Category Archives: First Love

The Pencil Today:


“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” — Billy Wilder


Hah! And you thought I was being obsessive by devoting so much of this space to those two execrable professional virgins who sing about Rick Santorum.

All I know is this morning’s TV and radio reports on the victories of god’s candidate in yesterday’s Mississippi and Alabama primaries feature snippets of the song. It has now earned the imprimatur of the corporate media.

First Love, my dear friends, has arrived.

“I Know What’s Best For Your Uterus!”

And if, by some sick turn of history, the closeted candidate goes into the Republican convention with a chance to unseat putative front runner Willard Romney, the First Love earworm will become a pandemic.

Lady Gaga will wish she’d thought of penning a ballad extolling a rollback of reproductive rights and drooling over the dyed and addled Ronald Reagan.

[Headslap] “I Coulda Had An Earworm Hit!”


Just in case you missed it, Willard won the caucuses in Hawai’i and American Samoa last night. Game On!

“Thank You, My Fellow Samoans!”


I met Rod Blagojevich the day he started campaigning for a seat in the Illinois House back in 1992.

It was a sunny Monday morning and this earnest-looking guy in a nicely pressed suit and a helmet of hair was handing out flyers in front of the Francisco stop on the Ravenswood el line. I looked at the photo on the flyer and then at the guy and said, “Hey, this is you.”

Vote For Me, I’ll Set You Free

He got a big kick out of that. He flashed a smile that almost blinded me. Lucky I was wearing sunglasses.

He told me why he was the best candidate for the office. He seemed so serious and honest and self-effacing. He made a lot of people think that of him over the years.

He told me he was a neighbor. The Blagojeviches lived a block and a half away from me, on Francisco Avenue. I’d pass his house every time I walked down to the convenience store for a newspaper or an ice cream bar. His bungalow was notable in that it was surrounded by a tall, black metal fence, the kind Mayor Daley had given a sweetheart contract to one of his donor/cronies to surround every park in the city with. I guess Blagojevich figured he ought throw a little business that guy’s way as well.

Rod Blagojevich was nothing if not politically astute.

Well, to a point.

He turned awfully stupid when he was taped by federal prosecutors trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s US Senate seat.

Not Free

Today he goes into the slammer for that and other crimes. He’ll serve about 12 years of his 14-year sentence in a minimum security facility outside Denver.

I needn’t recount all his in-office malfeasances and felonies here. Nor will I list all his embarrassing media exploits since being convicted in his impeachment trial in 2009.

I’ll only point this out; it may be his most despicable crime. In October 2002, Rod Blagojevich was the only Illinois Democrat in the US Congress to vote in favor of the authorization of George Bush’s bullshit Iraq war.

Enjoy your twelve year stay in the federal B&B, Rod baby, you earned it.


Dedicated to my ex-state legislator, ex-congressman, ex-governor, and ex-neighbor Rod R. Blagojevich.

The Pencil Today:


“I think I’m constantly in a state of adjustment.” — Patti Smith


Now, that’s more like it.

My soul has been cleansed by yesterday’s act of public contrition. Confession, you might call it, albeit a secular form of the holy Catholic rite. Isn’t that what the Internet and blogging are for? To bare one’s soul, to let the world know of one’s triumphs and foibles, to shout out to upward of a billion wired citizens of Earth what one ate for breakfast this morning?

Yes, I experienced catharsis by proclaiming to the Internet-connected inhabitants of this little blue dot that I should not have wished to pummel the faces of those two smug little shits whose lyrical ode to Rick Santorum has become a You Tube/Facebook sensation.

Looking For A Strong Man To Tell Them What To Do With Their Wombs

Confession. Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has, in fact, been 42 years since my last confession.

Yep, I did it last in my freshman year at Fenwick High School, all-boys at the time, a highly disciplined college prep school for which my parents scrimped and saved to pay the $675 annual tuition, at the time a princely sum.

