Category Archives: Domestic Violence

1000 Words: Role Models

Professional athletes — along with rock and pop stars, television and movie actors, and billionaires — are our nation’s gods. We worship them. We think they’re made of tougher, smarter, sterner stuff than us, we run of the mill mopes. They have achieved their heights because they are better humans than the rest of us.

We pay them millions of dollars a year, we devour every bit of information imaginable about them, we mourn with them when they lose loved ones, and we celebrate with them when they get married or have children.

Should one such celebrity walk into a store or restaurant we happen to be in at the time, there comes a hush, then a murmur, and finally, a glorious frisson rises in everybody in the place. Even after the celebrity leaves, the room remains alive, electric, buzzing. We have laid eyes upon a descendant from Mount Olympus.

I’m going to concentrate on athletes here today. The point I’ll make can apply equally to actors, pop stars and billionaires. But one of my sports idols died this morning and, as I processed the news, I thought more and more about hero worship.

When I was 14 years old, the Chicago Blackhawks were a powerhouse in the National Hockey League. They were led by left wing Bobby Hull, dubbed the Golden Jet for his shock of wavy blond hair, his dazzling smile, and the excitement he generated whenever he rushed up the ice and took aim with his legendary slapshot.

NHL goaltenders at the time often didn’t wear masks and were known to stand in strong against fusillades of shots. Here’s a photo of the great goaltender Terry Sawchuck, the more severe of his facial gashes and contusions accurately reproduced by a Hollywood makeup artist to illustrate the perils he faced on a nightly basis.

Boston’s Gerry Cheevers was among the first generation of goalies to wear a mask. He drew stitches on it to denote every hit it took from a speeding puck. Here’s a photo of Cheevers and his mask:

The NHL puck was made of hard rubber with semi-sharp edges. Goalies, clearly, were a hard breed. But when Bobby Hull fired a shot, it often travelled at 100-plus miles per hour. I recall seeing a photo of one opposing goaltender actually flinching when Hull let loose a cannon shot against him. NHL goalies normally wouldn’t flinch if someone fired a howitzer at them. I wish I could find the photo now, but I can’t.

In any case, Bobby Hull was the greatest goal scorer in the history of the game at the time. Chicago loved him. He didn’t have to pay for a drink or a meal anywhere in the city.

I loved him, too — as much as I loved Ron Santo and Ferguson Jenkins of the Cubs.

Then one day I read in the Sun-Times that Bobby Hull’s wife had filed for divorce. Details came out in dribs and drabs. It eventually became clear that Hull hit his wife as easily as he slugged opposing brawlers on the ice. It was the first time I ever heard about a player’s private life. I was stunned.

Bobby Hull can’t have beaten his wife, I thought. He’s a Blackhawk. And I’m a Blackhawk fan.

Remember, I was 14.

At about the same time, certain women close to me suffered spousal abuse. I saw black eyes, puffed out jaws, grotesquely distended lips, all visited upon them by their husbands. My eyes were opened. By and by, I came to accept that men — too many men — hit their loving wives with the same force they’d use to subdue a rampaging drunk. And I came to accept that Bobby Hull, my hero, the greatest goal scorer in the history of the National Hockey League, did so, too.

The Hulls must have reconciled because their divorce wasn’t finalized until 1980. Hull got married again in 1984 and his second wife also accused him of physical abuse. In 1986, the police were called to quell a disturbance between them. She told the cops he’d hit her. As the cops tried to separate Hull from her, he assaulted them as well.

Now that domestic abuse is no longer a secret and the men who pummel their wives have been studied and analyzed from top to bottom, we know that when a woman finally makes the charge of violence against her husband, it’s only after the latest in a long history of such beatings.

Long ago, it became undeniable that Bobby Hull, the Golden Jet, was a miserable human being.

I put up a post on social media earlier today remarking that Bobby Hull, one of my teenaged heroes, had died overnight. Then, throughout the day, the more I thought about him, the more I regretted celebrating his life.

He was a thug. In fact, he was a criminal, even if no court had ever found him guilty of his crimes. That’s another common facet of abusive relationships. Wives, either fearful or overly forgiving, letting their husbands skate.

Years ago, when baseball player Barry Bonds was found to have bulked up using banned and illegal performance enhancing drugs, a guy I knew wondered how he’d explain the situation to his then-young son, who idolized Bonds. “What do I tell my son?” the guy asked.

“If you’re looking to professional athletes to be role models for your kids, if you expect them to be paragons of behavior and character, you’re speeding down a dangerous street,” I said.

In fact, the examples of Bobby Hull and Barry Bonds are perfect teaching moments. Parents should jump at the chance to explain that just because a guy can hit 73 home runs in a year or score 58 goals in a season, that doesn’t mean he is a great human being. He is only a great home run hitter or goal scorer. Period.

They are lessons that drive home the point that athletic prowess and human kindness and decency have no correlation. Sure, a great athlete can be a model citizen. But a police officer can be a goon, a doctor can be a scam artist, a schoolteacher can be a sadist. And the greatest goal scorer in the history of the National Hockey League can be a lout.

Hot Air: Everybody’s Against Us

One Word, Bernie: Strategy

Like I’ve been saying all along (from The New Republic):

[Bernie has to concentrate] …on lobbying for progressive policies and promoting and financing progressive candidates—and making establishment Democrats fear the price of opposing both.

That’s right — make the party fear bucking you, B. The fact that you can draw tens of thousands to arenas doesn’t faze the veteran ward heelers. They know that sheer numbers of rah-rah-ing cheerleaders don’t translate to political power. Bring your fund-raising successes and voter-turnout numbers to the table every time you negotiate with your party sisteren and brethren. That’s how the Right Wing took over the Republican Party and that’s how you have to do it.


Bernie’s victory is going to come after this election cycle if he and the rest of the Dems play their cards right. In fact, that victory would be a hell of a lot more important and effective than Bernie winning the 2016 Dem nomination.

Post-Mothers Day Pallaver

Jill Stein is a perennial candidate for offices like president of the United States, governor of her home state of Mass., and lesser electoral prizes, representing the Green Party, and generally garnering a grand total of a handful of votes.

She’s disgusted with Hillary, just like the slightly less Left-ward of this nation who’ve gravitated to Bernie. As such, Stein Sunday tweet-upbraided Hill for being less than an ideal mother:

I agree w/ Hillary, it’s time to elect a woman for President. But I want that President to reflect the value of being a mother.

