Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long Weekend


“Each day as I grow older
The nights are getting colder
Some day the sun will shine on me.”
    “Big Man in Town,” Four Seasons

Saturday: Vanity Fair’s June cover features a sexy photo of Marilyn Monoe and inside are previously lost nude photos.  More substantive was an article by David Maraniss about young Barack Obama living in New York City in his early twenties.  An old Caucasian girlfriend recalled how serious he was sorting out his identity while associating with mostly Pakistani friends. The Prez returned to the Empire City to deliver the commencement address at Barnard College, the female counterpart to his alma mater Columbia.  On a somber note Everett Murdock has written a book entitled “Obama Will Win, but Romney Will be president” How the Republicans Will Target Electoral College Votes to Steal the 2012 Presidential Election.”  Let’s hope not, especially if women vote for him in landslide proportions.

While at the library I checked out “The Murder of the Century” by Paul Collins about a bizarre 1897 crime that William Randolph Hearst sensationalized until readers all over the world followed the story.  At Chesterton’s European Market I spotted a dead ringer for former campus Police Chief Andy Lazar, a gentle but formidable giant.  Lazar mentored Roy Dominguez, the first Mexican-American state trooper in Indiana (IUN just appointed its first woman chief, Patricia Nowak).  Selling me two organic grapefruits from Florida was a woman who recognized me and claimed I was her brother’s favorite teacher some 20 years ago.  Marianne Brush had a fun Pre-Memorial Day party because John and Lorraine Shearer were visiting from Traverse City.   Toni’s shrimp were a hit, with Becca devouring many of them.

Sunday: After going one for four in gaming in an Amun Re contest decided by a single slice, Toni and I saw “Jersey Boys” at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre.  In addition to the great music, the play shed light on Four Seasons founder Tommy DeVito, lead singer Frankie Valli, songwriter Bob Gaudio, and arranger Nick Massi, who sang and played bass – all different, each flawed, but did they ever mesh. The group struck pay dirt with “Sherry” in 1962, and the hits continued until Beatlemania and the British Invasion.  I saw Frank Valli and a backup version of the Four Seasons in Indy during the mid-80s, and the songs sounded pitch perfect although I believe someone else was hitting the high falsetto notes.  Valli is still touring, as the play has brought him new fans.

The four of us ate at an excellent Tapas restaurant.  We stuffed ourselves, consumed a large pitcher of black raspberry sangria, and the bill came to $97.50, including tax.  Near the Art Institute we saw Muslims protesting the Syrian regime of Bashas al-Assad, whose troops have massacred thousands of civilians.  On Memorial Day we had a cookout and played bridge at Hagelbergs.

I got out a CD of 1962 hits that included “Sherry” by the Four Seasons and ended with “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs, “Little Town Flirt” by Del Shannon, “Palisades Park” by Freddy Cannon, and “What’s Your Name?” by Don and Juan, whose unforgettable last line goes, “Shooby-doo-bop-bah-dah!”

Columnist Jerry Davich wondered what deceased veterans would think about the NATO and Occupy Wall Street protests in Chicago.  While claiming that they died to protect our freedoms, he implied that most protesters were feckless publicity seekers, hippies and ideologues. His tone was condescending and his research nonexistent.  In the documentary “Dear America: Letters from Vietnam” a soldier who thinks he’s dying, wonders what he’s given his life for.  He was told he was fighting communism but realized he didn’t even know what communism was, much less why we should be killing Vietnamese willing to die for their beliefs.

Tuesday was granddaughter Miranda’s graduation.  Beforehand she starred in a soccer game that her school, Wyoming Park, won, 1-0.  The weather was perfect for the big day, sunny and in the 80s; in fact, had I not used sun block for the game, I’d have been burned.  Next year the two Wyoming schools will merge, so this was Park’s final graduating class.  Near the end of the ceremony students chanted “last class ever” and the orchestra played the school song one final time.  Other than oblique comments about choices and mistakes, some unimportant, others life-changing, by valedictorian Autumn Vanden Berg, nobody mentioned the auto accident that killed one senior, Timothy See, and injured two others, including the driver (a no show) and someone who escaped with minor wounds and received hearty applause from classmates (Miranda is in the first row, third from right).
Reporter Don Terry’s editors at “American Prospect” want as assessment of Gary’s current mayor.  I replied, “So far, Karen Freeman-Wilson seems to be good at consensus building and projecting a caring image.  The city is desperately in need of money, and she appears to be honest and capable of reaching out to state and federal officials for grants that will be essential for progress.  A nearly completed multi-million dollar Marquette Park project will help the Miller Beach neighborhood, and airport improvements also show promise.  The jury is still out on whether she can turn Gary around. Much will depend on whether Obama gets a second term and if the Democrats can keep the abhorrent Mike Pence from becoming governor.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mad Men


“I woke up this mornin’
And none of the news was good
And death machines were rumblin’
Cross the ground where Jesus stood.”
    “Jerusalem,” Steve Earle

 “John Walker’s Blues” on Steve Earle’s 2004 CD “Jerusalem,” which I’ve been playing recently, spurred controversy because of its sympathetic treatment of the so-called “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.  While its doubtful that Lindh ever did anything threatening to the U.S. other than be at the wrong place at the wrong time, he was brutalized when our troops took him prisoner and handed a 20-year prison sentence.  He’s in a prison in Terre Haute, studying ancient Islamic texts, working on a liberal arts college degree, and recently sued to be allowed to hold daily prayer group sessions.

The last Egyptian president who tried to make peace with Israel got assassinated for his trouble.  Hope springs eternal, but the first democratic elections in Egypt ever, taking place over the past two days, will probably bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power.  The frontrunner is Mohammed Morsi, who vows to put his country on an Islamic basis.  His main rival, Ahmed Shafiq, was Mubarak’s prime minister and a law-and-order man.  Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is so powerful Time called him King Bibi.  He’s an archconservative, but sometimes that’s what it takes to make bold breaks with the past – like Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria.

Ryan Shelton showed me how to insert photos into the Adobe template for volume 42, which includes blog entries starting in April 2010.  On the first page is a sexy shot of Lady Gaga, one of the only photos that doesn’t have a specific Region connection. 

Jonathyne Briggs walked me through how to show a video and a movie off YouTube to his two classes Thursday while he’s in Florida.  At the condo handyman Jason fixed a fan and several other things on Toni’s to-do list.  After finding the venison salami too salty for my taste, I gave the rest to him.

On “Mad Men” Don came home late after drinking and flirting all afternoon with sexy Joan, causing Megan to throw a snit fit.  It seems just a matter of time before Don cheats on her even though she is a trophy wife.  He already has in a fantasy dream.

