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?”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Other America

“I got the message on my machine
The party starts at 10:15
So tell me, can you give me a ride?
Drop what you’re doing and meet me outside.”
    The Donnas, “Gimme a Ride

Ron Cohen mentioned that a party is in the works celebrating Tanice Foltz’s promotion to full professor.  Last year Vice Chancellor David Malik presented her with the Founders Day teaching award.  Since she loves to dance, I may give her a Donnas CD.  My favorite is 2001’s “The Donnas Turn 21.”  Chris Young also was promoted and awarded tenure.  Ron spent last weekend at a history conference in Milwaukee and ran into former Marylanders Dave Goldfield and Don Ritchie as well as Ray Mohl, whom I replaced at IUN 42 years ago when he got another job based on his publications on the history of Gary. 

Ron also gave me an excerpt from Michael Bronski’s “A Queer History of the United States” that discusses the “romantic” friendship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette and between a James Hervey Bingham and Daniel Webster, who wrote: “Yes, James, I must come; we will yoke together again; your little bed is just wide enough; we will practice at the same bar, and be as friendly a pair of single fellows as ever cracked a nut.”

Maryland professor Ira Berlin thanked me for the Shavings volume I sent him for the Merrill Seminar room and added: “Good to meet you at Ray [Smock]'s Distinguished Alumni lecture--yes, Ray again distinguished himself. Your warm eulogy for Marian and memories of Sam fit exactly with my own memories. Look forward to seeing you at the next alumni lecture and hope you will consider giving one yourself.”  What an honor that would be.

Eighty years ago H.L. Mencken had lunch with F. Scott Fitzgerald (named for second cousin Francis Scott Key) and observed: “He is a charming fellow, and when sober makes an excellent companion.  Unfortunately, liquor sets him wild and he is apt, when drunk, to knock over a dinner table, or run his automobile into a bank building.”

Last time I went to post on my blog, the format had changes, leaving me confused on a number of counts, including how to edit previous posts.  Thankfully librarian Scott Hudnall came to my rescue, not only with editing but making the background of my site more attractive and showing me how to add photos and even things from YouTube.  I immediately added a photo of Dave’s old band LINT as well as a Shoes’ “Hate to Run” video to my “White Wedding” post.  Scott was very patient with me, having me do the procedures rather than just doing them himself.

Ron Trigg, who has donated material to the Archives pertaining to the Town of Porter, is writing a manuscript about his experiences as a traveler and diplomat in Africa and wanted advice on finding a publisher.  I made some inquiries on his behalf since I’m confident the project has great merit.

On historian Paul O’Hara’s recommendation Don Terry, a Chicagoan who writes for the New York Times, wants to interview me about the decline of Gary for an “American Prospect” Chicagoan who writes for the New York Times magazine article commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Michael Harrington’s “The Other America.”

IUN’s Marketing department put out a moving announcement concerning Leroy Gray’s death.  Former registrar Pete Kesheimer called him “one of the kindest, friendliest people that you would ever hope to meet” who “would go to any lengths” to help students.  Leroy, who was born the same month as I (February 1942), was a huge IU fan, and as a joke at Leroy’s retirement reception Pete got a big laugh when he took off a trench coat to reveal that he was wearing a sweatshirt from the University of Kentucky, IU’s big rival.

I emailed Jerry Pierce that the History department’s old stomping grounds, Tamarack Hall has finally been razed and underneath the structure was a foul body of water with toads, fish and muck.  When we’d have a heavy rain, foul-smelling liquid would spew out of the water fountain near my office.  Jerry recalled the hallway discussions and wrote: “I distinctly remember during the 2004 election when Kerry conceded I heard a loud ‘Goddammit’ from your office.”  Ohio Republicans stole the Buckeye State by making it virtually impossible for students to vote.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

White Wedding

“It’s a nice day for a white wedding
It’s a nice day to start again.”
  Billy Idol

Drove to Lafayette for the wedding of Brittany Bunte and Hans Rees, who we’ve known since he was in a high school band, LINT, with Dave.  Since guitarists Jim Satkoski came in from California and Erick Orr from Arizona, during the reception LINT did a reunion set featuring songs by the Ramones, Sex Pistols, REM, Billy Joel, and The Cramps.  Near the end Dave announced that the next one was going out to his dad (me). “Hate to Run” by the Shoes ended with a tremendous drum finale by Hans.  Five other acts performed, including Frank Muffin, featuring Hans and Brittany (who looked beautiful in a white dress) and five others, including a banjoist and horn section.  Hans wore a green vest under his formal suit and a green clip-on tie (Toni helped him put it on) identical to the men in the wedding party, seemed very happy.  Hans’s two kids stayed overnight with Dave, Angie, Becca, and James in a two-room suite and had breakfast with us.   James and 14 year-old Graham (named for Graham Parker whom I turned Hans onto) stayed up till 3 a.m. playing a video game.  I pigged out on the buffet and didn’t eat anything else the rest of the day except for a small bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Jonathyne Briggs loaned me a documentary about the Flaming Lips called “The Fearless Freaks: The Life and Times of an American Invention??” Wayne Coyne and the group started out as a no-talent (his words) punk band and evolved into one of the most original and long-lasting groups of their time.  One person described them as “Yes meets the Sex Pistols.”  Lead singer Wayne Coyne has led a fascinating life and seems like a person who would make a great friend.  He is quoted as saying, “A couple hundred years ago we probably would’ve been pirates, or something.  We would’ve got on some ship and sailed off somewhere and met a bunch of crazy [people and did some crazy things.”  One subplot in the documentary is bandmate Steve Drozd’s battle to get off heroin.  Many of Coyne’s songs are about death, but performed in a fun, birthday party-like atmosphere in live psychedelic concerts and on their music videos.

Monday was grandparents’ day at Discovery Charter School. Becca’s class used balloons and paper-mâché to make objects that kids will later turn into globes of earth. James’s teacher sent groups on a scavenger hunt where at each station we took photos.  Afterwards the teacher made CDs for each set of grandparents.  Impressive. At the school was former Porter Acres softball teammate Sam Johnston, whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years, with his wife and twin granddaughters. 

