“La critique est aisee, et l’art est difficle (criticism is easy, art is difficult),” Philippe Nericault Destouches
Blandine Huk and Frederic Cousseau at Corey and Kate's; photo by Jeff Manes
Jeff Manes used a quote by the Frenchman Philippe Destouches, an eighteenth-century actor and playwright, to introduce his brilliant SALT column about Frederic Cousseau and Blandine Huk, titled “French filmmakers’ next project is in Gary.” Destouches also coined the expression “Les absents ont toujours tort (the absent are always in the wrong)”. Jeff said to Blandine: “Frederic wears the map of France across his face. With your blonde hair and blue eyes, not so much.” Of Polish ancestry, she mentioned being impressed that Gary residents were so open and friendly. They attended a Baptist service; the pastor, Frederic remarked, “was a young man who could sing like an angel.” Blandine added: “There was so much warmth and emotion, I was almost crying.” In a humorous exchange Frederic asked, “Is that a reel-to-reel tape recorder you are using? I did not think they made them like that anymore.” Jeff replied, “Listen, Frenchie, this very machine was good enough for my Grandpa Vito, so it’s good enough for me.” I, too, prefer an old-fashioned reel-to-reel. Blandine and Frederic, Jeff learned, are not married but have been lovers for 15 years and live in separate apartments because they both value their freedom.
I can be pretty dense. On an elevator I heard a woman tell her friend, in reference to not studying, “I pulled a U yesterday.” After they got off, I asked the one remaining passenger whether she knew what that meant. Interpreting the “U” as “you,” she thought the woman meant she did the same thing her friend did, took the day off.
Corey Hagelberg called to thank me for urging him to apply for a teaching position at IUN. On Facebook he added: “I am reading a textbook for the first time in several years. This time it is one that I will be teaching from. I was just asked to teach "Art Appreciation" at and am very excited for the great opportunity.”
above, Corey Hagelberg; below, Anne Balay
Having worked outside between proofreading her forthcoming book, Anne Balay complained about getting poison ivy on her hand. Anthropologist Esther Newton wrote this blurb for “Steel Closets: “Too much of current popular culture and academic literature either omits any mention of working class queers, or dismisses them with stereotypes. [Anne] Balay gets right down to work, letting LGBT steelworkers speak for themselves and bringing to their voices her own coherent, readable perspective.” One of Newton’s books is an intellectual autobiography titled “Margaret Meade Made Me Gay.” I must read it. One chapter deals with how a university can make itself more hospitable to queers. IU administrators could benefit from it. Anne wrote: “As I was leaving work today, I heard another of the women dismissed by our institution asked how she felt about the school, and she said ‘I'm like a bird sitting on a branch. I don't care about the branch because, y'know, I've got wings.’ Thank you for this well-timed reminder.” Both women have so much to give to IU Northwest, if only they had been treated better.
Michael Chirich’s brother-in-law passed the last hurdle toward receiving a PhD degree in theology in Austria. Over the years I have obtained books for him at the Anthropology Club dollar sale. Two days a week Michael is charge of prisoners on work release. They are very well behaved, he reports, because they do not want to be locked up all day and their quarters, eight to a room, are an improvement over the jail.
On a brilliant, sunny autumn afternoon with the temp at 57 degrees I drove by Lake Michigan. Speedway was selling gas for $3.07 a gallon, lowest in months, if not years.
In “Kennedy, the Elusive President” Jill Abramson of the NY Times laments the absence of great JFK biographies. Robert Dallek, author of the best of them (“An Unfinished Life”), told her: “The mass audience has turned Kennedy into a celebrity, so historians are not really impressed by him. Historians see him more as a celebrity who didn’t accomplish much.” Abramson praises Norman Mailer’s 1960 Esquire article “Superman Comes to the Supermarket” and William Manchester’s “The Death of the President” as incisive contemporary character studies.
Dave Lane with Kim Hauber and Veronica Garcia
Dave’s East Chicago Central seniors created a popular Haunted House at the school. Student Denzel Smith wrote: “Tonight was so amazing, and I’m glad the [class of] 2014 pulled it off. Show them and the rest of the Cardinal family even more love tomorrow night at 6. It’s really scary!! Special s/o to David Lane for being a truly all around great guy and for sacrificing his time, money, and sometime sanity for his kids.”
Nicole Anslover’s students were excited about her appearance on “First Ladies.” She said she didn’t meet her male counterpart until the program started because the producers didn’t want them talking beforehand, thinking it might inhibit what they said on the air. She said it was neat having a limo meet her at the airport. During a discussion of student protests, I pointed out that one objective was to get America’s war machine off campus – including ROTC, military and industrial recruiters such as Dow Jones, which made napalm, and an end to fat defense contracts to academic departments and researchers developing, for instance, cluster bombs.
Eating a hamburger in IUN’s cafeteria I heard Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on WIUN. Nicki French’s version is so much better. Engineers won all seven points, as all five of us bowled above average. For Halloween eve Shannon McCann had on a hat whose ears lit up like an elf. I was saddened to learn that Joe Piunti’s son Ray, a charming guy, was in a car crash and suffered facial injuries.
On Letterman Clive Davis spun interesting stories about Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Lou Reed, and others the music mogul worked with. After the Avett Brothers did a great number from their new album “Magpie and the Dandelion,” Dave said to them, “I can introduce you to Clive Davis.”