Category Archives: Neil Steinberg

Hot Air

Money For Nothin’

Try as I might, I can’t seem to find a Las Vegas over/under line on when the first Article of Impeachment against Barack Obama will be passed by a House committee.

Inpeach

You know it’s coming as well as I do. I just want to get my smart money down on it now.

A Good Woman For The Job

Congrats to Efrat Feferman on her promotion to Assistant Director in charge of finance over at Pat Murphy’s City of Bloomington Utilities Dept.

Feferman

Feferman

With Efrat keeping an eye on the operation’s checkbook don’t expect anybody to get away with purchasing $100,000 oriental rugs for their offices or solid gold sinks for the exec. washroom. She started off in the accounting department when she first went to work for Utilities some years ago and has been handling Utilities Board relations of late. Her new gig begins Dec. 1st.

Brrrrrr…, GRRRRR!

Hey Bloomington, WTF? I left Chicago to get away from this kind of weather!

Frost

Just in case you’ve forgotten, the official start of winter is more than a month away.

Self Abuse

You know those ridiculous “ear plugs” — AKA “lobe gauging,” or “tribal piercing” — where people, mostly guys, get their earlobes punched out and stretched by inserting cylindrical thingies into them? Well, a number of people who’ve had it done are now regretting their decisions. Duh.

Cosmetic surgeons in Great Britain say trade in earlobe repair due to this misguided mutilation is robust. And even though Brits report more gauging ruers than their American counterparts, plastic surgeons here have noticed an uptick in the procedure as well.

So far, the only thing docs can do is slice the saggy, droopy lobe loop off and refashion the remaining flesh to look somewhat natural.

Lobe Loop

Loopy

My back office at Soma Coffee affords me ample opportunity to see guys with ear plugs. They don’t put me off my feed as much as they once did, familiarity breeding numbness, as it were. I do remember a guy who took the gauging thing to a whole new level of bizarre. One of my old coffeehouse hangout/back offices was called Bic’s Hardware Cafe on Halsted Street down by 18th Street in Chi.’s East Pilsen neighborhood. A fellow who came in to the place on occasion not only had ear plugs but his loops were so big you could have fired a gun though them and still missed hitting him in the head. He’d looped the septum of his nose as well. He was, I’d suppose, a gauging savant.

So much so, in fact, that he’d actually had his ankles looped. Yep. Here’s how it worked: He’d pierced the skin and flesh between his Achilles tendons and his lower leg bones. Somehow — perhaps surgically — he’d had the apertures looped so that you could actually see the space, perhaps an inch or so, between sinew and bone. Natch, he had a cylindrical bangle dangling from each hole.

Ankle Hole Location

I was wearing a hat the first time I saw him; it popped up the top of my head.

Now, defenders may say these gaugers have a right to do whatever they wish with their bodies and I guess that’s true. On the other hand, it’s like a developer building the ugliest skyscraper in the skyline. It’s an imposition on the senses and sensibilities of the rest of us. Just as I’m forced to have my eyes violated by the architectural monstrosity below, the man at Bic’s Hardware Cafe forced me to view the gap between his Achilles tendons and tibiae.

Grand Lisboa

The Grand Lisboa Hotel In Macau

Love & Hate

My pal Susan Sandberg has a dame crush on IUPUI prof and blogger Sheila Kennedy. Not to be outdone, I have a guy crush on Chicago Sun-Times columnist and blogger Neil Steinberg. Of course, you would know this if you’ve visited these precincts the last…, what is it now — two and a half years? Yeah, that’s it. I left The Third City in August 2011, circumnavigated the globe as a merchant marine for six months and then started up this communications colossus.

Anyways, Steinberg thinks much like I do, meaning he’s sensitive, intelligent, rational, and right. He pointed out yesterday a bumper sticker he saw on an SUV in a northwest suburban restaurant parking lot. It read GTFO.

The O was Barack Obama’s old campaign logo. Meaning the prez of this holy land should Get the Fuck Out. Which, I suppose, might disappoint in some slight way the plurality of voters who twice elected him to park his wingtips on a desk in the Oval Office.

Steinberg went on to muse about people who are so madly in hate with Obama. In the process of which, he pointed out that there’s a whole cottage industry of products, services, and miscellaneous shit revolving around said hatred and the countdown to that sacred day when the current C-in-C leaves office, January 20, 2017.

