues around town have given rise to a mad group of folks who call themselves the Misfits.

Go here for the podcast of our interview and here for my written profile of him in the Limestone Post.

The Things I Do For You

Speaking of heroes (weren’t we?), I am one.

Yeah. For the greater good of this global communications colossus, I googled “Afternoon Delight” videos in an effort to provide the inserted media, above. As you can see, I actually found a karaoke version of the song. As always, I reviewed the vid before posting just to make sure it didn’t suddenly cut to an ISIS call to bomb the Trojan Horse or some golden showers porn — hacker kids can be so whimsical, can’t they?

So, at this moment in time, I’m suffering PTSD effects from listening to the song, in toto. I can state categorically that “Afternoon Delight” has to be one of the two or three worst songs ever committed to a master tape (it was recorded in 1976, before digital). I feel as though my life has been somehow diminished by hearing the melody, the lyrics — hell, everything about the goddamned thing.

Our state’s immortal literary icon, Kurt Vonnegut, once commented on the Comedy Central show “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” That was the ’90s, meta-critical schlock movie spoof wherein a guy and two robot friends sat in silhouette before a movie theater screen and made jokes about the dreck being shown. The movies included abominations like The Giant Gila Monster and Kitten with a Whip. Vonnegut was mightily offended by the premise of the show. Any work of art and, by extension, any artist, the great fantasist/novelist said, deserved respect.

Sorry, Kurt baby, you’re wrong. Some “works of art” belong in the garbage. And some “artists” ought to consider another line of work. It must be assumed Vonnegut had never been to the Museum of Contemporary Art, say. There are horrible paintings, execrable movies, and toxic songs.

John McCracken, “Untitled,” 1967, fiberglass, polyester resin, and wood.

Somehow, some way, the writer and producer of the aforementioned audio abomination, someone named Bill Danoff of the Starland Vocal Band, convinced a record company to finance his song, commit it to vinyl, package it in a fancy sleeve festooned with drawings, ship millions of copies of it all around the world, and pay him honest money for his efforts. Worst of all, millions of human beings around the globe actually purchased the disc, earning it a gold record.

I put it to you, dear reader: Listen to the video and try to tell me Danoff, Windstar Records, and the people who professed to like “Afternoon Delight” don’t deserve to be ridiculed and pilloried.

You can’t do it.

Now This Is Art

Are you ready for the latest Ross Gay book? Hell, his last poetry compilation, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, still is a hot seller at the Book Corner.

Nevertheless, writer’s gotta write, so Ross is releasing yet another tome to add to his previous collections of funny, heartbreaking, lovable, likable, soaring poems. Only this one won’t be strictly poetry — although I’ll bet he’ll figure out a way to squeeze in some meter somewhere along the line. The book is due out in February, 2019, and will be entitled The Book of Delights: Essays, released under the Workman Publishing imprint of Algonquin Books.

Dig this quote about Ross, uttered by none other than Pulitzer Prize winner and United States poet laureate Tracy K. Smith:

Ross Gay’s eye lands upon wonder at every turn, bolstering my belief in the countless small miracles that surround us.

Dang, mang. As I implied in this entry’s headline, Ross Gay is the real deal.,

Hot Air: It’s a Glabfest

Fertile

Bette Nesmith Graham invented Liquid Paper™ and gave birth to the Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith. Wow. Two very definitive pieces of Americana. Betsy Ross got nuffin’ on her.

Anyway, she’s the subject of today’s historical obituary in the New York Times‘ cool series, “Overlooked No More.”

Big Talk

It’s double-header Thursday once again (and, kiddies, these four-week intervals flying by so quickly are scaring the bejesus out of me — I mean, how the hell many of them do I have left?) My guest on Big Talk is DJ/KJ Darran Mosley. (Betcha didn’t know KJ stands for karaoke jockey.) He’s also lead singer for the Prince tribute band, Royalty, and self-decribed “old-school funkmasters,” the Dynamics.

Mosley (R) and KJ Coley D. [Image: Andrew Grodner/Limestone Post]

Tune in this afternoon to WFHB, 91.3 FM, for the interview. And any minute, my profile of him will appear in the Limestone Post.

As always, c’mon back here tomorrow AM for links to both the podcast and the written piece.

