Hot Air: Appearances


Loyal Pencillistas know I’m not a Hillary-paranoiac so the following criticism — harsh criticism, as you’ll see — takes on real gravity.

Both Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch were stupid as all hell for engaging in their little half-hour tête à tête on the Phoenix airport tarmac the other day. They were stupid even if the meeting was nothing more than a Hi, how do you do, lovely weather, isn’t it? chit-chat.

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Ay, It Was Nothin’!

But it wasn’t that innocent. No ma’am. I’m as sure of this as I am that Donald Trump, if elected, will be our first unmitigated jerk president. Bill and Loretta got together so that she could give him advance notice on the Justice Dept. investigation into whatever the hell Hill’s in hot water for now, be it BENGHAZI! or emails or whomever she’s personally murdered of late.

We’re not kids. Politics is a rough game. Hill’s race against America’s Shart is going to be a tough one. All the info she can get in advance will help her team spin the indictment or non-indictment or what-have-you.

Sophisticated, worldly, politically-savvy Bill should have known the meeting would be a bomb once the world found out about it — as it surely would. And Loretta should have turned him around and sent him on his way the minute she saw his face. And if either Hill or Barack Obama gave her any kind of directive to meet the hopefully-future-First Gentleman — either outright or of the wink-wink variety — she should have resigned on the spot. Her credibility — Lynch’s — is now as long gone as sanity within the Republican Party.

Even if Hill had nothing at all to do with the meeting, she deserves a shovel-ful of blame for it. If she was really running a tight ship, she’d have made clear to her hubby he should keep his nose clean re: sniffing around for inside dope on the investigation, as she has to have known he would be wont to do.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hill is a lousy campaigner.

Nevertheless, I’m still rock-hard in her corner. What? You think I want that orange-bronzed baboon to be the leader of my beloved country?

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Armchair Quarterback

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton somehow is finding a spare moment or two to read a good book. He came into the Book Corner yesterday afternoon to cop some heady titles. I don’t need to tell you what they were but suffice it to say Bobby Brown’s new New York Times bestselling memoir was not among them (thank heavens).

Anyway, I asked him if he was slated to go to Philly this month to help the Dems crown Hillary Clinton queen of the Party. Ixnay, said he.

“I’ve got too much to do,” he explained and I believe him. Bloomington right now is like Charlie Chaplin’s cabin hanging precariously on the edge of that snow covered cliff in The Gold Rush, what with the state’s property tax cap making it nearly impossible for any of IN’s cities or towns to even pretend to be financially solvent.

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Cover Image From B-town’s 2016-17 Fiscal Year Report

Instead, Hizzoner will do what the rest of us will be doing prime time, Monday through Thursday, July 25-28 — “I’m gonna watch it on TV.”


Toss The Remote Over Here, Wouldja?

Then again, Hamilton prob. will be alone in his choice of tube fare those nights. Does anybody really watch political conventions anymore?

Fatal Perspective

Thirty-three years ago this evening, I was out walking around the trendy and glitzy Near North Side of Chi. with my nephews, Tony and Louie. The three of us espied the Baskin-Robbins ice cream joint then at the northeast corner of Oak and Rush streets. Naturally, we turned into the place and ordered towering cones-ful of our fave flavors.

We ambled back outside and and were greeted by the blast of emergency sirens. Cop cars, an ambulance, and several fire trucks raced toward us from all directions. They pulled up right next door to the ice cream shop. Curious, we ambled over to see what was what.

A fairly tall — 25 stories, at least — residential hotel stood there. It was one of those old money, old fashioned places where wealthy-ish single men and women lived, complete with a doorman and a cigar shop in the lobby. It could have been a setting in a Saul Bellow novel. You could imagine highly decorated retired college profs living there or widows living off the old man’s stock earnings.

The firemen and the cops all dashed into the tight gangway between the hotel and the ice cream shop. Tony, Louie, and I — still licking our cones — followed so we could sneak a peek.

And there he was. A man. Partially hidden underneath a blue plaid robe that lay upon him like a tarpaulin. His legs and black socks-clad feet pointing in different directions, all wrong. An elbow jutting up, forming a tent under his robe in such a way that would have been impossible under normal circumstances. The area immediately around him decorated with multi colored rays, rather like those surrounding lunar craters.

The rays were his guts, sinew, and blood, splashed out from a central impact point. The man had taken a dive from one of the hotel’s upper floors. He was beyond dead, of course.

He was beyond human.

In fact, it was as though he’d never been human. He was simply some gory, gooey substance soon to be shoveled up, hosed down, and made to go away by men whose unenviable job it was to clean up after such occurrences.

Tony, Louie, and I threw our ice cream cones to the ground.

At that very moment, I realized I’d never kill myself. It is too insulting and undignified a way to go.

Life was too painful for that man to endure. But he reminded me of how precious my own life was.

And is.