(As an aside, my guess is they won’t be happy that day either as the next president — a human being with a vagina — takes office. Then again, the entrepreneurial spirit being what it is, a whole slew of new products, services, and miscellaneous shit will come to market counting down the days until January 20, 2021.)

So, I figured I’d embark on an interwebs reconnaissance mission to search for things similar to that GTFO bumper sticker (as Steinberg himself did; although he did not itemize his findings.) Here’s what I’ve found:

More Bumper Stickers

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

Emphatic

Bumper Sticker

I Must Be a Double Asshole!

Bumper Sticker

Naw — This Isn’t Racist One Eensy Bit!

Bumper Sticker

Huh?

Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clock

Countdown Clock

T-Shirt

T-Shirt

Simple & Elegant

Mints

Mints

 

For That Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Toilet Paper

Bumper Sticker

Toilet Paper

These last two are fascinating. Imagine, every time a guy goes into his bathroom — even if it’s only to wash his hands — he sees the face of Barack Obama staring at him. How much hate does one have to have in one’s heart to want to see the object of his odium every time he brushes his teeth, clips his toenails, or drops a deuce? The bathroom, in my world, is the second most important room in the house. I desire peace, tranquility, surfaces free of muck and mire, a clean towel or two, and some comforting reading material in that special place. Anything that might roil my blood would be taboo. Then again, perhaps I don’t hate enough.

Presumably, all the people who buy and display these tchotchkes would profess they’ll be happy — deliriously so — when Barack Obama leaves office. I get the feeling, though, that they’re never happy.

Hot Air

Yes And…

“Life is much richer when you say ‘yes’ than if you say ‘no.'”

So said Richard Branson to the Chicago Sun-Times some years ago, as reported by Neil Steinberg in his column today.

Branson

Richard Branson

Apparently Branson’s bank account (accounts?) would bear this out. He’s one the the richest guys around, natch, making his dough through such ventures as Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways. It isn’t just money, though, that makes for a rich life. As long as you have enough to eat, a roof over your head, health care, an education, friends, and family, your life can be as rich as Donald Trump’s (or richer because I can’t imagine Trump’s world being at all fulfilling — either to me, theoretically, or him, in reality.)

Anyway, Branson appears to be one of those guys whose def. of success does not include the annihilation of you, me, or anyone else. He’s a win-win type of primate. Capitalism of late seems a hyena-versus-lion proposition, as in I’m eating and if you’re starving, what do I care?

Today’s world, as defined by Trump, the Kochs, the oil companies, and the Wall Street banksters, is a win-lose prop.

So huzzah for Branson and his riches, pecuniary and otherwise.

Saying Yes has been a philosophy I’ve tried to adhere to (often with success, even) ever since I studied comedy improvisation under the late Del Close and Charna Halpern at the improvOlympic (since renamed, thanks to trademark lawyers, iO Chicago). I started going up on stage to create skits and scenes without a script back in the winter of 1986. I even was part of an improv troupe that put on a weekly stage soap opera called “Children’s Hospital,” along with such notables as comedy guru Mick J. Napier and musician Jim Tomasello. At the then-improvOlympic, I worked with and watched such future Hollywood stars as Mike Meyers, Chris Farley, Lili Taylor, Joel Murray and a raft of others.

Close/Halpern

Del Close & Charna Halpern

The single defining commandment of iO was “Yes and….” In fact, boss Charna Halpern‘s business card read “Yes and….”

It’s a simple idea. Whatever suggestion or proposition someone makes on stage, you go along with it. You build on it. You say to the person who proposed it, “Yes, and…,” and then you build an even taller skyscraper of imagination. If your stage mate says, for instance, Here we are an a spaceship to Mars…, you don’t say, Aw, that’s crazy. You say, Yes, and when we get there, we’re going to hunt for extraterrestrial badgers with our ray guns. Won’t that be fun?

On our first day in class Charna (who taught the intro course) told us the Yes and…. thing not only would make us good improv performers but would actually help us in our daily lives. It sounds almost cultish or at least self-help-ish to say this, but she was right.

I’ve striven to say Yes rather than No as much as humanly possible in the ensuing three decades. Think of all the arguments you’ve ever had; as a rule, they arise when someone, maybe you, says No.

Some examples:

  • Wife: You know, sometimes I feel you don’t pay attention to my issues.
  • Husband: No. You don’t pay attention to my issues.

