Posts Tagged Bloomington

The commencement address you won’t hear

I wrote the following speech for a high level IU administrator to deliver at the 2001 commencement. Then I decided to share it with you readers instead.

Dear graduates,

Congratulations on reaching this milestone. Four or five (or in some cases six or more) years ago, you arrived in Bloomington to attend Indiana’s university, IU. For some reason you chose the remote Bloomington campus instead of our new main campus in Indianapolis.

We’re not sure how you lost the directions, because we have been making all major announcements from our media headquarters at the IUPUI campus an hour north of here, including some major announcements concerning our athletics programs in Bloomington. Of course, our general rule is that sad firings are announced in Indy, happy hiring announcements made in Bloomington.

Be that as it may, we are pleased you have completed your degree program and are moving on from Bloomington. This mass exodus will help free up apartments and dorm rooms for this fall’s incoming class, which probably will be the largest class in IU history.

There will not be enough dorm rooms or on-campus apartments for those who wish to live on campus, so we will arbitrarily reject all graduate students who apply to live on campus, in particular those who are moving here from Japan. They will be encouraged to live on the streets for the first several months until they find accommodations.

Enough of this focusing on the future. It is time to reflect upon the past and think about all the things that have happened in your time here. For example, did you realize that no large open space at IU has gone without construction while you were here? It took awhile, but we finally managed to dig into Woodlawn Field during spring break — so this summer it will be as muddy as Dunn Meadow. Amazingly, the Arboretum recovered from its sprinkler installation fairly quickly, although if you look closely you can see where some of the pipes were buried.

We’ve also managed to hang on to some of our other traditions — every April, like clockwork, we turn on the heating system and turn off the air conditioner, while in November we turn on the air conditioner and turn off the heat. With regularity like this, you will never need Milk of Magnesia, just lots of sweaters in the winter to help keep your fingers from turning blue.

You should also remember IU’s greatest tradition: parking operations. IU has managed to assemble the finest staff in the state, collecting $1.7 million a year from people who have parked illegally. This compares to the entire city of Indianapolis, which collects only $3 million a year from a population base 10 times larger. We can be proud of the efforts of these fine men and women, some of whom park illegally for lengthy periods of time in a valiant effort to ticket the rest of us. But for some reason, they never seem to get parking tickets.

Now a comment about our student body government: A corner appears to have been turned! We have now had a few clean IUSA elections in a row. Unethical behavior by student leader candidates is at an all-time low. We are striving to eliminate all unethical behavior in the future, but until we can manage to change the rules governing the fee review committee, the IUSA president will still chair the committee that decides what fees students are charged, including, conveniently, the fee that IUSA charges.

Which brings me to a closing thought; this would not be a commencement address if I did not ask you to remember IU as you continue through life. We ask that you keep your mailing address on file with the IU Alumni Association and with the IU Foundation, as they will mail you special announcements about alumni and foundation events. Examples of such events include golf events at $85 per person and special fundraising campaigns to help boost the Bloomington Academic Endowment Campaign over its $350 million goal. We ask that you make your checks payable to the “Indiana University Foundation,” and mail them often, or remember to donate frequently online. Remember, every cent counts.

Thank you for your attention and congratulations on your graduation. We know that your time here was well spent.

, , , , ,

No Comments

Knight no longer news for Indiana

For those of you addicted to front-page news stories and television, I just wanted to give you a brief update about some Bloomington area news that might have been overlooked: Mike Davis was hired as the men’s basketball coach.

Yeah, that news has been swept under the covers of the latest scoop about Bob Knight — he has been hired by Texas Tech University, a once highly regarded school.

Based on the news coverage around here, it’s hard to tell we’re in Indiana. At least two of the three major network stations out of Indianapolis bothered to send a reporter 1,000 miles to provide live reports back to those of us here in Indiana telling us about the hiring of Knight at the home of the Red Raiders.

Such obsessive behavior even extended to the Sunday Hoosier Times (the Sunday publication of the Bloomington Herald-Times), in which an exclusive Knight interview from Lubbock, Texas, by Lynn Houser appeared. One can only surmise that this Bloomington-based newspaper will soon be stationing a sports reporter in Lubbock so it can remain the leading source for all Knight news.

