Hot Air: Heaven On Earth

I woke up out of a dead sleep. I checked the clock — 3:45am. I tried to fall back to sleep and I did, for a bit. I woke up again a half hour later and then a half hour after that, each time straining to see the clock through the fog.

Man, I thought, I can’t wait for the 6:00 o’clock alarm and for the day to begin. More to the point, I can’t wait for 8:00 o’clock tonight.

That’s when the first game of the 2016 World Series begins in Cleveland, Ohio, for the next two days the center of the entire universe. My beloved Cubs arrived there yesterday morning so as to begin the task of transporting me to a higher state of nirvana.

I still can’t fully believe what has happened. I have to remind myself this is all true. For instance, I keep looking at this aerial shot of the Wrigley Field groundskeepers painting the World Series logo on the foul ground sod:


Man, it’s all gotta be real, right?

Talkin’ Big

My gig as host of WFHB‘s Big Talk interview show gives me the opportunity to meet the most fab peeps on this planet — or, at least, within the cozy confines of this sprawling megalopolis. Yesterday I taped Thursday’s show with a couple of hugely creative and focused young people, Bethy Squires and Dalia Davoudi.

Bethy is a freelance writer and one of the driving forces behind Sitcom Theater, a comedy skit gang that skewers, lovingly, sitcoms like Friends on stage. Dalia is a grad student at Indiana University and a key factotum at the Burroughs Century and Wounded Galaxies Festival of Experimental Media. The two of them are now involved in a recreation of the revolutionary and notorious Cabaret Voltaire.

CV was a nightclub in Zurich, Switzerland back when Europe was embroiled in its first attempt to destroy the world. A crew of artists, political radicals, and other such dangerous figures liked to do their cigarette-smoking and absinthe guzzling there and one day in Feb. 2016 essentially formalized their presence when they began meeting, in wildly imaginative costumes, in the nightclub’s backroom. These gatherings became known around the avant garde world and even gave birth to the antiwar, anti-burgeois Dada art movement.

Squires, Davoudi, and some dozens of other similarly avant Hoosiers (and isn’t this the first time in human history that’s ever been typed?) will stage their own Cabaret Voltaire Thursday evening at 9:00pm at the Blockhouse, 205 S. College Ave. Costume-wearing is recommended and even if you can’t quite come up with a good one, they’ll provide masks, etc. at the door for your masquerading pleasure.

My interview with Squires and Davoudi airs Thursday, Oct. 27, during the Daily Local News at 5:30pm.

And, BTW, don’t forget to hie on over to the Buskirk Chumley Theater tomorrow, Wednesday night, for the one-time-only airing here of the documentary Men in the Arena. It’s the story of two young Somali men who endured the horrors of civil war in that godforsaken Horn of Africa nation to become world class soccer players and, now, residents of this holy land. Director J.R. Biersmith will be on hand to take audience Q’s. Biersmith and local promoter Tyler Ferguson joined me on Big Talk last week. Here’s the link to the Daily Local News feature and here’s how you can hear the almost-complete original interview I did with the two (or, you will hear it as soon as I get around to putting the audio track up).

Next week, handmade jigsaw puzzle-maker and theater company director Marc Tschida joins me on Big Talk.

Like I say, I get to meet the coolest folk.

Daydream Believer

Speaking of the six o’clock alarm, that’s a line from this Monkees’ hit, number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in December 1967. The tune was written by John Stewart, a member of the Kingston Trio. Give an ear:

Hot Air

Guy Talk

I see in the papers that the Republican Candidate for President is headed for a thoroughgoing drubbing this fall. He’s behind overall in polls measuring voter preferences across the nation. He’s behind in some heretofore dependable Republican states. He behind among Latino voters. He’s behind among African-American voters. Voters feel that Hillary Clinton “won” the three candidate debates. The Republican establishment is petrified that many of its down-ballot candidates will lose, thanks to voter distaste for the man at the top. In polling among the genders, the RCP is losing dramatically among women.

The fact is, pretty much only men are tilting toward the RCP.

I hereby apologize to the nation and to humanity for “thought processes” of my fellow males.


