Author Archives: glabwrites

Hot Air: Poor Students

I’ve always been drawn to write about or interview for the radio high school dropouts or folks who otherwise took circuitous paths to success. Inasmuch as I barely squeezed my way through all levels of school, I identify with those who were too impatient, too fidgety, and — for that matter — too untamable to succeed in school.

Truth be told, I have no idea how I got through high school. I never did a lick of homework and rarely cracked my textbooks. Re: homework, my philosophy always was, Look, I’ve given you six hours of my day; the rest of the day is for me. I had, after all, books to read and things to learn. The books my teachers wanted me to read and the things they wanted me to learn held little or no interest for me. I wanted to know about astronomy and baseball, politics and art, movies and psychology, none of which subjects were offered in my schooling before college. By the time I did go to a university, after some gap years and certain fits and starts at Chicago’s community colleges, I’d learned the rudiments of studying and regimented learning but still lacked the ability to sit in one place for hours at a time, a necessary talent for successful studentry. (You may notice I also had a propensity for making up words, QED; such flaunting of rules was frowned upon by my teachers.) I dropped out of the University of Illinois-Chicago far short of a degree.

Knight

A fellow named Milton Knight, too, loathed school.

He’ll be my guest at 5:30pm today on Big Talk. A recent immigrant to Bloomington, Knight against all odds and the wishes of his parents became a comic book artist and animator. Even though he only took a single college course, he became a sought-after comics artist for publications like the Village Voice, the National Lampoon, High Times, Heavy Metal, and even Al Goldstein’s barrier-shattering Screw magazine. Later, he’d go on to help animate cartoons for Disney TV, MGM TV, Warner Bros., and HBO.

Knight’s got a solo exhibit up at Artisan Alley‘s Dimensions Gallery through the end of this month. His is a compelling story so tune in to WFHB, 91.3 FM this afternoon or come back here tomorrow morning for a link to the podcast of my interview with him.

BTW: You may recall my Big Talk show featuring Adam Nahas, the founder and executive director of Artisan Alley. Listen to that podcast here. And, if you can’t get enough of Nahas, check out my Limestone Post feature on him here.

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm on WFHB. Don’t forget, it’s fall fund drive time at ‘FHB so pony up if you’ve got some spare scratch. Go here to donate.

Hot Air: Song & Chants

Face-Off?

I write notes to myself in the middle of the night whenever stray ideas float into my head or when I see something on the internet that I might want to comment on but I’m too lazy to do so at the moment. Last night, for instance, I saw an article about the Sarah Dye appearance at a Grassroots Republicans meeting at the Ellettsville branch of the Monroe County Public Library.

Dye, of course, is the “natural” farmer who’s been outed for being connected to a white supremacist group that used to be known as Identity Evropa but is now called something else so that its members may more easily spread their horseshit without being labeled as…, y’know, white supremacists. Dye is a vendor at the Bloomington Farmers Market and protesters have been raising hell about her and her husband’s presence there this summer. There’ve already been near-dramatic confrontations including one Saturday AM when locked and loaded gun fondlers showed up to demonstrate in favor of her right to spew rhetorical emesis online.

I saw somewhere that one speaker at the Grassroots Republicans gathering suggested a bunch of them show up tomorrow morning at the Farmers Market to show support for Dye. Because it was — I think — 2:00am when I saw the tidbit, I thought, Hmm, I’m gonna say something about that when I wake up. I didn’t take a note because I was half-snoring at the time.

Of course, I couldn’t find the article or social medium post referring to the person’s call-out as I started typing this post. Did I dream it? Was it taken down? Who knows?

I do know this. I’m not feeling good at all about the prospect of scads of white supremacist defenders showing up at the Showers Common tomorrow. Guaranteed, there’ll be a hefty contingent of folks who want Dye and her like to get lost who’ll show up in response. That sounds like a recipe for mayhem

Here’s hoping I dreamed it.

Women Talk

It’s not even 100 years since the Senate and the two-thirds of the state legislatures decided to guarantee women’s right to vote in this holy land. In fact, the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment will be celebrated next year.

