Author Archives: glabwrites

Hot Air: Canon’s Shot

It looks as though ace civil rights attorney Dan Canon will run for Congress in our 9th District.


[Image: LEO Weekly]


Political junkies and law geeks may recognize his name from Obergefel et al v. Hodges, the 2015 US Supreme Court case that affirmed same-sex marriage in this holy land. Canon repped the triumphant plaintiffs.

My eye may be sharp when it comes to his ambitions but it’s less acute when I try to look into the future and predict a victory for him. Then again, if I were to disregard my hopes and dreams, I might be eagle-eyed as a seer and report that, yes, this is the Hoosier State and, yes, the Republican legislature has drawn its district maps so as to guarantee a Festung Indiana until well into this 21st Century, so this man who speaks to so many of my wants and wishes likely will fail in his first attempt to go to Washington.

That’s alright — for now. As Pete Buttigieg said last week, the good among us must keep running, even if we lose once or twice before finally reaching the mountaintop. And, yeah, the very imperfect party of the good has been getting trounced of late. Collectively, the Democrats are moving into twice territory, although it seems as though the party has been losing since we were all little kids.

Keep in mind the Democrats as recently as 2010 controlled both chambers of Congress and have won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. Democrats are not a minority in this holy land even if it sometimes appears to be so.

One woman who’s eagerly jumping on the Canon bandwagon told me the dilemma is this: Do we support a true progressive candidate — who may well lose — or do we look for one of those half-libs, a pro-life Dem, for instance — and still lose?

All I know is we’ve got to take some lumps right now. That, and we’ve got to double down on our convictions. The Democratic Party today appears to have no convictions. Task No. 1: Set our moral, philosophical, and political compass to true north and then, maybe, we can find our way out of this dark forest.

If you’ve a mind to find out who Dan Canon is, here are a few links that may help:

The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead

Back from my days in college radio, this XTC tune is one of the few pop hits dealing with actual politics. That is, it talks about a candidate for office, albeit fictional, natch. Another big song I can thing of along those lines is The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” And then there’s Bright Eyes’ “When the President Talks to God.” Can you think of any others?

Hot Air: The Long And Winding Road

It’s going on three years now that Charlotte Zietlow and I have been working on her memoir. Lots of life has happened along the way, sidetracking us for brief periods. Her husband, Paul, died in the spring of 2015 and I caught cancer (or at least was diagnosed with it) six months later. But we’ve stuck through it all.

Dare I suggest we’re entering the end game now? I’m writing my sixth draft of the book. We sit in her sunny back porch on Friday afternoons and I read snippets to her and she tells me either I got it all wrong or I’ve caught her voice perfectly. Then it’s back to rewriting until everything’s right.

Frankly, this has been a labor of love. Charlotte and I are pals now. We joke around together and tell each other secrets. Neither of us is going to make a fortune on this book. In  fact, when all is said and done, both of us will have lost plenty of dough, considering the unpaid hours, weeks, months, and now years we’ve spent pounding this thing out. So what?

The day I see this book displayed in the Book Corner window, I’ll cry like a baby. For sadness: the end of a chunk of our lives. For happiness: Charlotte’s life is finally memorialized, good and proper. For her. For me.

Anyway, here’s a little something I drew up this AM:

Yep, it’s an idea for the cover. Both Charlotte and I prefer simple, straightforward things. I’ve pitched this dummy image over to The Loved One, who’ll draw up an honest-to-gosh, professional cover. She’s a crackerjack graphic artist, you know. Who knows, maybe she’ll nix the whole concept and come up with something better. But it’s a start.

Just as we’re coming near the end.

The Song

Yeah, yesterday was the b-day of my least fave Beatle, Paul McCartney. It gives me yet another chance to eschew using the offensive British appellation: Sir. Many of you won’t agree with me here but I don’t care; the term Sir historically indicates superiority, a sense that there are people better than others. It’s rooted in Britain’s blood lineage caste system.

You can call him Sir. I’ll call him Paul.

Anyway, Paul hated what Phil Spector did as producer of the Beatles’ last studio album, “Let It Be,” on which TL&WR was track number three, side two. Me? I loved the unmistakable Spector sound of it. Considering it’d be the last thing the foursome would do together, Spector’s signature reverb lent it an eerie poignancy.

