Category Archives: Jim Manion

Hot Camelot Air

Dallas

Fifty years ago today, the nuns at St. Giles school told us we were to go home when class started after lunch. I had no idea why.

I did know Sister Caelin seemed sad.

When I got home, I found my mother obsessively vacuuming the same spot on the living room carpet. Looking closer, I realized she was crying. It was the first time I ever saw her cry.

I wondered if I was in trouble.

The TV was on. Ma never had the TV on during the day. Simpler times, you know. TV watching was for night time, after work and dinner, school and homework, and all the day’s chores had been completed. Ma noticed me standing there, staring at her.

“Mike,” she said, dolorously, “President Kennedy is dead.”

Then I cried.

Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza Today

I knew who President Kennedy was. He was the boss of America, a man bigger even than Chicago’s Mayor Daley, a fact I was just starting to wrap my mind around.

I knew Mayor Daley could tell my Dad what to do. It was very difficult for me to grasp that someone could tell Mayor Daley what to do.

That night, I was sorely disappointed to learn that regular Friday night TV programming would be suspended in favor of wall to wall assassination coverage. I found it very unfair.

As the weekend went by, I came to understand the gravity of the killing of a president. I also came to understand how fragile all our hierarchies, relationships, and systems were. I saw Lee Harvey Oswald get whacked by Jack Ruby. I tried to get used to saying President Johnson.

Johnson

The President?

I began to get that everything in this weird world — save the world itself — was temporal.

In these more hyper-sensitive, more protective days, a lot of parents might advocate shielding seven-year-olds from jarring news like the murder of a president. Kids have plenty of time to grow up, they might say. Kids aren’t prepared for that kind of reality.

To which I’d reply, no one is prepared for that kind of reality. And, I’d add, the weekend of John F. Kennedy’s assassination was the first and most effective introduction to the real world this little kid could possibly receive.

I have a lot of issues with the things my parents did and didn’t do in raising me. But the fact that they never shied from telling me the unvarnished truth about world affairs or family secrets wasn’t one of them.

For that, I thank them.

And On And On And On And….

The WFHB soap opera continues. As recently as Sunday, for instance, acting general manager Cleveland Dietz was pondering what he might do with the rest of his life.

Now, he knows where he’ll be spending his days at least through the end of the year. This week Board of Directors president Joe Estivill as well as regular Board member Richard Fish have approached Dietz, asking him to remain on the job through December 31st.

Estevill/Fish

Estivill & Fish

The Board will vote on the extension at Monday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, insiders are certain the board will start the entire GM search process over again, meaning the community radio station won’t have a permanent boss until April.

Which is ludicrous.

This latest development, following the withdrawal of controversial choice Kevin Culbertson earlier this week, would mean WFHB will have gone almost an entire year without a general manager.

A state the size of California can pick its governor in less time. And, in case the Board doesn’t know it, California is bigger with a far vaster budget, and hundreds — perhaps thousands — of departments, bureaus, and offices. Plus, the job pays a hell of a lot more than WFHB will pay its future leader.

This whole “national search” business is a pretense the station can no longer afford. WFHB is a community radio station; its leadership should come, naturally, from a local pool of people numbering a minimum of 200,000, if the latest census figures are to be believed. If the Board can’t find a GM in that crowd — which, by the way, includes the students and faculty of a major university — they’re not looking hard enough.

In fact, the three finalists for the job from which Culbertson was plucked include a former GM of this very station and a proven fundraiser for non-profit organizations. Even if the anti-Chad Carrothers sentiment is deep enough to preclude him from ever getting the job again (a situation that, too, is ludicrous), why can’t the Board fall back on Dena Hawes?

The argument against her that she has no media experience is a red herring. Hawes can raise dough. That should be of paramount concern. Jim Manion can continue to run the Music Department and Alycin Bektesh can keep News humming. They’re both good at what they do. WFHB needs a top dog now. People with money burning holes in their pockets just might begin to wonder if this rudderless ship is worth investing in.

The Board Monday ought to commit itself to finding a general manager within a month. That’s it; 31 days. It can be done. Big organizations, corporations, and even governmental agencies do it all the time.

The Board would do so if it was smart. My guess is when Tuesday midnight rolls around we’ll still be looking at an April target date.

Word Trivia

Do you know what a snowclone is? Neither did I until just the other night, when I came across it somewhere, somehow.

It’s something you and I probably have used a dozen times recently. In fact, if you’re a fan of narrowcasting comedy-dramas, you likely have watched Orange Is the New Black. The title of that Netflix production is itself a snowclone.

