Category Archives: David Bowie

Hot Air

An Other-Wordly Talent

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say Terri Hemmert was the first lesbian I ever met.

It was back in 1970 and ’71 and I had my first radio gig — unpaid, of course — as the co-host of “Oak Park Schools at Work” on WOPA-AM atop the mighty Oak Park Arms Hotel. Mighty, I should say, in the sense that it was all of five stories tall, at the time the tallest structure in the Village of O.P.


WGLD was our sister station on the FM dial and shared the penthouse office space with WOPA. The FM-er was populated by a bunch of hippies who handled engineering, office work, on-air duties, and mopping up the occasional spilled Coke. Terri Hemmert, a solidly-packed woman with short hair who wore overalls and, if memory serves me correctly, Earth shoes, was the outlier in the office. An outlier, that is, among outliers. She wasn’t exactly a hippie chick but she certainly was from another world to the eyes of this 14-going-on-15-year-old. She served as the the station’s programming director, an impressive post in the radio universe.

(As an aside, remember Earth shoes? If you do, it means you’re of a certain age. Earth shoes knocked footwear design on its ear. They were lower at the heel and higher at the ball of the foot. The toe of the shoe was wide, not pointed. And they were groovy, Earth-y tan, not shiny red or black. I recall people raving about them, saying they mimicked the position of your feet when you walked in sand, which was supposed to be oh-so-healthy for your dogs. Some people even claimed they forced you to walk the way Indians did — the Indians from south of the Himalayas, that is. Back in the early 1970s, anything from the sub-continent was viewed as de rigueur for the with-it Whole Earth Catalog-reading citizenry. Of course, the hipsters of that era conveniently ignored mass starvation, overpopulation, the befouling of the Ganges River, and the nascent nuclear arms race between that nation and Pakistan. Otherwise, India was the coolest.)

Anyway, Terri Hemmert may or may not have worn Earth shoes but if she did, it would have completely been in character with her and station WGLD. My show was on the AM dial but I longed to cross over one day to the FM where they played Beatles’ deep tracks, David Bowie, King Crimson, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the Allman Brothers, Mott the Hoople, T. Rex, some Firesign Theater cuts, a little Lenny Bruce, and a lot of the Stones. It was my first aural glimpse into what would become known as AOR, or Album-Oriented Rock. Man, I ditched listening to top-40 WLS and WCFL in a heartbeat, along with their sappy, sugary Dawn, Anne Murray, and the Carpenters.


Terri Hemmert (center) With The Ramones

It was good to see a woman in a position of authority at a radio station, especially a woman who wasn’t girly, as Terri Hemmert never in this life or the next could be described. Watching her, I learned it wasn’t only guys who did cool things. And a woman didn’t have to wear miniskirts and kicky high heels to be a success.

Terri Hemmert became a huge success in Chicago radio, working the last 42 years at WXRT. She was the first female drive-time jock in the market, at the time the second biggest in the nation. She became a world-renowned authority on the Beatles. She’s been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.


A More Recent Vintage Hemmert

Chicago media reporter Rob Feder tells us Terri’s taking a leave of absence to fight cancer. Gosh damn, we’re all getting to be a certain age, aren’t we?

A Space — And Terrestrial — Oddity

I woke up early this AM, about four o’clock, and so checked the news. What a shock it was to learn David Bowie had died.

One of my five fave albums of all time is Low, produced by Brian Eno. One of my fave songs of all time is Station to Station from the eponymous album. The tune starts slowly, like a steam engine train rolling out of the station, then it progresses to a charging, pulsing, Carlos Alomar guitar-driven rocker, the train speeding down the tracks. Listen here:

Bowie — born David Jones; he changed his name so as not to be confused with the Monkees’ Davy Jones — lived a good long life. He was 69. It’s no tragedy when someone kicks the bucket after a good, long life but it is a terrible loss. I’ve heard bits and pieces of his latest disc, Blackstar, and it sounds as good as anything he’s done to date. Had he lived, he certainly would have put out tons more good music. Still and all, we have enough Bowie to keep us happy for years to come.

Suffice it to say the death of Bowie affected me more than any other celebrity passing since that of Carl Sagan. Funny, isn’t it? They both brought me, vicariously, into outer space.

