Category Archives: Bloomington City Council

Hot Air

Oh, Those Deer Again

As mentioned earlier in these precincts, the upcoming deer cull (or, if you prefer, kill) has raised a lot of hackles around town. A private wildlife management company (or, if you prefer, hired assassins) will mow down a few of the cuddly but troublesome ruminants this fall. Some B-town residents are in favor of calling out the Air Corps and having them drop the A-bomb on the Griffy Lake area where the deer loiter. Others say, Hey, wait a sec, those little cloven-hoofed Bambis were here first so we should learn to live with them. All of them.

The argument has reached sniffy and huffy proportions at times. The city’s Parks & Recreation Dept. approved the cull plan earlier this year. The City Council followed up by waiving the city’s no-shootin’-o’-them-there-firearms ban. Mayor Mark Kruzan then vetoed the Council’s waiver. The majority of the Council sniffed, stuck to their guns (pun intended), and overrode his veto.

Bloomington Council

Bloomington’s City Council

One of our fave Pencillistas is Bloomington City Councilperson Susan Sandberg. She voted yea on the cull and has been dodging missiles ever since. And, like pretty much all political discussion these days, the rhetoric turned ludicrous. Some anti-cullers have suggested that the kill plan is symptomatic of this holy land’s love affair with guns and one or two have even suggested that recent muggings on the B-Line Trail just may be a direct result of the Council’s (and Sandberg’s) mania to solve our problems with firearms and violence.

Well, our gal got pushed over the edge by that. Sandberg took to Facebook the other day and huffed:

I just have to get this off my chest based on a subtle but false remark made in the last Council meeting. To equate gun violence against human beings with my position on responsible deer population management in the Griffy Woods Preserve to protect the ecology of other species is simply not acceptable. For all who follow my posts here, there is no one, I repeat NO ONE who is more horrified by senseless gun violence in America than yours truly. To suggest that those of us who support managing the over abundance of deer in Griffy is in any way related to a reckless gun culture or a direct cause of violence in Bloomington is irresponsible and untrue. I will not let that propaganda stand without respectful rebuttal. I’ve heard that some folks are out there saying that the recent violence on the B-Line trail is directly related to the City Council supporting lethal and humane methods of deer management in Griffy. Those two issues have nothing to do with each other and to spread that false line of thinking is offensive and absurd. I’ll be much more outspoken about this in public meetings if these false comparisons continue.

I, of course, leapt to Sandberg’s defense. Hell, she may be a Congressbeing or even the Governor one day and wouldn’t it be swell to have a friend in either the state’s or nation’s capital?

Like The Dude, Sandberg drew a line in the sand and would not let this (verbal) aggression stand, man.

From "The Big Lebowski"

This Will Not Stand

Later on in the comment thread, SuSand hinted that some communiques from the anti-cull gang have been threatening and one or two have even characterized her as a Hitler. Susan Sandberg, I’ll say here and now, is no Adolph Hitler — she’s not even a vegetarian.

I spoke with another high-ranking official in these parts yesterday afternoon. Whadja think of SS’s smackdown of her critics the other day? I asked.

This high-ranking official eyed me for a moment and then responded, “When you take the job, you’ve got to accept the criticism that comes with it.”

I think my high-ranking official source is right. Therefore I advise S-squared to ignore the dumb bastards in the hereinafter. I’ll take up the sword in her stead. I’m no elected official so I don’t have to put up with anybody’s stupidity.

Bomb Newark

Here’s a Wow! quote from the front page of Sunday’s New York Times Book Review:

There are places in America where life is so cheap and fate so brutal that, if they belonged to another country, America might bomb that country to “liberate” them.

That’s as powerful a statement as I’ve read in a big-time media outlet in I don’t know how long. Honestly, I can’t imagine how the line got past the NYT editors.

It is incendiary, it is dramatic, it is shocking, it is bold and, above all, it is true.

It’s the opening sentence in a review of the book, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, the saddest of possible tales about living in the slums of Newark, New Jersey. The book traces the life of the title kid who somehow succeeds despite being raised among gangsters, poverty, miserable schools, and the constant threat of violence. He found his way to Yale University where he majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. But Rob also had a daddy-o who was a dope dealer and who warned him off reading books because they’d make him soft. Rob eventually inherited his daddy-o’s drug business. Then he was killed.

Book Cover

A NYT columnist named Anand Giridharadas wrote the review. Jeff Hobbs wrote the book. I suppose if you want to drive yourself into a deep depression, you’ll read it. On the other hand, there’s a lot about America that’s awfully depressing and it does us no good to ignore it.

Boom Times

Just for the record, I’m four-square in favor of the pounding the US and its temporary allies are giving those ISIS boys in Syria and parts nearby.

Tomahawk Missile

Stock Image Of A Tomahawk Missile Launch

People here and there are harrumphing that the whole ISIS scare is a false flag thing, that the US can’t be trusted to deliver us the truth since Iraq. It’s true Little Georgy Bush’s funtimes war against Saddam Hussein was based on pure, unadulterated bullshit. And that indeed should give us pause every time the leaders of this holy land try to sell us a bill of goods.

It doesn’t mean, though, that every utterance from every succeeding president is fraudulent.

The world needs to be wiped clean of ISIS.

Science (Non)Fiction

Lisa Winter writes in IFLS about the Top 10 Unsolved Mysteries of Science.

That is, the most perplexing questions we haven’t been able to answer about the world — hell, the Universe — around us. Those who scoff at science (can you believe I’m actually writing these words in the 21st Century?) say, See, Science doesn’t know everything!