Fleck

The Monroe County History Center will mount an exhibit commemorating women’s suffrage in 2020. A huge part of that will be research done by the Center’s collections manager, Hilary Fleck. She was awarded a May Wright Sewall Fellowship grant by Indiana Humanities earlier this year to compile a history of the suffrage movement in Monroe County as well as a rundown of women politicians hereabouts.

Fleck joined me on Big Talk yesterday. If you missed the show, here’s the podcast. And tune in to WFHB, 91.3 FM, Monday, at 5:00pm for the Daily Local News feature, Big Talk Extra, wherein Fleck chats with me about some notable names in the local fight to get voting rights for females.

Next week on Big Talk, a couple of dynamos behind the MidWay Music Festival — Alexi King and Rachel Glago — will join me in the studio to talk about the sound bash scheduled for Saturday, October 5th, at a half dozen venues around town. The MidWay Fest is an annual Bloomington production featuring women and non-binary folk strumming, banging, warbling, cooing, keyboard plinking, fretting, and every other kind of music-making. The MidWay people found, a while ago, that while half the audience for any given music festival is female, the vast, vast, vast majority of performers at such events is male. Natch, something had to be done so the MidWay gang cranked up a fest featuring non-males.

Wanna learn more? Tune in Thursday, October 3rd at 5:30pm for Big Talk.


Hot Air: Friday Filibuster

Smooth Sailing For Norway

Someone posted this article link on soc. med the other day:

The article ran on July 10, 2018 in The Week and was written by the online mag’s reporter Ryan Cooper. It was classified as an Opinion piece. Cooper made the argument that scads of people are screaming to high heaven that a lot of the government-rescue policies being touted by leftists, especially Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who I’m gaga for, BTW — I’ve been waiting with bated breath for years for a Dem pol to shout unashamedly and proudly that she wants things like universal health care and countless other programs dozens of other industrialized nations provide their citizens) will lead to America becoming some kind of horrifying dystopia, something like Cuba, perhaps. Whether or not Cuba is indeed a horrifying dystopia — its citizenry is well-educated and, yes, it boasts of universal health care yet it also cracks down on dissent, restricts movement, and holds a thumb on its news media’s jugular — can be argued from now until the wee hours. But Norway, Cooper avers, is a shiny gem of a society where nobody goes bankrupt because they’ve contracted leukemia.

That may be true.

If it is, I’ll tell you why. Norway is a hugely homogenous society. The country doesn’t much have to deal with issues like racism, the social safety net, and other such interlocking posers. The day someone got the bright idea that Norway ought to provide universal, single-payer health care for its citizenry, of all the arguments against that proposal, the single most powerful was missing. That would be the oft tacit refusal of its majority whites to countenance sharing the wealth with dark-skinned people.

See, there aren’t enough dark-skinned people in Norway to scare the bejesus out of its whites. Africans and Arabs, and any other strains silly enough to have been born with a few extra melanin cells distributed throughout their epidermes (yes, that’s the plural of epidermis; I looked it up!) aren’t present there to rob the majority whites of their birthright privileges. The idea being, Hey, sure, let’s take care of our Norwegian sisteren and brethren; they look just like us!

Here in America, with all our diversity — and, yes, we’re the most diverse nation on the planet — whichever gang happens to have a stranglehold on a numerical plurality (read: whites) will have the ability to deny largesse to those gangs that don’t look like them-slash-scare them.

In other words, it’s easy for Norway to be so open-handed. It’s not for us.

Lotus Chatter

Did you miss yesterday’s Big Talk? The fairly-new exec. director of the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation, Tamara Loewenthal, joined me in the studio this week. With this year’s Lotus Fest (believe it or not, the 26th such iteration) set to kick off Thursday, September 26th, I thought it’d be the perfect time to find out how the Lotus folks do their thing. Believe me, it ain’t easy, from helping international acts get visas to feeding them while they’re here, Lotus staffers and vols go to heroic lengths to stage our town’s yearly signature event.

Here’s the link to yesterday’s podcast with Tamara.

Loewenthal

Join me next week, Thursday, September 26th, at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM for Big Talk with guest Hilary Fleck, collections manager for the Monroe County History Center. Fleck just scored a big grant to do research on and stage an exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in this holy land. Fleck’ll focus on the history of the women’s vote in this here county, which oughtta be a hoot.

