Category Archives: Barbara Ehrenreich

Hot Air

Hoosier Hope

[Warning to loyal Pencillistas: This first entry is about sports. Read it at your own risk.]

My beloved Chicago Cubs last night selected Indiana University catcher Kyle Schwarber as their first pick in the 2014 Major Leaguie baseball entry draft.

Schwarber

Kyle Schwarber (Bleacher Nation Image)

Hey, maybe this’ll get me to start caring about Hoosiers baseball which, I understand, has been pretty good the last couple of years. My back-office (Soma Coffee) colleague Pat Murphy broke the news about Schwarber to me last night, seeing as how he knows about my Cubs “problem.” So, just to make small talk, I mentioned that IU lost a heartbreaker in the NCAA regional tournament the other day. That set Murphy off on a seemingly endless soliloquy about everything IU baseball. He spoke of the rain on Monday night, the Hoosiers’ injury problems, something about the coach’s son, Stanford’s triumphant performance after the rain delay, the unfairness of teams from California being able to play baseball all year while Indiana is pretty much limited to a week and a half in late May/early June, the IU leadoff hitter’s 0-for-5 collar in the ultimate game, Stanford’s mighty batting order, and a whole host of other minutiae.

I smiled nicely at him and nodded my head at what seemed appropriate times. Pat went on to tell me he’d gone home mid-game after Bart Kaufman Field officials cleared the place due to a threatening storm eight miles to the west. Murphy had to change his rain-soaked duds, which seems to me prima facie evidence that he, too, has a “problem.” He returned in time for the game to resume and for Stanford to overcome a three-run Hoosier lead.

Back to Kyle Schwarber. Man, the kid looks like a catcher, all squat and pug-faced. He won’t be a catcher as a pro because he’s not good defensively. He’ll be an outfielder and the Cubs brain trust hopes he’ll hit in the pros with the same jaw-dropping power he’s shown in the collegiate game.

Cubs director of scouting Jason McLeod says, “We felt Kyle was the best hitter, hands down, in this year’s draft.”

Should Schwarber turn out to be a star for the Cubs in a few years, I’ll consider my move here the turning point in his personal history. Don’t ask me to defend that statement; just keep in mind I have a “problem.”

Book Fair

Speaking of Chi., the Printers Row Lit Fest runs tomorrow and Sunday on Dearborn Street between Congress Parkway and Polk Street. It’s the unofficial kick-off for the Windy City’s summer fair, fest, and carnival season. If June seems a little late to be starting outdoor activities, keep in mind that winter just ended six hours ago there.

Anyway, here are some of the notable authors appearing this weekend at the PRLF:

  • Chris Albani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
  • Hisham D. Aidi, Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture
  • Tashe Alexander, the “Lady Emily” series and Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Jim Aylesworth, children’s author, Old Black Fly
  • Eric Banks, senior editor of Artforum
  • Lidia Mattichio Bastianich, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking
  • Elizabeth Berg, Open House
  • Ira Berkow, Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter
  • Paul Buhle, graphic novelist, Studs Terkel’s Working and The Beats (with Harvey Pekar)
  • Bonnie Jo Campbell, Once Upon a River
  • Katie Crouch, Abroad, Girls in Trucks, and Men and Dogs
  • Stanley Crouch, MacArthur “Genius” Award-winner, writes about jazz and the Black experience
  • Monique Demery, Finding the Dragon Lady
  • Anton DiSclafani, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
  • Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed
  • Joseph Ellis, Founding Brothers
  • John Feinstein, On the Brink
  • Gene Ha, graphic novelist
  • Chuck Haddix, Bird

PRLF/Fitzpatrick

The Official PRLF Poster By Tony Fitzpatrick

  • Paula Haney, founder, Hoosier Mama Pie Company
  • Christina Henriquez, The World in Half
  • Blair Kamin, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic
  • Greg Kot, co-host, public radio program Sound Opinions
  • Malcolm London, TED speaker and poet
  • Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil, co-authors, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
  • M.E. May, the Circle City Mystery series
  • Walter Mosley, the “Easy Rawlins” mystery series
  • Dana Norris, founder, Story Club storytelling shows
  • Jenny Offill, Last Things
  • Sara Paretsky, the “V.I. Warshawski” detective series
  • Brigid Pasulka, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True
  • James Patterson, the “Alex Cross” series
  • Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm and Nixonland
  • Chris Raschka, children’s book author
  • Kimberla Lawson Roby, The Prodigal Son
  • Amy Krause Rosenthal, Duck Rabbit
  • Amy Rowland, The Transcription
  • J. Courtney Sullivan, The Engagements
  • Marlo Thomas, actor and author, Free to Be… You and Me
  • Jacinda Townsend, Saint Monkey
  • Sam Weller, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury
  • Colson Whitehead, The Noble Hustle
  • Beatriz Williams, Overseas and A Hundred Summers
  • Gabrielle Zevin, YA author, Elsewhere

