Category Archives: Angela Davis

Hot Air

Inflexible Moralizing

Glenn Greenwald made a name for himself around the world by hitching his wagon to the Edward Snowden runaway horse. Greenwald, of course, is the reporter who published, via the Guardian US, Snowden’s revelations that this holy land is nosy about every single email you’ve ever written and every cell phone call you’ve ever made.


Greenwald (Photo by Kin Cheung/AP)

Rightly so, we were aghast that our heretofore simon-pure leaders were attempting to peek over every transom in America. So Prez Barack H. O. had to toe the dirt in front of him for a few uncomfortable moments and get all apologetic for wanting to look under the socks in our collective upper right hand drawer.

[That’s three metaphors in one graf; is that my record?]

Snowden, meanwhile, started thinking he was the protagonist in a cheap spy novel and fled to Russia where freedom reigns eternal. And Greenwald found himself the hottest investigative reporter around.

Now, loyal Pencillistas know my feelings about Edward Snowden. Basically, he’s a dildo who somehow found himself in a position to do the rest of us one act of good and then proceeded to go back to being a dildo. As for Greenwald, I never thought much about him one way or the other, although I had a suspicion he might be a tad overzealous in view of the USA as this planet’s most odious villain. As in, we’re Nazi Germany sans the swastikas. In fact, Greenwald is skeptical of those who pooh-pooh Godwin’s Law practitioners.

Now we learn Greenwald is four-square against the United States sending police or military resources to Nigeria to assist that nation in finding its kidnapped 300 or so young girls.

His rationale? Well the US has done a lot of crappy things in its day so who are we to try to be good guys now? That and any expeditionary force, no matter how limited, surely will be the advance guard of an imperialist takeover of that oil-producing land.

Perhaps I’m naive but I believe Glenn Greenwald is full of horseshit.

A great number of Far Left radicals also buy into Greenwald’s reasoning. They’re calling any American effort to go over to Nigeria to help in the search “neo-colonialism.”


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They, too, are full of horseshit. Nigeria is suffering under the threat of those Boko Haram nitwits. And the president of the country until very recently was more concerned with silencing parents and their supporters calling for a stronger government effort to find the girls than actually finding the girls.

BTW, Nigeria in recent years has criminalized homosexuality. Oh, and most secondary schools in the state of Borno have been closed due to the menace of Boko Haram which means, literally, western writing is sinful.

The big shots in charge of Nigeria might not need neo-colonialism but they sure need a swift kick in the ass.


From the very first time I ever rode an el train to downtown Chicago alone — in the summer of 1972 — there’d be kids walking from car to car hawking copies of Jet magazine. And, sure enough, they’d find at least one passenger in each car who’d buy the little, digest-sized mag. It cost 35 cents at the time.

In fact, I’ve found the cover of the first issue of Jet I ever saw:


That’s Angela Davis, the era’s chic-est revolutionary. She was smart, determined, a college professor, a rebel, and gorgeous to boot. I already had a huge crush on her when the kid selling that month’s issue came through my car. I saw the cover as he neared me, repeating the mantra, Jat, Jat, Jat….

I would have paid a dollar and 35 cents for a copy, that’s how smitten I was with Angela Davis.

The discovery that black people had their own magazine was a revelation to me. Funny thing is, I was too scared to buy one from the kid. The only folks who bought them on the train had dark skin. I was certain the kid would snicker at me or some older black person would give me a dirty look. I never even opened a copy until my first bookstore job in 1977.

By that time, I knew white people were allowed to read Jet. Only they didn’t. We’ve come a long way.

Jet soon will publish its last print issue. Beginning in June, it’ll go online exclusively. I’m not going to cry phony tears over this transition. Working at the Book Corner (where we don’t carry Jet), I’ve come to understand that the vast majority of mags simply don’t sell. People are reading online now. I’m reading online now. Perhaps we can save a tree or two.

The only thing I’ll miss is those young black newsboys threading through the cars of an el train intoning, Jat, Jat, Jat….

Wake Me When It’s Over

Are you as underwhelmed as I am by the prospect of Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush in 2016?



Well, one good thing. We’ll have our first woman president. No, make that a great thing. Alright, alright, I’ll stay up for the race.

Indiana Ear Candy

The Indianapolis alternative weekly NUVO has released its 100 Best Hoosier Albums Ever.

You’ll recognize plenty of the artists: everyone from David Baker to Hoagy Carmichael to the Jackson Five and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. But those big names are really the minority. You’ll discover a hell of a lot of great new music if you study the list and take a listen to some of the choices you’re unfamiliar with.

I have a feeling it’ll be a better experience than being earwormed by The Lion Sleeps Tonight (wink, wink, Susan Sandberg!)

The Pencil Today:


“Racism is a much more clandestine, much more hidden kind of phenomenon, but at the same time it’s perhaps far more terrible than it’s ever been.” — Angela Davis


Have you seen this map yet?

Weird, huh?

It’s the electoral map from Tuesday’s presidential election with all the women’s and blacks’ votes discounted. In other words had the female suffragists never been successful, nor had the 15th Amendment giving free blacks the right to vote been ratified, this is what we’d have been left with — one of the greatest electoral college landslides in the history of the United States.

For Willard “Mitt” Romney.

White men simply did not vote for Barack Obama. And for the last 223 years, white men have chosen the president.

No more.

