Hot Air: Talk & Action

Quick Question

When Cory Booker looks in the mirror, does he see Bill Clinton?

Reflection.

Booker yesterday during CNN’s climate change town hall for the Democrats’ announced 2020 presidential candidates told the crowd that even though he’s a vegan, they should eat as much meat as they want. See, beef-on-the-hoof grazing is one of the top contributors to deforestation on this mad planet. Those fires in the Amazon rainforest? Clear-cutting for cattle ranching likely has made them much more the inferno than they might otherwise have been.

The message should be, Hey, knock off gorging on bovine steaks and roasts for ten seconds wouldja? I mean, we don’t have to ban red meat but, jeez, maybe we Americans can try to eat a stalk of celery every once in a while, just to save, y’know, the world. But no, Booker wants to show said world he can be all things to all people, just like his apparent role model.

That splitting-the-baby-in-half type of rhetoric certainly was a hallmark of the Clinton oratorical archive. And, considering the fact that Booker embraces more than a few things, as did Clinton, that make progressives feel uncomfortably itchy, well…, the comparison is apt, no?

In any case, should the unlikely occur and Booker gains his party’s 2020 nomination, I’ll more than happily vote for him over the Mussolini-lite that occupies the Oval Office today. I’d much rather verbally batter Booker over his venial sins than endure Li’l Duce‘s cardinal sins anymore.

Action Figures

We’re doing a dizzyingly quick turnaround on Big Talk this afternoon. Due to scheduling conflicts and unforeseen HIPAA issues, I’ll be recording today’s edition at 2:15pm at WFHB Tower, the world headquarters of the radio/online communications powerhouse that carries my hopefully-one-day award-winning program, editing and post-producing said interview, and shooting the resultant audio file over to hard-nosed new news director Kyrie Greenberg for airing at 5:30pm.

Phew.

Oh yes, my guests. Two of them. They’ll be Tracey Hutchings-Goetz, community organizer for Hoosier Action, and Kassandra (Kass) Botts, interim exec director of the Indiana Recovery Alliance. The two groups are working together to defeat this state’s Medicaid work requirements.

Hutchings-Goetz (L) & Botts

You may recall Hoosier Action’s founder and current chief, Kate Hess Pace, appearing on Big Talk twice already, the first time back in August 2017 and again this past January. Since Kate’s first appearance on the program, she’s moved her base of operations to New Albany and brought on Hutchings-Goetz to handle business here in Bloomington. HA is a member-driven nonprofit that seeks to get people involved in legislative change and voter participation.

BTW: Ain’t that a stinging indictment of the electorate in this holy land? The fact that advocacy groups have to stand on their heads to get people to vote seems downright bizarre. I dunno about you, but I was chomping at the bit to vote in the years leading up to my eighteenth birthday and I don’t think I’ve missed an election since. If I have, it was entirely unavoidable. Other people, apparently, think it’s way too much effort to stand in line for thirteen minutes and then fill out a ballot indicating their preferences for the future of this locality/state/nation/world.

Anyway, HA’s got several new initiatives either ongoing or about to be. The Medicaid work requirement is just one. Hutchings-Goetz and Botts’ll fill listeners — and me — in on the rest of their respective organizations’ plans.

Here, in case you want some good background on the genesis and mission of HA, is the full length Big Talk featuring Hess Pace:

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. The following Monday, we present an approximately-eight-minute feature called Big Talk Extra during the Daily Local News at 5pm. Listen Mondays for added conversation with the previous week’s guest. As always, if you miss Big Talk, come back here on Fridays (or whenever I get around to it) for a link to the podcast.

Hot Air: Women’s Places

Doug Storm, emeritus host and producer of WFHB’s Interchange, points out this piece in Jezebel, about a noted poet, an once-esteemed member of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty, who was accused by numerous women of inappropriate behavior. His name is Thomas Sayers Ellis. He’d taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Case Western Reserve University. The author of the Jezebel piece, Jia Tolentino, called him “brilliant.”

