Category Archives: Nate Powell

Hot Air

Rights Without A Home

Well, whaddya know? Our big sister up to the north, Indianapolis, this week passed a law to protect the homeless.

The homeless, for pity’s sake.

How very retro of the Circle City. Hell, you’d think this was 1964 or something. This development is so earth-shaking that the story is being carried in Al Jazeera, for chrissakes.

Not only that, AJ notes, there a whole goddamned “movement” to protect and care about those w/o McMansions or even well-appointed refrigerator cartons in this holy land. Can Al Jazeera be talking about the same country I know?

Refrigerator Carton

Home?

Acc’d’g to the story, homeless-protection laws are being passed in places like Washington, D.C., Madison, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota. Okay, these three are People’s Republics, primarily run and inhabited by subversives, preeverts, and pointy-heads whose political and philosophical spectra run only from pink to red. But Indy?

Yes, Indy. Under the new law, awaiting the mayor’s pen, the homeless would be guaranteed “the rights… to carry out basic human functions such as sitting, standing, eating and sleeping in public areas.”

Heavens. Gov. Mike Pence surely tossed and turned all last night. Not only are the homeless not billionaires, thereby not worthy of due respect in this Free Market, Ayn Randian, I-got-mine-and-to-hell-with-you nation but they’re not even hundredaires! How can a patriotic American even think about them?

Apparently, Indy Council guy LeRoy Robinson has been thinking of them. He sponsored the bill. I didn’t know anything else about him, but I like him.

Robinson

LeRoy Robinson Of Indianapolis

So I did a little digging into this Robinson character. Is he a Russian plant? A member of ISIS? Kim Jong Un’s man in America? Perhaps all three?

Here’s what one prominent Indy att’y said about him when he was running for his City Council seat:

I have watched Leroy grow since childhood into a very well rounded young man with a passion for his community, education, and public service.

Evidence, perhaps, that he wasn’t born in Kenya like some other elected officials we know? We’ll see.

He’s a former schoolteacher, which automatically should disqualify him from US citizenship if the likes of, say, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have their way.

Last fall, Robinson displayed on his City Hall desk a sign reading “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” along with four other council members.

I’m liking him more and more.

Funny thing is, he’s a Christianist, which should be cause for me to sniff dismissively. But maybe — just maybe — his religious belief has inspired him to care about silly things like education, justice, and the homeless. If so, he sounds to me like an honest-to-gosh follower of Jesus Christ — as opposed to those who say they are but aren’t.

Tears Of Joy

The National Weather Service is going way, way, way out on a limb and predicting high temperatures over the next five days to range from 43º today to 56º Wednesday.

I think I’m gonna cry.

Bird & Flowers

Can It Be?

House Boy

It was learned these last couple of days that no House Republicans were slated to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the first of the Selma marches and the Bloody Sunday police riot that shocked the nation — well, some of the nation — on March 7th, 1965.

Bloody Sunday/Selma

John Lewis (Foreground) As The March Commences

Today’s celebration has been attracting pols like bumblebees to bright pink flowers. Jeez, even George W. Bush says he’s going to attend (of course, he doesn’t have to worry about alienating Right Wing voters anymore.) Everybody, it seems, wants to get in on the civil rights act. Everybody that is, except Congressional Republicans.

The tsk-tsking that all Republican members of Congress had better things to do today — including get their cars washed, shoot a round of golf, and clip their toenails — came as an embarrassment to the GOP. So last night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told the world that, yes, he’ll be in Selma this afternoon.

Perhaps he’ll see what it’s like to be a token.

In any case, do you need any more evidence that no matter what Republicans say, they really, really don’t give a shit about dark-skinned folk?

Hey, while we’re on the subject, here’s a reminder. You oughta get yourself a copy of the graphic novel, March: Book One, illustrated by B-ton resident Nate Powell. It’s the story of then-civil rights activist and current US Congressguy John Lewis’s road to Selma. Lewis was clubbed on the head by one of Alabama’s state troopers and suffered a fractured skull that day fifty years ago.