Hey, my pal David Brent Johnson’ll be playing tracks from Blackstar on his WFIU Just You & Me showgram this afternoon and tomorrow as well. Make sure you tune in, hear?

Hot Air

The Acting Profession

Dunno about you but that whole Django Unchained actress run-in with the police smelled rotten to me from the get-go.

The photo of her crying struck me as kinky. She looked like nothing other than an actress chewing the scenery.


Danièle Watts, Emoting

And now we discover that she and her boymate were banging in the car, in the middle of the afternoon, on a public street, with the door open wide enough so that people could photograph their congress from a nearby office building.

But what turned my stomach almost as bad as her falling back on a celebrity privilege copout and a racial profiling charge was the fact that she and her Romeo wiped themselves clean of bodily fluids and then proceeded to toss the wadded up napkins or tissues on the parkway outside their car.

The whole thing stunk of arrogance, entitlement, and puerility.

And it fries me that now Right Wingers’ll say, for the trillionth time, See, they’re always pulling out the race card.


How cool is this?

Tuesday, September 23rd, will be David Bowie Day in Chicago. That’s the day that the Museum of Contemporary Art will open its “David Bowie Is….” retrospective exhibition.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke temporarily from his usual union-busting, 1%-kowtowing duties to sign an official City Council proclamation declaring the city in thrall for 24 hours to perhaps my fave rocker.

Chicago City Council

The exhibition runs through January 4th and includes “[m]ore than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive — including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades….”

And, in case you’re dying to find out, here are my two fave Bowie discs:

Bowie Discs

Station To Station (L) & Low

When I was a callow 20 y.o., I longed to be as cool as Bowie, mainly because he was everything I wasn’t: British, a rock star, thin, light-haired and -skinned, a poet, fragile as a porcelain doll, and rich. One night in about 1979, he dropped in at Neo, a club I haunted regularly. “Go talk to him!” someone said to me. But I was too scared.

Bowie, it turned out, was really short and, in reality, just a guy. In fact, he stumbled as he walked past me away from the bar. That night I decided I would celebrate my non-Bowie-ness as Big Mike.

Calling For Help

Middle Way House reports a 77 percent increase in calls regarding domestic abuse in the days since the Ray Rice/Janay Palmer security cam recording was released. This morning’s Herald Times [paywall] quotes MWH exec director Toby Strout as saying, ““When a celebrity commits domestic violence or sexual assault, it makes the front page for a while, people pay attention.”

Which is a goddamned shame. Which, also, is why I call on all who read this to drop a dime whenever you hear what sounds like a physical altercation. If you’re wrong, so what?

Black Eye

Not only that, for my own part, I’ll continue to socially shun anybody I know or am acquainted with who has assaulted and/or battered a “loved” one.

The onus is on us to teach our males that rape and battery aren’t boys-being-boys funtimes but repulsive crimes. How have you conveyed this to your sons, nephews, grandchildren, or brothers lately?

Lotus Fest Sked

Here’s your Lotus Fest 2104 lineup:


  • Buskirk Chumley Theater 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First United Methodist Church 219 E. 4th St.
  • First Christian Church 205 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First Presbyterian Church 221 E. 6th St.
  • Ivy Tech Community College Tent 6th St. between Walnut & College
  • Old National Bank/Soma Tent 4th & Grant streets
  • The Bluebird 216 N. Walnut St.
  • 3rd St. Park 331 S. Washington St.

Thursday, September 18th

● 7pm: Söndörgó, Canzoniere Grecanino Salentino Buskirk Chumley Theater

Friday, September 19th

● 6:30pm: Söndörgó First United Methodist Church

● 6:45pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 7pm: Kaia First Presbyterian Church

● 7:15pm: Vanesa Aibar & Company Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 7:15pm: Mames Babegenush Ivy Tech Community College Tent


Mames Babegenush

● 7:15pm: The Revelers Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 7:45pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 8:05pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: Nagata ShachBuskirk Chumley Theater

● 8:50pm: Van-Anh Vanessa Vo First Christian Church

● 8:50pm: FullSet First Presbyterian Church

● 8:50pm: Tsuumi Sound System Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 8:50pm: Aurelio Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 9:50pm: Söndörgó First United Methodist Church

● 10:10pm: Banda Magda Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 10:25pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First Christian Church


