Thursday, March 31, 2011

Little by Little

“Obligation, complication
Routines and schedules
Drug and kill you.”
“Little By Little,” Radiohead

Hearing Radiohead and “Penny Lane” got me wondering if any newly released album has the impact that “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” did in 1967. People played it in groups and studied the lyrics for deep meanings. “Penny Lane,” although recorded during the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions was released as a single with “Strawberry Fields Forever” on the flip side and put on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album.

Attended Nicole Anslover and Chris Young’s class on The Presidency, dealing with the evolution of campaign slogans and speeches. Chris summarized Harrison’s defeat of Van Buren in 1840 – when the Whigs’ “Log Cabin campaign” incorporated slogans such as “Van, Van’s a Used Up Man” and “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too.” Nicole led a discussion about TV-age elections. She showed clips of the infamous 1964 “Daisy” ad where LBJ warned of a nuclear war if Goldwater was elected and Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” commercial showing white folks enjoying the fruits of prosperity. Walter Mondale that year effectively used “Where’s the Beef” against fellow Democrat Gary Hart – ironic because Hart was a policy wonk whereas Mondale was a Humphrey liberal without an original thought during his entire career. I got a laugh when I mention the 1968 poster of a pregnant girl scout juxtaposed with the Republican slogan “Nixon’s the One.”

Students reported on campaign addresses, including Nixon’s 1952 Checkers speech and Bobby Kennedy’s remarks in Indianapolis following the assassination of Martin Luther King. One woman cited William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech, and I mentioned how Mark Hanna amassed a huge war chest from corporate titans and marketed William McKinley in 1896 as the “Advance Agent of Prosperity.” Afterwards I emailed Nicole: “When you asked me about crucial elections, I was tempted to say even more about 1896, the first time since 1860 there was a real choice between a reformer and a conservative and a representative of the rural West and South against the candidate of the industrialized East. Even the contrast between the campaigns is striking, Bryan traversing the country and McKinley on the Front Porch. Little wonder big business opened its coffers to defeat the Great Commoner. It took the skill of a Mark Hanna, and every dirty trick in his book for the Republicans to beat “Billy Bryan.” More people voted for Bryan than any previous winning candidate; too bad even a half million more voted for McKinley. A divided Democratic Party and Bryan’s not winning over enough industrial workers did him in.”

Nicole wrote back: “Thanks for coming and for contributing to the class. I'm glad you enjoyed it--please, come any time! I agree about 1896 - I think we easily could have done the whole class just on that, and used some of Bryan's speeches for color.” Nicole bears a slight resemblance to my childhood friend Bobby Davis, who was fascinated with train schedules and got a job as a station agent before dying at a young age. Would she be insulted, I wonder, by that observation. I once told sister-in-law Maureen she looked a little like Robert Mitchum and she wasn’t amused even though I was thinking of Mitchum’s sexy “bedroom” eyes. Bobby Davis’ mother had expressive eyes, too, and we’d always bet a cake on the All-Star game. While we lived in Michigan, I stayed a week at their house, which old girlfriend Pam Tucker and her family moved into a couple years later.

Jesse Salomon ordered “Daughters of Penelope” and a photo of Gary’s old Miramar Ballroom, which featured big bands during the “swing era” as well as ethnic bands. Steve found one in the Milan Opacich collection.

Brady Wade posted a YouTube spoof of Rebecca Black’s video “Friday.” He narrated the inane words, using a Russian accent for the line, “”Everybody’s Rushin’.” At the end the ‘tweens’ car are in goes over a cliff, and the video warns, “Don’t let 13 year-olds drive – or sing.”

The Tacoma Art Museum, where Gaard Murchy Logan is a docent, is planning to host the gay art exhibit censored by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery because of pressure from Republican legislators. A David Wojnarowicz video includes a depiction of Jesus on the cross with ants crawling on him as well as a guy masturbating. The museum presently has, according to Gaard, “a small interactive exhibit that includes some of David Wojnarowicz’s art and links to the It Gets Better Project started by a Seattle local, Dan Savage, and his partner. We’ve got this great alternative newspaper out here called The Stranger with which Savage has been closely involved for years.” I replied: “Good for Tacoma’s museum and shame on the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. I see nothing obscene about David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in the Belly.” Hopefully the controversy will boost attendance. Last fall when IUN’s GLBT Alliance had an awareness program about gay teen suicides, they showed the “It Gets Better” YouTube video of Dan Savage and partner Terry. I enjoyed “The Stranger” article on the Secret Sex Lives of Seattle Pacific University Students. It reminded me of my friend Anne Balay’s oral history research into GLBT steelworkers.”

Might be the last day I can say this, but the Cubs are undefeated. SI has the Phillies starters on the cover of its baseball preview issue but predicts Red Sox over Giants in the World Series. Learned that Chad Ochocinco’s last name is Spanish for his uniform number – 85.

Michael Bayer arrived from Vermont for the weekend with seven year-old grandson Eli, whose dad moved to Savannah where he is a boat captain. Michael also came in to see Ken Applehans, who is ailing. Eli’s birthday is the same as Phil’s –March 26 – so we celebrated it five days late. Phil’s family is on its way to Puerto Rico. Before they left, Phil sent an email entitled “If I die” that transferred the family assets to Alissa if they all went down in a plane crash.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fish out of Water

“I’m a fish now out of water
Falling off a giant bird that’s been carrying me.”
“Separator,” Radiohead

Sang along with Foghat on the way to school after packing a baloney sandwich, veggies, chips, and cookies for lunch. George Bodmer teased me that the Jay’s and vanilla Oreos were in the same baggie but praised the colorful vegetable selection – radishes, sweet pickles, carrots, and celery.

Missy Brush wants help naming four chicks. I suggested Jaybo or a Japanese name because she is into Japanese game shows, which she watches on the Internet. One possibility is Yoshimi, from the Flaming Lips song “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” It could be called Yosh for short. A friend suggested Crispy, adding “LOL.”

Conservative think tanks and Republican party officials are harassing liberal university professors by seeking emails sent out on their departmental computers under various state Freedom of Information Acts. Among those targeted is Wisconsin professor William Cronon and Labor Studies professors in Michigan. In a NY Times op ed piece Cronon had called for an investigation of Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union campaign and stated that his conduct “has provoked a level of hostility the likes of which have not been seen in this state since at least the Vietnam War.” Defending Cronon, columnist Paul Krugman wrote: “The Cronon affair, then, is one more indicator of just how reflexively vindictive, how un-American, one of our two great political parties has become.”

During a library fire drill the building emptied out in less than two minutes. I chatted with Chancellor Lowe and Librarian Tim Sutherland while we waited for police to make sure the building was empty. All but two of Gary’s library branches are closing due to budget cut, including the main one downtown. Steve McShane and Tim Sutherland are working on making sure items in the Indiana Room are preserved, offering space hear. Both of them had yellow outfits on during the drill.

I congratulated Dave Goldfield on the excellent reviews for “America Aflame.” I was best man at one of his weddings, and we were softball teammates in grad school for the Wobblies. He teaches at UNC Charlotte and I thought it interesting that in Obama's Libyan speech he mentioned that Benghazi was the size of Charlotte. Twenty years ago someone mentioning Charlotte would have added "North Carolina." Now Charlotte has a larger population than Detroit, Baltimore, Boston, Seattle or Denver. I've never been to Charlotte - one of these days. David has been there almost 30 years during which time, as I told him, “Michael Jordon has gone from a skinny kid to a Tar Heel star, a Chicago icon and now a Bobcats owner. Even Walter LaFeber wrote a book about him.”

Bowled a 200 game and 530 series as the Engineers won two points and I took home the five dollars for highest over average. After an opposition bowler made no reply to my compliment, his teammate explained that he had ear plugs and couldn’t hear me because he was listening to music. Home in time for more Letterman jokes about Gadhafi and musical guests Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and Nora Jones, who have collaborated on a Ray Charles tribute album.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It happened Today

“Out of deference, defiance, the choice
Closing on a promise after all I’ve done today
I have earned my voice.”
REM, “It Happened Today”

REM’s new album, “Collapse into Now,” has guest appearances by two of my favorites, Eddie Vedder and Patti Smith.

Made a final plea to the chancellor to reconsider an unjust decision adversely affecting the History department. Starting out “just between you and me and with malice toward none,” I proposed a scenario that might have saved the day and stated that nothing had given me more grief during my long association with the university than the way the matter had been handled. I concluded: “I thought long and hard before composing this email, and if I am out of line, I apologize.” His reply, as expected, didn’t change anything, but he did thank me for the message and added: “Please know that there is never a need to apologize for sincere advocacy in behalf of a colleague.”

I was fortunate to have been able to convert my PhD dissertation into a book and to carve out five articles from it in such journals as Maryland Historian and Social Service Review. I also adopted the gimmick of reading books of urban literature such as Piri Thomas’ “Down These Mean Streets” and Claude Brown’s “Manchild in the Promised Land,” taking notes about the author’s use of symbolism (the tree, for instance, in Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”), looking up info about them in “Book Review Digest,” and finding a suitable place to publish them (i.e., English Journal for Piri, American Negro Literature Forum for Claude). I even did one for a popular culture journal about Harold Robbins’ “A Stone for Danny Fisher.” Piece of cake.