Bloody Sunday

John Lewis Hits The Ground

Here’s my January 2014 interview with Powell on WFHB and here’s a longer interview I did with him for for the April 2014 Ryder magazine.

Daylight Savings

Set your clocks ahead tonight, woohoo!

Clock

Son Of Seymour

This should make a certain percentage of Bloomingtonians happy and a certain percentage nauseated: a new biography of John Mellencamp will be released next month. Titled Mellencamp: American Troubadour and written by David Masciotra, the book is being published by the University Press of Kentucky and is due on booksellers’ shelves April 6th.

Book Cover

I don’t know why it is but tons of my adopted town’s citizenry love to tell stories about how their girlfriend’s brother-in-law once ran into Mellencamp at some hardware store and the rock star emeritus was all kinds of a-hole-ish. Sometimes I think peeps expect guys like Mellencamp to pump their hands and say, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a fan. Can I pay for all your stuff? I s’pose it never occurs to folks that they might be the hundredth person to grab him by the arm that morning and stutter, You’re…, you’re…, that guy…. Right?

Or, maybe he is a jerk. I dunno. Read the book and find out.

She Likes Us! She Likes Us!

Search me as to why I missed this a couple of months ago but let’s celebrate it now: Comedian Amy Schumer named the Comedy Attic one of her 10 fave clubs in the country in USA Today.

All the rest were pretty much big city joints — the Gotham Comedy Club in New York, Punchline in San Francisco, Hollywood Improv in LA and the like. Schumer’s list ran in the paper’s January 11th edition. She had this to say about Jared & Dayna Thompson’s place and our thriving, throbbing megalopolis:

It’s the Midwest, but they’re nobody’s fool. The people are smart, and I love the culture there, and the restaurants and the bars. It’s kind of a happening city.

Schumer

Funny Girl

Hot Air

Big Talk

Who’s the coolest person in Bloomington?

Today, at least, it’s Nate Powell. The noted cartoonist and author of numerous top-selling graphic novels is grilled, pierced, gutted, and otherwise questioned online by the majordomo of this communications colossus in the new interview series Big Talk.

That majordomo? It’s me.

BigTalkRoundCorners

Big Talk, long-time readers of this series of shrieks already know, is the shiny new monthly run of colloquys co-sponsored by The Ryder magazine, WFHB radio, and, natch, The Electron Pencil. The whole shebang had a soft kick-off in mid-January with the first airing on ‘FHB’s Daily Local News of my interview with the author/drawer of March: Book One, Any Empire, The Silence of Our Friends, and others. As in any new endeavor attempted by creative types, getting this thing synched up has been about as efficient as the wrangling of a houseful of cats by a blind man, so the other shoe part of interview No. 1 finally hits the interwebs today.

Powell Cartoon

Powell By Powell

We’ve already run a second interview with poet extraordinaire Tony Brewer on WFHB, with his print chat set to hit the streets in the April edition of The Ryder, due out soonly. Slowly but surely we’ll get our radio, print, and online skeds to jibe, so keep your shirts on while we pretend we know what we’re doing.

To refresh, the whole idea is for me to find fascinating Bloomington characters and shine the harsh light upon them, sans the blackjack and the telephone book treatment. Honest, I try to treat my victi…, er, subjects nicely. We want to learn about B-Town’s cools, not gawk at their lifeless bodies. The resultant interviews will find their way to your ears and eyes via an 8-minute feature segment on WFHB’s Daily Local News, a much longer discussion in that month’s hard-copy Ryder, and then a web redux on The Ryder‘s site. Natch, all links will be accessible here, thanks to our (duh) Big Talk page.

EP Screenshot

Go Ahead, Click It; You Know You Want To

So, unless you want to be the most square square in this Indiana college town, listen to the Daily Local News, read The Ryder when it hits your local merchants and street newsboxes, and, well, read it again when each month’s issue comes out online.

And, of course, you have to read The Pencil every single day. No misses, No excuses. What — you want your neighbors to think you’re out of it?