This is the 30 anniversary of the book fair. Lots o’books, loads o’food, tons o’music and sunshine, the Loop to the north, the lakefront and museums to the east; you can’t go wrong at the Printers Row Lit Fest. If you’re feeling ambitious, take the road trip up to Chi. this weekend and enjoy.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.” — Barbara Ehrenreich

THE LOYAL OPPOSITION

I’m gonna play all nice today.

As you know, I’m the world’s biggest liberal hot air blower. Any given day on this communications colossus, I rant and rage against the madnesses of the Right.

For my money, the Republican Party, which fancies itself the GOP — for Grand Old Party — is more aptly tagged the POG — for Party of God.

And speaking of any of the multitude of deities the vast majority of Homo Sapiens sapiens reveres and donates its hard-earned cash to via his regional sales staff on Earth, I also come down awfully hard on the Big Daddy-o Upstairs.

Ironically, I had a couple of contacts with folks yesterday whose oxen, as it were, likely are gored any time they click on The Pencil.

I was standing bleary-eyed and zombified near the bakery and coffee tents at the Bloomington Farmer’s Market at about 8am. I loitered for long moments in the brilliant morning sunshine, hypnotized by the accordion and voice strains of the Von Volsung Sisters, trying to locate enough brain cells to decide which cup of joe to buy.

The Von Volsungs: Cool, Even Early In The Morning

My gray-matter haze prevented me from seeing a couple of Ellettsville pals, SueEllen and Bob, the premier party-throwers of western Monroe County, waving madly at me. After couple of minutes, I found myself staring at the two as they stared back at me.

We all had a good laugh and caught up on the latest. As we were saying our goodbyes, SueEllen leaned close and said, “I read you every day.”

I was touched. See, SueEllen and Bob are among the most pious people I’ve met in these parts. They’re active in their church. Their faith has gotten them through some tough times. They even invite their parish priest to their storied bashes. Once, they had a visiting priest from Africa as the honored guest at a New Year’s Day party.

Every time I slam the putative creator of the Universe, I wonder how someone like SueEllen might feel about it. This is true. I’m really not a mean guy. I’m not looking to insult the pious and the faithful.

Only their god, whom I’d refuse to have a drink with even if he offered to buy.

C’mon, Man, It’s On Me

Later in the day I caught a new comment here from a guy who calls himself The Lake County Republican. His given name is David. He’s one of those old school republicans. He believes in an inherent goodness in entrepreneurship. He sees rich guys, by and large, as honest, steady, hard-working souls who’ve amassed their fortunes the right way. He wants the federal government to watch its pennies.

None of which I buy — and I shriek as much here regularly. Nevertheless, David the LCR gobbles up the Pencil as religiously as SueEllen does.

That makes me happy.

They are true Pencillistas. We’ve got a big tent here.

WHERE’S THE HATE?

And then I got myself into hot water.

With liberals, no less.

A couple of people were talking about George W. Bush at Soma Coffee. They’re pals, so I elbowed my way into the conversation, the gist of which was How could anybody stand that man?

Whaddya Want From Me?

I understand that sentiment on a political level, natch. Bushy-boy railroaded us into the third ugliest act this holy land has ever committed (that being the Iraq War — the other two, in order, being Slavery and the Indian Holocaust). His regressive policies on the environment, business regulation and reproductive freedom, coupled with his politicization of the Justice Department under his coat-holding attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, make him, IMO, the worst President the voters of this nation did not elect.

But, no, my pals were going further than that. How could Laura Bush sleep in the same bed with him? How could a man like that have any friends? Why would anyone ever have done business with him?

To hear them talk, one would think George W. Bush actually had the unbearable stink of evil emanating from his body.

What’s That Smell?

Now, even though I loathed Bushy-boy’s policies, his philosophy, and even his office management style, I’d always though he was a rather likable chap. He digs baseball. He enjoys a good joke. He invents colorful nicknames for his staff. Too bad, in fact, that he quit drinking because I’d sit down and have a cocktail with him, especially if he was buying.

