Category Archives: Earl Singleton

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.” — Margaret Mead

THE PENCIL IS THE CUTTING EDGE

Being a long-time alt-journalist, I love it when I can beat the pants off big media.

A month ago I put up a K-pop video featuring a bunch of young zombies called 2NE1. “K-pop,” I wrote, “is evil.

The music phenomenon from South Korea glorifies showy materialism, its voices are auto-tuned and pitch corrected until they no longer even seem human, and the blatant sexuality of the obviously underaged performers is creepy.

K-pop is soft-core child porn with a cheap, artificial soundtrack.

Typical K-pop Girl Group

Now, Al Jazeera English has produced a 25-minute documentary on the craze from South Korea.

Young kids, the doc reveals, are being exploited by “South Korea’s unique idol-grooming system” to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for slave-driving impresarios. The hours and physical demands on the kids are nearly unbearable. The training regimen for the genre’s manufactured stars stresses conformity. Potential K-pop idols’ lives are controlled even down to what they eat. The girls are forbidden to have boyfriends.

Kids who sign up for K-pop star training often even have to cut off contact with family and friends. One such star confesses, “I want to meet my family. I want to spend time with them. I want to talk. I want to have dinner with my family. I want to hug my mom. I want to say, ‘Oh Mom, I love you.’ I miss them so much.”

Sounds more like a religious cult than a creative art to me.

The rage for K-pop is being used as a PR tool to goose the South Korean consumer and service industries. Plastic surgeons, for instance, are making gobs of dough slicing up patients’ faces so they can resemble stars.

Yep, I was right. K-pop is evil.

Remember, you heard it here first.

KID STUFF

Despite a mini-rash of “big-city crimes” a couple of months ago, Bloomington still is, at heart, a small town.

Want proof? Here are the top two entries in the Herald Times’ Police Beat column yesterday:

  • A 19-year-old kid, apparently drunk. left the Steak ‘n Shake on College Mall Road early Thursday morning without paying for his meal. The entry notes that the kid actually returned to the restaurant.
  • A 14-year-old schoolboy showed a bag of pot to another kid at Tri-North Middle School.

So don’t fret too much about our town going straight to hell.

Plato: “What is happening to our young people?” (4th Century BCE)

HOW CLOSE IS TOO CLOSE?

Speaking of journalism, its relationship to politicians comes under the scope in this month’s Vanity Fair. Writer Suzanna Andrews profiles Rebekah Brooks, the disgraced former editor and biz bigshot within Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire.

Brooks

Brooks was brought down along with a few other co-conspirators in the News of the World phone hacking scandal last summer.

She’d weaseled herself into the good graces of Murdoch, the big boss himself, by employing a deadly combination of striking looks, sheer charisma, ambition, obsequiousness, craven opportunism, and a pinpoint targeting of rivals.

A scant 20 years after hiring on as a secretary within the Murdoch mob, Brooks had risen to the top. She became editor of News of the World at the tender age of 31, editor of The Sun three years later, and CEO of News International six years after that.

In addition to cozying up to Murdoch, Brooks worked her magic on the UK’s biggest pols, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron.

Love, David

In fact, Brown and Cameron and their wives attended her 2009 wedding. Andrews claimed that Cameron signed letters to her, “Love, David.”

My hair stood on end as I read all this (Well, at least the hair on my arms did; my scalp has been unencumbered for many years now.) Journalists, I pontificated to myself, should keep a healthy distance from the subjects they cover.

What would Brooks’ take be, for instance, if Blair or Brown were embroiled in a scandal? Would she go soft on them, even subconsciously?

I remember learning that NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell was going to marry grotesque sauropod Alan Greenspan even while he was still Chairman of the Fed.

That, I concluded at the time, was somewhat akin to incest.

So, I’m pure, right?

Not so fast.

It occurs to me I’m on friendly terms with the likes of Pat Murphy, Susan Sandberg, Regina Moore, and Steve Volan, among other government pay-drawers and decision makers. Am I too friendly with any of them?

Too Friendly?

Earlier this month I called for Amy Gerstman, the Monroe County Auditor, to resign immediately for her actions in the credit card scandal.

From all I hear, Gerstman is a kind and sweet soul who is honest at her core, albeit less than alive to the appearance of the county’s checkbook watchdog using the county’s credit at Kroger.

But what if she and I were big pals? Would I have the stones to demand her ouster?

What if Susan Sandberg had been caught using city-issued credit cards for personal use?

Could I call for her head?

I don’t know.

All I know is, I’m glad I don’t plan on getting married again so I won’t have to decide whether I should invite any of my public official acquaintances to the reception.

DIANE’S DEATH A SHOCK

Just spoke with a colleague of IU law professor Earl Singleton. This colleague attended last night’s visitation for Singleton’s late wife Diane.

According to the colleague, Diane’s death — and the puzzling circumstances surrounding it — came as a complete surprise to Earl and the couple’s two kids.

“I can’t imagine a more uncomplicated and steady family,” this colleague said.

BLOOMINGTON’S WATER SHEIK

The Boys of Soma gathered for Day One of their regular weekend confab this morning.

Tough Guy Pat, the Caliph of Clean Water, came in for a ruthless ribbing in the wake of today’s Herald Times story revealing the 2012 salaries of our town’s elected and appointed officials. He has reeled in the pro-forma 1.5 percent raise for non-union city employees.

Another one of the Boys, who’s also listed in the H-T salary database, observed that the Caliph’s salary bump was like giving Mitt Romney a 1.5 hike.