The quote, at first glance, might indicate Stein thinks Hill is dismissive of mothers, the way many (Most? All?) on the Right think feminists hate motherhood and kids. Thus far, it’s impossible to say what Stein is getting at. Does she think Hill abandoned, abused, or or fed sugar- and preservative-laden Lucky Charms to Chelsea on a daily basis when the Clinton Princess was a mere cherub?

Perhaps. It’s not unheard of for the Left to come around and meet the Right in the backyard on certain points, for instance, the two sides’ mutual detestation of Big Pharma and other bugbears. But Alexandra Brodsky on Feministing has raked Stein over the coals for another reason. Brodsky has it that Stein’s calling for Clinton to be more of a mythologically ideal mother, a nurturing, all-caring, gentle, selfless soul who’d never, ever, ever call for anything that would harm a flea or a child, even if it was Donald Trump’s.

In a successive tweet, Brodsky adds, Stein insists mothers are “healers.”

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Presidential Timber?

Now this is all well and good platitude-mongering on Mother’s Day, when everybody’s Ma is the finest example of the human species ever born and they say so, aggressively, through greeting cards and on social media. Then it’s back to the old grind of fighting like mad dogs on the Monday after, which is a more comforting and familiar state of affairs.

Mom’s are healers, sure. They’ll give up their lives just for you, trophy child. And if one — a real one — were president, all our great land’s citizens would have food, health care, a home, an education, clean drinking water, peace, and all the hot chocolate they could ever want.

Brodsky asserts this is a fine example of bullshit. Mothers, she writes, are “people, billions of them, who care and fail to care for others in many different ways, not identical props for a morality play.”

And mothers, she adds, are not the only good women: “And guess what: there are plenty of awesome woman who aren’t mothers. That doesn’t make them less than, as people or as leaders.”

Stein’s got two kids and, presumably, never fed them Lucky Charms. Nevertheless, she doesn’t figure to reap more than her usual handful of votes this coming November — even though the citizenry, both Left and Right, is sick to death of the usual party suspects.

No Problem

Here’s another example of our holy land’s new pastime of playing the victim — and it has to do with domestic violence, a more traditional Murrican pastime.

Aroldis Chapman is a flame-throwing baseball pitcher who’s been an all-star, is absolutely spectacular at his limited role as a ninth-inning pitcher, and who, last year, apparently went bonkers during an argument with his girlfriend.

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Acc’d’g to a police report, Chapman and his girlfriend clashed one night after she discovered some incriminating evidence, presumably regarding his commitment to fidelity, on his cell phone. One thing led to another and, the girlfriend told cops, Chapman put his hands around her neck in a choke her and pushed her against a wall. Her brother and mother attempted to break up the melee. Chapman’s chauffeur says he saw the girlfriend charge at Chapman and tackle him to the ground. Chapman eventually dashed out into his garage and fired eight rounds from a pistol, seven of them crashing into a concrete wall and the eighth zipping through a window and into a open field beyond. The girlfriend, natch, was terrified so she hid in the bushes outside the house and called the police. Her four-month-old child who, she says, is Chapman’s (he’s not saying if the kid is his) remained in the house. Eight officers responded, set up a perimeter around the house and began to try to communicate with Chapman. Eventually, he met with the police, who interviewed him and everyone else involved.

For his part, Chapman told the cops, sure, he’d made physical contact with the girlfriend during the fight, pressing his thumb and forefinger into her shoulder, presumably to make a point, whatever it was.

So, like most domestic violence incidents, this one’s a he said/she said thing. Only there were witnesses and they all had their say as well. The combined stories were so muddled that the cops threw up their hands and tossed the affair over to the county prosecutor.

What apparently isn’t up for debate is Chapman and his girlfriend had some sort of physical confrontation and he did fire his gun eight times in his garage in a rage afterward.

Chapman was not charged by police or prosecutors but an internal investigation by Major League Baseball resulted in a 30-day suspension without pay for him under the sport’s domestic violence policy. He returned to action last night after serving his suspension.

As part of the disciplinary action MLB has taken against him, Chapman has seen two separate psychiatrists specializing in domestic violence and he must participate in a counseling program designed specifically for him. He has lost nearly $2 million dollars in salary during his exile.

Here’s where we get into this holy land’s new pastime. Chapman doesn’t believe his actions are all that bad. In fact, he asserts, he’s the victim in this case. He told a reporter for the New York Times the whole folderol is the result of baseball’s — and America’s — prejudice against Latinos.

He said:

Unfortunately, that is the way it is. We (Latino MLB players) make a lot of money, everyone wants a piece of it, and we end up looking bad. When I had the problem, everyone thinks I did something wrong; in social media, people are saying I hit my girlfriend.

Sometimes people talk too much. We have to be careful about that. We are not from this country, and people want to harm us. It’s easier to hurt someone who is not from here than someone who is. People think we don’t know what the laws are, and they try to hurt you. Many people want money. We have to take care of ourselves.

As if that wasn’t enough, Chapman exonerated himself in the finest tradition of abusers. He described the incident as a typical romantic spat:

It was just an argument with your partner that everyone has. I’ve even argued with my mother. When you are not in agreement with someone, we Latin people are loud when we argue. I do not have a problem.

Note that last line: I do not have a problem.

Oh, man.

Sometime soon, Chapman will strike out the side in the ninth inning, saving a victory for his Yankees team. Tens of thousands of fans in the stands will scream and cheer wildly. Plenty of them will say to each other, “I don’t believe he tried to choke her. I don’t believe he pushed her. I don’t believe he fired the gun.” This despite hard evidence he at least squeezed off eight rounds in a rage.

They’ll be in denial.

Other fans will tell each other, “I don’t care that he tried to choke her. I don’t care that he pushed her. I don’t care that he fired the gun. He’s the greatest and he helps us win baseball games.”

These fans have problems as intractable and troubling as their hero does.

Sometimes I wonder how our species has gotten this far without blowing this planet to smithereens.

[BTW: New York fans gave Chapman a standing ovation when he was brought into the game in the ninth inning last night. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters afterward, “I had people over me screaming at me to bring him into the game.” Chapman said, “It was incredible.” Yeah. Like I said: problems.]

