Category Archives: Baron Hill

Hot Air

Howard Dean, John Hamilton & Baron Hill Day

Wednesday, Earth Day, 2015. A glorious day. Brilliant sunshine. High cottony, Georgia O’Keeffe clouds. Blustery. An early spring nip in the air.

Speaking of bluster, the lawn outside Monroe County Courthouse is filled with politicians. Here, too, are their supporters, a reporter here and there, a television camera, some curious onlookers, perhaps a hundred, a hundred-twenty-five people all told. The event? Democratic Party big shot Howard Dean has come to town to stump for mayoral candidate John Hamilton.

This Hamilton camp, it appears, is dead set on winning the May Democratic primary — which in Bloomington is the coronation. As I walk up the concrete steps, past the cannon and the statue of the Civil War soldier, I think of Hamilton’s rival for the Dem nod, Darryl Neher.

What are his thoughts when a party pol of national repute comes to town to endorse the opposition? Does he feel discouraged? Does he whisper to his wife how unfair life is at pillow talk time? Or does he pretend none of it means anything?

Oh, it means something. Loads of local big names here: former Congressdude Baron Hill, former mayor Tomi Allison and her husband, County Commissioner Julie Thomas, head of Democracy for Monroe County Rob Deppert, firefighters union local chief Bob Loviscek, former Ivy Tech-Bloomington chancellor and former deputy mayor John Whikehart. And, of course, former acting White House Counsel Dawn Johnsen and her special man, John Hamilton.

Lots of formers here, all muscling up to flog for a wannabe. With big guns like this, Hamilton looks serious about taking this thing. Early voting has begun; election day is in a mere 13 days.

Johnsen takes the podium first. “It’s a little personal,” she says, “but John and I started dating 25 years ago.” She recounts how she and he met in Washington at some political get-together or another. Hamilton, apparently, was very interested — in the get-together, maybe, but definitely in her. He got her phone number. One day not long after, he left a message on her answering machine (such things existed at the time). Johnsen says she listened to it again and again, committing it to memory.

“I don’t know what the future holds for this Indiana boy and a New York girl but I’d sure like to find out,” she says he said.

An aw moment. And why not? The pear and redbud blossoms are out. It’s April. Doesn’t hurt a bit to dream about love. And to dream about winning an election.

Johnsen introduces Tomi Allison, a three-time mayoral winner herself. Lots of folks around town are engaging in conversations about politics these days, she says. She’s right; this is the first contested mayoral election in 12 years. A good horserace always gets people talking. Allison, though, wants more.

“I don’t think conversations are enough,” she says. “John has done things.” This gets a good cheer from the crowd. Before she wraps up, she issues a warning: “Don’t be fooled by pixie dust!” The crowd is delighted.

Pixie dust? Hmm. A cryptic reference to Darryl Neher’s relatively recent party switch?

Johnsen intro’s firefighters union guy Loviscek. A big, burly man with a mustache, natch, Loviscek talks like the union guys of old at political rallies. Hamilton’s his guy, he says, because he’s been there, done that, serving as a department head under the last Democratic Indiana governor, Frank O’Bannon. “He made tough choices to make state government better for Indiana,” Loviscek says.

Hamilton sits between his bride and Howard Dean, looking proud as a high school valedictorian.

Next up, Rob Deppert. His org. is the local branch of Dean’s national Democracy for America outfit. “We’ve got to get big money out of government,” Deppert says. He refers to the local branch’s deliberations on whom to endorse in the mayoral primary. When it came time for DMC to vote, there wasn’t much doubt where its backing would go. “To tell the truth,” Deppert says, “it wasn’t that close.”

