“I left some tracks
I still know how to have fun
Cause I’m 74 years young.”
Buddy Guy turned 77, and still has “a few good tricks” up his sleeve, as the song says. He just released a CD that Gary Clark, Jr., collaborated on and still gives energetic, brilliant live performances. At the Holiday Star 20 years ago he bounded into the audience and up into the balcony, playing songs featuring riffs that other guitar greats “borrowed” from him. Anne Balay will be turning 50 soon, and I suggested she do what I do and think of really cool people older than her that are - like Buddy Guy, six years my senior, who is still laying down tracks and “gonna keep on having fun.”
For Gender Studies I read “60 Cents to a Man’s Dollar” by Ann Crittenden, author of “The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued.” A founder of MOTHERS (Mothers Ought to Have Equal Rights), Crittenden pointed out the bankruptcy of America’s maternity leave laws and that mothers are not eligible for unemployment compensation, disability insurance, workmen’s compensation or Social Security benefits.
On Anne Balay’s take-home midterm were questions about unconscious bias, intersectionality, and stigma, plus essays on why women often lack self-confidence and on the meaning of RuPaul’s assertion that “We are born naked, and the rest is drag.” The toughest question: “Some of our readings and the film we viewed in class, suggest a link between adolescence/coming of age and sexual fluidity. Define both terms, then pick three examples from the syllabus and explain what this link implies.” Glad I’m just auditing.
Chuck Gallmeier distributed copies of my 1980s Shavings to his Sociology class on Juvenile Delinquency. On the cover are photos of steelworkers protesting the USX lockout, antiwar activists demonstrating against Ronald Reagan’s Nicaraguan policy, Richard G. Hatcher holding a daughter on his way to vote in 1987 (he lost a bid for a sixth term), and ten kids who comprised the South Shore Rockers. While Chuck is downstate I’ll be talking about Paula Cooper, 15 when she and three others killed a 74 year-old Bible teacher Ruth Pelke, initially receiving the death penalty. The magazine contains a memoir by Stephanie P. Ledbetter, who went the same school, Lou Wallace, as the killers. Kids from other high schools, she wrote, “began calling Wallace MURDER HIGH and TERMINATOR INSTITUTE. Jokes were going around that students took courses like Firearms 101, Stealing Cars 101, and an honors course in Felony Crimes. It took about three years before the teasing and name-calling died away.”
above, Ruth Pelke in 1982; below, Paula Cooper in 2013
I’ll ask Gallmeier’s students to put themselves in the shoes of politically ambitious 37 year-old Lake County prosecutor Jack Crawford. Should the teenagers be tried as adults and should he seek the death penalty against Paula? Eventually the Indiana Supreme Court reduced her sentence to 60 years and she was released from prison earlier this year. Crawford was Indiana’s first Lottery director but resigned after an assistant who had been his mistress accused him of sexual harassment.
Becca and James played multiple roles in a ten-minute film called “Zombiefied” that Giana Gilligan produced. Both got eaten twice, but Becca ultimately killed the two zombies by feeding them broccoli on the pretense that they were human brains. Pretty funny. We viewed it after a dinner of Chinese food. Beforehand I was shut out in four games with Dave and Tom. I should have won Acquire but neglected to keep World Wide stock when it merged and it subsequently reformed three more times.
A YouTube Fox news interview with Reza Asian, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” went viral. Lauren Green kept asking him offensive questions about why, as a Muslim, he wrote a book about the founder of Christianity. He kept his cool even though it became apparent that she was intent on slamming him. Due to the publicity, “Zealot” rose to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list. Asian told L.A. Times correspondent Hector Tobar: “The most pivotal moment of Jesus’ brief ministry was the so-called cleansing of the Temple. It was the event that led to his arrest and execution. Jesus and his multitude of followers triumphantly entered Jerusalem and the Temple marketplace … and violently attacked it, which is how the events are described in the Gospels. He and his followers are breaking open the cages that hold the animals, they’re kicking over the tables of the moneylenders and the money changers. The Gospels say that he makes a whip out of cords and starts beating people.”
Jeff Manes profiled Kim McGee (above), interim director of Central District Organizing Project (CDOP), a grassroots organization specializing in community action with whom Samuel Love has worked. Coincidentally Sam and Corey Hagelberg visited the Archives to meet with the University of Chicago’s David Schalliol to discuss photographer Camilo Vergara’s vision of displaying a dozen images of Martin Luther King murals in Gary locations to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington “I Have a Dream” speech. From the Archives Sam drove us past 4 Brothers Market, Washington Park, Memorial Auditorium, CDOP headquarters, and then to Gardiner Center in Miller, where Buddhist monks were working on a sand painting as Millerites watched and soft music played in the background.
We all got along famously and had lunch at Miller Bakery Café. I had a delicious beef tips sandwich and pointed out to David Corey’s artwork on the walls. Corey spent several months helping get the place ready to re-open; when the owner called him about hanging his work, he didn’t realize he already knew him. On the way out we spotted Gary mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson at a table. David and Corey discussed the Heidelberg outdoor art project in Detroit, created by artist Tyree Guyton. David and I talked about recent public housing projects in Gary that seemed to be successful. He mentioned a documentary about the demise of the Pruitt-Igoe projects in St. Louis designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who later designed the World Trade Center. Initially heralded as a great place to live, they became dangerous eyesores within 15 years and ultimately demolished. What went wrong was not a moral failing on the part of the residents but foolish regulations, lack of job opportunities and neglect on the part of city officials.
above, Whiting home by David Schalliol; below, L.A. mural photo by Camilo Vergara
Here’s how Camilo Vergara described his project: “The Dream Continues is a poster show of my photographs of popular, transitory murals depicting Martin Luther King, Jr. that I encountered when documenting the urban inner city over a period of forty years. The U.S. Department of State prepared one thousand copies of the thirteen 20” x 30” posters for travel around the world, and ten for me to do with as I wish. My plan is to exhibit those ten sets of posters in locations around the U.S. in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington that took place on August 27,1963.”
On the ride home I heard an NPR report on how former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, now a senior fellow at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, was helping Karen Freeman-Wilson obtain grant money and introducing her to Obama’s White House inner circle. His grad students are also involved in the Gary Vision Project. Some of them made a survey of abandoned buildings and assessed whether or not they could be rehabbed.
I threw away two old t-shirts. One from the International Oral History Association conference in South Africa had a cute elephant logo but it had totally lost its shape and whiteness. The other Ivan Jasper gave me celebrating the Florida Marlins winning the 2003 World Series. Son Dave hated it because it reminded him of the Cubs losing to Florida in the NLC playoffs. On the Marlins roster was future Cub Derrek Lee as well as Ivan Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera. Both the Cubs and Marlins had shortstops named Alex Gonzalez. The Cubs’ shortstop made a critical error on a potential double play ball right after the infamous Bartman incident where a fan perhaps prevented Moises Alou from catching a foul ball.
Chris Young loaned me Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin.” History professor William E. Dodd was looking for an ambassadorship to some unimportant country, where he’d have time to work on his history of the Old South. Instead FDR appointed him to head up the embassy in Germany. The opening chapters are quite fascinating.