  • Person A: Life is bleak. I wonder why I should go on.
  • Person B: No, it isn’t. You just need to snap out of it.

  • Person X: The Israelis must be able to defend themselves.
  • Person Y: No. They’re murderers!

  • Person 1: The Palestinians must be able to defend themselves.
  • Person 2: No. They’re murderers.

On the other hand, one can go too far, albeit rarely, in saying Yes to everything. To wit:

  • Rush Limbaugh: Sandra Fluke is a slut.
  • Sane person: No she isn’t. You’re an asshole.

The No-sayer (in most cases) puts a halt to the progress of any conversation or plan. The word itself is combative. It’s fearful. It stops time. I try to say Yes whenever I can (and, as I say, I occasionally succeed.) Yes is freedom; No is not.

Try saying Yes all day today. You might be surprised.

Career Counselor

Who is this son of a bitch, Abdul Hakim-Shabbaz?

That was the first thing that jumped into my mind when I read his horribly mean-spirited piece in Tuesday’s Indy Star recounting his clever, fun prank of asking panhandlers for money.

Hakim-Shabbaz

Abdul Hakim-Shabbaz, Social Reformer

He wrote:

There is nothing more annoying than trying to enjoy a meal, cigar or just some quiet time and have people come up to ask for money. And since the City-County Council Democrats continue to block any meaningful proposal to get these guys off the streets, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I decided to turn the tables on the panhandlers and start asking them for money.

So he hectored panhandlers for money. What a wit, no?

No — as if it’s necessary for me to answer that for you.

In order to put these poor, homeless bastards in their place, he actually asked them for a handout. Pardon me, while I catch my breath; I may laugh myself into a heart attack.

And that would be because I, unlike Hakim-Shabbaz, actually have a heart.

He thinks a lot of the panhandlers he must endure as he digs the good life in downtown Indianapolis are really frauds and leeches. There’s the woman who “claims” she’s disabled but is able to push around all her Earthly belongings in a shopping cart (now there’s a great con job, eh?) Then there’s the kid who’s selling candy for charity but the sharp-as-a-tack Hakim-Shabbaz notes the charity is a different one every day.

Hoohoo, haha! — he began asking them for money. Oh man, he’s killing me!

So who is this social observer on a par with Wilde, Dickens, Sinclair, or even Marie Antoinette? Turns out he’s a talk radio host/attorney/standup comedian/college law instructor. Here’s his own bio on his website.

I suppose Hakim-Shabbaz might advise Indy’s crew of panhandlers to do as he did; that is, get jobs as talk radio hosts/attorneys/standup comedians/college law instructors. Then they wouldn’t ruin his day by asking for money.

You know, it may be easy to become a talk radio host/attorney/standup comedian/college law instructor just like him. All you have to do is work hard at being an asshole.

Paris

Here’s the latest on the passing of RE Paris.

Paris

According to her son, Eric, she began having trouble breathing at home Wednesday morning. She managed to call for an ambulance but by the time it arrived, it was pretty much too late. No details yet on why she had trouble breathing, although she’d been physically ill for a while, thanks in large part to being too broke to afford health insurance premiums.

Hot Air

Rape, Redux

My man-crush newspaper columnist Neil Steinberg addresses that stickiest of topics today: rape. I jumped into the same morass the day before yesterday on the Pencil.

Both columns in q. deal with rape on campus. Kids, you couldn’t get into a stickier mess than that of campus rape. Tons of frat boys and their running partners seem to believe all women want them in the worst way possible, and they only say no initially in some kind of perverse charade of chastity. No, to too many young males, means yes — after some strong persuasion that may or may not include physical intimidation.

Frat Boys

Surely They’ll Be Caring, Sensitive Lovers

Some college females, it’s been argued, seem to be defining rape as something they feel uncomfortable about only in retrospect. For my part, I asked some pointed questions in these precincts. For instance, why would a college-aged woman sleep in the same bed as her accused rapist and even make him breakfast the morning after the alleged act occurred?

Recently, many colleges have re-written their policies concerning rape accusations. One or two are even recommending negotiations in flagrant delicti along the lines of “May I now touch this?” which, I imagine, might throw a splash of cold water on the proceedings.

Sadly, way, way, way too many of our male college students haven’t the foggiest idea how to read the non-verbal signals a young woman is issuing. Those boys, of course, can’t see the forest for their wood.