In Michigan for Miranda’s soccer game: She scored a goal and assisted on the other in a 2-1 victory for Park against Rogers. Next year the two Wyoming schools will combine into one, so it was the final contest between the two rivals.  Afterwards Chinese food at Phil’s we spent the night at Alissa and Josh’s apartment.  Their young dog Jerry can leap a good four feet in the air.  Josh recently put this on Facebook: “Step 1 to dressing like a grownup: iron your dress shirts.”

Learned in Roger Crowley’s “City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas” that around 1200 Crusaders led by Enrico Dandolo, Venice’s blind, 90 year-old doge, sacked Constantinople rather than try to take back Jerusalem.  Among the spoils taken back to Venice were bronze horses from the Hippodrome, which still adorn St. Mark’s Basilica.  The treachery resulted in riches for the city and a 300-year period of imperial glory for the avaricious, enterprising “lagoon dwellers” who made a living by trade. 

The Blackhawks are out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the Flyers eliminated Pittsburgh and will have my complete allegiance.  The White Sox have won four straight and rookie pitcher Philip Humber hurled a perfect game.  Chicago might have at least one decent team.  The Cubs are 5-11 and have the least home runs of any major league team.

Former Financial Aid director Leroy Gray died.  He started at the campus in 1970, same year as me, and was a Dodger fan because that team was the first with African-American players, not just Jackie Robinson but numerous others including pitchers Don Newcombe and Joe Black as well as Roy Campanella and Sandy Amoras.  In poor health a couple years ago Leroy seemed hale and hearty last week at the credit union.  Once Leroy patiently talked to a student for over an hour who then went to the bursar’s window trying to get Leroy’s decision overruled.  Normally the most even-tempered guy in the world, when he saw what she was doing, he lit into her verbally.

 “Mad Men” episodes are now set in the year 1966.  Civil rights is in the forefront.  Peggy has a lesbian friend and a counter-culture activist boyfriend. In the latest one of the partners drops acid, for god’s sake.

Two trials are in the news.  Former Presidential candidate John Edwards has been accused of violating campaign finance laws to support a woman who had his child.  What he did was no worse than what FDR, JFK, and others have done, and going after Edwards seems a waste of money.  More horrific is the case of Chicagoan William Balfour, accused of killing singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother, and seven year-old nephew Julian (nicknamed Juice Box).  Estranged from Jennifer’s sister, Jennifer’s brother-in-law supposedly had threatened to kill family members on several previous occasions.

For the Final Jeopardy category “Women’s Firsts” the question had to do with what cabinet post Juanita Krebs held under Jimmy Carter.  The first person knew it was Secretary of Commerce and doubled her score to $12,000.  The second person was incorrect and ended with $12,001.  Had the third person missed, she would have ended with $11,999 – and just two dollars would have separated the contestants, but she got it right.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dick Clark

Well, I saw Uncle John with bald head Sally
He saw Aunt Mary comin’ and he ducked back in the alley.”
“Long Tall Sally,” Little Richard

Dick Clark passed away at age 82. The host of “American Bandstand” during my teen years, he appeared ageless until he suffered a stroke eight years ago. At least two reports claimed that he introduced Americans to Elvis Presley, which I was 99 percent certain was false. Sure enough, Phil Arnold mentioned on his Elvis blog that Clark’s biggest regret was not having Elvis, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones on his show. Matt Lauer asked one of his friends about the charge that Dick favored bland imitations of true roll and roll rather than the genuine thing, teen idols over rhythm and blues great, but thanks to him I was introduced to Little Richard, Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns and many other black artists who were able to cross over into the mainstream. A Philadelphia suburbanite, I was never on his show but attended a dance at Willow Grove amusement park where he brought along local singer Mary Swan, whom he also promoted. I danced with her briefly until someone else cut in. I still have a .45 of Mary singing “My Heart Belongs to Only You” on Clark’s Swan label, so I contributed in a tiny way to Clark becoming one of the wealthiest men in show business. Alas, poor Mary Swan’s career never took off.

Phil Arnold shared this memory with his readers: “In 1960, when I headed off to college, American Bandstand was a huge national hit. I spent my freshman year at one of Penn State’s commonwealth campuses in the little town of Mont Alto. By chance, I ended up with a roommate also named Phil. He was from Philadelphia, right down in the city, not out in the burbs like me. Within walking distance of our campus was a state park with a picnic area featuring a large wooden pavilion. Every Saturday night, they held dances there, and lots of local girls showed up. Phil and I both loved to dance, so we never missed a Saturday night dance at the pavilion. I remember the first night overhearing Phil talking to a pretty girl. He told her his name and said he was from Philadelphia. Immediately, the girl’s eyes widened and she said, “Oh, have you been on American Bandstand?” Phil replied, “Oh, yeah. Lots of times.” That did it. Phil had hooked his girl for the night. When I got the chance, I asked him if he had really been on Bandstand. He winked and said, “Nah, but it worked, didn’t it?” Later, I tried to get something going with a cute little blond. When I told her I was from Philadelphia, she reacted just like the other girl, “Have you been on American Bandstand?” You can guess what my answer was. So, thank you, Dick Clark, for your part in making my first social experience in college a success.”

Leafing through the Spring/Summer issue of Spirits, which I picked up the other day, I found an art piece called “Thunderbird” by Seamus McColly (Fred’s son and Sarah’s brother), who penned this blurb about himself: “His future goal is to write comic books. He tends to draw a lot, and when time and resources allow, he makes puppets.” How charming. Editor-in-chief Mariah Hamang contributed two excellent poems one, “Still Just East of Gary” about an old two-room apartment with “stained, sagging floors” and memories of “every lonely tenant’s lingering dharma.” In “The Professor” Mariah writes” “Your tag is flapped out of your casual flannel denim on Monday, probably from your latest encounter with a urinal, although you have a great head of coarse, silver hair, and a very fashionable PhD.”

I spent most of Thursday morning watching a 1989 interview I did with Jack Buhner, who headed IUN for 15 years beginning in 1954 and who is returning next month to participate in an unveiling of a time capsule, discovered when the campus’s first building, Gary Main (Tamarack Hall) was demolished. I jotted down the times for seven short quotes, which hopefully will be included in a short documentary about the early days of the Glen Park campus.