May 10th Birthdays

John Wilkes Booth — 19th Century stage actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln as part of a large conspiracy to bring down the Union government. Booth eluded authorities for nearly two weeks until he was shot to death by a Union soldier named Boston Corbett. It turned out Corbett was mad as a hatter. Literally. He’d worked as a hat maker before joining the Army and had inhaled plenty of mercury nitrate, later found to be the cause of psychosis, hallucinations, and twitching in hat makers. One night a couple of prostitutes offered their services to Corbett but he responded with revulsion. He went back to his boarding house room, read the Gospel of Mathew, and then proceeded to castrate himself with a scissors. Interestingly, self-castration, if not the rage, was at least not unheard of at the time. Still, it would take a healthy helping of lunacy to sever the plumbing with simple scissors, no?

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Ariel Durant — Author with her husband Will Durant of numerous books, primarily recounting the history of civilization. The Durants won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for the tenth volume of their series, Rousseau and Revolution.


The Durants

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin — Born in England and later moved to America, she discovered the hydrogen was the basic building block of stars and the most abundant element in the universe. She was the first recipient of a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College and her thesis was praised as “undoubtedly the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy.” Because of her achievements, the Harvard College Observatory (affiliated with Radcliffe) became a center for women astronomers.

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Donovan — Born Donovan P. Leitch, they called him mellow yellow, quite rightly.

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Mark David Chapman — The guy who murdered John Lennon.

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I Prefer a Picture Of Lennon To Chapman

Rick Santorum — The inspiration for Dan Savage’s most famous line.

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Lisa Nowak — American astronaut and robotics expert. Sadly, she later got herself involved in a bizarre kidnapping plot centered around a romantic rival. She negotiated a less than honorable discharge from the US Navy and pleaded guilty to minor charges in exchange for not being brought to trial on the major charges surrounding the plot.

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Shel Silverstein died this day in 1999. His books The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends are standards for children’s libraries. He also wrote the song, “A Boy Named Sue,” made into a 1969 hit by Johnny Cash.

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Hot Air

Disappearing Act

The National Football League, the entity offering entertainment in the form of rock-hard, speedy men ramming into each other with the force of small cars, thereby causing snapped knees, scrambled brains, and shattered neck vertebrae, now is shouting to the world that it disapproves of its employees beating up their loved ones.

How nice.

The NFL in the nine-plus decades it existed prior to last summer never even acknowledged such a problem existed. And you can be sure if its owners, coaches, and players ever did discuss domestic and intimate partner violence, it was with a wink and a laugh ‘cos, y’know, the broads probably deserved it — and, hey, some of ’em like it and want it!

No more. The NFL has spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars for ad and marketing people to come up with a snazzy logo and catch phrase indicating that previously tittered-about pastimes like clocking your fiancé into unconsciousness in an elevator and then dragging her limp body to your hotel room as if she were an overstuffed laundry sack were. well, frowned upon now.

Yeah. You’ll be seeing this all over the place soon:


Phew. Well, that problem’s been solved. Now it’s on to the Middle East.

See, all the NFL is going to do is plaster this little meme all over its licensed properties and advertisements. You think Roger Goodell et all want their highly-compensated chattel to tone down their violence quotient? If so, you don’t get American football.

BTW: You wanna read a scathing, more long-winded take-down of the NFL’s little — and I do mean little — anti-female-bashing campaign? Go to this piece in Deadspin written by Diana Moskovitz.

Here’s a taste:

[T]ake a moment to think about the logic of what No More is doing. You know why they are doing this? Because it works. Because it makes money. Because we love pretending to care, especially when a brand makes it easier for us to do by removing all the pain, horror, darkness, and self-reflection and turning concern for others into products—preferably ones that can be worn. Do those teenage boys wearing “I Heart Boobies” really care about breast cancer? Probably not, but at least they’re thinking about it, right? And even if they don’t think about it, they generated money (a nickel on the dollar, maybe, but better than nothing) for a good cause!

Triumph Of The Shill

Sticking with the NFL, I’d been seeing references to this Left Shark folderol for nearly a week now. I resisted all temptations to look into it, knowing full well it was a viral thing generated by people far too enamored with mass-audience cultural references — precisely the kind of crap I strive to shy away from.

Super Bowl XLIX Halftime

But, of course, the Left Shark became too big a cookie to ignore so I had to gulp it down yesterday evening. My initial gut reaction was on the mark, natch. Apparently some dancer in a shark costume, backing up the spectacularly gorgeous and equally spectacularly pedestrian entertainer Katy Perry who displayed all her uninspired caterwauling and dancing skills, her A-to-B vocal range, and her meal-ticket legs and rack at the Super Bowl’s halftime show Sunday. The shark guy seemed to not know precisely what his steps were supposed to be so more people now have opinions about his choreographic capabilities than about, oh, say, Citizens United.

What struck me, though, was not the Left Shark’s steps but the entire goddamned spectacle itself. Katy Perry arrived on stage atop a titanic robot lion, surrounded by hundreds of extras, with fireworks exploding all around the stadium, and the crowd roaring as if twelve game-winning touchdowns had been scored simultaneously. It was excess beyond any I’d imagined before.

A filmmaker from the 1970s — Robert Altman, for instance — would be hard pressed to create any remotely similar scene for some futuristic dystopian movie meant to petrify us to death. The 2015 halftime show made the proletariate marching-to-work scene from Metropolis, the helicopter-and-the-dancing-girls scene from Apocalypse Now, and all of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will look like bedtime tales.

Perry Super Bowl XLIX

It was about eighty thousand visually-drugged and mentally-numbed people thinking and feeling as one. That, babies, scares the holy shit out of me.

Home Is Where The Monster Is

A lot of people shout to the world that they love, love, love critters. Mostly, though, they love only those furry, fuzzy guys that look oh-so-cute in trillions of social media pix.

It takes a real animal lover to want to be anywhere within a mile and a half of this guy:

Ugly Reptile


Sheryl Mitchell really does love critters — even the guy pictured above. She and her partner, Darin Bagley, run Scaly Tailz, a “reptile and amphibian education and rescue group,” as they describe it.

The Scaly Tailz HQ happens to be Mitchell’s apartment. That means there are a few cold-blooded animals running around the place. Better her home than mine, of course, but still, kudos to her and Darin for truly loving these beings.

Sadly, Mitchell’s building has been taken over by a new property manager and the fresh landlord won’t have anything to do with iguanas and jesus lizards running around their real estate. Scaly Tailz, ergo, is being thrown out. ST now needs a home. To that end, Mitchell and Bagley have created a crowdrise site asking for leads and help.