Tolentino adds:

He’s charismatic and surprising, a protest poet, a real intellectual, unafraid to cause alarm. His style is enjambed, urgent, and rhythmically afire; in the late ‘80s, he founded the Dark Room Collective to promote writers of color, and he’s been known as an activist ever since.

In 2016, a number of anonymous women offered chilling testimony about Sayers Ellis’s sexual proclivities. Apparently, acc’d’g to several of these women, he likes to dominate, is into mild S&M, and has engaged in episodes of stalking and harassment.

After the accusations were published in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Sayers Ellis was bounced from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Oddly, none of the so-called objective sources offering bios of him — Wikipedia, the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the National Book Foundation, and more — raise a peep about the scandal that cost him his job. Only VIDA, The New Republic, and a website called The Rumpus seem to take the scandal seriously. The New Republic mentioned the Sayers Ellis situation in a report on an overall atmosphere of male misbehavior at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, calling it a “tradition [that] goes back a long way….

The New Republic piece even refers to the sainted Kurt Vonnegut telling incoming faculty that undergrads should be off limits but grad students were ripe, as it were, for the picking at Iowa.

Of Iowa, noted author Sandra Cisneros says of her time as a student there in The New Republic article: ““The teachers were completely fucked up.”

Both Tolentino’s and The New Republic’s pieces suggest men in artistic academia long have been grabby and entitled when it comes to trusting, naive young women sitting before them in classes.

The overall idea is writers and other artists who teach in higher education facilities across this holy land often are celebrities in their fields, honored and even adored by youthful, hopeful students who thus are prone to fall for their guy bullshit and get involved sexually or romantically (or both) with them or who find it extremely difficult to cope with the men’s bullying ways and pushy, oafish passes.

Being a guy, I can understand how the daily parade of young, attractive females in a college or university setting can make a middle-aged fellow think certain thoughts. And I’d suppose an honest, symmetrical relationship can indeed develop and even flourish between professor and student, as long as she’s of age. Yet too many of these old goats seem to want to till that fertile soil with their rusty old plows. And maybe they get off on being overbearing, power-wielding boors. Perhaps just getting down with a comely 23-year-old creative writing grad student isn’t enough; it could be that these would-be Cougats need to oppress and/or humiliate their prospective partners.

I mean, why in the hell else would a guy threaten a potential romantic/sexual partner with poor grades or lousy references? The sane among us realize such extortion rarely endears the object of one’s desire to one.

That power dynamic seems all too prevalent in all fields where men and women work together. And, sadly, too many of those fields have evolved a workplace paradigm wherein the only women who can get ahead, as a rule, are subservient, worshipful, and obsequious.

To wit: I’ve recently read a couple of books written by women who worked in anonymous-type jobs at the New Yorker. One, Between You & Me, by Mary Morris, is the author’s tale of working as a copy editor at the magazine. The other, The Receptionist, by Janet Groth, is a memoir covering the author’s stint in the title position there.

Maybe it’s just the New Yorker, but I doubt it. In any case, both authors gush about the males with whom they work to a point where I wanted to cringe. In fact, I wasn’t even able to finish either book because I found myself so put off by the slavish hosannaing of the authors vis-a-vis the deific men for whom they emended copy or took messages. Both women were — are — excellent writers but to hear them tell it, they could never, ever, ever, in this world or the next, begin to dream to approach the lordly men who, in their fetishistically humble opinions, were to the writer’s art as Einstein was to 20th Century physics or Jesus Christ to the Roman Catholic Church.

Before I tossed either book to the side, I continually wondered if any woman with a hair’s-width less idolatry of the strutting, pompous male asses with whom the two shared office air would have lasted a fraction as long as they did at the New Yorker.

Based on what I learned from both Morris and Groth, I’d have to guess the answer is no woman with a sense of self-worth and a full compliment of confidence would have lasted more than an hour and a half there.

Considering the revelations about workplace dynamics the last few years in every walk of life, I’d have to conclude further the average American — both male and female — expect women to dote upon the males with whom they work and to display, properly, a sense of inferiority to them.