Correct. Science doesn’t know everything. Actually, science knows nothing since it’s a descriptor of a process rather than a person or group of people who, like, know things.

Those anti-science-ites like to say things like that to infer that not only does science not know everything, it really knows nothing. Evolution? Bah. Global warming? Puh-leeze. Childhood vaccinations? Never. That’s a lazy over-reaction on a par with those (as mentioned in an entry above) who think that because of Iraq, all American presidents lie about everything.

Bumper Sticker

Well, presidents do lie and science — or , more accurately, scientists — are scratching their heads about any number of things. As Osgood Fielding III says in Some Like It Hot, “Nobody’s perfect.”

Here then, acc’d’g to Lisa Winter, are the most troublesome Q’s scientists face these days:

  • Why is there more matter than anti-matter?
  • Where is all the lithium?
  • Why do we sleep?
  • How does gravity work?
  • Where are all the extra-terrestrials?

From "The Day the Earth Stood Still"

Where Are These Guys?

  • What is dark matter?
  • How did life begin?
  • How do plate tectonics work?
  • How do animals know where to go when they migrate?
  • What is dark energy?

When I was a little kid, I’d watch cars zip by on North Avenue on Chicago’s Northwest Side and feel frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how they could move. Nothing was pushing those cars; nothing was pulling them. The fact that they were zipping by seemed, to my little mind, impossible. Somehow, though, I knew it wasn’t impossible, nor was it magic. There was a reason, an explanation, a confidence that I’d eventually know.

Scientists today are like little kids when it comes to the aforementioned ten bogglers. No, science doesn’t know everything; it’s got a million questions.

Hot Air

Bloomington’s War Of The Deer

In these days of Battles Royal over the minutest of controversies, when one citizen disagrees with another the cartoonish verbiage and accusations fly. The most important, direst threat to our very existence as a nation comes from that guy down the street who let it slip at the neighborhood barbecue that he voted for Mike Pence for governor in the last election.

And, of course, those of us who voted for Barack Obama twice are agents of the resurrected Joseph Stalin. People don’t engage in mild disagreements over current events anymore; they battle to save civilization.

So it is in Bloomington’s War of the Deer. Talk to a homeowner in any neck of the woods in our fair burgh and you might come away with the impression that an endless horde of the ruminants is on the march, trampling garden beds, eating pansies, and dropping their yard bombs as cruelly as the various belligerents of Afghanistan have laid land mines.

The city leapt into action and called for an outside contractor — an army of mercenaries as it were — to come into our war-torn town and save us from the invaders. This action triggered howls of outrage from nature-loving activists who portrayed the contractor as little more than a hooded band of gun-happy guerrillas a la the old Blackwater gang.

Blackwater Employees

Mercenaries (Photo: Gervasio Sanchez/Associated Press)

Last night’s session of the Bloomington Science Cafe promised to offer as much bombast and dramatic leaps from the ropes onto an opponent’s neck as any WWE match. The Parks and Recreation Department‘s boss of natural resources, Steve Cotter, and biologist Angela Shelton were scheduled to speak about the deer swarm around Griffy Lake. Shelton, while working at Indiana University’s Department of Biology, conducted studies of the Griffy deer that led to the City Council action to hire the Bambi hit men. Cotter, natch, is all in on the culling.

Just before the proceedings got underway at Finch’s Brasserie, outspoken opponent of the culling plan, Marc Haggerty, approached Sci. Cafe organizer Alex Straiker. “I just want to be assured that we’ll be given an opportunity to refute the speakers,” Haggerty said. I elbowed my way into the conversation.

“Marc,” I said, “How do you know you’ll disagree with them? They haven’t even started speaking yet.”

“Oh, I know I’ll disagree with them,” he said. “I’ve heard their spiel before.”

Haggerty

Marc Haggerty

Straiker assured Haggerty audience members would be able to ask the speakers questions after their presentations were finished. “Okay,” Haggerty said, although he sounded unconvinced. Haggerty’s anti-culling allies have made their presence known at Council meetings; they were thanked politely for their comments but otherwise ignored. I guessed Haggerty’s feeling a tad frustrated these days.

Cotter led off the session, saying the city’s overall plans for the Griffy Lake area are based in large part on University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home. [Shameless plug: You can cop the tome at the Book Corner.] Cotter also pointed out the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve Master Plan (2008) can be found online.

Cotter acknowledged that public opinion is split on the culling plan. “I’d say it’s about 50/50,” he said. He then referred to efforts to control various fauna in Yellowstone National Park, where wolves and other predators were reintroduced and helped control other damaging species. He joked that it’d be his preferred solution to introduce wolves and mountain lions into the Griffy Lake area to control the deer, but that might not be a terribly popular solution.

The city, said Cotter, is contemplating initiating an adopt-an-acre program wherein participating citizens could help monitor and eradicate invasive species on their plots.

A audience member asked Cotter if there’s been a deer count yet and he admitted there hasn’t been. Experts, he explained, feel it’s more effective to note the damage deer have done to foliage and animals rather than do an costly and lengthy census. This prompted another audience member to point out deer are eating invasive species of plants so why not use the population to handle that problem. Cotter said the damage deer cause outweighs that potential benefit. “I don’t think that if you let the deer go they would handle that problem by themselves but they are having a suppressive effect,” he said.

Just at that moment, a late-arriving audience member squeezed herself in the back of the room. “Wow,” she stage whispered, “this many people give a fuck about Griffy?”

