Category Archives: Elvis Costello

Hot Air-waves

Smoke? Fire?

People are talking. Some people.

They’re saying the WFHB Board of Directors is playing with fire.

They’re worried about the future of the community radio station if the Board’s choice for general manager actually takes the job.

And the offer has been out in the world since last week. What, people are asking, is going on?

At least three key members of the station’s volunteer membership are concerned that the Board’s pick may be a stalking horse for a media operator that could potentially alter the direction of Firehouse Broadcasting.

Of course, these same people may be shrieking that the sky is falling.

No one knows yet.

In fact, no one knows if the Board’s choice will take the job. He hasn’t yet. And it is a he. And he is not Chad Carrothers.

One of the active vols with whom I spoke yesterday tells me the station’s last fund drive fell short of levels that had become the norm under former and would-be-future GM Carrothers. “Why wouldn’t you re-hire the guy that could bring in money?” this vol wondered.

Carrothers made enemies with his brusque — some would say insensitive, bordering on insulting — style. CC may not have had the mien of a maître d’ but he sure plotted out a path for the station and he raked in the cash for it.

maitre d

May I Lead You To Your Radio Station?

Many insiders believe the Board wanted somebody with Carrothers’ track record and abilities sans the rough edges. The third finalist for the GM position was a veteran fundraiser for non-profits. But, according to my sources, she wasn’t a radio person.

The Board’s choice was indeed a radio person. A TV person, too. He’d operated media outlets out west.

My sources tell me an alarming number of those stations went belly up, or darned near close to it, after he took over. Even more alarming, according to these sources, on several occasions a Christian broadcasting operator swooped in with ready cash and saved the day for the stations.

Broadcasting Tower

The Looming Tower?

Before he was named the nominee, this finalist was asked about his history in public meet-the-candidates forums. The vols I spoke with all agreed: He oiled his way out of actually answering pointed questions.

I don’t know yet how the Board vote shook out. “Who,” one of my sources asked, “would want this guy in there?”

I echoed the query: Who?

My source shrugged. Then this source mentioned the name of State Representative (and IU Telecommunications Dept. lecturer) Matt Pierce .

Me: How do you know?

My source shrugged again.

So, is all this a lot of made-up scariness? Hard to say. All I know is, people are talking.

Radio, Radio

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m supposed to have a PhD on the subject of women. But the truth is I’ve flunked more often than not. I’m very fond of women; I admire them. But, like all men, I don’t understand them.” — Frank Sinatra

BREAD AND CIRCUSES (MINUS THE BREAD)

Time to beat a dead horse again. Didja see where Hamilton County has to sell its physical rehab hospital just so it can pay its debt service bills on the two Taj Mahals it built for Cincinnati’s pro sports teams?

The hospital has been valued at $30M but Hamilton County’s offering it for half that price because, well, it’s desperate.

The Wall Street Journal last July called the public financing of Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium “one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government.” Hamilton County took on about a billion dollars’ worth of debt to get the stadia built.

Half A Billion Here…

County officials promised trusting voters that the two facilities, both on the Ohio River, would usher in a new era of economic fabulousness for downtown Cincy.

Didn’t happen. And, according to the WSJ, it wasn’t going to happen even if the economy hadn’t tanked in the last year of George W. Bush’s reign.

The beauty of this story is the reaction of Cincinnati Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn. The Bengals play football in Paul Brown Stadium. The team pays virtually no operating or capital improvement costs for its palace. Additionally, Hamilton County is contractually on the hook to pay for any as-yet uninvented gizmos like hologram replay devices the team might desire. Swear to god.

… Half A Billion There…

Blackburn’s Bengals pushed hard for the County to foot the bill and ink a sweetheart lease deal for the team. The Bengals threatened to move to another city if the County didn’t come through.

County officials caved in, of course, as almost all local pols do when sports team owners put guns to their heads. Hamilton County honchos promised the good burghers of Cincy that piles of dough would roll into city and county coffers as well as local businesses if the two cathedrals were built. Voters bought those promises.

When confronted by reporters about the County’s current financial hardships, including yearly shortfalls and essential service cuts, Blackburn shrugged and said his team was not to blame for anything. Hamilton County’s suckers, he rationalized, were “an informed and engaged electorate.”

Hehe.

… Sorry, Nothing Left For You.

Former Cincinnati mayor Tom Luken was against the deal from the start. “Anybody with half a brain can figure out this is a bad deal,” he says.

We are one weird eff-ing country, kiddies.

VIDEO KILLED

Uh oh — we’re even weirder than you and I feared. Some Hollywood producer is putting together a deal to make a film about the start-up of MTV.

As in, VJs and all.

VJs.

For all you kids out there, MTV used to play music.

Ya Gotta Love the “21 Jump Street” Pose

ILLINOIS SINNERS

Rick Santorum is telling Illinois voters they can atone for their sin of giving the world Barack Obama by voting for him (Santorum) in the state’s primary Tuesday.

Guess what — a lot of my left-leaning friends are registering as Republicans and voting for god’s candidate. Their rationale? Make Santorum the Republican candidate because he can’t beat Barack.

Man, that’s playing with fire.

Plus, I don’t think the GOP needs anybody’s help in committing political suicide this year. They’re handling it just fine already.

GIRLS TO WOMEN

I’m reading Patti Smith’s National Book Award winning memoir, “Just Kids.”

Here’s my capsule commentary so far: She knows how to write and she doesn’t know how to write. That’s what makes the book charming.

I haven’t got past her poverty-stricken early days with Robert Mapplethorpe yet. She’s young and dreaming and certain there is something important she has to bring to the world. Only she doesn’t know just what it is.

Smith was already in her 60s when she was writing the book. Still, it has the sound and feel of a hungry, delightfully pretentious, ambitious, 14-year-old geeky girl.

How refreshing. I’ve had it with reading about men and boys coming of age. It’s time for more women authors to let the reading public know what it’s like to be a proto-emo girl. Or any kind of a girl at all.

GIRLS TALK

Don’t be fooled by the cover art — this is the Dave Edmunds (with Nick Lowe) version of the Elvis Costello gem.

There are some things you can’t cover up with lipstick and powder

I thought I heard you mention my name, can’t you talk any louder?

Don’t come any closer, don’t come any nearer.

My vision of you can’t get any clearer.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.

“And our governments are very much the same.” — Marjane Satrapi

THE RIGHT CHOICE

WFHB moves glacially when it comes to hiring people. Sheez, it took the board six months to figure out Chad Carrothers was the person for the job of General Manager, even as he was whipping the station into shape operationally and financially as the Acting Boss.

So, the two-month wait to give the News Director position to Alycin Bektesh doesn’t seem so, well, endless.

Bektesh & Pal

Yep, the former Assistant News Director/Acting News Director now gets to print up permanent business cards and I can’t think of a more deserving soul in the industry.

I wrote the news with Bektesh when she first joined the station as a volunteer a year ago. I thought I was the hottest pepper in the salad until she sat next to me. Alycin was aggressive, confident, knowledgeable, and damned good.

Perhaps most amazing of all was her ability to endure my incessant chatter and ribbing. Not only that, she gave it all back and then some.

Look out Chicago and New York. This chick’ll be nosing around Bloomington only for a precious short time.

INNER BEAUTY?

Correct me if I’m wrong but is this not the year 2012?

The IDS reports this morning that an Indiana University junior named Brianna McClellan was tabbed Miss IU Saturday night.

The campus pageant is one of the stepping stones to the Miss Indiana and Miss America contests.

Miss America?

Miss America: A Crowning Intellectual And Public Service Achievement

I mean, there are a lot of dumbass things going on in this holy land — the Republican primary reality show for one — but I had no idea we still had beauty pageants.

Oh, the participants in these things caution us not to call them beauty pageants anymore. Heavens no.

If not, then why can’t I compete in them?

I’ll tell you why: The sight of me in an evening gown would sour the audience on life permanently.

Anyway, last year’s Miss Indiana University, Jaclyn Fenwick, turned over her tiara, sash, bouquet of flowers, riding crop, and velvet handcuffs to Brianna, at which point the new Miss IU held her hand to her cheek in shock, which, if I’m not mistaken, is a gesture mandated by law in such cases.

McClellan, Shocked (photo by Kirsten Clark/IDS)

Fenwick told the IDS that the Miss America thing is important because it provides scholarships to young women.

McClellan said, “I just want it to be known that it’s not a pageant. It’s not a thing about beauty…. It’s the inner beauty and scholarship.”

McClellan added that it’s really volunteerism and community service that count most in the competition.

I suppose it’s only a coincidence that McClellan and Fenwick and the runners up all possess extraordinary conventional physical attributes.

I’ll believe McClellan’s and Fenwick’s unsolicited protestations the day a 250-pound woman who wears horn-rimmed glasses and who volunteers at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank or Boxcar Books wins the title.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

This feature has been absent in recent weeks mainly because FB-ers have been unimaginative.

They sure made up for lost time last night and this morning.

So let’s see what the social media’s brightest minds are up to — and remember, this is a no spamily, no brattle zone.

Rich Lloyd, professor of complicated stuff at Vanderbilt University, read an op/ed piece in the New York Times that’s relevant to the above discussion on beauty pageants.

The author of the piece, historian Stephanie Coontz, points out that women today earn nearly 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, leading some observers to wonder if they’ll have a hard time finding husbands.

After all, men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses, right?

Wrong, Coontz says. That’s old hat. Read the piece and find out why.

◗ Radical lawyer Jerry Boyle, whose hands are going to be filled when the G-8 and NATO big boys visit Chicago this spring, found the fabulous quote that appears at the top of this page. It’s from graphic novel author Marjane Satrapi.

I can’t stress enough how cool Satrapi is. Her breakthrough work was the double-volume “Persepolis” saga, detailing her upbringing in Iran in the 1970s and ’80s. She personally witnessed two sets of iron hands — those of both the shah and the ayatollahs’ theocracy — squeeze the life out of that nation.

Satrapi suspects that the Iranians and Americans have a lot more in common than we’d care to admit.

Rainbo Club big shot Ken Ellis reminds us that today is Peter Tork‘s birthday.

If you have to ask who Peter Tork is, you’ll never understand.

◗ And Bloomington’s own Betty Greenwell features a pic of the best Valentine’s Day treat yet on her FB home page.

ALISON

Okay, the spelling’s wrong and the lyrics have nothing to do with her, but this song is for Alycin Bektesh. And you, reader.

 

 

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This preposterous idea, that things must pay their way or be dispensed with, is perhaps the most intractable legacy of the Thatcher years, so much so that it has become received wisdom even among many liberals. But when you think about it even for a nanosecond, it is perfectly obvious that most worthwhile things don’t begin to pay for themselves. If you followed this absurd logic any distance at all, you would have to get rid of traffic lights, schools, drains, national parks, museums, universities, old people and much else besides.” — Bill Bryson

Author Bill Bryson & Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

CREEPY, SPOOKIE, ALTOGETHER OOKIE

Cartoonist Charles Addams was born on this day in 1912 (h/t to Google). His work graced the pages of The New Yorker magazine for many years. His fictional “Addams Family” eventually became the eponymous sitcom.

Well, fictional to an extent. It’s said both his wives looked uncannily like Morticia Addams. And by the way, if you’re making a list of very hot female sitcom stars, Carolyn Jones as Morticia has to rank at least in the top five.

Gomez And Morticia

SPEAKING OF GHOULISH WOMEN

Back to Maggie Thatcher. Is it my imagination or is her image is being remade these days, thanks in part to that new movie, “The Iron Lady,” starring Meryl Streep?

All of a sudden it seems Thatcher is being repositioned as a great icon in the history of the advancement of women. Never mind that she rose to the top employing all the mannish characteristics that have pushed the world to the brink of catastrophe time and again. She was stubborn, insensitive, bellicose, nationalistic, and smug. She cared far more for an economic philosophy than for trivial things like human beings.

When she pushed her country to go to war for some godforsaken piece of rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I observed that she was merely trying to show the world that her dick was as big as any man’s.

In fact, there’s a scene in the movie dealing with the lead-up to the Falklands War. The character playing US Secretary of State Alexander Haig, himself a former Army general, cautions her against being so gung-ho about sending battleships full of soldiers to fight over the little islands.

Thatcher: “We will stand on principle or we will not stand at all.”

Hiag: “But Margaret, with all due respect, when one has been to war….”

Thatcher (interrupting): “With all due respect sir, I have been to battle every single day of my life. And many men have underestimated me before!”

Need I mention that there’s a huge difference between breaking the glass ceiling and a “principle” which cost 907 lives, 1843 wounded, 11,428 taken prisoner, a cruiser, 2 destroyers, a submarine, two frigates, four cargo vessels, a half dozen other sea craft and 75 aircraft?

