Hot Air: Drive, She Said

Dem Dames

Our intrepid Democratic National Convention correspondent Cathi Crabtree, along with her delegate-mates Martha Hilderbrand and Jeanne Smith, all are back on the pavement this AM. The three expect to hit Philly sometime early this afternoon, perhaps around 2.

(BTW: Another local favorite daughter, Ellettsville’s Vi Simpson, already has arrived in the City of Bro. Love. Our area’s going to be well-represented this year.)

They spent last night in Wheeling, West Virginia, taking refreshment at the Wheeling Brewing Company where they happened to be waited on by a young fellow from Bloomington.


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Wheeling’s in that weird little finger of West Virginia jutting up between Ohio and Pennsylvania. It calls itself “The Friendly City,” and was in the forefront of the move by some 50 counties of the Commonwealth of Virginia to resist that state’s secession after the start of the US Civil War. The area around Wheeling was populated by German farmers, very few of whom owned slaves, while in the rest of what was then Virginia, a good 31 percent of the population were slaves. After Virginia seceded in April, 1861, those 50 western counties held what became known as the First and Second Wheeling Conventions in the town’s Independence Hall. Delegates to the caucuses elected to split off from Virginia and form a new state, with its new capital in Wheeling.

A fitting stop for this trio of Bloomington’s Dem delegates.

Cathi’d been in a mad rush as she, M & J prepped to peel out yesterday morning. She did find a brief moment to send me a couple of thoughts:

I feel extremely fortunate to be representing the 9th District of Indiana as a National Democratic Delegate. Even as I prepare to leave, I’m still a bit in disbelief.  
I am so excited and am looking forward to having the time of my life while still getting the business accomplished.  
My hope for the convention is that we leave UNITED and ready to work our butts off to get Hillary elected! Not only do I fully support her and believe in her, but also the alternative (whom I won’t name) is WAY too frightening.
Don’t you wish every news operation’s reporters and correspondents would refuse to name he who shall remain unnamed?
Stay tuned for more tomorrow morning, the first day of the historic Dem powwow.

Road Rage

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gone off on a rant about Bloomington’s drivers. They are, in my unassailable opinion, the worst of any city in which I’ve lived, driven through, or flown over.

My last screech about them had to do with their utter inability to cope with roundabouts. Back then, I’d feel my blood pressure begin to soar any time I come within a mile or two of one. Since then, thankfully, I’ve learned to expect the worst from our town’s hearse pilots. The driver in front of me, petrified, might slam on the brakes when another car is within a quarter of a mile of the roundabout they’re entering but I no longer shriek with rage. I expect it now. I say to myself, like a Buddhist monk, This is the way of life here. On straightaways and between crossroads in the city, Bloomington’s drivers creep along as if either 1) they’re carrying live thermonuclear devices in their trunks or 2) the roads are polka-dotted with landmines. If Bloomington’s drivers went any slower they’d be standing still.

In fact, quite a number of them do indeed stand still, for instance, when they approach an intersection and they haven’t yet decided which way they’re going to turn. Why, the smart thing to do, acc’d’g to these Magellans, is to come to a complete stop and ponder the possibilities.

These are all driving cardinal sins one must accept if one is to continue living in these parts with her or his sanity intact.

Now, as you know if you’ve been paying attention to this communications colossus, I have of late been spending a few hours nearly every day of the week at the Paynetown SRA, overlooking Lake Monroe. Simply being there is an invaluable therapy for me as I try to get back to normal after battling My Olive Pit™.

How relaxing a place it is. Bald eagles soar. Blue herons stand in shallow water, gulping wiggling fish down their long necks. Killdeer skitter here and there, running interference for their broods. The sunsets are spectacular, the lapping of the waves hypnotizing. I honestly believe I’ve healed quicker from my chemoradiation treatments simply by spending time there.

You’d think such a bucolic and pacific locale would cause my fellow species-mates to become even more unhurried than they normally are.

But no.

Weirdly, simply being on the hilly, unlighted, tree-tunneled drive down to the lake seems to make drivers believe they’re on a drag strip. I’ll be puttering along at the posted 25 mph limit and some gas pedal jockey in a titanic SUV towing a seaworthy yacht behind him will be tailgating me so closely I can see the color of his eyes in my rear view mirror. This kind of pressure comes whether I’m driving into the place or out of it.