Ideas, Babies

Oh, before I forget: Feel free to suggest people you’d like to see interviewed by me. I’ve already got a long list of potential subjects. Hard as it may be to believe, I might have missed someone of note, so I’m leaning on you, hep Pencillista, to help me out. Send in your suggestions via the comments section in these posts or at glabagogo@gmail.com.

Do your part, savvy? It takes a village.

Mea Culpa

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m a human and I sometimes have evil thoughts. Herein, I’ll confess my latest.

For a hot minute, I really, really wanted that Nevada rancher flap to devolve into a shootin’ war. Yep. I wanted all those loony militia members converging on the Bundy Ranch as well as the Bundys themselves and their supporters to get the living crap kicked out of them by the Feds.

Bundy Ranch

Standoff

The very notion that these gun-fondlers, Tea Party “patriots,” and miscellaneous survivalists and supremacists should position their dopey stance as a fight for freedom makes me want to retch. The Bundys, pure and simple, are letting their cattle graze on publicly-owned land. They owe us rent. That is all, kids.

And they want to fight a war over it? Yeesh.

An alarming number of Bundy-ists believe in a twisted interpretation of the Posse Comitatus rule — that is, the only governmental authority they recognize is that of the county. The state of Nevada and the US Gov’t, to these people, are unlawful, tyrannical entities.

In short, they’re nuts.

Bundy Ranch

Yikes

And don’t buy the line that they are the moral equivalent of the Freedom Riders, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks. They’re not. Merely suggesting that they might be comparable to those civil rights activists insults anybody who’s truly risked life and limb for freedom and equality.

The Bundy-ists said they were prepared to shoot it out with Bureau of Land Management security forces. One of their tactics, it’s been revealed, would be to place unarmed women in the front rank of their picket line so that when and if the Feds started shooting, their sainted womenfolk would take the first slugs.

Nice, huh?

Just imagine if one of the Bundy-ists had squeezed off a shot to start the party rolling. The Feds, of course, would be obligated to fire back and, necessarily, those target dames would be riddled with bullets. And then the Bundy-ists could cry martyr.

That mean little part of me wished it would have happened. The devil within me said, Mow ’em all down.

Now, my firmly-held believe is that it’s our second thoughts that make us human. My second thought was, Aw, hell, I don’t want to see bloodshed. But for that flash of a moment, I figuratively rubbed my hands together and hoped for the worst.

See, that’s the diff. between me and those Bundy-ists.

[BTW: The paranoiac, conspiracy-obsessed website Natural News is coming down four-square on the side of the Bundy-ists. More evidence that those of us on the crunchy, natural Left should stay away from Mike Adams’ scare-mongering delusion-fest. As if his chemtrails fetish wasn’t enough for you.]

Hot Sunday Air

Old School

The fabulous historian Rick Perlstein has changed his Facebook profile picture. Now, when you go to his page, you see the one-time celebrity bank robber “Tania.”

That was the nom de guerre of kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst. To refresh, she was snatched by members of some rump revolutionary bunch of crazies who fancied themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. By and by, thanks to the psychological condition known as the Stockholm Syndrome, she fell in love with one of her captors, donned camouflage, and lugged a machine gun into a bank to help the gang finance its lifestyle.

Here’s the pic:

Hearst

“Tania”

I’ve gotta admit it: She looks pretty hot in that get-up.

Big Talk

Okay, Big Talk is moving forward, baby step by baby step. Thus far our new cross-media, multi-platform interview series has aired twice on WFHB. We’ve talked with cartoonist/graphic novelist Nate Powell and sound effects artist/actor/poet/roller derby announcer Tony Brewer.

Big Talk

The companion print piece for the Powell interview is in the current issue of The Ryder (it’ll go online in a week or so.) Brewer’s print interview will run in the May issue. And we’re working on a YouTube channel so you can actually see Big Mike grill his victi…, I mean, subjects.

Go to our new Big Talk page on this here interwebs site for links to the audio interviews. They’re only eight minutes each, so have fun. Quick fun.

