Monday, April 28, 2014

Abuse and Neglect

    It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.  A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones.” Nelson Mandela
 Tom Pavkov, Deb Stipp, Liz Guzman-Arredondo, Rick Hug

Over 400 people attended SPEA’s annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect.  It gave me a chance to give my new Steel Shavings to Professor Emeritus Rick Hug, one of IUN’s biggest boosters and, like his mentor Lloyd Rowe, ready to serve whenever called upon.  Keynote speaker Susan Badeau and husband Hector wrote: “Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip: Adopting and Raising 22 Kids.”  Delivering the welcome was Elizabeth Guzman-Arredondo of St. Monica Home in Dyer, which takes in pregnant teenagers. Unfortunately the Forum did not attract much media attention compared to a so-called crime fighting sweep headquartered at the university.

With great fanfare Lake County sheriff John Buncich, up for re-election next month, organized a dragnet operation in Gary, as officers from numerous communities went searching for people to arrest.  They nabbed thirty people, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, most for marijuana possession, driving with a suspended license or outstanding warrant.  The Post-Trib headline read, “Police find the fun in weekend sweep of Gary.”  Lori Caldwell wrote: “Lake County police established a command center at Indiana University Northwest where suspects were booked, processed, and moved directly to the jail.”  Some officers adopted the slogan, “Get some,” from the movie “Full Metal Jacket,” uttered by a crazed tail gunner as he shoots every Vietnamese villager he comes across.  The tail gunner’s rationale: “Any person that runs is a VC, anyone that stands still is a well-disciplined VC.”

On the brighter side I ran into Fred McColly and three Alpha Kappa Alpha members planting a tree at the community garden across from the library.  Cynthia Spencer, whom I met last week at the cleanup block party, remembered me.
 Carter and Mandela in Melbourne, 2000 

In a tribute to Rubin “Hurricane” Carter Richard Hoffer of Sports Illustrated mentioned that Nelson Mandela wrote the foreword to Carter’s autobiography “Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom.”  Here is part of it: “In that bleakest and most unforgiving corner of the world, prison, Rubin chose to dream, to dream of life beyond the steel bars and concrete walls, a life of helping and a life of peace.  The hate that placed him in prison, the hate that was mirrored in his soul, could never be the means of his freedom.  His first step toward freedom was knowing he needed the help of others, that he lived in a larger world where the possibility of good existed.  Rubin communicated with the outside world, he read voraciously, and he began to understand. . . .  Rubin woke up in prison and became a free man.”

In an SI article about “The Sports Writers on TV,” which aired for 15 years starting in 1986, Rich Cohen quoted producer John Roach, who said that the cluttered poker table around which the four Chicago sports jocks sat created an intimacy missing from modern imitators. Roach noted: “There’s an old saying: There’s an Indian fire and a white man’s fire.  The Indian’s fire is a small fire and brings people together.  The white man builds a big fire, and it pushes people apart.”

Lee Jenkins wrote about Ron Howard, whose 4,254 points over seven seasons for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants set a Development League basketball record.  “Mad Ants” comes from the city’s namesake, General Mad Anthony Wayne, whose ruthless assault on Shawnee and Miami Indians at the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers led to the conquest of Ohio and northeastern Indiana.  Wayne died two years later near Erie, Pennsylvania, and in 1809 his son Isaac had his body disinterred and boiled so he could bury the bones in Radnor, Pennsylvania.  Bones allegedly spilled out of the two saddlebacks, and a legend has it that on the anniversary of his death Wayne’s ghost wanders the route looking for his bones.
 Angie (l) at East Chicago Central prom 

James and Becca were with us while Dave and Angie chaperoned the EC Central prom.  James labored on a Rube Goldberg project involving a convoluted chain reaction.  On a walk Becca and I dribbled and tossed a basketball back and forth.  I finished Michael Moore’s “Here Comes Trouble.”  What an audacious guy, elected to the Flint school board at age 18, getting past countless security checkpoints to protest President Reagan’s 1985 appearance at Bitburg cemetery, where Nazi SS officers were buried, covering a gathering of white supremacists, and revolutionizing documentary filmmaking, to name just a few of his accomplishments.  Stephanie Shanks-Meile, who has researched right wing extremist groups, recalls seeing Moore spat on at an Aryan Nation gathering.

Moore’s book doesn’t discuss his films, other than brief mention of “Roger and me.”  To me the most powerful is “Sicko,” which contrasts our bloated for-profit health care system with universal health care in Great Britain, France, and Cuba.  While reading “Here Comes Trouble” I put on the Ramones’ under-rated 1980 album “End of the Century,” produced by Phil Spector.It begins with “Rock N Roll Radio” and includes “This Ain’t Havana,” whose lyrics include these lines:

“You say you’re poor and uneducated
You ain’t gotta chance ‘cause you’re hated
You’re on your way to life’s promotion
You hinder it with emotion
Ba-ba-banana, this ain’t Havana
Do you like bananas, ba-ba-bananas.”

A good crowd thoroughly enjoyed Henry Farag’s musical “The Signal: A Rhapsody.”  The show was fantastic from beginning to end.  Willie Rogers got a standing ovation after singing a couple numbers and coming out into the audience.  The Spaniels killed on “Chain Gang,” and two members did a classic Jimmy Reed number, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby.”  On the sidelines near me Bob Farag danced with Carolyn McCrady and his wife.  The grand finale, not surprisingly, was “Goodnight, Sweetheart.”  An elderly gentleman in a wheelchair sitting near me turned out to be original Spaniels member Willis C. Jackson.  Also in the house was former Stormy Weather standout Jimmy Hamm.  Henry introduced them both and at curtain call mentioned my name as editor and asked me to join the cast to take a final bow.

Afterwards, I gave out Shavings magazines to Henry, Corey Hagelberg, Gene Ayers, and Karren Lee, all of whom figure prominently in it.  I’m sorry I didn’t have enough for Jack Weinberg, Dolly Millender, and Larry Lapidus, who also are in it.

When I left my car, the Blackhawks were tied with St. Louis 2-2.  When I turned on WGN radio I heard they’d won 5-1 to advance to the next playoff round.  Jonathan Toews again had the game winner.  Cubs, White Sox, and Phillies were victorious to cushion the disappointment of the Bulls and Flyers losing in this season of sports overload.

On the cover of a Time issue about the 100 most influential people in the world is Beyoncé in a sexy outfit.  Say what? - I guess Putin, Snowden or Obama wouldn’t make as big of a splash or sell as many magazines.  Also making the list were Miley Cyrus and mouthy Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.  Snubbed was transgender actress Laverne Cox despite placing fifth in a readers’ poll the magazine conducted.

Anne Balay changed her Facebook profile picture to one of her with me and Tonj’a Pres Robinson.  She said: “I love him and what he stands for.  He’s a Hoosier Historian to be proud of.”  Sweet.  As this is the last week of the semester, she wrote: This is a horrible way to leave teaching, and I reserve the right to be pissed off and sad all week. I would like to bless the assholes who fired me with one parting wish: may you have a gay child. Their struggles will teach you how subtly bigotry works, and how helpless it makes you feel. That is all.”  Among the dozens of replies were these:

Larry Stroud, whom Anne met in Hamilton, Ontario: “I totally get what you’re saying Anne … I myself was forced to retire because of who and what I am … be strong.”

Bill Tortat: “My heart is breaking for you.  I, too, was an asset one day and a liability the next when the steel mill booted me after giving them 32 years of my life.  It sucks for sure.”

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