Category Archives: WFHB

Hot Air: Eyes & Ears

You get the Big Mike treatment two ways on this first day of June:

First: The latest installment of Big Mike’s B-town runs in today’s Limestone Post magazine. I profile Michael Waterford, who — as we speak — is fixin’ to kayak down the entire length of the Mississippi River. He was my guest on Big Talk back on May 4. Here’s the link to that chat on WFHB, 91.3FM.

Second: The latest edition of Big Talk runs this afternoon at 5:00pm on ‘FHB. My guest will be Hondo Thompson, the new main stage emcee for the John Hartford Memorial Festival, taking place — again, as we speak — at the Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground in Bean Blossom, just north of Nashville, Indiana. I never knew much about Hartford until I set Hondo up for our Tuesday morning recording. Turns out he was quite a known guy in the bluegrass/newgrass/Americana music rackets. Hondo’s a big aficionado of said strains and he’s got a jillion stories to tell. So tune in this afternoon or click on the links I’ll post tomorrow AM for both the 8-minute radio feature and the entire original interview.

Gentle On My Mind

This song made two guys rich. One was John Hartford who penned it, and here’s the backgrounder on it: Hartford had just seen the movie Dr. Zhivago, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. He fell in screen-love with the female lead and told a pal, “I’d drink Julie Christie’s bathwater.” He promptly sat down at a picnic table and wrote, in 20 minutes, “Gentle on My Mind,” an innovative folk-y, roots-y, ‘grass-y thing that broke all the rules. Among Hartford’s crimes and misdemeanors:

  1. The song — as written — ran for four minutes, an eternity in those AM pop radio days
  2. It didn’t follow the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/solo/repeat roadmap supposedly vital to a hit record — he employed a series of rapid-fire poetic stanzas, each leading to the climactic title line
  3. It had a banjo part

Julie Christie As Lara In “Dr. Zhivago”

The other guy who raked in the dough thanks to the song was Glen Campbell, whose 1967 version of it became a monster hit. Before G-on-M-M, both Hartford and Campbell had been mildly successful in their chosen musical arenas but after Campbell’s 45 charted, each became a big time star.

Give a listen:

 

Hot Air

Foods Facts

In case you missed it, here’s the WFHB podcast featuring an interview with Keith Taylor, a co-op governance researcher who works at Indiana University’s Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Taylor started a change.org petition calling on the Board of Directors of Bloomingfoods to come up with a clear and public plan to address some of the issues that are making B-foods employees, shoppers, and co-op members nervous these days.

Bloomingfoods

Bloomingfoods

Taylor was grilled by News Director Joe Crawford last week about goings on at the local co-op grocer. Among other things, B-foods faces a potential union vote by its employees and must find a way to compete with two new natural and organic grocers coming to town within the next couple of years. Both Lucky’s Market and Whole Foods Market have announced plans to hit Bloomington. Lucky’s on South Walnut Street is due to open by the end of May.

Friday, the B-foods Board announced its decision to ask for help from the National Co+Op Grocers (NCG) in resolving its financial picture. At the same time the Board revealed that its president, Tim Clougher, has stepped down.

The NCG move will entail volunteer managers from other member grocery stores coming in and observing B-foods’ operations, doing an audit of its books, and making recommendations for repairs.

If Bloomingfoods pulls through the next couple of years in decent shape, it’ll be a testament to the loyalty of its customer base and the buy-local philosophy. B-foods not only faces competition from Lucky’s and WFM but mega-grocer Kroger has gone all in on natural and organic, especially at its newly remodeled Kroger Theme Park store on the east side.

The NCG request indicates that the B-foods brain trust is serious about the co-op’s future.

Shouting Out For Hamilton

Congrats to Rob Deppert for landing the plum task of intro’ing Howard Dean when the lobbyist/Dem Party sachem comes to town to flog for mayoral candidate John Hamilton.

Dean will spiel for Hamilton at the Monroe County Courthouse Wednesday at 1:00pm. The former Vermont governor and chair of the Democratic National Committee is credited with implementing the party’s “50-state strategy” that loaded both the US Senate and House of Representatives in its favor in the 2006 elections. In 2008, Barack Obama used the same strategy win election as president. Under the strategy, the Dems fought hard in what had previously been regarded as hopeless states and districts. Voters who’d considered themselves outnumbered in those places were targeted and energized, leading to numerous Democratic upsets.

Dean

Howard Dean

Most Murricans only know of Dean through a video of him hollering to rouse the troops at post-election rally the evening of the Iowa Caucuses in 2004. Known as the “Dean Scream,” video of the outburst was aired endlessly that month and was the final nail in the coffin of Dean’s presidential aspirations. Fox News pretty much ran all-scream, all the time for a good four weeks.

Me? I thought he got a raw deal from the get-go. So he hollered. So his voice was hoarse and cracked. It was a pep rally, for pity’s sake.