Birthdays: 2 For the Price of 1

July 3rd

Charlotte Perkins Gilman — Author, poet, feminist, and social reformer, her experience with what would much later be known as post-partum depression led her to question woman’s place in society. Becoming nearly suicidal after the birth of her first child, her doctor advised her to devote herself fully to motherhood and “Have but two hours’ intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live.” His prescription only exacerbated her depression. After recovery, she became a lifelong fighter for women’s rights and the re-definition of the relationship between the genders. Ironically, she was also a white supremacist and anti-immigrationist.


George M. Cohan — Penner of countless patriotic ditties, Cohan missed being “Born on the Fourth of July” by a day.


George Sanders — Film and stage actor who played Addison DeWitt in All About Eve. His bit of repartee with Margo Channing (Bette Davis), Eve Harrington (Ann Baxter), and Claudia Caswell (Marilyn Monroe) at a party in Margo’s penthouse is a classic scene:

Margo Channing: I distinctly remember, Addison, crossing you off of my guest list. What are you doing here? 

Addison DeWitt: Dear Margo, you were an unforgettable Peter Pan. You must play it again soon. You remember Miss Caswell. 

Margo: I do not. How do you do? 

Claudia Caswell: We’ve never met. Maybe that’s why.

Addison: Miss Casswell is an actress, a graduate of the Copacabana School of the Dramatic Arts.

[Eve enters]

Addison: Ah, Eve. 

Eve Harrington: Good evening, Mr. DeWitt. 

Margo: I’d no idea you two knew each other. 

Addison: This must be at long last our formal introduction. Until now we’ve only met in passing. 

Claudia: That’s how you met me — in passing. 

Margo: Eve, this is an old friend of Mr. DeWitt’s mother. Miss Caswell, Miss Harrington. 

Eve: Miss Caswell.

Claudia: How do you do? 

Margo: Addison, I’ve been waiting for you to meet Eve for the longest time. 

Addison: It could only have been your natural timidity that kept you from mentioning it. 

Margo: You’ve heard of her great interest in the theater. 

Addison: We have that in common. 

Margo: Then you two must have a long talk. 

Eve: I’m afraid Mr. DeWitt would find me boring. 

Claudia: You won’t bore him long, you won’t get a chance to talk. 

Addison: Claudia, come here.

[takes her aside]

Addison: You see that man? That’s Max Fabian, the producer. Now go do yourself some good. 

Claudia: Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits? 

Addison (taking her fur coat): Because that’s what they are.

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From Left: Ann Baxter, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe & George Sanders

Fontella Bass

Julian Assange — Founder of WikiLeaks.


On this day in 1916, Hetty Green died. Born Henrietta Robinson, Green parlayed a handsome inheritance (her father was a whaling magnate) into a fortune by investing in Civil War Bonds. Before her marriage to another investor, she insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement wherein her husband, Edward, would have no claim on her wealth. Green then reinvested in US currency, introduced after the Civil War, real estate, railroads, and mines. Her philosophy was to back up her speculations with ample cash reserves and never panic. She became the richest woman in America in the 1890s. Green was nicknamed the Witch of Wall Street. A notorious skinflint, she refused to run water or turn on the heat in her mansion. She wore a single black dress and ordered her maids to wash it rarely. When her young son broke his leg, she attempted to have him treated at a charity hospital for the poor.

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July 2nd

René Lacoste — French tennis player, he won seven singles and four doubles championships in Grand Slam tournament play. He was one of a 1920s collection of French tennis aces dubbed the Four Musketeers. Lacoste was named the world’s No. 1 player in both 1926 and ’27. He became even better known after inventing his own tennis shirt, also known as a polo shirt, on which was embroidered a crocodile (Lacoste’s nickname during his playing career.) In 1961 he invented the first tubular metal racket, making the wooden racket obsolete.


Hans Bethe — German-born Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist and particle physicist, Bethe headed the Theoretical Division at the Los Alamos, New Mexico, lab where nuclear weapons were invented. Bethe in particular oversaw the calculations of critical mass to create an explosive chain reaction and led in the development of the implosion method of triggering a nuclear explosion. After World War II, he dedicated himself to working toward the elimination of above-ground nuclear testing and and end to the US-Soviet Union arms race.

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Thurgood Marshall — Attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund who successfully argued for the plaintiff in the Brown v. Board of Education in the US Supreme Court. He was named to the Court in 1967 by Lyndon Johnson, the first black man to serve as a Justice.

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Medgar Evers — Civil rights advocate who fought for admission of blacks to the University of Mississippi. He was gunned down by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith in 1963. His family rushed him to the Jackson, Mississippi, hospital but he was refused admission at first because he was black. Family members argued to have him admitted and eventually persuaded hospital staffers to treat him. Nevertheless, Evers died of a rifle bullet wound through his heart.


Vicente Fox — Former president of Mexico who this year gained notoriety when, in an NBC interview, he was asked about Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall at the Mexican border and force Mexico to pay for it. Fox told the interviewer, “”I’m not going to pay for the fucking wall. And please don’t take out the fucking full word.” Later, he called Trump “ignorant, crazy and egocentric.” Fox also is a strong proponent for decriminalization of marijuana.

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On this date in 1961, Ernest Hemingway took his own life.

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