Just in case you’ve forgotten, Bloomington not long ago was a sleepy, small college town. Even though we have developers coming in here hoping to build more hulking monolithic apartment blocks along the burgeoning mini-canyons on Walnut and College avenues, and even though our pop. is fast approaching 100k, we still retain bits of that endearing, quaint, small-town-ness.
To wit: This past week, both Claire McInerney and John Bailey, reporters for NPR-affiliate WFIU have come into the Book Corner to make purchases. Each used a credit card, affording me the opportunity to see who she and he were. Each time, I reacted with pleasant surprise: Oh, you’re the voice from the radio, or some such thing.
McInerney & Bailey
And both Claire and John reacted with such delight that I felt as though I was in a scene from It’s A Wonderful Life. Claire beamed so broadly I thought the ends of her grin might meet at the back of her head. John thanked me repeatedly as if I’d told him his Pulitzer Prize had arrived in my mailbox by mistake.
See, I come from Chicago and even the minor-est media figures there are well-practiced in either canned gratitude or annoyed harrumphing at being recognized. In the big town, expressing joy when someone says they know you through radio, TV, or the newspapers is tantamount to admitting you’re a rube.
Well, you know what? I dig rubes. At least Bloomington’s brand of rube-ishness. It’s a hell of a lot more likable than studied jadedness. I hope we don’t lose that quality for many years to come.
USNS John Lewis
The US Navy is naming its new oil tanker ship after legendary civil rights activist and US Congressbeing from Georgia, John Lewis.
Lewis Gets His Ship
How cool is that? I bet when that Alabama state trooper was clubbing him to the ground, breaking his skull in the process on Bloody Sunday back in 1965, the last thing on Lewis’s mind was the possibility that his country would name a ship after him.
Lewis Gets His Head Busted
Of course, Lewis has always maintained a sense of optimism about and belief in this bizarre holy land. I envy him his fidelity. My occasional frissons about Murrica’s goodness and exceptionalism are fairly balanced out by glumness. We shoot each other up seemingly on a daily basis, our legislative processes are manipulated by banksters and corporatists, too many of us still fear black- and brown-skinned people, and the gap between the rich and the poor widens by the minute.
Yet Lewis still loves America. He appeared at the Indiana University Auditorium last September, along with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, his collaborators on the March series of graphic novels recounting his activist career. You could sense his ardor for this lovable/detestable land from the moment he opened his mouth.
I don’t believe I possess the strength of character and will to believe that Lewis has. Were I he, I’d hold a grudge against a country that broke my head simply because I wanted my people to be able to vote. I wish I were as strong as John Lewis.
So, here’s prima facie evidence that I shouldn’t love and forgive this holy land so readily. In the aftermath of President Obama’s heartfelt, sincere sermon regarding our national love affair with (or sexual fixation on) firearms, Seymour State Representative Jim Lucas — a Republican, duh! — has reintroduced a bill to allow people to carry shootin’ irons on state-supported college campuses. He sez he wants his “wife and daughter to be able to protect themselves especially on dark evenings walking alone.”
His bill aims to end state firearms carry licensing as well as to prevent all state agencies from banning guns on their properties or inside their facilities. The bill specifically mentions colleges and universities.
The Wild Bunch Goes To College
With all due respect (read: none), I might suggest Lucas, his wife, and his daughter actually attend a college campus and try things like reading books wherein they might learn about the nature of crowds, the physics of ballistic projectiles passing through bodies and inanimate materials, the effect of panic on people who might be tempted to protect a classroom by blasting away at some intruder, among other fascinating and informative areas of study.
In other words, you are one dumb son of a bitch, Jim. Again, with all due respect.