Wednesday, June 12, 2013


“Rudy Clay loved Gary – the place, its people,” Richard M. Daley

Throngs paid respects as Rudy Clay’s casket lay under a huge chandelier surrounded by flowers at Gary’s Genesis Center.  Clay first won election in 1972 to the Indiana state senate and served as Lake County recorder and commissioner before becoming mayor in 2006.  County surveyor George Van Til recalled his dictum that there were no permanent friends or enemies in politics, just permanent interests and concluded, “There will not be another Rudy Clay coming this way anytime soon.”  When he couldn’t support someone’s proposal, Van Til continued, “He would say, ‘Hey, I love you man, but what’s love got to do with this?”  
above, Christine Clay and Lew Wallace JROTC Col. Antonio Daggett view Rudy Clay's casket.  Times photo by John J. Watkins

President Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping held a summit at Sunnylands, Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s former estate that I visited while in Rancho Mirage.  Republican presidents have used the site often, and Reagan regularly stayed there over the New Year’s holiday throughout his two terms in office.  It must have been hot this time of year, as I’ll once again find out in two weeks when I visit Midge for her 97th birthday.  Topics ranged from computer hacking to North Korea.

Off to California, Neil Goodman appreciated the new Steel Shavings, writing, “It is great fun as well as a snapshot of the times in the Region.  The clarity and longevity of your efforts are without parallel, and I, for one, have enjoyed your work immensely.”  Nice.  Rich Baker discovered he could find “Valor,” the book I did with Roy Dominguez, at SUNY at Albany.

“The Internship” starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson was both fuzzy warm and raunchy.  Two former watch salesmen whose jobs have become obsolete are awarded internships at Google and are teamed up with four nerds in competition with other teams to decide which will receive future job offers. Neha, played by the beautiful Indian actress Tiya Sircar, confides to Billy (Vaughn) that she knows all about sex from henta porn but is a virgin. Yo-Yo Santos, played by Filipino actor Tobit Raphael, is so nervous about failing that he plucks eyebrow hairs out under stress.  Billy and Nick (Wilson) take the gang to a sex club, where the guys enjoy lap dances so much they need to air out their pants afterwards under a men’s room dryer.  If the depiction of Google’s campus is accurate, it looks like a fabulous place to work.  Will Ferrell and John Goodman have great cameo as arrogant bosses.  Seeing Goodman’s wife with breast implants in a bikini is a hoot.

John Dos Passos, who admired Thomas Jefferson greatly, argued that the Virginian was unable to free his slaves, despite a desire to do so, because of money owed to creditors.  His primary goal in old age was to launch the University of Virginia as a distinguished citadel “for the more general diffusion of knowledge,” and he feared alienating those he depended on for funding.  Before he died Jefferson left explicit instruction as to what should be inscribed on the monument over his grave.  It read: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, [and] Father of the University of Virginia.”  No mention of his presidency.

As the government searches for Edward Snowden, who leaked NSA documents about the monitoring of telephone and internet communications, he is seeking political asylum “from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose victimization of global privacy.”  Meanwhile the trial of PFC Bradley Manning, who provided classified information to WikiLeaks, continues at Fort Meade.  According to Max Fisher of the Washington Post, the 24 year-old army private “was kept in solitary confinement for more than eight months, stripped of his clothes, forced to change in front of guards, forbidden bedding or pillows and kept locked in a cell for 23 hours a day.”  Mike Olszanski posted: “NO MORE SECRETS!  Let’s have Total Transparency.  The Gov gets to watch and listen to everything we the citizens say or do, so we get to know everything the Gov says and does in our name.  Sounds fair to me.  And BTW, Free Bradley Manning!”

Nicole showed “I Love Lucy” and “Mad Men” episodes to her History and Film students and asked them which show more effectively addressed gender stereotypes.  The theme of “Lucy” was that the men were to become homemakers for a week while the women got jobs.  Needless to say, Desi made a mess cooking, and Lucy couldn’t keep up with a candy wrapping assembly line, so they gave up the experiment after one day.   Lucille Ball ranks with Jack Paar, Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, and Sid Caesar was one on TV’s most influential trailblazers.  In the 1950s Walt Disney used TV to market everything from Davy Crockett coonskin hats and Mickey Mouse Club ears to its Disneyland theme park.  TV revealed red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy to be a fraud and hoodwinked (for a while at least) viewers into believing that quiz show champions like Charles Van Doren were geniuses.

The “Mad Men” episode, “Ladies Room,” was the second episode from season one and has Don having an affair with a beatnik artist while repressed wife Betty, suffering from the housewife’s “problem that has no name,” to quote Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique,” seeks psychotherapy with a shrink who won’t even talk to her but calls Don afterwards to recommend she continue seeing him.  Peggy, who was Don’s lowly secretary back in 1960, when the episode takes place, is sexually harassed or leered at by various men, the object of passive-aggressive hostility from office manager Joan, and when on two occasions she finds secretaries in tears in the Ladies Room and basically tries to ignore them.  Don asks his creative team and then his mistress, “What do women want?”  Kurt Vonnegut would have answered, “Lots of people to talk to.”  Betty and Peggy, on the other hand, seem to have nobody to confide in.

One of Nicole’s students used as an example of a primary document a YouTube excerpt of a 1961 “Twilight Zone” episode entitled “The Obsolete Man.”  In a future totalitarian regime a librarian named Wordsworth, played by Burgess Meredith, is declared obsolete because books have been banned.  Rod Serling made introductory remarks smoking a cigarette.  Watching it reminded me of the Internet rendering the watch salesmen in “The Internship” obsolete and made me wonder whether books themselves may one day be a thing of the past.

I ran into Chris Young and Psychology professor Stephanie Smith and introduced them to each other.  They had corresponded because Stephanie has an article in the South Shore Journal issue that Chris edited but had never met in person.  Circulation librarian was all dressed up for her grandson’s eighth grade graduation from Thea Bowman.  It seems like just yesterday that her son was a scrapping teenager.  How time flies.

After a haircut I watched James open presents on his thirteenth birthday, the highlight being a new game for his handheld Nintendo.  We gave him Walgreens stock.  At Cici’s I had two pieces of pizza, two helpings of salad, and a sticky bun for desert.  A huge storm hit Chicagoland, but we got home OK and did not lose power like many folks did.  In game one of the Stanley Cup finals, the fifth longest in NHL history, the Blackhawks scored two third-period goals and beat the Bruins in the third overtime.
above, lightning over Chicago skyline; below, Merrillville scene, Times photo by Kris Julius

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