Category Archives: Mike Elk

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov

MIKE ELK SPEAKS

Studs Terkel, in his book “Talking To Myself: A Memoir of My Times” writes that the best reporter is the one who asks the impertinent question.

Studs Terkel

As you know, if you’ve been paying any attention at all, reporters today ask mostly gotcha questions, the kind they know the answer to already but are designed simply to embarrass the subject, or softball questions that even the editor of a high school newspaper should be embarrassed to ask.

Let’s go a step further. Linda Ellerbee once wrote that if she hadn’t made someone feel uncomfortable in her reporting for the day, she felt as though she hadn’t done her job.

Linda Ellerbee

Then, of course, early 20th Century newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne said the job of the the journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Mike Elk yesterday asked an impertinent question (actually, two), made a bunch of people feel uncomfortable, and afflicted a big shot.

Bingo! The man is a three-time winner.

Elk got up yesterday at a business/political masturbatory press event in Washington where the big boss of Honeywell International, David Cote, expected to be lavished with praise for…, um, well, for being the big boss of Honeywell.

See, Honeywell sachems were also scheduled to guide Barack Obama around by the elbow at the company’s headquarters in the appropriately named Golden Valley, Minnesota, so both the prez and the company could tell the world how wonderful they both are.

Only Mike Elk elected not to play the game. He took the audience microphone and referred to a Fortune Magazine handjob article about Honeywell and Cote, wherein the boss crowed what terrific corporate citizens he and his outfit are. Then Elk flung two impertinent questions at Cote: one about Honeywell’s union busting practices (the company’s Metropolis, Illinois, plant first locked out, then axed 1400 union workers) and the other about a possible radiation leak there. The idea being, those aren’t the acts of nice neighbors.

Well, the assembled reporters, PR flaks, pols, and execs gasped, we never!

Elk got the mic yanked out of his hand and he was given the thumb. When he protested that he was a reporter and showed his credentials, one woman’s off-screen voice can be heard saying, “That’s not a member of the press from the Hill; this is a member of the press.” Presumably, she’s pointing at some well-behaved media stenographer who’ll only ask Cote what wondrous things he and Honeywell have done lately.

Tell Me, Mr. Cote, What’s It Like To Be You?

In fact, after Elk was given the bum’s rush, another person got up and said, “One of the things I’m concerned about is, the, um, y’know, the unemployment rate for African American young people is — I don’t know whether this is true, it says 38 percent? — and, um, my son was an all-best high school….” Here, the vid ends, cutting her off in mid-interrogation, which is too bad because it seemed to be the preamble for an all-time great softball question.

The speaker clearly was telling the assembled multitude how fabulous her kid is and then probably was going to ask what Honeywell proposed to do about putting such fine young lads to work in plush corner offices ASAP. Then Cote could tell her how terrific Honeywell is at hiring African-Americans and all other people who were born with brown skin. Then everybody could have glowed and grinned, the men could arrange a circle jerk and the woman could have a group hug.

We’re fabulous!

I thank the god I don’t believe in that I never was able to fit into a corporation environment like Honeywell’s.

BTW: I love how the woman wonders if it’s true that unemployment among African-American young people could possibly be 38 percent. It introduces just the right amount of faux-skepticism about a real problem that could just as easily have been described as “the historically persistent high levels of joblessness among young blacks.”

Man, the corporate world demands an unconscionable amount of toadiness — not only from its paid minions but from the public at large.

Be thankful Mike Elk is not a toady.

On the other hand, Elk never got answers to his questions and most of the mainstream news yesterday was about the Obama tour of the Honeywell plant. So score one for the corporatocracy versus the impertinent journalist.

LEO’S BLOOMINGTON (OR IS IT BLOOMINGTON’S LEO?)

Leo D. Cook ought to be granted the title of Mr. Bloomington here and now.

Wouldn’t he be perfect as the local radio or TV host who interviews all the fascinating characters who live in and pass through this bustling metrop?

The Definitive Leo D. Cook Photoshopped Photo

He could tell stories, draw the people out, and otherwise create a weekly hour’s worth of whacked-out chat. Can you imagine a show with the guests Steve Volan, Jeremy Gotwals, and, say, Lynda Barry, who’s in town for this coming week’s IU Writers Conference?

People In Our Listening Area Are Advised To Take Cover

That conversation might be declared a hazardous incident site by FEMA. Or it could be great radio.

