Category Archives: Resist

Hot Air: Bad Luck; Bad Press

The Best Laid Plans

At long last, I’d been able to synchronize my Big Talk radio episode with the publication of the Limestone Post story about the week’s guest.

I was so excited!

And then the gods of mischief conspired to make it not happen. My WFHB radio interview with Kate Hess Pace, founder of Hoosier Action, didn’t run yesterday afternoon due to technical difficulties.

Harrumph!

Anyway, my written piece on her did indeed run in the Limestone Post. We’re hoping the radio interview will run next week, Thursday, during the 5:00pm Daily Local News.

Until then, you can read, re-read, and read a third time the LP opus.

Click To Connect

New Blood

So Darryl Neher has dropped out of the running for the vacant seat on Bloomington city council caused by the retirement of Tim Mayer.

[Sims Image: Bloom Magazine/Rodney Margison]

I’m guessing that throws the door wide open for Jim Sims, president of the local NAACP chapter, among other titles and hats. In fact, let’s let Jim himself tell you who he is (from his statement to the Democratic caucus that will select Mayer’s replacement Monday):

I currently serve as a Utilities Service Board member, Chair of Second Baptist Church Trustee Board, Van Buren 2 Democratic Precinct Chair and as President – Monroe County NAACP. I have also served on numerous boards, commissions, committees and other organizations in our community for over 25 years, many in various positions of leadership. I will provide written details of my long-term public service participation and experiences at the August 21st Call to Caucus.

Jim’s bona fides include, I’m not shy to say, the color of his skin. Says he:

I believe, and have heard from many supportive folks in our community, that our city and our council is ready for a qualified candidate of color which reflects the progressive, inclusive and social justice leanings of the Monroe County Democratic Party.

This moment in history is perfect for our town to make a statement. Do the right thing, Dem Caucus!

Sheep In Wolves’ Clothing

President Gag proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he is the most unqualified, incompetent chief executive in the history of this holy land when he turned in that fiasco of a performance at Tuesday’s now-infamous press conference.

We’re all agreed. But here’s a takeaway that just might have slipped past your eye. The reporters hurtling questions at him demonstrated that one quality of the American news media I despise most: Pack journalism.

Reporters hurled questions at him willy-nilly, assaulting him from all sides, not allowing him to finish his answers, aiming not for truth or illumination but that dramatic, career-enhancing gotcha moment.

I hate it and I hate them for doing it.

Where Were They Last Year?

This is the same gang that allowed Li’l Duce to get away with murder during his presidential campaign because…, well, no one else is challenging him and I don’t wanna be the one who stands out like a sore thumb.

Pack journalism. Run with the crowd. Don’t embarrass yourself.

Bullshit.

Had a plucky reporter or two raised her or his hand every time the future P. Gag lied, intentionally misspoke, insulted, or otherwise issued toxic effluvium from his face hole back in, say, June, 2016, we might not be sitting here, the newly christened clown car of the entire planet.

Now, though, with the current occupant of the White House about as welcome on the scene as a case of genital herpes, every reporter wants to get her/his licks in.

It’s too late, kids.

 

Hot Air: “Great” America

I’ll brook no more caviling from apologists for President Gag. I’m not referring, necessarily, to those who voted for the bum but, you know, those who say when we point out his ties to racists, white supremacists, nativists, and neo-nazis that we’re being overdramatic. They love to cite Godwin’s Law to minimize this argument.

Well too bad, you all. Mike Godwin himself has come out and said, “By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis.” He was referring, in a Facebook post, to the punks and pimps who started all the trouble in Charlottesville over the weekend. Punks and pimps, BTW, who love Li’l Duce to pieces and are convinced he loves them back.

From this vantage point, I’ll suggest their passion is not unrequited. What more proof do you need? Other than, that is, P. Gag’s very own words both on the campaign trail and in the White House. Oh, and his appointments and executive orders, as well as his directives to his Justice Department to lay off far right loon groups and quit enforcing civil rights regulations.

Anyway, here’s a fellow named Michael German, a former FBI agent who infiltrated neo-nazi groups and is now a Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice of New York University. He was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today about the state of far-right racist groups in this holy land today. Here’s a snippet from the chat:

GERMAN: The change that we’ve seen is there has been some state sanctioning of these ideas and of these political goals.

