“This is the best reason to learn history: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies.” Yuval Noah Harari
artist illustrations of Home Erectus and Neanderthal
Sapiens, from the Latin, literally means rational or wise and refers to modern humans developing imaginaation as distinguished from extinct predecessors such as Home erectus, arising about 1,8 million years ago in east Africa and subsequently spreading into Europe and Asia, in time developing simple tools and harnessing fire. Early Homo sapiens included Neanderthals, who developed between 150,000 and 300,000 years ago and had a greater brain capacity, allowing for imagination, and developed means of communicating by language. Neanderthals disappeared around 30,000 years ago, and around 10,000 years ago modern man began a transition from hunting and gathering to settling down and growing crop, necessitating a modicum of largescale cooperation.
Sheila Brown and Jackie Stone
Wearing a VIP pass, I arrived at the Gary International Film Festival, was greeted warmly by community activist Walter Jones, and enjoyed a women’s panel discussion for those desiring to make a career in media. Participants included celebrity stylist Latricia Edwards, producer/directors Christine Swanson and Jackie Stone, and Sheila Brown, former production manager for Sports Channel Chicago and founder of Cinespace Foundation. Two panelists, inspired by Spike Lee, attended NYU. The others advanced as a result of, as Sheila Brown put it, “Polite persistence,” getting a foot in the door, making contacts, and then seizing opportunities. Next, I went to Bergland Auditorium for the Sin City Deciples documentary. At some point there was a stir, and close to 200 bikers arrived wearing their colors, about equally divided between members and Angels and probably as many whites as blacks. They quickly filled the auditorium to capacity, with more outside. In the front row was Sonny McGhee, just 17 when he founded the club in Gary in 1967. When some audience members were talking during Karen Toering’s introduction, MCGhee stood up, told the audience to show some respect, and suddenly you could hear a pin drop. He thanked a group of Hell’s Angels for attending and credited that group for inspiring him to form the Deciples. The documentary made clear that members took care of business when necessary (“Death before Dishonor” being their motto), especially when harassed by racist clubs at biker roundups. McGhee stressed the “blood in blood out” loyalty bonds. The experience was quite educational and, I’ll admit it, exciting.
Saturday Evening Club (SEC) host Abe Ibrahim prepared a tasty Middle Eastern dinner and spoke on the topic “Amazing Homo Sapiens,” what Jim Albers called prehistory, based largely on Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.” At one point, I learned, the world population was reduced to around 1,200; two thousand years ago the number was approximately 2 million compared to billions at present. My contribution was to emphasize how new development in DNA research and other fields, including physics, anthropology, medicine, communication, archeology, and history have drastically change the prevailing wisdom of reality. I chatted at length with old friend Larry Galler and Scott Brown, who owned Phil-B’s, where the SEC once met regularly. Now the club has become more nomadic, this time meeting at Nina Clare’s on calumet Avenue in Valpo. Scott recently sold Phil-B’s to a Mexican family who previously worked for him, and, sad to say, some customers ceased patronizing the restaurant and chastised him for selling to Mexicans. He recommended the Justice John Paul Stevens book, “The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years,” published posthumously.
Back from Egypt, Dick and Cheryl Hagelberg took us to Memorial Opera House for a presentation of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery “The Mousetrap.” Toni reminded me that we had seen it 30 years ago in London, but I had forgotten whodunnit. The acting was excellent although I had trouble understanding what the characters were saying, due in part to the British accents. Afterwards at Pesto’s for dinner Dick and Cheryl showed us photos of pyramids and other Egyptian wonders dating back thousands of years.
I remain undefeated thanks in large part to Patriot Tom Brady’s two rushing TDs, an oddity. Next week Carolina is on a bye, so I’ll be without running back Christian McCaffery. He was held to under a hundred total yards but also scored twice, enabling me to beat grandson Anthony’s team, The Powerhouse, by exactly 14 points.