My colleague Rhiman Rotz neither had a publishable dissertation nor the variety of journals available in which to submit articles. He did have an original insight about the Hanseatic League and spent five years traveling to Europe and perusing documents in medieval German. By the time he went up for tenure, a first-rate medieval journal had accepted his important. He was awarded tenure because P and T committee members trusted the History department – Fred Chary, John Haller, Bill Neil, Jim Newman – when they vouched for Rhiman’s scholarship. Rhiman went on to become a master teacher, founder of the History Club, and, after graduating from law school, adviser to prelaw students. Bruce Sawochka went to IUN while holding down a job thinking he wanted to be a lawyer, but in his senior year he was drawn to teaching. Rhiman told him that while there were plenty of good lawyers, there was a crying need for dedicated teachers. Bruce, like me, chose teaching and has never regretted it. Teaching World History, Rhiman became interested in the development of English Common law in the colony of Rhodesia, which became the independent African country of Zimbabwe. He traveled to London and (at great pains) to Harare (formerly Salisbury) and his research findings were truly original. Though small in number, his scholarly articles were far more important than mine. Rhiman was adviser to the campus Muslim organization, and his last words to me as he was dying of cancer shortly after the World Trade Center bombing was concern for his Muslim students. At his memorial service, the most eloquent speakers were students he had mentored.

Suzi Hummel sent me a YouTube segment on a spiral that’s a common phenomenon in nature and conforms to something known as Fibonacci’s Numbers (i.e., 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.), a sequence made by adding the last two numbers. A twelfth-century Italian mathematician studied under Arabic scholars and was responsible for much of Western Europe switching from Roman numerals to Hindu-Arabic numbers. Some see patterns based on the sequence in spirals found in everything from fingerprints and sand dollars to ocean waves and galaxies.

Sheriff Dominguez and I looked over the IU Press Author’s Questionnaire due at the end of the month. We filled out the form, which I will mail out. Recently the Mayor of East Chicago fired him from the library board in a political ploy that Roy is challenging in court. Hopefully the stupid move will backfire on the interim mayor, the successor to convicted felon George Pabey.

George Bodmer saw my blog entry on the “Forgotten Planet” documentary about Gary and Hashima and showed me a sketch he did about the abandoned Japanese community. Before Mitsubishi closed its coal mining operation, over 5,000 people lived on the tiny, 15-acre "Battleship Island."

I met Jackie Gipson for lunch at TGIF Friday. Since a kitchen grease fire in February, she and Floyd have been living in a motel suite. So far, she reports, the insurance company has been responsive to their needs. She likes Ragen Hatcher, my choice in the upcoming Gary mayoralty election, but is leaning toward attorney Karen Freeman-Wilson, a former Indiana attorney-general and city judge who has helped her in the past without expecting anything in return.

Despite the traumatic world events, the morning news shows extensively covered the death of actress Elizabeth Taylor, who seemed much older than just ten years my senior. One segment discussed her jewelry, another her eight marriages (she was a self-proclaimed serial monogamist) and friendship with Michael Jackson. I recall the fiasco surrounding the making of “Cleopatra” and her portrayal, opposite then-hubby Richard Burton, of a professor’s drunken wife in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Saturday Toni and I traveled to Grand Rapids for Phil’s forty-third birthday. Miranda was in Detroit as part of a leadership outing, but eight of us went out for Chinese food, including Alissa’s boyfriend Josh, a charming young man whom I met for the first time. He grew up in Indy a Pacers fan and is trying to woo Alissa into not rooting against Michigan, at least when they are not playing her alma mater Michigan State. Home in time to cheer on the Butler Bulldogs, who made it into the Final Four for the second year in a row.

The Times reported the resignation of Brad Cooper, an Indiana prosecutor who emailed Wisconsin governor Scott Walker suggesting he fake a physical attack on himself to discredit the public employee unions protesting his draconian anti-union agenda. Last month Hoosier Jeffrey Cox, a deputy attorney general, was fired after suggesting that live ammunition be used against the demonstrators.

Sunday:Five of us game-tested Evan Davies’ latest version of Air Lords (dubbed Zeta Beta by T. Wade), which he has been fine-tuning for over 15 years after Avalon Hill put out his game Air Baron. Tom, Dave, and I love the original version of Air Lords, but it involves lots of math, so Evan has been struggling to find a simplified modification. It went on for over two hours but was enjoyable. We had a few constructive suggestions. Tom made burgers and brats before a game of Ra that I won quite handily.

More upsets in the NCAA; in fact, for the first time ever no number one or two seeds made the Final Four. Eleven-ranked Virginia Commonwealth would not even have been in the tournament had the number of teams not been expanded to 68. During Kentucky’s win over the Tar Heels, I turned the sound down and played XTC “Nonsuch.”

RIP: Italian-American Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale’s 1984 running mate. The press raised questions about her husband’s finances and alleged mob connections. Debating V.P. George Bush, she chided her adversary for his patronizing attitude. In 2008 she supported Hillary and foolishly claimed that “If Obama were a white man, he would not be in this position.” Of course, had the three-term Congresswoman been a man, she wouldn’t have been on the ’84 ticket.

Monday: I thanked Suzi Hummel for informing me about the Fibonacci Sequence and said it would be fun to talk to our high school math teacher Ed Taddei about it. She wrote back: “Oh, I had such a crush on him!!” “Taddei-Laddie” was a spectacular teacher. I never could read Math textbooks but didn’t have to, he was so good. He taught us probability – i.e., what are the odds of drawing to an inside straight in poker or flipping heads five times in a row with a coin – and I still recall how to figure that stuff out. One time at the end of class, after I had said something insightful, he hugged me right in front of others as I was going out the door– what we call a “man hug” rather than anything sexual.

James has finished “Scat” and is now reading “The City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel about an underground city that is running out of power. Heavy.

Ron Cohen sent me a NY Times review of old Marylander friend David Goldfield’s “America Aflame.” The reviewer called it a masterly and provocative synthesis that blames the Civil War on both Southern and Northern evangelistic extremism.

I saw that Alan Barr was showing a Richard Gere movie, “Days of Heaven,” in his Film class, and George Bodmer said was his favorite movie, so I went and loved it. It is about three people who leave Chicago and end up harvesting wheat in America’s heartland. The question the class had to write essays about involved the director’s use of animals. While the movie is a morality play involving class against class as well as a romantic triangle, the plentiful animals – buffalo, pheasants, grasshoppers, rabbits – are amoral creatures in nature following their primal instincts – mainly to eat. At one point grasshoppers completely infest the fields and destroy the crop. There are some domesticated farm animals – cows and geese – and dogs frolic with farmhands bathing in a lake or hunt game with their master. There’s a great scene where a young girl is looking at a photo of dinosaurs and realizing there are phenomena beyond her imagination. Some of the animals are meant to be symbolic – buffalo herds, for example, that no longer would have been alongside a farm, even in the Texas panhandle. Just as there are three types of animals – pets, domesticated animals, and wild animals, so one might view human beings as seen by employers in that light. The farmer (Sam Shepard) who convinces the Chicago trio of Bill, Abby, and Linda to stay on after the harvest treats the girl like a pet, hopes that Abby will become more to him than a domesticated animal, and in the end comes to regard Bill (Richard Gere) as a wild animal who – like wolves or grasshoppers – needs to be eradicated. The movie takes place in 1916 – Woodrow Wilson’s campaign train comes to the prairie – at a time when horse-drawn vehicles and farm machinery are on the way out. Director Terence Malick’s most famous previous film was “Badlands,” about the crime spree of a character based on Charles Starkweather.

Got my toenails cut for five bucks at L.A. Nails. Near me two women were getting leg massages. When I tipped the full-breasted Asian woman two dollars, she said, “Thanks, honey.”

President Obama was on TV explaining his decision to attack Libya to prevent a bloodbath, distinguishing our limited action in conjunction with NATO with Bush’s regime-change policy in Iraq that involved ground troops and cost a trillion dollars. I came away impressed and convinced that we acted properly.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Losing Touch?

“Hey Andy are you goofing on Elvis
Hey baby, are we losing touch?”
“Man on the Moon,” REM

In the REM song about Andy Kaufman, after the “goofing on Elvis reference, Michael Stipe sings the next line sounding like Elvis. An RS reviewer compared The Decembrists to REM and suggested a joint tour.

Decided to apply for a Rex Foundation grant of $20,000 to help get another four issues of Steel Shavings in print. The Grateful Dead started the Foundation in 1983, named after a roadie and road manager who died in 1976. Years ago, my friend Izzy Young received a grant that allowed his Folklore Institute to keep going. The Foundation doesn’t normally get unsolicited requests, but I went ahead and sent a letter anyway along with some past issues. “By perusing them,” I concluded,” you’ll be able to tell that I’m a Sixties spirited person who loved not only the music of the Grateful Dead but their generous philanthropy.”

In response to a query at lunch, George Bodmer amplified on his “log cabin days.” He wrote: “We lived in Frederick, Maryland, up a dirt road on Braddock Mountain, in a log house. You could walk up the corners from the interlaced logs sticking out. I rode to school on an hour-long bus ride to the school in the town, with all grades on the bus, from 1st graders to seniors in high school (not particularly safe or comfortable for the first graders). I had a higher numbers of snow days since the bus often didn't make it up the mountain. We had copperhead snakes living in the back yard and flying squirrels. A crow once flew down our chimney when I was there alone. We didn't have a doorknob on our front door, just a latch. Look at me, living in the big city now. When I was in fifth grade I liked this girl who lived in the town, so she gave me her address and I rode my bike into town to see her. I stopped at the first house that had her number, not knowing the numbers were the same on all the parallel streets.”