And now it’s time for the star of the show. Well, one of the stars. Deppert welcomes Howard Dean to the podium. Dean is wearing a black, pin-striped suit, with a tan V-necked sweater underneath, and a red tie. His hair blows around in the stiff breeze. He squints against the bright sun. Dean, a family practice doctor, got involved in politics back in 1980. He opposed a condominium project on Lake Champlain, near where he lived. Instead, he suggested a picturesque bike trail be built on the site. (It must have been a hell of a big condo development.) When the condo plan was nixed, Dean found himself a political following.

Dean volunteered for the Jimmy Carter reelection campaign and a couple of years later won election to the Vermont House. Four years after that, he ran in and won the Lieutenant Governor’s race. Meanwhile, he was able to continue working as a doctor. In the summer of 1991, Vermont’s governor dropped dead of a heart attack and Dean had to give up his practice to run the state.

Dean gained national attention when he called for same-sex civil unions in the state in 2000. The decision made him a darling of progressives and liberal Dems around the country but also led to the loss of Democratic control of the statehouse.

Nevertheless, Dean ran for president against 11 other Dems during the 2004 primaries. His campaign balloon burst when he…, aw, I’m not even going to mention it. Nor will I link to it. Dean wasn’t about to win the Dem nomination but his downfall was over the silliest thing imaginable.

Dean went on to become chair of the Democratic National Committee where, hewing to his “50-state strategy” the party gained control of the US Senate and the House. In 2008, using Dean’s template, Barack Obama gained the White House. Dean now runs Democracy for America.

Snagging Dean’s endorsement is so far the biggest coup of the Hamilton campaign.

Dean, squinting out at the chilly crowd, makes the requisite joke about the weather and then launches into his spiel. Dean’s nothing if not direct. “You have the power!” he barks, pointing out at the crowd.

“This country is going to be changed by what’s going on in Bloomington,” he says.

He speaks in clipped sentences:

“We aren’t Mike Pence.”

“Mayors make a difference.”

“I would like someone from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party to be the mayor of Bloomington, Indiana.” At this, the crowd laughs and cheers. Yeah, the Hamilton camp is going to continue hammering Neher on his party switch.

Dean refers to Gov. Mike Pence’s “RFRA fiasco.” Pence, Dean posits, allowed the bill to go through the statehouse because he was pressured by the anti-gay, religious-fundamentalistsff   in the Republican Party.

“The Republicans,” Dean says, “are afraid of the extremists in the own party!”

Cheers. Dean waits. Then: “Do not be afraid…. Elect a guy who is not afraid!”

With that Hamilton bounds up to the podium and Dean holds up the candidate’s arm like a boxing champ.

Hamilton, in sports jacket and no tie, runs his hand through his wind-blown hair ala Bobby Kennedy.”I am proud to have the support of organized labor,” he says, gesturing toward the firefighters union guy.

He, too, speaks in short, sharp sentences: “We don’t leave people behind,” he says. But he’s also a talker: Making mention of his “lifelong” progressive bona fides, he tells the crowd that progressives are just waiting to come out of their cocoons all over America. “We have brothers and sisters in cities all across the county,” he says. “Some of them don’t even know they’re progressives yet!” The crowd roars; they love this stuff. Hell, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement. Maybe there are indeed tens of millions of progressives around this holy land just waiting for someone to carry the banner for them.

And maybe not. That’s why there are horseraces and elections.

Hamilton closes with the usual call for volunteers and help (read: money.) He implores people to vote. In fact, Hamilton points out, the whole lot of the people on stage will walk over to the early voting center on Sixth Street to vote. And for those who can’t make the hike, there’s a van waiting to transport people to the polling place.

In practical terms, that might be the second-most important thing I’ve learned here today. Hamilton seems to know how to get voters, physically, to the polls.

So, the formal stage of the love-fest breaks up. The pols fall into a hugging, hand-shaking, back-slapping orgy. My own back is pounded more times than I can remember as I snake my way through the pols and their supporters.

One guy I know stops me. “Do you think Baron Hill is going to run for governor?” I shrug. We’re swept in different directions by the crowd. A few moments later, the guy and I are face to face again. “I just asked Baron Hill if he’ll run against Mike Pence,” he says, excitedly. “He said, ‘I think I might’!”

