Iowa City holiday cabaret organizers remind Bloom that Iowa is not 'culturally-challenged'

Special song being dedicated to UI professor, author of controversial Atlantic essay

The City Circle Acting Company of Coralville is inviting University of Iowa Professor Stephen Bloom to attend one of its upcoming “All I Want for Christmas:  A Holiday Cabaret” performances.

The group has a message for the professor who recently called Iowa “culturally challenged” in an article in The Atlantic about his time in the state.

“We don’t think we’re culturally-challenged,” said Christopher Okiishi, producer of the cabaret being performed at the Riverside Theatre in Iowa City this weekend and next week. “In fact, we think we’re culturally alive and enriched.”

And the performance group has created an addendum to one of its songs to remind Bloom and proud Iowans in the audience of that fact, Okiishi said.

“We have a song that we are dedicating to him,” Okiishi said. “It’s a bit of surprise, but we think it’s a song that he should be here for.”

The name of the song is, “Iowa Christmas,” but Okiishi said to disclose details about the song’s new introduction would “destroy the charm.”

“We are very proud of the song and think it certainly defines what it is to be Iowan,” he said.

Okiishi said he would love it if Bloom could hear the rendition.

“We would like to issue an invitation to Professor Bloom,” he said. “We will buy his ticket and his family’s tickets. We think it will be heartwarming and delightful.”

Bloom, who took leave from the UI this year to serve as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, sparked heated debate and prompted hundreds of passionate responses in the blogosphere and on comment boards with his Atlantic piece, “Observations from 20 years of Iowa Life.”

In it, he describes rural Iowans as an “assortment of waste-toids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth,” and he calls the state “schizophrenic, economically-depressed, and some say, culturally-challenged.”

The holiday cabaret is schedule to debut at 8 p.m. tonight at the Riverside Theatre Space, 213 N. Gilbert St. in Iowa City. Performances also are scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.Tickets cost $15 for regular admission and $10 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the door or at online at