Category Archives: Big Talk Thursday

Hot Air: Incoming

The L’Il Duce Show

All this mass psychoanalyzing of the voting populace, with seers, tea-leaf readers, palmists and op-ed columnists trying to divine why the citizenry elected L’il Duce has thus far missed the point. First off, the citizenry really didn’t at all elect him — the Electoral College will despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by +200,000. That’s a topic for another day. But, acc’d’g to the rules of our game, he’s the winner, so we have to grin and bear it.

Only I won’t be grinning and I’ll bear this…, well, not at all.

Anyway, the topic of the day is Why Did the Nation Vote As It Did?

The one, single most important factor is never really discussed and that’s this: Tens of millions of people voted for L’il Duce because he was a TV star. That’s it. Put your slide rules away, sociologists. Turn off your scanning electron microscopes, cultural anthropologists. And pack up your Smith-Coronas, all you wits and wags. The reality television-addicted populace knew L’il Duce as the star of The Apprentice and that was good enough for them. TV — or the movies — makes anything real to most folks. Had George C. Scott opted to run for president in 1972, the only reason he wouldn’t have won would have been because a huge swath of America would have written in “Patton,” instead.

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You think people read candidates’ position papers? That they scour the news magazines and gather ’round the old console RCA to listen to learned observers and investigative journalists discuss the pros and cons of this candidate and that one? Nope. They watch mind-numbing television and come away convinced that what they’re looking through is a window to the real world. On TV, Trump was bold, resolute, commanding, almost kingly in his mien. That is what we want in a president. And that, thanks to tens of millions of us who’ve been anencephalized by the flat screen, is what we’ve got now.

You want to bash Hillary Clinton for blowing this thing? Fine, hold her feet to the fire because she didn’t have the foresight enough to star in a reality vehicle entitled The Public Servant.

Big Talk Thursday

Tune in late this afternoon to the WFHB Daily Local News. My guest on Big Talk, the regular Thursday feature on the DLN, will be Margaret Taylor, proprietor of the Book Corner. She’ll tell us how the independent bookseller got its start here in Bloomington and, while she’s at it, fill us in on a bit of local history as well.
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Tomorrow, I’ll post the link to the feature podcast as well as the complete, original recorded interview with Margaret.
As for next week, my guest probably will be Ross Gay. He’s in, but has yet to commit to a taping appointment. Stayed tuned for developments.

Too Late

Corporate journalists at last are refraining from pulling punches when writing about the incoming president of this holy land. Take this line from CNN’s story yesterday afternoon about what L’il Duce‘s victory means for Barack Obama’s legacy:

… [T]he first African-American president will stand on the inaugural platform next to Donald Trump, who stoked divisions and preyed on people’s racist fears, including through lies and insinuations about Obama himself. 
Well, whaddya know? Heaven forbid CNN or any of the other for-profit news peddlers around the nation would have described the Trump phenomenon in such stark terms before this worst-case scenario was thrust upon us.

