Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gary Initiatives

  “With courage and initiative, leaders change things,” Jesse Jackson
Mural at House of Fine Arts in Chicago; 2006 photo by Camilo Vergara
“The Dream Continues” MLK mural project is taking shape.  We will install reproductions of Camilo Vergara’s dozen photographs on August 24 at the Gardner Center and take them to a Midtown block party two weeks later.  Miller Beach Arts and Creative District is on board and, in Karren Lee’s words, “very excited.”  We’re hoping  Camilo Vergara makes an appearance at some time during the month.  Samuel Love has lined up several other places for the traveling prints to make appearances.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has asked HUD to take over operation of the Gary Housing Authority for two years and has sought help from the state to assist in reducing crime in the city.  Meanwhile local officials are demanding that Roosevelt cease to be run as a for-profit charter school following revelations that former state superintendent of education Tony Bennett manipulated the grading mechanism to satisfy a Republican political fatcat.
Visitors at 3579 Buchanan in Gary; below, Robert and Lu Walker examine pull-out pantry in mudroom
The Post-Trib carried a feature about rehabbed houses in the University Park neighborhood near IU Northwest.  Describing one domicile ready to be sold, reporter Carole Carlson mentioned a mudroom, a term I first heard the night before when Michael Bayer described our front door entryway as a mudroom.  Now I suppose I’ll hear about mudrooms all the time.  Michael said the correspondent probably is from New England, where it’s a common term for a front hall. Outlining the goal of the federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Project, Community Development director Arlene Colvin, below, said, “We wanted to go to the block where there’s pockets of blight but not whole scale.”  
above, Arlene Colvin; below, post from Janet

After having breakfast with Mike and Janet Bayer and getting caught up on how our respective family members are doing, I picked up a passport renewal form at Portage post office, got toenails clipped at L.A. Nails, and stopped at ALDI for nuts and pecan shortbread on the way to school.  My total, unbelievably, was only $3.88, but the cashier shortchanged me by ten dollars.  I caught it, and she was very apologetic.

Earl Jones has organized a panel discussion next Monday on race and justice entitled “From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin.”  Speakers include Mayor Hatcher, Valpo law professor Ivan Bodensteiner, attorneys Derrick Julkes and Michael Tolbert, and Judge Lorenzo Arredondo. I’ll have to tell Sheriff Roy Dominguez about it.

In The New Yorker Peter Schjeldahl praised Thomas Hirschhorn’s “Gramsci Monument,” an installation construction at Forest Houses, a 15-building public housing complex in New York City’s South Bronx.  Resembling a cluster of clubhouses composed of lumber, Plexiglas, tarpaulins, and brown packaging tape, “Gramsci Monument” includes murals by a graffiti group, a theater, radio station, wading pool, food station, library, free daily newspaper, and a museum commemorating philosopher Antonio Gramsci.  The Italian humanist and communist died at age 48 in 1937 after spending nearly ten years in prison during Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime.  Hirschhorn, who has been on site since its installation, has previously designed “monuments” dedicated to philosophers Baruch Spinoza, Gilles Deleuze, and Georges Bataille.  One inspiration for Hirschhorn was the Native American potlatch ritual, where the hereditary leader gives out generous gifts at a feast to both affirm and atone for his elevated standing.  Labeling “Gramsci Monument” the year’s “most captivating new art work,” Schjeldahl concludes: “There’s sorcery in the simple gesture of folding philosophy into daily life.”

Chicago grad students working for the CIPS (Creative Initiatives for the Public Space) Gary Vision Project took part in the Gary Police Department’s National Night Out. They set up a Story Share Booth at Pittman Square Park at Fifty-First and Pennsylvania and a youth hip hop workshop at the Horace Mann track at Fifth and Garfield.  The CIPS flyer stated: “Come join us in moving our bodies to the beat!”  Gary Director of Communications Chelsea Whittington told Times reporter Anna Ortiz: “This type of event gives us hope.  It’s a peaceful event.  We can gather in peace, and that’s what tonight proves.” In addition to the fun events there was a vigil for victims of violence whose names were read.
 Members of St. Timothy Church at Night Out vigil; NWI Times photo by John J. Watkins
Hip-hopping at Horace Mann track

Brady Wade wrote on Facebook: “Here I sit, still petting my dying cat. Each night, for the better part of an hour, I've sat and held my old childhood friend. No amount of love will make him immortal: permanent. I can't brush his age away, I can't smile death out of him. But I can make his moments a little brighter, a little happier, a little less alone. What else is life than giving that to others and accepting it for yourself?”

Chris Young believes online publication of the 2013 South Shore Journal is just days away.  I told Mark Hoyert that I was looking forward to finally reading his article.  He replied, “I’ve already read yours” [on a 1920s naked beachcomber nicknamed the Dune Fawn].  I wondered whether he was one of the readers – although, if so, he wouldn’t have known its author – or perhaps that he helped Chris during the final editing process. At lunch Chris revealed that someone inadvertently put it on the website before Chris had a chance to proofread it for errors that crept in when it was scanned.

Brenda Ann changed her Facebook photo to a tattoo she has on her right side by her ribs.  Cullen Daniel commented that the tattoo incorporates the colors and cover design of the “Figure 8” CD that contains the song “Happiness.” 
“What I used to be will pass away
And then you’ll see
That all I want now is happiness
For you and me.”
             Elliott Smith, “Happiness”
Brenda has several other tattoos based on Elliott Smith themes.  Smith’s songs helped many depressed folks.  Depression is something he himself struggled to overcome, along with drug and alcohol abuse, perhaps stemming from the fact that, in all likelihood, his stepfather molested him.  He died in 2003 at age 34 from two stab wounds in the chest, perhaps self-inflicted; autopsy evidence was inconclusive.

One thing I really like about Jeff Manes is that in his SALT columns he has subjects describe in detail work experiences. Former steelworker Ed Gustafson, 83, was a weigh master at U.S. Steel, measuring materials that went into the open hearths. He told Jeff: “I also had to figure out the percentage of yield of each heat.  We had two sheets for each heat.  One showed all the stuff they put into the heat, the other sheet showed all the stuff that came out of the heat.  Usually about 87 percent of what they put in became steel.”  Lave G. Gustafson (perhaps related to Ed) was secretary of the East Chicago Rotary Club, according to a July 6, 1953, “Bulletin” recently donated to the Archives by Bob Dalby. 

Wednesday afternoon Mike and I watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” my second time and his first.  It made more sense to me this time, realizing the story was basically how a six year-old imagines a world that for her is changing forever.  Mike and Janet Bayer took us to Wagner’s for ribs, where we met Alice Bush, looking relaxed now that she has semi-retired.  The last time I’d been at Wagner’s was in 2000, shortly after the home invasion, while we were staying with Alice and Ken.  I recall I had my first beer in over a month since my operation for a collapsed lung.  Alice’s son Shane is now practicing medicine in Portage and just bought a house in Valpo.

No comments:

Post a Comment