Big Talk Talk

Following the news this week that IU’s Eskanazi Art Museum will close for three years beginning late next spring for a massive rebuilding project, you may want to check out the Big Track of my interview with museum director David Brenneman. The interview ran on WFHB’s Daily Local News Thursday, September 29th but, as with all Big Talk guests, you can catch the original, pretty-much-unabridged chitchat between Brenneman and me on The Pencil’s Big Talk page.

In the longer track, Brenneman talks about the rebuild. Catch some morsels of info about the Eskanazi’s upcoming plastic surgery in the second half of the interview. The museum will reopen in the spring of 2020.

And speaking of speaking, filmmaker J.R. Biersmith joined me on yesterday’s Big Talk. He directed the documentary, Men in the Arena, a look at the lives of two young Somali men, Sa’ad Hussein and Saadiq Mohammed, who endured the horrors of civil war in their country yet still were able to become top-flight soccer players. Their escape from the war-torn Horn of Africa nation and their subsequent relocation to this holy land are the focal points of Biersmith’s movie. Local soccer maven Tyler Ferguson has arranged for a special showing of the film here in Bloomington Wednesday, October 26, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. She joined us in the WFHB studios for the Biersmith parley.


J.R. Biersmith

Tune in next week for a discussion of the upcoming one-night only recreation of the fabled and notorious Cabaret Voltaire, produced by the Burroughs Century Ltd. and the Wounded Galaxies Festival. The original Cabaret Voltaire was perhaps the world’s most avant-garde and hyper-fashionable locale back in the ‘teens and early ’20s of the century just past. There, visual artists, poets, authors, political boat-rockers, and other suspicious characters gathered to share, create, and define what was hip in the pre-WWII world. It became the birthplace of the Dada movement. The Burrough’s Century’s Dalia Davoudi and other guests will join me for a lively discussion to be aired Thursday, October 27. Stay tuned.

Leaning In, Too Nicely

Jazz ivory-tickler and poli sci prof Jeff Isaac attended a recent conference where a woman from the Ukraine asked a question of the panelists and was immediately met with an onslaught of males in the audience leaping up to tell her what they thought she should know. He writes: “We are now being treated to a torrent of mansplaining….”

He concludes: “I wish these self-important men would shut the fuck up.”

This reminded me of something that happened at the last Science Cafe, a week ago Wednesday. The discussion had to do with Beauty. Are there objective standards of Beauty? Is there any way to measure it? Does science offer us a way to define it?

It was all pretty heady stuff and, as per usual, the audience was comprised of about 75 percent men and 25 percent women. At one point in the discussion, one man opined that “the feminists” would be “kicking and screaming” at the suggestion that there is such a thing as definable physical beauty. This led to a few other guys spouting off about what women might or might not think about the whole thing.



As they blathered on, I had to squelch the impulse to jump up and tell them to just ask a goddamned woman what she thought. I didn’t wag my finger at them because I figured here’s a gang of males talking about the thoughts or non-thoughts of women and there really was no call for yet another guy to pipe up about it. I longed, though, for one of the women to raise her voice. Hell, I longed for all the females there to kick up a fuss and, ultimately, tell the males to shut the fuck up.

Sadly, though, we’ve taught women never to tell jerks to go straight to hell. I know a few females who’d skewer the blowhards that night. Jen Maher comes mind, as does Irasema Rivera. But seemingly none of the women at Bear’s Place that night carried herself with the swagger, confidence, and controlled rage of those two. Too bad.

It takes time, I suppose, for people to overcome the lousy lessons drummed into them from birth. Especially when those people are constantly told their primary purpose is to make nice.

One day, women’ll make a ton more trouble even than they’re making now — and that’ll be a good day.

BTW: Bloomington’s Science Cafe just may be on its last legs. The moving force behind the (sorta) monthly lectures and audience Q&A sessions is moving his base of operations to another college town. I’d slip you more info about him and his future but he’s notorious for keeping his personal life close to the vest. In any case, the SciCaf gang is looking for someone ambitious enough to keep the ball rolling here in So. Cent. IN. Drop in at the next session, Wednesday, Dec. 7th, 6:30pm, at Bear’s Place.


My beloved Cubs are, as of this writing, one win away from appearing in their first World Series since Japan was busy surrendering to the Allies. Now, believe me, I was thrilled to pieces when they pounded a passel of Dodgers pitchers to take a three games to two lead in the National League Championship Series. I slept easily last night.