Well, I’ll have to see about this myself. I make a beeline for Hill. I wait patiently as supporter after supporter pumps his hand. Finally, he turns to me. I introduce myself. “Are you going to run for governor,” I ask.

Hill doesn’t miss a beat. “I’ll tell you,” he says, “I’ve never been more on the fence in my life. A lot of people have been asking me to run for governor. A lot of people have been asking me to run for senator. Well, I’m gonna do something. I’ve got the urge.”

“So,” I press, “you’re definitely going to run either for governor or senator — is that what you’re saying?”

“Yes.”

Now we know. Sorta.

Hot Air

Party On

Bloomington was the site of what can only be considered a Democratic orgy yesterday. Dems gathered at the Irish Lion at 5pm to pay tribute to and write checks for mayoral candidate John Hamilton. An hour later even more Dems got together at the Fountain Square ballroom to pat each other on the back at the annual FDR Gala.

As members of the party stretched their conga line the city block from the Lion to the ballroom, I was reminded of nothing more than my days as a randy, rowdy 22-year-old when my friends and I would bounce from party to party on a Saturday night.

Conga Line

Toeing The Party Line

Only there were no guys wearing eyeliner or gals sporting fishnet hose (I ran with an avant garde club crowd back in the late ’70s and early ’80s). Led by that renowned fashion plate, former US Congressdude Baron Hill, the attire of the day was all business. The Dems mean business this year, having suffered a vicious ass-kicking nationally at the hands of the Republicans last fall. With Gov. Mike Pence’s recent pratfalls, party faithful suddenly are giddy with the possibility that the GOP just might piss away all its gains. Seemingly in the snap of a finger, 2016 looks like a resurrection year for the Dems so long as Pence et al keep stepping on their…, um, striped ties.

But first, there’s a mayoral election to get through this annum.

Hamilton and his wife, Dawn Johnsen, hosted their fundraiser at the Lion mere days before early voting begins (Tuesday, April 7th). The primary election day is Tuesday, May 5th. There’s a lot of dough to be spent between now and then. Hoping to draw more wallets out, Team Hamilton/Johnsen rolled in the heavy artillery of Blue Dog stalwart Hill.

“This guy,” Hill told the crowd after Hamilton intro’d him as a cross between his BFF and an elder statesman of rock ‘n roll (think Paul McCartney), “gets it.”

Whatever “it” is, the crowd responded, vocally at least. The number of zeroes they filled out on their checks has yet to be determined.

The currency at the FDR was less precise than dollars and cents. There, the Dems bestowed moral support upon each other. Everybody who was anybody in Bloomington Dem circles was there — save for the elephant who wasn’t in the room, Mayor Mark Kruzan.

Improbably, the mayor was a no-show. His AWOL-ness only struck me as I was leaving the Gala so I dashed off an email to one party big shot asking if it was merely my imagination. This person responded uncharacteristically tersely: “Mayor Kruzan was a top sponsor of the FDR Gala, but is keeping a low profile at events during primary season and focusing on his job at City Hall.”

This particular big shot knows full well a smart-ass like me would interpret this absence note as the pinnacle of political-speak, and so I have. My source may as well have written Kruzan “wants to spend more time with his family.”

The Mayor indeed is outgoing (ironic, considering he’s such an aloof figure) — his term ends the last day of this year — but, as far as the party is concerned, apparently, Kruzan’s out already.

I get the feeling some bad news will begin trickling out regarding Kruzan’s 12 years at the helm of this thriving, throbbing megalopolis. I’ll keep digging — hell, somebody’s gotta do it.

BTW: Whispers at the Hamilton affair have it that his opponent, Darryl Neher — Kruzan’s hand-picked guy — ought to downplay any connection with the mayor. The Hamilton camp sees the pairing as Neher’s soft underbelly. You know what? I agree with them.

