Wednesday, January 18, 2012

At the Library

“Staring across the room
Are you leaving soon?
I just need a little time.”
“At the Library,” Green Day

I am trying to locate Gary Roosevelt yearbooks from the early 1940s to see what actor William Marshall was up to in high school. Since the downtown Gary library closed at the end of last year, I don’t know how to gain access to its Indiana room. Archives volunteer Maurice Yancy said that most old yearbooks that were once in Roosevelt’s school library are missing, pilfered probably, and he was pessimistic about me have better luck in the Indiana Room. In IUN’s library stacks I found four good books about African Americans in the movies and television, including Daniel J. Leab’s “From Sambo to Superspade.” On Facebook Sam Barnett, aka Samuel A. Love, posted a video of Green Day’s “At the Library” and wrote: “Just reminding that not a single library closed in this country during the Great Depression! The rationalizations of why so many are closing now are miserable lies.” Two Gary firemen visited the Archives today because the downtown library was inaccessible.

Mike Olszanski is going on a union bus with Paul Kaczocha and Dr. T. Iverson to protest state legislators trying to ram through a right-to-work law. He writes: “Maybe we should plan on sleeping there until these Republican jerks get the idea. No RTW!!!!” Democrats are again threatening to boycott the session.

Karren Lee asked me to distribute flyers announcing that Gail Archer, a Grammy nominated organist, will be performing at St. Mary of the Lake Church in Miller a week from Sunday. Was glad to oblige. Vickie ran some off, and Scott Fulk of Student Life stamped them approved.

Jonathyne Briggs reported that his AHA session on “Cold War Kids: The Ideologies of Punk in the East and West” went fine and was well attended. His paper was entitled “Force de Frappe: Rock against Communism in Socialist France.” He has asked Chancellor William Lowe to talk about Ireland in his spring class on terrorism. That would be fun to attend. The first course topic will be the American Revolution. Imagine – our founding fathers were terrorists.

Yesterday I bought a pair of comfortable boots at Bass Pro Shop in Portage, my first visit there. Grandson Anthony likes to go there and use their archery target. Merrell boots, recommended by nephew Tom Dietz, seemed too heavy duty and cost three times as much as the Redhead pair I purchased.

After watching “Homeland” on Showtime, I checked out an episode of “Californication,” a series in its fifth season starring David Duchovny as a writer who bedded down three women in a half hour. In each case Duchovny was on the bottom, allowing the camera to capture action shots of the actresses naked from the waist up. Episode one began with Duchovny fantasizing about receiving a bj from a nun. Evidently the show has been on the air since 2007 and Duchovny is a Golden Globe winner. Judging from what I have seen on the premium cable channels at least one soft core porn scene is almost obligatory – not that I’m a prude and complaining. In one scene the writer’s 12 year-old daughter tells him that there’s a naked lady in his bedroom and something must be wrong with her because she doesn’t have any hair near her vagina.

More dead bodies were uncovered on the Italian cruise ship “Costa Concordia,” which crashed into a rock and tilted over on its side. Captain Francesco Schettino, who took the ship too close to shore and then abandoned ship on a lifeboat before most passengers were evacuated, has been put under house arrest.

Wikipedia is blacked out all day in protest over a proposed piece of legislation that, to quote the online encyclopedia, “could fatally damage the free and open Internet.” In sympathy Google has inserted a black rectangle over its logo. Three times I tried unsuccessfully to access sites. I did manage to find a YouTube clip of William Marshall appearing on a 1964 episode of “Bonanza” entitled “Enter Thomas Bowers.” General Motors, the sponsor, threatened to withdraw from the program upon learning that Marshall and two other black performers, Ena Hartman and Ken Renard, would appear, but the corporation backed down after confrontations with NBC and the NAACP. Marshall played a celebrated opera singer who faces arrest because some believe him to be an escaped slave. In the end he sings a selection from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” Strikingly handsome with a rich baritone voice, he was fantastic.

Vietnam vet George Rasmussen came across my blog about the death of Jim Tolhuizen and informed me that he was wounded by the same sniper who shot Jim on May 10, 1970 during the Cambodian invasion. He added: “Everything that you wrote in your article about Jim was right on the money. The good friend that he said died in a rocket attack was Paul Stepp. I sent in a picture of Paul, and it is posted on the virtual wall web site. Based on everything I've read about Jim on the Internet, he was a well liked member of the faculty, a good friend and it appears that he made good use of the additional ‘time’ he was granted.” I sent George a copy of my “Vietnam Veterans from the Calumet Region” Shavings issue.

Ray Smock sent me an email entitled “C-SPAN’s Kinkiest Moment.” He goes on to say, “The National Constitution Center has posted a Twitter link to a part of my 2005 C-SPAN interview where I tell the story of how I became Ben Franklin’s body double. But here is the real reason for looking at this. This is a record setting appearance. I am the only historian to have ever appeared on C-SPAN in my underwear. This is a record to be proud of. It is, perhaps, the kinkiest thing C-SPAN has ever done.” Sure enough, one shot shows Ray in black briefs.

At lunch math professor Jon Becker said he took my Vietnam War class in 1984. He and psychology prof Karl Nelson discussed cell phones being classroom annoyances and students accessing Facebook rather than taking notes. Missing was the normal English department contingent. I noticed that Alan Barr is showing the x-rated “Last Tango in Paris” in his film class, starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.

Talked Toni into making steak sandwiches with mushrooms and onions for dinner. Dave “Duke” Kaminsky bowled for me because I attended the January condo board meeting at Bernie Holicky’s place, where the main issue was whether or not an owner should be allowed to have a whirlpool adjacent to his back deck. Bernie was formerly a librarian at Purdue Calumet. IU was up by seven against Nebraska when I left but lost 70-69.

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