Griffy

Griffy Lake Nature Preserve Trail Map

Cotter said the White Buffalo Inc. (the culling contractor)’s miss rate when shooting is around 2 percent. The company will use bullets that fragment when entering the target deer’s braincase, thereby causing a quicker, more humane death. The Nature Preserve, he added, will be closed to the public for a day or so each time a culling operation is scheduled

Shelton then took the stage. She projected some photos showing denuded areas of the forest where deer hang out. The deer, she said had stripped the trees of their leaves as far as their necks could reach and had munched the ground cover down to the soil in those places. She and her team had set up 15 fenced exclosures to prevent deer from entering those areas to compare their foliage to areas where deer were allowed to roam freely after several years. She exhibited pics of both types of area; the contrast was striking. The exclosures were lush with greenery while the free roam stretches were not.

Her team did pellet counts, Shelton said. I leaned in to ask another Sci. Cafe organizer, Jim Wager-Miller, if that meant they were counting deer shits. “It does,” he said, authoritatively. Shelton said the deer population around Griffy is eight or nine times greater than those of other similar areas in the region. Much of this has to do with Griffy’s proximity to residential areas, where the deer can also feast on garbage and gardens.

Shelton posted some alarming figures and charts, including the revelations that:

  • Native trees are not regenerating outside the exclosures
  • Spring wildflowers are suffering as deer gorge themselves after winter
  • Some wildflowers may go extinct in the Preserve after 20 years if the deer are left to their own devices
  • Small mammals like mice seem to be thriving inside the exclosures
  • Soil is significantly less compacted in the exclosures

“The deer are having effects on many other species,” she said. “The deer are kind of acting like an invasive species.”

Invasive species, she explained, have the following effects on their environment:

  • They displace native species
  • They reduce native wildlife habitat
  • They reduce forest health and productivity

The deer around Griffy Lake, she insisted, are doing just those things.

White Buffalo will cull up to 100 deer this coming winter, Shelton said. She and her team will continue to monitor the forest’s recovery after that first seasonal kill. An audience member asked if the 100 goal might “extirpate” the deer population in Griffy. Shelton said that’s doubtful but even if it did, deer from surrounding areas would fill Griffy back in “within six months.”

Deer

Casus Belli

Haggerty then spoke. He complained that the opposition to the cull plan has not had an opportunity to speak against it. He also charged that Shelton’s pix of denuded areas of the forest really were from University-owned property near the Preserve, not city-run land.

“Some of us,” he said, “have gone out there hundreds and hundreds of times and we have found a different reality.”

Shelton responded: “I have spent five years out there and I’m completely convinced.”

Haggerty still is not.

Hot Air

Bim Bam Boom

Quick hits today. Enjoy.

❂ As far as I can tell, that Gerber’s Big Mac and Fries baby food dinner that everybody seems up in arms about simply does not exist.

Facebook Meme

Facebook triumphs again over reality.

❂ Alright, let’s assume that this Bowe Bergdahl fellow left his camp for the worst of reasons. That is, he no longer supported the American war effort in Afghanistan and simply decided to desert.

Now, the military pounds it into your head not to quit in an engagement area because your absence can affect the safety of your mates and, from a purely selfish POV, you need to know your mates won’t be there to protect you anymore should you bolt. Simple enough, no?

So, just for argument’s sake, we’ll pretend we can somehow know what was in the mind and heart of the newly-returned POW when he wandered away from his gang some five years ago. Let’s pretend he was no longer loyal to either the American cause or his buddies. So he split.

When the going got rough his pals weren’t there to bail him out. Bergdahl was on his own. And he paid the price. He promptly got caught by the enemy. He was held for half a decade by a bunch of wild-eyed, Duck Dynasty-bearded loons who hate music, women, and the West in no particular order. That’s a significant slice out of anybody’s life.

Berghdahl

Bergdahl In A Taliban Video (Reuters Image)

Do we need to punish him further?

❂ With the success of the Affordable Care Act‘s health insurance exchanges and the knowledge that some 11 to 17 million people in this holy land no longer have to live in mortal fear that they’ll break a leg or pop an appendix lest they be financially ruined, shouldn’t the Democrats this election year be running on Obamacare?

For all his sins, long-ago Mayor Richard J. Daley used to say to rallies of the faithful, “I’m wit’ you.”

Richard J. Daley

Power To Da People

With all 435 House seats up for grabs in November, aspiring Dem congressbeings as well as those hoping to hold on to their sweet seats should be telling the Murrican peeps, “Yep, I’m with you. My party got you health insurance. The other guys not only were dead set against it, they’ve been standing on their heads for four years now trying to take it away from you.”

Then again, no one of late has accused the Democratic Party of being smart.

❂ Speaking of being found guilty, when do we start throwing GM execs in prison for their 13-year delay on recalling cars whose faulty ignition switches have killed dozens?

Totaled Car

GM Exec A: “Golly Gee, Do You Think We Should Recall Our Cars?”

GM Exec B: “Nah. Let’s Wait A While.”

GM Exec A: “Okay. Where Do You Want To Go For lunch?”

That’s the question. The answer, as any sentient watcher of goings on in this holy land well knows, is never. This is America, duh.

❂ So, everybody’s happy now that the Bloomington City Council last night unanimously approved a plan (paywall) that’ll protect our sacred Courthouse Square from the evil empires of McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Papa John’s “pizza,” and the terrifying Olive Garden, no?

Now, the only eateries allowed in our picturesque downtown area will be run solely by aproned aunties with flour on their hands. And they’ll occasionally stop by your table to remind you to finish your peas.