Criminal Behavior

Back to “Tania” and her posse. I couldn’t figure out immediately why Perlstein was homage-ing her until I hit Neil Steinberg’s column today in the Chicago Sun-Times (and, concurrently, in his own blog, Every Goddamn Day.)

Steinberg recently got a call from a fellow who was up in arms about the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana employing one James Kilgore at its Center for African Studies. Kilgore, it seems, was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. He participated in a bank robbery where an innocent bystander was killed. Kilgore didn’t actually pull the trigger but, as a participant in the caper, he was subject to prosecution for the murder. Kilgore went on the lam in 1975, spent 27 years teaching at the University of Cape Town in South Africa under an assumed name, and was extradited to the US in 2002. He served six and a half years for the robbery/murder and when he was released, claimed to be remorseful and rehabilitated. Eventually, he got the job at Illinois under his real name.

Kilgore

The Stages Of A Man’s Life

The caller was aghast that such a man could be teaching “18-year-olds from Schaumburg and Arlington Heights.” He told Steinberg, “I don’t like bank robbers who kill moms in banks.”

BTW: My guess is a scant few 18-year-olds from Schaumburg and Arlington Heights are taking any course offered by U of I’s Center for African Studies. It’s doubtful they see that academic pursuit as helpful to their eventual goal of getting the highest paying job possible.

BTW II: The son of the murdered Mom, a fellow named Jon Opsahl, apparently has forgiven Kilgore.

Anyway, Steinberg goes on to ruminate about criminals and the possibility they’ll become productive members of society. He writes: “[W]hile we demand they turn their lives around, we seem to also resent the ones who do.”

Yep. That’s us.

Hot Air, Please!

Baked, Bumped, Besotted, Etc.

The list you’ve been waiting for:

From The Weeklings

Click Image For List

Wait a sec: $3 million on cocaine? Steven Tyler of Aerosmith sez that’s how much he’s spent on blow in his lifetime. Doesn’t that sort of count as a crime against humanity? Like, y’know, when there are people dying of starvation somewhere while he’s pissing all that scratch away to get bumped?

Anyways, all the usual suspects are here: David Bowie of the late 1970s and early ’80s, Nick Drake, Lou Reed, Captain Beefheart, Fleetwood Mac when Stevie Nicks was burning a hole through her nasal septum, Marvin Gaye on the road to getting shot to death by his daddy-o, Billie Holliday — natch, and even one of my teen faves, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

Brown

Arthur Brown, Wearing His Trademark Flaming Mask/Helmet

[h/t to Maxxwell Bodenheim of Forest Park, Ill. for pointing this out.]

Those Who Do….

Spent a cool night in the recording studio with the multi-talented Tony Brewer yesterday. He’ll be the next guest in my new interview series, Big Talk, carried over the air by WFHB and in print in The Ryder mag.

Jeremy Hogan Photo

Tony Brewer [photo by Jeremy Hogan]

I dunno, I think I might give myself an inferiority complex if I keep doing these chats. First up was cartoonist, graphic novelist, record producer, musician, and otherwise walker-on-water Nate Powell. Now it’s Brewer, who’s been a sound effects guy, poet, roller derby announcer, pro typesetter, improv comic, artists’ consortium bwana, filmmaker, DJ, and…, aw, I’m getting tired just typing out what he’s done.

How do these people do it? I know I get exhausted washing the dishes. I need to take a nap after brewing my morning coffee. Where do all these movers and shakers get the drive and energy to do what they do?

That’s one question we may eventually answer in the Big Talk series. We’ll see.

Logo by KLR

The New Radio/Print/Online Interview Series

So, here’s the Nate Powell chat that ran on WFHB. The full interview will run in the March edition of The Ryder. The Brewer tête-à-tête should air within a week or two, depending on how quickly I transcribe and edit the piece. But, trust me, there’ll be a lot of naps interspersed with the work.

Drinking Games

Just thought I’d bring up a blast from the past. Remember when Michelle Obama told schoolkids they oughtta drink an extra glass of water a day ‘coz it’d make them healthier or some such thing?

