The Hoosierist: Against the Grain

Moonshine, cash-for-gold dancers, and the city flag. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Some of Indiana’s new distilleries sell moonshine. How does that taste?
Amanda T., Bloomington  
A: The Hoosierist boasts firsthand knowledge of this topic, because members of his family have crafted what he’ll charitably call “artisanal” moonshine for years. The term refers to corn-based “white whiskey” that’s consumed immediately after distillation. How the liquor tastes depends on who made it. If it was cooked up by one of The Hoosierist’s cousins, the hooch probably tastes the same way a freshly skinned knee feels. If it’s made by a professional operation like Bear Wallow Distillery in Brown County, you’ll get a somewhat “raw” taste with notes of corn and whatever other feedstock produced the alcohol. A word to the wise: If you plan on enjoying a great deal of moonshine, scout out a comfortable spot on the floor.

Q: Who designed Indy’s city flag, and how long has it been around?
Theo P., Indianapolis  
A: Our flag dates only to 1962, when a competition to replace the previous design was won by Roger E. Gohl, an 18-year-old Herron School of Art freshman. Gohl, who told The Indianapolis Star he entered the competition strictly for the $50 prize, nevertheless did some very good work. His brainchild, a stylized representation of Monument Circle with four streets radiating out at right angles, was judged by the North American Vexillological Association (some kind of highfalutin flag club) to be the eighth-best city flag among 150 U.S. municipalities. That’s a vast improvement over our previous banner, a mishmash of stripes, stars, and bars that bore a more-than-fleeting resemblance to the Confederate battle standard. Imagine how popular that one would be today.


Q: How much do the people who dance in front of cash-for-gold stores get paid?
Aaron W., Carmel  
A: The Hoosierist has pitied “human directionals,” figuring they got by on minimum wage—plus all the pride they can eat. But apparently, they’re not necessarily at the bottom of the economic food chain. According to Justin Bertsche, regional manager of Aarrow Advertising (which has supplied sign holders for H.H. Gregg and other Indy clients), the good ones can pull down $20 an hour. Shifts run six to eight hours, but Bertsche asserts it’s not grueling if you stay hydrated (in summer) and well-insulated (in winter). “You’ve got to be in shape, but anybody can pick it up,” he says. Unfortunately, the profession is ripe for automation. Some companies already deploy humanoid robots that stand on street corners waving signs. Pretty stiff dance moves, however.


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