Did you know, BTW, that this town’s first woman mayor was Mary Alice Dunlap, who was appointed to the post by the Bloomington city council in May, 1962. The previous mayor, Tom Lemon, had been tabbed by President John F. Kennedy to be postmaster for the Cincinnati area. When a mayor can’t or doesn’t finish out her/his term, the city council gets to pick a successor, meaning whichever party holds sway at that moment claims the seat. The city’s second female mayor, Tomi Allison, similarly gained office through a city council vote in 1983 when Frank McCloskey quit to become US Congressbeing from this district.

Dunlap ran for reelection in 1963 but lost to Republican Jack Hooker. Allison ran for election in 1983, ’87, and ’91 and won all three times.

The Monroe County History Center’s women’s vote exhibit will open some time next year, marking a century since the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

 

Hot Air: Thank Odin It’s Friggjar-dagr!

Separated At Birth?

A while ago (I’m too lazy to dig back and find out exactly when) I wrote something on the order of Marianne Williamson being the Democratic Party’s Donald Trump. Each is the negative image of the other. He represents all that’s kookiest about the Right, whereas she stands for all that’s most flaky on the Left.

Funhouse Mirror

Now, here’s the diff. between the two parties. Trump became the Republican candidate for president (and won the election on a technicality). Williamson has been weaned out of the Dem candidate pool already. You’ll note she was not invited to participate in last night’s debate. She was unable to poll well enough.

Hidden Messages

Another debate observation, but first I have to admit I never watch political debates, especially presidential candidate debates. They make me nervous. To be even more honest, all TV news-ish presentations make me nervous. It’s the nature of the medium I suppose:

Marshall McLuhan: The medium Is the message.

Anyway, I always follow the debate the next day, in the papers. That way I can muse on the ideas presented by the candidates rather be distracted by such Q’s as Who was more fidgety?, Who jabbed his finger most?, and Who “looked presidential”?, whatever in the goddamned hell that means.

I did a quick online scan this AM, covering social media, about a half dozen newspapers, some websites, and three or four TV outlets. Going solely by the headlines and pull quotes, I might conclude not one single debater last night brought up any policy issue at all, foreign or domestic. The debate, acc’d’g to that admittedly facile survey therefore, was about as relevant as the Wednesday dinner conversation among the members of a large, contentious family, none of whom wants to address the underlying issues that make them want to strangle half to three quarters of the others around the table.

Doing Good; Doing Well

In case you missed yesterday’s Big Talk, it was a compilation-type show. I cherry-picked six guests from the previous year, all of whom are involved in one kind or another volunteer/activist/advocacy organization. None of the chattering had been aired during the guests’ respective appearances on the weekly Big Talk, Thursdays at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

Here’s the link to the podcast.

And here are pix of the six:

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Hot Air: Not So Fast

Keeping Up Appearances

First, my post about Mayor Hamilton’s bash this past weekend, decrying his use of a city-owned stage/reviewing stand plastered with Bloomington logos, elicited plenty of reaction. I’d say the response was fairly evenly split between people who think I was picking nits and those who feel the mayor would have been better off covering up city logos while he paraded his party’s candidates before attendees of his fifth annual Hamilton Family & Friends Picnic.

The candidates and the logo.

Geoff McKim provided us with a link to the City of Bloomington’s Event Permits & Mobile Stage Rental page. Anybody, apparently, can apply for and, within reason, expect to be able to use the mobile stage for an event.

So Hamilton wasn’t breaking any laws (not that I implied that) or committing any sin, mortal or venial. Bloomington’s chapter of Black Lives Matter can apply for and probably get to use the mobile stage and if someone gets around to photographing the group’s event, there’ll be the city’s logo, clear as can be. Said photo could then be taken to imply that the city endorsed whatever the event was. I suppose the KKK could also apply to use the mobile stage as well and, if they got it, wouldn’t that be a black eye for the city.