Anyway, Steinberg says the efforts by colleges and universities to control the problem misses the point. He refers to a big front page article in today’s New York Times about how Hobart and William Smith Colleges mishandled one student’s accusation that members of the Hobart football team gang-raped her. [Males attend Hobart and females go to W. Smith, even though the two are considered part of one institution.]

NYT Front Page Story

The accusing student was harassed after the football players were exonerated in an apparent whitewash. Other students were enraged that she’d accuse the football guys of such a heinous crime even as they were on their way to an undefeated season. Winning, you know, excuses many crimes and misdemeanors.

Steinberg says rape victims are fools for turning to colleges for satisfaction. He writes:

[C]olleges have a hard enough time fielding competent professors. They are not in the crime-detection business, and while their bobbling such an investigation is not acceptable, it’s not surprising either.

He concludes:

The message from this story, a message that I believe is not driven home enough, and should be, is that if someone rapes you — a football player, a priest, a friend, anybody — you should always call the cops. Immediately. The cops might mishandle it, God knows they do that. But they’re the ones with experience in investigating crime, the ones in the best position to have a chance to get it right. Calling the police, I believe, is an important step in a crime being taken seriously.

Both Steinberg and I admit that we’re men, so what do we know? Again, I call for comment from loyal female Pencillistas.

Hot Air

Working Women

I’ve always cracked — and not facetiously, either — that if women had run the world from the outset, prostitution not only would be legal, it’d be the most respected of vocations.

My reasoning? Well, lady-parts is the one commodity women have and men don’t. If our civilization wasn’t so dependent upon men exerting crushing influence over others through physical strength and violence, women would prob. happily peddle their singular wares in a peaceful, chilled-out marketplace.

But, of course, the guys of our mad, mad species needed to slut-shame women into hating their junk. Add to that the fact that men wanted to control their womenfolk, so sex was turned into the dirtiest of words.

In a woman’s world, I’m guessing, the sex worker would be as revered as, say, the late Mother Theresa or Angelina Jolie is in this one.

This past weekend, Amnesty International sponsored a colloquium in Chi., the subject being should sex work be legalized. Ill. Att’y Gen. Lisa Madigan picked up a placard and joined protesters in howling outside Amnesty Int’l’s get-together at the JW Marriot hotel west of the Loop. They claim sex work is by definition demeaning to women.

The protesters led by the state’s chief shingle fail to recognize that it’s not the act of selling sex that’s demeaning but the combination of society’s twin distastes for women controlling their own commodities and for even wanting to have sex in the first place. Keep in mind hundreds of millions of Catholics on this crazy planet honor Mary, the mommy-o of Jesus, for the sole reason that she was a virgin. (And we wonder why that particular religious gang — especially its priests — is so sexually eff-ed up).

Woman can be the gatekeepers of their sexual favors and they can make a good living out of it. But, man, that’d make so many people itchy in this holy land — and every other holy land, for that matter.

From SWOP-Chicago

Activist Sex Workers

My call for legalization of sex work doesn’t mean all sex should be commodified. Hell, I’m four-square in favor of clinical social workers, therapists, and grief counselors charging for their services; that doesn’t mean I think all the acts of a friend should be paid for. You wanna have sex, go ahead. You wanna present a bill for your services, that’s as cool as cool can be, too.

Lisa Madigan, presumably, wants hookers, massage parlor workers, call girls, and other such professionals locked up. Makes sense; she’s a sworn upholder of the law. When your tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

I want our lawmakers to decriminalize traffic in the one product that only women can provide.

BTW: I want those who kidnap and coerce people to get into the skin game to be jailed or caned, or somehow pilloried to within an inch of their lives. And dealers who string junkies along in the street prostitution business should be doubly damned. See, it’s not the sex that’s evil, it’s the slave trade aspect of the whole thing.

There. Now tell me how wrong I am.

For further reading on the subject go to:

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.

Your Daily Hot Air

Hiroshima Day

The nuclear bombings of two cities in Japan were the logical coda of the single most brutal enterprise the species Homo Sapiens sapiens has ever undertaken — and if we’re very, very, very lucky, will ever undertake.

Hiroshima

World War II claimed anywhere from 60-100 million lives. It doesn’t matter how they died; only that the people of this mad planet wanted them dead.

BTW: Shoot over to Neil Steinberg’s blog post today about the excruciatingly unlucky few who survived both bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. True story.

