Monthly Archives: July 2013

Politics and crime fighting don’t mix, but don’t tell the politicians that

Despite what I write here and the report I recorded for 93 WIBC today, I love politics. I love watching the maneuvers back and forth between the parties. I love covering elections and, especially, hunkering down in a studio on election night as returns come in – the simultaneous emotion from the candidate who loses, emotionally drained, yet realizing they just spent millions of dollars for naught.

When crime increases, or is perceived to increase in certain parts of a city, politicians typically spout platitudes such as “now is the time to put politics aside.” They do so while doing everything they can to pin the increase in crime on their political opponent, thereby positioning themselves to win an office for their party in the next election. That’s what seems to be happening in Indianapolis right now, with the added attraction of a well-meaning Ten Point Coalition who is scoring zero points by asking for the same “anti-crime programs” that have worked so well up until now.

My friends who work in politics will deny it. I love you all, in both parties – the only party to which I am loyal is the CM Punk party, but you know this is true.


The Lone Ranger, on Radio, where he belongs!

How I’d love to go up to young people who is going to see the new Lone Ranger movie (though, judging by some of the early news after it’s release this week, there may not be many of those folks in movie theatres so far). I would ask of those young people, let’s say those 25 and younger, about the origins of the story of the Lone Ranger. The answers I would likely get..

– “It’s like, from Johnny Depp and stuff.”

– “Wasn’t Lone Ranger that band from that movie where they held people hostage at that place? My Mom, like, had a crush on that guy, and stuff.”

– “It was a book or something from the olden days before, like, the internet and stuff.”

– “It was f—in’ like a TV show before they f—in’ invented color and stuff.” Because, as you know, f—in’ is now an everyday adjective and adverb to the next generation.

It’d be even more fun to give those young folks the correct answer,”The Lone Ranger was, originally, a radio show that began 80 years ago,” and watch their reaction.

– “What’s a radio show?”

– “I didn’t think they had radio when George Washington was fighting the Civil War, and stuff.”

– “Um, I don’t listen to radio. That’s for old people who like to call in and complain all the time.” (Note to my radio brothers and sisters – that was an actual response from a college student. Many radio managers haven’t figured out that most young people share that opinion.)

And young folks, I kid about your speech patterns and knowledge. Older people used to say they same things about my generation. Please don’t hurt me when I’m in a nursing home and diapers!

It’s understandably difficult for someone born after a world of three or four television channels to imagine a time where you could only be entertained by something with a screen once or twice a week, depending on whether you had enough money to see a movie. Hard as we try, we can’t actually imagine what life was like before our time, and despite what you may have heard on a late night show, we can’t go back in time and find our first hand.

Suffice it to say that many children (and adults) of the 1930s wasted just as much time in front of the radio as we do playing Facebook games in this era. The Lone Ranger was one of the more popular time sucks after it premiered on Detroit’s WXYZ in January 1933. Unlike some shows that ascended to popularity, then faded as the next fad came along, the Lone Ranger didn’t go away until network radio shows themselves were in the midst of their demise.

Television shows don’t stay on the air for two decades – except for Monday Night Raw, another reason pro wrestling is king! The Lone Ranger on radio not only survived 21 years, including five years after the TV version of Lone Ranger began, an astounding 2,956 original episodes were produced. Repeats continued to air on radio for another two years after original production ceased. Original production of the Lone Ranger TV show stopped after five years and 221 episodes, in case you are keeping score.

The Lone Ranger books? Those came after the radio show. The Lone Ranger movie serials? Post radio, not to mention the worst arrangement of the William Tell Overture of all time. The hokey Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour that aired when I was 9 years old, the one in which Tonto had mysteriously acquired a TV news anchor’s voice? Radio. (The voice of the Lone Ranger in that cartoon series was William Conrad, one of the most underrated entertainers of all time, but that’s another column.)

So return with me to those thrilling days of yesteryear, with my feature that aired on 93 WIBC. Much thanks to Wally Podrazik, curator of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.

What does everybody want? Head Transplant!

A scientist in Italy says he could conceivably conduct a human head transplant within the next two years. One Indiana neurosurgeon says it might be possible eventually, but not that soon.

