Hot Air: Humid, Too


Everybody wants to be independent. Nobody is.

Fingers Crossed

Yeah, I’m back from a week and a half hiatus during which I badgered, hectored, bootlicked, fawned over, and attempted to persuade acquisition editors to sign Charlotte Zietlow and me to a rich publishing contract. We’ll soon see if all my alternate bending over backward and prostrating myself pays off. Should you espy me one of these days drag racing down Kirkwood Avenue versus the Croesian Ken Nunn in our matching black Rolls Royces, you’ll know what the outcome had been.

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D’uh…, What?

Oh. So, a bunch of English voters who marked “Leave” on their Brexit ballots are screaming to high heaven now, saying, Golly gee, we didn’t really mean it.

Now they want a re-vote. Who in the holy hell are these chuckleheads?


[Photo: The New York Times]

They’re the same brand of dope who shrieked to high heaven that Scott Walker should be recalled as governor of Wisconsin. Remember that? Walker’d been elected WI gov. in 2010, riding the Tea Party wave into office. He railed against labor unions, promised to cut income taxes and capital gains taxes, said state employees were making too much money, opposed abortion and expansion of birth control access as well as gay marriage, and called for police to stop and question people on the street if they simply looked like they might be illegal aliens. So he won election by a 52-46 margin over his Democratic opponent.

A couple of years later, after Walker’s statehouse allies passed legislation furthering those promises, the Democrats bayed like coyotes, waved their arms, marched around the state capital, listened to Micheal Moore tell them how right they were, and eventually got enough signatures on a petition for a recall.



Follow me here: Walker said he was going to do a bunch of stuff. The voters elected him. He pretty much came through on all those promises. So the Dems (and Michael Moore) figured they’d throw him out of office in a recall election. Makes perfect sense, no?

No. Walker won in the recall, beating the same opponent who ran against him two years earlier, by a not-surprisingly similar 53-46 margin.


Just like the English people voting for their country to leave the European Union and then, when leaving won, squawked that they really didn’t mean it after all. Let’s do it all over again.

Scientists tell us modern humans have been on this planet for some 200,000 years. I don’t believe it. No species that idiotic could have survived so long.

I Am Third

Barnes & Noble is getting into the “third place” racket.

Loyal Pencillistas know I’m a huge third place devotee. I’ve lived much of my life in coffeehouses and saloons. Just off the top of my head, I’ve haunted on a regular basis at various times La Mere Vipere, O’Banion’s, the bleachers at Wrigley Field, MaxTavern, Borderline, Unicorn Cafe, Kafein, Urbus Orbis, Matchbox, the Rainbo Club, Filter, Heine Brothers’, Soma, and Hopscotch. That’s quite the list of dives, joints, salons (as opposed to saloons), frou-frou hangouts, intelligentsia clubhouses, and legal dope dens.

My old pal, the inimitable Sidney T. Feldman, the renowned Frisbee champion, window washer, and man about town, once observed, “You go there all the time because you’re looking for family.” There being whatever third place I was attached to at that particular time — IIRC, it was the Matchbox then. He was right.

That’s really the definition of third place: a destination for people who hunger for kith and kin.

People, primarily men, from the Old World have gathered in third places throughout the millennia.

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Here in Murrica, the third place concept only recently has taken hold. Oh sure, white guys belonged to the Moose Lodge and their wives went to bingo at the church every Wednesday night, but that kind of socialization petered out in the 1960s. A lot of black guys go to barber shops. Drunkards have always congregated but their driving force wasn’t the warm embrace of faux-family but…, well, booze.

Since the 1990’s, though, the coffeehouse has become this holy land’s third place. Not everybody’s on the bandwagon just yet, primarily hipsters, grad students, actors, writers, sharpies, the unemployed, and other reprobates. It’s a motley collection that for some odd reason appeals to much of young America, specifically 30-somethings who have dough to spend and city neighborhoods to pioneer.

That’s where Barnes & Noble comes in, I guess. The book peddler is set to open four new expanded cafe locations in what can only be described as test market sites. B&N will serve food — real food, incl. breakfast, lunch and dinner — at these places.