Simple solution: erase the city’s logo from the stage so that, in the future, anybody can use it and no one can be confused as to the city’s intentions. When the city wants to use the mobile stage for official events, simply attach to it banners emblazoned with the city logo.

So, was my post a nitpick? Perhaps. But optics is everything. Call my original post an optic-pick.

Ya Gotta Have Friends

You know what’s most remarkable about the Trump presidency? It’s the fact that any number of reprobates, bootlickers, lick-spittlers, numbskulls, fellow greed monkeys, villains, ogres, and general ne’er-do-wells have become something akin to heroic after leaving the employ of the man who fancies himself the Boss of America.

Anthony Scaramucci, for instance, prior to becoming — then un-becoming — Trump’s White House Director of Communications (read: squealer, as in Animal Farm) was as respectable as Chinatown‘s Noah Cross. Nicknamed, appropriately, The Mooch, he represents pretty much all that is distasteful and even downright dangerous about the Goldman Sachs outfit that, in league with several other syndicates, runs this holy land. Yet, when he was given the axe by the erstwhile lead character of “The Apprentice,” Scaramucci turned on his former capo with a vengeance, characterizing Trump as “horrific” and “despicable,” as if the poor naive lamb had no idea who the Stable Genius really was before taking a job under him. Nevertheless, Scaramucci suddenly became our pal once his Trump-disses aired over the last few weeks.

Then there were the likes of fixer Michael Cohen, inexplicable celebrity and token dark-skinned person Omarosa, and erstwhile segregationist Jeff Sessions, among others, who lambasted their ex-kingfish to one degree or another, either in books or during interviews with TV personalities. As each of them shredded Trump, our hearts became at least a little bit warmer toward them. After all, enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The latest fiend to become our friend is John Bolton, he of the itchy trigger finger. Bolton either quit or was fired yesterday because he basically wanted the president to, y’know, act like a president. Now he’s going public to characterize Li’l Duce as a liar and an impulsive lout, as if neither he nor we knew those things two days ago. Still, because Bolton’s bad-mouthing Trump, he’s becoming…, well, one of us.

Truth is, though, he isn’t one of us. Never was. Never will be. But as long as he’s teed off at President Gag, we’re coming thisclose to embracing him, even if we have take decontamination showers after doing so.

Not us, them.

With friends like these….

Is It Or Isn’t It?

The internet recently went a tad gaga over the breaking news that a couple of amateur researchers — just kids, really — have discovered a bacterium strain that can eat plastic and turn it into water. This is breathtaking news because our addiction to plastics has turned many of our planet’s open waters into so many dumps for the stuff. Turtles and birds and fish are being strangled by gazillions of six-pack rings that’ve found their way into the open sea. Huge islands of polymer are growing here and there. I read one story that said there’ll be more plastic in our oceans than fish by the year 2050, although the piece did not provide a link to any such research.

Which is a problem. I mean, in addition to plastic putting a chokehold on countless critters and fouling the blue expanses across the hemispheres. Like that prediction, much of the news we get about the environment is, quite frankly, full of shit.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going all Trump on you (were that to happen, I implore someone out there to put me out of my — and the world’s — misery). Global warming and climate weirding are twin ills that promise to eff up the greater environment as well as human civilization over the next few decades unless some kind of miracle should occur. And the news that a couple of students just out of their teens have found a plastic-eating bacterium is indeed miraculous.

And, alas, probably not a thing.

Okay, background. Vancouver high schoolers Jenny Yao and Miranda Wang were futzing around in a lab and, apparently, bred the new strain. When stuffed to their gills w/ plastic, these new bacteria purportedly turn the stuff into water. How convenient! And fabulous!

Wang (L) & Yao

So fabulous that Yao & Wang won five science/entrepreneurship prizes from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a top-of-the-line business degree factory. The two were the youngest to win the Perlman Grand Prize of the 2016 Wharton Business Plan competition. They copped four other trophies or plaques or grants from the school for their discovery and subsequent creation of a business. They’re the co-founders of a Silicon Valley company called BioCellection, dedicated to plastic recycling.