Want more proof? In 2016 a woman stood up and said she wanted to be President of the United States. She said it loudly and in a deep, forceful voice. She didn’t ask for it. She said, flat out, I want it. For a nation that only twenty-some years before had seen its most notable woman, one nearest the locus of power, Nancy Reagan, gaze rapturously at her husband, the President, as if there could be no more delicious and achievable aspiration in this existence than to be a First Lady, Hillary Clinton’s ambition and refusal to play second fiddle must have been a kick in the balls.

Yeah, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. And yeah, there were 23 and a half other reasons why she came up short in the Electoral College tally, but surely up to tens of millions of votes against her were driven by the feeling that she didn;t know her damned place.

I’m guessing things’ll be different in 2020 should Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren or any other woman gain the Democratic nomination to run against the most lunkheaded creep ever to occupy the Oval Office since Andrew Jackson. It’s entirely possible Hillary Clinton had to take the bullet for all future female presidential candidates three years ago and now that the first one’s been put in her place, maybe we can look at the next one with a tad less terror.

Or maybe I’m just whistling past the graveyard. Time will tell.

Hot Air: Horror Show

Matt Tyrnauer did a bang-up documentary called “Studio 54” on the iconic, mid/late ’70s mecca for pathological narcissists. You can still catch it on Netflix — that is, if you can stand being repeatedly nauseated by the Me Gen’s horrifying excesses of money, drugs, sex, and self.

No lie, watching this thing’ll make you wonder, “What took the terrorists so long to strike?”

Funny thing is (as in not-so-funny), one of the partners in the Studio 54 descent into Dante’s Inferno, Ian Schrager, today is a successful boutique hotel developer, well-respected by those who judge people’s value only by how many millions they’ve made, proving once again that life is patently unfair.

Anyway, Tyrnauer, profiled in Sunday’s New York Times, watched “Studio 54” and kept seeing one name cited or referred to again and again. Roy Cohn. The young, ambitious, amoral attorney who helped Joe McCarthy try to turn these United States into the negative image of the Soviet Union grew up to rep mobsters, predatory capitalists, and Donald Trump. In fact, acc’d’g to Tyrnauer, Cohn essentially made Trump.

Joined at the hip.

With the 2016 election approaching, Tyrnauer couldn’t quite figure out why no one had made the definitive doc on Cohn, especially with his protege, Beelzebub Jr., in the race as the Republican candidate. Tyrnauer, though, like way, way, way too many of us, counted Trump’s candidacy as a fluke, that he’d be walloped by Hillary Clinton. Trump then’d go away like Y2K and the Symbionese Liberation Army. That being the case, no one would care about — nor would anybody finance — a movie on Trump’s dybbuk. But then…, you know what happened.

So now Tyrnauer has completed “Where My Roy Cohn?,” a doc to be released in theaters on September 20, and sure to be carried by one of the streaming services before the end of the year. I found this bit from the NYT profile fascinating:

In the documentary, Mr. Tyrnauer interviews one ex-lover of Mr. Cohn and three cousins, including the writer Anne Roiphe. They described Mr. Cohn’s mother, Dora Marcus, as a domineering woman who, when a maid in her employ dropped dead, stored the body under a serving table in the kitchen while she continued Passover dinner.

When Gary Marcus, a cousin, asked the first question of Passover, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Dora blurted out, “Because the maid is dead in the kitchen.”

Eeee-yikes!

So, I look forward to seeing this thing, considering I count Roy Cohn among the top American villains of the 20th Century, a list that includes the aforementioned McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, Fr. Coughlin, Henry Kissinger, and any and every Dixiecrat.

Here’s the kicker, straight from Tyrnauer’s mouth:

Roy Cohn did the impossible. He created a president from beyond the grave…. The basic lessons that Trump learned from Cohn were: Never apologize. If someone hits you, hit them back a thousand times harder. Any publicity is good publicity. And find an “other.”

That my friends, is the guy we elected president in 2016.

Extra!

Tune in to the Daily Local News Tuesday at 5:00pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM for Big Talk Extra, the weekly feature including additional conversation from the previous week’s Big Talk. This week, I continue my chat with Courtney Payne-Taylor, founder of GRO (Girls Riders Organization), a nationwide women-in-sports empowerment advocate.

