Monday, September 9, 2013

Poor Chisels

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows,” Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Congress returns to debate President Obama’s call for retaliation against Syria’s Bashar Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against his own people, I am of two minds.  On the one hand, I wish for once the legislators respected the President’s wishes.  On the other hand, limited bombing would probably have no effect on the Syrian civil war, nor is it certain that it would deter future atrocities.  The public is squarely against involvement in another Mideast war, and I sympathize with those sentiments.  On the other hand, Republican hawks like Senator John McCain, who support Obama’s plan, claim he previously botched his handling of Syria and should be impeached if he sends troops there.
below, Frederic Cousseau and Blandine Huk at Central District Block Party

I met bowling partner Melvin Nelson and French filmmakers Frederic Cousseau and Blandine Huk at Flamingo’s Pub, which put out a delicious free buffet (chicken, baked potatoes, corn, beans, cake) for the Bears game, as the regular NFL season began.  Melvie, whose neighbor bought three copies of my latest Shavings, worked 32 years in U.S. Steel’s computer division.  Stopping at our table was Dave Serynek, who, like his father and grandfather, worked at Gary Works.  The bar was full but not overflowing with people, as I had expected.  It being a noon kickoff, perhaps it was a little early for the regulars.  Frederic and Blandine said they’d like to bowl sometime and inquired about bowling alleys in Gary.  Sadly, no, although 12/20 Lanes was open as recently as a year ago.
 Gary Police Chief Wade Ingraham investigating shooting at Sunrise Apartments

A shooting at Sunrise subdivision near County Line and Melton roads resulted in two deaths and four others wounded.  An argument started at Murphy’s House of Pain taproom on Route 12 between two groups.  After Sunrise resident Vincent Wainwright and his group left, guys from Aetna evidently followed them and shot Wainwright and others as they were talking and drinking shortly after 4 a.m.

My fantasy football team had an excellent day, but grandson Anthony is only five points behind me thanks to a stellar outing from San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis, who was pretty much a bust for me last season.  Monday night’s games will determine the winner.  The Bears barely won, helped by several stupid Cincinnati penalties.

Ellen Szarleta announced that South Shore Journal was now available online and quoted from editor Chris Young’s intro: Private lives lived in public spaces—actual terrestrial spaces and literary spaces—are explored in the essays by historian James Lane and literary scholar Craig Brewer. While memorialization is utilized as a strategy in post-conflict justice, as discussed by philosophers Anja Matwijkiw and Bronik Matwijkiw, memorialization in another context serves as a means to understanding social, economic, and political developments. Whether it be the American presidency, post-war French society or Gary, Indiana, sociologist Charles Gallmeier, political scientist Jean Poulard (by way of his translation of Daniel Bodovillé's lecture), and history and English students Amalia Shanks-Meile and Elizabeth LaDuke invite us to consider how people and events are remembered, as well as why some remain in public memory while others do not. Additionally, as the essays by photographer Gary Cialdella and psychology professors Cynthia O’Dell and Mark Hoyert remind us, within the realm of public memory, individual, social, and collective memory meet at the intersection of literary art, history, and psychology. In short, the theme ‘The Realm of Public Memory’ allows for the promise and interdisciplinary richness of public memory as an analytical construct.”

Here’s how I ended “The Dune Fawn: Diana of the Dunes’ Male Counterpart”: While Diana’s story contained elements of mystery and tragedy, as well as both innocence and eroticism, the tale of the Dune Faun was more prosaic yet touched many casual dune lovers who cherished the alluring nature of the dunes yet were not ready to cut off worldly ties.  These included a significant number of gays and bisexuals who came across Webb Waldron’s manuscript and passed it around among one another as an example of an environment where true freedom of expression was possible and one could shed obsolete constraints.  It spoke words of wisdom, namely that bare is beautiful, to those not hung up on notions of guilt and shame.  As the narrator came to believe, as with dunes, so it is with men, that only the absolutely naked are truly alive.  Waldron compared the Dune Fawn, in real life a part-time violin instructor, to Pan, the Greek equivalent of Faun, who used his flute to seduce those he desired into a world without inhibitions.”

In an exhibit for the Indiana Track and Field Hall of Fame Steve White made use of my “Sports in the Calumet Region” Shavings issue.

In his “Memoir” Mike Certa cited three instances where he misplaced things only to have a Good Samaritan help him out.  For example, at a bank drive-through the cashier, he wrote, “had put the money in a little white envelope.  I had a couple of errands to run and didn’t want to leave it in plain sight, so I popped the envelope into a library book that I was going to return that day.  I ran my other errands, drove to the library, dropped off the book, checked out some new books, and got home.  I’d been home about an hour when my phone rang.  The caller identified herself as being from the library and said, ‘By any chance are you missing anything?’  As soon as she said that I remembered the little white envelope!  When I mentioned it, she said, ‘I thought so.  We’ll hold it here until you can pick it up.’  Needless to say, I hot-footed it over there as fast as I could.”

In the Little Redhawk Café environmentalist Lee Botts and filmmaker Pat Wisniewski were chatting with Ken Schoon about a documentary on the Lakeshore.  I mentioned that French filmmakers were staying near a parcel of the Shirley Heinz Land Trust, and it turned out that Lee lives there and hopes that Frederic and Blandine will touch on the subject of ecology.  In fact, she is Bob Calvert’s neighbor and paid for the pier he built where Emma and Anne Balay go to feed snapping turtles and beaver.  She has met them and was shocked that Anne was denied tenure.

I took two MLK prints to Gino’s for a history book club meeting.  Joy Anderson talked about King’s autobiography, edited by Clayborne Carson and published in 1998, 30 years after King’s death.  Since King himself did not write the manuscript, Carson has incorporated articles, sermons, essays, letters, and books (“Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story,” “Why We Can’t Wait,” “Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community”).  It concludes with King’s final “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech, delivered on the eve of his death. If you want to say that I was a drum major,” King intoned, “say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”  On the MLK memorial sculptor Lei Yixin inscribed the words: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” In 2011 poet Maya Angelou complained that the quote was out of context and made King seem arrogant, so at a cost of $800,000 it was removed.

I sat next to Times columnist Rich James, and we reminisced about colleagues he worked with at the Post-Trib.  He remembered my friend Dean Bottorff, whose duties included writing headlines for the Sunday edition.  I still let Dean know if a particularly outrageous alliteration appears in print.  George Van Til brought me a 707-page tome by Taylor Branch entitled “The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President.”  On 79 occasions while President, Bill Clinton met with his friend, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “America in the King Years,” to discuss daily events and sometimes seek advice.  Clinton made use of the taped conversations in writing his 2004 memoir.  It looks interesting, and I’d take it to California with me if it weren’t so huge.

Joy Anderson did an excellent job and described a visit she and Ken made to the Martin Luther King Museum in Atlanta.  The only sour note was a woman who bragged that she’d done lots of collateral reading and kept bringing up King’s extramarital affairs and that he plagiarized parts of his PhD thesis.  I made the point that King’s oratorical skills, his formulation of nonviolent methods of civil disobedience against unjust laws, and his personal bravery made him a unique and invaluable leader, especially during the Southern stage of the civil rights movement.  I also described Camilo Vergara’s “The Dream Continues” project and how we’ve utilized the prints of murals in Gary in several locations.

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