Obtaining monthly Steel Shavings account statements I discovered why there was so few funds – two years ago, I secured $1,750 from the Vice Chancellor to pay the $6,300 necessary for publishing volume 40, but the money was never put into my account. Since June of 2009, I’d been running a deficit until finally the balance was a grand total of 20 cents. I’m working to remedy the situation. The IUN Bookstore was nearly out of “Gary’s First Hundred Years,” so gave them ten in return for extras of volume 40.

Despite a mediocre bowling night (472 series) against the first place team I picked up a 6-7 split and won the five-dollar pot for highest over average – or, in this case, lowest below average. The opponents were friendly (no wonder), congratulating us on good shots.

Looked up info on the 1970s French punk music scene because Jonathyne Briggs invited me to his class covering that subject. Evidently the first French punks (“Les Punks”) were big Lou Reed fans, and the movement also attracted veterans of the 1968 Paris Riots who gravitated to Guy Debord’s Situational Movement and believed advanced capitalism was on its last legs. In “Boozy Creed” Stinky Toys sang about having no god, no illusions, and no dreams,” as if the only thing worth living for was enjoying the moment. The chorus goes: "“I know a few things/ That could make us happy/ Give us lots of beer/ And let us play loud.”

The producer of Flight 33 Productions asked me to critique the “Forgotten Planet” episode dealing with Gary and Hashima, Japan – an island abandoned by Mitsubishi and now totally deserted. I suggested they make distinctions between the two rather than treat them as identical – in other words, delineating that in one case the place was literally abandoned by the very industry that gave it birth, and in the other case the mills are still physically present but, its top officials residing elsewhere, the corporation has relinquished responsibility for the ruinous civic consequences of its policies. I apparently have four speaking parts, at least in draft number nine. Recalling the shoot at City Methodist Church, the most eerie impression one comes away with about the old burnt-out downtown is that side by side next to a new school, housing development, and minor league baseball park (The Steelyard) are these hulks of once proud buildings that a viable community would value and certainly preserve. With the city bankrupt, unless America changes its priorities, Gary is in danger of becoming another Hashima.

“The Odyssey of Flight 33,” incidentally, was a 1961 “Twilight Zone” episode where a passenger plane crosses a time warp and is back in the Jurassic Age. The pilots manages to get back to 1939 New York during the time of the World’s fair but there’s no airport able to accommodate his Boeing 707 and the plane is running out of fuel. The pilot’s final words to passengers before fade-out: “All I ask is that you remain calm . . . and pray.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Malice toward None

“When I was a younger man I hadn’t a care
Foolin’ around, hitting the town, growing my hair.”
“I Love You,” Climax Blues Band

Still growing my hair (no visit to Quick Cut in 6 weeks), I proofread another excellent Woody Guthrie chapter for Ron. He mentioned that Studs Terkel wrote about Woody for a men’s magazine called “Climax.” Wonder if there’s a copy in the Kinsey Institute. At an oral history conference Studs talked about interviewing a milk deliveryman who sometimes surprised women sunning themselves topless in the backyard. His quip about it being one of the perks of the job got a big laugh from most men and stony silence from most women.

Because I am on his pre-tenure review committee, I observed Chris Young teaching in the class on The Presidency. Working with John Adams’ 200 state-of-the-union message and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address, he was at ease leading a discussion that involved most students, and he provided background info in a concise but incisive manner that kept the students’ attention (and mine, too). Adams mentioned the Convention of 1800 that ended the quasi-war with France and ironically split the Federalist Party, paving the way for Jefferson’s triumph over Adams in the 1800 election. Lincoln’s “malice toward none” speech was a plea for reunion and national healing but he made clear that the South would have to accept the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. I used the phrase “malice toward none” in the “Retirement Journal” editor’s note apologizing if I unintentionally hurt anyone’s feelings.

Karren Lee wrote: “It is amazing what is going on in the world. I listen to NPR all day and see the images on the Internet. Too much to take in. Talk about al lot of tough decisions for Obama. I often wonder why anyone wants the job!!! I have to admit I am so disappointed in how few changes we’ve seen in his presidency. Continuing the war in Afghanistan? Same Guantanamo policy as Bush? No one from the banks, agencies, wall street indicted for the collapse of the housing market even though everyone knows who did what? If he isn’t the agent of change than whom can you vote for?” I replied: “I agree with your political assessment; at least being President, Obama can take his family to Brazil and Chile all expenses paid. It is criminal what the hedge funds sharks do and then pay fewer taxes than we do. Obama needs to attack the Wall Street bastards more and come up with a tax code that cuts out corporate welfare.”

After a $1,30 beef taco, I spotted a Spring 1998 issue of Spirits at the Anthropology book sale. Sarah McColly’s poem “How Can You Say You’re Sorry?” ends: “If I could bring myself to talk to you without fear or hate on my mind, I’d ask you one question I’ve been wondering: ‘Who do I appear to be from the other side of the bottle?’” William Buckley wrote about “The Old Pines on our Campus,” cut down to make way for a new building – “replaced with cinder blocks and aluminum, plastic and asphalt, the old, tired metaphors of Industrial America.” George Bodmer wrote about a couple weathering a hurricane: “The sky came down and the sea came up and beat in the house until it danced to the music.” In the “Biographies” section Bodmer mentioned living in a log cabin as a child.

Called up Mary Delp to talk about classmates and the Bulls. I started out, “This is Jimbo,” followed by “Jimmy Lane.” “I know who Jimbo is,” she said. She is always good humored and acts like I’m not a bother. I called while she was cooking dinner, but she had ten minutes for me. A character in “Empire Falls” taught his son the “bother principal.” If you are going to break rules, keep it to a low level because most muckety-mucks don’t sweat the small stuff. Maria Arredondo’s mother sold a little home brew during Prohibition. Warned the Mob might not like it, she said that as little as she was selling, they weren’t going to bother with her.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Peter Pumpkinhead

“He made too many enemies
Of the people who would keep us on our knees.”:
“Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead,” XTC

Friday: My upset NCAA predictions bombed. Bucknell lost by 29 and MSU made up a 23-point deficit but lost by two. The two favorites eliminated were Louisville and Vanderbilt.

At 6:58 a.m. the NBC local news Dance Friday song was by Internet sensation Rebecca Black, whose music video for “Friday” “went viral,” getting over a million hits on the day it premiered. The cool-dancing weatherman called it the lamest song he’s heard in a long time. That may be true, but the video is cute and, I’m sure, resonates with teens. I was hit number 15,802,204. The 13 year-old was on “Good Morning America.” Cody Brotter in Huffington Post claimed the rap portion by producer Patrice “Pato” Wilson (the chauffeur in the video) is enough to make Wiz Khalifa look like Langston Hughes. Someone has out a parody with Bob Dylan supposedly singing the lyrics. They start out, “7a.m., waking up in the morning/ Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs/ Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal.”

Had an unusually vivid dream last night. In a building similar to Purdue North Central’s to talk with History faculty, led by an old man with a cane took me to a lower level where various faculty members, not necessarily historians, were sitting, I explained what Steel Shavings was about in a nervous voice, not sure why I was doing so. I asked if anyone taught recent American history – perhaps to see if they wanted to have students keep journals or maybe because I wanted to teach a seminar – and someone said sarcastically that a guy teaches Business and Industry. That’s all I remember.

A Chesterton Tribune front-page story quoted environmental Herb Read, who said that the Japanese reactors were the same design as what NIPSCO had proposed for Northwest Indiana.

Ron dropped in for an hour to discuss his Woody Guthrie project (he wants me to proofread a couple chapters) and upcoming lecture on folk music at Northwestern. We talked about the Bob Dylan’s old girlfriend Suze Rotola, who died recently, and mutual friend Izzy Young, founder of the Folklore Institute, who’s coming to NY soon.

Enjoyed the whodunit “The Lincoln Lawyer,” with Marisa Tomei sparkling as lead Matthew McConaughey’s ex-wife and “Fargo” guy William Macy as his long-haired private investigator. I’ve always liked courtroom dramatizations.

Saturday: WXRT highlighted 1992 and played “Peter Pumpkinhead, which may have been about JFK, Jesus, or merely a pumpkin. One line goes, “Plots and sex scandals failed outright, Peter merely said any kind of love is alright” – perhaps a reference to Mary Magdalene or Marilyn Monroe. Robert Blaszkiewicz turned me on to XTC, a British band that virtually never toured and whose 1992 CD “Nonsuch” was also the name of a Tudor palace built by Henry VIII. After mailing gifts to Californians Crosby and Addison, shopped at Chesterton’s Wise Way, a first, and found good deals on sweet pickles and Oreos similar to chocolate mint girl scout cookies.

As if the Japanese nuclear crisis isn’t enough, now we’ve leading attacked Libya eight years to the day after the Iraq invasion. Obama is directing the action from Brazil, there with the family on a good will trip. “Dutch” Reagan was canny enough to limit military intervention against Gaddafi to a relatively inexpensive onetime effort to kill him, which cowed him into semi-behaving himself. Obama is claiming we are acting as part of a broad coalition, but the Arab “partners” are unreliable at best. Libyans in the eastern part of that country might be more anti-American than Gaddafi was.

Before driving to the Hagelbergs for bridge and Chinese food watched a forgettable remake of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” only this time with the guy (Ashton Kutcher) white and the upset dad (Bernie Mac) black. Hot daughter (Zoe Saldana) was Neytiri in “Avatar.”