Truth is, Dean is a top-notch political strategist and certainly would have been my guy for president over both incumbent George W. Bush (duh!) and even eventual Dem nominee John Kerry.

Happy Days Here Again?

Speaking of politics, the folks who run my back office — AKA Soma Coffee — just got in a new shipment of mugs. Said mugs, natch, aren’t really new; Soma’s famed for its retro inventory. Take the mug I got today — on it was a repro of the New York Times front page the day after Barack Obama was elected prez in 2008.

NYT

Of course, I got to reading the impossibly tiny print. I was reminded that the election had produced a Democratic majority in the Senate of 59-41 as well as a 257-178 plurality in the House that happy November day.

All I can wonder is how in the goddamned hell the Dems pissed that advantage away.

OTOH: It looks like presumptive Dem nominee for prez in 2016, Hillary Clinton, is harkening back to those cheery times with her recent moves to the Left. Mebbe the party has learned a thing or two over the last couple of elections.

Hot Air

These Boots….

In my entire life I’ve only ever really lusted after two material items. Well, three, technically. Funny thing is, they were both sort of related.

One was a transistor radio. I dreamed, both sleeping and awake, about owning one for a good six months when I was eight years old. I was certain my notoriously penny-pinching mom would never get me one for Christmas but that didn’t stop me from haranguing her from September on in 1964. And on Christmas Eve when I finally opened the little package that I had no idea would indeed be a Sears Silvertone transistor radio, I let out a shriek equal to any emitted by teenaged girls at a Beatles concert.

Which brings me to item No. 2: I wanted a pair of Beatle boots. Good god in heaven, they were the coolest shoes ever designed. Pointy toes. Cuban heels. No laces, only that very neat insert of elastic at the side. The Beatles were cool, sure, but their feet were transcendently cool because they were encased in those works of art.

Beatle Boots

Beatle boots.

Just saying the words brings back the old covetous feeling. I wanted…, no, I needed them.

Naturally, the nuns at St. Giles Catholic school made an announcement early on during Beatlemania that Beatle boots — as well as Beatle haircuts — would be forbidden. Oh, how I wanted those boots more than ever after that.

The very sound of Beatle boots — a smart click-click that echoed through the halls — was intoxicating. My stupid soft-soled and -heeled shoes sounded like, well, nothing.

Some of the cooler guys at St. Giles got around the Beatle boots ban by wearing what we called “Dago shoes.” By the way, the cooler guys at St. Giles invariably were the Italians from the Galewood neighborhood of Chicago. The Irish kids from Oak Park wore plaid shirts and corduroy trousers.

Trousers. Hehe. The losers.

The cool kids wore skin-tight, knifelike-creased slacks. I would have cut off a finger or two to dress like the cool kids, many of whom were the scions of mid-level Outfit guys. Their daddy-os might have been vicious mobsters but their style sense was impeccable.

I had my priorities as I approached adolescence.

Anyway, Dago shoes. They, too, had pointy toes and Cuban heels but they were lace-ups. And the laces were the skinny, round, shiny kind, not the flat, black cloth, sensible variety that the Irish Oak Parkers wore. Again, the losers.

I remember one of the coolest kids being yanked out of line by one of the tough-guy nuns because he was wearing Dago shoes. “But S’ter,” he protested, “these aren’t Beatle boots!”

This legal hair-splitting clearly forced the nuns to re-strategize. That afternoon when Sister James Mary, the principal, made her end-of-day announcements over the PA, she said, her voice dripping with annoyance, “And from now on, there will be no more wearing of ‘Dago shoes.'” Then she added, speaking slowly and distinctly, “No pointed toes and no Cuban heels.”

We all tittered and giggled over the fact that she’d said Dago.

Sister Caelin barked, “Quiet!”

Dago shoes with Cuban heels. It was like a social studies and geography lesson rolled into one.

Back to Beatle boots — just look at this still from the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night:

From "A Hard Day's Night"

How kicky, in the parlance of the times. Wearing their signature footwear, the boys appear to be running on air, levitating, like the demi-gods they were. How I wished I could levitate like a demi-god.

Today, of course, I wear the clunkiest, roundest-toe, softest-soled shoes in all of creation. Adulthood, man. It beats a kid’s dreams down.

Money (That’s What Pols Need)

Joe Crawford’s News Dept. at WFHB reported yesterday that John Hamilton scooted out to Washington, DC for a fundraiser at some snazzy restaurant in our nation’s capital.

Hmm.

Hamilton’s been crowing that he won’t take a dime of “corporate money” ever since he declared himself a candidate for Bloomington mayor in this year’s election.

Hamilton

Hamilton

[BTW: Early voting has begun. Go do it now!]

Yet, his DC fundraiser featured at least two big bucks lobbyists. Okay, sure, as Hamilton himself says, the lobbyists’ dough is not the same as corporate green. He points out that the lobbyists work for good, wholesome, “progressive” operations not, I imagine, big, mean old companies that profit off the raping of the planet.

