Monday, December 16, 2013

Living Your Beliefs

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”  Henry David Thoreau

I listened to Jerry Davich’s Lakeshore noon radio show on my computer.  Two young IUN women from the Gay Straight Alliance group Connections, Amanda and Kait – one a lesbian, the other an F to M transgender – were very eloquent about the need to retain their adviser and academic mentor Anne Balay, who spoke by phone during the 45-minute segment.  When she said she loved Gary and IU Northwest, I got a lump in my throat to think she might be forced to go elsewhere.  Jerry called Northwest Indiana backward, but Anne disagreed, saying that while gays can be more open and comfortable in Chicago, it’s only a minority of homophobes that give Northwest Indiana a bad reputation.  Amanda and Kait agreed that IUN’s campus, though far from perfect, is a more tolerant atmosphere than their high schools.

Reiterating a point April Lipinsky made last week, Anne said that the very fact that she is a lesbian causes a few hostile students to form judgments that don’t square with the truth.  One complained that she was anti-Christian, not due to anything she said but because the person probably thinks any “queer” person is against what her church taught her to believe.  Another claimed Anne discussed lesbian themes too much when in fact the actual percentage of class time devoted to books about gays was like 10%.  Jerry is also preparing a feature on Anne’s termination for the Post-Trib.  If IUN refuses to reverse its decision, in the face of all common sense, IU President McRobbie should transfer her line position to another IU campus, such as Bloomington or South Bend, that would welcome her. 

Commenting about Anne Balay receiving criticism for using Jacqueline Woodson’s “The House You Pass on the Way” in a Young Adult literature class, Paul Kern wrote: Years ago, even before Jim and I were at IUN, Bill Neil was invited to speak at some club's meeting concerning an IUN English teacher's assignment of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.’  When he arrived, he discovered there was a copy of the book at every seat with the offending passages highlighted. Bill defended the teacher on the basis of academic freedom. What is happening at IUN?”  Paul’s son Chris asked, “Why would someone get penalized for that at the college level?”  Beats me.

Steve White is seeking help in locating members of the 1964 Gary Roosevelt state champs for an Indiana Hall of Fame Track and Field banquet.  One runner was named James Lane.  I put Archives volunteer and ‘Velt grad Maurice Yancy on the job.  He worked with Lane for years but has lost track of him.

Former colleague Jack Gruenenfelder suffered a massive heart attack on the way home from a musical program at Valparaiso University and is in intensive care.  A priest has administered Last Rites, and Jack’s son John told me he is near death.  About 20 years my senior, he was part of what George Roberts facetiously called “The Gang” – along with Hi Feldman, Bill Neil, and George Thoma – that essentially ran IU Northwest when I arrived in 1970.  We “Young Turks” called them greybeards, but they were just in their fifties.  While Neil, Thoma, and Feldman expanded the History, English, and Psychology departments, “Grueny,” as we called him affectionately (but not to his face) was content for years to remain a one-man Philosophy department.  A devout Catholic, he admired Saint Augustine, whose teachings figured prominently in his courses.  I was his boss after the History and Philosophy departments merged but never questioned the fact that he taught to an agenda.  A classicist, he didn’t much like the Sixties-inspired Black Studies, Latino Studies, and Women’s Studies programs.

Two Parquet Courts CDs arrived in the mail from Best Buy, enabling Toni to finish wrapping the Christmas packages that need to be mailed, and another supposedly is on the way for me.  Rolling Stone listed the group’s “Light Up Gold” CD one of the top 20 of the year.  Heading the list was “Modern Vampires of the City” by Vampire Weekend, while the top single was “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk.

Friday night Blues Cruise performed two extended rockin’ sets at Camelot Lounge.  Dave had Mexican food on hand for the E.C. Central teachers Christmas party.  Six inches of snow caused numerous cancellations but several dozen people were on hand, and Dave and Missy harmonized beautifully on several numbers.  After a rendition of the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey,” Bruce Sawochka said, “Let’s give it up for Sonny and Char.”  Due to snowy weather I limited myself to a single beer.  Driving home around midnight, I had a few tense moments on 80/94, unable always to see the white lines and enduring trucks spraying my windshield as they sped past me.
Queen Anne's lace in Miller Snowstorm by Samuel A. Love; Steve Spicer at Gardner Center

Saturday, due to the continuing snow we missed the Gardner Center Christmas Bazaar and Anne Balay’s open house for supporters, including attorney Roy Dominguez.  I watched the Hoosiers lose a hard-fought basketball game to Notre Dame, missing several open three’s near the end.  I learned in Harper’s “Findings” column that dogs wag their tails to the right when happy and to the left when upset, signaling to other dogs what their mood is in their presence. 

Edith Windsor one of Time’s 2013 people of the year for her role in successfully challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  After the death of Thea Spyer, her partner of 42 years (they were married in Canada), the government sought $600,000 in estate taxes from Edie, thanks (but no thanks) to DOMA.  The 83 year-old unlikely activist had enjoyed a rich life that included exotic vacations and a sophisticated circle of friends, but she had largely restricted her activism to charity work and membership in LGBT groups before attorney Roberta Kaplan agreed to represent her.  After the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in her favor, Windsor said, “It’s thrilling for me to be in this position.  It’s almost a deliriously joyous thing for an old lady.”

