CNN Comedy Star W. Kamau Bell Credits His B-town Mom for Confrontational Style

BY PETER DORFMAN W. Kamau Bell is hard to miss. Not only is he 6 feet 4 inches tall, but he’s a flourishing African American sociopolitical comedian with an Emmy-nominated CNN television series, United Shades of America, now in its second season. But even if you’re a fan you might not have witnessed his nightclub routine (which he somehow continues alongside his CNN series, public radio show, and two popular podcasts). It includes a sendup about Bloomington and its self-image as a bastion of progressive thinking and cultural sophistication in deep-red Indiana. “I’ve been doing this bit about a woman picking my family up at the airport and telling us about the ‘ethnic restaurant’ in Bloomington,” Kamau says. “And then I […]

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Frances Trix, Experienced Worker in Transit Camps, Says ‘Bloomington Is Good Place for Refugees’

BY CARMEN SIERING In November 2015, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Governor Mike Pence announced he was suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. That didn’t sit well with Frances Trix. “It gave me negative inspiration,” says Trix. “I went to Macedonia and worked in two transit camps. All it takes is common sense, good knees, and warm clothing. And it helps that I know Arabic.” Trix is a former Indiana University professor who says she has been surrounded by refugee populations most of her life. She grew up in Detroit, a city full of immigrants. In her 20s, she taught in a village school in south Lebanon. Fluent in French, Turkish, and Albanian as well as Arabic, […]

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Millions of Native American Artifacts At Glenn A. Black Archaeology Lab — Found a relic? Bring it in!

BY PETER DORFMAN Got a mysterious Native American artifact you’d love to identify? Bring it to the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology. Indiana University archaeologists hold Artifact Office Hours the first and third Thursday of every month at the lab at 423 N. Fess Ave. They’ll examine your find and do their best to determine what it is and where it came from. “Recently, somebody brought in a stone, probably from Central America, with an interesting face carved on it,” says April Sievert, the lab’s director. “People have brought in some amazing Native American ceremonial pipes. We won’t offer an appraisal — that’s not our mission. But we can offer historical insights.” That’s just one reason to visit the […]

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Society Celebrating the Middle Ages Creates Illuminated Medieval Text

BY JULIE GRAY They may live in Indiana, but Hoosier members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) consider themselves denizens of the Middle Kingdom, a realm that includes Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and parts of Iowa, Kentucky, and Canada. The SCA, founded in Berkeley, California, in 1966, is an international organization of people who love the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Members gather regularly to do (mock) battle wearing suits of armor, followed by feasting, singing, and dancing. They give themselves medieval names, fabricate their own costumes using ancient methods of production, and practice ancient skills, such as jousting. John Cash, a Bloomington resident who works at Indiana University, has been an SCA member for 38 years, under the name […]

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‘A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana’ Describes Wonders of Region’s Unspoiled Areas

BY JULIE GRAY “A true measure of civilization is what it leaves unspoiled,” observes noted frontier-fiction writer James Alexander Thom in his introduction to A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana. And thumbing through the guide, recently published by Indiana University Press, you’d have to conclude that southern Indiana is indeed a civilized place. Subtitled 119 Unique Places to Explore, the guide describes the wonders of the region’s remaining unspoiled areas, from vast expanses such as the 200,000-acre Hoosier National Forest to tiny patches like the 60-acre Tank Spring Nature Preserve in Martin County. Writer and environmentalist Steven Higgs tells curious explorers how to find these oases and what to look for and do once they have. The founder […]

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