Thursday, March 14, 2013

Heart and Soul

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to f--- up like this,” John Converse in Robert Stone’s “Dog Soldiers”

Robert Stone, whose novel “Dog Soldiers” captured the moral debasement of America’s participation in the Vietnam War, wrote an excellent memoir entitled “Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties.”  A buddy of Merry Prankster Ken Kesey and author of the 1968 novel “Hall of Mirrors,” he portrays the 1960s as a tremendously exciting time and bemoans the gradual corruption of the hippie dream, concluding, “Measuring ourselves against the masters of the present, we regret nothing except our failure to prevail.”
 Karren Lee and John Cain at Lakeshore TV studio
Karren Lee, President of the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District, sent out a letter that began, “On the morning after a very painful evening at the Marquette Park Pavilion on watching Ed Asner labor to perform his one-man show ‘FDR,’ I woke up feeling very proud to be a part of this community.”  She went on to say that when Asner struggled to remember lines and admitted confusion, “you could feel all the love and support flowing toward the stage from every one of the 360 devoted fans in attendance.” As EMTs were helping Asner off the stage, the audience gave him a standing ovation when he said, “I’ll be back.”  Not one person asked for a refund.   Karren ended by including a note she sent to Ed, wishing him a speedy recovery and telling him, “You will always hold a very special place in the hearts of this small community of Miller Beach and the city of Gary, IN.”  I told her that her letter brought a tear to my eye and was a lovely expression of pride in Millerites whose actions exemplified the heart and soul of what is an amazing community.
 Ed Asner at Gary workshop

IUN’s library closes at five during Spring Break, but a campus policeman said I could stay till 5:30 (it being bowling night) if I called when leaving so an alarm could be set. At 5:15 I was in a third floor bathroom stall when the lights suddenly went out.  Despite the utter darkness I found my way to the door and lived to write about it.  It reminded me of a time about ten years ago when some asshole turned the lights out on me while I was on the john.  At Cressmoor Lanes Dick Maloney told me that retired teacher Tom Croll was in the hospital.  We three had lunch last year at Country Lounge.  Last week at Reiner Center Croll attended my talk on Vivian Carter.  At first I forgot who he was.

On Facebook I posted this message: “I’ll be in Palm Springs from March 21 until March 25.  Let me know if you’ll be in the ‘neighborhood.’”  I got likes from Miranda, Darcey, Jonathan Rix, and five others but no takers.  Steve Pickert replied, “You missed me by three weeks.”  Janet Bayer said, “I’ll be in Long Beach.”  Marianne Brush lamented, “Wish I was in the neighborhood!!!”  Dean Bottorff advised, “Don’t get a sunburn.”

I watched “Animal House” for the first time since its release in 1978 and found it funny in parts but not when John Belushi was doing his Blutarsky bits.  I didn’t recognize Kevin Bacon but Donald Sutherland was perfectly cast as the lecherous, weed-smoking Professor Jennings.  I had forgotten how many bare breasts (referred to by frat boys as yabbos and gazongas, among other things) and sexual references there were in it.  While giving a hand-job to one of the meanies, sorority bimbo Babs says, “Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?” During the credits we learn what supposedly happened to the character.  Greg goes to jail due to his role in Watergate and gets raped, while the crypto-Nazi Neidermeyer gets fragged by his men in Vietnam.  The film is set in 1962, which coincides with my “animal house” days in Sigma Phi Epsilon at Bucknell.

Bucknell President John C. Bravman sent out a group email to alumni after the Bisons secured an NCAA bid by defeating Patriot League rival Lafayette (located in Easton, PA, across the street where I lived during my first six years; Homecoming parades passed by our house at High and McCartney streets).  Valpo will also be at the Big Dance, having beaten Horizon League opponent Wright State. 

The College of Cardinals selected an Argentinian, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, to be the next pope.  He took the name Francis to honor thirteenth century friend-of-the-poor Francis of Assisi and fellow Jesuit Francis Xavier.  Letterman’s Top Ten list of rejected pope names included Kim Jong Pope and Francis Ford Coppola. I had the TV on mute listening to the Flaming Lips.  Blues Cruise added their song “She Don’t Use Jelly” to their playlist.  Also on Letterman plugging “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” was Jim Carrey wearing enormous bare feet.  He was a riot dancing in them.

I have been picking up snatches of information from a DVD lecture series on quantum mechanics by physicist Benjamin Schumacher that Tom Wade loaned Toni.   Most of the universe is taken up by mysterious dark matter. “Quantum” means the minimum amount of any entity involved in an interaction.  A photon is a quantum of light. “Quantum leap” is an electron changing from one quantum state or energy level to another within an atom.

Jeff Manes dropped off a CD of his documentary: “Everglades of the North: The Grand Kankakee Marsh.”  His Post-Trib column yesterday was on Fred Gorniak, who couldn’t talk due to throat cancer and wrote answers on an erasable board.  Multiple sclerosis has also left him unable to walk. He tries to keep a positive outlook and told Jeff, “I always remember someone out there has it worse than me.”

Nephew Bob Lane asked me to critique his ad for the new Burger Lounge Elk Burger and sent an illustration for it and the new B.U.B. (Big Umami Burger) consisting of “two six ounce beef patties, bacon, beer cheddar, minced onions, pickles, mustard, house ketchup, served tall with a middle bun.”  Bob asks, “Think you can take down more than one?”  Doubt if I could get that monster in my mouth.  Never having heard the word Umami before, I discovered it’s of Japanese origin and means savory, something that makes one salivate.
Burger Lounger B.U.B. (Big Umami Burger)
Frederic Cousseau passed along a funny YouTube video cartoon entitled “Greetings from Gary” by rapper Freddie Gibbs, imagining Michael Jackson returning to the city of his birth dressed in pajamas and shiny glove “looking like Captain Crunch.”  On the way to the SteelYard (what Gibbs calls “this big stupid-ass baseball stadium”) he tosses pieces of KFC barbeque wings to fans from his limo.  Freddie said, “You’d have thought Jesus had come back” because “Gary doesn’t have enough money for Michael to sing a note.” Surrounding the car were fans of all ages, including mobster gangbangers.  “I’m seein’ killers cryin,’ Freddie claims.

Waiting for a haircut from Anna, I checked out an issue of Reminisce magazine that focused on happy memories of camp.  I hated my weeks at Camp Miller in the Poconos when ten years old.  I got sick and then struggled to compile enough merits to qualify for an award that required me to swim 25 yards.  Nobody gave me lessons, and I sunk like a rock each time I tried to do it.  We had to swim nude, and I recall two women counselors wandering over to the lake while we were all standing in a line getting ready to plunge in the water.  Scout camp was even worse and included demeaning hazing rituals by older kids that included having to strip off old your clothes.

Watched the Blackhawks break a two-game losing streak and got a weather report from Steve Baskerville of CBS.  My favorite weather forecasters are NBC’s comely pair of Cheryl Scott and Ginger Zee.  Back in the 1970s John Coleman of WLS was the funniest, while WGN’s Tom Skilling, still on the air, was the most detailed.  Radio shock jock Steve Dahl did a great impression of the man he called “Tom Skillinghead.”

1 comment:

  1. Surely Robert Stone is one of the best writers of individual scenes in all of our literature – think of the scene in A Flag for Sunrise where Tabor shoots his dogs, or in Children of Light where members of a film crew mistake the phrase “Bosch’s Garden” for “Butch’s Garden”, which they speculate is an S&M joint in Los Angeles.