Sunday: headlines reminiscent of the BP oil spill indicate the crises in Libya and Japan won’t soon be over. I went one for four in gaming, barely edging out Tom and Dave in St. Pete. I kept Tom’s Egezia game to study the rules some more. Home for Michigan against top-seeded Duke. Had the Wolverines won, I’d have looked like a genius and been back in contention in the NCAA pool. Up a point Duke missed a shot but got the rebound, then made one of two free throws. Down two with a few seconds left, Darius Morris drove the lane and missed a runner. Had he passed to a guy on the right wing who had been draining trees all afternoon, they might have won.

Niece Lisa stopped in with Oliver and Grace after hubby Fritz took off for Jamaica. Kids had loved our house on Maple Place but explored nearly every inch of the condo. They played Shooters with me and followed me downstairs while I was folding the laundry to find some of Toni’s toys where the creatures wiggle when you push in the bottom. Getting cookies for them, I told Grace the jar was designed so parents could hear noise if kids took the lid off. She appeared a few minutes later with cookies and bragged that she got them without me hearing any noise. For dinner Toni made delicious sirloin tips with pan fried noodles and corn.

TCU was slaughtering Purdue so badly I turned the sound down and listened to the Portland band The Decembrists’s CD Beth gave me as a belated birthday present and then “Duke” on vinyl. At halftime I talked to Gaard Logan, who had no interest in the NCAA tournament and promised to email me her reaction to the unsettling world events. Phil still wants to go to California with me and will give me dates he is free after his semester is over.

Monday: heard Weezer's “Troublemaker” on the way to school. The chorus goes: “I’m a troublemaker/ Never been a faker/ Doin’ things my own way/ And never givin’ up.” Voodoo Chili did a great version of Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” that always got the crowd singing the chorus. My favorite Weezer song is “Island in the Sun.” In the car one cannot resist singing “ hip hip hip hip” along with them. It’s such an upbeat song about young love except for the end, when the last line goes, “We’ll never feel that anymore.”

Jeff Manes emailed me his comments to a Post-Trib column by Rich James defending unions and the Indiana Democrats who fled to Illinois rather than allow Republicans to engage in class warfare against the middle class. Manes wrote: “Thanks, Rich. We’re the 51st state of the union. Don’t tread on us {Governor} Daniels and (Speaker) Bosma.” Someone in turn called Manes and James two-bit whores, edited to read “$$ clowns.”

Sylvia Gibbs inquired who the Delaney Housing Project in Gary was named after? I told her about Reverend Frank Delaney, who founded Stewart Settlement House and pointed her to “City of the Century.”

Took four Shavings to Bob Mucci for the dollar Anthropology Club sale. He gave me a Credit Union receipt from 1985 that had been in a book I’d donated when I retired. Bulls beat Sacramento by 40 points enabling Coach Tom Thibodeau to rest the starters for tomorrow’s contest at Atlanta.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

“Nobody told me there’d be days like this
Strange days indeed.”
John Lennon

On The Drive’s “Ten at Ten” Wednesday I heard John Lennon’s “most peculiar Mama” song that Yoko had released in 1984 as part of the album “Milk and Honey.” Next was Don Henley’s “Down at the Sunset Grill” and songs by the Cars and Van Halen. A recent RS with Snooki on the cover has an excerpt from Sammy Hagar’s new book characterizing guitarist Eddie Van Halen as a complete slob and fruitcake.

In response to my remarks about Simone de Beauvoir and Nelson Algren Karren wrote: “What a passionate love affair that burned hotter in Simone than Nelson evidently.” Mentioning that Algren died alone, virtually a recluse, I wrote back: “Simone’s letters indicate that he feared the straight-laced, well-behaved “Herbert Hoover” side of him would strangle the angry, rebellious side vital, he believed, to his literary growth – kind of like Norman Mailer worrying about reverting to the nice Jewish boy his parents raised him to be.”

Paul Wyche sent me his article on reaction to the nuclear disaster in Japan, entitled “Crisis reawakens anti-nuclear resolve.” Quoting me labeling NIPSCO’s attempt to build a nuclear power plant on the shores of Lake Michigan “stupid,” he ended the article thusly: “Lane said Japan’s nuclear chaos ‘gives everybody reason for pause and exposes the folly of (blindly) trusting utility companies’”

Chicken sandwich for lunch and yogurt for supper, knowing I’ll be having popcorn and draft beer at Cressmoor Lanes. On Facebook Darcey Wade wrote: “Just want to say I am so proud of my kid! I only joined FB to play scrabble, and don't have a ton of "friends". But the only person to publish sympathy and empathy on my page for the people of Japan was my kid Brady Wade. I'll never be voted mother of the year - but so damn proud we raised someone with love and empathy.”

I rolled a 226 on the way to a 543 series as the Engineers won two of three games (the final one by four pins). Next to us a guy bowled a 279, one seven-pin (in the tenth) shy of a perfect game. He wasn’t too excited, he explained, because he’d previously had 35 of them.

Poi Dog Pondering, the Chicago band originally from Hawaii (why anyone would leave the islands for the Windy City is beyond me), has a cover version of “Win” on their new EP “Audio Love letter,” where they honor some of their favorite people and songs, such as “Uncertain Smile” by The The. I’ve never been a huge Bowie fan but respect his versatility.

In my “Ides of March 2003” issue Lisa McNeiley wrote about attending Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade wearing a leprechaun hat, shanrock-shaped sunglasses, and strands of green beads. In my “2000” issue Shannon Koeppen noted that because the holiday fell on a Friday during Lent, Some parishes did not hold their traditional corn beef and cabbage diinners while others did. Bishops in Chicago and Indy granted dispensations, but Gary’s Bishop Dale Melczek refused to do so but some parish priests did.

John Davies praised my TRACES article on Vivian Carter and said he’d share it with the store manager at the Visitors Center. I told him that “Maria’s Journey” is getting great reviews and rather than nominate just Maria Arredondo for the Wall of Legends, as I did last year, I’m thinking of nominating Mexican-American Women Pioneers (“Harbor Lights,” as they have been called) that could include Maria, Sheriff Dominguez’s mother, and others.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ides of March

“On my own again
Alone again tonight.”

Up before seven, I caught the latest alarming news about the Japanese nuclear reactors. Cooked six pieces of bacon (two slices cut into thirds) to go with OJ, coffee and cheerios mixed with blueberries and banana slices. Made a chicken sandwich for lunch to go with celery, radishes, chips, and cookies. On the drive to IUN listened to sports jocks talk about the Blackhawks and the NCAA tournament. Thirteen years ago today, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew hit a miracle shot against Old Miss. Filling in my brackets, I picked Kansas to beat Ohio State in the Final but both Michigan and Michigan State to go far and Bucknell to pull another upset against third-seeded UConn, which had to play four days in a row to win the Big East tournament.

Got to school and discovered I’d somehow skinned my left thumb to the point where it was bleeding slightly. Bummer! I received emails from TRACES editor Ray Boomhower (who received my “Maria” article), Chris Young (he got the grant from the Virginia Historical Society and thanked me for the letter of endorsement), Ron Cohen (about a rally in Lansing, Michigan, that Michael Moore is organizing), Fred McColly (with advice on rain barrels), and Karren Lee (thanking me for telling her about the book club event and offering to loan me Simone de Beauvoir’s “Love Letters” book). I told her I found “Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren” in IUN’s library and added: “I had no idea there were so many letters – 559 pages worth. Simone came to Miller Beach twice and according to the editor (Sylvie – her daughter?) had a miserable time in 1950 and a better experience in 1951 although by then Nelson’s affections had turned to someone else. He does not seem to be a very lovable man. Your comparisons last evening between the meal habits of your Romanian relatives with the Arredondos was very interesting, and the restaurant you described brought back memories of being in Istanbul and seeing clusters of men engaged in animated discussion while smoking and drinking coffee (or whatever) from small cups or glasses. If and when they ate, the platters were probably heavy on meat.”

Took my lunch to the cafeteria but found it devoid of faculty, it being Spring Break. They were out of milk, so I could have eaten the sandwich in my “cage.” A reporter from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, aware that I had written about the Bailly antinuclear fight, called for my reaction to the impending catastrophe in Japan. I gave him a quote about never trusting utility companies, recalled how Ed Osann would ask what one notices about cement, used to contain leaking radiation (the inevitable cracks), and mentioned organized labor’s vital part in the Bailly Alliance. At a rally celebrating the victory Jack Weinberg warned against complacency because there was more work to be done in places such as Illinois. I suggested he call Chesterton Tribune editor David Canright, more knowledgeable than I and a leader in the Bailly Alliance.

Donna DeGradi from the Bookstore called to say someone from IU Bloomington was interested in buying my Gary and Vietnam Shavings. I told her to have him come to the Archives. His name was John Gusan, and he grew up in a Romanian household in Gary, attending Froebel and Lew Wallace (Class of 1959). He was on board a ship during the bogus Gulf of Tonkin incident and relayed messages from the ships involved back to the National Security Agency. He mentioned that his brother-in-law is Greek and was pleased when I gave him “Daughters of Penelope” and “Age of Anxiety.”

Waiting to see Vice Chancellor Malik, I skimmed through Keith Sinclair’s “History of New Zealand.” Scholars call the first Polynesian settlers moa-hunters because they feasted on massive flightless birds that were as tall as ten feet high. Not surprisingly the moas were soon extinct. Malik loved the Eileen Bender tribute DVD and suggested we find footage of her participating in a legendary choir session.