Knight has shown a clear and unmistakable pattern of behavior over the years — one that really isn’t worthy of front-page coverage in any newspaper. He’s a jerk, we all know it, and if we did not know it before, it was certainly confirmed in the March issue of Playboy magazine.

The situation is a bit unbelievable: Knight thrives on headlines, and I am sure that he is extremely happy that his hiring in Lubbock has managed to overshadow the hiring of his former assistant here in Bloomington.

So toward this end, I have a special message for the professional journalists around this area: Give it up!

Let’s wipe Knight off the front pages and relegate him to the inside pages of our sports sections — if there at all. For people who truly are obsessed with Knight, they are more than welcome to spend time on the Internet visiting, Sports Illustrated and Texas Tech-related Web sites to learn the latest Knight news.

Meanwhile, there are a few Bloomington news and sports stories worthy of television coverage in Indianapolis. Davis is one, but so is the woman sitting in the tree on the west side of Bloomington who is protesting development.

Or how about contestant No. 3 on the America’s Messiest College Apartments Contest, a senior named “Matt,” who from the pictures seems to like Pizza Express but doesn’t know what a trash can is. (And if you vote for him, he might win $10,000.)

The local newspaper could also show us more detailed photographs of this guy’s apartment (in all fairness, 6News did the story, and it sent chills down my spine when Matt showed us the cheesecake spouting green things). The local newspaper could also redeploy its Knight correspondent in Lubbock to Bloomington and have more coverage of lesser-known IU sports teams, such as women’s crew, women’s water polo or any of the club sports on campus. There is no point in wasting good money sending reporters to Lubbock to cover a man who no longer coaches in this state.

I doubt the local media will pay any attention to my pleas. I suspect I will have to jump over pages of Red Raider coverage over the next year before I can learn about the Hoosiers. It’s sad; the current IU basketball players deserve better.

, , , ,

No Comments

Finding a new favorite radio station

Radio is a major part of many people’s lives, and I’ve come to realize that for many people, radio helps pass the day. Radio doesn’t help my day pass, but it does help me get the day started and has an effect on the kind of day I have.

For the first two years I lived in Bloomington, I listened to Rich Anton in the mornings on WTTS-FM, 92.3. I grew attached to this disembodied voice: he woke me weekday mornings with music, a tidbit of news and the weather forecast — including details about Bloomington.

Ultimately, what astounded me about Anton is how attached I grew to the voice. I’ve never met the man, and he was only involved in my life for two years; yet when he took the occasional morning off, my days were noticeably worse. The different voice on the dial was jarring — and the new voices didn’t necessarily do the same things in the same order.

I knew I was not going to do well when Anton announced last summer he was leaving the radio station. It was, for the first few weeks, as bad as I feared. I used to set my alarm so the first thing I heard was the news and weather, followed by music that would jar me out of bed and into the shower. After Anton left, it was anybody’s guess what voice would come across the radio waves and what time those voices would announce information.

That was until Jill Savage arrived. Savage was stability, but unfortunately the wrong kind of stability. Her voice was there every morning, at roughly the same time, providing information. But around that time I started to notice changes — subtle changes it took me a while to notice.

A radio station that used to serve both Bloomington and Indianapolis is no more, for WTTS now appears intent upon serving only Indianapolis. Although the studios are still located in Bloomington, there’s no more Bloomington weather and fewer Bloomington commercials. When they do appear, they sound out of place.

I’ll admit Savage is probably not to blame for these changes, but one thing is sure. It is no longer my radio station; it is merely a radio station, a spot on the dial that I now flip past. I can no longer listen to WTTS in the morning. I had to find a new radio station to call my own.

In Bloomington, this is no easy feat. Those of us not addicted to country music have a few sparse choices: B97, public radio and the Firehouse. I’ve had a few experiences with B97, and I listen to it every once in a while — such as when the Hoosiers are playing and I can’t be home to watch. National Public Radio has excellent national and local news, but it plays more classical music than should be allowed.

That left me with the Firehouse — WFHB — community radio. Community radio in Bloomington is truly special. The voices might not be consistent from day to day, and the music might not be consistent from hour to hour, but it is genuine and real. The people are local, doing radio for fun, and it shows through in their work and dedication. And they are local; this distinction is important to me, as I like to support local businesses and my community.

