Category Archives: Jonny Lang

Hot Air, Cold War

More On The War

A little more than a hundred years ago, the Hearst and Pulitzer newspapers did their best to make sure a war between the USA and Spain could proceed as scheduled. The final casus belli was the the sinking of a battleship in Havana harbor. William Randolph Hearst — the Charles Foster Kane of his day, tehee — splashed the incendiary slogan Remember the Maine; To Hell with Spain on his front pages.

From "Citizen Kane"

War Is Swell!

Next thing you know, this holy land was stomping the bejesus out of the Spaniards.

Flash forward to November, 2013. A battle has been brewing in the teapot that is the Bloomington community radio community (redundancy intended). So this bastion of yellow e-journalism did its best to pour gasoline on that glowing ember. (Are you digging my orgy of metaphor so far?) The apparent cas. bel. in this contretemps was Friday’s second posting (here’s the first) wherein the Pencil helped one respected and very active WFHB volunteer lay out an indictment whose list of particulars seemed to damn the new Firehouse Broadcasting general manager, Kevin Culbertson, to the eternal flames of hell.

Pencillistas responded en masse and the battle was met. By midnight, the Facebook Theater of Operations was littered with corpses.

Trench Warfare

The Enemy Advances

Allow me to clear up one important point here. Many anti-Kevin-ists have expressed concern that he’s going to come in here, stack the Board with acolytes of his choosing, and transform WFHB into a beacon for Jesus.


Try to chill, folks. Look, I’m not throwing a party to celebrate the anointing of Culbertson. I would have preferred the board to have selected a new big boss from, well, the community.

But Culbertson cannot alter the composition of the Board. Period. According to Firehouse Broadcasting’s by-laws, the general manager serves at the pleasure of the Board. They are, in effect, his bosses.

Not only that, there are only two ways for any poor sucker who actually wants to get on the Board (a desire, BTW, that should be ample evidence the applicant is short on sanity) to do so.

  1. The applicant must present her/himself to the Board and make a case that s/he is a swell human being, at which point the Board will either approve or deny the request, and then pass the applicant on to a vote of the general membership
  2. If there is a sudden Board vacancy, the board can listen to those lunatic asylum patients who want to fill said vacancy, and then pick the least deranged (or most qualified) applicant and appoint her/him to serve the remainder of open Board member’s term.

That’s it, peeps.

The GM has nothing to do with the process. Can a mole/spy/saboteur whisper into the ears of enough Board members to sway a vote? Sure. But that can happen whether Kevin Culbertson, Pat Robertson, or the Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei occupies the claustrophobic general manager’s office.


Not Just Yet

It’s a good bet WFHB will not soon become an outlet for Bryan Fischer‘s fundamentalist rantings.

That said, Hondo Thompson’s piece on Culbertson’s past is compelling and worth keeping in mind while we watch the Kevin Era unfold.

I Lied

Chatting with a WFHB-er who played a key role in the GM search Friday night, I promised not to write about the station and Culbertson again in these precincts for a long time to come. I was, I admitted, tired of the strife.

Hah! the person said.

Well, I got a bit huffy. What do you mean? I demanded.

The person told me I’d be writing another post on it all before I knew it.

Hah! I echoed, hoping to sting the rotter. You just watch. I’m finished with this thing. I’ve got plenty more to write about.

And, of course, the person said Hah! again, as did I, which caused the person to do the same, and so on until we Hah!ed ourselves offline.

I’m proud to say I kept my promise for an entire day and a half. That’s pretty good for a hot air balloon like me.

Lie To Me


The Pencil Today:


“Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.” — Jean Cocteau


Ol’ Willard Romney wuz campaignin’ in one of our bee-yoo-tiful, wide-open western states t’other day. Some folks wuz havin’ theyselves a big shee-bang fer Cowboy poetry.

Now, Willard (y’might know him as Mitt, but his god-given name is Willard, shore ’nuff!) knows how how to make hisself feel right t’home, doncha know?

(Aw, for chrissakes, enough of this hayseed, six-gun patois.)

