“Sometimes the only realists are the dreamers.” Paul Wellstone
Minnesotan Paul Wellstone, a progressive Democrat, won election to the U.S. Senate in 1990, upsetting Republican incumbent Rudy Boschwitz, and served for 12 until dying in a plane crash along with wife Sheila and daughter Marcia. Previously a tenured professor of political science at Carleton College, he was twice arrested, in 1970 for protesting the Vietnam War and in 1984 for trespassing during a bank foreclosure protest. A champion of the working poor and society’s outcasts viewed with suspicion by the FBI, Wellstone voted against authorizing the use of force in Iraq two weeks before his untimely death.
Waiakauhi Pond at Hualalai Resort
Edwin H. Whitlock wrote me from Kailua Kona, Hawaii. The self-described former Gary garbage collector is a limo driver for the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and Gold Coast Town Cars. His family was prominent in Gary’s African-American community for four generations. The letter, titled “Beloved Gary,” began, “I’m a dreamer.” Whitlock hoped to interest me in serving on an advisory board of Project USX, a bold vision for transforming Gary into a model city with the help of multi-millionaires that he meets on a regular basis, such as Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle Corporation and worth more than $56 billion). Describing his “big dream,” Whitlock cited innovations taking place in “smart cities” such as Songdo, South Korea, and Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, and wrote:
Due to her proximity to Chicago, transportation networks, preserved natural resources, lakefront, etc., as well as undervalued land, Gary is perfectly situated to be developed as an example for what an urban center can and should be. . . . By utilizing the best minds, technology, and vision, Gary can be transformed into a true model city, a city of the future where crime, corruption, and patronage politics is virtually non-existent – a green city where conservation and sustainability are primary. Such a plan would attract philanthropists like Bill Gates and progressive companies such as Virgin Air and Google.
Built from scratch within the past 20 years Singdo, South Korea, located 40 miles from Seoul and dubbed the “City of the Future,” boasts cutting-edge infrastructure and 40 percent open space. Masdar City, also a planned municipality, will rely on renewable energy sources and mass transit. When founded in 1906, Gary, boosters claimed, was a “Dream City,” but corporate profits took precedence over careful town planning and hardly any land was set aside for green spaces.
I replied to Edwin Whitlock’s inspirational proposal by saying I’d be honored to serve on an advisory committee, joining Gary stalwart Vernon Smith, who is already on board. I replied:
About 110 years ago A.F. Knotts, working as land agent for U.S. Steel, bought up property to prepare the way for the city of Gary and the integrated steel mill (an engineering marvel) known as Gary Works. I've heard that some people are presently doing this, but that would be a good way to start.
I am familiar with the role the Whitlocks have played in Gary's history and recall that one family member during the 1970s wanted to have the city's name changed to Du Sable.
I lived in Honolulu 50 years ago while working on my master's degree at the University of Hawaii and envy you. Keep dreaming. Mahalo and aloha. Sincerely yours.
At the Archives last week to talk to Steve McShane’s class about the Gary schools under progressive educator William A. Wirt and afterwards, Ron Cohen dropped off a New York Review of Books issue that contains Janet Malcolm’s essay “Dreams and Anna Karenina.” Malcolm takes issue with critics who describe Tolstoy’s novel as an example of preternatural realism. Not only is the work filled with dream sequences both nightmarish and sentimental, Anna Karenina has a dreamlike quality. Malcolm writes:
We experience the novel, as we experience our dreams, undisturbed by its logic. We accept Anna’s disintegration without questioning it. Only later, when we analyze the work, does its illogic become apparent. But by then it is too late to reverse Tolstoy’s spell
Produced by Cars genius Ric Ocasek in 1994, Weezer’s “Blue Album,” on heavy rotation at the condo, has sold more than 3 million copies and includes “Buddy Holly” and “Undone – The Sweater Song.” The final cut, “Only in Dreams” contains this chorus:
Only in dreams
We see what it means
Reach out our hands
Hold on to hers
But when we wake
It's all been erased
And so it seems
Only in dreams
My favorite Roy Orbison song, “In Dreams,” like so many of his classics, is heartbreakingly sad. A “candy-colored clown they call the sandman” sprinkles stardust that produces a beautiful dream, but “just before dawn, I awake and find you gone.” The final lines:
It’s too bad that all these things,
Can only happen in my dreams
Only in dreams
In beautiful dreams.
Speaking of dreams, I had some doozies while in Palm Springs, California. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I can’t still remember them.
Grammy winner Beck’s new song, “Dreams,” made Rolling Stone’s Playlist and merited this comment:
We love sad folkie Beck as much as anyone, but dance-y Beck is even better. This funky little groove is giving us Midnite Vultures flashbacks in the best way possible.
“Dreams” contains these lines:
All day and all night, I wanna get me free
Nothing gonna get me in my world.
On Facebook a link called “celebrate pride” allows people to make their profile picture rainbow colored, as Beamer Pickert, Chris Kern, and granddaughter Alissa have done.
I received a note from George Van Til, incarcerated in Terre Haute, along with an article from The Economist entitled, “Briefing American Prisons: The Right Choices.” The lead sentence reads: “America’s bloated prison system has stopped growing. Now it must shrink.” A Sixties idealist inspired by John F. Kennedy, Van Til dreamed of serving the public interest in a professional capacity and did just that for many years.