You don’t have to bring a passel of geckos into your bedroom but if you know somebody who has a heated garage, shed, or studio space they’d like to donate, Mitchell sez she’ll maintain it, keep it clean, and run her rescue and educ. assoc. from it.

Any takers?

Hot Air

Jimmy The Cop

[How about another little something from the Big Mike Archives? This one, from three and a half years ago, is about a fellow I once knew. He died not long ago and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren mourned him loudly and deeply on social media. It struck me that the picture he’d given them of himself was, to use an old school term, air-brushed. I’m not interested in disabusing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren of their dreamy, gauzy memory of old Grampops but it strikes me that some Platonic ideal of truth must be served. Don’t worry, none of those grandchildren and great-grandchildren read The Pencil. But you do. And at least you’ll know my version of the truth.

This piece first ran in The Third City on January 29th, 2011.]

I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.

Alfred Hitchcock

Here’s a story about a Chicago Police officer I once knew. Let’s call him Jimmy. Jimmy Kello.

Jimmy Kello had never been much of a student. He graduated high school by the skin of his teeth. He got married at 21 and by the age of 25 had four kids.

Jimmy and his family lived in a cramped apartment. He’d learned a minor trade and had a decent job but at the end of the week, after all the bills had been paid and the refrigerator stocked, there wasn’t any money left.

Jimmy’s father was a precinct captain. Old Man Kello appealed to his aldermen to get Jimmy a job on the police force. Unfortunately, Jimmy had to pass the patrolman’s test in order to get into the academy. And Jimmy, as I’ve said, never had been much of a student. He scored far below the cutoff point for academy candidates.

Old Man Kello had to request a second audience with his alderman. Some people — scientists and other foolish people — profess not to believe in magic. Clearly, they must not have studied the workings of City Hall in Chicago in the mid-1960s. Old Man Kello asked the alderman what he could do. The alderman said, “Doan worry about it.”

Before you could say abracadabra Jimmy Kello was in the police academy.

After graduation, Jimmy was assigned to a station in a Puerto Rican neighborhood. He’d never cared much for Puerto Ricans, although he would freely admit they were preferable to the Blacks.

The young toughs in the neighborhood learned the name Jimmy Kello in record time. Jimmy, they discovered, liked to bounce things off their heads when they were in the lockup. He learned early on to bounce inanimate objects off their heads because once, after bouncing his fist off one punk’s head, he wound up with a broken hand. Some toughs have awfully hard heads.

As time went by, Jimmy began to bounce things off punks’ heads even out on the streets. And he became a tad careless about whose head he bounced things off. More than a few Puerto Rican young men who’d never before had any trouble with the law soon were walking around Chicago’s Northwest Side with lumps on their skulls.

The district commander on more than one occasion had to call Jimmy Kello in for a heart to heart chat about the etiquette of brutality. The commander advised Jimmy that bouncing objects off innocent kids’ heads was frowned upon, mainly because such actions cluttered up the commander’s desk with complaints.

After Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated and the West Side went up in flames, Jimmy drew assignments in the riot zone. His relatives wrung their hands and fretted for his continued health. “Doan worry,” Jimmy said, “I’ll be okay.”

He said this with a little smile on his face, as though he looked forward to the challenge.

After the rioting, Jimmy would boast that he and some trusted colleagues had dragged numerous young black men into gangways and bounced things off their heads as well as other other parts of their bodies. Every time he recounted these warm memories, he’d beam.

Just a few months later, antiwar protesters promised to come to Chicago to disrupt the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Jimmy again drew assignments to the protest zones. In the days leading up to the convention, he told family and friends he couldn’t wait for the hippies and Yippies to start something. He’d straighten them out, he promised. He had a dreamy look in his eyes when he’d say this.

Chicago 1968

Happy Days

Jimmy loved his job. In addition to affording him the opportunity to bounce things off young men’s heads, he met a lot of people who were eager to be his friend. In Chicago, knowing the cop on the beat could be more valuable for a businessman than having an unlimited line of credit. For instance, if a man sold used cars and one of his customers missed a payment, having the cop on the beat ring the deadbeat’s doorbell at three in the morning would ensure promptness in the ensuing months.

By providing such services, Jimmy reaped many rewards. He was able to buy mint-condition used cars at cost. He rarely paid for Italian knit shirts and alligator shoes. He had carte blanche at every restaurant in the district.

Even though a patrolman’s salary wasn’t much more than what he’d earned as a tradesman, Jimmy was able to scrape up enough money to buy a more spacious home in the suburbs. When a nosy family member asked Jimmy if it wasn’t true that policemen had to live in the city, Jimmy merely said, “Doan worry. I use my old man’s address in the city.”

Sadly, Jimmy’s life wasn’t all sweetness and light. Yes, there were problems. The test of a man is how he handles adversity. Jimmy’s wife — let’s call her Sharon — had begun to make unreasonable demands. She insisted, among other things, that he spend more time at home with her and the four kids.

Jimmy knew it wouldn’t be easy for him to do this considering the other woman he’d been seeing for years also was demanding more and more of his time. And this other woman had a lot of money. Jimmy weighed the virtues of home and family against the virtues of a lot of money.

The internal debate caused Jimmy to become edgy.

In the past, Jimmy had only hit Sharon with his open hand. He felt it was only right and fair, considering he was a lot bigger and stronger than she was. Plus, he might have reasoned, slaps wouldn’t leave black and blue marks.

But as the women in his life became more demanding Jimmy found it impossible to maintain his husbandly discipline. Now he began to slug his wife with his fists.

Sharon assumed slugging was against the law so she called the police. When officers would show up at the door, Jimmy merely flashed his badge at them and they’d go away. After the calls became too frequent to ignore, the responding officers suggested that Jimmy might start thinking about taking it easy on his wife. Jimmy didn’t appreciate their unsolicited advice. “Doan worry about it,” he’d say frostily.

One evening Sharon’s parents decided to drop in for a visit. When Sharon answered the door, her mother gasped. Sharon’s face was swollen and discolored. It appeared as though her jaw was broken.

By coincidence, Jimmy at that moment remembered an important engagement. He dashed out the back door and squealed away in his car without even saying hello to his in-laws.

Happily, Sharon’s jaw was not broken.

A few months later, Jimmy again became displeased by Sharon’s demeanor. Perhaps Jimmy had heard that it’s best for a fighting couple to go to different rooms and let their emotions cool down for a while. Sharon ignored his suggestion they do this. Jimmy felt compelled to throw her down the stairs.