The joke became, Now the Me Party-ists and all those crazy Right Wingers’ll come out against water, haha.

And, lo and behold, that’s what happened!

All true. Rush Limbaugh and the Washington Times and a bunch of Tea Party loons got all uppity, saying the FLOTUS’s science was hogwash and that she was now turning into Mrs. Michelle Hitler Stalin Attila the Hun bin Laden Obama.

The Guardian Photo

Tyrant!

These, kiddies, are the folks the Dems are now a’scared of in this fall’s mid-term elections.

Politics today is so frustrating. The other guys are whack jobs and my guys are tadpoles (i.e. invertebrate larvae). Sheesh.

Relatively Balmy Air

Big Talk

Yo ho, the first installment in my new series of interviews, jointly produced with WFHB radio and The Ryder magazine, came off without a hitch yesterday.

Logo Combo

Media Conglomerate

The series has no name just yet — I’m leaning toward something like The Big Talk. Interview Number 1 aired during the Daily Local News at 5:30pm on 91.3 FM. I’d sat down with Nate Powell, now a Bloomington resident and one of the top graphic novelists/cartoonists in the country. Powell illustrated Congressman John Lewis’s biographical graphic novel, March: Book One. Lewis was one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement and famously got his skull broken by an Alabama state trooper’s nightstick on Bloody Sunday, the day of the first Selma voting rights march.

The series includes both an 8-minute radio interview to be followed by a longer chitchat in the magazine. The Powell interview will run in Feb.’s Ryder, appropriately enough, during Black History Month.

Tons o’thanks to WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh and The Ryder editor and publisher Peter LoPilato for their support. This is gonna be fun!

Anyway, check out the Nate Powell talk online.

Making Things Up

My pal, the retired IU prof of Southeast Asia studies (who, BTW, forbids me from disclosing his name in this communications colossus), suggests we need a word for the practice in coffeehouses and restaurants of combining two or more tables to accommodate a big group of people.

You know, something like schadenfreude¹ or zeitgeist² or doppelgänger³. The Germans, natch, are huge on that portmanteau-ish practice and, in fact, are notorious for coining words that go on and on and on. The language and writing blog Verbavores points out the 30-letter word Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen, which actually means nothing more complicated than speed limits.

German Speed Limit Signs

Strassenverkehrsordnung-stuff

A visiting German student working on his thesis here at IU was sitting with us in Soma this AM. We leaned on him to help us come up with such a word. Give us something with table and combine, we said.

He thought for a moment, then commandeered my interwebs machine to type in the following: Tischzusammenschiebungen.

Hmm. Doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, does it? We’ll have to keep working on it.

[1: Harm-joy, finding pleasure in the suffering of others; 2: Ghost-time, the spirit of the age; and 3: Double-goer, a paranormal double of a living person or one who uncannily resembles someone else.]

[Oh, one more thing: the name of this media powerhouse, in Teutonic portmanteau, is Elektronenbleistift. You’re welcome.]

Everybody’s Talkin’

Much Less Frigid Air

The War We Lost

So, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s declaration of War on Poverty.

It was one of the great moments in American history.

Loyal readers know how I feel about LBJ. He was an uncouth, bullying, macho, conniving political huckster. He also felt, deep within his heart and soul, a kinship with black human beings and poor human beings. And he acted on those empathies — for a precious moment.

LBJ

LBJ

Had he and the Congress allowed the resultant Great Society programs to actually eliminate malnutrition, lack of education, joblessness, and all the other ills of need that bedeviled this holy land, the richest on Earth, he would have gone down as one of the greatest three or four presidents ever.

Sadly, he got, to borrow a term he often used, his pecker caught in Vietnam.

This nation decided it was far more important to prosecute an unwinnable, pointless, poorly-executed war in the Southeast Asian jungles than to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters here climb out of despair.