Nixon Resignation Day

Here’s Mike Royko writing Richard M. Nixon’s political eulogy in the Chicago Sun-Times the day after the president quit:

My personal reason for not wanting Mr. Nixon prosecuted is that he really didn’t betray the nation’s trust all that badly.

The country knew what it was getting when it made him president. He was elected by the darker side of the American conscience. His job was to put the brakes on the changes of the 1960s — the growing belief in individual liberties, the push forward by minority groups. He campaigned by appealing to prejudice and suspicion. What he and his followers meant by law and order was “shut up.”

So whose trust he did he betray? Not that of those who thought he was the answer. He was, indeed, their answer.

Nixon

Nixon

The Past Is Prologue

Ukulele savant Susan Sandberg points out this timeless observation by Lyndon Baines Johnson:

If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

LBJ

Johnson

Winning Isn’t Everything

Speaking of the 1960s, I just finished reading a biography of Vince Lombardi entitled When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss.

Lombardi was often portrayed as a brutal, tyrannical leader who’d have steamrolled his grandmother to win a football game. Many people felt he was a man without conscience or sensitivity toward his fellow man. As such, some figured he’d be a great political leader for the turbulent ’60s. In fact, soon after Nixon secured the Republican nomination for president 45 years ago this week, the candidate floated the idea of approaching Lombardi to be his running mate. Nixon’s aides took him seriously and looked into Lombardi’s background. What they found surprised them: The iconic Green Bay Packers coached turned out to be a lifelong Democrat who was particularly close to Bobby Kennedy and the slain senator’s family.

Lombardi

Lombardi

Anyway, the coach’s views on civil rights surely would have sunk a Nixon/Lombardi ticket. Here’s an anecdote. Early on in his term as boss of the Pack, Lombardi and his team traveled into the South for an exhibition game. They went to a large restaurant for a meal. Lombardi was told the black players on the team — only a couple of guys, really, in those days — would not be allowed to enter the place through the front door. They’d have to come in through the back door and eat in a special room for blacks just off the kitchen.

Jim Crow

Lombardi was incensed. He realized, though, he couldn’t smash Jim Crow all by himself that day so he did the next best thing. He directed his entire team to enter through the back door and eat their meal in the back room reserved for blacks.

Pretty cool, eh?

Add to that the fact that Lombardi had at least one player on his team whom he knew was gay. The coach said to his assistants, If I hear one insult or snide remark coming out of your mouths you’ll be fired before your ass hits the floor.

Vince Lombardi was no Spiro Agnew.

Your Daily Hot Air

A No Vote For Warren

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love Elizabeth Warren. Love her.

Lo-o-o-o-o-o-ove her. I wanna marry her. Don’t worry; so does The Loved One. Wants to marry her, that is. We’d have a three-way marriage. We have a spare bedroom at Chez Pencil and Lizzie (as we’d affectionately address her) could sleep and change her clothes there in privacy.

Warren/AP Photo

Swoon (AP)

T-Lo and I would take turns making her breakfast. Then we’d sit there, just listening, our chins in our hands, as she, Lizzie, would expound on this or that problem or proposed law. Sigh.

So now I can say this without fear that someone would dare to think I don’t support everything she stands for:

Elizabeth Warren will never, ever, ever become the President of the United States of America.

There.

Not only that, Elizabeth Warren would make a horrifyingly bad president.

She’d be a one-termer. And, you think the Me Party wing of the GOP is dedicated to stifling the occupant of the White House now? Oh, babies, just wait until some dame who doesn’t genuflect before the banksters gets in there.

Again, I dig Lizzie the most. But she’s too smart, too eager to talk facts and figures rather than fairy tales and bedtime stories, and is too much of a hard-ass for the banksters and the Right to bear.

Anti-Warren Meme

They’re Starting Already

Look what they’ve done to Hillary Clinton over the past couple of decades. And she, Hillary, is pretty much one of them.

Hillary, IIRC, is a commie, lesbo, man-hating, murderer. What slanders could they come up with for my Lizzie, who is so much not one of them that I’m surprised they all came from the same planet, which they probably didn’t.

Honestly, I’ve been sitting here for the last ten minutes trying to think of worse accusations the wingnut Right could make against my Lizzie. So far, I’ve drawn a blank. Then again, I’m not as creative as the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

Here’s the thing: Elizabeth Warren (sigh) is the polar opposite of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The current Prez and the former Sec’y of State would say or do pretty much anything to maintain their respective toeholds in the game. Dig: Clinton voted for Georgey-boy Bush’s Iraq resolution. And Obama loaded up his administration with so many Goldman Sachs unindicted conspirators that the investment bank now holds its company picnic in the Rose Garden.