Jonathyne Briggs loaned me a documentary about the Flaming Lips entitled “Fearless Freaks.” I was wearing a t-shirt Jim Migoski gave me featuring goalie helmets of the Flyers and Penguins. Jon was surprised and disappointed I was a Philadelphia fan until I told him where I grew up.

Final Jeopardy was tricky. The category was, “He was President When . . . .” The event was the Jets winning Superbowl III. I knew it was LBJ, as did just one contestant, while a rival answered Nixon, who assumed office January 20, 1969, eight days later.

I skimmed through to the last chapters of “Mockingjay,” which did not hold my interest like Suzanne Collins’s first two books. Still I was eager to find out how the saga ended.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Port of Morrow

“It’s my time to shine
Do it my way.”
“Shine,” The Used

According to Google, here are just some other recording artists who have put out a song called “Shine”: Soul Asylum, David Gray, Collective Soul, Hilary Duff, John Legend, Newsboys, Dirty Heads, Clay Aiken, and Keith Urban. While picking up The Used’s new CD “Vulnerable,” I also bought The Shins’s “Port of Morrow.” The Best Buy checkout lady inquired skeptically, “Are these for you?” She liked both groups but preferred The Used’s earlier stuff.

Jerry Davich wrote: “Another local soldier is returning home in a casket... this one is Sgt. David Nowaczyk... of Dyer... killed by an enemy IED in Afghanistan. Officially he died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom but personally I have written this company line too many times for too many NWI soldiers whose homecoming was in a body bag with flag-draped reasoning.” Carol Moore responded: “England learned, Russia learned, now it's our turn. Afghanistan is not a place to occupy. The Afghanis (even those with issues) seem to present a united front against outsiders. We need to bring our troops home!”

Center for Urban and Regional Excellence director Ellen Szarleta held a luncheon session to discuss landscape arrangements for the space where Tamarack Hall used to be. Kathy Malone and I want a monument commemorating that it was the site of IUN’s first building, originally called Gary Main. A group pushing for a pavilion and Native American garden made a presentation. Physical plant representative Tim Johnson remarked that the original plans lacked spigots with which to water the various plants.

Mike Olszanski created PDFs of the front and back cover of “Steelworkers Fight Back.” Hoping to do the entire Shavings issue (volume 30) that we edited together, he writes: “The rest will take time, and figuring out how to use this machine. But there is no magic involved. We have the technology. The task is not unreasonable.” If he is successful, maybe we can also do other out-of-print volumes and put them on kindle or a website.

Spirits contributors did readings Monday and Tuesday at the IUN Gallery. The theme of the current issue is deconstruction; on the cover is a photo of an abandoned building in Gary. The literary magazine is a Region treasure. George Bodmer’s poem “Reading T’ang (China 618-907) Poetry While on vacation in Florida” contains these lines: “My parents stumble and prop each other up as they go; we all learn only awkwardly to deal with our age, moving into adulthood and beyond.” The poem could have been titled “Port of Morrow.” Co-editor Jennifer Thompson was poised and self-confident reading a short story about getting rid of an abusive husband. Professor Bill Buckley, who helped launch Spirits and whose poems grace several Shavings issues, introduced her to me as one of his best ever students. She keeps several journals, and I encouraged her to take my fall course. I am using my “Ides of March 2003” issue, which I titled “Backlit” – from the title of a Buckley poem entitled “Backlit: Lake Michigan 2003” that begins: “Backlit from a gold moon this night/ I hear lake-waves loud as seas/ Off a breaker wall, like slipping gravel.”

Beamer posted a photo of a 747 carrying Discovery space shuttle to Dulles Airport on its way to the Smithsonian, writing: “Here we see the rare mating habits of the Orbiter” and predicting it would produce “Soyuz Capsules.” I responded that the 747 appeared to be smiling. Beamer’s guest bedrooms are designated the Viagra and Cialis rooms with posters, etc., that drug companies sent to his dad, a family practitioner in Thurmont, MD. Beamer joked that when he finds ticks, he takes them to a gas burner and offers them as a sacrifice to R’Hllor, the Red God of light, heat, and life in the Essos region in “Game of Thrones.” Good stuff, or as his dad put it, “Spot on.”

Marty Bohn and Corey Hagelberg emailed me artwork for a possible pictorial essay in the upcoming issue of South Shore Journal. Marty’s are realistic photos while Corey’s are black and white and more symbolic. I may interview them about their craft and participation in Miller Beach Pop Up Art events.

I had an early breakfast of raisin toast, bacon, and hard boiled eggs (from a batch dyed at Easter) and attended the 8:30 talk by Amy Bosworth, the final candidate for the medieval position. She spoke knowledgeably about “The Cult of Saints in the Ninth-Century Carolingian World.” Excellent in recreating a world I knew little about, she stressed that the function of venerating saints was political and social as well as religious. The brisk trade in relics and thievery of them were economic and criminal manifestations of the belief in their holy powers. Amy studied under John J. Contreni at Purdue and seemed quite personable.

The word “quotidian,” meaning everyday or usual, was an answer on Jeopardy. Until a couple years ago, I never heard of it; now I seem to see it in print all the time. Alex seemed surprised nobody know Sister Wendy (a South Africa nun and art critic) or Androcles of Aesop’s Fables (who pulled a thorn from a lion’s paw). The final question on 1920s novels was about “Elmer Gantry.”

At a lengthy condo residents’ meeting the main issues were whether to allow skateboarders, renters and hot tubs. Chilled afterwards and stayed up to see James Mercer and The Shins on Letterman doing “Simple Song.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wiley and the Hairy Man

“You wished me well
You couldn’t tell
That I’ve been crying over you.”
Roy Orbison

Larry David is funny as a nun, Sister Mary-Mengele (named for Nazi “Angel of death” Josef Mengele), in the “Three Stooges,” and I like most Farrelly brothers flicks (in particular “There’s Something about Mary” and “Dumb and Dumber”), but I only lasted an hour before the routines got boring and the plot uninspired. At any rate, I’ve never been totally comfortable with humor that simulates poking someone in the eye. “Cabin in the Woods,” which got a thumbs up from critic Roger Ebert, had interesting twists and turns but was entirely too bloody for my taste. Anna Hutchison was very good as the slutty Jules, and zombie lovers (Jerry Pierce, take note) will like the special effects. While “Cabin” isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen (as one patron commented leaving the theater), I’m sorry I didn’t move to “High School Reunion.”