That’s what we want, isn’t it?

Only that’s not what we’ve got. The plan is a watered-down version of an earlier proposal that would really have banned Ronald McDonald and his spine-chilling confreres from Corporate Logostan. Our town’s Chamber of Commerce suffered the vapors when Mayor Mark Kruzan’s original reg was under consideration five years ago. The CofC-ers were certain it would be the downfall of Our American Way of Life. Consequently, ixnay on the chain ban.

Now this mighty burgh’s statespeople have drawn up an iron-clad municipal law that’ll require restaurant operators to pass through the gauntlet of the city’s Planning Board. My good god in heaven, chain restaurants’ll have to get a special permit before build on the Square. The stern members of the PB will ensure that proposed edifices, be they chain- or auntie-run, will maintain the Square’s historic character. Like this, for example:

Courthouse Square

Land Sakes! Is This The Year Of Our Lord 1943?

A walk around the square, my friends, is a trip in a time machine.

It’s good to know that when McDonald’s does open up a restaurant on the Square, those Golden Arches will appear just as they did back in the 1920s when the young IU law student Hoagy Carmichael had a hankerin’ for a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle.

Hot Air

Gotcha Covered

So, now its closer to 15 million* people who’ve signed up for health insurance under the provisions of the ACA.

That’s no failure, folks. The combined 2012 US Census bureau population estimates for the three largest cities in this holy land — New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago — is 14,909,352. Let’s call it a draw; there are now as many people insured under ACA guidelines as live in the three most prominent American cities.

Anti-Obamacare

Really?

And the “fiasco” online rollout of the ACA exchange is only some six months on. The Republicans are hanging on to this issue by their fingernails. ACA works, even though the GOP has stood on its head to sabotage it.

Do I love ACA? Hell no. I want single-payer, universal health care like every other civilized country in the world has. But, I’ll say it again, ACA is better than what we had and it’s the best we can do right now as long as the social Darwinists of the Right have the legislative votes.

[*You’ve been seeing the 8 million figure that the corporate media is throwing around, but that only includes people who’ve become insured via the federal exchange. Some 6 million more are now covered under their parents policies, who have pre-existing conditions, had reached some arbitrary liftetime benefits limit, or qualified under Medicare and Medicaid expansion. All of them have benefitted from the ACA.]

Politics?

So, perhaps Mark Kruzan is running for yet another term as mayor of this sprawling metrop.

Yesterday he vetoed the plan to allow hunters to cull the deer population around Griffy Lake. Believe it or not, it’s the first time he’s vetoed a city council bill since he became Boss in Chief in January, 2004.

Can it be that he weighed the votes of those who hate deer eating their roses against those who hate the idea of Bambi being shot up like Sonny Corleone on the causeway?

From "The Godfather"

This may be bad news for any of those hoping to grab Kruzan’s chair in 2015.

In any case, the council can override Kruzan’s veto simply by re-voting on the bill — as long they vote 6-2 again. Council rules call for a two-third vote to negate a mayoral veto. My guess? At least one of those six is going to get cold feet.

The Jews Lose

And so, now we learn that virulent anti-semites constitute at least some fraction of both sides in the Ukraine dust-up.

This despite the strong possibility that those flyers demanding Jews register their families and property being circulated in the city of Donetsk may have been created by Ukraine nationalists trying to smear the Russian partisans there.

The New Republic magazine quotes Russian expert Fyodr Lukyanov, who believes the flyers are fakes: “I have no doubt that there is a sizable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid — this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.”

Just a reminder that anti-semitism is ingrained in much of the pop. of Europe. It existed when England expelled the Jews in 1290. It existed when Spain threw its Jews out in 1492. It existed when mobs attacked Jews on Kristallnacht. And it exists today.

Anti-semitism

Why? Simple: There exists within every society a capacity to hate. It’s part of our genetic make-up. And it’s the greatest challenge we as a species face.

Hot Air

Primavera

I’ll say this: If you don’t like what the sky, the winds, and the greenery are doing to us these days, you’re beyond help.

LMonroe20140405

Lake Monroe At Sunset, Saturday

Ready, Aim….

You didn’t catch this in today’s Herald Times because the City Council didn’t get around to voting until well after the paper’s midnight deadline, but our dear elected leaders voted to allow that controversial deer shoot around Griffy Lake.

Deer

… Fire!

Only Dorothy Granger and Steve Volan voted against it. Council chambers were packed yesterday with folks railing against the cull.

I’m in favor of whacking the deer if their meat can be harvested to feed the homeless. Same with Canada geese.

Greed Is Good

Ben Stein, whose greatest contribution to society thus far has been the movie line “Anyone? Anyone?”, opened his caviar hole again the other day and told us how lucky we are that our species can boast among its membership the subspecies, billionaire.

“They fund symphonies and ballets and schools for inner city kids. They are a bulwark against tyranny because they can afford lawyers to fight overweening government,” Stein said, as reported by Raw Story.

Y’know, because the poor keep all their money to themselves, the selfish slobs.

Food Stamp

The Poor Keep Their Assets To Themselves

Not content with elevating the likes of the Koch Bros. to sainthood, Stein also pontificates upon the poor.

“My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals. Drug use. Drunkenness. Having children without a family structure. Gambling. Poor work habits. Disastrously unfortunate appearance. Above all, and counted in the preceding list, psychological problems (very much including basic laziness) cause people to be unemployed, have poor or no work habits, and enter and stay in poverty,” he said.

No word yet on whether Stein solved the eternal chicken-or-egg conundrum.