Much as I loathe those developments, that’s how people stay in the game if they want to become/remain POTUS.

Thus far, my sweet baby Lizzie appears to be incapable of such machinations.

If, by some weird turn of events, she became the boss of this holy land, she’d spend her entire four years fighting just to keep her head above water. That is, the muddy, sludgy, slimy liquid that passes for water in which Tories, crypto-racists, gun lust-ers, and rabid Christianists prefer to swim.

Polluted Water

For all Elizabeth Warren’s fine and good intentions, she wouldn’t get a thing done. Nothing.

I like her better as a senator.

Fetal Positions

You’re missing something if you haven’t read Neil Steinberg’s new blog Every Goddamn Day.

everygoddamnday

In today’s post, he recounts bumping into Joe Scheidler, the national director of the Pro-Life Action League, on Madison Street in downtown Chicago late Monday afternoon. Scheidler was participating in the PLAL’s annual summer demo, during which they carry placards featuring huge enlargements of aborted fetuses.

I recall running into the PLAL-ers any number of times when I lived in Chi. One July day I was stopped at a red light on Wacker Drive next to the then-Sears Tower and an anti-abortion demonstrator standing on the center island put his fetal hamburger picket sign right in front of my windshield.

“Get that mtherfking thing out of my face,” I hollered as I reached out the window and tried to rip it out of his hand. He dangled it just out of my grasp as if he were toying with a cat.

“You’re a sick prick,” I yelled. I had been looking forward to eating lunch and the sign had pretty much taken my appetite away. Believe me, you don’t want to be the poor soul who messes with my lunch.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Never Mess With My Lunch

The guy responded, “God bless you.”

“I didn’t sneeze, idiot,” I cleverly riposted.

Then I thought, damn it, I’m all bent out of shape and he’s still standing their with that religious zombie smirk on his face. The light changed and I peeled away. I never did eat lunch that day.

Anyway, here’s the exchange Steinberg had with Joe Scheidler (all sic):

“You have to admit, that being against abortion is a religious scruple,” I [Steinberg] said.

“I wouldn’t say, ‘scruple.'” he replied. “It’s in the Bible, part of the Ten Commandments: ‘Thou shall not kill.'”

“….a person,” I added.

“A baby is a person,” he said.

“A fetus isn’t a person,” I parried. “I wouldn’t want to take one to the movies.”

“The mom could go to the movies,” Joe countered.

Steinberg concludes his piece with a well-deserved indictment against the so-called pro-choice movement. If you’re “pro-choice” you’re not gonna like it. And you shouldn’t. And I hope it moves you to action.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” — EB White

THE SADDEST OBIT OF ALL TIME

Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times found this passing so sad that he actually gave a plug (and a link) to his paper’s competitor, the Tribune. The Sun-Times as well as every other corporate media outlet in this holy land were scooped by a Trib reporter.

Facts, the reporter has learned, are dead.

We must face the facts: there are no more facts.

We all knew they were lingering for a long while now. Still, their demise shocks us. They suffered terribly. Thankfully, they are in a better place now.

Sadly, nothing I write can do justice to this mournful turn of events. So, read Rex W. Huppke’s final notice for these very dear old friends.

Farewell

BE A SMART VOTER

Hey, have you checked out the April edition of Ryder magazine yet?

In addition to all the usual invaluable arts and culture stuff, editor Peter LoPilato dispatched an intrepid reporter to delve into the private lives of the five candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Indiana’s ninth district.

“The Chair Recognizes The Representative From The Great State of Indiana.”

(By the way, reliable sources are saying the reporter is handsome and charming as well as being intrepid. The Electron Pencil is working to verify these statements at this time.)

Anyway, the five running in the Dem primary, May 5th, are Gen. Jonathan George, John Griffin Miller, Col. John Tilford, Robert Winningham, and Shelli Yoder.

I pooh-poohed Yoder’s candidacy in this space previously. I fixated on her background as a beauty queen. Now she has amassed a batch of endorsements from local political and private heavyweights. Shows what I know, no?

Proving Me Wrong?