More Women

For years, I’d wondered whatever happened to the standup comedian Elayne Boosler. She was big back in the ’80s when standup was exploding. Everybody and her brother were trying to become the next Jerry Seinfeld, Bobcat Goldthwait, Richard Lewis, or Bill Hicks. Hell, a couple of entire cable channels devoted exclusively to comedy arose, thanks the the mania for standup.

At the time, I was studying improv under Del Close and Charna Halpern at Chicago’s then-named ImprovOlympic (now IO, thanks the the International Olympic Committee’s snarling trademark attorneys). The likes of Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Lili Taylor, Jeff Garlin, Tim Meadows, the brothers Bill and Joel Murray, Betty Thomas, Jon Favreau, and many others swirled around the Close/Halpern scene at the time. All my fellow students were agog and dreaming of making it big.

For my money, one of the funniest of the ’80s standups was Elayne Boosler. But, sadly for her, it was about 20 years too soon for the rest of America to embrace a female comic who simply told jokes. Women comedians had to have some other shtick. Boosler was neither overtly sexy or over-the-top anti-glamor. She simply told jokes But being funny, alone, wasn’t enough for America to embrace a woman comic. It’d take pioneers like Roseanne Barr and, later, Tine Fey, among others, to break down that barrier.

Boosler (R) with the immortal Don (Popeye) Zimmer.

My favorite Boosler line was when she opened her act by saying, “I don’t have any kids — that I know of.” That was funny, but a little scary for Mom & Pop America. She was implying that, well, she just liked sport sex. We got over that hump, at last, by the late ’90s when it was learned that even wholesome-looking White House interns could want to give a blow job to the President of the United States.

It turns out Boosler’s still alive and still doing comedy in various forms. She squeezes in her stage and creative work with tons political activism these days, as she advocates for various liberal causes, reproductive rights, and animal rescue.

In a CNN op-ed the other day, Boosler took on a lot of people’s Get Out of Jail Free card these days — that is, the tired excuse that jerks employ after they’ve blurted out a racial epithet, smeared women, ridiculed the lame and the halt, or advocated the gunning down of whatever population group that annoys them on any particular day. “It was a joke,” they like to say. And we’re supposed to forgive them for their assholiness.

Uh-uh, says Boosler. Check it out.

More More Women

For years, too, back when I lived in Chi. and had to negotiate the Dante’s Circle of Hell madness that is O’Hare Airport, I’d always pass by Bessie Coleman Drive. It was the re-circulator route for cabbies or for people who’d missed their drop-off gate the first time around and had to go back to find the right one.

I always wondered, Who in the hell was Bessie Coleman?

Last night, thanks to a bout of insomnia, I binge-watched episodes of Last Week with John Oliver. Lo and behold, he mentions Bessie Coleman. Click on over to the specific episode to find out how he cites her (at the 21:38 mark).

Anyway, Bessie Coleman, it turns out, was the first African-American and Native American woman to hold a pilot’s license in this holy land. The Land-of-the-Free in the 1920s didn’t allow either African-American or Native American women to hold pilot’s licenses. Suffering that double-whammy, she was forced to learn to speak French and travel to Paris where she could earn an international pilot’s license. By such a hook and crook she was able to return to this country as a recognized aviator. Coleman went on to become a celebrated barnstorming stunt pilot.

Coleman

I just thought you might like to know.

Hot Air: Unreal Reality

Several times in the last few days I’ve seen news reports referring to President Gag’s “big reveal” — that is, the announcement of his second US Supreme Court nomination.

The reports did indeed use that term “big reveal” or, simply, “reveal.”

The Supreme Court, one of the three so-called pillars of our our democracy, along with the Executive and the Legislative branches, is charged with keeping those two in check as well as interpreting our Constitution and setting moral and legal guidelines for our society. It was the Supreme Court, after all that outlawed separate but (in)equal, that declared abortion to be a private matter between a woman and her physician, that elevated corporations to the level of personhood, that banned state laws outlawing interracial and same-sex marriage, that threw the 2000 election to George W. Bush, and that ruled Dred Scott was not a United States citizen.