More evidence that a certain percentage of people in this holy land see the accumulation of wealth and those who obsessively participate in it as, de facto, good.

Mr. Pennybags

Whee, Me!

Again, for the benefit of those on my side of the fence who wonder aloud how folks can keep voting for candidates whose raison d’etre is to further grease the already-frictionless path for the pathologically rich, lots of our national brethren and sisteren truly believe wealth — gobs of it, obscene piles of it, more than anybody could ever need in one lifetime or ten — makes the holder thereof morally, ethically, philosophically, and evolutionarily superior to the rest of us.

And it isn’t just the wealthy who buy into this — if so, coatholders for the plutocracy such as Paul Ryan or Scott Walker would never win an election. The 1% (in truth, more like 0.01%) has all the dough, sure, but they by definition constitute only that eensy sliver of the electorate. No, the mids and the poors revere wealth just as much as Sheldon Adelson or Joe Ricketts do. They think that if they’d just played their cards right and the breaks all had fallen their way, they, too, would have amassed a fortune big enough to buy elections, legislators, and, well…, heaven here on Earth.

Let’s go a step further: most of the mids and poors still dream that they’ll reach the rarefied heights of billionaire-dom one day, no matter how entrenched they are in their caste today.

That’s the American Dream: One day I’ll be richer, and better, than you.

Frenemies

OTOH, how to explain the continued love affair half the electorate has with the Republicans, 100 percent of whose Senate members voted, essentially, against the equal pay bill?

I assume women vote Republican. And, if so, why? The GOP as far back as the 1970s demonstrated its loathing for dames by killing the Equal Rights Amendment. They haven’t done anything since to indicate that their view of females as brood sows and fap objects has changed a whit.

Being a double-X chromosomer and voting for Republicans is like being an Oglala Lakota and pulling for the 7th Cavalry. You’re all mixed up.

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse: “Go, Custer!”

Hot Snowy Air

The Scoop

WFHB‘s Joe Crawford blew all the other local media out of the water with this one.

Firehouse Broadcasting’s Assistant News Director took on an ill-conceived Bloomington architectural preservation process that may lead to radical changes in some of our town’s neighborhoods. Crawford found that folks who for years lived in “conservation” districts suddenly do not.

Crawford

Newshound Joe Crawford, Being All Arty

The conservation district idea was an historic district-lite kind of thing. As Crawford explains it, “full-blown historic districts” allowed the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to review and pass on or deny property owners’ plans to alter their structures within those districts. The conservation districts only allowed the Commission to wag its finger at owners who wanted to alter or destroy properties within them.

It might not sound like much but finger-wagging from a public body means a lot in these parts. If conservation designation didn’t exactly legally bar property owners from building a soulless row of townhomes in a neighborhood of charming old brick homes, it made said owners think long and hard about their plans. Often, property owners would drop their plans in the face of such opposition.

Paris Dunning House

The Paris Dunning House In An Historic District

It turns out, according to Crawford, the conservation districts can be upgraded to historic preservation districts after a few years due to a technicality in state law, thereby hamstringing property owners from doing any remodeling at all without submitting to an onerous hearing process. Owners in a couple of conservation districts that have recently morphed into preservation districts in this way are livid.

The original municipal statute creating the two-tiered system was flawed, sure. But the City Council has not done much to rectify the sitch. Listen to Crawford’s report for yourself (or simply read it via the same link). Then stayed tuned to see how the City Council digs itself out of this mess.

And remember, this is the same City Council that gave us our universally beloved parking meters in downtown B-town last summer. Yeesh.

Love The Art; Hate The Artist?

Funny how the two-decade old Woody Allen child molestation scandal is back in the news just now, considering today is the 100-year anniversary of the birth of another artist whose personal life also was less than exemplary.

Far less than exemplary.

William S. Burroughs, who wrote Naked Lunch and a pile of other notable books, and who was a cohort of many of the Beats, shot and killed his common law wife in cold blood in Mexico City in 1951.

Burroughs

Burroughs, Later In Life

First, a caveat. I’ve long considered Woody Allen a brilliant comic, a terrific writer, and one of the greatest American film directors. Burroughs, on the other hand, I can take or leave. Truman Capote’s famous dismissal of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road — “That’s not writing; that’s typing.” — can be applied pretty much across the board to all the Beats’ and their pals’ works. And that includes Burroughs’ tortured, tortuous tomes.

But that’s just me. Many knowledgeable people in the literary world consider Burroughs a fab penman. I won’t argue with them. Perhaps they see something in his words I don’t. I only bring it up in the interest of full disclosure (and to spout the aforementioned opinion.)

Anyway, neither Burroughs nor Allen was punished for their respective alleged crimes. Only Burroughs’ crime really isn’t alleged. He was convicted in absentia in a Mexican court of homicide or manslaughter (the record is not entirely clear). See, he’d taken a powder before his trial was to begin. According to independent accounts, he traipsed around South America, looking to score a storied drug called yagé, while his part in the death of Joan Vollmer was being adjudicated.

The Beats and their ilk eschewed all the trappings of American conformity and the shackles of authoritarianism. So much so, apparently in Burroughs’ case, that he considered himself above the societal norm that kept the rest of the common clay from blowing the brains out of their spouses.

Burroughs apologists say he was drunk when he and Vollmer engaged in a game of “William Tell,” leading to her demise. Numerous times before, they say, she’d put an apple on her head and he’d take aim with his pistol and shoot it off the top of her coconut. They even like to elevate the reckless game to some sort of artistic allegory. Experimental writer Charles Talkoff has asked and answered his own question about the shooting:

After Burroughs shot Joan in the forehead and the apple fell to the ground, what did Burroughs do with the apple? I like to think he ate it.