ME host DAVID GREEN: “State sanctioning” — I want to be really careful what you mean by that.

GERMAN: Well, certainly during the Trump campaign, what had been a normal sort of dog-whistle to racists and white supremacists and other of these far right ideologies that was a normalk part of far right…, not even far right, right wing populism and a lot of conservatives would do it, what Donald Trump did was throw away the dog whistle and pick up a bullhorn and make very clear to these groups that he was going to take anti-Muslim positions, that he was going to take anti-Latino positions, that he was going to characterize security issues as protecting ‘his community’ from other American communities.

GREEN: So, you see those messaging, whatever it is, as causing some of these people to feel like they can come out of the shadows.”

GERMAN: Right. It legitimized these views, you know, that many more people could come forward and express them and feeling…, and, frankly, it did become part of our mainstream political discourse.

This, again, is a former FBI man. The Bureau is not known for elevating wild-eyed radicals through its ranks. It wouldn’t be unfair to say a left-leaning agent would be weaned out of the force in time or, at the very least, isolated socially and stymied in her/his efforts to advance. FBI people generally are authority-loving, president-obeying, stay-the-course, good boys and girls.

And even this one knows that among President Gag’s key constituencies are the aforementioned punks and pimps.

If you think this argument is overdramatic, well, you’re wrong.

Tuning In & Clicking

Got a double whammy coming at you this week. Thursday, my guest on Big Talk will be Kate Hess Pace, founder and director of the new Hoosier Action community empowerment organization. She came here after a successful seven-year stint as a community organizer in Minnesota’s Twin Cities and in four short months has turned HA into a force to be reckoned with.

That same day, my profile of her will run in the Limestone Post.

I’ll pester you on Thursday AM to tune in and/or click and then on Friday I’ll provide podcast and website links.

Next week on Big Talk, long-haul trucker Rob Chatlos, who’s running for US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District as an independent. Rob has a fascinating back story and I can’t wait to hear him tell it himself.

We’ll talk.

Hot Air: It Can Happen Anywhere

Preamble

The word tsar (or, alternately, czar) comes from the Latin, Caesar, pronounced KYE-zar. So do the words kaiser (German, etc.), qaysar (Persian), kayser or sezar (Turkish), and even keiser (Norwegian). In fact, several dozen languages have words that derive directly from Caesar.

In all those languages, the word signifies a guy who runs the show, no questions asked (emphasis on guy).

Caesar, of course was the family name — or cognomen — of Gaius Julius Caesar (GUY-ooss YOO-lee-oos KYE-zar) who famously grabbed the reigns of ancient Rome in October, 49BCE, following a traumatic civil war. Prior to his ascension to Dictator (yep, that was his official title) Rome was a republic. From then on, an empire ruled by a strongman. A little more than a century later, the emperors Octavian and his stepson and successor Tiberius adopted the cognomen as a title. The Roman Senate — who did what they were told — gave them their blessings, sweetening the pot by adding the title Augustus (his majesty).

So much for that republic. The average Roman, say in the year 50BCE, just before the civil war commenced, would never have guessed it could happen.

Pollyanna, In Tears

Sometimes, when I want to groove on some optimism, I foresee the Justice Dept.’s special counsel, Robert Mueller, getting so close to President Gag’s secret finances that our current tsar will find it necessary to quit.

See, I figure Li’l Duce never really wanted the job anyway, considering it’s real work, after all. His run, I’ve always surmised, was the goal all along, you know, with TV news doing daily updates on him and cheering crowds and polls that showed a significant gang of Americans loving him to pieces. That was all he wanted. The actual work of the presidency was of no interest to him whatsoever. Next thing he knew, he was winning the nomination and then, by technicality, the election itself. Now he’d actually have to roll up his sleeves. Bad, as he might say.

Couple that with the DOJ snoop nosing closer and closer to his shady ties to Russian oligarchs and mobsters and he’d be more than thrilled to look for the nearest exit door. And should Mueller subpoena his financial statements, including his tax returns, he’d naturally say, Screw it. I’m outta here.