So, you see, the Court’s decisions can range from enlightened to tyrannical to boneheaded, depending on your POV. Whether you agree with the sitting members or not in any particular case, you must concede that the work of the Court is vital and definitive of us as a people.

It’s important, in other words. So important that it should be treated with utmost respect.

Employing reality TV show terminology to describe the announcement of a potential new member may be appropriate, considering we are now ruled by a reality TV show president, but it still sucks.

It strikes me as tasteless and ignorant.

Then again, so is the man doing the “revealing.”

Last Week; This Week

My guest on this past Thursday’s Big Talk was Paula Chambers, founder of the Hudsucker Posse and the big boss of FlowMotion Events.

Paula Chambers [Image: Aaron Lingenfelter]

My guest this coming Thursday will be Darran Mosley, described as “the hardest-working man in Bloomington,” a DJ and karaoke host as well as the founder of Misfit Toy Entertainment. The Limestone Post will be running a profile of him (by me) that day as well.

Darran Mosley

Go here for the link to the Chambers interview podcast. Stand by for links to the Mosley podcast and the magazine article until they become available Thursday.

Hot Air: This Is The Moment

When Li’l Duce transmogrified into President Gag, I predicted he wouldn’t last long as Commander-in-Chief. It wasn’t because he’d be impeached, a prospect I find about as likely as me winning the Indiana State Lottery (I don’t play). I figured he’d quit the job when its enormity overwhelmed him. He never really wanted the job. He ran as lark, hoping to up his Q-rating and enhance his and his family’s brand. He had no interest in doing the dirty work of being president — you know, things like monitoring all the departments and agencies of the government of the world’s richest, most powerful and third most populous nation, maintaining good and efficient relations with all this nation’s allies, and keeping a watchful eye on its rivals and enemies. Oh, and setting a moral and cultural tone for the 330 million of us.

These are things a president must do. These responsibilities take up every waking moment of the typical president’s day. Prior to the P. Gag era, occupants of the Oval Office appeared to age some 20 years after their first six months in the hot seat.

We know Li’l Duce didn’t want the job because enough insiders have leaked his and his people’s chagrin that, for chrissakes, he did win the goddamned 2016 election. They all basically said, Shit, now we’re stuck!

I figured he’d luxuriate in all the pomp and circumstance, dig all the trappings, tumesce over all the generals saluting him, thrill over bands playing “Hail to the Chief” whenever he walked into a room, rub shoulders with real statespeople and world leaders, and, after six months or so, say All that’s great but, man, those Cabinet meetings, and that strategizing, and the worries, and…, and…, and…, I gotta get the hell outta here!

What I never really and truly foresaw was the fact that he had no intention of doing the honest work of the president. Oh sure, I was hip to his nefarious plan — to an extent. His first choice for running mate was Ohio Sen. John Kasich. Candidate Trump, sources said, offered Kasich the job and promised him, essentially, You’re going to be doing the dirty work; I’m going to gad about the country as making America great again. Kasich, to his credit, turned the offer down. But, silly me, I figured there’d be no way Trump could shirk the actual duties of the office.

Well, whaddya know? So far the Gag presidency has turned out just exactly as he envisioned it. Our dear C-in-C tweets and pontificates, revels in the folderol, and prances around, literally and figuratively, like a tin-pot dictator while the wet dreams of Vice President Pence and the rest of the Capitalist/Darwinist, Rand-ian true believers are encoded into law or put into practice. The only real toil the president does now is sign executive orders and have his picture taken. The rest of his day is taken up with the delicious task of reminding the country and the world that he’s the leader of, and the biggest man in, the aforementioned richest, most powerful nation on the planet.

Guess what. For Li’l Duce the job of president has turned out to be unexpectedly, surprisingly, hell, shockingly easy.

Guess what again. He’s not going to quit. In fact, he’s going to run again. Not only that, should polls and other tea leaf readings indicate his hold on the job may be less than absolutely assured, he’s going to really get to work.

Would you believe he might not leave the White House should the electorate choose to evict him?

I would.

You think that’s crazy? About as crazy as imagining him, some two or three years ago, actually becoming president in the first place.

As Michael Moore said on Bill Maher’s show Friday night:

In The Handmaid’s Tale, the best part of the show are the parts where she tries to figure out where was the point that it was too late? Where was the point where if we had all just risen up, we’d just done something? But because it happens in little increments — that’s how fascism works…. this is the moment.