Anyway, perhaps my favorite encounter of the night was with the city council’s District III representative, Marty Spechler. I rode up in the Fountain Square elevator with Spechler and a couple of young party supporters. We all intro’d ourselves to each other and one of the young guys remarked that he’s a faithful reader of The Pencil. Spechler looked puzzled. The following mini-convo ensued:

Me [to Spechler]: Don’t you read the Electron Pencil?

Spechler [still looking stumped]: I read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Me: Well, I’m not that big yet.

Spechler’s look morphed from baffled to grateful, thanks to the elevator doors opening. I wondered for a hot moment if he’d try to dig up The Pencil when he’d get home before my good sense reasserted itself.

As promised yesterday, I stalked two very decent (morally and ethically), very capable figures to ask them what their political plans might be vis-a-vis elective office. One of them already holds county office but I’ve been sensing this character ought to think in grander terms. The other is unelected but nevertheless is a key player in party affairs.

Let’s start with the already-elected pol. I tapped Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal on the shoulder and asked, point blank, “What about Congress, Mr. Prosecutor?”

Gaal: Huh?

Me: You.

Gaal: What?

Me: Congress.

Gaal: What about it?

Me: You. Congress. Why not?

Gaal [a lightbulb going off above his head]: You mean me, run for Congress?

Me: Yeah. You.

Gaal [without missing a beat]: You can quote me on this: I’d rather have a sharp stick in the eye. I love what I’m doing and I have big plans for this office.

That is, the one he already occupies. Fair enough. I believe him. Too bad. I could see Gaal giving Todd Young a run for his money.

The other person appeared equally as mind-blown by my Q. This person absolutely and positively denied ever even entertaining such a crazy idea. Now, I wasn’t meaning this person ought to run for Congress. Maybe something a little less ambitious, like county commissioner. Ixnay, the person repeated.

Me: Can I mention your name in tomorrow’s Pencil?

The Person [aghast]: No!

Again, fair enough. And again, it’s a damned shame.

Here are some pix from yesterday’s bashes:

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“[Martin Luther] King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living….” — Cornel West

GORE VIDAL, 1925-2012

An unapologetic liberal. Of course, I don’t know why anyone should feel a need to apologize for being liberal.

I had my political awakening in 1968, when I was 12 years old. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed, segregationist George Wallace ran for president, Vietnam was raging. Riots, protests, the Democratic convention in Chicago — all of it thrilled and horrified me.

Then, on a steamy Wednesday night in August as Chicago cops rioted, busting heads and bloodying protesters, reporters, delegates, and innocent passersby on Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley faced off on ABC TV. The moderator was Howard K. Smith.

Vidal was aggressively anti-war; Buckley aggressively pro-war. The two battled verbally until things seemed about to devolve into physical combat.

Vidal: “As far as I’m concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself.”

Buckley: “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the god damned face and you’ll stay plastered.”

I watched this live. I took sides right then and there.

Vidal would not back down, even when threatened by a Tory, royalist, blue-blood, former captain of the Yale debate team. He merely smiled when Buckley called him a queer.

I only wish liberals were as tough today.

CRISIS

If you read nothing else on the environment or the issue of climate change this summer, make sure you catch Bill McKibben‘s latest, terrifying piece in Rolling Stone.

Bill McKibben

Folks, we’ve got problems. The crisis is not tomorrow; it’s today.

And if you happen to encounter someone who denies global warming, don’t even bother arguing with them. Just tell ’em to kiss your ass.

MILLIONS OF CARS

Dig Tuesday’s XKCD: What If? post, imaged and linked below in Big Mike’s Playtime section.

This week’s physics theoretical asks, “What if there was a robot apocalypse? How long would humanity last?”

The answers (spoiler alert!) are — 1) not much would happen (unless we consider the computers that control the world’s nuclear arsenals to be robots, then too much) and 2) indefinitely (unless, again, the above contingency holds, then, oh, 13 seconds).

