If you elected to stay in last night, babies, you missed it. Your loss.
A heaping handful of Bloomington’s most out-there artists and other such reprobates staged a 100-year anniversary celebration of the fabled Cabaret Voltaire at the Blockhouse on South College Avenue. My guests on yesterday’s Big Talk, ergo, were Bethy Squires of the Sitcom Theater and IU lit maven Dalia Davoudi, two of the organizers and performers responsible for the loving re-creation of the Zurich, Switzerland nightclub that gave birth to the Dadaists.
Squires (L) & Davoudi
So listen away. And tune in Thursday, Nov. 3, when jigsaw puzzle-maker and theater company honcho Marc Tschida and I chin it up on next week’s Big Talk.
Wait, There’s More…
You haven’t read anything yet on women, sex and other sordities until you’ve read Bethy Squires’ columns on Vice‘s “Broadly” page. She’s compelling. She’s informative. She’s funny. I always try to be all three and, on rare occasions, I succeed. She nails it every time out.
Start clicking, kids.
Paying The Price
Doug Storm, the ace host and producer of WFHB’s Interchange, recently typed about the state of academia in this early 21st Century:
Last month, the University of New Hampshire made news when one of its librarians, Robert Morin, saved fifty years of paychecks so that he could give $4 million back to the university upon his death. UNH spent $1 million of the librarian’s gift on a 30 x 50-foot High Definition scoreboard for their new $25 million football stadium. The university defended its decision by stating that the donation was used for “our highest priorities and emerging opportunities.” English Department adjuncts at the University of New Hampshire typically receive $3,000 per class. They already knew they weren’t a high priority.
For new immigrants like me, learning about college sports in a college town is a real eye-opener. Even some bigger cities reflect some of the mania surrounding the NCAA’s fun & games. When I moved to Louisville in 2007, the first neighbor I met asked me, “Who do you like?” Somehow I knew he was talking about sports; I don’t remember exactly why, but the question didn’t come out of the blue. I’d already told the guy I was from Chicago, so I took it as any Chicagoan would. You’re from the North Side, you love the Cubs. The South Side, the White Sox. Of course there are a few infiltrators on either side of town, hot to trumpet their allegiance to the wrong geographic nine. But they are analogous to black Republicans. I replied, “The Cubs.”
The guy looked at me as though I was from the moon. “No,” he said, almost scolding. “Louisville or Kentucky.”
“Um, I thought Louisville was Kentucky,” I answered, dumbly.
“Oh, man,” the guy said, laughing. “You’ve got a lot to learn.”
I did learn. In Louisville, you either live or die with the University of Louisville Cardinals or the University of Kentucky Wildcats. You’re either red or blue. One guy I’d go on to meet down there was a loyal Louisville fan. His wife threw her lot in with Kentucky. When the two schools would meet each year in basketball, she’d don her blues and he’d appear solely in carmine. In fact, they would not even travel to the stadium together. They’d take separate cars to the game because neither wanted to be seen on the streets with the other.
Then, after a couple of years, The Loved One and I wound up here in Crimson & Cream country.
The guy we bought our house from went on and on about how much he loved football. He had season tickets for everyone in his family. He wouldn’t miss a game if his house was burning down. But I still hadn’t learned. I asked, “How long does it take for you to drive up to Indianapolis?”
“Indianapolis?” he said. “Why?”
“Oh, then you’re Cincinnati Bengals fan?” I said.
He cleared things up swiftly. He was, natch, talking about the Indiana Hoosiers.
I’ll be honest with you — I didn’t even know fans could buy season tickets to college football games.
Now, nine years later, I get it. The Hoosiers are big here. Really, really, really big. So big some folks walk around town in the most garish pants ever designed, those red and white striped warmup pants the basketball team wears. You’ve really, really, really gotta love your team to appear in public with these things on:
By and by, I’d learned that even people who’d never attended a single college class were die-hard Hoosier fans. You can be a townie who longs for semester breaks and summer vacations when Bloomington becomes relatively student-free. You can resent every sorority girl and fraternity guy. You can rail about how the university seemingly controls the town politically. You can love Breaking Away because the townies (read: good guys) won. Still, when it’s time for Hoosier football or basketball, you’re glued to your TV — that is, if you haven’t scored tix to the big game.
Hoosier sports mean as much to the people of Bloomington and surrounding areas as the Cubs or Bears or Bulls mean to Chicagoans. Maybe more, because even if your fave Chi. team gets bounced, there’s always another sport season right around the corner. And if you’re feeling overly glum about your team’s most recent debacle, well, you live in one of the biggest cities in the world with all the distractions and amenities you could hope for.
I’ve just done a little back-of-the-envelope ciphering. It turns out Chicago is a tad more than ten times the physical size of Bloomington. If the city of Chi. were to build a sports campus to rival the the relative size of IU Athletic Dept.’s physical footprint in Bloomington, the damned thing would cover a whopping 20-plus square miles.
I remind you: In Bloomington, college sports means a hell of a lot.
And, I’ve no doubt, the same can be said in college towns across the nation, Durham, New Hampshire included.
That said, perhaps it’s about time each of the college towns starts picking up its fair share of the tab to run its local athletic programs and the facilities. Now, colleges and universities have turned themselves, essentially, into profit-making corporations so as to support their sports programs, among other things. The various college sports operations are huge money pits. And the college towns that host them, for all intents and purposes, get off scot-free.
Now, I know it’s not going to happen, but in a better world, Bloomingtonians’d be footing the full bill — infrastructure, game-day police and emergency services, facilities construction and maintenance, and so on; a bit of which the city already is compelled to provide — for the teams they love.
Oh, the Hoosiers would still be ID’d w/ IU — as would the Wildcats* be to UNH.
That way, colleges and universities could get back into the business of learning and researching.
( * Just wondering: Why do so many colleges and U’s calls themselves the Wildcats? Come on, people, you’re institutions of higher knowledge — can’t you find anybody imaginative enough to come up with some alternative names? Some 27 NCAA teams are nicknamed the Wildcats. But that’s not the worst. Forty colleges call themselves the Bulldogs and 47 fancy themselves Tigers, But the champ of all college team nicknames is the Eagles with 72.)
Red Rubber Ball
Speaking of ballers, etc., here’s a ditty written by Paul Simon along with Bruce Woodley of Aussie folk-ers, the Seekers. The song was a big hit for the Cyrkle in 1966 when it reached #2 on the Billboard pop chart for a week (No. 1 was the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer”). A decade later Canadian punk rockers the Diodes recorded a version of the song in response to Simon loudly and frequently berating punk music. Knowing what a perfectionist and control-freak Simon is in the studio, I can imagine him hearing the Diodes version and cringing — which is precisely what the Diodes hoped he’d do.
Anyway, here’s Mel Tormé‘s version of the song, released the same year as the Cyrkle’s. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Velvet Fog, but this recording is pretty cringe-worthy as well.