Dr. Sergio Canavero has gotten attention this week with his claim that he has outlined a way to successfully transplant a human head to another body, delicately attaching the spinal cord, blood vessels, nerves and everything else that would be necessary for a person to survive. “It’s fairly easy to propose a theory like that, because you don’t have to back it up,” said Dr. Jean-Pierre Mobasser, a neurosurgeon with Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine in Indianapolis. “He lays out (in the journal Neurology International) exactly how he would recommend doing the procedure, but I think there are a lot of limitations to this being practical and working in reality.”

Canavero claims to have solved the problem that plagued the attempt to transplant the heads of monkeys more than 40 years ago – the reattachment of the spinal cord. While a monkey’s head was transplanted onto another body, the monkey died eight days later because the spinal cord was not reconnected. But Mobasser says there is more to worry about than just connecting the spinal cord. “You have to reconnect the carotid artery, you have to hope that the brain doesn’t suffer a stroke in the process, and you have to hope that the brain doesn’t suffer ischemia (insufficient blood flow) during the surgery to reconnect all of these structures,” said Mobasser.

If he had another $30 million for research, Canavero claims he could complete a head transplant within two years. Mobasser says he doesn’t buy that timeline, but says he doesn’t rule out a successful head transplant as medical technology advances. “If he had said this may occur within the next century, he may be right,” said Mobasser. “Certainly, we have made large jumps in transplant surgeries and treatments of autoimmune rejection system, but reattaching the spinal cord has always been the limiting factor for surgeries such as this.

Both doctors believe that if head transplants were possible, they would only benefit a limited group of people, someone with Musular Dystrophy or some other disorder that halts the proper function of someone’s body. But even if it’s possible, many will still wonder if it is ethical, something even Canavero is wondering. “If it’s something that’s ever done in the future, there will have to be some very strict guidelines before it’s allowed to occur,” said Mobasser.


Of course, when you think of head, there’s only one place to go…back in time to ECW..

Some young folks make you rest easier about the future, like Allyson Ahlstrom

From my story on 93 WIBC and on the Threads For Teens tour, which came through Indy last week:

Some teens getting ready for their first year of college use the summer to relax, plan their move or say goodbye to hometown friends. Allyson Ahlstrom is using the summer before her freshman year to help other teens in need, something she has been doing the last four years.

Ahlstrom was in Indianapolis as her non-profit “Threads For Teens” continues a nationwide tour. 20 underprivileged girls selected by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) got to pick out clothes and accessories during a personal shopping session with Ahlstrom at a semi trailer-turned pink fashion boutique outside the Conrad hotel downtown.

Many teenage girls spend their days occupied with school activities, dating, friends and family – not necessarily in that order. Ahlstrom has wanted to help other teens since her freshman year of high school, when she read a book about young people and their service projects. “There was one 12-year-old who was doing these incredible things with human trafficking, and I was like ‘oh my gosh, I’m 14. I’m like two years behind this kid,” Ahlstrom said. Giving away clothes was a natural fit. “I was really into fashion and wanted to be a fashion designer. I thought what could I do to combine my love of service with my love of fashion, so I got the idea to do a clothing drive.”

Allyson set up a storefront in her hometown of Santa Rosa, California, and she receives donations from well known companies, such as Urban Outfitters, OPI Nail Polish, and American Eagle Outfitters. “I constantly am sending out letters asking for donations, and you never know who is going to see the truck or who will come across the website.” Earlier this year, Ahlstrom was named one of America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers, an award given to her to by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix.

This summer’s tour, which began in Los Angeles in May, began with Allyson’s desire to do clothing drives in all 50 states. “I started planning this last summer, sending out letters, asking for donations, and it’s really cool to see it all working out.” All of the clothes and accessories donated are brand new, and each girl got to choose any three items she wanted from the pink semi/boutique.

Ahlstrom heads to the University of Pennsylvania shortly after her tour concludes in Burlington, Vermont in August. “I love doing the business side of Threads for Teens, so I’ll be going to the Wharton School (of Business) to major in economics,” Ahlstrom said. No doubt she’ll continue to help people because, as she puts it, if a girl feels good about herself, she’s more likely to do well. “It’s the opportunity to be treated with dignity and to be able to choose an outfit the girl in which the girl feels confident. Confidence can come from the outside in.”