For speaking gratis at the Maria Reiner Senior Center I got invited to the “Margaret Kuchta Spirit of Volunteerism Celebration.”  The event, named for a former mayor, was at the Hobart Community Center near Lake George, which was formed over 150 years ago when George Earle dammed Deep River to provide for his grist mill that grinded grain.  I received a pin, ate pizza, salad, and apple strudel, and told director Pam Broadaway I could talk this fall on the “Roaring Twenties in the Calumet Region.”  Entertainment was a magician, and Mayor Snedecor, whom I’d met when I talked to Kiwanians, greeted me warmly. Maria Reiner was a wealthy widow who left all her money to benefit Hobart seniors.  Born in Germany, as was her husband, whom she met at the beach, and evidently was wealthy due to something her husband invented and patented.  Childless, she died at age 94 and bequeathed her inheritance to causes that benefit Hobart seniors.

The 76ers honored Allen Iverson (AI) prior to game six of their series against Boston.  What a big heart he had during his playing days.  In 2001 with virtually no star teammates, he led Philadelphia to the NBA finals and scored 48 points in an overtime win in game one against a Lakers team led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.  During the five-game series he averaged 35 points.  The crowd gave AI a thunderous ovation.  Perhaps inspired, the Sixers, coached by Doug Collins, won to force a game seven. Collins and AI are among the six most popular Sixers of all time, along with Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, and Charles Barkley.

I showed Jonathyne’s 11:30 class the 1994 film “Colonel Chabert,” based on an 1832 novella by Honore de Balzac.  The hero marries a former prostitute and, fighting for Napoleon, is so severely wounded at the 1807 Battle of Eylau, he’s thought to be dead and tossed into a mass grave. Years later he finds his wife married to a Restoration scumbag. The theme demonstrates the contrast between moral integrity and grasping materialism, compromise versus honor.  In the role of Chabert is Gerard Depardieu, who has played Jen Valjean in “Les Miserables” and even author Balzac.  I recall first seeing him co-starring with Andie MacDowell in “Green Card” a love affair that started out a marriage of convenience.

The afternoon movie was Russian progagandist Sergei Eisenstein’s “October: Ten Days That Shook the World” (the title taken from John Reed’s book).  Commissioned to celebrate the triumph of the Bolshevik revolution, it was first shown in 1928.  Joseph Stalin had recently purged Leon Trotsky and demanded that all positive references to him be stricken.  Since live music originally accompanied showing, a soundtrack was added in 1966.  Born in 1898, Eisenstein’s two previous movies were “Strike” (1924) and “Battleship Potemkin” (1925, the latter about a 1905 mutiny against Tsarist officers.  Perhaps his greatest film was “Alexander Nevsky” (1938), about a Russian prince who defends the motherland against an invasion led by Germanic knights.  The motive was to rally countrymen against the Nazis.  Ironically, soon after its release, Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, and the film was suppressed.  It was re-released after Hitler callously invaded the Soviet Union.

The Hagelbergs took us to a Parkinson’s fundraiser at Avalon Manor in Merrillville.  The theme was “Evening in Paris” and a style show featured clothing from Elizabeth Fashions and John Cicco’s, the latter worn by men who, for the most part, hammed it up.  The women models, most of whom were on the planning board, including boutique owner Elizabeth Woodbury (front row, third from left), seemed to be having fun.    

Many of the blind auction items came from local merchants or the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Two gentlemen were pouring free champagne, one so sparingly I gravitated to the other one.  I ran into Pamela Lowe, whose husband, IUN’s chancellor, is recuperating from back surgery, and filmmaker Nick Mantis, who is listening to old audiotapes of Jean Shepherd’s NY radio show and hopes to use clips in his documentary about Northwest Indiana’s “Bard” so that Shepherd would appear to be narrating.

Fred McColly was on campus to help start a community garden on property at the southwest edge of the campus that previously was a vacant lot.  I saw about a dozen folks participating when I drove to Country Lounge to have lunch with former student Jackie Gipson, who has been enjoying, as have I, watching good friends Doc Rivers and Doug Collins try to outsmart one another in the Boston-Philly series. 

A Jeopardy category entitled “Spelling by the Stars” featured the song titles RESPECT (Aretha), LOLA (Kinks), YMCA (Village People), SATURDAY Night (Bay City Rollers), and GLORIA (by Van Morrison and Patti Smith), which, surprisingly, two people missed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Staying Alive


“Got the wings of heaven on my shoes
I'm a dancin' man and I just can't lose.
You know it's all right, it's O.K.
I'll live to see another day.”
    “Staying Alive,” Bee Gees

Within days of each other disco queen Donna Summers and Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, whose falsetto made “Saturday Night Fever” one of the best-selling albums of all time, succumbed to cancer.  They epitomized the freewheeling 1970s, an era fading from our collective memory. In Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn,” set in 1972, black kids watch an episode of “The Partridge Family” and knowe the words of the sappy song the group is performing  Once a teen idol, singer David Cassidy turned 60 two years ago and has been in and out of rehab. 

On the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction special Ronnie Wood showed up with the Seventies band Faces, looking ancient (Rod Stewart was a no show).  The main honorees were Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns ‘n’ Roses (sans Axl Rose), and the final number, “Higher Ground,” had Wood playing with Slash and Flea.  Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top was also in the house on behalf of blues great Freddie King.

I recently renewed my Traces subscription and among the things I received in the mail was the Summer 2011 issue containing the article on "Madura's Danceland."  That was serendipitous since it gives us an extra copy to put in our "Traces of Northwest Indiana" exhibit.

I took James to Chesterton’s European Market.  He hadn’t eaten much breakfast, so he enjoyed a mango smoothie with whipped cream on top and got a container of cookies for later.  We ran into Omar Farag, who again will provide the musical entertainment for this summer’s Thrill of the Grill events on campus.  I expressed the hope that he’d bring back My Brother’s Salsa Band.  In the evening Tom and Dave came over for gaming.  I managed to stay up for most of SNL.  Mick Jagger did a terrific job hosting, playing a gay actor, paying tribute to Kristen Wiig, singing the 1974 Rolling Stones classic “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)” with the Foo Fighters and even impersonating Steve Tyler.

Reading an excerpt from Frederick Buechner’s “The Sacred Journey” brought back memories of my dad.  Buechner’s father died when he was ten; Vic died of a sudden heart attack at age 50 when I was 24.  On drives to visit my great grandmother Frace in Easton he’d sing endless verses of “Abdul Abulbul Amir,” about a “son of the desert” who did battle with a Muscovite named “Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.”

Jeff Manes’s SALT column on Dave finally appeared in Sunday’s Post-Trib.  First rate as always, it mentioned Dave’s growing up near Wells Street Beach, attending Portage H.S. and IU (majoring in History and English), working as a sub at West Lafayette H.S. while playing in a band with Hans Rees.  After enrolling in IUN’s Urban Teacher (UTEP) program, he landed a teaching job at East Chicago due to his willingness to be yearbook and school newspaper adviser. Asked if he missed teaching history, Dave said, “My students tease me because I incorporate a lot of history in my lessons.  I think it goes hands in hand with the literature.” 