With P. Gag about to name yet another Supreme Court Justice, with the Democratic Party being a pusillanimous collection of good little hall monitors and scared bunnies, and with white male America terrified that its position of power and privilege is slipping away as the country’s demographics change and motivated to do what it takes to stay on top, yeah, this is the moment.

Hot Air: Saturday Smash-Up

Hair, Etc.

Fifty years is a long time. And times change. In the mid-1960s, long hair was the marker, the coded symbol of one’s dedicated to The Revolution. Even if one was jittery about breaking a fingernail or tearing the knee of one’s trousers in the struggle to overthrow The Man, one could grow one’s hair down to the floor, if need be, to demonstrate solidarity with the cause.

Then, of course, The Man commodified long hair and, by the mid-’70s, everybody had a mane. In fact, even The (main) Man himself, Lyndon Johnson, let it flow shortly before he died in 1973:

In any case, for a few short years, if you wore your hair long (and this includes women)…

… everybody who caught sight of you would know where you stood on the political spectrum.

For pity’s sake, the definitive Broadway musical about the ’60s was entitled, natch, Hair.

That was then.

Now, there’s a new marker, a new coded symbol in town. Especially in a college town, which is where this dispatch originates. Now it’s not hair but sexual ambiguity and gender indeterminacy that signifies who the revolutionaries are. More and more, young people are eschewing, for instance, pronouns like she and he for the egalitarian they. Bisexuality, omnisexuality, and pansexuality are all the rage these days among the cutting edgers. High school kids bristle at the suggestion they may be either straight or gay. Men wearing skirts and women buzz-cutting their hair

Refusing to identify your preference or your gender is the new flip of the bird, the new flash of the finger to The Man.

Biggs Talk

Only two more performances left for the Cardinal Stage Company’s production of “Fun Home” — heck, the Saturday matinee is playing as I type this.

Anyway, the show closes tomorrow. But you can hear its star, singer/actor/teacher Amanda Biggs on this week’s Big Talk podcast. Go here for that and then give a listen to WFHB‘s Daily Local News Monday when, on the Big Talk Extra segment, she chats about her youth in small town Illinois and her roots the Pentecostal church.

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm and Big Talk Extra is a regular feature of the Daily Local News every Monday at 5pm. Both are on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

Great Migration?

It occurs to me that a lot of people in this holy land may soon be moved to…, well, move. The polarization that we see and hear today in mass and social media just may begin to play itself out geographically.

Those who can will at least consider moving to states whose legislatures and traditions more comfortably fit their own worldviews. Just as soon as the US Supreme Court allows states to outlaw abortion, for instance, women will come to understand that some states they live in (Indiana, for one) may be hostile territory for them. Women who cherish reproductive rights — and have the dough to do it — will scoot off to more compatible climes like California and Massachusetts.

We just may start seeing a new migration, that of progressive or left-leaning middle- and upper-middle class people relo-ing over the next 25 to 50 years. It’ll be a hell of a boon for long-distance moving companies. And the home stores like Lowe’s will reap a huge benefit from all those customers hoping to gussy up their new cribs.

The poor, meanwhile, will be stuck where they are, for obvious reasons. That means huge populations of hand-to-mouth blacks, Latinos, and whites (those who lean left) will be trapped in places like Houston or Cleveland even as their states make their very lives all that much more difficult by dismantling social safety nets, allowing discrimination, more effectively restricting their voting access, and enacting more draconian laws directed, specifically, at them. That’ll be a hell of a problem for the state legislatures of the likes of Texas  and Ohio. The white senators and representatives in those statehouses will panic as the minority pops. of their big cities grow restive. Naturally, the legislators will eventually authorize force to keep those rabbles docile.

Look for a series of modern-day “long, hot summers” as history repeats itself.

Hell, this may be the start of the eventual break-up of this holy land. I don’t see the United States of America existing in its current form by the turn of the next century. More likely, we’ll see a loose confederation of regions, tied together economically and by the corporations whose wide-ranging tentacles reach into all of our present 50 states. The federal government will become that which de-constructionists have wet-dreamed about for decades, existing only to support a massive military to protect the new US — or however we may refer to ourselves — from outside threats.