OTOH, the lead-up to the Cubs’ eventual explosion caused my nerve endings to protrude from my skin. My stomach was being flipped and flopped like a square of “meat” on a White Castle grill. Truth is this newfound success of the Cubs is, for the most part, no fun at all. Despite running up the best record in the game this summer and being generally recognized as the best team in existence today, the Cubs easily could have succumbed to the Giants last week or to the Dodgers this week. And — you know what? — nobody cares what a team’s regular season record was if they don’t win the whole shebang at the end.


A Moment Of Bliss After Hours Of Misery

Should LA upset them in games six or seven this weekend, I’ll have to do plenty of mental gymnastics to overcome the voice of my pathologically pessimistic daddy-o in my head. And I’ll have to try to comfort the imaginary soul of my mother who, if she had to experience yet another Cubs heartbreak, would be inconsolable.

Jayson Stark writes on “One win away….: Are those the most beautiful words in the universe? Or are they the most scary words in the universe?”

Is it better to have loved and lost…, yadda, yadda? Who in the hell knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

Hot Air


Once upon a time, long, long, long ago, a presidential candidate could be heard uttering these words:

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some looks for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear – only a common desire to retreat from each other – only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is now what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember – even if only for a time – that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek – as we do – nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

That was Bobby Kennedy, a terribly imperfect man and political candidate, speaking at the Cleveland City Club the day after Martin Luther King was executed. You and I together could draw up a lengthy laundry list of the sins committed by Bobby Kennedy in his personal and public lives. He, precisely like you and me, fell to temptation, rage, ideology, privilege, moral superiority, sexism, and so many other seductions until the day he died barely two months after delivering this speech. His greatest sin, though, was simply being a human being. Yet, as a human, he was capable of greatness. At times he was lucid and courageous enough to say things that, whether read or heard, made hearts soar. Mine certainly soared when I read this just now.


My friend and sister Zaineb Istrabadi pointed out a snippet from the speech this AM. In researching the time and place in which he delivered these words, I came upon the entirety of it. I was blown away. I hope you’ve been, too.

And now I have to resist a certain creeping sense of discouragement. No one on the public stage today can speak so brilliantly and so forcefully. No one would dare. No one would want to be so blatantly ignored or, worse, ridiculed for speaking in such lofty language of such noble concepts, as anyone who delivered this speech in 2016 surely would be.

Damn 2016.

Hot Air: Speaking In Riddles

Amy Goodman, Martyr?

People have been wailing and gnashing their teeth over the arrest of Democracy Now! reporter and co-founder Amy Goodman at the site of the ongoing Native American protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. Witness this hed from a story in The Nation: “The Arrest of Journalists and Filmmakers Covering the Dakota Pipeline Is a Threat To Democracy — and the Planet.” Yee-ow! The entire globe is now in peril? Okay, I suppose if you see the pipeline as further evidence of the fossil fuel industry’s raping of the environment, sure, the hed makes a pinch of sense. (Although, to say the entire planet is in jeopardy is the same kind of overly-dramatic, alarmist bushwa the Right has become famous for, only in the opposite direction.)

In any case, the outcry over Goodman’s arrest has been loud and emotional. Folks are shaken over this. Hell, I’ve been one of them. I wrote on social media yesterday: “This Amy Goodman case in ND is scary.”

She’s been charged with criminal trespass for an incident in early September when she, Goodman, attempted to report on a clash between protesters and private security guards at the Standing Rock Sioux tribal burial site. The security guards unleashed dogs and pepper spray on protesters who tried to enter the restricted construction area at the site.

Ladd Erickson, McLean County State’s Attorney, issued the trespass subpoena and says he’ll charge her with rioting. Erickson says Goodman had forfeited her status as reporter by actually participating in the trespass action. Goodman says she’ll surrender to McLean County authorities today.

Scary? Sure. I don’t like to see journalists get arrested for their actions in covering stories. That’s as bad as one presidential candidate threatening to indict and jail another after he wins (snort) the election. These days of profit-driven news media, with parent corporations apparently calling some shots in how employee/reporters go about their business, are scary overall. The slant, tacit or not, too often will be on the side of moneyed interests. So the Goodman arrest seems like more of the same corporate jack-booting.