As Sharon lay on the basement floor, mewling in pain, Jimmy remained upstairs where his emotions did indeed cool down. Presumably he wondered why Sharon wasn’t as level-headed as he was.

Not long after that, Sharon lay in a hospital bed after surgery. The doctors had successfully repaired her ruptured discs and shattered vertebrae. Sharon opened her eyes and saw Jimmy sitting at her bedside.

Through her haze, Sharon imagined she heard him say he was leaving her. She thought it must be an anesthetic-induced dream so she allowed herself to drift back to sleep. When she got back home, she found that Jimmy indeed had moved all his belongings out.

Now Sharon was forced to get a job and support her four kids herself. She was reasonably good looking and still young, so she learned to be a bartender. Taking home a wad of tip cash every night eased her burden since Jimmy felt child-support payments were an undue burden on a still-young patrolman with a new family.

Yes, Jimmy’s girlfriend, the woman with a lot of money, had become pregnant.

Every time Sharon phoned him to ask where his monthly check was, he’d tell her to go pound sand.

That’s an old Chicago cop term — go pound sand. Chicago cops have a way with words.


Go Pound Sand

Jimmy’s soon-to-be ex-wife hired a lawyer and asked a judge to force Jimmy to contribute to the financial well-being of his first family. The judge issued a subpoena for Jimmy to appear in court. Oddly, even though the process servers knew precisely where Jimmy worked, they reported back that they couldn’t find him. It may only have been a coincidence that the process servers were moonlighting Chicago policemen.

Soon, Jimmy told his commander that he couldn’t work because he’d slipped and hurt his back while throwing some Puerto Ricans into a paddy wagon. Jimmy was found by Chicago Police Department doctors to have suffered a work-related injury and was given workman’s compensation. The doctors ruled that it would be impossible for him to sit or stand for long stretches at a time without experiencing debilitating pain. He’d never have to work again, yet he’d continue to draw his policeman’s salary.

Jimmy new wife, the one with a lot of money, bought him a small restaurant and he went back to work anyway. As the eatery’s proprietor, he’d stand or sit for long periods of time. Somehow Jimmy endured the agony. In fact, people who visited his restaurant reported that Jimmy had never looked better.

Sharon eventually got by. She almost lost her home on a number of occasions and the telephone was shut off once or twice. But the kids grew up, she found someone else, and has been reasonably happy ever since.

I happened to see Jimmy’s Facebook page the other day. He’s posted a few pictures of his family and his home. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren sit around him in the photos and gaze at him lovingly but he looks awfully unhappy.

At the top of the page, where it shows what his occupation is, he’s typed in “Chicago Police Officer.”

Perhaps he misses bouncing things off people’s heads.

Hot Air

An Advertiser Is Getting Itchy

A woman named Karen Ogden, who describes herself as “a part-time writer who works within a variety of communities as part of domestic violence outreach programs,” read one of my screeches about domestic violence and the National Football League. She sends in this communique about Verizon Wireless, one of the NFL’s big ad partners:


I was checking out this page on your site:

Amid all the recent horrific domestic violence reports from the NFL, Verizon Wireless, one of the league’s biggest partners, has stepped up to reaffirm its stance on domestic violence: We must all band together to end domestic violence.

The company’s CEO, Lowell McAdam, made it clear in a recent editorial that the real issue at hand is not the image of Verizon or the NFL, but “the scourge of domestic violence itself.” He noted that it’s highly likely that you know someone who have been abused, physically or emotionally, by someone close to them. 

According to the Avon Foundation for Women, 60 percent of Americans know someone who has been abused while 22 percent of people are victims themselves. Those staggering statistics only further drive home McAdam’s main point: We need to talk about domestic violence, because that is the only way we can eliminate the culture of denial surrounding the topic.

To help accomplish this goal, Verizon launched a new public awareness campaign this past June called Voices Have Power. You can see it here:

It is an online, social media platform that allows users to send messages of hope to victims of domestic violence. And for every message sent through the service, Verizon will donate $3 to domestic violence prevention organizations throughout the U.S. 

If you would like to participate in Voices Have Power, you can do so via text at 94079 or through social media using the hashtag #VoicesHavePower.

Voice Have Power is run through HopeLine (, a program started in 1995 to provide domestic violence organizations and shelters with recycled wireless phones and accessories. Victims then receive the refurbished phones with free minutes and texting plans. Since 2001, they have donated more than $21 million in cash grants and 180,000 cell phones. 

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, can you help spread the word about the #VoicesHavePower fund raising campaign? Every message shared provides hope for victims and is $3 raised for domestic violence prevention.

Thank you so much!



Generally, I don’t pay attention to companies trying to burnish their images through supposed community awareness programs but, oh, I dunno, maybe I’m feeling generous this AM.

Again I’ll remind you, if you hear what sounds like a violent domestic disturbance, drop a dime. If you’re wrong, so what? Also, if you know of somebody who slugs a lover, a wife, a daughter, or anybody of any sex just so he can get his way, shun the hell out of him. And don’t bug me with bushwa about how there are men out there who get beaten by their female partners. That’s misdirection, folks. Domestic violence is a guy thing. Guys have muscles; women are taught to blame themselves for “misunderstandings.” It’s a lousy equation that harms and even enslaves far too many females.

The Right To Be Wrong

Now comes news that one of those weird fundamentalist theme parks wants the Commonwealth of Kentucky to foot a multimillion-dollar chunk of the bill to operate its fabrication machine.

Yeah, some joint under construction called Ark Encounter and run by the Answers in Genesis cult wants KY to give it an $18 million tax break so it can spread its bizarre mythology. AiG also runs the Creation Museum, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati and, in general, tells the world that scientists are wrong and the Bible, word-for-word, is right. The whole shebang is overseen by a zealot named Ken Ham, which is ironic because of the biblical injunction against eating pork.


Ken Ham

Anyway, AiG somehow snookered Kentucky officials to approve a hefty tax break for them which, a cursory understanding of the US Constitution indicates, violates the Establishment Clause. Ark Encounter is under construction in Williamstown, near the Petersburg home of the Creation Museum.

As you can imagine, the tax break raised a frightful din among church/state separationists and civil liberties fans. Next thing you know, Kentucky officials withdrew their break. Now AiG is claiming it has a First Amendment right to the tax break. See, the outfit is only trying to exercise its free speech rights and the Commonwealth, by denying the tax break is crushing its voice. Like the Nazis did. And Stalin. And what the hell do you expect in a nation now run by a Nazi/Stalinist/Kenyan phony president?

