I’ve been laying off The Pencil for more than a week now because, quite frankly, I got sick of hearing my own voice. Rather, reading my own stuff and consequently hearing my voice in my head as I read…, oh, hell, January’s a tough month to get through, isn’t it?
The good news? Jan.’s almost over, huzzah. Not only that, I just finished up my month of jury duty — which consisted of nothing more than making regular late night phone calls to the County Clerk’s jurors hot line to see if I’d be needed for any trials over the next couple of days. So, I’ve done my civic duty w/o actually doing anything. Neat work if you can get it.
Personal to Monroe County’s accused perpetrators: You have no idea how lucky you are — this dead-of-winter month makes me 23 times more curmudgeonly than I normally am.
Big Talk Stands Alone
Anyway, some damned good stuff did happen this mo. F’rinstance, Big Talk went balls out stand alone beginning Jan. 4th with my first half-hour show featuring newly-named Indiana poet laureate Adrian Matejka. The author of the National Book Award finalist, The Big Smoke, joined me for my inaugural. This was followed up by the January 11th show featuring first-term County Commissioner Amanda Barge and then Jan. 25’s showgram with Prof. Joan Hawkins, organizer of the academic conference and festival, Wounded Galaxies 1968: Paris, Prague, Chicago. The bash began with a pre-conference festival (still going on as I clack away) and culminates in the confab Feb. 8-11.
Big Mike Stands Up
BTW: I’ll be doing several readings at pre- and post-conference events. Friday, Feb 2, I’ll be at the I Fell Gallery for the Rikki Ducornet Exhibit opening there, 6-9pm, reading one of the tradition-shattering novelist/poet’s short stories. Then, Monday, Feb. 5, I’ll dash over to The Blockhouse for the William S. Burroughs birthday bash (5-7pm) where I’ll read a chapter from my novel-in-progress, Black Comedy, dealing with the street violence during the ’68 Democratic National Convention in Chi., the one that Burroughs (w/ Jean Genet & Terry Southern) was contracted to cover by Esquire magazine. Finally, on Thursday, March 8, I’ll be at the Players Pub, again reading from Black Comedy, for the Writers Guild at Bloomington‘s monthly lit-fest; it’ll serve as a sort of valedictory for the by-then-concluded Wounded Galaxies shebang, many of the organizers of which are Guild habitués.
Back to Big Talk. Here are your links for the new incarnation of my one-on-one interview show heard weekly on WFHB, 91.3FM, Thursdays at 5:30pm:
Coming this Thursday, aerial silks performer and drag king, Sue Rall.And, hey, Don’t miss the latest installment of Big Mike’s B-town in Limestone Post. I profile Joan Hawkins in the Jan. 25th ed. of the online regional mag. Next month’s BM’s B-town will feature Brother William Morris, socially-conscious civil rights att’y and WFIU DJ on “The Soul Kitchen.”
Phew, that was a helluva lotta flogging, no? Hey, President Gag ain’t the only self-promoter in this holy land, I’ll have you know!
Have you ever heard of Pauli Murray?
I hadn’t until a friend hipped me to a couple of fab books on her life: The Firebrand and the First Lady and Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray. Murray was hamstrung by the quintessentially American three strikes against her: she was black, a woman, and a lesbian. But wait — there’s more: she also was orphaned at the age of three and lived her childhood in crushing poverty. She didn’t really realize it at the time, but as a young person she would embody the I and the Q in LGBTQIA in addition to the L. Strong as the pull of gravity, though, she smashed through those barriers to become a noted civil rights attorney, the first black woman to receive the law’s PhD equivalent, the JSD, from Yale, a lifelong pal of Eleanor Roosevelt, a celebrated author, and the first-ever black woman named an Episcopal priest. She’d go on to co-found the National Organization for Women in 1966.
The first tome examines her relationship with E. Roosevelt and how, quite probably, she helped push the then-First Lady farther to the Left and even indirectly spurred some of the ideas behind the New Deal. The second looks at the events and situations that led Pauli to coin the term “Jane Crow” after learning how being a woman, on top of every other drawback she possessed, pushed her to the very bottom of American humanity’s heap.
Pauli certainly didn’t laugh at the obstacles thrown in front of her but she sure as hell made a mockery of them as she soared through life. I’m eager to begin reading the two books and I hope I’ve put the bug in your ear to do the same.
To my pal David Brent Johnson for helping me do a thing recently.