Then it occurred to me — so what if Mueller does subpoena his money paperwork? Might P. Gag, who already thumbs his nose regularly at convention and even legalities, simply say No? Wouldn’t that be the defining move of his life? Think of it: He’s now the president, the most powerful human on Earth, possessing the capability to order the launch of thousands of nuclear missiles, sending civilization back to the Stone Age. You think he doesn’t lull himself to sleep at night (on those rarest of occasions when he does sleep) with that very thought?

We all understand at this point he’s the most mentally cracked prez this holy land has ever had. Hell, the next DSM edition will probably feature an entire page or even a chapter on him alone. Equally as important to him as his marble/glass/gilt taste in decor, his trophy wives, his billionaire status, and the delusion that every woman on Earth is just dying for him to grab her pussy, is his need to be able to say to anyone who crosses him, Fuck you, make me!

So say Mueller does serve him with a subpoena for his financial records. Wouldn’t it be just like P. Gag to rip it up and say, You’re not getting them. What’re you gonna do about it?

And what is Mueller going to do about it? If it’s you or me giving the finger to his process servers, the cops’d be at our door within hours, slapping the bracelets on us. You think Robert Mueller wants to be the first person in history to jail the president? Or even try to?

Or what if P. Gag holes himself up in the White House and tells security not to let anyone in? They’d have to follow his orders, no? Then what? A shootout?

Mueller surely doesn’t want that.

Mueller doesn’t even want a constitutional crisis with the opposing parties facing off in the Supreme Court. We had that during Watergate and while all the lawyers were bickering the work of the White House essentially came to a standstill.

But let’s take this craziness a step further. Say the contretemps extends into the year 2020 and P. Gag says the presidency is under siege, therefore we must postpone the election. Surely you seen that poll wherein a majority of Republican voters are in favor of putting off the election if need be. (This link is behind a paywall but this one isn’t.)

At which point the United States of America would be ruled by a dictator.

Now is this scenario really going to happen? I’d like to think it’s preposterous. But what I like and what will be can be very different things.

The Kicker

BTW, I haven’t even gone into what P. Gag’s storm troopers might do on the streets of this great experiment in democracy should he be removed from office before his term is out. Hell, or even if he’s ousted by the 2020 vote, fair and square.

So much for optimism.

The White Club

I was a social media monster yesterday, commenting promiscuously on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Among my many offerings were this quote from the author Adam Langer:

I think we need more think pieces about how Hillary didn’t do enough to reach out to these voters.

Several commenters took offense, saying “these voters” — meaning the lunkheads who gathered in the VA college town to display to the civilized world how stupid they were — are not, and were not, the voters with whom they think Hillary Clinton should have connected.

True.

Yet, to a certain extent, they were. “These voters” may not be all of us white people, but their thinking is within all of us white people to one degree or another. Or more accurately, their feeling. Because what they do can’t properly be defined as thinking. They spew words that originate not from the mind but the gut.

It’s simple, really. Once we tried to wrap our little minds around a few complicated concepts — “survival of the fittest,” “the descent of man,” hell, even “evolution” itself — beginning in 1859, we white people have entertained the erroneous notion that light-skinned people “evolved” from dark-skinned people. Ergo, light-skinned people are more advanced than dark-skinned people.

Why, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Dark-skinned people come from Africa, don’t they? And monkeys are black, aren’t they? Hey, two plus two, right?

It’s such an easy logical leap to make that we — each of us who’s white — can be seduced into thinking it’s true. Or — sorry — feeling it’s true.

Because, if you think about it, it’s not true. Emphasis on think.

Sure there are those of you whose back will stiffen and you’ll protest, “I never thought that way!” Or felt that way. Whatever. If so, count yourself lucky — and in a distinct minority. Most citizens of this holy land are too busy paying bills, mowing the lawn, kowtowing to the boss, and watching The Big Bang Theory to pay much mind to the details of Charles Darwin’s and Alfred Russell Wallace’s science.

So the quick conclusion is this: Humans arose in Africa and dark-skinned people live in Africa; so dark-skinned people = proto-humans.

The goons on the streets of Charlottesville believe that canard with all their hearts. The rest of us white people believe it on a sliding scale, a spectrum, as it were. And, yeah, there are those of us to whom it has never consciously occurred. I’m happy for you. Many — too many — of us, though, have to sit down and talk ourselves out of such intellectual fuckery.

As I like to say, our second thoughts make us human.