Tough Guy Pat merely laughed as he lit his cigar with a crisp fifty.

Loaded

SHE’S NOT THERE

One of the greatest pop songs of all time, performed by The Zombies. Listen for the complicated harmony and the insistent building of volume and adding of instrumentation up to the final crescendo.

Now, don’t ask me why the You Tube OP chose to pair the song with footage from “The Outer Limits.” No matter, I love both the tune and the show. As a nine-year-old I recall waiting all week for “The Outer Limits” to come on. And more often than not, I’d be driven to dash out of the living room in terror at the sight of certain monsters on the program, only to tip-toe my way back in within moments.

As always, enjoy.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost

LIFE GOES ON — EVEN WHEN IT’S CUT SHORT

The first student from the Maurer School of Law came into the Book Corner with a flyer at about noon.

I looked at the photo of the missing woman and wondered why people would be worried. The flyer indicated she’d been missing for only a few short hours.

Missing At Noon

Another Maurer student came in with flyers at about 4:00pm. I told her someone had been in already. Then I asked her, “What’s the deal here? This woman has only been gone since this morning. How can you call her missing? Hell, I’ve been out of the house since this morning and I’m not missing.”

The student had the lawyer’s poker face down already. She mumbled a few things that I didn’t quite catch and then she shifted gears. The woman, she said, now speaking clearly, was the wife of a well-liked professor.

“Come on, now,” I pressed. “What’s going on?”

The student took a few steps back, toward the door. “It’s really…,” she started. “I can’t….”

I filled in the blanks. “Is it a medical issue?”

She seemed relieved, as if by guessing correctly, I’d taken her off the hook. “I’m sure you understand,” she said, “there are privacy issues here.”

“Hmm,” I said.

I’d left the flyer the first student had brought in on a book cart. In the hours since she’d come in, that flyer’d been buried and reburied by dozens of books.

By 6:00, when I was locking the door and The Loved One was waiting for me with her flashers on outside of Williams Jewelry, I’d forgotten the flyer completely.

We drove home in silence. It’d been a tiring day for both of us. The Loved One turned right off 3rd Street onto SR 446. The sign at the Bruster’s still advised ice cream junkies to visit its downtown location during the winter, but I had my window cracked. It’s been a weird January.

Then we saw the flashing lights. Dozens of the them. Black and white squad cars, fire trucks, ambulances, unmarked police cruisers, they all formed a clot around the entrance to the new housing development that used to be a horse pasture.

The street has been laid, the utility vaults installed, and safety capped power cables poke out of the ground like plastic crocuses, but not one house has been built yet. None has even been started. Some recovery.

“Uh oh,” The Loved One said, “looks like a bad accident.”

Emergency vehicles were parked well into the new road. Some police cars were parked on the fresh sod.

“Well, what are they doing inside the development?” I said.

Then it hit me.

“Aw shit,” I said. “What if it’s that woman?”

“What woman?” The Loved One asked.

As we drove slowly past the scene, I told her about the students and their flyers. “We’ll find out soon enough,” The Loved One said, her voice indicating I shouldn’t let my imagination get the better of me.

“Well, I’m gonna go there and find out,” I said.

“You do that,” she said.

She pulled into our driveway and I jumped out of the car, grabbing the flashlight from the glovebox. The scene was no more than a couple of hundred yards away from our back porch, just over a rise that obscured the flashing lights until I hit its crest.

I saw a group of firefighters milling around an ambulance. Firefighters, I’d learned long ago in Chicago, usually are good sources of initial information at an emergency scene. They’re not as tight-lipped as the cops, as a rule.

“Pardon me, guys. What happened? Was there an accident?” I asked.

They all looked at each other. Finally, one guy spoke up. “No,” he said.

We stared at each other and simultaneously shifted on our feet. I tried again. “Okay. What happened?”

Another uncomfortable silence. After a long moment, the guy responded. “Somebody,” he said, “was injured.”

His pals all averted their eyes.

I knew I wasn’t going to get anything more out of them.

So I loitered a bit. A heavy duty tow truck came by and positioned itself to pull one of the squad cars out of a ditch. Judging by the ruts in the sod, it looked as though the driver had zoomed off 446 and gotten stuck. Maybe, I thought, it was a chase. Maybe another bank robbery. Maybe there was even gunfire.

Suddenly, I was nine years old again. I thought: Jeez, I’m a grown man and here I am getting excited over a police gunfight. I scolded myself: People get hurt in gunfights, my internal voice said. They even get killed.

The tow truck slowly began to tug the squad car out of the ditch, the driver hoping, I supposed, not to rip apart its undercarriage in the process.

A couple of cops ambled over to their cruiser. Things seemed to be winding down. I ran over to them before they could get in.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m a neighbor. Anything we should be worried about here?”

“No,” one of the cops said. Again, there was an uncomfortable silence.

“Well, what happened?”

He looked at his partner. His partner shrugged. The cop looked back at me. “They found somebody down by the creek.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” I said. And it hit me again. “Aw man,” I said, “was it that missing woman?”

The cop nodded.

“Is she gonna be alright?”

He stared at me, meaningfully. I caught on.

“Is she dead?”

“I’ll let you come to your own conclusion about that,” he said.

And then the two cops drove off.

I thought about those students as I walked back home. I thought about the professor, too. The woman’s husband. Right now, I thought, there’s a person in this town who’s likely suffering through the worst moment of his life.

I didn’t feel so tired anymore. And I remembered that flyer. I never did put it up.

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