Is it any wonder why they’re scared to death?


Now here’s my own existential question: Why do I refer to white men as “they”?

A Young Mitt Romney And His (White) Pals

Again, is it any wonder?


Jezebel, as you probably know, is part of the Gawker Media group of websites. As its name indicates, it’s directed at women. But I read it because, well, as indicated in the preceding entry, I’m not thrilled to be a part of the white male gang.

Speaking of whiteness, Jezebel has embarked on a campaign to blow the whistle on high school kids who’ve Tweeted racist and often threatening comments about the reelection of Barack Obama Tuesday.

Far too many of these little bastards are calling Obama a “nigger” and a “monkey” and some even express longing for the day he gets picked off by an assassin.

Now, I’ll refrain from revealing what I’d like to do to these brats only because it entails my shoe and their asses and, as I understand it, kicking the crap out of kids is frowned upon these days.

That said, I’m made a little uncomfortable by Jezebel’s tactics. See, the website is contacting the schools these racist kids attend and letting their principals know what they’re saying on the social site.

Not only that but Jezebel is publicizing the kids’ names as well as their schools on the site which is seen by perhaps 100,000 people a day (the latest figures show the combined daily hit total for Gawker’s sites is about a quarter of a million, so I’m estimating here.)

Anyway, I don’t like it. Kids are stupid. I know this because I was a kid once. Kids say stupid things. I remember once telling my mother that I was a communist. Communism, after all, seemed a very attractive alternative to me at the age of 17, what with the Vietnam War and racism and the Nixon White House defining this holy land at the time.

Should I have been called out in a national media outlet for saying so? IIRC, my flirtation with communism lasted all of a few weeks. Then I read about old Joe Stalin and his purges and idiosyncrasies. I also read that even though Stalinism had been declared old hat in the USSR, the new generation of leaders there were only slightly less, shall we say, stern than Stalin.

And here’s another thing. I’ve called some people “nigger” in my day. That’s the word we used in my neighborhood to describe black people. I wasn’t terribly comfortable using that terminology and I never used it as liberally as the vast majority of my peers. In fact, even during those few-and-far-between moments when I did drop an N, I knew I wouldn’t be saying the word once I freed myself from the neighborhood I grew up in.

Still, I felt an almost irresistible pressure to speak in the language of my environs. I did my best to resist, but sometimes I couldn’t. I was, after all, a kid. And kids not only are stupid, they’re apt to fall in line awfully easily.

I was overheard saying the word once by a black guy named Chris, whom I liked. I’ll never forget the look on Chris’s face: a combination of hurt and anger that I’d never seen before. I swore at that moment I’d never use the word as a descriptor again.

Nevertheless, I ran into the guy and his sister several years later on Michigan Avenue. Apparently, he’d never told his sister about what he’d heard me say. She greeted me like a long lost brother. All the while, the guy stood at a remove, eying me as one would a rat.

I wanted to say to him, “Chris, I’ve never used that word again,” but I knew it wouldn’t make his hurt and anger go away. It would only make me feel better to say so.

Speaking of rats, Katy Waldman wrote on Friday that Jezebel is “ratting out” the kids. She, too, riffs on the stupidity of kids. She also posits that Jezebel’s campaign just might make the Tweeters in question bitter, which could very well preclude any magical reversal of their racist feelings.

For its part, Jezebel says it’s calling out these Tweeters and dropping the hammer on them via their principals in an effort to get them to see the error of their ways.

Perhaps. I still don’t care for the paternalistic (or should I say maternalistic) attitude Jezebel’s taking here. It reeks of Joe Friday on “Dragnet” preaching against hippies and LSD and extolling the values of hard work and sacrifice.

As kids, we all laughed at Joe Friday. The mere fact that he was anti-LSD to a large extent drove us toward it. He was the authority, someone to be resisted at all costs.

With its campaign, Jezebel’s putting itself in the role of authority. How hip is the term “nigger” going to become now?

Unless a kid has it in his heart to see black people as human beings who can experience hurt and anger, he’ll never stop dropping the N-bomb no matter how many people call him out on it.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Monday, November 12th, 2012

LECTURE ◗ IU Maurer School of Law, Room 335A Case Study of China’s Administrative Law Crisis: The Unlawful Enforcement of Insider Trading Prohibition,” Presented by Nicholas Howson, professor of law at the University of Michigan; Noon

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallMaster’s Recital: Adam Walton, bass-baritone; 5pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Matthew Middleton on organ; 5pm

LETTERS ◗ Rachael’s CafeCreative writing workshop; 6-8pm

OPEN HOUSE ◗ Harmony School; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Blind Chance“; 7pm

LECTURE ◗ Buskirk Chumley TheaterIU School of Journalism Speaker Series: Byron Pitts of CBS News; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleJoe Sanford; 7-9pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Assembly HallHoosier men’s basketball vs. North Dakota State; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallPercussion Ensemble, John Tafoya & Kevin Bobo, directors; 7pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Sweeney HallGuest Lecture: Shinuh Lee, composer; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallHorn Studio Recital: Students of Jeff Nelson; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterMAC Lobby Concerts Series: Jazz Combo; 7:15pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterLatin Jazz Ensemble & Jazz Combo, Michael Spiro & Jeremy Allen, directors; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopDJ Tyler Damon; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallDoctoral Recital: Julia Pefanis, mezzo-soprano; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

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