Monday, July 29, 2013

Beach North

“When you sail-out beyond USX
you feel depths,
 and you know
this lake can down freighters, swallow families.”
    “Beach North," William K. Buckley

Two more people drowned in treacherous Lake Michigan over the weekend.  On the other hand, Nathan Woessner, the six year-old kid buried for several hours in an 11-foot sinkhole of sand last week near Mount Baldy is out of the hospital and doing very well.  “Beach North,” from Buckley’s “81 Mygrations,” contains the lines: “All over your landscape are the clues to your feelings: the deadly whispers from surf, cold winds from the North and low thump of the mill.”

Phil Wieland of The NWI Times drew the dubious assignment of covering the Porter County Fair, braving heat stroke and the allure of corn dogs.  He wrote that the yearly spectacle was “all about reliving the fantasy of an agrarian past by having a giant flea market with cows.”  Claiming tongue-in-cheek that police were pondering a morals charge against a Bear-a dice critter, he reported that the guitar player in the troupe suffered an injury “in his strumming arm causing the hand to hang just below his waist where it continued strumming in a somewhat obscene manner until repaired.”   Perhaps on a sugar high from elephant ears, Wieland during his final exit passed Viva, a living statue performed by Michelle Harrell, one of whose occupational hazards was being stained by pigeon droppings.  Wieland wrote, “I thought what a great irony it would be if she went to the poultry barn later and pooped on the pigeons.”
Tom Wade drove me to Valparaiso University to watch Dave play in the Post-Tribune tennis tournament.  Unfortunately he drew tough opponents in the mixed doubles and singles but won the consolation bracket in the latter.  He was disappointed in his men’s doubles play, but it took place soon after a grueling singles match.  We had lunch at Jimmy John’s, which employs excellent rolls, but the contents inside were inferior to Subway.  Dave later posted: “Feeling every bit of my 43 years after playing five matches in one day.”  Becca and James spent the night and went shopping for school supplies with Toni and Angie, as August is just around the corner. 

Saturday evening I went to the tenth annual Alley Dance at Flamingo’s in Miller.  Dave’s old band, Voodoo Chili, played at the first couple that Al Sasak of Marquette Perk organized, and the manager of Flamingo’s asked for a moment of silent to honor Al’s recent passing.  A big crowd and two bands were on hand, and I danced with Anne Balay to the Sly and the Family Stone classic “Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself.”  She had some great Eighties-era moves. Introducing Emma to Jack Weinberg and Valerie Denney, I told the two former steelworkers that her mom’s book “Steel Closets” was due out early next year.  Carolyn McCrady said she’s organizing a panel discussion at IUN in connection with the killing (some would say murder) of Trayvon Martin.  In the beer garden obtaining drinks was a two-step operation: first you purchased tickets and then gave them to folks working the taps.  I chatted with Tom Eaton and Pat Cronin about Flamingo’s Thursday pot roast specials, which Toni and I often ordered carry-out - one nine-dollar meal for the two of us with enough left over for pot roast sandwiches the next day.
above, Cullen Davis; below, Cullen's house in Miller
Jeff Manes’s SALT column profiled 36 year-old historian Cullen P. Davis, a frequent visitor to the Archives.  The Wirt grad mentioned how English teacher Kittie Bjorklund-Cozza honed his writing skills.  A couple years ago, Cullen purchased English teacher Betty Balog’s old Tudor Revival house on Lake Street for a mere $21,000.  A founder of the Miller Beach Historical Society, he mentioned that Miller’s Station was a railroad depot in the 1850s and that Swedish settlers founded the first church a generation later.  Cullen told Jeff: “Miller is a diamond in the rough.  It’s racially and socioeconomically diverse.  There is so much potential in this community.  It’s an area surrounded by a national park right on Lake Michigan, and my commute to Roosevelt University in Chicago is a snap with the South Shore within walking distance.  Within ten years I see downtown Miller and the residential neighborhoods around it being one of the most artsy and hippest places to live in the entire region.”

On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel lit into conservative George Will when he attributed Detroit’s financial woes (forcing it into bankruptcy) to a moral failing on the part of the people. She put the blame where it properly belongs – at the foot of corporate greed and inadequate federal help for residents living in distressed cities. Former Louisiana Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, a crusader of civil rights and women’s rights, passed away at age 97.  Her daughter, Cokie Roberts, used to be a regular on the show.

On the cover of Sue Miller’s novel “The Lake Shore Limited” a woman and dog are walking on a beach that resembles the Lake Michigan shoreline although what little action there is takes place in the Boston area.  Billy, whose boyfriend, Gus, died on 9/11, has written a play seven years later about a man, Gabriel, whose wife was a victim of a terrorist bombing of a Chicago subway (The Lake Shore Limited).  Their marriage had grown cold and loveless, and he is ambiguous about her fate.  Billy, the playwright, had planned to leave Gus prior to his death and feels guilty about people feeling like she was some sort of widowed martyr.  Similarly, the wife of the actor portraying Gabriel is critically ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease and at one point tells him, “It must be awful to sometimes wish me dead.”  All the main characters, like Gabriel, gravitated between being in an exclusive relationship and desiring an unencumbered life.

Anne Balay organized a class trip Sunday to see “The Heat,” second time for me.  I’m used to weekday matinees and an almost empty parking lot.  “The Heat” was still attracting a decent audience in its third week.  The Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy characters Ashburn and Mullins hurled hilarious insults at each other and various adversaries.  While the FBI agent and Boston cop were polar opposites, both had male superiors who resented their being so ambitious and un-ladylike.  The best jokes, I thought, were references to each other’s clothes.  Mullins’s family members, headed by Jane Curtin as her mom, were way over the top but got off some real funny lines, including a brother asking Ashburn if she were transgendered.  Marlon Wayons was perfect in the role of suave Detective Levy.  Emma warned Anne to close her eyes prior to the bloody scenes.

The Cubs swept a series in San Francisco despite trading away popular Alfonso Soriano, and the Phillies after finally evening their record at 49-49, have lost seven in a row and are rumored to considering a trade for my favorite player on that team, Chase Utley.  Cub players watching the Yankees on TV in the clubhouse cheered so boisterously after Fonzie hit a homerun that manager Dale Sveun rushed in from his office to see what the fuss was about. 

Tibetan refugee monks from Drepung Gomang Monastery in India will be conducting workshops on sand painting a stone decoration, selling trinkets, organizing a peace puja or ceremony, making a mandala or sand painting for peace at the Gardiner Center during the next three days.

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