Although my old radio station still broadcasts from Bloomington, it might as well be in Indy for all the local news that gets attention. On B97, I know some of the voices are local, but much of it is satellite radio with some disembodied voice sitting in a room 2,000 miles away.

I miss Rich Anton. But for now, I have made a new selection from the radio menu, and I hope Bloomington’s community radio becomes an involved part of my life. The station volunteers will know they have been successful when I call with my pledge of support the next time they hold a fundraiser.

, , , ,

No Comments

A Love Hate Relationship

I have a love-hate relationship with Bloomington. I hate the heat and humidity of this quiet Midwestern town, but I love the vibrancy and spirit this city has. It’s the latter that keeps me happy. And it’s going to be a September to remember in this place I now call home.

It started Friday with a trip to the Live it Up Late Nite at the Indiana Memorial Union, where I got a wonderful character sketch by a local artist, free with a student ID. She managed to capture me perfectly, and I now have an awesome present for my parents, although the parental units will probably only get a copy. I like the original too much to give it away.

I wandered next door and watched Full Frontal Comedy, a group of IU students who do comedy sketches about life in the world and at IU. It’s the latter that is particularly impressive. Friday night in a discussion of Napster, the group managed to get several sacred IU cows ‘ including Myles Brand ‘ in compromising positions.

The group is Bloomington’s best and brightest star on the improv comedy circuit. Its willingness to take on hot potato issues makes members leading cutting-edge observers of the city and campus. They outdo all the columnists in The Herald-Times and the IDS, so go see them before you leave this campus.

During the weekend, I wandered downtown for another Bloomington event: the Fourth Street Festival, an annual arts festival held every Labor Day Weekend. This particular festival reminds me of how far I have to go in life.

My apartment is filled with the typical trashy furniture and bad poster art you would expect from a college student. But at the festival, I discovered real art that I want on my wall, starting cheap ($50 for a photograph) and soaring to the expensive (thousands of dollars).

But even at the cheap end, this art is beyond my budget. I’m at a stage in which $50 is better spent on my electric bill or trips to the grocery store. But it was free to look and free to enjoy. My favorite items were the huge, hanging glass ornaments, so huge that even if I could casually drop a few hundred dollars for one, I wouldn’t have a place to put it in my apartment.

What’s particularly impressive about all of this is that this is only the first weekend of September. There is more to come, with the best coming the last weekend of the month.

Saturday, we can enjoy the first IU football game of the season. IU will be host to North Carolina State. Women’s soccer will also compete in two games next weekend.

The last weekend of the month will bring us the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, arguably the best festival in Bloomington all year. This event is five days of musical performance by groups from around the world, capped on Friday and Saturday nights by live performances at seven stages around downtown. This is a great way to learn about bands from around the world, such as Wimme from Finland, Lila Downs from Mexico and Dhagha from India. This might not be the Backstreet Boys or Madonna, but you will appreciate the difference.

That brings me back to the beginning: my love-hate relationship with Bloomington. I hate the Midwestern heat and humidity. But the vibrant life that exists here makes this one awesome place to live. The trick is balancing the school books with the festivals, and that’s no easy feat.

, , , , , ,

No Comments

Moving thoughts

Being a nomad for several years, moving in and out of dorm rooms, my parents’ home and apartments, I have finally come to rest, not moving once this summer. That sedentary state has allowed me to enjoy something I have not been able to enjoy before: the spectacle of people moving.

Now I’m not sure whether the moving spectacle is a comedy or a drama. But I know from personal experience it can be a horror show for those involved ‘ either that or a comedy of errors.

My worst mistake in moving was not having a moving truck on the day I needed to move, and I felt lucky when I was able to find a U-Haul in Martinsville ‘ it was about three times the size of what I needed and much more expensive because I had forgotten to make a reservation. All of this occurred on a day when the temperature soared past 107 degrees, not counting the heat index.

But this seems mild compared to a problem I had not previously been aware of, although I could have fallen into this trap: temporary homelessness. This occurs when somebody’s lease expires before his or her next lease begins. This might be one of the worst possible things to happen to somebody, as they are compelled to find someplace to store all their stuff, and that’s often not easy.

