Monday, January 30, 2012


“These children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through.”
“Changes,” David Bowie

“Changes” first appeared on the 1971 David Bowie album “Hunky Dory” and came out as a single in 1972, the same year as the classic “Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” The most famous songs on the latter are “Suffragette City” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” Bowie as his androgynous persona Ziggy Stardust adorns the latest “Rolling Stone” cover. His American musical influences included Little Richard, Gene Vincent, and, most of all, glam rocker Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground. Born David Jones in London in 1947, he changed his name because it was the same as the Monkees’ frontman and settled on Bowie after the knife named for frontiersman Jim Bowie. Like Lady Gaga today, Bowie appealed to troubled souls, GLBTs, and others unfairly labeled misfits. As an antidote to songs of “darkness and disgrace,” Ziggy “came on proud, “so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan.” Marsha Andrejevich first turned me on to Bowie, also a favorite of my nephew Chad Donahue, whom I called after putting on my old vinyl copy.

Bowie did his last concert as Ziggy in 1973, the year featured Saturday on WXRT. In a single set I heard Mott the Hoople’s “All the Way from Memphis” (a tribute to the roots of Rock and Roll) as well as ZZTop’s “La Grange,” Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run,” and Jackson Browne’s “Take It Easy,” better than the more famous Eagles version. Also heard reports on the 3-11 1973 Chicago Bears coached by the avuncular Abe Gibron (my friend Clark Metz knew him well) and quarterbacked by the strong-armed but erratic Bobby Douglas and the year in TV with “Laugh-In” axed and the Watergate hearings live on all networks and constituting the first reality show.

In the “Farewell” section of “Deadline Artists” are noteworthy columns on Babe Ruth by Grantland Rice, on Earnest Hemingway by Jimmy Cannon, and a more acerbic take on the elder Richard Daley by Sun-Times columnist Mike Royko, who wrote that “hizzoner” embodied the Windy City both at its best (“strong, hard-driving, working feverishly, pushing, building”) and at its worst (“arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant”). Royko also wrote “John Wayne’s True Grit.” The columnist may not have liked Wayne’s politics, especially during the Vietnam War, but his movies made him feel good.

Saturday Toni made stuffed peppers for when the Hagelbergs came over for bridge. Sunday we split a Subway Philly Cheese Steak I picked up after gaming at Dave’s. The Heat beat the Bulls despite Rose’s 34 points, and in the crowd was the son (Carmani) of Bulls starter Carlos Boozer rooting for Miami (or at least chanting, perhaps without realizing what he was doing, “Let’s Go Heat”). IU scored over a hundred points in its victory over Iowa at Assembly Hall. If only the Hoosiers could win on the road.

Forty-five years after the famous blizzard of 1967 the weather is balmy with no snow predicted in the near future (knock on wood). Mike Certa an IUN student then, recalled being stuck sleeping in the theater and raiding the lunchroom, at that time located in the lone building on campus. By the second day all that was left were hot dogs. That May IUN held its first commencement as a four-year institution.

The Post-Trib reported on the area’s worst rail crossings, including “most hazardous” and “most inconvenient.” One was on Fifteenth Street in Chesterton, where some 170 trains per day stop traffic. I’ve been stopped for 15 minutes at the one on Broadway between 40th and 41st in Gary’s Glen Park neighborhood. One thing I don’t miss about Miller is waiting for trains – sometimes two or three at a time and occasionally one at a complete stop) to cross County Line Road.

Actor William Marshall’s daughter Gina Loring supplied me with the phone number of Marshall’s cousin Nell Kendrick, an octogenarian who lives in St. Francis, Wisconsin. She just got out of the hospital but gamely answered a few questions and welcomed my writing her with other queries. Her father was Dr. William Marshall, a baby doctor and the brother of dentist Vereen Marshall, the actor’s father. I also emailed director/producer Mark Spencer of West Side Theater Guild in hopes of having Gina Loring perform in Gary. Years ago, Garrett Cope was at a weeklong retreat in Wisconsin. Marshall was making a special guest appearance as abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and Cope applied Marshall’s make-up prior to the performance. “He brought his own make-up, but I had the honor of putting it on. He was very friendly,” Cope recalled when I caught up with him in the classroom across from the Archives. It’s the one I’ll be using in the fall.

Three diary anthologies arrived via interlibrary loan. The most promising in terms of using it in the Fall is “Private Pages: Diaries of American Women, 1830s-1970s, edited by Penelope Franklin. Oddly, the excerpts do not appear in chronological order; instead they are arranged according to the age of the writer. One of the most poignant is by 19 year-old Japanese-American Kate Tomibe, interned during WW II at Tule Lake Relocation Center. Appearing last is the earliest one by septuagenarian Deborah Norris Logan, who lived in Germantown, Pennsylvania, now a part of Philadelphia and whose last entries document her declining health. At one point she wrote: “The habit of writing in a diary has become so familiar that I seem lost without resorting to it.” Understandable.

“The Book of American Diaries,” edited by Randall and Linda Patterson Miller, takes a day-to-day approach. For January 30, for instance, there are short entries by Richard Henry Dana, Mark Twain, and Theodore Dreiser (complaining that Southerners are “peaked, whiny, suspicious, jealous, touchy – an offensive company”)

Here’s a January 31, 1711, entry by Virginia planter William Byrd: “I rose at 5 o’clock and read two chapters in Hebrew and some Greek in Lucian. I said my prayers and ate boiled milk for breakfast. My wife quarreled with me about not sending for Mrs. Dunn when it rained [to lend her John]. She threatened to kill herself but had more discretion.” Later Byrd’s wife “came into good humor again” and made him “battered eggs” for supper, washed down with cider. Before retiring Byrd “said my prayers and had good health, good thoughts, and good humor, thank God Almighty.”

Perhaps because I’ll be teaching again, I had a dream where I totally forgot about one of my classes until the last week of the semester. Other teach nightmares: having no students show up for your class – or students are paying absolutely no attention to you.

I was happy that “Hugo,” Martin Scorcese’s tribute to the birth of the film industry, was at a movie theater near us in Valparaiso. When it first came out, I thought it was animated and skipped it. It’s up for 11 Academy Awards and deserved so. We saw it in 3-D; I had my doubts but the glasses fit nicely over my spectacles. The opening ten minutes is an overture without dialogue setting the scene, circa 1931, at the Paris train station. Johnny Depp makes a cameo appearance as a guitar player. Sacha Baron Cohen is a riot as a gung ho station inspector on the prowl for orphans to lock up. The main point of the story is the need for one to find a purpose in life, and one of the heroes is a music historian.

Angie and the kids came for dinner (spaghetti) and I watched the Bulls beat the Wizards before falling asleep in good humor, excited to be planning a Fall History course, and in apparent good health (a line my mentor William H. Harbaugh once used in a letter to me not long before he died).

Anne Balay recommended that I read Piper Kerman’s “Orange is the New Black,” an autobiographical account of being incarcerated in Danbury (CT) federal prison for a year. Shortly after graduating from Smith College the author delivered a large amount of money to a drug kingpin. Ten years later someone came knocking at her door and charged her with smuggling and money laundering. Fellow inmates included an aging pacifist, the wife of a Russian gangster, but mainly nonwhite victims of the country’s idiotic drug laws. Despite frequent strip searches and other humiliations, life in the minimum-security penitentiary wasn’t so horrible so much as mind numbing and senseless.

No comments:

Post a Comment