Brian O’Camb loaned me a CD of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.,” warning that it is difficult to understand. I concur although the acting was great and the lesbian scenes quite erotic. The first two hours is a fantasy created by Betty (real name Diane), who became jealous of a rival whom she loved and had killed before taking her own life. Similar to Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” where a pimp mouths the words to Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams,” there’s an eerie nightclub scene where a performer seems to be singing Orbison’s “Crying” (“Llorando”) in Spanish. But it is an illusion, just like the entire action up to that time. A cowboy, a homeless man, and Mafia figures make appearances, but for what reason, I have no idea.

Arriving early for the IUN children’s production of “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” we sat with James and Becca in the first row. The daughter of Lori Montalbano, head of the performing arts department, was to our left. The African-American folktale was the perfect vehicle for Phyllis Barlow, Office of Diversity Programming coordinator who played Momma, the “best conjurer in the whole southwest county” in Mississippi. Brandon Hearne, who reminded me of a young Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played Theo on “The Cosby Show,” was her son Wiley. The chorus was excellent with their actions and sound effects, and it was a fun experience. Toni had seen the play years before with Alissa as a puppet show. Scholars working for the Federal Writers project during the 1930s first wrote down the story after interviewing a black gardener, and it was published in an anthology entitled “A treasury of American Folklore,” edited by Writers Project administrator William Botkin. Afterwards I introduced Becca to Chancellor Lowe and wife Pamela. The actors were in the lobby to shake hands and mingle. During the week when school children arrive in droves, they frequently ask for autographs.

The weather cooperated for the Pop Up Art event along Lake Street in Miller. We went with the Hagelbergs and ran into many old friends, including Karren and Pat Lee (scrambling to keep up with grandkids), Elaine and Jim Spicer (reporting that Jim’s brother Steve wrote a book about his wife), Al and Alice Sasek (whose son Jason was selling cookies), and Judy and Gene Ayers (whose family realty business is 90 years old). I told Pat Conley about my fall class; he may audit it, as he did several others. Photographer Marty Bohn had some great shots of Miller Beach and I talked to her about including some of them in the upcoming issue of South Shore Journal. At Lake Street Gallery Joyce’s friend Bill was wearing a Vietnam Veterans shirt, so I promised to send him my Vietnam Shavings. Afterwards the four of us picked up Chinese food at Wing Wah (my fortune cookie read, “You are always welcome at any gathering”) and played a round of bridge. On the strength of making a small slam I had the top score.

Sunday I won two games out of four (Amun Re and Acquire despite a bonehead play that allowed Tom Wade to be both first and second in a stock) before the Hagelbergs took us to Memorial Opera House. On the way we dropped Dave off at Tom Dick’s, who was fixing his brakes. We saw the delightful comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” The scenes about relationships between the sexes had such titles as “Men who talk and women who pretend they’re listening” and “Whatever happened to Baby’s parents?” The excellent cast included Jeff DeBoer, whom we saw in “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Chicago,” and “Annie.” Colleen Archer and John Peluso, evidently married in real life, played off each other well. We ate at Parea’s across the street. Our waitress, who resembled MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, works two jobs and is a full-time student majoring in Special Education.

Jeff Manes did a feature on Dr. Robert Wallace, whose teen advice column runs in the Post-Trib six times a week. His dad worked in the sheet and tin mill, and Wallace went to Gary Emerson. A former basketball coach and school principal, he lived in California for many years before moving back to the Region. He is friends with Ted Karras, and I was the one who suggested that Jeff write about him. Sadly Ted’s brother Alex was in the news, joining a class action law suit against the NFL pertaining to head injuries. Seven years ago Alex was diagnosed with dementia and wife Susan Clark said he can no longer drive or cook his famous Greek and Italian recipes.

After watching the Bulls win against the Pistons in overtime, I enjoyed episode three of Game of Thrones but was disappointed that Daenyres and the Dothraki were notably absent. Previews indicate that they’ll be back next week.

Rolling Stone has an article about our drone attacks on terrorist leaders. Despite the compelling arguments against pilotless planes that kill people, including innocent victims, without putting them on trial, I’d rather send drones against our enemies than soldiers, who inevitably commit atrocities. I suppose I might have more reservations if someone other than Obama was president.

When IUN’s Tamarack Hall got torn down, workmen found a time capsule in the cornerstone. Next month on IUN’s graduation day it will be opened. A committee Steve McShane is on located Jack Buhner, who was director of the campus in 1959, and he is returned for a reception when it will be opened. Kathy Malone told me Herman Feldman, who pretty much ran the campus in the early 1970s when we had a weak chancellor who succeeded Buhner, said he couldn’t come. I got his phone number, called him, and got him to promise to reconsider.

Sent an email to Dave Goldfield describing how Ray Smock’s Maryland lecture went. He’s back from Greece and soon will be off to China. I told him I was envious and loved everything about that country except the public bathrooms.

At lunch Fred Chary and George Bodmer were discussing the latest episode of “Mad men,” which evidently is set in the year 1966 and makes reference to Charles Whitman’s shooting spree at the University of Texas tower. The week before there was mention of the Richard Speck murders of nurses in Chicago. George liked that a character named Lane gave Pete a bloody nose. I mentioned that IUN director Jack Buhner is coming back at commencement for a ceremony where a time capsule put into the old Gary Main cornerstone will be opened. I talked to former acting chancellor Herman Feldman hoping to persuade him to attend. He said maybe and that I should call him in early May.