If there’s anything the web-iverse loves it’s a deceptively simple solution to a gigantic problem. What could be more simple than pouring tankers-full of said bacteria into the ocean and watching them gobble up all the milk containers, McDonald’s straws, cell phone packaging, water bottles (don’t get me started on that scourge), peanut butter jars, innumerable Rubbermaid™ containers, and all the rest of the detritus our species has manufactured since the dawn of the Plastic Age (c. 1907).

It ain’t so. For any number of reasons, it would be impossible to turn the bacteria loose in, say, the great Pacific Ocean and thus wave bye-bye to all the plastic trash in it.

Yao & Wang are working feverishly to develop new plastic recycling technologies, though. As such they should be celebrated. But they’re not miracle workers — nobody is — and so, once again, the internet has missed the mark by a wide margin.

Me? When I first read the breathless posts acclaiming the so-called breakthrough, I immediately thought:

  1. This sounds way too simple
  2. Even if it works, there have to be unintended, unforeseen consequences

The next few years indeed should scare the bejesus out of us. When people are scared, they grasp at panaceas or the ravings of snake oil salesmen. Remember laetrile back in the late 1970s? Expect to read about many more internet shrieks of glee about this or that simple solution to the world’s pollution problems. Hell, I know social media posters who, if you read their rants long enough, seem to know the precise hour and minute civilization will crumble and all life on Earth will cease to exist due to climate change.

Some simple rules of thumb:

  1. There are precious few truths in this life
  2. Nobody can tell the future, especially when it comes to a complex, interconnected set of systems like the environment
  3. If it’s on the internet, take it with a grain of salt

More and more I’m coming to the conclusion that social media are good only for posting pix of your breakfast and cute poses you catch your cat in.

Hot Air: There I Go Again

I’ve already been lectured by a fairly high-ranking member of the John Hamilton administration for being too much of a smart-ass re: the man who runs this sprawling megalopolis.

Don’t all you wise guys, the lecturer snipped, realize being mayor is a hard job? It’s so easy, this person continued — not shaking a finger but, hell, they may as well have been — to snipe and throw bombs from the outside looking in?

I went home and said four Hail Mary’s and six Acts of Contrition as penance. My soul and conscience cleansed, I silently pledged to lay off the chief executive of Bloomington. By golly, I’d make these precincts a veritable safe room for man and his serious, hardworking crew.

A few social medium posts by Hamilton’s esteemed bride — whom he’s referred to as “the First Lady,” earning him my own finger-wagging herein — about his annual Hamilton Friends & Family Picnic has tempted me to commit venial sin once again.

First, scope these pix:

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I notice the stage for the Mayor and his fellow party office seekers is the city’s semi-trailer that serves as the reviewing stand for the Fourth of July parade and other official municipal events. The picnic, additionally, was held in Bryan Park, a public space for which, presumably, such elaborate events must be reserved and paid for (when necessary).

Dear me, I’m trying my damnedest to be a good Catholic (now where did I put that winking emoticon?) but the whole deal raises a few Q’s in my wise guy mind. To wit:

  1. Is the annual picnic a public event sponsored by the city, one family’s gala celebrating all of us in Bloomington, or a political event for the purpose of touting a particular party’s candidates?
  2. Why is city property (the semi-trailer) being used for what looks to any innocent eye as a pep rally for local Dems?
  3. Did Hamilton or the Monroe County Democratic Party pay for the use of the semi-trailer?
  4. Would the semi-trailer be available for use and/or rental for, say, an Andrew Guenther Friends & Family Picnic?
  5. Who paid for the set-up, resources usage (electricity, security, etc.), clean-up costs, and any other expenses incurred during the staging of the event?
  6. If either Mayor Hamilton or the Party ponied up for said costs, why were they allowed to use an item emblazoned with the city’s name and logo, essentially bestowing a government imprimatur upon the whole thing?

And 7. Does asking these questions make me a smart ass again?

Hot Air: Talk & Action

Quick Question

When Cory Booker looks in the mirror, does he see Bill Clinton?

Reflection.

Booker yesterday during CNN’s climate change town hall for the Democrats’ announced 2020 presidential candidates told the crowd that even though he’s a vegan, they should eat as much meat as they want. See, beef-on-the-hoof grazing is one of the top contributors to deforestation on this mad planet. Those fires in the Amazon rainforest? Clear-cutting for cattle ranching likely has made them much more the inferno than they might otherwise have been.

