Category Archives: Mary Wollstonecraft

The Pencil Today:

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THE QUOTE

“The beginning is always today.” — Mary Wollstonecraft

Wollstonecraft

A TEABAG BY ANY OTHER NAME

Check out Mobutu Sese Seko’s take on all the premature obituaries for the Tea Party in yesterday afternoon’s Gawker.

The Tea/Me-ers aren’t going anywhere, Seko insists, because they’ve always been here — only under different monikers and flags.

And BTW, this Seko is not that Seko. That one is dead. Glad to clear that up for you.

Seko

That Mobutu Sese Seko

Anyway, Seko quotes extensively from Richard Hofstadter (no, not that Hofstadter, this Hofstadter), whose landmark article in the November, 1964 issue of Harper’s Magazine essentially defined the right-wing-nut movement then and for all time. The article, entitled “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” may well have served as a blueprint for the Tea/Me-ers.

Hofstadter

That Hofstadter

It begins, “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”

Hofstadter goes on to list and define all the conspiracy theorists, psychotics, true believers, anti-Papists, Gold-Standard-ists, Masons, Illuminists, Birchers, and others who, today, might find a comfortable nest within the Big Tent GOP.

Funny how those moderate Republicans who two decades ago put out the call for the party to become a Big Tent might react had they known it would be one equipped with padded walls.

The Tea Party, according to Seko, sells doom — and in this holy land, doom has always sold well. “These guys,” he writes of the Tea Party, “can sell an apocalypse of anything.”

Once you’re finished with Seko’s take, wait a couple of days for Rick Perlstein’s Monday debut offering on his own The Nation blog. He says pretty much the same thing.

(And, believe me, I feel for Perlstein: There’s nothing worse for a writer than for another writer to beat you to a topic or a bon mot or a brilliant conclusion.)

THE KING OF AMERICA

Here’s more required reading for you. Bill Wyman writes in last week’s New Yorker about Michael Jackson’s life and his place as the ultimate crossover pop artist. Jackson, Wyman writes, virtually became America.

No, not that Bill Wyman, this Bill Wyman.

Wyman

That Wyman

Anyway, doesn’t it seem as though we’ve pretty much forgotten Michael Jackson since all the folderol over his death petered out?

Lost in all the oceans of ink and streams of electrons devoted to the King of Pop’s reputed sex life is the fact that Jackson achieved what hundreds — nay, thousands — of black pop and genre musical acts strove for since the mid-1950’s. That is, pure, total, and unadulterated acceptance by white America.

Wyman deftly weaves Jackson’s physical metamorphosis in with his ongoing assimilation into the mainstream. He became white at the same time he was becoming white.

Wyman also apparently buys into the notion that Jackson died a virgin. That is, he not only never had government- and religion-approved sex with a woman, but he never actually had sex with all those little boys. Nevertheless, his non-orgasmic peccadilloes with pre-adolescents were unforgivable — or so goes that train of thought.

In any case, read the piece.

WYMAN TALES

A little anecdote about this Bill Wyman — and then a little anecdote about that Bill Wyman or, more accurately, his band, to follow.

This Bill Wyman was the music critic for the Chicago Reader for much of the time I was writing for that one-time indispensable alternative weekly. In the late 1980s, a pretty and talented woman named Alison True was in the process of climbing the ladder at the Reader, an ascent that eventually saw her become editor, a position she held for nearly 20 years.

True

Alison True

Alison True had blue eyes, dimples, light brown hair, and was tough as nails. Trust me, I once overheard her set some boundaries, fortissimo, for a recalcitrant immediate underling in what they thought was the privacy of the fire stairs at the Reader’s North Loop headquarters. “This is my paper,” she roared, “and we’ll do it my way!” A few moments later, she passed me on the way back to her office and flashed me a dimpled smile hello. You have to love a boss like that.