Dave talked a lot about his students, including Manuel Mendoza, captain of the tennis team, senior class president, and presently at Harvard.  The 2000 home invasion came up and how when he returned to school he received a standing ovation during an assembly.  Angie was pregnant with James when three thugs broke into their place, and it took all our wits, guile, and self-control to survive the ordeal.  I ended up with a partially collapsed lung and Dave had a concussion from being hit on the head with a hammer.  For the most part they left Angie alone or we’d have fought them and probably all be dead.  Good friends Clark Metz and Garrett Cope called, excited about the article.  Dave went to Alternative Public School in Glen Park with Clark’s daughters and performed in three of Garrett’s summer musicals at IUN.  Bill Lee’s kids were also in “Finian’s Rainbow.”


Protests have been taking place in Chicago during the NATO meetings. Sam Barnett was among those in the streets as were Occupy Wall Streeters and the usual assortment, bless them, of peaceniks, lefties, and hippies.In a moving scene evoking memories of Vietnam, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan threw their medals away to atone for participating, directly or indirectly, in the destruction of villages and the deaths of civilians. 

Tom Morello of Rage against the Machine played at a nurses rally and at a concert at the Metro that Ron Cohen attended entitled “This Land is Our Land: A Centennial Celebration of Woody Guthrie.  Ron’s weekend house guest was folk music historian Scott Barretta, who edited Living Blues magazine and hosted Toni and I while we were in Sweden 14 years ago.  He’s writing a biography of Folklore Institute founder and Beat poet Izzy Young, who we also stayed with, thanks to Ron’s connections.

In Lowell for an afternoon of bridge with members of the Hobart Unitarian church, of the 12 participants I finished second to Dick Hagelberg.  He got 800 points by passing when Toni, with an opening hand, doubled my bid of one diamond.  I had five diamonds, but he had six and my partner had just two points, giving us a grand total of 15.  We were vulnerable, and I only got four tricks.  A woman named Wendy had seen Jeff’s article about Dave in the paper and said she had several Shavings issues.  We encountered a storm on the way home.  The temp dropped 30 degrees and the sky turned black.  At IUN large tree branches were down and the air condition unit for Marram was knocked off its foundation.  A possible tornado touched down a mile away.

Jeff Manes’s column, entitled “This teacher following his own Lane,” generated 180 “likes, tweets or shares,” compared to a normal 10.  The all-time record is 212 for one on Irene Basile, whose husband died after contracting frontotempolar degeneration, a disease similar to Alzheimer’s but more virulent.


At the invitation of CURE director Ellen Szarleta I attended the Barden Gary Foundation luncheon, which honored Roosevelt students who helped on rehab Buffington Park.  I spoke to them a few months ago, and they greeted me warmly.  College-bound, they will receive $4,500 scholarships from the Barden Foundation.  Ja’Mire Wayne, pictured below, sat next to me and intends to major in social work at Indiana State.  Attractive and affable, she played center on Roosevelt’s basketball team, and her Twitter handle is “badfreckleface.”  

Vice Chancellor Malik filled me in on the FACET retreat.  I told him I had offered to pay my own way and do some interviews but that Kim said it didn’t fit in with their plans.  I told Times publisher Bill Masterson that I liked his recent columns on plans for a Boys and Girls Club building in Tolleston.  Gary Parks Superintendent Caren Jones asked if I knew when her department was founded. I guessed 1909 when Gary became a city although there could have been one as early as 1906 when the first town board was created.  U.S. Steel created a few parks but kept control of them until their nemesis, Mayor Thomas Knotts, left office in 1913.

Neighbor Sue Harrison’s friend Dave brought over some venison salami from a larger hunk someone gave them.  Now I have to get up the nerve to try it.


Two of Miranda’s high school classmates died around 4:20 Sunday morning when the car they were in rolled off the I-196 off-ramp into an embankment.  The six people in the car had attended a party where alcohol was served, and the driver is in jail.  Miranda wasn’t real close to the victims but had posed with her arm around one of them at her prom.  A candlelight vigil took place at Wyoming Park School last night.  How sad for all involved and so close to graduation.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Extra! Extra!


“Everybody tells me don’t be scared
Act as if you never cared
So I wear a blank expression
To conceal my real impression.”
    “Protection,” Graham Parker

I’ve been on a Graham Parker kick.  After finding the album “Steady Nerves” in my collection, I’ve been playing it and put the CD “Struck By Lightning” on heavy rotation.  I saw Parker at Chicago’s Vic Theater with Terry and Kim Hunt.  He ended with a terrific Sam Cooke medley.

“Modern American Memoirs” contains an excerpt from Russell Baker’s “Growing Up.” A child of the Great Depression, Baker, who succeeded Alistair Cooke and hosted “Masterpiece Theater” for 12 years, decided to become a writer at age 11 because of, in his words, “my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.”After his dad died of diabetes complications, five year-old Russell and his mother moved in with an aunt and uncle in Belleville, New Jersey.  Aunt Pat’s favorite expression was “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” and she was a sucker for newsboys shouting, “Extra!  Extra!”  One banner headline was that mobster Dutch Schultz received a rose, a sign that he was a target for assassination.  Pat kept buying subsequent “Extras” expecting details of Schultz’s death, but he lived another five years until gunned down in the palace Chop House in Newark. Delirious, his final cryptic words were, “A boy has never wept nor dashed a thousand kim.”

I still recall special “Extra” editions of the Philadelphia Daily News on sale – often appearing soon after the conclusion of a sporting event.  Virtually the only thing different from previous editions would be the front or back couple pages.

On Doug Achterhof’s suggestion we refinanced our condo mortgage with IU Credit Union at a lower rate, signing what seemed like a hundred documents.  On the way home we picked up a foot-long Philly steak at Subway to split.

On Sports Illustrated’s cover is suicide victim Junior Seau, former star linebacker for the San Diego Chargers.  Programmed not to admit weakness, little wonder he did not confide what troubled him.  There’s also a fascinating story about Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, Kobe’s father, who played for the 76ers in the late 1970s with Julius Erving, Doug Collins, and World B. Free and still coaches in Thailand.

Four-foot, six-inch Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister in HBO’s hit series) is on the cover of Rolling Stone, as is an interview with George R.R. Martin, whose “A Song of Fire and Ice” series inspired “Game of Thrones.”  Martin divided authors into architects and gardeners.  The former plot everything out in advance; the latter have a general outline but nurture characters as they go along.

While Augie from Tech Services installed a new version of Adobe, I read the intro to “The Book of American Diaries.”  Bostonian Arthur Crew Inman was so obsessed with keeping a daily account of news events that for 40 years (before committing suicide) he hardly ever left his apartment and his typed notes totaled about ten million words.  Some keep diaries to stave off loneliness or for self-enlightenment, others to hone their writing skills or because they have big egos.  Some intend the writings to be for their own eyes only; others, me included, write for posterity.