John Lennon called Paul the best bassist he’d ever heard, even after the band had broken up amid grumbling and backbiting. I don’t hear it — then again, I probably don’t know enough to make an informed observation.

All I know is John and Paul were, if not the best, then certainly in the running for the greatest pop songwriting team ever. And the funny thing is, they needed each other. Alone, their more indulgent sides ascended. Together, they brought each other toward a more sublime center.

Here, then, is a fitting song for today.


Hot Air: Running Man

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Check.

Governor Buttigieg?

President Buttigieg?

Time will tell.

This global communications colossus — plus WFHB radio — has him. I recorded Pete live Wednesday, June 14th, here in our town. Here’s the link to yesterday’s Big Talk feature with Buttigieg on the WFHB Daily Local News. And here’s the link to Pete’s full-length talk Wed. AM at a breakfast meet-and-greet with scads o’Democratic Party big shots.

So sue me: As I typed this post out, I couldn’t shake the image of the children’s book character, Pete the Cat. And now he’s your brainworm, too!

And Another Pete

Along with some dude named Bruce. This video makes me wanna cry. Honest. Think of it: We once had a president at whose inauguration, eight long, long years ago, protest folk singer Pete Seeger and rock icon Bruce Springsteen happily played “This Land Is Your Land”!

That land was indeed my land. This land? Don’t ask.

Hot Air: Favorite Son?

Does this man…

Pete Buttigieg

… have a shot to become president of this holy land?

Who knows?

Then again, who knew two years ago that L’il Duce would become Leader of the Free World? Crazy things can happen in American politics.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, has made a national name for himself, first by reviving a moribund town that as recently as 2011 was described by Time magazine as one of America’s ten dying cities. Then, this past winter, he ran a spirited campaign for Democratic National Committee chair. He appealed to such a broad base of Party members that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called him ” the future of the Party.” In 2015, the Washington Post dubbed him “The Most Interesting Mayor You’ve Never Heard Of.” And Frank Bruni in Sunday’s New York Times wondered if he might become “The First Gay President?

Buttigieg (pronounced BOOT-ih-jidge, the BOOT rhyming with the word put) may be going places and today he was right here in Bloomington, sitting in a rocking chair at a meet-and-greet at a private home. He chit-chatted with a select gang of Monroe County Democratic Party veterans. He spoke of his work in revitalizing South Bend, a town that went to hell after the closing of its Studebaker auto manufacturing plant in 1967, how his admin. jump-started the rebirth of South Bend’s downtown, and his innovative urban renewal plan, “1000 Houses in 1000 Days.”

It wasn’t until the very end of the confab that former City Council member Jim Ackerman posed the Big Q: Can you tell us your plans for your political future?

Pete’s Future Digs?

Buttigieg proved himself a capable pol by not really answering the Big Q at all. He loves being the mayor of S.B. and political opportunities often appear out of thin air so you never know, and so on. If he wasn’t definitive re: his ambitions, his rhetoric on the problems facing President Gag’s America and some solutions for them was far more pointed.

When Buttigieg left to address the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, the Dem sachems stood around telling each other how much they loved him and his message. One woman asked another, a dreamy look in her eyes, “How about governor?” The second woman responded, “He can do it. He is Indiana.”

I recorded Buttigieg’s meet-and-greet and will present eight minutes of it tomorrow afternoon on Big Talk during WFHB’s Daily Local News at 5. Then, Friday AM, I’ll post the entire nearly-hour-long chat right here on this global communications colossus. Meanwhile, tune in to the Daily Local News this afternoon at 5 for a few snippets from himself.

Again, who knows? One day we may look back upon the third week of June, 2017, as the time The Electron Pencil, Big Talk, and WFHB introduced the future President of the United States to Bloomington.

Hot Air: Supermen

You think it can’t happen here?

Think again.

In 1961 and ’62, President John F. Kennedy was hugely unpopular with some very high-ranking officials in the military. I’m talking multi-star generals and admirals. Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a fellow named Lyman Lemnitzer, the US Army four-star general, unapologetically and openly dissed the prez. They despised him for his often confusing stance on Cuba, for appearing to want to stay the hell out of Vietnam, and for trying to play nice with the Soviets. Just a tad more than 15 years after World War II, when Americans and their military leaders liked to flatter themselves that they — and they alone — had won the global struggle against the Nazis and the Japs and other tyrannies, a prevailing mood in this country was We’re the leaders of the whole wide world and the rest of humanity had goddamned well better do what we say or else.