They did it so I could spend my days around a better class of juveniles than the hoodlums whom I’d begun to join nightly behind the fieldhouse at Amundsen Park, where we smoked cigarettes, drank Boone’s Farm Apple Wine, and engaged in the occasional fistfight.

A mere two weeks after school had started in that September of 1970, my father and I attended the Father and Son Communion Breakfast. A confessional box was set up just outside the Boulevard Room where the Mass was to be held, a convenience for all those high-achievement daddy-os whose jobs were too demanding for them to get to confession earlier in the week.

My old man said, “Do you need to go to confession?” It was more an accusation than a question. I nodded yes and so he and I both got into line. We waited a few minutes for the bankers and real estate execs ahead of us to unburden themselves of the sin, presumably, of keeping Chicagoland the most segregated metropolitan area in the nation.

What my father had to confess I could not speculate. He worked all day at a cardboard box factory, came home after dark, ate dinner, donned his Bermuda shorts, slipped his socks just over his heels but left them on to keep his toes warm as he lay back in his recliner to watch the “Flip Wilson Show” or “Marcus Welby, MD.” Within 15 minutes he’d be snoring, his toasty toes pointed toward heaven.

Flip Wilson (As Geraldine) With Burt Reynolds

“Joe!” my mother would yell, eliciting from him an alarmed snort. “For chrissakes, I can’t even hear the TV!” At which point he’d stop snoring, shift in his chair, and promptly re-commence his apneal symphony within a minute or two.

What in Our Father’s name did he have to confess? I couldn’t know at the time; I would learn many years later.

A more compelling question was, What did I have to confess? I was a 14-year-old dweeb, wearing horn-rimmed glasses, having a slight problem with acne (concealed, or so I thought, by the pancake layer of Clearisil I wore on my face) and still a good five years away from my very first sexual experience — with another person, that is.

Fighting The Good Fight

Well, there you go — I could have confessed any or all of the several thousand times I’d engaged in self-pollution since my previous confession but, of course, I didn’t. How could I tell a priest that I touched myself?

(Lucky I was skittish about it — he might have interpreted such a confession as a come-on.)

“… And Then There Was The Time With The French Bread….”

All I remember is I told him some generic, made-up stuff — I disobeyed my parents and I lied three times. Yeah, that was my last confession.

Until yesterday. Phew. If I believed in god, I’d feel forgiven. If I believed I had a soul, I’d be certain it was spotless.

I believe in the Internet, though. I’ve got my Comcast broadband bill right here on my desk.

Forgive me, Page Viewers, for I have sinned.


The first time The Loved One and I ever passed Batchelor Middle School on Bloomington’s west side, I pointed at the facility and said, “Oh look, there’s a state prison.”

No joke. The two of us had to pass the joint by again yesterday, on the way to TLO’s friend’s house. It still looks like a correctional institution.

I ask you this: What sort of cruel school board would hire such a sadistic architect to design the grim, forbidding gulag that is the Batchelor Middle School?

From my own experience I know that the difference between dropping out and staying in school can hinge on the slightest factor. A mean teacher. An episode of harassment.

How about reporting every morning to a featureless concrete blockhouse set far back in a field as if to protect the surrounding environs from the inmates within?

I know if I were a Batchelor inmate, I could easily be walking toward the place one day and suddenly stop and say to myself, “Screw it.”


The culture of an entire society can change within a single lifetime. Want proof?

Check this vid.

Number 47 said to Number 3

You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see.

I sure would be delighted with your company

Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me.

It should be noted that as Elvis sings that fourth line, he’s thrusting his hips.

Jailhouse Rock, 1957: a movie scene for teenaged girls to swoon over.

Jailhouse Rock, 2012: incidental music for streaming gay porn



The Pencil Today:


“I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret, if you have any sense. And if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.” — Katharine Hepburn


Short and bittersweet today.