Payne-Taylor, winning the 2016 espnW/Toyota Everyday Heroes award.

And here’s the link to the podcast of the Thursday, August 29th, Big Talk with Payne-Taylor.

Hot Air: TalkLink

Hey, I invented a word!

What it means is you can click your way clear to hearing yesterday’s Big Talk featuring Courtney Payne-Taylor, skateboarder, motivator, and founder of GRO (Girls Riders Organization).

And here’s a vid from the GRO archives:

Hot Air: That One Thing

Many of us wish we had that one thing in our lives that made living worthwhile.

A vocation. A passion. A reason to wake up in the morning.

Some successful folks (really successful, in the I’m-reasonably-contented sense as opposed to phony successful as in I-own-a-lot-of-worthless-shit) usually find a way to fake it through life. Most of us find inspiration — or at least a reason not to swallow cyanide capsules — through our children and grandchildren. I know several people whose bodies are wracked with cancer yet still they hold on to life by their very fingernails because they couldn’t bear the idea of never seeing their progeny again.

Even those unlucky (or lucky) matriarchs and patriarchs must occasionally wonder how fabulous life would be had they discovered some intense devotion to…, what? Something. Some movement. Some idea.

Marie Curie had her radium. Joyce Carol Oates has her books. Greta Thunberg has her planet. Their lives were/are filled — sated, for chrissakes — by that one thing.

The thing that got them up in the morning.

Courtney Payne-Taylor has found her thing. It’s her skateboard. That one thing opened her life — her eyes — to a commitment to teach girls, young women, middle-aged women, and even old women how to keep their balance on the narrow, wheeled board. And how to pop back up when they inevitably fall. And how, in fact, to fall the right way.

The skateboard, Payne-Taylor has found, is the prefect metaphor for life itself.

The Bloomington GRO Crew (Payne-Taylor is in the red shirt).

So, she’s founded GRO (Girls Riders Organization). She actually spent years criss-crossing the country, solo, in her van, bringing skateboards to small towns and big ones, teaching girls and women — and, sure, boys and men, too — how to balance, how to fall, and how to balance again.

Payne-Taylor joins me on this week’s edition of Big Talk, today at 5:30pm, on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

She’s got plans, big plans, for Bloomington and the nation as she expands the reach and charge of GRO.

Join us to find out about her passion. And, if you miss it, come back here tomorrow for the link to the podcast of this week’s episode.

Hot Air: They’re Ba-a-a-a-ack!

The State Of Kate

Galvin

Just putting the finishing touches on today’s Big Talk, featuring the Cardinal Stage Company‘s artistic director Kate Galvin.

She came to Bloomington just about two years ago by way of the vibrant theater scene in Philadelphia where she won awards for directing and a rep as a real musical theater comer.

The Cardinal’s 2019-20 season begins in precisely two weeks, on September 5th, with the opening of “The Great Gatsby” at the Ivy Tech Waldron Auditorium.

Tune in this afternoon at 5:30 for the Galvin chitchat on WFHB, 91.3 FM or come back here tomorrow for the link to the show’s podcats.

Quit Complaining

The students have moved back in, for the most part.

With Move-In Week just about in the rear view mirror, the complaint dept. doors have swung open so wide and with such vehemence that they’re about to turn into this:

BTW: I miss revolving doors, I don’t know precisely why. Maybe because it used to be so much fun watching people from Podunk, Iowa trying to navigate them.

Anyway, every second person you bump into in this town is carping about the traffic and the drivers who go the wrong way down one-way streets, and the New Jersey-ites with their massive, maybe even armored, tinted-windowed, black SUVs.

Here’s an example of how persistent the kvetching is: Last week, my beloved Cubs lost a gut-wrenching heart-breaker in the bottom of the ninth to the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the culmination of a stretch in which my erstwhile boys had soiled their undies time and again. I was so traumatized by the events of that final inning that I took to a social medium and posted “I hate them! I hate them! I hate them!” Most people caught the drift, knowing me and my obsession with the North Side nine, but one commenter replied, “Thought you meant the returning hordes of students!”

