The Pencil Today:


“It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.” — Kin Hubbard


In the first chapter of Thomas Frank‘s latest book, he describes the ways people during the Great Depression rallied around each other.

Groups of farmers, for instance, would pitch in to help save another farmer whose land was in danger of being foreclosed on. And if they couldn’t scrape up enough cash, why, they’d all go down to the town en masse and shake their fists at the president of the bank.


People were angry, Frank observes, and they knew precisely where to direct their rage.

The point of this and other anecdotes in the chapter was that 75 years ago just plain folks understood that they were all in this together. The misfortunes that befell seemingly every other person in America, they knew, had a hell of a lot to do with an economic system that was rigged to ensure money would remain in the hands of the moneyed.

Mr. Moneybags

It was really a heartening account of what I can only describe as patriotism. Neighbors cared for neighbors. Americans felt a kinship with each other (as long as they were white, natch).

Frank concludes the chapter by flashing ahead to the 21st Century. He describes visiting a Tea Party rally. The participants are as angry as their predecessors from the Great Depression were. Only the Tea Party-ists’ rage isn’t directed against banksters and plutocrats. No, it’s aimed at those people an earlier generation would have embraced and comforted.

One Tea Party placard Frank describes says everything you need to know about this holy land today: “Your mortgage,” it reads, “is not my problem.”

Go Help Yourself

Pick up “Pity the Billionaire: The Hard Times Swindle and the Unlikely Resurgence of the American Right” if you get a chance. If you need to economize, wait for it to come out in paperback on September 18th.


Speaking of plutocrats, how about that Jamie Dimon, the capo di tutti capi of JP Morgan Chase, announcing yesterday that his firm lost a couple of billion dollars last year on some extremely risky “positions”?

Dimon, of course, is speaking in code — he really means he and his fellow degenerate gamblers chased bad bets with more bad bets.

Dimon: “Believe Me, I Can Stop Any Time I Want.”

Addicts and obsessives all seem to share the predilection to soft-soap their unhealthy habits, and Dimon is no different.

The Me Party-ists don’t see Dimon and his compares as the problem, though.

Perhaps he and his pals aren’t easy enough targets for the Me Party-ists. Should that be true, I might be tempted to come up with yet another snarky moniker for the folks who gave us Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann: The Bully Party.


Yes, Mitt Romney bullied kids way back when he was a student at Richboy Tech.

I don’t like it. No one should like it.

“I’m Tougher Than A Fag!”

But I hope we’re not going to write off all pols for the nitwit, often cruel, things they did as teenagers. There is, after all, redemption, no?

I prefer to write off Romney for the bullying he’s done to people as an adult.

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

Friday, May  11, 2012

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th

Trinity Episcopal ChurchArt exhibit, “Creation,” collaborative mosaic tile project; through May 31st

Monroe County Public LibraryArt exhibit, “Muse Whisperings,” water color paintings by residents of Sterling House; through May 31st

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

B-Line Trail at the Bloomington Banquet Sculpture — Bloomington Bikes Week, Women’s Ride: Noon

Deer Park ManorEdible Lotus Night Bazaar, tastings from 20 local restaurants; 6pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterCardinal Stage Company presents “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”; 7pm

Boxcar BooksJames Capshew reads from his book, “Herman B. Wells: The Promise of the American University”; 7pm

IU CinemaFilm, “The Kid with a Bike”; 7pm

IU SOFA, upstairs theater — Ryder Film Series, “The Raw and the Cooked”; 7pm — “444 Last Day on Earth”; 8:45pm

Panache DanceJennifer Luna teaches salsa with dance party to follow; 7:30pm

◗ IU Woodburn HallRyder Film Series, “Keyhole”; 7:45pm

Cafe DjangoEarplane, Latin-Brazilian jazz; 8-11pm

IU SOFA, downstairs theater — Ryder Film Series, “The Fairy”; 8:15pm

The BluebirdKip Moore; 9pm

Bear’s PlaceQwintis Sential, Lonewolfe 10man; 9pm

Uncle Elizabeth’sVicci Laine and the West End Girls; 10pm & midnight

The Comedy AtticDan Telfer; 8 & 10:30pm

The BishopDave Walter Karaoke; 11pm

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