The five candidates reveal themselves in the Ryder piece in ways they might never have imagined before they decided to run for public office. We learn for instance, whose father once caught a foul ball off the bat of Bill Buckner at Wrigley Field, who can actually speak conversational Comanche, whose first album was the Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow,” and who dreamed of being a member of Doctors without Borders.

Early Endorsement?

The grilling LoPilato’s ace reporter gave each of the candidates was so thorough that one admitted he was driven to tears (when he recounted his favorite childhood memory).

Pick up the Ryder today. Unfortunately, you can’t get the issue online yet. The Ryder’s long awaited internet presence still is nothing but a dream. If you’ve got a spare minute, drop Peter an email and tell him you’d love to see him step into at least the 1990s.

Oh, and ladies, that handsome, charming, intrepid reporter? Forget it — he’s happily hitched.

TAKE FIVE

Speaking of fave childhood memories, here’s one of mine. I’d be able to stay up late on weeknights during summer vacation. WGN-TV would have two movies on after the nightly news. Between the two there’d be a half hour newsbreak called “Night Beat” featuring the somnolent Carl Greyson.

The poor guy — he could put you to sleep reporting on the end of the world. Then again, his hypnotic delivery might have been perfect for 12:30am.

The original theme song for “Night Beat” was this Dave Brubeck classic. It was my first introduction to sophisticated music. I was nine or ten and I loved it.

“Take Five” will forever remind me of those free, long summer nights.

The Pencil Today:

THE (VIDEO) QUOTE

Courtesy of the White Rabbit.

RICK ‘N ROLL

A couple of things about my favorite Martian, Rick Santorum, before I get into the meat of today’s post.

  1. Yesterday, speaking before a crowd in Arizona, Rickey-girl slammed the Obama health care bill, natch. But he acknowledged that part of Obama’s reasoning was that every citizen should have the right to health care. Haharights. “When the government gives you rights, they can take those rights away,” he spewed. I’ve never thought about it that way before. I guess Martin Luther King, Jr. and all his cronies, were they still alive, would regret the enactments of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. Because, after all, who cares about rights when they can be taken away?
  2. Pennsylvania’s man-in-the-closet is taking heat for casting aspersions on Obama’s “theology.” He has declared he will not step back from the statements because they came from his heart. You know, that’s why Republican Cro-Magnons are attractive to a lot of voters. They won’t back down. It’d be refreshing to hear a Democrat once in a while saying, Screw it, I said it and I believe it, no matter how many people think I should apologize.

BALLOT BOXERS

Speaking of Democrats, the Monroe County party faithful gathered together last night in the Fountain Square ballroom to pat themselves on the back and tell each other how badly they’re going to spank the GOP this coming November.

Even Mayor Mark Kruzan emerged from his cocoon to press the flesh.

Kruzan Has Been Seen In Public Before

Dem hopefuls running in the May primary for city, county, and statewide offices were introduced by the somnolent county party chair Rick Dietz during last evening’s finger-food love fest.

BTW: perhaps Dietz does a fine job maintaining the records of the party, or maybe he finds the best deals on yard signs and bumper stickers. But when it comes to rallying the troops, Steven Wright would be a more emphatic orator.

Anyway, the star of the show was the mustachioed John Gregg, who’s running for governor. He grabbed the mic out of Dietz’s hand when he was introduced and wowed the crowd. The man has charisma in addition to that big furry thing on his upper lip.

A Hirsute Governor?

The five brave souls running for US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District met the flock as a unit for the first time. In fact, some of them met the flock for the first time, period.

At least three of the contenders threw their hats into the ring within the last few weeks. They’re all earnest and most of them paid lip-service to the memory of liberal Dem representative Frank McCloskey as well as the sainted Lee Hamilton. But from this vantage point, it seems likely the only one with a ghost of a chance to unseat Congressboy Todd Young is Shelli Yoder.

McCloskey: Local Hero

I came down hard on Yoder Monday. She’s best known as Miss Indiana 1992 and earned a second runner-up spot in that year’s Miss America drool-fest. Apparently, she’d earned her second-lieutenancy by smoking up the pageant stage in her swimsuit.

Being a licensed and certified smart-ass, I felt compelled to make fun of her beauty-queen past. But smart pols like Regina Moore and Linda Robbins dig her the most, so I can’t discount their evaluations.

On the other hand, I spoke to a couple of female pols last night who want to see more from Yoder — and they weren’t talking skin, either.