It becomes a question of how many friends you are willing to impose upon, and how much free space your friends have to store your stuff. It’s doubtful a friend will be able to store an entire living room set, but they will find space for that 25-inch television. You also have to be careful that you keep your clothing together, because there is nothing worse than having taking a shower at Susan’s place, finding your pants, but discovering you left your underwear at John’s apartment, five blocks away.

So you resort to a suitcase with your clothing and a storage unit for your furniture, which really isn’t that bad a deal … or is it? At one storage company here in town, the smallest space goes for $25 a month, with a $15 nonrefundable processing fee. That’s pretty pricey for two days, and you can’t rent for less than a month.

Clearly there is a winner in this game: the companies that own storage units ‘ they must make a huge profit in August, the month when most of these temporary homelessness situations occur.

The dorm room experience is also interesting to watch and less exasperating for me because I no longer drive to work. There is nothing quite like watching an incoming dorm resident, especially a freshman whose parents don’t really want to see their offspring leave the nest. Upon arrival into town, 10th Street becomes unbelievably clogged with cars as traffic crawls to a complete halt. This is probably the one day a year that campus has a legitimate traffic nightmare.

I realize it’s not amusing for the people involved and that it is quite stressful, but I remember the first time I moved into a dorm room: The elevators were rickety and I brought too much crap. Of course, not everybody at IU has the benefits of an elevator; a lot of people at IU have to haul their stuff up the stairs, one large object at a time. It’s moments like these that you suddenly appreciate the 13-inch television and the beanbag chair your friends brought instead of that 35-inch television and EZ-Boy recliner you brought.

Of course, the whole scenario starts up again next May when people move out of the dorms and apartments. What I constantly find amazing is how much more stuff I can acquire in a year and what took one trip to move this summer will take Mom and Dad two trips the next. I hope I will be on the sidelines yet again.

, , , ,

No Comments

Flag not appropriate for carnival

With so many choices last weekend, it was hard to pick what I wanted to do. I could go to the arts festival on the square, Taste of Bloomington at Showers Plaza, or the Fun Frolic at Memorial Stadium.

Naturally, with the kid in me, I chose to go to the Fun Frolic at the stadium, and it was like taking a step back in time. With bumper cars, a Ferris Wheel, and a Tilt-o-Whirl, there is strong evidence that the frolic stepped out of an age long-past when things were simpler, easier to understand, and out of touch with reality.

Yes, I mean out of touch with reality, for the Fun Frolic seems to present to its patrons the 1950s instead of the dawning of the 21st century, and I don’t mean in the good, idyllic “father knows best” kind of 1950s. I mean the KKK kind of ’50s, when America, and especially the south, was out of touch with the notion that all men are created equal, the kind of south that I thought really only existed in South Carolina today.

Yes, the Confederate flag was for sale either in the traditional form or as a t-shirt at the Fun Frolic.

This is the same flag that has provoked the NAACP to encourage a boycott of South Carolina until the flag is banished to a “clearly historical position,” far from the South Carolina State House Lawn. Although the boycott started with a tourism boycott, it is in the process of expanding to the movie industry, labor, and college athletics.

I suppose one could argue that the flag being for sale at the Fun Frolic is merely an example of reminding us of the Confederate heritage, however, there was at least one flag for sale with the phrase “the south will rise again.” Somehow, I doubt that the person who created the flag actually is in favor of equal rights for all, regardless of race.

The South Carolina Heritage Coalition argues that the flag for the past 37 years (which is as long as the Confederate Flag has flown atop the South Carolina state capitol) has not been a racial divider. Obviously some people are oblivious to what the flag symbolizes, just like the Fun Frolic.

The Confederate flag is not a flag that needs to be displayed willy-nilly and sold for “fun” at a carnival. It is a flag that is best left in museums and historical displays that convey the divisive message of the flag and ensure those that viewing the flag understand the many messages that it conveys.

The part of this that surprised me the most was that IU Child Care and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Monroe County, the two organizations that brought the Fun Frolic to Bloomington haven’t stopped the sale of Confederate Flag-emblazoned items at booths in Bloomington.

The part of this that saddens me the most is that Cumberland Valley, the people who own and operate the rides, would even stock these items in the first place. There is no need for these items to be sold at a family event anywhere in the world, not just Bloomington.

I don’t want people to think I don’t support IU Child Care or the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Monroe County, but I suggest you contact them and tell them you don’t want the Confederate Flag sold at future Fun Frolics.