The message should be, Hey, knock off gorging on bovine steaks and roasts for ten seconds wouldja? I mean, we don’t have to ban red meat but, jeez, maybe we Americans can try to eat a stalk of celery every once in a while, just to save, y’know, the world. But no, Booker wants to show said world he can be all things to all people, just like his apparent role model.

That splitting-the-baby-in-half type of rhetoric certainly was a hallmark of the Clinton oratorical archive. And, considering the fact that Booker embraces more than a few things, as did Clinton, that make progressives feel uncomfortably itchy, well…, the comparison is apt, no?

In any case, should the unlikely occur and Booker gains his party’s 2020 nomination, I’ll more than happily vote for him over the Mussolini-lite that occupies the Oval Office today. I’d much rather verbally batter Booker over his venial sins than endure Li’l Duce‘s cardinal sins anymore.

Action Figures

We’re doing a dizzyingly quick turnaround on Big Talk this afternoon. Due to scheduling conflicts and unforeseen HIPAA issues, I’ll be recording today’s edition at 2:15pm at WFHB Tower, the world headquarters of the radio/online communications powerhouse that carries my hopefully-one-day award-winning program, editing and post-producing said interview, and shooting the resultant audio file over to hard-nosed new news director Kyrie Greenberg for airing at 5:30pm.

Phew.

Oh yes, my guests. Two of them. They’ll be Tracey Hutchings-Goetz, community organizer for Hoosier Action, and Kassandra (Kass) Botts, interim exec director of the Indiana Recovery Alliance. The two groups are working together to defeat this state’s Medicaid work requirements.

Hutchings-Goetz (L) & Botts

You may recall Hoosier Action’s founder and current chief, Kate Hess Pace, appearing on Big Talk twice already, the first time back in August 2017 and again this past January. Since Kate’s first appearance on the program, she’s moved her base of operations to New Albany and brought on Hutchings-Goetz to handle business here in Bloomington. HA is a member-driven nonprofit that seeks to get people involved in legislative change and voter participation.

BTW: Ain’t that a stinging indictment of the electorate in this holy land? The fact that advocacy groups have to stand on their heads to get people to vote seems downright bizarre. I dunno about you, but I was chomping at the bit to vote in the years leading up to my eighteenth birthday and I don’t think I’ve missed an election since. If I have, it was entirely unavoidable. Other people, apparently, think it’s way too much effort to stand in line for thirteen minutes and then fill out a ballot indicating their preferences for the future of this locality/state/nation/world.

Anyway, HA’s got several new initiatives either ongoing or about to be. The Medicaid work requirement is just one. Hutchings-Goetz and Botts’ll fill listeners — and me — in on the rest of their respective organizations’ plans.

Here, in case you want some good background on the genesis and mission of HA, is the full length Big Talk featuring Hess Pace:

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. The following Monday, we present an approximately-eight-minute feature called Big Talk Extra during the Daily Local News at 5pm. Listen Mondays for added conversation with the previous week’s guest. As always, if you miss Big Talk, come back here on Fridays (or whenever I get around to it) for a link to the podcast.

Hot Air: Women’s Places

Doug Storm, emeritus host and producer of WFHB’s Interchange, points out this piece in Jezebel, about a noted poet, an once-esteemed member of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty, who was accused by numerous women of inappropriate behavior. His name is Thomas Sayers Ellis. He’d taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Case Western Reserve University. The author of the Jezebel piece, Jia Tolentino, called him “brilliant.”

Tolentino adds:

He’s charismatic and surprising, a protest poet, a real intellectual, unafraid to cause alarm. His style is enjambed, urgent, and rhythmically afire; in the late ‘80s, he founded the Dark Room Collective to promote writers of color, and he’s been known as an activist ever since.

In 2016, a number of anonymous women offered chilling testimony about Sayers Ellis’s sexual proclivities. Apparently, acc’d’g to several of these women, he likes to dominate, is into mild S&M, and has engaged in episodes of stalking and harassment.