Still, it’s checkbook democracy. Hamilton’s not a villain here; it’s the entire Citizens United political racket that’s corrupt.

Anyway, give a listen to the WFHB report.

Money (That’s What I Want)

Hot Air

Democracy

It’s WFHB board election time with three plucky souls throwing their hats in the ring. And, BTW, Board president Joe Estivill is snatching his hat back. Joe, proprietor of The Players Pub, is retiring after a tumultuous term as the big man of the nine-member conclave.

Among other fires he and his Board battled, the resignation of dynamic General Manager Chad Carrothers and the subsequent botched hiring of Kevin Culbertson rank among the hottest. Under Estivill’s captaincy, the Board eventually rectified the Culbertson mess and the station settled back into a somewhat peaceful existence.

spotphoto-580x330

Joe’s Board also authorized the hiring of a politically-wired money-raiser: Dorothy Granger became the station’s Development Director in the summer of 2014. Granger also is District II representative on Bloomington’s City Council.  With on-air fundraiser revenues falling short of projections since the departure of Carrothers, the station has been in need of cash. Granger’s hat-in-hand work has been a lifesaver.

Station members will vote on the Board members at WFHB’s annual meeting in June. Here’s the slate thus far:

  • Attorney Pam Davidson is running for reelection. She serves on the finance committee, volunteers at Middle Way House and Lotus, and is a member of the WFIU & WTIU Community Advisory Boards.
  • Louis Malone was appointed to fill out an unfinished term on the Board early last year. He’s running for a full term now. Louis is shelter care coordinator for the Youth Services Bureau of  Monroe County. He’s a member of the personnel and nominating committees.
  • Tom Henderson is a first-time aspirant for the Board. He says he offers public radio, media technology, information technology experience.

The above three have been vetted by the Board’s nominating committee. As always, the Board has put out the call for petition candidates — that is, any who collects 10 signatures of station members can get on the June ballot. None have to this point.

Harry As Dick

Y’gotta watch Harry Shearer do his dramatization of the Nixon Tapes. That’s all; just watch.

Broken Taillights

So, a Charleston, South Carolina cop was charged with murder for shooting a guy in the back the other day. It’s not known just yet how many slugs Walter Scott caught from behind but Officer Michael Slager did fire eight shots at the 50-year-old as he ran away.

The killing might have been a blip on the radar screen of today’s police war on America’s dark-skinned citizens save for the fact that someone caught the incident on video. Hearing about a summary execution on the street is one thing; seeing it is entirely another.

Cop apologists can moan all they want about how we — the woefully uninformed citizenry — can never understand what pressures and fears officers endure on the streets. How would you react? they typically say in that challenging tone of voice. My answer in this case would be I wouldn’t shoot a goddamned guy in the back.

It’s true, we civilians don’t know all the nuances and details about the relationship between cops and people of color but we do know this: one police department after another has been busted for racial profiling, cops all over this holy land exchange racist emails, many big city police forces have KKK sects within their departments, story after story tell us about cops shooting unarmed black men but not shooting armed white men, and US citizens are 100 times more likely to be shot by the police than UK citizens, after allowances are made for the population difference.

Walter Scott was stopped for a broken taillight. Those in the know are fully aware that the broken taillight is the hassling cops best friend. As attorney Mark Geragos told one cop defender on CNN last night, “…[M]y father was a prosecutor for many years [and] used to say, ‘There’s more guys in state prison for broken tail lights than any other offense. Broken tail light means go hassle somebody of color.'”

What the cops are doing is a natural outgrowth of human behavior. Cops are confronted with the ugliest side of humanity every day. They begin feeling helpless under the constant onslaught of immorality, illegality, and — pure and simple — viscerally disgusting behavior.

Like any other human, a cop wants to lash out. He wants to find someone to punish for the flood of vice he witnesses every moment of his working day. He wants to make someone pay. In the United States, we have a convenient population of poor, alienated, scarily different-colored people. Being poor, they’re more likely to be involved in crime — petty and otherwise — so the poorly prepared cop zeroes in.

Go look for a broken tail light and fuck that gorilla up.

And don’t underestimate the usage of the term gorilla or any other similar apish pejorative. Cops are not anthropologists. They’re not scientists of any sort. Too many only know that those black bastards are animals.

Until our American city governments start training cops properly and weeding out the reactionaries and racists, until even the “mildly” prejudiced cops are separated from the overall force, more black men will be killed. And make no mistake, it’s not just bad white cops  who see black men as the enemy — far too many black cops see ghetto blacks as some kind of substandard citizen.

These shootings have to stop.

[h/t to Richard Lloyd.]

Hot Air

Living Dangerously

The Pencil took a few days off — well, okay, I took a few days off — so I missed the chance to note the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death.

What must it have been like to know that hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of people are gunning for you, that at any moment the crack of a rifle shot might be the last sound you’d ever hear?