Alan Barr showed the Spanish film “Hable con Ella” (“Talk To me”) in class. A female bullfighter is gored in the ring and is visited by her journalist friend. In a nearby room is a young ballerina who has been in a coma for four years due to being hit by a car. A friendship develops between the sensitive man taking care of her and the journalist. Suffice it to say since the movies in the class deal with sex that some strange things happen. It began and ended with a dance performance. In the middle is an excerpt from a silent film where a shrinking scientist enters a woman’s vagina. Other than recognizing the word “ola” and “gracias,” I relied on the subtitles. Alan’s final movie next week is “Brokeback Mountain.” I’ll probably be in Michigan attending Miranda’s soccer game, but I’ve already seen it. Both Miranda and Anthony are refereeing soccer games as well as playing. Phil did that in high school; it taught him where various communities in Northwest Indiana were.

Dave Malham called after hearing that Dick Cheney claimed that it was imperative to defeat Obama. Recalling that I once argued that the word “ironic” was overused, he wondered if it fit in the face of the former veep’s idiotic assertion. “Yes, I’d say it was unintentional irony,” I replied. Often people use the word when they really mean coincidental.

Exactly hundred years ago American Harriet Quimby became the first woman pilot to fly across the English Channel. She received almost no publicity, however, since the Titanic tragedy occurred the day before. Fifty years Bob Dylan sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village.

Jojo Robinson informed me about great new CDs by Accept (“Stalingrad”) and The Used (“Vulnerable”).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Little Slack

“Maybe you could cut me a little slack
Would it kill you to be civil?”
Jonathan Coulter, “Skullcrusher Mountain”

Tom Wade put a half-dozen Jonathan Coulter songs on the Garfunkel and Oates CD he burned for me. Known for their witty lyrics, often about geek culture, they are catchy and definitely grow on you. “Code Monkey” supposedly is about people stuck in dead-end programming jobs. “Still Alive” is featured in the video game “Portal.” In “Skullcrusher Mountain” a mad scientist is looking for a little sympathy as he asks a visitor if he could “find some way to be a little less afraid of me.” Thinking nephew Aaron Pickert would enjoy Coulter, I called him while listening to “Code Monkey” and learned he is a fan of “Jo Co.”

On Facebook Jerry Pierce, harassed last year for supposedly not being adequate in research, posted the cover of his new book “Poverty, Heresy, and the Apocalypse: The Order of Apostles and Social Change in Medieval Italy, 1260-1307.” Michael White, head of IUN’s History Society, recently asked for program suggestions. I’d love for him to invite Jerry back and see if any of Jerry's critics dare show up. I personally asked several to cut Jerry a little slack to no avail. There was a time when an endorsement from the History Department would have silenced any critics. This post from Don Young seems apropos: “If someone doesn’t appreciate your presence, make him appreciate your absence.”

It’s Islam Awareness Week at IUN, and an announcement promised food samples, but they were so slow coming yesterday that I bought a hot dog instead. Also on Wednesday’s agenda: Brother Osama Estwani discussing “Rights and Wrongs in Islam” and Henna (ornate body painting using dye from the henna plant). Today the IUN community was invited to have snacks and try on a Hijab or Kufi, and the food included samosa and pizza.

On a blustery, sunny day East Chicago’s tennis team lost to Lake Central, 5-0, but the girls played hard. The first doubles team won a set, and number one singles player Ashley Pabey came back in the second set to make it close against a machine-like opponent that hit virtually everything back.

The lead story in last week’s NY Times Sunday magazine is Matt Bai’s “Who Killed the Debt Deal?” While there is plenty of blame to go around, the chief culprit was Speaker John Boehner, too chicken to risk angering Tea Party Republicans. Yesterday Dick Lugar debated wingnut rival Richard Mourdock, who has forced the six-term senator to posture as an archconservative. In any case I’ll be voting Democrat.

The Merrillville Legion Hall upped its prices, so the bowling banquet was at the Sportsmen Club in Crown Point. Captain Bill Batalis didn’t come, it being his Holy Week, but seven Engineers attended, including newcomers Duke and John. A late season slide dropped us to tenth place out of 14 teams. Joe Piunti’s team, after languishing in last place all year, put on a late drive to finish thirteenth. During the season five bowlers had perfect games, including Jason Schipper, whose average was 236. I elected to have both mashed potatoes and potato salad to go with chicken, sausages, corn, and salad.

Down 3-0 in their playoff opener against Pittsburgh, the Flyers rallied to win 4-3 in overtime. I was tempted to call Fred Chary. He was probably watching the game simultaneously with the Phillies, who beat the Marlins (without Ozzie Guillen at the helm) 7-1 behind another master mound performance by Doc Halladay.

Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey charged George Zimmerman, the man who stalked and then killed Trayvon Martin, with second-degree murder. The severity seems a reach, but the facts now will come out and there’s wiggle room to plea bargain down to manslaughter.

Magic Johnson and Larry Byrd were on Letterman. After Byrd wrote about their relationship in “When the Game Was Ours,” HBO did a documentary about the two fierce competitors. Now a Broadway play will dramatize their relationship. They first paired off in the 1979 NCAA final and were NBA rivals throughout the 1980s playing for the Lakers and Celtics. Byrd is now a Pacer executive, and Magic is part of a syndicate that recently purchased the Dodgers.

At the end of “Chronicles I,” Dylan, writing about being in New York in 1961, mentions that Roger Maris, who broke Babe Ruth home run record that year, was born in his hometown of Hibbing Minnesota. Then he mentions other North Country Minnesotans, aviator Charles Lindbergh, writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis, and rocker Eddie Cochran. Each one, he writes, “followed their own vision” and “would have understood what my inarticulate dreams were about. I felt like I was one of them or all of them put together.”

I’ve been laboring to combine articles about Gary-born Nobel Laureates Paul Samuelson and Joseph Stiglitz into a single article, perhaps for a future issue of Traces. Stiglitz studied under Samuelson, and both economists were admirers of John Maynard Keynes who supported liberal centrist programs. Samuelson’s textbook “Economics: An Introductory Analysis” sold over four million copies while Stiglitz has written such influential books as “Making Globalization Work” (2006), “The Three Trillion Dollar War” (2008), and “Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy” (2010).