I emailed Bruce Allen that I was putting the AT Auto cap he gave me and other Upper Dublin classmates at the reunion to good use, what with all the snow and rain. He sent me a nice reply, saying he’ll re-stock me next time we cross paths. That inspired me to call him and we had a good chat about classmates we’re in touch with and how much we miss Dick Garretson, who dragged us into a bar in 1980 to watch the Phils clinch the NL pennant. He took a bunch of people to the reunion banquet in a limo designed to look like a vintage car, and I told him my goal was to be in one like that at our next reunion.

Filled the Corolla tank with 11 gallons of gas selling for $3.51.9 a gallon. Talked to Toni in Michigan, who spent much of the day shopping for stuff Alissa needs in her new apartment. Had leftover filet minion while watching the Bulls, in green uniforms for St. Patrick’s Day, get another win to move ahead of Boston for the number one seed in the East. Aretha Franklin was at courtside, and often maligned Keith Bogans had five threes an a season high 17 points against the Wizards.

Monday, March 14, 2011


“This spot was a playground
This flat land used to be a town.”
“Black Gold,” Soul Asylum

The most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history cracked open highways and caused skyscrapers to sway in Tokeo hundreds of miles from the epicenter. It triggered a devastating tsunami that wiped out entire towns along the country’s northeast coast. The wave that struck the city of Sendai was 23 feet high. What a catastrophe!

Hearing “Black Gold” on the car radio was enough to get me singing along. Although “Runaway Train” is Soul Asylum's most famous song, “Black Gold” is my favorite. The band was big in the early Nineties and played for the Clintons at the White House.

Found “Hotel New Hampshire” On Demand, based on a novel by always quirky John Irving, also responsible for “The World According to Garp” and “The Cider House Rules.” Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe are fantastic as brother and sister who end up in an incestuous relationship. Nastassja Kinski plays a troubled young lady who spends most of her time in a bear outfit. Seeing the movie caused me to check out John Irving’s novel. I found the writing lively and humorous in a droll way. I still recall the car crash scene in “The World According to Garp” where his wife is giving a student a blowjob when her car is rammed from behind and she bites the guy’s dick off. Born a week after I came into the world, Irving studied under Kurt Vonnegut at a Writers Workshop in Iowa, and his “shit happens” worldview is similar to the author of “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Breakfast of Champions.”

Toni found out that we could attend a workshop and purchase a 50-gallon rain barrel for a nominal amount of money to prevent water from our gutter from accumulating behind our condo every time it rains. Following board procedure I obtained signatures of approval from four neighbors.

SI’s cover story about Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 mentions that the Yankee Clipper loved to read Superman comics but was ashamed to be seen buying them, so he’d have his teammate Lafty Gomez purchase them for him. Joe allegedly screwed countless women in hotel rooms and was possessive towards his wife, onetime aspiring actress Dorothy Arnold, who divorced him soon afterwards. According to Richard Ben Cramer’s unflattering “Joe DiMaggio: A Hero’s Life,” the ballplayer was an egotistic miser who secretly took money from Mob figures in return for gracing their establishments with his presence at such places as the Stork Club, El Morocco and the Copacabana.

The Bulls honored the 1990-1991 team that brought the first NBA championship to Chicago. Michael Jordon and Scottie Pippin were in the house as well as lesser lights such as Cliff Levingston and Stacey King. Led by Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, who each had 26 points, Chicago played virtually a perfect first half against the Utah Jazz and led after 24 minutes 68-41 before cruising to victory. Derrick was draining trees and had 17 points by the end of the first quarter.

Sunday’s Times has a huge cover story about Youngstown, Ohio, and how the blue-collar rustbelt city has attempted to recover from losing its steel industry 30 years ago. Like Gary, Youngstown has lost more than half its population since its heyday when steel mills employed tens of thousands of workers. Bruce Springsteen sang about Youngstown in a song on his 1995 album “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Although he describes steelworkers as doing a job “that would suit the devil well,” employment allowed workers to provide their families with a decent life. The chorus goes “Here in Youngstown/ My sweet Jenny, I’m sinkin’ down/ Here darlin’ in Youngstown.” Jenny was the nickname of Youngstown Sheet and Tube’s Jeanette Blast Furnace, which shut down in 1977 and whose rusting hulk can still be scene for miles.

Footage of the tsunami in Japan Is pretty mind-boggling. Explosions have taken place at nuclear power plants, and there is a real danger of meltdowns and radiation leakage into the air.

Tom Wade reported that as many as 150,000 people gathered in Madison to protest Republican attempts to strip public employees of bargaining rights. There’s a movement underway to recall the legislative ringleaders. I went 0 for 5 in gaming, losing both Amun Re and Stone Age by a single point, the result of a bad sacrifice and poor dice rolling.

Caught the end of the Blackhawks game Sunday against Washington. The day before last year’s Stanley Cup winners were White House guests. The Hawks tied the game with a minute to go to guarantee at least a point but lost in OT. Had little interest in the college basketball games so watched episodes of “Skins” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” On Demand.

Drove to Theo’s restaurant in Highland for the Arredondo’s presentation of “Maria’s Journey” to the history book club. About 30 people showed up. Judge Ken Anderson was to my left with his Harbor-born mother. To my right was Karren Lee, who seemed interested in being a presenter in the future. With she being a vegetarian and Ken telling his mother he doesn’t eat veal because of what they do to the young calves, I decided against ordering the veal and selected the filet minion, taking most of it home after filling up on soup, salad, and bread. With one Beck added to the bill, it came to $37.80 including tax or $45 with tip.

Karren and I talked about Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken” and feminist Simone De Beauvoir’s romance with novelist Nelson Algren. After mentioning how they came to write the book, crediting me with being instrumental in its conception and execution, Ray and Trish read excerpts from the chapter “Mill Rats.” Ray’s brother, Judge Lorenzo Arredondo, provided anecdotes about his parents and family dynamics – speaking Spanish at home, getting jobs at a young age such as helping the milkman, being disciplined not only by Maria but older sister Jenny. It was interesting watching how Lorenzo, who is used to being the center of attention, resisted the impulse to dominate the discussion. He mentioned bringing a girlfriend to dinner who was shocked that Maria was eating in the kitchen and that the sisters were waiting on the men, but that’s how it was and nobody was going to get Maria to change her ways.

Karren mentioned that when she visited relatives in Romania, the women family members didn’t sit down with the men and when they went to an uncle’s favorite restaurant, it was the first time his wife had ever been there. She described everyone at a long table and servers bringing out plates and plates of meat.

I limited my input to two short remarks. After Trish asked the group which of the family members other than Maria they found most fascinating, I answered Miguel and said that one can’t understand his personality without taking into account the harrowing mills conditions he faced every working day and the energy he put into union organizing, which at one point caused him to be fired and lose his seniority. Lorenzo added that he could have made more money had he not refused shift work, but he believed a man should be home with his family for dinner, at which time he’d talk about national and world events at the table. He was a voracious reader of both English and Spanish newspapers. Lorenzo mentioned that Miguel once said that you never know how the seeds that you plant will turn out. That led me to mention how a family friend told me that the Arredondo offspring were all different from one another but all characters with strong personalities. Trish heartily agreed.

To Karren’s right were attorney Richard Maroc and his wife. When Maroc commented that he had retired as a judge eight years ago, I told him that there’s a photo of him under the headline “Retiring” in my “Ides of march 2003” issue of Shavings and promised to send him a copy. Other people in attendance were George Van Til (pleased that IU Press will be publishing Roy Dominguez’s autobiography) and Bob Selund (who praised my chapter introductions in “Maria’s Journey”). After a woman asked me to autograph the book where my name appears at the end of the Foreword, Karren had me autograph hers (I signed it James “Jimbo” Lane).

Home alone (Toni having gone to Michigan to help Alissa get settled in her n apartment), I popped a beer and turned on the Blackhawks game as they were scoring five goals in the second period in their 6-3 win over the Coyotes. With the sound off in the third period I listened to the Genesis “Duke” album. On MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” they kept showing demonstrators from Saturday’s rally in Madison holding signs and wearing t-shirts with slogans like “Our governor is a Koch sucker.” I kept hoping to see Tom Wade, who had carried a picture of a pig representing the billionaire Koch brothers with Republican politicians including Governor Scott Walker sucking its teats.

Friday, March 11, 2011


“Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find.”
Collective Soul

Thursday morning errands included food shopping, picking up medicine at CVS (behind the counter was a young woman who looked like Taylor Swift), mailing our tax returns, getting a glasses screw fixed, and dropping off my Living Will at Dr. Ostroski’s. At the library read an article in “Vanity Fair” about JFK, Jr., risking his life kayaking with his girlfriend years ago. Grabbing a burger and fries at Mickey D’s, heard two geezers were debating the difference between a republic and a democracy about them both being alternatives to monarchy but that the Founding Fathers, distrusting direct democracy, came up with all sorts of checks and balances in establishing the American republic. Was tempted to add my two cents. Listened to the great Terri Hemmert spinning songs at the noon hour on WXRT, including Collective Soul’s “Shine.” Hemmert, who started at the station in 1973, does a Sunday “Breakfast with the Beatles” show and was invited to the White House last June when President Obama presented Paul McCartney with the Gershwin Prize.