Finding the cafeteria empty at noon, I made my annual pitch for saner summer class time periods, emailing Mark Hoyert: About 20 years ago the university decided to start scheduling summer classes from 8 to 11, 11:30 to 2:30, 3 to 6, and 6:30 to 9:30.  The rationale was, that way there would be four time periods.  The reality is that, at least in Arts and Sciences, there are almost no late classes ending at 9:30.  Meanwhile, none of the time slots is ideal for either students or instructors.  Few people want to be on campus for 10 hours, so those with two classes almost always take them back to back with only 30 minutes to eat and digest one’s meal and prepare for one’s second class.  Wouldn’t it make much more sense to have classes from 9 to 12, from 1 to 4, and from 5 to 8?  Then people wouldn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and could have an hour for lunch or a late afternoon snack.  It would even allow instructors a little time to meet with students between classes.  As things are now, the cafeteria is deserted because nobody has time to eat except on the run. And are students and instructors really at their best in three-hour classes with only 30 minutes in between?”  He thought it “a very interesting idea.”

I attended two condo board meeting within 24 hours.  The first dealt with owners who had renters and whether to put limits or restrictions on the practice.  My view prevailed that if there is no problem, why fix it.  The renters live on both sides of us are good people who haven’t caused any problems.  The second meeting dealt with the 15 ash trees threatened by the emerald ash borer.  As I wrote in the minutes, being board secretary: “An inventory conducted by arborist Gina Darnell concluded that five were in poor condition and should be removed, five were in fair condition, and five were in good or excellent condition.  The board voted unanimously to accept a bid by Edwards Tree Service for $1,750 for the purpose of cutting down the five trees in poor condition with the ultimate intention of replacing them.  Two are located near unit 403, and the others are near units 407, 355, and 373.  Leo and Bernie treated the other trees in question, and the board will consider additional options.  There are seven ash trees on the berm between the inner drive and Sand Creek Drive that are the town’s responsibility.  Their policy is to remove all infected trees and not try to save any that are infected, as the options are costly, need to be repeated every year or so, and not guaranteed to work.”

While planting impatiens with Toni we noticed a couple dozen large bumblebees flying near our roof.  They appear to have made holes in the beam similar to what carpenter ants might do and seem to be looking to settle there.  We don’t have flowering plants that would have attracted them, so an exterminator will pay us a visit.

I critiqued two more articles for South Shore Journal editor Chris Young.  One I really enjoyed, “Public Memory in Gary, Indiana,” discussed the monuments honoring autocratic U.S. Steel Board Chairman Elbert H. Gary and “King of Pop” Michael Jackson.  While the Gary statue near city hall is pretty much neglected, swarms of MJ fans visit the tiny Jackson bungalow where the monument is located.

Dave’s East Chicago tennis team lost 3-2 to Whiting in the Sectionals, but his number one singles and doubles teams won their matches after losing their first sets so remain in the state tournament.

I took Tom Wade to pick up Darcey’s car in Hobart that developed electrical problems at virtually the same time that thieves broke into Tom’s by busting a window while he was running along a trail near Cowles Bog within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  A car next to his was also broken into.  Tom has parked there countless times without incident, but evidently a rash of break-ins have been occurring in various spots near Lake Michigan.  The park service, South Shore railroad, and Town of Porter need to set up a joint task force to trap the bastards causing the trouble.

James and Rebecca have been working on a thousand-piece puzzle featuring Rock ‘n’ Roll entertainers that Dave gave me several years ago.  With Toni’s help the finished the outer edge, and I have begun to take intermittent interest in finding a few pieces.  Yesterday I worked on a section about the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

I was the lone person in the Portage Theater for the matinee showing of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator.”  It was outrageous but hilarious, and I expect to see it again, hopefully with an audience.  I told Anne Balay that her older daughter would love it and younger one hate it.  Anne would probably have mixed feelings.

Paul Konerko hit a two-run HR against Jeff Samardzija and “The Shark” beaned him during Paulie’s next at bat.  In the eighth inning Kerry Wood, making his final appearance before retiring, faced one batter, struck him out, and then walked off the field to a standing ovation.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dark Shadows


“My dog bit me in the leg today
My cat clawed my eyes
Mom’s been thrown out the social circle
And dad has to hide.”
    “No More Mister Nice Guy,” Alice Cooper

While not especially scary nor suspenseful, “Dark Shadows” was fun and quirky, with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter again proving their versatility.  What’s especially cool is that most of the action takes place in the year 1972.   Alice Cooper even makes a cameo appearance, singing “No More Mister Nice Guy.”  Unfamiliar with current pop culture, having been buried for 200 years, the vampire Barnabas (Depp) calls Alice the ugliest woman he’s ever seen.  Barnabas and the witch Angelique (Eva Green) have rough sex while Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” is playing in the background.  The soundtrack includes Moody Blues and Iggy Pop numbers.

Up at 5 a.m. for a two-hour drive to catch Victoria’s soccer game, followed by Anthony’s (both wins, Anthony in green uniform below).  At Phil’s Diamond, decreasingly demonstrative in his old age, still greeted us affectionately, breathing heavily and smiling.  Miranda looked stunningly beautiful in a purple prom dress.  While the other adults went off for more prom photo opportunities, I took Anthony to his basketball game (Tori introduced me to parents of his teammates) and then we had dinner at Appleby’s. Tori and I posed for a funny Facebook photo and I showed her and Phil the “Spirit of Tamarack” video Aaron Pigors posted on YouTube featuring a shot of me with dark hair interviewing Jack Buhner, IUN’s first chancellor, in 1989.  Phil worked with Aaron at a FACET retreat and admires his work. As a kid Phil appeared in three summer musicals directed by Garrett Cope, who in the video says he has no idea what a tamarack is but likes the way the syllables roll off one’s tongue.  A type of tree that commonly grows in a bog, Tamarack is an apt description of the land that flooded over in 2008.



                                         
Phil and I watched the 76ers lose a heartbreaker to the Celtics.  Since nobody predicted them to win, it was fun seeing their young talent blossoming under shrewd coach Doug Collins, who starred for the Sixers during the 1970s.  Looking for reading material, I found Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” in Miranda’s room.  In the introduction Erica Jong argues that the governess was a proto-feminist who refused to settle for anything less than independence and equality in her relationship with a mate.

Six of us had Sunday breakfast at the Cherie Inn Restaurant. It has been in business 84 years, longer than any eatery in Grand Rapids.  Several people had crepes stuffed with lobster meat; I had an omelet with homemade cinnamon bread.  Toni and Delia received pieces of cake for Mother’s Day. Alissa and Josh’s dog Jerry gave us an enthusiastic greeting.  A couple weeks ago, a neighbor let him get out of their apartment by mistake, and they searched the whole neighborhood in vain.  Miraculously Jerry showed up on their back porch.

Cubs salvaged the final game of their series with Milwaukee, led by pitcher Jeff Samardzija, a Valpo native who starred at Notre Dame as a football receiver as well as a pitcher. “The Shark” has long, flowing hair and is coming into his own after three mediocre seasons.  Other emerging stars are Bryan LaHair and Starlin Castro. On the whole the Cubbies are a likeable group and play hard under new manager Dale Sveum. 