The Nation has been particularly hot for this story. The mag’s Lizzy Ratner penned a piece with a hed that concluded her arrest “should scare us all.”

Only there’s another side to the story. Marc Cooper is a retired prof. from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg school of J. He cautions us not to get too bent out of shape over the arrest. I present his argument, apparently a social media comment, in full. It was sent to me by a journalist I trust.

I wasn’t gonna say anything about this but I lack self-control. Let’s clear up some of the bullshit here. Goodman is charged with simple misdemeanor trespassing… not much more than a traffic ticket. Charges like these are usually dismissed in court or they are plead [sic] out to a $50 or $100 fine. Period. Been there. Done that. A black mark for the editors of The Nation who failed to disclose that the author of the article is a former producer for Amy Goodman and we are looking at clear conflict of interest. I looked up the incident in the local “establishment” papers that had a much more honest accounting. Some 30 protesters were charged with trespassing on private property and Goodman was among them.

Clearly, the prosecutor in this case is a tin pot loonie… clear from his statements. I have NO idea if the trespassing charge against anybody is valid. Assuming that it is, it matters not whether the prosecutor thinks she is or is not a real journalist. Real journalists have NO immunity to trespassing laws…. something I have bumped into maybe 50 times in my professional life.

Obviously there are bigger issues at play here and it is rather opportunistic of Goodman (and her former producer) to make her some sort of Big Issue when the real issue is the uprising of the tribes. Then again, Amy has never showed any shame in using ANYTHING at hand to maker [again, sic] herself a martyr worthy of fundraising.

In short, she is not being prosecuted for what she reported.

Second, this should not “scare us all”

Third, a misdemeanor puts you in jail. Not in prison. And she will not be going to jail unless she wants to.

Very disappointing work by The Nation.

UPDATE: From what I can discern from further reading in other sources, the original trespassing charges were dropped some weeks ago and the prosecutor has now revised the charges to participating in a riot. I don’t know the facts of the case. But my main point stands. Goodman is not being prosecuted for what she reported. She is being prosecuted for being in a crowd of protesters who over ran a fence on private property and who engaged in activity that the state says was rioting. It sure looks like everybody in this case has been overcharged by a wingnut prosecutor, But Goodman is not being persecuted for reporting.

I don’t know if I buy into Cooper’s argument completely. I merely present it in the spirit of lively discussion. Now, talk amongst yourselves.

Rudy Sees Dead People (Voting)

You know “inner cities” is code for “negroes,” don’t you? And Latinos. And any other non-alabaster-skinned folk who pretend to be Americans.

The voters of the inner cities, acc’d’g to R. Giuliani, are going to steal the election. This canard is a slam dunk, considering every white person still in thrall to the Republican Candidate for President knows it’s the blacks who steal cars and our women and the Latinos who steal stereos. The Arabs/Muslims? They’re not so much into larceny. They blow things up.


This latest charge follows on the heels of the RCP’s suggested that Hillary Clinton was doped going into the last debate.

Next accusation? It was Hillary who groped women’s pussies (and bragged about it), not the RCP.


Last night, I made my first batch of spaghetti sauce with meatballs since I underwent you-know-what and that selfsame YKW destroyed and/or adversely altered my taste buds.

The very idea of tomatoes nauseated me, beginning with my first tentative tastes of food back in mid-April up until very recent weeks.

The tastes of various foods, though, don’t seem to sicken me so much of late. My tastes vary wildly from day to day, as is normal for neck chemoradiation patients on the rebound. Some days I can make out a wide variety of tastes, if ever so slightly. Other days everything I put into my mouth tastes like corrugated cardboard, meat and bread especially. I’ve been slowly exposing my pie trap to tomato sauce in the last couple of weeks. Like a tablespoon of some Classico® Four Cheese red sauce added to my olive oil, butter, and white wine concoctions, poured over cavatappi, say.


Experiment Ingredients

See, I haven’t wanted to make my own (far superior) spaghetti sauce because if the stuff still sickened me, I’d get all depressed and have to dump out that huge potful. But I felt a little frisky this weekend. Devil-may-care, you know?

So I took the plunge. Man, it felt good to roll out those meatballs, one half ground sirloin and one half ground pork. I chopped my onion and garlic and sniffed my fingertips for my first such odoriferous treat in more than ten months.

