Hot Air

Book ‘Em

Like any impresario, Malcolm Abrams was nervous. He was hoping to put on a big show Monday night and he worried he’d have an empty house.

Abrams created the Bloom Magazine Book Club a couple of months ago and tabbed Those Who Wish Me Dead its first selection. Written by native son Michael Koryta, Those... is yet another booming bestseller from the keyboard of the crime/fantasy author. Still, Abrams wondered if anybody’d show up at Oliver Winery on the Square for the first meeting of the club.

Sure, Koryta was scheduled to read from his book and the young, smart, good-looking scribe ought to have been a draw. But Abrams knows there are no guarantees in any business. “I hope people show up,” he said to me last week.

Oh, people showed up. The first gathering of the BMBC packed the house. Abrams told me yesterday he and his staff had to keep on adding chairs for late arrivals until the crowd nearly squeezed Koryta off the stage. And Bloomington, natch, loved him.

“He only read for about ten minutes,” Abrams said. “The rest of the time was all questions and answers. He was very gracious. Everybody had a good time.”

Abrams can relax now.

The next selection of the Bloom Magazine Book Club is Scott Russell Sanders‘ latest book, Divine Animal. A woman bounded into the Book Corner around noon yesterday and announced, breathlessly, that she’d been at the Koryta show the night before. “It was fabulous,” she said. She wanted to get her hands on the Sanders novel before we sold out. Turns out her instincts were correct; she got the last copy we had.


Scott Russell Sanders (Union University photo)

I put in an urgent message to Sanders, begging him to please, please, please get us as many copies of Divine… as he could. Next thing I knew — well, about an hour later — here came Scott Russell Sanders lugging a case of books in on his shoulder. And every one of those copies is signed.

The next meeting of the BMBC is Tuesday, March 31st, 5:30pm, at the Root Cellar Lounge of FARM Bloomington. You’d better get there early unless you want to be sitting with Sanders on stage.

Decisions, Decisions

Talked to one B-ton citizen the other day who says s/he’s going for Darryl Neher.


“It’s a gut thing,” this person says. Apparently, Neher’s opponent, John Hamilton, had phoned this person and asked for her/his endorsement. The person told him s/he hadn’t made a choice yet. Hamilton, acc’d’g to this citizen, then said, “Whatever you do, don’t make an endorsement before calling me. Call me first! Talk to me before you do anything.”

Hamilton’s tone was so insistent, this person says, that s/he was put off him. “I don’t want a used car salesman, using high pressure tactics on me,” s/he says.


Go Ahead, Take It For A Spin

Hmm. It’s funny; John Hamilton usually seems like such a mild-mannered fellow. Then again, people around town whisper in my ear that the person’s story is quite in keeping with what they know about the second-time aspirant for the Dem mayoral nomination. The question: Is this trait a good or bad thing?

That said, there’s still not a hair’s difference between Neher and Hamilton when it comes to their stances on social issues.

Another Bloomington observer tells me whoever wins the Democratic primary (and, therefore, the general election) will bring refreshing new work habits to the City Hall mayor’s office. “At least,” this other person says, “he’ll show up occasionally.”

I’m already scheduled to sit in on a Neher house party, which I’ll report on. I’m still trying to weasel my way into a Hamilton soiree. Stay tuned.

The Rules Of The Game

The national title won by Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League All-Stars has been vacated. Jackie Robinson West copped the flag in 2014 in a memorable lead up the the international Little League World Series. The team’s story was tailor-made for a movie script.

JRW was the first all-black team to win the American title. It was the story of kids who’d grown up in hard-scrabble neighborhoods achieving a rare triumph and glory. Denzel Washington surely would have played some role in any potential film about that dream season.


Fans Cheer At A JRW Watch Party In August, 2014

But one of the team’s local rivals, the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, was led by a man who watched JRW advance through the tournament and seethed. Acc’d’g to this fellow, Chris Janes, JRW was using players from outside its precisely drawn eligibility boundaries. He screeched about it to the sport’s governing body, Little League International. Officials there at first waved him off, buying JRW’s assertions that kids had what seemed to be addresses in violation of eligibility requirements due to divorce and other family fractures.

Janes kept the pressure on until yesterday when the LLI finally relented and stripped the team of its title. And so “justice” has been done.

I can’t express my displeasure any clearer than my pal, the crusading attorney Jerry Boyle, has stated his:

It’s like everything else in this society. When they finally get their turn, all of a sudden the rules are strictly enforced.


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