Then again, MLK prob. never heard the crack of James Earl Ray’s rifle. The bullet traveled from Ray’s flophouse bathroom window to the Lorraine Motel balcony faster than the speed of sound. One moment King was vibrant, alive, wondering what that local minister’s wife might serve for dinner that evening and the next, he was bleeding to death from a hole on the side of his face and neck the size of a fist. King in a fraction of a second was transmuted from a Nobel Peace Prize winner, the world’s foremost advocate of nonviolent resistance, a loud critic of the Vietnam War, a fighter for justice, wealth redistribution, and organized labor to the toothless, innocuous, marketable symbol of faux-kumbaya we insist on seeing him as today.

King Arrest

Unarmed And Dangerous

Whoever wanted King dead — and a good goddamned many did — got precisely what they wanted.

Faces Made For Radio

You should know by now that Bloomington’s community radio station, WFHB, has been a nursery for many voice and journalistic talents who’ve gone on to make honest dough at public radio stations. Our own WFIU features, for instance, Drew Daudelin doing local news breaks during each weekday’s Morning Edition program. Daudelin used to edit my copy when I wrote for the Daily Local News at ‘FHB.

And don’t forget Alycin Bektesh — News Editor Emeritus (Emerita?) — who’s doing freelance work for public radio stations out west now that she’s ditched us for the climes of Colorado and beyond.

Another great colleague from ‘FHB, Ryan Dawes, is doing scads of work for community radio in Minnesota. He oriented me the first day I reported for a shift at ‘FHB back in late 2009. He quit his gig as WFHB’s Assistant News Director, got himself hitched, and moved to Minn. a couple of years ago. Too bad for us. But we can still hear him thanks to the magic of radio — and the interwebs.

Here are some SoundCloud links to his recent projects:

  • A feature on moonshiners during Prohibition, featuring vintage recordings of Minnesoat still operators
  • A report on Ojibwe hip hop artists; they live in a remote part of Minnesota and must endure racism as well as try to find sound recording facilities — but they still get their music out
  • Skijoring — a winter sport wherein people on skis are pulled by a horse, dogs, or a snow vehicle
  • Canoes made from birch bark
  • “My nerdiest project, about devout fans of Sherlock Holmes
  • Upcoming — “I’m going to produce projects on the Minnesota Conservation Corps (an extension of the New Deal’s CCC), Prairie For Lady Choir, and one about the organist for the Minnesota Twins.”

Radio, my good friends, is decidedly not dead.

 

Entrepreneur Alert

Okay, who’s with me? Let’s start a business, proclaim publicly we won’t serve same-sex couples who want to get married, and then rake in the tens of thousands of dollars bigots’ll surely donate to our crowd-funding site. Seems simple enough. Look how many businesses this has worked for in recent days.

Anyway, let’s say our business would be selling something weirdly obscure, for instance, Leopard Pop Phone Handsets — they do exist: check out Real Simple‘s “13 Unique Bridesmaid Gift Ideas, item no. 13.” We stock, say, a half-dozen of them so the start-up costs won’t be too much. We print up a few business cards, crank up an eBay account, start a Facebook page, sell one or two to a friend or a cousin, just to show we’re a going concern, and then — ba-da-boom! — we announce our deeply-held religious objection to sodomy and forbidden lifestyles and all the other holy horseshit all these pizza restaurants and cake bakers have been shoveling. We wait a couple of days and then cry that our business has fallen off the table and we’re being forced to shut down because of all the pressure from “the gays.”

Handset

Our Product

Next thing you know, we’re dumping bushels-full of cash over our heads in celebration!

Alright, alright, you’re shaking your head because — I know — ill-gotten gains and all that. So fine, we donate half our profits to the Human Rights Campaign or the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission and keep the rest. We still make out like bandits.

Emphasis on the word bandits.

Hot Air

Hores Sense

Happy National Grammar Day, everyone! Watch your colons.

In trying to learn about NGD, I came upon a neat little organization and its blog, both of which, sadly, no longer exist. Why? Well, prob. because nobody much cares about good grammar ennymore. Nevertheless, skim through the posts of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, especially a handwritten essay by a grammar-schooler about his dad’s love of “hores.” A taste:

Hores make you feel good. My dad wants a hores but my mom says no.

Horse

“Sex Worker” Is More Appropriate

Natch, good spelling is as important as good grammar.

BTW: Start making your plans now for National Punctuation Day, September 24th every year.

Plaster Saint?

So, the character who, in the interests of truth, justice and the American way, got the Jackie Robinson West Little League team stripped of its 2014 national title got himself in a bit a jam himself early yesterday morning.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Christopher Janes of suburban Evergreen Park, menaced a woman and her husband in the wee hours a block from his house Tuesday. He allegedly chased the woman, who ran into her house after she pulled into her driveway and saw him causing a ruckus. Janes then pounded on her front door and yelled at the couple to come out — using foul language. The couple called the police as Janes ran away. He was apprehended not far away with his arm bleeding.