After one final revision based on Ray and Trish’s excellent suggestions, I sent “The Journeys of Maria Perez Arredondo off to TRACES editor Ray Boomhower. Aaron Pigors showed me the almost completed DVD about Eileen Bender, ten minutes of tributes followed by our 90-minute interview. It’s awesome. Sheriff Dominguez dropped off a clean copy of “Valor” along with a warm note reiterating that the project wouldn’t have been possible without my assistance.

Talked to Steve’s class about urban and rural life in the Region during the 1920s, contrasting the rapid growth of the “Magic City” of Gary with the rural life during Portage’s “quiet years.” The students generally read the remembrances of old residents with gusto, and one woman personally knew two old-timers from her church and mentioned that her grandmother had attended Froebel until forced to quit to support the family. Showed the class 1929 yearbooks for Portage (Crisman School) and Gary (Horace Mann). Crisman had eight seniors and included a page of jokes, including two racist ones. Many of the Mann girls have bobbed hair and belonged to sororities. I reminded students to keep journals diligently. Waiting for the elevator, I asked one young woman if she was doing anything interesting over Spring Break. “Yeah, getting my wisdom teeth removed,” she replied making a sour face.

With Wisconsin Democrats are still in Illinois the governor has found a way to have legislation passed stripping public employees of the right to bargain collectively. Indiana’s Mitch Daniels did the same thing by executive order seven years ago. Brady Wade, outraged by the Republican class war, is calling for Chesterton High School students to walk out early tomorrow. The afternoon Chesterton Tribune mentioned that over 5,000 people demonstrated in Indy and the chickenshit Republicans adjourned, supposedly because of the lack of hotel rooms since the Big Ten tournament was taking place. IU lost its first game to nobody’s surprise.

Aaron Pigors’ latest version of the Eileen Bender DVD tribute is fantastic. I’ll show it to former FACET director David Malik for suggestions and then send copies off to the FACET office and the Retreat Planning Committee chair.

Though Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are terrific, “The Adjustment Bureau” was disappointing and unrealistic, with a climactic chase scene that lacked suspense. The audience is supposed to believe that higher powers have taken away human beings’ free will for civilization’s own good – during the two times in history when this was not the case the result was the Dark Ages and then WW I and WW II. The plotline – Senate candidate meets ballerina – would have made a better story without the supernatural mumbo jumbo.

My alma mater Bucknell defeat Lafayette in the Patriot League final to win a NCAA tournament berth. Six years ago the Bisons upset third-seeded Kansas in its first NCAA appearance ever. I spent the first six years of my life across the street from Lafayette in Easton, Pennsylvania. On campus was a monkey tied to a chain or rope that I’d enjoy visiting. Whenever Lafayette hosted football rival Lehigh there’d be a big parade in front of our home.

I’m looking into summer teaching possibilities at Bucknell and Hawaii, where I got a master’s degree. The idea would be seminars combining journal keeping and oral interviews having to do with everyday life and local history. At Bucknell, there was an uneasy relationship between students and “townies,” which would be interesting to explore 50 years later. The interaction between “Islanders” and students from the mainland and overseas would also make for an interesting study.

Brady Wade called off the walkout at Chesterton when the administration threatened to throw the book at him. I’m disappointed in the school’s over-reaction but glad that Brady did the sensible thing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“Ride at night we ride all day
Looking out for a sunny day.”
“Southside,” Moby

Born in a Harlem neighborhood, Moby recorded “Southside in 1999 for the album “Play.” It evokes young people riding around at night in a desolate, perhaps futuristic, urban neighborhood reminiscent of areas of Detroit, New York or Gary, Indiana. Heard it on WXRT on the way to school. Born Richard Melville Hall, Moby took his stage name because he believes he is a descendant of the author of “Moby Dick.” In an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” after Cheryl leaves Larry, he becomes so depressed that Leon calls him “Mopey Dick.”

Had a full house at the Archives, including a woman working on a pictorial history of Cedar Lake who praised my Shavings issue. I told her that most of our Cedar Lake photos came from town historian Beatrice Horner. Others are in the museum (the old Lassen’s Hotel, which unfortunately has no heat or air-conditioning.

At lunch Bill Dorin mentioned watching a documentary on radio deejays featuring Dick Biondi, who he listened to as a kid and who is still on the air. We talked about the payola scandal that ruined some jocks including Allen Freed while others just as culpable, such as Dick Clark, emerged unscathed. After we moved to Gary, I listened to Larry Lujack, who played Top Fifty hits sprinkled in with Oldies before switching mainly to the FM station WMET, which played album-oriented rock ‘n’ roll.

Darcey, who did our tax returns, stopped by the condo with Brady, first time either had seen the place. Toni made a delicious meal of scallops, pan fried potatoes, lima beans, and cooked tomatoes with cheese on top. By the time I turned on the Blackhawks they were down 3-0. The closest they could get was 3-2, and their winning streak ended at eight.

There’s flooding on the East Coast, civil war in Libya, and a budget deadlock in Congress as Republicans try to gut Planned Parenthood, NPR, the IRS, and regulatory agencies. Warner Brothers fired “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen after his behavior got weird even by Hollywood standards. What a colossal mistake; ratings for new shows would go through the roof. Miami Heat lost again (boo hoo), and Phil Jackson ridiculed players allegedly crying in the locker room, saying, “This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed. Big boys don’t cry. But if you’re going to cry, do it in the toilet where no one can see.” In the 1961 smash hit “Raindrops” Dee Clark imagined his tears were raindrops “falling from my eye-eyes” since “a man ain’t supposed to cry.”

On Facebook Angie posted a James and Becca performance of “The People’s Song” from “Les Miserables” at the Towle Theater in Hammond.

Against the Dingbats, a friendly group featuring the McCann brothers Fred and Bobby, the Engineers won five of seven points. I rolled a 472, slightly below my average. I won two of the quarters pots, striking on my last ball. Frank and his wife are both in a quilt show on Saturday.

Hearing the Portland, Oregon, band Dandy Warhols on the radio always picks me up. “Bohemian Like You” was part of the soundtrack to “Igby Goes Down.” After Terry Lukas helped me lay out a Shavings, I gave him a Dandys CD because I heard they were an “in” group with gays. Turned out he hadn’t heard of them and didn’t like their music. So much for stereotypes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Always faithful

“When the love of the poor shall one day turn to hate
When the patience of the workers give away
Would be better for the rich if they never been born
So they laid Jesus Christ in the grave”
“Jesus Christ,” by Woody Guthrie

Tom Wade went back to Madison, Wisconsin, this time with son Brady, and heard Michael Moore address the tens of thousands of demonstrators. According to the Wall Street Journal, Moore read from a statement he titled “America is Not Broke.” The filmmaker said, “Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had–America is not broke, not by a long shot, the country is awash in cash… 400 obscenely wealthy individuals…most of whom benefited in some way from the multitril­lion dollar taxpayer bailout of 2008, now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. It is a shame. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest with what you know in your heart to be true.” On the soundtrack to Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” is Merle Haggard singing “Jesus Christ.”

No gaming so watched the Sunday news shows. Two conservative commentators said more Republicans haven’t declared for president because they think Obama is unbeatable. Let’s hope. Gingrich and Huckabee are goofballs, and Mitt Romney will have to prostitute himself to win over rightwing crazies. Concerning Huckabee’s enormous weight gain, the joke is that he’s trying emulate rotund New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a tea Party darling who issued a Shermanesque statement declaring he won’t run.

Cooked scrambled eggs and bacon, fried portabella mushrooms and onions and raisin toast. Watched the Bulls beat the hated Miami Heat; both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade missed shots in the final seconds. Their coach said there was crying in the dressing room afterwards. Toni made corn beef, potatoes, and cabbage for us and the Hagelbergs prior to two rounds of bridge (Cheryl was the winner). Dick took home one of the ten new issues Boomhower sent me. We found them Sunday morning between the front doors. Kudos to the mailman for not making us pick them up at the post office. Chuck Gallmeier, a TRACES subscriber, offered congratulations on the article. He agreed that it was a nuanced piece that didn’t glorify Vivian Carter but recognized what a terrific impact she had on the popular music of her day. He wants to continue the tradition of having former Faculty Organization chairs open meetings and asked if I’d introduce John Ban in April.

Finished a draft of an article for TRACES about Maria Arredondo based largely on my Foreword to “Maria’s Journey.” I’ll probably revise it several times before submitting it. Cousin Victor Cowan Lane (same name as my dad), whom I’ve never met, sent me information about the Lane family tree. I emailed back: “Thanks so much for the information about our ancestors. If you send me your address, maybe I could reciprocate by sending you a copy of the magazine I edit. By the way my grandson, who goes by James (“no nicknames please”) is very proud to be James Buchanan Lane V.”

I told English prof George Bodmer about coming across the word bildungsroman, and he said he uses it all the time in his Children’s Literature course. Of German origin it refers to novels where a child undergoes a journey during which he is transformed psychologically into an adult. Bodmer mentioned Huck Finn and Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” as examples. It would be fun to sit in on one of George’s classes.

In the student union I spotted Dean Mark Hoyert participating in a faculty-student trivia contest. With the questions dealing with cartoon characters and TV ads he had the fewest points but finally rang in successfully by identifying “Semper Fi” as the slogan of the Marine Corps. Nearby, signing up folks for a Thursday rally at the Indy statehouse, were Labor Studies mainstays Mike Olszanski and Thandabantu Iverson. Their flyer asked students to “Stand against the attacks on all working families!!” It contained this quote by martin Luther King: “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans as ‘right to work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining.”

“Boogeyman” Jay Keck ordered more copies of “Brothers in Arms” and was in a joking mood, ending his letter with these words: “I am no longer bipolar. I am bisexual, Buy here, pay here, Bicentennial, and Bye Bye Miss American Pie. Thank you my brother, payback time, high noon, Semper Fi.” What a great mind. His calling card is called “Incoming: Flashbacks from the Foxhole.” On the upper left-hand corner is inscribed “PTSD: In Country 13 months, in therapy ever since.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011


“Boom boom boom boom (March 4)
A-haw haw haw haw
Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm.”
John Lee Hooker

Five copies of the Winter 2011 issue of TRACES arrived with ten pages devoted to my article on Vivian Carter and Vee Jay records. Illustrations include Blues legend and Vee Jay recording artist John Lee Hooker playing a guitar in concert. Editor Ray Boomhower promised to send ten more for me to pass out. Because it mentions Vivian’s induction to the Wall of Legends, I’m sending one off to John Davies to see if the Indiana Welcome Center wants to sell some. I also took one to Henry Farag at Canterbury Productions, who is featured prominently in it. With Boomhower’s encouragement, I started an article about Maria Arredondo even though over the next four years the magazine will be featuring articles commemorating Indiana’s Civil War past. The current issue has one on Hoosier Joseph Lane (no relation), who fought in the Mexican War, became Territorial Governor of Oregon and in 1860 was Southern Democrat John Breckinridge’s running mate.

Even though my article was generally favorable toward Vivian, her management skills left something to be desired. I used Spaniels tenor Ernest Warren’s quote that “the only thing I can remember we got was a brand new station wagon and three or four brand new cars. But as far as receiving royalties or anything like that, uh-uh. They always had some excuses.” My final sentence reads: “Although taking financial advantage of some of the performers whose talents the company developed, she captured on vinyl much of the best and most original music of her era. She was a true pioneer.”

Times columnist Mark Kiesling thanked me for my email criticizing his remarks about Danny Glover and those protesting the Republicans’ damnable actions in Indianapolis. He wrote: “It’s an opinion column and I don’t ask anyone to agree with me 100 percent of the time or even 1 percent of the time. I respect the opinion of others, yours included. As someone whose name escapes me said, “Reasonable men may reasonably disagree.” I think, of course, since that was said the option to disagree has also been extended to women. Please continue reading.”

Dave and I went to the Sectional semi-finals at Gary West Side. East Chicago Central and Hammond Morton were tied when a Morton player tried to call timeout with .1 seconds left. Since his team was out of timeouts, Central was awarded two technical fouls shots. Anthony Williams, who had been draining free throws the entire game, missed them both. At one point with East Chicago down eight, Williams was on the line, and I predicted that if he made both shots, the Cardinals would win. He missed the second, but thanks to a lane violation got a second chance and made it. In overtime the Cardinals easily prevailed with Jerrick Ware finishing with 30 points.

The second game pitted undefeated Munster against Lake Central, whose best player Glenn Robinson was the son of Gary Roosevelt’s legendary “Big Dog.” Behind us a Black lady was cheering loudly for Glenn and number 22, a curly-haired sub who drained his first three-point attempt. Every time the coach took him out, the lady yelled repeatedly, “22, 22, put 22 in!” During a late timeout both teams’ cheerleaders did backward cartwheels up and down the court. The next timeout Lake Central cheerleaders formed a circle and did cartwheels first one after another like a wave and then all together. Pretty neat. With his team down three in the final seconds, Robinson missed a trey, grabbed the rebound, calmly dribbled behind the three-point line and hit a last-second shot. At the end of overtime, however, he missed the back end of a one-and-one and the number-one ranked Mustangs prevailed, thanks in part to some questionable calls that, as usual, went Munster’s way.

I had a great time hanging with Dave, beginning with supper at Long John Silver, where we often went after a movie when he and Phil were kids. Being at a high school game brought back memories of watching Gary Emerson’s Golden Tornado in the 1970s. Several times young people said, “Hi, Mr. Lane” and I thought momentarily they meant me. In 1991 Dave and I watched “Big Dog” sink a last second shot in the Regionals against East Chicago on the way to leading Roosevelt to a state championship. It was their biggest scare of the tournament. E.C. soccer coach Castulo Perez told me that David is an amazing teacher and mentor for the kids, something I already knew but that was good to hear. In his usual seat was East Chicago superfan Louis “Weasal” Vasquez, 87 years young, with scorebook in hand. He’d even been at Lew Wallace when fights broke out on the court and in the stands and E.C. coach Abrian Brown refused to finish the game.

The last time Dave and I were at Lew Wallace was 25 years ago to watch the great Jerome Harmon. While I was standing for the National Anthem, a kid put chewing gum on my seat and then took off. It soured my enthusiasm for attending any more games there. I later saw Jerome make a spectacular dunk at Chesterton after which several of their fans helf up signs reading “10.” A nice tribute. Once Dave and I planned to meet Paul Kern, who turned us on to Hoosier Hysteria, at a restaurant prior to an Andrean-Wallace game. We missed connections, something that probably wouldn’t happen today thanks to cell phones.

WXRT is featuring 1989. While in the car I heard Tom Petty, the B52s, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fine Young Cannibals, and Poi Dog Pondering, a Chicagoland band playing an XRT concert next week. In sports Kareen Abdul Jabbar played his final NBA game, Doug Collins relinquished the Bulls coaching reins to Phil Jackson, and Pete Rose was banished from baseball for gambling on games. The Cubs lost in the NLB playoffs to the Giants; an earthquake subsequently delayed the World Series.

The new Smithsonian has zebras on the cover and stories about drummer Gene Krupa, Cherokee leader John Ross, and Modernist artist Paul Gauguin. Jane Russell died at age 89. I recall her “bosoms” being featured in Playtex bra commercials. Looked over an article in “”The Dragon Lode” by Anne Balay about Gene Stratton-Porter’s “A Girl of the Limberlost,” which was not originally intended as kids’ literature. Combine what Anne wrote with Meg Renslow’s kids book might make for an interesting TRACES submission although Anne’s analysis is rather esoteric.Talking about subgenres that “Limberlost” fits into, she mentions environmental manifesto, plucky girl book, and something called bildungsroman, which according to Google (the word wasn’t in my dictionary) means coming-of-age novel.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


“I’m the friendly stranger
In the black sedan.”
“Vehicle,” Ides of March

The days are getting longer. Last evening driving to bowling, I noticed an orange U.S. Steel-enhanced sunset, and this morning light streamed in the condo windows around 6:30. A few mounds of snow remain from recent blizzards, and I expect we’re in for more, hopefully not as severe as the mid-March storm of 1998 that knocked out our power for a week.

Hearing the old Chicago band Ides of March while in my vehicle gave me a brainstorm to nudge Anne Balay about asking her Gender Studies students to keep journals for the single day of March 15 (she passed on such an assignment for an entire month). Along the Frank Borman Expressway (80/94) are a bunch of new billboards for Albert’s Jewelers (a sign of economic recovery?), in addition to the usual compliment of ads for the area’s two growth industries, truck stops and strip clubs (Déjà Vu advertises Showgirls – double entendre intended - and Club 390 proclaims, “All the liquor, none of the clothes”). Another new one claimed the Toll Road can get you to downtown Chicago in 35 minutes (unlikely and costly). With the Gary mayoralty primary just two months away, a host of fresh signs near campus read KAREN in huge letters; one can barely make out “Freeman Wilson,” the candidate’s last name. Mayor Clay has similar RUDY billboards. Hopefully we’ll soon see RAGEN signs soon touting my favorite, Mayor Hatcher’s daughter.

Post-Trib reporter Jon Seidel called to ask whether I thought Ragen was a clone of her dad. There were parallels in their careers (attorney, council member, candidate for mayor) and while both are visionaries, she represents a new generation with different priorities but facing challenges no less daunting than his. Her election would put Gary on the map in terms of national attention in ways not seen since her father’s defeat in 1987. Her election, in other words, would be a vehicle for starting a serious discussion about the obligation of the federal government (and the Obama administration) to help distressed cities.

Ron Cohen is speaking on the Gary schools in Steve’s Indiana History class. I recall how excited he was when he had an epiphany about starting each chapter of “Children of the Mill” with a human story. One deals with YJean Chambers’ mother learning her daughter had to go to an all-black school. Another documents Betty Balanoff’s determination to get a new elementary school in the Norton Park neighborhood where overcrowding was so dire kids were only attending class half a day. Ron inscribed my copy of “Children,” using a nickname from his days as a radio deejay, “To Jimbo, in friendship over 20 years, Sparky.” “Children of the Mill” opens with an event that occurred at a boarding house where 30 single men lived in the winter of 1909. Fourteen year-old Katie Kordich worked as a cook and maid for two dollars a week even though state law required that she be in school. After the authorities ordered the father to enroll the girl, the boarders refused to give her up and shot at him. The police finally rescued her.

At lunch medical School director Patrick Bankston told me that at his State of the City address Mayor Clay gave away copies of “Gary: A Pictorial History” to the two hundred or so guests. Ron and I knew the city still had some, but I am surprised at the Mayor’s largesse. Greg Gates who visited the Archives last week, sent us his history of Horace Mann men’s basketball, including four chapters on the 1928-29 season. In the school’s third year in existence they traveled to Indy (a four and a half hour trip then) to compete in the 16-team Finals. Led by Don Elser, also a football and track star, they won two games before bowing to eventual champ Frankfort. The final two chapters were on the 1941-42 season, when they finished the regular season ranked second with a 20-1 record. The team eventually lost in the Semi-State opener to (guess who?) the Frankfort “Hot Dogs,” who went on to defeat a South bend Central squad coached by John Wooden. Gates sent me an impressive list of books he owns about Gary, including the Pictorial History.