From 1983 through 2002, I was part of the sizable stable of Reader freelancers. Occasionally, we’d get together for a mixer or at a party thrown by some common acquaintance. At each of these, we’d ask each other if Alison True was going out with anybody, as if she’d deign to mix with the likes of us. No one could ever offer indisputable confirmation of her availability.

Then one Saturday night at a party thrown by jazz maven Neil Tesser, we freelancers watched, agape, as she entered, hand in hand, with Bill Wyman. Trust me again, Wyman rarely let go of her hand throughout that night. None of us blamed him. All of us loathed him from that point on.

Now, then, the other Bill Wyman. My old pal Eric Woulkewicz, as unique an individual as can be imagined happened to be walking down Milwaukee Avenue one late summer morning.

Just to give you a picture of the man that was Eric Woulkewicz, he once went for an entire several-year stretch with nothing in his wardrobe but second-hand jumpsuits and Aqua-Sox. Also, at this time, he lived in an old dentist’s office on the Near West Side, complete with reclining chair and spit fountain. A true friend, he offered me sleeping accommodations in the dentist’s chair one time when I needed new digs in a hurry.

He once concocted an idea that he was certain would keep him rolling in dough for the rest of his life. He owned two junky vehicles, a sedan and a Plymouth minivan. Making sure neither ran out of gas was, at times, his primary occupation. He planned to equip the sedan with a camouflaged pinhole camera and have it trail the van on a drive through Skokie, at the time a suburb notorious for its police officers stopping cars driven by black men for no good reason other than their color. He would drive the sedan and his friend named Mustafa, a large black man with waist-length dreadlocks, would pilot the van. Eric was banking on the Skokie cops pulling Mustafa over for no reason. Then, Eric would present village officials with photos of the stop and demand a cahs settlement, which he and Mustafa would split.

Eric even had a name for the camera-equipped van — the Freedom-mobile. Sadly, the scheme never got off the ground.

So, on the late summer morning in question, Eric was walking down Milwaukee Avenue and just as he was passing the Double Door, a hip live music venue near the North/Milwaukee/Damen intersection, he saw someone taping a handwritten sign up in the window. It read, “Rolling Stones tickets on sale at noon. $7.”

Double Door

The Double Door, Chicago

Eric asked the guy what it was all about and was told the Stones were to kick off their 1997-98 worldwide tour in Chicago with an impromptu gig at the 475-capacity venue, just a lark on the part of the mega-band. Eric figured, hell, even if it’s all a scam, tickets are only seven bucks apiece. So he decided to wait until noon when he was the first person in line to buy two. The line, by that time, stretched around the block.

Oh, it was the real thing. Eric proceeded to sell his pair of tickets for $1000, a 14,2oo-percent return on his investment.

The wise financial strategem allowed my pal Eric Woulkewicz to keep the gas tanks of his junky sedan and Plymouth van filled for months.

UPDATE ON THE CHIEF

Looks like Chief Keef isn’t gracing the streets of upscale Northbrook, Illinois after all. At least not as a citizen thereof.

Chicagoans held their collective breath as news trickled out earlier this week that the under-aged hip hop star had purchased a home in Northbrook.

I, of course, added to the hysteria with my own smart-assed take on the relo.

Now, a Cook County Juvenile Court judge has ruled there is no credible evidence CK has taken up residence in the heretofore white haven from the dark inner city. A move by Chief Keef would have amounted to a violation of his parole for the crime of being way too hip hop.

From Spin Magazine

Northbrook No More

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.” — Mary Wollstonecraft

SELF-DEFENSE

There is only one Tyler Ferguson on this Earth — which either is or isn’t a boon for the planet.

Tyler (AKA The Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls‘ Kaka Caliente)

She is Bloomington’s own, though, and she graced the Boys of Soma with her presence this morning. She was wrapping her fluid-swollen right knee as the rest of us were ingesting our first doses of the precious eye-opening substance.

Tough Guy Mac asked her how she injured her knee. Those in the know are aware it could have happened during a roller derby match, a soccer game, from running or spinning or bicycling, or any of the countless physical activities she’s addicted to.