The else being code for We’ve got The Bomb and we’ve shown we’ll use it.

A president who seemed loath to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust was a coward, a sissy, even a fag. Yep, lots of Kennedy bashers threw around that term when describing the president and his brother Bobby.

Lemnitzer (L) & Kennedy

The military men went so far as to proselytize their troops against the president. Some even told their men that to vote for Kennedy in the 1964 election would be tantamount to treason.

The brass was supported in this by the then-lunatic John Birch Society and the far right nutty wing of the Republicans that gave us Barry Goldwater as the Party’s candidate in ’64. (Of course, now those “lunatics” and “nuts” are the mainstream of the GOP. Yikes.)

Anyway, Lemnitzer actually formulated a plan in 1962 to organize like-minded commanders to stage a military coup in the United States, ousting Kennedy as president, and replacing him with a “temporary” leader.

Think of that for a minute. This holy land cam thisclose to being transformed into a military dictatorship — in my lifetime!

Kennedy himself, when he caught wind of this plot, called it “a regular damn South American junta.” David Talbot in his book on the Kennedys, Brothers, wrote:

When people “feel helpless, they start going to extremes,” the president had mused aloud with his most trusted aides when he first heard about the coup plot. “Look at the history — Joe McCarthy, then the Birch Society…. The climate for democracy in this country is the worst it’s ever been… People have seriously started looking for a superman.”

Kennedy nipped the revolt in the bud when he fired Lemnitzer as Chair of the Joint Chiefs.

There are those who say Lemnitzer and his gang finally carried out their nefarious aim on November 22nd, 1963, although so far there has been no concrete evidence to that effect. If you’re of the conspiracy theorist bent, you might look at Lyndon Johnson’s decision to turn Vietnam into a war just eight months after the assassination, clearly at the behest of the generals. Fighting a major land war in Southeast Asia couldn’t possibly have been a priority for LBJ — not when he’d already made The Great Society the touchstone of his administration. Sure, America was rich but it wasn’t rich enough to do both things at once. Had the generals reminded LBJ of what had happened on Dealey Plaza?

The Moment

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I do believe that American presidents view the military with wariness, though. I also believe the American military sees itself as capable of solving any problem on Earth with guns and bombs and doesn’t take kindly to anyone who might be skeptical of that. There are enough chickenhawks fluttering around Washington to put into effect the military’s fever dreams — witness Iraq and Afghanistan — so that the brass doesn’t have to play hardball with our elected leaders.

I do get one takeaway from the Lemnitzer incident. That is, Kennedy’s observation about a frightened people wanting a superman to save them. The American people today are a frightened lot. And they elected a superman last November.

Hot Air: Alt-Reality

A fellow by the name of Jeff Merkley is profiled today in the New York Times. It’s a classic off-election-year politics piece, the gist of which is Merkley’s keeping a low profile so that he may emerge in 2020 as a viable presidential candidate. Sort of like the old Yogi Berra line: Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore; it’s too crowded.

Anyway, as long as the presidency of this holy land has been tainted forever by the horse’s ass that occupies the White House today, I say, Why not Merkley for president?

First off, I haven’t even read the piece yet and I doubt if I will soonly, considering it’s a gorgeous June Sunday and I’d rather be doing something — anything — else. So I know nothing about this Merkley chap. He may be our messiah or he may be just another dope. I don’t know and I don’t care today. But I want him to be prez because it’d be so poetic to have a President Merkley.

See, some 20 years ago, Matt Groening and Co. joked that one day in the bizarro, psycho, comedic future there’d be a President Trump. Lo and behold, that’s what happened, natch. So let’s go back to the mid-1960s when Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, et al, gave us President Merkin Muffley.

Merkley (L) & Muffley

You remember President Muffley, don’t you?