Miranda had a great time at her prom with Derrick, her steady for more than a year now, and posted photos on Facebook.  I can’t even recall the name of the red-headed tenth grader I took to mine.  Why I didn’t ask a friend more my age, such as Pam Tucker, Alice Ottinger, LeeLee Minehart, Mary Delp or Judy Jenkins, is beyond me.  I suppose they had boyfriends of their own, but I could have tried.

The latest “Mad Men” episode, called, like the Johnny Depp movie, “Dark Shadows,” takes place around Thanksgiving of 1966, the year the original “Dark Shadows” soap opera series began.  Megan is helping a friend rehearse lines from the show and makes fun of its over-the-top dialogue. Later she warns Don not to open the window because of an air-pollution emergency.  In late November, 1966, smog settled over NYC, and the foul air was responsible for several hundred deaths and a harbinger of worse environmental disasters to come.  Other dark shadows that year were the escalation of the Vietnam War and the emergence of black political power.  With Malcolm X dead, due to FBI negligence, if not compliance, black radical leadership fell into more reckless hands.

Critic and diarist Edmund Wilson returned to America from Paris in May 1954 and noted the Cold War tensions: “Failure of [Secretary of State John Foster] Dulles at Geneva, the McCarthy investigation all over the papers and people getting it on radio and television.  All messy and hysterical; makes no sense.”  Our Gino’s waiter was great except for spilling a shrimp cocktail intended for the speaker.  Ken Anderson quipped that he was tempted to eat one that landed on the floor, prompting me to tell an anecdote about being in a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant when we were poop and noticing a kid next to me leaving virtually his entire fried clams meal untouched.  I slid it in front of me and proceeded to devour it.

Found out my PSA number is good, had a classic Arby’s for lunch, yogurt in the late afternoon, and then off to Gino’s, the Merrillville History Book Club’s new home, for Pam Kosenke’s presentation of Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra: A Life.”  A descendent of Alexander the great, Cleopatra hoped to keep a Hellenized eastern Mediterranean an equal partner of Rome.  Instead with Egyptian wealth so tempting, Octavian decided on a policy of conquest.  I invited Richard Maroc, who is speaking in July on Joyce Cooley’s 1941 historical novel “Wolves against the Moon,” about pioneer Calumet Region residents Joseph and Marie Bailly, to visit the Archives and I’d give him a copy of my Gary book, which contains information on them.  A young prosecutor mentioned that he’d read Edward Greer’s “Big Steel: Black Politics and Corporate Power in Gary, Indiana.”  I heard Greer speak to a mostly socialist audience in Miller and he lost some credibility when he referred to Marquette Park as Gleason Park.  He lived in Gary for a year or so when Mayor Richard Hatcher first took office and compared the city to a former colony that had just achieved independence.

Arrived home in time to watch the 76ers edge Boston 82-81 to tie the seven-game series 1-1, as they made six straight foul shots down the stretch.  Fellow Marylander Jack Wennersten thanked me for my latest Shavings, “Calumet Region Connections.  He noted: It is a most unusual and intriguing thing.  As I began reading this work I hastily concluded that you were quite mad.  But then I began to see it as it truly is -- an historical and sociological valentine to a great region. The people I read about are quite familiar to me.  I grew up in the shadow of the great steel works on Neville Island in Pittsburgh.”  How nice.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Time Capsule


“Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain.”
    “Time,” Pink Floyd

On a day commemorating the demise of IU Northwest’s first building, Tamarack Hall (formerly Gary Mani), Chancellor Bill Lowe and wife Pamela hosted a lunch in Gallery Northwest for former acting chancellor Jack Buhner and others who taught at IU Northwest during the 1960s, including Angie Komenich, F.C. Richardson, and Jack Gruenenfelder.  Buhner, a WW II vet who came to the “IU Extension” in 1948, had vivid memories of the battle to get the campus moved from Seaman Hall in downtown Gary to Glen Park.  I sat next to Trustee Philip Eskew, a former hospital administrator, Medical School professor, and vice president of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.  When I mentioned my fall course, he told me he’s kept a diary since age 15.  He recommended Bob Greene’s “Be True to your School: A Diary of 1964” based on a journal the author kept when he was 17.  The title is from the Beach Boys song.

At a reception preceding the “Time Capsule Opening” program were fellow department members Chris Young, Jonathyne Briggs, and Gianluca Di Muzio, who would later take part in commencement, and emeritus faculty Fred Chary, Ron Cohen, Lloyd Rowe, Rick Hug, John Kroepfl, Mark Reshkin, and Keith Lorentsyn.   I was disappointed that Herman Feldman and George Roberts stayed home.  Among the speakers were Ken Schoon, who was a student in the Sixties and former staff member Ruriko “May” Walker, who recalled the little worms that would infest the building each spring.   Angie Komenich thanked Paul Kern and me for our history of the campus, which she used as a source.  mentioned taking classes from Boll Neil, George Thoma, and Leslie Singer.  After graduating, she taught at Lew Wallace and taught here part-time until she received her advanced degrees. When hired full-time, Buhner told her she’d improve the looks of the place.  Not only was she gorgeous, but he was referring to the previous all-male “gang.”  Gruenenfelder mentioned how the one building contained everything from a cafeteria to the library and, mercifully, only one conference meeting room and plentiful windows in both faculty offices and classrooms.  Buhner once got a call that his son was on the roof of the building making faces at students in a classroom.

Ellen Szarleta introduced SPEA students Kelly Clemens and Missy Grish, who spent a semester developing a plan to turn the land where Tamarack once stood into a green space.  They envisaged a dry creek useful in diverting rain water to prevent flooding, as well as a Native American garden and a pavilion built in a way resistant to flood damage.

Chancellor Lowe, Steve McShane, and Buhner opened a copper box that had been soldered shut and put in the cornerstone in September 1958.  Contents included newspaper clippings, minutes from IU’s Board of Trustees, a university handbook, and, surprisingly, a personal note from longtime employee Ruth Nelson, who started working for Gary College and was still volunteering as a library assistant at age 90.  A video presentation produced by Aaron Pigors entitled “The Spirit of Tamarack” included excerpts of interviews Chris Sheid did of Garrett Cope, Lori Montalbano and myself.  He used remarks I made about seeing Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson speak in the theater in 1976 and 1984 while campaigning for the 1976 Democratic nomination.  Lori first visited the theater as a 14 year-old while attending Hammond Morton.  Garrett was quite emotional about the demise of the theater as a result of the 2008 flood, but said the “spirit of Tamarack” would live on in people’s hearts.  One photo shows Jack Buhner at the 1959 cornerstone ceremony with Gary mayor George Chacharis to his right.


Before James went for his summer haircut, we looked through a book about the Guinness Book of records.  Several came from foreign game shows, such as fastest time running the 100-meter hurdles wearing flippers.  We both enjoyed the longest fingernails category, held by Christine “The Duchess” Walton from Las Vegas, whose nails are about ten feet long.