I woke up in the middle of the night and it hit me: Writing that I’d like to punch the faces of those two little flamboyant virgins who sing about Rick Santorum was the wrong thing to do.

Loathsome, Yes; Punching Bags, No

It was the equivalent of making a Hitler and the Jews joke or saying I hope a gay guy gets AIDS. Everybody might know I don’t mean it but, still….

So, even though I still detest Camille and Haley Harris, I don’t wish violence upon them.

No matter how privileged and entitled they are, and no matter their obvious obliviousness to the plight of people less fortunate than they are, they don’t deserve punches in their faces.

On the other hand, if the two Santorum balladeers one day happen to be walking down the street and a car zooms by, splashes through a muddy puddle, and the two get drenched in muck, I’d be pleased.


Yup. Most times, the second thought is the smart one.

The Pencil Today:


“I was told by the general manager that a white player had received a higher raise than me. Because white people required more money to live than black people. That’s why I wasn’t going to get a raise.” — Curt Flood


The second-best bookstore in town is Janis Starcs’ Caveat Emptor.

Trust me, this is no backhanded compliment. Naturally, I’m going to vote for the Book Corner as the best in town. So, my choice for number two in Bloomington is really high praise.

You’ll find stuff in Caveat that you won’t find anywhere else in Indiana, I dare say. For instance, if you’re looking for any of the works by seminal community organizer Saul Alinsky, it’s a good bet they’re on Janis’s shelves.

Starcs In His Milieu

That said, Signor Starcs may be one of the most curmudgeonly humans in South Central Indiana. And that’s no insult, either.

He possesses a virtually encyclopedic knowledge of books and he stays out of his customers’ way. Just be prepared when you ask for help: the answer will be authoritative and direct — but it will be terse.

You ever hear the old line about the loquacious man who, whenever somebody asks him the time, he tells them how a watch is made?

Janis Starcs is not that guy. He is, in fact, the precise opposite.

If you ask him what time it is, he’ll likely point at the sun, the unspoken instruction being, Figure it out.

It’s part of his odd charm.

Anyway, this (Saturday) morning, the WFIU booth announcer was talking about the day’s sponsors. And at one point, he said, “In appreciation of a contribution to this station we present today’s programming in honor of the birthday of Janis Starcs.”

Janis Starcs? I can’t imagine him calling up the radio station and saying, “I’d like to donate a hundred dollars in honor of my birthday. Now make sure to mention my name, okay?”

Even more astounding would be that someone else would kick a c-note over to the local NPR station in Starcs’ honor.

But wait. It gets more bizarre.

The announcement was followed immediately by the bumper song, “Here Comes the Sun.”

This is a funny town.

If you stop in at Caveat Emptor Monday, wish Janis a belated happy birthday. Then ask him what time it is.


Sweet lord above, have you seen that song about Rick Santorum that’s going viral-ish on Facebook and You Tube?

A couple of flamboyant virgins from Oklahoma sing about god’s candidate. They’re called First Love, which is sort of a creepy name considering they’re Christian singers and have penned a heartthrob lilt dedicated to this holy land’s most prominent closeted man.

Apparently, First Love wrote and recorded the song Sunday night and Monday morning. Then, their aiders and abettors made the video Monday afternoon. By Tuesday the thing was all the rage.

I’m posting the vid here because I’m a vengeful man. A few FB friends posted it and, unfortunately, I listened to it. It’s been a goddamned earworm ever since.

If I have to suffer through it, so do you.

Misery loves company, babies.

Sample lyric:

Oh, there is hope for our nation again,

Maybe for the first time since we had Ronald Reagan.

Here’s a confession: I’m not normally a violent man but the minute I laid eyes on these two smug little shits I want to punch them repeatedly. Sorry.

Do I have to justify the above statement? Okay. They’re the whitest people I’ve ever seen. And that’s no compliment. They radiate a privileged aura that says, Hey, everything’s just ducky from my vantage point, so why are all you poor people complaining?


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