Hello?… Uh… Hello D- uh hello Dmitri? Listen, uh uh, I can’t hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?… Oh-ho, that’s much better… yeah… huh… yes… Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri… Clear and plain and coming through fine… I’m coming through fine, too, eh?… Good, then… well, then, as you say, we’re both coming through fine… Good… Well, it’s good that you’re fine and… and I’m fine… I agree with you, it’s great to be fine… a-ha-ha-ha-ha… Now then, Dmitri, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb… The Bomb, Dmitri… The hydrogen bomb!… Well now, what happened is… ahm… one of our base commanders, he had a sort of… well, he went a little funny in the head… you know… just a little… funny. And, ah… he went and did a silly thing…

The Simpsons‘ President Trump became a reality. Why can’t Dr. Strangelove‘s President Merkin Muffley do the same. Or at least it’d be President Merkley. Sort of a portmanteau, no?

Hot Air: Suckers

Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires vigilance, dedication, and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, a world of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who saunters along.

— Carl Sagan

Sagan died in 1997 so this quote is, at the very least, nearly a quarter of a century old. “Vigilance, dedication, and courage.” A triad of qualities in frightfully short supply for, at the very least, a quarter of a century. And now Sagan’s worst nightmare has come true.

Bad Business On Big Talk

Emma Johnson of Kite Line and I touched, if ever so briefly, upon the horror show that is our holy land’s prison system. Slamming people behind bars is big business in America today. Bad business, at that.

She joined me on Big Talk yesterday afternoon. Catch the podcast of the WFHB feature here and the entire original interview with the co-host of Kite Line radio here.

Smart Cookie

Well, sure, Leo Cook is out there. He wouldn’t deny it. He couldn’t deny it.

And why should he? The only sane people in this mad, mad, mad, mad world are those who are at least three degrees off center.

Leo’s latest mad foray into media-megastardom is hosting kids’ spots on WTIU’s The Friday Zone. Here are a few pix from the set of one of Leo’s upcoming edu-tainment show-gram episodes:

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Food Or Not Food?

A Blip > A Flop

Vindication for all those who swore to high heaven that a Bernie Sanders presidency would have been better than a L’il Duce reign: The events of the past seven months have proven them righter than right.

I was skeptical of the prospect of Sanders taking over the Executive Branch while both houses of Congress were in the hands of the hijacked GOP. He’d be utterly powerless, an afterthought, a sure bet to go down in flames in 2020. All that might have been true had he snatched the Dem nomination and gone on to beat the man who is now President Gag.


Yet, a President Sanders would not have benefited from Russia’s terrifying disinformation and hacking campaign. And he wouldn’t be gutting the EPA, Planned Parenthood, the renewable energy industry, the Justice Dept.’s civil rights arm, or all federal depts.’ civil rights arms, for that matter. He wouldn’t be surrounded by social Darwinist billionaires in his Cabinet, he wouldn’t be pushing us toward war with either N. Korea or Iran — or both. He wouldn’t have made a shambles of the State Dept. and vandalized pretty much every relationship we have with all the major nations of Earth (save one).

A Sanders presidency might have been a mild punchline for late night monologuists. L’il Duce‘s threatens the very future of this holy land. Sanders’d have been better by a factor of thousands, even if he turned out to be a toothless four-year blip in the history of the presidency.

Hot Air: Big Talk Goes To The Big House

I’ll be recording this week’s Big Talk this afternoon at the WFHB studios. My guest will be Emma Johnson, one of the founders of Kite Line. A “kite” in prison lingo is a message. It can be a slip of paper or a whisper, and it’s often passed through many hands or ears until it gets to the intended receiver. Kite LIne is a weekly radio program on WFHB dealing with prisoner issues, both inside and out. First question I’ll ask Emma: “Why should we care about prisoners?” I hope to learn a lot. Tune in Thursday at 5:00pm when, it is to be hoped, you might learn some little thing about this holy land’s prison state.

The Old Roundhouse At Stateville Prison Outside Joliet, Illinois


A couple of book quotes that reflect upon our current political state:

1) Last year, plenty o’folks hollered about the tyranny of party politics, as if elections can be won and policies implemented simply by having some charismatic or “straight-talking” soapboxer fill a few arenas during election season…, hey, wait a minute…, that’s wtf happened isn’t it?

Yeah, that’s wtf happened. Still, I don’t see President Gag’s election and his establishment of a Reich as a historic touchstone marking the end of organizational politics. If the sane among us are going to beat the Warthog-in-Chief come 2020, we’ll have to work like a well-oiled machine. In other words, a Party.