But, back to those white voters whom conventional thinking has it felt the pinch of the stacked-deck economy and were so disgusted by H. Clinton’s purported refusal to address their concerns that they cast their ballots for a hateful, greed-monkey billionaire.

Talk about quick conclusions and intellectual fuckery!

How about this: We’re all tribal and in-group creatures. We are designed to identify with a gang. That’s one of the many codes hard-wired into our genes. And when there’s stress, when we feel besieged, we fall back on that thinking — because, in an evolutionary sense — that’s why it came about. There’s strength in numbers. Ten of us together have a better chance to survive than one.

The world’s economy today is nothing if not besieging us.

Tens of millions of white people in 2016 felt as though the world was slipping away from them and others — especially those with dark skin — were, with the help of a bloated government, snatching up all the best parts of the bread while whites were left with the crumbs or less. Under such stress, feeling so besieged, they gathered together under the banner of a man who told them in no uncertain terms he’d restore their white-dominated world, a world of the past, a “great” world.

Togetherness

So, yeah, there’s a little bit of those Charlottesville horses’ asses in the vast majority of white people. And nothing Hillary Clinton could have said — other than maybe shouting, White is right! — would have changed their minds.

Hot Air: Bloom Bash

Bloomington’s elite was out en force last PM at the Tudor Room in IU’s Memorial Union. Luminaries like Congressman Lee Hamilton, Bob Arnove, Nancy Hiller, Doug Wissing, WFHB Board prez Emily Jackson, the poet Cathy Bowman, Mayor John Hamilton, law prof Dawn Johnsen, boss of the Bloomington Economic Development Corp. Lynn Coyne, playwrights Dr. Gladys DeVane and Liz Mitchell, political maven Charlotte Zietlow, and authors Scott Russell Sanders and James Alexander Thom were part of a veritable who’s who in our town.

The event: Bloom magazine’s 11th anniversary bash, hosted by publisher Malcolm Abrams, assisted by his lieutenants, assoc. publisher Jaime Sweany and managing ed. Carmen Siering.

The highlight from this vantage point — besides the fist-sized shrimps I was tempted to grab by the…, well, fistful — was the bestowal of a Bloomie award on The Loved One for her design of the Book Corner’s ad back in December. Abrams tossed the plaques out at what he and his gang determined were the year’s ten best advertisements and designers. Said he, “These are the best ads we’ve ever had.”

Now, normally I wouldn’t shill for this kind of dealio but, sue me, I’m proud as hell of TLO. Her design, featuring a slew of books related to fire — Fahrenheit 451 and Catching Fire, for example — served as a platform for the announcement that the venerable bookseller on the square was back in biz after a November mini-blaze wrecked its inventory.

Plus, my mate looked flat-out hot as flames in a little black dress. How she wound up with a schlub like me is a mystery I’ve yet to unravel.

Oh, and I caught some real good gossip about IU’s major sportsball coaches, ex- and current. I can’t share it here but if I like and trust you and you put the muscle on me on the street should you run into me, I just might share it.

One more thing: This communications colossus (The Pencil, that is) inspired one attendee to toss perhaps the best compliment ever my way. This person, a longtime Pencillista, said, “Every morning I get up, go online and say to myself, ‘I haven’t got time for this nonsense,’ but I’ll be damned, every morning I read it and every morning it’s got something good in it.”

That’ll do re: carnival barking and advertisements for myself for the next few months, no?

Sun Sermon

Here are a few links to yesterday’s Big Talk interview with astronomer Caty Pilachowski from Indiana University. Fun — and vital — stuff. Vital, that is, if you have any interest in preserving your ability to see post-eclipse.

Hot Air: Stuff & Nonsense

Observations

▶︎ Any time a couple within a circle of friends suddenly and dramatically splits (usually because one or the other has been found enjoying refreshments elsewhere), the other couples in that circle reflexively heave a sigh of relief. The idea being: Boy, lucky it wasn’t us.

▶︎ Regarding god, there are two possibilities. One, there is no god. Two, there is a god but, boy, what a jerk. Evidence for possibility No. 1: Cosmology, particle physics, quantum electrodynamics, microbiology, patterns of biodiversity, natural selection, etc. Evidence for No. 2: Chiggers.

Jerky Boy?