I don’t hate the students, primarily because they and the main campus of Indiana University itself make Bloomington what it is. It’s like saying the beach’d be a great place to laze around if it weren’t for all the water and sand. There are some things that, morally, you can’t complain about because you shoulda known when you:

  1. Moved there;
  2. Married them;
  3. Gorged on a sack of White Castles;
  4. Tried to squeeze your expanding backside into;
  5. Voted for when the whole rest of the goddamned world knew the guy was a talentless, crass, egomaniacal, megalomaniacal, borderline sociopath who lies only whenever he opens his detestable mouth.

Bloomington is a town full of lively coffeehouses, exciting theater companies, the rare independent bookstore, Lotus Fest, and Ross Gay. It’s one of the very few tiny islets of Blue in this crushingly Red state because of the +40,000 plus human beings who teach, study, cut classes, pontificate, bloviate, act, sing, write, dance, sculpt, paint, strum, blow, screech, and profess their undying love for humanity here.

You knew that when you moved to Bloomington.

You’re thrilled to tears in June and July when you can find a parking space and then get seated almost immediately at the Anatolia or Taste of India restaurants on 4th Street. Places like that don’t exist in, say, Martinsville. There’s a reason for that. Martinsville folk think Oreo’s rainbow cookies celebrating Pride Month will turn their sons and daughters into raving homosexuals. They’re afraid the cooks and bus staff at a place like Anatolia are secretly planning a second 9/11-type attack while preparing their scarily exotic dishes.

We embrace all that here because we’re the nine-months-of-the-year home to people from China, Kazakhstan, India, Niger, Seattle, and countless other strange lands. We tolerate single-sex couples occasionally ambling down Kirkwood Avenue holding hands because…, well, universities draw such a dizzyingly diverse mix of humanity. Hell, we even have our own local chapter of Black Lives Matters. (Note: There isn’t one in Martinsville.)

That, babies, is the whole package. Bloomington. Relaxed and nearly empty during the late spring and summer months, it gets packed in mid-August when its population, for all intents and purposes, doubles. If that didn’t happen annually, we’d be — sorry, gotta say it — Martinsville.

For a couple of decades I lived in what the real estate people like to call Wrigleyville in Chicago. When I moved there in 1984, I dug the idea of walking to the ballpark on any given day the mood struck me and copping a ducat for the baseball game. Of course, that was just about the time Wrigleyville along with Lansdowne Street outside Boston’s Fenway Park were just becoming the first “ballpark villages,” loci of overpriced restaurants and bars, music venues, boutiques, souvenir shops, cutesy furniture markets, and other such detritus attractive to young, urban professionals who flocked to the area, causing home prices and rents to skyrocket faster than the national debt under a Republican president.

Those folks (whom we used to refer to as Yuppies) shrieked loudest about the ungodly crowds milling around “their” neighborhood on game days. They formed groups and associations to fight every breath and motion of the baseball organization that made Wrigleyville or Fenway-Kenmore so desirable to them in the first place. Hell, they’d have been pleased as hell if the Cubs or the Red Sox suddenly decided to pull up stakes and move to Schaumburg or Foxborough.

No, you don’t get to carp and moan about crowds when you decide to move next door to a stadium.

Just as we in Bloomington don’t get to howl about how snarled traffic is for the three or four days of Move-In Week.

Sure, we can raise hell when over-served students deface storefronts or double- or triple-park on Walnut Street or act like horses’ asses toward waitstaffs, just as the denizens of Wrigleyville or Landsdowne Street can scream about people pissing in their gangways or bloodying each other in drunken fistfights on their front lawns.

But the crowds and the traffic come with the territory.

And the 40,000 Indiana University people are Bloomington.

Hot Air: When American English Isn’t Enough

Party People

Two items:

  1. I know I’m late to a lot of stuff — mainly because I don’t care about a lot of stuff that most people do care about — but I just found out about gender reveal parties. Really, people? Maybe I’m alone in this but I honestly don’t care about if, when, and how people are reproducing, let alone what sex their kids are going to be. And — even more honestly — if you do care then may I suggest you find a hobby?
  2. I saw an Indiana University student cruising down a sidewalk on a scooter this AM. He was sporting a red T-shirt with this emblazoned on its back: Anti-Socialism Social Party. I wonder if he’ll ever realize how utterly fercockter that whole sentiment is — and on so many levels.