But the fascinating thing I found was the author’s calculation that at any given moment in the United States, there are 10 million cars on the road.

I might add that fully 75 percent of that number are snarled up at the Bypass construction zone at this very moment.

CAMPAIGN GAMES

Shelli Yoder yesterday challenged Todd Young to a series of debates in each of the 13 Indiana counties that make up the 9th Congressional District.

Young’s camp pooh-poohed the whole idea. The Republican incumbent’s campaign boss, Trevor Foughty, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the debate challenge is a publicity stunt.

Shelli Yoder & Todd Young

Funny thing is, Young himself upset long-time 9th District rep Baron Hill in 2010 in part by, well, challenging the Dem to a series of debates.

I’M A LION — GRRRROWWLLLL!

Will Murphy, former general manager of Bloomington’s WFHB and current honcho at Ft. Wayne’s WBOI, learned about Snoop Dogg’s transformation into Snoop Lion yesterday.

Or Maybe I’m A Soldier — Ten Hut!

Murphy observed, “Not sure what to make of this.”

I set the radio man straight. “Nothing, Will. Absolutely nothing.”

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.”

XKCD: What If?

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 and 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.

Flip Flop Fly Ball

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

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.

The Daily Puppy: Skeeter The Samoyed

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

Monroe County FairgroundsDay 5, 2012 Monroe County Fair, Senior citizens day, Joe Edwards & Jan Masters Show; 1, 3:30 & 6pm — Royal Flush karaoke; 6pm — Clayton Anderson; 7:30pm — Three Bar J Rodeo; 7:30pm; Noon to 11pm

Cafe DjangoTom Miller’s Last Show; 7:30pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

Bear’s PlaceAmericana Jam: Chris Wolf, Danika Holmes, Suzette Weakly; 8pm

The Player’s PubSarah’s Swing Set; 8pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival, audience vote decides the funniest person in Bloomington; 8pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryPublic viewing through main telescope, weather permitting; 10pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “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 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits: Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; through August 3rd

◗ 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 CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today

THE QUOTE

“Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.” — Henny Youngman

VI WILL VIE

Hoosier Dems are going all in for women this election year.

I’m all for it.

Gubernatorial candidate John Gregg is putting his money on Vi Simpson, the Indiana Senate Democratic  Caucus leader, as his running mate on the Democratic ticket. He’ll make the announcement today.

Vi And Her Guy

Simpson joins the state’s Ninth District Congressional candidate Shelli Yoder on the November ballot.

It’s a gamble and it’s a good one.

Indians has been turning monochromatic (red) since Barack Obama squeezed out a narrow victory here in 2008. Senator Evan Bayh retired and was replaced by retread Dan Coats in the 2010 election. Congressman Baron Hill got the thumb that year as well and watched altar boy Todd Young fly to Washington.

The Dems need to turn to their ace in the hole — women — to reverse that trend.

Neither Shelli Yoder nor Vi Simpson will strike rural voters as wild-eyed, radical femi-nazis — that is, of course, unless said suffragists have been so conditioned by the Fox News gang to see all those to the left of John Birch as loyalty risks, traitors, and saboteurs.

Democrats have no hope of ever luring those voters away from the GOP.

I’m not deluded enough to think Indiana may turn touchy-feely liberal Democrat any time soon (or even later) but the Dems must put up a better fight than they have of late.

Even Obama’s surprising victory here owed more to the upset stomach that the Bush/McCain/Palin bunch induced in the voting public than anyone’s great desire to see an almost-liberal take the White House.

But, jeez, folks — if even the People’s Republic of Bloomington can’t put a Dem in its own Congressional seat then these precincts truly have become a one-party monolith.

TERPSICHOREANS

My old man came from the generation that knew how to dance.