Janes has been charged with assault, disorderly conduct, resisting a peace officer, public intoxication, and using threatening and vulgar language. At the time of his arrest, acc’d’g to the Trib, he refused to cooperate with police and would not say how he injured his arm.

Janes

Janes’ Mug Shot

Meanwhile, nine of the 13 members of the Jackie Robinson West team, traveled to the tony northwest suburb of Northbrook where they met and greeted some 300 kids and adults who came to see them at the local YMCA. The Saturday evening event was sponsored by the Northbrook Community Relations Commission. The players talked about their trip to the White House to meet President Obama, visiting Disney World, their work ethic, and what classes they liked in school.

As for Janes, he will be arraigned April 13 in Cook County Circuit Court.

Mayoral Miscellany

Doug Storm hosted all four candidates for Bloomington mayor last night on WFHB’s Interchange program.

Don’t worry: No blood was spilled.

Interchange

Click Image For Podcast

Perspective

The Onion, as always, nailing it:

Onion

Click Image For Full Story

Bim Bam Boom

So, yeah, this holy land possesses thousands of thermonuclear weapons capable of turning our fair world into a smokeball. Russia packs a few thousand pika-don fireworks as well. The United Kingdom, France, and China long have been gleeful members of the nuke club. Add to them India, Pakistan, and Israel, all of whom have tinkered their way into armageddon territory.

Funny thing is, most of the above-mentioned gasp and wring their hands whenever another nation-state hints that it’d like to develop the capability to blow the world to bits. Some otherwise smart citizens even say Well, fair is fair: We have the Bomb, why can’t they?

As ludicrous as this sounds, the leaders of those countries who possess nuclear arsenals seem to have been made less rash by their Bombs. Well, at least ever so minutely less rash. Think of Vietnam and how the US didn’t turn it into a full-blown conflagration for fear the Chinese or the then-Soviets might decide to get trigger happy in response. The USSR itself similarly tampered its urges to kill in any number of conflicts in the last half century lest we blow them to smithereens.

So rather than counting the grateful dead by the millions, we’ve kept the number of war casualties to…, um, oh. Millions.

Bomb Test

Huzzah — We’re In The Club!

Still, those leaders of the nuke club fear the prospect of a wild-man gov’t joining its ranks. To wit, North Korea. It’s still trying to perfect its own penis-envy doomsday weapon and no doubt will put an effective warhead on a dependable missile sooner rather than later. And whereas the pioneer members of Nukes, Inc. seemed content merely to develop and test their big bangers — that being enough to scare the bejesus out of their potential rivals — N. Korea seems to dig verbally assaulting its perceived enemies with threats of leveled cities.

Take yesterday, for inst. Ri Su Yong, the North Korean foreign minister, issued one of his country’s regular and predictable threats against to US. If this nation and its allies, South Korea and Japan, keep on flexing their muscles in the neighborhood of North Korea, Ri said, his land’ll blast a US city into its constituent atoms. He elaborated:

Now the DPRK has the power of deterring the U.S. and conducting a pre-emptive strike as well, if necessary.

The muscle-flexing Ri refers to is the annual joint military exercise conducted by the US and S. Korea happening right now. Every year, the US and SoKo play-act at soldiering intentionally in eye- and earshot of those excitable North Koreans. And every year North Korea pledges to take out Los Angeles or Seattle if they don’t stop it.

I mean, possessing the capability to incinerate hundreds of millions of human beings with the push of a button is one thing, but bragging about it? Well, now, that’s going too far.

H-Bomb Ditty

The Renegades covered this old Bill Haley and His Comets single back in 1966. How bizarre a species are we that we can sing in celebration of global nuclear holocaust because that’d mean there’d be one lucky male survivor along with 13 women?

I beginning to think Darwin was wrong. There is no such thing as evolution — only devolution.

In any case, this is a very cool version of a very deranged song.

Hot Air

Storm Of Battle

Doug Storm, the dynamic, dynamite host of WFHB’s Interchange is gathering the 2015 Bloomington mayoral combatants in his studio for a battle royal Tuesday evening.

The four candidates for mayor — John Hamilton, Darryl Neher, John Turnbull, and John Linnemeier — have agreed to face the nation…, er, well, the city live on-air with Storm officiating.

Candidates

[L-R] Linnemeier, Neher, Turnbull, Hamilton

Storm wants the B-ton citizenry to submit some Q’s before the show so if you want to know how Neher or Linnemeier might react if the ISIS hordes threaten our thriving, throbbing megalopolis send an email to Doug at interchange@wfhb.org.

The party primaries will be Tuesday, May 5th with Hamilton, Neher, and Linnemeier facing off for the Dems and Turnbull running unopposed in the Republican race. This promises to be a fun election, what with it being the first real contested campaign in better than a decade. Neher has outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan’s backing while Hamilton claims former mayors Tomilea Allison and John Fernandez as allies. Hamilton also is amassing an all-star cast of Indiana University Maurer School of Law profs on his endorsement roster as well as former legislators Lee Hamilton and Baron Hill and even singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer. Neher counters with current statehouse figures Shelli Yoder and Matt Pierce.