IU Child Care can be reached via Campus Child Care Support Office — and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Monroe County’s phone number is.

, , ,

No Comments

Unsettling Bloomington

I was considering writing yet another column about Bobby Knight, when it occurred to me that nearly everybody on the face of the planet has an opinion about the situation, including my mother. And she didn’t know the name Bobby Knight until a few weeks ago. Instead, I am going to write about other Bloomington happenings, which in a more direct and tangible way affects all of us.

I’m talking about Kirkwood, the main drag between the Sample Gates and the Court House Square where all the good places to go in town are located. Better than the mall, better than Wal-Mart, Kirkwood is where you get to see all the interesting and friendly people in town.

I do have to admit that the construction this summer, which has dug up Kirkwood, has caused a few problems. The construction office has taken up People’s Park, which has had the effect of displacing the restless youth of Bloomington, who while interesting, are not necessarily friendly.

Actually, that has been the worst part of the construction experience: instead of the kids just staying put, they’ve now taken up roaming up and down Kirkwood terrorizing people. I had a guest visiting, and one day while walking up Kirkwood, one of these youths followed my guest, and I was not comfortable with the situation.

I guess what I’ve learned is that People’s Park served a purpose: it kept the youths in one confined space that we all could avoid or visit, depending upon our willingness to take a risk. The project this summer has literally removed the asphalt and dug up the street in an effort to put the Jordan River into a new tunnel under the street and up Dunn Street toward Sixth. It has been quite a disaster for business owners, but fascinating for the kid in me. I actually spent a fair amount of time staring into the hole earlier this week.

The first thing that really amazed me was how close to the surface the old tunnel actually is. If you hurry down to Kirkwood this week, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the tunnel before they finish tearing out the street and sidewalks above it.

Which brings me to my second amazement: the old tunnel looks really old and unsafe. I’m no engineer, but I’m glad they’re taking the time to replace the old tunnel with the new one now, and not ten years from now. The other parts of the construction have also been mighty interesting, like Monday, when the construction crews managed to slice into a water main and a gas line in the space of 20 minutes.

The gas leak forced the evacuation of Dunnkirk Square, pushing people into the streets, just after 2:30 p.m. Conveniently, I might note, in time for people to go off and find the television set, which does bring me full circle, and right back to Bobby Knight.

Near as I can tell, time came to a standstill in Bloomington Monday at 3 p.m., and the world fixed its stare on Myles Brand in Indianapolis. I can’t recall any event that caught public attention as deeply since the O.J. Simpson verdict.

Unfortunately for the guys at Indiana Gas, they were trying to fix the leak through the press conference, for I know that the question that will be asked 10 years from now throughout Indiana: Where were you when Bobby Knight was suspended for three games? I’ll be able to say, I was at home, in Bloomington, watching my TV.

Where were you?

, , ,

No Comments

Campus activism refreshing

I will admit I am not an especially active activist. In fact, most people would be hard pressed to call me an activist. I tend to get wrapped up in my own work and achieve a type of tunnel vision that guides me from my computer at home to my computer at the office and the classrooms in between.

Which is one thing that’s caught my attention of late: the number of protesters around Bloomington. It is, in a word, refreshing.

Refreshing is probably not the word you expected me to say, but the presence of protesters outside Starbucks reminds me that politics are an important part of our life. You see, I might not actually agree with the protesters, but it is invigorating to me to witness people using their First Amendment rights to speak out.

Take, for example, the Protect Griffy Alliance. I actually agreed with them — once. I wasn’t in favor of the golf course, and I was pleased to see the golf course stopped. But since their slam-dunk victory, and what a victory it was, the group has insisted upon pounding IU’s administration into the ground. I thought it was enough to embarrass the trustees into taking the issue off the table before a vote could be taken, but the group continues to pursue the issue.

While I do not agree with their goal, this development is refreshing because the leaders of the group did not disband the organization once victory was achieved; they continued to focus and refocus on other related issues. That they are doing this forces me to continue to question what I think.