Burroughs initially told Mexico City cops he’d tried to shoot a water pitcher off Vollmer’s head in a variation on their William Tell game. He missed, tragically, he told the police the first time they interviewed him. The next day he told the police he’d been trying to sell his pistol to a friend and, while handling it, the gun went off and — wouldn’t you know it? — Vollmer’s cranium happened to be in the path of the bullet.

Only much later was it revealed he’d been telling friends moments before the shot was fired that he was sick of Vollmer and the time had come to “do something about it.” Not only that, in the weeks before Vollmer’s death Burroughs had been chasing a young man with whom he’d become infatuated all over Central America.

According to independent accounts, money was passed out to various Mexican officials to ensure the original murder charge against Burroughs would be reduced. Burroughs, you see, came from a wealthy family. In fact, when he finally did go on trial — again, after he’d skipped the country — he was charged merely with a form of culpable homicide.

Headline

The Pistol Did It

It’s been said by people who know his work well that Burroughs’ writing changed profoundly after Vollmer’s death. You can read for yourself if that’s true or not. He’d written a self-described “not very distinguished work” entitled And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks with Jack Kerouac as well as Junkie and Queer on his own prior to the shooting. It was only after Vollmer’s death that he launched into the most productive and, as many would say, the most creative part of his writing life. He later wrote, “I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death….”

Some muse.

Vollmer

Joan Vollmer

The Woody Allen scandal is more notorious. He split up with Mia Farrow after beginning an affair with her adopted daughter, Soon Yi Previn, whom he later married. Amid ensuing child custody hearings, Farrow accused Allen of sexually molesting Mia’s daughter Dylan, whom Allen had adopted. (He’d never adopted Soon Yi, by the way.) Denials and investigations followed, no charges were filed, and the thing went dormant until Dylan wrote an open letter published in the New York Times Saturday.

Dylan laid out a heart-rending tale of the act and its consequences. Now the interwebs are buzzing with opinionators taking one side or the other. Me? I won’t defend Allen, even though I viewed him as an idol when I was in my early 20s. I was so enamored with Allen and his movies that, for a while, I even gave thought to becoming a Jew. A very short while.

Dylan Farrow concluded her letter with a challenge:

So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.

Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?

I used to watch Allen’s movie, Manhattan, again and again, for the laughs, for the music, for the insular and seductive world of the intelligentsia it portrayed. The focus of Manhattan is the Allen character’s love affair with a young girl. He’s 42, IIRC, and she’s 17. Somehow, the weirdness of that coupling didn’t alarm me at the time. After the molestation charges became known, I found myself unable to watch it again. In fact, I haven’t seen Manhattan again in more than 20 years.

I feel soiled thinking about it.

Scene from "Manhattan"

Now It’s Creepy

Our cultural arbiters tell us we must separate the art from the artist. But it’s oh so hard. To this day, the playing of the music of notorious anti-Semite Richard Wagner in Israel arouses howls of protest. I’m not a Jew (despite my childish fantasy when I was 22) but I still feel itchy when Wagner comes on the radio. I can’t enjoy Manhattan anymore. And I’ll probably never again pick up a copy of one of Burroughs’ books. There are plenty of other artists who won’t make me feel so itchy.

Your Daily Hot Air

Silly Stuff

Recently, I took a couple of those silly BuzzFeed quizzes that supposedly tell you all about yourself. One was What Career Should You Actually Have? and the other was How Much of an Asshole Are You?

The conclusions? I should have been a professor and I am not an asshole at all.

From "The Nutty Professor"

Who, Me?

Jeez, what a load of horseshit!

Meter Mad

A hot Bloomington tomato named Candy Allday found herself in Oak Park, Illinois, this past week. She stopped at a Mexican restaurant with her ever-lovin’ husband and a couple of friends late-ish one evening.

Candy Allday is used to feeding B-town parking meters until the ungodly hour of 10pm, so she began digging in her purse for quarters before entering said eatery. Lo and behold, she stopped and gasped.

“I’ve gotta take a picture of this,” she blurted. And so she did. And here it is.

Photo by Candy Allday

Candy Allday wonders if certain Bloomington City Council-folk can read.

Let’s Dance

Bloomington’s own Brynda Forgas is no longer owned by her business, The Hidden Closet. After a long stay in the Fountain Square Mall, Forgas moved her Closet to Kirkwood Avenue, right behind the Book Corner last year. Biz was no better on Kirkwood than it had been in the relatively quiet mall.

So Brynda decided to call it a retail career a couple of months ago and announced she’d be locking the door one final time as soon as the Christmas season was over. She’s never looked happier.

An old pal of hers, Paula Chambers is set to open her own shop, The Dance Circus, in Brynda’s old space Tuesday, February 4. Paula’s another Bloomington fixture. She’s the boss of the Hudsucker Posse hula hoop girl gang. She, too, is moving her digs out of Fountain Square.

Dance Circus

The Dance Circus will continue to feature scads of dancewear and shoes, hula hoops (all handmade), and plenty of other fun stuff.

Chambers hopes to get better exposure and foot traffic for her store in the new location. She’s pumped. “I’m gonna make a splash on Kirkwood,” she promises.

Go visit Paula. And spend some cash, wouldja?