Big Wheels

I don’t mind the new Bloomington city ordinance allowing bicyclists to use the sidewalks. The ord. passed 5-2 last night, with Sandberg, Volan, Piedmont-Smith, Chopra, and Roff voting aye and Rollo and Granger ixnaying.

I rode my bicycle both for daily transportation and professionally for more than a quarter century of my adult life. I’ve ridden on sidewalks a thousand times. I like to think I was considerate and sensitive to the fears of the old fogies whom I approached from behind.

Nevertheless, a big lug like me bearing down on an 82-y-o, even at a speed at which I could hardly keep my balance, might be a tad alarming. And I’m rapidly approaching an age and level of sprightliness wherein I’ll be the old goat who gets saucer-eyed when a biker approaches.

The new ordinance carries with it safeguards, the councilbeings swear. Bikers’ll have to give way to pedestrians and the onus to will always be on the pedaler should a smash-up occur. Still, I know young guys. I was one myself once. What they think is sober, prudent two-wheeling might appear to the rest of the inhabitants of this planet as Evel Knievel-like daredevilry.

Guaranteed, there will be collisions and countless startled coots. Council member Sandberg promises, “If it doesn’t (work), I’ll be making moves to add more restrictions for bicyclists or to consider it a failed experiment and reverse the course.”

I’ve been doored numerous times. One incident, on Clark St. in Rogers Park in my hometown, Chi. in September 1986, resulted in me being unable to walk for a couple of months until I underwent a lumbar laminectomy. After that, I often took to the sidewalks when that option seemed reasonable and the cops weren’t around.

Even Los Angeles Now Allows Sidewalk Riding

As Sandberg says, the processes of drafting the ordinance and deciding to vote yes were “complicated.” As I say, I’m for the vote. But, believe me, it’s going to get a lot more complicated once reports of the bang-ups and startlings start pouring in.

94 Percent

My guest on Big Talk this afternoon will be Indiana University’s Caty Pilochowski. She’s the Astronomy Dept.’s Daniel Kirkwood Chair and she’ll gab about the Great American Eclipse due to stun the bejesus out of us Monday, August 21st.

Caty, The Space Queen

Caty’s the queen of all science geeks and, as such, she’s one of my fave guests thus far in my radio interview series. She’ll hip us to the wonders and dangers of the moon eating the sun in a week and a half.

Tune in to WFHB, 91.3 for today’s Daily Local News at 5:00pm. And — natch — come here domani for links to the podcast.

Music Man

In the early and mid-Sixties, Glen Campbell was a session dude and, for a time, a member of the fabled Wrecking Crew. He played guitar on hundreds of singles, including these big hits:

  • Hello, Mary Lou Ricky Nelson
  • Surf City Jan & Dean
  • What’d I Say Elvis Presley
  • I Get Around The Beach Boys
  • You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling The Righteous Brothers
  • Strangers in the Night Frank Sinatra
  • Mary, Mary The Monkees
  • Mama Tried Merle Haggard

BTW, he played bass and sang the falsetto parts as a member of the Beach Boys (Brian Wilson was busy having a nervous breakdown) during the band’s winter 1964-65 tour.

[h/t to Maxxwell Bodenheim]

It Won’t Be Long Now

The FBI raided the home of President Gag’s ex-consigliere Paul Manafort before dawn two weeks ago. The raid was announced yesterday. I know you’ve heard or read about this already but think about it carefully: The former campaign manager for Li’l Duce (while he was running for president and while several of the candidate’s blood soldiers were meeting with the Russkies for god knows what reason) had his home invaded and his records seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation before the sun came up. That’s when the cops or the feds usually break doors down for fear the raidee might flee or destroy evidence.

A few weeks back I put the over-under as to when P. Gag would resign at January 1st, 2018. I’m sticking with it.

And another thing: I’m just wondering if, when the busts come down, P. Gag and his soldiers’ll cover their faces with their fedoras the way mobsters used to when they were pinched.

Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow

Hot Air: Bad Actor

Our current president tried to channel Harry S Truman when he said, yesterday, “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Referring, of course, to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, AKA North K., in response to its own mentally unbalanced capo‘s tough-guy talk. Delightful, isn’t it? Two loonish louts threatening each other with nukes.

