Category Archives: Occupy Bloomington

The Electron Pencil:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity. The only difference is one of degree. A man who sees a gourd and takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people.” — Erasmus

LOCAL WARMING

Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t these buds popping out on my front yard bushes?

MR. CLOSET SEES NO CLASSES

I’m not all that mercurial on these pages. That which I espouse or despise in November very likely will be the same in June.

But I have given the thumb to Michele Bachmann as my bete noir du jour. (Is that the French idiom equivalent of mixing metaphors?)

Anyway, Bachmann’s out and Rick Santorum’s in.

Mr. Closet (my new nickname for Santorum) justified my faith in him when he said these words during a weekend debate among candidates for the Republican nomination for president: “There are no classes in America.”

This is the socio-political analog to declaring that the world is flat. My god, Rick (or, more accurately, your god, Rick), have you visited a criminal courtroom lately? A jail? An unemployment office? A business school graduation ceremony?

I don’t think even Michele Bachmann would have had the balls to say those words (after all, somebody in her marriage has to have balls). Yes, she’s a loon. But — shock of shocks — she might not be as psycho as Mr. Closet.

I’d hate it if Ricky-girl did so poorly in tomorrow’s New Hampshire primary that he’d no longer be taken seriously as a contender. For a smart-ass like me, he’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Bloomington author extraordinaire Joy Shayne Laughter has nailed it. The other day she wrote to me: “Does anybody else get the feeling that the GOP nomination race has become little more than a Las Vegas lounge act? You have to have a pretty guy and a funny guy. Think Martin & Lewis.”

Martin & Lewis (Or Is It Romney &…?)

JSL says Mitt Romney is the Dean Martin guy — handsome, good hair, can carry a tune. But she thinks Ron Paul is the Jerry-like buffoon. Nah. It’s Mr. Closet.

Speaking of the man who swears he would never, ever, ever, ever kiss a man full on the lips, gently, with slightly open mouth so he might savor the taste, running his fingers through the man’s hair, feeling his heart begin to pound, sensing warmth in his…, um, oh, I mean Rick Santorum, blogger Kris Broughton on Big Think goes all Big-Mike on the not-so-cuddly Jesus-lover and gay-basher.

Broughton writes: “If these utterly myopic conservatives of the Republican Party decide to hitch their wagon to Santorum, this will be the culmination of the last three years that began with Anybody But Obama, devolved to Anybody But Romney, and is now flirting heavily with the latest Republican theme for the 2012 election season, Any Christian White Man With a Suit.”

ROMNEY’S RELIGIONS

One of the things about Mitt Romney that scares the poo out of the paleozoic wing of the Republican Party is his Mormonism.

The Mormon God, Or Gods, Or What The Hell Ever They Believe In

By the way, if you don’t know all that much about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, pick up a copy of Jon Krakauer‘s terrific book, “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Krakauer, who has taken on the Pat Tillman killing and cover up in Afghanistan, his passion for mountaineering, and that “Three Cups of Tea” baloney peddler Greg Mortenson in his books, exposes the tyrannical and even homicidal side of America’s fastest growing religion.

Anyway, Roger Ebert — my hero du jour — reveals that Romney’s favorite novel is the execrable “Battlefield Earth” by L. Ron Hubbard.

“Battlefield Earth,” The Movie

Who knows? Maybe Romney wants the world to to think Mormonism is not so bad, if only in comparison to Hubbard’s Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard Made Joseph Smith Look Sane

OCCUPY BLOOMINGTON GOES TO WORK

This was the scene at People’s Park Saturday at noon.

No more tents. No more signs. No more Occupiers.

Occupy Bloomington may have been evicted but that doesn’t mean the revolution’s over in South Central Indiana. Stone sculptor Amy Brier points out that OB is now working with the striking limestone workers in Bedford.

We Do Facebook So You Don’t Have To

CRAZY

Yup. Patsy Cline does her bit on the Willie Nelson-penned classic.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This preposterous idea, that things must pay their way or be dispensed with, is perhaps the most intractable legacy of the Thatcher years, so much so that it has become received wisdom even among many liberals. But when you think about it even for a nanosecond, it is perfectly obvious that most worthwhile things don’t begin to pay for themselves. If you followed this absurd logic any distance at all, you would have to get rid of traffic lights, schools, drains, national parks, museums, universities, old people and much else besides.” — Bill Bryson

Author Bill Bryson & Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

CREEPY, SPOOKIE, ALTOGETHER OOKIE

Cartoonist Charles Addams was born on this day in 1912 (h/t to Google). His work graced the pages of The New Yorker magazine for many years. His fictional “Addams Family” eventually became the eponymous sitcom.

Well, fictional to an extent. It’s said both his wives looked uncannily like Morticia Addams. And by the way, if you’re making a list of very hot female sitcom stars, Carolyn Jones as Morticia has to rank at least in the top five.

