Monday, April 30, 2012

Mr. President


“Obama for mankind
We ready for damn change, so y’all let the man shine
Stuntin’ on Martin Luther ‘cause I’m feelin’ just like a king
Guess this is what he meant when he said he had a dream.”
    Young Jeezy, “Mr. President”

At the annual correspondents dinner President Obama joked that in his second term instead of singing like Reverend Al Green, he’ll be going with Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy.  In a reference to a 2008 Sarah Palin quote and his eating dog meat while a kid in Indonesia, he quipped that the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom is that a pit bull is delicious.  What a classy president.  In desperation Karl Rove’s superpac is criticizing him for being too smugly cool while young people can’t find work – as if the GOP has any programs to help them.  At least Obama is fighting to keep down interest rates on student loans and Obamacare allowed people like Alissa to stay on her dad’s insurance plan.

Ann Bottorff posted a cartoon entitled “Things to Regulate.”  A GOP elephant is pointing to a woman’s body and nodding yes while saying no to a factory benching out smoke.    

I told reporter Don Terry that while Gary is a tough place to grow up, with crime, drugs, poverty, and unemployment, primary bonds of school, church, neighborhood, and family offer foundations for success for those able to take advantage of opportunities for scholarships and internships.  I mentioned some of the athletes, actors, musicians, astronauts, and Nobel laureates who overcame the odds in previous hard times.  Of course, during the 1930s federal policies helped expand opportunity, and what the city really needs is something akin to that or the postwar Marshall Plan for Europe.

Attending the visitation for Leroy Gray at First Church of God in Glen Park, I told his siblings how I loved to talk IU basketball and Dodger baseball with him.  Roosevelt fans, he and Paul Kern got me interested in Gary high school basketball.  The IUN contingent on hand included CFO Marianne Milich, alumni relations director Paulette LaFata-Johnson, former athletic director Linda Anderson, and former dean F.C. Richardson, presently one of the Chancellor’s Associates.  After Bill Lowe took office, F.C. offered to help in any way he could.  I mentioned former director Jack Buhner returning to campus for commencement, and he told me he received a nice note from Buhner when he became chancellor at IU Southeast.  What a remarkable group of African-American professionals IUN once had working on behalf of students, including Leroy in Financial Aid, Ernest Smith in Special Services, Bill Lee in Admissions, Barbara Cope in Student Activities, and her predecessor Charlie Nelms, presently the chancellor at North Carolina Central University. Lee was “Mr. Cool” while Ernest had a slight chip on his shoulder and complained that people often called him Ernie of Bill, mistaking him for his colleague.

James and Becca performed with the Southlake Children’s Choir at Valparaiso University’s chapel.  Becca had an upset stomach beforehand but got through the Spring Concert performance like a trooper.  One of the songs was familiar because it was from the play “Annie.”  Last year I thought the songs too religious and nationalistic, but this year’s lineup included French and African selections.  Former Education professor John Ban had a granddaughter, Mahan, in the choir.

In this the fiftieth anniversary of the SDS Port Huran Statement, author Tom Hayden has a book coming out entitled “Participatory Democracy: The Dream of Port Huran” comparing the student activism of the 1960s to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Hayden is cautiously confident about organizing a progressive majority in the United States similar to 1990s movements that ended dictatorships in Latin America and last year’s Arab Spring.

“Modern American Memoirs” contains excerpts from Malcolm X’s autobiography and Anne Moody’s “Coming of Age in Mississippi.”  Expelled from school for acting up, Malcolm spent a year in a detention home near Lansing, Michigan, before half-sister Ella arranged for him to move in with her in Boston.  Though a good student, teachers laughed at his ambition to become a lawyer.  Had he stayed in Michigan, Malcolm wrote, he probably would have ended up a waiter or shoeshine boy or a “brainwashed black Christian” grabbing a few “crumbs” for himself rather than fighting against an oppressive system.  Anne Moody’s mother begged her to stay clear of civil rights activities that would jeopardized her life in her home town, but with fellow students from Tougaloo College she participated in sit-ins in Jackson, MI, that landed her in jail.

Sunday after three board games (I missed a sweep by losing to Dave by a measly couple hundred dollars after he formed a new company near the end of Acquire) we attended the thirtieth anniversary concert of Rusty Pipes, a group that began when Hobart High alumni participated in a football halftime show at the famed Brickie Bowl.  Many of the participants are senior citizens (how fitting the name), but each year more and more young people join. Dick Hagelberg had a French horn solo in a “Sound of Music” medley.  Other highlights included a John Philip Sousa medley and the William Tell Overture.  Attorney Don Evans was the announcer and in the trumpet section, as was Pat Heckler, the sister of good friend Marianne Brush.  Former director Jay S. Gephart, now a Purdue professor, conducted two numbers, including a Disney medley that the grandchildren especially enjoyed.  Afterwards we had a vegetarian meal at Hagelbergs and played a round of bridge. Cheryl was surprised to see me on the Gary cable access channel being interviewed by Sergeant Stewart.


Anne Balay posted a photo of her with students cross-dressing on the final day of Spring Semester.

I began proofreading the word document of “The Signal” that Henry Farag’s son Ryan sent me.  Somehow he was able to scan each page and convert PDF files to something that eventually can be the basis for an ebook.  It’s quite clean save for spacing and occasional words needlessly hyphenated.  Coincidentally Mike Olszanski is working on a similar project for the “Steelworkers Fight Back” issue.  They both used Adobe Acrobat.

Sent off five copies of “Age of Anxiety” to Naomi Stern, who was an admirer of Kathryn Hyndeman, whose “Jail Diary” is in it.  Naomi told me about a Miller beach incident that occurred several years after the infamous 1949 “Beachhead for Democracy.”  A couple teenagers were harassing a black man who dared go into Lake Michigan when a friend of Naomi’s shamed them by asking, “Didn’t you go to church this morning and learn anything?”

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