It’s madness. I often pull to the side and signal for them to pass me and when they do, they shoot me looks as if I’ve been blocking a fleet of fire engines racing to an inferno.

Once I yelled at a guy, “What the hell’s your hurry?” He flipped me the bird.

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As I say, it’s just weird.

Even weirder: Once I get onto State Road 446, heading northbound back to Chez Big Mike, there’s a several mile stretch of curvy road on which one would be wise to go no faster than 35 or 40 mph. Then, past The Cabin saloon and breakfast nook, the road straightens out and the speed limit rises to 55 mph.

Which almost nobody does.

Most drivers inch along at 45 or even 41 mph. Now, I’m the guy tailgating them as if I’ve got the lights and siren going. No matter. One or two of them may speed up two, maybe three mph but it’s as if their cars are incapable of doing 50.

I’m learning to be more patient with these reprobates as well.

I tell you, driving in Bloomington teaches one restraint.

Rinse That Rage Away

This’ll make me feel better:

BTW: Should anyone tell you there was no good music in the ’70s, you tell them to shut their mouths.

July 24th Birthdays

Alexandre Dumas — The père half of the père/fils pop & boy set of Dumases, both French novelists of the 19th Century. Daddy-o Dumas penned The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers as serial novellas which he later compiled into the more familiar fat books we’re know and love today. One contemporary described him as “the most delightfully amusing and egotistical creature on the face of the earth. His tongue was like a windmill – once set in motion, you never knew when he would stop, especially if the theme was himself.”

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Robert Graves — A British poet and critic, he supported himself by writing popular historical novels including a couple of my very favorites, I, Claudius and Claudius, The God.

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Amelia Earhart — Mareica’s most famous missing person until Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in 1975. Her truncated 1937 attempt to circumnavigate the world was undertaken largely as a way to gain newspaper and radio attention for the aviatrix who was looking forward to the publication of a new book that year. She was, at the time of her flight, a visiting lecturer at Purdue University in the Department of Aeronautics. She also offered career counseling to Purdue women. Among the seemingly countless theories as to her whereabout after her plane’s signal was lost near Howland Island in the South Pacific was the story that the Japanese had captured her after her plane had crashed and forced her to be one of their many Tokyo Roses.

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Chief Dan George — Born Geswanouth Slahoot and later changing his name first to Dan Slaholt, then Dan George, he was nominated for a 1971 Academy Award for Best Supporting actor for his role as Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man. He actually was a First Nation chief, leading the Tsleil-Waututh band of Vancouver District, British Columbia, Canada.

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Frances Oldham Kelsey — Canadian physician and pharmacologist, she served on this country’s Food & Drug Administration in the early 1960s. There, she fought against the approval of the drug thalidomide, a tranquilizer and analgesic that also was being prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness in 20 countries around the world, including her native Canada. She’d been alarmed by a British study that indicated thalidomide had harmful nervous system effects. As she fought with the drug’s manufacturer, it became known that many pregnant women who took thalidomide gave birth to armless and legless babies. Kelsey was recognized by President John F. Kennedy for distinguished civilian service. Her thalidomide battle spurred the federal government to strengthen the FDA’s testing and approval process.

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Bella Abzug — “Battling Bella,” she was a co-founder of the National Women’s Caucus and served as a member of the US House representing New York’s 20th District. When she was a child, her parents ran the Live and Let Live Meat Market. She and then-congressman (and future NYC mayor) Ed Koch introduced the first federal gay rights bill in 1974.

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On this date in 1980, Peter Sellers died. He’s famous for having played three roles in Stanley Kubrik’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It’s forgotten that he was slated also to play a fourth role, that of Major T.J. “King” Kong, pilot of the B-52 carrying thermonuclear weapons into Soviet territory. Sellers tried to get out of playing this fourth role because he thought he already was doing too much in the film and because he thought he wouldn’t be able to master a Texas accent. At one point, very early in shooting, he sprained his ankle and so claimed to be unable to work within the cramped space of the B-52 flight deck set. John Wayne and Bonanza‘s Dan Blocker both were offered the role but turned it down because Kubrik’s and co-screenwriter Terry Southern’s script was considered “pinko.” Slim Pickens eventually took on the role.

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