Even that famous moment when he shocked German Chancellor Angela Merkel by rubbing her shoulders at some meeting or another, an incident which many on my side of the political spectrum virtually equated with rape at knifepoint, seemed to me an endearing kind of gesture. This despite the fact that Merkel’s reaction reveals her to be, at that particular moment, a rubber band pulled way too tight.

A Violent Assault

He reduced, again IMO, a world leader to a simple human being. It was a pal-y, bonhomie thing to do. It showed he actually like the woman, rather than revered her. Leaders, after all, are not gods.

But, in today’s political debate environment, it is taboo to view the opposition as human. They are beasts, demons, agents of Satan, Commies, Nazis, child-molesters, nose-pickers, and any other insult you care to whip their way.

So, when I said, “You know, I’ve always felt George Bush seems to be a likable guy,” my two pals fell silent, their mouths agape.

Another guy, waiting for his bagel to toast nearby, snorted. “Likable, yeah,” he said, “for an inchworm.”

My pals eventually regained their composure. One demanded, “How can you say such a thing?” The other simply said, “He was not likable in any way, shape, or form.”

I even felt compelled to step back from my statement. “Now, don’t get me wrong. I despised everything he did and stood for, but all I was saying was….”

Immediately I felt like, well, a worm. I shouldn’t have had to apologize for saying the Bush Baby seems likable. But I was petrified that people might think I approved of his Patriot Act, his gutting of the EPA, his kowtowing to the Religious Right, and all the rest of his sins.

He is, after all, only a human whom I happen to think is full of shit. I voted against him — that doesn’t mean I think he’s in league with child molesters or that he’s a nose picker.

So I’m going to say it again here and I’ll make no apologies for it: George W. Bush seems a really likable guy.

Albeit full of shit.

Sunday, September 23nd, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

[Editor’s note: I was too lazy to do the events last night and I’m in too much of a hurry to do the complete job this morning, so all you’re getting is the Lotus Fest sked and the ongoing museum exhibit lineup. You’ll live.]

MUSIC FESTIVAL ◗ Bloomington, various locationsLotus World Music & Arts Festival; though Sunday, September 23rd, various times, today’s lineups:

Buskirk Chumley Theater:

  • Karan Casey & John Doyle; 3pm
  • Srinivas Krishnan’s Global Rhythms; 4pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “The Bolognese School,” by Annibale & Agostino Carracci, through September 16th
  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “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
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
  • Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit:

  • Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection;” through September 21st

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

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 LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

ART ◗ Boxcar BooksExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglass

DIBS ON DEBS

Wow.

That’s all I have to say.

Wow.

The Indy Star today ran a front pager on radical labor leader and committed socialist Eugene V. Debs in honor of Labor Day, natch.

Debs In Canton, Ohio

Now, the Star is not to be confused with the old Daily Worker newspaper or even Mother Jones magazine. In fact, the Star pretty much reflects the rocked-ribbed Republican base in Indiana. For pete’s sake, the paper was started by an industrialist, George F. McCulloch, back in 1903.

Industrialists don’t generally start up papers — or television stations or websites, for that matter — in order that the sweating classes might be whipped into rebellion.

That’s what Eugene V. Debs did all his adult life. He was deemed such a threat to the good order of the nation that he was thrown in prison twice for being, essentially, too charismatic.

And by the way, that good order of the nation? It’s still the same today — those that have, fight like tigers to keep it; those that don’t and make noises about it are called traitors, terrorists or, even worse, liberals.

Debs was born in Terre Haute, which partially explains why the Star might deign to write about him on Labor Day. He was so popular that when he was sprung from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary by President Warren G. Harding in 1921, a crowd of 50,000 greeted him when he returned home to Terre Haute.

Anyone who wonders why he was imprisoned twice in his life need look no further than than for a reason. Guys who can draw crowds of 50,000 are either top-flight quarterbacks or dangers to the nation.

Debs Before A Crowd

Anyway, Debs is one of the most important Americans in history. He’s generally seen by the Far Right as something akin to a child molester. The thankfully-almost-forgotten Glenn Beck once described Debs as a racist/communist.

So, cool, the Indy Star gives the home-state boy his due. Maybe — just maybe — things aren’t all as lost as they sometimes seem.