Me? I don’t care what these religious fanatics believe. They have every right in the world to have faith that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow morning. But if they’re looking for any federal, state, or municipal dough to spread their speciousness, they’ll hear from me and a lot of others like me.


How does the above entry fit in with yesterday’s sermon here about how we all — Right and Left, Democrat and Republican, believer and non-believer — should stop seeing each other as mortal enemies out to destroy our beloved nation as well as civilization itself?


Nowadays, Everybody Is Hitler

Pretty well, I’d say, with a bit of explanation. Neither President Barack Obama nor Governor Mike Pence are fascists intent on crushing all our hopes and dreams. Now, I disagree with pretty much everything Mike Pence stands for, sure. I wouldn’t vote for him if he were running against Justin Bieber (I just wouldn’t show up on election day — and, BTW, how prescient will I seem if and when JB ever runs for public office? You think it couldn’t happen? Are you new to America?)

Anyway, guys like Pence have what I consider to be a misguided faith in free market capitalism. The Invisible Hand makes about as much sense to me as an invisible father in the sky. Pence wants, I’m sure, all the homeless to have homes, all the uninsured to get medical care, and all god’s children to be able to vote. But only after those who have get even more — so much more that letting a little bit trickle down to the have-nots isn’t going to affect them one way or the other.

Funny thing is, Barack Obama’s worldview isn’t all that terribly far off from Pence’s. Yet too many in the Pence crowd still see Obama as the bastard child of Angela Davis and Fidel Castro. No matter, my non-vote for Pence and others like him does not infer that I view him and his gang as the spiritual brothers of Heinrich Himmler.

I merely disagree with them.

Now then, what about my snarky, disrespectful, insulting take on people like Ken Ham? Why won’t I embrace him and tell him he’s my brother? For the same reason I don’t embrace the guy walking the streets who, interspersed with random obscenities, is shouting about people following him and how all woman are whores. I may wish him well; I may hope his derangement is ameliorated one day. But I’m not going to say to him, “I respect your opinion, my good man.”

His opinion deserves no respect. Nor does Ken Ham’s.


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

Hot Air


So, yeah, I’ve taken the last few days off. Loyal Pencillistas have been wandering the streets in a daze, wondering what’s important in the world.

I needed a little time off because, frankly, I was tired of hearing my own voice. After nearly a week of sweet, sweet silence emanating from my normally clackety-clack keyboard, Pencillistas need fret no more; I’m back.

No. 1 No More

Dr. Ben Carson, who thinks this holy land is more than perfect except for all those Democrats and liberals running around in it, has occupied the No. 1 goddamned spot on the best selling hardcover nonfiction list the last few weeks. That is, at least according the New York York Times.

Only in the coming week will Carson be supplanted at the top of the list, by the guy who founded the XKCD website, Randall Munroe. The new No. 1 is Munroe’s What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. (We in the book selling racket get advance peeks at the list.)

Speaking of absurd, let’s ponder the former No. 1 placeholder.

Book Cover

Ben Carson, as you may or may not know, is a rah-rah speaker for the Right and is being touted in some quarters as a potential candidate for President in 2016.

He’s one of those guys who look out their front door and say “Everything looks great in my neighborhood,” and then conclude anybody who’s complaining about their lot either hates America or is a bum.

Carson was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He was a brilliant brain slicer (he retired in 2013) but he’s a tad ill-informed in certain other areas. For instance, he’s fairly certain Barack Obama is both a communist and a Nazi, he thinks America would have turned into Cuba were it not for Fox News and conservative talk radio, and he speaks loudly and forcefully about evolution despite not knowing much about it.

Here are a few Carson nuggets on evolution:

◆ [C]arbon dating and all of these things really don’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time. (Right Wing Watch)

◆ (People who believe in evolution) might have more difficulty deriving where their ethics come from, (as opposed to) “Those of us who believe in God and derive our sense of right and wrong and ethics from God’s word” (and who) “have no difficulty whatsoever defining where our ethics come from.” (Media Matters for America)

◆ I certainly believe in the biblical account of creation…. I believe that God is all powerful. He can do anything. So, if he can create a man who was fully mature, he can also create an Earth that is fully mature. (Faith & Liberty)

He also buys into the idea the Christians are a persecuted class in America. He says of his fellow religionists: “They’ve been bludgeoned into silence.”

And that, babies, is one of the bestselling nonfiction author in America.

The Beat Goes On

NFL players, of course, make their living assaulting and battering each other for the joy and pleasure of tens of thousands in the stands and tens of millions sitting before their flat screens.

It follows, then, that many NFL players employ their brutal talents in the areas of give and take with their true loves as well as the disciplining of their small children.

Houston PD

Adrian Peterson Allegedly “Switched” His 4-Year-Old Son

The scarring of one’s child still is considered acceptable in some quarters of this holy land. Many citizens have commented on the interwebs that it’s a damned shame a fellow cannot even spank his child anymore without being hauled in for fingerprints and a portrait. Now, I was never made aware that “spanking” necessarily resulted in abrasions, contusions, and blood, but what do I know? I have no children. (You’re welcome.)

I always figured the drawing of blood was the red line, as it were, that separated good, clean, wholesome child-beating from sadism. A parent, I learned a ways back when, had a responsibility to belt the bejesus out of his or her kid now and again, if only to keep in practice. Marks, blood splatters, or any other identifiable evidence of conscientious brutality were frowned upon.

Still, Minnesota Vikings star running back has garnered a degree of support from the free swingers of America.

Similarly, some have expressed support for Ray Rice. The erstwhile Baltimore Ravens star running clocked his beloved fiancé with such gusto last winter that he was compelled to drag her inert body out of the elevator in which he delivered the KO. One commentator of note who has not joined the tsk-ing chorus is Rush Limbaugh; in fact, Limbaugh decried the “feminizing” of our holy war AKA football after Rice was fired for allowing his roundhouse to be recorded.

That’s no surprise. What was shocking this past Sunday afternoon, however, was the presence of numerous females at the Baltimore Ravens game actually wearing Ray Rice jerseys.

Ravens Fan

Supporting The Ravens, The USA, And Domestic Violence

I’ll listen to arguments that the psychology of the victim of spousal abuse is so fercockt that one can’t expect her to easily exit her situation. No argument on this good Earth, though, can convince me that any female — nor, for that matter, any male — has a justification for wearing a Ray Rice jersey. It is, de facto, an asshole move.