Sez B&N’s new restaurant honcho, Jaime Carey: “We think they’re going to drive traffic to the store and [keep customers] in the store longer.”

Key to the whole idea, from my vantage point, is the fact that the new cafes will serve beer and wine. That means B&N is begging for people to loiter in their test stores for hours and hours, making friends, reading books, yakking it up, downing glass after glass.

I suppose that’s the only way the third place concept can work in this country. A big fat corporation has to give its blessing.

June 26th Birthdays

Charles Messier — French astronomer who the drew up the Messier Catalog. Messier was a comet-hunter. Time and again he’d come across objects in the night sky that looked like comets but did not move relative to the background stars. He compiled a list of 110 of these objects in his catalog and mapped them. Later, the objects would be identified as galaxies and the individual stars among which they were positioned actually are in the foreground. Tonight, you might try to view the object known as M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, the largest and most distant object visible to the unaided human eye. M31 will be situated between the constellations Pegasus, Cassiopeia, and Andromeda.

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Abner Doubleday — Union general during the Civil War, legend has it he invented baseball. He did not. Acc’d’g to Bill Bryson, author of several books on the English language, sporting goods tycoon Albert Spaulding was appalled to learn that baseball had evolved from the British game, cricket. So he organized  a commission with the express purpose of defining baseball as a distinctly American invention. The commission ruled that the long-deceased General Doubleday had invented baseball in 1839 at Cooperstown, New York, this despite the fact that Doubleday in all his diaries and conversations with close friends, had never mentioned the game of baseball. One of the commission members claimed he’d heard the Doubleday origin story from a man who later wound up in an insane asylum.

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Pearl S. Buck — Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Good Earth. Her novels, often set in China, introduced that previously mysterious land to the American public. Buck went on to found the world’s first interracial adoption agency.

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Big Bill Broonzy — Long-time blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Broonzy’s evolution in the blues triggered one of the biggest developments in American pop music. He stared out singing a countrified version of the blues then, just before World War II, he transitioned to an urban, working class blues popular with blacks living in the northern cities. After the war, Broonzy went back to his country roots. Certain white folk musicians took to Broonzy’s country revival, incorporating his sounds into theirs, leading to the development of rock and roll.

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Broonzy (L) With Muddy Waters

Babe Didrikson Zaharias — Arguably the greatest female athlete of all time. Born Mildred Ella Didrikson, she dropped out of the eighth grade and tried her hand at sports, singing and harmonica playing, and acting. She also was an award-winning seamstress. Zaharias eventually became an elite basketball, baseball, and softball player, diver, roller skater, and bowler. She won several gold and silver Olympic medals in track and field. She competed in pocket billiards, although she did not excel in that sport. She gained her greatest fame as a professional golfer. ESPN has named her the tenth greatest North American athlete of the 20th Century. Legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice called her “the most flawless section of muscle harmony, of complete mental and physical coordination, the world of sport has ever seen.”

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Virginia Satir — Known as the “Mother of Family Therapy,” Satir was a social worker, therapist, and author who developed the idea that many troublesome behaviors in families were the result of how people coped with their problems, not the problems themselves. She also studied the importance of low self esteem in how people related to family members. Her work shifted the emphasis of family therapy from the individual’s psychology to the relationships that person had within the family.


Violette Szabo — Born Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell, Szabo became a courageous and adventurous spy for Great Britain during World War II. She twice was parachute-dropped behind enemy lines where she assumed identities as a French citizen. The first time she monitored the effects of German arrests on the French resistance and the second time she worked with local Maquis (informal guerrilla resistance fighters to destroy German communications lines during the D-Day invasion. She was captured on June 10, 1944 and subsequently interrogated, tortured, placed in a concentration camp, and executed.

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Candace Pert — American neurologist and pharmacologist who discovered the human opiate receptor. These proteins are clustered in the brain and are found in the spinal cord and digestive tract. They are responsible for controlling pain and various immune functions as well as creating feelings of well-being and bliss. The Sydney Morning Herald wrote of opiate receptors: “Pert’s discovery led to a revolution in neuroscience, helping open the door to the ‘information-based’ model of the brain which is now replacing the old ‘structuralist’ model.” Her book, Molecules of Emotion, explores the mind-body connection in medicine.



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