Nora Jane Struthers

● 10:25pm: Erkan Ogur’s Telvin Trio First Presbyterian Church

● 10:25pm: Orkesta Mendoza Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 10:25pm: Movits! Old National Bank/Soma Tent

Saturday, September 20th

● Noon to 5pm: Lotus in the Park 3rd St. Park

∙ 12:15pm: Kaia

∙ 1pm: Banda Magda

∙ 1pm: Radha Lakshmi

∙ 1:45pm: Arga Bileg

∙ 2:30pm: Sancocho Music & Dance Collage

∙ 3:15pm: Lotus Dickey Song Workshop

∙ 4pm: The Revelers

● 6:30pm: FullSet Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 6:30pm: Arga Bileg First United Methodist Church

Arga Bileg

Arga Bileg


● 7pm: Banda Magda Bluebird

● 7:15pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 7:15pm: Tsuumi Sound System Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 7:15pm: Las Cafeteras Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 7:30pm: Nagata Shachu Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 7:50pm: Kaia First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: The Revelers Bluebird

● 8:50pm: Vanesa Aibar & Company Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 8:50pm: Derek Gripper First Christian Church

● 8:50pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: Mames Babegenush Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 8:50pm: Aurelio Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 10:25pm: Emel Mathiouthi Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 10:25pm: Singing for the Planets First Christian Church

● 10:25pm: FullSet First United Methodist Church

● 10:25pm: Orkesta Mendoza Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 10:25pm: Movits! Old National Bank/Soma Tent

Sunday, September 21st

● 3pm: World Spirit Concert: Arga Bileg & Derek Gripper Buskirk Chumley Theater

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

The Pencil Today:


“Marriage is a wonderful invention; then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.” — Billy Connolly


Good morning, babies.

I’ll be busy this Labor Day weekend making preparations for the move of The Electron Pencil’s GO! events listings to the spanking new Ryder website.

The Ryder’s long awaited foray into the interwebs is scheduled to go public Tuesday.

Sneak Peek

Now, technically it’s true Peter LoPilato’s Ryder magazine and the eponymous film series have had web presences for a while now. But those of us who were raised right know not to say anything if we have nothing good to say. Suffice it to say the new Ryder site, designed by the brains on legs that populate the Runskip website development empire, is a leap into the 21st Century.

You’ll be able to access an archive of The Ryder’s past issues, you’ll get tastes of the current issue, you’ll see the full upcoming sked for the Ryder Film Series along with interviews, think pieces, and other treats related to the movies on view all weekend long, every weekend, here in Bloomington.

And The Electron Pencil now will present the best events listings in town on The Ryder site.


So, I’ll be working today and maybe even tomorrow trying to work out the bugs and creating an attractive, useful guide for Pencillistas as well as sane, law-abiding Bloomingtonians to know what’s going on in the arts, music, cultural, sports, and education scenes here.

The Ryder and The Pencil will be the indispensable Bloomington resources for those in the know. Come to The Pencil every day for the best hot air on local, national, and world affairs, then click to The Ryder to plan your days and nights.

Simple. Effective. Easy. Helps improve brain function. The Ryder and The Pencil.


Time may change me/

But I can’t trace time.

Who else? Bowie.

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

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

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

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.


I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

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

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

Mental FlossFacts.

Click For Full Article

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

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

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

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibit: “Workers of the World, Unite!” through Labor Day; 10am-5pm

◗ Fourth Street between Indiana and Lincoln avenues — Fourth Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts; 10am-5pm

  • Fourth at Dunn streets — Spoken Word Stage, presented by Writers Guild at Bloomington

Third Street ParkFirst annual Bloomington Garlic Festival; 10am-7pm

Dagom Gaden Tensungling MonasteryIntroductory course on Buddhist philosophy and meditation; 10-11am, every Sunday through November 18th

Bloomington Playwrights ProjectMusical: “Working”; 2pm

◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier men’s soccer vs. San Diego State; 2pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Tom Rosznowski; 6pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series: “The Queen of Versailles”; 9pm

The BishopMusic: TV Mike & the Scarecrows, The Dead Winter Carpenters, Whippoorwill; 10pm

Upland Brewing CompanyMusic: TV Mike & the Scarecrows, The Dead Winter Carpenters; 9pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

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

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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