[Correction: Isabel Piedmont-Smith correctly points out that Shelli Yoder is not a “statehouse figure.” Yoder is a member of the Monroe County Council. Mea culpa. And thanks, Isabel.]

Both Turnbull’s and Linnemeier’s candidacies appear quixotic at this time.

Storm’s got plenty of questions to throw at the quartet but he’s still aching for listener input. Go to the show’s Facebook page for more info. And tune in, for pity’s sake, Tuesday at 6pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. It promises to be an hour of real democracy — fitting since we like to call ourselves one.

Big Questions

And, hey, don’t forget I’m doing a Q&A thing with the four candidates myself. Yup. Even now the boys are contemplating deep questions like What was the first album you ever bought with your own money? and Do you do your own taxes?

Now that’s democracy, kids.

My profiles of the candidates will appear in next month’s Ryder magazine. If that doesn’t get you voting, hell, I have no idea what will.

Who Loves The Sun?

I do. Even today, when it’s a goddamned bone-chilling 11º at 10 in the morning.

This recent spate of frigidity has turned me off even from checking the NOAA site for the 10-day forecast. I figure Why depress myself?

That’s why, when I overhead someone say it was going to be 50 degrees come Tuesday, I started feeling that old hint of optimism. Winter, folks, just may end one day. You heard it here first.

 

Hot Air

War!

War was declared against Winter last night by the People of South Central Indiana.

The Allies struck first, with Commander-in-Chief Big Mike ordering several divisions to attack a Winter front that had been slowly advancing from the west. Reports from the field indicate Allied forces marched through the ominous, dark gray clouds “as if they weren’t even there.”

Homefront observers, though, report Winter’s forces dumped up to a half a foot of snow on an already battle-scarred landscape. Winter terrorists had staged several dastardly attacks of snow and frigid cold in the previous months, leading up to yesterday’s declaration of war.

Winter

Dictator Old Man Winter

The Commander-in-Chief has issued a statement assuring South Central Indiana that the threat of Winter will be short-lived. “Our brave men, women, and children can expect to lay down their snow shovels and mittens within weeks, if not days,” Big Mike said early this morning on his white house’s lawn.

Meanwhile, the Allies have called up reserves including the 4th Mechanized Snowplow Battalion and have begun to stockpile road salt.

The Brother With The Grooves

Whatever you do these days, start listening to Brother William on WFIU’s Friday edition of Just You and Me. The show, formerly hosted by ‘FIU legend Joe Bourne, has been an oasis of good tunes for years. Bourne spun rock, pop, and soul classics until his retirement to New Albany at the end of 2014.

I’d thought Bourne was tops but, honestly, Bro. W. can match him disc for disc. Known to the square world as William Morris, attorney at law, Brother William digs deep in his record library for fabulous hits from the old R&B labels like Stax, Atlantic, Hi, and Chess. He throws in gospel and straight blues for seasoning and his hour-and-a-half whooshes by.

Stax Record

It’s a good thing WFIU ops. director Will Murphy snagged Brother William because the Indiana University-sponsored public radio station had been glaringly white for far too long. Last I checked, there were two or three dark-skinned folks who claimed Bloomington as home. Not only that, music lovers (like me) get a little tired of hearing only Motown when DJs want to strut their soul chops.

Motown was fine for what it was — a sepia Tin Pan Alley-esque factory for very talented songwriters, albeit their end products were a tad too polished and excessively palatable, created for a crossover audience. The Supremes were Vegas; I want something more gritty.

Give me Big Joe Turner, Betty Everett, the Impressions, some barrelhouse piano, and a lot of jumped-up blues and I’ll listen, religiously. Speaking of that, I’ll take some Mahalia as well.

Brother William gives it all and more.

BTW: B.W. still spins on community radio WFHB. He mans the board for his regular Tuesday Afternoon Mix 2 as well as Jazz Menagerie. If you’re not listening, you’re nowhere.

Kyle’s Kudos

Following up on Thursday’s Kyle Schwarber follow-up, the former Indiana University slugger has been named baseball’s number 19 prospect in Baseball Ameirca’s Top 100, released this week. The Chicago Cubs’ first round selection in last June’s amateur draft (no. 4 overall), Schwarber hurt the feelings of a lot of pitchers in his first pro season.

Schwarber’s bat makes him special. He was a catcher for the Hoosiers but his efforts behind the plate leave a lot to be desired for the big league game. The Cubs tried moving him over to left field last summer but he damaged his own team with an outfielder’s glove on his hand almost as much as he did the other team with the lumber in his mitts. The Cubs say he’ll stick at catcher from now on.