Another group that has been protesting a lot is the group outside of Starbucks. I never quite understood this group, but at least they made me question my coffee-drinking habits. Did I want to enjoy the overstuffed chairs and pretentious environment of Starbucks, thus dooming 12-year-olds to picking more coffee beans, or did I want to continue to enjoy SOMA with its quirky and charming environment? I don’t know where SOMA gets its coffee, so I don’t know if any child labor is involved.

The Education for a Sustainable Future group that protested outside Starbucks, McDonald’s, Ben and Jerry’s, Taco Bell and Subway, this past week almost convinced me single-handedly to shop at each one of the five stores. The group complained about the union-busting record of McDonald’s, along with usual (and unusual) complaints about the other businesses.

McDonald’s has a union-busting record? I didn’t know about it, but perhaps I should shop there more often. While some unions are good, many unions want businesses to be unionized just so they can get their greedy hands on the employees’ wages. I know this sounds bad coming from a liberal, but not every business is out to screw its employees over, and, believe it or not, some employees actually think that their wages and benefits are great, without a union “negotiating” for them. That said, I think a union for IU’s Associate Instructors might actually be a good idea.

This activist period in Bloomington has been extremely refreshing, and it mirrors, to some extent, what is going on nationally. The WTO protests in Seattle, which some IU students and Bloomington residents are taking part in, have led to protests in Washington D.C., with 600 people getting arrested Saturday outside the World Bank headquarters.

Regardless of whether you agree with these protesters, they have managed to put on the table a number of topics that previously had been overlooked. When I chat with my friends we are just as likely to talk about the protesters outside Starbucks as we are to talk about the weather. That in and of itself is a remarkable victory for the protesters.

The dynamic marketplace of ideas is hard at work in Bloomington, and we are all better off because of it. Discussion about all of these issues (and non-issues) encourages the democratic process and when really important issues arise, it means that we are more likely to discuss them. I-69 is a good example of an issue more important than Subway’s marketing techniques, which is what the Education for a Sustainable Future was protesting against. I can only assume they don’t like Subway’s exploitation of Jared Fogle, the senior who lost weight using his “Subway Diet.”

, , , , ,

No Comments

Good service rare in Bloomington

Bloomington is, without a doubt, one of the nicest cities in the state of Indiana, in most categories. But there is one place where Bloomington has managed to be more miserable and God-awful than Indianapolis: restaurant service.

There is a great deal of potential in Bloomington, very little of it even remotely fulfilled; the restaurants usually make a reasonable effort at food quality, but then when it comes to the wait staff, Bloomington restaurants fall flat on their faces.

One recent example comes to mind, a restaurant that I enjoyed in the past, but has now been struck from my list of places worth visiting: Sangamar.

After returning early from my spring vacation, I met up with Jay, one of my friends here in Bloomington, at Sangamar, 110 N. Walnut St. We selected the restaurant over the Malibu Grill because I had enjoyed meals at the restaurant in the past, but little did we know the evening was going to be a disaster.

We entered the restaurant at 6:30 p.m. Our food arrived on the table about three minutes before 8. It took them an hour to tell us our waiter had given us the lunch menu by mistake and the items we had ordered were not readily available and they were preparing our items especially for us.

A mistake that could have been corrected by informing us of the error when they saw what we had ordered was magnified into an agonizing hour and a half wait; and when we finally got our meals, we were informed that we would only have to pay the lunch price for the meal.

Very kind of them, but I told the woman who delivered this “good news” that I wasn’t sure if she had given me a reason to return for another meal yet, and she told me other people would come to eat at the restaurant, even if I did not return.

Certainly this example is a bit on the extreme side; service is rarely so bad in this town that I won’t ever return to the restaurant because if I vowed never to return to restaurants that gave me bad service in this town, my dining experiences would be limited to Laughing Planet, Soma and Nick’s English Hut, the three hangouts within my normal budget range.

I have had a number of mediocre experiences in this town when it comes to wait staff. For example, waiters at the Malibu Grill have taken longer than necessary to bring me food and drinks and the staff at Denny’s ignored me standing at the door waiting to be seated. (I never went back. I go to the Waffle House instead).

All of this leaves me in a quandary. Every once in a while, I want to have a really good dining experience: a meal where both the food and the service come together to make it all worthwhile.

Sad to say, I have to have those meals an hour north in Indianapolis, a city so dreadfully boring and pointless I actually prefer going to the dentist for a filling than taking the time to visit it.