The ash tree in front our condo appears doomed due to the ash borer infestation.  Several branches are bare, and the prevailing wisdom is that once infected it is too late to save the victims.

Bulls lost their playoff serious to eighth-seeded Philadelphia.  Backup point guard C.J. Watson, in for the injured MVP Derrick Rose, inexplicably passed Omer Asik with ten seconds left.  Fowled hard going to the basket, Asik missed twice at the foul line and 76er Andre Iguodala drove the length of the court and got fouled with two seconds.  He drained both free throws and the 76ers won by a point.

Steve McShane and I met Jack Buhner for breakfast at the Radisson.  I opted for eggs and potatoes in a skillet.  We talked about oldtimers Bill Neil, George Roberts, Les Singer, and Gary Moran.  Buhner and his wife held open houses for faculty and students at their residence on Adams near the Forty-Third Avenue Presbyterian Church.  At the Archives Steve showed him photos of the 2008 flood.  Buhner recalled the Silver Anniversary events the city of Gary and U.S. Steel held in 1956, including the Jubilee parade down Broadway.  I promised to send him a copy of “Gary’s First Hundred Years,” which includes sections on Ruth Nelson, Martin Zelt, and Chancellor Peggy Elliott, who started out as a part-time English teacher.  “I knew she’d go far,” Jack said.  With a still sharp mind, he handled being 92 very well, using a cane, a magnifying glass to read, and a hearing aid that sometimes popped out of place.

Ann Bottorff passed on a posting on George Takei’s website that poked fun at blowhard Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that by supporting same-sex unions President Obama was leading a war on traditional marriage by adding: “His first, second, third, and fourth wives could not be reached for comment.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blue Dog


“Who let the dogs out
woof, woof, woof, woof.”
    Baha Men

In the wake of the shocking margin of Senator Dick Lugar’s defeat, Senatorial candidate Joe Donnelly is stressing that he is a so-called “Blue Dog” Democrat.  In 1995, after Republicans gained control of the House, a group of moderates, mainly Southerners, some of whom subsequently became Republicans, gave themselves that moniker.  They met regularly in offices of Louisiana Congressmen who had “Blue Dog” paintings of Cajun artist George Rodrigue on the wall and felt that they had been “choked blue” by the leftwing of their party.  The nickname may have been a take-off on so-called “Yellow Dog” Democrats, loyal to a fault in that they’d even support a yellow dog if such an animal were on their party’s ticket. Another explanation is that dogs left out in the cold allegedly turn blue.  How sad if Donnelly thinks he has to distance himself from Obama and the Democratic House leadership.  Shades of Evan Bayh.  When I moved to Indiana in 1970, both senators were good liberals.  Vance Hartke lost to Lugar in 1976 and Dan Quayle defeated Evan’s dad Birch in the 1980 Reagan landslide.  Asked by Chuck Todd about Obamacare, Donnelly at least praised the parts that mandate insurance coverage of preexisting conditions and allow young people to remain on their parents’ policies through age 26.  Favorite student Shannon Pontney’s hubby works for Donnelly, who married them, and I’ll be a volunteer if called on to help defeat Tea Party stooge Mourdock, whose idea of compromise is for the other side to totally capitulate.

When grandson Anthony was a kid, he’d drive everyone crazy playing “Who Let the Dogs Out.”  He loved the woof woofs, and after the first 30 seconds would repeat the opening over and over.

Sadly Roy Dominguez lost his bid to unseat incumbent Lake County Commissioner Gerry Sheub, perhaps partly the result of cynicism among voters distrustful of candidates born in Gary with Latino names. Scheub’s main residence is elsewhere, and the 76 year-old pushed for the government to support a dubious trash-to-ethanol scheme.  Roy’s political enemies planted misleading innuendoes with newspaper columnists all too willing, perhaps out of fear, to do their bidding.  With such low voter turnout, Sheub benefitted from having the support of a Democratic machine that had its roots with Club SAR, an Eastern European clique put together 75 years ago by Gary boss George Chacharis. The two most powerful county officeholders, Hammond mayor Tom McDermott and Sheriff John Buncich, each had reasons for fearing a Dominguez victory and did everything they could to derail his candidacy.  I told Roy that he should consider seeking a seat on the IU Board of Trustees.

In West Virginia some jerk who is in a Texas jail garnered over 40 percent of the votes in the Democratic Presidential primary and a majority of voters in North Carolina want to ban same sex marriage.  The results show that prejudice is very much alive in border states among folks who seem to care more about social issues than their economic self-interest.  

One Sunday in May 1774, 69 year-old Puritan minister Joseph Fish preached to just eight Narragansett Indians and afterwards asked an old woman why more didn’t come to hear him. In his diary he wrote of being told that “she supposed they dare not come for Sam Niles warned them not to hear any of our ministers that wore great white wigs.”  Good for Sam.  Fish hated Baptists, looked down on Native Americans, and in church matters believed that women should be seen but not heard.

I exchanged several emails with childhood friend Paul Turk, whose daughter will attend William and Mary College in the fall.  A sports fan originally from Cleveland who lives in the D.C. area, he refers to his two favorite baseball teams as The Tribe and the Gnats.

I renewed my Traces magazine subscription.  In looking to expand our “Traces of Northwest Indiana History” exhibit I discovered an article by Todd Gould on Mexican Repatriation (“Forced Exodus from the Calumet Region”).  Gould has written books on the early days of pro basketball in Indiana and on Charlie Wiggins and the African-American racing car circuit.  


The teenager semi-finalists on “Jeopardy” had trouble with the Citizenship category.  Contestants didn’t know the minimum age for a Congressman (25) or that freshmen take office in January.  The guy ahead prior to “Final Jeopardy” failed to write down “Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins, setting up an all-female final.

In a recent episode of “Mad Men” the news in the background mentions Vermont Senator George Aiken’s October 1966, statement that the U.S. should declare victory in Vietnam and leave.  Don’s 12 year-old daughter Sally comes across her dad’s mother-in-law fellating Roger.  Later she calls her brother and when asked how ‘s the city, responds, “Dirty.” Don’s trophy wife gives him a copy of the Beatles’ “Revolver” album, and he seems totally mystified listening to “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

History secretary Vicki informed that former student from the 1970s Daniel Kozlowski was asking about me.  He left a business card indicating that he is a judge advocate at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, IN, with the rank of colonel.  I published his article about growing up in Highland in my Sixties Shavings.

I’ve been invited to an event honoring Maria Reiner Center’s volunteers because of my talk to seniors on the “Age of Anxiety.”  Ellen Szarleta also invited me to an event where the Barden Gary Foundation will honor Gary Roosevelt students who have worked to clean up Buffington Park.

