Category Archives: Nick Lowe

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m supposed to have a PhD on the subject of women. But the truth is I’ve flunked more often than not. I’m very fond of women; I admire them. But, like all men, I don’t understand them.” — Frank Sinatra

BREAD AND CIRCUSES (MINUS THE BREAD)

Time to beat a dead horse again. Didja see where Hamilton County has to sell its physical rehab hospital just so it can pay its debt service bills on the two Taj Mahals it built for Cincinnati’s pro sports teams?

The hospital has been valued at $30M but Hamilton County’s offering it for half that price because, well, it’s desperate.

The Wall Street Journal last July called the public financing of Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium “one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government.” Hamilton County took on about a billion dollars’ worth of debt to get the stadia built.

Half A Billion Here…

County officials promised trusting voters that the two facilities, both on the Ohio River, would usher in a new era of economic fabulousness for downtown Cincy.

Didn’t happen. And, according to the WSJ, it wasn’t going to happen even if the economy hadn’t tanked in the last year of George W. Bush’s reign.

The beauty of this story is the reaction of Cincinnati Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn. The Bengals play football in Paul Brown Stadium. The team pays virtually no operating or capital improvement costs for its palace. Additionally, Hamilton County is contractually on the hook to pay for any as-yet uninvented gizmos like hologram replay devices the team might desire. Swear to god.

… Half A Billion There…

Blackburn’s Bengals pushed hard for the County to foot the bill and ink a sweetheart lease deal for the team. The Bengals threatened to move to another city if the County didn’t come through.

County officials caved in, of course, as almost all local pols do when sports team owners put guns to their heads. Hamilton County honchos promised the good burghers of Cincy that piles of dough would roll into city and county coffers as well as local businesses if the two cathedrals were built. Voters bought those promises.

When confronted by reporters about the County’s current financial hardships, including yearly shortfalls and essential service cuts, Blackburn shrugged and said his team was not to blame for anything. Hamilton County’s suckers, he rationalized, were “an informed and engaged electorate.”

Hehe.

… Sorry, Nothing Left For You.

Former Cincinnati mayor Tom Luken was against the deal from the start. “Anybody with half a brain can figure out this is a bad deal,” he says.

We are one weird eff-ing country, kiddies.

VIDEO KILLED

Uh oh — we’re even weirder than you and I feared. Some Hollywood producer is putting together a deal to make a film about the start-up of MTV.

As in, VJs and all.

VJs.

For all you kids out there, MTV used to play music.

Ya Gotta Love the “21 Jump Street” Pose

ILLINOIS SINNERS

Rick Santorum is telling Illinois voters they can atone for their sin of giving the world Barack Obama by voting for him (Santorum) in the state’s primary Tuesday.

Guess what — a lot of my left-leaning friends are registering as Republicans and voting for god’s candidate. Their rationale? Make Santorum the Republican candidate because he can’t beat Barack.

Man, that’s playing with fire.

Plus, I don’t think the GOP needs anybody’s help in committing political suicide this year. They’re handling it just fine already.

GIRLS TO WOMEN

I’m reading Patti Smith’s National Book Award winning memoir, “Just Kids.”

Here’s my capsule commentary so far: She knows how to write and she doesn’t know how to write. That’s what makes the book charming.

I haven’t got past her poverty-stricken early days with Robert Mapplethorpe yet. She’s young and dreaming and certain there is something important she has to bring to the world. Only she doesn’t know just what it is.

Smith was already in her 60s when she was writing the book. Still, it has the sound and feel of a hungry, delightfully pretentious, ambitious, 14-year-old geeky girl.

How refreshing. I’ve had it with reading about men and boys coming of age. It’s time for more women authors to let the reading public know what it’s like to be a proto-emo girl. Or any kind of a girl at all.

GIRLS TALK

Don’t be fooled by the cover art — this is the Dave Edmunds (with Nick Lowe) version of the Elvis Costello gem.

There are some things you can’t cover up with lipstick and powder

I thought I heard you mention my name, can’t you talk any louder?

Don’t come any closer, don’t come any nearer.

My vision of you can’t get any clearer.

The Pencil Today:

SAVINGS BE DAMNED — VOTE CENTERS ARE A NO-GO

The race went according to form yesterday. The lone Republican on the Monroe County election commission ixnayed vote centers.

Commissioner Judith Smith-Ille said hell no to the proposed plan which would have replaced the county’s 90 voter precincts with a smaller number of strategically located vote centers.

Smith-Ille: No Means No

The vote center plan would have made it easier for voters — including IU college students — to cast their ballots in next year’s presidential beauty contest. It also would have saved tons of dough and streamlined counting and reporting procedures.

Smith-Ille shook her head and said she was worried about how people in wheelchairs and such would get into the centers.

Me? I’m guessing it has a hell of a lot more to do with keeping those pesky college students away from the polls — especially since they tended to vote Democratic in 2008.

On the bright side, this GOP gambit is a refreshing change of pace. Republicans invariably embrace anything that saves cash. Perhaps my Republican friends are getting help for that particular addiction.

If so, keep up the good work, guys. We may yet bring you around to supporting costly things like social services, education, health care, and other human needs.

JANUARY JONES MOVES ON

Sad news from the world headquarters of WFHB radio. News hound extraordinaire January Jones is out as News Director.

The Real January Jones

January and I spent many an afternoon pounding out stories for the 5:30PM Daily Local News. She worked herself ragged transcribing countless (and seemingly endless) city and county meetings for CATS Week. Often she’d show up in the newsroom running on an hour or less of sleep.

She took over the News Department after Chad Carrothers was kicked upstairs to the General Manager’s chair. The transition was as seamless as could it be.

Assistant News Director Alycin Bektesh will watch over the operation for the time being until Chad and the board can name a permanent victim…, er, replacement.

Alycin Bektesh

CRUEL TO BE KIND

Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and denizen of that legendary watering hole, The Matchbox, hit me with a nostalgia stick in the middle of the night.

Sun-Timesman Dave Hoekstra

I couldn’t sleep so I went online, natch. Flipped through Facebook and found a post from him linking to one of the great pure pop songs of all time. “Cruel to Be Kind” by Nick Lowe.

Lowe was a member of the Stiff Records stable of coolness. He and Dave Edmunds (“Girls Talk”) were part of the advance guard (including Elvis Costello) of what would become the British post-punk invasion.

The song was power pop at its finest. And the video perfectly captures the feel of the early art form. People are actually having fun in it, albeit sort of a clunky, nervous, what-am-I-supposed-to-do-next kind of fun.

When I DJ’d the overnight shift at WUIC, the University of Illinois-Chicago‘s station, I would play “Cruel to Be Kind” at least once every single airshift.

And to prove I’m not dead yet, I listened to and watched the vid five straight times at around 1:30 this morning. Thanks, Hoekstra!

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