No matter how paunchy, tubby, clumsy, or homely a guy who grew up during the Great Depression was, the minute a wedding band would strike its first chord, he could jump up and sweep his equally awkward wife across the dance floor as if he were a combination of Gene Kelly and Jack Kennedy.

They’re Playing Our Song, Jackie

It never ceased to amaze me that Dad and all my uncles could become as smooth as silk when the music started. I mean, I knew these these guys wore black socks with their slippers at home, that they were more adept at producing a variety of different flatulent tones than cooing sweet nothings in their brides’ ears, and that the simple act of getting up out of the La-Z-Boy was for them akin to scaling a medium-sized mountain.

So how could they also be these fabulous dancers?

Old Joe Glab could also swing a shoe to a polka tune like nobody’s business. Polka dancing demanded a certain level of physical exertion that in other circumstances would be guaranteed to strike Dad and all his peers immediately dead from myocardial infarct.

Yet he and his contemporaries could polka all the night long.

When I was 21 and 22 I could undulate my hips to funk or disco five nights a week. I could pogo to punk with the best of them. But at some indeterminant point in my life, I lost the ability to dance.

I learned this dramatically one Friday night about a dozen years ago. I went out on a date with a hot tomato divorcee named Robbie. She and her ex were big-time art dealers in Chicago. We had dinner, then she suggested we go out dancing. Cool.

So we zoomed up to Joe Shanahan’s uber-trendy Smart Bar near Wrigley Field. I’d spent many a long night gyrating and sweating to the likes of Alison Moyet and Rick James there in the mid-80s so I figured I could still reach back and put the good moves on.

I Could Ride The White Pony With My Eyes Closed

We dashed out on the floor and started in. Robbie acquitted herself quite nicely — I, on the other hand, felt as though I’d suddenly turned into an epileptic. I could no more keep to the beat than a Mormon.

I looked around and saw all these kids half my age slithering the way I once could. Some of them, I have to admit, were eying me critically. As in, What the fk?

It felt as though the DJ was aiming a spotlight at me. Come to think of it, he may have been. Of course, I became even stiffer and more dopey.

More kids started staring at me. I was certain they’d go home that night, fall asleep, and then wake up with a start, horrified at the memory of what they’d seen. Worse, I could imagine them imagining that Robbie and I would go home later and, ugh, have sex. (We didn’t.) I’d scarred the poor kids for life.

How could I lose it all so quickly? And why were Dad and his generation able to keep it well into their 60s and 70s?

Life is unfair.

I’m reminded of all this because Dave Hoekstra of the Sun-Times Facebooked the news that Chicago’s polka king, Eddie Blazonczyk, died yesterday.

Just about everybody from the dancing generation is gone now.

Soon — very soon — the only males left in the world who can dance will be those under the age of 30.

Did I mention that life is unfair?

VIRAL PIE

Yet another reason why the interwebs is (are?) the greatest single invention of mankind.

Without my connection to the faux/real world, I would never have known this pizza joint ever existed:

Me? I wanna go there, eat a slice, and then stand outside the place scratching at the corner of my mouth. Imagine the looks on people’s faces as they drive by.

Yeah, I’m deranged.

Anyway, BuzzFeed has ten more such iffy trade monikers. Go there and laugh.

Today: Sunday, November 13, 2011

POETIC JUSTICE

Penn State lost. Good. May they never win another game again.

Joe Pa’s Statue Being Molested By Penn State Fanatic

PONY UP

Indiana University employees are raising a stink about having to pay a larger share of their health insurance premiums, according The Herald Times (log-in required).

Some 800 IU wage slaves have signed an online petition asking for more time to mull the huge increase. IU honchos say the increase is set in stone, so tough luck, kiddies.

The hike will hit IU workers who make about $10 an hour hardest. The university did agree to a slim wage increase for this school year ($1.5-3 percent) but additional expenses like the health insurance premium pretty much offset it.

