Thursday, March 11, 2010

History Matters

A reporter for “Branches” magazine in Indianapolis wanted information about the successful fight by antinuclear forces 30 years ago to stop construction of a nuclear power plant along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The Bailly Alliance was a broad-based blue-green coalition of forces including union activists, old radicals, wealthy lakeshore residents, and environmentalists. I sent him my Steel Shavings issue (volume 16) on the Bailly fight that I co-edited with “Intervenor” James Newman and told him he should visit the Archives, and talk to such leaders as Jack Weinberg, Mike Olszanski, and David Canright. Jack was a leader of the 1964 Free Speech Movement at Berkeley and worked for Greenpeace for many years. Mike worked at Inland Steel and co-edited Shavings volume 30, “Steelworkers Fight Back.” Canright has been managing editor of the Chesterton Tribune for many years.

Andy Grimm of the Post-Tribune called seeking information about when Gary was chartered as a town and then as a city. Also two grad students at UIC want to pick my brain for a policy planning class assignment on cities and gentrification, in particular Gary. They are coming in Tuesday. I promised them copies of “Gary’s First Hundred Years,” and they offered to buy me lunch.

Department chair Diana Chen-lin asked me to serve on a pre-tenure review committee for history colleagues Chris Young and Jonathyne Briggs. Because Diana is the only tenured historian, Arts and Sciences dean Mark Hoyert asked her to solicit me. They’re both good, productive people, so I don’t mind. A couple years ago one of Jonathyne’s students wrote one an evaluation form that he had a nice tush. Diana worried that maybe the student might be a stalker and that perhaps Jonathyne should be warned of that possibility. I told her that he could take care of himself.

Received a letter in the mail from John Glen, a historian at Ball State. When IU Press asked for suggestions two months ago on who might give Sheriff Dominguez’s autobiography a critical reading, I passed on Glen’s name along with IU historians John Bodnar and James Madison. I was hoping Glen was sending me a copy of his critique but it was only a check for my latest Shavings.

Our granddaughter Alissa is on spring break from Michigan State and is staying with us a couple days before going to Chicago with housemates for a couple days. She had heard of the group Augustana, which I have had on heavy rotation since her mom Beth gave me the CD. She particularly liked their song “Boston,” which contains the lines “I think I’ll go to Boston/I think I’ll start a new life.” We know two women who went to Alternate Public School with Phil and Dave, Marlo Shepper and Shannon Bayer, who live there and are in touch both with us and each other.

In the news: actress Lindsey Lohan is bringing a $100 million lawsuit against a company that made a commercial where a toddler supposedly rants against a “milkaholic” rival who stole her boyfriend. I kid you not, as late night pioneer Jack Paar used to say. In a recent speech at the University of Alabama Chief Justice John Roberts criticized President Obama for taking the Supreme Court to task in his State of the Union address for (by a 5-4 vote) allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in political contributions. The Northwest Indiana native labeled what Obama did “very troubling.” What is very troubling is the action by the high court. New York governor David Paterson is being investigated for lying about whether he accepted free World Series tickets. What is this world coming to? Bigwigs like Dick Cheney and Henry Paulson can make tens of millions in stock deals going back and forth between government and big business, but small fries like Paterson get driven from office. Speaking of which, former Illinois governor Rod Blogojevich is appearing on Donald Trump’s reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.” He may be a sleaze ball but I still think he was screwed by the system and didn’t do anything illegal in talking about getting something for Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

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