I will say this: My honker still works awfully gosh-darned well, so there’s that.

As an aside, back in the early ’80s I had a roommate who’d been raised in backwoods Kentucky. He had, shall we say, a lot of backwoods Kentucky in him but he wanted in the worst way to be a city guy. He tried cooking what would be viewed as an exotic dish by a Kentuckian for me and my then-girlfriend. It had garlic in it, which, to a lot of Murricans at the time, was the equivalent of putting a dash of nitroglycerine in their food. For the next week or so, he scrubbed his hands constantly, even going so far as submerging his fingertips in lemon juice for hours at a time because he’d heard that’d get rid of the smell of garlic. I asked him why he was so worried about the smell of garlic on his fingers. He said, “Because garlic smells horrible.” I said, “No it doesn’t.” We gave each other looks that said, You’re deranged.

Anyway, I simmered my sauce for a good three hours and, at about 11pm, fished out a couple of meatballs and dunked some crusty hearth bread into it. The verdict? Meh. I could barely taste the stuff.

Which, as I say, is a great improvement. At least the pomodori aren’t making me want to hork anymore.

A Vestige Of Penury

Speaking of those long-ago days of the last century, I spent my first afternoon since the ’80s in a laundromat Saturday. Our washing machine is on the fritz — and ain’t that a chestnutty idiom from a million years ago? — so I had to lug our soiled duds over to the lavanderia next to the Little Caesar’s just off 3rd Street on the East Side.

(BTW: that “pizza” outfit styles its name w/o an apostrophe, begging the question, was the operation named for Gaius Julius Caesar or for him and all the successive Caesars? No matter, it’s yet another reason for you to withhold your custom from it. I’ll give the co. credit, though, for spelling Caesar correctly. Did you know the cognomen (family name) that eventually became the official title for the Roman Empire’s boss of bosses came down to us, lo these many centuries later, in the forms of czar and kaiser? It was pronounced, in the classical Latin, KAI-zahr, the first syllable rhyming with eye.)


Were Caligula and Nero involved as well?

Thankfully, the place was empty. I imagine everybody was busy getting ready for the IU football team’s homecoming game that evening.

Funny thing is, even though I’ve got quarters to spare these days, I still tossed them into the machines as if, in the words of Mike Ditka, they were manhole covers. The washing machines offered me no choice — it’s two bucks a load, period. The dryers, though, are a different story. You get six minutes per quarter, so I started off with twelve minutes. Naturally, that wasn’t long enough so I dropped another quarter in when that cycle had finished, even though I knew only one more quarter wouldn’t be enough to complete the job. Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to take the chance that I’d feed the machine any unnecessary quarters. Then I had to add another and still another before I was satisfied my clothes were dried. Only they really weren’t.

It is always so in a laundromat. Since I was a dopey 21-y.o., fresh from moving out of my parents’ crib, I’ve always taken laundry that was ever-so-slightly damp in certain areas home from the laundromat. I’d be damned — and I’ll still be damned today — if I was gonna give the laundromat one quarter more than needed.

Hot Air: Millions & Millions

Being & Doing

Heads up this weekend for a couple of events, whose principals I’ve had on my Big Talk interview show:

  1. Betsy Stirratt‘s “(Re)Imagining Science” exhibit opens tonight with a reception from 6-8pm. Stirrat is the director of Indiana University’s Grunwald Gallery of Art and an artist in her own right. She has collaborated with Alex Straiker, a neuroscientist in the IU Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences where he fiddles with cow eye and brain cells to determine the effects of cannabinoids thereon. Straiker, too, fancies himself an artist; his microscopy images have been displayed in galleries around town for years. Stirratt & Straiker’s installation is one of 15 such pairings of research scientists and artists to create artworks illustrating the latest in science inquiry. Cool stuff.


2. “Resilience: Indiana’s Untold Story” opens tonight at the John Waldron Arts Center. Written by Dr. Gladys DeVane and Liz Watford-Mitchell and directed by Danielle Bruce, “Resilience” tells the story of the black experience in the Hoosier State as seen through the eyes of two elderly dark-skinned women. DeVane is noted for creating this kind of character — a fictional person whose story encompasses historical truths. Sanctioned by the state’s Bicentennial Commission, the multi-media play runs tonight and tomorrow night with a matinee on Sunday. Get your tix at the Buskirk-Chumley Box Office or at the door (although I wouldn’t risk being shut out if you wait that long.)


