“When the way comes to an end, then change. Having changed, you pass through,” I Ching
A Dr. Hex appeared on the latest “Mad Men” dispensing energy serum in the butt to many of the admen. The character was based on Max Jacobson, nicknamed Dr. Feelgood, who counted among his clients John F. Kennedy, Mickey Mantle, Nelson Rockefeller, Elvis Presley, and Truman Capote. Before losing his medical license, he concocted a formula containing amphetamines, multiple vitamins, human placenta, painkillers, steroids, and animal hormones. He accompanied JFK to the 1961 Vienna Summit and visited the White House dozens of times. Dr. Feelgood was also a 1970s British band whose best-known hit was “Milk and Alcohol.”
In the Mad Men” episode, entitled “The Crash,” a hippie girl named Wendy, daughter of cancer victim Frank Gleason, indulges in I Ching coin divination, asks Don if he wants “to get it on,” listens to his heartbeat and proclaims that it’s broken, and has sex with bearded Stan, who first made advances toward Peggy and in a bid for sympathy discussed his cousin dying in Vietnam. While Don’s three kids were home alone, with Sally in bed reading “Rosemary’s Baby,” a burglar shows up claiming to be their grandmother. “Are we Negroes?” Bobby Draper wonders. While “Mad Men” eschews nudity, the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” reveled in it. Blond Daenerys Targaryen rises slowly from her bath to cement a new alliance while the evil Melisandre seduces Gendry before torturing him with leeches. The virginal 14 year-old Sansa Stark is forced to wed the dwarf Tyrion, but (mercifully) he stops her from disrobing in their bedchamber and says he won’t have sex with her until she’s ready.
I attended yet another somber visitation – this time at Edmond and Evans Funeral Home in Chesterton for neighbor Sue Harrison. Once she was hospitalized for an apparent adverse reaction to medication, things went steadily downhill. Her five grown kids held up well, outwardly at least, but fiancé Dave and dear friend Joan were having a tough time coping. Prior to visiting hours Dave took Sue’s two “girls,” her Yorkies, to where her body lay in a casket. Dave plans to distribute some of her ashes to Draper, North Carolina, where she grew up. Condo president Bernie Holicky invited some of us to his place to reminisce and unwind. The subject of “reefer,” as the elderlies referred to it, came up, in particular how more and more states are decriminalizing possession or authorizing its sale for medicinal purposes. Not Indiana though – under Governor Pence the Hoosier state is going in the opposite direction. Leo Ronda recalled renting an apartment to hippies who grew plants in the backyard until he found out about it. Living in Florida, Marcia’s dad grew plants in neighbors’ gardens without their knowledge and one day came home to find police cars busting the unsuspecting elderly couple next door.
In Saudi Arabia 30 years ago, I was teaching an IU American History course to Aramco Oil Company personnel. Students often invited professors for dinner. The country was officially dry, but one host bade me try his homemade whiskey. Another couple took me to an Indonesian restaurant and then stopped to buy pot from a guy growing it in his house. They invited me to see the crop but I declined. All the way back to my apartment I feared a police bust and that I’d end up rotting in a Saudi cell. A couple years earlier, we vacationed in the Bahamas. Outside the Playboy Casino Toni, the boys, and I took a walk along the beach; meanwhile our friends lit up a joint in the courtyard. We returned to find a security guard threatening to have them arrested; in the end the guy extorted 25 bucks apiece from them.
IU Vice President for Regional Affairs John S. Applegate shares my concerns about the proliferation of online courses, which many view as a cheap, mass-production way to teach, especially if meaningful interaction with the instructor and fellow students is lacking. “Nevertheless,” he wrote, “online education in some form is here to stay, and IU is in no position to opt out of it. Like most other universities, we’re still groping toward the right balance between online and in-person coursework. We also need to assure quality: the studies show that online education ‘can’ be as effective as in-person, but we need to be able to assure that. I certainly agree that, despite the current enthusiasm, the idea of spending the years from 17-21 in your bedroom staring at a computer is going to have very little appeal to parents or students in the long run.”
Anne Balay asked Facebook friends which of four photos she should submit for a lecture series she’s participating in. In one she is near Gary City Hall with steel mills in the background, but my favorite shows her in front of coils. Either would work for the jacket of her upcoming book “Steel Closets.”
Comic Bill Maher noted that Republicans were having multiple orgasms over the AP, IRS, and Benghazi affairs, and that Rush Limbaugh feels like he’s on OxyContin again. Not surprisingly, Republicans who leaked emails about Benghazi doctored the wording. Reacting to the devastating tornado that wreaked havoc in his home state, Oklahoma Senate Republican Tom Coburn, who opposed federal aid for previous disasters, wants any emergency aid bill to include matching spending cuts from other programs. What a jerk-off. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked a tornado survivor whether she thanked the Lord for her family’s safety. She told him that she was an atheist. Responding to Jerry Davich’s post of the clip, Jenna Milosevich Martin commented, “I can’t imagine that a god would allow some to die and others to live.”
Perhaps inspired by the comeback of South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, who visited a lover in Argentina while still married and governor of the Palmetto State, Anthony Weiner announced his candidacy for mayor of New York City. Two years ago he denied tweeting a lewd photo of himself with an erection in underwear to a Seattle college student that accidentally went out to 45,000 of his followers before being forced to admit that indiscretion and others with a half dozen other women. Now the former Congressman claims he’s learned from his mistakes. Wife Huma Abedin, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, has stuck by him, and last month they cooperated with Jonathan Van Meter for a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story entitled “The Post-Scandal Playbook.” In it Weiner claims his actions were a result of a need for approval and the existence of technology that made it easy to do foolish things.
Paul Turk sent along an article about work being done at Virginia Museum of Natural History on the fossil of an excavated whale, nicknamed Cornwallis since it was discovered near Yorktown. Paul’s daughter Kat, a student at William and Mary College, took part in the excavation and is a summer intern at the museum.
Paul Kern was disappointed by the Florida Keys, writing: “One dreary strip mall after another block the view of the sea and Key West was not the funky town we expected. It was jammed with doddering old tourists, just like us.” He visited Ernest Hemingway’s house and wondered if young people still read Papa’s novels. His contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald is back on the best-seller list thanks to “The Great Gatsby” film.
Nicole Anslover showed the 1974 “Gatsby” flick starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in her “Hollywood and History” summer course and most students went to see this year’s version. Coming up are “The Grapes of Wrath” and “The best Years of Our Lives.” Nicole has a lively class and is excited about the book she’s using, James Lorence’s “Screening America: United States History Through Film Since 1900.” Nicole also is teaching an American History survey online and feels very much like a guinea pig, doing her best to cope in uncharted territory without a whole lot of guidance from others. She has set up chat rooms and discussion questions based on primary documents, and if anyone can make the distance education experiment academically fulfilling, she can.
Carroll College in Helena, Montana, hired Andrean coach Carson Cunningham to be men’s basketball coach. He has a PhD in sports history, taught summer classes at IU Northwest, and loves the Region, having grown up in Ogden Dunes. So I was hoping he’d end up coaching the IU Northwest Redhawks. I predict a bright future for him.