Category Archives: University of Illinois-Chicago

Hot Air

Old Hat, New Head

The very sophisticated barista at the Pencil back office (AKA Soma Coffee) sent me reeling back to my college years by playing Kate Bush this AM.


Kate Bush, Then & Now

Now, Kate Bush was viewed by the hip college intelligentsia (your humble correspondent, for one) as the cat’s miao some 34 years ago. That, my babies, is antico. Please consult your Italian-English dictionary. Natch, it’s not just emo-arty-baroque pop princesses who are still spun by the youth of this holy land these days. Had the rather sensitive-looking barista been, say, an aficionado of lunkhead rock (as remote a possibility as Michelle Bachmann attending her current husband’s inevitable gay marriage) he might have been playing, oh, Blue Öyster Cult’s Godzilla.

To fully grasp this phenomenon, one must consider whom I might have been listening to in those heady, smoke- and acid-filled afternoons spent lolling about in the University of Illinois-Chicago’s A. Montgomery Ward Student Lounge. In the year 1980, it follows, I’d have had to be grooving to the strains of Kay Kyser and His Orchestra or, IDK, something like  I Can’t Begin to Tell You, a duet by Bing Crosby and Carmen Cavallaro. Need I point out that I was doing no such grooving?

Kay Kyser’s Kollege Of Musical Knowledge

I know of countless parent-child combos who attend rock concerts together, with the younger halves of those unlikely pairings not cringing in deathly embarrassment. My brother and his sons catch Steely Dan every time that act hits the Chi. area. My friends Kim (a mom) and Harmony (her issue) recently took in the Arrowsmith show up in Indy.

I would have run away from home and sold myself into white slavery had my parents suggested we all attend a Perry Como show at the Auditorium Theater.

Who knows? Perhaps the generation gap has become a crack in the sidewalk.


Scroll through this strip. It’s called Trigger Warning: Breakfast. It’s raw. It’s heartfelt. It’s powerful.

From Trigger Warning: Breakfast

Panel From “Trigger Warning: Breakfast”

Its first line is “The morning after I was raped, I made my rapist breakfast.”

It is, therefore, puzzling.

I don’t get it. And, considering the fact that I’m more feminist-y than even half the women I know, I’m going to suppose 99.9 percent of my gender confreres don’t get it either. So we need help.

Help us understand this.

Help us understand why a woman who considers herself raped would make the perpetrator breakfast.

Help us understand why she wouldn’t plunge a steak knife into his heart.

In April, Philadelphia magazine ran a piece about campus rape that included a story told by a former Swarthmore College student who says she was raped by a man in her dorm room. Here are some details about the rape: she and the man had been lovers for several months but had recently agreed (she thought) to be just friends; he fell asleep on her bed; she changed into her pajamas and laid down next to him; he woke up and became frisky; she told him she wasn’t interested in sex; he ignored her and carried on. Here, let’s let her finish the story:

“I basically said, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you.’ And then he said, ‘Okay, that’s fine’ and stopped,” Sendrow told me. “And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.”

The woman considers what happened to have been a crime. A crime she did not report for a month and a half.

I understand why a woman would be loath to report a rape, especially on campus. The man whom the woman says raped her was a frat boy. The person she eventually reported the rape to was a frat brother. When she told the person about the rape, he was aghast that “such a good guy” would do such a thing.

For years, accusers have been battered in rape trials. Tens, hell, hundreds of thousands of them have been called sluts, flirts, opportunists, drunks, whores, man-haters, reckless idiots, and even the Devil in courts of law. No defense attorney calls a homeowner the Devil himself when he appears in court for the trial of someone who, allegedly, broke into his home and stole the family jewels.

Mamie Van Doren

Every Rape Victim In Every Court Of Law

So, I’m not unaware of how the legal system and society winks at rapists. For far too long, we’ve considered the only real victims of rape to be husbands whose wives were so molested or parents whose teenaged daughters had been assaulted. In other words, rape has been officially viewed as a property crime. And the property in question has never really been the vagina, the mouth, or the anus of the true victim. Nor has the true victim’s dignity, sanity, or physical health been of much concern to the courts.

Until more women are elected as legislators, this take on rape will continue to be predominant.

Now that my cred has been established, I ask loyal female Pencillistas to come forward and explain something to me. I want to know.

I want to know why the Swarthmore College woman continued sleeping in the same bed until morning with a man she says raped her the night before. I want to know why she didn’t tell him to go fuck himself when he continued to press for sex after she’d said no.

I want to know why the earlier-mentioned woman didn’t add arsenic to her former boyfriend’s eggs.

In each case, the upshot might have been a fight. So be it. I want to know why the women elected to avoid a fight at the cost of their future sanity and self-regard.

Teach me.

The Pencil Today:


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.


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


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!

%d bloggers like this: