“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin, “A Dance with Dragons”
“Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin feigned being worried that the acclaimed TV show was catching up too fast to his series. In Vanity Fair are Annie Leibowitz photos of the main characters. On Facebook nephew Beamer Pickert is counting down days, hours, and minutes until season 4 premieres on April 6.
Steel Shavings page proofs looked awesome, especially the cover that Laurie at Home Mountain designed. Affable owner Doug Klemz, an ex-marine, was pleased I was dedicating volume 43 to Larry, his father. I mean to invite Doug to visit the Archives and suggest he deposit Home Mountain materials with us. The company is over a century old.
Doug Klemz showed me mementoes Larry had saved, including an antique desk and “The Reader,” a Hermann Gurfinkel sculpture, a similar version of which is in Lake County Public Library. In 1938 Gerfinkel escaped from Nazi Germany. He worked as a craftsman in Detroit and a fine jeweler in Chicago before moving to Valparaiso during the 1970s to devote full time to creating sculptures. He died ten years ago at age 82. Gregg Hertslieb of VU’s Brauer Museum of Art is planning a 2015 show featuring Gerfinkel’s work.
IUN’s Student Government Association held a Hunger Banquet in Moraine. For five dollars one drew a ticket either for a sumptuous meal of a sparse, simple one typical of what poor people ate. A spokesperson from Oxfam America talked about hunger in America and the world. I peeked in to find Anne Balay on a floor mat while lucky ticket holders sat at tables. Anne’s lunch turned out to be rice and water. In the cafeteria Brian O’Camb and Neil Goodman were comparing Chicago neighborhoods. Neil’s home and work place (he’s a sculptor) is in an industrial area. I attended a party there when Roberta Wollons was house-sitting for him.
Mayor Patrick Cannon of Charlotte, N.C., resigned after four months in office, victim of an FBI sting operation that commenced in 2011 when he was on the City Council. Cannon’s father was shot to death when he was five. His mother worked on a truck assembly line, and they lived in a public housing project. In 2013, after New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was indicted on bribery charges, Cannon told an undercover agent that he looked good in an orange necktie but not in an orange suit. Hounded from office, Cannon and Nagin are the latest victims of government harassment of African American mayors going back to Richard Hatcher’s administration. Better to target wolves of Wall Street.
As local candidates gear up for May primaries, FBI and State Police busted into the office of pro-union Calumet Township trustee Mary Elgin at 610 Connecticut Street. Elgin is a decent, caring person, but higher-ups are out to sully her reputation. Among her enemies are Griffith officials who want to break off from Calumet Township and, in all likelihood, Hammond mayor and Lake County boss Tom McDermott. Township employee Allen Williams told ABC reporter Evelyn Holmes, who asked why he thought the raid was taking place: “Because we're a black-ran government. And I don't think the people downstate like that. And we do it well, we're not corrupt, we don't do anything illegal.”
I showed Bill Buckley, at IUN working on his online Sylvia Plath journal, “Steel Closets,” and all he could say about Anne Balay’s fate was, “Unbelievable.” Bill claims he’s soon moving to California; if so, the Region will lose an invaluable muse. “Jody’s Bar on Ridge Road” from “Athene in Steeltown” first appeared in “Flying Island,” an Indiana Writers Center publication:
Not enough to do? Ted said
And Jackson E. Lee took his
Slow sip of Wild Turkey,
Bob got his thumb in a gear
And it took it clean off.
Ted shrugged, What’d he do?
He dried the fuckin’ thing out
In the sun and when it stopped
Smelling like dead fish he
Made a key chain and called
It a charm. He shows it to
The kids in the neighborhood,
That’s what he did, and I seen
It dangling in the ignition
Of his Jeep. And when he’s
In a good mood, after a beer,
He always says the Gods gave
Me another one.
Fred McColly dropped off volume 30 of his journal. On November 18, 2013, citing a glaring example of Pascal’s belief in western man being discontent in an empty room, he notes “considerable complaining (if not outright whining) about power failures during yesterday’s unseasonably violent weather.” TVs and computers might not be functioning, but, Fred writes, “I also have two bookshelves in my room and a number of flashlights if necessary. Technology is clearly a trap we have fallen into. How to fall out?”
Vietnamese “boat person” Sanh Tran, who came to America in 1979 at age 17, works 12 hours a day, seven days a week as a manager of Maki of Japan at South Lake Mall. Jerry Davich likes the Bourbon Chicken Special for $6.50, including egg roll and rice or noodles. Daughter Chrissy Tran attends Ball State an expects her two younger daughters will also go to college. On Davich’s “Casual Fridays” radio show, Tran discussed his work ethic.
Finally no snow in a photo Steve Spicer took of Tolleston Dunes.
Leafing through James Madison’s “The Indiana Way” in anticipation of reading his new state history “Hoosiers,” I found that while he characterized Indiana’s past as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, he recognized significant differences between, in his words, “the southern and northern regions of the state, between rural and urban, between Gary and Indianapolis, and between Protestant and Catholic, black and white, Democrat and Republican, working class and capitalist.” Madison went on to say that the state “has produced such different representatives as sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and right-wing politician William Jenner, writers Theodore Dreiser and James Whitcomb Riley, and the builders of the utopian settlement at New Harmony and of the family log cabin of Thomas Lincoln.” A Hoosier born and bred, Eugene V. Debs was a socialist but of the evolutionary type.
A particularly despicable Red-baiter, Senator William E. Jenner wanted to impeach President Truman for relieving General Douglas MacArthur from command in Korea and claimed that the United Nations was a subversive organization. He left office in 1959, succeeded by Democrat Vance Hartke. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
In 1873, around the time Mark Twain and Bret Harte left San Francisco, James F. Bowman founded the Bohemian Club, specifically barring businessmen but welcoming writers, artists, musicians, and actors. The motto was “Weaving spiders come not her.” Financial necessities eventually relaxed the standards. In 1882 Oscar Wilde observed: “I never saw so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-looking Bohemians in my life.” Future members included William Randolph Hearst and Richard M. Nixon. Historian Ben Tarnoff wrote: “It became an enclave of elite men, the ultimate insider institution – and a grotesque parody of the original Bohemia that inspired its name.”
Returning from the IUN History office, I observed a procession of senior Education faculty led by Vernon Smith marching from Hawthorn Hall to the Chancellor’s office. They are apparently upset with recent Divisional policies, among them being threats to the future of the Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP). Twenty years ago, after graduating from IU with a joint degree in English and History, son Dave took UTEP courses at IUN that enabled him to get necessary teaching credits that led to a position at East Chicago Central High School. As part of a drive to cripple teachers unions and replace public institutions with for-profit charter schools, Republican lawmakers are tampering with requirements insuring that new teachers are properly trained. What a tragedy if UTEP becomes a casualty of Republican politics and university shortsightedness.