Wednesday, March 28, 2012


“I have been crying in my sleep
Cause I don’t know where I’ve been
I just want to live
To see another day.”
“!969,” The Vines

I’ve been listening to The Vines’s 2002 CD “Highly Evolved,” which features their hit “Get Free” and ends with “1969,” the year of Woodstock and hippies tuning in, turning on and dropping out. The Australian band combines a punk style and garage sound with elements of what during the Nineties was called alternative music. They’re sometimes lumped together with other contemporary “The” bands such as The Hives, The Strokes, and The White Stripes. The father of lead singer Craig Nicholls had been in an Elvis cover band called The Vynes.

Tiger Woods finally won a PGA tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which gave me an excuse to talk with Chuck and Gaard Logan. If he doesn’t relapse into old habits, this should make the Masters more interesting.

I spent much of 1969 working on a PhD dissertation. Several Maryland buddies that I hope to see next week at Ray Smock’s Distinguished Alumni Lecture demonstrated at the Nixon counter-inaugural in Washington, D.C. Later that year my adviser Sam Merrill participated with us at the Vietnam Moratorium rally. Things went sour as the decade ended with Manson, Altamont, Chappaquiddick, Afros, Days of Rage, and the inevitable backlash that produced the so-called Silent Majority, Time’s people of the year. Recently high school classmate Pat Zollo posted a photo of Fort Washington firemen marching in a 1969 parade. Though not, in all likelihood, lefties or hippies, Stu Pennypacker has a nice beard and Bob Amy a bushy mustache. At least the spirit of the Sixties proliferated in fashion.

Talked about “Blue Velvet” with Brian O,Camb, a big David Lynch fan who promised to loan me “Mulholland Drive.” Interestingly, Roger Ebert panned the movie when it first came out for its campiness and exploitation of actress Isabella Rossellini, who was in several sexually explicit scenes. When Dennis Hopper was breathing into a device, it was a simulation of taking helium, only if that were the case, his voice afterwards would have sounded like Daffy Duck. Now that would have been campy.

After 244 years the Encyclopedia Britannica is halted production of its print edition, a casualty of the Internet and specifically Wikipedia. We got much use over the years out of a cheaper set, but the only use I have made of it recently is its maps.

In a lecture entitled “Justinian’s men: Ethnic Identity in the Early Byzantine Empire” History Department candidate David Parnell discussed the so-called barbarians who served in Justinian’s army. Parnell was personable, well-organized, and comfortable answering a variety of queries (usually starting with the comment, “Good question,” not a bad way to stroke the questioner and buy a little time). He used the word “trope” several times, meaning, I guess, example. It’s the new buzzword, like paradigm once was – or paradox. Among Justinian’s accomplishments was a legal code and construction of the Hagia Sophia, a cathedral I visited in Istanbul 12 years ago. I asked what he would say in class about women when discussing Justinian’s reign; he mentioned the importance of Empress Theodora, who evidently was somewhat of a feminist and important in bringing about more religious toleration. Thandabantu Iverson, representing the Diversity office, asked the best question and thanked Parnell for delivering such an enlightening talk. He’s a class act.

Chancellor Lowe is holding Town Hall meetings next week to discuss such matters as the budget and diversity. I’ll be in Maryland. I wouldn’t have gone anyway, being retired. Lowe gets high marks for reaching out to campus groups and the community. Our best chancellors acquired an understanding of the Region and its history and peculiarities. Jack Buehner lived a block from campus, stressed community service, and frequently had open houses for students and faculty. President John Ryan made sure his hand-picked selection Dan Orescanin hung out at the County Lounge, a watering hole for political muckety-mucks. Peggy Elliott taught at Horace Mann and was on intimate terms with area legislators and many alumni. Hilda was good with Gary groups and Bruce Bergland could hobnob with suburbanites, but they pretty much remained outsiders to other constituencies.

I picked up my reserved copy of “Mockingjay” at the Chesterton library. As the final book in the Suzanne Collins trilogy begins, District 12 has been wiped out but Katniss and her family are safe in the underground city comprising District 13. I’m ten pages in and already hooked.

On Facebook Dean Bottorff writes from Rapid City, South Dakota: “One of the perks you get when developing property is that you get to name the new streets. If the county approves the valley will have three new street names: Dean Street, Ackerman Road and Dawg Street.” I suggested that he consider Jimbo Lane.

AWLI (Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative) executive director Michael Boos sent along four testimonials to his organization that he expects to work into his book. He also sent them to CURE director Ellen Szarleta, who must be involved in the project. Because Wolf Lake abuts both Illinois and Indiana, Boos has had to work hard to foster bi-state cooperation.

The condo board met to discuss whether owners can have hot tubs on or near their deck in the so-called common area. The issue is a thorny one that probably won’t go away.

Sylvia Plath was a strange duck. In 1958, five years before she killed herself she spotted a fire and was disappointed no lives were in danger. She ruminated in her diary: “What unleashed desire there must be in one for general carnage. I walk around the streets, braced and ready and almost wishing to test my eye and fiber on tragedy – a child crushed by a car, a house on fire, someone thrown into a tree by a horse. Nothing happens: I walk the razor’s edge of jeopardy.” Often the radio traffic reporter will mention a “gapers block,” referring to drivers slowing down to get a better look at accident victims.

Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush put on a hoodie under his suit in remembrance of Trayvon Martin and presiding Congressman Gregg Harper of Mississippi ruled him out of order when he put the hood over his head and had the Sergeant of Arms escort him from the chamber as he was reading from the Bible

A Dominguez for Commissioner Committee fundraiser took place at the Halls of Justice building in Crown Point. I drove around the courthouse square a couple times before getting my bearings. After getting a warm greeting from Roy, I sat with Archives volunteer David Mergl until I spotted a familiar face – Lynette Jones, one of my favorite students, who a couple years ago invited me to her fortieth birthday party. She has a law degree and is human resources manager for the Majestic Star casino. Last year she ran for office in Merrillville and is hoping to do so again. We talked about some of her favorite teachers, including Gary Martin and DeeDee Ige. Lynette was sitting next to Andy Sylwestrowicz, a candidate for Lake County Recorder, who had a marine corps pin on and was very affable. In his remarks Roy reminded me of Richard Hatcher the way he had something nice to say about most of the people in the room and was particularly proud of his many family members, including his mother Inocensia. He mentioned missing his father, who frequently advised: “Remember, it’s about the people.” Then he got a laugh saying he saw his father every day when he looked in the mirror since as he aged he resembled him in appearance more and more. I got a hand after he told the crowd about my role in helping with his autobiography “Valor.” He got the crowd fired up talking about the importance of Regional economic development and the need to end no-bid contracts that wasted so much of the taxpayers’ money. Roy’s wife Betty gave me a hug and thanked me for my work on “Valor.”

Stopped at Cressmoor Lanes to pick up my ball since the place will close for the summer and to check on the team. The Engineers were losing the first game by a hundred pins in the ninth, as one of the McCann brothers was working on seven strikes in a row. Duke said that seven- and ten-pins were killing us. Turned the Bulls game on in the car and they promptly went on an eleven-point run. The Michiganders stayed overnight on their way to a vacation in Cancun.

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