Wait — let me correct that. They are not threatening each other. They’re threatening the citizens of their rival regimes. They, in case one or the other gets tumescent and presses the launch button, will be safely ensconced in hardened, fully-stocked safe places while the rest of us fry like Sunday morning bacon.

Anyway, here’s the original quote President Gag was trying to evoke memories of (jump ahead to 1:38):

Give President Gag credit (or more likely, give it to someone near and dear to him) for even knowing about this moment in rhetorical history. But he’s way out of his league. I’ll paraphrase a line from the 1988 vice presidential debate: “You’re no Harry Truman.”

Pow!

The Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby (formerly, the B.H. Rollergirls) belong to one of an estimated 2000 roller derby leagues on this mad, mad planet. Or is it some 1200 leagues? Who knows — sources differ.

In any case, Sunday will mark the start of Roller Derby Week in my beloved hometown, Chi., where the sport was invented.

Yep. A promoter named Leo Seltzer had the original idea, only he saw derby as a kind of marathon back in 1935, when the Great Depression was ravaging this holy land and its citizenry searched for something — anything — to take their mind off it. The first roller derby event was held at the old Chicago Coliseum at 15th Street and Wabash Avenue on the South Side. The arena had been the site of a number of national political conventions and was built from the stones, bricks, and timbers of an old confederate prison in Virginia. The place was torn down in 1982.

The Coliseum

Seltzer had the good sense to invite New York City newspaper columnist (and creator of the Guys and Dolls series of short stories) Damon Runyon to the opening event. Runyon advised Seltzer to drop the marathon idea and turn the thing into a team game, and so he did.

The sport drew an estimated  5 million spectators nationally in 1940. Derby came to television in 1948 and immediately became — you’ll pardon the pun — an even bigger hit. Leo’s kid, Jerry, by this time had taken over operations and introduced scripted action, a la pro wrestling. One outdoor match in the old Comiskey Park, it is said, drew a paid crowd of 50,000.

Derby Packed Comiskey 

The sport began to be viewed as passé in the late ’70s but experienced a rebirth in the early part of this century. There even was a big movie, Whip It, with then-hot star Ellen Page as well as Marcia Gay Harden, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, and Jimmy Fallon.

Page In “Whip It”

The Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby’s 2017 season ended with the Flatliners going 1-4 and the Code Blue Assassins losing their sole match. The gangs’ll be back on the track, though, early next year.

 

Hot Air: Take A Deep Breath

Sometimes — not always — it’s best to sleep on your anger rather than confront the person who teed you off. You might be surprised how trivial the incident seems to be in the bright light of the morning.

Great Humans

Have you ever heard of Marina Ratner or Maryam Mirzakhani?

I hadn’t. Only their recent deaths — both of them last month — brought their names out to the gen. public.

They were two of only four women who were members of the mathematicians wing of the National Academy of Sciences. With their passing, there are now only two female math geeks left on the NAS rolls. There are, as of today, 98 men enshrined therein.

And ain’t that a damned shame?

Do yourself a favor and check out the New York Times piece on them today. Ratner was a Russian Jew and Mizrakhani an Iranian. They spoke a common language, though, the language of the universe — that of numbers.

To be honest I haven’t the foggiest notion of what it was they researched and discovered, only that their work was profound and groundbreaking. I have absolutely zero understanding of topics such as ergodic theory, unipotent flows, and symplectic geometry, discussions of which, apparently, caused the fine hairs on both their arms to stand on end.

They were intellectual titans and neither found it necessary to bat her eyelashes to get ahead in a world dominated by men.

I’ll just mark them down in my list of heroes.

Hot Air: Seasons

Eating my morning giant pancake at Muddy Boots this AM. A couple, probably pushing 60, sits at the table to my left. They’re both wearing hats and jackets — October or November wear. The woman, in fact, has a light scarf tied around her neck.

August, Brown County

The NOAA tells me its 66º in Bloomington, so it can’t be much more than two or three degrees lower here in Nashville, if anything. Forecast high for today: 76º.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say the couple is overreacting. Of course, I’m the kind of guy who, should the temp drop to 35º on a late September night, will insist on wearing shorts because — goddamnit — I’m not going to let go of summer just yet!

Choice?

I was listening to the Cubs game on the car radio yesterday afternoon, shuttling between the library, Rural King, and the Kroger Theme Park. when, between innings, a commercial came on for Northwestern Hospital.

