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Monday, August 26, 2013
Best Laid Plans
“Time, the devourer of all things,” Ovid
Steve Rushin quoted Roman poet Ovid in a Sports Illustrated column about Alex Rodriguez’s banishment from baseball for more than a full season. He mentioned others that received lifetime bans, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. Ovid himself was banished from Rome by Caesar Augustus for reasons still debated by historians, including the theory that Ovid had witnessed Augustus’ daughter Julia committing adultery, probably even incest. In the same issue is an account of the 1943 Rose Bowl game, the only one not played in Pasadena, California, due to wartime restrictions. In Durham, North Carolina, Oregon State defeated heavily favored Duke 20-16. Beforehand, the FBI prevented Jack Yoshihara from traveling with the Beavers, citing an edict prohibiting Japanese-Americans from traveling more than 35 miles from their residence. A short time later, Yoshihara was banished to Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. In 1985 Oregon State gave Yoshihara a Rose Bowl ring, and in 2008 he and other internees received honorary degrees.
Anne Balay needed help on a citation from Christopher G. L. Hall’s “Steel Phoenix,” and I saved her a trip to the Archives. On the way to Chancellor Lowe’s well-attended “Campus Conversation” Sandra Hall Smith told Steve McShane and me that she secured funds for Senior College next summer. Sandra had hoped to honor Garrett Cope’s memory by having them this year, but the money just wasn’t there. Several folks were disappointed.
The morning of my appearance on Lakeshore Radio, host Jerry Davich posted this notice: “On today’s Casual Fridays, we will talk with IUN professor and region historian James Lane on an upcoming event in Miller Beach to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. On August 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of Americans absorbed his soaring vision of a new kind of nation. King's speech is one of the most enduring moments of the civil rights movement and a demonstration commemorating the march will be held in Washington on Saturday. In the studio with us, Jim will shed light on the speech, its relevance 50 years later, and the local event taking place this Wednesday, August 28, at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts in Miller. It’s open to the public and free of charge.”
1963 was a year of transition for King and the civil rights movement. Thrust into a leadership during the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott due to his oratory prowess, King incorporated Mahatma Gandhi’s tactics against British rule in India in planning nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to challenge unjust segregation laws. During the Birmingham Crusade the emphasis was on jobs as well as desegregating public facilities. King’s “I Have a Dream” vision was of an open society that would be of benefit to all Americans, not just blacks, and was a challenge, I felt, for me personally to make it my vision, too. In fact, it was fitting that in the fiftieth anniversary rally the spotlight is on all people discriminated against, including gays, disabled people, and immigrants. Jerry kept me on the air longer than expected; the last part of the show dealt with Bacon Fest, taking place in Portage the following day.
Davich told me to watch for an upcoming article about Tamburitza music. Growing up Croatian, he reminisced about church picnics with Tamburitzan musicains Rich Krilich, Frank Mosca, and Rudy Grasha at Bronko’s in Crown Point. Owner Nick Tarailo, one of my first students, was a real ladies man in those days, picking up more than one coed at Jenny’s, our watering hole after my 7 o’clock class. His grandfather Nikola was a proud Serbian-Montegegrin steelworker during Gary’s pioneer days. Nick’s father Bronko was shot to death near his Lounge in Glen Park some 30 years ago.
Toni and I were the only ones in the Cinemark theater for its 2:15 showing of “Elysium.” Set in 2154 (same year as “Avatar”), it pitted a buffed and bald Matt Damon against villainous Jodie Foster. When a cop asks what Damon had in his backpack, he replies, “Hair care products, mostly” and receives a beating for being a wiseass.
After Martha Dodd’s father was recalled as Ambassador to Germany, according to Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts,” she parted with her Russian lover Boris Winogradov (later purged by Joseph Stalin) and shortly thereafter married wealthy Alfred Sloan, ten years her senior. In New York City during the 1940s she presided over a salon that included actor Paul Robeson, writer Lillian Hellman, photographer Margaret Bourke-White, and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi. When the House UnAmerican Activities Committee sought to question the Sloans in 1953 about their left-leaning activities, they fled to Mexico City and then Prague, where they lived the rest of their lives.
