Monday, August 22, 2016

The Wanderer

“I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around
I'm never in one place, I roam from town to town.”
Dion DiMucci, “The Wanderer
I saw Dion (above) perform his 1961 hit “The Wanderer” a few years ago at a Henry Farag “Oldies” show at the Star Plaza.  A blues album of his had recently been nominated for a Grammy, but he stuck mainly to his 50s hits with the Belmonts (“A Teenager in Love,” “I Wonder Why,” “No One Knows”) and as a solo artist (“Lonely Teenager,” “Runaround Sue,” “Abraham, Martin and John”).  Touring with Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1959, Dion nearly accepted an invitation to ride on the plane that crashed in Clear Lake, Iowa, killing those teen idols. Once a heroin addict, he currently works with recovering addicts. The 77 year-old still occasionally performs live.
 L.A. at Night photos by Camilo Vergara (below, Javier)
In The Nation magazine were photos by Camilo Vergara of Los Angeles after dark, including a shot of a homeless man named Javier, whom Vergara dubbed “The Wanderer,” writing: “Javier makes $20 a day collecting.  His brother wants him to come live with him and get a regular job, but Javier prefers wandering.”

The word “wanderer” can imply aimlessness, a concept foreign to me, but for 20 years I took every available opportunity to wander the world speaking overseas to students in Saudi Arabia, Dubrovnik and Hong Kong and at conferences in Oxford, Kyoto, Wellington, Goteborg, Brisbane, Pietermaritzburg, Istanbul, and Rio. 
 Neymar

Saturday we had lunch at Applebee’s with Dave’s family.  My steak salad was inferior to Miller Bakery CafĂ©’s but not bad.  Afterwards I rooted for Brazil, going for Gold in Rio in the men’s soccer final against Germany, which had humiliated Brazil two years earlier, 7-1, in the World Cub.  An injury then had kept Neymar from playing, but the Brazilian star scored on a brilliant free kick.  With the game tied 1-1 after extra time, I got James to watch the shootout with me.  The first eight players scored; when Brazilian goaltender Weverton stopped a shot by the fifth German, it came down to Neymar.  His little stutter step faked out the goalie, and he scored to thunderous applause by the 80,000 fans, followed by plentiful tears from players and spectators alike.

The Society for the Restoration of the Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium held its annual fundraiser.  The current project is to hoist a P-51 Mustang fighter plane used by Tuskegee Airmen during World War II on a 35-foot pole, similar to a smaller glider on a pole at the other end of the building. On hand was 97 Tuskegee Airman Robert Martin. 

Sunday I made breakfast for James, who’d spent the night, and Dave, who came over for gaming.  After he and Tom Wade each won two contests, I pulled out a victory I Shark.  I had planned to watch the Cubs, but when Colorado scored seven runs in the first inning, I switched to HBO and found a delightful comedy, “Youth” (2015), starring Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine as a filmmaker and retired maestro vacationing at a resort in the Swiss Alps.  An added treat was Jane Fonda as an aging but still salty actress.  A number of interesting young women make appearances, including a masseuse and a reigning beauty queen who enters a pool in the buff with Caine and Keitel agape.
First day of Fall semester at IUN seemed less hectic than usual – no traffic jam, cafeteria not crowded, few people outdoors despite perfect weather.  To my chagrin a class I wanted to audit, Music to Film by Peter Aglinskas, was cancelled due to low enrollment.  Were Mark McPhail still dean, I’m certain he would have found a way to retain it.  Competition from online courses caused other casualties as well.  Chris Young’s topics course on Abraham Lincoln barely survived.  Steve McShane’s Indiana History class filled; in fact, Jonathan Briggs said they could have run a second section.
 Grandson Anthony (with Miranda) starts college at GVSU

First day of Fall semester at IUN seemed less hectic than usual – no traffic jam, cafeteria not crowded, few people outdoors despite perfect weather.  To my chagrin a class I wanted to audit, Music to Film by Peter Aglinskas, was cancelled due to low enrollment.  Were Mark McPhail still dean, I’m certain he would have found a way to retain it.  Competition from online courses caused other casualties as well.  Chris Young’s topics course on Abraham Lincoln barely survived.  Steve McShane’s Indiana History class filled; in fact, Jonathan Briggs said they could have run a second section.

In Tom Piazza’s “My Cold War” John Delano returns to his childhood home in a Long Island suburb similar to Levittown.  The starter homes built on treeless tracts during the postwar look to be worth at least 20 times their original cost.   In the backyard he notes that the grass where their pool had been still has a slightly different hue. Suddenly an image appears to him of wading in a circle in the pool with his father and brother Chris until they creating a whirlpool effect.

 I lived in three different houses in Easton, PA, before the family moved to Fort Washington when I was eight but have not seen them in years.  Two were near Lafayette College, and the second had a porch I fell from, scratching my face on a bush.  The third had a patio built by Vic and was on a corner lot in a neighborhood with a bunch of horse-chestnut trees. 

Alissa swam with sea turtles in Hawaii, something Toni did when we were in cruising on Tom Orr’s sailboat in the Virgin Islands.  She and Josh came uponhot lava at Volcanoes National Park.  When I was there with Seattle Joe and Tom Dietz a couple years ago, all I saw was lots of steam.  They are due back today, and I expect their dog Jerry to freak out when he spots them. 

William K. Buckley dropped off “Lover in a Milltown,” published in “Main Street Rag” (1997):

Smokestacks
hold me liable
in the burn and
majesty of service.
I watch them
give off what wives
call grace of labor –
      oxides
turning snow
the color of oranges,
the sun to Mars.

Chicago floats like OZ,
The John Hancock in a cloud.
At dusk the sky stretches red to Gary
and the flames of gas flues
wave strangely above the ghettos –
where men with broken English drink in bars,
their faces thick with lead dust,
their eyes like lanterns.

The smell of metal
for the children who play at sundown,
who shout like being murdered
by something going on
inside them:
(their fathers waiting in the clapboard kitchens,
their mothers stewing meat).

At night just above the bogs and wetlands
along the shores of Ogden Dunes.
      that red parabola,
that burning halo which keeps me here.
A burn of oaths in furnaces.


I received programs from both ART IN FOCUS in Munster and VOLTS at Valparaiso University listing my November talks on back to back weeks on the subject “Vivian Carter, Vee-Jay Records and the Emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Post-War Era.”  Other ART IN FOCUS speakers include Jeff Manes and Maestro Kirk Muspratt.  On the VOLTS program are IUN’s medical school director Patrick Bankston, middle school teacher Scott Cvelbar, who will speak on studying African-American history through Blues music and Jerry Davich, who visited the Calumet Regional Archives last week researching political corruption in Lake County.