Now then, Romney appeared before a Nevada crowd, many of whom wore cowboy hats. Romney himself would not deign to don a Stetson, probably because his coiffure has landmark status and must not be altered or marred in any way.

But the Republican aspirant for president did sweet talk the crowd. He told them they were just like the cowboys of our holy land’s lore. He told the crowd they possessed “…(t)he heart of the cowboy, the love of freedom and the outdoors and nature being celebrated this week….” The crowd, natch, went wild.

You know, because cowboys were rugged individualists who carried sidearms, were loyal to their horses, and roamed this great land looking to right wrongs and dispense common sense justice. The cowboy is America, see?

Gene Autry, American

Um, not so fast, Mitty-baby.

The truth about cowboys is that many of them were society’s outcasts — Mexican immigrants, blacks, and native Americans. They wore rags, slept on dirt, and served as ranch hands because, well, there wasn’t anything else for them to do.

Here’s a physical description from a dude ranch website:

In reality, the Cowboy didn’t dress like the Cowboys of the movies. A Cowboy wore whatever he could get his hands on. Cowboys and other laborers wore what was called “ready-to-wear” — “hand me downs” — second-hand clothing that had been discarded by the higher classes…. The typical Cowboy hat would have been pretty much any hat of the era. The wider brims were to keep the Sun out of their eyes…. The origins of the Cowboy boot are well-researched and started life as riding boots for the marauding Mongol tribesmen…. (All sic.)

A Real American

Here are some more facts about cowboys:

  • Cowboys worked boring 18-hour days
  • They were small men because speedy horses couldn’t bear the weight of big lugs like John Wayne
  • They rode any horse they could get their hands on
  • They were startlingly young
  • They didn’t have gunfights with native Americans, desperadoes, or each other
  • The word “Cowboy” was derived from Mexican Spanish.

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.”

That present day philosopher and hot air issuer — me — says, “All politics is theater.”

Then again, perhaps the only truth is, “All politics is bullshit.”

And it probably will continue to be so as long as people swoon when they’re bullshitted. Imagine some pol of the future telling a crowd, “You have the spirit of the homeless and the pluck of illegal immigrants!”


That local poet — not a cowboy, though — Ross Gay roamed the streets of Laredo…, er, Bloomington yesterday passing out flyers for the Indiana University Creative Writing Visiting Writer Series.

The ink-stained gang will welcome noted rhymer Nikky Finney Thursday, at 7:00pm, at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall.


Finney is one of America’s most celebrated black poets — hell, she’s one of America’s most celebrated poets, period. She copped the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry for her latest collection, “Head Off & Split.”

Finney grew up in an activist atmosphere. Her daddy-o, Ernest A. Finney, Jr., was the defense attorney for the Friendship 9, a group of black college students who’d tried to desegregate a South Carolina lunch counter in 1964. Finney herself became an activist for progressive cause around San Francisco after graduating from Talladega College. She also wrote poetry and worked as a photographer.

The noted poet Nikki Giovanni helped her get her first book of poetry, On Wings Made of Gauze, published in 1985. Since then, Finney’s become one of America’s biggest things in the field of meter.

Hey, her reading the day after tomorrow is free. Do yourself a favor and lend her an ear.


Now that the Super Bowl orgy/holy mass/satanic ritual/football game is over, does the city of Indianapolis still exist?

Indianapolis, Before It Was Razed

Just wondering.


A good liar depends upon a victim who’s perfectly willing to be lied to.

As an example, I had a brief, fiery fling about 15 years ago with a woman who I later learned had lied to me about everything up to and including what she liked on her pizza. (No lie — I’d told her I preferred sausage and green peppers and she said, “Oh my god, this is so spooky, I do too!”)

The first gift I ever gave her was a CD by the then teenaged Jonny Lang, mainly because it featured this song. BTW: where’d that little petzel (Yiddish — go ahead and look it up) get that voice and that knowing outlook on life?

Anyway, once I became honest with myself, I realized I knew she was lying from the very first word she’d ever spoken to me. I loved every lie she told me.

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