I talked to CURE director Ellen Szarleta about launching an oral history project at the Reiner Senior Center in Hobart. The Center for Urban and Regional Excellence had grants available for IUN students involved in community activities. Fred McColly has already volunteered to get involved. It might lead to a special Shavings issue.

We helped Dick Hagelberg celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday at Sage restaurant. Earlier that day Post-Trib columnist Jerry Davich mentioned Dick in connection with his company Kidstuff Playstations offering to repair for free playgrounds that they had installed in the past – a very generous, civic-minded gesture indeed. Dick told Davich, “We are trying to adopt a Gary park each year that contains our play equipment and fix it.” After dinner we invited his family and the McGuans to the condo for cake and coffee.

On this date in 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away and Harry S. Truman inherited the myriad problems having to do with bringing WW II to an end. FDR was with his onetime mistress Lucy Rutherford in Warm Springs, Georgia, when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Eleanor was furious when she found out FDR had been seeing Lucy again but, informing cabinet members of his death, said that “he died like a soldier.” He was the greatest president of the twentieth century, guiding America through the Great Depression and the second World War with its institutions intact.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Trip East

“I ain’t gonna stand no foolin’ around.
If I do, well, I’ll be John Brown.”
Huey “Piano” Smith

Setting out to attend Ray Smock’s Distinguished Alumni Lecture, I arose at 4 a.m. Thursday to catch the airport bus from Highland to O’Hare. My American Eagle plane had lone seats on one side of the aisle and two on the other. I couldn’t board with my carry-on bag, but attendants had it for me at the gate shortly after I deplaned. From Baltimore Washington International I zipped down to College Park in less than an hour with the invaluable help of a Hertz GPS device. It was my first time back to the University of Maryland since receiving my PhD in 1970 except at night for a ceremony to dedicate the Sam Merrill seminar room. At first things looked totally unfamiliar. The Marriott Inn and Conference Center was located on a previously undeveloped end of the campus. Walking around, however, I located the Cole Student Union, McKeldin Library where Toni worked, the green at the center of campus, and the Francis Scott Key Building – my old stomping ground. Once inside I wandered around for some time before finding the History Department.

At the Mariott I caught the conclusion of the Cubs opener on local TV since they were playing Washington (relievers Wood and Marmol spoiled Dempster’s stellar outing). I returned to Key Hall and peeked into room 006 where as a T.A. I’d heard Louis Harlan and Sam Merrill lecture. Outside the Merrill seminar room was a spread that included sandwiches, shrimp, and wine and slightly familiar faces that looked like elderly professors but turned out to be contemporaries. Most remembered that I had pitched for the Wobblies softball team. It was great seeing good buddy Pete Daniel. Forty years ago he gave us six German wine glasses. Five got broken, but we still have the lone survivor. Oral history conference mainstays Don and Anne Ritchie greeted me warmly, as did Ray and Phyllis Smock. Both Pete and Don were past distinguished lecturers. Dick Baker, a historian of the Senate for many years, knew me mainly through Smock and Ritchie. Sam Walker, author of “Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan” talked with me about his most recent book, a history of ACC basketball and in particular about Vic Bubas, a 1944 Lew Wallace grad who starred at NC State and brought Duke program into prominence during a coaching career that spanned 11 years, beginning in 1959.

Introducing Ray was Ira Berlin, a leading expert on slavery and author of “Many Thousands Gone,” “Generations of Captivity,” and “Slaves Without Masters,” about free blacks in antebellum America. Ray’s entertaining talk, entitled “I Did It My Way, By Accident: Lessons from an Unconventional Career,” traced his interest in history back to his coin collecting day. Obtaining a Booker T. Washington half-dollar, he did research about the Tuskegee Institute founder. People who saw it often said, “Oh, the peanut guy?” – meaning George Washington Carver. Ray would reply, “No, the guy who hired the peanut man.” Ray gave credit to a junior college instructor for exciting him about the relevance of history and to August Meier, who taught him at Roosevelt University. Ray helped edit the Booker T. Washington papers and overcame opposition when he submitted two volumes in place of a traditional dissertation. His main theme: history departments need to start thinking outside the box in terms of assigning worth to collaborative projects, including areas of public history, rather of than the lone wolf model of how one earns a degree and promotion up the ranks. There was a nice crowd of about 30 but hardly any grad students who could have benefitted from Ray’s sage remarks.

After Ray’s speech most of us moved to the Oracle, a bar located where I was staying that had Yuengling beer on tap. I talked at length to fellow grad student and environmental historian John Wennersten, author of “Anacostia: The Death and Birth of an American River.” He taught at Maryland’s Eastern Shore campus and wrote extensively about the Chesapeake Bay, including a book about oyster wars. His most recent work is “Global Thirst: Water and Society in the 21st Century.” Wife Ruth Ellen was also a Marylander, and we chatted about both being in Hong Kong, where I lectured at Chinese University for a month 20 years ago.

Friday I awoke, thought the clock said 9:20, and went to the lobby to find the dining area and Starbucks kiosk closed. It opens at six, someone told me. It turned out to be 5:30, so I went back to bed and after a leisurely morning drove to the Smocks in Martinsburg, West Virginia. On the way I stopped at a scenic vista that happened to be the site of the Battle of Mononacy. Hoosier general Lew Wallace, who later wrote “Ben-Hur” and has a Gary school named for him, held off a superior rebel force long enough to save Washington, DC, from attack.

After catching up on recent doings and drinking Sam Adams with Ray and Phyllis on their deck and, we dined at a Mexican Restaurant and then watched “War Horse,” commenting wittily during corny scenes. Next morning Phyllis made scrambled eggs, sausages, and grits, and we joked about how Romney tried to win over Mississippians by claiming to like cheesy grits. I looked through Ray’s extensive book collection and noticed photographs on the wall of him with Senator Robert Byrd and other dignitaries as well as one of the two of us at the 1969 antiwar Moratorium rally. I wish we lived closer to each other.