Schwarber

Schwarber Last August With The Daytona Cubs

The Ohio native is aware he’s got plenty of work to do to bring his catching skills up to par. He told attendees at last month Cubs Fan Convention that he’d learned to catch only by watching Major League games on television. He continued:

As it turns out I was doing a lot of things wrong. Luckily, I got a crash course when I was at Kane County how to catch. You know what, it totally flipped right there. It made sense. I got it. So then I went to instructs and we kind of slowed it down and made sure I got it. It was really fun. I love catching. You have to like the position to be there and if you don’t like it, you’re not going to have success back there.

So, the attitude’s top-notch, too. Stay tuned for more on Schwarber as news develops.

Rocket “88”

Some folks consider this the first real rock ‘n’ roll song ever recorded. Its standard blues bass line reveals the black roots of what became a white art form.

Hot Air

It Takes A Village

I waylaid Kari Costello this AM, digging for dope on the future of her and hubby Bob’s Village Deli, which came thisclose to being destroyed by fire this past Sunday afternoon.

Village Deli

The Bloomington institution’s hind end was devastated by flames during the Sunday breakfast/brunch rush. Nobody was injured even as thick black smoke and leaping flames forced the packed house to be evacuated in a hurry.

Anyway, K. Costello says she and Bob have entertained a couple of insurance co. appraisers in the three days since the conflagration. They still don’t know anything about when the restaurant will re-open nor how much actual repair work needs to be done.

Village Deli

The Front’s Cool

Of equal importance to is the plight of the V.D.’s staff. “A lot of them are college kids,” Kari says. “This was their only source of income. How are they going to pay their rent? We’ve got to do something for them, and quick.”

Some V.D. staffers will work temporarily at the Laughing Planet, also part of the Costello empire along with Soma Coffee. As for further info on the Deli’s re-opening, Kari says, “When we know something, you’ll know something.”

Moving On

And then who should drop by Table No. 1 at Soma but Alycin Bektesh, newly-emeritus news director at WFHB. She took a powder, unexpectedly and surprisingly, from the community radio station earlier this month. Her second in command, ass’t news director Joe Crawford, has been elevated to her chair and Alycin’s sticking around to help with the transition and finding a lieutenant for him.

Bektesh

Alycin Bektesh, Election Night 2014

I’ll tell you this: Alycin looks great these days. Her face is free of the stress of working virtually every day of the week, being on call from morning until night, and spending holidays, birthdays, and sunny summer days in the on-air studio.

Alycin doesn’t know precisely what the future holds in store for her but, natch, level-headed kid she is, she won’t be panhandling on Kirkwood Avenue any time soon.

All The News That Fits

Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.

— Allen Ginsberg

Pence

Gov. Mike Pence: Indiana’s Editor-In-Chief

Yeah, I’m as harrumphed as anyone in light of the news that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has started his own state-run news service. It’s called Just IN. Cute, huh? Y’know, taking the old TV newsman’s intro to a bulletin — “This just in…” — and doubling it down to to connote news and info just from the Hoosier State. Just for you. Just, I guess, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as the Guv sees it.

How, peeps are asking, can a supposed small-gov’t conservative justify using taxpayer dough to run a propaganda operation? What would the Founding Daddy-o’s, whom the Right never fails to cite when trying to win an argument, say about that?

Well, history tells us the likes of Benjamin Franklin, who ran the Colonies’ first non-Crown post office, wanted low-cost and easy delivery of mail in large part so he and his cohorts could spread news about their Revolution. The current USPS (then called the U.S. Post Office Department)) was created in 1792 thanks to legislation sponsored by George Washington and James Madison. Its paramount raison d’être was to facilitate the dissemination of gov’t news.

So it can be said the post office has always been a propaganda machine. And the Founding Fathers wanted the taxpayers to foot most of its bills.

Just as Mike Pence does for his little venture.

Martin’s Music

Digital DJ extraordinaire Hondo Thompson passes along this news from Steve Martin’s Twitter account:

Starting now to record a new album with Edie Brickell. Peter Asher (CBE!) producing.

Just wondering: Is there a cooler guy in America than Steve Martin?

Martin

Steve Martin

BTW: While trying to find a nice image of himself, I came upon Martin’s speaker’s appearance agency. Apparently, he gets a cool $200,000 for each speaking engagement. Yow! My speaker’s fee is negotiable, in case you’re interested. I’ll be happy with $20. If that’s too much for your blood, I’ll take a White Castle gift certificate. Or bus fare. Your choice.

Nuh uh, Sez Michelle

Anything that’s a spit in the eye of a tyrannical theocracy (I apologize for being redundant) is good by me.

WaPo 20150127

Click Image For Full Story

Word Police

Benedict Cumberbatch, whom millions of females find alluring for some reason or another, consigned himself to the fires of hell by using the term “coloured” to describe black and brown people, ironically in a interview having to do with racism in both Great Britain and this holy land. Cumberbatch expressed dismay that his homeland is seemingly more racist than the US. He also decried the lack of opportunity for dark-skinned folk in theater, movies, and TV.

None of that means anything, though, to people who dig finding insults under every bed.

