Category Archives: Janis Starcs

Your Daily Hot Air

Peace

Yesterday was the anniversary of the end of World War II.

V-J Day

I just happen to be reading the first book in historian Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn. It tells the story of Murrica’s first WWII ground action, the invasion of North Africa, nearly a year after entering the war at the invitation of Japan and Germany (Italy was handling the catering.) Imagine, it took just shy of twelve months for American soldiers to see action after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Oh sure, there’d been some monumental sea clashes, including Midway, during that time, but as for huge numbers of US Army men facing off against the enemy, it wasn’t until November 8, 1942 that Operation TORCH, the Algeria-Morocco landings, commenced. Throughout that year, Russia and the American military brass lobbied hard for an immediate Western Europe invasion. President Roosevelt and the British nixed that idea for fear a premature Allied D-Day would be crushed and, subsequently, the war might drag on for a decade or two.

Apparently, FDR and Churchill were right. The Russians (at a cost of some 20 million human beings) wore down the Nazis on the Eastern Front so that when the D-Date actually arrived in June, 1944, Germany was sufficiently softened up for the taking.

Anyway, Emperor Hirohito announced on August 15, 1945, three months after the Nazis had given up the ghost, that Japan was finished fighting. It wasn’t of course; sporadic violence took place here and there between the Japanese and the Americans and Russians. You know people.

MacArthur/Hirohito

Douglas MacArthur & Hirohito In September, 1945

That’s 68 years ago, for the mathematically challenged among you (and, believe me, I’m not being superior here; I had to use my laptop calculator to figure it out). So, nearly three quarters of a century has passed since humankind’s most cardinal sin finally was stopped. The US was drafting 18 year olds in 1945 so, conceivably, the youngest kid who saw action in Okinawa would be 86 years old today (again with the calculator). Suffice it to say there aren’t all that many souls left to whom the words Dirty Jap weren’t always a forbidden ethnic slur.

Still, many people in the corner of the world that was ravaged by Imperial Japan find themselves getting a little testy when the subject comes up. The Pew Research Center yesterday released results of a poll that shows significant percentages of folks in places like Korea and Indonesia want Japan to apologize even more than it already has. Remember, Japan is now ruled by the sons and grandsons and even great-grandsons of the bellicose ultra-nationalists who’d pushed that country into war. No matter, scads of people want some dramatic mea culpa-ing.

Here are results of the Pew poll:

Pew/Japan Atone

If I was Japan, I’d say, Sure, man, Great Gramps was a jerk. I can’t believe he was such an asshole. And, trust me, we’d never do crazy crap like that again. C’mon over for a visit. We’ll give you some discounts at restaurants and really posh hotels if you’d lost your Great Gramps or Grandma when my ancestors were having their psychotic spell.

In fact, I’d stage a daily atonement ritual in Tokyo, complete with the flags of victim nations and honored guests from those lands, just to show bygones can be bygones.

I mean, how can it hurt?

Just the way we Murricans couldn’t do anybody any harm by staging daily atonement rituals in Washington, DC for slavery and the Native American holocaust. Sometimes all people want is a simple acknowledgment that you’ve treated them like dirt.

All Bloomington, Some Of The Time

Fish/Dome

◗ Meters. Made.

We’re five days into the Great Parking Meter Era here in B-town. Most of the nearly 1500 meters scheduled to be installed in the central business district this summer were activated Monday.

The city says it’s raking in $5000 a day already. And this is without the expanded crew of ticket-writers actually writing parking tickets just yet. All those Day-Glo yellow-green-vested scribblers you’ve seen darting between parked cars are only writing out warning citations until the end of next week.

Courthouse Square business owners, who’d feared the collapse of Western Civilization once the meters went online, are fairly surprised to find that their busy-ness so far hasn’t fallen off.

Go to WFHB’s podcast of its Thursday, August 15, 2013, newscast for my story on downtown businesses and the new meters.

◗ Evacuate Bloomington!

I ran into good old Will Murphy at the East Side Kroger Wednesday night. The former General Manager at our town’s WFHB and Ft. Wayne’s NPR station, is now the Operations czar at Bloomington’s NPR outlet, WFIU.

As such, poor old Will Murphy has established himself as an acclaimed town baddie. I told him I’ve been hearing he is Hitler. He said he’s heard he is Satan. In any case, he’s Public Enemy Numbers 1 through ten, inclusive, here.

Why? Simple. Murphy cancelled the station’s live Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday afternoons last month. The news turned local opera lovers into, well, opera singers. The moaning and gnashing of teeth could be heard all the way in the uppermost office suites of the WFIU World Headquarters Tower.

Godzilla

Will Murphy Destroying Bloomington’s Cultural Institutions

With this town being the locale of one of the country’s more renowned music schools, things like opera mean a lot to certain segments of the citizenry. So much so that anybody who dares to mess with radio listener habits does so at his own peril.

Janis Starcs, a big mover and shaker on WFIU’s Community Advisory Board, came into the Book Corner the other day carrying a violin case. I told him I didn’t know he played the violin; he said he didn’t. So I asked what was in the case. “None of your business,” Starcs replied in a clipped tone. Speaking of clips, Starcs also wore a handsome pair of bandoliers, filled with shiny cartridges, natch.

Will Murphy

Marked Man

“Where ya headed?” I asked.

“To the Advisory Board meeting,” he said.

Next thing you know, WFIU’s men-behing-the-curtain are hanging plain old Will Murphy out to dry at the behest of the Adv. Bd. The Met cancellation has been reversed.

Now, the opera lovers and opera singers of B-town’ll have to dig deep for the dough that Murphy’d hoped his schedule change would generate in the coming years. We’ll see.

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“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

HERE COMES THE SUN

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.

“GOD GAVE THE BILL OF RIGHTS”

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?

TAKE IT AWAY, PORKY

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