Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm Not Sayin'

“I can’t say I’ll always do
The things you want me to
I’m not sayin’ I’ll be true but I’ll try.”
"I'm Not Sayin', The Replacements
In September 2012 Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson of the Replacements reunited and recorded an EP entitled “Songs for Slim,” dedicated to their critically ill former band mate Slim Dunlap.  “I’m Not Sayin’ was written by Gordon Lightfoot and recorded by him in 1965, then covered by Nico during her pre-Velvet Underground days.
Fifteen of us celebrated Toni’s seventieth birthday at Sage Restaurant and then at the condo for drinks and desert.  Tom Wade, sick with the flu, was a no-show, but Darcey came with balloons.  Waiter Tony, by now a friend, greeted Toni with a hug.  When I suggested that Tony take a photo of all of us, Cheryl Hagelberg, thinking I meant Toni, exclaimed that really, she should be in the photo.  Miranda made a fantastic video of people wishing Toni Happy Birthday, not only family members but Bayers, Okomskis, and Bob, Niki, Addie, and Crosby in San Diego.

Robert Blaszkiewicz, arriving with Carrie and Max, brought me his “Best of 2013” CD that contained Parquet Court’s “Borrowed Time,” as well as great numbers by the Replacements, David Bowie, Avett Brothers, Arcade Fire, and – biggest surprise – Camper van Beethoven.  Robert wrote: “A soft spot in my heart for David Lowery because he often plays Northwest Indiana with his other band, Cracker.”  Robert also informed us that my favorite band of all time, The Shoes, are playing in May at Memorial Opera House in Valpo.  Unbelievable.  Dave’s high school band LINT used to do “Hate to Run” and reprised it at Hans Rees’ wedding.  Dave promptly went on line and purchased four tickets.
 Stormy Weather: Henry Farag, Eugene Stewart, Lynda Walla, Wilton Crump, Billy Preston
Willie Rogers

Sunday I made breakfast for our seven house guests, and then Toni and I went to the Marquette Park Aquatorium for Henry Farag’s “The Signal: A Rhapsody.”  An overflow audience was on hand, including a couple scouts from the Star plaza, and they were not disappointed. Between rousing numbers by the Spaniels, Soul Stirrers, and Stormy Weather, Henry talked about first hearing doo wop music on a crystal radio set that connected him to Vivian Carter’s WWCA radio show. All the numbers were fabulous, but Willie Rogers of the Soul Stirrers brought the house down singing “A Change is Gonna Come” and “If I Had a Hammer.”  The program had a clever drawing of a crystal radio set that Henry’s son Ryan designed.  I was in the credits as editor.  Brother Bobby Farag danced to several numbers, and at a larger venue, such as the Gardner Center, I can imagine more couples boogieing to upbeat numbers and snuggling with partners to “Goodnight, Sweetheart.”

Ron and Nancy Cohen attended “The Signal: A Rhapsody” and loved it. Henry first showed his autobiography to Ron, who suggested I edit and publish it, which I did as Steel Shavings, volume 32.

Ron alerted me to an exchange he had with Anne Balay’s nemesis, in which he said, concerning Anne and Jerry Pierce, I certainly respect your concern about publishing, but am wondering why you have worked so hard to destroy the careers at IUN of two of the most interesting faculty, who have not only published but have also been excellent teachers.”  I appreciated the sarcasm.  I have been exchanging emails with Vice President John S. Applegate, whom President McRobbie appointed to a recently created position overseeing regional campuses.  He, I believe, was party to a final meeting where Anne Balay’s tenure case was decided.  After reviewing some of the cogent reasons she deserved tenure, including the impending publication by University of North Carolina Press of “Steel Closets,” I concluded: During the 1970s, when IU President John Ryan abolished the Regional Campus bureaucracy, he expected future presidents to intervene in branch campus matters only in cases where an obvious injustice occurred.  What I fear happening is the exact opposite of what Ryan intended.  By reversing the recommendations of Vice Chancellor Malik and Chancellor Lowe, central administration, I believe, is placing in jeopardy IU's reputation for championing diversity and academic freedom.”  I interviewed President Ryan extensively putting together a history of IU Northwest, and he considered granting home rule to our campus and others one of his greatest accomplishments.  Thanks to Ryan, IU Northwest had two dynamic chancellors during his tenure, Danilo Orescanin and Peggy Elliott, who, save in budget matters, had Bloomington’s full support. Chancellor William Lowe deserves nothing less.
 Chancellor Danilo Orescanin with Pres. John Ryan, 1976 honorary degree recipient Frank Borman and Trustee Cerolyn Gutman; below, Chancellor Peggy Elliott with 1991 honorary degree recipients Nikki Giovanni and James Comer
Dawn Gruenenfelder held a estate sale over the weekend and invited me to take as many leftover books as I wanted.  Knowing that Mike Chirich’s brother-in-law, who has a PhD in theology, would love some religion books, I picked out a dozen or so and delivered them to Mike on Warren Street.  His road was a mess, but someone had cleared out his driveway and parking spots.  I got home just before the area was socked with another 8-10 inches of snow.  IU Northwest, I learned, closed at 1 p.m.

Dawn Gruenenfelder gave me duplicates of her dad’s writings on such subjects as freedom, truth, hope, happiness, and family.  Here’s how the latter essay begins: “A mother looks after the cleanliness of her son.  She washes him as a baby, commands him to bathe as a boy, and occasionally sends him back after checking behind his ears.  Later in his life she may admonish him and complain about his appearance.  If he becomes a slovenly youth, she may shout angrily or she may keep the peach but groan inwardly. If he is severely retarded (as was the case in several of Jack’s offspring), she will wash him for years and years.  It will no longer be fun like bathing a baby; but it must be done, increasingly hard chore though it may be.”

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