Just to recap: White man (who, physically, could be mistaken for a mobile home owner from Bedford, Indiana) places himself four-square on the side of the angels in terms of race relations in the Anglo-American world but, unfortunately, chooses to use a forbidden term to describe the oppressed group so he’s immediately cast as a racist on the order of a Grand Dragon .

Cumberbatch

Cumberbatch

So, I put it to my pal, a reasonably well-known African-American artist. This Cumberbunch dude, I said, used the term “coloured.” What’s your take?

After a few shrugs and a question or two about exactly who Cummerbund is, my pal finally responded, “Who cares?”

Bingo. Here’s the sham that passes for race relations in these United States today: Canary-in-a-coalmine sensitivities are elevated to moral imperatives even as real atrocities are committed day in and day out against America’s dark-skinned brethren and sisteren. It’s a trade-off everybody’s a party to — we whites promise not to drop N-bombs or other slurs and dark-skinned folks promise not to rise up en masse and kick the crap out of us for hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow, coded political catch phrases, institutionalized second-clss citizenship, and too many policemen using them for target practice.

Hypocrisy — as American as sweet potato pie.

Hot Air

Bim Bam Boom

Quickies today because I’m running late.

Hot Breakfast — Real Hot!

Because I was running late, I squealed out of the Soma Coffee parking lot but before I could burn rubber on Grant St. who should I see but Bob Costello, owner of the same as well as the Laughing Planet and the Village Deli.

The V.D., as all Bloomington knows by now, suffered an almost catastrophic fire yesterday at about noon. The thick black smoke emanating from the rear of the joint indicated to some that the B-ton institution would be a total loss, with neighboring businesses like Cafe Pizzaria (sic) perhaps suffering severe damage as well.

Appearances, natch, can be deceiving. The recycling and trash area of the restaurant was fairly well destroyed as was, apparently, the big walk-in cooler — which, thus far, seems to have been the origin point of the blaze.

Anyway, Costello was walking from the Deli to Soma, speaking meaningfully on the phone and carrying a sheaf of official looking papers — insurance docs, maybe. In any case, I honked and waved and Bob flashed a brilliant smile. I yelled out “Good luck” and he responded with a thumbs up.

So, either Bob feels he’s dodged a life-changing bullet or he’s the most sanguine guy in town. Here’s hoping the Deli reopens soon.

Old Man Music

I don’t know about you but I had the time of my life last night at Jeff Morris’s 70th birthday party, held at the Player’s Pub.

The old bird danced like a 69-year-old to some mighty fine music. Morris founded Bloomington’s community radio station, WFHB, back in the early ’90s. He’s still the guy who shinnies up the tower to tweak the station’s antenna. Shoot, he’s got 21 years on me yet he makes me look like his granddaddy.

Now then, it must be said: one of the acts, an ad hoc band comprised of, among others, Jeff Isaac on keyboards, Dave Baas on rhythm guitar, and Emily Jackson pounding the drums just might be, for my money, the best thing making noise in this town. Trust me, if you hear of them playing around anywhere again, catch ’em.

Freedom?

The bitter party had themselves a confab in corn heaven this past weekend under the risible moniker the Iowa Freedom Summit. A passel of contenders and pretenders for the 2016 Republican nomination for president squawked at the crowd. Even Donald Trump was there, ensuring that no sentient person can take the GOP seriously just yet — even if the party is indeed in charge of Congress.

Anyhow, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who fancies herself presidential timber mainly because she’s anointed herself the Hillary Clinton Critic-in-Chief, wowed the crowd with these words:

Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike her, I have actually accomplished something. Mrs. Clinton, flying is an activity not an accomplishment.

Personal to Carly: I don’t think you fully grasp what it is the Secretary of State of the United States of America does. Until you do, you really aren’t prez timber yet. Maybe never.

A Man Of Joy & A Man Of Peace

Alright, kiddies, I heard this morning what just may be the greatest quote ever uttered by a professional athlete. NPR’s Steve Inskeep had interviewed baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks back in 2009. Here’s part of the exchange:

Banks: And my life is like a miracle. I mean, I don’t even know how I got into baseball. And I always felt bad about attention coming my way, for some reason. Something happened to me, I do something pretty exciting, and I didn’t want the spot light on me. I got an award the other day, at the Library of Congress, and I said, gosh, I’m getting an award for doing nothing. I haven’t done anything yet. Nothing.

Inskeep: Well, I think that record book would dispute you there.

Banks: No, but me personally, I mean. I always had a bigger goal, when I was 15, and that was to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And I think about that a lot. I dream about it. I see myself in Stockholm. That has been my journey. I mean I’ve been chasing the footsteps of my life to do something worthwhile. I haven’t done anything yet. I have not done anything yet.

Imagine that! His goal in life from the time he was a (not-so) dopey teenager was to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And because he never did that, he felt he’d not accomplished anything worthwhile.

Again, a pro athlete said that.

How could you not love Ernie?

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