Category Archives: What’s Going On?

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“We need to get over this love affair with the fetus and start worrying about children.” Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General of the United States (h/t to Susan Sandberg)

HIDDEN NO MORE

Fountain Square is a lovely development and Bloomington will forever be in debt to the late Bill Cook for ponying up the dough to rehab the place, but let’s be frank — it’s tough for a retailer who doesn’t have sidewalk frontage to make a go there.

Hello? Anyone There?

Brynda Forgas, boss-lady at The Hidden Closet boutique, has been surviving in Fountain Square for a few years. She hopes to thrive elsewhere now.

She’s opening up new digs behind the Book Corner in the old home of Glorious Moments, an art emporium that closed down suddenly under fishy circumstances a couple of months ago.

Forgas & Friend

Brynda and her husband are hustling to rebuild the interior of the space for the Closet’s “grand-ish” opening party, Friday, June 1st, at 5:00pm. She says she’s calling it “grand-ish” because she doesn’t want to raise people’s expectations too much but she did reveal she’ll be serving cream puffs.

That’s grand enough for me. See you there.

HIDDEN TREASURE

Speaking of Fountain Square, one of Bloomington’s secret pleasures remains hidden there.

That would be Stefano’s Ice Cafe, down in the lower level of the mall. Fab sandwiches and sides. The place is run by a husband and wife team from Afghanistan. They treat customers as though they’re long-lost cousins.

If Stefano’s had a streetside storefront, the line to get into the place would be halfway around Fountain Square.

As it is, you can go there at lunch time, get served in the snap of a finger, and eat like a king. May as well take advantage of it now, before they move out, too, and you’ll have to wait.

WHY THE UNIFORM?

BTW: Have you ever wondered why the US Surgeon General always wears a uniform?

Here’s the answer: the US Public Health Service, which the SG commands, originally was a uniformed arm of the nation’s defense apparatus. When it was formed in the 18th Century, the USPHS originally was called the Military Health Service. It’s job was to tend to sick and injured sailors (at the time the US only had a naval military service.)

The post of Surgeon General today carries a military rank equivalent to a vice admiral in the Navy.

The wearing of the uniform had fallen out of fashion among SG’s until C. Everett Koop came along under the Reagan administration. Koop was a national health evangelist and he felt wearing the uniform would would cause citizens to pay a little more heed to him than other fed bureaucrats.

Surgeon General Koop

Considering the fact he yelled at Americans to stop smoking and stood on his head to raise AIDS awareness, any trick he could think of to get us to listen was worth a shot.

Koop was a strong anti-abortion advocate, although I can’t come down too hard on him because his belief stemmed from years of treating fetuses and newborns, so I don’t suppose it was born (pardon the pun) of some lockstep religious conceit. He also wouldn’t take to the bully pulpit to condemn doctors who performed abortions or women who received them.

Anyway, Bloomington has a notable Koop connection. In 1982, local parents of a child born with severe Down Syndrome, esophageal atresia, and a tracheoesophageal fistula wrestled with the decision to treat the child or let him pass. The attending physician advised them the boy, known as Baby Doe, only had a 50 percent chance of recovering fully from surgery and even if he did, he would be virtually unable to care for himself for the rest of his life due to mental retardation. The parents elected to withhold food and water from the boy and he died after six days.

Koop, a noted pediatric physician before taking his government job, had performed surgery on hundreds of newborns with the maladies and said he’d never lost a patient. Moved to action by the Bloomington Baby Doe case, he advocated a national statute protecting children born with severe birth defects, eventually passed by Congress as the Baby Doe Law.

Koop seemed a decent Joe despite the fact that he championed a “right-to-life” agenda. Just goes to show not everyone we disagree with needs to be demonized.

GO!

Hey, don’t forget to check the Pencil’s GO! Events Listings.

SAVE THE CHILDREN

From one of the five greatest pop albums of all time, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?

If you don’t have this disc or mp3, your collection is incomplete.

The Pencil Today:

WE’D RATHER FEEL THAN THINK

The late physicist Alan Cromer suggested that scientific thinking is not a natural process for the seven billion of us who muddle through this life. “Human beings, after all, love to believe in spirits and gods,” he said. “Science, which asks them to see things as they are and not as they believe or feel them to be, undercuts a primary human passion.”

Cromer

BLOOMINGTON REDUCES ITS GAS PAIN

Environmental issues, both local and global, are in the news this Saturday morning.

The Herald Times reports that the City of Bloomington used five percent less gasoline in its fleet vehicles during the first half of this year, as compared to the same span in 2010.

Good news, no?

Less Of This Here

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Bloomington, being the capital-in-exile of the former Soviet Union, is chock-full of liberals, Democrats, and other sinners who go in for that kind of Earth-y stuff.

The rest of this holy land? Well, you know.

WHAT DO THOSE DUMB SCIENTISTS KNOW ANYWAY?

So, the South Africa climate talks are petering out with no agreement in sight.

It’s the usual snag: the big countries (like you-know-which holy land) that pollute most are pushing for a tepid pact to curb greenhouse gases and other flotsam and jetsam. Developing nations, which have a lot less to lose economically, want strong environmental safeguards.

I understand the motivations of corporate robber barons and their coatholders in Congress who want to forestall any restrictions. It costs dough, after all, to sanitize smokestacks that belch toxins.

The Sweet Smell Of Success

Why, though, would that certain segment of the general populace that drools before any TV screen with Fox News on it not want stringent global environmental laws? Don’t they want to breathe fresh air or drink clean water?

Perhaps not. Perhaps they wish only to inhale Camels and slurp Diet Coke.

Anyway, that gang doesn’t believe the overwhelming majority of climatologists who are convinced humankind is mucking up the atmosphere so badly that Hurricane Katrina in a few decades will seem like a spring shower.

Many of them do believe in things like ghosts, UFO visitations, astrology, intelligent design, spontaneous human combustion, numerology, angels, homeopathy, feng shui, clairvoyance, Nostradamus, and other fairy tales.

In that sense, the Fox News audience is far more “natural” than I am.

MERCY MERCY ME

Heck, let’s stick with the ecology. Here’s the final track on side one of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” vinyl disc, released in May, 1971. For my money, it’s the best pop album ever made. Enjoy.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

◗ Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert can’t speak anymore but his voice rings out louder than ever these days. He’s become a writing machine. He reminds us that Kirk Douglas is now 95 years old.

By the way, you have to read Roger’s take on the Occupy Movement. He goes a little too soft on the Democratic Party, IMHO, but his righteous indignation is refreshing.

◗ And so we’ll stick with the Sun-Times. Columnist Neil Steinberg writes today about the Chicago Police. The boys in powder blue will be on world display next spring with the G-8 and NATO summits coming to town. The CPD has been tarnished through the years by the Summerdale Scandal, the ’68 Convention, the Jon Burge torture case, and too many others to name here. I personally took a beating in the back seat of a squad car once for the unforgivable sin of being a mouthy sixteen-year-old. Steinberg is no more popular with Chicago’s cops today than dopey kids like me were back then. His FB link illustrates why.

FYI: It was Steinberg who, as a pseudonymous critic of a well-known, pathologically flatulent Chicago newspaper columnist back in the ’90s, inspired the title for this feature. I wish I could tell you what Steinberg’s nom de plume was or who was the blowhard he skewered but, well, I just can’t.

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