It was one of those satisfied customer ads where the guy earnestly — and studiously unprofessionally — tells a tale from the bottom of his heart. He’d had some problem with said heart — arrhythmia, I think — and the doctors at Northwestern hooked him up to some machine and prescribed some drugs and, next thing he knew, he was A-OK. Northwestern, he concluded, was a great place where they don’t treat the patient like a number. Or something like that.

And it occurred to me: When does one choose which hospital one goes to? If it’s an emergency, you’re brought to the nearest hospital. That’s the way the ambulance system works. If your doctor says you have to get your appendix sliced out, she’ll book you into the hospital where she has admitting privileges. She doesn’t ask your where you want to go. She’s not a travel agent.

This Ain’t Med School

Now, Northwestern hospital paid out a ton of dough to find an ad agency, writer, director, talent booker, audio geek, caterer, and highly-trained, experienced voiceover guy who sounds like your next door neighbor. Then the ad agency had to book the ad. Trust me, the Cubs radio network charges honest money for spots now that the team is the defending World Series champion. And by honest I mean it costs gobs of money for announcers Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer to even think about your company as they broadcast the games. I tried to get CBS Chicago’s rate card but the outfit holds on to that info as though it’s America’s nuclear launch code. Just assume CBS charges Northwestern enough per year to cover plenty of heart treatments such as the earnest guy claimed he had done there.

And isn’t that the damnedest thing about this holy land’s for-profit health care industry? It’s as ridiculous as all those big pharmaceutical companies taking out national television ads beseeching you to ask your doctor about, say, Etanercept (trade name, Enbrel™).

What in the holy hell is Entanercept? Or Enbrel? And why in the holy hell would I have the crust to suggest to my doctor what cutting edge medication she should prescribe for my achy joints?

And the TV nets charge way more than any regional radio network does. It all ads up when you get your hospital bill or hand over your credit card at the pharmacy.

Free market, my foot.

Hot Air: Heroes and that Villain, Reality

I have to steal Dotty Sharp’s signature line here:

ohmydearlord!

There are no other words for this photo, from the Chicago Tribune‘s archives. It was taken at the 1967 book-release party for Mike Royko’s first collection of columns from the old Chicago Daily News, entitled Up Against It.

From the left, there are the inimitable Studs Terkel, Royko himself, Volume I bookshop owner Arlene Wimmer, and the brilliant but unpredictable author Nelson Algren. Two of them — Studs and Royko — were my idols growing up. Algren I learned to appreciate only after I’d turned 30. He penned The Man with the Golden Arm, for which he won a National Book Award in 1950. The Nat’l Book Foundation, the org. that now administers the award, in one of its historical retrospectives, dubbed Algren, “the bard of the down and out.” He also won three O. Henry Awards for his short stories. Algren in 1951 wrote a harsh but fond ode to the city called Chicago: City on the Make. In it he described the sharpies, the slums, the alleys, the crooks and the politicians (often — too often — the same guys), the sirens (emergency vehicular and otherwise), and all the other hustlers and locales that defined my beloved hometown. Pols and church leaders, natch, condemned the book.

Oh, how I wish I could have been a part of that gang in the photo, knocking back bourbons with Royko, commiserating about the Cubs with Studs, and hoping against hope Algren would wax poetic about his torrid love affair with Simone de Beauvoir.

The only problem is I would have been 11 years old at the time. I doubt if even Royko would countenance boozing it up with a pre-adolescent. Studs would have slipped me a fin and told me to go pick up a few cigars for him at Old Town’s Up Down Tobacco Shoppe. Algren probably would have snarled, “Get the hell away from me, kid.” My kind of guys all.

As for Wimmer, it’s a good bet she’d have echoed Algren’s sentiment. She’d have been my kind of guy as well.

At 11, I wouldn’t have been able to pronounce Simone de Beauvoir, let alone know who she was. Nor would I have sensed that Algren was cozying up to Wimmer, who herself was probably smitten with the literary lion/old goat.

Still, when I caught sight of this pic Friday afternoon, I felt like an 11-year-old once again, mooning over a these idols. Funny thing is, I dreamed of becoming a celebrated author like them but reality is a cruel fascist: I turned out to have more in common, professionally, with Wimmer. Sigh.

 

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