As if all that’s not hive-inducing enough, word came this weekend that San Francisco 49ers radio announcer Ted Robinson was suspended for two games for criticizing Janay Rice. Robinson came down on her for not speaking up about the pounding she received from her then-fiancé as well as her subsequent decision to marry the man who separated her, admittedly temporarily, from consciousness. “That, to me. is the saddest part of it,” Robinson said on air a week ago yesterday.

Given that piling on Janay Rice is viewed as a personal foul by scads of folks in this USA, it still must be conceded that whatever Robinson said did not and could not harm her as much as Ray Rice’s fist that February night. Nevertheless, Robinson’s two-game jugging is precisely the penalty initially assessed against Rice when his battering of Janay became known six mos. ago. (Keep in mind it wasn’t until the NFL’s brand was sullied by the release of the video of the incident that Rice was given the axe. Punching the lights out of your beloved is nothing compared to harming the league’s image.)

So, acc’d’g to the NFL, Robinson is as big a creep as Ray Rice.


If this puzzles you, let me explain. The powers that be in this great nation have little or no interest in improving the lot of any oppressed or persecuted minority. Any concessions to labor, blacks, Jews, Central American asylum seekers, battered women, Muslims, females in the workplace, or anyone else not endowed by god with power, privilege, a penis, and pale skin either have or will be made unwillingly and only after wrenching struggle. That, kiddies, is America.

What the Big Boys have given to the weak and wretched is control over language. So, if some slug on the assembly lines lets the N-bomb slip through his lips, he can expect to be punished within an inch of his professional life. But when corporate boardroom hoodlums make decisions to stymie the advance of any minority, well, by golly, how dare you want to interfere with their free market rights to run their outfits as they see fit?

Ray Rice knocked Janay Rice into brain trauma land. Ted Robinson said some words that may be offensive to someone, somewhere. To the NFL that’s as bad — correction, worse — than what Rice did.

And the NFL wants women to be happy about it.

Hot Air

Tomorrow, The World

Writing for this worldwide communications colossus really fetches me scads of ego strokes. I get messages from around the globe telling me things like this:

Hello, its fastidious piece of writing on the topic of media print, we all be familiar
with media is a impressive source of facts.

This accolade — all sic, natch — was posted to my comment queue at 6:50 EST this morning. So this Pencil fan is either pathologically hard-working or she lives on the other side of the planet. I have no idea where she comes from — Moldova, perhaps, or The Gambia — so I can’t really describe her as a Pencillista (we are awfully exclusive, darling). I know she’s a she because her email address indicates her name is Jewel. Maybe she’s the Jewel, you know, the briefly torrid singer-songwriter from the ’90s? Then again, I’d guess the Jewel would have a better command of the English language considering she comes from Alaska. (Then again, again, there is the matter of Sarah Palin, but anyway.)


A Fan?

Well, welcome — sorta — to the club, Jewel. And I promise to continue to put out fastidious pieces of writing.

Dig Deep

Cleveland Dietz II, WFHB CinC, has announced the hiring of a development director for the community radio operation.

Dorothy Granger will now be tasked with digging up enough dough to pay the multi-million-dollar salaries of luminaries such as Music Director Jim Manion and News Director Alycin Bektesh. WFHB’s revenues have been flat the last couple of years. Volunteers and staffers have stood on their heads to keep the take from the last few annual fundraisers at a steady level.


Dorothy Granger

Granger, meanwhile has been raising cash for a variety of orgs. and assns. She also serves on the City Council, representing Bloomington’s District II. Here’s her official city bio:

Dorothy Granger has worn many hats over the years — researcher, educator, higher education administrator, director of non-profit agencies, fundraiser, quilter. She is the mother of a teenager and active in her attempts to encourage and support citizen participation. She was most recently the Director of Development for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and previous to that, the Executive Director of Girls Incorporated of Monroe County. While “new” to the Bloomington political scene, she was actively engaged in her younger days, rallying and fighting for the ERA.

Now, all she has to do is get some of our town’s big wheels to fork over some real green for community radio.

That Tears It

So, a former Muncie woman yesterday was convicted, essentially, of trying to tear her on-again, off-again boyfriend’s balls off.

Christina Reber was found guilty of battery resulting in serious bodily injury. She faces four years in the Indiana state joint now.

Reber has never denied trying to rip her 59-y-o consort’s jewels from their pouch. Acc’d’g to this morning’s Indy Star, Reber grabbed the man’s wrinkle purse and proceeded to pull hard enough to rip the skin and flesh so badly the man had to undergo reconstructive plastic surgery. The Star quoted the man — who was unnamed in the story — as saying, “It was excruciating. I was close to blacking out. I felt tearing.”

[At this point, all males reading this are gasping for breath and trying to get their body hair to lay flat again.]


Don’t Mess With Chris

This is all well and good but Reber has maintained all along she tried to give the love of her life a shorthair cut because he’d become violent himself during an argument. Apparently, he’d recently broken off with her and she marched over to his house to tell him precisely what she thought about his decision.

Not much, I guess.

[Take a good look at her mugshot, above. Tell me she doesn’t look like someone who’d say, “You keep that up and I’ll tear your balls right off. I mean it.”]

Some kind of struggle ensued. He says Reber grabbed his trouser boys for no good reason at all. Reber says he was bullying her so she resorted to the attempted involuntary neutering.

Natch, he sez-she sez is a risky game to play. Most sane souls choose to keep clear of such contretemps. Judge Marianne Vorhees, OTOH, is required by law to pick sides and she went with the party with the ripped scrotum. He’s the one with the surgical scar, after all, while Reber sports no mementos of their tiff.

I suppose I can’t blame the judge but four years seems awfully harsh. I just wonder if, say, the man had busted Reber’s jaw he would get four years room and board. For that matter would any man who busts the jaw of his ever-loving’ best gal in the Hoosier state earn himself a four-spot?

I certainly hope so.

Hot Air

Peace, Love & Soul

Well, whaddya know?

The Gov. of MO has sent in the Highway Patrol to Ferguson and next thing you know, everybody’s all lovey-dovey.

Highway Patrol


Can this be a turning point in the militarization of our police departments?

Will cop bosses now realize that the people of this holy land don’t particular care to see armored vehicles on the streets of their cities?

Or is all the kumbaya just dumb luck?

Kitchen Confidential

Such brutality!