Now, here we are, 50 years later. The gap between rich and poor grows daily. Commentators chirp that the economy is is churning once again after the Great Recession, yet it seems the only beneficiaries are moneyed investors and Wall Street casino players. Municipalities and social and cultural institutions are starving for cash. Unemployment remains remarkably high. And far too many of the available jobs are in the service industries, paying minimum wage.

In the War on Poverty, poverty won.

Mother Jones mag yesterday ran a piece on where we are, poverty-wise, now in the United States. A trio of authors suggest we’ve both won and lost the War. If we take the authors at their word, that the result was a mixed bag, then, really, we’ve lost. LBJ himself said, in announcing the War, “… [W]e shall not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on Earth can afford to win it.”

Check out the six charts illustrating the depths of American poverty in the 21st Century. Some things have changed for the better. Some things. That’s all.

The political debate today is no nearer to revisiting the ideas of the Great Society than it is to the consideration of dumping all our currency, stocks, and bonds in a huge pile, dousing it with gasoline, and lighting a match.

Poor people, you’re on your own.

To me, that’s a losing coda.

[h/t to Susan Sandberg for pointing out the MJ mag piece.]

The Big Interview

Hey, dig my interview with graphic novelist Nate Powell this afternoon on the WFHB Daily Local News.

Powell

Powell

It’s the first in a new series of conversations between me and people I find compelling and interesting. Each tête à tête will run as an 8-minute feature on WFHB and then as a full-out conversation in The Ryder magazine.

Powell is the illustrator of the graphic novel, March: Book One, about the life of Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who was a key figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Lewis got his skull broken by an Alabama state trooper on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. That was the day voting rights activists attempted to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge at Selma but were met and routed by local and state cops.

Powell has written and drawn a number of award-winning and big-selling comics and graphic novels including Swallow Me Whole, Any Empire, and The Silence of Our Friends. He lives in Bloomington now with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Tune in at 5:30pm or catch the podcast (after it’s put up, natch) on the station’s website. The longer Powell interview will run in next month’s Ryder.

A Contrarian’s Rationalization

Loyal readers know I refuse to get a smartphone. Some folks look at me as if I’m from the moon when I whip out my trusty flip phone. I don’t care.

Yeah, a lot of it has to do with my fetish for contrarianism but, really, there’s thought behind my refusal to jump on the e-toy bandwagon.

Smartphone Users

Personal technology writer David Pogue laid out a good case for my narrowly-focused Luddism in last month’s Scientific American:

We all know that the cycle of electronics consumerism is broken. Because it’s an endless money drain for consumers to keep their gadgets current. Because the never ending desire to show off new features leads to bloat and complexity of design. And because all our outdated, abandoned gadgets have to go somewhere. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, we Americans threw away 310 million electronic gadgets in 2010 alone. That’s about 1.8 million tons of toxic, nonbiodegradable waste in our landfills.

See? I’m not a total lunatic.

Hot Air

Quick Hits & Snippets

Cold yet? Just wait. In the meantime, here are some news tidbits, opinions, and pontifications straight from The Pencil world headquarters. BTW: Chris Madsen, long-time voice of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and noted national media consultant, called my almost-daily word spurts “rants” yesterday. Hmm! Rants, eh? I’ll show you some rants.

Brrrrrr…., Grrrrrr!

Personal to Old Man Winter: Just go, will you?

Winter Ice

Music As Biography

Have you read the piece on John Mellencamp in the last Rolling Stone issue of 2013? It’s called “My Life in 15 Songs” and, in it, he describes how he’s grown, how his life has changed through the years as landmarked by certain hits. Pretty cool idea.

Now, I’ve never met Mellencamp, although I like to think we’re neighbors: He and I live on Indiana State Road 446. Of course, his lakefront mansion is some five miles south of my far more modest chez.

Anyway, when I first moved here, I’d hear people talking about M. and their stories generally went something like this:

My cousin’s brother-in-law knew him in high school and, man, was he an asshole. There was this one time….

None of the people who were so certain as to the character of the pop star-turned Americana singer-songwriter had ever seen the man, much less knew him.

