Hot Air: It’s March!

Civic Engagement

The news: Hope Hicks resigns.

Me: Shrug. Scratch. Yawn.


My guest this afternoon on Big Talk: Criminal and family law attorney Amelia Lahn. She, along with Katharine Liell are this town’s two top campus sexual assault case mavens. Amelia does a lot of defending, both in criminal courts and before college student conduct boards.

Amelia Lahn [Image: M. Elizabeth Hershey.]

Funny world — isn’t it? — when a progressive feminist who’s completely in synch with the metoo movement makes much of her daily bread standing up for college boys accused of rape and other sexual improprieties. She has even defended at least one faculty member whose alleged sins — criminal and moral — would cause most people to run screaming in the opposite direction.

It takes a thick skin and a profound love for the judicial system to willingly become a defender of those dudes who are, right now, probably America’s second biggest villains. (First? Prob. gun dealers who peddle AR-15s.)

Anyway, tune in at 5:30pm today on WFHB, 91.3 FM. And, as always, I’ll provide the podcast link here Friday morning.

Time Passes

Funny thing: Two years ago right now, I was just entering the horrifying phase of my cancer treatment. I’d been getting my daily radiation zaps for more than three weeks already and was just about to go in for another chemotherapy blast. By this time, I was unable to eat or even talk much and all the gross things that were coming off and out of me were starting to do so in alarming profusion. For the next month and a half or so, I’d be unable to do little more than sit on the sofa and stare. I couldn’t even summon the energy to read a new book or watch something novel on my computer screen. So I re-read the same stuff again and again and watched a couple of things repeatedly.

Those things I watched brought me whatever joy I could muster through those dark days. They were that Bruno Mars mashup video, “Uptown Funk,” and the 1958 schlock horror film, Teenagers Battle the Thing.

Here’s the irony. I cannot watch those things now because of a psychological side effect that chemoradiation patients experience called “parking lot nausea.” That’s when the nausea that comes about from being poisoned with, in my case, a platinum compound becomes so deep and pernicious that the sufferer begins to associate it with everything — sights, sounds, even emotions — she or he is experiencing at the time. The name of it came about as cancer treatment practitioners found people getting violently ill as they pulled up in the parking lot for their next chemo infusion. Some people would even hork right there next to the car. Others would stumble and fall on their faces, they were so sick.

I know I couldn’t bear the smell of the foyer of the infusion center. It was the emotional equivalent of walking into a burning building. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have even noticed any particular odor there, but the metal, the lubricating fluid in the door arm, the mud mats, hell, even the damned wallpaper all combined to make me gag as I’d stumble in.

Lots of other things did that to me, too, at the time. In fact, my brother Joey stayed with us for a couple of weeks toward the end of my treatment. Because he actually brought a new human smell into the house, I could’t stand going near the guest bedroom. Poor Joey’s very aroma made me sick!

At the very end of treatment and for a few weeks thereafter, I couldn’t even read or watch anything anymore. And the Bruno Mars video and that Thing movie became memories — that would forever be associated with feeling so nauseous I thought I’d hork out all my abdominal organs.

Even thinking about the video and the movie right now is making me more than a little queasy. I had to google both things to get their exact names and when I saw stills from them, I felt a fleeting urge to retch.

Damn. That was a fun video. And the movie was a riot. Ah, well. I’ve found other things to bring me joy. Including the fact that, well, I’m alive.


Sitting at a table in the Jasper Public Library, working on the next Big Talk episode and then pounding out this post. A couple of librarians, a youngish one and a senior, are sitting at the table next to me, picking through a cartful of books, doing something or other with them.

The Youngish One: My friend’s got a new baby. She found a onesie for him. It’s got “Product of Fifty Shades of Grey” on it.

The Senior: Hmm.

The Youngish One: Y’know, it’s an erotic story. And one thing leads to another….

The Senior: Aw, that’s cute.


Yeah, America is becoming a vast mental institution.

Back in the 1970s, fundamentalist Christianists began to organize politically. They incorporated innovative methods of marketing and outreach to mobilize sympathizers in every corner of this holy land. They wisely employed a strategy to place like minded people in nearly every level of local government including school boards, county commissions,and even neighborhood associations. The strategy was brilliant as those grass-roots level office-holders rose to command ever bigger governmental entities. Our own state, for chrissakes, had Mike Pence as governor. And now he’s the vice president of the United States!

The problem is, this late 20th/early 21st Century brand of religious “thinking” is demented. Proof? Try this argument out for size.

See, some of us who are sane simply have the misfortune of being locked up with the real crazies.

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