I hate to be a nudge (well, alright, I love to be a nudge) but I just want to remind the world that Big Chief Michael A. McRobbie is enjoying his hefty pay raise this year. The school’s pres is making $533,120 in 2011-12, an increase of 12 percent over lost year’s paltry sum.

Higher Premium? No Prob.

Jes sayin’.

LOOSE NUKES SINK WORLDS

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m supposed to villify Senator Richard Lugar  but I can’t help but thinking he isn’t all bad.

You know, we progressives are mandated by blood oath to abhor all Republicans. They are, after all, the spawn of Adolf and Eva, but — silly me — I’m just a contrarian.

Commentator Mike Leonard in today’s H-T heaps kudos on the 79-year-old running for his sixth term in the Senate for a piece of legislation Lugar co-sponsored 20 years ago. Lugar and Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat, successfully pushed through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program Act in 1992.

The bill authorized this holy land to spend tons of dough to help the nations of the former Soviet Union find and destroy nuclear weapons that had been positioned within their borders. The Soviet Union, natch, wasn’t the most open of hegemonists when it planted the big bangers within such wild spots as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

The Act led to the destruction of at least 7500 nukes as well as thousands of delivery systems and tons of fissionable materials.

Here Is Soviet Gift To You, Mr. and Mrs. America

For you younger readers, the Act was the result of something we used to refer to as “bipartisan cooperation,” a quaint concept that means Democrats and Republicans working together.

I know, weird, huh?

LOVE TRUMPS POLITICS

Sam Allison is quitting his job as Monroe County Board member.

I met Sam on election night, 2010, when his fellow Dems across the nation were dropping like flies under the onslaught of the Me Party-ists. Even Bloomington congressman Baron Hill got fired by the voters that sad night.

Not Slick, Just Decent

Allison had been the County Recorder and was running for the first time for County Council. He and his lovely bride hung around the Democratic campaign headquarters on 3rd Street. Gloom descended upon the place as results came in. The figures showed Allison winning early in the night, though. Too bad his moment of triumph came in what was essentially a funeral parlor.

Sam Allison seemed a decent and humble man. Those qualities, apparently, didn’t hinder his political career. Now his lovely bride has scored a big new gig in Missouri so Sam, faithful mate that he is, is following her.

Good luck.

I’M COMIN’, ELIZABETH!

Heaven Is For Real” is still the number one paperback bestseller in this holy land, according to the New York Times Review of Books.  Next week will mark a full year since it hit the list. That ain’t all: Somehow, the hardcover version is still among the top movers in that category, sitting at number 26 this week.

It’s The Big One!

“Heaven…” recounts young Colton Burpo’s trip to paradise after his appendix burst when he was three years old. The book was written by his father, Todd Burpo, an evangelical pastor from Nebraska. Old man Burpo’s co-writer was the controversial Lynn Vincent who co-penned another other work of bizarre fantasy, “Going Rogue,” with Sarah Palin.

The book is joined on the coffee tables of the willfully credulous by “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” at number 17. This one is the tale of a six year old kid who falls into a two-month coma after a car accident. The kid, of course, comes as close as can be to joining the putative creator of the universe in his palatial digs but somehow finds the strength to come back to Earth because, you know, any place with the Taliban and Donald Trump in it has to be preferable to eternal paradise.

Screw Heaven; I’d Rather Be Around This Guy!

Anyway, this whole I’m-precious-enough-to-be-brought-to-the-doorstep-of-god thing got me to searching the interwebs for other fascinating folks who’ve seen the bright light. Sure enough, Hollywood is filled with ’em!

One website that finds the whole phenomenon credible lists the following souls as having entered the tunnel and coming back:

● Liz Taylor

● Sharon Stone

● Gary Busey

● Larry Hagman

● Erik Estrada

● Burt Reynolds

● Ozzy Osbourne

● and the King himself, Elvis Presley

So, you tell me, who ya gonna believe, a bunch of dumb scientists or Erik Estrada?

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