I picked up slacks at Nuvo Cleaners in Chesterton.  Entering the establishment, I said, “Hi, my name is Jim Lane and I’m here for a pair of pants.”  With a smile a young woman replied, “Hi, my name is Jill and I’ll get them for you.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cinco de Mayo


“If you didn’t come to party
Why did you bother coming at all.”
    The Donnas

Toni and I took in “The Avengers” at Friday’s 2:15 showing at Cinemark in Valpo. The theater was about half-full for the opening day matinee, but throngs were lined up for the 5:30 as we left the theater.  Special effects bore me, but there were plenty of humorous moments for Robert Downey, Jr., as Iron Man. He tells the guy who turns into The Hulk, “I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”  Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) rocked.  At the beginning Scarlett appears to be in serious trouble but then beats up her captors while still tied to a chair.  The crowd loved it when The Hulk picked up the villain Loki and beat him into the ground like a rug.  Nationally the movie broke all weekend records for attendance.

For Anne Balay’s promotion party in honor of Tanice Foltz Toni fixed shrimp.  We picked up Ron and Nancy, who made yummy cookies.  I enjoyed a Sloppy Joe, chicken legs, and two salads.  I gave Tanice the Donnas Turn 21 CD and rocked out with her to “Are You Gonna Move It For Me?” I met business professor Andrea Griffin and asked about possibly having courses on sports management that Carson Cunningham could teach.  Retiring prof Don Coffin teaches one occasionally on sports economics.  Many Millerites were in attendance, and Anne has quickly acclimated to moving there from Chicago.  Anne’s daughter Emma was a friendly hostess making sure nobody went thirsty.  She went to the midnight debut of “The Avengers” with friends dressed as the villain Loki.  My six-pack of Stella Artois quickly disappeared, but there was plenty of beer, including primo bottles from Three Floyds mini-brewery in Munster.  Anne’s friend Ausra took a photo of me with Brian O’Camb, Ron, Jonathyne Briggs, and Jamie Holeman.
  


There’s a Time feature on novelist John Irving, who is just weeks younger than I.  I thought his characters in “The World According to Garp” and “Hotel New Hampshire” were a little too quirky to be believable, but his goal seems to have been to promote tolerance toward sexual outsiders.  His latest, “In One Person,” ends with a transgender woman telling the bisexual hero, “My dear boy, don’t put a label on me – don’t make me a category before you get to know me.”  I picked up “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed” containing Irving’s memoirs and short stories, including one about a urologist nicknamed “Raunch.”

Saturday was opening for the Chesterton market.  I tasted samples of dips and desserts and enjoyed people watching.  A folksy duo played mostly Sixties songs.  I didn’t see a single person I knew.



Senior class adviser, Dave got a short hair cut for the prom.  Afterwards David Bork posted a photo on Facebook entitled “The best teacher at EC Central and I.”  We had the kids for the day, and I interested James and Becca in watching the Kentucky Derby by having each of us pick a horse.  Becca liked the beautiful white colt Hansen while James was rooting for Alpha.  My horse, Bodemeister, led all the way before overtaken by 15 to 1 shot I’ll Have Another (great name – sounds like a bowling team).  Janet Bayer used to host an annual Derby party featuring mint juleps.  She was watching with friends who served up Mexican fare, including margaritas in honor of Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates an 1862 victory by Mexican troops over an invading French force at the battle of Puebla. It delayed the French occupation under Maximilian by more than a year and thus aided the Union cause during the Civil War by denying French supplies to the Confederacy. 

Mexican Independence Day was once the main ethnic holiday celebrated by Region Hispanics, but Cinco de Mayo seems to have gotten just as big.  At the Cubs game were numerous fans in big sombreros.  In Florida a couple woke up to discover a huge sinkhole in their backyard that a “Today” reporter nicknamed “Sinkhole de Mayo.”  Pat Zollo posted a joke about a huge shipment of Hellmann’s mayonnaise in the hold of the Titanic destined for Vera Cruz, Mexico whose loss produced a day of mourning known as “Sinki de Mayo.”

Puerto Rican-born “King of Beisbol” Roberto Clemente died 30 years ago when attempting to fly supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims after dictator Anastasio Somoza interrupted previous deliveries.  Signed by Pirate former Dodger executive Branch Rickey, who had previously broken the color line, the charismatic Clemente led the Pittsburgh Pirates to world championships in 1960 and 1971 with his rifle arm and ability to hit for average, power, and especially in the clutch. The only other player voted into the Hall of Fame less than five years after the end of his playing career was Lou Gehrig.  

A “Smithsonian” article dealt with the memoirs of Casanova, which recently sold for a record $9.6 million, and describes his seductions of some 120 women, including milk maids, nuns, aristocratic ladies, and young girls, some of whom were his relatives.  Scholar Tom Vitelli asserts that Casanova would have been surprised that he is remembered most as a great lover, adding: “Sex was part of his story, but it was incidental to his real literary aims.  He only presented his love life because it gave a window into human nature.”  A bit of a braggart and creature of the Enlightenment, Casanova mingled with the likes of Voltaire, Ben Franklin, and the salacious Catherine the Great, who was falsely rumored to have crushed to death when servants lost their grip on ropes supporting a horse that was being lowered for her sexual pleasure.

Tom Wade won three board games Sunday (my lone triumph was in Acquire).  I foolishly traded with him in Settlers of Catan or Dave would have won.  Philadelphia sports teams went two for three, the 76ers defeating the Bulls without Rose or Noah, the Flyers losing to the Jersey Devils, and the Phils beating the Washington Nationals in baseball.  In the first inning pitcher Cole Hamels plunked 19 year-old phenom Bryce Harper; two batters later Harper scored from third when Hamels tried to pick off a guy on first.  When Hamels got up, Jordan Zimmermann hit him on the leg.  Admitting he hit Harper on purpose to “welcome him” into the big leagues, Hamels faces a five-game suspension.

Heeding the advice of Robert Blaszkiewicz, I’ve decided to vote Republican in Tuesday’s primary to support 80 year-old Richard Lugar against Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock, ahead by ten points in the latest polls.  Lugar is one of the few semi-moderate GOP senators left and has made it his mission to reduce weapons of mass destruction in the world.  His only hope is if enough Democrats vote for him.  I used to think Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly would have a better chance against Mourdock, but he might fare better against Lugar, hurt by allegations that he no longer lives in Indiana and that after six terms, it’s time he retire.  As a bonus I’ll be able to vote for Ron Paul against Romney.

In years past IUN would be bustling on days grades were due.  Now with Oncourse faculty don’t have to come on campus to do so.  My last few years teaching I missed the process of taking grades to the registrar and having someone check my grade rosters to make sure I didn’t leave any blanks.  Finding a virtually empty cafeteria, I was pleasantly surprised when Yankee fan Alan Lindmark (grieving over Mariano Rivera tearing his ACL shagging flies) and four English faculty members joined me for lunch.  George Bodmer had posted on Facebook a photo entitled “Despicable Me Ninja deviled eggs.”  I had thought they were six toys, but George told me to look closer.  Sure enough, he had made them using carrots for noses and olives for sunglasses.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ramblin'


“Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Tryin’ to make a living and doin’ the best I can.”
   “Ramblin’ Man,” Allman Brothers Band

On the cover of Rolling Stone is Obama interviewed by publisher Jann Wenner.  Also is the issue is a tribute to Levon Helm of The Band and an excerpt from Gregg Allman’s “My Cross to Bear.”  A hitchhiker killed Allman’s dad when he was a toddler, and brother Duane died in 1971 in a motorcycle accident.  Gregg admits that his drug and alcohol addiction torpedoed his marriage to Cher.  No mention how they got tattoos from Glen Park’s Roy Boy.  In 1973 “Ramblin’ Man,” written and sung by Dickey Betts, became the Allman Brothers Band’s biggest hit.  Based on a song of the same name by Hank Williams, Sr. The single reached number two, surpassed only by Cher’s lame “Half-Breed.”