And all those state’s rights advocates, those antediluvians we thought had been put in their place in the 60s and 70s, will finally get their way.

 

 

Hot Air: Strength & Sanity

They Too

It’s a lousy topic, one that’ll normally make you want to retch but there are heartening stories coming out of it. I’m speaking of the workplace sexual harassment epidemic that has exploded into the nation’s consciousness the last few years.

The New York Times today features the stories of 18 women and two men who’ve been groped, grabbed, threatened, pressured, and/or otherwise made to understand by their bosses or coworkers that if they didn’t fuck the latters, they’d suffer professionally.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some Of The Faces & Names Of Strength

[Images: New York Times]

Merely coming out and calling attention to such extortion meant risking the formers’ livelihoods and reputations. Yet these people did it.

They’re all tough as nails. And some 165 million females in this holy land owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

Read the piece, and you’ll feel just a touch better in the aftermath of the suckers’ game their bosses tried to force them to play.

Oh, I Get Talkers

My guest on Big Talk this afternoon will be singer, actor, teacher, and mother, Amanda Biggs.

She’s just finishing up her star turn as Alison Bechdel in the Cardinal Stage Company’s production, “Fun Home.” The musical is based on Bechdel’s fabulous, groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, wherein the author/artist writes and draws about her wildly “functional dysfunctional” family home. Biggs tells us the “fun” in the title is short for funeral, which is what the place was, a funeral home.

Biggs As Cartoonist Alison Bechdel.

It also was a madhouse as Bechdel struggled with her sexual identity and her father, an extremely troubled man, worked his fingers to the bone to conceal his own DL sexual preference. In fact, Bechdel’s daddy-o was burdened by a criminal predilection for young lads. Bechdel’s mom did her level best to hold things together but, in the end, couldn’t because the family’s fabric of normality and decency had been frayed too badly.

Biggs swears the play will change your life so, if you’ve a mind to, click on over to the Cardinal Stage Co. and get your ducats now. The show closes with a matinee Sunday, July 1st. That gives you a mere five more chances to see Biggs & co. do their thing.

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. And each Monday you can catch a little more with Big Talk Extra, a feature of the Daily Local News at 5. Come back here tomorrow AM for the podcast link to today’s show.

Hot Air: Inflammation, Immigration, Incarceration…

…A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You

I’m going to throw this out into the world and see what people think: the current mania for something called Whole30 and the fact that some 63 million people voted for Donald Trump (and continue to defend him to this day) are two sides of the same coin.

That is, huge numbers of people desperately want a simple — nay, simplistic — solution to a set of complicated problems.

Discuss.

Jail Baiting

In the olden days, people running organizations both private and public would toss out verkackte figures, be called out on their errors, and respond, “One day in the future, when we get computers in here, we won’t have problems like this!” Say your bank sent you an urgent message saying you were overdrawn even though you knew you’d tossed a pile of checks into your account the week before. It’d take days or even weeks for the institution to sort through all the numbers and then you’d get an apology note saying, Oops, our error. In the meantime, your account’d be frozen and you’d have to borrow the scratch to pay the month’s rent,

All because, probably, some pencil pusher had put a decimal point in the wrong place or some such trivial slip.

Well, now we’ve got computers in every possible here, both private and public, and — guess what — we’re still getting verkackte figures.

Our local joint.

To wit: Monroe County jail commander Sam Crowe told the county council a couple of months ago that jail bookings had increased in a “staggering” manner from 2016 to 2017. The county jail, sed he, played gracious host last year to 53 percent more guests than the previous annum. Now that’s a gigantic jump. Naturally, wits and wags went searching under the cushions for all sorts of reasons why. The most popular explanation, just as naturally, was the drug epidemic. Everybody and her brother is addicted to, using, selling, or otherwise connected to opioids, meth, or junk, goes the conventional wisdom. So of course our jail is filling up faster than our dear president’s spanking new immigrant detention cages.

Um, oops, our error. Yesterday, Commander Crowe said, basically, Y’know that thing I said a couple of months ago? Forget it, wouldya?

The error, BTW, is proving to be a bone of contention between city and county badge-wearers and, perhaps, it’s even causing some internal harrumphing in county offices.