Here are the Dems running for the nomination:

I haven’t got time right now to reveal my impressions of the gang (there’s the little matter of catching my bus to get to the Book Corner) but I’ll run them all through my wringer within the next few days. It should be fun.

SEX, SEX, SEX!

Back to the-man-whom-Google-made-famous, Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times decided to check out his website. Steinberg reveals the results of his research in today’s column.

Steinberg

His conclusions? What I’ve been saying all along, these theocratic right wingers think about sex, sex, sex, and more sex.

To be frank, I do, too. As do you, I’ll bet. But, speaking for myself, I don’t flagellate myself for those thoughts.

And yeah, I tried the whole whipping-for-fun trick once. Didn’t do much for me. Still, I don’t run around screaming that my S&M pals ought to be banished to a desert island.

Maybe, Rickey-girl should try it. Could it be that’s what he really wants?

THE REAL RICK?

 

The Pencil Today:

WE’D RATHER FEEL THAN THINK

The late physicist Alan Cromer suggested that scientific thinking is not a natural process for the seven billion of us who muddle through this life. “Human beings, after all, love to believe in spirits and gods,” he said. “Science, which asks them to see things as they are and not as they believe or feel them to be, undercuts a primary human passion.”

Cromer

BLOOMINGTON REDUCES ITS GAS PAIN

Environmental issues, both local and global, are in the news this Saturday morning.

The Herald Times reports that the City of Bloomington used five percent less gasoline in its fleet vehicles during the first half of this year, as compared to the same span in 2010.

Good news, no?

Less Of This Here

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Bloomington, being the capital-in-exile of the former Soviet Union, is chock-full of liberals, Democrats, and other sinners who go in for that kind of Earth-y stuff.

The rest of this holy land? Well, you know.

WHAT DO THOSE DUMB SCIENTISTS KNOW ANYWAY?

So, the South Africa climate talks are petering out with no agreement in sight.

It’s the usual snag: the big countries (like you-know-which holy land) that pollute most are pushing for a tepid pact to curb greenhouse gases and other flotsam and jetsam. Developing nations, which have a lot less to lose economically, want strong environmental safeguards.

I understand the motivations of corporate robber barons and their coatholders in Congress who want to forestall any restrictions. It costs dough, after all, to sanitize smokestacks that belch toxins.

The Sweet Smell Of Success

Why, though, would that certain segment of the general populace that drools before any TV screen with Fox News on it not want stringent global environmental laws? Don’t they want to breathe fresh air or drink clean water?

Perhaps not. Perhaps they wish only to inhale Camels and slurp Diet Coke.

Anyway, that gang doesn’t believe the overwhelming majority of climatologists who are convinced humankind is mucking up the atmosphere so badly that Hurricane Katrina in a few decades will seem like a spring shower.

Many of them do believe in things like ghosts, UFO visitations, astrology, intelligent design, spontaneous human combustion, numerology, angels, homeopathy, feng shui, clairvoyance, Nostradamus, and other fairy tales.

In that sense, the Fox News audience is far more “natural” than I am.

MERCY MERCY ME

Heck, let’s stick with the ecology. Here’s the final track on side one of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” vinyl disc, released in May, 1971. For my money, it’s the best pop album ever made. Enjoy.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

◗ Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert can’t speak anymore but his voice rings out louder than ever these days. He’s become a writing machine. He reminds us that Kirk Douglas is now 95 years old.

By the way, you have to read Roger’s take on the Occupy Movement. He goes a little too soft on the Democratic Party, IMHO, but his righteous indignation is refreshing.

◗ And so we’ll stick with the Sun-Times. Columnist Neil Steinberg writes today about the Chicago Police. The boys in powder blue will be on world display next spring with the G-8 and NATO summits coming to town. The CPD has been tarnished through the years by the Summerdale Scandal, the ’68 Convention, the Jon Burge torture case, and too many others to name here. I personally took a beating in the back seat of a squad car once for the unforgivable sin of being a mouthy sixteen-year-old. Steinberg is no more popular with Chicago’s cops today than dopey kids like me were back then. His FB link illustrates why.

FYI: It was Steinberg who, as a pseudonymous critic of a well-known, pathologically flatulent Chicago newspaper columnist back in the ’90s, inspired the title for this feature. I wish I could tell you what Steinberg’s nom de plume was or who was the blowhard he skewered but, well, I just can’t.

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