East Chicago Councilman John Gomez was in the Archives looking at material about the Concerned Latins Organization, a 1970s protest group interested in affirmative action and bilingual education, among other things. Gomez, who is planning a reunion benefit for April 2. Gomez was one of the main leaders of the group, along with David Castro. In “Forging a Community” there is a chapter on the Concerned Latins.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

High Life

“I’ll be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again.”
Steve Winwood

About to pay Pat the Jewel cashier for a 30-pack of Miller’s High Life, I heard Steve Winwood’s “Back in the High Life Again.” “What an appropriate song,” I exclaimed. Pat didn’t get it until I told her Stevie was singing about the brand of beer I was purchasing. Sporting a white Afro, Pat was probably younger than I.

Aaron Pigors is making progress on the Tribute CD we’re doing on FACET founder Eileen Bender. At the May 2011 retreat her husband will be the keynote speaker. In all likelihood, parts of the CD will be shown that evening and the entire thing will be on a continuously playing loop near where we’ll tape more interviews. We’re soliciting still photos of Eileen to insert. Kim Olivares from the FACET office sent us some, and IU South Bend English professor Rebecca Torstrick contacted Eileen’s daughter Leslie and Archivist Alison Stankrauf, who both forwarded others.

Robert Blaszkiewicz sent several high-resolution Times jpegs of Sheriff Dominguez for use in “Valor,” his autobiography. I showed him this following email I sent to Times columnist Mark Kiesling “I understand that The Times is opposed to the walkout by Democrats at the Indianapolis statehouse but I believe it is over the top to use Joseph McCarthy-like tactics similar to FOX News (despite your protestations) against those speaking out against the Republicans’ union-busting programs. Danny Glover is an honorable man but you make him out to be anti-American because of some of the company he allegedly keeps, i.e., Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Hugo Chavez. You label these two leaders dictators, but both were elected by the people of Haiti and Venezuela. In fact, Aristide was twice ousted by military coups, the first strenuously opposed by the United States. Your view reminds me of those who criticized the 1963 March on Washington because a militant from SNCC spoke and to those who demonized the antiwar rallies during the Vietnam era because lefties like Pete Seeger performed.”

Karren Lee thanked me for dropping off “Maria’s Journey” and added: “I started it last night and am totally caught up in the story.” When Toni started it, she stayed up till three in the morning reading. Can’t wait for Ray and Trish Arredondo’s presentation on March 14 at Theo’s in Highland.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, whose book “Win” is subtitled “How to Harness the Best Attributes of Your Business,” claims that the best way to get people to retain something is to preface it with, “If you only remember only one thing I’ve said today, it is this.” When I talk to Steve’s class about Gary and Portage during the Twenties, maybe I’ll use that line and then say, “The 1920s was an age of optimism. It roared!” Of course, it started with the crushing of the 1919 steel strike and ended with the Wall Street Crash.

Bowled a 542, including 220 in the third game, which helped the Engineers salvage two points. On the opposing team was former teammate Chris Lugo and always-cheerful Tony Buhler, who rolled a 274 in game one. Some bowlers wear the same garb every week, featuring, say, NASCAR drivers, Harley Davidson outlets or commemorating a tour of a hard rock band. One guy wore a Michael Jordan jersey; another had on Black Hawks apparel. I alternate between three or four t-shirts. Most of my teammates wore checkered shirts with buttons down the front, but Captain Bill Batalis wore a Purdue sweatshirt.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Ain't I a Woman?"

“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore.”
Helen Reddy

After the “Today” show summarized the deteriorating situation in Libya, on came “Two and a Half Men” out-of-control actor Charlie Sheen to declare, “I’m grandiose” and old “Family Ties” sitcom mom Meredith Baxter Birney to explain, “I’m gay.” Hardly a mention of the union demonstrations spreading to Ohio and elsewhere.

Anne Balay sent me notice of the “Celebrating Our Students Conference” sponsored by IUN’s Gender and Women’s Studies Program in the conference center. In the first session Mariah Hamang read poems from a volume of her work entitled “Ravings of a Disenchanted American Youth.” As she quickly recited the lines, I struggled to absorb the meaning of what she was saying. One mentioned smoking out with her boyfriend and a man dying of cancer during the summer after she graduated from high school. At the break I asked whether she had any copies of the booklet that I could buy and put in the Archives, but she indicated that she had given them all away to family and friends.

Speaking about Huck Finn, Leslie Mahaffey wore a Lady Gaga t-shirt from a recent concert and exclaimed that Gaga was a supporter of Gay Rights. The most moving paper was entitled “Cultural Memoir” by Ana Flores and dealt with child molestation. At one point when the victim confided to her mother that her uncle was sexually abusing her, her reaction was, “Don’t tell your father, he’ll kill him.” Later when she confronted her mother about it, she learned that the mother, too, had been abused as a child but was brought up to be deferential to men and not to do anything that would bring shame on the family. Determined that the cycle of abuse come to an end, Ana has instructed her own kids not to let anyone touch them in ways that make them uncomfortable; and when her husband brings friends to the house, the kids sleep with her and are told to scream if a man entered the room and she wasn’t there.

Two papers dealt with African-American women born into slavery. “Old Elizabeth” was an itinerant minister who didn’t start preaching into well into her 40s and faced the wrath of Black men as well as whites. Speaker Beverly Ann Lewis-Burton had a strong, passionate voice that led me to speculate that she was a preacher. Giving the impression that she had escaped from her master, Linda Brent hid for seven years in a space no bigger than a coffin above her mother’s sleeping quarters to prevent her owner from violating her. She didn’t even tell her own children because she feared they would inadvertently act suspiciously or be implicated if she were caught.

Buttressed with students taking Women’s Studies classes, the conference was well attended. Chancellor Lowe showed up, as did several faculty including Ana Osan and DeeDee Ige. After lunch (sandwiches, chips, a cookie, and bottled water), there was a panel on transgendered challenges and then a musical performance entitled “Ain’t I a Woman?” presented by the Core Ensemble and featuring actress Taylore Mahogany Scott celebrating the lives of four African-Americans, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, novelist Zora Neale Hurston, folk artist Clementine Hunter (sometimes called the Black Grandma Moses), and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The title is from a speech Sojourner Truth gave in 1851 at a Women’s Conference in Ohio, where she said: “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?” Almost a hundred people were on hand as Taylore Mahagony Scott showed her versatility and kept them spellbound. I particularly enjoyed her portrayal of Zora Neale Hurston evoking the spirit of the Harlem renaissance as the three musicians played music from the Jazz Age.

Discussed my proposal to hire five new faculty members with Liberal Studies director Bob Mucci. He suggested we divide it into two phases and emphasize how the number of students desiring to participate in the program has exceeded all expectations, despite it receiving scant publicity. Also since the new faculty would typically be teaching one Liberal Studies course and two surveys, the department would agree to staff two courses that fit into the Liberal Studies program. Since the bulk of Liberal Studies classes take place at 5:30 or later, the faculty involved would agree to teach at that time.

Anne Balay sent me notice of the “Celebrating Our Students Conference” sponsored by IUN’s Gender and Women’s Studies Program in the conference center. In the first session Mariah Hamang read poems from a volume of her work entitled “Ravings of a Disenchanted American Youth.” As she quickly recited the lines, I struggled to absorb the meaning of what she was saying. One mentioned smoking out with her boyfriend and a man dying of cancer during the summer after she graduated from high school. At the break I asked whether she had any copies of the booklet that I could buy and put in the Archives, but she indicated that she had given them all away to family and friends.

The most moving paper was entitled “Cultural Memoir” by Ana Flores and dealt with child molestation. At one point when the victim confided to her mother that her uncle was sexually abusing her, her reaction was, “Don’t tell your father, he’ll kill him.” Later when she confronted her mother about it, she learned that the mother, too, had been abused as a child but was brought up to be deferential to men and not to do anything that would bring shame on the family. Determined that the cycle of abuse come to an end, Ana has instructed her own kids not to let anyone touch them in ways that make them uncomfortable; and when her husband brings friends to the house, the kids sleep with her and are told to scream if a man entered the room and she wasn’t there.

Two other papers dealt with African-American women born into slavery. “Old Elizabeth” was an itinerant minister who didn’t start preaching into well into her 40s and faced the wrath of Black men as well as whites. Giving the impression that she had escaped from her master, Linda Brent hid for seven years in a space no bigger than a coffin above her mother’s sleeping quarters to prevent her owner from violating her. She didn’t even tell her own children because she feared they would inadvertently act suspiciously or be implicated if she were caught.

Buttressed with students taking Women’s Studies classes, the conference was well attended. Chancellor Lowe showed up, as did several faculty including Ana Osan and DeeDee Ige. After lunch (sandwiches, chips, a cookie, and bottled water), there was a panel on transgendered challenges and then a musical performance entitled “Ain’t I a Woman?” celebrating the lives of four African-Americans, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, novelist Zora Neale Hurston, folk artist Clementine Hunter (sometimes called the Black Grandma Moses), and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The title is from a speech Sojourner Truth gave in 1851 at a Women’s Conference in Ohio, where she said: “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?”