Turns out the county jail’s big hi-tech computer software is verkackte, at least in this case. Apparently, the jail’s Spillman Ally software, designed to keep track of things like jail bookings and other police and correctional facilities operations, is a bit too complicated for the county’s key punchers. At least that’s the opinion of Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff. In fact, Diekhoff even issued a public offer to Crowe et al to come by the B-ton cop shop and get some remedial lessons in using the software. Crowe, to read the catty comments in today’s Herald Times story, would like nothing better than for Diekhoff to mind his own goddamned business.

Then there’s this: A friend points out that Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain is nowhere to be found in the contretemps. He’s not quoted at all in the article, leading a cynic like me to suppose his stance is, Sammy, baby, this one’s on you. The county pays you a nice salary so go on now and take the heat.

Things were so much simpler in the old days when all a public official had to do was say, Gosh darn it, some sloppy clerk put the decimal point in the wrong place.

 

 

Hot Air: Smart Guy

Y’know who I respect? Hell, who I admire? W. Kamau Bell.

A few years ago, he made a made a highly personal, essentially moral decision. He was just hitting the big time. He’d already had his first big break, hosting his own daily talk show on FXX called Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. It was fun and rollicking as well as profound and informative. And — lo and behold — it was that rarest of creatures, a talk show hosted by a black man.

Bell

Totally Biased was the equivalent of a starter marriage. W.’d gotten his feet wet, made the inevitable mistakes, learned from them, and the show was cancelled after a little more than a year on air. Despite its failure, it was clear W. was ready to burst even brighter on the national television scene.

But rather than leap blindly into the future, W. picked up his phone, and called his agent. “Don’t ever,” he said, “set me up with a show I have to do every day.”

Horrors, right? W.’s career was soaring like a skyrocket and here he was pouring rain on the thing. Who in the hell would do that?

W. did.

Why?

Simple. He didn’t want to sacrifice the rest of his life, hell, his very humanity, to the voracious monster that is daily TV. It takes a special kind of person to do daily TV. A person who prioritizes fame and the attendant big dollars above all things. Putting out a daily national TV talk show eats up 23 hours, 55 minutes of a human being’s day, leaving a scant five minutes or so for that person to do simple human things like hugging his kids or going to the bathroom. Big fame of any sort prohibits the possessor of same from living a decent, normal life. Did you ever wonder why Michael Jordan had a bald head? It’s because he couldn’t even go to the barber w/o being swamped by autograph seekers and other who wanted to touch the hem of his garment. So he went out and bought a barber’s clippers and started shearing himself every morning.

The many famous hosts of daily TV shows must give short shrift to friends, family, kids, the casual reading of books, going for a hike in the woods, playing cards on a whim, or walking down to the convenience store for an ice cream sandwich. All of it falls by the wayside when one has made the commitment to put out a half hour of TV content.

W. Kamau Bell said to hell with all that. He wanted to live a life.

And the decision hasn’t turned out badly at all. He now hosts the ongoing CNN series United Shades of America. He also works on the radio show Kamau Right Now on KALW in San Francisco and the podcasts Politically Reactive with Hari Kondabolu and Denzel Washington Is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period.

I bring this up because our town’s beloved Janet Cheatham Bell, an author and the woman who gave birth to and raised W. Kamau Bell, is moving out of Bloomington. Yep. She’s heading west to the Bay Area so she can live near her son.

Ma Bell

Dang, mang, if I had a kid like W. Kamau Bell I’d want to live near him too!

Which One Are You Again?

Have you ever gotten the feeling that the goings-on in and around the Korean peninsula are confusing?

Try this on for size: The long-time dear leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (AKA North Korea) was named Kim Jong-Il. He died in 2011 and was replaced by his son, Kim Jong-un. Meanwhile, one of the most powerful men in the Republic of Korea (we call it South Korea), a man who pulled so many strings that he was called that nation’s kingmaker, died Saturday. His name? Kim Jong-pil.

I suppose it’s like the three most powerful men in, say, Great Britain being named John Smith, John Smythe, and Jon Smith.

Then again, two of our own holy land’s most recent presidents have been named George Bush so we’ve got no room to talk.

President George Bush (L) & President George Bush

 

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