After the accusations were published in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Sayers Ellis was bounced from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Oddly, none of the so-called objective sources offering bios of him — Wikipedia, the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the National Book Foundation, and more — raise a peep about the scandal that cost him his job. Only VIDA, The New Republic, and a website called The Rumpus seem to take the scandal seriously. The New Republic mentioned the Sayers Ellis situation in a report on an overall atmosphere of male misbehavior at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, calling it a “tradition [that] goes back a long way….

The New Republic piece even refers to the sainted Kurt Vonnegut telling incoming faculty that undergrads should be off limits but grad students were ripe, as it were, for the picking at Iowa.

Of Iowa, noted author Sandra Cisneros says of her time as a student there in The New Republic article: ““The teachers were completely fucked up.”

Both Tolentino’s and The New Republic’s pieces suggest men in artistic academia long have been grabby and entitled when it comes to trusting, naive young women sitting before them in classes.

The overall idea is writers and other artists who teach in higher education facilities across this holy land often are celebrities in their fields, honored and even adored by youthful, hopeful students who thus are prone to fall for their guy bullshit and get involved sexually or romantically (or both) with them or who find it extremely difficult to cope with the men’s bullying ways and pushy, oafish passes.

Being a guy, I can understand how the daily parade of young, attractive females in a college or university setting can make a middle-aged fellow think certain thoughts. And I’d suppose an honest, symmetrical relationship can indeed develop and even flourish between professor and student, as long as she’s of age. Yet too many of these old goats seem to want to till that fertile soil with their rusty old plows. And maybe they get off on being overbearing, power-wielding boors. Perhaps just getting down with a comely 23-year-old creative writing grad student isn’t enough; it could be that these would-be Cougats need to oppress and/or humiliate their prospective partners.

I mean, why in the hell else would a guy threaten a potential romantic/sexual partner with poor grades or lousy references? The sane among us realize such extortion rarely endears the object of one’s desire to one.

That power dynamic seems all too prevalent in all fields where men and women work together. And, sadly, too many of those fields have evolved a workplace paradigm wherein the only women who can get ahead, as a rule, are subservient, worshipful, and obsequious.

To wit: I’ve recently read a couple of books written by women who worked in anonymous-type jobs at the New Yorker. One, Between You & Me, by Mary Morris, is the author’s tale of working as a copy editor at the magazine. The other, The Receptionist, by Janet Groth, is a memoir covering the author’s stint in the title position there.

Maybe it’s just the New Yorker, but I doubt it. In any case, both authors gush about the males with whom they work to a point where I wanted to cringe. In fact, I wasn’t even able to finish either book because I found myself so put off by the slavish hosannaing of the authors vis-a-vis the deific men for whom they emended copy or took messages. Both women were — are — excellent writers but to hear them tell it, they could never, ever, ever, in this world or the next, begin to dream to approach the lordly men who, in their fetishistically humble opinions, were to the writer’s art as Einstein was to 20th Century physics or Jesus Christ to the Roman Catholic Church.

Before I tossed either book to the side, I continually wondered if any woman with a hair’s-width less idolatry of the strutting, pompous male asses with whom the two shared office air would have lasted a fraction as long as they did at the New Yorker.

Based on what I learned from both Morris and Groth, I’d have to guess the answer is no woman with a sense of self-worth and a full compliment of confidence would have lasted more than an hour and a half there.

Considering the revelations about workplace dynamics the last few years in every walk of life, I’d have to conclude further the average American — both male and female — expect women to dote upon the males with whom they work and to display, properly, a sense of inferiority to them.

Want more proof? In 2016 a woman stood up and said she wanted to be President of the United States. She said it loudly and in a deep, forceful voice. She didn’t ask for it. She said, flat out, I want it. For a nation that only twenty-some years before had seen its most notable woman, one nearest the locus of power, Nancy Reagan, gaze rapturously at her husband, the President, as if there could be no more delicious and achievable aspiration in this existence than to be a First Lady, Hillary Clinton’s ambition and refusal to play second fiddle must have been a kick in the balls.

Yeah, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. And yeah, there were 23 and a half other reasons why she came up short in the Electoral College tally, but surely up to tens of millions of votes against her were driven by the feeling that she didn;t know her damned place.