Tyler And Her Late, Lamented Wheels

Now, when you ask Tyler a question, you’re really asking for a lecture that includes a minimum of a half dozen tangents. It reminds me of the old line: ask her what time it is and she’ll tell you how a watch is made.

Anyway, she explicated a history of the hinge’s traumas and insults until finally, someone (oh, alright, me) suggested she may have kneed an unfortunate soul who’d tried to force his attentions on her and if you think her patella looks bad, you oughtta see various parts of his shattered body.

Which automatically reminded Tyler of a story. Aw, hell, lemme let her tell it:

“Oh my god! (many Tyler stories begin with oh my god!) I took a self-defense course, five years ago, I think.

“They taught us this move, it’s called the buck and roll. It’s for when some guy’s trying to molest you and he’s on top of you, y’know?

“You grab the guy by the lapels, pull him real close, raise your hips for leverage, okay? It’s a last resort type of thing.

“Then, you use your leverage and flip him. It’s very effective for a smaller person who has a larger person, y’know, like a rapist, on top of them.

“I couldn’t wait ’till I got home, I wanted to show Fergie (her husband). So I get home and I say, ‘Dave. Lemme show you this move I just learned. It’s great!’

“And he goes, ‘Uh uh. No way.’

“And I say, ‘Aw, c’mon! How can it hurt. Look, lay on top of me like you wanna rape me, okay? Don’t worry.’

“So he gets on top of me, I pull him by the lapels, buck my hips up into him, and give him the flip.

“Oh my god, this is true! He must have flown ten feet in the air. Honestly, he was airborne.

“He hit a dresser and he got this enormous bruise on his hip (here, she stands and shows us with her hands the extent of the bruise — it spanned from his waist to halfway down his thigh.) And then all the blood drained down to his foot and he couldn’t walk.

“Poor Punky! He wouldn’t let me touch him for, oh, I don’t know how long.”

To prove Tyler Ferguson isn’t the only one around here who can spin a yarn, her story reminds me of the time I did a big story for the Chicago Reader about the first women boxers in the nation to compete in the Golden Gloves tournament.

One of the boxers, a DePaul University senior named Tracy Desmond, had studied karate before taking up boxing. One night, late, she was walking home in her Little Italy neighborhood when a man who’d been following her yanked her into a gangway.

He picked the wrong chick to mess with. Tracy fought him off, generously bestowing a number of bruises upon his person, and dashed away, seeking refuge in a neighbor’s home.

Tracy Desmond Clocks A Golden Gloves Opponent

When I first heard Tracy’s story it immediately hit me: why don’t we teach young girls self-defense beginning in their earliest years in elementary school?

I don’t have kids (the world should thank me for that) but I can imagine the horror of learning my daughter had been injured or worse by one of the cousins of pan troglodytes who prowl the streets.

Teaching girls from the earliest age the effectiveness of popping a predator in his nose, throat, or junk seems to me the least we can do for them.

Or is it that we really want the females of our holy land to remain helpless?

Teach Your Daughters

IF YOU TELL IT, THEY WILL LISTEN

Laura Grover can hold her own with any raconteur. The boss of WFHB’s Bloomington Storytelling Project also showed up this morning at Soma. She’d scheduled a meeting with a person who wanted to record a story for the BSP‘s big February event — its 29 Stories in 29 Days storytelling drive.

Grover

“If you email us and make a pledge to tell your story any time this month at any location you want, we’ll record you and put your story on the air,” Grover explained. “The first 29 people to do it will get a free mug and an Acoustic Harvest CD. Everybody who participates will get a chance to win prizes from local businesses.”

Those who want to share their stories with the world (or at least Bloomington’s corner of it) can contract Laura Grover at storytelling@wfhb.org.

GLORIA

Strong woman, strong music. Pound for pound, Patti Smith is tougher than any heavyweight boxer.

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