Thursday, April 4, 2013

Infinite Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope,” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King died 45 years ago, killed most likely by racist escaped con James Earl Ray with a helping hand from J. Edgar Hoover’s damnable FBI.  Agents had previously tried to blackmail King by threatening to expose his marital infidelity if he didn’t end his activism, and they shamed him into staying at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis rather than one in a safer location.  I still recall how shattered I was upon hearing the news and attending the chapel service next day at the University of Maryland.  I was teaching a class when a procession passed by, and I decided to join it.  Holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome,” I wondered if such optimistic sentiments could survive America’s blood lust.  Bobby Kennedy was still there (in Indianapolis) to exhort us not to give up the dream, but before long he, too, was gone, leaving the political field open to Richard Nixon and his cries for law ‘n’ order.

Spent an hour starting at 7:30 at Toyota due to a recall of 2003-2004 Corollas – something to do with the electrical system.  I arrived at IU Northwest in time to catch most of the COAS Conference session on “Perspectives on Politics and Urban Life.”  Brandy Lyn Eddy talked about Congressman Jim Jontz, whose papers she has been organizing in the Archives.

Liberal Studies grad student Dustin Allen Durbin discussed Lyndon B. Johnson and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  He looked familiar, and I discovered that he wrote an article entitled “Craziest Experience” for my 1980s Shavings, “The Uncertainty of Everyday Life.  He interviewed someone involved in a violent incident that took place in Glen Park.  I used a photo of Dustin in the index.

Frequent Archives visitors Amalia Shanks-Meile and Elizabeth LaDuke titled their paper on City Methodist Church “The Cake is a Lie.”  Showing photos of its interior, they discussed how the gothic ruin had changed during the year before their two visits.  The title is from graffiti found on a wall.  They first thought it was an expression about the impossibility for young ghetto residents of achieving the American Dream.  They discovered that the phrase was popularized by the X-Box game Portal, as a false promise of a reward for completing a mission.  At game’s end GlaDos, the artificially intelligent guide sings, “There’s no sense crying over every mistake, you just keep trying till you run out of cake.”

Two of Anne Balay’s students participated in a session chaired by Performing Arts professor Mark Baer entitled “All the World’s a Stage.”  I had previously heard a version of Brenna Echterling’s “Gender and the Outsider” at a Women’s Studies conference but learned more about S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders.”  The 1967 novel deals with two gangs, Greasers and Socs, divided by social class. Brenna was particularly interested in the female characters Cherry and Marcia.  Jennifer Tepavcevich discussed the crime novels of Sara Paretsky, whose private eye heroine, V.I. Warshawski, transformed the image of women in detective fiction, a genre usually portraying them as femme fatales or evil bitches.  Jennifer worked in photos of performance artist Amanda Fucking Parker allowing folks to paint her nude body.  Formerly part of the musical group Dresden Dolls, Amanda is touring with a group she calls The Grand Theft Orchestra.  She started out panhandling as a living statue, an eight-foot bride.  In talking with Jennifer afterwards, it was obvious that Amanda, below, was someone she greatly admired.  One Dresden Dolls song, “(Who could ask for more than a) Coin-Operated Boy,” includes the line, “I can even f--- him in the ass.”  
I skipped Psychology professor Ralph Erber’s keynote speech, “From Idea to Research: An Idiosyncratic View,” fearing I’d embarrass myself by falling asleep (I’d been up since six), but returned for the screening of Jeff Manes and Pat Wisniewski’s fascinating documentary on the Kankakee Marsh, “Everglades of the North.”  Jeff had donated a copy to the Archives two weeks earlier.

On Facebook Sam Barnett wrote that in 1974 his Aunt Sandra Roorda-Novak, who recently passed away, “saw KISS in 1974 at the Parthenon in Hammond, IN. The opening act was Rush, with new drummer Neal Peart.  So you'll see what endeared her to me.”  He added: “No amount of rock ‘n’ roll will lift my heart today.”  I replied: “That year (1974) I paid 20 bucks to see the Ali-Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" at the Parthenon.”  Before the fight management showed a softcore porn flick.  The audience was quite boisterous.

Michael Bayer, above, recommended an article on Alter Net by Chris Hedges attacking the liberal elite for being too willing for purposes of career self-preservation, especially in times of war or national emergencies, to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status.”  He quotes Leslie Gelb, who wrote in Foreign Affairs, “We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common—often wrong—wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less.”  Hedges claims that the silence is especially egregious when it comes to the plight of Palestinians or any position that might bring trigger the wrath of  Israeli supporters

The Cubs held on to take the first series of the season from Pittsburgh despite another shaky ninth by Carlos Marmol, who gave up two runs in the 3-2 win.  Pittsburgh Dave wondered, “How long can Carlos Marmol hold on to that closers job?????”  I recommended he add present set-up man Kyuji Fujikawa to his Fantasy roster.

Dean Bottorff wrote: “File this under phrases you don't hear anymore: ‘This room looks like the wreck of the Hesperus,’ which is what my mother used to say to me when my room reached a particularly untidy stage.”  “The Wreck of the Hesperus” was a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about a ship captain who had brought his young daughter on board his schooner and, when a hurricane approached, tied her to the mast so she wouldn’t be swept overboard.  The ship crashed on the reef of Norman’s Woe off the coast of Gloucester, Mass., killing all on board.  Next morning a fisherman came upon the body of the maiden in the surf still lashed to the mast.  Longfellow wrote: “The salt air was frozen on her breast, the salt tears in her eyes; and he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed, on the billows fall and rise.”

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