Talking The Talk

And speaking of Big Talk, here’s my interview with Betsy Stirratt on yesterday’s edition of the regular Thursday feature on WFHB’s Daily Local News. If the feature piques your interest, you might want to hear the entire half-hour chat I had with Stirratt here. As always, you can catch Big Talk live every Thursday on the 5:30pm news broadcast and WFHB’s podcast of same as well as my own Big Track posting of the mostly-unedited, pretty-much-complete initial interviews with my guests.

Big Talk Logo Usable Screen Shot

Lyrical Lit

Y’oughta check out author and editorialist Anna North’s screed against the Bob Dylan Nobel Prize in Literature award, announced yesterday. I don’t agree with a word she says but that doesn’t stop me from recommending the read.


Clintons’ Cash

University of Chicago historian and author of the indispensable Nixonland, Rick Perlstein, is no fan of Hillary Clinton. Not that he digs the Republican Candidate for President; he has a frontal lobe, after all, but HRC’s ties to the Goldman Sachs mob and other Wall Street hoods turn him off as does her somewhat itchy trigger finger when it comes to this holy land’s armed forces.

In any case, Perlstein’s overheard some dope about HRC’s heretofore private talks before bankster luncheons and other such conclaves. Loads’o Hillary bashers like to fantasize that she and the banksters plotted to take over the world, rather like James Bond movie villains, at these get-togethers.

Perlstein sez:

I just learned at second hand that one Wall Street insider has observed, “If the Clintons were crooked, they’d have a lot more money than they do. With the people they know? They’d make a killing in the market.”

There’s a certain amount of truth in this observation. When she and hubby Bill vacated the White House in Jan. 2001, the Clinton net worth, although nowhere near poverty-level, wasn’t that of the shrewd, corrupt, crooked operators both the wingnut Right and Left love to portray the couple as.

The Clintons’ recent accumulation of cash is almost solely dependent upon their speaking fees which, natch, are eye-popping. They haven’t, though, gamed or manipulated the financial system like some presidential candidates we know.

Play Dough

Just a reminder, IU bosses and coatholders all are panting over the grand re-opening of the Assembly Hall, home of the Hoosiers basketball team. There’ll be a big-assed ribbon-cutting ceremony this afternoon and tomorrow the papers’ll carry all sorts of pix of the gleaming, dizzying hi-tech features and new construction in the now-named Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall.

See, Cindy Simon-Skjodt is the heiress daughter of the former owner of the Indiana Pacers among other trinkets, and is married to a big deal Indy investment banker. She’s worth bazillions and so pitched $40 mill of her treasure over to the IU athletic dept. so that the b-ball hall could be refurbished and named after her.


Millions For Defense — And Offense

Now, considering I’m still relatively new to these parts (I got here in late 2009), the amount of cabbage spent on college sports still amazes me. Hell, the geographic footprints of the various athletic facilities here are the equivalent of several small towns.

And — I know, I know: I’m a pipe dreamer — but jeez, can’t the U. find any uber-wealthy donors to help pay decent wages to grad student teachers and lecturers, upon whom this noble institution has come to depend for the new academic form of indentured servitude?

Hot Air: Prizewriter


When all is said and done, the ’60s turn out not to be so catastrophic after all.

Look, a ’60s anti-war activist (Bill Clinton) became a two-term president, a civil rights leader (Martin Luther King) won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Nike sold its shoes in TV ads with the Beatles’ “Revolution” in the background, a mixed-race child born in 1961 is the current two-term president, TV viewers went gaga over Mad Men, the Chicano movement began the Latino “normalization” process in this holy land, 1969’s Stonewall riots were the starting gun for the race to LGBTQ rights, the Prague Spring’s Václav Havel eventually became the leader of Czechoslovakia, and now, Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Oh, and marijuana is now legal in several states with the rest of the nation sure to follow in dribs and drabs over the next few years.