From "Orange Is the New Black"

OITNB

Here’s the definition, according to Know Your Meme®:

Snowclones are a type of phrasal templates in which certain words may be replaced with another to produce new variations with altered meanings, similar to the “fill-in-the-blank” game of Mad Libs. Although freeform parody of quotes from popular films, music and TV shows is a fairly common theme in Internet humor, snowclones usually adhere to a particular format or arrangement order which may be reduced down to a grammatical formula with one or more custom variables. They can be understood as the verbal or text-based form of photoshopped exploitables.

In common English, that means you can take a familiar meme or trope and substitute words that make it into a whole new cliche. One of the earliest examples was If Eskimos have a million words for snow, then [some other folks] must have a million words for [something common to them].

BTW: the Eskimo trope is false; they don’t have a million or however many words for snow. Nevertheless, that cliched statement spread like wildfire a few years ago.

Anyway, Orange Is the New Black morphed out of the original fashion world pronouncement, grey is the new black, after many generations of variations.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge in every country is the surest basis of public happiness.” — George Washington

OUR GAL VI

The local Facebook-iverse was abuzz last night over the mention of one of our own in the Village Voice.

Seems that those city slickers suddenly have realized that there are actually people out here, and not just goats. And some of us Hoosiers can read and write and — gasp! — think.

State Senator Vi Simpson, top dog of the Democratic caucus, came in for the imprimatur on the Voice’s Scientology blog (golly gee, I didn’t know there was a crying need for such a thing). Writer Tony Ortega breathlessly marvels over the mere existence of Vi, who cleverly introduced an amendment to weaken a Republican bill to get creationism taught in Indiana public schools.

Clever Simpson

Creationism, for those of you who understandably ignore the bleatings of the god-fearing Right, holds that the Earth is only 6000 years old and that a couple of white people named Adam and Eve ate some piece of fruit, causing all subsequent generations of humans to be born evil. Oh, and that a talking snake persuaded them to munch the honeycrisp.

“Go Ahead, Eat It.”

I figure I’d be god-fearing, too, if I believed in a deity that deranged.

See, GOP Senator Dennis Kruse had introduced the original bill, SB 89, presumably because he thinks teaching evolution, biology, and geology are frightful wastes of our education dollars. The Indiana Senate actually passed the bill, leading me to wonder if those city slickers are right — perhaps we are just a bunch of illiterate goats out here.

Hoosier?

Vi Simpson, though, proved at least some of us possess Homo Sapiens sapiens genetic material.

Her amendment called for the teaching of the creation myths of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology as well. Lo and behold, her amendment was passed, probably because, y’know, half to three quarters of those minty-fresh Tea Party legislators probably can’t read anyway.

And the kicker: Simpson received complaints from various minor religion zealots who were put out because their fave fairy tales weren’t included.

“Hey! What About Us?”

In any case, the bill is now watered down enough to make it essentially toothless as well as brainless.

Here’s a hat tip to FB eagle-eyes (and Pencillistas) Michael Redman, Miles Craig, Susan Sandberg, Jim Manion, Steve Johnson, Mike Cagle, R.E. Paris, and Joy Shayne Laughter for catching the Simpson story.

And — huzzah! — those fancy folks from the Big Apple like us, they really like us!

KILL ‘EM ALL AND LET GOD SORT ‘EM OUT

Great. Now some knucklehead with a gun and a teensy package has shot and killed a bald eagle in Morgan County.

The Herald Times reports this morning that the eagle carcass was found earlier this month near Eminence.

Target Practice

Keep in mind that a couple of whooping cranes were gunned down late last year as well. Folks, can we please go back to shooting tin cans off fence posts?

I said this a little more than a year ago, after Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were pumped full of lead in Tucson, and now it looks as though I’ll have to say it again: America, stick your guns up your ass.

LOCAL ARTISTS SHOWCASE

Can you pony up two bucks?

That’s all it costs to see scads of local Bloomington artists show their stuff at — what else? — the Local Artists Showcase, Saturday, February 25, at the Bloomington Convention Center.

Bloom magazine bwana Malcolm Abrams sauntered into the Book Corner the other day in search of baseball magazines — yes, it’s that time of year — and to pass out flyers for the event. Bloom is sponsoring the bash along with Ivy Tech.

Some 67 local painters, scultors, mixed media artists and many others will be on hand.

With tix so cheap, you’ll have plenty of dough left over to buy some nice pieces, no?

CHICKS WITH DISCS

Have you caught Womenspace on WFHB yet?

