Monday, February 6, 2012

Superbowl Weekend

“Do you think?
Is it normal?
To go through life,
Oh so formal?
“Weekend,” Smith Westerns

The first time I heard “Weekend,” on the car radio Friday, I thought the Chicago band called themselves Smith Wesson after the gun manufacturer. Robert Blaszkiewicz included this song from “Dye It Blond” on his Best of 2011 CD. Interlibrary loan books of memoirs keep arriving, including Henry Rollins’s “Get in the Van” about his days with the punk band Black Flag. Also in the mail: page proofs for my TRACES article on Carlton Hatcher that were clean except for a missing comma (my fault) and a question whether African American should be hyphenated when used as an adjective. As always, the magazine has done a great job with the illustrations, which came from daughter Gladys Givan, nephew Charles Wise, and the Michigan City Lighthouse Museum.

I love observing people reading things I wrote. Friday in the Archives a Latino scholar was studying “Forging a Community” and a black woman interested in Gary race-relations was perusing a couple Shavings issues. Having learned from Jonathyne Briggs that Jerry Pierce was in town, I tried but failed to reach him on his cell phone to see if he wanted to go to a micro-brewery in Michigan City.

With Wades in Chicago Saturday, first to Geja Fondue Restaurant (thumbs up) and then for a UP Comedy Club show featuring Garfunkel and Oates (real names Kate Micucci and Riki Lindholme) who interspersed clever, irreverent songs with humorous banter and social commentary. “Weed Card” joked about how easy it was to get a medical marijuana card in California while “Sex with Ducks” was a spoof of an anti-gay comment of Reverend Pat Robertson. Perhaps the funniest two were “My Self-Esteem’s Not Low Enough to Date You” and “Pregnant Woman Are Smug.” After the show they posed for pictures with folks lined up to buy their CD. When I passed them and said, “Great show,” Kate looked me in the eye, smiled, and said, “Thanks for coming.” Tom made me a CD of some of their best songs. For the occasion I wore a tie and sweater over a green dress shirt (Darcey quipped that I took my fashion sense from Rick Santorum) and black socks (Darcey has made fun of my wearing white socks in the past).

Exactly 43 years ago, according to “The Book of American Diaries,” Catholic radical Dorothy wrote in her diary of her misery “at the thought of a drunken priest in our midst” but promised to say a prayer “for all priests with their well-stocked bars.” If only alcoholism was the worst of the sins committed by those using their power to seduce young boys. What would Dorothy have said about that, I wonder? In 1838 Sophie Du Pont wrote this touching entrée: “Particularly do I feel impressed with sadness when looking on a little girl. To be gifted with quick and sensitive feelings, with warm and passionate affections, with genius, with rare talentsperchance – and all this to be crushed and wasted, and borne back upon the heart, till the bitter medicine works at length the healing of the soul. I am sometimes tempted to think with the Indian woman who said, ‘Let not my child be a girl, for very sad is the lot of women.’”

Jeff Manes did a column on private detective Ken Burbridge, who a woman once hired to find out if her suspicious-acting husband was cheating on her. Burbridge discovered that the guy was a drug dealer. The wife was relieved he wasn’t being unfaithful and didn’t seem to mind that he was dealing drugs. The anecdote reminded me of an imprisoned gangland enforcer who during the 1950s began socializing with leftwing political prisoners until his sister warned him that they were a bad influence and hanging around with them could get him into trouble.

Before the Superbowl Tom, Dave, and I got in three games and then after chili I got the grandkids into a Milles Bornes contest. To through the interminable commercials eight of us played a Game Marianne Brush taught us last year of, throwing in quarters, drawing categories, and the first ad after the football action stopped would determine the winner. The best categories to have were cars, beer, and, followed by pop and upcoming movies and TV shows, while food, insurance and clothing hardly came up at all. No Nike ads or McDonald’s commercials, surprisingly. Madonna put on a great halftime show with the help of Cee Lo Green, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, MIA (who flashed the bird, horror of horrors, before the censors could notice) the IU band, and a cast of thousands. The game itself was eerily reminiscent of four years ago when Eli Manning led the Giants to a late winning score thanks to a sensational catch by David Tyree. This time the hero was Mario Manningham.

The director of the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence wants me to talk about local history to Hobart seniors. I said I would. Also got jpegs from niece Niki of her adorable kids Addie and Crosby holding hands and looking at their shadows and from Suzanna Murphy of her latest painting, a snow scene. Nephew Joe had a band to recommend, Death Angel, and Ray Boomhower thanked me for my very few corrections on my Carlton Hatcher article.

Alex Karras’s youngest brother Paul returned my call and had great anecdotes about football pickup games in East Side Park and their 90-pound grandmother Daisy getting after them with a belt when they were late for church choir practice. After her husband died at age 48, Emmiline refused to go on welfare and resumed her career as a nurse.

Garrett Cope introduced me to Charles Gates a student five years my senior who’s friends with former NFL star and actor/director Fred “The Hammer” Williamson. Williamson’s mother is still active at age 90 and someone I should interview. She also evidently helped raise former Gary mayor Rudy Clay.

At the cafeteria Michele Stokely noted that Alan Lindmark, Fred Chary, and I were all supposedly retired and that she doesn’t plan on returning to campus when her turn comes. I said she shouldn’t be so adamant about that and mentioned the WW II drill instructor who told his unit, celebrating their final drill prior to being mustered out of the army, that one day they would look back on their time in uniform with nostalgia as one of the highlights of their lives. As Bill Neil noted, it’s hard to replace the collegiality of academe.

After lunch I attended Alan Barr’s film class to see the 1959 “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” A student had complained about foreign films with subtitles, and Alan explained that to only watch films in English would mean missing the majority of great movies of the past and present. He asked the class to write essays dealing with the connection of memory and time with love. Passing back papers, Alan seemed to know the names of all the students, pretty good for so early in the semester.

In “Hiroshima Mon Amour” French actress Elle (Emmanuelle Riva) is having an affair with Lui (Eiji Okada), a Japanese architect. She reveals that when 19 she fell in love with a German soldier who promised to marry her and take her back to Bavaria. He was shot just a day before her town was liberated, and as punishment partisans cut off her hair and her parents confined her to a cold cellar. While the lovers ruminate over the horror of remembering and forgetting, juxtaposed with them in bed or at a tea room are scenes of victims of America’s atomic bomb and commentary about the meekness of survivors adapting to unimaginable horror. I’d never seen the film before, being myself averse to films with subtitles, but I’m glad I went. Afterwards I emailed Alan: “I wondered if the class realized just how controversial it was in 1959 for movies to include bedroom scenes, shots of radiation victims, or to depict sympathetically a married woman who’d slept with a Nazi soldier and commenced a casual affair with a married man (and an Asian to boot).”

Apparently all the movies Alan Barr selected to show his class deal with breaking sexual boundaries. He reports showing “The Lovers” two weeks ago, where Jeanne Moreau had a one-night-stand, “leaving husband, lover, and daughter agape.” Coming up: “Last Tango in Paris.”

At supper I showed James and Becca the copy of Thomas Smith’s “Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins,” sent to me by Choice magazine, to review, and was impressed that they knew who JFK was and recognized the building on the cover as the White House. They knew what showdown meant but had trouble with the word integration.

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