A-a-a-and, speaking of yiddish, please read on ⬇︎

Beyond Words

Musician Mike Cohen (no, not that Michael Cohen) treats us to this linguistics lesson (scroll down for translation key):

For you philistines too unenlightened to already know the English translations of the above mots, or too lazy to look them up, The Pencil provides this invaluable key for you:

  • chazera pig; a piggish person
  • ganef — (variant of gonif) a thief; a disreputable or dishonest person
  • lignera liar
  • mamzera bastard
  • nebbisha pitifully ineffectual, timid, or submissive man
  • nokhshleperan imitator; a sycophant
  • pishera nobody; a child; a squirt
  • putza stupid or worthless person
  • schluba talentless, unattractive, boorish person
  • schmegeggebullshit, baloney, nonsense
  • schmuck — (literally, penisa foolish or contemptible person 
  • schnorrera beggar or scrounger; a layabout
  • shandea disgrace; embarrassing; shameful
  • shlegera thug
  • shtarkera big bruiser; an ape
  • tsvuaka hypocrite

You’re welcome.

 

Hot Air: Too Many, Too Much

The already very funny Billy Bullion nailed it with this one:

Hillary got it terribly wrong. There are SOOOOOO many more deplorables.

More than can fit in this basket.

A Deadly Game

So a guy died the other day while participating in a taco-eating contest at the minor league ballpark in Fresno, California. The guy, 41 y.o. Dana Hutchings, keeled over while scarfing down scads of the Mexican delicacies. Acc’d’g to Fresno TV station KOAA, “It was not immediately known how many tacos the man had eaten or whether he had won the contest.”

I like that little nugget tacked on to the end of the quote. Did the reporter ask if the dude had won? And what would have prompted the reporter to wonder if he had or hadn’t. Would winning have made his tragic death ever so slightly more, y’know, worth it?

Wait a minute — tragic death? That’s my word, and I’m sorry I wrote it. People dying in an airplane crash or a hurricane, mall shoppers getting mowed down by a terrorist, a sixteen-year-old violin virtuoso being sidelined by Multiple Sclerosis, all these are tragic happenstances.

A knucklehead gorging himself on junk-y food in a competition with other knuckleheads? A middle-aged cetriolo ( * see note at bottom of post), likely with a thick layer of fat surrounding his heart as a precursor to the inevitable atrial fibrillation? Stuffing food in your mouth for fun? Nuh-uh, babies. That’s no tragedy. That’s stupidity.

Dig this bit from the Fresno Bee:

(Fresno) Grizzlies fan Matthew Boylan, who attended Tuesday night’s game with his wife and four children…, said he quickly noticed Hutchings because “he was eating so fast compared to the other two (contestants.”

“It was like he’d never eaten before, “Boylan added. He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing.”

About seven minutes into the contest, Hutchings collapsed and hit his face on a table as he went down to the ground, Boylan said. The eating contest immediately ended, though there was no stoppage to the actual baseball game.

Phew. Thank goodness the baseball game wasn’t delayed or cancelled! I mean, it’s just one guy’s life, after all.

Which brings us to the villains of this macabre tale. The Fresno Grizzlies staged the taco eating contest as a teaser to the coming weekend’s Taco Truck Throwdown, a big bash featuring 30 local taco trucks as well as entertainment by the likes of Goodie Mob with CeeLo Green, Too Short and A.B. Quintanilla, and the Kumbia KIngs. The Throwdown, which was to include the World Taco Eating Championhsip, the Saturday main event, was sanctioned by an organization called Major League Eating, whose raison d’être, apparently, is putting on these food orgies.

Is it so hard to attract fans to minor league baseball games that the two aforementioned outfits have to schedule gluttony extravaganzas? If so, why not just put on something like Meth Fest? You know, see who can ingest the most crystalline powder before passing out. Hell, you can even have categories like Smoking, Snorting and Shooting. It’d be a sure-fire success as I’m certain meth freaks from hundreds of miles around’ll converge on the ballpark for their blasts of free junk.