It would be really nice if one day Bloomington could have a real sit-down restaurant that featured good food and a decent wait staff. Here are my suggestions for ways to try and change what is Bloomington’s biggest restaurant problem.

First, stop tipping the bad waiters — tipping bad service only encourages bad service. For example, Jay and I left no tip for our waiter at Sangamar.

Second, tell your friends about the really bad experiences you’ve had, suggesting they try alternatives to the worst spots in town.

Third, tell your friends about the good experiences you’ve had in town. I never would have known about the Limestone Grill (the one beacon of light in the up-scale Bloomington restaurant category) if friends had not told me about it.

Finally, for all the restaurant owners out there, most of you do a really great job with the food, so it wouldn’t hurt to focus a little bit of attention on service. Good food and good service will make your restaurant the hottest joint in town.

, , , ,

No Comments

Can eight minds think alike?

In just under a week, I, like thousands of other Bloomington residents, will head to the polls to decide the fate of the Bloomington City Council and the school system. This election has already been one of the most interesting elections I have witnessed in years due to a controversial referendum involving the schools. There is also, within the city, a city council election that has proved to be amusing.

In terms of the city council elections, I have really only given it substantial thought twice: once about a month ago when I had a strange revelation and this past weekend when I had a complete reversal in my thinking.

About a month ago while I was driving across Bloomington from one place to another, it occurred to me that until that point I had only heard from the Republican candidates. At the time I thought to myself that it was really neat. Imagine, a political party being unified enough to get nine candidates to run for office as a block, in the hopes that they would prevail and control city council. They also had given up on the mayor’s office, opting to let the incumbent Democrat retain the seat unchallenged.

Ironically, shortly after I returned home, Pam Service, the incumbent Democrat City Council member from my district (District 6) who is not running for reelection, rang my doorbell and encouraged me to vote for the Democrat running in my council district, thus shattering my brief notion that the Democrats were not going to be visible at all this election season.

I was still impressed enough with the Republicans that I continued to ponder whom I would actually vote for. Neither of the candidates running in my district are so inspired that I feel compelled to run out and vote for them early, nor so dastardly as to have caused me to run out and campaign against them.

I pretty much stopped thinking about the issue until late last week when I viewed the results of a City Council candidate survey in the Bloomington Independent and quickly realized that I was in the presence of something strange and improbable: Eight of the nine Republicans on the City Council ticket answered the questions as a group.

The odds that two people will ever agree on every issue 100 percent of the time is somewhere near zero, even if both people are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or (even) members of the Reform Party. So if I wasn’t actually witnessing this event, then I must have been witnessing the world’s first eight-headed body that is not completely physically connected. Think of it as a new type of Siamese twin, if you wish.

Naturally, that is improbable as well, so there’s something fishy going on with the Republican side of the City Council ticket. This running as a group thing has gone too far: the last time I witnessed a group of people running together, at least they had the decency to admit that they didn’t completely agree on every subject. Of course, it was a marathon.

It is true that there have been a couple of occasions when the Indiana Daily Student and Herald-Times have cornered the candidates separately and interviewed them separately from the groupthink approach that they as Republicans seem to have undertaken this year. My impression at the time was that the individual candidates acted more like deer caught in headlights than individuals. Of course that held for the Democrats as well: the inane profiles published by the IDS and the H-T are exactly that: inane profiles.

This impressive show of “groupthink” has managed to turn me off. I still do not have any strong opinions one way or another about the two candidates running for office in my district. But since I have strong doubts about the ability of eight men and women to agree on every issue, I am disinclined to believe the Republican ticket’s unified answers to all the questions. Which means that by default, the Republican in my district is facing an uphill battle to get my vote during this last week.

Which presents another problem: I never vote a straight ticket. As such, I have to find at least one non-Democrat to vote for. I can either vote for Michael Schitt, the Libertarian running for City Council At Large, or one of the other two non-party mayoral candidates.

That decision is one I’ll be mulling over between now and Election Day. I hope that those of you registered to vote in Bloomington will do the same and remember to get out to the polls next week as well. It is important that students are involved in the city as residents, not just be visitors passing through.

Oh yes, and about that other vote I’ll be casting: I already know that I support quality education in public schools and I will vote accordingly.

, , , ,

No Comments