Category Archives: Bruce Springsteen

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If You Poison Us, Do We Not Die?

Hey babies, just in case you’re contemplating bumping off a loved one this spring, Bloomington’s Science Cafe has the session for you. Tuesday night at Finch’s Brasserie, Indiana University chemistry prof Kate Rech‘ll fill you in on all the ins and outs of dosing your wayward spouse.

Pay no att’n, BTW, to the S. Cafe’s website which states the The Science of Poison will be March 31st. It won’t be. It’s the 24th. Got it?

Poison

No, No, Not This Poison

Anyway, including Tuesday’s there are only three more Cafes before the semester concludes. Trust me, you have to take advantage of this thing. It’s one of the great perks of living in a college town. Think of it: free basic college-level lectures at a pretty good eating and drinking establishment. You can have a tasty bowl of soup or a gourmet pizza or you can get sloshed on good vino all while improving your mind. Sounds like heaven to me.

If you’re not interested in poisoning anybody, you might catch April’s session, Halting Climate Change by 2050, presented by chemist and ocean conservationist Norman Holy.

Kate Rech’s speil will begin at 6:30pm in the upstairs meeting room and bar.

Speaking of mind improvements, The Pencil always pretends to be informative. F’rinstance, here’s 19th Century journalist and author Ambrose Bierce on one particular variety of poison, from his delightful book, The Devil’s Dictionary:

Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.

Bierce

Ambrose Bierce

From The Ashes

Bob Costello, majordomo of the eatery empire centered around the Grant and Kirkwood intersection, tells The Pencil the rebuild of his Village Deli is moving along on schedule. The place is still on a pace to reopen the second week of April. If all goes well, acc’d’g to C., he’ll throw the doors open again Monday morning, April 6th.

Since the back end of the joint burned down in January, the V.D.’s 60 employees have been getting paid, thanks to Costello’s top-end business insurance policy. Plus, he tells me, he’s been offering his people a deal wherein for every hour they put in as volunteers at one of the many service orgs. around town, he’ll pay them two hours of their normal wage. He expects at least 80 percent of his staff to return when the Deli reopens.

Costello and his wife Kari also own Soma Coffee and the Laughing Planet.

Where Was Ted Bred?

So, Ted Cruz is set to make his big announcement in a Monday press conference.

Yup, he wants to become the first foreign-born president of this holy land and how delicious an irony is that? I wonder how many white people will shriek and moan about his birthplace.

Cruz

Foreigner

Born In The USA

Well, at least our current Prez was.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“You can have a revolution wherever you like, except in a government office; even were the world to come to an end, you’d have to destroy the universe first and then government offices.” — Karel Čapek

DISTAFF DEMS

So, Julie Thomas is the Dems’ choice to replace Mark Stoops on the November ballot.

Julie Thomas

Stoops, you may recall, is replacing Vi Simpson on the ballot for her state senate seat. Simpson is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with John Gregg. Thomas aims to swap her Monroe County Council seat for Stoops’ Monroe County Board of Commissioners post. Got all that?

It’s the Democratic Shuffle.

Anyway, the Thomas move only adds to the local Democrats’ big women’s push this year. Make sure you read my piece about Dem women in this month’s Ryder magazine.

THE RULES MUST BE FOLLOWED!

Don’t you just love petty tyrants?

Some officious little dweeb in London cut the power as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello played and sang in Hyde Park Saturday night. Arguably the two biggest rock stars in the world, Springsteen and McCartney have been jonesing to jam together for years.

A Dream Come True

They finally got their chance at the end of Springsteen’s big show last night. Right in the middle of “Twist and Shout,” though, the aforementioned noodge gave the order for the plugs to be pulled.

Seems the Westminster Council has a hard and fast new rule that outdoor concerts at Hyde Park must be completed by 10:30pm. It was 10:45pm when London’s Big Hall Monitor cut the boys off.

Sorta funny no? If only London’s bosses had been such sticklers when the LIBOR scandal was brewing.

NO SIR

BTW: You’ll note I did not call the former Beatle “Sir” Paul McCartney.

I won’t do it. Not now or ever.

There’s no place in my world for phoney-baloney titles of “nobility.”

My Blood Is Quite Blue

This holy land’s “Founding Fathers” had no use for Britain’s caste society either. After all, we had our own system of oppression and disenfranchisement to nurture.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Flavorwire.com points out a new website modeled after Rotten Tomatoes called I Dream Books.

RT, as you know, is a film criticism aggregator that canvasses movie reviews from around the nation and rates each picture based on some algorithm the geeks in charge have conjured. Now IDB does the same thing, only with tomes.