If not, why not? Great music by a revolving cast of XX-chromosome DJs, including Carolyn VandeWiele, Catharine Rademacher, and Liza Pavelich. Check these Spinitron playlists for the show so you can see what you’ve been missing.

VandeWiele, Rademacher & Pavelich

Womenspace airs every Thursday, 9-11PM. Women spinning women, baby. Catch it.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (But who will guard the guards themselves?)” — Juvenal

GERSTMAN’S GOTTA GO

So now Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman is facing another charge: She hasn’t been taking minutes at county meetings, as she’s required to do by state law.

This, of course, is on top of the charges that she used credit cards issued to her office for personal expenses like groceries, gifts, and even her kids’ private school tuitions. The county board voted to censure Gerstman yesterday.

The Soon-To-Be Ex-County Auditor?

Board members say Gerstman has been notably absent from board and committee meetings even though it’s her duty to record their proceedings. For her part Gerstman says she’s entitled to send a proxy to do that grunt work.

That would be fine if, say, Gerstman came down with the flu on the date of a meeting. But, if county board members are to be believed, this “flu” has lasted a long, long time.

I suppose we can’t blame Gerstman for not wanting to show her face at public meetings, considering the silly and embarrassing things she’s been doing with county dough. Admittedly, she has paid it all back but, as I cracked earlier, the bank robber who tries to return the sack of cash he took at gunpoint still is a bank robber.

Gerstman didn’t show up to work yesterday, indicating she may be contemplating doing the right thing. That’s resigning.

I mean, honestly, the woman is the auditor, for pity’s sake. Her job is to make sure the county’s money is being spent correctly. The Gerstman saga is the equivalent of learning that Sheriff Jim Kennedy runs a local crime syndicate.

And, BTW, Gerstman hasn’t been the only official who feels the county’s credit cards are really hers. Human Resources Director Rhonda Foster quit her post abruptly last week after it was learned she, too, had played fast and loose with county plastic. If not the flu, then something‘s going around the Showers Building.

The Ex-HR Chief

A regular county commissioners meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at City Hall at 9:00am. The smart move is for Gerstman to submit her resignation at the meeting and, perhaps, issue a heartfelt public apology at the same time.

We’re forgiving folks around here. We’re happy she’s paid back the money that she used for personal expenses. We hope she’s learned her lesson and will go on to thrive in the private business world.

But we know this: We don’t want Amy Gertsman watching our public funds anymore.

MONEY FOR SOMETHIN’

Yes, I realize I may be run out of town for this statement, but I’m glad somebody’s giving Indiana University a pile of cash for something other than a sports cathedral.

Kelley School of Business Dean Dan Smith and IU President Michael McRobbie are patting each other on the back for scoring a $33M grant from the Lilly Endowment for an expansion and renovation project. Kelley’s undergrad factory will gain an additional 71,000 square feet and will be decked out with all the latest hi-tech gadgets by 2015.

Excessively Straight-Backed Biz Students Watch Vid Screens In Their New Digs

That thirty-three large will be thrown in with some $27M already collected from alumni and other donors to round out the planned $60M job. The Lilly grant is the largest the Kelley has ever received as well as one of the biggest in the university’s history.

Smith says: “The new facilities will allow the school to more fully execute an experiential learning approach to business education.” I think he means the new plant will make Kelley students smarter.

Which I’ve always thought was the aim of a major university. Or even a minor one, for that matter.

See, I only arrived on the scene a couple of years ago. Native Bloomingtonians may be used to it, but I was shocked at the size and scope of IU’s sports facilities. And the area’s deep-pocketed usual suspects, like the late Bill Cook and the still-kicking John Mellencamp, seem always to be donating bread for another towering, sprawling gym or shower room.

How clean do our “student-athletes” need to be after a workout?

SMART COOKIE, PROUD PAPA

WFHB Music Director Jim Manion dropped by the Book Corner yesterday. He’s still crowing about his daughter Riley’s nomination to the Phi Beta Kappa Society in December.

They say pride is one of the deadly sins but when a guy is walking on air because his daughter has been named to one of the most prestigious academic societies on the planet, well, that ain’t no sin, baby.

Riley (l) And Jim Manion

The Pencil extends its warmest congrats to Riley and Jim.

MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT)

Barrett Strong‘s “Money…” can be considered the granddaddy of all Motown hits. Start-up record impresario Berry Gordy, Jr. released the 45 in 1959 under his Tamla label and it became a hit in early 1960. Its success spurred Gordy to incorporate under the Motown banner that spring.

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