Here are some good reads on Debs and the American labor movement:

TEACHERS UNION RALLY

For my Chicago friends, get on over to the Daley Center Plaza today at 10:30 for a rally in support of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Meet Here

Chicago Public School teachers may go on strike a week from today because contract negotiations have bogged down. School starts tomorrow.

Here’s an irony: the billionaires who own the Chicago Cubs want the city and the state to pick up several hundred million dollars of the cost for a proposed massive refurbishment of Wrigley Field. If the city screws its school teachers out of nickels and dimes but then throws a pile of cash at the Ricketts family and the cash cow that is the Cubs, I wouldn’t blame a soul for taking to the streets.

THANKS

The AFL-CIO presents 36 Reasons Why You Should Thank A Union. Here are a few:

  • Weekends without work
  • All breaks, including lunch
  • Paid vacation
  • Sick leave
  • Minimum wage

  • Overtime pay
  • 8-hour day
  • 40-hour week
  • Pensions
  • Workplace safety standards
  • Holiday pay
  • Equal pay for men and women doing the same jobs

Just in case you were wondering what we were celebrating today.

LIVING FROM CHECK TO CHECK

Finally, speaking of nickels and dimes, make it your business this week to buy Barbara Ehrenreich’s fabulous book on the working poor, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.”

It’s worth ten academic treatises on labor for illustrating the lives of people for whom a five dollar bill is an important thing.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The BishopMusic: Jens Lekman Listening Party; 9pm

ONGOING

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 30th

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 30th

  • “Workers of the World, Unite!”; through December 30th

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

Duh.

BIG NEWS

Yes, it’s true. I’ve been missing from these parts for a couple of days.

This is a business, after all, and I’ve been in intense negotiations with a fairly well-known media outfit to invest in this local treasure.

Representatives of that company met with me Thursday night at a fine Bloomington restaurant, the name of which which they’ve requested I not disclose. Suffice it to say that if a native Italian speaker passed the place by, she might reflexively respond, Siete benvenuto (you’re welcome).

The company reps didn’t want their presence in town to become known because they fear other local bloggers and website operators might pester them to invest in their less fabulous internet endeavors.

Let’s be honest. Nobody in town can touch The Electron Pencil for perspicacity, brilliance, journalistic integrity, and overall sex appeal on the part of its operator.

Sexy

No, these deep-pocket investors want to sink their dough into the best South Central Indiana has to offer, and who can blame them for choosing The Pencil?

They are, IMHO, wise and prudent investors.

This influx of money will mean huge changes around here.

First, content. The Your Daily Hot Air feature will remain, of course. It is the core of The Pencil, the reason virtually tens of thousands of folks from all four corners of the globe begin their day with a click on this icon:

Many have claimed they find it impossible now to get through the day without Big Mike’s philosophical and practical guidance.

We’ll be adding daily installments from the previously unpublished manuscripts of Kurt Vonnegut. The Vonnegut estate yesterday graciously and happily inked the deal with The Pencil. We’re looking forward to starting that feature by mid-month.\

The Late Kurt Vonnegut

Additionally, we have lured Will Shortz, puzzle editor of the New York Times and puzzle-master for NPR’s Weekend Edition away from those august positions. His crosswords and word games will appear in The Electron Pencil exclusively beginning tomorrow.

Will Shortz

Because Bloomington is such a sports oriented town, The Electron pencil will partner with ESPN to present The Hoosier Sports Center, online and on TV. Keith Olbermann, recently ousted at Current TV, will return to his sports roots to host the program.

Keith Olbermann

Politics, naturally, is a constant topic in these parts. Accordingly, we will bring aboard a spectacular triad of investigative reporters. The team of Amy Goodman, Matt Taibbi, and Barbara Ehrenreich will leave no stone unturned in the coverage of local malfeasances.

The EP News Team: Goodman, Taibbi, & Ehrenreich

In keeping with our higher station in this wireless world, The Electron Pencil will now accept ads. Small 3″x3″ spots interspersed throughout our daily posts will cost $5,000 for a minimum of six appearances in in a given seven day stretch. A single day’s top banner ad will cost $16,000. For the economy-minded advertiser, we offer discreet mentions of your business within our posts for a mere $100 per placement. Those wishing to be mentioned in Kurt Vonnegut’s manuscript installments will be charged an additional $50 premium. Contact Big Mike at glabagogo@gmail.com for more information.

So, please excuse my absence these last few days. I’ve been striving to make The Electron Pencil even more of an Indiana treasure than it is.

See you tomorrow, Monday, April 2nd.

WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE?

Why, indeed.

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