So, I clicked on the first title that came up on the IDB page. It turns out to be that risible Christian fever dream, “Heaven Is for Real.”

Do I have to explain this criminal misuse of a significant portion of our nation’s forests to you? Everybody should know by now it’s about some reverend whose three-year-old kid undergoes an emergency appendectomy and emerges from the surgery with a hair-brained tale that he’d died and gone to heaven but for some odd reason was kicked back out and his soul returned to his Earthly body.

The most gullible among the populace take this as de facto proof that their religious fantasies are the real deal.

Get this: IDB gives this aggressive insult to our intelligence an 80 percent positive rating! The review the site features reads, in part, “‘Heaven Is for Real’ will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child.”

Honestly, people. A three-year-old explaining the nature of existence to us?

The Time-Space Continuum

To the best of my knowledge, three-year-olds are those members of society who defecate in their pants, throw tantrums when they’re denied any more cookies, often believe monsters are hiding under their beds, and who occasionally display their penises in misguided attempts to entertain us. Because we realize three-year-olds, to put it politely, aren’t fully all there, we don’t throw them in jail for the latter infraction.

Why, then, would millions of people take as gospel some crackpot tale such a kid would tell his old man, who no doubt asked a lot of leading questions to draw said nonsense out of him?

And we let these people vote?

I can’t imagine that four of every five book reviewers in the country think this drek is hot stuff. I’ll be watching IDB closely to see if the bugs in its algorithm are worked out.

THE GOOD DOCTOR

Well, one guy now knows whether Colton Burpo and his daddy-o made up their little story or not: Dr. Conger, a terrific guy from Lima, Ohio.

That’s all I’ve ever known him as — Dr. Conger.

Clyde Conger

He kept a home here in Bloomington as well as his Ohio digs. He was an insatiable reader and would make the trek to the Book Corner every month or so to stock up on hardcovers.

Dr. Conger was an anesthesiologist. He wasn’t a rich man but he and his wife were comfortable. He was no fan of the greedy bastards who hold sway in these Great United States, Inc. today.

Whenever I’d see his wife pull up in front of the store in their minivan, I’d dash out to help him walk the few steps to our front door. Dr. Conger suffered from diabetes and the resultant pain in his feet tortured him.

I’d sit him in one of our Franklin chairs, and we’d talk about the issues of the day as well as new books. I’d mention a title that might interest him and he’d say, “Would you get me that? I think I’ll buy it.”

After a half hour or so, the pain in his dogs would get to be too much and he’d struggle to stand in preparation to go outside and wait for his wife, who was shopping around the square. The two of us would wait for his wife to pull back up. I’d ask him why he just didn’t call her and he’d always reply that he didn’t want to cut in on her shopping time.

Old man Dr. Conger was a swell bird. He died a few weeks ago.

No depictions of heaven ever allude to books being there. I get the feeling Dr. Conger wouldn’t care too much for that kind of heaven.

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

TC Steele State Historic Site“Sunday at Home: An Old Fashioned Celebration,” with fun, crafts, vocal and harpsichord music, hand-cranked ice cream and more; 1-4pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It With You”; 1pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Musical, “Footloose”; 2pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: David Linard Trio; 4pm

The Player’s PubThe Reacharounds; 6pm

Bryan ParkOutdoor concert, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra with Charles Latshaw, conductor; 6:30pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series, “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 7pm

Gerhard Richter And His Piece, “Abstract Painting (911-4)”

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Various performances by members of the Jacobs School faculty; 8pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ 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:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th 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 Cultures — Closed for semester break

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

“Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

THIS MEANS WAR!

Steven Higgs of the Bloomington Alternative ran a fascinating twoparter this month on the 1971 opening salvo in the right wing revolution that has turned this holy land into a corporatocracy. Don’t miss it.

Less than half a year before he was nominated by Richard Nixon to become a US Supreme Court Associate Justice, the then-rightist Lewis Powell wrote an explosive memo detailing what he saw as the coming war for free enterprise.

Powell, you may recall, retired in the middle of Ronald Reagan’s second term as president. By that time, he was seen as a moderate, a compromiser, the guy who could talk to both Antonin Scalia and Thurgood Marshall. In fact, many felt Powell was even too liberal for a Court and a nation that had moved dramatically rightward in the preceding 16 years.

Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, an even more conservative jurist, to replace Powell. Now Kennedy is seen as the moderate, the compromiser, and, occasionally, too liberal for his own good.

The right has come a long way, baby.