My GPS route took me within a couple blocks of the Harpers Ferry National Park. I got in free with my lifetime senior citizen pass. At the restored town was the engine house where abolitionist John Brown fought it out with U.S. troops. Located where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers come together, Harpers Ferry was important not only because of the armory that John Brown tried to seize but as an early transportation route and area of early industry. Two songs come to mind whenever If think of John Brown, the ditty by r and b pioneer Huey “Piano” Smith and this more famous one that inspired the Union cause: “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,/ But his soul goes marching on.”

Around two I arrived at nephew Aaron Pickert’s house in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Three dogs greeted me and then brother-in-law Steve, or Doc, as everyone calls him. Nephew Kyle and his girlfriend Palma had arrived the night before and daughter-in-law Beth arrived shortly after I did from Virginia. She and Aaron are both into Game of Thrones, so they had a fine time trading theories. Beth hadn’t seen 23 year-old Kyle since he was a kid and loved holding Aaron and Kim’s 17 month-old son Nic (Nicodemos), a sweetheart with very observant eyes. Since he says “da” for yes, Steve bragged that he spoke Russian. In his walker he pushed a device that played music and got a kick watching me dance a jig, a routine we repeated several times. Kim and Aaron designed their house themselves, which has a library on two levels and a geothermal heating and cooling system involving pipes set eight feet below the ground. Steve treated at Cozy’s, a buffet place that houses a small Camp David museum illustrating the presidential retreat located nearby. Aaron was an engineering major at my alma mater Bucknell, and Steve told a joke about a baker, shoemaker and engineer sentenced during the French Revolution to be guillotined. The first two were spared when the guillotine stopped an inch from their neck. Just before the guillotine was about to descend on the engineer, he said, “Wait, I think I see the problem.” Aaron, a gamer like me, taught us Fluxx, Unspeakable Words, and Chairman Mao.

All too soon it was time to head to the airport. Normally the route would have been busy, but on Easter morning the traffic was almost nonexistent. I had a couple hours to read chapters on Reagan and Clinton in William H. Chafee’s “The Rise and Fall of the American Century.” Ronnie had astute advisers his first term but stumbled after they left. Truly asleep at the wheel, he didn’t even know the names of some cabinet members and failed to prep for a summit with the Russians because “The Sound of Music” was on TV the night before. Chafee thinks Bill leaned too much on Hillary’s advice at times when his infidelities caused him to be too timid about crossing her.

Back at the Highland parking lot at 3:20, I ran into Donn Gobbe, excited about having been with all nine tennis players who started the women’s professional tennis circuit 30 years ago. He had already interviewed Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, and a few others, but others he was interacting with for the first time. Home in time for the end of the Masters, won on the second playoff hole by the guy I was rooting for (Tiger being out of it), Bubba Watson, a down-to-earth long shot.

Alan Barr’s Monday movie was “Ju Lou,” a 22 year-old Chinese film set in the 1920s about a woman purchased by a cruel cloth dyer who has an affair with her husband’s adapted nephew. Originally banned in China, it was that country’s first film nominated for an Academy Award.

On April 9, 1865, the Civil War ended. Sergeant Samuel A. Clear of the Irish brigade wrote in his diary: “At 3 P. P. an order was read to the effect that General Robert E. Lee had surrendered. When we knew it to be a sure thing what a loud, long, glorious shout went up. Then the first thing I knew I was rolling in the mud and several Company K boys piled on top and wallowed me in the mud and themselves too pulled one another about. Such confusion and carrying on was never seen in so short a time. Then the artillery . . . belched forth the glad tidings. . . . It was one continual roar for miles and miles.”

Ozzie Guillen, who frequently said provocative things while managing the White Sox, is in trouble now that he’s the Marlins skipper for saying he admires Cuban leader Fidel Castro for staying in power so longer despite CIA attempts to assassinate him and America’s longstanding embargo, among other harassments. The marlins new stadium is in the middle of Little Havana, where 600,000 Cubans live supposedly in exile and one group that is always ready at the drop of a hat to protest vowed to have 20,000 demonstrators demanding punitive action against Guillen. So much for free speech. Suspended without pay for five games by the owner, Guillen has apologized. Most sports jocks have piled on poor Ozzie except for The SCORE’s Boers and Bernstein, who see it as a tempest in a teapot. On the Mully and Hanley show a caller pointed out that the old regime was both dictatorial and racist and that Castro provided schooling and health care for everyone. Some yahoo called in to brand him a moron.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Slow Turning

“It’s been a slow turning
From the inside out
A slow turning, baby,
Not fade away, not fade away.”
John Hiatt

I’ve been playing a 1988 John Hiatt album, “Slow Turning,” that I discovered I’d kept. Perhaps the most famous song on it is “Tennessee Plates,” about a guy in prison making license plates. “Not Fade Away” is a famous Buddy Holly song.

LeeLee Devenney has been posting photos on Facebook of sights she’s visiting in Ireland – makes me want to go there. Concerning his native-American garden, Fred McColly reported: “Nine months after my wild potato seeds from the international potato institute in Peru were seized by a rampaging USDA the bureaucrats are finally prepared to release them to me...months after I obtained some from the potato introduction station in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin...the wheels grind slowly.” Sam Barnett posted a video of the Hollies performing “Carrie Anne” in 1968 on the Smothers Brothers show. I wanted to name Phil Carrie Anne had he been a girl. Post-Trib columnist Jerry Davich wrote: “While at the office, I just overheard this police scanner traffic: ‘Man masturbating in his pickup truck."’ Then, a few seconds later, I heard this one: ‘A 50-year-old man with a possible stroke.’
 Geez, I hope they're not related.” Davich has a Friday radio show. If the newspaper goes belly up, he may have a future in broadcasting.

Michael Boos updated me on how his manuscript about the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative. Dr. Lynne Westphal of the U.S. Forest Service sent him this anecdote: “One day in about 2003 or so, we were having a family brunch in our Evanston home. My partner was wearing the Wolf Lake T-shirt – you know the one with the swans? My mother looked across the table, saw it and exclaimed “Wolf Lake? My Wolf Lake? The one where my father took me fishing as a kid?” AWLI started and continues as a labor of love, for Wolf Lake and for the community at large. They have had significant impact in advocating for the Lake, and keeping it in our minds and our hearts, in keeping Wolf Lake “my Wolf Lake” – for all of us.”

