Hot Air: My Town, My Blood, Et Cetera

Bene Bloomington

Here’s the best of Bloomington:

The Tenor Clears His Pipes.

My pal Charlotte Zietlow (you can see her sitting on a sofa behind the performer, facing the audience), threw a house recital at her Green Acres crib yesterday afternoon. There were violins, a cello, a pianist, and a singer (a tenor, pictured). Charlotte has a grand piano in her living room and has graciously offered its use to any serious Jacobs School student who’d care to plink away on it. So, one of them put together Sunday’s really big show.

I parked myself in her enclosed back porch where I sat in a rocker, enjoying the strains, watching the crows and house wrens jockey for position on branches and wires, and keeping an eye via smartphone on the finale of the Cubs/Brewers weekend series at Wrigley Field. All in all I felt, for the nonce, as though I was in a perfect place. Scherzos and adagios, deep blue skies, brilliant redbuds, flittering, fluttering birds, and a houseload of civilized souls.

It all reminded me why I love this place.

For balance, though, see the entry below (you’ll know it when you see it).


Lots of Big Talk recording this week. Visiting me in the studio will be authors Tristra Newyear and Michael Koryta (they both have new novels coming out) as well as the founder of Bloomington Fading, Derek Richey.

Tune in to WFHB, 91.3 FM, Thursday at 5:30pm for the Tristra show. Her new tome is entitled The Tomb and the Stone and it’s set in the Asian part of Russia, a locale we Murricans know next to nothing about. So, yeah, I’ll be asking her what in the hell’s going on in that part of the world when I grill her in the studio.

Wise Blood

Okay, so the FIFA World Cup in soccer is set to begin in Russia on June 14th. Most of the world (except, notably, me) is as excited about this as if scientists had developed a macaroni & cheese that tastes good and isn’t fattening. BTW: The human who does come up with such a thing will be hailed as no one since Newton.

Anyway, sports talk radio is running ads already for the big tourney. The Score, 670 AM in Chi., features a commercial tying in the genetic ancestry operation, 23andMe, and the games. The idea being, Renaldo is Portuguese, what if you find out you have Portuguese ancestry? Same with Messi and your own possible Argentine background. Would you, the voiceover guy asks, root harder for them?

Let’s leave aside the fact that I couldn’t care less if my sports heroes are “of my blood.” That fact that Greg Luzinski was of Polish extraction did nothing to tamper my loathing for him. Of superior importance to me was that he played for the detestable Philadelphia Phillies. Nor does Anthony Rizzo’s Italian-ism mean much to me. I love him because he’s a Cub. The thing that gets me here is the realization that these so-called scientific ancestry businesses are standing on their heads to figure out ways to get you to fork over your hard-earned lettuce to them.

Imagine taking a DNA test just to find out of you and your fave sports star share some putative common background. We’re weird.


Speaking of the advertising world, I noticed Last Week with John Oliver recently did a tangential bit on those loathsome Kars-4-Kids commercials. Have you heard or seen them?

Every time I hear the loathsome lyrics on the radio — one-eight-seven-seven cars for kids, donate your car today — my skin crawls. They are the most insipid, idiotic, annoying, murder-inducing pieces of noise I’ve ever heard and, hell, I remember Tony Orlando and Dawn singing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree.”

In the This Week piece, Oliver cites some political ad that shows a nice, white, middle class family sitting down to dinner when, suddenly, the flash of a nuclear explosion obliterates the scene. The tagline follows: It only takes one. The idea being Iran is run by madmen brown guys who are aching to their cores to drop atom bombs all over America.

Oliver gasps and remarks how emotionally and morally repugnant it is to use the nuclear flash in a commercial to prove some partisan point or another. There is only one commercial where it’s acceptable, he allows. Cut to a TV ad of the Kars-4-Kids thing, with a rock band of little seven- and eight-year-olds banging out that horrible song. Then, suddenly, there’s the nuclear flash and the scene is obliterated. Thank you, Oliver says.

I’ve detested the K4K ads since the very first time I heard them several years ago. Each time they air, I become more convinced I will never, ever, ever donate a penny to an outfit that would so assault my eardrums, insult my intelligence, and piss all over my ear for music, no matter if they save every kid on Earth from every disease known to humankind.

I have my standards, after all — although I do on rare occasions feel slightly guilty for not wanting to save every kid on Earth from every disease known to humankind. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

Batty Bloomington

This one’s for those of you who don’t live in Bloomington. Wanna know a little bit about my adopted town? Try this.

Within the last couple of months I’ve caught two comment threads on Facebook that as near as anything on this planet define our fair metropolis.

  1. Some guy puts up a joke-y post showing a sonogram of what appears to be a puppy in a womb. The poster says something about how he and his wife (they’re well into their 60s) will hear the pitter-patter of little feet around the house soon, etc. Some commenters get in on the spirit of the thing but one guy is outraged. He writes: “Pregnancy is NEVER something to joke about, no matter who you are. 1 in 8 women can’t have kids and 1 in 4 women have dealt with a miscarriage, and the last thing we want to see is someone joking about a pregnancy announcement, especially on Easter. Call me one of those snowflake liberals or whatever, but this is something that hits home for a lot of girls out there.” This comment is ❤’d by no fewer than three people.
  2. Another guy puts up a post saying he’s got several animals at home and he always says goodbye to them when he leaves for the day. This is followed by a serious-as-a-heart-attack comment thread wherein several people warn him about the trauma he’s visiting upon his furry friends. Dogs and cats, goes the sentiment, are emotionally damaged when the house human leaves. Rubbing it in by saying goodbye only compounds their agony. These comments, too, are Liked and Loved.

I’ve been living in this town for going on nine years now. I’ve so far seen the best and the most ludicrous of this singular place.

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