I get the feeling that because he’d elected to live in So. Cent. Ind. people expected him to be chummy and warm with everyone he’d run into hereabouts, as if, rather than being a worldwide celebrity, he was everybody’s next door neighbor. So when he’d grunt in response to goggle-eyed fans accosting him at the Starbucks, they’d take it personally.

Mellencamp/Irwin

Jekyll & Bride

Conversely, his ex-wife, the stunning model Elaine Irwin, seems universally regarded as the nicest human ever to breath air in Indiana. I’ve got a theory about that, too, natch. See, people expect super models to be haughty, aloof, and utterly unapproachable. So whenever anyone might run into her in the Starbucks line, they’d hear her say please and thank you to the barista and come away convinced that she was, in truth, gushingly effusive and open-armed.

Face it, folks, we’re a weird species.

I’d Like You To Meet Someone….

Hey, as soon as I finish clacking this post out, I’m off to the recording studio to do an interview with big time graphic novelist Nate Powell. His latest tome is a joint production with Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) and writer Andrew Aydin entitled March: Book One. It the first of a trilogy recounting the life of the civil rights leader from his days on a little Pike County, Alabama, farm through the 1965 voting rights march in Selma (where he got his skull broken by an Alabama state trooper) and on, triumphantly, to the halls of the US Capitol.

Nate Powell Artwork/John Lewis

Powell & Lewis

Powell’s well-known for his graphic novels, including Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire. He took a roundabout route to comix fame and we’ll be talking about it all today. My interview with him will be the first in a joint production venture between WFHB and The Ryder magazine. We’re looking to run a monthly piece in the mag featuring compelling folk from here in the Bloomington area as well as a companion audio feature on the Daily Local News. I’m excited as all hell about it.

Kudos and thanks to WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh and Ryder editor/publisher Peter LoPilato for joining the venture. BTW: I haven’t figured out what to call the thing yet. I’ve tossed around some ideas in my coconut and the best so far seems to be Big Mike’s People. If you’ve got a better idea, by all means pass it on.

Ready, Aim…, Duck!

Wow, here’s a shocker: Those Duck Dynasty hyenas are now pimping for a gun manufacturer. Imagine that! Bigoted people and guns. No one on Earth has ever made that connection before.

Tea Party & Guns

Poor Little Rich Boys

And, of course, the “affluenza” defense is becoming real, at least a version of it. Well, “real” in the same sense that, say, an accused rapist might plead he couldn’t help himself because that woman wore a miniskirt.

Ty Warner, the billionaire entrepreneurial genius who gave us Beanie Babies®, has been convicted of income tax evasion for parking countless millions of dollars in off-shore accounts. See, geniuses shouldn’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us slobs.

He has pleaded guilty in federal court to the tax evasion charges and now is trying to convince the judge in his case that he shouldn’t go to jail because he came from the most deprived of childhoods so how could she expect him to do the right thing when he became a bazillionaire?

Warner

The Tears Of A Clown

Warner faces five years in the federal pen; that’s in addition to the $53 million in penalties and $16 million in back taxes he’s already been ordered to pay. But his reasoning goes that rich geniuses shouldn’t have to go to jail for evading taxes, especially if they’d been forced to endure abominations like taking jobs as busboys and valet parkers when they were in college.

The horror.

Do I need to tell you how I hope the judge rules?

Room To Write

Resident of the Internet-iverse (although his corporal body can be found in Forest Park, Illinois), Bill Lichtenberg, happened upon some chilling stats. Chilling, that is, when one (me) considers the depth and breadth of the competition to get one’s (mine) novel published.

Dominic Smith, writing in the books, arts and culture online magazine The Millions, has found that there are way, way, way, way too many people trying to catch the eyes of traditional publishers these days. Smith writes:

After studying the data, I’m inclined to think there’s a million people writing novels, a quarter of a million actively publishing them in some form, and about 50,000 publishing them with mainstream and small, traditional presses.

That’s in America alone, babies.

Personal to other writers: Back off; you’re crowding me

Radio Talk

Finally, the newly-formed WFHB newsletter committee will meet again tonight. I can say that I’m on the committee and maybe — just maybe — tonight I can get the other members to give me permission to identify them. We’ll see.