On the anniversary of Navy SEALSs killing Osama bin Laden President Obama flew to Kabul to announce victory over al-Qaeda is within reach and that our primary mission will be to train Afghan troops.  Republicans, who had been criticizing Democrats for supposedly politicizing the death of bin Laden, mostly kept their mouths shut.  Nine years ago Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” on board the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, a gesture he later regretted.   Romney, contrary to statements he made in 2007 that he wouldn’t have violated Pakistan sovereignty to strike at bin Laden, quipped that “even Jimmy Carter” would have approved the mission – a crack that even Republican Joe Scarborough thought unfair and misleading.  In truth both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had misgivings about giving the OK to the SEALs mission.

Robert Caro’s “The Passage of Power,” covering the years of LBJ’s vice presidency and first months as president, got a big splash in “The Smithsonian” and the Sunday “New York Times Magazine.”  Caro despises Lyndon the person but admires his skill following JFK’s assassination and shepherding liberal legislation through Congress.  Caro is in his mod-Eighties, so one doubts if he’ll ever complete the biography.

Getting my PSA blood work done took about an hour.  An 88 year-old WW II air force guy starving for company started up a conversation.  Delia’s Aunt Elba checked me in.  Last time I hardly felt the prick, but the nurse did three or four unsuccessful probes in my arm before asking if I mined her using my hand.

Proofreading Henry Farag’s “The Signal” in preparing for it to become an eBook renewed my appreciation of his unique talents as a writer, performer, and producer.  His account of growing up in the Tolleston neighborhood of Gary is also great social history, dealing with gangs, teenage haunts, relationships between the sexes, politics, and race-relations.  The program Henry’s son Ryan used to create a word document was remarkably efficient.  Except for mistaking “rn” for “m,” (i.e., tumed instead of turned) and capital “O” for zero (0), the main errors were too many spaces between words.

Angie bought odometers for herself and the kids.  Doctors recommend that adults walk about ten miles a day.  I’m probably good for about half that.

I’m pondering having Fall students keep a daily log of how many miles they drove and to where. Here’s what one of mine would look like: Thursday, May 3, drove to Jewel and back (one mile) for ice cream, beer, and ingredients for tuna and macaroni casserole; took back “City of Fortune” to Chesterton library and picked up a Subway cold cut foot-long before arriving at IUN (total of 20 miles); visited W.E.B. DuBois library on Eighteenth and Broadway (one mile) to peruse a 1942 Roosevelt yearbook for information about William Marshall; drove 16 miles to East Chicago Central for tennis match against Hanover Central (a 3-2 victory for the Lady Cardinals with four of the five matches going three sets and the number one doubles team of Katie Lipa and Jackeline Fernandez winning on a third-set tie breaker); arrived back in Chesterton in time for Flyers OT loss to Jersey Devils (25 miles).

I’m having trouble in my research into Gary actor William Marshall.  His nephew was helpful on the phone but hasn’t answered my written queries.  The FBI has been giving me the runaround regarding my Freedom of Information Act request.  He’s mentioned in a file pertaining to a so-called Communist Front group, the Committee of the Arts Against Repression but for some reason I can’t see the documents.  The Roosevelt yearbook I looked at belonging to the Gary library’s local history room is missing the page containing Marshall’s senior photo.  I did find him, however, in a Men’s Glee Club photo and in a senior play cast photo of “Our Town.”

The May history book club will meet at Gino’s in Merrillville, where I had lunch with the son of former Indiana attorney-general Theofore Sendak’s son. We’ll discuss a biography of Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff.  I found a 1972 scholarly work by Michael Grant that mentions that her lineage was Greek, not Egyptian, a descendent of Alexander the Great.  First married to a kid brother (incest being royal tradition), she had affairs both with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  Her elaborate spectacles were held not out of decadence but to cement the loyalty of subjects as the earthly embodiment of goddess Isis.  In 33 B.C. Mark Anthony stabbed himself after losing the naval battle of Actium and Cleopatra then succumbed from a self-inflicted deadly bite of a cobra.

Finally emailed Marylander Sam Walker, who wrote a history of the early years of ACC basketball between 1953 and 1972, after finding his address in the sports jacket I wore to Ray Smock’s Distinguished Alumni lecture.   The ACC was formed with football in mind, but in time the basketball rivalries were much more intense.  Sam wrote an excellent account of 1944 Gary Lew Wallace grad Vic Bubas, who played for North Carolina State and then coached Duke for 11 years beginning in 1959.  Bubas started out as assistant at NC State to Everett Case, whom Sam calls “the man who made ACC basketball” because he inherited a mediocre program and made it so competitive that rivals had to up their efforts to keep up.  Bubas was a great recruiter, working on prospects early in their high school careers and snagging such All-Americans as Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins.  His Blue Devils teams won 213 games, and made three Final Four NCAA appearances.  Contemporaries included coaches Bones McKinney at Wake Forest and Frank McGuire at North Carolina.  The 85 year-old Bubas went on to become commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference for some 15 years.

Aaron Pigors taped me at the Archives in connection with the time capsule opening next week.  Jack Buhner, who’s attending the graduation day events, started teaching at the old IU Extension in 1948 and helped secure the present location of the campus in what was then Gleason Park.  While I got in some information about Buhner, most of Chris Sheid’s questions had to do with my memories of Tamarack Hall (originally Gary Main), which was recently razed and whose cornerstone contained the time capsule. I mentioned summer musicals Phil and Dave were in as kids, including “Hello Dolly” and “Finnegan’s Rainbow,” and lively lunch discussions in the lounge adjacent to my office with the likes of George Roberts and Leslie Singer.

Exactly 70 years ago 26 year-old Charles Kikuchi wrote from Tanforan, California: “I saw a soldier in a tall guardhouse near the barbed wire and did not like it because it reminds me of a concentration camp.  I feel like a foreigner in this [internment] camp hearing so much Japanese although our family uses English almost exclusively.”

Vietnam vet Jay Keck sent me a book of poetry put out at IU-PU at Fort Wayne entitled “Confluence.” He liked Jessica Wilson’s untitled poem that contains these lines: “There’s nothing you can do but keep on holdin’ your ground/ Keep your head up and get ready for the next round/ Count your blessings and be thankful for today/ Because we all know tomorrow’s not guaranteed anyway.”