Gomez And Morticia

SPEAKING OF GHOULISH WOMEN

Back to Maggie Thatcher. Is it my imagination or is her image is being remade these days, thanks in part to that new movie, “The Iron Lady,” starring Meryl Streep?

All of a sudden it seems Thatcher is being repositioned as a great icon in the history of the advancement of women. Never mind that she rose to the top employing all the mannish characteristics that have pushed the world to the brink of catastrophe time and again. She was stubborn, insensitive, bellicose, nationalistic, and smug. She cared far more for an economic philosophy than for trivial things like human beings.

When she pushed her country to go to war for some godforsaken piece of rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I observed that she was merely trying to show the world that her dick was as big as any man’s.

In fact, there’s a scene in the movie dealing with the lead-up to the Falklands War. The character playing US Secretary of State Alexander Haig, himself a former Army general, cautions her against being so gung-ho about sending battleships full of soldiers to fight over the little islands.

Thatcher: “We will stand on principle or we will not stand at all.”

Hiag: “But Margaret, with all due respect, when one has been to war….”

Thatcher (interrupting): “With all due respect sir, I have been to battle every single day of my life. And many men have underestimated me before!”

Need I mention that there’s a huge difference between breaking the glass ceiling and a “principle” which cost 907 lives, 1843 wounded, 11,428 taken prisoner, a cruiser, 2 destroyers, a submarine, two frigates, four cargo vessels, a half dozen other sea craft and 75 aircraft?

By the way, British warships and submarines that were part of the expeditionary fleet were armed with tactical nuclear weapons, just in case, I suppose, the Argentinians failed to grasp Thatcher’s “principle.”

Argentine Dead After The Battle Of Goose Green

OCCUPY UPDATE

As of last night, one woman remained in People’s Park, refusing to leave despite Mayor Mark Kruzan’s eviction order. She’d chained her tent to a tree and stayed inside, refusing to come out when city workers descended on the scene to clear away any personal belongings that were left by the protesters.

Apparently, the city is not going to force her to leave just yet. Officials are hoping to avoid an unpleasant scene.

City officials lauded the Occupiers for the most part, saying many of them helped city crews clean up the park.

Now Bloomington police will again enforce the regular 11:00pm-5:00am park curfew.

And yesterday, Josh Johnson was was arraigned before Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff. He’d been arrested during the New Year’s Eve Dance Party disturbance Saturday night and Sunday morning. He was charged with two felony counts of resisting arrest with injury to a police officer.

SNICKERS

Ranker.com today presents a list of the best candy ever made. Snickers is ranked number one.

I have absolutely no quarrel with that.

SUNRISE, SUNSET

Finding it difficult to wake up in the morning these days? It may be because these days have the latest sunrises of the year, according to Earthsky.org.

The science site explains why the late sunrises in the Northern Hemisphere and the concurrent late sunsets in the Southern do not coincide with the solstice (which, in 2011, was December 21st.)

WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING?

Elvis Costello once said he couldn’t wait for Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral so he could dance on her grave.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“All personal belongings, tents and possessions must be removed from People’s Park on or before noon on Thursday, January 5, 2012.” — Mayor Mark Kruzan’s order, posted at 6:30pm, Wednesday, January 4, 2012

SHOWDOWN

Well, that’s that. Maybe.

Mayor Mark Kruzan has given the bum’s rush to the Occupy protesters at People’s Park.

They had until noon today to clear out. Cops posted eviction notices on lamp posts last night at about 6:3o. That triggered  a rush to City Hall where the City Council was gathering for its regularly scheduled meeting. Occupiers packed the chambers to express their displeasure. A few of them vowed to resist the ouster.

Occupiers At Last Night’s City Council Meeting (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/Herald Times)

City Council member Steve Volan told the Herald Times he wished the mayor had provided more notice not only to him and his colleagues but to the Occupiers.

My guess was there’d be at least a bit of trouble.

So, I packed up my digital camera and my pocket voice recorder and went to People’s Park a little bit after 11:00 this morning. Here’s what I saw and heard:

The big M*A*S*H-style tent is already gone, as are several of the other, smaller tents. People are busy gathering gear up and trundling stuff to nearby cars. Several sweep up half a winter’s worth of salt and pebbles from the decorative masonry walk.

A guy stands up on a bench and starts howling about the death of somebody or something. Immediately, six or more voices rise to drown him out. An older looking dude barks, “Hey ____! Fuck you!”

One young woman wielding a broom tries to calm everyone down. “Keep your dignity,” she says, almost mantra-like as she swept.

I ask another young woman why people are on the guy. “I don’t want to make any judgments about people,” she says, but she pauses, making sure I know she’s judging the fellow. Another guy who overhears my question comes up and angrily explains: “That’s _____. He’s sexually assaulted two people in this city.”

The young woman nods in confirmation. The guy on the bench will continue to circulate through the crowd for at least the next hour and a half, challenging the Occupiers to take up the cause of the dead man. And each time, voices will be raised to drown him out.

