Monday, February 10, 2014


“And any time you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain, don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.”  Paul McCartney and John Lennon

The press is making much of the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.  I remember it well, watching from Sigma Phi Epsilon house at Bucknell.  Their first U.S. album was on Vee-Jay records.  In “London Calling” the Clash have a line about “phony Beatlemania” having “bit the dust,” but there was nothing artificial about the mania their appearance in America triggered. 

The fourth season of “Mad Men” has jumped ahead to 1965.  Don makes his daughter happy getting tickets to the Beatles’ appearance at Shea Stadium, where the screaming was so deafening it virtually drowned out the music. Don and other ad men place bets on the second Ali-Sonny Liston fight, which ended in the first round after what some have dubbed a “phantom punch.”  Many believe Liston took a dive because he was beholden to mobsters who bet against him.  If so, he certainly didn’t fake it very well.

High school buddies Wayne Wylie and Bettie Erhardt are setting up a get together for when we’ll be in Ambler, PA, for nephew Chad’s wedding.  When the date is set, I’ll work on getting LeeLee Minehart, Virginia Lange, and others to come.  A number of folks who still live in the area are wintering in Florida – don’t blame them.  I also talked with Bucknell friend Dick Jeary, who wondered why we don’t visit him and Donna at their condo near Fort Meyer.  When my mother lived in Bradenton, we’d include them on the annual itinerary.

 “12 Years a Slave,” directed by Steve McQueen, was truly moving and Oscar worthy.  I hope it triumphs over the other front-runner, “American Hustle.”   Based on Solomon Northrup’s autobiography, it traces how, a free black man, he was kidnapped and sold to the owner of a plantation in Louisiana.  After he returned to New York, Northrup was active in the abolitionist cause but then disappeared, possibly murdered or kidnapped again.

More snow.  Saturday Alissa dropped in after attending an engagement celebration in Chicago. She went to dinner with us and the Hagelbergs, who had seen the WW II flick “The Monument Men.”  Even though I’m a George Clooney fan, I had little desire to see it and Toni even less.  On the way to Bon Femme in Valpo, the roads were slick, and Dick barely avoided a car that had stopped suddenly to let a woman jaywalk across Lincolnway.  He had to swerve into a snow mound.

Condo president Bernie Holicky posted a photo of a Caterpillar machine being used to reduce the huge mounds of snow as well as his unit, which he has for sale, during warmer weather.

Former IUN dean F.C. Richardson wrote a letter to the Post-Tribune titled, “College costs go up as support is cut.”  He points out that whereas state funding for public education at one time was around 70 percent, now it down around 25 percent, with students expected to assume the burden of rising tuition and universities often forced to cut corners on staffing programs.  Obviously, this impacts poor people the most.  F.C. became president of Buffalo State College in 1989 but has moved back to the Region and in retirement is a valuable adviser to Chancellor Lowe.
above, Michael Sam; below, Marcus Smart

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced that he’s gay.  The All-American is expected to go high in the upcoming NFL draft and would become its first openly gay player.  He said he told teammates last August and experienced no problems.  The other big sports story is a three-game suspension levied against Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart for shoving an obnoxious Texas Tech fan who called him a piece of crap and may have used the “n” word although the fan denies it.

I hardly watch the “Today” show since the Olympics.  That and the weather has driven off virtually every other news story.  Never mind the omnibus farm bill, refugee situation in Homs, Syria, or latest threats by North Korean leaders, I have to turn to the Chicago Tribune for any meaningful coverage of national or world events.  I get a Chicagoland weather report from Andy Avalos at 6:58 (who has been using the phrase “brutal start to the day” all too often) and then turn to CBS, which starts with a 90-second summary of the news.

My Gary Chamber of Commerce “Keynote” speech went well.  Rob Seals from Instructional Media Center was great.  Two hours before we left together, I asked him to add jpegs of Little Richard, James Dean, and Marshall Dillon from “Gunsmoke” to the 12 others, and he did it without complaint.  He’d been to the Majestic Star casino before and helped me find my way in and out.  For the occasion I wore slacks, a blue dress shirt with Indian head dime cufflinks Beth gave me for Christmas, a blue tie (also from Beth the previous year), a United Steelworkers tie clasp, and a vest with IUN and Gary Centennial pins as well as a multi-color Rainbow Connections ribbon.

At the head table Chamber official Harold Puckett asked me thoughtful questions comparing and contrasting Gary with cities such as Camden, Detroit, and Birmingham.  The buffet includes steak, Cole slaw, potato salad, and cheery pie.  Chuck Hughes, who has a really firm handshake and is a polished master of ceremonies, gave me a lengthy introduction, including mention that I received the Dorothy Riker Award as Hoosier Historian of the year.  I got numerous laughs mentioning some of the rhythm and blues hits of 1955, such as Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” whose lyrics were cleaned up when white performers put out cover versions.  When I mentioned the Spaniels’ hit “Goodnight Sweetheart” I sang the bass intro (“Duh-duhduh-duh-duh”), which was not in the McGuire Sisters cover version.  A woman said it was successful because she never once looked at her watch.

I said hello to historian Dolly Millender, who distributed info about the Gary and Cultural Society along with a photo of her book cover, which fit nicely with my remarks about Gary’s Central Business District.  Others who greeted me were Urban League CEO Vanessa Allen and Cal Bellamy, who appeared with me on a radio show about Lake County corruption.  Dave Adams from Majestic Star introduced himself as a friend of Phil and Dave who is in a fantasy football league with them and played on a softball team with Dave. Judy Morris told me she bought “City of the Century some 35 years ago and knew Vivian Carter, whom I had talked about, personally.  I don’t think anyone attended from U.S. Steel, IUN or the Mayor’s office.  WTF?

My gifts for speaking to the 60 or so people was a coffee mug and a t-shirt containing names of famous folks from Gary.  Most were athletes, but Richard hatcher and Sheriff Roy Dominguez made the cut as well as actors Karl malden and Avery Brooks.

Child actress Shirley Temple died.  Jeff Manes wrote: “Have an Aunt Shirley.  [There are] a lot of Shirleys from that era, just like there were a lot of kids named Michael in the '90s because of Jordan.  Always felt sorry for gangly Shirley Temple when she about 14 or 15 and Hollywood kept casting her as a little girl. Embarrassing.”

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