Anyway, the committee last week decided to aim for March to put out the inaugural issue.

Stay tuned.

It’s A Small, Small World Hot Air

All local, all the time today.

Meters, Made

A member of the notorious Bloomington Seven had his gang’s most egregious crime against humanity on his mind yesterday.

Tall Steve Volan plopped his skyscraping frame in a chair in the WFHB lobby following his Thursday afternoon music show. He accosted innocent passersby for their feelings on how the recently installed downtown parking meters have directly affected them. (Of course, he might use the term canvassed but, y’know, he’s a politician.)

Anyway, Tall Steve is getting all voice of the people-y now. Perhaps he’s concerned about the seemingly universal negative reaction to the downtown pay-to-park move that went into effect in August. As far as I can gather, the only people happy about the new coin bandits around the Square and surrounding streets are restaurant and cafe owners who want the continuous flow of open parking spaces that meters will produce.

Deatil from photo by Ying Chen/IPM

Meter Matters

The rest of the citizenry is ready to string up Volan, Mayor Mark Kruzan, and the other city council members (the B-7) who voted for the meters.

Next, Volan wants to gather the mobs in a safe place in order to convince them he is indeed a servant of the people. He’s looking to set up one or two public forums in hopes of evoking community input on the meter mess.

The ultimate goal, Volan tells me, is to establish a parking commission here in Bloomington. He revealed there was no blue-ribbon body that pondered the philosophical, moral, and practical considerations of making shoppers dig into their pockets and purses for quarters every time they come downtown. The meters were the brainchild only of the mayor and a few Department of Public Works wonks who crunched numbers and felt a frisson when they concluded that pay parking would dump thousands of dollars a day into the general fund.

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Natch, pols hate to admit money is the sole reasoning for any decisions they make, so Kruzan et al claim to want to prevent all the nouveau downtown residents from hogging parking spaces all day and night long. Volan says the idea is for residents and downtown employees all to park off-street, thereby leaving an open parking field for customers, diners, and other dignitaries.

The city, from this EP vantage point, sees all the East Coast B-students whose parents have copped them swanky condos downtown, are swell for all the dough they spill in the city but their aircraft carrier-sized SUVs take up much of the available municipal acreage.

Volan was surprised to learn that the surface lot behind the Buskirk-Chumley Theater was not packed even at the busy hour of two in the afternoon. That lot and the multi-story garage on 4th Street offer the first three hours free. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting the word out about that,” Volan said.

Buy Local

Here are three things you should spend your hard-earned cash on.

Krista Detor‘s new CD, her first in four years. Titled Flat Earth Diary, you can still catch a free sample download here. The CD is due out in January. Bloomington’s own Krista Detor is a cool dame; if you’re not yet a fan, where you been, mang?

Detor

Krista Detor

The Rise of the Warrior Cop, by Radley Balko. Former Indiana University journalism student Radley Balko has released a pressing new book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. Balko cut his teeth as a press snoop with the Indiana Daily Student. Believe it or n. the IDS is my daily paper of choice. Balko looks into the the militarization of this holy land’s thousands of police forces.

Boston Police

Officers Friendly

Apparently, too many police chiefs and city fathers have grown up watching RoboCop-type movies and have conflated the images on the screen with real life. Do you really want your local cops to tool around city streets in fully armored vehicles and be armed with battlefield weapons?

I didn’t think so.

March (Book One), by Rep.  John Lewis (D-Georgia) and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell. Lewis, a chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and one of the famed Freedom Riders, got his head broken in Selma, Alabama on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” His crime? Being one of the leaders of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Bloody Sunday

Lewis, On The Ground

Illustrator Nate Powell now lives in Bloomington. He’s famed for numerous graphic novels, including Any Empire, and is n ow working on a graphic adaptation of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero.

The first entry in the Lewis graphic novel autobiography trilogy recounts his early days as a freedom fighter. I can’t wait for books two and three.

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