I’m guessing things’ll be different in 2020 should Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren or any other woman gain the Democratic nomination to run against the most lunkheaded creep ever to occupy the Oval Office since Andrew Jackson. It’s entirely possible Hillary Clinton had to take the bullet for all future female presidential candidates three years ago and now that the first one’s been put in her place, maybe we can look at the next one with a tad less terror.

Or maybe I’m just whistling past the graveyard. Time will tell.

Hot Air: Horror Show

Matt Tyrnauer did a bang-up documentary called “Studio 54” on the iconic, mid/late ’70s mecca for pathological narcissists. You can still catch it on Netflix — that is, if you can stand being repeatedly nauseated by the Me Gen’s horrifying excesses of money, drugs, sex, and self.

No lie, watching this thing’ll make you wonder, “What took the terrorists so long to strike?”

Funny thing is (as in not-so-funny), one of the partners in the Studio 54 descent into Dante’s Inferno, Ian Schrager, today is a successful boutique hotel developer, well-respected by those who judge people’s value only by how many millions they’ve made, proving once again that life is patently unfair.

Anyway, Tyrnauer, profiled in Sunday’s New York Times, watched “Studio 54” and kept seeing one name cited or referred to again and again. Roy Cohn. The young, ambitious, amoral attorney who helped Joe McCarthy try to turn these United States into the negative image of the Soviet Union grew up to rep mobsters, predatory capitalists, and Donald Trump. In fact, acc’d’g to Tyrnauer, Cohn essentially made Trump.

Joined at the hip.

With the 2016 election approaching, Tyrnauer couldn’t quite figure out why no one had made the definitive doc on Cohn, especially with his protege, Beelzebub Jr., in the race as the Republican candidate. Tyrnauer, though, like way, way, way too many of us, counted Trump’s candidacy as a fluke, that he’d be walloped by Hillary Clinton. Trump then’d go away like Y2K and the Symbionese Liberation Army. That being the case, no one would care about — nor would anybody finance — a movie on Trump’s dybbuk. But then…, you know what happened.

So now Tyrnauer has completed “Where My Roy Cohn?,” a doc to be released in theaters on September 20, and sure to be carried by one of the streaming services before the end of the year. I found this bit from the NYT profile fascinating:

In the documentary, Mr. Tyrnauer interviews one ex-lover of Mr. Cohn and three cousins, including the writer Anne Roiphe. They described Mr. Cohn’s mother, Dora Marcus, as a domineering woman who, when a maid in her employ dropped dead, stored the body under a serving table in the kitchen while she continued Passover dinner.

When Gary Marcus, a cousin, asked the first question of Passover, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Dora blurted out, “Because the maid is dead in the kitchen.”

Eeee-yikes!

So, I look forward to seeing this thing, considering I count Roy Cohn among the top American villains of the 20th Century, a list that includes the aforementioned McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, Fr. Coughlin, Henry Kissinger, and any and every Dixiecrat.

Here’s the kicker, straight from Tyrnauer’s mouth:

Roy Cohn did the impossible. He created a president from beyond the grave…. The basic lessons that Trump learned from Cohn were: Never apologize. If someone hits you, hit them back a thousand times harder. Any publicity is good publicity. And find an “other.”

That my friends, is the guy we elected president in 2016.

Extra!

Tune in to the Daily Local News Tuesday at 5:00pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM for Big Talk Extra, the weekly feature including additional conversation from the previous week’s Big Talk. This week, I continue my chat with Courtney Payne-Taylor, founder of GRO (Girls Riders Organization), a nationwide women-in-sports empowerment advocate.

Payne-Taylor, winning the 2016 espnW/Toyota Everyday Heroes award.

And here’s the link to the podcast of the Thursday, August 29th, Big Talk with Payne-Taylor.

Hot Air: TalkLink

Hey, I invented a word!

What it means is you can click your way clear to hearing yesterday’s Big Talk featuring Courtney Payne-Taylor, skateboarder, motivator, and founder of GRO (Girls Riders Organization).

And here’s a vid from the GRO archives:

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