Marcia Gaughan loaned me VHS tapes of “Mad Men,” season one.  Apart from my surprise at how the characters had changed over the course of the decade, I enjoyed the 1960 references to the Kennedy-Nixon election, the best-seller “Exodus,” the movie “The Apartment,” and Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev visiting New York City for a September UN meeting.  The Russian premier jeered a pro-American speech by rapping his shoe on the podium.  The Cuban revolutionary, one of the truly heroic men of the twentieth century, allegedly trashed the Theresa Hotel in Harlem during his stay there, leaving behind chicken feathers and bones.

SNL opened with a spoof of the South African fake sign language interpreter featuring Jay Pharoah as President Obama and Keenan Thompson as Thamsanqa Jantjie.  Pharoah joked about the “selfie” snapped by the comely Danish prime minister, claiming Michele was furious and German leader Angela Merkel was jealous.

Jeff Manes’s SALT profile on Kathy Malone, executive assistant to Chancellor Lowe, appeared in Sunday’s Post-Trib.   Her dad was a steelworker, and she described herself as “a proud alum of Gary Roosevelt.”  With IUN since 1975, Kathy discussed her myriad duties, including being co-chair of the Diversity Ad Hoc Committee and the One Book – One Campus – One Community experiment (this year’s selection: “A House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros).  She’s a bowler and choir director at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church at 23rd and Grant, built after the congregation’s previous structure at 1938 Adams burned beyond repair, in retaliation, Reverend L.K. Jackson, believed for his outspoken stand against segregation and political corruption.  “The Old Prophet,” as Jackson was called, was a civil rights crusader starting in the mid-1940s.

Rudy Schneider, a radical with a heart of gold, died recently at age 68.  A huge crowd showed up Sunday morning for a memorial service at the Beach Cafe to honor the German-born steelworker and Rank-and-File stalwart.  Photos on a continuous loop showed Rudy on his sailboat and with Fidel Castro in Cuba.  Politicians Ron Matlock and Mary Elgin spoke about his dogged devotion to the union cause, urging them to attend Labor Studies classes and offering to drive them so they didn’t have an excuse to decline.  Mike Olszanski called him the conscience of Local 1010, adding that you didn’t want to run into Rudy if you had compromised your principles.  Alice Bush described how Rudy and her husband Ken, two old Reds, would have animated discussions that sounded like heated arguments to the uninitiated.  Rudy was always there to help, she said, whether it was a plumbing problem, a political campaign or a hospital workers strike.  After he retired from the mill, Rudy bought an apartment complex near the end of Lake Street and, generous to a fault, invited friends and relatives to move in.  He was a great host, whether for poker games or discussions of economic and social issues that concerned him.  He’ll be missed.

I was home in time to drive us to Memorial Opera House for the musical “Little Women.”  Prior to the play, director John Peluso dedicated the performance to Memorial Opera House veteran Riley Knight, who died the night before while helping motorist Linda Darlington, whose car was in a ditch.  Unbelievably, Riley had gotten married just hours before, and his bride Nikki was in their car nearby when a vehicle struck and killed both him and Linda Darlington.   Kyrie Anderson shined as Jo March, a character not unlike “Little Women” Civil War-era author Louisa May Alcott.  

After the play six of us, including Pat Cronin and Tom Eaton, ate at nearby Tommy B’s across from the Valpo courthouse.  I order filet minion and Toni got ravioli stuffed with lobster and we shared parts of each other’s entrée.  I learned that the Bears had won their NFL game but that my Eagles had lost.  Dick Hagelberg had his eye on a TV set featuring Green Bay versus Dallas, which blew a 23-point lead.  I don’t like either team so really didn’t care who won.

I defeated nephew Bobby in the Fantasy Football semi-finals to set up a second straight face-off against Dave, whose team scored un unprecedented 160 points (compared to my 108) against Kira Shifflett, thanks to five TDs from Jamaal Charles.  Hope to have better fortune than last year.

The highlight, as usual, of the Arts and Sciences Holiday luncheon was dean Hoyert singing a song to the tune of Gloria Gainer’s “I Will Survive” about an IU transfer students struggling with her Fall semester classes about History, Philosophy Political Science, and Calculus, entitled “I Will Derive” (from the mathematical concept of derivatives).  Mark worked in references to Nicole Anslover’s appearance on C-SPAN, Truman dropping the bomb and Nixon being a crook, as well as John Locke and Gottfried Leibniz.  Very funny.

Sitting next to Vesna Kilibarda, I asked her about the semester she and Zoran spent in their native Montenegro and told her about my week in Dubriovnik 30 years ago for an IU conference on Pluralism and our trip up the Adriatic to the seacoast town of Split.  On the flight over I had sat next to a 12 year-old girl anxious to practice her English; walking around Split, I spotted her in her grandmother’s back yard.  I asked if she wanted to show me around, and her grandmother let her.  She was charming, and we became pen pals for the next three years.  Kathy Malone came over to thank me for suggesting that Jeff Manes write a feature on her, and Chuck Gallmeier joked for Chancellor Lowe’s benefit that now everyone knows who really runs the university. Tanice Folta raved about “Little Women,” and Spencer Cortwright said he regretted not going.

Leaving school early, I mailed six packages at the Portage post office, got a haircut, bought Bobak Polish sausage at Town and Country, purchased a Lorde CD at Meijer for my brother, and was so stuffed from the chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, Cole slaw, and cake from the party I skipped dinner.  I called Anne and Emma Balay to wish them a good European trip and rooted for Baltimore against the Lions so the bears would have a better chance of making the playoffs.  Baltimore’s kicker, on my Fantasy team, hit a 61 yarder with 38 seconds left, to enable the Ravens to win the game.

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