The dying-off old Right would have us believe the 1960s brought us nothing but junkies, welfare queens, abortion clinics in every McDonald’s, and jack-booted regulators “protecting” us from silly things like exploding gas tanks and lead in our water.

The 1960s were hellish in a lot of ways. Riots. Assassinations. Nuclear brinksmanship. Mass starvations. Vietnam. George Wallace.  Sheesh, this holy land was essentially on the verge of a civil war or a race war — or both. But the decade was as heavenly as it was hellish. Bob Dylan was one of its angels.

Betsy Talk

Tune in this afternoon to WFHB‘s Daily Local News for my interview with Betsy Stirratt, director of IU’s Grunwald Gallery of Art. She’s busy as a beetle this week, mounting the exhibit “(Re)Imagining Science,” opening tomorrow night, 6-8pm, at the Grunwald. It’s features artworks created by teams of IU research scientists and visual artists. Stirratt herself is one of the participating artists. She discusses the differences — and similarities — between scientists and artists. As always, I’ll be posting a link to WFHB’s podcast of the show as well as one for Stirratt’s Big Track, an almost-unedited, fairly full-length version of the original interview after air time.


Ritz Bits

Longtime local Democratic Party mover and shaker Pat Murphy and Hopscotch coffeehouse are sponsoring a fundraiser for the Glenda Ritz‘s re-election campaign. Ritz, the state’s Superintendent of Schools, has gone toe to toe against outgoing IN guv Mike Pence, now chief abettor to the Republican Candidate for President, over education policy and her role in implementing same.


She’s a shoo-in for re-election even after her quixotic run for governor earlier this year. Still, pols in this day and age of Citizens United and TV politicking need to pay for printing jobs, pizzas, pens & pencils, and other such sundries when they run or re-run for office.

So, load up a burlap bag or two full of cash — USD, s’il vous plaît — and drop in to Hopscotch, 235 W. Dodds St., Monday, Oct 24, at 7pm. Or write a check for ten bucks, either way.

Hot Air: Kid Stuff

Gaffe Master

Another glorious, sunny Monday yesterday. What is it with Mondays around here these days?

And, yeah, another Big Talk taping day at the WFHB studios. My guest was Betsy Stirratt, director of Indiana University’s Grunwald Gallery in the Fine Arts Building. The Grunwald will be the site of a cool new exhibit, (Re)Imagining Science, opening Friday.


Betsy Stirratt

Betsy and I jumped right into to gabbing about the exhibit — it features collaborations between research scientists and artists — and her own successful art career. Betsy knows her stuff. She’s articulate and excited about the making and showing of art.

So, we were about 25 minutes into the conversation and I’d been rapt the whole time. I wasn’t paying any attention to sound levels and such but at that late minute I decided to check the readouts on the Tascam recorder.

And…, um…, I hadn’t turned it on.


The Tascam — With Its Readout Reading… Nothing

Betsy was in the middle of a discourse on the distinction between realist and hyper-realist representations in visual art and her preferred more subjective approach to the making of the stuff. I could feel an embarrassed little smile coming on my face. I jumped in when she took a breath. “Uh, I’m sorry,” I said. “I think you’re gonna clunk me in the head.”

I explained what I’d done — or, more accurately, not done. “That,” I said, “is the dumbest-assed goofy kid mistake you can make in a recording studio. Just call me a dumb-assed kid.”

Betsy was a great sport about it. We simply started over again and came up with a still-lively, still-compelling interview. Funny thing is, I spent the remainder of the interview nervously glancing at the Tascam to make sure it was on — even though it wasn’t about to turn itself off spontaneously.

Tune in to WFHB‘s Daily Local News Thursday at 5:30pm. My Big Talk chat with Betsy Stirratt will air around 5:45. And then you can catch the entire interview on the Big Talk page on this communications colossus the next day (or whenever I get around to post-producing and posting it.)

Keep in mind you can catch my parley with the creative minds behind the play “Resilience: Indiana’s Untold Story” — Dr. Gladys DeVane, Liz Watford-Mitchell, and Danielle Bruce — who appeared on last week’s Big Talk, here.

And next week I expect to have as guests the folks behind the documentary Men in the Arena. It’s about a couple of Somali soccer stars who strive to ply their trade while civil war and its attendant human rights abuses swirl around them. The film will be shown here in Bloomington later this month.


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