A couple of people begin the human megaphone trick wherein they loudly proclaim an announcement which will be echoed by the crowd.

“Mike check…,” the two say.

“Mike check…,” the crowd repeats.

“It’s 40 minutes until noon…,”

“It’s 40 minutes until noon…,”

“There’s still stuff…,”

“There’s still stuff…,”

“To be picked up.”

“To be picked up.”

Already the number of reporters and photographers on hand approaches that of the Occupiers. Ryan Dawes from the WFHB News Department whacks me on the shoulder. We agree to double-team for interviews.

He corrals a thirtyish woman who appears authoritative. She is Nicole Johnson, wife of Josh Johnson, one of the three Occupiers who was arrested on New Year’s Eve.

Nicole Johnson

“We asked for an extension from the mayor,” she says. “We did that last night. We had less than 18 hours to pick everything up. Our lawyer was there (at the Council meeting) because we knew stuff was going down but we just didn’t know what. So, the (Occupiers at Council meeting) consesused to ask for an extension. We didn’t know what we needed to be doing but we knew we needed more than 18 hours.

“It was a little unfair. We’ve been here for almost three months. To be gone in less than 18 hours is a little harsh.”

The eviction notices state that any tents or personal belongings left in the park after the noon deadline will be seized.

“We have a large constituency of homeless that live in the park,” Nicole says. “These tents here are tents that people have been living in. They have no place else to go.”

Nicole estimates some 20 homeless people have been sharing quarters with the Occupiers. She says some of the homeless have substance abuse issues which preclude them from being admitted to more traditional overnight shelters.

“We don’t even have detox in Bloomington,” she says. “And that is one of the things we’ve been doing here, a part of what we were doing anyway, and that is social services. There’ve been many times where we’ve had to bring individuals to the hospital because of alcohol poisoning, of the homeless. They would return to the park four hours later in full DTs. We would have to put them in the bed and watch them.”

I ask why the Occupiers did that for the homeless. As Nicole begins to answers she breaks down crying.

“Because they’re human! And you know, that’s one of the beautiful things that’s happened in this park.”

Nicole composes herself and then explains the decision-making process that these Occupiers had adopted. Everyone’s voice is heard, she says, all options and opinions are weighed. When people strongly disagrees with the consensus, they are welcome not to have to participate in that particular course of action.

“There is no forum like that,” she says. “There is no forum with that equality in our current government structure. That’s what we’ve been doing in the park.”

Ryan asks her how many Occupiers will remain in the park after the eviction deadline.

“We are staying in the park until eleven o’clock tonight (the usual park closing time).”

She then talks about how today’s activity — the tent breakdown, the cleaning up, the leaving — happened almost spontaneously. Then she points out a couple of tents in the far corner of the park, against the Bicycle Garage building. “I don’t know why people are setting tents up there,” she says. “I don’t know why people are meditating on top of the big bunk bed frames we built.”

Indeed, three young women are sitting cross-legged in the sunshine, their eyes closed, amid the activity. “So I don’t know what anybody’s planning to do at eleven when you’re supposed to be out of the park.”

She says her husband is at work at this hour. He’s to be arraigned tomorrow in Monroe County Court. She says the Herald Times has reported that the county prosecutor will charge him with two counts of felony resisting arrest with bodily harm to a police officer. She tells us to check out the You Tube footage of Josh Johnson’s arrest.

[The loudest voice in the video seems to be that of Nicole.]

Now she tells us that she and her three children stayed overnight at People’s Park when the weather was warmer but soon temperatures had become too harsh for them.

“This has been an amazing transformational period in my life,” she says. “This is really just the beginning.”

It doesn’t look like much of a beginning, though. People are still tearing down homemade structures and cleaning up after themselves. By now the number of reporters and photographers at least equals the number of Occupiers.

The human megaphone sounds again.

“Mike check…,”

“Mike check…,”

“We got two minutes…,”

“We got two minutes…,”

But that revelation instantly becomes a spontaneous song. Occupiers sing “We got two minutes” again and again.

Noon comes and no police officers or city workers are to be seen.

At five minutes past noon, a man winds his way through the crowd, sarcastically crowing, “What happens if there’s no violence?” He repeats the question, loudly in the direction of any journalists who, in truth, are in all directions here.

“What if there isn’t a fight?” he continues. “What happens? Then there’s no story! Then what are you gonna do?”

Moments later an Indiana University garbage truck pulls up to the corner at Dunn Street and Kirkwood. There’s a hush and then the human megaphone kicks on.

“Mike check…,”

“Mike check…,”

“It looks like…,” the leader says, her voice trailing off as she points at the truck. Now the truck pulls away. It had only been stopping for the stop sign.

“It looks like…, just a truck,” she announces.

A passing pedestrian walks up to the three young woman meditating on the bunk bed structure. He asks, “There’s still no leader here?”

“No,” one of the women says, “there will never be a leader here.”

At 12:20pm, I leave.

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