Powell

Anyway, Powell, a big-time corporate lawyer and legal advocate for the tobacco industry, wrote that American capitalism was under attack on a variety of fronts 41 years ago. Everybody, he wrote, from Ralph Nader, the media, academia, the federal courts, communists  and “New Left”-ists, to outright revolutionaries were gunning for our sacred economic system.

Powell wasn’t speaking metaphorically either. He was convinced liberals were out to destroy America. His screed sounded like nothing other than a typical Rush Limbaugh upchuck.

For instance, Powell quoted a Fortune magazine diatribe against consumer advocate Nader:

“The passion that rules in him — and he is a passionate man — is aimed at smashing utterly the target of his hatred, which is corporate power. He thinks, and says quite bluntly, that a great many corporate executives belong in prison — for defrauding the consumer with shoddy merchandise, poisoning the food supply with chemical additives and willfully manufacturing unsafe products that will maim or kill the buyer.”

Nader, Powell asserted, was dangerous.

Dangerous

Funny thing is, a mere six years later it was learned that Ford Motor Company bosses knew their Pinto model was liable to explode in flames in rear-end collisions. Those execs also knew a certain number of Pinto drivers and passengers would die as a result. They decided that the deaths and resulting financial damage claims were simply the cost of doing business.

Dangerous, indeed.

In the Powell Memo, sent to members of the US Chamber of Commerce, he suggested corporate America and political leaders devote themselves to the “constant surveillance” of school textbooks and eliminate left-wingers from schools and positions of power.

“There should be no hesitation to attack,” he advised corporate leaders.

Yeesh!

Higgs concludes that the memo was “a literal call to the political arms that have (sic) subsequently driven the nation’s devolution from democracy to oligarchy.”

I suppose the only difference between today and 1971 is that, back then, the only people who would spout such psycho garbage were toady corporate lawyers. Now, the corporations have an entire Tea Party to parrot their paranoia.

LIZZ WINSTEAD’S BABY

Lizz Winstead created the fabulously successful Daily Show franchise that we think of as Jon Stewart’s baby.

It isn’t.

Winstead

Stewart came aboard two and a half years after the show was born. He replaced the smarmy-snarky, celebrity-gossipy Craig Kilborn as host. Toward the end of Kilborn’s run, he granted an interview to an Esquire magazine writer in which he suggested that Winstead would happily blow him. It was the last straw in Winstead’s long-standing battle against the comedy boys club that was taking over her show. She quit soon after.

Since her Daily Show stint, Winstead’s career has soared and dived. She co-founded the ill-fated Air America Radio network. She writes occasionally for the Huffington Post, has produced a few TV and radio shows, and now hosts a weekly New York City radio news wrap up program called “Shoot the Messenger.”

I was reminded of Winstead while reading a neat book called “¡Satiristas!: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians,” by Paul Provenza and Dan Dion. It was published by itbooks, a HarperCollins imprint, in 2010. In it Provenza chats with dozens of funny people about their art.

Winstead is included in the line-up. She tells Provenza that part of her comedic sensibility emanates from her conservative Catholic childhood home in Minneapolis.

She recalls facing her first adult dilemma as a teenaged girl.

“[T]he first time I ever had sex, in high school, I got pregnant. I knew I wasn’t having a baby, bu the way to get an abortion was so insane. Being brought up a Catholic, I didn’t know where to go, but one day I saw a sign on the bus for a place that said, ‘Abortion options.’ I thought, ‘Oh, there are many options.’

“So I go to this place, and it was run by some group called The Lambs of Christ. This woman comes out wearing a lab coat, so I’m thinking she’s some kind of doctor. Then I realized the women at the Clinique and Lancôme counters wear lab coats; she’s not really a doctor, lab coats are pretty much available anywhere. She shows me blow-ups of mangled fetuses and a picture of a kid on a bike. I’m like, ‘A bike?’ It was insane. I left completely confused. As I walked out the door, she was yelling after me, ‘Just remember, the choice you make is mommy or murder.’

“I thought, ‘I’m sixteen and here’s an adult, a “person of God,” impersonating a physician, just scaring the shit out of me.’ Even as a kid, I was, like, ‘That’s fucking weird.'”

Winstead’s 51 years old now, meaning the encounter took place 35 years ago, probably sometime in 1977.

Just four short years after the US Supreme Court’s landmark Roe vs. Wade decision.

Nashville’s The Tennessean newspaper reported Friday that 24 states passed new abortion restriction laws in 2011, more than any previous year.

Talk about fucking weird.

MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING

Written by Bruce Springsteen, performed best by Cyndi Lauper.

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