And the winner is….

And you know what? It’s not likely that anyone’ll die, seeing as how meth addiction is a slow suicide.

Oh sure, call me crazy. But what do you call people who put on these eating contests?

[ * I love this word, cetriolo. It’s Italian for cucumber and is used by immigrants and their progeny to mean…, well, a knucklehead. In the Sicilian dialect, it’s pronounced CHEH-drool. That means it’s unintelligible to the rest of Italians. If you come from a largely Sicilian neighborhood, as mine on the northwest side of Chi. was, you come to understand that at least one of every three or four males is a cetriolo…, oops, sorry. I meant CHEH-drool.]

 

Hot Air: The Lively Art of Conversation

Sometimes I wish Big Talk was an hour-long program or even an hour and a a half. Such was the case for yesterday’s episode featuring Dr. Rob Stone, our town’s most passionate voice advocating for universal, single-payer health care.

Stone on the Stump. 

Stone had been a fixture in the Bloomington Hospital emergency room for some 28 years and now specializes in palliative and hospice care. But he’s been active — nay, hyper-active — in orgs. like Medicare for All: Indiana (he was a founder and now is director) as well as the Indiana state coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program. One of his great heroes was Dr. Quentin Young, a Chicago-based advocate for universal health care and, for a time, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s personal physician.

In case you missed yesterday’s broadcast, here’s the show, in toto:

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30 pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. The entire Big Talk archive resides here.

Lively

BTW: The headline? That was the tagline for a WTTW-Ch. 11 Chicago late Saturday night gabfest called Kup’s Show. Hosted by Chicago legend Irv Kupcinet, Kup’s Show was the final iteration of a talk show he’d originated in 1952. Kup, as he was affectionately known, actually was among the very first pioneers of the talk show format in the then-nascent television medium.

Kup (R) with Liza Minelli & Sammy Davis, Jr.

In fact, by 1957, Kup had earned such a reputation that he was called in to serve as one of a revolving set of hosts to replace Steve Allen on NBC’s The Tonight Show. Producers eventually tabbed Jack Paar to replace Allen.

Kup’s Show — originally called At Random — for many years ran as an open-ended program. Kup sat around a coffee table with three or four guests gabbing about world events, philosophy, sports, Hollywood gossip, and much more until the group was talked out. Often the show, which originally aired live at midnight, might run, according to one source, until 5:30am. Kup would introduce each and every episode with his slogan, “Welcome to the lively art of conversation.”

Kup (L) with Marlon Brando.

Kup retired from hosting the weekly program in 1986.

He’d been born and raised in the old Lawndale neighborhood on the West Side, then populated by Eastern European Jewish immigrants and their kids. Kup earned a football scholarship to Northwestern University but was forced to leave after he brawled with a fellow student. He transferred to the University of North Dakota and, after graduation, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL. A shoulder injury put an end to his pro career after a single season and he came back to Chi. to work as a sports reporter for the old Chicago Daily Sun. That paper eventually merged with the Chicago Times to become the still-existent Chicago Sun-Times.

While still at the Sun, Kup took up writing a short gossip column. Capitalizing on Chicago’s position as the nation’s central rail hub, he’d hang out at any of the city’s trans-continental railway stations and snag Hollywood actors, directors, and producers for interviews while they waited for their connecting trains to either coast. Owing to geography and his own doggedness, he became one of the nation’s premier gossip columnists, along with the likes of Drew Pearson, Hedda Hopper, Luella Parsons, Ed Sullivan, Herb Caen, and Walter Winchell. By and by, Kup became so powerful that the stars started coming to him. He held court at the Ambassador East Hotel’s Pump Room restaurant, much as his cinematic counterpart J.J. Hunsecker did in “Sweet Smell of Success.” The Pump Room’s maître d’ would send limousines to the rail stations to pick up the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Otto Preminger to have them deposited at Kup’s legendary Booth One table.