I talked to Steve’s class about Gary and Portage during the Twenties. The population of the Steel City doubled to 100,000 (more than at present) while Portage remained primarily rural. I had students read reminiscences by old Portage residents and going over material from my Gary book pertaining to trials, religious controversies, and advertising stunts. I hadn’t ever talked about evangelist Bob Lewis or stunt driver Cherry Lamont before, so it was fun. Several African-American women taking the course for graduate credit asked interesting questions and afterwards asked me to autograph “Gary’s First Hundred Years.” I plugged my Fall class on diaries, journals and memoirs.

At Walgreen’s I picked up travel-size containers of gel and shaving cream for my Maryland trip and printed out my boarding pass. I tried to join the frequent flyer program for American Airlines but struck out. There was a part where you had to write down letters that were strung together in a weird type of cursive. I’ve never been good at deciphering them and don’t even know what they’re for.

Lynette Jones thanked me for sending her my “Retirement Journal” issue of Shavings (volume 40) and added: “You have always been so kind to me and recognized my potential. As I was going through your book I laughed and was refreshed by your candor.” She’s going to start keeping a journal.

On April 4, 1904, TR’s wife Edith complained in her diary that people who showed up for the Easter egg roll were ruining the grass on the White House lawn. The custom then, evidently started during the Hayes administration, was to roll hard-boiled eggs downhill. One year while Nixon was President there was a hunt, but the ones not found left in stunk. Later artificial eggs replaced the real thing.

In the news: tornados swept through Texas laying waste to many homes. Nobody died, but many families lost all their possessions. In politics Romney, the “Etch-a-Sketch” candidate went three for three in primary battles against “Crazy” Rick Santorum.

I showed the tribute documentary Aaron Pigors and I made to David Malik about his tenure as director of FACET. His only suggestion was to revise the title (“The Influence of David Malik”) to suggest it was part of a series on FACET directors. He asked if he could take home a copy to show his family.

Monday, April 2, 2012

No Place to Turn

“Yesterday everything was going too fast
Today it’s moving too slow
I got no place left to turn
I got nothing left to burn.”
Bob Dylan, “Standing in the Doorway”

I’ve been playing Dylan’s “Time Out of Mind” while finishing “Chronicles I.” It won a Grammy as album of the year and was produced by Daniel Lanois, who worked with Dylan on “Oh Mercy” ten years before. At the 1998 Grammys Dylan was performing “Love Sick,” the first song on the CD, when performance artist Michael Portnoy darted onto the stage with “Soy Bomb” painted on his bare chest and began gyrating to the music. Nonplussed, Dylan continued singing, and after about 30 seconds security guards escorted Portnoy off.

Saturday I swam with Dave’s family at Portage Best Western. One young girl who appeared to be unsupervised saw James and me floating and asked if I could teach her. I tried to demonstrate but chose not to put my hand under her back to help her. In this day and age one cannot be too careful on matters that some might misinterpret as sexual. Sad because the girl seemed starved for attention from a (grand)father figure.

I called Chuck Gallmeier on my cell phone, went to his house, and showed him my 16-minute video entitled “The Influence of David Malik.” In the documentary Chuck was very eloquent discussing Malik’s contributions both to FACET and IU Northwest. Barb was exercising when I arrived, and Chuck liked it so much he put it on again for her. We both commented on how expressive Chuck’s eyebrows were when he made a point. When Phil was in high school, he was a news anchor on a weekly Portage local access program and used his eyebrows in a similar way.

On the cover of Rolling Stone is 21 year-old Jennifer Lawrence, star of “The Hunger Games.” The issue contains a troubling article on fraternity hazing at Dartmouth. What pledges have to endure is debasing and dangerous and should be abolished. When I was a Sig Ep at Bucknell we had a hell weekend that involved some humiliating things but we weren’t forced to eat or drink stuff guaranteed to make you puke. It was more like calisthenics and reciting stuff we’d memorized about the history of Sigma Phi Epsilon. The main purpose behind the weekend was to give the house a good cleaning. The following Monday at midnight we went on a pledge raid. Someone set off cherry bombs in the living room; one rolled under a sofa. The place burned to the ground, and we didn’t have a new house until my senior year.

I rooted for Kentucky and Kansas, both winners in the NCAA semi-finals, because both Phil and Dave had them reaching the finals, whereas my teams, Michigan State and Syracuse had been eliminated. After going one for five gaming, I watched the Flyers beat the Penguins and “Bridesmainds” on HBO prior to the second season debut of “Game of Thrones.” Tiny Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) has emerged as the most interesting character, having become hand to the obnoxious young King Joffrey, who ordered his troops to slay all of Robert, the former king’s, bastard sons. Rumor has it that his real father is Jaime the twin brother of Cersei, his mother.

Over the winter workmen spent several months refurbishing IUN’s first floor Library/Conference Center bathroom. Now the light comes on when you enter and goes off when you leave. Once a few years a smart aleck turned the lights off on me while I was in the stall. At our hotel in Barcelona four years ago, the bathroom next to where we ate breakfast came on but went off about two minutes later whether you’d left or not.

Steve Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” was the film in Alan Barr’s class. I’d seen it when it came out in 1989 but didn’t recall much about it. Soderbergh directed “Traffic” in 2000 and the very long movie “Ché” about the Latin American revolutionary. Alan’s question was how extensive and various were the lies. The most obvious falsehoods were John’s denials about having an affair. Initially Ann probably deluded herself into saying she was satisfied with her marriage, but the fact that she was in therapy meant she was trying to come to grips with the source of her unhappiness. I found the two sisters to be, though polar opposites when it came to their inhibitions or lack of them, quite honest. On the other hand, the two main male characters, John and Graham, appeared to be living lives of deception. John lied at the drop of the hat, from little white lies at work to cancel appointments to whoppers to his wife about his relationship with his sister-in-law. In fact, when he tells Graham he banged his old girlfriend ten years before, he adds that one of the two good things about her was that she could keep a secret (i.e., a deception). Graham is attempting to shed his former pathological lying personality but to do that in the end required him to destroy the videotapes that were but another form of deception.