Monday, March 24, 2014

Street Sweep

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” 
   Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over the weekend police officers from 16 departments, including East Chicago, Hammond, Dyer, Munster, and Ogden Dunes, participated in a joint “street sweep” of Gary.  Speaking beforehand to the group assembled at IU Northwest’s Savannah Center, Lake County Deputy Chief Dan Murchek said, “Let’s have fun and take a bunch of people to jail tonight.”  Some fun??!!  During the eight hours of the operation, the police made 25 arrests, most having to do with gun, drug or traffic violations.  One poor guy got pulled over near the university and, found to be driving without a license, had his car towed.  An officer told him to be thankful he wasn’t going to jail.
NWI Times photos by Jonathan Miano

Labeling Operation Plan Warrant/Street Sweep a success, Sheriff John Buncich said, “We are going to send a message that if you are going to partake in this type of illegal activity, we are going to be there and we’ll be there in force.”  To some victims, the police dragnet seemed an invasion by outsiders looking to start trouble.  One fellow was taken away in handcuffs, charged with resisting arrest, for supposedly spitting at an officer.  A better use of county resources might be to fix potholes.  Ruts in the alley behind the 35th Avenue apartments, for instance, are so deep I won’t park in that IUN lot, and some residential streets are so bad, it’s like negotiating minefields.

Children of Martin Luther King, Jr, are fighting over his Nobel Peace Prize medal and Bible used by President Barack Obama when he took the oath of office.   Bernice claims brothers Dexter and Martin Luther King III want to sell it, while they argue that the mementos belong to MLK’s estate, which they control.

Saturday James rolled a 345 series, above average for him.  I sat next to Dave and Chris Lugo, whose grandson was bowling on adjacent lanes.  We discussed Paul Stanley of KISS balking at performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.  Other 2014 inductees include Cat Stevens, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Linda Ronstadt, and Nirvana.  Stanley wanted all KISS members past and present honored, not just the original four.  WXRT was featuring 1977, the year of Elvis Presley’s last concert at Market Square Arena in Indy. Driving home I heard “I Fought the Law” by the Clash and numbers by Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, and Fleetwood Mac.

My NCAA picks were looking good before Wichita State and Creighton lost.  I’m in trouble unless in the final Florida defeats a real underdog.  There’s no way Kentucky should have been a number 8 seed; I agree with Charles Barkley that NCAA grand poobahs had it in for Wichita State.

In “Mad Men” I got caught up to where I started watching the show regularly.  The season five episode captured the morbid curiosity over the Richard Speck murders of eight student nurses in Chicago on July 14, 1966.  A ninth nurse escaped by hiding under a bed. Two days later Speck tried to commit suicide and then was arrested at Cook County Hospital.  Originally sentenced to the death penalty, he ultimately got 400 years behind bars and died of a heart attack in 1991 at age 50.  In “Mad Men” Don dreams of killing an old lover and stuffing her body under his bed, and daughter Sally hides under furniture after sneaking a look at a newspaper account of the crime.  As the credits rolled the Crystals sing “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss).”

After reading a Rolling Stone feature on Carrie Brownstein, I watched a couple episodes of “Portlandia,” a sketch comedy series she’s in with Saturday Night Live alum Fred Armisen, presently the bandleader on Seth Meyers’ “Late Night” show.  I loved a “Portlandia” scene about feminist bookstore owners irate over a bad online review.  Brownstein was in the Nineties riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney (named for a road in Lacey, Washington, near where the group practiced).

Carrol Vertrees wrote Sunday about his fear of snakes, something I can identify with.  Once, reading on the deck of our Maple Place house, I heard a weird noise.  In a gutter just a few away a snake suddenly jumped onto the ground.  Another snake crossed right in front of me while I was walking on a National Lakeshore path.  Years ago a small garter was slithering in the grass.  “Don’t worry, it’s harmless,” someone said, right before it bit a friend’s finger and didn’t want to let go.

In Graham Greene’s “The Tenth Man,” a short novel from jack Gruenenfelder’s library, Jean Louis Chavel, a prisoner-of-war in occupied France, convinces another man to die in his place in exchange for all his money and property. Destitute after the war, he returns to his former home and, using an assumed name, works for the dead man’s sister and mother.  An imposter shows up pretending he is Chavel and determined to steal the property.  The real Chavel sacrifices his life as a means of finding redemption for his earlier cowardly act.

In “Poverty, Heresy and the Apocalypse: The Order of Apostles and Social Change in Medieval Italy, 1260-1307” Jerry Pierce writes with great clarity, and it is obvious from his style what a great teacher he is.  I’m hoping IUN’s History Club will invite him back for a lecture.  Unfortunately, since he was denied tenure, the club he revived has ceased to function on a regular basis.

Anne Balay has logged thousands of miles between her “Steel Closets” book tour, visiting Emma, and taking Leah back to college.  Robert Blaskiewicz is editing my review to better fit in the NWI Times.  Anne reports that her book is now at the IU Northwest bookstore, as well as Barnes and Noble.  Mike Olszanski, who, like me, read early drafts of the manuscript, put an “I Am an Ally” poster on Facebook.
A reporter from California was in the Archives researching steelworkers.  Her grandfather worked at U.S. Steel South Works, retiring in 1973, and she has heard family stories that may or may not be apocryphal that she’d like to weave into an article.  I discussed possible ways she could deal with that issue, using phrases such as “according to family lore” or “my grandfather claimed. . . .”  She was reading “Gary’s First Hundred Years” when Steve introduced us, and I gave her a copy so she could read it later and suggested she examine Mike Olszanski and my “Steelworkers Fight Back” issue.

Henry Farag called to discuss the upcoming performance of “The Signal: A Rhapsody” at Gardner Center.  I suggested one possible ending: having Stormy Weather perform a song they did for troops in Bosnia during the 1990s.

More administration pettiness: There’s approximately a thousand dollars in my old Steel Shavings account, money I myself donated as well as from subscribers expecting to receive volume 43.  The Dean, undoubtedly just following orders, told me I can’t touch it because it must be used “for the purpose indicated in setting up the account (which is expenses related to the student focused version of Steel Shavings).”  Has the person making this decision seen a statement of purpose dated 40 years ago?  I doubt it.

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