… And The Blacks Were Happy Under Slavery

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave the assembled news media of the world a state of the league address last week in advance of yesterday’s Super Bowl. Then he opened the floor for questions. One intrepid reporter asked him about the Washington club’s nickname, you know the one that’s a racial slur. Goodell pulled a Vinnie Barbarino and said, essentially, Whuh?

Pushed further, he elaborated. Why, he claimed, the folks we’re slurring consider it no slur at all!

Do you believe it?

Screenshot from Bleacher Report

I sure as hell don’t.

No, Really, Let’s Dance

Hot Air

Winter

So, winter’s going to kick the crap out of us this weekend. Dang, mang, if only there were some way we could fight back.

Old Man Winter

I See….

Here’s your word of the day:

Pareidolia

Pareidolia

Human beings have a hard wired need to envision faces, animals, or anything, really, in otherwise shapeless forms. Anthropologists have speculated that this might have to do with the need to keep the early, proto-human kiddies near the cave or the tree limb at night when hungry carnivores were on the roam.

See, those brats who were more prone to see faces, even imagined ones, in the shadows of night would tend to stay closer to home and, subsequently grow up to reproduce. The kids whose imaginations were less than lively might tend to traipse around while everyone else was asleep and thus become a tasty snack for a hungry cat.

Sabre-toothed Cat

So, when you see bunny rabbits or the face of your Uncle Phil in the clouds on a breezy summer afternoon, know that you’re prob. not going to get swallowed whole any time soon.

¡Viva La Revolución!

The parking meters that our noble city leaders had installed downtown in July are not at all controversial.

Parking Meters

Photo: Chris Howell/Herald Times

That is, they are universally despised, save for the mayor and the six city council members who voted for them. Flyers have been circulated calling for, if not their heads, the seats of the elected officials responsible for their installation. Some say Mayor Mark Kruzan may not even run for reelection in 2015 because of the hue and cry he’s been hearing outside his City Hall windows since the summer.

Some are being driven to open rebellion or, more accurately, stupid acts of vandalism. To wit: Many of the meters have been sprayed painted, thus obscuring their readouts and making them effectively unusable. Not only that, a few hot-blooded insurrectionists are jamming materials like tape and wood into the meters’ coin slots.

I’m certain once NSA spies and Wall Street banksters get wind of this popular uprising, they will promptly fold their tents and declare that The People have won.

Off With Their Heads!

Speaking of The People winning, it was whispered into my ear recently that the WFHB Board of Directors actually voted on naming Cleveland Dietz as the station’s new general manager in open session last month.

Yup. After several Board members shrieked in November that they’d never, ever, ever disclose whom they voted for when the august body tabbed Kevin Culbertson as GM earlier in the fall (and, to refresh your memory, Culbertson’s appointment was shouted down by the Vox Populi), the BoD did a dramatic turnaround for the Dietz vote.

The Board noodled in closed session during its December meeting, wondering what to do next to find a captain for the drifting ship. Much of the talk centered on starting the excruciating, six-month national search process all over again. That is, until interim general manager Dietz, who had run the station since July and wasn’t even one of the three finalists presented to the Board by the GM search committee, piped up and said Hey, what about me?

According to knowledgeable sources, Board members looked at each other, shrugged, and said, Why not?

So, it was off to open session, sometime near midnight, to tab Dietz. And the mice in the City Hall walls cheered lustily.

Dancing Mice

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“All politics is local.” — Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill

HAIL TO THE CHIEF

Admit it, the first time you heard or read the words Mitch Daniels and president this morning, your heart skipped a beat.

Once you caught your breath and realized he’s only going to become the big boss at Purdue University after his gubernatorial term concludes, you might have thought, Good, now we won’t have to worry about him running for Prez of the USA in 2016.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The President Of…

Not so fast, kiddies.

I direct you to your history books. A fellow named Dwight Eisenhower took the gig as president of Columbia University after he’d helped whack the Nazis in World War II. He held the job for a year, during which it was clear he was far more interested in using the post as a platform to position himself as a statesman than he was in running the university. Next thing people knew, he was being dragged into the 1952 Republican National Convention, saying Aw, shucks, and running for the White House.

Part of Ike’s reasoning for taking the Columbia job was, as he put it, to advance the cause of education in a democracy.

Follow me here, now. Mitch Daniels has taken his lumps as the governor who oversaw massive budget cuts for Indiana schools. Daniels’ rep as a benefactor of public schooling was shot all to hell.

Now, mirabile dictu, he’s going to lead one of the state’s two most high profile educational institutions after he leaves Indianapolis.

Sounds to me like a very nice strategy for a guy who wants to repair his image. In fact, he might hope to become known as a respected educator by the year 2016.

PLAYTIME

Click.

SMILE FOR BRIAN

Happy 70th birthday to Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson

The leader of the Beach Boys was one of the musical geniuses of 20th Century America. The BB album “Pet Sounds” has been lauded as one of the five best discs in the history of the rock era.

The harmonies he arranged throughout the Beach Boys’ run verged on the spiritual at times.

If the very idea of Beach Boys’ music makes you smirk, I suggest you give some of their cuts a listen once again. Try to hear them as music rather than as cheesy cultural artifacts of the 60s. You’ll be surprised.

More Than This

THE CONSCIENCE OF A NATION

The Bloomington City Council is thinking of making a statement about a policy that’s anything but local once again.

Our elected municipal leaders want to make sure the world knows they disapprove of the US Supreme Court Citizens United ruling that essentially gave corporations and big organizations the same free speech rights as individuals. You know, the corporate personhood idea that the Reagan/Bush/Bush court so lovingly bestowed upon us.

