Hot Air: Our Popular President

Scope this:


So, some 46 percent of the populace thinks Barack Obama will rank in the upper half among his predecessors as he prepares to leave office next month. That’s right, acc’d’g to Pew Research, 18 percent think he’ll be seen as an “outstanding” prez and 28 percent consider him “above average.”


Above Average

And, as we gird our loins for the L’il Duce reign of error, a mere 27 percent think Obama stinks.

This baffles the bejesus out of me. An overwhelming majority of the citizenry of this holy land considers Obama to be at least average as the big boss of this mixed-up, messed-up democratic republic with strong overtones of corporate oligarchy and a dash of neo-fascism tossed in for flavor. That dash, natch, was added by L’il Duce, who has pledged to erase everything BHO has done during his four years at the wheel.

Makes sense, considering we elected the anti-Obama, that our nation’s sisteren and brethren would view him as a boob to rival Pres. Merkin Muffley, no? Then again, nothing makes any sense anymore, inlcuding the fact that L’il Duce lost the vote by something approaching 3 million, a fact I promise to hammer on relentlessly for the next four years.




Mark your calendars: the Bloomington performance of “The Junky’s Christmas” will air on Yael Ksander’s Cafe Indiana on WFIU a couple of times immediately preceding the yule holiday.


William S. Burroughs, Shooting Heroin

First, it’ll be on the NPR affiliate’s HD channel, WFIU-2, 101.9, Friday, December 23rd, at 7pm and then again on Christmas Eve the next morning at 7, on the main channel, 103.7.

The performance was recorded earlier this month at the Back Door and was presented by the Writers Guild at Bloomington, the Burroughs Century, Ltd., and Wounded Galaxies. Stars of the show included Tony Brewer, Chris Rall, Shayne Laughter, and other friends of The Pencil. Catch it — or be the worse for missing it.

Kamala Karma

Y’know, if it wasn’t for the fact that prosecutors as a gang make me itchy, I’d be all in on Kamala Harris for president in 2020.


California Senator-Elect Harris

Hell, I just may be able to overcome my itchiness by then.

Free Relief

The Moral: pick fights you can win.

Four Dayton, Ohio high schooler in 1969 started something called the Committee to End Pay Toilets in America. It’s a forgotten era now but by 1970 there were some 50,000 pay toilets in this holy land. Public restrooms at airports, department stores, restaurants, gas stations and countless other locales had locked stall doors. To get inside for desperately needed relief, you had to drop a nickel or a dime into a little slot. This state of affairs was especially onerous to women because at least men’s rooms had free stand-up urinals whereas our sisteren had to scrounge around for coins no mater what number they had to do.


The Ohio high schoolers decided to do something about it all so they started up their advocacy group. “Pay toilets,” they said, “are an unethical infringement on basic human rights.” Believe it or not, their plaint struck a chord across the nation. Apparently, you could institute a de facto set of laws denying basic rights to people whose skin was the wrong color, you could execute a pointless, unwinnable war in Southeast Asia, you could devote billions of dollars to a globe-threatening nuclear arsenal, and you could foul the land, sea, and air, but if you demanded a dime from everybody who needed to drop the kids off at the lake, why, there’d be hell to pay.

One of the Ohio high schoolers moved away to attend the University of Chicago, from which place he choreographed a movement to rid O’Hare Int’l Airport of its pay toilets. Three years later, Chicago became the first city in the nation to ban all pay toilets within the city limits.

By 1980, pay toilets had virtually disappeared from the American landscape.

That kid, Steve Froikin, explained why his grass-roots effort worked: “This was a manageable thing we could take on, and it was fun.”

Key word: Manageable. As Sun Tzu advised, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

For the next four years, we’ll be fighting a war against L’il Duce and his forces of darkness. We’re thrashing about, honking and screaming, naturally. But we’re going to have to start strategizing sooner rather than later. How do we chip away at the new administration? How do we win battles against it in order to ultimately win the war?

To borrow a phrase from baseball, We can’t try to hit a grand slam home run when nobody’s on base.

Let’s Play Post Office

Along those lines, the Hoosier State’s own Michael Martone, author of scads of books and editor of even more, urges us to mail more letters. Loads more letters.



It’s a political act, implies he. Martone goes on:

Many of you are doing simple actions of resistance and protest…. May I suggest you use the Postal Service?

… I believe that conservative forces have long wanted to close the post office or privatize it for profit….

… [T]he PO is staffed by a large public service union. It hires a great number of veterans. It reflects the nation’s demographics and serves as a bank of last resort for people without the means to transfer money or maintain a checking account.

… So I ask you not to buy a stamp but a book of stamps and send a letter to a representative, yes, but also to each other….

… It is a quick action.



Act Of Resistance

Mailing a letter is a tiny little thing, but it’s a spit in the eye of the forces that want to monetize each and every act we undertake, including how we chit-chat with each other. Corps. like Apple, Google, Verizon, and the like want to charge us for our every utterance — and our incoming “businessman” president is all for it.

As far as I’m concerned, putting a price on our conversations is as odious as charging every woman a dime just so she can tap a kidney.

So, I’m with Michael Martone:  “Use the mail. Use the mail. Use the mail. Use the mail.”


Big Talk

Here’s the link to yesterday’s Big Talk with my guest, actor and drama teacher Francesca Sobrer.


Beware, the sound quality stinks. I’ve been tweaking my and my guests’ mic positionings and even playing musical chairs in relation to the mic stands but, frustratingly, yesterday’s effort was one of my worst in terms of audio quality.

The good news is, I think I’ve got a solution to the problem — something I’ll try out this afternoon when I interview newspaper distributor Jack Dopp. The Dopp Big Talk won’t air until January 12th as WFHB’s Daily Local News goes into its annual end-of-the-year tradition, a three-week recap of everything that happened in 2016.

If you’re patient, you’ll soon be able to hear the nearly-unedited original interview I did with Sobrer here. You can also catch in the same place all the Big Talk-ers I’ve had on since 2014, including cartoonist Nate Powell, who illustrated civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis’s March series of graphic novels and who, coincidentally enough, happens to be submitting to a magazine interview just across the room from me in this communications colossus’s back office, Hopscotch Coffee, as I type this.

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