By the way, British warships and submarines that were part of the expeditionary fleet were armed with tactical nuclear weapons, just in case, I suppose, the Argentinians failed to grasp Thatcher’s “principle.”

Argentine Dead After The Battle Of Goose Green

OCCUPY UPDATE

As of last night, one woman remained in People’s Park, refusing to leave despite Mayor Mark Kruzan’s eviction order. She’d chained her tent to a tree and stayed inside, refusing to come out when city workers descended on the scene to clear away any personal belongings that were left by the protesters.

Apparently, the city is not going to force her to leave just yet. Officials are hoping to avoid an unpleasant scene.

City officials lauded the Occupiers for the most part, saying many of them helped city crews clean up the park.

Now Bloomington police will again enforce the regular 11:00pm-5:00am park curfew.

And yesterday, Josh Johnson was was arraigned before Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff. He’d been arrested during the New Year’s Eve Dance Party disturbance Saturday night and Sunday morning. He was charged with two felony counts of resisting arrest with injury to a police officer.

SNICKERS

Ranker.com today presents a list of the best candy ever made. Snickers is ranked number one.

I have absolutely no quarrel with that.

SUNRISE, SUNSET

Finding it difficult to wake up in the morning these days? It may be because these days have the latest sunrises of the year, according to Earthsky.org.

The science site explains why the late sunrises in the Northern Hemisphere and the concurrent late sunsets in the Southern do not coincide with the solstice (which, in 2011, was December 21st.)

WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING?

Elvis Costello once said he couldn’t wait for Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral so he could dance on her grave.

The Pencil Today:

SAVINGS BE DAMNED — VOTE CENTERS ARE A NO-GO

The race went according to form yesterday. The lone Republican on the Monroe County election commission ixnayed vote centers.

Commissioner Judith Smith-Ille said hell no to the proposed plan which would have replaced the county’s 90 voter precincts with a smaller number of strategically located vote centers.

Smith-Ille: No Means No

The vote center plan would have made it easier for voters — including IU college students — to cast their ballots in next year’s presidential beauty contest. It also would have saved tons of dough and streamlined counting and reporting procedures.

Smith-Ille shook her head and said she was worried about how people in wheelchairs and such would get into the centers.

Me? I’m guessing it has a hell of a lot more to do with keeping those pesky college students away from the polls — especially since they tended to vote Democratic in 2008.

On the bright side, this GOP gambit is a refreshing change of pace. Republicans invariably embrace anything that saves cash. Perhaps my Republican friends are getting help for that particular addiction.

If so, keep up the good work, guys. We may yet bring you around to supporting costly things like social services, education, health care, and other human needs.

JANUARY JONES MOVES ON

Sad news from the world headquarters of WFHB radio. News hound extraordinaire January Jones is out as News Director.

The Real January Jones

January and I spent many an afternoon pounding out stories for the 5:30PM Daily Local News. She worked herself ragged transcribing countless (and seemingly endless) city and county meetings for CATS Week. Often she’d show up in the newsroom running on an hour or less of sleep.

She took over the News Department after Chad Carrothers was kicked upstairs to the General Manager’s chair. The transition was as seamless as could it be.

Assistant News Director Alycin Bektesh will watch over the operation for the time being until Chad and the board can name a permanent victim…, er, replacement.

Alycin Bektesh

CRUEL TO BE KIND

Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and denizen of that legendary watering hole, The Matchbox, hit me with a nostalgia stick in the middle of the night.

Sun-Timesman Dave Hoekstra

I couldn’t sleep so I went online, natch. Flipped through Facebook and found a post from him linking to one of the great pure pop songs of all time. “Cruel to Be Kind” by Nick Lowe.

Lowe was a member of the Stiff Records stable of coolness. He and Dave Edmunds (“Girls Talk”) were part of the advance guard (including Elvis Costello) of what would become the British post-punk invasion.

The song was power pop at its finest. And the video perfectly captures the feel of the early art form. People are actually having fun in it, albeit sort of a clunky, nervous, what-am-I-supposed-to-do-next kind of fun.

When I DJ’d the overnight shift at WUIC, the University of Illinois-Chicago‘s station, I would play “Cruel to Be Kind” at least once every single airshift.

And to prove I’m not dead yet, I listened to and watched the vid five straight times at around 1:30 this morning. Thanks, Hoekstra!

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