Massachussetts congressbeing Tip O’Neill was the dictionary definition of a party pol. The old Speaker of the House was a blustery, back-slapping, deal-cutting, insider’s insider who’d go toe to toe with the Republican opposition during the day and then knock back a few pops with those same rivals until late into the night.

Friendly Rivals: Ronald Reagan (L) & O’Neill

The Republican Party began to change back in the 1970s with the influx of the well-organized fundamentalist Christian Taliban. The Democratic Party followed suit the next decade, transforming itself inversely. The rise of the likes of Gary Hart and then Bill Clinton heralded the Dems’ new method of selecting Mr. Right. They didn’t come up through the ranks, doing grunt work, stuffing envelopes, and sweating in telephone boiler rooms. No, they depended on so-called new technologies and innovative strategies for their ascensions.

O’Neill mourned the passing of the old breed and was skeptical that the new now had the answers. He said:

… [M]any never came through the organization, never rang a doorbell in their life, never were a precinct worker, never stayed late at the polls, never brought people to an election, weren’t brought up in the realm of party discipline.

— as quoted in David Broder’s Changing of the Guard: Power and Leadership in America

2) Speaking of that Republican flyover population, so many of whom constituted something Dick Nixon called the “Silent Majority” and would come to be the money tree that Roger Ailes and his Fox News outfit shook with vigor, as far back as the 1970s viewed the mainstream media with loathing. Here’s an example of their propensity to kill the messenger. In his book, Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right, Dominic Sandbrook recalls the tale of Evel Knievel, the motorcycle daredevil. Sandbrook calls him, “the bourbon-swilling, cane-twirling darling of the southern and western white working classes.” He writes of Knievel’s bigger-than-big, much anticipated televised leap over the Snake River Canyon in his rocket-powered bike, the Skycycle. It turned out to be a glorious flop. Sandbrook writes:

In the event, the Skycycle failed even to make it off the ramp properly, and as the chastened Knievel was whisked away in a limousine, the crowd turned ugly, smashing the televison crews’ equipment, gutting the concession stands, and setting cars on fire.

From Knievel To Trump: A Straight Line

Hot Air: He Makes Me Laugh

I happened to meet a couple of the standup comedians who appeared at Jared Thompson’s spectacular Limestone Comedy Festival this weekend. Lauren Faber of Durham, North Carolina, and Rachael Goldman of Evansville shared the weekend’s bill with the likes of W. Kamau Bell, Fortune Feimster, Colin Quinn, Jo Firestone, Janelle James, and scads of others.

They were profoundly impressed with the work that Thompson has done in putting together B-town’s annual yuck extravaganza. In fact, our brief tête-à-tête-á-tête became a tad contentious when the two jokesters started arguing about whether the Limestone was the planet’s second- or third-greatest standup fest. What fest is better than Bloomington’s? One said Bridgetown and the other nodded. Moontower was suggested and quickly shot down. Toronto. New York. Boston. LA. Nope. None better than our town’s.

I dunno where LCF stands in the latest rankings and I don’t care. All I know is Thompson is putting this town on the map, babies.

Funny thing is, not long ago I ran into Jared on the street and he and I, both in a mad rush to get somewhere else, found it necessary to stop and talk about what ails our beloved Cubs this year. At least three times during the convo, each of us said, “I gotta get going, but one more thing….”

Here’s one more thing for you: If you’re not at next year’s Limestone Comedy Fest, you’re nowhere, dig?

Hot Air: Ups & Downs

If you’re anything like me, you’re riding the President Gag roller coaster these days.

Truly, my emotions are running riot. One day down, the next day up. On Monday, say, I’m afraid this vaudeville  presidency will be the death knell for America. On Tuesday, I might think, Hmm, maybe we can wrest control of one or both houses of Congress in ’18 and get the White House in ’20 and in a few years we’ll all have a good laugh about this burlesque regime!

You know, mood swings are a clear sign of depression.

And if you’re not depressed yet, well….

Hondo Harangue

Here’s the link to yesterday’s Big Talk featuring Hondo Thompson, the new main stage emcee for the John Hartford Fest, now in full swing at the Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground.

And after you get your aural sip of him from the WFHB feature, you can grab a Hondo big gulp here for the unedited, full-length interview I did with him this week.

Talk to you later.

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