Hot Air

Let’s Play Two!

A Cubs giant is now playing with the angels.


Ernie Banks, January 31, 1931 — January 23, 2015

Givin’ ‘Em What They Want

Funny, I just happened to glance at the numbers for this global communications colossus and whaddya think I found? Yeah, the Pencil in recent weeks has garnered some of its biggest daily unique visitors stats since its inception.



For those of you unhip to the jargon of the interwebs, unique visitors are individual people who request to view pages within a given period. The number is much more indicative of a site’s or a blog’s popularity than simply the number of hits it gets. If I, f’rinstance, visit the website for the North American Nude Motorcycle Riders Association I’m a unique visitor. But if I visit the site, say, 23 times in a day, each visit counts as a hit. Then NANMRA can brag it got 23 hits out of me when in reality I’m just one guy doing, um, research.

So, yeah, I’ve been drawing unique visitors by the bushelful of late. Only I’ve hardly been posting at all since the first week of December.

The conclusion? The populace of this holy land prefers looking at a blank page than actually reading a Pencil post. Thanks, America!

Meet The New Boss

So, while I’ve been busy transcribing interview tapes for Charlotte Zietlow’s memoir, Bloomington’s 2015 mayoral race has begun to take shape. The front runners right now appear to be City Council member Darryl Neher and 2011 mayoral bridesmaid John Hamilton. Both, naturally, are Democrats.


Neher (L) & Hamilton

There are, to be sure, a couple of Republicans who’ve declared their candidacies. If you want to know who they are or what they look like, check the milk carton in your refrigerator.

Unless some surprise Dem candidate jumps into the fray, this town’s next mayor will be Neher or Hamilton. I can live with either. Neher has been blessed by outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan. Hamilton’s the darling of Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law where his bride, Dawn Johnsen, is a prof.

Whoever cops the big office, he (or she, should a woman opt in and win) will be in charge of an historically small town that has designs on big city-ness. Hotels are sprouting up like fungi. Tallish apartment developments have turned College Avenue near Courthouse Square into a mini canyon. Quaint shops and Mom & Pop stores have been replaced by glitzy sports and wine bars downtown. Moneyed students from around the country and, for that matter, around the world are tooling down Kirkwood Avenue in shiny luxury SUVs and even Maseratis.

Townies loathe the new Bloomington. IU digs it the most. Hamilton, as mentioned, has an IU connection — his campaign once again will be raising scads of cash from law school instructors. Neher is a senior lecturer at IU’s Kelley School of Business. Loads o’folks are going moan that either candidate will be doing the dirty work of the archcriminal Michael McRobbie. Problem is, that’s a facile charge. IU Prez McRobbie’s wishes by and large would be granted no matter who claims the mayor’s chair, even if it were someone like a young, contrarian, Charlotte Zietlow.

With Citizens Like These, Who Needs….

“Citizens United” may be two of the dirtiest words in the English language these days.

That’s the moniker attached to the landmark US Supreme Court decision allowing corporations and large organizations to send dump trucks full of cash to political candidates despite legislation and regulations designed to minimize the effect of money on the electoral process. Citizens United, the group, argued that money is speech and the Reagan/Bush/Bush court gleefully agreed.

As a result, elections today give us the finest candidates money can buy.

Citizens United is a Right Wing gang that screeches for our holy land to withdraw from the United Nations, considers the ACLU to be at war with America, has worked hand in hand with the thankfully dead Andrew Brietbart to portray the Occupy movement as a mob of rapists and drugged-up vandals, and even characterized John McCain as a dangerous liberal. In short, it’s a club for lunatics.

The club is holding its annual Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend, wherein bitter, suspicious, xenophobic sociopaths can gather and tell each other how saintly and patriotic they are. Speakers this year include:


Joni Ernst: Leading America Into The 1950s

Attendees will fall all over themselves cheering for these rage monkeys. Ayn Rand’s and Ronald Reagan’s names are sure to be strewn about like pocket candy at a child molesters convention. Oh, and Jesus Christ himself is sure to be welcomed in spirit. Not, of course, the spirit the “son of god” intended but, y’know.

3 thoughts on “Hot Air

  1. Joy Shayne Laughter says:

    Being a native Bloomingtonian, I have seen the city shift and change throughout my lifetime. I remember what a pit the downtown was before parking meters were removed, Bill Cook adopted the south side of the Square for renovation/gentrification, and numbers of folk decided well, maybe they could spend time and a dime down there.

    Now the changes are as you describe – and it’s not going to change back very soon, if at all. Yet as I drive around I see oodles of empty storefronts and offices, in places where there is plenty of (gasp) free parking. So there are Mom & Pop (or Bro & Sis, Sis & Sis, Bro & Bro) businesses – and walkable, livable neighborhoods — just waiting to happen, waiting to grow out of South Walnut, North Walnut … and if the Hospital decamps for the northwest edge, that’s several city blocks of properties in McDoel Gardens that will empty out. Opportunity. Just not necessarily near downtown.

  2. bill says:

    My condolences on losing Mr. Cub. The picture you used was perfect. When I think of #14, that is the image I get. Pure childlike joy and class.
    Something that Joni Ernst obviously doesn’t remember or never experienced.

  3. Danny says:

    Big Mike, when I heard Ernie died, I immediately thought of you. For those of us of a “certain age” from Chicago, you don’t even have to say “Banks” to know who “Ernie” refers to. You’re a lifelong, suffering Cubs fan. You even wrote a fine book, “Coping with the Cubs, A life of depression, A year of hope” to help expiate the demon of being punished with the curse of being Cubs fan. For me, when I heard that Ernie passed, I felt a little piece of my childhood pass away. I felt a little older. I looked forward to reading your eulogy in the Pencil. But I just saw a picture of Ernie with the subtitle “Let’s play two!” And you moved on to the important topics of the day. Just like Ernie moved on from his baseball career.

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