From Herald Times

Every woman should know to use a light skillet on her partner’s head. Banging a guy on the coconut with a cooking pot is just criminal.

Dough Woe

Speaking of ludicrous situations, Gov. Mike Pence will continue to cut state funding of public universities as a hedge against another economic recession/depression.

The Guv’s sitting on a spare $2 billion and he’s prancing around telling anyone who’ll listen what a great budgeteer he is. And, believe it or not, tons o’folks are listening. After the various bubbles burst and investment bankers had squeezed every cent out of their fancy financial instruments leading up to the collapse of the global economy in 2007-08, Indiana started trimming the fat out of its budget so’s the state would have money in the bank for the next economic disaster. Fat, you must understand, includes trivial things like education, social services, health care — all those things, in other words, that don’t have to do with the pouring of concrete and the further enrichment of the already rich.


None For You

Social services, natch, are for the takers. Education is for commies. $2 billion socked away in the bank is for those who worship good, sound economic principals above all things. You know, the decent people of our great republic.

Pence’s plan is to slash allocations for Hoosier universities if state tax revenues fail to reach a certain threshold in any given year. He’s doing this because, god forbid, he never, ever, ever wants to tap that $2B in the bank.

Following the governor’s lead, I’m proud to announce The Loved One and I have a surplus $200 in our checking account. And we’re not going to touch it even if a wind storm blows the roof off our modest chez. It’s better to be exposed to the elements as we sleep than to spend money that’s just sitting there.


Today’s the anniversary of the reception of the “Wow! Signal,” a narrowband radio burst detected by Ohio State University’s “Big Ear” radio telescope in 1977. Acc’d’g to those astro-geeks who know such things, the Wow! Signal can be interpreted as a message sent out to the Universe by an intelligent species on some planet located (from our POV) in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

I won’t bore you with all the tech details, mainly because I hardly understand them myself, but the signal’s radio signature purportedly mirrors that of the “hydrogen line.” That’s the electromagnetic spectral line frequency emanated by hydrogen atoms when they undergo energy changes. Don’t ask.

Wow! Signal

Anyway, SETI searchers long have supposed that if a gang of green beings from another planet wanted to announce their presence, they’d do so by broadcasting that particular alphanumeric code. Hydrogen is the simplest and most plentiful element in existence and the hypothesis holds that every intelligent civilization would get the reference.

Well, we got it 37 years ago and scientists ever since have been trying in vain to get it again. Their failure to do so has convinced doubters that the signal was some kind of weird fluke. Nuh-uh, say those in the Wow camp: The code is so precise that it’s virtually impossible to occur by chance.

The argument could become moot much sooner than most of us realize. At least one prominent SETI researcher has predicted humans will detect and verify an extraterrestrial signal within 20 years. Seth Shostack says more powerful computers will be able to wade through the noise and pinpoint faint radio frequency signals sent by ETs before two decades passes.

Title Card

All I can say is, Cool!


Getting Hotter Air

Chit Chat Chit Chat

How about those Roller Mortis Films boys, Chris Rall and Tony Brewer? They just posted the first in their new series of interviews with fascinating B-towners on their YouTube channel.

Between them and my own Big Talk series on WFHB radio and The Ryder magazine, we’ll have the interview racket all sewn up here in So Cen Ind. The Herald Times, the WFIU news dept., and Bloom magazine may as well start handing out severance checks to their unlucky future former employees.

And, of course, there’s plenty o’incestuousness going around inasmuch as the subject of the first Rall/Brewer opus is, well, one Tony Brewer. Who just happens to be the second subject of the Big Talk series, the recording of which I am, as we speak, transcribing and editing. My Brewer interview should air on WFHB within a week or two. So you can grab yourselves a little sneak peek into the life of TB by checking out Roller Mortis’s 3-minute documentary on him. Rall & Brewer are calling their first effort a pilot, so expect their project to grow and evolve as time goes by.

Just like Big Talk.

Broadcast News

So, it’s out. The spanking new WFHB newsletter has hit the stree…, er, actually, the screen. Your computer screen, that is, if you sign up for it.

Firehouse News

Click Image To Subscribe

The first edition of the community radio station‘s latest stab at transparency now exists in the electron-sphere after a whirlwind gestation and birth. Many of Firehouse Broadcasting’s volunteers, donors, sponsors, and listeners found themselves in a tizzy last fall after the WFHB Board of Directors made a controversial choice to replace former General Manager Chad Carrothers. A fellow named Kevin Culbertson from California and other points west and whose resume included involvement with a passel of Christianist media outlets was tabbed to steer the ship into the foreseeable future. But when folks in these parts got wind of his religious programming past and his non-Bloomington-ness, the resultant roar could be heard as far as the Pacific Coast. Culbertson declined to come aboard and the Board faced the angry glares of its aforementioned constituents.

Since then, the Board and the WFHB staff have sworn to high heaven they’ll dedicate themselves to more open proceedings.

Et voila: Firehouse News.

And, yeah, I’m one of the inked-stained wretches who write the thing.

All Clear

Well, now that WWIII isn’t due to break out just yet, we can all get back to worrying about other important things like Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar night acceptance speech or whether Stand Your Ground laws were written by inmates in mental institutions.

Russia’s Vlad Putin is busy zipping up his fly after exposing his titanic phallus to the rest of the world in the Ukraine this past week. He promised this AM that his boys won’t bomb, maim, rape, pillage, and otherwise recreate in the Crimea unless such pastimes are absolutely necessary, a step back from his Rambo stance of several days ago. Phew, now I don’t have to stock up on canned green beans anymore.

Bomb Shelter

Nothing Says Home Like A Fallout Shelter

Meanwhile, remember that Florida woman who fired warning shots at her potentially abusive hubby? A state court judge had ruled that she can’t hide behind the Stand Your Ground laws because, well, she’s black and the imminent danger she faced was coming from her ever-loving husband. And if a man can’t beat his own wife nowadays, then what did our Christianist Founding Fathers fight and die for, huh?


Not White. Not Male. Nobody.

Marissa Alexander faces a retrial that could land her in the joint for up to 60 years now. Those who enjoy sexual relations with their guns are applauding this latest turn of events because, again, Alexander is the wrong color and a wife and what the hell rights do such nobodies have anyway?

As for McConaughey’s speech — I didn’t see it but it’s raised a lot of fuss on the interwebs and, like all ‘net twaddle, will be forgotten by lunch time.

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