Friday, March 30, 2012

Political World

“We live in a political world
Love don’t have any place
We live in a time when men commit crime
And crime don’t have a face.”
Bob Dylan, “Political World”

For too many people the face of crime is a young black male dressed in a hoodie. We have over seven times as many inmates incarcerated as any other developed country, according to Time columnist Fareed Zakaria. The reason: idiotic drug laws. Concluding that the war on drugs has been a trillion-dollar failure, he wrote: “In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons vs. $5.7 billion on the UC system and state colleges. Since 1980, California has built one college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 a year.” In the same issue Joe Klein called for an end to the war in Afghanistan.

I took the Corolla for an oil change and ended up getting the $500 full checkup that was due 19,000 miles ago. I’ve been dealing with service manager Tom Klaubo for over 20 years, dating back to when he worked at Merrillville Toyota, and trust him totally.

While waiting for the car, I nearly finished Bob Dylan’s “Chronicles I, including a section about recording the album “Oh Mercy” in New Orleans. He wrote “Political World” while recovering from a nasty hand injury, and he worked well with producer Daniel Lanois although he disappointed him by not having a blockbuster song with some deep revelatory meaning. “Dignity” was inspired by the death of basketball legend Pete Maravich, a true hardwood artist. He mentions that sales were poor and what he was doing was archaic compared to rappers like NWA that were coming to the fore in 1989. Ironically, that year Dylan was on the charts with The Traveling Wilburys and a CD recorded live with the Grateful Dead two years before, on which Dylan sings “All Along the Watchtower,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and five other songs.

Bought a five-dollar cold cut Subway. While the server was wrapping it, quite a few onions and peppers fell off. Last time that happened, I asked the person if she could put the wrapper with the extra stuff in with my sandwich. She looked at me like I was nuts but complied. This time I kept quiet but later regretted not speaking up when I ate half of the sandwich at the Redhawk Café.

House Republicans passed a debt reduction bill that includes greater tax breaks for the rich while pronouncing Obama’s bill to close end tax subsidies to oil companies dead on arrival. Pundits speculated that the Republican activist majority on the Supreme Court will strike down Obamacare. Shame on Chief Justice Roberts if that happens. Scalia used to commerce clause to justify prosecuting someone for growing medical marijuana but thinks using the tax code to penalize someone who won’t buy health insurance an invasion of our liberties. The upcoming Republican primary in Wisconsin is taking place at the same time as the recall vote on the governor. Romney is criticizing Santorum for having opposed right-to-work in Pennsylvania. I hope union members take note and remember that in November.

It was raining hard so I wore a Michigan State hoodie that Alissa bought me. Near where I parked at IUN three workmen all had hoodies on. On March 30, 1840, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Pray what things interest me at present? A long soaking rain, the drops trickling down the stubble, while I lay drenched on a last year’s bed of wild oats by the side of some bare hill, ruminating.”

I looked over my chapters on Gary during the 1920s in preparation for talking to Steve’s class next Tuesday. I wish I’d been at the Orpheum Theater when Clarence Darrow delivered a eulogy for former mayor Thomas E, Knotts or when the Marx Brothers performed there.

Aaron Pigors finished editing my 16-minute tribute to former FACET director David Malik. It will go on the FACET website if Malik approves and might be shown at the May retreat at Pokagon State park. Two days ago I showed the work-in-progress to FACET administrative manager Kim Olivares. The only thing she questioned was where I am in it for a second or two at the 14:40 mark. I actually like that the audience gets the sense that the speakers are talking to someone, namely me.

The State of Indiana hired a private company to take over Gary Roosevelt. At an assembly Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is putting forward a brave face, but I doubt that the new nonunion staff will be that much of an improvement over those losing their jobs. Supposedly the old teachers were too lecture-oriented and the new system will involve more mentoring and interactive exercises. We’ll see. Parents were reassured that there will still be ROTC, a prom, and a sports program.

Cindy Frederick brought files from an organization she belonged to – Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament – to the Archives. Last year I asked Karren Lee if she had the records and she put me on Cindy, an accomplished artist who has shown her work at Lake Street Gallery.

I went to see “Jeff Who Lives at Home starring Jason Segel because the great Susan Sarandon plays his mother. She doesn’t disappoint although the movie is rather lame. I could have enjoyed Susan and Rae Dawn Chong in a few more scenes. Their budding relationship was more interesting than the lives of Susan’s character’s two sons. I have known 30 year-olds who still lived at home, so that plot line is not far-fetched.

The “Final Jeopardy” question was on vice presidents – which state had the most. The answer was New York. Had it just been twentieth-century Veeps, Indiana and Texas would have tied with three. Wilson’s Hoosier vice president Thomas Marshall once said, “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” Bush the Elder’s running mate Dan Quayle famously misspelled potato.

David took his family to the Portage Best Western overnight Friday and we joined them for a steak dinner at Longhorn. Mine came with mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat. I also tasted mashed potatoes with bits of lobster. Nice place. On the way out the hostess addressed me as Dr. Lane – a former student named Stephanie Clemons.

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