Corey Hagelberg and I waited an hour at the Gardner Center Saturday for David Schalliol to arrive with the prints that we were to install only to discover when I called his cell that he was in Boston, with his fiancé, due to a “minor emergency.” Somewhat bummed out, I treated Corey to lunch at McDonald’s (ice cream cones still on sale for 49 cents improved my mood. I checked out the Woodson -Wildermuth Library in Miller, where people were watching MSNBC’s coverage of the rally at the Lincoln Memorial. I was expecting to meet Samuel Love at Café 444 for a one-woman show, but that event was cancelled. Instead people were distributing free back-to-school supplies and hot dogs to local students. A man gave me “Richard D. Ligon for Sheriff” literature and nail files. A good man, Ligon has an eight-point program that includes training for school security personnel, a youth boot camp, and an end to punishing officers for political reasons.
“Clear History,” starring Larry David, was mildly funny and virtually a sequel to the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” series, with cameos by “Curb” regulars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, J.B. Smoove, Philip Baker Hall, and Danny McBride. Liev Schreiber plays a Chechen thug. One critic compared “Clear History” to the lame final episode of “Seinfeld.”
Jeff Manes’ SALT column was on Lake Central teacher Tom Clark, who took my Vietnam course. His students had collected letters from the loved ones of soldiers who died in the needless conflict. Eight years ago at age 50 Clark joined the National Guard and put in a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Lake Central grads David Novaczyk and Sergio Perez died in that troubled country. Tom grew up in Gary and attended Wirt High School. His old man was a WW II vet who believed, in Tom’s words, in “the anti-red kind of stuff” – like “kill a commie for mommie.” Never heard that expression before.
Finally got a trio of games in at Dave’s. I finished a distant third in Amun Re after a bold but foolish sacrifice in the first round but won Acquire thanks to acquiring the most stock in Imperial, the largest company, and drawing good tiles at opportune moments. Dave went several rounds without money for stock, allowing me to overcome his early lead.
Reading about the Chicago "Outfit," I had to laugh at the colorful nicknames of gangsters, including Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo, Sam “Momo” Giancana, Fiore “Fifi” Buccieri, Murray “The Camel” Humphreys, and William “Willie Potatoes” Daddano. When we first moved to Chicago, CBS crime reporter John “Bulldog” Drummond described mob activities in colorful detail. “Bulldog” once interviewed me in the Archives about politics in Gary.
On MTV’s video awards show Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus vied to see who could show the most skin. Miley’s gyrations were especially lewd and garnered the most attention. Justin Timberlake gave the classiest performance with his old group ‘N Sync. While the world braces for Obama’s response to Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons on civilians, the morning TV shows concentrated on shots of Miley humping and stripping. Radio hosts have been analyzing it all day as either a pathetic act of rebellion or a shrewd career move. One caller said it reminded her of a little sister trying to show off. Jerry Davich asked, “Are there any parents who still want their daughters to be like Miley ‘Hannah Montana’ Cyrus?”
Plans to install the prints at the Gardner Center were pushed back yet again, but Corey Hagelberg is being a good sport and agreed to pick them up with me tomorrow in Chicago because the guy who was supposed to bring them is still in Boston. I familiarized myself with Camilo Vergara’s biography, which I’ll summarize at Wednesday’s program. Born in 1944, he came from a wealthy Chilian family but grew up poor due to an alcoholic father, who’d leave home for weeks at a time. Camilo himself left home at age 15. Thanks to affluent relatives, he attended boarding schools. He first became acquainted with Gary while a Notre Dame student living in South Bend. In New York City he became a street photographer, and, he writes in “The New American Ghetto,” took photos of “children cooling themselves off at fire hydrants, black girls amusing themselves with white dolls, Latino schoolboys cutting classes to watch dogs copulating, and poor elderly Jews on the stoops of their tenements on the Lower East Side.” In 1990 Camilo returned to Rengo, Chili, to find his boyhood adobe home gone, as were olive, fig, orange, and willow trees. A few blocks away, once fragrant eucalyptus trees were now stumps. “I understood better,” he observed, “the feelings experienced by suburbanites who visit their old urban neighborhoods, only to find them unrecognizable.” Winner of the MacArthur “genius award,” in 2012 Vergara was a recipient of the National Humanities Award, presented to him by President Obama in a 2013 ceremony.
Winner of the MacArthur “genius award,” in 2012 Camilo Vergara was a recipient of the National Humanities Award. President Obama presented it to him in a 2013 ceremony.
I bowled two practice games to work on my hook. Cressmoor owner Jim Fowble showed me a book about Vietnam memorials all over the country, including a photo and description of the “etching” in Veterans Memorial Park in Munster. Jim still regrets that he did not contact the family of a comrade who died at his side. He feared it may have made things worse for them.
Britney Shearer, Lorraine and John’s daughter, asked be to befriend her, and I did. Most of her messages have to do with her garden.