Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Beat Goes On

“I don't give a hoot about what people have to say
I'm laughin' as I'm analyzed
Lunatics Anonymous, that's where I belong
Sure, cause I am one, till my strength is gone.”
The Kings

At a Hobart Jaycees Fest prior to an appearance by the Smithereens, a deejay was asking trivia questions. One had to do with a band with two number one hits that appeared back to back on their album. By knowing it was the Kings with “This Beat Goes On” and “Switchin’ To Glide” I won. Expecting a Smithereens’ CD, instead I got one from an unknown and best forgotten group. In the chorus to “Switchin’ to Glide” at one point it sounds like “Switchin’ to Guys.”

During the 1960s the Sonny and Cher hit “Beat Goes On” mentioned things that never changed, such as “boys keep chasing girls to get a kiss” and “men still keep on marching off to war.” Approval of the ten-year war in Afghanistan is below 40 percent, but still the beat goes on. Most Afghan civilians evidently hate us, and, shades of Vietnam, we are supporting a corrupt regime. Soldiers have peed on dead guerrillas, burned numerous Qur’ans, and most recently someone on his fourth overseas tour of duty went berserk and killed 16 civilians. It’s time to declare victory and get the hell out.

I gave two tickets to Roy Dominguez’s upcoming fundraiser to Dave Mergl, who had given me a top-quality briefcase purchased from Richard’s of Toto in North Judson, a discount store featuring overrun merchandise that he highly recommended. He’s been to other functions of the former sheriff.

Aaron Pigors sent me a copy of his work-in-progress video honoring IUN Vice-Chancellor David Malik that FACET may air at the annual May retreat. This year it is at the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park. I made a couple minor suggestions, but it looks great. It made use of interviews I did with FACET members including founder Eileen Bender and Chick Gallmeier.

A woman who recently learned that her great-uncle was a defendant in the 1930 Arlene Draves rape-murder case wanted more info. Since she already read the account in my Gary book, I had little to add. After Eugene Kirkland, the main culprit, got off with a ridiculously light sentence due to faulty rulings by the judge, the prosecutor dropped charges against his accessories. Just a few days ago I received a request for info about the 1949 Mary Cheever murder case that triggered a women’s crusade to rid Gary of vice elements.

I finished “Catching Fire,” which is quite similar to Collins’s “The Hunger games” except more political. It also serves as a teaser for getting readers to read the third book in the trilogy, “Mockingjay.” There were some rather shocking death and torture scenes and the inevitable love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. “The Hunger Games” movie opens at midnight and the soundtrack CD is on sale at Target for $9.99, less than the price of two and a half gallons of gas.

George Bodmer posted a photo on Facebook of his daughter voting for the first time. Pretty cool. Romney won the Illinois primary by 12 percent over Santorum by flooding the state (and Northwest Indiana since we get the Chicago stations) with negative ads. He still didn’t win over the ultra-conservatives, so the beat goes on.

After two mediocre games I rolled a 196 and the Engineers won a game and series from The Big Hurt. Nice guy Bob Sheid struggled all night except for a stretch where he had four strikes in a row. Letterman’s “Top Ten” category was questions rarely asked car salesman. The best, referring to what Romney allegedly did with his pet, was, “Can my dog ride comfortably on the roof?” The musical guest Oberhofer was worth waiting up for, as they did “Away From U.”

About 35 folks showed up for my “Age of Anxiety” performance at the Reiner Senior Center in Hobart, including John and Doris Ban, the boys’ former teacher Mr. Bodnar with his mother, and Tom Croll, a friend of Carrol Vertrees who still has a bullet in his head from combat during WW II. I asked him to read lines from an interview I did with Vertrees, and Tom said, “I had breakfast with him an hour ago.” Bob Fulton, who I hadn’t seen in 30 years, introduced himself. We were mutual friends of Tom and Dominic Pancini and played softball together. When I brought up events that took place at Memorial Auditorium, a woman who had been valedictorian at Emerson talked about leading the procession of Gary high school graduates that paraded down Broadway prior to the ceremony. Karl Malden’s name came up, and a woman mentioned that he was on the cover of the current issue of Traces and that there was also an interesting article in it about Carlton Hatcher. “I wrote that article,” I interjected. Afterwards a lady from the Hammond Historical Society asked whether I’d talk to that group.

Beforehand I had a strawberry blintz for breakfast prepared in honor of recently deceased former mayor Margaret Kuchka and met IUN student Kristina Kuzma, who is interning at the center. She recalled me speaking in Nicole Anslover’s Sixties class and giving away copies of my Vietnam Vets Shavings issue. Jim Chancellor, whose interview is a highlight of volume39, was her softball coach at Lowell. Kristina is graduating in May, and Sandra Hall Smith from SPEA and I both encouraged her to go through the graduation ceremony at the Genesis Center.

I arrived at IUN in time for the Wellness “Salad-bration.” Unfortunately I missed the lecture by History candidate Martina Saltamacchia entitled “A Prince, a Merchant, and a Prostitute: Three Builders of the Milan Cathedral.” Jean Poulard said she was impressive. I’m also sorry I missed the morning session of the Women’s and Gender Studies Conference that included a paper on Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth,” one of my favorite novels.

I did get to hear the Conference keynote speech by State Representative Linda Lawson, a former student and the first woman police officer in Hammond. She was riveting talking about Republican efforts at disempowering women in Indiana by passing the right to work law and attempting to defund Planned Parenthood. A state legislator for 14 years, she noted that the era of bipartisanship is over now that the radical right has taken over the Republican Party. The audience appreciated her impassioned defense of Lake County against downstate critics who seem bent of destroying public schools and public agencies that protect women and the poor. She warned that Congressman Mike Pence, a Republican candidate for governor, has truly dangerous views and that Criminal Justice majors in the audience going into police work are in for a rough time if Republicans continue to gut programs that provide a safety net for the poor. Linda got a well-deserved standing ovation.

In his journal writer Clifford Odets wrote on March 22, 1940, about a boarder at his aunt and uncle’s house, Mr. Goodman, who was a shirt cutter: “A writer looks at your face, a cobbler at your shoes. Naturally Goodman looks at your shirts. As I shook his hand in greeting, he said, ‘Three and a half dollars.’”

Michigan State, my pick in the NCAA pool, couldn’t buy a basket early and lost to Louisville. My slim hopes rest with Syracuse, which barely survived against Wisconsin. Meanwhile, go Hoosiers. Nephew Bobby, an IU grad, started a new job and hasn’t kept up with the tournament but said he’d be watching tomorrow to see if they can upset Kentucky again.

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