Karyn Kupcinet

In November 1963, scarcely a week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Kup and his wife Essie’s daughter Karyn, an aspiring actress, was found dead in her West Hollywood apartment. The LA coroner ruled she’d been strangled — her hyoid bone was broken — and called her death a homicide. The killing was never solved. One published rumor held that Karyn had been a paramour of JFK and that she’d called a local telephone operator minutes before Kennedy was shot, warning that the event was imminent. That theory goes on to assert that Kup himself was somehow privy to a Chicago Outfit plot to kill Kennedy and that his daughter was rubbed out as a warning to keep his mouth shut. That theory remains specious to this day.

Kup expressed a grieving father’s certainty in his memoir, Kup: A Man, an Era, a City, that Karyn’s lover and fellow aspiring actor Andrew Prine, who’d go on to have a long career as a TV drama character actor, and who at the time of Karyn’s death was breaking up with her, was somehow involved in the killing.

Kup (R) and Jimmy Hoffa.

Kup’s Show (and At Random) featured guests as diverse as Martin Luther King, Jr.; LA Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda; Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Malcolm X, presidents Richard Nixon and Harry Truman; and Liberace.

Kup’s wife Essie, a notorious chain-smoker, died in 2001. Heartbroken, he made sure she was buried with two fresh packs of Pall Malls. Irving Kupcinet died in 2003 at the age of 91.

Hot Air: They Bought Our Democracy

Fascinating story in today’s New York Times about Cordelia Scaife May, an heiress to the Mellon family banking, oil, and aluminum fortune.

It turns out this woman’s foundation has bankrolled anti-immigration organizations over the years to the tune of at least $180 million. It can be said that the nativist, anti-immigrant carbuncles of our holy land might not exist without regular fresh injections of her dough through the years. Considering the fact that Li’l Duce began his then-quixotic presidential campaign in 2015 by demonizing brown people trying to enter the United States through this nation’s southern border and then, somehow, actually won the 2016 election (on a technicality), it can be further asserted that her money largely put the current president in office.

The Scaife/Mellon clan long has been active in political affairs, hoping in the main to turn America into a heretofore unimagined (except by them) corporate valhalla where the citizens serve as nothing more than voiceless, powerless worker ants in a global pismiric playground for multi-billionaires.

A fellow named Richard Mellon Scaife bankrolled the original “vast Right Wing conspiracy” against the Clintons way back when Bill was gov. of the state of Arkansas. See, throughout the late ’80s, Republican and Right Wing strategists figured the biggest potential threat to their burgeoning hegemony would be a charismatic southern Democrat, one who would be slavish to corporate interests while espousing moderately progressive social issues. That’s pretty much the dictionary def. of one William Jefferson Clinton.

Scaife was the sugar daddy for the American Spectator‘s “Arkansas Project,” a dedicated, obsessive probe into every pore and orifice of the future president’s life and doings. Scaife and his cohorts feared the holy hell out of the Kennedy-esque (in many more ways than one) Clinton. Hillary’s hubby, natch, didn’t disappoint the gumshoes, considering his nearly pathological predilection for extracurricular sex. It was the Arkansas Project that dug up Paula Jones, who served as the starting gun for an eventual race to impeachment.

(For a nice portrait of the concerted effort to smear the Clintons off the face of the Earth, check out The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, by investigative journalists Joe Conason and Gene Lyons.)

Don’t kid yourself, it wasn’t a lovingly decent concern for the well-being of easily manipulable young women falling under the sway of the Rhodes Scholar charmer. The likes of Jones et al were mere pawns on the Right’s chess game of nullification and obstructionism. Scaife and his minions essentially set into motion a slow-moving coup, with Mitch McConnell’s shoplifting of Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court pick and the dumb luck of President Gag’s Electoral College victory that same year serving as nails in the coffin of what we once naively referred to as our democracy.

Make no mistake, that inherited Mellon industrial fortune has brought us to this day where Republicans, corporate evangelicals, reproductive rights abrogators, ecological terrorists, and white supremacists run the White House, the Senate, the US Supreme Court, and two-thirds of this nation’s statehouses.

Money walks while everybody else talks.

 

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