My Mind Races

A few more impressions as I attempt to scrub the fallout from Black Tuesday’s mushroom cloud off my seared skin and soul:
‣ As of late Wed. eve., I was beginning to feel as though my world was no longer spinning out of control. One thing that helped was the call for me to straighten out a friend who had fallen into a deep, morose funk over the triumph of L’il Duce. Other friends said we each had a responsibility to help others through this emo-morass. So I made it my biz to get back into the swing of life — and to tell my pal in no uncertain terms that he had to hold his head up, or else.
‣ One of my little mind tricks was, essentially, to begin looking at the presidency as something quite a bit less important than I’d viewed it before Nov. 8, 2016. Helping in that effort was the very fact that the president-elect has, himself, diminished the office in a way never before seen on these shores.
‣ As for the Murrican people, I will never, ever, ever again be shocked by the sheer stupidity of the masses of them. Someone quoted H.L. Mencken:
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
So, acc’d’g to Mencken’s lights, the American democracy is now perfect.
‣ The drive home from Democratic Party county headquarters, where I covered the proceedings for WFHB radio Tuesday night, was made bearable only when I slipped Nick Drake’s Pink Moon disc into the CD slot. Drake’s simple vocals and complicated chord structures relaxed me as a drug would.
‣ For a brief few hours, I found I couldn’t have cared less about my beloved Cubs’ World Series triumph a mere week ago. What I perceived at the time as a life-changing event was transformed, against my will, into nothing more than another sports score. It is indeed nothing more than that but for a fleeting few days I was able to pretend it took on a significance far and away above. Sometimes, pretending helps us get through the long, baffling day.
‣ I’ve been trying to imagine a more unlikely, risible president than the incoming L’il Duce. What in this world could be a crazier idea than that of D. Trump becoming the leader of the free world and commander-in-chief of the most powerful military the planet has ever seen. From the Left, Michael Moore? Jon Stewart? Stephen Colbert? No, not a one of them would make the dubbing of Trump seem relatively rational. How about from the Right? Glenn Beck? Alex Jones? Joe Arpaio? Uh-uh. We have hit the nadir, babies.
‣ Lots of folks are shrieking about the big, bad, evil media and the role it played in the ascension of L’il Duce. Generally, I eschew knee-jerk condemnations of The Media, mainly because I detest demonization, but in this case I’ll have to side with the crowd. Corporate media made Donald Trump and corporate media acted as a de facto PR agency for his seemingly quixotic campaign. This wouldn’t have happened 50 years ago, back when TV news still retained a shred of decency. Investigative reporter Wayne Barrett spoke with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! yesterday and told her of the transformation of the medium’s news operations over the years. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, maintaining a good, hard-hitting, independent news operation was the price each TV network paid in exchange for its license to use its sliver of the limited electromagentic spectrum. CBS, NBC, and ABC’s permission to use their respective slots on the airwaves have been worth billions — nay, trillions — of dollars to the corporations that have owned them. It was a handshake agreement and so, written on the wind, but the networks for a few year at least early in TV’s history felt obligated to perform the public service of providing real news with no concern about it as a profit-making enterprise. Then, things changed. Now, TV news depts. must earn money, meaning they must garner the biggest audience possible. That means giving people what they want rather than what they need.
And in this case, that meant giving them L’il Duce as opposed to a qualified, respectable candidate for leader of the nation.

Hot Air: Prizewriter

Nobelity

When all is said and done, the ’60s turn out not to be so catastrophic after all.

Look, a ’60s anti-war activist (Bill Clinton) became a two-term president, a civil rights leader (Martin Luther King) won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Nike sold its shoes in TV ads with the Beatles’ “Revolution” in the background, a mixed-race child born in 1961 is the current two-term president, TV viewers went gaga over Mad Men, the Chicano movement began the Latino “normalization” process in this holy land, 1969’s Stonewall riots were the starting gun for the race to LGBTQ rights, the Prague Spring’s Václav Havel eventually became the leader of Czechoslovakia, and now, Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Oh, and marijuana is now legal in several states with the rest of the nation sure to follow in dribs and drabs over the next few years.

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The dying-off old Right would have us believe the 1960s brought us nothing but junkies, welfare queens, abortion clinics in every McDonald’s, and jack-booted regulators “protecting” us from silly things like exploding gas tanks and lead in our water.

The 1960s were hellish in a lot of ways. Riots. Assassinations. Nuclear brinksmanship. Mass starvations. Vietnam. George Wallace.  Sheesh, this holy land was essentially on the verge of a civil war or a race war — or both. But the decade was as heavenly as it was hellish. Bob Dylan was one of its angels.

Betsy Talk

Tune in this afternoon to WFHB‘s Daily Local News for my interview with Betsy Stirratt, director of IU’s Grunwald Gallery of Art. She’s busy as a beetle this week, mounting the exhibit “(Re)Imagining Science,” opening tomorrow night, 6-8pm, at the Grunwald. It’s features artworks created by teams of IU research scientists and visual artists. Stirratt herself is one of the participating artists. She discusses the differences — and similarities — between scientists and artists. As always, I’ll be posting a link to WFHB’s podcast of the show as well as one for Stirratt’s Big Track, an almost-unedited, fairly full-length version of the original interview after air time.

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Ritz Bits

Longtime local Democratic Party mover and shaker Pat Murphy and Hopscotch coffeehouse are sponsoring a fundraiser for the Glenda Ritz‘s re-election campaign. Ritz, the state’s Superintendent of Schools, has gone toe to toe against outgoing IN guv Mike Pence, now chief abettor to the Republican Candidate for President, over education policy and her role in implementing same.

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She’s a shoo-in for re-election even after her quixotic run for governor earlier this year. Still, pols in this day and age of Citizens United and TV politicking need to pay for printing jobs, pizzas, pens & pencils, and other such sundries when they run or re-run for office.

So, load up a burlap bag or two full of cash — USD, s’il vous plaît — and drop in to Hopscotch, 235 W. Dodds St., Monday, Oct 24, at 7pm. Or write a check for ten bucks, either way.

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