Anyway, Leo’s long-range plan to attain celebrity takes another step forward this coming week with the commencement of “Bloomington’s Got Talent,” a weekly talent (duh) show at The Bluebird. The thing will run every Tuesday night through the summer. Leo will emcee.

Registration begins at 9:30pm with the first acts going onstage at 10.

TURN OFF YOUR TV — GO OUT

Lots to do this weekend. Luckily, you’ve got the Pencil’s GO! events listings. Click the logo. Follow instructions.

SUMMER SOFT

It’s June. The blazing days are coming. But it’s perfect out right now.

Today: Monday, November 14, 2011

If the boys in charge were smart, they’d let winter quash the Occupy encampments across this holy land.

But the boys in charge are smart about as often as a Republican candidate for president talks about issues that mean something to you and me.

So, this weekend riot-geared cops waded into Occupy camping jamborees here and there. And it’s ironic, considering that within the last few days there was a street melee that warranted the use of force in response.

I mean, honestly, wouldn’t you have felt good about the world in general had local and campus police cracked some skulls with their nightsticks when those Penn State reprobates rioted Wednesday?

An essayist on Michael Moore’s website opines that arrogant white men don’t like to be held accountable for their actions. The author of the piece, one Mike Elk, holds that Penn State is is the capital of whiteness in Pennsylvania. (Hat tip to my old pal R.E. for putting this up on her Facebook page.)

But the cops played nice with the entitled white boys who were so enraged that their child-molester-protecting, GOP-supporting football coach was fired.

The fact that poverty is spreading here in America, right wingers are clamping down on sex and women, corporations are taking over world governments, the gap between rich and poor grows more alarming every hour, and other terrifying developments meant nothing to these little frat farts. Only their football coach being persecuted for sitting on his hands while his great and good pal sodomized ten-year-olds in the shower room drove them into the streets.

An op-ed contributor in the LA Times rails against the cult of college sports, a sentiment close to my heart. I realize I risk being lynched in these precincts but the whole hypocritical, corrupt, fairly racist major college sports structure makes me ill. (Hat tip to Roger Ebert on Facebook for citing the LA Times piece.)

My next door neighbor Tom asked me if I wanted to watch the Hoosiers basketball game with him the other day. I like Tom. He’s a good man and a good neighbor and I enjoy spending time with him but watching college sports ranks just below submitting to my yearly prostate exam on the list of things I want to do.

One of the Irish Tough Guys who hang out at Soma, Tough Guy Pat, holds season tix to just about every sport on the Hoosier athletic department sked. His mood often is dictated by the result of yesterday’s football game or last night’s volleyball match.

College sports means a lot to guys like Tom and Tough Guy Pat. I get that. I also get that were it not for Hoosier sports husbands would have to start talking to their wives around here, and that, of course, is unnatural.

And, speaking of unnatural, it strikes me that too many folks burdened with what they or society consider “unnatural” sexual urges seem to gravitate toward institutions that frown on the whole notion of doing fun things in the nude.

Authoritarian clubs like the Catholic church and the Republican Party sometimes seem overrun with closeted gays and boy-lovers.

Now, I need to clarify my usage of the term “unnatural.” We all agree that men who have sex with boys are operating with frighteningly faulty wiring. Gays, on the other hand, are not. But many, many, many poor souls consider their own homosexual feelings sinful or sick. They would consider themselves “unnatural.”

Here’s why I made mention of Joe Paterno’s Republican party affiliation. The GOP in the last 35 years or so has become fixated on sex. Birth control, abortion, gay marriage — if you don’t hew to the party line on these topics you ain’t gettin’ elected, simple as that.

(Which reminds me of the George Carlin bit about how these sex-obsessed people aren’t the kind you’d want to have sex with anyway. Thanks to Benny Jay for reminding me of this routine.)

Anyway, the Church and the GOP hold that every kind of sex except the stultifyingly boring kind between married heterosexual Iowa farm couples is icky to the point of criminality or sin.

Once you paint bonking as intrinsically evil, you lose the capability to see truly evil sex for what it is.

Maybe Joe Pa didn’t even realize that poking a pre-teen lad is an ugly crime. Maybe he just thought Jerry Sandusky had simply succumbed to temptation, you know, like offensive guards who engage in premarital sex or tight ends who masturbate too much.

Maybe he’d been listening for too long to the fetishists who’ve taken over his party.

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