Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rockin' in the Free World

“There’s a warnin’ sign
On the road ahead.”
Neil Young

Before I gave the eulogy paying tribute to Bill Neil at IUN’s Faculty Organization, retired historian Fred Chary gaveled the meeting to order and mentioned the cohort of “Young Turks” that Bill hired between 19655 and 1972 – Ron, Paul, Rhiman, Fred, and I - being mainstays of the department for 35 years. Since I was going out afterwards to Three Floyds Brewery in Munster with colleagues Jonathyne Briggs, Jerry Pierce, and Diana Chen-lin, I stayed for the entire meeting. The main agenda item was revising the promotion and tenure guidelines. Alan Barr explained the proposed changes, which included faculty having less recourse to appeal negative committee votes, something Alan said he had opposed in committee. After Barr argued that Research and Teaching are by far the most important component in the process and disparaged certain guidelines in the Academic Handbook, Ken Schoon rebuked him in a passionate appeal to allow faculty to be able to make a case for near excellence in any or all three categories of research, teaching, and service and that the latter is especially important in departments such as Education, SPEA, Business, and Nursing. With the vocal backing of many in the audience he concluded that faculty who won’t follow Handbook guidelines should disqualify themselves from serving on promotion and tenure committees. Schoon, the author of “Calumet Beginnings,” has impeccable research credentials, so his arguments were not self-serving. Still angry about a colleague having been denied tenure despite his obvious worth to the campus, I stifled an impulse to get in my two cents worth. Fortunately an appeal process was available to him.

The reviews for Three Floyds Brewery were either five-star raves (“great beer and food”) or one-star disgust (at the rude waiters and doorman). I’ve heard ads for a service that gets rid of unwanted negative comments about one’s business – Three Floyds should look into it. While our waiter wasn’t exactly friendly, he was efficient. Anne Balay and two other young English lecturers joined us as well as Sociology professor Kevin McElmurry, who lives in Miller and praised realtor Gene Ayers for helping him find a house. Anne mentioned going to last year’s Oral History Association conference in Atlanta and meeting Alessandro Portellli. We sampled each other’s beers, and I had two delicious Alpha Pale Ales. By the time we left the place was packed, with more folks in the lobby and outside waiting for tables. Diana was so sweet to come and so complimentary about the Neil eulogy that I gave her a hug as I left and told her I loved her.

Took a short nap before heading to L.F. Norton’s in Lake Station to hear Dave sing with Blues Cruise, featuring Bruce Sawochka and prodigy named Steve, who wore a Joe Perry “Have Guitar Will Travel t-shirt and clearly relished playing with his former teacher (Bruce) and jamming during a break with Dave on Neil Young songs. Introducing “Rockin’ in the Free World,” Dave said it was one of “my dad’s” favorites and dedicated it to Marianne, whose late husband Tim (“Big Voodoo Daddy”) played a scorching lead guitar on what had been Voodoo Chili’s signature song. Fred McColly graced us with his presence, as did Robert Blaszkiewicz, who works for The Times and is helping me obtain high quality photos of Sheriff Dominguez. He is very impressed with 29 year-old Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic candidate for state treasurer last year who is running for mayor of South Bend. He’s a comer, Robert predicted. I danced with Lorraine Todd-Shearer, Marianne Brush, and Angie and talked with Ken Gagliardi, a Hobart policeman and old classmate of Dave’s who bowled with us in a mixed league (Sunday Night Rowdies) several years ago. On Facebook Lorraine wrote: “Saw the band tonight, great. I need Steve’s last name, he is talented to say the least. Get some Aerosmith in you set list, you can tell that kid wants to let it go!”

Following an exchange of Facebook messages with Lorraine, hubby John Shearer requested that we be friends. I confirmed. Meanwhile a couple dozen others have requested that we be friends, including several people I don’t recognize, but I’ve held off adding them because I send so few Facebook messages. If I didn’t get an email notice that someone had commented about me, I’d almost never check my wall.

Teachers and steelworkers in Indiana and Wisconsin are protesting en masse against proposals by Republican governors to pass right-to-work laws and prohibit collective bargaining by public employees. Old friend Alice Bush, divisional director for SEIU Local 73, was on the cover of The Post-Tribune addressing angry comrades at McBride Hall. “This is an orchestrated effort on the part of the powers that be in this country – a well-placed, well-planned all-out attack on all of us who are working people,” she asserted. Another photo showed a grey-haired, bearded middle age worker identified as Dario Llano. Twenty years ago I had a student by that name who wrote about his father growing up during the Sixties. It has to be either the father or son, I wonder which. Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has been trying to bust teachers unions for years. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker rode to victory three months ago with Tea Party support and his attempts to railroad anti-union legislation into law has caused to Democratic legislators to flee to Illinois to prevent the necessary quorum. Tom Wade is thinking of joining demonstrators at the state capitol in Madison. Talking with Sheriff Dominguez on the phone, I expressed gratitude that he was making common cause with public employees; organized labor will remember those who stood by them in this hour of crisis.

Kids in the “Annie” cast performed a couple songs at Southlake Mall. Because the girl playing “Annie” was in Wisconsin, Rebecca, her understudy, got to be Annie, complete with red wig. During the “Tomorrow” number she was holding a dog on a leash. Right at the end the dog bolted from the stage. Angie posted the performance on Facebook.

Anne Balay wanted to meet gay and lesbian steelworkers at Leroy’s Hot Stuff, so I joined her and three friends Saturday. We listened to the band, C 4, for a bluesy set and then moved to the restaurant side where we could hear each other. I told Anne that I wished the band had played a good rock ‘n’ roll number so we could have danced.

Tom had a good day gaming, winning three of five. My lone victory was in Stone Age by a mere three points. I bought two double hut cards that Tom needed more than I and played a starvation strategy, concentrating on purchasing huts.

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