Some Of Our Best Friends Are Corporations

It reminds me of the letter the council sent to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer a couple of years ago when she was fixing to sign that state’s draconian immigration bill.

My guess is Gov. Brewer tossed the letter into the circular file.

I mean, honestly, did our councilors really hope that Brewer might read the letter, take her glasses off, stare out her office window, and muse on the moral implications of the bill? Did they expect her to whisper to herself, “Golly gee, these people really make sense”?

Now That I Think About It…

Now the Council wants to proclaim itself in favor of a constitutional amendment to un-declare corporations as people.

My only hope is they didn’t spend too much time debating the point.

(And, just to clarify my position, the Citizens United decision was among the dumbest-assed things the US Supreme Court has done in decades.)

GOD ONLY KNOWS

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” — Aldous Huxley

SINE QUA NON

No matter how spineless, ridiculous, fatuous, self-sabotaging, flip-flopping, pompous, pretentious, condescending, naively idealistic, or downright batty my Democrats are, we have nobody on our side — repeat, absolutely nobody — as mad as Donald Trump.

Let me reiterate: Nobody.

(BTW: I want my props for using the term reiterate properly — I had repeated the word nobody once already, which was an iteration, then I used it a third time. Ergo reiterate. Thank you.)

CUT HIM IN HALF AND COUNT HIS RINGS

Speaking of Democrats, today is Bloomington City Council member Steve Volan‘s birthday.

No word yet on whether ice cream and cake will be served at City Hall.

Birthday Boy

(Just in case anybody gets the wrong idea: Tall Steve is not spineless nor is he ridiculous, fatuous, self-sabotaging, flip-flopping, pompous, pretentious, or downright batty. Sadly, this means he has no future in state or national party affairs.)

ASSES

Without Cracked.com I don’t know how I could survive in this crazy, mixed-up world.

The comedy website this week linked to a site that is pure genius. It aggregates FB posts, Tweets and other social media ejaculations, all of which have in common some variation on the caveat, “I’m not racist, but….

Here’s an example:

Or how about this?

Homo Sapiens sapiens is billed as the Earth’s most intelligent species but, honestly, even Equus africanus asinus is disgusted with us.

“Jesus, You People Are Idiots.”

REAL AMERICANS

We Democrats are fortunate to have as “The Others” a gang as wacky as the Tea Party.

We make fun of Tea Party-ists dressed up as colonial rebels. We dig pointing out the risible hypocrisies in their rants.

Tea Party Party

When they call themselves true Americans we even go so far as to say that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ho-o-o-o-old on there, paisanos.  A closer look at the origins and execution of the what the history books refer to as the  Tea Party reveals that the 21st Century apers are as American as, well, pizza or even chop suey.

(Side note: I grew up thinking that chop suey was the definitive Chinese food. It wasn’t, of course, but such was the extent of our ethnic and cultural understanding in those days. Does anybody even order chop suey anywhere anymore?)

Anyway, here’s the dope on the Tea Party, Part I.

There wasn’t just a Boston Tea Party; there were a minimum of five, all of which took place relatively simultaneously. Tea Parties also broke out in the harbors of New York City, Greenwich, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Charleston, South Carolina, and Annapolis, Maryland.

Between smokes in the teacher’s lounge, your seventh-grade history teacher told you angry patriots dumped tea in Boston harbor because those mean old Englishmen were proposing to tax the bejesus out of it. Those Englishmen, her story went, loved taxing us and not allowing us representation in their hall of flatulence otherwise known as Parliament. Ergo, we started a Revolutionary War to fix their asses.

The Teachers Lounge At My Elementary School

Like the story of chop suey (and chop suey itself) — it’s full of shit.

The tax on tea actually was imposed on The British East India Company, a multi-national outfit headquartered in jolly old. BEIC raised its prices accordingly for everybody it shipped the leaves to, including colonists and Englishmen alike.

As for the tea trade in the New World, BEIC was the sole approved dealer of the stuff. When that company raised its prices, a lot of colonists, including many surprising names, cranked up a black market, importing tea illegally from places like the Netherlands.

Suddenly, BEIC found itself stuck with tons of tea it couldn’t sell in the colonies. So the company slashed its prices to compete with the black market.

Our patriotic forebears became quite huffy about this turn of events. They didn’t like an enormous British corporation trying to muscle in on a market they’d created for themselves here.

In fact, no one was more put out about it than the guys who ran the black market import operations. In other words, businessmen. As opposed to patriots who spent their free time mulling over history and philosophy and the rights of man and so forth.

In the case of the Boston version of the Party, big shots like Sam Adams and Benjamin Edes whipped up crowds with fiery rhetoric and filled dozens of tough guys with high-proof rum as three BEIC ships sat in the harbor ready to unload their cargo.

Instead, Edes’ gangs of drunken men boarded the ships and for three hours dumped the tea into the drink. The task might have been accomplished in less time but many of the raiders (dressed as Indians — what is it about Tea Parties and the wearing of Hallowe’en costumes?) began puking their guts out from the cheap rum they’d been drinking and had to be carried away.

The English closed down Boston harbor as punishment. One thing led to another, war was declared, the plucky Americans won, and now we’re free to listen to the Lady Gaga CD of our choice.

So, the original Tea Party was nothing like the grass-roots uprising we’ve been led to believe. It was manipulated, financed, and directed by big business. Precisely as the Koch Brothers and the Mellon Empire are propping up the modern Tea Party.

Americans all.

WASH YOUR FACE. BRUSH YOUR TEETH. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.

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